Totally Random

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I’m a mess.  Or, as we say in the south, “I’m a HOT mess!”.  My mind has a mind of its own.  I’ve heard it asked of me on more than one occasion, “ADD much?”

Maybe a little.

I don’t prefer to think of my mind’s abundant activity as “hyperactive”, “impairing”, or “unfortunate”, but rather as “flexible”, “imaginative”, and “freaky talented”.  After all, it’s not many who can think of 25 different subjects, scenarios, outcomes, and inevitable disasters all at once. (Except for every mom on the planet, but that’s another entry altogether.)

My multi-tasking mind.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Until it’s not.

Yes, I can imagine every possible result of riding your skateboard without a helmet, but I imagine them all at once.  And yes, I can converse with Aunt Sally at a family reunion while planning every emergency escape route at the same time, but I usually only hear half of Aunt Sally’s story.  And yes, I can probably tell you the beginning, middle, and end of what I’m going to write, but it all barrels through my brain at the speed of an F-15, so I’ve forgotten it by the time I write.  (I like to think that adds to the intrigue…does it?)

And while I’m thinking of how bright the yellow is on Lucy’s skirt, the fact that the music is about 80 decibels higher than it needs to be, which Lego piece I lost under the table, and the fact that I need to clean the windows, I’m also noticing every single thing around me. I’ve concluded that I’d be the world’s greatest spy.  For at the same time that Lucy, music, Legos, and windows are circulating my brain waves, I also notice that Jane is sitting alone (I wonder if she’s lonely); Billy’s cup is too close to the edge of the table (it’s gonna spill!); there have been five knocks on the door, but there are only four kids here (Sam must be going potty); a red van drove by our house three times today (should I call the police?); and Kit has scratched her head more than twice (I know she was at camp. Better give space in case of lice.  Better yet, let’s play outside.).

Go, brain, go.

Or STOP, brain, STOP!!  For the love of every deep breath ever taken, STOP!!

For just as I think too much and notice too much, I all too easily forget too much.  I forget more than I ever noticed.  You see, my mind is so busy filling up with new data that there is just no space for information received 8 seconds ago…like names (Sorry, everyone I’ve ever met!  I’d apologize to you by name, but…well…).  I have always stunk at history because names and dates are just too much detail to hold on to when I already noticed that the short guy from France had a weird hat and probably felt bad being so short, and that the tall guy who fought against slavery had a tall hat and super long fingers.  And he lost more than he won.

No clue when any of that happened.  You see, because during class, Susie sneezed (I wonder if she has allergies or a cold…I should wash my hands), Jennifer passed note to Diana (Is it about me? I knew it.  They hate me.), the teacher really needed a haircut, and the heater was making a very annoying noise.

Names and dates?  Not so much.  No space.

Try parenting this way.  I consider every option for every action all at the same time, until I become paralyzed and can’t think at all.  “If I offer Big Boy dessert after he was disrespectful, then I am rewarding the bad behavior.  But wait! You can’t fight over food, so dessert isn’t a reward.  But, if sweet words don’t come out of his mouth, sweet food can’t go in.  But, an apology should be enough.  Don’t be harsh.”  So instead of coming up with a logical parenting move, I either ban him from dessert for the rest of his human life (which has just now grown shorter), or give him a gallon of ice cream and a spoon and tell him to,”have at it!”

Cuz, you know, THAT makes sense.

Try being married to this mind.  Bless my sweet husband.  He watches me go from scenario one to conclusion Godzilla because he didn’t witness the amalgamation of fluid and cross-wired thoughts that blasted through my head in 1.4 seconds.

Him: “Wait a minute, Jess. Why are we going bankrupt again?”

Me: “Because Big Boy just ate 7 eggs at once.  Which means his appetite is increasing at a rate of 450%. Which means our grocery bill will flop from 2x’s our mortgage to 4x’s our mortgage.  And he’s going to outgrow all his clothes this week which means we are going to have to buy new ones. And my tire is low for the second time this month, which likely means I will have to replace all four tires before we go clothes shopping, and I don’t have time to do it while the other two kids are in school, so I’ll have to hire a sitter.  The sitter can’t cook, which means I’m going to have to order a pizza and pay for delivery! And….”

If you give a mouse a cookie…

Him: “Or maybe he was hungry today, honey.”

Simple minds.

Even as I consider the aptitude of my high-functioning brain (*ahem*), I am conflicted with thoughts.  On one hand, I couldn’t be more grateful to be able to think about so many things.  And, in fact, I actually enjoy the humor in it quite often.  “Hey, Jo, did I tell you that…oh, hey! Look! It’s the bracelet I’ve been looking for.  Isn’t it a pretty color?  It reminds me of the beach.  Which makes me happy.  Anyway, did I tell you that…”

But the flipside is…my brain is tired.  It’s exhausting to be thinking 25 things at once.  To never know which option is the best because I’m thinking of every positive and negative outcome possible.  To feel every emotion large than life.  To feel ashamed.  Ashamed of making a fool of myself.  Ashamed of being too enthusiastic, too emotional, too picky, too worried, too harsh, too negative, too hurt, too busy, too selfish, too random, too much.

Too.  The language of my brain.  Too.

Sometimes I wish that would all just stop.  That I wouldn’t be “too” anymore.  That I wouldn’t worry about people getting sick of my “too” and leaving my side because it’s all “too” much.  Yes, it is.  It’s too much.  Inside of me, it is just too much.

And then I hear these beautiful words, spoken by Adan Bean:

“Even my random has been ransomed by Christ.”

And I smile.  And I rejoice, because I know it’s true.  I need an “Amen, Hallelujah!” for that one.

