Thursday, February 23, 2012

confessions of a talk-aholic

In an effort to embrace humility (or humiliation) I have compiled a list of little known facts about me. And yes, before you ask, I do know that many of them leave me wide open to ridicule. Bring it on. I am not ashamed...much.

*I graduated from a square dancing class, complete with diploma and membership badge, when I was 16.
*I love Star Wars. LOVE IT. I frequently have marathon weeks in which I watch all 6 episodes.
*I can do a really good impression of Master Yoda (from Star Wars, duh!)
*I know all the words to every Carmen song released from the first one up through the RIOT album.
*I occasionally curse to shock my mom or to make my husband laugh.
*I am a sympathy screamer. If someone yells, I will yell with them, even when I have no idea whats going on.
*I would share my toothbrush with anyone in my family, immediate or extended. I really don't care.
*I like lists. I make them for everything. I have 3 sitting on my counter right now. They are "To Do" "To Pack" and "To get at the store."
*I have a "top five" list for just about everything (because I like lists!) Favorite movies, favorite books, favorite songs, favorite laughs, favorite people, favorite quotes, favorite foods...pretty much anything.
*I am toilet training my cats. Yes, I realize that makes me the crazy cat lady, or the crazy father-in-law from "Meet the Parents" but I don't care. Once it's done I will never have to do littler again!

So there is the top ten list (which I love) of little known facts about me. :) Oh and here's one more: I like to talk about nothing...I could talk about nothing all the time, hence the title of my blog and the content of this post.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The black hole...part two

So, despite my earlier blog in which I ranted for several paragraphs about my HATE for visiting Wal-mart with all my kids in tow…I returned to the black hole today. If you haven’t read that blog, this one will make less sense. (a fact I informed my sister of when telling her the story earlier today. I also informed her that failure to read my blog regularly earned her the bad sister award for the day. That’s a relief, because I am usually the one who gets that award…can’t remember the last time it went to anyone else, in fact.)
In an effort to save time I won’t repeat the whole story of the stupid man and his stupid comment to me in Wal-mart last week. I don’t have to, because I can just tell you what happened to me today, and it will be the SAME, only WORSE!
The trip started off on a bad note because I forgot my list, so I was scrambling around in my brain trying to remember everything I absolutely HAD to have. And, of course, I ended up making it all the way to the checkout line before I remembered I needed baby wipes BADLY! Not just “we’re running low on wipes.” Oh no, this is a full blown “You are not allowed to have a dirty diaper today because we have 10 wipes in the whole house” kind of problem.
But I was already in line when I realized it, and there is no way, once I can see the light of day again ,that I am re-entering the black hole. I am just not tough enough for that.
So, I am silently fuming that I have forgotten the single most important thing on the list, when all of a sudden, a voice speaks behind me.
“You have four children? That’s almost as many as I have.”
I froze. Surely not.
Oh yes it was. The same man. Standing calmly and collectedly behind me in the checkout line. Smiling. And once again, he didn’t have his ‘alleged’ children with him.
Hopefully I covered my look of horror with an appropriately interested smile.
I don’t think he would have noticed if I hadn’t. He was still talking.
“Yeah, my wife, she’s a saint. She handles our kids like a champ.”
My smile slipped slightly.
 I surreptitiously took the keys from the baby before he jabbed them down his throat, and shushed the other kids who were all trying to tell the man their names and ages and whose birthday we were celebrating today. My eyes said to them “Stop talking to him or Mommy will end up beating him with her purse.”
They got the message, but the man went on.
“Yeah, the best part is that my wife (and no, I didn’t add the inflection. He said it just like that.) still looks exactly the same as before she had all five kids. She goes for a run every day. She is a saint. No doubt about it.”
Really?
Thank goodness I had forgotten my list and only had a handful of items in my cart. If I had been forced to stand there much longer…
“Yeah, she sounds awesome. You on the other hand…not so much.”
Don’t worry, I didn’t say that. It went through my mind, but I bit my lip and swiped my card instead, maintaining my plastered smile. Chalk one up to my mom teaching me self control. (one of the ways she did that was successfully navigating Wal-mart WITH ALL FIVE of her children in tow. Now, if we really want to get into a battle of who is the saint, Dude, she could give you a run for your money.)
I loaded my bags into my buggy, took my receipt from the cashier, and all but ran from the crazy man behind me. I am pretty sure he still thought we were just making conversation, but I cannot convey strongly enough how much I wanted to punch him in the nose.
I don’t think he realized I was the same person he had said the same thing to just last week…then again, I am not sure he has any idea what is going on around him EVER. What kind of a…never mind. I already vented to my sister, who gets to give back her bad sister award by still loving me after having to listen to the whole rant.
Apparently I am a magnet for stupid comments at Wal-mart. Excellent.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The tunnel

