Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Today I wore a headband...

We've been living in Columbia for about 5 weeks now.  In my parents' house, which is a 4 bedroom, 2500 square foot ranch.  It's really been great, as my parents are pretty much the most gracious folks ever, living as flexibly and generously as possible having added five people to their crib.  What it doesn't afford, though, is much alone time.  So Praise Be that VBS started today at my parents' church. From 9-12 am all three girls are rollin at Grace Pres.' Bible School.  They are having a blast and so is their mom.

This morning I dropped off the cherubs and took my Hottesy all over town.  I did nothing fancy...no mani/pedi, no coffee with friends, no Target run (you know that's fancy).  Instead I did a million little errands in about half the time it would take me with kids in tow.  I did have one fancy accessory, though, and that my friends was my new headband.  For those of you on insta you saw that I bought one of those "Buff" head wrap/bands because it literally had my name on it.  And because when I do yoga I need something to hold my hair back that doesn't spring off the back of my (apparantly) cone-shaped head.  There are just so many ways you can wear the "Buff" though, so I decided that I would try it today on my no-shower but previously straightened hair.  I am having trouble finding the words to describe the inner monologue that ensued while wearing the Buff.  Lemme just say this, though...people looked at me.

Newsflash to all you younguns out there...when you're 43 no one looks at you.

It wasn't like they were looking at me like a weirdo.  Or even like, "hey, lady you are a good looking old lady."  It was just that people took notice.  And it felt really good to be noticed.  I felt that the "Buff" helped me wield some kind of power that made people look a second longer, take me a little more seriously, maybe even remember me for next time.  This made me realize two really important things about myself.  One is that I never do/wear/say much of anything that stands out from the crowd.  Boo.  I mean for crying out loud, why am I trying so hard to do/wear/say everything like everyone else?  And why has it taken me 43 years and only $24.99 to realize this?  Again, it's not even like it was THAT different.  It was just different enough to make me have that "screw it, I'm just gonna wear this crazy head thing and walk with purpose through my day like I own this town" kind of thing.  It was powerful.  And it makes me want to take more risks that help me (and maybe others too?) feel more confident.  I'm not talking about your run of the mill self-confidence here.  I'm talking about confidence in who I was MADE to be.  To live out of the truth of who I am and WHOSE I am.  I want to treat people the way I want to be treated.  To notice people, to really see them, and to take the time to listen and remember them.

The second thing this magic headband helped me see is that I put EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in categories.  And a lot of times those things or people don't really belong in those categories.  My hubs was recently telling me about a podcast he heard that described our brain's instinct to organize and categorize everything we experience.  It's a necessary and extremely helpful thing our brains do to protect us and allow to us define who we are in relation to the world around us.  The problem is that in the Kingdom of God there are no categories!  The categories are all turned upside down like tables in the temple.  And if I am going to live and love like Christ then man I need to flip that junk upside down in my head.

This past Saturday we went to visit the State House in Columbia.  Yes, THE State House where the confederate flag was removed from the grounds just this past week.  We got to see where the flag used to be, and we also walked into the State Senate chambers where Rev. Clementa Pinckney served before he and eight other men and women were killed in Charleston just weeks ago.   As we now know, the killer was welcomed into their Bible study at that church, even though he looked SO different, SO out of place.  But because those nine men and women knew that in the Kingdoom of God there are no categories, they invited him in, not knowing he planned to do them such harm.  To stand outside the State House and show my children the empty space where a divisive flag used to fly, to tell them the story of those 9 gracious, heroic men and women who chose to see others with the eyes of Christ, to teach them that even in the most horrific circumstances that grace and mercy win...that just felt like such an overwhelming gift.

Living life free of categories is scary.  It's difficult.  It goes against our every instinct.  But it is the most honorable, most gracious, most generous way to live.  I want to live this way.

Man, that's a powerful headband.

(Oh friends you cannot imagine how many selfies I had to take to end up with this normal looking gem)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hangry tonight...

Oh law.  The indecision and lack of task completion continues.  Today I half finished a whole buncha stuff.  And felt like I did nothing.  And if I told you what I did you would probably say, "Why Buff, that's pretty good for one day!"...but I think I could do a pretty good job of making my list sound long and impressive, even if it is unfinished.

