Friday, September 18, 2015

Why I Mostly Wear Yoga Pants for Drinking Wine and Such

So I went to a a yoga class with my bestie the other day.  I thought, "Oh, this will be glorious!  We will get a nice workout and relaxation in before the chaos tomorrow."

And, well, some of that was true.

The thoughts that surfaced as yoga class was going down were more like this:

I just don't get it.  I hear you, yoga guy.  I see that you take this very seriously, but... um... I don't.
I like stretching and moving and allowing my mind to be still and making time for intentional relaxation... but...

When the room is a bit crowded and I spread out my mat near yours and ask if I'm too close to your personal space and your response is, "The world is my personal space and we can exist in it together." I must laugh, because, Dude, you know what I mean.

And when you say things like, "Spread the flesh of your buttocks so you're sitting directly on your pelvic bones." and the lady in the back rips a huge fart, I'm going to die laughing.  I will.  Because seriously, "Spread the flesh of your buttocks" being followed by major wind breakage is hilarious.

On a deeper level, someone always farts in yoga, but no one ever laughs.  This is a real shame because it's always funny.  Yoga is supposed to be a healing practice and laughter is the best medicine.  I propose a new deal.  Someone farts in yoga class and everyone laughs.  We lose it.  We laugh so hard we all fart.  We can't keep it in.  This sounds way more fun and healing than thinking, "Don't laugh.  Don't laugh.  Don't laugh.  You are mature.  You can handle this. Hold it in. Do. not. laugh."

Just after the spread your cheeks toot brigade, we were encouraged to take deep, throaty breaths...  Do you know what this sounds like in real life?  Yes, that's right.  Sex noises.  It sounds exactly like sex noises.

He said, "Don't be embarrassed, feel the vibration of the word ring through your body and allow yourself to really enjoy the way it feels."  Hmm...

Weird.  I enjoy the way something feels when I make those noises, but it is not the making of the "noise vibrating through my body" that I enjoy.  I will not be making sex noises in public, thankyouverymuch.

Maybe yoga is no longer for me.  Maybe I will still stretch and move and allow my mind to be still and make time for intentional relaxation, but I think I will do it in my personal space while laughing at farts and keeping my sex noises in my bedroom.  And so, yoga pants, you will now be used only for drinking wine.  I know you're sad.  Please forgive me, yoga pants, but I just can not not laugh at all of that all over again.  It is too painful.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

For the Love of Endings

For those of you just joining my Jen  For the Love Adventure,  today starts the weekend where I go to stay in a house with online only friends that I’ve never met in real life and go to Jen Hatmaker’s house to say Godknowswhat and embarrass myself. 

I am ending this For the Love Adventure in much the same way I began it—like Jesse Spano screaming, “I’m so excited!  I’m so excited!  I’m so scared!” 

When I first got on the FTL Launch Team Facebook page, I was totally overwhelmed and intimidated.  Do these girls know each other?  How did these girls already read this entire book?  Why is something #onthebeam or #offthebeam?  Maybe I shouldn’t have applied to be on this launch team!  I don’t get this!!!

Then someone shared a struggle.  A real struggle.  And the group responded with grace and kindness and prayer and me toos.  And someone told a joke.  The group responded with laughter and grace and kindness and prayer and me toos.  And we went on and on and on like that, laughing together, crying together, praying together, me-too-ing together, and in the midst of our crazy worlds, where we first shared only the love of the words in Jen’s books, we were suddenly sharing our lives.  And I thought, THIS.  I get THIS. 

And here I am now at Austin’s airport standing in front of Austin Java (which incidentally doesn’t sell coffee at this time of day?  #dontmakemegoallLoreleionyou) listening to a random guy play softly on his guitar and waiting excitedly to meet up with a new FTL friend whose flight arrives in a couple of hours.  We will then ride with other sort-of strangers to stay in a house with more sort-of strangers.  This is ALL still the excited part.  I can’t wait to make all of these new friends and hang out with all of these cool people who are full of grace and kindness and laughter. 
And here I am again, scared.  What if they don’t think I’m funny?  What if I look fat?  What if I swear too much and they go all mean Christian on me?  What if I cry and they give me judgmental advice?  What if when I get to talk to Jen I go fangirl or read-my-book girl or worse yet, am forgettable? 

But what I’m even more scared of is… what is going to happen to my 500 new best friends?  Will Stacey beat Lyme?  And when she does, will I know and get to celebrate with her?   Who will Erin Leigh Cox dubsmash for now?  What will happen to Andrea Trexler Conway now that she lives in New York?  Will Pamela Anne still sell me beautiful cuffs?  How will I know when Terri Gorton Fullerton is in Colorado and we could visit?  How is sweet Embo? Just how many copies of FTL has Danielle Brower signed now?  And who on earth will share their online dating tragedies with me now?!


For the Love built a community.  It gave us a reason to connect and laugh and breathe and say me too.  

I’m glad I’ve been a little part of it.  Now let’s party!  #Budaorbust 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

TBT The Loss of Popsicles (Original 9/20/10)


There’s an unmistakable wind in the air tonight
Warm and full, but…
just cool enough to say,
“Summertime is ending.”

The wind speaks, and I object,
 “But I didn’t ride bikes or eat enough ice cream!”
“We barely even got to go… camping.”

But the wind calls to Autumn, leaving me behind
Like a little boy’s shoes
Sitting on the front steps of a summer cottage
 Waiting unwaveringly for summer’s return
Collecting the leaves and snow and sun
The shoes and summer seemingly forgotten
Because the boy’s father was quick to state, “Summer’s over.  Get in the car.”
So the boy got in the car,
His bare feet a silent protest
Streaked with dirt, propped up and peaking out the back window,
 searching for one last caress of the lake’s warm summer wind
Skinned knees pressed against his hopeless chocolate-covered face
While his shoes sat silently
Strings swaying, sorrowfully singing
Lamenting the loss
of popsicles.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For the Love of Significance

Today is the Launch Day for Jen Hatmaker's book, For the Love.

And as part of the Launch Team, I have been asked to blog about this book/experience today.  Like August 18th, 2015.  It is 10pm Mountain Time, which means I missed the deadline on the East Coast, but whatever.  It's the day before school starts.  This is the best I can do.  And as Jen says:

I have had 5 months to figure out how to say what this book and experience has meant to me, and tonight, I still can't wrap the words around the awesome things that God has done through Jen's words.  5 months ago I was groggy and bloated and recovering from an appendectomy.  I was in a non-writing stage, wondering if anyone was ever going to read my blog and wondering if anything I ever wrote mattered to anyone.  Wondering if it ever would.

Yesterday I got an email from Jen. This is a best-selling author.  Her face is plastered all over stuff.  She's on TV.  She's queen of the hashtag.  She's legitimately famous.

And she sends out an email to her "Email Friends" the day before her new book launch day saying, "My biggest fear is that whatever I said or wrote won't matter.  I think about it all the time."

And I thought, you too?  Even you?  Successful writer? Even you who wrote these words that inspired me?


Well, good, Jen, you're human.  You struggle.  You struggle openly and beautifully.  And after writing the words that made me laugh and cry and grow in grace, I can reassure you that you matter.  What you do matters.  What you write matters.  How you mother and lead and grow and serve and struggle matters.

And you too, readers.  You matter.  What you do matters.  You are the only you there will ever be, and what you read and write and say and teach matters.  How you mother and serve matters.  You cleaning the toilets matters.  You wiping bottoms matters.  You apologizing after you scream your head off at your children matters.  You making 25 PB&Js matters.  You getting clothes and backpacks and lunches and notebooks and crayons and folders with or without prongs matters.  It seems fruitless and futile, but it matters.