When we were kids we took lots of long road trips. It seemed we always lived far away from our relatives, and so every time we went to visit them, it was a LONG drive. Every new state we would enter, Daddy would call out “Hey, children, welcome to…” you fill in the blank. Nearly every state east of the Mississippi has been at the end of that sentence.
There were a lot of fun games we would play in the car to fend off boredom, and I don’t mean video games. We didn’t even have a tape player in our van back then. Mom would sometimes bring the boom box from home with fresh batteries in it, but more often we would find other things to occupy our time. We would play the “how many different states can you find license plates for” game, plus a random collection of others. But not matter what game we were in the middle of, everything stopped when we approached a tunnel. Daddy would yell “Tunnel coming up, get ready.” We would all start taking deep breaths, preparing our lungs, and then we were inside…and we were all holding our breath.
The goal, obviously, was to make it through the tunnel without breathing. Some were easy, some were impossible, and some were really close. On those, Daddy would slow down or speed up, depending on whether he was feeling helpful or mean. We would roll down our windows, not so we could breathe the tunnel air but so we could hear the echoing of the horn as Daddy blasted it the entire way through.
In my childhood, tunnels bring good memories, fond thoughts that make me smile and long to be able to go back to the carefree days of car trips and dandelion wishes.
But tunnels are totally different to me as an adult.
“There’s a light at the end of this tunnel.” “The darkness won’t last forever. You’ll break through into the light.” “Every stage ends. Just hold on, you’ll make it.” “This won’t last forever. It will get easier, brighter, with time.” “Look toward the light at the end of the tunnel. You can do it.”
I have heard, and probably spoken, so many tunnel metaphors that I could go on forever with them. No matter what the topic, no matter what the trial, if you are in a hard place, there is a tunnel metaphor for you! And I was thinking just the other day that there’s something wrong with the whole thing. It’s flawed, completely based on misinformation.
Why, you ask? Well, here is an example of what I mean.
When you have a new baby, and you feel like it is quite possible you will never sleep through the night again and instead you will always be so delirious that you can’t remember which expressions your face is supposed to make in response to which conversation. People tell you “This won’t last forever. Just hang on.” So you do, and they are right. The baby starts sleeping, and you get to sleep, and you breathe a sigh of relief. And then the baby turns 2, or however old they have to be when you move them from a crib, and they realize they are no longer trapped in their bed and can get up any time they want. So the not sleeping thing starts all over again as you chase them through the house every night, or lie awake wondering if that noise you heard was the furnace kicking on or your child jumping off the sofa.
Or you get pregnant, have a baby, and you feel like you will never fit into your favorite jeans again. People tell you, “Just wait, you’ll get there.” So you wait, and work out, and eat smart, and eventually (hopefully) you do fit back in those jeans…and then you get pregnant again.
Or you think your son will never learn to read, and you’ll go crazy trying to teach him…and people say “this too shall pass.” And it does…and then the next son in school age, and you have to do it again.
I could go on like this forever. Seriously, forever. I know all these examples are mommy specific, but I AM a mommy, so these are the best ones I can think of. But if you take a minute, you can probably plug in just about any other trial/hard time/tunnel, and you will see what I am saying.
What am I saying?
THE TUNNELS DON’T END. I mean, one might, but then another one follows right on its heels. If you’re holding your breath waiting to make it through a dark hole in the ground, you MIGHT get a few seconds to breathe and put your sunglasses on and turn off your headlights, but then BAM, you’re holding your breath again.
I feel like I keep waiting for the tunnel to end, but I hardly get to enjoy when it does because I am immediately tossed straight into the next one. And sometimes there is no break, sometimes the tunnels are connected.
I was in the middle of the “new baby who won’t sleep” tunnel (my youngest was 5 months old) when we got a call that my sister, who was a missionary in Malaysia, had collapsed and been taken to the hospital. Talk about holding your breath. We waited, we prayed, we got good news, then bad, and after 3 days of holding our breath, she took her last one on this earth…and then the REAL tunnel started. I am actually pretty sure that we fell through a hole in the first tunnel straight into a tunnel UNDERNEATH it. You can’t hold your breath through the tunnel of grief…its one that doesn’t end. It just doesn’t.
I have a point, and it’s not a depressing one, I promise. While I have come to the conclusion that the tunnels never end, I have cheerful news as well. First of all, since you know it’s mostly tunnels and only a few moments of fresh air…you can stop holding your breath. That way we aren’t all going through our days red faced, seeing spots and scaring our kids or co-workers. Stop waiting for this stage, this trial, this pain to end so you can get on with your life. THIS IS YOUR LIFE!
Second: Quit asking where the light is! HE IS WITH YOU IN THE TUNNEL!!!!!!!! “The light shines IN the darkness” (John 1:5) Not “the light shines at the end of the darkness” but “THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS!!!!!” Jesus is with you in your tunnel. I know, because He is with me in mine.
Third: There is an end to all these tunnels of life, but not IN this life. If Jesus is the light (and He is, go read all of John chapter 1) then we only reach the light when we reach His presence. We can have the light with us in the tunnels, but we are really looking forward to the END of all the tunnels, when we hear Him say “Well done.” Hopefully we won’t all be gasping for breath when we get there. Hopefully we will realize that we can breathe in the tunnels, and hold onto the light that is WITH us.
Because, and this is the very best part of my realization, when we have the light WITH us in the tunnel…the tunnel isn’t really dark anymore. It isn’t something we have to live through. We can just stay CLOSE to the light, we can stay IN the light, and then we will start to REFLECT the light to all the people around us who are holding their breath and racing through the dark.
Its all dark this side of heaven. But the light shines in the darkness. Don’t run toward the end of your tunnel, run to the Light who is there with you in it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Snips, snails, and puppy dog tails...