Just knowing that, just BELIEVING that, gives me the chance to enjoy the laughter of my dear friend as we both realize we have no idea what we are talking about or how we got there.  And I beam because my Angel Baby’s train-of-thought conversations make perfect sense to me.  And I chortle because “Elf’s” phone call to his dad is SPOT ON: “I painted a picture of a butterfly today!  I tuned the piano!”

Yes! Paint on!!

So, if you will excuse me, my thoughts have been somewhat linear for too long now, and I just saw a chipmunk in my backyard.  I need to go see what he’s doing….

 


When My Feet Hit the Ground

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So, I run. Sometimes, I run. A few “sometimes “I run.

It’s amazing what you can learn while you’re running. The road seems like an endless opportunity to teach you things you never knew before. How big a tiny pebble can actually be. What teamwork is really all about. How alone time can become prayer time. How very little you are actually in control. How strong you are. How week you are. How brave you are. How cowardly you are. But mostly it teaches humility.

I’ve heard golf is the same way; teaching you that you didn’t know half of what you thought you knew. But running makes you feel like a giant and a dwarf all at the same time. You conquer feats you never knew you could while failing at the tiniest step and falling miserably. You run distances you never thought you could at speeds you never thought you would, while at the same time not being able to take another step; fast OR slow. Dichotomy in a life form.

When your feet hit the ground, you automatically think, “I’m going to conquer the world today!”, at the same time that you think “The world has conquered me today “. Running gives you the chance to pound it out: to get the burdens of life out of your body and onto the pavement. It gives you the chance to fly free; free of pain, free of sorrow, free of anger, free of angst, free of distress, and free of worry. For even just a moment; even one step. And for those steps, each step that takes away a burden, God gives you the gift to be free.

But then God brings about the next moments. The ones where you trip on a crack in the pavement or your heart rate is just more than you can handle. The hill in front of you. The mile marker you haven’t reached. The fatigue you feel from pounding it out too much. The pain that grows in your legs. Shortness of breath. Ache in your feet. Sorrow returns.

And somehow, both sets of moments reminds you that all of life comes at the hand and will of God. That He allows the moments of freedom and He permits the moments of pain. That He grants both favor and discipline. Peace and unrest. That in both sets of circumstances, the only way to get to the next mile marker is to look to the One who gave us the ability to move. The ability to fly. The ability to race free. And to trust that He is going to carry our legs one step at a time.

 
One foot in front of the other. One moment after the next, until we reach the goal He has set for us.

 
The finish line.IMG_0416

 
Small finishes. Large finishes. The ultimate finish. Each one of them ordained and set by God. Each finish sculpted uniquely for you. For me. For us. No matter the goal, be it large or small, near or far, I know for sure I will never get there without God’s hand to guide me and to move my feet down that road.

 
My running “career” has shown me that there are days when I will feel like I was born to run. And there are days when I will feel like I was born to do anything BUT run. Days when it’s easy to move, and days when I am certain I will not move an inch. But in all of those times, be they easy or hard, I know beyond knowing that I cannot and do not take one step without the hand of God moving my feet. Not one.

 
So, on those days when I find it the hardest to put one foot in front of the other, I look to God, and ask Him to do the moving for me. I dig deep, let go, and ask Him to take over. For Him to do the running; to move my slodgy feet.

 
And when those steps have been made, the finish line crossed, or the goal reached., I know that I didn’t do a thing. Not one single thing.

 
And isn’t that how life should be?IMG_0348

 

 


I Don’t Want to Change!

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I hate the cold.

Despise it, actually.

Loathe?

Whatever the strongest word you can come up with for “dislike”, I am THAT to cold.  To being cold, to being IN cold, to being NEAR cold, to having a cold.  It all stinks.  In fact, I’m fairly certain that Hell itself is frozen solid, because that would truly be torture.

That being said, winter is not my favorite time of year.  Snow?  It may be pretty, but to me, it’s a sure sign that: #1, I am going to be physically suffering should I dare to step outside (or near a drafty window or door), and #2, I have no hope of being even mildly comfortable for months.  And that lovely chill in the air this time of year?  It’s basically a phantasmic arrow pointed right at any orifice on my head, awaiting an opportunity to shoot in and freeze me from the inside out.  You see, cold gets INSIDE of me.  Deep, deep down.  And it does. Not. Come. Out.

I have tried it all:  sitting directly on the heating vents, layers upon layers of clothes, hand warmers, foot warmers, boots and gloves even inside the house, hot baths, hot showers, hot baths followed by hot showers, drinking anything hot (even hot water), space heaters, scarves, jumping jacks, running in place….  I only end up with knots in my hair from the scarves, burn marks from all heating sources, immobility and loss of circulation from the layers of clothes, having to pee every two seconds from the hot beverages, and sitting on a water bill that has the city checking for leaks.

But I’m still cold.

So when I finally get to a spot where I am decently warm, the last thing on earth I want to do is change that.  Ergo, the concept of changing out of my warm clothes into pajamas at day’s end seems preposterous!  Why on earth would I want to voluntarily remove the warm fabric that has worked all day to absorb my temperate body heat to expose my chill-vulnerable skin (even momentarily) to tauntingly frigid air and then replace the warm fabric with currently un-body-heated fabric?  I don’t think so!  It’s like running through a swarm of bees and hoping you don’t get stung.

Each evening, I find myself whining to Hubby, “I don’t want to change!”.  Yes, I am aware that I sound like a four-year-old, but I feel kind of four-year-old-ish.  Changing just opens up too many chances to get stung by those poker-happy bees!  It’s uncomfortable.  I don’t like it.  It can actually hurt.  It takes time to recover.

I almost don’t even need to write any more.  It doesn’t take much to see the connection between changing my clothes and changing me.  I heard myself reciting my nightly lament and almost curled up inside myself for the profundity of it all.

“I don’t want to change!”

This is so very true.