And the honesty of it all matters most because
And maybe that's all I need to tell you about this book.  It is honesty and hilarity and truth and grace.  It brought together a group of 500 people who now consider themselves friends.  The Launch Team is a community of people sharing prayer and laughter and grace.  It is a place where I matter.  My voice, my thoughts, my needs, my prayers matter.  And when you read For the Love, I hope it reminds you that you matter.  I hope it reminds you that you, truth, and grace matter. 



Friday, August 7, 2015

On Being an Actual Human...

Prior to motherhood, I belonged to a group of really cool women who accepted me as is.  Human. Quirky.  Hot-tempered.  Sleepy.  Messy.  Flakey. But also interesting.  Smart.  Funny. Trust-worthy. Sensitive. Kind.

And because I belonged in this group.  Because they said, "you're messed up and we love you anyway," I realized, I'm okay as I am.  I like who I am.  I don't have to try to be perfect.  And I accepted being human in all of it's glorious messiness.

When I gave birth to my first tiny human, it was as though I gave up my ability to be an actual human. Ironic.

When motherhood happened, I sacrificed things that made me feel human to give life and safety and food to this most precious tiny human.  I gave up sleep.  I gave up showering daily.  I gave up my job.  My hobbies.  My relationships.  My right to pee and bathe alone. My right to do anything uninterrupted.  My right to eat things without sharing.  My right to leave the house without 3 bags full of necessities.  My right to time alone.  My right to quiet.  My right to pursue my dreams...

Some of these things the tiny human demanded I give up.  Some I chose to give up because they didn't make sense to financially continue.  Others just gently, quietly faded out of my life without fanfare.  On some level I expected this sacrifice.

What I didn't expect was that as that the tiny humans grew, they would see me as inhuman.  They would see me as the fixer of things, the supergluer, the magic band-aid giver, one who knows all of the answers, one who can draw the things, make the things, invent the games, clean the things... one who can magically provide food and drink at any time in any place from nothing...

Their expectations of my knowledge, will-power, and abilities are so astronomical that they do not believe me when I tell them that I cannot do something.  They do not believe me when I don't have food or they are hungry and we need to go to the grocery store before I can give them food.  They are completely unreasonable.  Strangely enough, I didn't fully expect my  children to be unreasonable.  I didn't expect to have to teach them everything.  Every. Single. Thing.  Like that Mommy is a human.  And she makes mistakes.

Thing is, I expect my children to be inhuman too.  I expect them to never have bad days.  I get frustrated when it takes them forever to learn something and change their behavior.  I expect them to behave appropriately at all times...  And this is a me problem, not a them problem.  The expectations, that is.

And the glorious thing is that we get ample opportunities to show each other just how human we are.  Every day, I screw something up.  And every day they do too.

And I suppose it would be best if I followed the advice of the Bible that says, "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Because when I show them my weakness of being human, they can offer me grace.  And I get to practice receiving grace... Grace that says, "I love you even though you yelled at us."  And if they don't give grace, I get to practice giving grace... grace that says, "I love you even though you won't forgive me right now." 

The only way to accept being an actual human is grace.  And grace is just realizing that we are all a bunch of messed up kids who screwed something up and need their dad to come make it right.  

Thursday, July 30, 2015

TBT Trying Again... (Originally published 6/2/14 mytreesugly.blogspot.com)

I am 34 years old, and I am finally beginning to realize that, "If at first you don't succeed, try try again" is actually pretty good advice.

I bring it up because here I am, attempting to start blogging consistently again.  Why did I stop?  I don't know.  Why did I stop working out?  Why did I go back to screaming at my kids to "get their crap and get out the door now!!"? Why did I gain 15 pounds after I lost 55?  Because life happened.

And life is going to continue to happen.  I'm going to miss a workout.  I'm going to get mad at my kids and eat my feelings (cookies) and get mad about eating my feelings, so I'll eat my feelings (fruit snacks) about eating my feelings.

But when I stop working out because I missed a workout, or stop writing because I missed one week of blogging, or "cheat" on my "food lifestyle," and say, "Well, I might as well eat everything I stopped eating because I can't stick with it anyway," then I am just sabotaging the hard work it took to accomplish all that I have already accomplished.

The advice in the Paleo World goes like this, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good."

But it applies to so much more than just food.

If at first I don't blog, blog, blog again.

If at first I don't work out, wod, wod again.

If at first I yell at kids, be calm again.

If at first I eat cookies, eat broccoli again.



Funny how trying to be perfect makes me overweight, sad, angry with my kids, lazy, and a non-writer.

"Trying Again" may mean I am a failure, but it also makes me persistent, dedicated, disciplined, thinner, self-controlled, motivated, and more patient.

You can learn to be a failure too.  It's better than being perfect.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

BRF and Other Calamities of Motherhood

Houston, we have a problem.  I have developed Bitch Resting Face.  I didn't used to suffer from this affliction.  But I can feel my face just falling right into a scowl for no reason other than it just rests there.  What is this?  How did this happen to me?!

People once described me as "bubbly."  BUBBLY for goodness sake!  But ah, that was many moons ago, dear friends, many moons ago indeed.

I now go to parks with my kids, and as my face begins to rest, I count, Kid 1, Kid 2, Kid-- Where on earth is Kid 3?  I just saw him.  He was right there.  Ugh.  This park is too crowded and I can't see past that rock climbing thing.  Come on, buddy, pop your head out some where.  Shit.  There was a super shady-looking guy over there earlier and now he's gone... Seriously, what is this place, like a pedophile's dream?  Oh.  There he is.  Where did Kid 1 and 2 go?

Then I follow the 2 year-old around, you know the one who thinks he can climb the same things the 7 year-old can and somehow get sprayed by an errant squirt from a squirt gun war happening amongst the tweens at the park.  In my "bubbly" days, I would've smiled and given the rascally kids my I'm-a-cool-teacher-but-don't-push-it face.  Nowadays, no.  Now, I say, "Excuuuse me" with a tone.  Because, ladies and gentlemen, I've developed a "tone."  A do-that-again-and-I-will-drag-you-to-your-mother-by-your-ear-tone.

When?  When did this happen?  When did I forget how to play?  When did I trade bubbly for bitchy?  I liked bubbly.  Maybe not champagne-bubbly, but at least semi-flat soda?!

I know it happened somewhere in the middle of being up all night providing for every need of all of these tiny humans 24 hours a day, but does being responsible for tiny humans automatically mean I can't be fun anymore?  Because it seems that the two have become mutually exclusive in my life.

I am no longer fun, but I am responsible for everyone and everything that they need.  If I shirk this responsibility of providing snacks and diapers and wipes, small children are starving and whiny and the toddler is covered in poo.  That, my friends, is not fun.

I wanted motherhood so badly, but I didn't think it would mean that fun would be so sacrificed.  It feels like becoming a mom means forfeiting the luxury of being a human.  It FEELS like it means that I'm not allowed to do or be anything I've dreamt of doing or being besides being a mom--because I did dream of that-- boy did I dream of that.  I wanted that so much.  I wanted a family more than anything in the world.  More than travel.  More than adventure.   More than being a best-selling author...

Now I have kids who create American Ninja Warrior Courses on every. single. playground.  I have kids who play ball with Daddy in the backyard.  I have kids who climb on chairs to help me bake and beg to snuggle with me to read stories.

My dream has come true.

But it came at a price; fun Emily is difficult to find, and I now have BRF and a "tone."  I do not pay this price willingly.

I still want to be a mom more than anything in the world.  But I also still want fun, travel, adventure, and best-selling-authordom.

My wise and wonderful husband once said to me, "Love is about sacrifice."
"What does that mean?" I said.
"It means I would've listened to country music if I had to do to be with you."

Maybe if I viewed love and life this way, my BRF would turn into a smile.  What if I viewed the bag of diapers, wipes, and snacks as gifts I get to give my children instead of the ugh-why-do-I-always-have-to-lug-this-crap way that I usually see it?

What if I forced myself to be still when I look out the window and see my boys playing in the backyard?

