Category Archives: Matters of the Heart

Why #imwithher

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Why #imwithher

The decision who to vote for this election was incredibly hard. There were, however, several deciding items that tipped my decision to Hillary Clinton. 

I realize putting this out will not sway any hearts. And it’s not really intended to. This is so I can go back and reflect on it later. 

On the subject of abortion. I do not believe outlawing it will stop it. There are many reasons a woman would take such a drastic step; none of which will be solved by making it illegal. I have spoken to women who’ve made that terrible choice and not a single one made it lightly.

I also no longer believe Pro Life means anything; it is a device of politics. The same party that rages against women for electing to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, has voted to deny the expansion of Medicaid for low income families and failed to fund early education which is absolutely critical to changing the conversation around success rates for children in poverty. They failed to support efforts to provide safe, inexpensive access to reproductive care and contraception, adequate availability to affordable childcare, and support and resources for women in vulnerable situations. The party that hangs its entire moral outrage on the innocent death of the fetus seems to have no compassion or interest in the quality of life of those children once they leave the womb. 

I think abortion is a heinous act committed against an innocent. I do not support the use of it as anything but a catastrophic intervention to save the life or future reproductive capacity of the mother. 

I also know the phrase “late term abortion” is a political invention to crudely describe an extremely rare procedure that is absolutely never used but in the most dire circumstances. I whole-heartedly agreed with HRC when she said in the last debate that she doesn’t believe the government or politicians are qualified to interfere in a decision that should only ever be between that family and their medical team. 
Regarding immigration: immigration laws have always been intended to keep undesirable people groups out. In our history, that included the Chinese, then unescorted women who were not met by a man, eastern and Southern Europe, etc… We have created a system so cumbersome that poor families in dismal circumstances have little chance of ever getting through the red tape. 

This country has always been a place for a second chance, a fresh start, and boundless opportunity. We must find a way to simplify the process so those who pay taxes and contribute to the betterment of their communities are given the chance to obtain citizenship. Existing immigration laws must be enforced, and penalties for illegally entering this country (only once the process has been simplified) or committing a crime while a guest of the United States must be strengthened. 

In regards to refugees fleeing horrific circumstances: We have been the rescuers, the heroes, and the good guys for generations. To now turn our backs on these people because we don’t like their religion or politics is repellant. To make a blanket judgement because their worship doesn’t look like ours decries the great commission. To close our hearts and refuse to offer aid likens us to the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan. We fail our calling in the name of fake safety. We were never called to be safe. We were called to be instruments in the redeemer’s hands. 

This election has given me reason for grave concern over the health of The Church; that is, the body of people who claim to be Christ-followers. We write a check and put in the envelope and feel good about supporting mission work. Twice a year, we give money or fill backpacks and think we’re changing somebody’s story. And these are worthwhile efforts. But they’re not changing anything. Men, women, and children in our very communities are facing life and death circumstances because they are poor. Or black. Or a child.

HRC has had her share of controversy and, while I believe so much of the furor around her is propaganda, the fact that there are so many circumstances where her family name can somehow be linked to something sketchy is disappointing. I am reminded of the part of the Old Testament when Israel said to Samuel they wanted a king and God warned that to place a man (or woman in this case) in a position of the kind of power is a recipe for disaster. We are broken people. At least HRC acknowledges when she makes mistakes or uses poor judgment. I am willing to extend grace to those who ask for it because I find myself in such desperate need of it every day and I would hope to be shown grace if I asked for it. 

Finally, in regards to LGBT protections under the law. And this is where my heart quakes because this is where I am so at odds with where I am personally. The day we write laws that deny the protections of the constitution because we don’t agree with their morality, our republic is doomed. If the government offers legal provision to the civic contract which is marriage, our government must offer it to any marriage. As the Church, we are called to be in the world; NOT of it. Behind these issues are PEOPLE. It’s so tempting to pick up that rock, stand on our moral high ground, and stone the issue – forgetting there is a flesh and blood heart, a soul on the receiving end of our blows. What kind of witness are we providing when we say Jesus came for all…but not “them?” The only one who should be outraged here is Jesus. Because that’s not what he said. 

Nobody should have the right to persecute, abuse, or discriminate another person – FOR ANY REASON. As believers, we above all others should be the most vocal champions of this; not the loudest opponent. Showing grace and extending a hand of compassion and welcome to ALL is how we demonstrate the love of Christ that we have been shown. “For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 
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There is never going to be a perfect candidate or party. And each citizen has a responsibility to make their own EDUCATED decision. 

I have watched the Republican Party tear itself apart in the past year. I have watched a candidate rise who spews filth and stirs up hatred with nearly every address. A candidate comfortable in the use of fear and intimidation. A bully. A man who makes no apologies for his xenophobic rants and his utter lack of self-control. I will not align myself with a party that seems to be run on hate and fear. 

I believe we are better than we have behaved. I choose hope. I choose Her. 

Ain’t no sun

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There are days when the sun just won’t shine. Days when it hides behind clouds, or the sky is darkened with rain. 

It’s rained a lot lately in Texas. I would say too much, but it’s so nice to have it, I loathe to disparage it too much. 

There are other days, though, that have little to do with the sun in the sky. Days like today. No matter how pretty this day might turn out to be, the sun has hidden its face from me. 

Today, like I do every summer, I walked part of my heart to the gate and watched her until I couldn’t see her any more. 

Today, she cried. She hasn’t done that in a long time and it tore my heart out. It was all I could do to stand there and keep it together. 

I’ll wait here until she’s off the ground, and then I’ll go home. And wait for my sunshine to come back. 

the MOST wonderful time?

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This is the time of year when my favorite music plays on more than half the stations, non-stop.

The time of year when it’s ok to have “one more” cookie, or truffle, or Martha’s rum cake.

