Learn Your Place.

 

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I don’t remember when I learned this phrase. “Learn your place.” It isn’t the most pleasant. It doesn’t sound all that kind. It smushes down, instead of raises up.

It says, “Figure out where you fit and then sit there. And don’t raise a fuss.”

My dad is a fuss-maker. He never learned his place. He is a farmer’s kid, raised in Missouri, worked hard his whole life. Attended night school. Ended up in a job that was way beyond what he ever expected simply because… well I think he was replacing a guy that left and he was the only one around and so, boom, he’s doing a job he doesn’t really know how to do.

And he never once blinked an eye. I think that’s because he never learned his place.

Also, now he makes more money than some small countries. And he lives in the same house and still wears clothes that were made in the 1970’s. I am not kidding. Look for him mowing the lawn and there’s some shorts there that might have celebrated the bicentennial.

He doesn’t like a fuss about him. But he is a fuss-maker.

I wish I could be more like him in this regard. If there is an injustice or a problem or someone who needs some truth directed his way? My dad is the man for the occasion.

Yet, also, he is so soft hearted. But you would never know it under all the John Wayne.

I have been thinking how Dad never really gives in. This world says so many different things – “Adjust. Do enough to get by. Just give in. Don’t shake it up. Don’t ripple those waters. Give up on your idealogy – it’s useless. While you’re at it, give up in general – all is lost.”

And so on.

I think Dad hears this a lot and each and every time he says, “No.” Sometimes that is paired with other specific and very zingy words, but we’ll spare those here.

You see, he never learned his place. God said instead, “You’re with me, son. That’s your place.”

My dad has courage.

And so does my mom, for being married to him all these years. But, don’t even get me started there.

Wow, this post was going to be about something else, but look where it ended?

With my dad. Whom I love. He is my hero.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today. And yes, the theme?

 

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If at first you don’t succeed… blah blah blah.

Linking up with my people today at Five Minute Friday.

But, I don’t want to.

My fingers are tired. So is my head. Yesterday I had a meltdown so epic with my kids that even the dog left my side for a whole ten minutes. Which would have been kinda nice because honestly being followed constantly by Mr. clicky toenails guy is a bit annoying, but not in this case. In this case, I felt major dog-mom guilt. And basic mom guilt. Just, guilt. Loads and loads.

The theme for today, you ask?

 

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Good one FMF. I see what you’re doing there.

Ok, so pretty much every single free minute of my existence has been spent writing The Big Fat Second Book.

Here are some facts:

  1. That which won’t kill you will make you stronger. Maybe.
  2. It’s always darkest before the dawn. Or all day. Take your pick.
  3. If at first you don’t succeed, oh just put a sock in it.

Brace yourself. Whining is coming.

WRITING ABOUT HARD THINGS IS HARD. The past three chapters have been about hard things (good news! it’s still funny! don’t forget to pre-order!!! it will still be funny!). The hard things are there because Newsflash: LIFE IS HARD.

That’s kinda the premise of the whole book, actually. Dana finally figures out how HARD life is and she writes about it. I know, right? Should be a bestseller. I can just see the droves of people at the Barnes and Nobles:

“I can’t WAIT to read this book! It’s all about how life sucks the life out of you and is so very hard!”
“My gosh, that’s totally new information to me! I must read about it! It sounds wonderful!”

Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on myself here, but words are all stuck up in my craw and it’s making me… what’s that word for when you are upset and want to hit things?

Anyhow. The other day I broke our coffee grinder because I dropped it. It was a really nice coffee grinder and I hate hate HATE it when I break things. I also hate it when people say, “Oh well. I’ll just go buy another one,” because that just seems wasteful and the poor kids in India who made the coffee grinder probably could use a break. But, I really do LIKE ground coffee. It makes my heart sing a little. So – I was all smart and good for the environment and I bought a cheap little hand grind grinder thingie on the Amazons. Boom! I can work out my arms and save money AND electricity! I AM SAVING THE EARTH AND ALL THE THINGS!