What if instead of seeing joyful playing as a time to sneak away and get something done or do something I enjoy by myself I force myself to join in their already-happening-fun?

What if instead of forcing MY fun on my family, I just join in their fun instead?

Fun IS fun whether it's on my terms or theirs, and they are good at fun.  They're kids for crying out loud.  Maybe I could shirk the responsibility of BEING fun and just JOIN the fun instead.

I'll let you know how it goes.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Storytime

I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for people who can tell great stories.  It is no easy feat, this story-telling thing.  There are the elements of timing, suspense, wording, tone of voice, the mixing humor with meaning.  The story-teller must paint a picture without giving so many details that he loses his audience.  He must move the plot along, but pause at the important parts so that we know to focus on them later.  He must let the story speak for itself, having the patience to allow it to unfold without getting ahead of himself, or rushing through, skipping out on things we need to hear, but might be tough to say.  Though he tells the story, he must get out of the its way so that the meaning and nuances and experiences can resonate with the listener and take on new life.  Story-telling is truly an art to be respected.

I got to listen to Scott Nickell tell me a story today, and it reminded me of the way my Papa used to tell stories.  Certainly, Papa didn't say "bro" in the midst of his stories, and rarely did Papa's stories contain Biblical matter, but Scott told the story of Elijah today the way Papa used to tell me about hunting.  He let the story unfold through his own colorful perspective without getting in its way.  And you got the sense he has told his son, Elijah the same story a hundred times but you're sure Eli can never hear it enough from his dad.  Much in the way that I would give anything to hear Papa tell another story... any story... especially the ones I heard a hundred times.

I wonder, when I get those special opportunities to hear great stories told by masterful storytellers, how much more amazing would it have been to sit and listen to Jesus with His parables.  I wonder how incredible it will be in Heaven to sit at His feet and soak in His impeccable timing, His choice of words, His tone of voice.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Squee!!!

Yes, that is a very girlie "Squeee!!!"  And it could possibly be followed by a "toot toot toot," because in a minute I'll be tooting my own horn, along with someone else's so, ya know, still keepin it real.

Back in March, I blogged about being chosen to be on Jen Hatmaker's Launch team for her new book, For the Love, well, good news, kids.  It is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!!!  And she's giving away a bunch of freebies!!!  Order here now: http://forthelovebook.com

Now here's the tooting part... In that book, in real ink, is something I wrote about the book, followed by my name.  WHAT?!  My endorsement in a best-selling author's book?!  WHAT?!

It was so cool.  You guys.  Jen Hatmaker sent me an email.  Like a real email.  Okay, so there were like 24 other people she sent it to too, but for reals.  She said my words made her laugh and cry.  MY words.  So funny since my endorsement just told her that HER WORDS had me laughing and crying throughout her book.  Anyway, if you want to read my endorsement, followed by my name in her book, you're going to have to buy one.  But... that's not the reason you should buy it.  The reason you should pre-order now is because it is a great big "me too" for people like us.  It is a great big cowboy-booted sweaty stroll through Austin, TX with Jen Hatmaker chatting about life and love and kids and Jesus and being a woman with big feelings while sipping on a great big-ole Texas sweet tea.

It is good.  It is fun.  It is soulful.  It is wise.

All of this for a mere $12.04 on Amazon.

Anyway, just wanted you to know.  I'll tell you more about my experience with the launch team soon.  Such a great experience!

TTFN!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBT My Friends are Not Similes or Metaphors. I Should Stop Comparing. (Originally Published on mytreesugly.blogspot.com on 6/4/11)

What is wrong with us?

Everyone I know does this to each other intentionally or unintentionally, and we know we do it, we hate it about ourselves, every time we do it we tell ourselves to stop, and yet we continue to do it over and over and over again.  Maybe it’s mostly women, but men do it too (mostly with technology, cars, and home projects).

I’m talking about looking at other people’s lives and thinking that they have it better than we do or that they are so much better at it than we are; looking at others and thinking, she has the perfect hair, butt, body, house, kid… Why can’t my hair, butt, body….look like that, act like that, be like that?

The best answer?  Because Emily, you don’t want to spend more than 3 ½ minutes a day on your hair.  Because, Emily, you don’t want to count calories and give up chocolate.  Because, Emily, if you spent the amount of time cleaning your house every day that she does, you would be a very angry and annoyed person, and you’d yell at your kids every time they threw something on the floor (which means you’d be yelling all day every day!). 


It’s amazing to me that we only see other people’s gifts as our own failures, our own faults, our own deficiencies. And then we give out those jealous compliments, “You always look so pretty.” As we snarl under our breath.  Because it’s infuriating that someone can seemingly so effortlessly look so freaking beautiful.  All. The. Time. And have a tight stomach after kids.  And buy clothes that are really cute….. and…

Why can’t I just be happy that I have trained my children to give me some quiet time every day and even if one precious three year old I know doesn’t actually go to sleep during that time, he won’t even fight me if I tell him he needs to play quietly in his room for an hour?  That is an amazing freaking thing!  And instead of celebrating that I have that, I have to beat myself up with my mother’s voice echoing in my head, “Well, Emily, you have all of this free time right now, why are you putsing around on the computer when I would’ve had the laundry started and a load of dishes in the dishwasher and all of these other clothes put away in the time it took you to just think about what you were going to write about in that silly blog.”

Wouldn’t it be better if I let myself do something I enjoy in the quiet time I have?  Wouldn’t it be better if I enjoyed working on my book while the boys were taking a nap instead of stressing that I’m not doing all that other stuff that I’m “supposed” to do in order to measure “success” on the pretend “being a good stay at home mom” scale? 

Wouldn’t that be easier if I looked at my beautiful friend and enjoyed looking at her?  It sounds weird, but isn’t that why we want to be beautiful?  So that others will enjoy looking at us?
Don’t I hope that my friends enjoy my writing?  Don’t I hope that my friends enjoy the dinner I made or the way my kids behave or the words that come out of my mouth?  Don’t I hope that my participants appreciate that I can learn all 32 of their names in the first 10 minutes I’ve met them?  I do!  I want everyone to like the best parts of me.  I want them to value what I have to say and how I say it.  I want people to like me just the way that I am.

And I’m guessing that those friends that I have with the flat tummies and perfect hair hate the way their hair does this or noses do that, and they look at me and think, I wish I had Emily’s cute squishy nose.  I wish I could pull off that muffin top like Em does. Ha.  Just kidding.  No one thinks that.  Besides I don’t have a muffin top.  My broken scale told me that I lost 16 pounds this week.  I am a hot mama.

This week, I will enjoy my own gifts.  I will write.  I will think.  I will make good coffee.  And I will have a great time with my friends… even the beautiful ones with clean homes.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

An Open Letter to Teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week (Yes you can steal it.)

Dear Teacher-

They say that having children is like letting your heart walk around outside your body, and as a mother, I can confirm that this is entirely true when those children are young.  And when those children are still very young, we send them to you… our hearts, beating wildly with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, fear.  You accept our hearts warmly.  Hugging them close to your own.  With your own heart full of the same nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, and fear. 
And you say things like, “I’m nervous too.  Will you hold my hand?”

“I’m excited too.  Sometimes it helps me calm down to take three deep breaths with my hands on my tummy.”

And our hearts calm.

Because you teach in a way that we never could.  You can see that our struggles have flowed out of us and onto our children, and you aim to help walk our children through their pain, difficulties, fears… And you tread lightly on our dreams because you know how powerful you are.  You know that you have the power to either till the soil, water, and shine light on the seeds of dreams in our hearts, or you can dig them up and let them die.  And thankfully, you tediously tend the soil, day after day after day. 