Being a mom is not really that glamorous, despite what Hollywood makes you think. In movies every mom has the perfect body but never works out or watches what she eats. She has perfect hair and make-up when she rolls out of bed and a fabulous selection of clothes that all fit her perfectly. (what wouldn’t fit perfectly on a perfect body, right?) Her children are laughing and happy and loving to her and each other at all times, and everywhere she goes she is wearing high heels that DON’T hurt like h@#* with every step she takes.
Yeah…that’s not really how it is. I hate to bust the bubble of anyone who isn’t a mom yet…but that’s just a load of crap. I know some movies try to capture the real feeling of motherhood. They show crying, and tantrums, and messy rooms. But the mom is still wearing perfect clothes on her perfect body and has her hair and makeup perfect when she rolls out of bed, so it’s a big giant FAIL on the movie industry’s part.  Not to mention the fact that the actress is aware of all the crazy things that are about to take place, so her looks of shock and horror are not anywhere close to what a real mom’s face looks like on a daily basis. And I KNOW the smile she is wearing while carting her kids places in THREE INCH HEELS is a lie.
So all the fun of watching movies about moms is lost on me. I either think “Yeah right” or I think “Wouldn’t it be nice if my life looked like that?”
I have been searching for the glamour in my life lately, because I read recently that it’s easy to only see the things you want to change, and miss the things that are good. So I have been looking.
Yesterday I was cooking dinner, my three big kids (I call them that for lack of a better term. They aren’t really big. They are 9, 7, and soon to be5) were riding bikes in the front yard, and the baby (he will be 2 in a few weeks) was playing in the floor with…who even knows what he was playing with. It could have been crayons, or toys, or something else harmless, but more likely it was scissors, or cat poop, or a roll of stamps.
So, in the middle of cooking, when I am doing one of those “stir constantly for 5 minutes” steps on a recipe, Faith comes careening into the house. This is the conversation.
“Mom! We found a mouse outside!”
“What? Is it dead or alive?”
“Dead. The boys are playing with it.”
“Gross! Go right now and tell them not to touch it with their hands. They can use sticks or something!”
She left and a few seconds later returned. “Actually, it’s not a mouse. It’s an opossum!”
“OH MY GOSH!!!! You found a dead opossum in our yard? Did you tell the boys to stop touching it?”
She ran out again, and returned again. “Okay, it’s not an opossum. It’s a mole. The boys are only touching it with sticks now.”
After what seemed like an eternity, in which I was envisioning the boys tossing a dead opossum back and forth like a football,  my ‘stir constantly’ step ended, and I turned off the stove. “Faith, watch Gabe for a second while I go sort this out.” I hurried outside barefooted, expecting to find…well, truthfully, I had no expectations. It had been an opossum, a mouse, and a mole, so maybe by now it was a human hand or something. Rounding the corner, I saw Nate and Clay in the front yard, holding big sticks, oblivious to my presence. They were taking turns flipping the thing over with their ‘pokers’ and laughing.
“Mom!” Clay yelled as I approached. “Come see what we found! It’s AWESOME!”
It was in fact a mole. A baby one, which is why they thought it was mouse at first. Who knows WHERE the opossum came from??? It was quite dead (thank goodness) and the boys promised me they hadn’t been touching it. I asked to borrow Nate’s stick and took my own turn poking it.
“Look, boys. See his teeth? That’s so he can tunnel through the dirt. He uses his mouth to dig. And do you see his eyes? They are really tiny, because he is always underground in the dark and doesn’t need to see that well. Cool huh?” I sent Clay to the backyard to get a bucket so we could scoop up the mole for further study. (and to show their daddy, cause they really wanted him to see it) While Clay was gone, Nate said “Watch this Mommy. If I hit him really hard it bounces him up in the air.” I stopped him from further mutilating our afternoon discovery, and when the bucket arrived I scooped the mole into it with the two sticks.
“Now go inside and wash your hands,” I instructed both boys as we deposited our find on the porch to await Daddy’s arrival. They turned to obey and Clay smiled at me in sheer bliss. “Thanks Mom, for letting us keep it!” As he darted into the house, I was tempted to yell after him that we were NOT keeping a dead mole in a bucket on our porch. It was only till their daddy got home to see it. But then Nate said “Yeah, thanks Mom. You’re the best,” and so I let them go without a word.
Now I can promise you that at some point today the mole in the bucket will accidently disappear. Maybe it will miraculously recover from whatever caused its death in the first place (and from all its broken body parts thanks to Nate smacking it to see how high it would flip) and wander back to its home. Maybe it will get eaten by a hungry, sad, stray animal. Probably I will sneak outside while no one is looking and pitch it in the trash can.
But the point of my story is this: Motherhood is NOT perfect. It’s not even close. Nor is it particularly fabulous to the world’s eyes. There is dirt, and messes, and crying, and dirty diapers, and lack of sleep, and love handles, and spoiled milk, and gray hairs, and slippers instead of heels…but occasionally, if you look hard, you will see what I saw yesterday.
In my little boys eyes, I am VERY glamorous.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The black hole for healthy parenting

