Be the Kicker

Sunday morning Cooter came into our room, bouncing on the bed.  It being a day of rest, the Fella and I were trying to stretch it out as long as possible.  Cooter is a morning person, me–not as much.

He was excited about the upcoming Falcons game, and he and his partner in all things football talked about the games from the night before.  I may have zoned out a tad during this bit.  Eventually the conversation caught my attention again–when I heard the Fella say, “Yeah, I don’t know if I’d want to be the kicker.  You have to be on standby, ready to be called in at any time.”

The conversation lost my attention again at that point, as I thought about the kicker.  I used to imagine stress as like being the catcher in a baseball game–ready for a ball to come from any direction.  But a kicker, sitting on the sidelines, not knowing for sure when he will be called in…..and expected to help the team out in a big way when he is?  Bless.

Because that’s the thing about football–there’s never a time when you tell the kicker, “Eh, just whatever, man.  It won’t matter.”

Anything and everything that kicker does matters.

That night I was in my think tank (some folks call it a shower), and I started pondering on who the kickers are in my life.  Those folks who are there, on my team, ready to step in whenever, wherever I need them.

Like Mess Cat making the time to come out after dark to pick up our Princess because I was with our drama king, Cooter, at his dress rehearsal.  (Coming out after dark is a whole ‘nother level of showing up, y’all.)  Or my Aunt who picks up the phone and listens and shares laughter and wisdom and “poor baby’s.”  Or my Cousin who answers my SOS texts when I’ve sliced my finger open, cutting up the cabbage for supper.  Or Aub who hangs out with her siblings so I can go do what needs doing.  Or the Fella who takes time from work when things go awry.  Or my brother who listens so well or my neighborfriend who picks up oyster crackers for my sick one or steps up in so many other ways…..my friends…..family…..And so many more–all these wonderful kickers, who are there, waiting, willing to be called into “the game” (and chaos) of my life.  Present, interruptible, loving, wonderful people.

I think we are called to be kickers in this life.  Doing our own thing, sure, but never forgetting we are a part of a Team, sharing the same goal, same dreams.  Helping each other out whenever need be.

Kick on, my friends.

Love to all.

Running Out of Gas

This afternoon I got a call from my Fella.  It’s not unusual for him to call that time of day.  Sometimes he’ll call to see if we need him to pick up anything on his way home from work.  But today, that was not his reason.

The gas gauge is broken in his vehicle.  Well, broken is a strong term.  Occasionally it works, only you are hesitant to trust it, because what if it’s not?  So maybe malfunctioning is a better term.  His gas gauge is malfunctioning.

He called because he had “broken down” right after leaving his office.  Less than five minutes up the road.  He thought it might be that he was out of gas, but then again, he wasn’t sure.  He hoped that’s all it was.

Me too.

The funny thing is he’s always so conscientious about filling up regularly because he never knows exactly how much gas he has left.  “The one time I let down my OCD about filling up the tank…..”

We picked him up and did all that needed to happen to get gas back to his vehicle where it was stuck on the side of the road.  He poured in the gas and then tried to start it up.

Perfect.

Thankfully, that was the issue.  He closed his gas cap, and we were all on our way again.  Back to the day to dailies and taking care of business as usual.

Three things occurred to me as I was driving to my next adventure:

*We do this ourselves, don’t we?  We think we know how much “gas” we have left to get us through all we need to do, but sometimes we misjudge or we push the limit, and then we burn out.

*When we do run out of gas, patience and grace are the two things we need the most from those around us.  When those around us run out of gas, that’s the best thing we can give them–patience and grace.  (This observation is in *ahem* retrospect.  I might not have been the best giver of these things today, and I’m sorry for that.)

*It takes help from others to get us going again–we just need to ask.  Whether that comes in the form of a friend who sits and listens, someone who makes sure we rest and take care of ourselves, or someone who has our back and fends off the gas-guzzlers, we need the support and presence of others to get back up and running again.

Tonight I’m thankful for a vehicle that runs.  And for the Fella making his day interruptible, so I could do what I needed to do after the refueling.  I’m glad that an empty gas tank was the worst of our worries today.  That’s not something we can say everyday.

