Friday, August 29, 2014

Happy Days

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days
Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days,
Thursday, FRIDAY, Happy Days,
Saturday, what a day,
Groovin' all week with you.
{happy days lyrics}

Whatever happened to Fonzie, anyway? Did I see him on an episode of Law and Order (duh-duh)? (Which I don't watch anymore, because the L&O: SVU got a little disturbing.)

Happy Friday!!

Are you feeling groovy?

So I don't know if I'm ready for this weekend to come or not. I rather like it right now, having nothing to do but my own thing. Every single minute of this weekend will be filled with some sort of activity, lesson or sport, and I for one am Approaching with Caution, since weekend free time is a thing of the past, and double-or triple-booking our time is The Thing.

Happy Days!

Take it from me. When you start double-booking your time, start booking--yes, I mean intentionally scheduling--time with the Other Adult who lives in your home. Your spouse. Your Partner in Crime, the one who will help hold you together when you fall apart and then get snippy on the phone about not knowing (or not remembering--depends on who's account you go by, but since this is my blog and I'm writing, I say I didn't know) about a regularly scheduled Sunday evening baseball practice, which will impact other plans you already had on the schedule(this may or may not have happened in my house).

It could be five minutes, it could be thirty, but I promise, it will be worth it. (We have yet to do this, so you'll have to take my promise for what it's worth--and my husband doesn't know it yet, but we are getting up early tomorrow morning for some us time. He'll be thrilled. Yay me and my grand ideas!!)

Seriously, when was the last time you actually talked to your spouse--besides barking directions or scheduling events? This morning, we were like Okay, we'll meet at such-and-such a time and I'll drive here and meet you there and then tomorrow I'll leave at this time but we have to hurry home or we'll be late to meet this person at that time and then we have to meet this other group and this time and then we'll be home at such-and-such time and then Sunday I'll drive this car and leave at this time and you'll meet this person and drive this car and meet us in this place and then we'll all drive back together. Okay? Got it? Got it. Have a nice day, see you later, goodbye.

There is no real relationship building going on here. This is a problem, because a relationship needs more than a few bits of conversation around our hectic schedule to grow.

Hence the early Saturday morning wake-up call.

I'm looking forward to it. Everybody's grass needs a little bit 'o fertilizer, mine included. We can't let life get ahead of the reason we have this life (God aside, obviously, He's the ultimate reason we have a life)--the life that has been built as partners, side by side, as a team. Together.

I'll have tea (or maybe even coffee {gasp}--I'll have some coffee-flavored milk, please-- it may take a little more than tea for me at 5:30 on a Saturday morning), and he'll have--I don't know, maybe water?--and we will talk. Just talk. Just the two of us.

And we will watch our garden grow.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Strong People

Comfy chair. Check.

Drink. Check.

Laptop. Check.

Thoughts. Words. Anything but an empty brain? Not present, thank you very much.

I think it's party because my mind has been centered squarely on my kids since Monday, and then after that, it's been concentrating on finishing projects and organizing the house that looks like a bomb exploded in it ever since that last day of school a short ten weeks ago.

So here I sit, staring at a blank screen and a blinking curser, waiting for me to fill the space with something. Preferably words of wisdom, but honestly, I don't have any. I feel like all I can think about are other things, things that stress me out, things that are out of my control, beyond my grasp, leaving me feeling helpless. And maybe even a little forlorn.

You know how much I struggle with insecurity, placing my bets on appearance to get me through moments where I feel lost and afraid. I knew in the back of my mind that I'd eventually lose the bet, that it was precarious from the start, but the promise of beauty and the confidence connected to it seemed so reassuring. Get skinny and be happy. Okay! But now I've begun projecting my insecurities over weight onto my daughter, which is dangerous water to be treading in. This isn't news to me. I know how careful a mother has to be when it comes to her influence on her daughter. I fight it. Truly. I try really hard not to project what I was like at the same age onto her. But I know what I think and the things I worry about, and ya'll, it's not always admirable.

You know what I'm thinking right now?

That I shouldn't even be writing this. That this could all come back to bite me in the rear. (I'm sorry. I have a problem with the word butt. It's crass.)


I know what I should do. I know what I should say and what I should think. I know there is a fine line between my insecurity and teaching her how live above it. But sometimes my mouth opens before my brain thinks, and before I can suck the words back in, I've set us both up.

Another round in the ring. In one corner, me. In the other corner, Insecurity, waving it's victory flag before the fight even begins.

Sometimes you just want your kids to be everything. Popular and favored and not geeky and trendy and accepted and not different and prominent and attractive and wildly successful and superior in every single thing they do. And sometimes you might push for those things. And without really consciously acknowledging it, you might say things that would further your agenda, that would make you feel like your kids are making up for what you weren't. That they are the things that you couldn't be. And want to be. And all the while, we are sending the message that security lies in things like popularity and appearance and success. All things that can change before the sun sets on the horizon. All things that are notoriously ambiguous. So why is it so hard to speak truth in the midst of all the hype?