The time of year when it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all the stuff you want to get done.

  • Gifts for the kids’ teachers
  • Cakes for the Athletic Director and Coach’s Assistant Coaches and their families
  • Decorate the house
  • Tell stories
  • Make cookies
  • Church programs
  • Driving around looking at lights
  • Starting a new tradition
  • Elf on the Shelf (don’t hate – it’s fun)
  • Christmas PJs
  • Christmas shopping
  • Wrapping presents
  • Eat cookies and drink milk on the Santa dishes
  • Hit monthly targets with Thirty-One
  • Book January parties
  • Recruit another team member
  • Deliver all those orders!
  • Oh yeah, and all the other stuff that has to happen in a normal house with three young-ish children and a dog
  • And let’s not forget it’s cheer season
  • And soccer season
  • And…

I have a headache just typing all that out.

The time of year when we are reminded of the infant who left Heaven to come and live among us and die for us so we could be saved.

The time of year we think about a teenage girl and her young husband, desperately searching for a place to give birth; picking a barn because there was nowhere else.

The time of year we remember the journey of wise men – across the sands and maybe mountains – to follow a hunch.

The time of year we think of solitary shepherds and how absolutely terrified they had to be when the sky opened up and the glory of God and Heaven was revealed. What it had to have sounded like to hear angel song through human ears.

The sound of an infant cry and how the universe had to sigh at the sound, because they knew, even if we did not, our Savior had finally come.

Oh.

 

 

Sadder than I thought I would be

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The family dog died this morning. He was at home, and Coach was there with him, so that’s something I guess.

We got him when I was VERY pregnant with Doc. We’d been looking for a bulldog when a friend of the family told Coach her Danes had just had puppies and he could pick one. We went to visit the puppies and pregnancy hormones…well, it was love at first sight.

First impression

We brought him home in September – a couple of weeks after Doc was born. Munchkin carried him home in her lap. We named him Cornbread Mater Corley.

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It wouldn’t be long before he was too big for ANYBODY’s lap. But at first, he was little. Even as a puppy, he was calm. He wasn’t the typical rambunctious puppy. He DID like to dig, and he went through several “indestructible” pillows, but he was the best puppy I’ve ever lived with. It WAS a little like having twins, though. I’d get up with the baby human and Coach got up with the baby dog.

He always had the best Halloween costumes.

Life was pretty good with Cornbread until Doc grew up enough to realize she was afraid of him. Gentle giant that he was, he must have sensed this because he became content to stay in his crate, on his pillow, as long as he was in the living room with us.

Once The Boy was born, I found my hands so full with the addition of the third that Cornbread increasingly became “one more thing” I had to keep up with. And still, he seemed content. The yard was his domain and he was just as gentle and accepting of whatever attention we could ration in an otherwise overflowing life. I knew a year ago that we probably should find him a family who could make him a more active part of their lives, but none of us were really ready to give up.

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The past month or so, however, saw Cornbread slowing down. I’d been reading about how Danes don’t typically have long lifespans, and I know I complained A LOT about him, but even I was surprised at how quickly he declined and how sad it made me to think about him being gone from our life. I tried changing his food and leaving him out more; to the chagrin of Doc. But once he decided it was time, I guess, there wasn’t much we could do.

This morning, Coach said he started having trouble not long after I left with the Littles (Doc and The Boy). It wasn’t two hours after that and Coach said he was gone.

 

……

 

I think I’m done having pets for a while. The children need all the attention I can give them and, as I’ve told my sister time and time again, I’m not a dog person. They need the same kind of attention as a human child and I have lots of those already. A dog deserves a family who will cherish him/her and make him/her part of their daily lives. While Cornbread was always right there with us, he was not really a part of our life.

I’m glad he did not suffer long and I’m so glad Coach was home with him when the time came. I’m glad I wasn’t there. I want to think of him as he was before he became so sick. The ridiculous halloween getups we put on him. Sweet brown eyes that could talk you out of that last chicken strip or forgive him for just about anything. How he liked to sit on the hill, in the yard, and take in the breeze and the sunshine.

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Goodbye, friend.

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When I get stressed out, I start picking at my nails.

I’ve decided to pass on trying out for Chicago, at TCT. The show rehearsal schedule includes the Jr Cotillion winter semi-formal, two cheer competitions, and a week out of town for work. To top it off, the opening night of the show is the third Jr Cotillion event. Have I mentioned I am chair of the 6th grade for Jr Cotillion and chair elect? Because I’m @@!#%$ insane. I do not need the additional stress of a rehearsal schedule on top of all that – no matter how badly I wanted to sing Mama Morton.

I’ve been listening to Magic Hour (performed by Ahn Trio), The Seal Lullaby (performed by the Eric Whitacre Singers), and Michael Nyman’s The Piano Sings today, trying to get my brain to slow down enough to focus on one task at a time.

I’m pulling images for a corporate presentation, reformatting an HR notice, worrying about a certain coach with a nagging cough, wondering how I’ll get it all done at the house, trying not to have a panic attack over how I’m going to manage three kids at DFW Friday, resigning myself to not sending out Christmas cards – again – and not even caring what’s for dinner. I don’t know why all these people look to ME to feed them. Cereal is a wholly acceptable dinner…isn’t it? And that brings me back to THEM.

I feel smothered. There is so much good happening and I’m grateful. Really. But to sit in silence. Alone. To read a few chapters of a book. To sleep. To have a good, hard cry. I haven’t had time for myself in so long I hardly remember what it’s like.

This is the trenches. It doesn’t even have to be “big stuff.” It’s the day in and out routine: the time in the car, doing the 305th load of dishes or laundry, picking up food off the floor, sweeping up more dog hair, realizing that you have to get up at 5:30 if you want any quiet time at all, sneaking out to the grocery store at 9:30 at night because taking ALL OF THEM is too much.  It’s all too much.

