Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dear Diary

Ahem.

After weeks of pleasant, lift-you-up-because-you-know-someone-is-reading-and-enjoying-your-blog stats, I opened up my blogger account this morning to understand that something must have happened to Blogger and those inflated, feel-good stats weren't actually my stats, but they were like ghost stats or something, because the numbers today didn't reflect the numbers from last week. I think I prefer the ghost stats. Not that I am complaining.

I am totally complaining.

So today, my blog will be a journal, of sorts, somewhere to just let the word vomit filling up my head actually spill onto the pages. That's a nice visual, isn't it?

I'm afraid my 
own awesomeness 
won't translate to the real world.
{axl heck}

Yeah. You and me both, Axl Heck.

Dear Diary,

So why do elderly people have to be such grumps? And are old grumpy people just senior versions of their own younger, grumpy selves? And when it's your own family member who you are accusing of being a grump, is it possible that you could have turned a blind eye to the grump when you were younger, only to be shocked by the grumpiness later on in life?

Because grandma was showing herself yesterday. Arguing and carrying on with the girl who stays with her during the day, and talking about showing her ninety-year-old hoo-ha to the public, and how "she don't care no more". HER HOO-HA, y'all. REALLY? Poor Shirley. I thought old people were supposed to be sweet and gentle and, like, lovable.

My whole delusional world has just come crashing down on me.

And now I've got my eye on some potential future grumps, which makes me feel like I smell something really bad in the air, and I don't like it. And then I'm like am I a future grump? Because that's not cool at all.

And this. Why do almost-twelve-year-old have to act like actual twelve-year-olds? Is there a twelve-year-old handbook out there that I don't know about that says NUMBER ONE: Act like you don't care NUMBER TWO: Act like you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and then announce it to the world at large NUMBER THREE: Give your mother a hard time whenever possible because this makes life FUN? I'm telling you. We need to confiscate said handbook and burn it.

And why do nine-year-olds not actually say what is on their mind, but get cranky about it when you do something they asked to do, just not on the EXACT timeline they asked to do it on? And then answer every question with a no.

Do you want to leave? No
Do you want to stay? No
Are you happy? No
Do you want to walk? No
Do you want to run? No
Are you mad? No
Do you want to play? No
Are you sad? No
Are you embarrassed to be here with me? No
What do you want to do? NO

I mean, like, WHAT THE WHAT, y'all? What does that even mean? You don't know what you want to do? You're unhappy with what you are doing? You don't have any idea and you're just mad about it?

No, no and no. I guess.

And then on the way home from the exact thing they wanted to do (but not on the exact timeline, remember) they go "that was fun!"  and you're left standing there like what was fun?  and then they run off to go do something and you're all like staring at them and wondering if a) you should yell I TOLD YOU SO at them or b) even say anything else for the entire rest of the night because obviously you are having language-barrier-issues.

Signing off, because abruptness is totally appropriate in a dairy.

Love,

Heather


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ideals

AFter digging around in some old boxes labeled "JON STUFF", I found a treasure trove of memorabilia from my husband's childhood and teen years. Newspaper clippings. Baseballs. A glove. And a random teeshirt that I'm not sure why we're saving.  I also found a few papers stapled together, with "Dear Diary" on the front, dated May, 1984.

A glimpse into the mind of an 11-year-old boy:

How tall do I want to be?
6 feet 6 inches

How much do I want to weigh?
230 pounds

Someone likes himself some baseball.

My favorite things to do are...
sports, reading, board games

But...

I like
music? NO
art? yes
gym? yes
library? NO!

And...

Two things I don't like about school are:
library
Mrs. Foster

(Poor Mrs. Foster.)

I would like to earn $500,000 a year.
I would like to own a Porsche.



I'm glad I met him. He has some high aspirations. Although I still haven't seen that Porsche...

When my daughter read this, she laughed, but she must have thought it was a pretty good idea to write a diary about yourself, because she made one of her own, and then answered all the questions. When she asked me how tall I am and much I weighed, I didn't think much of it, but answered her in the most truthful way I could. With a number that best represents me. (Like, I weigh this much in the morning when I haven't eaten anything and I'm not weighed down my clothes or shoes and I'm not carrying extra water weight and my hair isn't wet from the shower and I'm only stepping on the edge of the scale. This is how much I weigh.)

She was pretty anxious to tell me about her "diary", and we went through it together.

How much do you want to make?
$50,000

What do you want to be?
a judge or a lawyer and an English teacher

(I see a grammar Nazi in her future.)