Maybe because truth puts us in the position of being exactly where we don't want to be.

Different. And swimming upstream the whole time you speak it.

Sometimes it's easier to just be swept away with the current. It takes a strong person to go against the tide.

We can be those strong people. We can teach our kids to be those strong people.

But it takes more than just being strong to do it.Our strength alone won't cut it, because we are human and we get tired and weary and distracted, and we get beat down by the steady drumbeat of pop and mainstream culture. Don't you just want to throw your hands in the air sometimes and shout Enough! I give in!

He gives strength to the weary...
{isaiah 40:29}

I have no strength to get in a fight. Dealing with insecurity for all these years has taught me that. I will lose every time. But in my weakness, I recognize that I need more than a few simple strategies to fight with.

I need God.

My steps backward happen a lot more than my steps forward, but it's when I look away from His face that it begins to affect my walk.

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
{psalm 119:105}

Influence. We all have it. (Even on our kids, as much as they may say to the contrary.) May He help us use it positively.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 3

Day 3.

And we are already weary of the early morning wake-up call, the hurry to grab a bite, the rush to the bus, the does-this-outfit-match-mom inquiries...oh, and then there's the actual work, which is what school is all about.

I missed them terribly the first day. I may have even cried a little when he got on the bus and I dropped her off at school. BF (Before Kids) I wasn't aware that such an ache could exist, unless I was being shunned by a boy who thought he was a good lover, but this ache that belongs with being a parent-- I wasn't prepared for it.

I was anxious all day long for them. For them. Like I was between the ages of 9 and 12 and feeling all those feelings all over again. Will she get her locker open? Will he find his friends? Will she make it to her classes? Will someone ask him to play on the playground? Are they lost, scared, anxious or sad? 

I don't know why I do it. Why I torture myself with what I think they are going through. But my heart couldn't rest until they were both home, reporting their day over a snack before they made a hasty exit to the freedom of the outdoors.

google images

To play.

To be a kid.

At least until homework was remembered, dinner was eaten, showers were taken, and the night was ended with a kiss and a prayer, a preparation so we could do it all over again the next day.

The bus is here, another end to another day. Another snack, another report. But this day, no more anxiety. No more worry. Because I finally remembered where to put my trust.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
{1 peter 5:7}

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm Not Her

I read a devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries nearly everyday. It's just part of my daily quiet time. And while I can't always relate to what a particular woman is going through, I can generally glean a life truth from their words.

Two days ago, Jen Hatmaker, posted her view on raising the kids we have, not the kids we were, and at first, I was right there with her. Of course. This is obvious, isn't it? To not gather up our own experiences, fears, successes and failures and cast them onto on our kids. I really like Jen's blog, and she's totally relate-able, so I read eagerly, searching for the nuggets of truth I could apply to my own life, to my own parenting; a truth that would ease the guilt of not taking my kids to church every Sunday, the guilt of forgetting to do an devotion with them every morning, of slacking off where I should be working hard at developing their faith.

But then she started talking about a discussion with her son about missionaries (do my kids even really know what missionaries do?), modern thought, and postmodern thought, and how many of today's kids are postmodern thinkers, those souls who want to better the world and reach out to love the unlovely, I felt so guilty I could have melted into the floor. Not only does Jen Hatmaker talk the talk, she also evidently walks the walk--kids in tow. They serve. They talk. They do.

I must lead with my life, not just my lips.
{jen hatmaker}

I have a heart that thinks serving others is a fantastic idea, but I get caught up in the day-to-day that takes up all my time, and honestly, by the end of the day, serving is the last thing on my mind. I'm doing really well to be the places that I need to be on time and prepared. Sometimes I'm one or the other, and sometimes I'm neither, like tonight at soccer, where my son practiced for 90 minutes with no water or rec specs because we forgot both.

I believe our kids will be less likely to get lost in culture if they have experienced the dynamic, loving, radical Jesus. When they know Him in a life-changing way, they learn to engage culture as a change agent and advocate without getting tainted by its influence. This is how God designed the Kingdom. He raises up disciples and releases them on the planet.
{jen hatmaker}

My problem is, I'm not sure my children have really experienced the dynamic, loving, radical Jesus because their mother, although I try to walk out what I believe, isn't showing Him to them.

It's been bothering me for days, ever since I read that post on the P31 website. I've been questioning everything I do and say. Is it enough for them to really experience what Jen Hatmaker is talking about--the dynamic, loving, radical Jesus?

Sometimes, I just have lots of questions with no real answers. I think I know what I'd tell me if I were someone coming to me for advice, but I'm also questioning the basis for my answers. How do I really know what is right and true, and what is just coming from what I think I know?