What is it about Wal-mart that makes my kids go CRAZY? I swear, they catch their first glimpse of the parking lot and they turn into a herd of Tasmanian devils…or whatever it is that groups of Tasmanian devils are called. A flock? A pride? A legion?? I’m thinking it’s a legion, like demons.
We pull into a parking spot, unload, and trek to the entrance, where the boys are convinced that they are using the ‘force’ to open the sliding doors...and then the questions begin.
“Can we rent a movie from Red Box?” “Can we get some candy?” “Can we look at toys? We promise not to ask to buy any.” “Can we buy this toy?” “How many more things do we have to get?” “Now how many more things do we have to get?” “Is that broccoli for supper? I hate broccoli!” “Mom, why does that guy have long hair like a girl?” “Why is there a picture of a man in his underwear on that magazine?” “Hey, Mom, did you hear that? I just pooted really loud!”
By the time we get to the checkout, all four kids have to pee, are hungry, their feet are hurting so they all want to ride, and I have used every single threat in my arsenal to get them to behave.
Not to mention the fact that we have been stopped by at least 10 people telling me “Wow, you have your hands full.” To which I want to say, “Wow, I’m glad you told me, because I wasn’t aware of that.” Or they say, “I bet you’re really busy.” And I think “You win the bet.” It is so infuriating to be in the middle of checking your shopping list, holding onto the child who wants to climb out of his seat, while at the same time standing between the other two boys so they stop trying to see how close they can get to punching each other without actually punching each other, answering the ‘What are you making with that?” question from your daughter, and smiling happily at the sweet old lady who thinks your kids are adorable. “These kids?” I mentally question. “Can’t you see the foam coming out of their mouths? Can’t you see the steam coming out of my ears???”
Today was a first though. I have gotten the “Wow, are those all yours?” question a lot. But for the first time today, someone said “You only have four?” Now please recall my earlier outrage that people constantly point out the OBVIOUS fullness of my life and hands. Four is not seventy-five. I hate it when people look at me like I have seventy-five children. I wish for once someone would just say “Hi!” Or better yet, say NOTHING. LEAVE ME ALONE TO GET OUT OF THIS HELL HOLE AS FAST AS I CAN!
But when the man said to me (and yes, it was obviously a man. No woman in her right mind would stop a fellow mom at Wal-mart to say such a dumb thing.) “Wow, you only have four?” I saw RED. I was right in the middle of fending off a dozen questions while hunting through the diaper bag for a cracker to give the crying baby. My phone was ringing, Clay and Faith were fighting over who was on which side of the cart, and Nate was attempting to stand on his head without falling off the end of the buggy. Why? Because I had threatened his life if he got off again. As the man continued to walk he informed me that he had five (none of them were with him, of course) and then he moved on, smiling, probably thinking that he had done me a great service in informing me that I don’t have the most kids in the whole world.
I almost threw a can of beans at the back of his head.

