July 17

Christmas in July – The stockings were hung by the chimney with care?

Snow Globes

Ice Skating

Hot Chocolate

Snow Angels

Pine Scented Trees

Twinkling Lights

If this were the pyramid game show, the answer would be Things to Do with Christmas.

Christmas in July must be happening on the Hallmark channel. I needed a night on the couch and a sappy love story, so I sat there last night, immovable, prepping and peeling, slicing 18 of the juiciest fruits I could find for my favorite peach rosemary jam recipe.

I can’t get enough of it right now.

You know what goes great with jam?

Bread.

You know what goes great with Christmas?

Miracles.

I laid on a pool floatie yesterday afternoon and thought of all the things God has brought me through. In the middle of my mid-life crisis, where there is really no crisis, other than my spontaneous crying and sudden hot flashes where I want to peel all my clothes off in public and well, no. Because of bread.

And sugar.

I need sweet in my life right now and began recalling all of the sweet things that have happened in the last few weeks. Gratefulness always keeps me from drowning when I feel like sinking to the bottom of the deep end.

Heart rocks. 2

Shooting stars. 2

Uplifting comments from a 7-year-old boy. 2.

New friends. 2. Victoria and Kate

4 new charms.

I’d been trying to focus on all of the awesome but my head wanted to argue. Counting my many blessings one minute and cursing the very next. It happened Saturday night too after I left the lake. It began as a nice relaxing evening under the stars with my two dogs, a camp chair, and a quilted blanket. I had iced tea in my blue Backyard Bible Club cup and a pack of cherry Twizzlers and Charlie.

It had all the trimmings of a great night. But when you are not the fisher of men Jesus called you to be and feeling lost in the middle of a mid-life crisis, it’s probably not the best-laid plan to go see a movie about a memory challenged fish that can’t find her way home. There are just too, too many emotions attached to shells and finding home.

So I left and drove to my house and for the first time ever, I pulled into a garage. This sounds ridiculous, but I was so stinking excited. I know millions of women pull into their garages and get out with their groceries and carry them in, but I’ve never done it.

I love old houses that ooze with character and charm and the faint smell of mold. I’ve never had a garage to park my car in.

There I was, grateful for this life-first and proud of myself for finally getting the Christmas and craft clutter put away so I could actually park in the garage. Blessings abounding.

Until my next thought.

How long do you have to sit in here for the fumes to kill you anyway? I thought of all the crime stories I used to watch on t.v.

4 hours? 8? A whole weekend? I thought of the Audible book I listened to recently and wondered what Ove would have done.

Later, I shared this somewhat disturbing, humorous story and opposing thought patterns with my mother on the phone the next day. She was on a romantic trip to Boston and had been texting pictures of the boats in the harbor.

“You need a hose,” she said organizationally.

“I don’t think you have to have a hose.”

“You need a hose. It’s more complicated than that. You can’t just pull in and park.”

“I think you can.”

I’m sure she was recalling all of the years she read, The Little Engine That Could and never related my determination to a mid-life crisis and carbon monoxide mix-up. Yes, mother, I’ll call the doctor. I’m fine. 

It was just a joke. And an illustration about the verse that talks about blessing and curses coming out of the same mouth. Like an unexpected Christmas gift, and the watermelon I got at church on Sunday, a few other verses have been at the forefront of my mind when I get bummed.

Those who refresh others will be refreshed.

Your boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. I will delight in the things that I receive.

Christmas in July.

 

 

 

 

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July 14

How to Bring Order to Your Ideas

“I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” Pablo Picasso

I have no shortage of ideas, but I’m long on procrastination. It’s not purposeful or outright lazy. I’ve become disorganized and can’t seem to make order out of all my pursuits or interests. My mind is more cluttered than my office desk and I have yet to find a solution.

Until Wednesday, when I finally had enough and called someone in to help.

Once I got past the shame, I realized it felt good to confess. I can’t do this on my own. There was a long stretch of time where I tried to force myself to do all of the things I used to be able to do without effort. Like any unresolved problem, it just kept building.

I could not get past the piles of webinar notes, phone numbers, email addresses and random post ideas that were strewn across my desk. The desk is about the size of a school cafeteria table so trust me when I say, it was a lot of clutter. I’d get it sorted into neat little piles or folders, but they still had to be dealt with.