But I know what my friend Stacey would tell me to do. Pray. Just pray, pray, pray. Pray until you think you can't pray anymore and then pray some more.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. 
With Him at my right hand, 
I will not be shaken.
{psalm 16:8}

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

She's Got Legs

I woke up Saturday morning, after a fitful night of unrest (I've been reading Dan Brown's book The Lost Symbol, and honestly, it is so freaky to me that it's been giving me nightmare-ish, crazy, bizarre dreams, plus I haven't been sleeping well in general at night, which I hate--if there's one thing I need in life, it's sleep. And lots of it) thoroughly disgusted and generally just PO'd about the veins that have been showing up in my otherwise pale and freckly legs lately. This isn't a new thing, for sure, so I don't know why Saturday was the day that I decided to be outraged by their presence, but I was. Honestly. I cannot stand in an upright position without those things making themselves known. And forget exercise. They blow up like balloons on the back of my leg (the right, just so you know).

Someone told me not to long ago that in order to really determine what your legs will look like when you're older, you should take a look at your grandma's legs.

Sister. 

That. Ain't. Pretty.

I may as well go buy myself some of those old people tight socks and kiss my youth goodbye. Along with any sort of sophistication or poise I thought I still had. Because tube socks worn to make my calves look like sausages will do that.

Second Skin Men's 15-20 mmHg Casual and Athletic Knee High Socks
Stop right now! That is just so sassy!
I looked down at my legs while I was walking on the treadmill (you know what I forgot? Headphones. Bad move right there, because exercising on treadmills and elliptical machines without music--or a TV, which this on had, but I couldn't hear--why? oh, yes--no headphones--is like working in the men's tie department of Belk on a Monday night. Or fishing.) and almost fell off (another bad move is looking anywhere but right in front of you while you're walking on a treadmill, especially if you're going 4.3 MPH), but before I almost fell off, I noticed my veins bulging in a most unalluring fashion and got mad all over again. And since I didn't have any music to listen to, and nothing to watch (well, that movie with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton about singing in a choir was on BET but I couldn't hear it so what's the point?) and no one to talk to, I got out my tablet and started looking up recipes online.

It's hard to read a recipe blog and walk faster than a turtle on a treadmill with BET playing silently at eye level.

But after I almost fell off and before I started reading Oh She Glows, I made do with a few minutes of unbearable silence by complaining. To God. About my legs.

I've either got cojones or I'm stupid.

I'm going with the former.

I wish I could say that a beautiful verse came to mind, or I was immediately at peace after unloading my thoughts, but that wasn't the case this time. My heart wasn't willing to give up the fight, and it was sealed off from feeling any peace over my legs.

But a few days later, during my morning quiet time, I came across a devotional in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young that reminded me I need a big change in perspective.

It was all about having a thankful heart.

At first, I thought thankful heart, schmankful heart--who can be thankful over this?

But as I considered the turmoil I was feeling over my veins--my projections into the future, my assumptions that I could no longer be considered attractive--I realized that my heartitude was just vile. I wasn't being thankful for anything, only complaining about what I don't have--perfect, vein-free legs (I guess I'd be dead if they were free of veins, but you know what I mean).

I have lots to be thankful for.

I can walk.
I can teach classes.
I can run.
I can bend and stretch and lay down and stand up and sit down and kneel and squat and lunge.

And that's only with my legs.

Having a thankful heart can bring about a peace in life that is like no other, because it shifts my perspective from just myself to the world around me.

And for someone who tends to think only of herself, that's a huge shift.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, 
but envy rots the bones.
{proverbs 14:30}

Remembering to stay thankful--daily--is a challenge for this glass-half-empty girl, but the promise of peace is too big of a draw not to try.

I'm thankful for my legs.

Hey--it's a start.:)

Monday, August 18, 2014

No Compromise

Last Friday, my husband and I journeyed to North Carolina to do some furniture shopping.

Yes.

I said furniture shopping.

I don't know why it is when a person mentions "furniture shopping" within earshot of a male listener*, that listener will visibly shudder and begin convulsing on the floor, visions of sofas and matching chairs in his mind. Or non-matching but complimentary chairs, as in my case, which is partly why our trip was a tad frustrating. 

*I am not stereotyping the man brain, just making a casual observation. My husband enjoys furniture shopping and does not complain.

I have an idea in my head. An idea that consists of one sofa, four chairs*, a square bricklayers coffee table, and a bench, thus creating an intimate setting to enjoy a nice chat. My husband has an idea in his head. An idea that consists of one sectional sofa, one (or two, he's willing to compromise) chairs, the coffee table if I want it, and no bench (he's not wild about the idea of a bench in front of the fireplace), thus creating a comfortable environment to watch TV. 

*complimentary to the couch, but not matching the couch; however, two chairs on the left would match each other and the two chairs on the right would also match each other, although the chairs would not match anything else perfectly, thus creating a non-matchy-matchy but perfectly coordinated look. 