How many kids do you want to have?
5 or 6

How much do you want to weigh?
The exact same as my mom.

I just stared at her, smile frozen on my face.

Mind. Blown.

I kind of looked at her out of the corner of my eye, because her answer surprised me. Her ideal weight is what I weigh? How many times have I looked in the mirror and been intensely dissatisfied with my weight, pinching myself here or there, wishing I was a little thinner here and there and everywhere. Not when she's around, of course, but that doesn't mean that she's not reading all the evidence of discontentment that I think I'm hiding so well.

Emotions slammed against my heart--guilt, embarrassment, shame, maybe even a little bit of pride.

How many times have I silently--because you don't need words for this language--told her that the weight she thinks is perfect isn't good enough--for either one of us?

Our girls need to see a generation of women who are embracing themselves with love and acceptance, not pinching their thighs because they don't match what they see in a catalog. Even when we don't think that they notice, they do. They are paying attention to how we carry ourselves, to the things we care about, and they are taking their cues not only from the rest of the world but from their mothers and aunts and grandmothers and cousins and all the women that they are close to. Our girls are learning from us. What do we want them to take away?

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to give it all away
{try, colbie calliat}

I don't want my daughter to live with a lifetime of self-reproach as she tries to fit into a mold that someone else has made for her. I don't want her to live hating herself because she thinks she needs to lose weight. I want her to be free from the bondage that comes with those issues. I want her to show herself some love.

The example starts at home.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Risky Business

I'm not one known for taking risks--really, risks of any kind. Of course, there was that one semester of college when I tasted what I thought was freedom--and it was freedom, if you describe freedom as being out from under a parent's watchful eye--where I took great personal risk by doing lots of risky things that weren't like me at all, like skipping class. (Okay, so make fun of me. I am not a person who ever skipped class, except maybe on Senior Skip Day, and to me, skipping class* was fraught with danger and certainly dicey. I did other things that semester, too.) But I am not the one you'll see hang gliding or bungee jumping or wind surfing or swimming with a pool full of dolphins (I heard they aren't as innocent as they look. And that they can leave a mark when they bite.) Or walking out on that glass overlook they have at the Grand Canyon. I'd like to do some of those things. But I'm scared to.

This does not seem safe. What the heck is holding you up??!?


I'm scared of heights, among other things. Like spiders. And snakes. And The Bug, in general.

I have a habit of trying to keep myself safe, to batten down the hatches--on all sides, just in case. Even on a bright, sunny, cloudless day.

I've even thought that maybe those underground rooms that people make for themselves, just in case this year might the The Year of The End of the World As We Know It (or The Zombie Apocalypse)--you know the ones I'm taking about, with steel walls and flashlights and bottles of water--aren't such a crazy idea. (But I know they must be filled with critters of the 6-and-8-legged variety. Which means I couldn't go in after it had been sitting there for a while. At least not until someone else went in first to give it the all-clear, and if one is actually experiencing a Zombie Apocalypse, who has time for an all-clear? You obviously see my dilemma.)

Things like leading a bible study and writing a blog that bares (most of) my soul aren't comfortable for me.

They are, in a word, risky.

So on Saturday, when my daughter and I went around on a clear, sunny, beautiful 73-degree day and invited not just the people I know but my entire neighborhood to a start-up bible study, my Internal Risk Alarm was banging around in my head. Loudly. Telling me to stop being crazy, to stop putting myself out there, to batten down the hatches and stay where it's safe.

Because rejection is only second to risk on the List of Things I Hate.

1) Risk
2) Rejection
3) Spiders and snakes
4) Not getting my way
5) Yellow walls

And it would feel a little bit like rejection if I sat here, waiting for people to come, and they just didn't.

But the thing is, when a person with tendencies such as mine batten down all their hatches, they are likely to shut everything out--even the good. And then people like me are just groping around in the dark, trying to feel their way to a flashlight. And we all know a flashlight won't light up a room the way opening up a window will.

The other night, we lost power for about 45 minutes. It was pitch black outside and in. No moon. No stars. No light. And trying to feel my way through to the closet to find the flashlight was no easy task. (I was just hoping no bugs had decided to make their way onto a surface my hands could touch but my eyes couldn't see.) So I know about these things.

I don't know if this bible study will be wildly popular or not (but it should be--look who's leading it!), but I'm reminded of a quote from Andy Stanley, who wrote Your Move:

My glory is too small a things to live for.