This inability to catch up has been a daily dose of discontent and frustration for a long time, a reminder of all the chaos that came in, and took over.

In three short hours, Jamie was able to help me see that it was not the life and death situation I made it out to be. She sat with me while I whined and complained and over-explained, simultaneously snapping pictures of all my notes, uploading them to Evernote and calming me with sentences like, “It’s okay. I’ve seen worse. I do this all the time. I get it.” In one afternoon, I was finally able to see a peek of my sanity again.

Where do you file a note like, squirrel story, scribbled in blue ink?

Tears fell and stained last month’s calendar when I found and read Nicole Nordeman’s prayer from last year’s Belong Tour.

For too long I agonized over what to do with my fortunes.

Your co-workers take pleasure

in your great sense of creativity.

Lucky numbers 52,23,36,33,16,20 

Then, of course, I was sidetracked thinking how long it had been since I’d had Kung Pao Chicken and I’d really like to have some Kung Pao Chicken…and Focus.

After she left, I had the determination to get through two other folders and a box of papers and instructional books that had been hiding under my desk for almost a year and a half. I’m almost done.

It’s bizarre how less stressed I feel.

I’m starting to think maybe I can get through this as the Oak Hills car sticker promises.

Maybe running away to Mexico is not my best thought out plan right now even though my daughter just got me a passport charm for my James Avery bracelet. I told the clerk at the store, “I threaten to run away to Mexico a lot. This is her way of saying, ‘Do it. You won’t.'”

She laughed while I wondered if I really could drive from here to Tulum.

Maybe stopping and fleeing to another country is only the best plan I can come up with when I am frustrated with myself and can’t seem to make much progress. Maybe that is only best idea because I can’t seem to create the life I want right now. How do you bring order to your ideas? Hire someone to help.

To encourage.

To give you that swing push you need to go just a little bit longer and a little bit further.

I’m beginning with a few fresh notebooks and some new ideas, hoping I can make it something else.

 

 

 

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July 10

Can I Speak to the Manager?

“I can’t get used to your new haircut,” my friend Patty said smiling as we sat across the table from each other at Brantley’s 259. It’s one of my favorite places in town to eat and it was my birthday lunch so, yes. I had both salad, and the fried pecan pie.

The day Nate-the-Boy-Wonder, gave me this drastically different style at D-Anthony’s, my daughter’s friend Dillon squealed to me. “OH! T-Fish! You got the haircut.”

“The haircut?”

“The haircut that says with pursed lips, “I’d like to speak to the manager.”

This made me laugh of course, because I know that look and swore I would never have this cut or be that woman. She is the one who is disdainfully unsatisfied and always finds something to complain about. If I ask to speak to the manager, most times it’s to praise someone for their excellent customer service, like Savannah at the Starplex, who was especially kind and smiled a lot.

I can’t actually talk to her manager because I’ve had an accidental run-in with one of them up there already.

This manager got mad and dramatically dumped a bag of popcorn on the ground when I asked if I could change my order because the guy at the register didn’t tell me it would be cheaper if I got a specific popcorn and drink package together. I even said please.

She still dumped that freshly popped corn all gangster style on the carpet behind the counter and walked off.

In contrast, I went to see the manager at Home Depot for a covert Teacher Appreciation gift idea and he generously donated $50.00 without hesitation. This happened just 10 seconds after being reamed out by a super snotty customer who had some sort of situation. A situation that elevated emotions to a level not necessary in a big box hardware store that offers to let us do it for you.

Last week I had a colleague call and complain to my manager. I thought it should have been the other way around after she told me on the phone that talking to me was like talking to a brick wall. Who says that to another professional in the process of selling a home? There was no issue. It came out of left field and was completely uncalled for. The only person in my life I think I have ever said something like that to was probably my children. So, I hung up the phone and cried for a second or two.

Then I danced my butt off to Brick House at the Cibolo Nature Center on Saturday night because there are some days when I know I’m mighty, mighty. And just no. I can’t control what people say and do, but only the way I respond.

I need to work on that.

A lot of times, I have to take my daily infractions and interactions back to the bible. A lot of times, I can see how I mis-handled a situation by sending a ‘you hurt my feelings’ email and jumping to my own defense when I should know by now, God is my defender. At the end of the day, I find myself in bed, apologizing for things I say and do and so I plead grace on my life and the lives of those I come in contact with.

