Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Fatal Flaw

"That has been our biggest mistake as parents," Clay exclaimed.
"Yep, we should never have let them know that they are hilarious," I replied.

We had just been discussing "the chicken nugget incident".
Evan was about two years old. Still old enough to know better.
He was in his little car seat on a four hour trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house.
We had stopped to grab some fast food.
Clay was driving, and I was actually looking at him when it happened. We were having a conversation when a chicken nugget suddenly bounced off the side of Clay's head.

We turned around to see our Evan, straight-faced and serious as can be, announcing to the car, "I'm done."
It hit our funny bones so hard that we couldn't stop laughing to discipline the child.
"I should have pulled the car over right then and there to punish him...but we made that fatal flaw."
Yep. Clay has a point, it is a fatal flaw in many ways. They learned about levity in the face of frustration at a very young age; but if he had been "properly punished", the memory might have been tainted. I'm not sure that "good parenting" is worth losing that piece of our family lore.

That fatal flaw has been our undoing.
Our boys push when the tension rises. They keep talking, pressing buttons, making clever comments...hoping to pick the right remark that will lighten their consequences, change our perspective, or simply remind us that they are so very lovable.

I don't blame them. It tends to work.
What is a fatal flaw for a parent, is quite the "gift" for a child.
(It also tends to give me some funny facebook statuses.)

We are praying that they learn to read their audience (and pay attention to the veins popping out of the authority figure's neck)...maybe that will keep them from someday getting fired for insubordination.

This picture was taken when our boys did NOT manage to make us laugh.
They got sent to the corner for "time out".
This mama still got her "perspective/mood lightening" moment when they chose to go to the SAME corner.
Dang, I love those boys. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Before Kids

I recently read the book What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.
(Actually, I listened to it. It is set in Australia, so the accents probably made the book better than it actually was.)
In the book, a 39 year old mother of three (in the middle of divorce) hits her head and wakes up thinking she is 29 again. She has no recollection of the last 10 years.
29 was when she was newly married, madly in love, and pregant with her first child.

This book KICKED. MY. BUTT.
In it, "29 year old" Alice was shocked by the way her husband spoke to 39 year old Alice.
She was confused by the seriousness of her current life. Everything always seemed so urgent and important. Didn't they have fun anymore?
Alice read some emails she had written to her husband leading up to the divorce and she COULD NOT BELIEVE that she could have ever written such things to the love of her life. So bitter. So harsh.

It got me thinking about Clay and I - before kids.
I would watch Nascar races (I joined a Nascar Fantasy League and CARED ABOUT MY TEAM.)
We would spend hours playing video games with each other. (It can be therapeutic to blow up your spouse.)
We almost got kicked out of birthing classes. (We were so busy flirting and giggling with each other than the coach got a bit irritated.)
There was a lot of grace to be had in our home. That "was" is almost painful to read.

Since that stage of life, things have gotten much more serious.
His career, our children, homeschooling, ministries, responsibilities, blah, blah, blah.
It has all added up to stress.
Our fuses have shortened. We don't have TIME for video games.
We too often forget to play. We forget to be best friends...like we used to be.
It's messed up.
Clay may have less hair than when we were younger and starry-eyed, but he is still the love of my life. The goal is to stop and remember that. Daily.
We need to look into each other's eyes and SEE the young, playful souls that remain...and coax them back out. We need to CHOOSE not to be old, grumpy, married people.
I need to choose to be the flirty wife.

No more "remembering back when"...
We need to ENJOY (and properly prioritize) the now.
Lord, remind me what it was like when we were twenty-five.
Bring back the love and grace in a POWERFUL way. Give us YOUR love and grace.
I want to be starry-eyed (toward Clay) forever.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

I Have More To Say

So I had a conversation with my friend Renee (who once told me that my blog kind of inspired her to start her own blog). The convo went something like this:

Renee: "Are you done blogging?"
Me: "I don't THINK so. I mean, I have more to say. I know God has used it to make people laugh or to help them know that they aren't alone. He also uses it to speak to ME while I write. Even my son reads it. Voluntarily!"
Renee: "So what is stopping you?"
Me: "It takes so much time. I think of blog topics ALL THE TIME. I have even started writing out a few...but by the time I write them and edit them, I decide they are no longer relevant, or that they are not funny enough, or that they pretty much suck."
Renee: "So... you are too critical. You are expecting perfection. No wonder you never blog!"
Me: "...."
Renee: "Just write it, read it once, and POST. That's what I do."

Inside my head, I may have laughed at her. No way I could publish something that rough. NO ONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT! Out loud I replied something more like this: "I...well...Maybe I could set apart 30 minutes a day or so."