And, he says, we've been invited to be a part of something bigger, something better. It gives a freedom and a liberation (that skipping class* can't even touch), because we step out of our own shadow and into reflecting God's glory and His greatness.

Not our own.

Which is what we were designed for, what we were created to do. Give God glory.

I may not have it all figured out, and I may not know exactly how to speak to the masses about giving God glory, or write a NY Times best-seller on The Glory Of God, or even how to reflect His glory on a daily basis. (I often get in my own way when it comes to reflecting any sort of glory away from me and onto Him.) But I do know that doing something is better than doing nothing. Doing nothing is staying safe, battening down those hatches, staying in the shallow waters.

Something sometimes means taking a little risk, stepping out onto the step that may not be fully lit yet, and trusting Him to be your safety net.

It's not just for the neighborhood--everyone is invited :)

*Just as an aside, I do not think that skipping class or other such highly speculative behaviors should be a part of the Taking Risk category that I'm talking about here ;)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Heaven

It's quiet here, the dark sky slowing beginning to lighten with the pinks and oranges of the rising sun. Everyone is still asleep, and a soft hush has fallen over the house. In a little bit, our home with awaken with the sounds of morning: waffles popping from the toaster, dishes and silverware clanging, blender swirling. But for now, I sit back and savor the silence, this small part of the world, if just for a few seconds, at peace.

I go outside to take a picture of the sunrise, but a camera simply can't capture the beauty of it all. The soft clouds, spun like cotton candy, colored in brilliant oranges and pinks and purples, outlined by a pale cerulean sky.



I stop and allow myself to dream for just a few moments, my mind drifting. Could this be what heaven is like?

Contrary to popular opinion (and why this is an opinion, I don't know), I've read that heaven won't be people posing as angels in a vaporous ghost town, playing harps on a cloud and singing for eons. Beth Moore even says that heaven will be authentic real estate, and that some of the things that we most love about this earth, like sunrises and beautiful mountains, will be there, too--"the best of everything we've loved--only so much better," she says.



In a world where it all seems like too much-- ISIS, Ebola, an attack in Canada, a scaling of the White House fence, starvation, serial killers and gangs--sometimes the beauty violently crashes into the ugly, and I'm reminded that while I love this place, it is not my home. Not my forever home, anyway.

It used to bother me, this type of talk centered around the concept of "this is not my home". I used to look at people, give them an annoyed side-eye glance, and wonder to myself if they were looking forward to dying. Because I do not look forward to death. I used to wonder why people couldn't just appreciate the life they had instead of always wishing for heaven. But now I get it. And I'm not that different from them, because I do appreciate life here, the relationships I have, the beautiful mountains and the gorgeous sunsets. But I also appreciate what heaven represents. No more tears. No more sorrow. No more pain. And I find myself wishing that for this world, with all its upheaval and pain and the things that don't seem right, like starving, malnourished babies and rape and abuse and murder. But the world is just that--the world, filled with imperfect, broken people. Myself included.

And sometimes broken people just need a little hope.

He will wipe every tear from their eye. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
{revelation 21:4}


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Musings on Life

I watched my kids disappear inside the tinted-window bus, and I felt that deep stirring in my soul as I waved goodbye. I wondered if they could see me, standing at my station as I do each morning, waving at the windows of the bus as it pulls away. I could see tiny, glowing screens shining through the windows, as kids prepared for the long-ish bus ride by plugging in to their iPods and phones.

I thought about my son's science test today, the way he teared up this morning because he knows he isn't ready, and about my daughter's art class after school, meaning she won't get home until dinner-time, and how they both sometimes just want to be at home, but we have pushed them to do activities, to be involved, to engage in the community. And mostly they have, and mostly they enjoy them, and I know it's good for them, but sometimes I wonder.

Are they happy?

Are we happy?

As a family, I mean.

Where does this internal struggle, this restless feeling, come from if everyone is pretty much okay?

I'm so conflicted. I really am. I want my kids to have an activity, something they can have fun doing and feel good about, yet practices and lessons and homework always run into dinner-time, making it nearly impossible to eat dinner together as a family. And half the time it runs into our time at church, too, making it difficult to go as a family, or even go at all. And instead of being together, we mostly divide and conquer.