Even the ones with The Haircut.

When I hear the phrase, “Can I speak to the manager?” I think about the guys in Matthew who were asked to manage their master’s affairs for a period of time while he was away. When the rich man came back, he wanted to know how they handled what he had given them. For the two men who invested their talents wisely, he praised them.

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”

I’d love to enter into the joy of my master.

When I look in the mirror in the morning and run a straightener through my new sassy haircut, I wonder about that story and how I am managing the things I’ve been given.

Am I managing my time? My money? My emotions? The gifts and talents that God has given me?

“Can I see the manager?” we might ask.

But I am the manager.

And so are you.

Am I being wise or am I being a popcorn tosser?

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July 7

Happy Birthday

Don’t lose yourself while trying so hard to be someone you’re not.

That is just one piece of advice I would give to my 10-year-old self who could never, ever imagine turning 50 one day. That day is tomorrow and instead of focusing on all of the things I’d hoped I would do and haven’t yet, I’m practicing sweet self-care and celebrating some of the successes I’ve had along the way.

I’m celebrating the millions of smiles that still came after the heartaches and the setbacks. Tomorrow I will be raising a glass or a great cup of coffee to the girl who lived best in bare feet and loved to climb trees, just to see how high she could go.

That’s what we do before we become afraid of heights. And other things.

I’d tell myself to be myself. Because trying to fit into someone else’s mold for you will leave you warped and misshapen. I would say love big, but be aware and guard your heart, because boys can break you.

And people can crush you.

It’s better not to bend to belong, and best to stay grounded and strong, with God.

But what little girl believes that? Not the stubborn ones like myself who only believed that boundaries were barriers to all the fun.

I grew up having summer parties at the lake and almost always near water on the 4th of July. After spending the afternoon swimming and carrying my daughters on my shoulders like I did when they were little. A few hours where we were able to put aside all of the hurt we’ve caused each other, and we felt like family again.

One wish granted.

So many more to go.

I walked slowly over to the ant decorated table where the two ice-cream cakes and a pan of brownies were sitting. I love those little metal ants. They remind me of all the times I thought I could move a rubber tree plant.

Deep down, I still do.

The 5 0 candles were lit and waiting for a puff-cheeked breath, while I stood waiting to catch my own. I wasn’t done with my wish-making as I approached the table. My family is not a fan of sentimental productions and I bit the inside of my cheek so I wouldn’t cry.

Pasteles.

Cakes in Spanish.

My wishes, hopes and dreams are always at the forefront of my thoughts, but I’m learning to leave them in God’s hands rather than my own. Since the good ole days we spent exploring the woods of Oleson Park and scraping buckets of clay out of the creek, I have been very good at getting dirty and making messes.

I see myself now in that clay. I see the simple, misshapen bowl I made as an ashtray during Art in the Park. I recognize the way it has changed shapes over these 50 years.

So thankful.

So sincerely grateful for the process of becoming something that may one day be useful and needed. Something beautiful, out of the ashes, from the hands of God.

 

 

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July 3

Unfinished Pieces

I had a Barry Manilow moment this week and wrote down a few lyrics I thought the whole world might like to sing.

They were beautiful and meaningful and about things I’m super passionate about like love and food.

On the ride back from picking up my granddaughter at Loves in Comfort, I began to ask questions and list the endless possibilities during our ride time together. “Do you want to sing a song?”

“Uh-huh.”

“We could sing If You’re Happy and You Know it, or Jesus Loves Me or the angel song? Oh! We could sing Old MacDonald…”

I interrupted myself to ask if she wanted to see the zebras. She did.

When I ask what color the stripes are, she likes to tell me they are black and purple instead of black and white. She laughs like it’s the funniest thing any human has ever spoken because when you’re four, any silly thing is hilarious.

She also found it funny to keep singing Pig or Chicken when we got to the, “and on his farm he had a…” part even though there are a ton of other animals we hadn’t named yet.

The repetitiveness required a change.”Do you want to go get some lunch first?”

“Yes, Grammie.”

“What do you want for lunch?”

After establishing we will not be eating deer poop like my dog Charlie, she said chicken and mashed potatoes. We climbed the hill past the Waring exit, where she added, “And Sprite.”

