Teal is the New Orange

Last year I shared with y’all about the Teal Pumpkin Project, which can best be described on the FARE website:  “Launched as a national campaign by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project™ raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.”

Basically, pick up some non-food items to give out as treats on Halloween, put a teal pumpkin (or sign) to let folks know you have safe treats, and watch the smiles on the faces of children who so often are left out of special occasions.

My child with food allergies has the best attitude.  She knows that I will be sending something for her to eat at birthday parties instead of the party cake.  She gets that we can’t eat at certain places or have to skip certain activities because of risk of exposure.  She has become so proactive in self-carrying her epi-pens.  She smiles when I hand her a snack I brought even though she really, really wants that fresh-baked brownie with icing at the coffee shop.

Bless her.

And until last year, the only treats I let her have on Halloween were the ones that our sweet neighborfriend packaged up especially for her.  (They’ve been gone for two Halloweens.  We are so happy to have them back.)  Last year, another dear neighborfriend read about the Teal Pumpkin Project and put hers out and made magic happen.  The smile on my girl’s face after an evening of make-believe and visiting with friends and calling out “Trick or Treat”–priceless.  Spider rings really can bring sheer joy, y’all.

It’s funny that Halloween has become such a big deal for my children.  It wasn’t for us growing up.  We lived out in the country with no neighbors close by who really trick or treated.  I can only remember going a time or two with my friends.

But these children?  We’ve been talking about who we want to “be” for close to two months now.  I think we are all finally set and ready.  (fingers crossed)  However, our Princess was pretty sad because we really didn’t have anything decorating our yard for fall or Halloween, save our flag by the mailbox and the beautiful mum a sweet neighbor brought by “just because.”  It didn’t help matters when everyone else on our street put out something, and here we were–bare.  When her best bud’s family who have lived here just a few months went all out, my girl begged me to put something out.

Today we had some Out and Abouts, and I wanted to give Cooter one more shot at finding his “perfect” Halloween costume.  He’s found a couple he liked, but they just didn’t fit.  I decided to go by the GW “Bo0tique” (seriously, that’s what they call it–I’ve started something, y’all) where all of the Fall and Halloween things are.  They have marketed this so well that they even have a book of costume ideas you can put together using ordinary things found at your local GW.  AWESOME.  We especially loved the “selfie” one, complete with a phone, selfie stick, any outfit of choice, and an empty frame.  So fun.  (And selfies are Aub’s thing, so we think this should be her costume this year.)

While we were perusing the costumes, the decor along the wall caught my eye.  Y’all.  They had some adorable (and scary) terra cotta and other style jack o’lanterns among so much else.  Nothing was very much at all, it being the GW and all.  SCORE.  WIN.  I’m not into keeping up with the Jones’, but I do enjoy a good bargain and watching my young’uns get excited about decorating.

We all picked out something and talked about where we would put it on the porch or in the yard.  In the end, Cooter found something he liked for Halloween, and we were done.  We were all smiles.

This afternoon after some grammar and math and piano, we headed out to the yard to get to work.  We are still very much a work in progress, so please don’t judge.  Yet.  Here’s a sneak preview though.

This one has plugs in and has a bulb inside and actually works!  I might have to move it inside, as I'm having outlet issues.  But isn't he precious?

This one plugs in and has a bulb inside and actually works! I might have to move it inside, as I’m having outlet issues. But isn’t he precious?

A little scary, but once she is sitting on a bale of hay with a mum or oooooh, a cauldron would be awesome, wouldn't it?  I'm sure we've got something around here.....

A little scary, but once she is sitting on a bale of hay with a mum or oooooh, a cauldron would be awesome, wouldn’t it? I’m sure we’ve got something around here…..

So cute, Mr. Pumpkin with his top hat!  I'm thinking I will get battery tea lights to put inside at night.

So cute, Mr. Pumpkin with his top hat! I’m thinking I will get battery tea lights to put inside at night.

We are equal opportunity vine fruit carving folks.  ;)  Cooter really thought this one was clever.

