I Tweet, Therefore I am.

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Y’all. I’m supposed to be fasting from social media right now.

See? See how well that’s going? This is me… fasting.

Allow me to explain:

When I started the Congo fast because my evil friend Kate suckered me into it without my full knowledge, comprehension, or understanding, and I did it out of the goodness of my heart and because I am totally spiritual and my goodness this is all a load of hooey.

ANYHOW. When I started the Congo fast w/ Kate for our Sunday school class… I thought… Well. Food. I have to fast from food for 40 days. That’s nearly impossible and as we all know I have caved like a Neanderthal about twenty times in the 40 days, but who’s counting?

As God is my witness, I thought the tortillas were going to be it.

But, as Kate has so patiently reminded me, also about twenty times, the Sunday school class does exceed 40 days. So, what are we gonna do for the other portion? Just sit around and talk about how fabulous we were for fasting?

Ok, so along with Chris Seay’s A Place at the Table, we read this gem:

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I use the word “gem” because I have so few of them now, BECAUSE JEN KEEPS TELLING ME TO GIVE STUFF AWAY.

Ok, seriously. Here’s more explaining: We decided to also tackle, along with food the other items that Jen mutinies against. There right there on the cover for you: clothes, spending, waste, stress (har har har), waste, and MEDIA.

MEDIA.

YES IN ALL CAPS.

Guys. You can take my clothes and help me recycle and give me a budget and make me eat corn tortillas ’till the cows come home (that we can’t eat)

BUT YOU WILL HAVE TO PRY MY MEDIA FROM MY COLD, DEAD HANDS.

Here is the very real conversation I had with Kate about this whole media thing, yesterday:

Kate: I’m fasting from media and it’s going okay. How about you?
Me: *leans forward to the microphone* I cannot recall.

That’s a pretty fabulous Ollie North, right? And for those of you who are too young to understand my cheap mimicry of the general and his memory recall issues, what I REALLY said is something like this:

Me: NOOOOOOO. This is so HARRRRRRD. I’m eating rice and beans – you can’t make me NOT watch Netflix TOOOOOOOOOOO.

The wailing, I tell you, was heard one county over.

I ask you, what about all my quips? Where will the quipping go, if I cannot post about it? It will be like I don’t even exist.

Really. How can I live without the tweetings?

What if my children do something adorable? (rare, granted). Or the cat? What if the CAT does something adorable (hourly). How will I live without talking about it?

So, here is my announcement: Our Congo fast and its 40 days is over this Sunday. After that, I will be walking away from my computer for a week.

I will miss you *she waves weakly* Don’t you worry about me… *fading away* I’m sure I’ll be… just… fine *drops to the floor in a heap and makes sure her pose is flattering for a selfie*

Social media, y’all. It’s addictive stuff. I mean, really. If a tree falls in the forest and no one takes a picture of it for Instagram, does an angel lose his wings?

Or something like that.

Now, the only people I have yet to tell are the children. They’ll be joining me in this fast. No Netflixes. No Wii Rockband.

The cries will be heard from two counties over.

Pray for us.

Save

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

 

 

Fight the Good Fight

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Sometimes being afraid just takes up too much time in the day.

And sometimes, we can fear the strangest things.

Y’all, I am fighting off some gunk lately. It is real, biological gunk as I think I might be getting the horrible plague-flu that is going around the boys’ school. I substitute there, and just yesterday a little sweetheart came up and coughed in my general direction and I swear I could SEE the horrible plague-germs attack me.

Also, sadness and confusion. I am fighting that. And a complete lack of confidence. I am a lump of all of that.

Here’s the deal. I am working on book 2. This is wonderful and exciting and such a straight up gift from God. So, you know Satan has to get in on it, don’t you? Satan’s all:

“This is the worst drivel you have ever written. You just googled The Spice Girls, to put IN your book, are you kidding? Who is going to read this crud? Maybe Scary Spice but that’s IT. And, you know? It’s really, really important right now for you to go on the facebooks and waste about 30 min. scrolling, scrolling, so you can mush-ify your brain a little more, BECAUSE YOU CANNOT WRITE.”

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Satan has a very good way of instilling fear, distracting, and then lumpifying me. Allow me to show you in a cool graphic display:

Step One:

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Step Two:

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Step Three:8182018_orig.png

 

Also, this morning I received an email rejecting my writing. It happens. It happens a lot, actually. If you want to be a writer, oftentimes you have to hold your writing out for others to see, and that merits some rejection.

Still hurts, though. Still makes Satan just rub his hands together in glee, so he can now sprinkle “SEE? I TOLD YOU SO. YOU CAN’T WRITE. GET A CLUE AND START FILLING OUT APPLICATIONS AT JC PENNY” onto my already mushy brain.