Guys. To grind about one cup’s worth of beans takes forty five minutes.

Well, maybe not quite that many but it feels like it. I ground and ground and ground and… ground and ground… and ground… and checked and ground and ground…

I WANT MY ELECTRIC GRINDER BACK.

All of this is to say: keep trying. Don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself as a momma, and also as a really bad hand-crank coffee bean grinder person. Because, you know, I am KEEPING that #@@%$ grinder and I’m gonna crank the ##$$ out of it. JUST KEEP GRINDING THE BEANS.

And, you, my sweet children, I will keep trying. I will come up to you and say “I’m sorry. Please forgive me?” and you will reach your little arms around my neck and we will all keep trying. We have to. We’re stuck with each other.

And YOU, book. Yea, I’m talking about you. I will keep trying. I will. I will write about the hard things and the funny things and dance around the parts that I think sound like the world’s worst writing since the history of writing, and I will not give up.

Or, as my son put it: “I forgotted yesterday anyhow, Momma.”

Press on.

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Darling Patrons: An Open Letter To the People Who Read My Stuff. Otherwise known as a blog post.

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I have lovely news, but I keep getting interrupted by other stuff.

Other stuff:

  1. Children. Small children. They NEED things. Even when they don’t they really like to carry on conversations with you. Case in point: This morning Red was coming out of the bathroom, sauntered past me, and asked, “Mom, do you like sausages?” I had no idea how to respond, really. It was the whole juxtaposition of the bathroom*, the nonchalance, and my inability to talk without coffee. I was flummoxed. But, yes, actually, I DO like sausages. Italian and summer are my favorite.
  2. *Just don’t dwell on it too much and it won’t get icky.

3. A furry white cat that was on death’s door a week ago. But more on that later.

4. Laundry. See #1.

I know the other stuff is normal (except for Steve, the cat but more on that later) but the older I get the harder it is to multi-task. It’s like my synapses just freak out and say, “Hey! Everybody! She’s trying to do that multi-tasking thing again! Take COVER!”” And there’s general running about and firing of synapses all over the place and waving of synapsey arms and mayhem.

I was trying to get (shove) my two boys out the door this morning for VBS, hoping for an hour to work on the lovely news, when I noticed that Red’s bed looked like he had piled every single one of his stuffed animals on it. It looked like this because, as I asked him for verification, “Mom, I piled every one of my stuffed animals on it! I have a kaJILLION!”

And that’s when I started in on Mom Lecture #3445, Clean Up Your Stuff Or It Will Go Away And You Will Have to Play with Sticks. 

Me: Red, you KNOW you are to MAKE YOUR BED every morning, and this is a MESS and-

Red: But, Mom-

Me: Hold on dear, I’m not to the sub points of the lecture. And FIRST OF ALL-

Red: But, MOM-

Me: One minute. FIRST OF ALL, it’s important to be RESPONSIBLE-

Red: MOM. MOMMY.

Me: AND ANOTHER THING-

Red: MOM THEY ASKED US TO BUILD THE WALL OF JERICHO IN VBS. IT WAS OUR HOMEWORK. AND I DID. WITH MY STUFFED ANIMALS. STRAIGHT UP BIBLE ACTIVITY ALL UP IN THERE.

Me: Oh. That’s adorable. And, they gave you homework? This VBS is hardcore.

Jesus and Red = 1 Mom = 0

 

Anyhow. I am now writing my little fingers off to tell you about THIS:IMG_6550.png

I’m working on another book. The publishing company actually wanted me to write another book. ANOTHER ONE.

Which, as you  know, means I am really a big deal.

Also, it’s possible I have had the worst case of writer’s block known to all writers in the universe (no hyperbole here) because FOLLOW UP IS SO NOT MY THING.

I’ll keep you posted. But, in fact, I won’t keep you posted as much as I would like because every stray minute that dangles in front of me is utilized in eeking out another painful sentence on this second-book thing. I am serious. Last night I wrote a sentence. Then stared off into space. Then deleted the sentence. More staring. Wept a little. Repeat. This must be what snails feel like all the time.