We are equal opportunity cucurbit-carving folks, y’all. 😉 Cooter really thought this one was clever.

Since our Princess plans to be a witch, very appropriate.....

Since our Princess plans to be a witch, very appropriate…..

With this sweet with bubbling up good fun.....

With this sweet witch bubbling up good fun…..

Teal is the new orange.  Our teal and cream pumpkins reappear with a new sidekick or two.  We're all a little batty around here with all kinds of things coming out of our heads.  ;)

Teal is the new orange. Our teal and cream pumpkins reappear with a new sidekick or two. We’re all a little batty around here with all kinds of things coming out of our heads. 😉  (She came like that, flowers and all, isn’t she lover-ly?)

Tonight I’m thankful for all the joy of this day.  For littles who spend a great amount of time dreaming about and becoming someone else for an evening.  For my girl who takes all of the seasonal decorating so seriously and who got so excited about making it happen today.  For Cooter whose sense of humor found him howling laughing over a watermelon jack o’lantern.  For the GW where fun things can be found if only you look for them, and for the time and energy to do just that, I am grateful.

Most of all I’m thankful to live in a community where inclusion and keeping children safe is important.  The Teal Pumpkin Project just started last year, and I’ve seen articles and posts about it cross my path numerous times since the beginning of October.  If you are able to make it happen at your home this year, a huge thank you on behalf of Mamas of children with food allergies and other dietary issues everywhere.  If you can’t, that’s okay too.  Just being aware and compassionate is such a huge gift.

For more information and flyers and great stuff like that about the Teal Pumpkin Project, please click here.

Love and Happy Orange and Teal to all.

Telling Folks Where to Go

So there was this sign out yesterday a couple of streets over, advertising that there was going to be a neighborhood meeting tonight.  I texted with my sweet neighborfriend, curious if she or her husband were planning on attending.  I had a question or two, and I’d been trying to figure out how I could make it work so I could go.  But it wasn’t looking promising.

“Probably not,” she wrote back.  “It doesn’t even say where it is.”

Huh.  You know what, she was absolutely right.

Y’all, there I’d been spinning my wheels trying to head in a direction that I didn’t have a clue about.

Not the first time that’s happened on this journey.  I found it ironic that in all of my planning and thinking it all through, the ultimate direction I needed to go wasn’t even part of the equation.

All too often, my friends.  All too often.

This evening I sat at the pool, watching Cooter practice and trying to keep from getting chilled (it was in the 60’s–brrrr!), and I thought about the folks at the meeting.  The ones who planned it and set the sign out, letting the rest of us know about it.

Don’t you know they were sitting over there (Wherever THERE was), wondering why no one else was showing up?

Folks, if you don’t tell people where you are, how are they going to meet you there?

I have friends who are able to speak to their pain, their sadness, their worries, their struggles, and I admire them for that.  We can’t walk alongside them, toting a light to help see the path or help them up when they stumble if we don’t know WHERE THEY ARE, can we?

And yet, how often do we think we’re leaving signs that we are struggling or upset or overwhelmed and get our feelings hurt when no one shows up to say, “I’m here–  I’ll sit with you in this darkness,” when we would be so much better off if we just came out and said exactly how we are hurting?

No?  Just me?  Okay then.

Tonight I’m thankful for my neighborfriend reminding me that if we don’t have directions, there’s no sense in worrying over if we can get there or not.  And I’m thankful for the folks who speak from their hearts and let me know where they are and how I can help.  Most of all, I give thanks for the ones who come to my side when I do speak up about the hard things, when I show them where I am.  I couldn’t keep traipsing along without them.

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Leave a map, y’all.  Folks want to be there, but you have to be brave and let them know where you are.