Yes, they are magnificent. Yes, they are miracles. Yes, they are my heart. But do they have to touch me all the time? Can’t they ever stop talking? Do they have to bicker so much?

*sigh*

Yes, I know. They won’t be little forever. I should cherish these moments because I’ll look up and, JUST WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE TEENAGERS. Thank you. I know.

To imagine moments where I am not only not in love with motherhood, I almost hate it because of what it costs.  I feel guilty even typing the words.

I suppose it is all worth it. I’m sure it is. I just can’t really see it right now. So I pick at my nails. And turn the music up.

 (Please, if you would like to comment, be kind. I’m tired and over-sensitive.)

The clock ticks

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The clock ticks

I don’t want to be a stay at home mom. I thought I did. I used to be. But I don’t anymore. This is not a post about the pros and/or cons of staying at home. This is about me. Because it’s my blog. LOL

I stayed home with Munchkin until she was two. It was, circumstances aside, Amazing and super rewarding. Being able to watch her develop and learn real-time was incredible. When I went back to work, we both had a very hard transition. Becoming a single parent necessitated going back to work. I will tell you, in our experience, two was too late to introduce daycare. Munchkin suffered terrible separation anxiety and every transition issue you can imagine. This compounded my own personal guilt at not being able to continue the plan of staying home with her until prek; illogical as it would prove to be. I felt like I failed her by not being able to sustain the plan.

Princess Crybaby was a daycare kid from six weeks. She did not experience separation anxiety the same way and she missed a lot of the transition issues her sister went through. She is not a hitter, or a biter, and potty training was a breeze. She gets along well with classmates and is, overall, very accepting of adult caregivers. All of this could be personality and have little to do with early socialization. Certainly well-socialized kids still hit and bite, struggle with potty training and have terrible separation anxiety. Shoot, who knows how The Boy will shake out. (So far so good, though)

As I was pregnant with The Boy, then, scenarios went through my mind of staying home; both with and without some kind of income. I felt some measure of sadness as I accepted the reality that finances and our chosen lifestyle just wouldn’t permit me to stay home without some kind of income, and legitimate work-at-home jobs seem scarce or hard to find.

Once The Boy arrived, it was quite different. I found the long days at home very lonely, blissful as they were, with only The Boy for company. I found myself craving a creative outlet, but felt too tired and attention-torn to focus on anything. I started to feel a little crazy without regular, adult conversation. I started rearranging the house, cleaning and organizing. That makes my husband VERY nervous.

I realized that my wanting to stay at home was less about the kids and more about me.

Now that I’ve gone back to work, albeit only a couple of days back, I find I am happier and more satisfied during the day. Of course I miss the children and can’t wait to see them at the end of the day, but I get that much-needed creative exercise. And, being home with the kids all evening isn’t exhausting, because I haven’t already been with them all day… I can still be a good mom and not be home all day.

I believe God uses our circumstances to gently teach us. I am pretty over the idea of a God who beats us over the head in order to bend us to His will, or employs the “because I said so,” style of leadership; blaring truth through loud speakers. He was gentle (and silent) in this circumstance; allowing me to discover for myself that His plan (going back to work) really is in my best interests.

So if you, Dear Reader, are sitting and watching the clock tick, sit tight. Search your heart for how you feel and where you see God leading. Try not to get too hung up on the why; I think it becomes apparent, but sometimes not until you’ve moved past.

disclaimer: I am a skeptic. I love The Lord with my whole heart, but confess to asking a LOT of questions. I have invested in fleeces, because it seems like I have frequent opportunities to use them. Thankfully, I worship the God of the universe: big enough to put up with all my obnoxious questions, and small enough to take the time to answer them.

The boy who never grew up

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I am reading Peter Pan to the girls at bedtime. I think they are enjoying it – even Princess Crybaby gets mostly still and quiet. Sometimes she will lay her head on my lap and I’ll rub her back while I’m reading. It’s terrific. Munchkin and I read The Secret Garden last year and it was really fun.

peter-pan-15Last night, we were reading the chapter where Wendy decides it’s time to go home. She’s telling the story about the Darlings and how the mother always kept the window open for them to return – never forgetting them. Peter goes on to tell his version of that story, when his own mother “forgot” about him, locked the nursery door and replaced him with another little boy.

Call it runaway pregnancy hormones, but I started to choke up. The girls were absolutely silent too. It was quite the literary moment.

I reassured the girls at the end of the chapter that I would never forget about them if they flew away to Neverland and I would always keep the windows unlocked so they could come home. And then the bedtime rodeo recommenced and the moment passed.

For them.

Peter PanBut, a little while later, I found myself thinking about Peter and his story and I could not help but think of Riley. The temptation to fantasize about our eldest boy being one of the Lost Boys, running wild around Neverland; having adventures with Indians and pirates is an intoxicating thought. And then we get to coming back to the window. Would our little “Peter” (aka Riley) think we’d forgotten him? Would he see the crib and bassinet and a closet full of clothes waiting for The Boy’s imminent arrival, and decide that we must have replaced him?

Yes, I know it’s irrational. Riley is in heaven and has been since that morning in October, four years ago. I have not forgotten or replaced him. In fact, I don’t think a day goes by that my heart does not, in some way, whisper his name.

It’s just a story. And I’m VERY pregnant.