This was three weeks ago. 
30 minutes a day has NOT happened, but I have been chewing on her idea of "just writing, reading it once, and posting". 
I really have been paralyzed by my own expectations. So in an effort to free myself from this bondage, I am going to try it out. Starting today. 
I am REALLY not sure that my thoughts which have been only semi-filtered should actually be shared with the universe. (Let alone my son. Oh dear, my GRANDMA reads this blog too. Hi Grandma!)

Be afraid. Be very afraid. That way, I don't have to experience all this fear alone.
Bless you for coming along on the journey.
I'm going to TRY not to care too much about what you witness.
This is Renee and her husband, Johan.
(Well his name is Eric; but my family pretty much refuses to call him Eric.)
I've heard that it's good to add photos to a blog, so I added this without their permission.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


*I posted this as a note on Facebook in 2009 (before I had a blog). I'm transferring it here so my kids can read it. Enjoy.
Once a month, Clay plays bass guitar at church. I love it, he is one SEXY bass player.
(Yes, it IS possible to be sexy in church.)

Unfortunately, the music responsibility requires him to leave earlier than the rest of the family. 
Without my dear husband to point out food between my teeth or let me know if toilet paper is stuck to my shoe, I have recently managed to get myself into some interesting "situations".
The last Sunday he was gone, I showed up to church with my dress on backward... yep, backward.
I had a sweater on to cover up all the buttons and embellishments that were now on my BACK instead of my front (so it actually looked "normal"-ish) but I headed to the bathroom and switched it around once I noticed.
And today...
Well, let me start at the beginning:
Our church is full of lovely people, but we have not established many close friendships yet. Because of this, I find myself with a stronger desire to be "liked". Although, I know that clothing does not determine "likability",  my desire to please had me standing in my closet this morning - frustrated over which jacket I should wear with my brown skirt. With every option slung haphazardly around the room, I picked one and moved on to another important dilemma - shoes. I had a golden flipflop on my left foot and a dainty brown sandal on my right. I decided on the latter, then gathered up kids to pile in the car.

After depositing the kids in their proper classes, I headed to the service. Before I got there, I had the sensation that one of my shoes was slightly higher than the other - and I cringed. Looking down, I felt myself blush. You see, I may have decided to wear the brown sandal, but I neglected to put its mate on my left foot. I was wearing two COMPLETELY different shoes.
Enter: Vanity
Any given day, I would gladly go out in public wearing mismatched shoes - on a dare.
I would show up in church wearing facepaint - if I had a good reason.
I am generally not too proud to make a fool of myself, but I discovered this morning that I AM vain. I will act ridiculous on my own terms, but my chest tightens at the thought of being laughed at for doing something genuinely "dumb".
I had to fix this mistake! So I sent a text to my husband and headed for home.
My vanity cried, "What is wrong with me? Two months in a row? I hope no one noticed!"

I  had a 30 minute round-trip to contemplate the reason I was driving home. 
It was God, my vanity, and me - all locked in a car.
By the time I got back to church, God and I had decided that vanity didn't belong.
I honestly wish I would not have changed my mismatched shoes.
I wish I would have unevenly walked in to listen to my husband play guitar. My shoes would have brought giggles to many church friends, been great for a conversation starter...and it would have better represented the person I WANT to be.
I want to be someone who doesn't need the validation of others to comprehend my great worth.
I want others to see the trust I have in God at ALL times - and that He can use our foibles for His glory.

I hope I can carry this little lesson with me. I plan to share it with my children.
I hope we can all find the positive in our "less-than-perfect" moments and trust that God made us for His GLORY - even in our mismatched shoes.
This is cracking me up. I don't know how this photo ended up at the bottom of this post, but I am leaving it BECAUSE my first thought was, "Does that bowling ball make my butt look big?"
Seriously. That is how insane my vanity can be. Ridiculousness. Still learning...6 years later.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Guy Emotions

Fellow Mother-of-boys, Rhonda Schrock, wrote a blog post in which she asked for a translator. She was searching for any avenue to better understand the alien men with whom she lives. As she wrote, she marveled, "Imagine if a burp said, 'That was a fabulous meal. You are a queen among women, and your knack with a skillet is unrivaled.'"

Well, Rhonda, you may be on to something!
Her blog got me thinking about a conversation I had with my own alien husband.

I was using my feminine, verbal way to communicate deep love to my handsome man when my eyes crossed and the room became blurry. I was forced to stop speaking because I couldn't catch my breath. Clay, my other half, had dropped a gas-bomb and ruined my sweet moment.
It was silent, but deadly...and there was no warning.

That fateful day, in an attempt to calm the storm within me which was caused by the wind that escaped him, my husband shared a little secret which has helped me understand the male gender on a whole new level.
Dial in women, what I am about to share with you could save you YEARS of frustration.