You see the child who loves art doing his best, and you shine the light of your smile on his work.   You see the child who loves division, and you give her more to solve.  You see the child who has a broken heart, and you listen calmly.  You see the child who tries so hard, but can’t quite get it, and you don’t give up.  You never give up.  And you teach him to never give up.  You say things like, “I believe in you.  I know you can do it.”  You say things to all of the children like, “You are important to me.  I’m so glad to see you today.  I was thinking about you yesterday.” 

You spend your own time going to activities in which the children in your class are participating.  (See how I didn’t end that sentence with a preposition?  You teach that too.) You spend your nights planning lessons and grading papers.  You spend your small salary on school supplies and books for our hearts to learn and read and grow and be the best versions of themselves. 
Your ability to build relationships yields respect and honor in our children.  They think the world of you,  because you truly think the world of them.  And you have the ability to see things that we can’t.    
Every day when you till the soil of our hearts’ dreams, sacrifice your time and money, and remain patient while we all learn, we are grateful for you.  We are grateful for your work.  We are grateful for your gentleness.  We are grateful for your words.  We are grateful for your persistence.  We are grateful that you are fun and interesting.  And we are grateful that you make our hearts feel important and empowered. 


Thank you for the gifts you give our hearts.  The work you do is important.  So very very important.  And our hearts are full because of the work you do.

TBT Mother's Day (Original 5/10/09)

When Danny was born, and I had no idea what to do...what songs to sing, how to bounce, how to get him to stop crying, Grammie swooped in, rocked and bounced a certain way, found a song he liked, and he snuggled right into his Grammie's arms happily.
And I thought, 'I'll never be as good at this as my mama. She knows everything. She can fix everything.'
And I probably won't ever be as good as she is, but...
I forgot that she cleaned up vomit, diarrhea, and countless spills.
I forgot that she patiently cured colds, and breathing ailments.
I forgot that she took temperatures and rubbed calamine lotion and held out her hand to catch whatever was coming out of whichever orafice without thinking how disgusting it was until it was all over.
For four kids.
No wonder she's so good.
All she ever got for that was children who ran to her, wrapped their arms around her neck, snuggled into her hug, and waited for her to rock and sing the Frog Song.
And Silly Mama, she thought this was enough.

And I realized yesterday, as Danny started to gag, and I held out my hands to catch his throw up (which by the way, never works... hands do not hold vomit well), I'm doing exactly what my mom always did...
Dad's working.
I'm sick.
Danny's sick.
And he just threw up all over the floor, and all over me, and all he wants to do is wrap his arms around my neck, but we're both covered in vomit.... and there's just no stopping him. He's going to get held one way or another....
And even vomit-covered, that little boy's hug, head on my shoulder, arms wrapped around my neck, was enough.
Silly Mama.

Maybe I will get there... eventually.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

TBT Why Moms are the Toughest People in the World (Originally published on 10/3/13 mytreesugly.blogspot.com)

Let's just start with a short recap of the past month in our house.  Kevin got roseola.  Jeff and I got the "I think I'm going to die" kind of stomach flu.  We got well for about a day, and then the whole house got Scarlet Fever (read-- strep that is so nasty, the sore throat is the least of your problems).

But this is how the humorously horrible day went down:

Two days prior, I had taken Daniel to the doctor and MADE them do a strep test.  Rapid Strep Test came back negative. Doctor all but rolled her eyes at me and said, "Send him to school!  He just has a little cold virus."
I said, "Okay..."

A friend asks if I can watch her 1 1/2 year-old at the last minute.  She had a sitter cancel.  I say, "No problem!" because the last time I watched another little boy, my kids were so entertained by him that it was easier.  The doc said the kids were fine.

Friend drops big baby off at 7:30 am.  He screams for the first hour.

He poops nasty yellow liquid.

I think, "he must not feel very well."

I call his mom.  She says, "I'll be there in about a half hour."

It's time to take Daniel to school.

I go upstairs to pee.

I come downstairs and there is a broken lamp, a crying child (not mine), another crying baby (mine), and two sweet, peaceful children coloring.

I pick up the lamp, snuggle each baby, put them in "baby jail," clean up the broken glass, ask the "big boys" (a 3 and 5 year-old) to get their shoes on.

I look at the clock.  Plenty of time to walk to school. I will just put the big baby in the stroller and the little baby in the baby carrier.  Danny can walk, and Nolan will ride his strider.  

I go outside to get the baby carrier, and when I come back in the house, the two babies are both screaming.  Kevin is gushing blood from his eyelid, cheek, nose, and lip, and the other baby is sitting there beating the crap out of my Kevin.  I tell the other baby, "We don't hit!" and sit him in time out.  He screams.  Kevin is screaming, and the other two have become bored of getting their shoes on and are running around in circles in the living room repeating, "La la looo!  La la looo!"  I get Kevin calmed down a little, check the clock, remove big baby from timeout, and weigh my options.  If I drive, I'll have to install the 4th carseat, get everyone in and out of the car seats, probably hit the traffic light, find a parking spot, and load and unload the car... It will be faster to walk.

So we walk.  And by the time we get to the end of the block, I notice that Daniel has no backpack.  So we go back and get it.

Now we are really late.  I hate being late.  And I really hate being late to kindergarten because if you're late and miss the open door, then it closes and locks and you have to go in through the front door dragging all of the other children and you have to push the buzzer and sign in and give a reason for being tardy and the kids I'll have to drag through the hallway are loud and they disrupt the whole school, not just me.

So we really hoof it.  And we are getting really close, and it looks like the Kindergarten door is going to still be open when we get there because we have 1 minute left.  And then Daniel sees a friend.  So he takes off running to say hi... and he runs past Nolan, who was in front of all of us on his Strider... "winning" the race that only Nolan was competing in.  And when Daniel takes off in front of Nolan, Nolan stops.  Flops.  And screams.

And Daniel has already run out of sight to an area where I am sure the pedophile-kidnapper that I just got an email about is lurking, waiting for my child.  So I have a baby on my back, a baby in the stroller, a 5 year-old who ran off towards a pedophile (for all I know) and this floppy, screaming child who does not follow me when I walk away if he has a fit.  Nolan's fits have been known to last for (seriously, I've timed them) 30 minutes or more, and that Kindergarten door is going to close and if there's a bad guy over there, so help me...

So, after 5 failed (because he flops on the ground) attempts and holding Nolan's hand and pulling him towards the school, I turn into my Herculean mother and pick Nolan up kicking and screaming and carry him upside down to the Kindergarten playground just in time to see Daniel happily bounding through the joyous open door.

I set Nolan down.

I text Jeff.  "You're getting a vasectomy."

Nolan finishes his timeout.

The other moms and dads on the playground are understanding, which is nice.

We make it back home.

Friend comes to pick up crabby diarrhea baby.

I give Nolan a snack in the car on the way to school.

He is really hungry at snack time because he didn't really have lunch, so his teacher gives him 4 helpings of fruit and yogurt.

The rest of the afternoon is fine.  I pick up the boys and start to get dinner ready.  At about 5:15, the doctor calls and says, "So, Daniel's strep test came back positive.  I guess moms always know.  I've called in the prescription for Daniel, but if your other kids aren't feeling well, you'll need to come get them checked also."

Meanwhile, Nolan has fallen asleep on the couch.

I wake him up, thinking it is just because he missed naptime and we need to go get Daniel's prescription.  The other two kids are already loaded in the car, and as I pick up Nolan, he begins to make that coughing/ hiccuping "this is going to be ugly" noise.  Well, I pick him up and sprint for the garage, but the chunks splatter the carpet, basement door, and wall.  I've gotten him to the garage by the second round, and now vomit has landed in my husband's shoes by the back door.

So, we get Nolan some clean jammies, clean up the inside-the-house chunks, obtain a puke bucket, and go to Walmart for the prescription, some Clorox wipes and gatorade.  By the grace of God, we make it all the way through the store and out to the parking lot where Nolan pukes on and in the grocery bags.