Love to all.

the rest of October

October comes blazing in
with orange and pumpkins and bales of hay
everywhere

mums adorn porches and storefronts
and the smell of funnel cakes and
barbecue is in the air

and then suddenly the month is two-thirds gone
and the caravan of trucks move down the interstate
taking away the sights and sounds that had folks
talking and riding and laughing and screaming
with delight

ribbons are won and the quilts are folded
and put away
the cows go back to the barn
and the newly hatched chicks find their new homes

and suddenly, I’m tired
and worn out
like the leaves on the peach trees,
spent
and drifting

with the first chill that seeps into my bones
I am reminded of that October
when every moment was so very precious
and I sat by his bed and hoped–
I was still hoping in October

how could I not with the calliope music
and the lights
and the pony rides and rock walls
and the laughter he still shared when we spoke of such things

but then November came
and I knew,
I knew it would not be long
before this world would change forever
leaves would fall
as would the tears
and the days would grow shorter
and the shadows longer
and our hearts would be broken in bits

because he would leave us

and now when October is two-thirds over
and the Fair folk pack up and leave
a part of my heart goes with them
as I turn to face the
October that is left,
pregnant with sad anticipation

of all the remembering
November brings

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Absolutely Worthless, My Foot!

“I’ve been absolutely worthless today,” my oldest commented from her position on the couch, wrapped snugly in one of my rescued afghans.   “Folks are going to say, ‘What did you do all weekend?’ and I’m going to have to reply, ‘Oh I don’t know, slept in, took a nap, watched Netflix, pretty much nothing worth anything at all.'”

Oh my heart.

My oldest and I had plans for Saturday.  Big plans.  Big girl, driving out of town a far piece and spending the day listening to important things and then coming back home changed and awesome people kind of plans.  (Well, that was the plan–if you’re going to dream, dream big, y’all.)

Instead we were grounded.  Both of the littles fell victim to some kind of vicious bug that had Cooter not able to eat anything and our Princess the same, only with a big ol’ fever to go along with it.  No one needed to come in here and be exposed to that, even if I had been able to muster the wherewithal to leave my sick babies.  Which I couldn’t.

So we were home.  A day that we had prepped for by tidying up a bit and trying to get organized somewhat (y’all who know me well can stop laughing now, I said tried).  Our Princess stayed in her bed and slept most of the day, while Cooter slowly came back from an exhausting night of not being able to stomach anything.  He watched movies and played games and rested.

While I alternated between caring for the two, I also took a breather and had some quiet time during the day.  My oldest though?  She sat in her sister’s room at our Princess’ request, so she’d have company and wouldn’t feel quite so lonely.  She sat and watched videos with her brother.  She made a Ginger Ale/Sprite/Noodles/Frozen Waffle run (like you do) as we were out of all of those healing things.  She picked up magical healing serum in the form of Chick-Fil-A Sprites-to-go for her siblings, and she listened to my worrying over what was best to do for our Princess.  She reminds me of my Mama the way she can ease my concerns with compassion and commonsense.

And so her words broke my heart.  Yes, she relaxed and watched a couple of her favorite shows.  She took a nap.  She didn’t work on her paper or clean her room.  But that she didn’t see the value of what she did, the love she shared, the help she was in all the little moments all day long?

I need to take her to the eye doctor.  Or soul doctor or something.  I think she needs a new pair of lenses.  A kinder, gentler pair.  Ones filled with grace, which can see the little details for what they are.   The million ways she blessed all of us all day long.

She might not have changed the world yesterday, but she changed our world.  She made things better just by showing up.  By her willingness to sit and be.  By her willingness to go and do.  By being her.

The one we love.  And sharing that special person with us for the day.

Baby girl, if ever you doubt the value of what you do, I want you to remember your brother’s face as he grabbed you this morning and exclaimed, “You’re the second person I hugged today!”  Or the way each of your siblings told you with their weak little voices very early yesterday morning, “Go.  I’ll be okay.  I don’t want to ruin your day.”  Or me.  As you changed out the lightbulbs in my closet today.  You couldn’t see my face while you were up on the ladder, and that’s probably a good thing.  As I was teasing you and trying to take your picture, I was teary-eyed.  This little one whom I fell in love with from the first moment I saw her twenty years ago, is making a difference in our world.  One hug, one smile, one teasing gesture, one CFA drive thru trip, and one moment at a time.  Never doubt that.  Thanks for lighting up our world, literally and figuratively.