Not that working at JC Penny would be terrible. It’s just… retail does not really speak to me on a creative level, you know? And I decided, some years ago, when I laid down the wine and said, “Enough,” that my new addiction would be creativity. So, I have to have it.

I just have to. Or I wither.

Here’s the deal. Satan tries to wither us at any corner, any small space, any bit of emptiness he can wiggle into. He slides in, sneaks by, infiltrates oh so slowly, and next thing you know? You’ve start to feel fear. And then, you react.

I react by throwing a blanket over it, so I can pretend it’s not there. I try to numb it out. I poke my fingers in my ears and sing “La la la la la!!!” like I’m six.

I try all of these things and scroll on the facebooks too. It does the trick, for a while. But all the time, the fear is still there, shrouded, and waiting. So very, very patient.

Instead? Well, I want to breathe in God and breathe Him out and just sit with Him and talk about all this stuff. I forget to DO that. Such a simple thing.

Kelly Balarie’s book, Fear Fighting, gives us reminders and wisdom about all of this. It is a book that speaks to those of us who long for Control. Who Worry. Who hate Waiting. Who have felt the sting of Rejection. (These are all her chapter titles, and I re-read “Rejection and Opposition: They Have Issues just this morning.)

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I also want “rhythm with God.” I want to sit with Him in all of this, and then, get up and walk with Him and work it out. I don’t want to evade or cover up or sink into mushy, distracted, tired brain.

I am grateful for this book and for Kelly’s compassion. She’s been there. Oh, has she been there (Read her book; she’ll tell you all about it. )

Go do something un-mushifying today. I will too, with the help of too much coffee, Jesus, some good music (Sara Groves, of course) and this book.

Join the good fight. #FearFightingbook #DolifewithGod

And all God’s women said,  Amen?

Amen!

 

Connection

 

Linking up with my favorite people today! Five Minute Friday.

The theme?

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Ok, there are two ways of looking at the world:

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and…

 

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Ok.  I do realize this MIGHT just be a bit over-simplified. I haven’t done any actual research on it. But I am super smart so you know? Trust me. Two ways.

So, I wrote a book. And started writing more articles. And, along with that, I started speaking. Not just randomly speaking, like in the car, or to the grocer guy, but

PUBLIC SPEAKING. Like, IN FRONT OF GROUPS. 

(Say it with an echo after; helps the effect.)

Anyhow. It makes me a bit… twitchy. I am a shy person (this is when some of you who know me burst into peals of laughter). I AM. Shy people just know how to accessorize with nutball behavior and a penchant for snort-laughing in public. This shy thing has been around for a while. I covered it up once with lots of wine. Now, I speak about how I covered it up with lots of wine. This is very ironic, eh? Irony happens to me ALL THE TIME.

My last gig was wonderful and amazing and here is why:

1. The first speaker (sharing about a home for recovery for women in the area) used this phrase: “You have to learn to care for yourself before you can care for others.” This is the exact same thing my sponsor told me at the beginning. At this point I feel a tiny nudge.

2. The musician, Emily, apologized for her first song choice. “Not the best for a snowy day,” she smiled. And then she sang the song that I have always thought of as my “theme song” for getting sober. I Can See Clearly Now, by Johnny Nash.

            Hmmmmm.

3.   And then, the sweet lady next to me, right before I spoke, said,
“You’re up next, and just so you know I’ll be praying for you the whole time.”

God’s leaning in.

4. And finally, the closing song:

I Need Thee Every Hour.

The song I used to listen to and whisper/sing/cry to as I rocked upstairs while by boys slept. My version was on a Fernando Ortega cd. I would sing it, pray it, as tears dripped down my face, sometimes with a sleeping boy cuddled up, all heavy and warm and snotted on, in my lap. That song told me it was ok to be sober, an hour at at time. Not even a day at a time. Just an hour. I just needed to keep saying, “I need you.”

I connect with others through my speaking and writing. It’s part of my job now, to reach out, to speak, to connect even when a little shy or tired or tongue-tied. And, I love to do so because I am learning that the reaching out, the connecting? It helps me. It keeps me sober. It keeps me pointed true north.

But yesterday? God wanted to make sure I knew that He was connecting with me.

I know. He is available all the time, but on some days? Like yesterday? My sweet Lord sent me a Hallmark card, a letter, a telegram, an airplane banner in the sky:

“Hey! Dana!” says the banner. “I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK, DID YOU KNOW THAT? PROBABLY MORE. I SHOULD KNOW, I MADE THE MOON.”

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And also, this. I am thinking a similar outfit for my next speaking gig. No? Too much? Ok. Probably too much.

Resolutions are not useless and here’s why:

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Ok, so I write for a fabulous magazine called The Cov. It’s a good gig. I get to talk about Jesus and often, they allow funny.  At the same time. I have a good relationship with the editors. I know this because I can send them kitty memes about procrastination and they seem to appreciate them.