I remember the days when all we had to do was play outside, take a nap, and wait for daddy to get home. When messy art projects and step-stools and bubble baths and running around naked because the diaper chaffs ruled, and I would look at them and wish they would grow up quickly so they could clean up after themselves (they still don't) and wash their own hands, and then just as quickly wish they would never, ever, ever grow up and stay my babies forever, in these moments of life bliss. I would secretly wish for time to stop, just for a few seconds, so I could linger in the sound of tiny footsteps running, the baby belly giggles, made-up rhymes and sticky, gooey faces.

Sometimes I get lost in a daydream, my thoughts drifting back to when my kids were small. Sometimes I jerk myself awake, because those same thoughts make me sad, and I feel tears pricking my eyes, because I realize time refuses to reverse itself, and I know I didn't (and don't) fully appreciate every single precious minute like I should have. Sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago. Sometimes it seems like yesterday.

Homeschooling runs through my mind (as well as moving to the jungle, or maybe just Montana) and then I chase it right back out again. I know myself, and I know my kids, and I know it would never, ever work.

There goes that restless feeling again.

But this is what we chose. This is what we feel is right for us. To create well-rounded, balanced, versatile citizens who give back to their community. But the shoulders I saw this morning were rounded, and not in a good way.

I'm sure it was just a blah kind of morning, and tomorrow will be better, but I still have that unsettled feeling in my soul. Maybe we will get used to the pace we've set, see that being well-rounded does more for us and that missing a few family dinners together and the occasional church service isn't that big of a deal.

Maybe.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Pink

My daughter came home last week and requested a trip to the mall.

Specifically, a trip to Victoria's Secret.

So I said, "Simmer down, Valentine. Why in the world do you want to go to Victoria's Secret?"

I mean, it's not like Victoria's Secret is actually a secret, but I was still surprised to hear her ask to go there. I decided a long time ago to ban Victoria's Secret from my closet--a one-women protest, if you will--because I don't like the way they advertise. I saw a S&M (mannequins, obviously) display (not at my mall, but at a mall) that was in the store-front. The store front. I'm not saying don't do a S&M display, just do it inside the store, so that those who want to can choose to go into the store and then if they don't want to see it, they can leave, and kids and teenagers who are navigating this confusing world of sexuality aren't so over-exposed--at least not until they're older and better able to handle what they see.

Apparently my demonstration against VS has been heard by one person.

Me.

And it's not an actual banning, because I still have various VS items in my closet--one being a Pink sweatshirt we found at Once Upon a Child for $5. I guess the ban really meant I wouldn't go to the store to buy their stuff.

"I think their Pink line is cute," she said, "and I want a Pink sweatshirt."

Of course. I should have known the Pink line, geared toward younger girls and college students, would draw her in. Victoria's Secret has some master marketers.

So I begrudgingly pulled up VS on my computer, to look at their Pink line. First of all, the sweatshirts, which I'm sure are made in a sweatshop by 5-year-olds somewhere overseas, are like fifty dollars. And second, it just feels weird to be looking at Victoria's Secret, even if it is just for a sweatshirt, for your middle-schooler.

Ultimately, I decided to keep my ban. For now. I might change my mind later, but she gets just as excited when I mention shopping at JCPenney. And I firmly believe in recycling and reusing, which means that we frequent stores like Once Upon A Child and Playtos Closet for second-hand Pink apparel.

But honestly, I still have an issue with Victoria's Secret. They do have some master marketers, who are able to reach into the recesses of our brains and pick the single most well-known insecurity of the female population--body image--and then exploit it ruthlessly. Who doesn't want to look like a sex kitten on the beach? (Although the poses are a little awkward, especially the spread-eagle, sand-on-my-rear, possible-wardrobe-malfunction-if-I-move, come-hither ones.) But VS is one of the main offenders when it comes to branding a specific beauty box, and then making sure we all want to fit perfectly inside.

I probably don't speak for everybody, but I know I speak for some when I say there is a secret part of our heart that tries really, really hard to fit the Victoria's Secret Mold of Beauty. But I have found that there is freedom is discovering that there are many different definitions of beauty, and accepting your own person as one of those definitions is like setting your soul free.


Friday, October 17, 2014

FMF: Long (is so random)

Linking up with FMF ladies today!

Long

Okay, so I have about zero inspiration to write for five minutes about the word long, in which case one might caution against actually linking up with a website where one is to write a five minute post on this specific word.

But I'm linking up anyway, because does every post have to be so serious? Or even have a point? I think not.

I'm hoping this cup o' joe I have will help me think.

