Mama Said

there’d be days like this.  There’d be days like this, my Mama said.  (Thank you, Shirelles and others.)

Days where there are way more questions than answers.

And those questions lead to more questions.

But wait!  That’s not all…..

sit and think about this particular something, and then there are all the questions cropping up from a totally different situation in addition to what is already churning through your mind.

And it just goes downhill from there.

Today hasn’t been an awful one, not by any means.  Days that bring beautiful people across my path and ones that have me savoring the leftover memories from past days…..those can be actually quite lovely.

But the unexpected things that can crop up…..and expected, dreaded ones as well.  Those are what can turn one’s sanity all topsy turvy and toss it around like a tennis ball in the dryer.

All over the place.

It in the midst of those that I feel the most lost.  I’m the one some folks are looking to for guidance now, bless ’em.  Like my 11 year old who came in with so much anxiety, I suspect it could have been a panic attack.

It is enough to fling me straight into one right along with her.

I don’t know exactly when the shift happened.  Maybe it was when my parents were no longer here or years before when I became a parent for the first time myself.  All I know is, it can get really awkward when folks are looking to me, and I turn around looking for the one who really knows what is going on.

I don’t have the answers to all the questions.  I don’t even have any good advice to offer on the days when all the questions keep roaring through, refusing to allow for rest or peace or comfort.  All I know is, some days it’s okay to simply survive.  It’s okay to make do, to do what it takes to get by, and to take the grace offered in sleep and waking up to a new day.

I guess that’s why I’ve clicked like on every single one of the memes that proclaim that resurrection can be an everyday experience.  Yes.  That.  I need to believe in that.  That each and every day, hour if need be, we can rise from the death and doubt and find new life.

Every single time.

Some days are just like that.  And those are the ones when resurrection matters the most.

The courage, the love, the faith, the determination, and the good people around us–and we rise up and try again.  One more time.

Love to all.

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via LoveWinsMinistries.org  Go check them out.  They are doing amazing things and showing the beauty that can come from practicing resurrection.  

 

 

This Twisted Game of Fetch

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This is Miss Sophie.  Miss Sophie and her “baby.” She has several–the blue lion, the monkey, the little squirrels in their tree, but this–THIS ONE–is her favorite.  I know they say dogs can’t see color, but my girl is very partial to pink.  There’s no explaining it, it just is.  She loves her pink baby, which is actually her second pink baby.  The first one I have tucked away in a special place because I JUST COULDN’T, y’all–it was her precious “I’m so tiny and I love this thing” first pink baby.  But she loved its stuffing out.  And so, this is number two.

It looks nasty.  Even after I wash it.  And sometimes it’s doesn’t smell so good.  But still, Miss Sophie loves her baby.  When I invite her to jump up on the couch and curl up with me, she looks and then runs off and gets her baby and comes back to snuggle.

She loves her babies.

She also loves for us to throw her baby for her to fetch sometimes.  You’ll know this is what is going on when she comes over with it in her mouth, bumping it against my leg, causing the squeaker to go off constantly.  Yes, she definitely wants me to throw it.

However.

She won’t let go of it, y’all.  It’s something of a game for her.  “Please throw this for me so I can run like mad to get it and bring it back to you for you to throw again.”  The only thing is that when I reach to take the baby from her, she won’t let go.  Sometimes she will drop it, and when I go to pick it up, turns out that is part of the game too, and she snaps it back up.

Ahh.  I see what you did there, Miss Sophie.

Please take this from me, but don’t make me let go of it.

But–

I do this too.

I whisper this to the universe–please, please take this away…..only don’t.  I can’t let it go. Not just yet.  But please…..really.  Take it.  

So it turns out this life of mine is a version of Miss Sophie’s twisted game of Fetch.

No wonder she and I get each other.  This life is hard sometimes.

And that’s when a nap on the couch curled up with someone who understands is definitely called for.

BYOB.

(bring you own baby)

Wishing you all someone who gets you and will keep on hanging out with you.  Even when you can’t let go.

Especially then.

Love to all.