Love and light to all.

My girl helping shine light in our world.....and my closet.

My girl helping shine light in our world…..and my closet.

My Meltdown Button’s Stuck

Yesterday we pulled out of the driveway headed for a Field Trip, when my tire pressure light came on.  This has happened before when there was a significant temperature change, but I had no idea that a night with a low in the 50s would do it.  I got out and checked to see if I had a flat.  Having none, we went on to our field trip, while in the back of my mind I knew I needed to have it checked out just to be sure.  My oldest and I were supposed to head out of town, and I wanted to make sure the Gomobile was in optimal condition for distance.

After my crew and I were finished with our morning events, I decided to go straight to the “car place” to have them check about the light.  When I got there, the mechanic said, “Sure, we can turn that light off.  Won’t take but a minute.”  I asked him to please check my tires and explained my coming trip.  “I’m also about 500 miles short of needing an oil change, but maybe it would be good to go ahead with that as well?”

“Sure thing,” he said.  “No problem.”

The littles and I whiled away the time at a shop within walking distance.  When we returned, it wasn’t long before the mechanic was back with another person, both looking mighty serious.

Great.

“Just how far are you going on this trip?” they asked.

“Up above Atlanta,” I told them, wondering what belt was falling off or brakes or motor thingy had fallen apart.

They looked at each other and then told me I needed two new tires.  “You might be fine going that far, but if you have time to get them today, I wouldn’t wait.”

Yep.  New tires.  Sounds about right.

They were very kind and let me borrow their “work truck” to go pick up a very late lunch for my littles, who had snacked on the way back from the field trip.  My two were elated to ride in this four door pickup.  I heard one say, “This is the best day EVER.”  Oh me.  Bless.

As we sat in the waiting area, them eating their lunch, I thought about that little light and how once that would have really annoyed me.  Instead, I took it in stride.  It actually turned out to be a good thing, because if it hadn’t come on, I would still be driving on those worn out tires.

Not a good thing.

I’m not saying I’m one who believes that “everything happens for a reason,” unless one of those reasons can be that there is darkness and evil in the world and sometimes it reigns and bad things happen.  But I do believe that even these small annoying things in our lives have the potential sometimes to lead to good.

Suffice to say that in the past couple of years, I find myself shifting into “meltdown”  mode a lot less over things like lights that come on and children getting sick out of the blue or spilled messes.

Last night Cooter got one of his famous tummy bugs.  It was a whole lot of fun happening up in here between 11:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.  That gave me pause about this trip I was supposed to take with my oldest.  I just didn’t feel like I could leave him behind, not knowing if he was going to bounce back quickly.  After the time I would have already left, our Princess woke up with a fever.

Decision validated.

And yet, I hadn’t flipped out about the change in plans.  I took it in stride.  I am so not patting myself on the back here, y’all.  Just saying that I like this change.  It’s out of character for me, but it feels a whole lot healthier.

Light comes on.  Child has upset stomach.  Okay, let’s do something about it.  Except stress.  Let’s don’t do that.

The other day the littles and I took Miss Sophie for a walk just before lunchtime.  We all needed to get our blood stirring and to breathe some fresh air.  When we came back in, Cooter, for whatever reason I cannot even imagine, walked straight over to the kitchen counter and picked up my five-pound bag of Jasmine rice.  He proceeded to put it on his head and began to dance and sing.  As he spun around, I called out, and it was like one of those slow motion things on the TV, “Nooooo. It’s notttttt sealedddddd.”

Too late.

Half a bag of rice (that’s two and a half pounds for those who love the math) all over the floor.

rice on floor

Did y’all know that rice can skitter a far piece?

All over the floor.

I’ll still be sweeping up bits at Christmas.

