Monday, July 29, 2013

The Imposter


I flew on an airplane today. It was the first time in 11 years that I have flown. (I’ve been a little busy having and raising blond headed geniuses, after all)

A lot of things have changed in 11 years. For example, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever had to remove my shoes, and then stand with my arms over my head while a machine x-rayed my entire body. I was tempted to ask them if they could tell me my body mass index while they were at it…but lets face it, who really wants to know that anyway?

We ate an early lunch of nasty, greasy, airport Pizza Hut, and then boarded one of the smallest regional planes I’ve ever been on. (Or, maybe all planes are smaller than they seemed to me 11 years ago, when I was still a kid.) After that, we witnessed an argument between the flight attendant and the passenger sitting in the seat behind us. (This argument was over the vitally important matter of whether or not the passenger was allowed to have his own personal magazines in the seat pocket in front of him during takeoff.)

Why was I on a plane today, you ask? Well, funny as it feels to me to say aloud, I am speaking at Teen Mania Ministries, a teen missions organization based outside of Dallas, TX, tomorrow morning for their mid-week chapel service. And why am I doing that, you may further inquire?  They (Teen Mania) are the ones who published the book I wrote about my sister, Joy, and they invited me to come and share about it. (Confession: It took all my will power to give that answer instead of the first one that popped into my mind, which was “I HAVE NO IDEA WHY!”)

I don’t do things like this. I don’t leave my kids at my sister’s house for the night, jump on a flight to a state halfway across the mainland,  speak to a group of accomplished, Godly men and women, and then fly back home in time to pick up my kids and put them to bed.

I feel like such a fraud. In fact, I felt all day long like someone was going to take one look at me, glance at my ID and info, and then say “Sorry, only street savvy, world-wise, cool people get to fly, and I’m pretty sure you smell like peanut butter sandwiches and pee.”

Who am I kidding? I can’t be this person. This morning I made up a story about a raccoon to distract my three-year-old while he was sitting on the toilet trying to…take care of business. THAT’S the person I am. 

There are no magazines in my house that can cause intense debate of any kind. (All the magazines are either about financial analysis, saltwater fish tanks, or Legos) (and while the Lego magazine can occasionally spark heated discussions about which set should be purchased first, at least it doesn’t nearly come to blows like the debate that took place behind us on the flight today!)

Its almost comical, this whole thing. Its like I’m living someone else’s life, not mine. It will only last 24 hours, but I am unsure if I can hold onto my fake bravado for that long.

I’m terrified. I am convinced that I will step up on that stage tomorrow and everyone will see through me, and instantly know that I have no business speaking to them about anything, unless they want tips on raccoon potty stories or Lego sets.

I’m totally unqualified, utterly unworthy, and completely out of my element.

I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the way the Lord wants me to feel. Because if I was calm, in my element, capable, then I wouldn’t be praying like CRAZY. And if I was qualified, then I could take some of the credit. And if I was worthy, then maybe I would get some of the recognition.

Bu I’m just a regular, southern, country girl. I have holes in all but one of my pairs of jeans (which are the ones I’m wearing today, by the way) and calluses on my feet. Last week I went blackberry picking with my kids and let them play in the rain. I wish more than anything that I was wearing cut-offs and a sweatshirt right now, playing board games and eating peaches at my kitchen table with those wild little blond headed geniuses.

Instead, I’m praying like crazy, wondering who in the world thinks they should ever expend a second of energy arguing about magazines, hoping that supper will be less greasy than lunch, and holding my breath that no one calls me out for being an imposter on the world scene.

If I didn’t know better, I would be convinced that the Lord made a rather large mistake. He really would have been better off asking someone else to do this, spread this story, share His glory, point people to His heart.

But because I know that He doesn’t need a giant x-ray machine to see inside me, and He doesn’t get fooled by hole-less jeans, and He still chose me to do this…I’m just gonna keep praying like crazy, and keep putting one foot in front of the next, and keep swallowing the lump in my throat, and keep remembering, always remembering, that it doesn’t matter who I am, or am NOT.

It matters who HE is. And He is worth a greasy lunch, a giant x-ray machine, a cramped flight with ridiculous people, and the exhaustion of trying to hold it all together for 24 hours.

But when I get home, I’m going back to being the real me. This imposter that is parading around in my body can only keep her crap together for 24 hour periods.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Someday

"Someday your children will be grown, and then you will miss them being small."

If you are a parent of small children, you have been on the receiving end of this particular nugget of wisdom. It has been offered by sweet old ladies in Wal-mart, by your own parents, and by your spouse. Usually its a sentiment that is supposed to make you relax when you are reaching the absolute end of your patience rope.

Truth time: I rarely feel eased or mollified or calmed or relaxed by the statement.

On the good days, when the kids are being their regular amount of wild, and someone reminds me that its only a few short years until they are grown, I think something along these lines: "Yes, I am sure I will be sad when they are grown. But they aren't grown right now, and right now I'm sad that they spilled sticky juice on my newly mopped floor."

On the days when they have long since frayed my very last nerve, my thoughts are even less forgiving. "Oh sure, I can imagine that I will miss cleaning up potty accidents, and refereeing games, and breaking up arguments, and listening to complaints about the food I prepared, and getting black eyes and fat lips from snuggling gone wrong. NOT."

I'm in the process of potty training my baby (who isn't a baby at all; he's three) And all I can think is "I can't wait till this is over and I NEVER have to potty train another child!" 