Didn't I tell you? Since my last post on coffee, (remember? I don't drink it. Incidentally, I have taken up my whole five minutes looking for the post about not drinking coffee, but found this a futile task and have had to give up. You understand.) I have bought into the healing benefits of coffee. And also the healing benefits of lots of cream and stevia, because I still think coffee tastes a little bit like mud mixed with motor oil and bitter herbs.

It doesn't matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
{confucius}

So I don't have all the right words today. Sometimes that happens, and it's okay. The main thing is to remember to press on, to keep writing, to not pass on the opportunity I have to share my thoughts and feelings, and maybe encourage someone else in the process.

If you live long enough, you'll make mistakes.But if you learn from them, you'll be a better person. It's how you handle adversity, not how it affects you.  The main thing is to never quit, never quit, never quit.
{william j. clinton}


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I Hate This Lecture

My seven-year-old neighbor looked at me.

"I told my mom I was on a diet," she said matter-of-factly.

I looked back at her. "Are you?" I asked, not really wanting to hear the answer. "Why would you be on a diet?"

"No, not really," she grinned, showing the gap in her mouth where her two front teeth are coming in. "You'd be on a diet to be more healthy." Then the corners of her mouth lowered just a bit, and her voice was a bit softer, almost conspiratorial.

"AB says she's fat, too."

Too? As in also?

I focused on my daughter, who was sitting quietly, probably hoping this tidbit wouldn't come up.

"Well, I am," she stated. Simply. Directly. Without any elaboration. Just "I am fat". The End.

"AB," I began, but she had already tuned me out. She knows whats coming, the same mantra I have repeated in her ear since she could remember. But I kept talking anyway, turning toward my sweet neighbor, who is missing her front teeth, who throws her head back and laughs with abandon, who loves to play babies and pretend and dollhouse, who spends so much time in my house that I've grown to love her. How can two kids--one who is missing her front teeth and one who just learned how to shave--even be worried about being fat? How is this a conversation I'm having right now?

I knew I couldn't just leave it, but at the same time, would anything I say make a difference to them? When these parenting moments come up, I often find myself at a loss, wishing I knew the right words to say, wishing I was a better example, wishing I could make a difference in one afternoon.

"I'm going to tell you the same thing I tell AB all the time," I began.

AB groaned. "I hate this lecture," she sighed. But I know she needs to hear it. I know it's her job to groan when I talk like this, and I know it's my job to ignore the objections. She needs to hear what I have to say. I also know I have no idea, really, what I'm about to say. The words aren't there. Because I know in the back of my mind that I am just like them. A grown-up version of a little girl who thinks she's fat, who compares herself to the Cosmo she sees while she's standing in the grocery store check-out line, who secretly wishes she was different but tries to put on a brave face because she writes a blog about it and shouldn't she know better? But as much as I write about it and talk about it and even know about it, all the make-up tricks and the lighting and the team of professionals who swoop down and spend hours making someone look picture-perfect, and then the team of professionals that spend hours making that picture-perfect person look picture-perfect after the picture has been taken--all of that makes no difference to me when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror at the Halloween costume store, no make-up on, dark circles and holey jeans and hair that won't behave. And I wonder to myself why I don't look like Megan Fox, who surely looks phenomenal when she walks into the dismally-lit Halloween costume store.

How can this person possibly give any good advice to the seven-year-old and the eleven-year-old who are looking at me, the girl-posing-as-an-adult, the one who supposed to have answers, not issues?

Their faces were expectant. The next generation of girls, needing answers, needing words to grow on, not empty promises of the next big age-defying, fat-busting miracle from a messed-up society that counts beauty as a thing to be measured, a box to fold oneself into.

Friends with boys often tell me they are so glad they don't have girls, and sometimes I agree. Most boys aren't coming home and saying that they think they are fat. But moms of boys have to be just as careful, because we want those to boys to have realistic expectations of girls. Girls who walk into Halloween stores not looking like Megan Fox, but like themselves, with no make-up and holey jeans and hair that won't behave.

Myself.

That's who I was looking at in the mirror. Myself. Me. Wild hair and dark circles and all. Not Megan Fox. As beautiful as she is, I am not her, and conversely, as beautiful as I am, she is not me. From somewhere deep within my soul a courage arises, a need to accept myself and see the beauty in myself instead of focusing on all the flaws. A reminder not to chastise myself but give myself some love, because beating myself up over the way I look turns me into the worst kind of bully, and it only serves one purpose: to make me feel bad.

I turned toward the girls. "Would you ever call someone else, like a friend, fat?" I asked.