I thought I had him convinced. I really did. He even said, out loud (and in his own voice), that he could give up the notion that a sectional was the way to go. But by the end of the night, after we had walked 500,000 of the million square feet that Furniture Land South has to offer, he informed me (with a gleam in his eye--I could see it) that the sectional idea was back on, and that changing his mind was not likely.

We came away with two truths: 
1) we like a lot of the same stuff and 
2) we can't agree on the same layout for any of our rooms. 

It would seem that we have arrived at an impasse.

A standoff, if you will. Not a contentious one, mind you. But a standoff, nonetheless.  

Don't worry. We've been here plenty of times before.

So I complained to my sister why can't people just agree with me because wouldn't that be simpler? And why does marriage always have to be about compromise, anyway?

If I were a liar, I would tell you that I am willing to bend and that he was straight as an iron rod, but that would only be to make myself look good, because I am no good at compromise. In fact, there are times when I hate the word and have no interest in applying it to my life. 

As in right now. 

It's usually because I think I have a pretty good idea. It's also usually because I don't think very many other ideas are as good as mine. And it's also usually because I get stuck on my idea and can't see the other person's perspective, and I don't want to because I (can be) insanely stubborn and inflexible.

We can be perfectly polite, if not friendly, to one another, discussing design and layouts and fabric (oh, yes, I see where you're going with that I hate it and yes, that is a good idea not gonna happen and yes, that would create more usable space not what I'd do but whatever) and such and all the while (well, this is me, I can't speak for what he's thinking in his own head) thinking I'm not changing my mind and now you are frustrating me so good luck.

I have, in my lifetime, often thought that other people were difficult to deal with, and they should, quite frankly, just change (to be more like me, ha and double ha!--but honestly, it would make life easier--but, as my grandma used to say, wouldn't the world be a boring place if everybody were the same? And I would agree with her, like yeah, it really would be, grandma, I think you're right, but I'd secretly think but I think maybe I might like it).

I've very rarely considered that fact that I also need to change. Or that my iron-rod stance is often a hindrance, not a help, in my relationships. But does anybody (myself included) really enjoy being with a person that is so unwilling to change? 

When I started doing bible studies regularly at church, one recurring theme around all of the them was that we can pray all day long for God to change someone else's heart, but the heart that He's interested in changing is the one that we own, not the ones we have no control over. He can deal with other people without our complaints and our own desire to change them, as good as our intentions may be.

Above all else, 
guard your heart, 
for everything you do flows from it.
{proverbs 4:23}

This heart of ours is prime real estate, where all the truths we may never want to acknowledge eventually come spilling out. And I've found that as much as I change what I say, it is my heart that quickly determines how I will act, and a truly authentic person's actions will match their words. 

As I sit back and ponder if I really do want to change or not, it occurs to me that I really do want to have healthy, happy relationships, and in order to have healthy, happy relationships, I have to do my part. And in doing my part, I have the desire to go to God, humbly, and ask where and how my own heart can be changed.

Oh, it's not easy, friend. It's hard to accept when one realizes that she is the one who needs to change, but it's also a beautiful thing, because it means that her iron-rod stance is slowly softening, her heart is becoming moldable, more pliable, closer to the person that God created her to be.

I'm willing to compromise to get that. 

A person may think their own ways are right, 
but the Lord weighs the heart.
{proverbs 21:2}


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

living room floor picnics

The summer is winding down.

For us, anyway.

That official sign that signifies the ending of summer--school--will start in less than two weeks, and our summer freedom will be over.

Even as I write this I feel a stab of sadness mixed with the anticipation of loneliness and anxiety in my heart. That first week without them home is always the hardest. Getting used to a new routine is never fun. And I always have a few regrets as I look back at the 10 weeks we had off. Did we do enough? (I have this idea in my mind that my kids will do school work all summer so that they will retain the information they learned over the previous school year. However. I am a terrible, terrible mother who follows through with this plan for the first two and a half weeks, then lets an unruly set of siblings take over, and the remainder of the summer no pencil nor paper is seen within the confines of these walls. We did go to the science museum, though, so that's something.)

This summer, I had one goal (okay, I had more than one goal, but I had a goal in particular), and that was to take a picnic lunch to my 90-year-old grandmother's house and have a picnic on her living room floor. Well, we would be on the floor. She would sit on the couch. One goal. And I have failed. Miserably.

I've always had a great relationship with my grandma. She's the one who I would call after a fight with my mom, or when I wanted to run away from home because everyone was being mean or boring, or when I just needed to talk. She would take me shopping for clothes and listen as I would drone on and on about this cute boy or that mean girl. When I was little, she would play silly games with me for hours. She was one of my biggest advocates and supporters. She knew me. She got me.



But after my grandfather died in 1998, things changed. And over the years since then, her mind has slowly decided it likes living in the past better than the right now, and sometimes it won't let her out of it's iron-like grip of what I call slight dementia. Some people might call it crazy, but I'd never say that about my own grandma.