We all know that many men struggle to emote in ways that satisfy women, but Clay took this opportunity to inform me that his gender is actually FULL of emotions which are dying to get out. Problematically, those feelings (in a male body) happen to be stored in gas form...which smells like it's been dead for years.
I was dumbfounded!
This means that all those expulsions I've dealt with for decades could have, quite possibly, been expressions of love!

Just last week, when we sang "Happy Birthday" to my youngest son while bringing him breakfast in bed; I should not have grimaced as he chimed in with his own melodious (and odorous) bass.
I should have been impressed that he was on beat and touched at the abundance of JOY that was produced by our loving gesture. He simply HAD to exhibit those emotions! His heart was FULL! (Well, SOMETHING was.)

It has all become so CLEAR now. The cloud has been lifted! (Until one of my testosterone-filled family members decides to "love" me again.)
I just couldn't keep this knowledge to myself, so I am getting the word out.
Men and women alike will thank me for generations to come.
You are welcome.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

So GLAD I'm Getting Old(er)

I used to be quite the little spaz.
Everything was a big deal. All. The. Time.
In school, I would prefer to cheat on an assignment than risk getting anything
less than an 'A'.
I would spend HOURS explaining myself when I felt misunderstood.
I couldn't let anything go.
(OK, so maybe I still do this to Clay at times, but I'm workin' on it.)

I thought people needed to think like me, see the world like me, BE like me.
I followed a set of rules, and felt that others should follow them too.
I just KNEW I had thought through all of the "whys" of life.
I had a good reason for every action I took...so I was SURELY "right".
Within that little box of control and unattainable perfection, I was consumed with how I was perceived. I wanted to please EVERYONE. It was exhausting. It was suffocating. It was wrong.

I can still get a bit intense at times; but my friend, Hindsight, has really calmed me down.
She is a force to be reckoned with.
I just have to acknowledge Hindsight, and she makes a difference in my here and now.

Looking at her, I see that wading through disobedience to God has brought misery and struggle to seasons of my life.
She also reveals that walking in obedience has resulted in internal peace and FREEDOM during other pieces of my life.
Hindsight's 41 years of wisdom show me that God loves me in my imperfections, and that He USES them to reveal my need for Him.
Good ol' Hindsight.

Every time I glance her way, I am reminded that loving others is far more important than being 'right'.
She's proven that to me.
Most of all, I have witnessed through her that hard times always get better - eventually. Each hard moment I've lived has made me stronger, taught me a lesson, and tore away some of the ugly in me.

Yep, that Hindsight, I need to keep in touch with her on a daily basis.

Just the other day, God used Hindsight to provide me with some much needed perspective.
I was comparing myself to others. I was feeling old. I was self-conscious about the swollen, wrinkled skin around my allergy-inflamed eyes.
She pointed to some of my favorite people in the world. She followed the paths they have taken through my life, and she said in a sarcastic voice, "Yah, the only reason you love them is because they are pretty."
Her figurative eye-roll reminded me that I don't even consider physical beauty when I contemplate those people who warm my heart the most. I connect with their spirit. I respond to their authentic love. External beauty is NOT how I want others to connect to me either.
I want others to light up when they think of me because of how I make them FEEL in the depths of their spirit. Do they know they are loved?

Age is such a gift. It has really calmed me down.
I praise God for every laugh line, as well as every scar.

Thank you, Hindsight...
Or maybe I should I call you by your proper name: Wisdom.
As each year passes, I get a bit more of you in my life. Praise God.

Job 12:12 Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Used to Write a Blog

"So what you are actually saying...is that you USED to write a blog."

It happened after explaining to the English class that I regularly utilize a thesaurus when writing.
"Well, if I find time to write... I mean, I DO have a blog. In fact, you guys would probably like to read it...but I haven't really posted anything for 6 or 8 months..."
*mumble, mumble, talk to myself, forget that there are other people listening*

Then BOOM! *insert perfectly timed comment mentioned above - that struck right at my heart.*

Hmmm...he's got a point. Can I even say that I write a blog?
Can I smack this kid for pointing it out?
I'll show YOU, you snarky clever little 11th grade boy who felt the need to challenge me.
I win. You lose. That is all.

*shaking my head*
It took a confrontation with an adolescent for me to write something.
[sidenote: I just utilized a thesaurus to recall the word 'confrontation' rather than using the phrase 'pissing match' which was my first impulse. Those thesauruses really ARE wonderful. Sometimes, after spending my days with teenage boys, I need assistance to clean up my act and sound semi-educated.]
[sidenote to my sidenote: My boys just read the words 'pissing match' over my shoulder. It is a new term for them. They are laughing hysterically and spouting off about lighting fires and urine. It's not pretty, but it IS kind of funny. Oh my, there really is NO hope for me...or my children.]

I love teenagers. Truly, I do.
Intelligent, challenging, thinking ones are 'extra bonus' fun.
They keep things interesting and, apparently, push me to get things done.