So we spend 15 minutes wiping all of the things we just bought with Clorox wipes and I begin to laugh, because, really, this is just hilarious.  As I am laughing and wiping, I see Nolan begin to pull down his pajama pants in the parking lot because he has vomited on them, so the laughter continues because, is there anything funnier than vomit-covered naked children in a parking lot?

So we get everything wiped down.  We get everyone in the car, we make it home, tiptoe around the puke in the garage.  I get Danny his medicine, get Nolan cleaned up, pajama'ed, and puke-bucketed.  Wash my hands a million times.  Nurse Kevin, and get them all to bed.

I hose down the garage, scrub the living room carpet and walls some more.  Then I head upstairs and take a shower.  Just as I get my jammies on, Jeff gets home from work.

"How was your day, hon?"

I just laugh.

And this isn't really an abnormal occurrence, and that's why moms are the toughest people in the world.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Video Evidence

Last week I gave a talk called "Measuring Stick" at a MOPs group.  It was all about how we measure ourselves against an invisible measuring stick of unattainable expectations and we measure ourselves to what other people's lives appear to be.

And I had given this particular talk a few times, so I video-taped it.  I wanted to get a couple of clips of me saying something and people laughing so I could put it on my website and become a YouTube sensation so people would buy my eventual book and ask me to come speak to their group and pay me money so I can stop clipping coupons and wearing ugly old clothes that don't fit right.

Then I watched the video tape.

It. was. not. good.  It was not good at all.

I watched it amazed at my exploding amounts of fake energy attempting to cover up the fact that I was exhausted because I didn't go to bed until 2am and woke up at 5 so I could try to perfect the talk, get it right and say the right thing so I didn't look like an idiot in front of all of these women who might really benefit from it if I say it the right way.

I watched the video shocked at how incredibly fat I have gotten. (The camera really does add 15 pounds.)

I watched the video mortified at how many times I clap my hands, jump up and down, and generally go overboard with my facial expressions.

And I thought, "This is how I really look and sound?  I thought I was a good speaker.  I am not.  I am not good at this at all.  This is embarrassing.  Why on earth would I try to do this to these poor people sitting there listening to me?"

The fact that I was listening to myself speak about loving ourselves and loving God and allowing God to define us instead of the size of our jeans, putting down the invisible measuring stick that we pretend will make us good enough if we reach the top...  while I was judging myself, measuring myself, allowing my inability to speak well define my worth as a human being is, of course, beautifully and painfully ironic.

But this is the way this messy life works, right?  This is the way pain points me to God, and He says, "See this?  This is where you hurt.  This is where you struggle.  Lean into Me, and I'll heal you.  It will take a while.  It might take the rest of your time on earth, but you will get better. It's okay to go ahead and move towards getting better."

This measuring myself against my own expectations is one of my struggles and even while teaching how to overcome it, I am overcome by it.  And I must try to overcome it again.  And again.  And again.

Maybe I should listen to WHAT God was telling me to say in my talk instead of judging my talk. Maybe I should trust that God will put words to what He wants me to say like I ask Him to do before I speak.

Maybe I should stop shoulding and start doing.

Okay, here goes.

My weight does not define me.
Criticism-- my own, from others, or the made up kind that people aren't actually saying or thinking-- does not define me.
The annoying things I do when I'm nervous and over-tired do not define me.
The response my talk gets does not define me.

My God defines me, and He says that I was "fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139) in His image (Gen 127)."  He says that I'm worth dying for.

And if I believe that He is really who He says He is, then as difficult as it is sometimes, I have to believe that I was fearfully and wonderfully made in God's image.  And I have to believe that I'm worth the most perfect, amazing, flawless human to ever walk the earth getting beaten, tortured, ridiculed, and murdered so that all of my failure, fat, screwed-up messiness is forgiven.

It's really hard to believe that I'm worth that.

But He says so.  So I guess I am.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

TBT Lost My Balance, Found Seasons Instead (Originally Published on 2/14/12 mytreesugly.blogspot.com)

There is so much talk in the world today about "finding balance."

Well, I'm just feeling so unbalanced lately... I really need to just even my life back out.
'My life will be so much better when I find a man who balances me.'
I need to find a balance with my job...

Blah blah blah blah...

Either I am way more like my father than I care to admit or "having a balanced life" is pretty much a load of garbage.  Much like the load of garbage sold to young girls about there actually being a perfect man out there in the world.  Or the load of garbage sold to teenage boys that Axe Body Spray makes beautiful women want you so much their clothes fall off when you walk by.

My life has never been "balanced."  And I don't ever foresee it being that way.  I am passionate.  And I am a visionary.  And I am an artist and a mother and a wife and a triathlete and a Christian and a friend and a sister and a professional presenter and a teacher (kind of) and a cook and a laundry-doer and a coupon-clipping grocery shopper and a DGL Coordinator and a...

And if I fit my definition of "balanced," I would be able to wake up at 4 am to write for 3 hours before the kids wake up, do a load of laundry every day (yes, get it into and out of the washer and dryer, folded, ironed, put away...), do the dishes directly after every meal, have the dishwasher unloaded and ready to have dishes put in it, have a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, work out to train for a triathlon for 1.5 hours every day, play with my kids every day.  Teach them something every day.  Read every day.  Clean every room of the house once a week.  Volunteer at the nursing home once a week.  Present for MOPS once a month.  Present for CollegeBoard once a month.  Spend time talking or participating in an activity with my husband every day.  Call my mother, father, brothers, sisters-in-law once a week.  Get Daniel to school on time with his hat and mittens and snowpants. Remember everyone's birthdays and send them cards on time. Plan ahead enough to take a decent family picture for Christmas cards before Christmas Day rolls around.  Spend time with friends.  Go to play dates a couple times a week.  Go to church.  Volunteer at church.  Be in a book club.  Be in a writer's group. Blog....

Balance, to me, means that I am able to do all of the things I love AND all of the things I have to do just to get by.

And, you know what?

There are 24 hours in a day. I am a raging lunatic if I don't sleep.  And something's gotta give.

If I am going to ever finish this book, then my kids will wake up some days with no clean clothes; the dishes will sit in the sink until Jeff comes home; dinner will be something I can make in 15 minutes, the amount of time that I spend working out will be much less than the amount of time I spend drinking coffee and staring at a blank computer screen, and sometimes I will forget the Hershey Kiss roses we made for Danny's teacher.

And when the book is written, I will spend a large amount of time working out, training for a tri.  And I won't write.  And then it will be baseball season and Jeff will be gone lots of nights, and I'll drag the boys to a bunch of baseball games...And after the tri is done, then it will be August, and I will present for the CollegeBoard in Texas all August long.  And then I won't have written for a couple of months and I'll feel all "unbalanced" because I'm not using my brain.  So I'll seek out several groups of people to help me use my brain...

And this is just how life is.  Season after season... Busy with everything, then bored and lonely with nothing.  And chasing after balance just makes me feel like I'm doing it wrong.

But I don't think I'm doing it wrong.  I am just doing my best to live the life that God gave me.

And that looks more like  Ecclesiastes 3. 1-8 than as my friend, Matt Colley says, "a rolling ball of zen in a world of chaos."

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
With that, I will stop this pointless chasing after balance and just live trying to get the timing right... Healing when it is Healing's season, Laughing when it is Laughing's season... Writing when it is Writing's season... Playing when it is the Playing season... Last time I checked, none of those are listed on the calendar, so the beautiful thing is that I will only know what season it is when the season arrives.

And while I have a favorite season, I only love the Fall because it is so refreshing after a long hot summer, and I only love the winter because you can't ski without snow and it doesn't snow in the summer.  And I only love Spring because it means the Winter is over....

While this season may be long and difficult, inspiring and insightful, it is a season, and unlike the dirty laundry and dishes, someday it will be done.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Because Someday They'll Be Big (Originally published on 1/25/12 mytreesugly.blogspot.com)

So, the other day, before Dr. Mario could eradicate all of the viruses from our home, the boys and I decided that it would be fun to watch Toy Story 3 together.