 

bad news

so it turns out
I really can’t handle
any more bad news

I’ve decided that
based on the scientific fact
that I am sitting here
and everything in my head
resembles a ticker tape
running below the news reports

and we know nothing good
ever winds up there

so no more bad news

okay?

instead can we sit on the porch
and watch the breeze tickle the leaves
that are left after fall’s brigade came through
can we laugh at the children as they
do their best to imitate the big folks
while they play football or ride bikes
and just seem so free

can we pick up a brush and
splash the world with color
brights and lights and darks
and bring them together in one big
beautiful canvas that brightens
and lights up for miles around

can we curl up with a book
one that is light and witty
and whose characters find themselves
in the most unlikely of situations
but always work to find the happy ending
that is surely out there
if one
just holds on
long enough

can we sing at the top of our lungs
and dance in circles around the room
as the dog barks and the children giggle
and finally join in
when that certain song comes on that lifts
everyone’s spirits
every single time

can we measure and mix
and bake
and add all the sprinkles
to the cupcakes that make
everyday a celebration
eating them together in four bites
and downing them with the sweetest tasting water
ice cold and refreshing
laughter and cupcake wrappers
the remains of an afternoon well spent

so yes, just for today,
could we please let go of the what if’s
and what are’s
and what never will be’s
that drag my soul through the muck
so thick
that I can hardly stand up after

can we please turn off the news
and sit together
and tell the good stories
the ones that bring us all a little closer
and make us all smile

for today, it turns out,
I can’t handle
any more
bad news

tomorrow will be soon enough

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By Hello Darlin at http://www.flickr.com/photos/hellonheels/ via Wikimedia Commons

Real

Every now and then a thought comes to mind, and something sitting beside it whispers, “Yeah, move this one to the head of the line.  This one needs sharing now.”

Today has been one of those times.  The thought that has been nudging me for a couple of days insists on being shared.

And heard.

So here goes.

What you see here is only a snapshot out of the thousands that are taken.  What you see here is only a sliver of all that is.

What you see here is not representative of all that I live.

This is accurate about my blog, about our Facebook posts, and about what we tweet or pin or post on instagram.

Each of them just a blip of what goes on, and then it is only what any one of us is comfortable showing.

There’s so much more that isn’t.

 

I’ve been thinking about this in the context of my Daddy telling me many times, “You compare, you lose.”

And you know why?

Because we don’t know.  We don’t know what all someone else is going through.  We don’t know what they don’t post about, what goes on in their home when they aren’t on Facebook or taking pictures to share later.  We.  Don’t.  Know.

My life is good.  I’m very, very fortunate to have what I need and so much more.

But what I don’t write about sometimes are the really messy times.  The times I ugly cry or worse, ugly yell.  The times I sit in traffic and mutter (mostly) under my breath about the crazy drivers around me.  The projects I start and then give up on.  The projects I never start.  Mount Washmore piled up on Cap’s couch waiting for my attention.  How high the sink of dirty dishes gets before it’s on my nerves enough for me to get in there to remedy the situation.  How sometimes my children have to call my name more than once to get my attention.  The OCD that makes even me a little crazy.  The tears I cry over things that happen because of decisions I made and the things that happen that I couldn’t prevent.  The arguments over clean rooms, messy rooms, not playing at the house around the corner, showing each other respect, what’s for supper, whose turn it is to do (fill in the blank here) first, lights not turned off, toilets not flushed, dirty clothes on the floor, and so much more that my head is spinning (and not from the vertigo, I don’t think, it seems a little better today).

Here’s the thing.

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I’m real.  I’m human.

We all are.

And while this isn’t an excuse for poor behavior, it does mean that I’m not perfect.  None of us are really.  Except for well, maybe, perfectly broken.  That one could work.

And it’s in that brokenness that I find myself.  The real-est me.  The one who has to dig deep and try harder.

And that’s when my soul grows.

Someone up in this brain of mine thought we might all need to hear that.

We’re all messy, broken, hurting, hurters, loving, loved, and beautiful.

So next time someone’s story or comment or picture or even their presence right in front of you causes you to question where you are, what you are worth, why you are even here, know that this is only a glimpse–a glimpse they are letting you see, and that’s it.