I’ve inundated myself with a lot of different types of live music lately and have been checking out some singer/songwriter stuff. Saturday night, I had the pleasure of hearing original music written by Terri Hendrix with Lloyd Maines and I think she may have a heart a whole lot like mine. One of the songs that really struck a chord with me was Hand Me Down Blues.

“Do you like blues?” someone asked me yesterday.

“I like to listen to them a lot more thank I like to have them.”

Repeatedly, like Pig and Chicken, I think about being blue, sounding like a broken record, and over and over I’ve been asking God to give me a new song.

A few weeks ago I listened to a great interview on Donald Miller’s Storybrand podcast with songwriter, Luke Laird who wrote about a pontoon boat. You can’t be blue when you are writing a song about a pontoon boat. You just can’t.

“Did you know you can write a song about anything, Saydee Grace? We should write a song together.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Do you want to write a lunch song with Grammie?”

“Uh-huh.”

If I get parental permission, I’ll tweet the video where we are rocking it country style because what could be more country than chicken and mashed potatoes?

My first song I think may have been about our cat Simon. Now my dogs have silly songs. And my children have silly songs. Except for Chelsea because she’s the middle child and the scrapbook of her life is the skimpiest. Not because I love her less, but because I didn’t have time to be sentimental and creative.

I was too busy cleaning green poster paint off the cream colored, faux leather couch and taking bows off of Oscar, the tiger striped cat’s tail.

There are black and white composition books, yellow legal pad notebooks, envelope corners, napkins and pretty tapestry covered books that hold the lyrics I’ve written. They have been thrown into a canvas wrapped Dollar Tree bin, unorganized and forgotten. Cast aside like the less pretty parts of my life I’d rather not document or sing about.

My daughter Natalie got me a charm bracelet for Mother’s Day. It has an I love New York charm and a guitar. For me, music and writing have been the best healers of my soul. Every day I don’t do something about it, is another day I feel like I’m living the same way I sing.

Off key.

This week, I’m determined to look through the words and pages I’ve put down on paper, hoping to find something that can be salvaged and used. I write in sporadic pieces. A verse here, a chorus that sticks there.

I’m terrible at writing bridges and better at burning them.

I’m great at starting songs, but not finishing them.

Like my own incompleteness, I hear a resounding chorus. God is not finished with me yet. He takes us from start to finish. There is more to come.

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June 30

Finding Love in Peculiar Places

When you pray for the holy spirit to show up at vacation bible school, it can be embarrassing. Especially when he shows up in your garage in the middle of a lesson about broken relationships.

Several girls and a few boys gathered at my house this week to hear about Jesus.

They may have come for the snacks and the crafts and the coloring, but still. God showed up. I told them about a heart rock collection I used to have when I lived in Mason and how I left it behind, hanging on the wall, each rock glued inside a square of the shadow box on the back porch.

It’s probably the place I left my real heart as well.

The one that beats and breaks and longs for relationships to not be broken anymore. The heart that holds onto things I wish I could let go and is sensitive to hurtful words. The heart I’ve learned that is deceitful and wicked in all ways and who can know it?

I didn’t go into that.

It would have been disruptive to our mosaic tortilla with peanut butter, pretzel and M & M making.

Our verse was John 3:16. For God so loved the world…

Sometimes we have to take our faith back to the beginning, to the Jesus loves me, this I know days. Because before it got complicated, it was simple. Before we can boldly share with others that God so loved the world, we have to be convinced he loves us. We need to know that he is for us and not against us.

I can fall in love all over again with the kind of God who loves me and orchestrated a situation where I found the most perfect heart rock on the walking path behind my house on the last day of VBS. That is the kind of God I can get super excited about again.

A hummingbird flew into the garage later that morning and we played Pin the Heart on the World with a super cool scrunch map I bought at Hobby Lobby. When someone placed their sticky felt-shaped heart in the ocean instead of a dry land country to pray for, they whined.

“Ooooh…I wanted Mexico.”

“You can pray for both countries you know?”

We made a white and blue chain and talked about God’s goodness and our mistakes and imperfections. We called it out as sin, the name we never like to give it. We talked about how God is a chain breaker.

For God so loved the world…

He showed up when my co-leader, Crysta, asked if we’ve ever disappointed or hurt our parents with our actions or our words. Unstoppable and embarrassing tears rolled out from the corners of my eyes.