Changing opens up too many chances to get stung.  It’s uncomfortable.  I don’t like it.  It can actually hurt.  And it takes time to recover.

No thank you.

Even when I can recognize the ugly parts of me, changing can still be remarkably hard.  Doing so acknowledges that the ugly part exists in the first place, and who wants that?  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to just sweep the ugly part under the rug?  To dress it up with something pretty (or manly), maybe?  But to CHANGE my ugly?  Well, um…I don’t know.

The unfortunate part about covering our ugly is that “ugly” doesn’t like to stay covered, nor can it be beautified.  It is a living creature, and it feeds on darkness and deception.  The further away we try to push it, the bigger it grows.  The only way to get rid of it is to hold it in your hand, look it in the eye, and bit it adieu. Adios, ugly!

The changing process is flat-out hard and requires commitment that isn’t always easy to maintain.  It’s not easy or even fun, but it can be permanent, beautiful, and life-changing.

And sometimes even warm.

After all, my pajamas are the comfiest, coziest thing I own.

If only I didn’t have to change out of them….


What to Do? What to Say? What to Write?

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I had a freakishly unsettling situation occur yesterday:  I had nothing to do.  I mean, nothing on my SCHEDULE to do.  As the day started, I had an event before school, followed by a volunteer opportunity at said school shortly after, but was told I wasn’t needed.  So, by 8:15 in the morning, my schedule was clear.

ALL THE WAY clear.

My brain should have screamed:  “Woohoo!  I’ve got 6 hours to use!  I can finally get those errands run!  I can FINALLY mop the floor!  I can write a new post for my blog!”  So many opportunities!  So much time!

But instead, I stopped dead in my tracks, like a deer in headlights.  “Oh my gosh! I’ve got 6 hours!  What should I do?!  I don’t want to waste it!  God gave me this day; I really can’t squander it.  What is the best use of my time here?  How can I feel useful?  I have all this TIME!  Shouldn’t I be working?  Shouldn’t I be doing something to not use up the space and resources that abound on this planet?  Who CARES if my floor is mopped?!  I don’t have anything to say on my blog; I just can’t think.”

It. Was. Paralyzing.

What is wrong with me?!  I should have been elated!  But instead, I felt like a big-ole lump of lazy human, taking up the air that people were actually turning into energy used to earn the money they were working so hard to earn.

This same phenomenon has plagued me on and off since dear Hubby mentioned that he didn’t want his soon-to-be-wife to have to work.

“How about if your wife WANTS to work, honey?”

“Oh, no, no.  That’s not necessary.  I’ll take care of you.”

Bless the man.

So I stopped working…and instead began pacing the halls like a caged leopard.  Every moment seemed like an eternity.  Every breath felt wasted.  I could physically hear the clock in my mind, taunting me with every tick and toc.  Surely I was put on this earth for more than just pacing.

I needed to fill the time.  My workouts increased to two hours each day (Ok, an hour of gabbing and an hour of exercise; lets be realistic here.).  Then my penchant for volunteering sprung to life as if raised from the dead.  Need help tutoring?  Sure, I’ll do it.  Habitat for Humanity?  Sign me up!  Too many papers to file?  I got your back.  Whatever it was, I just couldn’t bear the hollow echoes of my empty home.  I kept feeling like I was wasting the time God gave me.

Until. The. Day.

The day I had kids.  My beautiful, amazing, life-giving (and life-sucking) cherubs who turned out to be harder than any job I’d ever had in my life!  Harder, more punishing, and far more rewarding.  My babies filled my days with noise, life, activity, music, arguments, and an endless to-do list.  I think they were an answer to prayer for me in more ways than one, taking away this aching, nagging feeling in my heart that I should be doing more with my life, more with the time God gave me.

This is where the “God-lesson” comes in; I can hear in my own words how “the hole in my heart needed to be filled by Jesus”, and “He loves you for YOU, not for what you do”.  I know. I know.

I know this is true.  Just as true as it is that when my body is idle, my mind is driving overtime.  Spinning in terrible circles until I’m so dizzy I can’t think straight.  I also know that anxiety is me trying to take control of what God has rightful control over.  But that doesn’t stop this same mind from burying me in a worry hole so deep that hardly any light shines through. The truth of God’s love, provision, and grace are as real to me as the sun on my face; and still (not “yet”, and not “but”), STILL my mind cannot slow down.

Both of my boys have ADHD and some Sensory Processing issues (SPD), and, I am sadly learning, it appears as though maybe I am the culprit.  In all of my research for the boys, I have learned that minds with makeups such as ours don’t always process and receive the information around them peacefully.  There are sensory “seekers” and sensory “avoiders”; each of which seeks or avoids input in order to calm their minds down.  Seekers need constant activity, noise, light, or stimulation in order to feel calm.  In other words, when the world is crazy around them, they are as cool as a cucumber. (“I’m an island of calm in a turbulent sea.”)  Avoiders need all stimuli to vanish in order to feel the same peace.

Noise aside, I think I may be a seeker:  I need to be active, I always want background noise (QUIET background noise…like birds), I love light, I love colors and patterns, I love to be rushed, I love having too many things to do, and I am a whiz at multi-tasking.

So if you leave me with an open schedule, and my noise-makers in school, I’m a little lost puppy left with too much time to come up with stuff to worry about.  And MAN, am I good at worrying! Like, PhD good!

Fear not.  I know that having a PhD in worry is not something about which to boast, and I’m not proud of it.  In fact, I’d give my right arm to get rid of it.  However, after all this time, I’ve finally come to peace with the fact that God is good and loves me just as much as He would if I never worried again.  God gave me the mind He gave me. Why? I’ll never know.  But I have what I have and need to realize that I’m doing the best I can and letting God do the rest.  Anxiety is the thorn in my side, I guess…

And to that end, I found myself, once again, at the helm of the worry-ship.