Wishing you all a full tank and the rest to refuel when it’s not.

Love to all.

Automobile_fuel_filler_cap

Photo By CZmarlin — Christopher Ziemnowicz [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“…..where someone loved him best of all…..”

“Every baby deserves to be wanted and loved and anticipated with great joy.”

That’s a Maemae-ism right there.  My Mama believed that with her whole heart.

So it was with great joy that my oldest and I had the great honor and privilege and sheer fun of planning a celebration in anticipation of the arrival of our friend’s son and her mother’s, also our dear friend, grandson.

The fun started when the Mama-to-be wrote me, “My theme is ‘Where the Wild Things Are.'”

Ahh.  Yes, I know that book.  I took Children’s Literature.  I worked in a library all through high school.  I did storytimes for years for the local library system.  I have children of my own, for goodness’ sake.  I know this book.

Or did I?

I did what most in this day and age often do.  I googled the title and expected all kinds of links to fun resources–partyware, stuffed critters for decorations, balloons, babywear, blankets, baby bedding, and so on.

And what did I find?

Ummmm, not much.

No partyware.  No balloons or baby bedding.  No blankets.  The only babywear I found was on Etsy.  If it weren’t for Etsy and Pinterest, I would not have had any ideas of where to start at all.

But I did have those sites to peruse and read and plan from.  My thoughts started flowing and I picked up my love, the paintbrush, and had A BLAST.  I went to JoAnn’s and happened upon some “Where the Wild Things Are” fabric.  It was so exciting, planning and looking for “monstery” or “Max-like” things everywhere we went.  The littles even got excited about it.  It was Cooter when he was practically laying on the floor at Hobby Lobby who found the little wood owls that eventually were de-beaked and turned into Max’s buddy.

I had a great time painting and dreaming and putting colors together.  My kitchen table was covered all week, and I couldn’t have been happier.  I was constantly texting Aub pictures to ask her if this or that was okay.  But in the midst of it all, what I enjoyed the most were two things.

First, the connection with my Mama.  She loved babies.  And she loved pampering expectant and new Mamas.  How many times did she bring me a glass of tea as I sat nursing my little ones?  How many meals did she prepare for me?  After her first grandchild was born, she left the hospital just before daybreak (having been up all night waiting), and came back later that afternoon with all kinds of baked goodies for me to snack on–including her special teacakes.  There was no way she could have gotten any sleep.  That’s how she rolled.  I think she would have enjoyed hearing about the plans for this shower, and I think she would have offered her own ideas in the mix.  She was so creative and she LOVED children’s books; I know she would have had great ideas.

The second thing is the story itself.  Rediscovering this classic by Maurice Sendak.  What a fun story.  And what a beautiful story of a mother’s love.  And grace and forgiveness.  I have so many favorite lines from this story–which I incorporated in the decorations, but one that really touched my heart that I didn’t use is this:

“…..of his very own room
where he found his supper waiting for him
and it was still hot”

And there is this precious line, which is the truth that my heart cries out for the most–

“And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.”

Isn’t that something we all want with all of our hearts?  To be where someone loves us best of all?

*sniff*

Have I mentioned that I fell in love with this sweet story for the first time in the past two weeks?  I am so thankful for this young Mama whose heart led her to choose her own Mama’s favorite story from childhood as the theme for her baby boy’s room.  It has touched my heart and been a gift for me to experience it as though it were my first time reading it.  .

Tonight I am wishing for grace and redemption and forgiveness for this little boy to be born in a few weeks.  Most of all I wish for him to always find himself where someone loves him best of all.  It was at this shower that it hit me for the first time that when we attend a baby shower, it’s more than just going to a party and giving a gift.  At least it should be more.  It should be a covenant, a promise, we make to be there not just for the parties but also for the times when things are sad or the Mama is at her wits’ end from exhaustion or she’s sick and the baby’s sick and they just need someone to bring chicken soup and a pack of diapers in the next size up.  When the child is seven and is singing in the school play, we need to be there to celebrate with a call, a card, or our presence.  When the teenager is sassing his Mama, and she cries longing for those sleepless nights when he was a baby and so, so sweet, they’ll both need someone to hug them and say it’s all going to be okay.  It takes a village, folks.  At least it has for me in raising mine.  I think it’s more than an old African proverb.  I think it is the gospel truth.  We need each other on each step of this journey.