When the kids got home from school I just added to the chaos by starting homework with the twins, then stopping homework to play Yahtzee with the twins (who are marginal mathemeticians at best), then taking said twins (and Maggie and a friend) up to the pool.  I sat in the hot, blazing sun and talked on the phone to my husband for the first time in two days while Tori stewed in time out on a lawn chair. All while hiding my unshowered and un-made up self behind a pair of RayBans.  (BTW, RayBans can cover over a multitude of sins.  And if you add hoop earrings, well then sister you're ready to tango.)

We left the pool, took Maggie's sweet friend home, then went to find dinner.  I struggle SO with dinner.  I can.not.make.a.decision.  I swear I had twelve plans thoroughly thought through in my head and we didn't end up doing a single one of them.  I was asking my kids (my KIDS!!) what they wanted to do for dinner.  What a rookie move!  I'm better than this, people...I've been at this a long time.  I ended up listening to their suggestions and literally clawing at my own face while saying, "I am soooo hungry I can barely STAND it!".  I really said that.  And I really clawed.  I ended up going to get food supplies for dinner and a smoothie to tide us over.  But not before trying to find the perfect word for what I was experiencing.

I've heard the word HANGRY...hungry/angry.  And it's a really great word.  Brilliant, actually.  But I needed more.  I was also real sweaty, unshowered, feeling overweight, angry, starving and acting like a two year old.  What should we call that, people?  I just can't decide.  HOTHANGRY covers most of it, except for the fact that you could say the 'th" together and then it just sounds weird.

I'm open to suggestions.  For now, though, I will just categorize myself as a Mama who is strung out and needing some Calgon.  Or Jesus.

P.S.  (Written post dinner and Blue Moon)...Waaaaahhhhhh  Waaaaahhhhh.   I'm a whiny child.  Military spouses and single parents, y'all are legit.  Saying grateful prayers for you tonight.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tick tock

Three weeks from today I will be living in Columbia, SC.  Mmmmhmmm.  Three weeks.  There is more life to live between now and then than I can possibly explain.  Normal end of the year stuff with kids, twins' birthday parties, teacher gifts to get, recitals...but this year we're throwing in goodbye parties and a major life-changing move.  No big.  I find myself wondering about things like how do I forward my mail to my new address if we close on our house here a week before we close there?  What things will we need to keep with us this summer as we live with my gracious and brave parents for a few weeks?  And how in the world will we ever survive summer without a neighborhood swimming pool?  I'm paying bills, changing doctors, registering for schools all while still trying to keep our little lives afloat here in Jacksonville while Ian is already gone to work in SC.  I have to do all the things right now.  So why do I find myself staring at the TV watching Kelly Rippa and Michael Strayhan tap dancing with Patricia Heaton?  I'm in some sort of denial-type fog that is very difficult to lift.  The fog is of course made thicker by the "eat chocolate, drink wine and don't exercise" plan I'm on this week.  Winning.

It's hard to move.  There's a lot to do.  The paralyzing part, though, is not the list of stuff to be done, but the overarching knowledge that we are saying goodbye...to a lot of things and people we love.  It's kind of like grief, coming and going at the strangest times.  I find myself almost stoic when people are saying goodbye to me, expressing their hearts and really loving me well.  Yet when I watched other people's kids get confirmed in church last week I was an ugly cry-er...right there in the pew.  It's a strange business, being a human with lots of feelings.

So I'm pressing on.  Tonight there is a soccer party, and the coach wants the parents and families to play in a big soccer game.  This thrills me to no end, especially since I have to speed directly from said "party" to a going away gathering of some of my close friends.  Smelling like a flower, no doubt.  Just trying to go from one thing to the next and clinging desperately to the promise that I am not alone and I am dearly loved by a God who is walking with me.  Leading me, actually...thankfully.  There's a reason why we can only see right in front of our faces during times of grief...our minds are protecting us, helping us go from moment to moment, trusting the next breath will come, and then the next and the next.  It strangely feels a lot like full life, where the saddness is deeper, but the laughter is louder and so very welcome.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ready or not...

It's December 21st.  Four days before the big day.  Everybody is scurrying around baking, shopping, festivus-ing, getting it done.  It really is one of my favorite times of the year.

But I have to say that this year, for some reason, I'm just not feelin it.

Thanksgiving came late this year and it really threw me off coming back from Turkey break and realizing it was December 1st.  The usual stuff happened...two kids sick with sinus infections, me with a needles in your throat kind of virus, lots of doctor and dentist appointments, teacher conferences, all that.  And yes, there were a couple big Life curve balls thrown our way that we obviously weren't expecting. Somehow, though, we managed to get a tree up and lights on the house for the first time ever (because we are the "ONLY ones in the neighborhood who don't put lights on our house" obvs).  I've been playing Christmas music, watching Christmas movies while I do laundry, and of course battling through family advent devotions at night (total failure, btw).