There’s so much more than what meets the eye, as we are standing on the outside looking in through the only open curtain.

Tonight I’m thankful for a story shared by a guest speaker at Evening Prayer tonight.  She has quite the presence–tall, lovely, excellent speaker, and she exudes a peace and tranquility that is a rare treat to find in a person.  She told the story of shopping and having to stand at a counter for twenty minutes before being addressed at all.  She was frustrated.  Well, of course, right?  In that moment I saw her as human and broken just like me.  I saw myself mirrored in her eyes, and I realized that the grace I offered her in the “well of course you were frustrated,” I could also offer myself, because we are not all that different.

I love how she finished her story.  She had a decision to make.  To be THAT person–complaining and letting the world know about her much-justified frustrations or to be THAT person who is patient and kind and handles it with grace.

We all have that choice, don’t we?  To be frustrated that we’re not having the kind of awesome day that Jocelyn just posted about, that Twila got a new car and we’re still driving our old one that breaks down every 52.5 miles.  That Junior got a promotion with a huge bonus and we can barely eke by on what we’re making now, no raise in sight.

We have a choice.  We can be frustrated and feel less than–

or we can know that these are just glimpses into the lives of folks whose whole stories we really don’t know.

And we can be okay with who and where we are.  And be THAT person.

The one who doesn’t compare, the one who wins, the one who is content with where she/he is and is all in.

Wishing you all a day full of learning everyone else is just as REAL as you are.

Love to all.

Knickers in a Twist

Warning:   I’m gonna mention some unmentionables. 

Almost as an afterthought when the littles and I were at the Red Bullseye Marketplace the other day, picking up something to go with our supper and one other thing we needed from there, I ran through the underwear section.  I like their underoos, and it’s been years since I’ve had to buy any.  Those things hold up.

In our house Santa brings underwear.  When one of the children questioned this gift usually stuffed into their stockings, I told them the truth.  “Santa brings you underwear if he really loves you.”

And yet, somehow, I haven’t gotten any in years.

So, yes, some of my undergarments might be starting to show a little wear from all the times I’ve had to put on my big girl panties and pull them up.  Since I rarely go to this store anymore, I decided to take a moment and pick out a couple–just a couple–pair to begin cycling some out.

Sorry to get so personal people, but this is real life.  Perhaps this is the next sign of independent living, right behind buying your own toilet paper–buying your own underwear.  I don’t know.  But stay with me–I’m going somewhere with this.

I brought them home, washed them, and put on one of the brand new pair.  Funny.  No one else has a clue you’ve got them on, and yet, you feel different.  New underwear, fun?  Well, yeah.  So I was getting dressed, and after I put my capris on, well…..how to say…..

Things just didn’t feel right.  I felt as though my pants didn’t fit right.  Were they too small?  Why didn’t my pants fit?

I decided to start back over from “base layer” so to speak.  I pulled out some old, trusted unmentionables and then put my capris back on.

And you know what?

They.  Fit.  Perfectly.

Well.

Picture me rubbing my head as I shook it and tried to figure this out.  Yes, the new underoos were made a little different, but I didn’t think they were THAT different.

And yet they must have been.

Lesson learned.

It’s like that in life too, isn’t it?  If things at our very base level, deep down inside of us are all out of sorts–everything else in our world and life and day to dailies will be too.  If we are sad or lost or broken down in our core, if things are not just right, eventually it will out.  There’s no covering that up completely.  At least not comfortably.

It might make us walk with a hitch in our getalong.

Just like I was when I had on the new underoos.  (Yeah, literally.)

And nobody has time for that.

Tonight I give thanks for old and dependable underwear that gives me the sense of a good foundation and makes for a good fit.  I’m even more thankful for my good foundation, put there by my Mama, my Daddy, and Aunts and uncles and friends and family and people who have loved me “anyway.”

It just makes everything fit better.

Love to all.

 

 

Tears on a Tuesday…..Loneliness, Laundry, and Living on the Streets

Whoa, Tuesday!  You sure did jump out of nowhere and grab ahold of my heart today.  Totally wasn’t expecting all of that.