Thankfully, the boy sitting next to me wanted to talk about how bad his back was peeling instead.

When our hearts can be over-felt and sticky, God’s love for us is unchanging. It is not a shifting shadow to be chased after, always elusive and always unreachable. It’s the kind of love that always finds us.

Where ever we are.

Where ever we go.

Even in the garage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June 26

A Night at the Movies – Twice

This was a blockbuster weekend.

Friday night my daughter and I went to see 47 Meters Down because if I can’t be in a place where the water is every shade of Crayola crayon blue, I’ll see it, however, I can. Also, it was my attempt to make peace for parentally forcing her into helping me with 6 hours of vacation bible school this coming week.

It’s not that she doesn’t love kids, she just loves her time and summer fun more. In return for her obligatory obedience, I’ve promised cool crafts and snacks and swore she would not have to say the scripted words, “I do not understand. I am a virgin and I’m not even married yet,” while talking to the angel Gabriel, aka., her boyfriend John.

Anyway, over-buttered popcorn that soaks through to your pants is almost always a cure for most squabbles. Fake Twizzlers are not. I felt like I was 47 meters below the surface when I found out the Twizzlers were missing. Rapidly, I started losing air. “There are no Twizzlers? How can that be? I don’t understand.”

I’m sorry over-sugared, hole too big, Red Vine. There is no substitute for Twizzlers.

We clutched the shared arm rest and I broke my vow of movie silence because when someone is in a cage at the bottom of the ocean and they start hammering on the metal with a rock, just, no. “Oh my gosh! Jesus.” I whispered to Natalie. “Have they not seen Jaws? That’s exactly how Roy got the shark to come to him! Sonar, ya know?”

She gave me a look intended to say, “Please shut up. You are not a marine biologist or an expert on sharks or underwater diving. I’ve been with you to Mexico and you only wanted to go deep enough to show me the not-so-red lobster that was hiding between the rocks.”

Wait. Maybe that was the other daughter? The only thing Natalie was awed by in Puerto Morelos was the naked windsurfers. I would so love to go back to the Azul All-Inclusive Beach Resort . The ocean side pottery painting we did is one of my happiest moments ever.

In the middle of movie madness, she started glancing at her phone screen and that’s when I started wanting to feed her to a great white. “Please don’t be that person. Put your phone away.”

There were a few surprise moments where I actually screamed out loud and it was well worth the price of the ticket to hear Mandy Moore, who I adore, say an F-word. Only one. It made me feel better about the three I said in my head when I found out there were no Twizzlers.

Last night, as a reward for finally getting the garage completely organized, I went to see Wonder Woman, because that’s pretty much how you feel when you finally do something you’ve been putting off since last September. Most of my life I have been a hardcore fan of Lynda Carter. I also have an irrational fear of being roped in by the lasso of truth, afraid of what may be revealed.

I loved this movie! I really did. I’ve also decided I need to up the level of my workout performance. They got a wonder-ful girl to fill some very cool, tall boots. Gal Gadot is the perfect combination of fierce and sweet. At the showdown battle, she says, “It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world.” I want that t-shirt.

True love, Jesus and Twizzlers.

 

 

 

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June 23

Take Your Dog to Work Today

My days start and end with Jesus and my dogs.

“Good morning, Lord.”

“Good morning, Poopsie.”

His name is Mr. Riley, but somewhere along the way, he got that nickname. Like my closest friends, Riley has been through the best of the best and the worst of the worst with me. When I couldn’t face seeing one human being, his soft fur and kind eyes were the comforts that helped me keep it together for one more day.

His antics over the years have made me a little crazy.

There was the time he and Baby Dog maneuvered a dead deer leg through the smallest doggy door you can buy. I came home from work to see two dogs, both under 8 pounds, sitting on the fake oriental rug in the living room, gnawing the fur off a femur.

I’m sorry. That’s kind of gross, but it happened. I had to admire the teamwork it must have taken to get the double jointed leg part through the door.

When the girls and I are gone too long, Mr. Riley lets us know we are missed by dragging our pairs of underwear out from the piles of laundry, through the same doggy door, then spreading them decoratively across the entire lawn for all to see.

If I remember correctly, that incident is what began the discovery and heated disagreement over whether or not it was appropriate for a 16-year-old to wear thong panties.