A whole day open?  God, please don’t let me waste it.  Please forgive me for not being useful.  Help me to find the time in this open day to fill myself with life, peace, and health, that I may pass it on to others.

*****

As I look over this post, I can’t even BELIEVE I would dare write about the trials of having an open day.  Before I blink, I won’t have time to tie my shoes or go to the bathroom.

Well, I guess FULL days will be the subject of the next post.

I like to keep you hoppin’.


Guest Author!!

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Well, I am happy to report that we have a budding author here in our household.  My sweet bambinos had a day off of school today, and Little Man decided to write a story.  He used up his whole day off composing what you will see below.

(Please note:  He worked very hard on this. 😉 )

Puppy and Blanky the Heroes

by Joshua Wuerffel

_______________

Once upon a time, there were two fellows named Puppy and his twin Blanky.They were twins and BFFs (best friends forever).They go on lots of adventures,hikes, and quests.One day there village was in danger!(there also heroes and knights) They had to go on a journey to save their fellow friends.They packed up their weapons,armour,food,and their horses. They were on there way when suddenly a herd of bears came!They had to think fast! Blanky got his mace at hand. The bears ran straight  at them! But the bears ran right past them Blanky put the  mace on his back. Puppy put down his shield and sword on the ground and stared at the place where the bears came from. Blanky looked at Puppy and said ‘‘Puppy?’’ Puppy didn’t respond. He just kept staring at the place where the bears came from. Then he muttered “must….” “what?” Blanky asked. Puppy’s eyes turned back to normal(his eyes turned green by the way). Puppy said “what…what happened?” Blanky said “i don’t know” “i think you got hypnotized” “LOL” Puppy said “my head hurts” Puppy got up and got his shield and sword off the ground. Blanky got his bow very quickly and aimed the the arrow at the woods (that’s where the bears came from and were Puppy stared at). Then he put it down and said “i just saw a guy with yellowish and greenish eyes”. Then they voted on if they go in the woods or not. Puppy won. He voted on not going in the woods until tomorrow. Then they went to bed. Puppy woke up to see that Blanky wasn’t in his bed. During the night he rolled on top of Puppy’s bed. Puppy smacked Blanky in the face Blanky quickly woke up and got his bow and pulled out a arrow and pulled it back and quickly looked around and let out a big “phew!” Puppy said “time to go in the deep dark woods”. They had breakfast and grabbed all their gear. Then they left. The first step Puppy took in the deep dark woods he stepped in poison ivy. There was poison ivy EVERYWHERE. Then after all the poison ivy they found a tree. Not only was it a tree it was a huge tree. They went around it Blanky was first. Then he turned around and saw that Puppy wasn’t there behind him. Blanky walked back to the front but on his way he stepped on a pressure plate and he fell into a very very very dark tunnel then he saw light through the tunnel he went to it. It was Puppy!! but he was fighting a thousand zombies!! but he had a gimongous sword and shield. Blanky grabbed his mace in the right hand and his bow in his left hand. He did a three sixty backflip in the air and cut one of the zombies head off. Puppy through his torch at a group of zombies and set twelve on fire. Then Blanky said “nice only nine hundred eighty seven to go LOL” Then the greenish yellowish eyes appeared in the dark again and looked at the two warriors and then all the zombies died then the eyes vanished again. Then Puppy grabbed his torch and ran after the yellowish greenish eyes guy they ran and ran and ran and ran and ran until Blanky saw stairs. They went up the stairs. Then they were out of the deep dark woods. They couldn’t even see where they  went to bed well that’s because it was night time. They turned around ready to go back in the tunnel when they turned around to a surprise the tunnel was not there! it was gone they went down the mountain the greenish yellowish eyed guy was not there. Then they saw a village they went to the village it was not the village were they lived it was a different village. They talked to the villagers. They met a very brave warrior they talked to him about all the weird stuff they’ve been through. He asked them if he could join them Blanky said “please what’s your name?” he said “my name is Slush” Blanky asked Slush if he had seen the yellowish greenish eyed guy he said “yes he turned off all the power all i saw of him was his eyes just a couple minutes ago” Blanky said “that guy’s been scaring us like CRAZY” Blanky said “get your armour and your weapons and your horse. After a while he came back with his armour and a bb gun and a sledge hammer on his horse. Then all the three heros got on there horses. Then Slush told them were the yellowish greenish eyed guy went. Then after alot of bottom hurting they made it to a forest. Then they heard a loud BOOM and everything went black then they saw greenish yellowish guy in the air with thousands of skeletons below him. Then a huge zap!! hit the skeletons from greenish yellowish eyed guy. Then they skeletons eyes turned red and looked at the three heroes. Right then Slush jumped into action he pulled out his sledge hammer and jumped high in the air put the sledge hammer above him and SLAMMED his sledge hammer with all his might and made an earthquake and all the skeletons fell into lava below the earth. Then greenish yellowish eyed guy disappeared. Then Blanky shouted “NO your not gonna disappear again!!!!” he jumped in the air as high as he could and got his bow and arrow and grabbed the STRONGEST ARROW IN HISTORY and pulled back and shot the arrow flew through the arrow at infinity miles per hour and blew up the WHOLE FOREST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Puppy and Slush were fine. We looked and looked but could not find the yellowish greenish eyed guy. Blanky said “you guys seen anything?” they both shook their heads and both said “no” then they got on there horses and rode away from the forest and into the desert. Then they saw something on fire. It was a village there was a portal of some kind. Then they say a warrior in silver armour and had an energy blaster and a power sword fight zombie pigman. They rushed in to help the villagers and the warrior Slush broke the portal. Blanky started demolishing the zombie pigman like mad. Puppy helped all the villagers get out of the village once again the yellowish greenish eyed guy was flying in the air he stared at Slush. Slush looked scared then the other warrior jumped in the air with his power sword and actually HIT the greenish yellowish eyed guy!!! he went flying and hit the ground. Then the warrior jumped and stabbed the ground right as the greenish yellowish eyed guy disappeared the yellowish greenish eyed guy was right behind Slush but Slush didn’t know. The yellowish greenish eyed guy’s fist started flashing then went zooming at Slush’s face Slush didn’t make it in time he got punched really hard in the face. Slush went flying and the warrior with the power sword swung really hard at the greenish yellowish eyed guy nobody else saw because the all went over to Slush to see if he was okay. The power sword swung and missed because the greenish yellowish eyed guy disappeared. Then the warrior turned around and walked up to Puppy and Blanky and said “is he alright?” Puppy said “i don’t know” then Puppy and Blanky looked at him and said “who are you?” he said “i am the one and only Ivan” Blanky said “i like your power sword and your energy blaster” Ivan said “TY!” then they checked on Slush he had a black eye and a huge bruise on his face then Blanky said “hey ,Ivan want to join with us on our adventure?” Ivan said “sure” then blanky said “do you know anything about that guy with greenish yellowish eyes?” he said “yes i know one thing he likes to haunt people” then they got on there horses and grabbed Slush pulled him on Ivan’s horse and the rebuilt the portal and went through it. They were in a castle a haunted castle then they say the greenish yellowish eyed guy! Blanky said “yyyeeeess!! a castle a great place for archery Ivan get your energy blaster and shoot and shoot and shoot” Ivan got his energy blaster and Blanky got his bow and they both shot and shot and shot and shot until finally Ivan shot the greenish yellowish eyed guy. He hit the ground Ivan said “THIS IS DESTINY!!!” and he jumped off the castle and got his power sword and it turned purple and he swung with all his might and made the whole earth rumble and through his sword just in time he KILLED THE GREENISH YELLOWISH EYED GUY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! right before he could disappear!! then Slush jumped right up!  we all screamed “YEEEEESSSSS!!!!!!!!” and after that we got back on our horses went through the portal and back into Ivan’s village we told him to tell his village and him to come to our celebration at our village and after a while he came back with all the other villagers and we all rode to Slush’s village he did the same thing and all the villagers got on horses and rode with us to our village. The party lasted three weeks. we were legends and heroes.
THE END