There have been tears today.  Over the realizing all over again what Thursday is and that she isn’t here to make her dressing.  I’ve only not had Mama’s dressing three Thanksgivings in my life–the year we were in Japan and the two years that Daddy was so sick.  I just don’t even know.  But I know there are harder things in this life.

Later Sister called saying she was thinking about making gingerbread cookies. I laughed, as she often calls looking for a recipe.  Often the same recipe I’ve given her before.  More than once.  She knows it–she owns it.  When I asked if she needed the recipe, she began sobbing into the phone.  Oh baby girl.  I wanted to crawl through the phone line and hug her.  Turns out she didn’t need the recipe after all.  She just needed me to listen.  Whenever she makes those cookies she thinks of Mama and all the times she called and asked Mama for the recipe.  Precious memories.  And hard.  But still I know there are harder things on this journey.

I was with my Sister Circle this afternoon at Daybreak. We had a small group as some of our friends were out of town.  As we talked about forgiveness and what that looks like and what it’s like to apologize, our conversation eventually turned to the holiday season.  We eventually got around to whether or not the holidays were hard for each of us.  One of our sisterfriends said no, that it was about being with family and she was so happy for Thursday and the opportunity to do just that–be with her family all together.  I looked over at Miss N, our sisterfriend who is the artist, and asked her.  She shrugged.  She won’t be going to be with her family this year.  “It’s hard,” she says.  “It’s only one day.  It’s just one day.”  And I could hear her unsaid words echoing in my head and heart.

“Why’s it gotta be just one day?”

I know.  I get it.  She’s lonely every other day of the year.  Why go and do this for just one day when she’ll have to go back as it was the very next day?  And every day after that.

Broke my heart.

I also saw my friend Mac today.  I guess I “conjured him up.”  I hadn’t heard from him in about two weeks, and last week some folks shared how concerned they were about him.  I called his Mama this afternoon to see if she’d heard how he was, and so yes, of course, he was right there in front of me after I hung up with her.  I was glad to see him.

He hung around for us to visit after Sister Circle was over.  It’s been cold, and today it rained all day long.  He looked like he was doing all right though.  But he’s tired.  He teared up as he talked about it.  He’s done with living on the streets.  Again.  He wants to go back to the transitional program he was a part of out of town.  Again.  He had lost the number to the contact there, a man who really cares about Mac.  I have it, so I handed Mac my phone with the number ready to dial. Was I calling his bluff, wondering if he was just telling me what I wanted to hear?  Maybe.  But he took the phone.  He made the call himself.  And he called back.  And he did this for himself.

Turns out he can’t return there.  Long story, but I understand.  And I agree.  But the person there cares so much, he called me back with two places to contact and see if they have an opening for Mac.  I am thankful for him and his caring heart.  Funny thing is, I didn’t see it in the beginning.  This tough love thing is hard to discern sometimes.  And judging someone at first contact almost always gets me in trouble.  He’s a good guy.  I appreciate him.

As I sat visiting with Mac, a volunteer called out a name, and a young couple went over to the half-door at the laundry room where several washers and dryers were working hard to keep up with all the needs for the day.  The volunteer who is there without fail every Tuesday afternoon handed over a basket of clean clothes.  What caught my eye was the look of sheer joy on their faces.  The young woman (honestly she didn’t look much older than my Aub) closed her eyes and breathed in the clean smell.  They both pulled their still warm clothes close to their chests and sighed contentedly.  The woman squealed with delight and her companion laughed loudly at her joy.

Y’all.

I had to look away and wipe my eyes.

I’m a spoiled you know what.
I have my own washer and dryer.  I have a precious family whose clothes I get to wash.  Whenever I want.  We have a place to store our clothes rather than shoving them back in a backpack…..and having to carry all of our clothes on our back or risk having them taken away.   Oh, how I have taken it all for granted.  How many times have I whined or moaned over the laundry, the washing the folding the putting away?

Watching that beautiful couple and their sheer joy over something that is so basic for me and mine…..

it made me thankful.  And ashamed.  And it put things into perspective.

At least for today.