One day, I will read Peter Pan to The Boy and kiss the top of his head for the trillionth time and, yes, think of my own Peter Pan. And, while I am perfectly aware of the fact that this is from the movie Hook and not Peter Pan or any of the original versions, I still love this quote from Tinkerbell:

“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

I yelled at my kids today

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It was NOT a good mommy morning.
I yelled at Princess Crybaby for dropping her cookies in the car.
I didn’t tell Munchkin “goodbye, I love you” when I dropped her off. I told her to be good and mind her own business.
I mumbled something huffy under my breath when I had to find the compact cards for Coach.
I feel like I failed as a human being today by being a complete bitch. I’m going to make something yummy for dinner tonight, to make up for my awful-ness this morning. And read bedtime stories.
And, yes, I’m trying not to cry about it, but I’m not doing a very good job.
I’m tired of being pregnant. I feel fat, my uterus feels like it’s starting to fall out and I DO NOT want to hear another person tell me how quickly September is going to go by because I might punch them in the throat.
I’m terrified about having three little people need me – at the same time- to help them get ready for the world when I, myself, feel like such a tangled mess.
I’d like to go back to bed, please. I’m being unkind and that’s the same crap I yelled at Munchkin for.

I don’t wanna be nice

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Have you read my webfriend, OhAmanda? She’s awesome. She’s a mom. She’s not perfect. She’s real. She does cool things and I vicariously imagine myself doing them as I read along. She posted this great post on What’s in the Bible’s blog the other day about kindness and I had to share it. Because it’s great. 

When I step OUTSIDE of my tired, 30weekspregnantandyouhaven’tstoppedtalkingsinceIpickedyouupchild moment and make myself gently kiss heads and help brush little teeth and tuck little faces into bed (again) and bring ANOTHER drink of water, I find all that other stuff fading away as they smile innocently up at me; completely oblivious to the fact that, 10 minutes earlier, my broken self wanted nothing more than to go hide in the car so I could have five minutes of quiet. And then, as I stand in the dark hallway, after pulling the door shut on sleepy little bodies all tucked in for the night (yes, this time for real mom), I realize how special those moments are. And, like Amanda, I hope they only remember the soft moments and not the moments before when I showed my exasperation; or when my brokenness gets in the way of how much I really love and treasure them. 

 

Little

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This new little miracle.

Little hands

Little feet

Little ears (have I told you I have a thing about my children’s ears?)

How can I be so in love with this boy I haven’t met yet?

Oh, come on October.

I want to see him.

Hold him.

Kiss him.

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What do I want? Do I even know? High profile. Meaningful. Change-agent. Small. Low profile. More time for family.

Where am I?

Who am I? Have I become so used to being defined by a title that I don’t know how to be content without one?

Am I really that small?

Going all “one of THOSE moms”

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madyDisclaimer: If you are not in the mood for a smidge of a rant (ok, it’s pretty full-blown, but then it’ll be out of my system and I can go back to being a happy public school parent again), you should probably just come back another day.

So…..this day started as many days do – with Munchkin preferring to do just about anything over getting ready for school. She settled on an outfit that I would clean the garage or the bathrooms in, but it’s the last day of school so WHATEV, y’all. At least she brushed her hair and put earrings on. I dropped my girl off for the last day of 4th grade today, fully intending to meet her for ice cream around 1-ish with some friends.

I am happy we made it to the last day of school because this year has been a chore. Munchkin is coming into adolescence and she is trying on the mean girl routine. It grates on my nerves and breaks my heart because I KNOW she has to learn the hard way that being a $hit to people around her does NOTHING to engender the affections of the people who have to live in the same world as she. So, I’m ready for a summer away from all of her normal crowd, where she will put her nice girl outfit back on and behave like we who love her KNOW she can (caring, kind, sensitive, a great helper and a really sweet little girl), and pray some of it sticks to a little older and (hopefully) a little more mature Munchkin once hell school starts back up in August.

I’m working. It’s work. I would prefer to be at home, getting ready for our vacation, but I’m at work. And that’s ok. I have a good job that gives me a paycheck and doesn’t make me cry or want to drink. And then…………I see on Facebook where a friend and fellow mom is on her way to the FOURTH GRADE AWARDS?!! WTHeck? What awards? I scroll back through my email, calendar and even go (even though I KNOW there isn’t going to be anything on it) to the campus calendar on the website. Nope. Nada. So, I call the school and, sure enough, there IS a 4th grade awards ceremony in 10 minutes. I jump up and race to the school. Thankfully, we live in a small town and the lights were all working in my favor today (yes, I’m feeling rather Hunger Games-ish) and I made it in time not to miss anything. (Good thing too because her class went first.)

Munchkin got a Reading Achievement award which I thought was very neat. (Being an avid reader myself, it DELIGHTS me to see Munchkin’s passion for the stacks growing) The ceremony itself was only about 15 minutes long and there was a only handful of parents there; confirming that it wasn’t just me who was unaware of the morning’s activity. (The parent who had tipped me off said her daughter had called her less than an hour before the event and told her)

This is where “That Mom” moment comes in so bear with me. Like I said, I have to get it out of my system. I am fully willing to believe this event was sprung on the teachers, at the last minute, with little time for collaboration or comprehensive coverage of the kids in the grade. Munchkin has good teachers who have worked very hard this year with, as I understand it (and am sorry since one of “them” was mine), a difficult bunch of kids who seemed to thrive on drama as much as water and air. BUT. It felt halfway done. And not just because it was NOT communicated at all. Each teacher had different awards. Some children in some classes received Honor Roll awards and then some didn’t. Some were recognized for test achievement and some weren’t. Some awards received certificates and some medals. And, a LOT of children received nothing. It seemed like nobody really wanted to be there and everybody was a bit uncomfortable. The kids sat on the floor, crammed together in a space that would have been more appropriate to a pre-k bunch than a bunch of lanky almost fifth graders who are all legs and mouths. Munchkin’s reading achievement award was her only certificate this year, but it shouldn’t have been. She made all A’s ALL YEAR in Math, Science and Social Studies. She participated in the Honor Choir and, with the exception of being counted tardy (by about 20 minutes) for attending a pep rally at the high school with me (then, the Director of Communication for the district) Perfect Attendance. She was Commended in Reading on the STAAR and made a 20 point improvement on the Math STAAR.