Still not feelin it.

This bothers me.  But not as much as it used to.  I remember being a teenager and sitting in the hall while my mom hauled the Christmas lights out of the attic.  I sat there and cried, admitting that it just didn't "feel" like Christmas.  What was wrong with me?  I was doing everything I used to do to experience the magic and it just wasn't happening.

Nowadays I know that there's more to Christmas than all the fluff, for sure.  But some years I am able to kind of mold our Advent season in a way that seems to prepare our hearts for celebrating Jesus.  In the past I have planned family Advent activities and scripture for each day and the kids really love it.  (Sidenote:  it's nothing extravagant, just a little something to help us laugh a little and turn our eyes to Christ.)  I couldn't get that together this year and frankly, I am struggling to even open my devotional in the morning to focus my heart in the right place before I blast out of bed.  Like I said, I'm just not feelin it.  But here's what I'm hearing in the midst of this weird Advent...

Christ's coming is not dependent on my feelings.

If you think about it, really nothing surrounding Jesus' birth seemed to go right.  I'm sure Mary didn't feel like being ostracized for being an unwed mother.  Joseph didn't feel like marrying a woman who was pregnant with a child that wasn't his.   Neither one of them were probably feeling like taking a long trip while they were expecing a baby.  And there's no WAY Mary was feelin it when she found out she had to give birth in a stinky, gross stable.

Yet regardless of their feelings, Christ came anyway.  Ready or not, He was there.

That's some really good news for this lady.

Just an hour ago I was sopping poopy water up off the tile in the kids' bathroom from a toilet malfunction.  Tomorrow I have friends coming over to bake in my dirty kitchen.  In approximately 32 hours I am going to have my entire family (plus gifts) packed and in the car headed to Charlotte.  My throat needles are still in full effect, I haven't been to yoga in forever, and my eyebrows need a serious waxing.  But I am grateful that in four days, no matter how I feel about it, I'm going to celebrate a little baby who came to give me full life.  Ready or not, here He comes.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Antsy days...

It's Thursday and all family members are where they should be, meaning I am home alone.  I've had a little one home for the past few days, which as you mamas know translates as, "halt all plans or dreams of being super and simmer down to doing the MAIN thing...caring for your kid."  Eeeeeasy super Buff.  Time to read books, wipe noses, listen to whining, make healthy meals and try to keep your kid off constant TV while they are home.  Actually, that does sound like a supermom.

So here I am all alone today and I have to say I'm a little antsy.  Aside from the extra dark coffee and borrowed (read:stolen) Baby Ruth's from Halloween bags, I don't know why I am feeling so antsy.  My thought is that it's the manic nature of my days.  From about 6 am until 7:56 (bus time) I am shot out of a cannon.  This morning in particular I had my neighbors' three kiddos at 7 am so she could take a subbing job at the middle school.  Basically these kids are like little nieces and nephews to me and it was a total trip having them in the mix this morning.  At one point I was unloading the dishwasher while my oldest watched Daniel Radcliffe rapping on You Tube,  one of the kids was seeking advice about a possible love interest at school, one was on her third outfit change, and the others were doing Karaoke to "Problem."  We ended up running to the bus stop as to not miss it, and once they were all safely on board I walked slowly home, breathing in the cool air with a smile on my face.  It's a gift to be able to stay home with my kids.

But I'm so antsy!  I paid bills, shopped online, dealt with the mail, returned emails, and here I am.

Don't get me wrong, I have puhlenty to do.  So many things I COULD do.  But when I have days like today I end up wondering what I want to do.  I realize this is a luxury.  I know there are so many women and men who would LOVE the chance to have a choice in how they spend their time.  I get this.  I am just having trouble figuring out WHAT to do.  I have thoughts and dreams and ideas for writing articles or maybe even a book someday.  Seminary is always looming, like constant white noise that sounds strangely like my Dad's voice.  I have the privilege of speaking at women's retreats this spring and so much to think about and pray through for that, which is really exciting and life giving.  So here's the rub...how do I convert the snippets of constantly interrupted time into productive forward motion toward these desires in my heart?  How do I put one foot in front of the other when I struggle with being scattered and struggling to focus during these available minutes?

(Just so you know, reader, there's about a 30 minute window right here where I stepped away and did some other stuff.  Then this happened...)