So in the morning, in the midst of the traditional baking and remembering who is not with us this year, and trying to figure out if I even want to attempt Mama’s dressing, I will be making calls for Mac and waiting for him to call me and keeping my fingers crossed that something will work out…..and that this time he can hold his own in his battle with that demon alcohol.  And I will be playing catch-up with the laundry.  I am sure at some point I will find myself breathing in the clean clothes and holding the warmth close to my heart.  And remembering the joy I got to see.
Yes, I know there are far harder things in life.  The realization that the loneliness will return after one day of being with others keeping you from even trying, the horror of fighting a demon that puts your life in danger each and every day–and cold, wet night, and the life of carrying all the clothes you own around in a backpack…..I’ve seen them all today.  All I’m left with is the tears.

Oh Tuesday…..

Giving Thanks for Aunt Bee and Slow Readers

When I shared about my six-year-old son Cooter giving me the honor of naming me the “Meanest Person in the World,” I mentioned that he might not have school and learning as a top priority.  He’s very bright and he loves learning new things–about Star Wars, animals, the world.  Because of an episode of Andy Griffith (the one where Barney tries to marry Andy off), he really wants us to read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  I mean, he really wants us to…..as in he keeps asking me so many questions about it that I pretty much have our favorite used bookstore and the library on our agenda for tomorrow.  However, when it comes to phonics and math, he will do what he needs to, most of the time, but it just isn’t his thing.

And yesterday I gave thanks for that.

We were riding over to Mess Cat and Leroy’s house yesterday afternoon, and I went a different route.  After I had already committed to it, I clenched my teeth and looked in the rear view mirror.  I usually avoid going that way, but I let my guard down and was trying to go the quickest way I could.  My glance backwards showed my two littles entranced by the episode of Andy Griffith where Aunt Bee got into the “elixir” and was singing and playing “Toot Toot Tootsie, Goodbye” on the piano with all she had.  I was thankful.  They didn’t see the sign.

The sign for the club that we passed yesterday.

The sign for the club that we passed yesterday.

I’m not writing this to make a commentary on the people who work there or the people who go there.   I am writing because I struggle with what I will say when, as will inevitably happen, one of my littles asks me what that word means, and what kind of dances they are doing, and why do people have to pay $5 for them?  That.  I dread it.

Tonight we were going to meet Mess Cat and Leroy across town.  As we neared the movie theater where our favorite coffee shop is, something on the marquee caught my eye.

“Bad Grandpa”

What.  On.  Earth.

Okay, I just looked it up and read about it.  In the words of my math teacher from high school when she heard a far-fetched answer:  “Do wha-ut?”

Yeah, not even worth your time in checking it out.  Just my opinion, but yeah.  Who is making these movies anymore?

Again, I was thankful that my littles were distracted.  I did NOT want to have to answer what that might mean.

We make weekly trips up to Macon, and I have planned my route for a long time based on the location of a billboard that asks the question of where the reader will spend eternity.  It bothers me, as did the one before it that warned of one of the seven “deadly sins.”  I want to explain religion and spirituality to my children in my own way.  I’d rather not have to do it because one of my children is afraid of what will happen to them because of what it says on a billboard.  When it was first put up, I would try to distract my reader by asking a question or pointing out something in the opposite direction.  I am thankful in those moments that she is easily distracted, and we can get past such things without her reading them and wondering what they mean.  But most of the time, I tried to avoid that route.

So yes, Cooter can’t read well yet.  His sister was a late bloomer as well, so I’m not worried about it much.  She reads like a fiend now, zooming through her books as fast as she can, and she loves to read.  He’ll get there one day too.  But I am glad that he can’t read well yet.  He watches things and people a lot more than she does.  So I know when he does start reading well, I will have lots and lots of questions to answer.

I think I’m going to stop feeling guilty about and apologizing that my vehicle has a built-in DVD player.  I may be a little freer in letting them play their electronic games as we ride around from point A to point B.  I’m done.  I am happy for anything that will keep their minds innocent a little longer, and for a little while longer keep them from asking me the hard questions that I know are coming.  When they do come, I will answer the best way I can, but until then, bring on the Gilligan’s Island and Leave it to Beaver and Andy Griffith.  I’ll take those over a bad Grandpa any day.