My mom reminds me not to wish his life away, but I swear, if I could, I totally WOULD wish the next month to be accomplished, so I don't have to send him to the toilet every half hour, and sit in the floor singing made up songs about potty time. I may regret it someday...but I can't imagine that now.

My two youngest are on this kick where they absolutely MUST snuggle with me in my bed before they go to sleep at night. If I lose track of time and it gets to be too late for "snuggle time" they both go into nearly uncontrollable fits of crying and begging. 

You think its sweet? Well, it might be if they didn't use the time to try to tickle me, or burrow under my quilt to make forts, accidentally elbowing me in the stomach or kicking me in the shins in the process, or beg me to tell them stories and then refuse to listen once I start.

When Clay was 6 (he's 9 now) he went through the exact same faze. He HAD TO HAVE special snuggling time at the end of every day. I was pregnant with Gabe at the time, so it was considerably more difficult to hold him close and cuddle, but he didn't care. 

He doesn't do that anymore. He outgrew snuggle time.

I am not going to lie, that does make me a little bit sad. And when I remind him that he used to like cuddling with his mom, he smiles indulgently and sits down beside me and endures my kisses and hugs...for about 15 seconds, and then he asks to play a game, or ride his bike, or watch television.

The problem isn't that all us moms of young children don't know, intellectually, that we will miss this "small kids, no sleep, nap time trumps everything, my diaper bag weighs 75 pounds, I can't get anything done EVER" faze. It's that we are honest to goodness too tired or overwhelmed to CARE.

It takes at least 5 minutes to sit down and recall the things we already miss from when our kids were even younger than they are now, and unless we lock the bathroom door while we are going pee, we don't have 5 minutes of silence in a day...EVER.

We are just treading water. We are striving, HARD, to keep it all together. And anyone who has ever been through that stage knows the way we feel, but they also know that we won't always feel that way, and that is why they remind us to slow down, and laugh at the antics, and cherish the snuggling, even if it comes with accidental fat lips or bruised shins.

But please, for the love of my sanity, don't tell me that someday I will be sad that my house is clean instead of messy, because the mess signifies the sweet little ones running around. Trying to imagine feeling that way will make my head EXPLODE.

Okay, I gotta go. My potty-training three-year-old just told me that he had a #2 accident in his pants.

Oh yeah, I can totally imagine missing this faze.

Insert all appropriate curse words here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Remember

I haven't blogged in a while.

I've been really busy, but I'm always busy so that isn't the main reason I haven't sat down with my laptop to spill my guts to the waiting chasm of digital space.

I've been in a serious funk lately, and I've been waiting to snap out of it before blogging, because a blog post filled with my craziness that doesn't end with a little bit of Jesus is just me ranting and venting...and  that's really just code for WHINING.

So, weeks have gone by, and every time I glance at my laptop and think about sitting down to write a post, I can't do it, because the funk remains.

Maybe its because I've been doing end-of-year testing with my kids the past two weeks, and potty training my 3-year-old, and those are two of my least favorite things IN THE WORLD. After all, you would hate it too if your child took off his pants and underwear (so he didn't get them dirty) and then climbed into an empty laundry basket and peed.

Sigh. I won't go on, because then I will be venting and ranting and whining, and my Uncle Paul's voice will suddenly be echoing in my mind. "Suck it up and go, kid."

So, I keep waiting, and listening for the Lord, and looking for the moment when something new will strike my heart and snap me out of this crabby, stressed out mess of a wife and mom and friend and daughter that I am currently acting like.

And weeks have gone by.

I keep hearing songs on the radio that speak of exactly how I feel. "I'm tired, I'm worn...I know I need to lift my eyes up, but I'm too weak...my prayers are wearing thin..." But those songs always end with some Jesus...and somehow by the time I get to those parts in the songs, I'm already too tired and worn and weak to really truly HEAR Jesus.

I'm not getting anything new, Lord, and I really need something new from You. I need to hear You. I'm fraying at the edges.

And then my husband read me this passage of scripture.

"I think of God and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for His help. You don't let me sleep, I am too distressed even to pray. I think of the good old days, long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and think about the difference now. Has the Lord rejected me forever? Have His promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be kind? Has He slammed the door on His compassion? And I said "This is my fate, that the blessings of the Most High have turned to hatred."

(dude, this guy seriously needs an Uncle Paul to tell him to suck it up.) (I almost giggled at all the whining, except I feel exactly that way right now!!!) (okay, enough parentheses, here is the next verse.)

"But I will remember what the Lord has done..." (Psalm 77:3-11a, NLT)

And all of a sudden, as my husband continued to read, I was thrown back in time to the first time I really HEARD this passage of scripture 9 years ago, and I remembered the dark place I was in, and how the discipline of REMEMBERING what the Lord had done throughout my life helped me to move out of that place.

And I started to cry. Because the Lord hadn't given me anything new or fresh, but instead had reminded me of what I already knew.

REMEMBER!!!!!!!!

And the funk remains, but I am remembering that it doesn't last forever.

And my heart is tired, but I recall that He is strong.

And my emotions are frayed, but I am reminded that He will hold the threads together.

And my spirit is dry, but I cannot ever forget that HE IS THE WATER FOR MY THIRSTY SOUL.

And it isn't an immediate snapping out of anything, but instead, its a daily choice to suck up how I FEEL, and instead rely on what is TRUE, and WHO IS FAITHFUL.

"You are the God of miracles and wonders!" (Psalm 77:14)