Poor Cooter’s face crumpled, and he immediately began to chastise himself.

And me?  For a split second I teetered on the fence.

And then I laughed.

I laughed hard and loud and just about couldn’t stop.

It was as though my Mama had put her hand on my shoulder or given me her eyes to see it all through.  She often reminded me these days don’t last forever.  And in that moment, laughing seemed just as good a something to do as anything else.

Perhaps better.

Because I didn’t immediately go into my “Oh my gosh, what did you just do? Do you know how much rice you just wasted? What were you thinking?” mode, we have some pretty good memories from that incident.

How we all laughed. And how everyone helped by either sweeping or keeping Miss Sophie away from the mess.  And how Cooter found an interest in writing letters in the rice.  (Oh sure, now he’s all about the handwriting.  *sigh*)

Most of all we’ve laughed over his new nickname.  “Dances With Rice on His Head–But Not For Long.”  Even Cooter had to laugh at that one.

Tonight I’m thankful that my “meltdown/freak out” button is stuck, and it doesn’t readily respond to stimuli the way it used to.  I am not going to tell you it never happens, but it for sure doesn’t happen like it used to.  And I’m starting to see more and more how connected things are, and how if we are patient and see things through before “losing it,” we can begin to see some good in the unexpected.

I guess that reminds me of Paul and his “giving thanks in all things” message.  But then I’m still very much a work in progress.

I’m not giving thanks for losing half of my very good rice, but I am thankful for the memories we made that will be a story to tell for quite some time–unlike the story of my yelling and being frustrated would have been, if I hadn’t taken a moment to breathe first.

Yes, those moments.  The ones where I can breathe before I have to respond.  I’m thankful for the discovery of those.  Those are real treasures.  They can turn a mountain of rice into a molehill (and a funny story) in no more than the time it takes to breathe one breath.

May we all find more and more of those moments as the days go by.

Love to all.

What Goes In…..

This morning the littles had a field trip to our local DNR Fish Aquarium.  It is a fantastic place and they do an amazing job with the classes.  It seems this year they have gotten even better.

This morning the teacher told the children they’d be learning about nocturnal creatures.  It was interesting–nocturnal, diurnal, crepuscular, matutinal, vespertine.  I learned many new terms and was even able to put my new knowledge about snails growing their own shells to use.

After a brief discussion of the habits of different creatures, the teacher pulled out little foil balls and gave one to each child.  There was an air of anticipation in the room.

Owl pellets.

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We have never done this before, though I’ve heard of them.  When an owl eats the little critters of its choosing, it can’t digest bones and fur, so it regurgitates those things back up.  They are apparently gathered and sanitized for us to dissect and try to discover just what this owl had been munching on.

IMG_9977

It was a fascinating exercise.  Even more fascinating was the different ways my two children took to the project.  Cooter was all in for about five minutes, pulling apart sans gloves all the little bits and guessing what he’d found.  And then–he was done. More than.  He came and sat next to me.  His sister, on the other hand, was gloved and ready for surgery.  She took great care to be gentle and not break any of the bones she might come across.  Then she carefully laid each piece on the key which showed all the different type of bones.  When they were told they could bring home their bones, she was all for it.

IMG_9976   IMG_9980

Considering their personalities, this made me laugh.  I never saw that coming.

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Looking at what the owl had eaten and regurgitated was disgusting and yet, I couldn’t look away.  Our Princess found skulls and jaws and little leg bones and such.  She couldn’t wait to unearth the next part.

As she worked, I thought about that old saying–

The one about how what you put in will come back out…..

Like if you watch junk or read junk or listen to things that are negative and degrading–it will change your heart and stick to your soul and eventually it will come back out through your actions and words?

Yeah.

Never have I seen a better illustration of that than I did today.

Y’all guard yourselves.  Be careful what you’re taking in.  Because if it doesn’t sit well with you, it’s coming back out one way or another.

And more than likely, it won’t be pretty or pleasant.

May we all focus on taking in the good stuff and tanning our souls today.