Tonight I am thankful for new babies and nearly grown babies and all of those in-between.  I am thankful for the village I have had, those who have already gone on up to The House and those still here.  I hope that Baby E’s life will be full to bustin’, overflowing with love, laughter, and grace.  And lots of good books too.  I keep my fingers crossed and good words said, lifting up his whole family–that they will join together and love each other through every single day.

And just for fun, I share with you some of the fun I had putting things together over the past couple of weeks.  If you saw me with the paint all over my hands and under my nails…..and even on my new magical glasses…..now you know why.

Love to all.  May you each find yourselves today where someone loves you best of all.

Quote from "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

Quote from “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

Quote from "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

Quote from “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

Quote from "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

Quote from “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

Quote from "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

Quote from “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak

So happy this fabric all but jumped in my arms at the craft store

So happy this fabric all but jumped in my arms at the craft store

Max and his friend.  Thankful that Cooter found the monster critter at the craft store.

Max and his friend. Thankful that Cooter found the monster critter at the craft store.

The beautiful cake that my new talented baker friend created especially for the occasion.

The beautiful cake that my new talented baker friend created especially for the occasion.

All of it set up at the shower.  Pay no attention to the Aub photobombing there in the background.  :)

All of it set up at the shower. Pay no attention to the Aub photobombing there in the background. 🙂

The little corsage I put together at the last minute.

The little corsage I put together at the last minute.

Is there anything prettier than daffodils in a Mason jar?  Not today there's not.  My Aunt let us come gather some to bless the shower with.  And aren't they lovely?

Is there anything prettier than daffodils in a Mason jar? Not today there’s not. My Aunt let us come gather some to bless the shower with. And aren’t they lovely?

Perception is the New Reality

When we were sitting in the hospital room in the quiet calm during the wee hours of the morning exactly five weeks ago, Sister looked over her new little bundle  at me and whispered, “I have to take care of me so I can take care of these little ones given to me.”

That stuck with me.  Her words were full of wisdom.  Reality might say that our parents lived full lives, leaving this world at ages 68 and 67, but our perception is that we lost them way too soon.  Those are the thoughts that led to her whispered words in the dark of night and that led me to take my own health a little more seriously.

So it was that today I found myself sitting across the desk from a compassionate and very smart doctor.  At one point he said, “Perception is related to 70% of health issues.”

Wow.  Yes.

I used to say it so often, in my previous life, that it didn’t matter what reality was, I had to deal with what my perceptions were.  And that’s all we can ever really deal with, isn’t it?  If someone perceives that another has been dishonest with her, it doesn’t matter whether or not that is truth–the perception is what triggers behavior and response.  Same thing with the perception of loss.  And every other perception out there.  If someone perceives others are out to get them or that they have no friends, no amount of truth or trying to prove that they are wrong is going to change it. If she thinks the world is a sad place, it doesn’t matter if the sun is shining and rainbows and unicorns are at every corner. Perception is the new reality.

And it can hurt you.  It can weigh you down.  Through stress, anxiety, sadness, and so many other ways.

Perception…..

20131010-222343.jpg

Yes.  This.

We need to give each other and ourselves grace when it comes to perception and reality.  It may appear to make no sense looking from the outside in–someone else’s perception, but when we are walking it, the fear and worry that comes from our perceptions can be crippling at times.  Though it makes no sense in reality, we’re no longer in Kansas, Toto.  We are in the world created by our perceptions.  It just is what it is.

And that’s pretty much it.  Tonight I am thankful for doctors who listen and care and don’t call my own or anyone else’s perception of reality crazy or off or wrong.  I am thankful for friends and Aunts and family who listen to my perception-skewed views and understand and love.  Exactly that.  Love.

I’ve met so many folks whose realities are very hard, and their perceptions only make their lives harder.  If you know someone working through some hard times, please give them some love and grace.  And a hug.  Perception is a hard place to live sometimes.  No matter what that ol’ Reality says.