And you see, I blubber like a baby when I watch this show.  The first part gets me all teary, the home movies of a little boy playing, taken, I'm sure when the mom or dad had just enough time to think, Gosh, this is cute.  I bet I'll want to remember how cute he was someday.

But then the reality hits that the little boy is big.  He's going off to college.  His room probably smells like a hockey bag.  And as the cute little boys and I snuggle on the couch all achy and sick, I look over at their cute crusty noses and sob and think, someday they're not gonna want to snuggle on the couch with me anymore.  They'll be big and smell like boy and they'll be too embarrassed to hug me.

So, of course, Nolan points to my face, frowns and says, "Crying, Mama.  Cry."  And Daniel, sensitive soul that he is, says, "Mama!  Why are you crying?!"

"Because, honey, someday you will be big, and you won't want to hug me."

"Can I hug you now, Mama?"

"Of course you can, honey, of course you can."

Not to be outdone by his older brother, Nolan comes barreling onto my lap, "Me too, Mama.  Meeee tooooo!"  The pushing and shoving of brotherhood already in full swing.

"I will hug you when I get big, Mama."  Daniel says, so concerned.  His blue eyes big and sincere.
"Me too, Mama.  Me too," says Nolan.

Funny, I don't believe them.  Not that they don't mean it.  They just don't know what it means to be a teenager yet.  They just don't know the long winding road they have ahead of them.

Just like I, most times, don't know what it means to "cherish them while they're young."  Because right now they're so... crusty-nosed and whiny and oatmeal-smearing and juice-spilling... But they're also... crusty-nosed and oatmeal-smearing... And it's cute, the noses.  The innocence.  The bubble bath-smelling.

And I know I should see them as their adorable selves more often, appreciate the way that they are now with sleepy-head hair, dinosaur t-shirt and diaper, bright orange shorts combined with a button-down Cars pajama top...

I should appreciate their goofy little kid quirks and strange way they see the world.  I should look at Nolan needing to be snuggled and Danny wanting to play with me as opportunities to love, not interruptions to something I have to get done because...

Someday they'll be big and smelly.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

TBT Easter Egg Hunt (Original 4/2/10)


Nolan is really precious until he gets upset. Then he has this ridiculous, paralyzing scream that generates an open-mouthed stare, stuttering, and one step in every direction resulting in moving nowhere. 

Daniel is equally precious and well-behaved until I want to accomplish something. It doesn't matter what it is... 
Now amazingly enough, I pick today to want to get a couple of things done... nothing too fancy, you know, a little laundry, a little vacuuming, a couple of dishes... and a shower. That's it. So, of course Nolan picks today to scream his paralyzing scream, and Daniel, of course, wants to undo everything I try to get done.

So, I put Daniel down for an early nap so that he'll be awake in time for the Easter Egg Hunt in the afternoon, shut the door, put up the baby gate... Put Nolan in the crib...thinking, 'he'll give up eventually and stop screaming and just sleep...' and get in the shower.

Apparently this was a bad idea. I get out of the shower and hear.... Nothing. At first, I think, "Ahhhhhh."

Then I hear a small rustling in the back of my closet, then chewing noises. Then something that sounds like..... Like....Exactly like Plastic Easter Eggs getting dumped out onto the floor and m&ms scattering across hardwood. Yes, that's exactly what it sounded like, because that's exactly what I saw when I walked into my closet....

My precious little Daniel's face COVERED in chocolate and a mouth that had been stuffed with as many m&ms as he could fit in there, along with at least three fruit snacks.

The Easter baskets I thought I had been so clever to assemble early because I knew I'd run out of time, demolished, over-turned. Danny's huge chocolate-covered toothy smile turning to fear as he watched the flames shoot out of my ears...

And all I could manage was, "Time out Now!" before flopping myself down in the closet and having myself a nice little cry. And that precious little Daniel gets himself out of time out, peeks his head around the corner and says, "Matter Mama? Matter Mama?"

Then he sits down next to me, pats my knee with his chubby little hand, puts his head on my shoulder and says, "Milk?"

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Those Four Little Words... TBT (poem originally posted on 11/21/10)

I wrote this a while back after the first time Daniel sass-mouthed me.  

A Mother's Love...

He looks at me with those gorgeous blue eyes
The ones I fell in love with
As I held him, newly born and smelling sweet
And he says to me disgustedly,
“Why should I clean my room?”

Wwwwhhhhhyyyyy….?
My eyes roll back into my head so far I fear I will be blinded by the nerve of this precious child.

Why should you clean your room?
You should clean your room because I carried you INSIDE my body for 9 long months
Vomiting DAILY for 6 of those.
Before laboring without drugs for 24 hours fearing that an epidural would do harm to your dear brain..
After which you screamed for 6 weeks straight.
And spit up for 30

You should clean your room because I wiped up YOUR s*@#, YOUR vomit, YOUR snot….
I cleaned the messes you made every day, whether I liked it or not…

I did your laundry,
Cut your fingernails
Held you when you were scared
Told you I loved you when no one else cared.
I sang to you and stroked your hair.
told you I would always always be there…
And I meant it.  Still do.

I read to you every night.
Held you very very tight…

Taught you how to make friends
And how to keep them
Cried when you cried from pain
Kept you going again and again….

I quit my job, which I loved because I loved you more
Held my head high when you threw a temper tantrum in the department store…
Even though I have never ever been more embarrassed
in my entire life.

I did my best to teach you courage, honesty, truth
Forgiveness and kindness and wisdom in youth…

You should clean your room because
I have tried to do what’s best for you every single day of your life.
So when I say, “It’s time to clean your room.”
It’s time to clean your effing room.

And you’ll do it because I said so.


Then I thought about it when I was pray/whine/grumbling to God while trying to get out of the door on time this morning... Whhhhhhhyyyyyy does it have to be so stinkin difficult to leave the stinkin house?!  Whhhhhyyyy can't they just listen to me?!  Whhhhhhhyyy is there so much stuff and so many delays?  Why is everything about being a parent so hard?  Why do I have to do all of the things?  Why do I have to do the laundrying, dishing, cleaning, cooking, poop-cleaning, vomit-catching, and the pick-things-up-a-million-times-ing...?

And I wonder if maybe God's up there feeling the same thing I do when one of my kids whines about not getting enough ipad time or throws a fit about eating broccoli or doing homework or cleaning his room...

And maybe I should be spending more time focusing on the fact that I have clothes to clean and fold.  I have food to make the dishes dirty.  I have kids who poop and vomit because their immune systems are working properly.  Our family has things that need to be picked up a million times...

And maybe God, like my mother, has four little words for me in times like these: because I said so.

Being a parent is hard because God says so.  And maybe I should trust the fact that He, you know, made the universe and aligned everything just so I could be a mom and live that dream... among other things.  Cause, you know, getting 4 sets of socks and shoes on and lunches packed and kids pottied, etc. is sooo much harder than like running the whole universe and stuff.

Guess I was wrong when I told myself I would "never tell my kids 'because I said so.'"

It's actually a really good reason to do something when the one saying it is someone who really really loves you and wants what's best for you.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wait. What am I Doing?

So about a week ago, Jen Hatmaker tweeted, "Join My For the Love  Launch Team!" So I applied. Then I had an emergency appendectomy.  Then while I was hopped up on pain meds, trying not to laugh or cough, I got an email that said, "You are on Jen Hatmaker's Launch Team!"  And I said, "cool. wow.  that's exciting.  I don't know what this says I should be doing now, but I'll do that when I...zzzzzzzzzz..."