Wal-mart is like a giant black hole. Healthy, happy, loving mommies go in, and crazy, seething, violent mommies come out. They are probably armed with a huge bag of chocolate and several alcoholic beverages that were purchased because of the trip itself, and they definitely have several heavy objects that can double as weapons in a pinch.
There should be a sign on the door that says “Men with stupid observations and no children BEWARE.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

10 Things That Prove I Belong to Him

1.       When I fall asleep, he is there.
2.       When I wake up, he is still there.
3.       He provides for me.
4.       He protects me.
5.       He showers me with gifts.
6.       He corrects me when I screw up.
7.       He has a special smile just for me.
8.       He is always available to me.
9.       He gave me his name, and the power to use it.
10.   When he tells me he loves me…I believe him.

When I started this list in my head-a love note especially for Valentine’s Day- I couldn’t stop thinking about my sister Joy. She went to be with Jesus a year and a half ago, and she HATED Valentine’s Day. She said it was just a day to remind the girls without boyfriends that they didn’t have boyfriends. I can see how that’s true. So I decided not to post my 10 things list, because I didn’t want all the other “Joys” out there to be ticked off at me…

But the list continued to run through my head, and as it did, I realized something. This wasn’t only about my husband. In fact, I could apply this list to THREE different loves in my life.

Of course, my husband fits all these. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful to him for how he takes care of me, for how he is strong when I fall apart, for the use of his name and social security number when I need to take one of our kids to the doctor, for how he makes me laugh. He is constant, he is solid, and after nearly 13 years of marriage, I love him more than the day we said “I do.”

Don’t go yet, the mushy part is over.

This list also applies to the very first man in my life. He tells the story of looking into my eyes for the first time and how he cried, feeling so amazed and overcome with love. Just hearing that story makes me feel his love. He is the man who could never do any wrong in my eyes from that first moment they met his, who told me I would look beautiful in a burlap sack, who protected me fiercely, even when I didn’t want him to. Walking through life with his name is an honor, because everyone who knows him wants to be like him, and I am cool just by association. He is my daddy. Every year on Valentine’s Day he bought 5 roses (which was a big deal because roses are expensive on this holiday, and we didn’t have extra money lying around) One rose was red, for my mom, and the other 4 were pink, for me and my three sisters. Lucky me, I have always gotten flowers on Valentine’s Day.

And the third and certainly most important Valentine I have is my Lord. Walking through life with HIS name is an even greater privilege and responsibility than carrying those of my husband and father. Knowing that when He sees me he sees His daughter, but also His bride, that He will protect me fiercely, correct me gently, shower me with gifts extravagantly, ALWAYS be available to me…and WITH me…this knowledge, this list, makes enjoying all the other things in my life so much sweeter. And when my world is falling apart, these things make surviving it possible.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to my wonderful father. I have never, ever doubted your love, and I have never, ever been more proud to call you my dad.