Love to all.

The Grace of the Dead-End Path

Today I took the crew out for a walk right before lunch.  In all honesty, it was because I had a smoothie for breakfast, and it made me very, very cold.  But it didn’t hurt that we could all use a break from the math and grammar and reading and all.  It was a beautiful fall day here, and it would have seemed almost sinful to stay inside all day and not appreciate it at all.

Cooter hopped on his bike, our Princess on her scooter, and Miss Sophie on her leash.  We walked up to the end of our street and turned left, something we don’t usually do when we take our quick morning or evening constitutionals.  I told the littles they could go ahead of me down the next cul-de-sac.  They were thrilled.  With no traffic around here in the middle of the day, they felt free as they soared down the street and almost out of sight.

As I watched them happily speeding away from me, I gave thanks for the dead-end street.

And then I paused.

Isn’t that interesting?  How many times in my life have I heard the warnings against wasting time and energy on “dead ends?”  And yet, if it weren’t for dead ends, my children wouldn’t be learning how to be safe and preparing to have adventures all on their own.

These dead ends are great practice for when they head out on the main highway on their own paths and stories.

I thought back over my own story.  If it weren’t for our dead-end road growing up, I would never have learned to drive.  It served its purpose.  Of course I soon grew comfortable enough to leave the dead-end and head out on all kinds of roads and highways.  But without that dead-end to begin with, I wouldn’t be on this road I’m on now.

On this journey I’m rather enjoying.  That would be very sad.

Tonight I’m thankful for the dead ends in our lives.  For the ways they teach us and prepare us for life out on the open roads.  Our time on the dead ends in life are NOT wasted, as long as we don’t set up camp right there in the midst of it.  As long as we take what we learn on them and get back out on the main road, those dead-end experiences are worth far more than gold.

I’m also thankful for the joy of laughter and the exclamation of “whee” in the sunshine of a fall day.  For racing children and bouncing puppies and all the blue sky and gentle breezes of this journey, I am grateful.  And for the grace of dead ends and those who took me down them, I am most thankful.

Love to all.

By Marcus Quigmire from Florida, USA (Dead End  Uploaded by Princess Mérida) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Marcus Quigmire from Florida, USA (Dead End Uploaded by Princess Mérida) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Time to Close a Tab

The first time I figured out how to open more than one tab on my computer I thought that was pretty much amazing.  That I could jump back and forth between two things or two screens was mind-boggling.  Keep in mind that in college I did my research from real books and periodicals, and we had microfiche machines, and I printed my papers out on a dot-matrix printer and tore the edges off after.

Multiple tabs.  Yes.

It has come in handy when I’m writing.  I wonder about a detail or something, jump to the top, click new tab, look it up and come right back to writing.  No saving, closing, switching, closing, reopening…..EASY.  FAST.  EFFICIENT.

However, I have noticed that when I get slack about closing out all the tabs (confession, I have ten open right now–true story, I’m not proud of it, don’t judge), my computer gets sluggish.  Sometimes a little spinning wheel comes out, and my IT specialist aka college junior tells me that. Is. Not. Good.

And so I usually will close a tab or two to see if it appeases the little spinny wheel.  But it is rare that I close out of all of them deliberately.  I am loath to give up all that information.  All that ease and all of those tabs.

Tonight it occurred to me as the wheel started spinning again (yes, okay, I’ll close a couple of more), that this is my life.  Maybe it’s yours too.  I open up way too many tabs–I have too many irons in the fire–too many things going on, and I start spinning my wheels.  And I’m good at none of them.  If I focus on this one, I am distracted by that one, or something comes through on another one that I need to address.

It’s all just too much.

One of my Mama’s favorite lines to quote to us growing up was from M*A*S*H.  Charles Emerson Winchester the Third, who was played by David Ogden Stiers, told Hawkeye and BJ in one episode, “Gentlemen.  I do one thing at a time.  I do it very well.  And then I move on.”