Like:

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And this one, which neatly sums up the process of trying to edit:

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And this one:

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Which really has nothing to do with writing but it cracks me up. Also this:

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I know. I need to stop. So, the other day we were talking about a January column and I was all:

“HEY RESOLUTIONS! NO ONE HAS EVER DONE THAT BEFORE, RIGHT?”

And my editor, who I shall call Larry, said,
“Resolutions are hokey.”

Oh, it was on.

Actually, no. It was not on. I was all, “Oh, sure… right Larry, I totally agree.” I didn’t argue because he is kind of my boss, but NOT without muttering under my breath, all passive aggressive:

“You will rue the day, Larry.”

Not really sure where we’re going here, but I made MY OWN RESOLUTIONS ANYHOW ON MY BLOG! WHO’S THE BOSS NOW LARRY? HUH?

I know. I have to assert control somewhere.

MOMSIE’S RESOLUTIONS FOR 2017:

  1. Maintain a good working relationship with Larry.
  2. Stop putting my coffee in the microwave, zapping it for twenty seconds, and then leaving it there to ponder its uselessness until forty-eight hours later.
  3. I’m going to use this book on my children. 51MF3u-JPAL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_-1.jpgI will hold them each in my hands, ponder them for a minute, and ask them, “Tell me, small Red who has once again left a swath jelly behind in the kitchen like its own sticky Exxon Valdez oil slick, DO YOU SPARK JOY? DO YA, PUNK? DO YOU FEEL LUCKY?
  4. I will figure out how to number things on my blog.
  1. I will not actually donate my children, I promise. But you gotta know, MARIE KONDO DOES NOT HAVE CHILDREN. One day, if she does, she will grab some sort of useless plastic toy in her hands and start pondering it, and ask, “Small useless piece of plastic from The McDonalds, do you spar-” and her wee child will start crying and Kondo will just roll her eyes and toss it at the baby. You know she will.
  2. I will brush and floss every day.
  3. Freaked you out with that one, didn’t I? You were wondering… “Wait. She DOESN’T brush every day? Why am I even reading this?
  4. I will stop overusing “skin fixing illuminating age defying serum that costs shackamillion dollars.” I figured since the packaging said it erases fine lines I should just, you know, slather it all over. And now I head out for my day every morning looking like I’m J Lo.maxresdefault.jpg
  5. Actually? Scratch that. If I want to look like J Lo I can. Say hello to my glowy little friend:

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10. I will also try to get a handle on this:6a7c885b9a3b9476370d6de5a1b7c0ebd4d3d0359d90b8c1d9693788f25a6482_1.jpg

Betcha can’t guess what type of personality I am? I’ll give you a hint: I often have slanty eyebrows and I rhyme with “SLAY.

11. I WILL STOP SAYING ‘BOYS, ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?’ CUZ EVERYTIME I DO THAT A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST AND EVERYONE HEARS IT.

12. And finally, as God is my witness, I will stop buying the bargain toilet paper. Life is just too short, people.

Here’s the thing (YOU KNOW I can’t write a post without some sort of “Here’s the moral to the story” moment? Right? Larry tells me I do this. It’s my thing. Alas, I often have no idea what I’m talking about in terms of morals, but I WILL CARRY ON.)

Anyhow, here’s the thing. I think this year I want to stop trying to lose things. I want to not try to lose weight or lose wrinkles or lose the clutter or lose my mind or whatevs.

I want more. I want enough piled on enough.

More, please!

More: Jesus. Family. Special Locked Door Husband time (yes, that’s code for nookie). Laughter. Small children who have impossibly long lashes and a total inability to eat without making the kitchen look like a crime scene.

More cuddling with this huge fat furry fluff of goodness:IMG_6138.jpg

This picture illustrates that Steve is two things:

  •      A bit of a risk taker.
  •      Really doesn’t mind pencils. EduCATed. Har har har.

I will take more naps:IMG_6131.jpg

I don’t have a picture of ME napping so these are stand-in, blurry nappers. Look carefully for the dog, he’s at the end of the couch and is basically really really hurt because Steve has his spot.

Also, we’re so healthy! V-8!

I will take my kids sledding, even when there’s only about 2 inches of snow. We will still attempt it. IMG_6222 3.jpg

I will stay up a little later, act a little sillier, and hug even tighter.

Also, I’ll listen to the Xanadu soundtrack more often.

Oh, and I won’t drink. There’s always that. That’s one minus I will happily keep adding to my life.

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And, I will write. I’ll even pen some resolutions. I will always, always love the re-set button that is January 1.

Happy New Year to you. May God richly bless you. You have been a HUGE blessing to me.

Even you, Larry.

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That’s not actually Larry. Love you, Larry!

This is the best writing prompt EVER:

Linking up with my people today because, as you know…. (drum roll)

It’s FIVE MINUTE FRIIIIIIDAY with the lovely Kate Motaung.