You know what? I get that Munchkin is challenging. I get it. She sometimes tries to manipulate people and situations to suit her pursuits but has not yet gained enough maturity to learn that, most of the time, that is grossly inappropriate and not something people who care about other people do. She tries to fit in when she should just be content to be herself. She is already walking that stupid path of girldom that says you must be like ______________, you must dress like ________________, you must act like _______________ in order to be “someone.” Well, y’all, I never fit in like that – no matter how hard I tried, and neither will Munchkin.

But there was an opportunity to recognize her for what she IS good at today – academics. But they didn’t do that, spending a LOT of time, instead, on conduct awards. Behaving at school IS important and I’m not trying to take ANYTHING away from the children who are more compliant. Absolutely not. (I’m mad, but I’m not THAT mom) Do I sometimes wish Munchkin was a little less….Munchkin-like and a little more….somebody/something else? I would by LYING if I said it never went through my head. But then she wouldn’t be Munchkin, would she? She would be somebody else and losing that brilliant little flame is just unacceptable to me; even it it meant all Excellence in Conduct awards and an end to the headaches and “Um, Mrs. Fridaynightgirl, may we speak with you a moment about Munchkin” calls.

*sigh* Venting my spleen is hard work, ya know?

Munchkin is a beautiful girl. She is brilliant. She is a gifted dancer, actress and a pretty good singer too. She loves her little sister to the moon and back and, despite the season of perpetual chaos she seems to bring to every conversation and encounter, she IS a very good little person in the making. And, for that, I love her. Endlessly. And I don’t need any certificate or award or medal to show her how proud I am that, despite the 10,000th screw up, rolled eyes, sucking teeth or smart-a$$ remark, she always comes back to say she’s sorry. She loves us. And can she try again.

And that’s better than any damn certificate.

I got nothin’

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I’m tired. It’s been a crazy, hectic week; to be followed by a hectic Friday and Saturday before I can relax. I am SO thankful, though, for the holiday weekend. So, today’s post is a whole lot of nothin’. Nothin’ funny. Nothin’ sappy. Nothin’ inspiring.

I’m empty today. Well, that’s not true. I have a baby boy the size of a bell pepper hanging around that I’m trying to get to know, two little girls who light up my life with their fireworks every day, and a husband who delights, completes and overjoys me. I have friends who encourage me, family that holds me close and faith that keeps me afloat. I have Jesus.

You know what, maybe I’m not so empty after all.

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I sometimes imagined this blog would serve as a window into my inner thoughts; a transparent view into the trillion or so things that roll through my head on any given day. Ideally, it was to be a humorous outlet for my inner writer. But I find my thoughts so smashed up into each other that it’s hard to tell the beginning from the end. The jagged edges don’t fit into tidy paragraphs; half-formed thoughts, ideas, insecure rants/ramblings seem inappropriate to share when I don’t know what to make of them myself.

As I get older, I am becoming more reclusive with my inner self; more protective of the soft underside. Some might see me as aloof, but the hurts hurt deeper and the joys and celebrations are shared with only my closest circle.

I’ve also noticed my opinions on certain matters becoming more inflexible and less open to discussion or debate.

I envy those writers who are willing to be transparent; to really be honest. It provides such a refreshing bit of encouragement in the noise of so much shallowness (of which, I guess, I should be included).

Let me conclude by saying I’m learning to give myself permission to not try and be perfect all the time, but I’m not at the point of telling you about it. How’s that? So, for a while you might see some password protected posts (I ❤ alliteration), but know that I’m working things out in my own head. Don’t feel bad if I don’t offer up the password, either, friends. It doesn’t mean I don’t love you. It means I’m not ready to say it out loud, but I have to get it out of my head. It might be ugly. It might be emotional (hey, I am pregnant – those hormones are ALL over the place). It might be funny, but not in a “haha, let’s post that to facebook” kind of funny. Just hang in there; I’ll still be around – working on keeping my windows open. Because I truly believe it is very, very good for us not to shut ourselves away. Even if the view into the room on the other side isn’t really ready for visitors.

<3,

fridaynightgirl

leap

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leap

 

This picture showed up on my facebook wall this morning and I thought it incredibly appropriate for the day. You see, friends, my life seems to be about leaping. God stretches my ability to fathom the scary dark that is just around that unturned corner, that seemingly bottomless edge over nothingness and those times in life that deviate from the safe little path I invent in my own imagination.

I’ve joked often enough that I’ve been tossed in the deep end so much of my life, I’d probably drown in shallow water.

Five months ago, I turned the lights out on a job I consider the highlight of my career. It was time to change something. I didn’t know exactly what was causing all the tears, the migraines and the heartache. Changing my work email seemed to be the simplest solution to figuring out this problem. How could I have a job I loved and a family I live for and yet be at constant war with myself over which hat I was wearing at any given moment of the day?

My mother has compared me to a race car. I can go the speed limit and drive around normally with the rest of the cars, but I was really MADE to race. The high octane fuel that powers me demands I be unleashed and allowed to go as fast as I can. To the normal person, I must seem insane to make such demands on myself; to keep the pace I do. But, to me, it just seems like life. Yes, even the best race car driver is going to blow a tire and hit the wall. But that doesn’t mean the race is over. It means the car is out for a while. But the best drivers come back to race on.

So, where does this leave me? I have a job I really like, with people I really have come to love. I’ve figured out (mostly) how to balance work, mommyhood and coach’s wife. So…wanna race?

Crappy Day

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This day has been a big, smelly, load of gross. Seemingly, everything that COULD go wrong, DID. The only thing I can think of that would have topped off this day is 1. locking my keys in my car or 2. getting pulled over.