Yeah, she loved to quote that one.  Most of the time it had to with our chores–dusting, cleaning the bathroom, folding clothes.  Focus.  One thing at a time.

But it holds true for me today.  With too many tabs open.  With too many things I’ve said yes to.  It is impossible to do any of it very well if we’ve taken on all the things.

And unfortunately, in real life, there is no spinning wheel with all its pretty colors to warn us to let go of something.  We often don’t find out until it’s too late.

Tonight I’m thankful for the wheel and for my Mama’s words.  Tonight as I watched that wheel spinning, it felt like Mama was speaking those words all over again. To me.  Right now.  I’m going to take that to heart.  I’m no good to anybody if I can’t move for being overwhelmed.  Because that’s pretty much what happens when that wheel starts spinning.  You can’t do anything.  Frozen.  Paralyzed.  No good to anybody.

Let’s make this a day of letting go.  Of something.  Of closing some tabs or even just one.  Of creating margins in our life, so that good things can come and land.  A day of letting go so we can just be and watch the sun set or listen to the birds (“They sound like the jungle now that Fall is here,” Cooter says)…..or share a cup of coffee with a friend.

Go ahead.  Consider me to be your spinning wheel.  Close a tab.

And may all the good things follow.

Love to all.

Leaps of Faith

Out beyond Granny’s house on the farm was a ditch of sorts.  It was swampy around it, and whether or not anything we imagined was true, we cousins made up stories about what kinds of horrible things lurked in the murky, dank waters.  The worst thing in the world would have been to fall in that mess.

And yet–what did we do?

Made a game out of running circles.  Run towards it, leap over it, stick the landing, get up, run around it and back to the other side to do it all over again.

Great fun.  We laughed and encouraged and teased each other.  That ditch was a source of disgust and inspiration for many afternoons of fun.

I’ve been thinking about marriage lately.  I remember well the day I looked at my Fella and thought, “Well, yeah, okay.  Why not?”  And then we took a giant leap of faith.  Together.

And some folks would have us believe that marriage, the act of making that commitment one to another, is a leap of faith.

Hogwash.

It SO is NOT.

Instead, marriage is a thousand little leaps of faith, sometimes all in one day.  It’s fighting all that would pull us asunder, and taking that leap to honor, to trust, to share, to give, to open up, to love–hoping to stick the landing.  One. More. Time.

And there’s a lot of asundering things lurking in the murky depths out there.  Sometimes it’s even us ourselves threatening to pull us apart.

When my cousins and I used to play “jump the ditch,” we’d leap and try not to fall in the mess below.  On the off occasion that we nearly fell in or our foot slipped and we had nowhere to go but down, it seems like there was always someone who turned back and offered a hand and made sure we got back on level ground again–if only we trusted them enough to take their hand.

That’s what marriage is about too I think.  At one point or another one partner or the other hits a slippery slope or just plain falls in the mess of darkness and pain and fears.  It’s hard to be vulnerable, and sometimes it’s hard to trust that other person standing there loving you through it, willing you to take their hand and come back to level ground.  Sometimes what is stopping us is ourselves.  We lose our footing because of so many reasons, and it’s hard to think that it all even matters anymore because all we can see is the mess.  The brokenness.

But then there’s the hand.  Of someone who loves us, helping us back to where things are good, and we are standing on firm, even ground with them.  If we would just take that leap of faith over the messes and the doubts and the fears and frustrations.  Leap and grab hold.

For dear life.

And love.

Tonight I give thanks for the ones who took my hand all those years ago, and for the one who continues to reach out to me even when I’m asundering myself into a million broken little pieces.  With each leap and landing that we stick, we get stronger, because neither one of us plans on letting the other one fall in the darkness.  At least not for long.

Love to all.

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“Shells Are Not Manna From Heaven”

And speaking of television, I stumbled across a new show this season.  I say stumbled, but really it sort of jumped out and grabbed my attention.  I mean with Rob Lowe, Fred Savage, and William Devane, how could it do anything else?