The seven-year-old's eyes were wide. "No!"

"Then you shouldn't be that mean to yourself, either. You were made beautiful, in your own unique way, and you are you, and there is no other you on this entire planet."

I didn't get to finish, because they were sliding out of their chairs, giggling and eating popcorn, grabbing homework and paper. A signal that this conversation was ov-er.

Instead of calling them back so I could finish my thoughts, I let them go. Maybe I had said all that needed to be said at the time, maybe that was okay. It certainly wasn't profound and I don't know if they felt enlightened, but in some way, maybe simplicity is profound.

Don't be mean to yourself. Accept yourself for who you are, as beautiful in your own unique way inside and out. There is no other you on this entire planet.

You can never be replaced.

Dear insecurity:

This is the part where I say I don't want ya
I'm stronger than I was before
This is the part where I break free...
{ariana grande, break free}

Monday, October 13, 2014

Exactly Where You Are

I had a strange, but vivid, dream last night. A beautiful lady named Jo Anne (who takes my Barre class) was in it. A white car turned into a horse, ladies with bows and arrows, me army-crawling through the streets, trying to get away, Jo Anne jerking me up and telling me I can't run away from the arrows, I have to face them. I have to go home.

Strange dreams are not conducive to good sleep.

When I got up, my mind strayed to last night's dream and yesterday's drama and the emotions that swirled and snaked through my head. The sting I felt after I found out my daughter had told her grandmother the name of her new "boyfriend" before she told me. Grandma knows, she said after I asked her what his name is.

Ouch.

The conflict I felt in knowing that she has someone to confide in, and also in knowing that sometimes that someone is not me. (She eventually did tell me, but I had to guess his name. To be eleven again.)

The frustration I felt over feeling behind on getting things done. Over going to our life group meeting without my husband. Over spending too much time in Toys R Us looking for a baby gift because Toys R Us is disorganized. Over the discussion in bible study that morning about needing people, but knowing that some of the people I need can't be needed right now.

Culminating in leaving the Toys R Us parking lot, distracting and in a hurry, with my tailgate wide open, gifts in the back.

Um...mom? AB says to me, giving me a sideways glance. Your tailgate is open. 

Lord, have mercy, I say.

But I meant it as a half-prayer, half-curse.

All those unsettled, tense emotions haven't gone away today, they've just subsided. I've gotten distracted enough to subdue them, to forget for a moment that I need people, that I'm still behind, that my distraction is a hindrance and I have no peace in my soul.

A thought enters my head throughout the morning, though, and it's one that won't go away. A central theme to the bible study we are currently reading, all about that restless, unsettled feeling that won't go away.

This is no mistake.

I want to question this thought, to challenge it, to dismiss it.

Your neighborhood, your neighbors, your church, your circumstances, your jobs. This is no mistake. You are exactly where you need to be.

I'm exactly where I need to be.

I'm exactly where I need to be?

It can't be right. I'm disappointed. I'm struggling. I'm tired. I'm fighting the emotions that turn me into a negative person.

I thought things would be different. I didn't realize that running this race would be so hard, so tiring, so all-consuming.

But this race is the one I am meant to run. Giving up is not an option.

People. Our circumstances may not be the exact same, but on some level, we all have disappointments and frustrations and circumstances that leave a gaping hole in our soul, swallowing anything it can to fill it, forgetting that God is mighty and willing and able.

God-shaped hole, remember? Unique, only filled by the One who made it.


We don't all run the same race.

But we all run.

Therefore...let us throw off everything that hinders 
and the sin that so easily entangles. 
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 
fixing our eyes on Jesus, 
the pioneer and perfecter of faith...
consider him...so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
{hebrews 12:1-3}

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Yes, I Will Not Say Sir

Jon and AB got into an argument last night.

Jon: I would appreciate it if you would use a respectful tone when you talk to me. Do you understand?

AB: Yep.

Jon: Do you understand?

AB: Yes.

Jon: Do you understand?

AB: Yeah.

Jon: DO YOU UNDERSTAND?

AB: I said it, I said it!!

(She totally did not say it.)

We have a rule in our house that when you address an adult (any adult), you use ma'am or sir with your response. AB knows this rule. (Actually more of a suggestion, since a rule would imply that you enforce it all the time, but 40% of the time we forget, and 50% of the time we aren't privy to conversations they are having which might involve a ma'am or sir, which leaves the last 10% to arguing about it.)

Jon: I see you are being obstinate. I get it.