The Day I Got Old

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I should have seen it coming.  I mean, all the signs were there.  The date on the calendar.  The clock ticking steadily. My kids getting older.  Adult acne. (Really?! So now I need to treat liver spots AND acne?!?!  Please!!)

There was the day that I realized a somersault was no longer a fun, body-tumbling adventure, but rather, an opportunity to become motion sick in the span of one-and-a-half seconds.  A futile effort…

There was also the day that “If it’s too loud, you’re too old” became “Would you turn that infernal racket DOWN?!? YES, I’M TOO OLD!!” I think my ears can actually cry now.

But then came THE birthday. The big 4-0.  And believe it or not, 40 isn’t what made me old! I never thought it would.  People kept asking me, “Does it feel weird to be 40 (like they’ve just called me a grave walker)?” “Are you freaking out?” “Can you BELIEVE you’re 40?!”

Well, YES! Sure I could! Wasn’t I 39 the day before that?  40 seemed to make logical sense from that point.

Did I mind turning 40? Again, not at all! I mean, ANY birthday is welcome in my book.  I don’t care if it’s 16, 40, or 75; just bring on the cookie cake!!

It’s odd, really, because I have felt very old since I was very young.  Whether it was the weight I carried on my shoulders, the amount of grumbling I did, or my insanely dry, wrinkled skin, I have always assumed I was 88 years old hiding out in someone else’s body.  (If only I had the wisdom of an 88-year old.) Each birthday that comes till then is icing on the cake (Ha!  Didn’t mean to say that..)

So, age doesn’t bother me  As it is, I’ve a ways to go till I get to my actual (ok, perceived) age anyway, right?

Moving on…

So what did make me old? (As if taking 5 minutes to stand up wasn’t enough.)

It was the day I jumped off a wall.

WHAT?!

Ok, let me clarify:  my boys and I were on a walk when we came to the top of a concrete wall that dropped about four feet down to the parking lot below.  In an attempt to be the world’s coolest mom, I said, “Check this out, boys!” and flung myself off the wall with abandon, landing firmly and proudly on the asphalt below.  Still standing. (I know, I thought this story might end with a plop on the tuchus too, but alas, it did not.)

“Cool, mom! Watch me do it too!’-and then two young whipper snappers leapt into the air.  No problem!  We all were victorious leapers!IMG_9390Until the next day.  And this is where the story gets ugly.

I woke up just fine, with the usual moaning and groaning as I attempted to hoist myself out of bed, completely forgetting about the escapades of the day before.  Even went through the morning routine without issue; except for this nagging ache in my knees.  And my calves.  What was that all about?  I figured I had done some weird workout thing and was dealing with the ramifications.  But tight calves?  Sore knees?  What on earth?!

Man, I hurt!  Like…HURT! My legs are just killing me.  What the heck did I do yesterday?  Calf raises?  No. I didn’t run stadiums or hills.  Leg extensions?  I dunno. Maybe. But why do my knees hurt then?  Did I turn 70 overnight?

“Hey, babe!  What did I do yesterday to hurt my knees, achilles, calves, and…oh, everything?!”

It wasn’t until my full day of griping about my stupid aches concluded that dear Hubby said, “This is weird.  It’s almost like you jumped off of something.”