Ok...stop right here.  I just realized something that does not invalidate this entry, but dramatically lessens the intensity on the antsiness that I am describing and feeling...

I forgot to take my meds this morning.

Aaaaand scene.

(This has only happened to me ONE other time in my life and I realized it in the afternoon while I started getting the sweats and feeling virtually IBS-ish while I was in the movie theater with my sweet hubs.  Moral of this story, ladies...take your meds.  Celexa is on board for a reason.  Ain't no shame in it.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

So I'm apparantly on a once a year blogging kick.  That's vague, I know.  I just write when it hits me and for some reason today it hit me.

I just shut the door behind a nice A/C repair gentleman who left me with an heavy estimate on the new unit we need to install.  That happened about two hours after I walked in the door from our first trip to the orthodontist for Maggie and Zoe.  (And lest you fear Tori felt left out, the dentist has already informed me that Sweet T will be spending lots of time in the orthodontist chair in the future).  Getting these girls' teeth straightened out is gonna set us back, well, about the amount of one and a half A/C units when it's all said and done.

So tonight's after dinner finances discussion is going to be just a joy.  It's not a choice, really.  Saint Augustine Augusts are brutal...more brutal than a mouthful of crooked canines.  A/C comes first, then the grillz for the girls.

As I was sitting at the orthodontist's office I was struck by the fact that I was in the ORTHODONTIST'S OFFICE.  When did my kids get old enough for this...especially Maggie who is headed for braces as quickly as she is headed for middle school?  This past Sunday at church was "move up day" and for those of you who did not grow up being hauled to church every time the doors were opened, "move up day" is a big deal.  It's the day you get to go from whatever measly little grade you were in to the NEXT grade.  The big deal this year, though, is that Maggie is going into middle school.  Our church, Mandarin Presbyterian, does things a little differently, which is one of the reasons I love that place.  Sunday morning Maggie and her friends went to their normal class and then were "kidnapped" by our middle school staff couple and taken away to become acclimated with all things Hang Ten (our middle school program's name).  As I handed her the obligatory McDonald's money I realized that this was our defining moment.  She had officially become a middle schooler.  I know she doesn't start school for another week, but I hope and pray that outings like these will define her middle school years much more than the stuff she learns at school, the drama that ensues between friends, the boys who want to "date her" one day and move on the next.  All these things will happen, I know, but I sure am grateful for some older, wiser, more fun folks than me to give her another soft place to land when life gives her a super-sized beat down.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here I am in all my middle school glory:

I think I'm saying, "Taa-daaa!  I am 12 but I look like a mom already.  Thanks hot rollers, button down short sleeved shirt and big glasses on my head!"

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Slow and steady...

I don't know why I go so long between posts because I seriously think about things I could write about all the time.  Life provides so stinkin much fodder.  Reading my last post about running the 5K, though, reminds me why I haven't posted since then.  Here's why...

That run was painful, y'all.

I was fired up and ready to go.  Stretched myself out, chatted up my fellow runners, and got my little bib...which I had to call my sister in law to get her to tell me where to pin it.  Chest or belly?  Do I pin it down or let it fly?  Is it going to bob up and down on my flabby tummy if I don't pin it down?  Oh, the pressure.  I'm a dork.

The race began and we all started off.  There were only about 40 people in this race, 15 of whom were children under the age of 11.  It was a little race, a neighborhood race, no big deal.  About ten or twenty seconds into it, though, I realized that I was going to be in the back.  That's ok, I thought, because these kids will wear out and some of these adults told me they aren't even runners so I'm sure it'll all pan out and I'll move on up in the pack.

Aaaaaaand no.  That didn't happen.  It never happened.  In fact, I was in the back.  Dead last.  For the whole race.

I take that back.  There was one girl who was right in front of me who would stop and walk every once in a while and I would pass her.  But when she saw me pass her it was like she said to herself, "Aw heeeeull no, I am not going to let that girl beat me."  So she would speed up and eventually she got out of my reach.

It is at this time I'd like to remind you of a couple things:

1.  I already told you guys I'm a slow runner.  This is not news to you and is definitely not news to me.  The reason I like running is because I run slowly.  My heart rate gets up enough, but I like to keep running and see how far I can go rather than running for speed and then having to walk because I poop myself.  That's just not my jam.

2.  The most important thing to remember is why I was running...I was running this race in honor of my friends and their devastating loss of their son despite his sister's gracious gift of her own bone marrow.