But sometimes she doesn't want to change out of her same housecoat that she's been wearing for days, and sometimes undergarments aren't her friend, which exposes a little too much cleavage when she bends down (if you know what I mean), and sometimes it's about 85 degrees in her house and I start sweating under my armpits which is just unsightly, and sometimes she doesn't watch her language around my kids, and sometimes she's a little too frank about sex, which is just uncomfortable for all parties on the listening end. And sometimes she doesn't want to stop talking about the same thing, and sometimes she asks the same question that you've already answered a dozen times.



Sometimes there is so much family drama that you don't know which way is up because you are drowning in it.

And sometimes I just avoid the whole mess altogether.

I've had wonderful intentions. Doesn't a picnic sound nice? But I've been busy with classes and running my kids around this town, plus they've had friends over, plus we had the whole lice debacle (a pest we are free from, thank the Lord), plus we had several vacations, plus we had pink eye, plus it seems like every single night of the week we've had something to go to, plus I've had laundry and cleaning to take care of.

All very good excuses.

But the only message she's getting is that her granddaughter is way too busy to take the time to come see her. At all.

It's been months. Literally months since I've been up to see her.

Yes, I feel ashamed. My busy schedule shouldn't come before someone I love, especially someone who has been one of my biggest supporters. Sometimes I look at myself and wonder what happened to me.

When did I become someone who doesn't care?

Take care of widows...
{1 timothy 5:3}

A fine job I'm doing.

Life has a way of pulling at you from 1,000 different directions, and if we aren't careful, we'll end up stretched too thin, with a wild gleam in our eyes and our hair standing on end. (This isn't a good look for me.) Learning what to say yes to and what to say no to is a fine art. But I know my grandma isn't going to be around forever, and while I waste my time coming up with excuses for why I haven't been to see her, she is sitting in her house, watching TV for company.

I'm looking at my week, knowing that it's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to fit in a visit. I'm looking at next, wondering if I can put the bathrooms off one more day while I put my grandma's living room floor picnic ahead of what I need to get done.

She used to tell me that the dirt will be still waiting when I get home from living life, and I think she's right. Dirt never stays away for long. Ten years from now, the house and the dirt and the laundry will still be here.

But she won't. Time for a picnic, wouldn't you say?




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Now I Know

You know, over the winter (which I hate don't like), I promised that I wouldn't complain about the heat of the summer (my most favorite season, hands down, followed by spring, then fall--I don't include winter at all), but little did I know that summer would be more representative of some other-world season than the typical summer I'm used to. We've gotten lots...and lots...and lots of rain. Which I'm not used to, and even though I'm very thankful for said rain, we are now on our fourth (or fifth?) day of overcast, gray, rainy days and of temperatures in the mid-to-upper 60's to maybe the low 70's. Which is fine. I'm not complaining. But summer-time activities are typically outdoor, you see, and we've been stuck inside for what feels like weeks. I tried to take my kids to the (unheated) pool about two weeks ago, and because of all the cool nights and rain, the water was too cold for them to even stay in. Crazy.

Which lead us to rent a movie from the library on Saturday night, because it was too rainy to do anything else. Plus, we never get invited anywhere, like, ever, so here we are.

Saturday night.

Living room couch.

The Odd Life Of Timothy Green (starring Jennifer Garner, one of my fave actresses because she is so darn cute, and if you feel the need to argue with me, just go watch 13 Going On 30 and I will have to say no more).

A) I didn't really realize what it was all about.
B) I didn't think I'd cry at the end but I did. (I have this thing about crying at movies--I hate it--but lately I've been succumbing to The Cry more and more. Not that this is a bad thing, I just get flustered by the whole matter.)

I'll try not to spoil it for you (incidentally, in writing this, I left out the word not, leaving the sentence to read I'll try to spoil it for you--a sign, perhaps, that I will indeed spoil it for you?). 

The movie is about a couple (Jim and Cindy, if you need to know) who cannot, after an exhaustive and very expensive medical journey, have any biological children. They are, understandably, devastated by this news, and the first couple of minutes of the movie portray their angst. 

It made me sad.

Especially because I have known several couples who are close friends over the years who have struggled with this very thing. 

Infertility.

Most couples struggle in private, preferring not to reveal their painful secret. Sometimes they feel ashamed or embarrassed. Sometimes they just don't want to hear the nonchalant and often insensitive reactions (often from people who have kids of their own) from other people.

In watching this movie, I could see that I've probably been nonchalant and insensitive in my comments or actions, and I didn't even realize it. 

