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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Kindred Spirits

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This is the cover of the Anne of Green Gables book I had.She’s a hottie, right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Y’all. I am very picky.
I don’t like my potato salad unless it is made with Hellman’s mayonnaise. (No, this post was not sponsored by Hellman’s. Call me? Hellman’s?? We can work something out, K?)
I don’t like books that have too many dialogue tags. “They are tedious,” she said, tediously.
I only like spring days that still have a bite of cool in them. Otherwise there’s sneezing. And it’s not the cute, delicate lady-sneezing like a baby bunny. My sneezing is wet-gorilla sneezing.
Apples must be tart. This Red Delicious nonsense is just a dumbing down of apples.
And, classic books don’t translate well into film. In general. I mean, have you SEEN The Scarlet Letter? I’m talking the Demi Moore version. Enough said.
I have read every one of the Anne of Green Gables series, MULTIPLE times. And, yes, I did allow the 1985 television adaptation (with an awesomely cranky Marilla by Colleen Dewhurst).
So, when the great Netflixes informed me that a NEW ANNE was coming… I was skeptical. You know when someone says to you, “Hey! I made some chocolate chip cookies!” and just as you take a bite they add, “Gluten, egg, and dairy free! YOU CAN’T EVEN TELL, CAN YOU.”
You can tell. You can so totally tell.
That’s how I felt about a New Anne.  But, y’all – Netflix has done it right.

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This is a series that is so in tune with my Anne that I nearly cried. Which, as you know, is something a totally dramatic girl would do. This is an Anne that is comical and tragic and gawky,  and at times plain, and at at other times just aglow (when she is least aware of it). She is, in other words, what we girls are. Or me, at least. I do comical and tragic and gawky. I do plain.

I even, every once in a while, glow.
I sat down to start watching this while folding laundry one night because God forbid I ever just watch something without folding laundry. The boys were playing “Smash All the Things” in the other room, but as soon as they heard the television come on, they started sniffing around like the little tv vultures they are.

“Whatcha watchin?” Red asked. “Is it Star Wars? Legos? Something with swords?” I sighed and folded my four hundredth pair of Lego Star Wars underpants. He stared at the screen and then, asked… “Anne of… Green Bagels?”
“No, dear. Shhhhhh. Mommy’s watching. Mommy needs this show.”
We watched, and Blonde, another heat-seeking (i.e. television) missile wandered in, and we all soaked in all the Gables and the Green-ness.

Anne says,  ““Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think.” Anne and I are kindred spirits. She has the same ideas about classic literature and potato salad, I am sure of it. Watch, you’ll see.

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As a Netflix StreamTeam blogger, I get to watch the awesomeness that is Netflix, and chatter about it on Momsie. It’s a great gig.

 

 

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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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.