My name is Marla Brown, although Allison first knew me in high school as Marla Sherrard-- zany, big-mouth blonde. I've been married for nearly 30 years and have nine children ages 27-9. Yes, one marriage. No, no twins. Yes, I have a TV. And yes, we know what causes it. (Figured I'd get the standard questions out of the way. ;)
I am a Christian and home school the children through elementary school, and if they have earned the privilege we allow them to attend "real" high school. We believe the children need to experience "the world" while still in protective custody. Plus, we can't provide the extracurriculars-- the football teams or marching bands-- and believe they need to "find their thing." We've since had a steady stream of activities-- you name it, we've attended it. Our lives have been for our children, with no end in sight.
I was not nor shall I ever be God's gift to home schooling moms. I don't have a creative bone in my body, and I'm quite sure I've complained about it more than I should. But then again I've been at it longer than most having begun in September 1994. Current projected retirement date is September 2020 and I am totally looking forward to that much deserved gold watch.
I'm confident my children would tell you I often resembled Miss Hannigan more than Olivia Walton, but who doesn't have off days? ;) Still, wretch that I am, I did my best to teach my children the faith I believe from the scripture I believe. Taught them there is good and evil, right and wrong and never the twain shall meet.
As an "old school" parent, lemme tell you it ain't easy being John Wayne in this Danny Tanner world. Being the parent who isn't afraid to kick some keester; who is more interested in being obeyed than liked; who monitors where they are, who they're with, what they're doing, what they're wearing; who doesn't give a rat's patoot what everybody else is allowed to do/be/have/wear; in short, being a parent.
When I met Allison for lunch last month I tearfully recounted my year. In a six-month period I had one child call me stupid for my political and religious beliefs-- same child recently told me to shut the F up. Another child compared me to a defecating chess-playing pigeon, although a more vulgar euphemism was utilized. Apparently, no matter how often I lose I strut around, poop on the board and proclaim victory. (Yeah, still scratching my head over that one.) And yet another child led people to believe that her sports bruises were parent inflicted.
Seems in order to secure your friend's outdated electronic devices to secretly engage in social media that your parents have forbidden, it helps to portray yourself as a victim of abuse. Who knew? I'm still picking scraps of tire out of my butt from the bus that one threw us under. Needless to say, there will be a bit more elbow room around our Thanksgiving table this year.
As I navigate all this, look at me wrong these days-- or right for that matter-- and I'll cry. Good news? Bad news? Same diff. I'll cry. To say it's been a tough road would be an understatement. But I think of Lynn Anderson's old song when I am tempted to complain. "I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden." God never promised sunshine and roses. Scripture teaches all things are by His hand, the good and the bad, the sunshine and the rain, and that even in my darkest hour He is with me-- and He lets me know it.
Recently I received a text out of the blue from someone dear to my heart from whom I'd been estranged for many years, seeking forgiveness for past wrongs. By God's grace and by His hand we are rebuilding a relationship. At a time when my heart is so wounded, He gives me blessed reminders of His hand in all things by orchestrating a previously unimaginable reconciliation. Hell's bells, if this relationship can be restored, ANYTHING is possible.
My brother once told me a story of how he was enjoying his quiet time of prayer when a friend walked into the room. The friend apologized, "I didn't mean to ruin your peace and quiet." My brother replied, "You may have taken the quiet, but nobody touches my peace." The peace that passes understanding doesn't come from events or people in your life, nor can it be taken -- not even by a handful of thankless, presently AWOL rebels.
My life is bluetiful because I have inner peace no matter the circumstances; because I know I'm in the hands of a loving and sovereign God who's got my back and who has promised, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you." My life is bluetiful because I remember the promises of scripture for me and my family for now and generations to come; because I remember that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me-- even survive my children.
Learn more about Marla Brown...
Marla Brown lives in harmony-- no, really-- Harmony Township, New Jersey-- plus she lives in harmony with her husband of nearly 30 years and with her delightful offspring who don't think she's a defecating pigeon.