And Happy Valentine’s Day to my handsome husband. It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it? Even if it sounds silly, I want you to know one thing. I have a really big crush on you. (insert suggestive wink here)

Happy Valentine’s Day, Lord, my Peace, my Rock, my Fortress, my Glory, my One True Friend. Every breath I take is for you, every smile on my face is for the honor of your name, and every tear I shed is caught by you. I want to be more in love with you next year than I am today.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Inaugural Address

Have you ever noticed that courage is easier to find at night? Maybe its the lights being on in your house, and all the doors locked, and knowing that darkness is outside and can't intrude. Maybe its the sheer delerium of exhaustion, or the glass of wine you drank and the one belonging to your husband that you finished when he wasn't looking. I am not sure what it is, but I KNOW I am braver at night than in the light of day.

Last night, in a moment of wine-free, possibly delereium induced bravery, I set up a blog...Correction, my husband set it up for me, and I washed dishes and called out passwords and such for him to type into his laptop. The kids somehow heard us calling to each other across the room (I don't know how they can hear anything over themselves, for they are, without doubt, the worlds loudest humans) and paused in their squealing, laughing, playing noise to ask me questions.

"Why are you going to have a blog, Mommy?" asked Clay, my 7 year old.
"I don't know, Clay," came my reply. "I don't have anything to say, but I can't ever seem to stop talking, and I think its driving Daddy crazy, so he's setting up a place where I can ramble all I want."
"What are you going to call it?" This question came from my almost 10 year old daughter, Faith.
"We were just talking about it," I told her. " and I don't know that either. I want it to be something clever, and original, and not lame." And after a few more minutes, the only thing we could come up with was...my name. Which isn't clever, or original, and its really, really lame. So, it seems failure is the first emotion to follow courage. Awesome.
"What will you write about?" Again, this question from Faith. She seemed immensly concerned about this blog being done right, and I couldn't decide if that was because she was afraid it would make me or her look less cool. Probably both, but then maybe thats just my hope that she finds me cool at all talking. I shrugged my shoulders as I started the dishwasher.
"Anything I want to. I guess I will have to think about it."
"I know, Mommy!" chimed in Nate, my almost 5 year old. "You can tell funny stories about us like you do on facebook!" He said all this while jumping up and down and throwing himself around the room for no apparant reason. Sometimes I wonder if that kid has ants in his pants ALL THE TIME.
"I am sure that I will." I laughed.
"Yeah!" Nate went on, seemingly oblivious to the fact that I had spoken. "You can tell about that time I got stuck under the trailer because I was trying to get my ball out. Or you can tell about the time my poop looked like Mickey Mouse!"
"No," I shook my head. "I don't think I will be telling any of your potty stories. They are funny, but they might gross people out." Undettered, he dashed off to get into more trouble which I am sure will find its way to this page at some point, and I went back to feeling confident and excited about a new undertaking, however diminishing to my 'cool' status it may turn out to be.

But now morning is here and all courage has flown. Why did I do this? When will I find time for this? Who CARES what I have to say? I mean, the 'me' in my head is very cool, not lame, clever and original...but that ship has already sunk in reality. I often find myself relating to the stick bug in the movie "A Bug's Life" who says to his audience "I am a cute little flower with nothing interesting to say." See!!!! That's not even an original line! And now anyone who reads this will think I find myself 'cute' when in actuality its just part of the line in the movie!!! Crap! This was a mistake.

Maybe I can be like one of those cool bloggers on the movies. You know, there was the one who cooked all those recipes, and blogged about it every day for 365 days???  But I  think that would be cool to start on January 1st...and this isn't. It's not a noteworthy day at all. Its the day BEFORE Valentine's Day. How lame is that?

Or I saw on the news a while back this lady who started blogging about her 'mommy trials' and everyone loved her so much that she is writing a book. Yeah...I'll be like that...and then the momentary carryover of bravery from last night fades, and I am back to stealing lines from children's movies.

After pausing to refill my coffee cup (because it is, after all, only 6 a.m. and who can think straight at 6 a.m. without coffee?) I have made a resolution. I am not going to blog in order to become popular, or to get people to think I am cool, clever, or original. I am not even expecting anyone but me to read this lovely rant I have just written while experiencing a courage hangover. I have decided to metaphorically stick my tongue out at the whole process (oops, not metaphorically...my tongue obviously has a mind of its own) and write because I enjoy writing...and possibly because I am driving my husband crazy with my senseless ramblings.