Poor snails.

I tell you this, so you will feel sorry for me. Just a teensy weensy bit? I always did like sympathy. I’m so not like those people who are all, “I don’t want your sympathy!”

I DO. I REALLY DO WANT IT.

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See?! This writing thing? It’s really hard! (To be honest, I think George might want to consider counseling.)

But, if not sympathy, then your prayers. My family and me need to survive together until the manuscript is done, and this morning I asked Blonde to provide me with a synonym for “glass” and he answered “Um, donkey?” and I just nodded and carried on.

Never ask an eight year old with bad hearing for synonyms.

I’m gonna try and stick with the donkey-half-full ideology that a second book is wonderful and exciting and such a blessing. And, it is happening because of YOU guys. So, I thank you from the bottom of my synapse-misfiring little heart.
I do love you so.

I lift my donkey of grape juice to you.

This book is gonna be so good, can’t you tell?

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Blessed Are the Peacemakers. Really.

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today! The theme?

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My kid is shaking with anger.

He’s standing before me, brow furrowed, fists clenched. There was some yelling but now he’s quiet, and a big, fat tear rolls down his cheek. He’s collapsing all inward with anger and a really REALLY fierce conviction that IT ISN’T FAIR.

I don’t really know exactly what the IT is, because there is (there always is) another person involved in the fray. There’s a brother involved, and he is also leveraging for his Totally Fair Piece of the Pie.

I just want to go lie down. Maybe with a slice of pie and a cup of coffee.

Once, I think, I tried to recite “Blessed are the peacemakers” at Blonde, in the heat of the battle, but he just looked at me with that tired expression of “Mom, you’re crazy” that I keep getting more and more often. (I have it on good authority that I am not, actually, crazy. But, somedays, that look… it is so CONVINCED of the crazy, that I kinda half believe him. And you know? It’s not so bad to be crazy. A little crazy is what we all need, to be mothers.)

Anyhow.

I recited, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the earth” at him, and he looked at me in scorn and said, voice shaking, “I don’t WANT the EARTH, Mom. I just WANT MY BROTHER TO STOP BEING A JERK.”

Valid point.

Here is what I have learned in my 8 massively long and short years of parenting:

  1. My mother is a saint. A SAINT. I am so sorry, Mom. You were right. About all of it. ALL OF IT ALL THE TIME.
  2. Reciting bible verses AT someone isn’t the way to go.

Ok. So we have been working on it, this whole getting angry bit, because seven and eight year old kids don’t have the inner mechanisms to adjust the volume on their anger. Adults don’t either, sometimes. Especially on rainy summer days stuck inside with no screens (they’re grounded, for a week) and no wine (mom’s grounded, forever) and no patience for anyone.

Here’s how we work on it:

We talk about it… LATER. Like, at dinner, or while we’re playing Uno, or bedtime. When it’s dark and they’re all cute and smell like soap. That’s when we talk about how to actually be a blessing. Even when we don’t really feel like it.

At the time? With the anger thing? And the yelling? We do our best. We muddle through. I pray and they stomp up to their rooms.

All of this is pretty usual stuff, right? It’s not like at our house we have some massively new and improved way to make everyone just get along for the love.

We try to remember who we are.

“We’re family, honey,” I tell Blonde, as he sniffles in his room, all snot and rage.”We’re a family, and that brother of yours? He is going to be with you for a long time. He is for you. And he’s massively annoying. But he loves you. And, deep down, deep DEEP down, you love him.”

“I don’t feel like it. I kinda hate him.”

“I know. Those are feelings. They change and fade and get all messed up. They’re feelings, and they’re important, but deep down, they aren’t the truth of the matter. Behind it all is the truth. It’s who we are. We are God’s. And He loves us, and He put love IN us. Love is all His department, and He has it running in our veins, just like Jesus’s.”