AB: I don't even know what that means.

Jon: Go look it up. You'll probably find your picture beside the word.

Sometimes, in their own headstrong and determined way, they are like the same person.

Sometimes this is slightly annoying to me.

So this morning when AB and her brother could not seem to restrain from their verbal sparring, I had a fleeting thought of me. On an island.

Alone.

Turns out freedom ain't nothin' but missing you
Wishing I'd realized what I had when you were mine.
{back to december, taylor swift}

But I was quickly brought back to reality when the bus came, and as quickly as the thought had come, it was shut down as I watched my babies walk out the door and onto the waiting bus. My heart dropped a little as I waved goodbye and turned back to an empty house. With my husband at work and my kids off to school, it's very quiet, maybe even a tad bit lonely. I thought again of my island. (Da plane, boss. Da plane. Anybody? How about this: My dear guests! I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome...to Fantasy Island! Ok, now I am laughing at my own cheesiness and I've forgotten why I was talking about an island in the first place. Now I have to put a picture of Tattoo up so you, too, can revel in the cheese. If you are younger than 35 please, do yourself a huge favor and go look up an episode on YouTube. You will not be sorry you did.)

This has style and class written all over it.

As I sit here and think about my family (stubborn nature aside, hehe), the reasons why I love them and miss them so much when they are gone become obvious. AB is hilarious, and she cracks me up on a daily basis with her goofy recounts of middle school life. I look forward to her coming home just so I can hear the latest on the boy with the unibrow or the girl with the part that starts at her ear who tries to comb her hair over her eye at lunch (!). And JJ is probably one of the sweetest kids I've ever met. He has a heart for his mama, wears his emotions on his sleeve, and tries so hard at everything he does. My husband puts his family above his own wants and needs, sometimes exhausting himself in the process, and he loves us deeply. He has a strength about him that I don't think I possess, and I lean heavily on that when I'm feeling unsure about the world at large.

That image of myself on an island (I got my toes in the water, a*# in the sand, not a worry in the world, cold beer in my hand...if you don't know this song, go put Zac Brown Band on your Pandora station list, stat), while enticing, isn't really what I want. At least I don't want it by myself.

I want the funny, stubborn girl, the sweet but emotional boy, and the headstrong but loving husband to be with me.

Someone is going to KILL ME for sharing this pic...but I love it!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Girls Are

My daughter came home a few weeks ago full of front-page news from middle school.

There is a girl there who has a bigger chest than me. (I guess this surprises AB because I am an adult and this girl is still a child, and I hate to say it, but lots and lots of people are much more well-endowed than I am.)

Girls have pink ombres, and hair every color of the rainbow. (If I were younger and braver, I might give a pink ombre a spin, but (1) I am not young, (2) I am not that brave, (3) I am not that cool to pull of a pink/blonde ombre. I am preparing myself for the "Mom, can I dye my hair" question that is sure to come.)

Girls locker room smells like feet, boys locker room smells like Axe. (First, how do you know what the boys locker room smells like? There is no second.)

You can't save seats at lunch. This is a major social dilemma.

You can't chew gum in Mr. L's class, but you can in everybody else's.

Boys do not know how to fold their gym suits.

So she showed one how. Folded it for him.

Of all the news from middle school so far, this is one I took exception to. That boy needs to learn how to fold his own gym suit, and my daughter needs to stay out of it.

I know this because I was young and really dumb once, and I thought that it was cute to play the part of the maternal girl, folding and being girly and housewifey and giggling and doing girl things. I thought that's what I was supposed to do.

I wish someone had told middle school me, with my permed hairdo and my pink glasses and my try-to-be-cool-and-pretty attitude a few things about girls. And none of them involve folding.

1. Girls are strong. They don't need a boy's attention to know that they have a purpose. They don't need to prove their girly-ness to anybody. They don't have to be seen on someone's arm, or in someone's car to be satisfied. They do not have to be sexy or act sexy or prove their sexiness in anyway, shape or form.

2. Confidence and inside beauty are what makes a girl beautiful. Girls don't need make-up to show their beauty, they don't have to be skinny to be beautiful, and they don't have to wear a short skirt to get what they want.

3. Girls are smart. And creative. They don't have to play dumb to get attention.

What if someone had told me that I was strong and smart and beautiful on the inside? Would I have had the confidence to say no to others? To go my own way? To stand up for what I believed in rather than follow the crowd? To be friends with everybody?