*snort* Why would I do a stupid thing like….OH, WAIT!! I DID jump off of something yesterday!  (It takes me awhile…)

But, I only jumped once.  One jump.  I hadn’t repeatedly jumped. I wasn’t doing crazy acrobatics or parkour (you’re welcome, kids), or anything loo-loo.  ONE JUMP! You know, cuz I’m a cool mom.

No! I can’t hurt!  Not from that!  I’m a distance runner!  I lift weights! I teach zumba! NO!!

IMG_8873

Hubby: “Honey, you’re old!   You can’t just go jumping off of things and expect it to be a breeze.”

Me: “But why not?! I’m a cool mom! So young! So full of energy!  So willing to play!”

Hubby:  “You’re young at heart now, babe.”

Dang it.

And sad to say, my aching knees confirm it.  I have crossed the plateau into Old-ville.  Now my wrinkles have a place to call home.  My crotchety-ness is no longer in vain.  These cool new spiral-y silver things growing on my head are not foreigners but villagers.

And I think I’m ok with that.

So maybe I’ll have to take a Dramamine before hitting Space Mountain.  Maybe a constant hobble will be the jump-start to my giddy-yap.  Maybe papaya enzymes before bed can be seen as a yummy treat instead of necessary to keep dinner down low.  Maybe I’ll never see a somersault again.

But that’s ok. I’ve been there, done that.  And I’ll still try to do it again.  I’ll still jump off of walls and ride Space Mountain.  I’ll still skip with my daughter to school and try to ride a ripstick. I just can’t be surprised when “try” is the best I can do and ice bags abound after.

At least I’ll go down smiling.


Transitions

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Another summer has FLOWN by, and I find myself again stuffing backpacks, packing lunches, and walking smiling faces to school each day.  How the year drags on and the summer flies by remains a mystery to me.  Yet, here I am, and there they are.

In school.

This school year marked a couple of transitions for our household:  the first year Little Angel made it to “big school”, and the first year Big Boy went to Junior High.  Yes, Junior High.  As if…

Most of those close to me thought Angel Baby’s move would be the hardest on me (myself included), but to my surprise, that has not turned out to be the case.

Junior High.

Let me say it another way:  J-U-N-I-O-R-H-I-G-H!!!!!

Now, why the emphasis, Jess?  Why the drama?  Because I just simply cannot believe it.  I can’t believe my sweet child is old enough to be in junior high.  I can’t believe I am old enough to have a kid in junior high. How the heck did that happen?  How did the time pass so quickly?  Wasn’t I just chasing him around the house in circles? (Oh, I actually was.  Never mind.)  Anyway, wasn’t he just learning how to brush his teeth and say “ball” for the first time?  Wasn’t he pointing out every truck that went by and screaming out the names of them?  “Bulldozer! Excavator! Banana!”

And now he is in junior high.  He walks to school without me.  He won’t hug me goodbye (it’s ok…I gave it up for him.  FOR HIM!).  He texts me on his cell phone (*yikes*) as he walks home…without me.  He changes classes without guidance.  How did this happen?! When did I blink my eyes for that faint moment that he went from diapers to football practice?  It all seems so unfair, yet so very right.

Big Boy is a giant child.  Always has been.  Born at 22 inches, he has been heads and shoulders above the rest from day one.  Literally.  That being the case, he’s likewise always been considered as “older” than he actually is.  A problem this was when he was four and people expected him to act like a six-year old.  But now he fits into his body, both in time and space.  Now that giant body has a purpose; to get itself through junior high.  Watching him walk off to school that first day gave my heart both a tug and a sense of fulfillment as I watched a now young man actually BE old enough to fit into his “young man body”…as off to junior high he went.

And behind I stayed.  Behind to consider what was actually happening right in front of me; all the changes I had to adjust to.  I was still wrestling with the fact that both he and I were old enough for the words “junior high” to even be in our vocabulary when I also had to wrestle with how little he now needs me.  He walks to and from school without me.  Changes classes without me.  Organizes (ha!) his homework without me.  Discusses issues with his teachers on his own.  And gets home SO MUCH LATER!!  I’m used to him getting home at 3:30, but now 4:30? I can barely stand it!

But wait….then this….

Insert bursting through the door after day 1 of junior high:  “Hey Mom!  I ran into the football coach at school today.  He wants me to play!  Can I?”

Well, Dad being…ahem…you know…of COURSE it was ok!

“Great!  It starts today!  We have practice every day after school, except Wednesday, till 6:15!”

WWWHHAATT?!?!?!? I thought I had to get used to you coming home at 4:30, not 6:15!!!  NO, this is NOT ok.  No! NO! NO!”

“Awesome, buddy.  That sounds great!” (Now I’ll go unswallow my tongue.)

“Oh, and there’s more, mom.  We play with the 7th and 8th graders and next to the high schoolers!  We share water jugs with them.”

(I’m sorry.  Could someone please scrape my corpse off the sidewalk right now?)

Weakly…“Great, buddy.  That will be so fun!”

Ok, hold the phone! (Haven’t heard that in a while, have you?)  So now I need to get used to you going to/coming from school without me, getting home at 6:15, being old, AND surrounding yourself with crazy pre-teen AND teen boys?!?!  Oh sure, just go ahead and GROW UP in one single, solitary day!  (Remember, this was the FIRST day of school that the football scenario went down.) Here you go kid: The World.  Have at it.

Except, inside, I’m dying!  Trying with all my might to Let Go and Let God because the Lord Himself knows, He’s got it from here!  All of me wants to control my pre-teen’s surroundings, his environment, to make it as safe, holy, purposeful, and protective as possible.  But I can’t.  And I shouldn’t.  That’s God’s job, not mine.  All I know I can do is supply Big Boy with ample love, support, faith, and as many prayers as possible at home while hoping beyond hope that that is enough to carry him into the big, bad world.  I knew and know that the days are coming when my input into his life is a mere trifle, a breeze really.  He will have to make decisions on his own.