“Face it, kid. You’re stuck with us.”

Today we will be blessed by being kind when we don’t want to be, and when we screw up, we’ll say sorry. And we’ll try to act like we mean it.

And maybe inheriting the earth will happen, but for today, I’ll settle for a couple hours in a row without fighting. We’re family, after all. I’m trying to be realistic.

 

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Honesty. It’s such a lovely word.

Everyone is so untrue.

Honesty is hardly ever heard.

And mostly what I need from you.

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I think I’m just going to have to hand this to Billy Joel today. He said it better than I ever could.

But, not “everyone,” Mr. Joel. Not at all.

Linking up tonight with Five Minute Friday. And the theme? truth-600x600.jpg

Here is what I have learned about honesty in the Life of Dana (which is sooooo super interesting, I know):

Life of Not Sober Dana:

I’m totally honest because I would hate to ever make anyone mad at me, and people get mad when they are lied to. I know this because I have watched a lot of gritty cop dramas and those bad people on there LIE, I tell you. And everyone is always so MAD about it. And gritty.

Also? The ‘truth’ is a completely relative term because to make sure that people like me all the time I might lie to you at some point after completely manipulating and controlling every eensy, meensy, single tiny dusty corner of this situation.

Did you know? Controlling every single eensy meensy tiny dusty corner of the situations? It just makes you dusty. And mad.

So…

Life of Sober Dana:

*taps mic* Ahem? I’m all about Rigorous Honesty in All My Affairs.

*silence*

This sounds SO impossible but honestly? It’s not so bad. Did you know? If you are just honest in the beginning there is NO DUSTING. I SO LOVE THIS.

DUSTING IS FOR MAIDS AND BUNNIES, NOT ME.

Ok, I don’t even know what that means.

But, I do know THIS:

To be honest, this honesty thing is SO MUCH EASIER. Why doesn’t everyone do this? Why? Don’t they know? We need to alert the media. And Congress. And small children. All of them.  

Perhaps I have such a handle on honesty because I am just so much more spiritual than most, and have my stuff together more. That’s totally it. *

What? I’m just being honest.

*Disclaimer: Sarcasm often takes honesty and dresses it up in costume. Usually something rather silly. I am not spiritual. I am a recovering alcoholic. This just means I used up all my lies in my 20’s through my 40’s, and so if I say any more dishonest things I will be smited and sent straight to H-E-double hockey sticks.

Disclaimer to the disclaimer: I don’t think God smites in that fashion, with actual bolts of lightening and immediate passage to that hockey sticks place. That kind of thing only happens in the movies. Or Congress.

But there would be smiting in my head and heart and that, as we all know, is much, much worse.

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Women Who Move Mountains

I ask you, do you have any mountains you’d like moved?

I have a few.

Last month I kept a manila file in the office for far too long. It sat there and sat there, sullen and unopened, for far, far too long.

I’d really like to provide a gut-wrenching suspenseful scene here with something fascinating IN the folder, but well, it was our taxes. Receipts, forms, all sorts of paperwork, signifying money.

I let that file sit there because I was afraid of dealing with money. I cannot help but feel that as I file through all the papers and forms… that somewhere, a paper will flitter out, fall to the ground, and on it a statement:

“This is your bank statement. You are totally out of money. This means you will end up in a van down by the river and all is doomed.”

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Ok, I realize there are a few flaws in my thinking. Let me provide a short list:

  1. We have money.
  2. If we didn’t have as much money we’d still be okay.

This money thing is because money = stability. And, did you know? Stability means that

Everything Must Be All Right All of the Time No Matter What.

Catchy, right? I’m going to needlepoint that on a pillow.

Making sure that Everything Must Be All Right All of the Time No Matter What is rather tiring, did you know? Also? It’s impossible, so there’s that.

I recently had the honor of reviewing this book, and I would like to recommend it to you here:

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You guys. This book is super. There are so many things I like about it, but to be brief:

IT IS JUST WHAT I NEEDED.