Back to the race:

So I knew I was slow, but didn't know I was THAT slow.  I distinctly remember thinking that there were definitely some people I could pass (read: kids under 7) and that there is no possible way after 6 months of running 4 times a week that I could actually be in THE back.  Like the literal back.  Like the cop car that follows the end runner and brings up the rear of the group was right beside me.  In the back.  (Incidentally, said officer was playing on his laptop while I was sweating it out.  So embarrassing.  I actually yelled my apologies for being so slow into his open window.)

Keep in mind that this happened in my own neighborhood, so there were some friends out in their yards cheering us on.  One good friend piled my kids on her golf cart and they sat at different points in the hood so they could cheer me on.  I thought this would be so encouraging.  To my utter and complete disappointment in myself, this just made me feel embarrassed.  My friends and my family were watching me lose.  My girls were going to see their mom in THE back.  I didn't lose my head completely, though, because I am not a total lunatic and I was able to realize that I had to finish.  It didn't matter how I did it.  I just had to finish, for myself, for my girls, and for the Fricks.   Finishing is what mattered.

But the sad thing is that other things mattered too.  I am not sure I can explain to you, nor do you really want to read about, the negative brain space I was in.  I tried my darndest to speak truth to myself.  You know, runner speak like "slow and steady wins the race," which they actually do not...they lose the race... and they drag a cop car along with it.

So I tried speaking Truth to myself.  Scripture, quotes, psalms, hymns...anything that I knew that I knew that I knew to be true.  I tried focusing on Kim and the Frick family and their terrible loss and difficult struggle.  I tried praying for Devin's sister who so graciously gave of herself in order to prolong her brother's life.  But the debilitating thought patterns had set in and it was ugly.

I'm not sure if you're ready for this, dear reader, but I started to cry.

Not cry because it was hard and I couldn't breathe, which it was and I couldn't.  I started crying because I was so disappointed in myself for being in the back.  And then I cried harder for caring that I was in the back.  I was a literal hot mess.

Around mile 2 is when this little meltdown occurred.  It was getting dark but I kept my sunglasses on, (so I can so I can) so that Officer Laptop couldn't see me crying.  Then out of nowhere I heard a little voice call my name.

"Hey Mom!"

It was my sweet Zoe in all her glory with her curls bouncing in the wind and her smile as big as day.  She left the comfort of my friend's tricked out golf cart to come and run beside me.  This made me cry more, but also made me so happy.  She was like a "visible expression of the invisible God" coming to run with me.  This didn't make me run faster.  As a matter of fact I still battled my thoughts the entire rest of the race, but I KNEW that I had been heard.  I knew that my God was WITH me, that He was pleased with me, and that He and Officer Laptop were going to see me through this thing.

Zoe ran on ahead of me, turned around to encourage me at times, and alerted me when she could see the finish line.  I could hear the band playing on the soccer field and see folks drinking their celebratory beers as I reached the end of the race.  My sweet family was there to hug me and tell me they were proud of me.  As Ian came up to me I wanted to lose it because I had been holding it in, but I didn't because I SOOOO wanted my girls to see that I had finished and that's what really mattered.  Then Tori, in all her tiny glory, ran up to me, hugged my knees and said these sweet words to me:

"Mom!!  You WON!!"

Out of the mouths of babes.

Don't think for a second that I think I won that race.  I was dead last and I know it.  But I love that the unconditional love my kids and family showed me is such a tangible picture of the "withness" of Jesus.  And I love that the world's view (read: my view) of winning is so totally opposite of what winning looks like in God's economy.

Did the Frick family lose because Devin didn't live? Yes, on one hand.  They lost their son/husband/friend/brother/boyfriend in an awfully painful struggle.  They are suffering overwhelming loss.  But they did not lose the race.  Instead they scratched and clawed and held on with all their might to the promises of God.  The fact that the Lord was WITH them, though they may or may not have felt His presence, is the real truth.  This truth is hard.  This truth hurts.  This truth is very difficult to believe and to focus on because it doesn't make pain go away.  But it is still Truth.

So I don't really have a moral of the story, and I think that's probably good.  I would hate to cheapen my experience, and more importantly the painful experience of my friends, by tying up this post with a nice pretty bow.  Gross...that would just be annoying, and bad theology.  I just felt like I needed to put this out there because it was a super raw, super real experience for me.  And because so many of you were rooting for me.  All I can say is that it's really important to run alongside each other, to cheer each other on, and to speak Truth to each other every chance we get.