It’s called “The Grinder.”  Rob Lowe’s (we also go way back) character is a TV star who plays an attorney on a show that has just ended.  He moves back home where his Dad and brother are both real-life lawyers.  It’s about family, about family dynamics, about feeling like you’re enough, and about a guy who thinks he’s got the law down because he played a lawyer on TV.  And it’s hilarious.

Maybe I’ve just been in the right mood when I was watching it, but the first two episodes have kept me in stitches.  It is either good or I’m just loving the throwback to all these stars from the waybackwhen.

One of my favorite lines (spoiler alert, y’all–sorry) occurred when the Grinder (on an episode of his TV show) replied to his partner who told him something was not possible, “But what if it was?”

Wow.  Any variation of this “yes, we can–think outside the box” attitude–Yes.

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The past week or so on my walks I have come across these snails.  So please forgive my ignorance here, but I grew up mostly with slugs, which are very similar to snails except they have no shell.  Add to that my meeting a hermit crab or two in my childhood and learning that they have to go looking for their shells, perhaps you can  give me some grace in my confusion on this matter.

I wondered, when I saw the first snail with its shell on the sidewalk, where on earth he or she had found said shell to inhabit.  We are NOWHERE near any kind of beach at all, so I spent a few minutes standing there thinking about this as Miss Sophie sniffed every blade of grass around.  Then I gently pushed the snail off into the grass so he or she wouldn’t die from the heat of the pavement.

It was tonight when I saw another one–my third, I think, in less than two weeks’ time–that I wondered if I wasn’t mistaken.  Could it be that snails don’t go househopping but somehow they come “with” their shells?  Surely not, but well…..

I was in the living room and Aub was switching out a load of clothes in the laundry room.  We had been talking about something we’d seen on TV or her clothes or something, when I thought about that snail.  I hollered so she would hear me.

“Hey, don’t snails have to find their own shells?  Or do they somehow make them?”

“What on earth?  Did you really just ask me that very random question?  What did you say?”

I asked again.  “Are snails able to make their own shells?”

“Well, yeah,” she said, laughing a little harder AT ME than I think the situation called for.  “It’s not like shells are manna from Heaven.”

And that is when I lost it.  Y’all.  For the love.  This girl cracks me up sometimes.

As I was trying to gather my composure, she walked through the kitchen singing, “It’s raining shells…..Hallelujah…..It’s raining shells…..”

Stop.  It.  Composure lost. Again.

So I’ve spent the evening reading up on snails, slugs, hermit crabs, and shells.  I am a learned person about all of these critters and things now.  Which is good.  And tomorrow in our little schoolroom, my littles will be too.  Because yes, snails do grow their own shells.

Because, as Aub says,  God is not raining down shells for all the little snails to find and move into.  And again she repeated, laughing, if it were possible, even harder, “Shells are not manna from Heaven, Mama.”

And that’s when I said to her the words–with the attitude–that are quickly becoming my new mantra, “But what if they were?”

Tonight I’m thankful for the gift of laughter and all the ways we find it–television shows, funny questions, silly conversations, shared stories…..and I’m thankful for the ones I get to share the laughter with. Before it was all over tonight all of us were dancing around, singing, “It’s raining shells…..”

I’m also thankful for the naysayers in the world.  They are the ones who say it can’t be done or it’s not possible or call out the dreamers on what they see as attainable.  With their shaking heads and furrowed brows, they are inspiring the ones who see the way, the ones who think outside of the box to go bigger, to work harder, and never to give up.

Most of all I’m grateful to have learned something new, as embarrassing as it is that I didn’t know this.  I now realize that the snails and their shells weren’t the puzzling miracles that I thought them to be, but you know what?  Those little slimy critters being able to grow their own no-kidding whirled mobile homes for themselves is a miracle too–a different sort of one, but a miracle nonetheless.  This world is amazing, isn’t it?

May life bring you laughter, teach you something you didn’t know, and show you a miracle or two along the way today.  And everyday.

Love to all.