So, there it is. I promise to tell stories about my four kids. They are by far the funniest and most interesting things in my life. I may tell stories about my husband too, (who is even funnier than my kids, he just likes to keep that a secret from the world) but I have been informed that all stories must be pre-approved by said husband or he will delete the entire blog...which only he can do since I have no idea how it works.

I promise to make absolutely no sense at times and to air all my insecurities that hide at night but can't stop shouting at me in the early morning hours. I vow (to myself, the only one reading this) to ramble and rant to my hearts content, and possibly make horrifying and embarrassing confessions about myself...to myself. I mean, why does it matter, because after this point who will ever think I am cool again? The 'me' in my head has even been knocked down a few notches. I swear to be slightly innapropriate at times. (if you know me in person you know thats basically a given) but for the sake of my parents (who will never read this because they know even less about blogging than I do) I will try really hard to sensor all curse words and super questionable content and replace them with code words...when possible.

So now that I have vowed things to myself over cup of coffee #2, and because I really have to pee (thanks to cup of coffee #1) I am shutting this stupid blog idea down for the day. More-or maybe not- later.

P.S. Why the h*%# doesn't this blog thing have spell and grammer check?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Memories

I have a good memory. My parents tell me that when I was little I could quote several pages from a Bible story book they read to me. I was around 3 or 4 years old, and there were over 600 words in that story. I have always found it easy to memorize things-The Gettysburg Address, Romans 8, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, the book of Philippians…not that I could still quote any of these word for word, but at one time I could. I am good at remembering numbers, I can retell entire scenes of movies after seeing them only once, and I seldom forget a book I have read.  You get the idea. I’m not trying to brag on myself. It’s not like I made myself this way. My mom made up a song when I was little that went “Jesus made you special…He gave you a good memory.” It’s true. The Lord is the one who gave me this memory. And I'm not saying I never forget things. I am terrible with names…TERRIBLE. I can remember scripture verses, but I have a really hard time committing their references to memory. And no matter how hard I try, I CANNOT remember how to walk down-or up-a flight of stairs without tripping and falling on my face. The good news is that Jesus also gave me people to help with the gaps in my memory. My dad is pretty good at remembering names, my mom is practically a walking concordance-if I can remember the verse, she can tell me where to find it. And I have four kids who remind me every day how to successfully navigate stairs. Most of the time this memory thing comes in handy. I enjoy being able to recall the majority of my life like I am rewinding a video camera and watching home movies. Some of the movies get watched frequently: My wedding day, the day each of my children was born, the day I asked Jesus to be my savior, the day my kids asked Jesus to be theirs. Those are the obvious favorites. But there are so many other good ones, and my extended family is involved in lots of them. Like when my cousin Andrew killed the black snake in our yard by swinging it around over his head like a lasso and smacking it against the live oak tree. Or when Daniel(my brother) and Andrew insisted that they could both go low on the same hand of spades even though they were partners, and after a long argument we let them, and they went set right away. Or when Anna(my cousin) threw up in the night and she and Joy(my sister) woke up with puke matted in their hair. Hey, just because someone else might not like the memory doesn’t mean I can’t!! I remember that when he was little Josiah(my cousin...I have a lot of cousins) thought I was wonderful. We had a silly little game “Josiah, who loves you?” I would ask. “You do” came his automatic response. “Who do I love?” I pushed further. “Me,” he would say with a grin. Random memories I recall in great detail:  Playing pick-up soccer in Macon, GA, and scoring a goal, and Robbie(yep, you guessed it, my cousin) running up to me and saying “Nice shot, Cuz!” And riding in the car with Uncle Jimmy, and him singing “Maybe it was Memphis” as loud as he could…that one is still really funny. Drinking tea with my grandmother, Memaw-she had a variety box, and we would share one tea bag for both our cups of tea. Constant Comment was her favorite, then English Tea Time. If I had the variety box with the names of all the different ones, I could probably put them in order from her favorite to her least-which was Lemon something. I remember Lovey (my great-aunt) taking my husband and I out to lunch, just because she wanted to get to know him better. I remember Nana(my great-grandmother) watering her violets in her housecoat. I remember laughter. So much laughter. And singing…so much of that too. And I think its a pretty safe bet that I have cried in front of every member of my considerable family. If