Despite great planning and stellar coping skills, there were several technical issues with our parent meeting tonight that caused the wheels to come off in front of 500 parents and, naturally, The Boss.

The car is acting up. Again. The only bright side to this day’s car nonsense is the promise we are going car shopping VERY. SOON.

And I have another day that looks just like this one to look forward to. Joy.

Not for the first time, I wonder if is time to look at another line of work. Not because I don’t love what I do but because there is not enough of me to cover all there is to love. Ever. No matter how hard I work, no matter how much I achieve, there is always more to do/accomplish/overcome. There is never a single moment to reflect. To decompress. To breathe. It is a constant state of hyper-aware.

Like Alice’s White Rabbit, I’m always late. Always just on the verge of panic. Regardless of the reality of my level of preparation (which, most of the time, is pretty damn detailed), I always feel like I’m winging it. I loathe that about myself. I know it is because I am a perfectionist. My problem is that I am the black swan. I hear my darkest fears just over my shoulder (You are inadequate. You are incapable. You are NOT ENOUGH.) and so I rub and polish and worry until I’ve worn away all the shine on something. Even if there was never anything there.

Sinatra would say, “That’s Life,” but I wonder if it really has to be. *sigh*

g’night. I’m giving up on this day.

Why

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It was early. They walked quickly, in hushed tones. It was cool, having rained overnight. Everything was so rushed on the Preparation day, there wasn’t time to properly anoint the body. The women all agreed to meet early the morning after the Sabbath, in order to anoint His body; as was fitting. They wondered aloud if the soldiers would help them with the heavy stone.

Passover was usually a time of rememberance but also of celebration. This time, however, there was no celebration. FOr the first time in their lives, all ritual seemed hollow. Afterall, their Deliverer was dead. For three years, they’d followed this man – the One. All they’d hoped for – gone – in one horrible afternoon. Why, Lord, why?

Mary Magdalene worried a little about how quiet it seemed – her experience with Romans was that they were loud – all the time. And yet, as they approached the tomb she did not hear anything – no voices, no heavy steps – just the quiet of the garden.

Then they saw it. The tomb was open. The guards were gone. What had happened? Surely no-one would have taken the Lord’s body. Why, then was the stone rolled away? Why would the Roman soldiers have unsealed the tomb? Why?

Frightened, they ran to the tomb, but found nothing. Bewildered, they ran outside and were met by two men. How brightly their robes shined! And their voices rang – it was terrible and beautiful, at the same time.

Why do you seek the living among the dead,” one of the men said, “He is risen! Go and tell the others.”

They immediately rushed to tell Peter. “Why don’t you believe us? We’ve seen it for ourselves!” Mary’s heart was heavy – she told herself she believed these men – surely they were messengers, sent to give them the good news. Why, then, couldn’t she rejoice with the others? Why wouldn’t they believe her?

Peter immediately ran for the tomb – going to inspect the now shed graveclothes with bewilderment.

Mary knelt in the cool grass a long time, eyes closed, just listening and praying. When she looked up, she saw a man standing near her. Grief-stricken, she cried, “They’ve taken the Lord away and I don’t know where.”

“Mary,” said the man. It was only then she realized the man standing before her was Jesus. Alive!

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Jesus had to die. God’s perfection demands a sacrifice for sin. It is a death sentence. From the very first rebellion in the garden, God knew we could never be redeemed unless He intervened. From the beginning, to the very last pages of Scripture, we read of God’s plan to redeem us through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son. Jesus had  to die; or we would never truly live.

That’s why.

Gone

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I can’t imagine the stunned shock of the disciples. Even though they’d been told this was coming, how many of them really understood? And now, He was gone. They’d watched their friend and teacher – the Savior – beaten, mocked and, finally, crucified.  They watched, with finality, as the Roman soldiers sealed the tomb with an enormous rock.

Judas had betrayed him to the priests and, now, he was dead. Peter, the Rock, had denied him – three times. Not one of the 12 had come to his aid.

And now, they were in hiding. Afraid for their very lives. I imagine the room where they gathered was as silent as the very grave itself.

They had to be exhausted from their grief and terror. It wouldn’t be until later they would be filled with courage. Today, all was uncertain.

Soylent Green

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Linky Linky to this VERY strange movie

I had an interesting epiphany this morning.  We do not know we are starving until we taste real food again.

For [fill in the blanks], we’ve been “too tired” to go to church. We’ve had too much to do. We’ve been over-extended/-committed/whatever. (and we were) We, legitimately, were running on fumes. Munchkin and I had Oliver! and Coach started soccer season. I had SO many work obligations I brought it home a lot of nights; against my personal commitment not to. Goals made at the new year still hang, unstarted (is that a word?) on the door.

Church was effectively shelved. A two hour commitment, once a week, was crossed off the list, in favor of a little more “rest.”

What we didn’t realize at the time was that we were also shelving two hours of concentrated family time; one of our family goals. Time to pray together – also a goal . A church where we could plug in – another goal. Two hours a week, dedicated to reminding us and reinforcing the kind of family we want to be: friendly, patient, kind, healthy, praying, and on and on. So, by eliminating that two hours a week, we effectivly hobbled our ability to meet almost every one of our family goals and many of our individual goals.  Yes, that two hours were freed up but we were starving our family of fellowship, community, encouragement from the outside, accountability to something bigger than ourselves and a group connection to our Savior.