Yesterday, thanks to Mr. Riley, I inhaled about a can of HotShot bug fogger. The house has become an arachnophobic’s nightmare with spiders coming out of the drain and springing onto the bed from the ceiling and finally, something had to be done.

Right before I left for Firefly Night at the Cibolo Nature Center, I set off four bug bombs, but then Riley hid under the bed before I had a chance to get him outside. The process of luring him out took over 20 minutes. By the time I made it over to the kids’ craft station, I’m pretty sure my insides were glowing like a firefly.

I don’t go in the office anymore, mostly because I can’t take my dogs to work and partly because they like us to be dressed professionally when we get there. I prefer dog walking clothes and pants that don’t zip or button.

Also, I prefer to take my dogs to work by baking a fresh batch of homemade dog treats and taking them to the river road duck park to pass out to strangers. Charlie is my new shelter dog and he is quickly becoming another BFF canine companion.

He loves to eat popsicles, watermelon and deer poop.

When we go for walks and I drop the leash, he stays right by my side. When we go to the lake and I try to paddle them out on the blue foam mat, he gouges claw marks into my stomach and uses me as a human floatie. He is scared of thunder and lightning but loves to catch grasshoppers by stomping them with his paws.

They are service dogs without the accreditation.

Extra work, yes. But worth it in so many ways.

They are the calm force at my feet when I’m making calls and negotiating sales. I’m convinced that dog people are the best the kind of people, and those are the people I often meet when I take my dogs to work.

 

 

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June 19

The Pride and the Jungle.

There is a scene in one of the Shrek movies that Saydee Grace and I love. We crack up every time we watch it and I overuse the same four words every time she starts to act a little four-ish.

At the birthday party for the oger children, this plump little boy with blonde hair is standing with his father in front of Shrek and licking a lollipop. The child stops only for a second to say in a very peculiar tone, “Do the roar.”

Shrek is trying to keep his cool. He’s at a party. The whole village is there. The three little pigs came, and Donkey licked the cake and now Shrek’s wife is on his back about it.

“Do the roar.” The child taunts repeatedly.

Saturday, a determined red head that stood maybe 36″ tall, climbed out of the sand pool and started to carry on with more of a whine than a roar. Her sisters just finished their rock art trees and now it was time to go. I had to laugh when she was stomping her way through the dirt behind the nature center proclaiming the unfairness of it all.

“You said it was gonna be fun and it was super boring!” she shouted at her mother as they were all walking away.

I didn’t realize she wanted to make something and as the new kids’ craft volunteer, I could not risk a bored three-year-old leaving in a huff. I thought she just wanted to play in the sandbox. Convincingly, I assured her that we needed her tiny hand prints for the next project and all went well, mostly. She kept moving her hands and fingers when I was trying to place them artfully on the page. It made a few of the tree branches looked smudged, which made me only a little anxious on my insides.

My patience fruit is a fruit I’ve been working on for what seems like a very, very, very long time. I think she reminded me a bit of the boy from Shrek who knew exactly what he wanted. To hear the roar.

My aunt Maureen bought my first record album for me in 1971. It was Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman. I could barely add or spell, but when I sang along, I knew that I was strong.

I’ve since learned that I am not invincible and I do not want to roar anymore as much as I want to take a nap or make a fun art project. I thrive in the quiet places more now. It used to be that I wanted attention. I needed to be noticed and accepted, loved probably. Three grown girls later, and a closer walk with God has proven something different.

When we are children, we don’t listen until the roaring begins. “Go get ready for bed.”

Stalling, stalling. “Go get ready for bed.”

Stalling, stalling. “GO GET READY FOR BED!”

The roar gets results. Or at least that’s the way it seems when you’re both little and the one roaring. But then something changes. I am not sure when it happened exactly. I don’t need it anymore. I don’t want or need to be noticed. I don’t want the attention, in fact, I’d rather be quiet in my kitchen or listening to some old tunes on my new Bose or reading a book with my feet up and the birds chirping in the backyard.

As a woman who will be 50 next month, but today, still child-like, I don’t think we really need to be louder. In fact, I believe in being more still and finding those quiet places where our souls can soak up nourishment and rest. I lay down my pride to defend, to roar, to shout or to prove myself to anyone so that I can survive in the jungle.