I knew the day was coming.  I just knew.

I just hoped it wouldn’t.

God bless you, Big Boy.  You are the single greatest, solitary YOU in the whole world, and I am honored to be your momma.  Godspeed, my love.

 


Life Gets in the Way

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WOW!  Hello forgotten keys.  Hello abandoned blog.  Hello 368 spam comments!

Life got in the way.

Isn’t it crazy how that happens?  You are moving along, whether slowly or frantically, going through your days one at a time, when all of a sudden, you realize it hasn’t been one day at a time.  It’s been days upon days, weeks upon weeks, months upon months (and sometimes years upon years) SINCE….

Since what?

-Since whatever it is that once was, now isn’t.

-Since you started that home repair project.

-Since you called your mom and dad.

-Since you wrote a blog entry (*cough, cough*).

-Since you exercised.

-Since you read your Bible.

-Since you got together with that friend for coffee.,

-Since you said thank-you to the barista who hands you your perfectly-brewed cup in the morning.

-Since you told your spouse how beautiful/handsome he/she looks today.

-Since you had that idea….

Our intentions always start off well (Ok, the intention stays positive, the action…not so much), but then…well, life gets in the way.

There are those interruptions that no one wants, the ones that God has picked out for our paths specifically to encourage us grow (is anyone else cringing at the thought?).  That particular batch of interruptions comes in the unwelcome category of “trial”, and can be addressed in a completely different blog post…or a series of posts.

But then there are the interruptions to our schedules which (thank You, Lord) are not trials in the form of trauma, accident, illness, or injury, but are trial by means of schedule destruction.  The parts of life that are “life” and get in the way of “living”:  soccer practice, playdates, mystery reader, carpool, parent/teacher conferences, grocery shopping (again!), cold-weather laundry (which packs a punch compared to summer wear), birthday parties, homework, recitals, doctors’ appointments, more soccer practice, and on and on we go.

And the next thing you know, life already happened, but you don’t remember living it.

If you are anything like me, you wake up one morning to find that, somehow, a week has passed you by.  Or someone asks you how your weekend was, and you cannot remember having one.

-“What did you do this weekend?”

The answer I dream of giving:  “Oh, I slept in, snuggled with the kids while I sipped my coffee, then we went on a family hike and had a picnic on Stone Mountain.  Movie night after.  Sunday?  Oh, just church, then lots of football to watch.  That’s it!  You?”

Reality:  “Well, I got up before the sun on Saturday to teach a class. Then, I ran to the grocery store because I realized I was snack leader for JT’s basketball game.  I ran home to get him changed, then dragged him and two whiny, complaining lumps of human to “cheer” him on at his game.  (He won, by the way. Yea!)  After that, I took them to get hair cuts, bribing them with promises to treats if they would just sit still.  Then, two of the three had birthday parties to go to, one of which was 40 minutes away.  So, I spent the next three hours driving from spot to spot.  When we got home, I started dinner while they showered, made my first cup of coffee for the day, then joined them at the table to listen to them complain about how horrible the food was I had just made.  As usual, I dumped it down the drain. Sunday, we had church, two more birthday parties, and the season’s first soccer mini-camps.  Tried to fix our plugged tub drain. Didn’t work. You?”

<pause to breathe….>

And then I wonder how time got away from me.

Thought much of what I have described deals with the time-sucking vacuum that is parenthood, the reality is, it doesn’t matter a lick whether you have kids or not.  Life still gets in the way.

Work projects. Social functions. The class you always wanted to take. Helping others. Commuting. Cleaning. Laundry.

No matter your current position in life, the schedule and/or activities we intend to pursue just don’t always happen. (I say as my puppy insists I pick him up RIGHT NOW!)  But then, here is the rub:  we…let me speak for myself…I need to be intentional about my intentions. I need to make time/space/effort for the things I INTEND to do because otherwise, the “intendees” will get bowled over by every day living.  And even the best of intentions doesn’t do anybody a lick of good if they  are left sitting on the shelf somewhere.

Don’t INTEND to meet your friend for coffee.  Actually pick up the phone (ok, text) and schedule something.  Make use of that life-sucking commute to call your parents.  Set your alarm for 30 minutes before your bedtime each night to remind yourself to slow your fanny down and read or pray for 30 minutes (if you can stay awake).  Hire someone to finish that house project you started but never completed.

JUST. DO. IT! (Sorry, Nike.)

I’m speaking to myself here.  I’m the queen of letting life take over and letting the intentions rot.

What about you?  How do you need to fulfill your intentions today?

 

 

 



Ebola

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Yesterday, the United States was invaded by the worst kind of enemy possible:  the Ebola virus.  The mere mention of this deadly disease brings me to a point of horror far beyond that experienced by the events of 9/11.

Up until now, Ebola has been to me what so many other worldly tragedies have been:  something unfortunate that was happening somewhere else in the world.  To someone else.  A nameless people.  A horror sad, but unreal to me.  And though moved by compassion for those suffering, little else occurred inside of me. I’d “awww” and lift up a nimble prayer, but my heart wasn’t truly pricked.  I would sympathize without empathizing.

I find that part of myself rather disgusting.  The part that can look at genocide, slavery, poverty, disease, lack, and prejudice and slyly dismiss it if it isn’t happening in my own living room.  The part that hears that somewhere in Rwanda something bad was happening and said, “Oh, that’s too bad” while 800,000 people were being mercilessly hacked with machetes.  The part that hears that 30 million people are being used as workforce and sexual slaves throughout the world and says, “that’s awful!” but easily forgets about it as I freely move throughout the country.  The part that knows beyond knowing that there are people in Africa, Asia, South America who won’t eat for DAYS due to lack of food or lack of money, but I still throw out the ALMOST expired milk, should it expire before the date on the label arrives.