[Enter the Soylent Green metaphor]

Soylent Green is a movie that came out in the 70s and, according to wikipedia: much of the population survives on processed food rations, including “soylent green”. It’s a weird post-apocalyptic movie that came out in the 70s. People don’t eat real food anymore. They eat this soylent green stuff.  It tastes better than other food rations and is more nutritious.  After a VERY long story line (hello, 1970s, I know all the drugs slowed down your processing speed but it doesn’t translate well to future viewers), Charlton Heston’s character discovers this soylent green is made of PEOPLE.  When people die, their bodies become this processed “food.” People don’t even know what they’re eating. At some point, Heston’s character aquires some steak and it’s like a treasure. It’s so valuable, they hide it until they are ready to eat it.

[return to today]

This morning, for the first time in months, Coach and I went to worship service. At our church. When Brother Andy began to preach, any sense of lingering tiredness fell away and we were just caught up in this sweet fellowship with each other, with the others in the room and with God.

It was during this time I realized I’d been starving for real food. Making myself be content with processed and manufactured rest, over time, my spirit grew quiet as my flesh began to “forget” what real food tasted like. Not that my spirit went away or was less present – I think it just waited for my flesh to get. a. grip.

Suddenly, my attempts to free up our time seemed laughable. Like I could re-create this feeling without spending the time in the pew.  Like I really wanted to. My spirit laughed; not in a mean way, but in a joyful way. Making a joyful noise took on the proportions of the delighted oohs and aahs when Mom presents the family with the Thanksgiving turkey. We feasted on the scripture (Romans 8).

And, not for the first time, I said to God, “God, why did it take me so long to figure that out – the answer was right in front of me the whole time…” And I’m sure God just shrugged His shoulders and said, “I don’t know, but I’m glad you’re back.”

It was good.

We rested in Him.

We were filled.

Happy Days

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Home after spending the day in fort worth with my sweet husband and littlest girl, princess crybaby. It was a sweet day. Like so many days, I am overwhelmed at those little moments. We laugh so much, it’s hard to imagine we’ve ever known sadness or anger.

The anniversary of our wedding is a sweet reminder of a very special day but it is, after all, just Another Day. A beautiful day, no doubt. But the days that I live for are days we go shopping or, as Coach says, “looking.” Days when we go to Pepper Creek Trail and I complain about the heat. Days when we sit on the couch and watch soccer. Friday nights when I’m in the stands and he’s on the sidelines. And, yes, even those days when it seems he intent on losing his hands because he won’t stop tickling me.

Of the myriad of gifts God has given me, the greatest is Coach. The only thing that is more precious to me is my salvation.

Today is a happy day.

L-O-V-E

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Listen
Overlook
Value
Encourage

  • Listen means turning off the iPad and phone, disconnecting my brain from the temptation to work and really engaging in conversation – investing in friendship.
  • Overlook means keeping the good stuff in focus and it worrying so much about the other stuff.
  • Value means caring enough to be sensitive to needs.  I must communicate and model behavior I hope to see.
  • Encourage is just that. I think I do can do a pretty good job at this but there is always room to improve.

 

Lord, thank you for renewed vision and a willing heart. 

Rite of Passage

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I can’t believe the day is here. A day I’ve talked about as far, far away for her whole life. No, she’s not graduating from high school. Drivers license? Nope. First date? Not yet. So what is this momentous occasion, you may ask?

Munchkin is finally old enough to…gulp…get her ears pierced.

I’ve been telling her since she was old enough to notice earrings she could have them in third grade. Well, that was simply ages away so it felt like a nice, safe target. A few months ago, Munchkin pointed out to me that she would be a third grader at the end of this school year. Hmmm…true. Realizing there was no more putting it off, I set the appointment. And here we are.

This makes me think about how fast she’s growing up. It seems like only yesterday she was learning to walk, talk, run, and all of the other milestones. Before I have time to take three breaths, it will be time to register her for high school, drivers Ed, graduation, college visits….ok, you get the idea…

How do we slow this down? I guess we can’t. We take lots of pictures, keep a blog and stay on our knees so we have lots of guidance on raising uber-bright, exceptionally beautiful wunder-kids at the speed of light.

This summer, while she is gone, I will undertake my annual redecoration project in her room. She’s decided she wants a “big kid” room. She has chosen only a few toys to keep, preferring to trade the space for a new art easel and a tv/dvd player. This year, she had a hand in choosing the colors and theme (turquoise and zebra print) – something I’ve always done for her.

This brings me back to today. She chose her new haircut (a cute little jaw-length layered bob).

My baby girl is growing up. Father, give me wisdom. Give me patience. Give me a sense of humor. AMEN.

Finding her way through the tangle

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Have I mentioned Munchkin is one of the brightest children I’ve ever encountered? She loves bigger than most too. This can make for an explosive combination.

Last week, I was told I isolate myself.  I have a theory about that and it comes from watching Munchkin try and find her way through the tangle of social relationships.

Munchkin often finds herself on the wrong side of a little disagreement between girls. All girls do this. But what few know, is that Munchkin, even when she instigated it, takes it very hard that she cannot figure out how to be with the “in” crowd.

I remember that sense of hurt and bewilderment that I’d somehow said something wrong – again.  Even if I imitated behaviors I’d observed, when it came out of my mouth, it came across as bossy or mean-spirited.

As smart as I was, I often found myself alone because of this inability to translate the social behaviors of my classmates into my own personality.  Books became my friends. I couldn’t understand how to communicate my longing for friendship and so I tucked it away until I got older and could surround myself with like-minded people who understood my intentions, even when I didn’t always say it right.

In some ways, it was a very lonely childhood. I am thankful God gave me a brother with whom I could truly be friends.  I also had a few very close friends on whom I could truly rely.

Since Munchkin is already so much older than her sister, I trust God will bring her a friend; a sister of the heart.

I am still a solitary creature. Some of those childhood lessons left pretty painful scars that leave me cautious around those I don’t know.  I like to feel out the temperature of a room before I enter it. I try to avoid those who sow dissent and division.  I despise duplicity. And while I have become very good at communication, my black and white perspective on character can still make me hesitant to reach out when I’ve watched them practice gossip, slander, selfishness, and all other manner of hatefulness. 