We get up each day, look in the mirror, give thanks, know that we are blessed beyond belief, even if we don’t understand, and we make choices. We have the ability to schedule our day, filling it with whatever we choose. I’ve filled mine with things at times that only left me feeling more empty than more filled up. But thankfully, after the bending and the breaking, change comes.

There is a certain security that comes from being comfortable in our skin, knowing, for me anyway, that God is the lion in my life. I choose to leave the roaring up to him now.

“Do the roar.”

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June 16

Father’s Day & Daddy Issues

On red dirt roads and small town streets, I taught two of my three daughters to drive.

I’ve learned how to change out a three-prong cord on the back of a dryer.

On any given weekend, I could smoke chicken and ribs in the backyard and also speak the phrase, “Go put oil in your car. You don’t want to crack your head gasket.”

For these skills and 19 years of single-mom-ness, I usually get calls on Father’s Day. I almost love that day more than Mother’s Day, because it reminds me that I stayed, and stuck it out, but I didn’t do it alone. I had that community, that same small town and a heavenly Father who gave me more parenting grace than I ever deserved.

That’s what grace is.

My own father got two purple hearts in Vietnam and came home to die in a house fire before I was even in kindergarten. I don’t remember much about him but my Grandma Mary says he loved to work on cars. My mom says I have a heart like his and am more like him than her.

Yesterday, I paid over $38.00 to send three .99 Hotwheels to Mexico for Marco, my World Vision boy, who is seven and passionate about drawing and cars. If I lived in Mexico I’d be passionate about snorkeling, mangoes and hot salsa.

His father works in the field to provide for his family.

The father I haven’t forgotten worked at the labs. He later sold used cars and insurance. He was the Hobby Dad who smoked in the car with the windows up. He had a set of golf clubs in the garage and was always on a softball or bowling team. He learned to play racquetball and handball and was the kind of guy everyone loved to be around, most times. Lonnie was handsome and charming in the handlebar mustache way that guys were handsome in the 70’s. When we went to the lake, he’d put us high up on his shoulders. He had super hairy armpits and a tattoo of a dancing Hawaiian girl.

He liked the ladies and frequented places like beer joints and gentlemen’s clubs, the places where pretty girls danced on poles. He took me to one once, The Hungry Eye, when I was about five. From behind the bar, I sneaked a peek to see the topless girls with pretty hair and upturned smiles, but the lights and music, I still remember loving the most.

Lonnie had a Honda Gold Wing and we loved to go fast on his motorcycle, until I got a muffler burn just above my ankle. When we rode in the station wagon, he turned the music up louder than any of the other dads. I learned all the lyrics to Bad Moon Rising because he, like me, always liked to take the long way home.

There are still less happy memories I can’t seem to shake and the older I get, the more I go grace.

I have figured out I am the kind of person who says, “I love you,” and what it really means is, “I will love you, forever.” The way that love looks may change, but my heart never does. There may have been all kinds of things mixed in there with it. Things like jealousy, anger, resentment, bitterness and at times, hate, even though I hate to say it.

But the love remains.

I am trying to get to the place where only grace resides. Tomorrow we are making super fun rock tree art for Father’s Day at the Cibolo Nature Center at 2:00 to celebrate family and all things solid and steady and dad-like. 

Because I know now, that a dad is just a dad. Human and flawed and unable to meet every expectation, the same as me. They can let us down and lift us high up on their shoulders, depending on the day.

I’m reading a book right now that is giving me exactly what I need in this season, How’s Your Soul? by Judah Smith. I picked it off the clearance shelf at Hobby Lobby and it’s helping me understand a few things a little more clearly.

Mostly, how to say, “He didn’t mean it.”

“She didn’t mean it.” This book is helping me. Every few pages, I crack up laughing.  Love believes the best about a person, even when we act our worst. He writes about loving his kids and corn nuts. I love all things corn and kids. They are such characters. This week, my client’s seven-year-old son called her a “Poophead.”

She is also a single mom. Single parenting as a mom or dad is the hardest job ever. None of us are perfect in our parenting roles or as people. We are not one dimensional. Our characters grow and change and sometimes get better. None of us are all good, or all bad, but mixed up parts of both.

Most days, I search for that dad I always wanted, the one I’m always missing. With hungry eyes, I look for a Father’s love, the kind that never changes. Solid as a rock.

And the hope of a new smoker.

 

 

 

 

 

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