It's hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes, especially if you've never had to experience what they are going through, but it's no excuse for insensitivity. So after a few strokes of the keyboard, a google search, and watching this movie, here are a few pointers for everyone:

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. 
If you have that awareness, you have good manners, 
no matter what fork you use.
{emily post}

1) Every month that a couple who struggles with infertility realizes that they are not pregnant, it's similar to the devastation of a loved one dying, as they think about the baby they will never have the chance to know--what their personality would have been like, what color their eyes would have been--and this takes a toll emotionally. So saying things like "It'll come, just give it time", or "Just relax, and you'll get pregnant", or even worse, "Maybe it's not meant to be" or "It could be worse" are not comforting.

2) Don't constantly complain about how hard parenting is. Conversely, don't tell a struggling couple how easy their life is/will be without kids.

3) Don't assume that IVF and adoption are options for everyone. Both of these are emotional and very expensive, and suggesting that either of these could or should be the "cure" for infertility in a flippant way ignores the emotional and financial impact on a couple.

4) Don't suggest that methods (such as IVF and other fertility treatments) other than having sex and getting pregnant are abnormal or strange.

5) Don't assume that just because a couple is young, they have plenty of time to get pregnant and they shouldn't worry. Youth does not make one immune to infertility.

6) Don't suggest or assume that the fault lies with one person or the other. That's just insensitive. And rude.

7) Don't assume that the couple simply isn't trying hard enough, or that they must not want a baby that bad. It's a real punch in the gut to tell a couple who is aching to conceive, who wants a child more than anything, that they must not want one enough.

8) Don't suggest an alternative "child" for the couple--like a puppy. Just don't.

9) If a couple chooses to share some of their infertility issues with you, listen. Be sensitive to their struggles and don't assume (if you are a parent) that you have wisdom that should be imparted upon them. Don't talk about your own issues. Give them hugs and kisses.

And tell them that you love them.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Noetic Science Is A Thing

I didn't think that my mood could be any worse than it was after yesterday afternoon, but I think it must have soured overnight. Because things are cloudy with a chance of meatballs over here, and I'm not talking about the weather.

I didn't get any mail today, either, and that always throws me off.

Is it possible to have PMS for an entire week?

As I was up late, reading The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, I decided in my hazy-eyed stupor that I simply wasn't using enough of my brain power to influence the world around me. Noetic science, Dan Brown calls it. AKA mind over matter, a concept not foreign to me but one I don't indulge in often. (Since Dan Brown is a writer of completely fictional tales, I should totally go by what he says, too. However. I googled noetic science and it is actually a thing. Who knew?)

I'll spare you all the details and my complaints of my morning, but I can tell you positive thoughts weren't enough to overcome an empty gym.

So I got back home and stared at my still-unmade bed, thinking that if it weren't for the fact that both my kids had friends over, I'd hop back in and start over again tomorrow.

I think I need a big cup of caffeine. Organizers make me happy, too.

Onward to the bathroom, where a plethora of organizational opportunities await.

When 11:15 rolled around and the boys were asking for lunch, I kind of stared blankly at them and had to blink a couple of times to remember who they were and why they were asking for lunch. This is what happens to me when I'm in my own little world.

I don't transition well.

But transition is what life is about. Can't get by without it, unless you stay stuck in one place, and who wants to do that? (Okay. Sometimes I want to do that.)

And now as I head into the fun part of the weekend, I must (I must, I must increase my bust--obviously from Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret--anybody?? Anyways, since I'm currently asking the same question, I thought it very apropos to include a Margaret reference. Maybe I'll name my metal chicken Margaret since Beyonce is already taken.)--as I was saying, I must remember that my attitude is all about mind over matter. Thinking positively because circumstances are positive is easy. Thinking positively when the road gets a little bumpy is a little more challenging, but since giving up and getting back in bed clearly wasn't (I guess it still isn't at 5:37 pm, although don't think I haven't thought about it. Because totally I have.) an option, I decided to accept the challenge and run with it. So today wasn't a total win. Tomorrow is a new day.

And besides. If I can take this:
I don't know why I have 50 pencils and two rolls of tape in my bathroom drawer. 
and turn it into this:

then I can take on my challenge of positive thinking.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hero to Zero

Evidently, every virtual diva and dude on my daughter's High School Story app needs new duds, books, rings (?), and other sundries. All for the low, low price of $9.99. What virtual high school student doesn't want new threads? I just prefer to spend my money on actual threads, not simulated ones. So when AB asked to spend her money on HSS, I said no. Why should I encourage her to waste her money? This was apparently the wrong answer, as an argument ensued over why does mom get to choose how I spend my money and why do you get to say no and I don't like that and I am not wasting my money I'm buying books and then SLAM.

Why her arguments are always punctuated with a door slam I'll never know.

Hello.

My name is Heather and I am failing at life.

Not really, I suppose, because there are a few successful areas. Like I got up this morning.

And the bed is made. Plus I showered so I smell better than I did an hour ago.