People still confuse me.  I hope she will do as a child what took me a lot longer to achieve: the ability to overlook the failings of the human heart; especially her own, in order to make friends.

The problem with grief

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I like tidy. Messy bothers me.

The problem with grief is that it is extraordinarily messy. It spills over the edges of my compartmentalized emotional filing system. It refuses to stay in its tidy little box.  Everything grief touches is then tinged with gray.

I was overcome twice today.  Once because I thought I saw him and once because Kali jumped up on the bed and he always follows her. Until now.

I imagine making a different choice. Did I do the insulin right? Maybe he just needed a weekend of fluids at the vet. Maybe he would still be with me. *sigh*

I know this kind of thinking is counterproductive but part of the process. He was part of my life a significant portion of my adult years. It is natural I grieve him.

So friends, while I know there will be posts about life in crazyville, Princess Crybaby and Munchkin, it is highly likely you will go through this process with me.

And I promise to try and keep the edges tidy as I am trying to shove this messy heartbroken thing back into its box.

Goodbye

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To my sweet kitty, Oscar.

Today was the day we decided you’d suffered enough. You weren’t responding to the insulin, you were dehydrated and your body temperature was low. You followed me down the hall this morning and let me hold you in the chair; something you haven’t done since before we moved.

You were saying goodbye.

For almost 13 years you have been my friend.  You sat with me in the dark closet, when I needed a place to hide. You sang to me because you knew I liked it. You were content to let Kali be the alpha because you knew you were my favorite.

And now you are gone.

I miss you already.

I don’t know how Kali will deal with the death of her mate. I will try to help her through it and not lose her too. 

I knew this day would come but I don’t think you can be ready for it.

I held your face in my hands as you died.

My heart hurts.

Goodbye sweet kitty. I will never forget you. I will listen for your song but never hear it.

You will always be with me.

emotionally drained

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The excitement of the past weeks has caught up with me, I guess.  Getting everything ready for the move, moving, setting up the new house, having Munchkin home and waiting for the Stowaway has proved to be more emotionally exhausting than I’d anticipated.  As my mother says, “even good stress is still stress.”

I had a horrible dream last night.  I dreamed the Stowaway was stillborn.  We’d come all this way only to end up with a terrible tragedy.  I know it’s exhaustion.  She’s moving.  The movements are smaller but that could be because we are getting close and they always settle down right before delivery.  But, last night and early this morning, my brain came up with a horrifying alternative; something is very wrong and that’s why I still haven’t gone past this early labor business.  And now, she’s in trouble. 

If I still haven’t gone into labor tomorrow, I’m going by the doc’s office, just to hear her heartbeat and reassure myself that she’s ok in there. 

I hate this.  I hate feeling so exposed and vulnerable. 

I just want it to be over and her to be here – safe. 

Stowaway, you don’t have to come until you are ready but please be ok.  God, you are in charge of this and I totally trust your timing.  Hold the Stowaway in your hands in these last days before her birth – then I will know she’s safe. 

*sigh*

delays

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After all these months of waiting, we are on the brink of three very cool things:

  1. Munchkin will be home in 11 days (yes, I’m counting)
  2. the new place is ready to move into
  3. the Stowaway makes her grand entrance

I have a theory about all this waiting.  I know I’ve posted before that patience is not one of the virtues God gave me.  Well, I think He intends to prove otherwise and, by stacking three things about which I am overly excited all together, He gives me an opportunity to experience and practice patience (whether I really want to or not). 

God is so good about giving us what we need and He knows that patience is one of those things that all mothers need.  It is, after all, one of the fruit of the Spirit.  Colossians 1:10-12 says,  

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

So, instead of thrashing around because I wanted to pick up the keys yesterday and start moving things in today, I will thank God for an extra day to pack and grow new ideas about how I want the new house to look.  I will be thankful that the builder is being thorough and making sure all the inspections are finished and everything is ready for us to move in.  I will remain flexible if the timeline is pushed again. 

Instead of watching the clock for August 1, I will enjoy seeing the pictures of Munchkin and let the anticipation grow.  Her dad and soon-to-be-stepmom have been so sweet to send LOTS of pictures this summer – I am eager to hear all the stories that go with the pictures!

Instead of whining because I am tired of my belly feeling so stretched, my back hurting from the pain of carrying this all out in front little girl, the heartburn and braxton hicks and all the other discomforts that come at the end, I will marvel at this amazing work God has created inside me.  I will think of all the footie kisses I will very soon be giving her, I will imagine counting the red (hopefully) fuzz on her head.  I will continue to anticipate those first smiles, cries, yawns and all the other amazing little things that come with a brand new baby.

Instead of being impatient and grouchy, I have an opportunity to be thankful and amazed at all these blessings God has promised – very soon! 

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34

packing

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It’s time. The time of year where I have to pack her clothes and favorite bears and toys and movies into a suitcase and get ready to say goodbye to her for seven weeks.

It helps knowing she is excited about going and I know she will have fun. But I so dread the stillness and, despite how exasperating her nearly constant chatter can be, at times, I come to hate the quiet of the house when she is gone.

But, like so many things in this life, it is something we do even if we don’t really want to.

As I have these past years, I will put her on the plane with a smile and come home and wait for August 1 when my sunshine comes back.

Smile tho’ your heart is aching,
Smile Even though it’s breaking,
When there are clouds in the sky- You’ll get by,
If you Smile through your pain and sorrow,
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through- For you.

Light up your face with gladness,
Hide ev’ry trace of sadness,
Altho’ a tear may be ever so near,
That’s the time (thats the time) you must keep on trying,
Smile- What’s the use of crying,
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you just smile.