I went back to that email a couple of days later.  It said, "Join the Launch Team Facebook Page."  So I did.  And then I looked at the posts.  And they, well, resembled the first half of Jessie Spano's infamous freakout on Saved by the Bell. "I'm so excited! I'm so excited!!!"  While my thoughts were more representing the latter half, "I'm so... scared!"

And Mean Voice in my head said, "What the what have you gotten yourself into?!  And you're already behind!  These girls sound like they all know each other, and you missed two days because of this freak surgery, and they probably know why they are on the launch team and what a launch team does and is supposed to do and you don't know any of that.  You just thought, "cool.  free early copy of book from super cool author whose words I love."  And you applied.  You don't belong here.  Why did you do this?  You don't belong here.  All of these people are smarter than you, thinner than you, prettier than you, better moms than you are, have more money, cuter clothes, bigger houses, more writing/blogging/tweeting experience than you have... Quit!  Quit Now!  You will never be good enough to be on Jen Hatmaker's Launch Team!  Why in the world did you think you should even apply?

And then Nice Voice in my head said, "Emma, these other girls did the same thing you did.  They applied.  Jen said she wanted, "her people,"  people who read her books, and know how to use facebook, pinterest, and twitter.  You do those things.  You are just like these other women. You are excited too. You are the same.  You are the same."

So Mean Voice said, "Noooo!  You're behind!  These other people have read the whole thing already! Plus, you want to be different!  You want to stand out!  You want to be unique and lovable!"

And Nice Voice said, "Will you read the whole thing?  Remember that whole 10 page talk you wrote about not measuring yourself against other people?  Remember that whole Bible thing about letting a hand be a hand and a foot be a foot?  This launch team is like that.  Be what God made you.  Let the other ladies be what God made them."

And then, as I try to do as much as humanly possible, I agreed with nice voice.  I am the same.  I will read it.  I am a people who reads books, uses facebook, twitter, and pinterest.  I am just like these other women.  I am unique and lovable.  I am excited too. I  belong here.  It is not too late.  I am enough. And they are enough.  They are beautiful eyes and mouths and cheeks and ears and elbows and hands, and I am a beautiful foot.

This true story Mean Voice/Nice Voice conversation in my head had me noticing a connection:  I always think other people know each other and are old friends when I come into a group knowing no one.  Also, I always think people who have fun without me don't like me or think I don't belong with them.  Here's the thing:  It's not true.  None of it is true.

There are always people who feel "on the fringe" of a group, no matter how long the group has known each other.  And people are very good at pretending to fit in. And, I do fun things without all of my friends.  I am not trying to make my other friends feel left out.  I like them.  I want them IN my life, which is why we are friends.    So I must remind Nice Voice to remind me that I am not alone, and that I can do fun things with cool people I like, even if I don't know them or what I'm doing yet.

So here I go.  Remind me to be nice to myself and others, Nice Voice.


Friday, March 6, 2015

I Have an R.O.U.S. and Enough.

So, the boys and I returned from Spring Training to find the van with a flat tire.  It was good times helping a kind stranger change my flat tire in the cold while the boys played on their ipads and the toddler blew out his diaper in the middle of the parking lot at the airport.  I was in for more good times when I carried Mt. Laundry down to the basement and found this:

After playing a quick game of "Critter or Kevin?" A deep swelling Get.Out.Of.The.Basement.Now feeling took hold of me and I bravely ran up the stairs, squirmed very bravely and exclaimed, "Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ewwwwwwwww!!!"  

And then I called my husband.  And he told me to call an exterminator, but maybe ask our AMAZING AWESOME neighbor who can help with any home problem ever invented first.  So I did, and he said, "I think you have a squirrel.  I've got a live trap I can bring over after work."

And I tell my son, "Honey, we have an animal in our basement.  I don't know what it is, but it is bigger than a mouse."

To which he replies wide-eyed, "Is it a bear?"

Which makes me laugh and that helps.  So I say, "Bigger than a mouse, smaller than a bear."

So after work my neighbor brings over a) my flat tire that he fixed b) a live trap, and c) says, let's see if we can find where the little guy is getting in and out, and we found this in the wall of my basement:

Seeing as at least one of my children could probably fit through that hole, "little guy," doesn't quite describe whatever was in my basement chewing on our pool noodles.  We've got ourselves an old-fashioned R.O.U.S.  (Rodent Of Unusual Size).  So Awesome Neighbor says, get an apple and some peanut butter, and we'll set the trap.  So as I'm cutting the apple, I'm thinking, I've never purposely fed an R.O.U.S before.  Should I put the peanut butter right on the apple?  Should I put it on a plate? How does an R.O.U.S like his apples?  Sliced?  Halved? Whole?  With the peanut butter on the side for dipping?  

Ultimately I decided on spreading the peanut butter on the halved apple.  Then we put it in the live trap like this:

And this is where I am.  Waiting for this bigger-than-a-mouse-smaller-than-a-bear Squircoon thing to come back to a 4 star dining experience and get trapped in this box so he can Get. Out. Of. My. House. And. Stay. Out.  

While I'm waiting, I read the end of Quitter,  a book about working on your dream job without quitting your day job, by Jon Acuff.  He says that in order to find "enough" when attempting to live our dream, we must define enough so that we don't fall victim to what Pat Riley calls the "Disease of More."  Because we "never reach enough when we chase it."  "You only find enough when you tell enough where to be found."  

And he's mostly right.  We don't reach enough when we chase it.  And we do only find enough when we know where enough is found.  I think he left out two things though: 1. God tells us where enough is.  2.  Enough is always exactly where we are.  

Right now, waiting on this rodent, my life is enough.  I have enough.  I am enough.  Is it everything I want?  Nope.  Is it everything I need.  Yep.  Our home is still warm.  There is no eminent danger to anyone in the house.   

And strangely, where I am in this R.O.U.S. experience is a lot like recognizing enough, being content while simultaneously attempting to live out the dreams that God has given me.  

If I focus on what hasn't been done and what is wrong with my current situation, I become crippled with fear and anxiety.  I become paralyzed.  There is no forward motion. I remain stagnant.  My whole life stops.  

If I try to fix everything all at once, patch the holes and create an impenetrable barrier without addressing what has already happened, making sure there are no critters left in my basement, I could wind up with a dead, bloated, stinky carcass in my crawlspace. 

It's interesting, this enough-ness.  If I run after it, it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger.  If I fear that I will never have it, a looming emptiness is behind me, around me, above me.  I believe I have nothing.  I can do nothing.  

I must say, "This is what I have.  This is what I am.  And it is enough.  I am enough.  What I have and who I am are going this way."  And then I must go that way.  And as I go, who I am and what I have will change.  Even though what I have may become more or less, it will always be enough.  And who I am will always be enough, even if what I have and who I am includes an R.O.U.S. in my basement.


  








Friday, February 20, 2015

Really Real Love

On December 1st of 2001, I wrote this poem in a journal entry.  I was on my way over to my now husband, then almost ex-boyfriend’s place.  He was forcing me to meet his brother and sister.  I didn’t want to.  It never occurred to him that “meeting the family” might be scary to me or that it might be too soon in our relationship for that…


Tonight I will change.
I will pretend with a
Smile
and the clothes and
the hair—
pretend that there’s
more
than what’s really there.
I will dress the part
And play the role
I will act like it’s mine—
Whose heart that he stole.
so stunning is that performance
I may even convince myself
that I am that woman everyone else sees
Beautiful and strong as
She stands—
The woman he doesn’t really want
And who I can’t be—
The woman who looks at him,
Holding his hand—
The woman who I wish I could be?
The woman that
I am.

We broke up the next day…  For no real reason other than I wanted to live in the mountains/woods, and he loved the city and wanted to live there.  I thought we were doomed!  I could never live in New York City.  Yes, that would be a thorn in our side later, but in the scheme of things, it seems silly in retrospect.