It's not that the house is in a perpetual state of messy, which bothers me to no end and regrettably offends my other half. It's not that I'm living my life in a rush to do everything (even go to sleep). It's not that the contents of my bathroom drawers are still dumped out on the counter in an attempt at organizing them, proving that I am terrible at getting a project actually completed. It's not that at least once a day, a door gets slammed in this house due to the (real or imagined) vexation of the slamm-er. It's not that I've been one to two minutes late picking up my son from camp everyday, a fact he pointed out to me yesterday when he exclaimed brightly "Hey! You didn't forget about me today!" (um, excuse me, but when have I ever forgotten about you??), and it's not that the feedback from the class I taught today was that it was too hard and too much and it just may completely bomb because I cannot seem to find that magic blend of perfection that makes people want to keep coming back. 

Therefore I will not keep silent; 
I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, 
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
{job 7:11}

It's all of these things combined.

I mean, what is it? It's not that I want to suck at life. I do try really, really hard to parent my children wisely, make classes fun, make life interesting. (And organized.)

I've been watching people lately. Some are just born with a charisma that you can't fake, that draws people in. They are witty and charming, amiable and absolutely engaging, making fun out of boredom and drawing people in by just their smile. 

I am not one of those people. I've tried, but I think I come across as fake, because, well, it is. I am reserved and quiet, somewhat disagreeable, slightly on the negative side and have been known to be contentious just for contentious sake. (P.S. I do not like these qualities about myself but am henceforth at a loss as to how to change me.) I am, in the words of Yes, the owner of a lonely heart. With a zero on her forehead.

I wish that I could be like the cool kids
'Cause all the cool kids, they seem to get it.
{cool kids, echosmith}

And where is God in all this mess that's going on in my head? What does He have to say on the matter? I know what I think He'll say, but in all my praying and talking and yelling and telling and then answering for Him, He's been agonizingly silent. No word from above. No divine hugs. No prophetic messages. 

Lord, you have seen this; 
do not be silent. 
Do not be far from me, Lord.
{psalm 35:22}

Can I please just have the Midas touch and be done? I'd really like that.

In reality, I don't think I have any idea about God. I know what I think I've learned in church, and through bible studies, and I've spent a lot of time in His words, but I have no idea. None. I've folded Him and squeezed Him into a little box, thinking of Him not as the wild and free God that He is, but as a God that does what works best for me.

So what do I know of you
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shores along your ocean?
{what do I know of holy, addison road}

I don't have any answers, but I do have plenty of questions. How do I merge what He wants from me with what I want from Him? What, exactly, does He want from me? When will I know? How will I know? 

And the apostles said "Lord, increase our faith!"
{luke 17:5}

Faith. Faith to believe something I cannot see, to have confidence in something I cannot touch.

Faith.

I need some of that. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

metal chickens and kale smoothies

AB: I want a smoothie.

Me: Didn't you have a smoothie this morning for breakfast?

AB: Nooooo...

(I know this to be false because Messy McMesserson always leaves evidence behind.)

Me: You can have a smoothie, but it has to have spinach or kale in it.

(Simmer down. You can hardly taste it. Besides, dinner tonight will be at a baseball park, and there is nothing green there, unless you count the grass on the field.)

Apparently, adding green to a smoothie is comparable to eating chilled monkey brains, which should cause distress, by the way, because at that very moment, tears erupted, and a dramatic fall to the ground ensued.

AB: Fine, health freak. All my friends call you a health freak.

Me: Like I care what any of your friends call me. I wear the badge proudly. (We'll address name calling at another time.)

AB: {glare}

Me: {smile} I am proud of being healthy.

AB: {pouting, extracting soggy spinach from smoothie}

Me: Just leave it in there. If you're not gonna drink it, I'll save it for myself and drink it tomorrow.

You'd have thought the world as we know it was getting ready to end, although she'd be poorly prepared should that ever happen, as her typical responses to situations that cause distress are a) crying and b) falling to the ground in a heap.

Guess who just got an invite to Junior Cotillion? Couldn't have come at a better time.

As we speak, feet are stomping up the steps (sans smoothie, thank you very much) and a bedroom door is slamming.

And anyway, wasn't I just in a situation like this a couple of weeks ago involving ice cream? And why do our fights always end up being like a stand-off, Fight Night-style? These are questions that I have no answer to. However, my sister sent me a blog post about a woman who argued with her husband over new towels, and he ended up with a large metal chicken in his yard (it's funny-read it!).  A lesson on why we should learn to pick our battles. (Don't write me to let me know how much she drops the f-bomb. I read it. I know.)

As for picking my own battles, I guess I'm going to have to go break the news to Miss Indignant that the basement needs to be cleaned, and guess who's going to go do it?

I feel a metal chicken coming on.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Nonsensical

So.

I started a post this morning about Sir Mix-A-Lot and Baby Got Back, and then realized that the words I was writing were about as nonsensical as Dr. Seuss, so then I went and put in my contacts and made my bed in the hopes that something would happen while I was gone.

google images

It didn't.