Maybe it wouldn't have changed the course of my fate, the knowing of these things. But I know them now, and I feel like we need to tell the next generations that the world is wrong. Make-up and a number on the scale and being the Flavor of the Week for a certain boy don't define who you are.

God has known each of us since we were formed, known our purpose and our days and the mistakes we would make and the accomplishments we would celebrate. That knowledge allows Him insight into who we are and what we're all about, and in turn gives Him the authority to ultimately define who we are.

Not society. Not current trends in fashion or makeup or hair. Not music or TV or Hollywood.

Him.


Friday, October 3, 2014

FMF: New

Linking up with the folks over at Five Minute Friday today!

New

So I had a dream last night that I was growing a beard.

I would look just as weird.

Seriously. One minute I was fresh-faced and hairless, the next I was growing long hair on my face. It was like the hair on your head, though, soft and fine (as a beard on a woman should be, anyway), and I looked so weird.

And then when I woke up, that dream felt so real that in my sleep-trance, I put my hand up to my face to feel the hair. The hair that wasn't there, thank goodness.

Where is Joseph, famed Interpreters of Dreams, when you need him?

I'm doing a bible study right now that talks a lot about dreaming. Dreaming big, dreaming wide open dreams, dreaming the dreams you may have stuffed down and tried to forget, the dreams you think are silly and stupid and childish and frivolous and crazy.

Those dreams.

This is new for me. Because I've forgotten all about what I used to dream for myself, for my family, for the world. I've let go of a time when I allowed myself to dream bigger than making sure everyone gets where they need to go on time for once. I don't know what my dreams are.

I know what they are not, and that is a hairy jawline.

But Jennie Allen says that dreams are for dreaming, for glorifying God, for lighting a fire in our hearts to serve Him.

Can I let this new fire light in my heart, before I squash it with fear and disappointment and reality? Can I let God do his thing in me, without shutting the door on what I think is impossible?

I hope so.

...with man this is impossible, 
but not with God;
 all things are possible with God.
{matthew 10:27}

Thursday, October 2, 2014

boring me

Sometimes I think my blog posts are pretty boring.

Then I go look at other un-boring blog posts about funny people living funny lives with curmudgeony husbands and I get all my blog posts are boring and I hate them.

And then  I want to lie down right in the middle of the kitchen floor like AB did last night because she was feeling unfairly denied the use of my iPad (my iPad) and she felt the need to tell the world--or at the least the rest of the household--exactly how displeased she was with the whole unjust and, if it must be said, cruel situation.

So for a few minutes I just stared at her because that sort of thing gets on my nerves and I could feel my whole body rising up to fight, because this is what we fight about. IPads and is your room clean and did you clean the guest room after you took over and rearranged the furniture (to which I say really?? because this is very annoying to me) and for the love of everything good in this world go pick up your clothes of the floor and put them away (Two words. Broken. Record.) and the word no. Because AB does not like being told no to anything, although we have found over the years that no is actually one of her Top Ten Favorite Words, if she were to ever make a list of words she loves, which she won't because it was my idea and not hers.

And after I stared at her for 2 minutes and 47 seconds, I commanded her to get up and stop being ridiculous and go take your shower, peppered with other words I won't repeat because I, thankfully, had the wherewithal to just keep them where they belong--in my brain.

There is a house that I can see from my house--across a field and a gravel road--that keeps their white part-husky mix tied up most of the time. And when people walk by on that gravel road, that husky barks for literally the entire time the walker is making their way past the house. Both directions. But all it sounds like to me he is saying is no, no, no, no, no, because he doesn't like being tied up and he wants to be running around like a maniac, jumping and drooling and catching things.

My daughter, that husky, me. Sometimes we are all discontent, restless, wanting something more, seeing freedom but not quite tasting it, and because we think we want what we see, we get all testy and sullen and we throw fits in the floor over iPads and we bark nonononononono for 30 minutes.

But huskys can get lost when they are unchained, and so can little girls who are let loose with an iPad and Pandora, who doesn't edit the lyrics. So can big girls who think they should change the way they are just to fit what they think other people want to read.

But when it really comes down to it, after she stomps her feet and pouts and says things like why can't I be funny and clever and witty, even if it is absurd and ludicrous?, she realizes that what she has to offer the world is herself. And she's not like anybody else, and nobody else is like her. So why should she try to be like someone else when offering herself, and the words from her very soul, are just as good?

She shouldn't.

Be yourself;
everyone else is already taken.
{oscar wilde}