My heart aches for the trials and tribulations around the world.  Inside, I cry for the little girls who don’t stand a chance at a free life, and I curse those who stop it from happening.  I hate looking at the plenty in my house (ask my husband…I drive him nuts with this), seeing every single item as something that someone else cannot afford.  And I am terrified by the areas that suffer war day in and day out, not imagining how they can DARE to survive each day.

Yet, my reaction to their plight only goes so far.  I am easily distracted by the to-do’s of my daily life; by noses that need to be wiped, by fights that need to be broken, by carpools that need to be run, by groceries that need to be purchased.  Whether by purposeful or accidental distraction, my mind doesn’t linger long on the wounds of others.

There have been those moments when my heartstrings were pulled hard enough to make me stop in my tracks.  Reading “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagiza rocked my world and made me want to board the next plane to Rwanda.  In the book, Immaculee describes the horror she lived through as her family, friends, village, and country were massacred by people they had known as neighbors, friends, and co-workers.  She tells of hiding in a tiny bathroom with seven other women for 90 days; silent.  Afraid for their lives. Not merely “afraid for their lives”, like we tend to think we are, but genuinely, truly, LITERALLY afraid for their lives.  Afraid that any motion they made, any sound they uttered could lead to their complete and utter destruction.  Permanently.

I have a small hole in my heart for the country of Rwanda and the people who live and lived there.

Why isn’t it a huge, gaping hole?

Then tragedy hit stateside: Hurricane Katrina.  All of a sudden, destruction comes to life as I watch the town in which I lived flooded by the hand of God and the negligence of man.  The horrors of faraway countries comes knocking on my door.  Homes gone, lives gone, dreams broken.  A city destroyed.

The hole in my heart grows much deeper; much larger.  And all because the tragedy that others were experiencing everyday hit me in the face.

And now Ebola; up until now, a horrible, life-taking disease isolated to a remote and foreign land.  “Aww, those poor people.”  Small hole.

But the news of a living, breathing death working its way into our country, into our lives has ripped a hole in my heart far larger than Hurricane Katrina ever did.  Katrina was isolated:  the Gulf Coast.  Yes, we lost our home, our neighborhood, our city.  But Hubby and I were fortunate enough to have insurance.  To have accessible funds.  To have family and friends to care for us.  To be a part of a giving, loving, receiving, generous church family.

We were ok.  After realizing we had lost every material good we owned, we sat in the car with each other, our son, our dog, a little food, and a few sets of clothes and realized we had everything we needed.

Yes, Katrina was isolated, and carried with it a whirlwind of blessing on the other side.

Ebola carries neither.

It is not isolated, nor does it bring blessing.  It brings death.  And a death, I readily admit, of which I am very, very afraid.

You see, I am terrified (yes, I mean T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D; phobic) of viral disease.  Being a control freak, viruses fall WAY outside of the “able to control” zone.  You can’t see where they are; therefore, you cannot avoid them.  You don’t know where they have been, where they will be, who they will get, WHEN they will get, or what the effect will be. Sadly, all of the aforementioned factors overrun my thoughts and views of ANY virus, let alone one that will kill.  Up until now, my irrational fear has been focused on stupid, idiotic bugs that come and go swiftly; tummy bugs in particular.  I’m so afraid of them that I’ve seen five therapists to try to get me through it.  I’ve done exposure therapy (yes, exposure…imagine that), psychodrama, EMDR, trauma therapy.  You name it; I’ve done it.  I’ve avoided flights, classrooms, parties, public bathrooms, doctor’s offices, and even hotel rooms to keep from getting a bug.  And all for something that will be OVER in 24 hours.

And then God brought Ebola.

Not over in 24 hours.

A monster with talons big and deep enough to take those I love, or myself, away from this earth.  My therapist asked me to think about this: “what’s the worst that could happen and can I handle it using my skills?”.  When I think of the “worst that could happen”, I look at my kitchen table and see empty chairs where my beating heart used to sit breathing.  I can visually see empty pockets in our family portrait like the spaces left by a tooth fairy’s reward.  Even as I write, I feel a cave forming inside my chest as all my insides dribble down to my toes.

The Bible tells us repeatedly to “not be afraid; what can man do to me?”.

I’ve rarely been afraid of man.  Of ridicule, yes, but of harm; no.  I’ve lived in the inner city many times, been robbed a few times here and there, found my house wide open, had our identity stolen twice.  But each time, I see man as man; same as I.  I’m not afraid of that.

Ebola has been allowed on this earth by God; not by man.  Now, I’m afraid.  Katrina came by the hand of God; again, afraid.

Which leads me to a strange, dichotomous place:  how can I be afraid of the Almighty God and yet trust Him so very completely?  To know that nothing can or will happen outside of His “ok”?  How can I, in my heart of hearts, believe His will to be the best for me when it sometimes feels like the very worst thing possible?

I’ll be honest.  I have no idea.  

But trust Him, I do.  And afraid as I may be, I choose to have my “mind set on what the Spirit desires” so that I may attain “life and peace” (Rom 8:5).  The only alternative is to have my mind set on “what the flesh desires”.  Doing so, and I speak from experience, “leads to death” (Rom 8:5-6). The death of an active, vital life.  The death of being present.  The death of joy, and the death of peace.

My flesh always desires the easy, comfortable way out.  The one that will impact me the least. The things that have impacted me the most were certainly not easy, but they were necessary.

God knows what He is doing.  Somehow or another, I believe that.  And I also believe that He really does have a reason for it all.  I don’t always agree with His reasoning, but then again, I’m not Him.

All I can do is pray.  Pray for our country, our citizens, my family.

And maybe, just maybe, this will help me realize that when things happen “in a faraway land”, it is just as awful as if it happened in my own home.