AND TODAY’S THEME IS JUST TOO GOOD:

 

 

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Ok, let me tell you about eating.

There’s the good kind and the bad kind. Lately, it seems to be tipping over to the bad kind because last night I was writing until about one in the morning, accompanied by Halloween candy.

The Halloween candy didn’t do a very good job of keeping me company. It was all sticky and I kept sitting on the crinkly wrappers. You know what happens once you get into the Halloween candy, don’t you? You KEEP getting into it. It’s like once you start doing Amazon One-Click of sugar addiction.

But, y’all? There’s good eating too.

I was thinking about food and my family, and all the dishes that I remember, where food becomes not just food, but something more. Something fragrant, with love added in.

So, here’s what I thought of:

My dad, every Thanksgiving, smokes a duck in his kettle grill. I go out and talk with him as he watches the duck like a hawk (so many bird things going on here). He uses this special marinade that he has been making since I was a child, and no one knows what’s in there. I don’t think he’ll ever tell us. Maybe the recipe is in some vault somewhere and we get to access it after he is with Jesus, and then we can start selling the stuff and we’ll make millions. Yes, dad, I know I just sort of gleefully referred to making money after you meet your maker. I know. That’s OK, though because I know how fond you are of the money thing.

Sigh. I really hope he doesn’t take this the wrong way.

Anyhow, the duck. The duck is a thing. It’s our thing. It’s delicious and it’s my dad out there in the cold and me going out there and talking and discussing life and how many meetings I’ve been going to and how the lawn looks great.

Also, this: the last time I talked, really TALKED to my brother, was out on that back porch, with dad’s duck, Thanksgiving. So, you know, the duck. It’s special. It’s sad and happy.

I know. That sure is a lot of feelings to attach to a smoked duck. Who knew poultry could be so meaningful? But it is.

And my mom. Now, she’s like the best cook ever. And I mean EVER. But I’m not going to talk about all that right now because I want to talk about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I had just given birth to Blonde. I was sinking into post-partum depression, didn’t know it yet, at all, and was also just really really REALLY tired. My mom told me to go lay down, and I did. And then, she brought me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk.

And I ate it and cried and it was the best sandwich I have ever had. My mom used to bring me Sprite with a straw when I was sick, and let me lay back on her bed and watch Electric Company. I felt kind of like her, that sick little girl, and my mom was bringing me food on a tray. And it helped.

Incidentally, my mom was the one that helped me figure out that I was actually dealing with something perhaps a little bit more severe than just the baby blues.

Happy and sad. A peanut butter sandwich with a lot of meaning. Again.

Don’t even get me started on my sister Jenni’s birthday cakes. Or my other sister Sherry’s crescent rolls. Don’t even.

Food. Family. Love. Memories. Some of the happiest, and saddest memories are tied to what we eat, but you know that. You know because maybe you always make your kids Mickey Mouse pancakes on Saturday mornings. Or you always have popcorn and candy corn on movie nights. Or your husband always asks for your peanut butter balls and swears it’s his love language. And you make chicken soup for him when he’s sniffling and something about it makes you feel better too, as you chop and mince and stew.

This post makes me want to go make oatmeal cookies. 🙂

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PS:  Dad, I really do love you and if I had my way you and your marinade will be around until forever.

“I would eventually have to tell.”

Let me show you how God works.

In my case, God does not work in mysterious ways. He knows, with me, he has to be a lot more CLEAR. He has to be, because I am, well, stubborn.

Y’all. Seriously. I’m “stubborn” like Richard Simmons is “Sassy.” We work it.

Anyhow… A few years ago I lost my mind. I drowned myself in a lot of wine, on a daily basis, and then, when the wine was over my head and I was choking for sanity, I grabbed onto more bottles and just sank even lower.

God worked: He got me out of there. He helped me out, dried me off, and we keep walking together. In fact, I am stuck to Him like really needy and sober GLUE until I get to meet him personally.

God worked. He got me writing gigs to keep me busy, and He asked me to start talking about the near-drowning stuff. He said, “Now. You need to tell.”

I now have a gig writing with Nazarene Publishing House. A column, for The Community, a blog that “provides content, insight, training, and conversations that inspire spiritual growth.”

I am totally freaked out that I am writing a column for anything that involved “training” and “spiritual growth.” I’m the one who used Richard Simmons earlier in this post, as a sort of analogous mentor, remember?

But yet, I’m a part of their crew. Ok, God does work in mysterious ways.

Now, I don’t usually do this, but I’m gonna ask you a favor. If you would, go peruse? Maybe subscribe? Follow on facebook, twitter, you know the drill. Perhaps I am biased, but there is some really good writing on there.

If you want to see my article, click here. Then, take a look around. It’s a good community.

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