Then, just after we met up again in Los Angeles, where he was living at the time, and we realized we were still in love, on November 26th of 2003—almost exactly 2 years later, I wrote this:

“I realized/remembered tonight that I really am a ‘shapeshifter.’ I change myself a lot to be what other people want me to be.  I fool them into loving me by becoming what they want and what I’m really afraid of is that he will see that I’m really not the woman he thinks I am because I don’t really know what I am because all that I am is what everyone else wants me to be and I’m afraid of what we will find out if he gets that close to me to know me and see the real me.”

The thing that scared me about Jeff was not that he wanted to live in the city.  It was not that he was too different from me or that we wanted different things… It was that he was willing to love me unconditionally.  He was willing to know me just as I was.  He was willing to hear my story and accept the truth.  And he wanted the REAL version, not some made-up one that I turned into whenever he was around.  And that just didn’t seem right.  It seemed like all of the other guys had their agendas (like I did); they wanted a certain kind of girl… It was my specialty for awhile, study what they wanted, be that for a little while.  When the pressure to pretend became too much, I would bail.  “Sorry.  I know you think I’m your dream girl.  Just kidding!  I’m totally not that girl.  Oops.  No really.  I’m sorry.  I do feel bad.  I just don’t know any other way.  See you later… or not.”  Jeff didn’t have an  agenda.  Just, “Hey.  I like you.  I’m looking for a wife.  Wanna tell me everything about the real you?” 

I never asked him to love me.  As a matter of fact, I threw every reason at him not to love me, but he just loved me anyway.  

It was like he had a direct line to God and he had been asking for God to send him someone, a perfect match, a beautiful, quiet, meek, good Christian woman to be his soul mate.

So, God looked down at this scared, lonely, messed-up, looking-for-approval-from-any-man, wounded, broken up, brazen, bold, shape-shifting puzzle piece of a heathen called me, pointed and said, “That’s her.”

And Jeff said, “Uh, her?  Are you sure, God?”

And God said, “I AM God, aren’t I?”

And Jeff said, “Okay.  I’m in.  She’s the one.  I’ll love her forever no matter what she does or who she believes she is.  I will believe she is who YOU say she is.”

And so he did.

And I told him not to. Because I didn’t believe he could love me like I am.

But he did anyway.

I'm really glad he did, because if he hadn't, I never would've really known how to know and love the real him.

I think that’s how God loves us.  Like He looks down and says, “You.  I love you.  Lonely, broken, scared, messed-up you.”

And we say, “Me?  You must be pointing to someone else.  You must be mistaken.  I am not nearly enough for You to love me.”

And He says, “I AM God, aren’t I?”


And after we protest and tell Him how we aren’t good enough, eventually, we say, “Okay.  I’m in.  If you're willing to know and love the real me, I'm willing to know and love the real You."


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sorry, Fun Mommy, You Had to Die.

So a while back, I killed Fun Mommy.  You know, "Fun Mommy,"  the one who says, "We are going to do this awesome thing!  It's going to be so much fun, and the kids are going to think they have the coolest mom ever!  Let's go sledding, hiking, boating, to an amusement park, to the aquarium..."

This happened about a year ago on one of those amazingly gorgeous mornings when you wake up to freshly fallen snow, and as the sun comes up it shines through the snowy trees and it just seems magical. Nostalgic Fun Mommy remembers sledding on days like this as a really huge super cool thing and decides that there is enough time to go sledding before afternoon kindergarten starts.

So we look everywhere for matching mittens, 3 pairs of snow pants, boots that fit, scarves, hats… And as this is happening, my frustration level is like one of those applause meter arrows that starts out pointing to “low,” and with every lost mitten, it moves closer and closer to Holy Crap, she’s gonna blow.  So I’ve managed to get one dressed in a full snowsuit, and I’m attempting to get the second one dressed, and you know the drill, right?  “Mooommmy, I’m hot, and I have to go to the bathroom.”  “DAAANNY!  Stop stepping on my mitten!” “ Mommy, Nolan won’t do what I’m saying!” “Danny, You’re being mean!” Meanwhile, the baby is running away every time I attempt to put an article of clothing on him, so he has snowpants and one boot on, and I’m chasing him around the house… I look up at the clock to discover that it is, 11am.  And we are just finally getting out the door.  We get in the garage to get the sled, and Danny, sweet, precious child that he is, says, “Mooommmy, do we HAVE to go sledding?”  And the arrow has gone off the chart.  Fun Mommy blows up.

Ugh!  Do we HAVE to go sledding?!  Yes we have to go sledding!  Did you not just witness how difficult it was to get all of that crap on to get out the door?!  YES WE HAVE TO GO SLEDDING!  IT’S GOING TO BE AMAZING!!!  AND YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT AND HAVE FUN WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!  NOW GET.IN.THE.SLED. 

So, the baby falls in the snow; he’s crying.  I just yelled at Danny; he’s crying.  And kicking the snow.  And pouting.  And not cooperating with anything I’m trying to do.  Nolan is just standing there, waiting to get yelled at or go sledding or… who knows what.

We have 25 minutes to sled and make the 10 minute walk to school.  I do my best to shove the arrow back towards low, put on my fake “Fun Mommy” face, so I attempt to drag them towards the park, but I am not nearly as strong as I think I am, and I can only manage dragging the baby in the sled who is screaming his head off because those crappy mittens are already covered in ice and probably making his hands colder than if he had no mittens.  So, we make it to the park, and I push them down the hill, not recognizing that there’s a cement drainage pipe at the bottom that I can’t see because it’s covered in snow… So they fall off of that and land with a bang on their tailbones.

“Mommy!  Why did you push us down that hill?!  That really hurt!  I hate sledding.  Why are you making us do this?!”

Yep.  You’re right.  We’re done.  Let’s just go to school.  I am never trying to be Fun Mommy again.   Fun Mommy is dead.  You will never see her again.  You will now only have mommy that does what needs to be done.  Daddy can do all of the fun stuff.  I can't take the whining and protesting that they don't even want to do anything fun anyway, then I  ruin anything that I ever try to do that’s remotely “fun.”  I yell and scream and everyone always ends up crying every time I try to do anything fun.  There.Will.Be.No.More.Fun Mommy.

Why did I have to kill Fun Mommy?  Expectations.

When I try to be "Fun Mommy," I expect the kids to stop being kids.  And I expect them to stop being themselves.  And I expect everyone to enjoy whatever activity I have chosen for them because it is a kid-friendly activity because it has to be.  And I expect my temper to disappear because we are doing something fun that the whole family will enjoy!

When I killed Fun Mommy, I really just killed those completely unrealistic expectations... or at least tried to kill them... They're remarkably persistent.

So, now I try to remember that the kids are still kids.  And kids are whiny, needy, and annoying.  I love them, but let's be real.  I expect Danny to fight leaving the house... because he ALWAYS fights leaving the house unless we are going across the country to Grandma's or to a friend's house.  It's just how Danny is.  He likes to be at home, and if he has to leave home, he will fight it.  If Nolan can't do something, he will cry.  He just will.  And Kevin will run away.  And then run away again.  He will think I am done with his coat, diaper, shoes, anything if I stop touching him for a half a second to pick up the diaper or wipes or... and run away.

I teach my children that while hiking might not be their favorite thing to do, Mommy needs to do it in nearly the same way she needs to bathe.  If she doesn't, you will not want to be around her.  And when you love someone, you open-mindedly tolerate your not-so-favorite activity because you love that person.

And I give myself grace when I lose it at my children.  Yes, it may take me an hour and a half's worth of deep breaths, but afterwards, I remind myself that everyone loses it.  Everyone makes mistakes, and then I apologize to whoever I screamed at.

And then my 7 year-old surprises me with his wisdom by saying, "Mommy, I think you should pray about your yelling.  Maybe that would help."  And I do, and it does.

It's funny.  Fun Mommy may be gone, but Regular Mommy can have more fun now without all of these expectations.