So today, I'm offering you encouragement and some different nonsensical thoughts from one of my favorite authors, Beth Moore, in the hopes that you will leave today feeling refreshed, not confused.

What God is doing in your life right now may not make sense to you, but it's not because He's (it's me and my thoughts--and what is He not? Nonsensical! What!) nonsensical. It's because He's creative. God wants us to surrender to His will, but we tend to want a blueprint of His plans so we can decided whether or not to surrender. (Hey--it's me again--and this totally describes me.)

Had you been a spectator during only the first three days of creation, you might not have judged it as good. What good are seed-bearing plants with no sun for photosynthesis? In His wisdom God knew the work was good because He knew what was coming next. He knows what's coming next for you. That's why He can judge His work in you as good. Give God room to be completely creative. Meet with Him daily as He unfold the plan in perfect order. 

He's really good at what He does."

{beth moore, whispers of hope}

Read. Talk. Share.

Be encouraged by the nonsensical-ness of it all.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Freedom

It wasn't what he said, although his words cut me to the core.

It wasn't his volume, which was, um, high.

It was his tone. The tone that was dripping with disdain. His words were mocking, hurtful, and full of scorn and contempt.

My family has never been what you would call a cohesive unit. My parents cut ties with their siblings, claiming the issues stemmed from childhood controversies that we wouldn't understand. When I look back at my formative years, I'm not sure who had more issues--the people I didn't know but had heard stories about, or my own parents.

We had the obligatory get-togethers with my mom's side of the family on Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas, and my aunt and uncle would send birthday cards in the mail. My aunt even took me shopping for my senior prom, buying me a pair of pearl earrings and a necklace to match. So even though my mom had blamed the lack of communication on her family, as an adult, I decided that I'd like to have a family that was bigger than 6 people. I envied the friends who had large, clumsy, loud-mouthed families, filled with Saturday night get-togethers and Sunday morning church. Sure, they complained, but to me, it was worse to have zero family and zero connections.

Sometimes, even though you might want something really, really bad, you just have to realize that not everybody wants to...be involved. At all.

I invited. I hoped. I planned. I served. I laughed when things weren't funny. I overcompensated and overdid, waiting for the relationship with my family members to take root, hoping I'd be invited to their house, waiting for them to see me as valuable to their lives. They got to be good friends with my dad. Why couldn't we make this work? Why didn't they want to be good friends with me?

Obviously, if I were completely one-sided, I'd tell you, like my mom, that nothing was my fault and I did everything I could to make a relationship work. From my point-of-view, I did. I don't know the other side of the story, so I couldn't tell you what I did wrong, what they were truly thinking, or what I could have done differently, but I do take some blame. I had called him a name in my earlier years, making things awkward for awhile. Maybe I was just too darn needy.

So it wasn't even the 5-minute yelling streak, screaming things I won't repeat and mostly can't remember. It was his absolute rejection of my whole person that brought me to tears. And he felt justified in what he had said, how he had described me, the words he used, the adjectives he chose. I believed some of those words about me.

I couldn't stand up for me.

My dad--his good, good friend--wouldn't even up for me.

Ouch.

My soul felt broken into little jagged pieces, the hurtful words swirling over and around my head.

Eight years later.

And I still have a touch of venom when I think of that situation.

When I decided to do a life-overhaul several years ago, forgiveness was one of the things that stood out to me as something I need to work on. So I went through the mental list of people I needed to forgive: ex-boyfriends, friends, family members, co-workers. I even made a few phone calls, had some difficult conversations, made good with a few people. Then I wiped the proverbial dust from my feet and thought I was done.

Except I really wasn't.

Because for me, forgiveness isn't a one-time deal. Forgiving someone a single time isn't a game-changer for me. I can say I forgive and then hold onto that grudge for the next 3 years, waiting for the day when I can have that imaginary (but totally put-you-in-your-place awesome), one-sided conversation. I'll forgive again and then find myself seething over the remembered infraction.

All-in-all, I'm terrible at forgiving.

But I found that the more I held onto those sins against me, the more miserable I was. The imaginary conversations never happened. The other people never came to their senses or crawling back, begging forgiveness. And the ice around my heart continued to harden, and I became perpetually frosty, guarded, and reserved.

I was hurting me, not the people who had hurt me. However bassackwards that is, that's the way it is.

And I finally figured out that forgiveness is, instead of a one-time deal, an every time deal.

Every time I think of that person, I forgive.
Every time I remember those words, I forgive.
Every time my thoughts land on that situation, I forgive.

Every. Time.

Now, here's the game-changer for me: just because I've forgiven someone does not mean that it's forgotten . It does not mean that what they did was okay. And it does not mean that we have to be friends.

But it does mean that my mind is free. I'm no longer bound by what the other person said or did. Sure, I'll have to forgive...and forgive...and forgive...but I am no longer held prisoner by any situation, adjectives, or hurt.

Freedom.

It's worth it.

**It's my 500th post!! what what!