not...wait till next time I see you! In my family alone are most of my favorite-and best- life memories. Sometimes, though, I wish I could erase some memories. Anna would probably erase the puke in her hair story. Daniel and Andrew may choose to delete how quickly they went set after throwing such a huge fit that we weren’t in charge of them and they could do what they wanted. I personally would love to forget a certain roller skating incident…don't ask. If I could erase the sadness and the pain of loss from my cousins faces, and only keep the good memories of Elizabeth…I think I would. We would remember how she was the BEST ‘kid’ when we played house, and everyone fought over who got to pick first cause we all wanted her, and we would delete the noticeable hole in our family sing-a-longs because her voice wasn’t there anymore. If I could forget the way it sounded to hear my dad sobbing in my foyer, or the sight of my mom laying in the floor screaming “She’s yours, Lord, she’s always been yours” at the top of her lungs, or the cries of my children filtering down the hall to where I was hiding so they wouldn’t see me falling apart, the agony of my sister Sarah’s wails coming over the phone lines, the desperate desire to be by Joy’s side, to hold her hand, to tell her I loved her before she died...the weight of the package that arrived from Malaysia, the way the postal worker handed it to me like it was any other package… the feeling that came over me when I realized it was my sister’s ashes…I will never ever forget sitting in the floor holding that box, how heavy it was, how I wanted to hug it, even though I knew that was dumb. Lately I have been having a heated conversation with the Lord. It revolves around this memory thing, because what used to be fun and handy has become something almost crippling. "I don't want to remember that, Lord. I can't take it again. Its too much. Why can't I forget?" This is an ongoing, -and until recently one-sided- conversation. But suddenly the Lord has responded to my questions, He has spoken to my heart, and His voice has brought me JOY. "LOOK!" He said. "LOOK AGAIN. What do you see?"  And this time when I looked, I still saw the hard things. I can't erase them, because they are a part of who I am now, a part of this life God has given me to live. But I saw other things too. I saw that my cousins and my aunt and uncle didn’t die from the pain of losing Elizabeth, even if maybe they wanted to for a while. It gave me hope that we wouldn’t die from losing Joy either. When we buried Joy’s ashes, Daniel and I filled in the hole together…for some reason, I remember having him beside me, how tall and strong he seemed, and how it comforted me. I remember how my husband became my hero, how he took care of me, how he made me eat so I could make Mom eat, how he held me in the darkest parts of the night-almost every night- while I cried. I remember the day Joy died, when I was laying in the floor, curled up in a ball sobbing, Rachel sat down beside me and held my hand. My baby sister taking care of me. I will cherish that memory forever. And I think watching my mom screaming to God that her child was really His might be the bravest thing I have ever seen in my life. Since the Lord's answer to my tirade, the memory movies that play over and over in my mind are often the same as before. But it seems there is a new set of subtitles. Joy and Elizabeth are with Jesus, and with each other- that line from the movie is blinking across the bottom of the screen in big, bold, highlighted script. Its the Lord's way of saying "LOOK!" It’s His way of showing His mercy WITHIN OUR PAIN, and His presence in every single step of this journey of life. We prayed for miracles, and we didn’t get the ones we asked for. But it’s not a secondary miracle that He IS STILL WITH US, and that we can all laugh again, and that we WILL SEE THEM AGAIN!!!! As I get older, I think I’ll probably start forgetting things…besides how to walk up and down stairs. I may not remember every single family event yet to come. But I will remember the laughter, and tears, and singing, and food, and chaos, and fun. I am sure I will have many specific memories that for some random reason will join the archives in my mind and replay whenever they choose. And I am sure that when that happens, I will feel the sadness that when my family gets together now...we are not all there. There is no way for us to all be together anymore. But I also know that the highlighted parts, when Jesus will reach down and press MAX on the volume, are the parts where we remember another reunion, the one that is to come. “A gathering of persons after separation” is what reunion means. We have been separated: by miles, by life, by death. But we will gather together again. Uncle Tom will bring his guitar, Elizabeth will sing the low harmony, Anna will sing the high one, and the rest of us will join in. Joy will have her arms thrown back like a butterfly, and Mom and Aunt Kathy won’t cry anymore. I’m gonna keep searching for those highlights, because they are God’s gracious blessing to me. He gave me a good memory, not so I could remember every single thing that happens in my life, but so that when I do, I will remember HIM. HIS PRESENCE WITH ME, His arms holding me, His mercyg iving me hope and excitement for the reunion...and the memories...yet to come.