Ok, the book addresses the issue of prayer – something I have always struggled with and for good reason. By this, I mean I tend to pray a lot like this:

Dear God – WHYYYYYYYYY CANNNNN’T YOUUUUUUUUU…. (fill in the blank) AND ANOTHERRR THING….

And so on.

Now, this is NOT bad. Praying + whining is acceptable to God. God knows. He made us after all, and if he made some of us, ahem, a bit more pessimistic and screechy than others? So be it. But when I whine/pray (Prine? Whray??) it just ends up with me feeling sad and twisty when I hang up with Him.

Detweiler’s book offers clear, practical advice on how to pray in solid, joyful FAITH. Yep. FAITH with BIG CAPITAL LETTERS. The kind of faith, that, well,  you know.

It moves mountains.

I highly recommend this book if your prayer life needs a little sprucing up. If you’re feeling like every prayer is uttered with all the verve of Eeyore. If maybe, just maybe, you have some mountains to attend to.

If you’d like to know more, or take a closer look at Sue Detweiler’s book click here, and get moving. 17903556_10155247020512206_6837944691568322308_n.jpg

 

 

Enough, Already.

Linking up with my favorite people over at Five Minute Friday. The theme?

It’s a good one.

Totally fitting.

Kinda scary accurate, actually.

It’s like Kate Motaung totally knows me. That poor woman.

 

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Ok, so this week I explained to you my Congo fast, right? I think we’re at almost half way, and so far it’s been a piece of cake.

Cake. I miss you.

And, if you know me at all, you realize that all this glib talk of pastry is just a call for help. This is tough, people.

This Congo fast? There’s not really a truly hungry element here. I am not starving. In fact, the author of the book we’re using, Chris Seay, makes it very clear that quantity is fine. It’s just WHAT we’re eating makes me kinda… itchy for cake. It’s not a hunger we’re dealing with here. It’s a restlessness.

So, also: I cheated.

Last Saturday, something snapped and that night I found myself scarfing graham crackers, off-brand cheezits from Dollar General, and marshmallows.

Y’ALL. I DON’T EVEN LIKE MARSHMALLOWS.

Also, my husband was in the other room, and I found myself SHOVING FOOD IN MAH MOUTH as silently as possible, like a stealthy chipmunk.

A very guilty chipmunk.

So, way back, long ago, when this whole thing started (that was thirteen days ago, my friends. It seems like it was 2014), my friend Kate (Aka the master manipulator who totally bamboozled me into this whole thing) told me it was ok to write about all this. Wow, that is a humdinger of a sentence.

I asked her if the Congo fast had a place in my blog. Would writing about it be too “HEY LOOK AT ME I AM FASTING HOW COOL AM I? SUPER CHRISTIAN WOMAN IN DA HOUUUUUUUSE.” Because whenever I blog about anything I like to channel 80’s hip hop diction. It’s how I roll, yo.

Kate said it would be fine. It might help others and there’s always accountability.

Sigh. Accountability Shmacountability.

So, I had two choices today. I could tell you how marvelous the whole Lenten Congo Fastapalozza is a spiritual walk in the park. And… therefore…

This would be me:c4ecc05d66ba61b6ce0a2590f6efd0e8_well-isnt-that-special-feb-19-well-isnt-that-special-meme_736-649.jpg

Instead, I am gonna fess up and tell you how a graham cracker and some stale marshmallows broke me like a twig.

Oh my goodness. GUYS. I just realized. I  coulda at least made a S’MORE with my rebellion. WHAT is wrong with me? If I’m gonna screw up I should make it COUNT.

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MY PRESHUS.

 

See? Isn’t it a good thing I’m being accountable here? Because then you are welcome to watch me unravel before your eyes. I’m a cautionary tale, in human form.

I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully there will be no more marshmallow shenanigans.

THE POINT:

I have Enough. We all have more than Enough. We don’t even know. I was so used to always having MORE than Enough that I lost sight of Who is Enough.

Enough is enough.

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