I’m pretty sure they don’t have chicken nuggets in the Congo.

 

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Ok, here’s the deal.

I never have done Lent.

There. I said it.

I have, perhaps, said I was going to do Lent… you know, chocolate. Or Coke. That kind of thing.

But then… I would go home and open a Coke and eat some ring dings and my brain just kinda went, “La lala la la laaaaa, Jesus loves me it’s all good,” and carried on.

I just have a really, really hard time with discomfort, y’all.

Discomfort is so… uncomfortable.

So, some of you may know that this Lenten season my pastor’s wife totally suckered me into teaching a class on fasting. I don’t like her anymore. She is manipulative and our friendship is done. DONE, I tell you.

No, not really, but still. She has a newborn, and I think I was cooing at her (the baby, not Kate) when she asked me to co-teach, and honestly, I woulda said yes to anything at that moment because babies are all sparkly so basically SHE USED HER BABY TO GET ME TO DO THIS.

I’m eating like the Congolese for 40 days. Lord help us all.

The Congolese do not have:

  • chicken nuggets (that’s a kid thing, but more on that later)
  • butter.
  • La Croix
  • Strawberry jam
  • and the worst – hazlenut creamer

They also do not have clean water and readily available medicine and soft mattresses and schools on every corner and, oh my goodness. The Congolese are so far away from my heavily coffee-creamered life, I tell you.

Every morning, as I drink my black coffee (which they do have, thank you, Jesus from whom all blessings and caffeine flow), I am reminded of this. Also, as I eat rice and beans for lunch. And, as I eat rice and beans and a banana for dinner.

The book that we’re using for the class is Chris Seay’s A Place at the Table.

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Notice, there’s a cup of coffee in the background. WITH NO CREAMER.

Ok, so either this Seay guy is nuttier than a fruitcake (which they also don’t have in the Congo, go figure), or he is onto something here.

Because here is what I am learning, on day eleven of my fast:

  1. Comfort is an idol. It’s actually just as big and hairy and hulkie as food or alcohol or shopping or any of those other, more see-able ones.
  2. I thought I could not do this because I gave up alcohol, so how DARE anyone ask me to do MORE – I did my Lent. I do it all the time. I don’t drink anymore, Ok? So I’m good down here!
  3. I’m not good down here. The weeks and months prior to this had been a tangled time of leaning on a bunch of things for comfort and they were taking over.
  4. Rice and beans are not that bad.

Sometimes I like to think that my life is this giant checklist, and that once I get one big God task done, He checks it off, gives me a star sticker and we’re done. I like star stickers. I live for them. Uh-oh. That might be another idol. If there’s anything I’m addicted to, it’s the great big Star Chart of You’re Awesome. This whole fast has taught me that as well.

Seriously. This fast has taught me about fifty majillion things. I will be sharing them with you once in a while, as well as my newfound and very deep love for bananas.

Bananas, y’all. Did you know? They are soooooooo good. I never really KNEW. I used to think they were just a vehicle for ice cream and hot fudge but when you’re really hungry? They are all yellow and delightful.

And don’t even get me started on the avocado. Praise you, Jesus.

Ok, so I’m going to say here, on day eleven, that Chris Seay is not nutty (also not a lot of those in the Congo. Especially hazlenuts. Of course.) And my friend Kate is not evil (she’s a pastor’s wife, so evil is not a part of her genetic make-up.) And that I will continue to be smushed up, and stretched out, and pulled and pushed in all sorts of ways because God doesnt really do star charts. “We’re not done here,” God tells me. “But I love you like crazy, so if you really want a star chart just grab a banana and go out at night and look up. Boom. Biggest one you’ll ever get.”

God is a bit of a smart aleck sometimes, isn’t he?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“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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To all the Single Ladies.

Linking up with the mighty Five Minute Friday today! The theme?

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Ok. Here’s the deal.

There have been times, in my life, when I have been shattered from Want. I have wanted a companion, a drink, a peaceful heart, a straight up, no-chaser boyfriend who would STAY. I have wanted so hard that I have cried, in the late hours, from it. I have wanted the dying friends to be healed, and the dead brothers to come back and yes, I know. That’s just a lot of want.

Want is a big hole and it hurts and when it hurts we start to throw things at it, to make Want tuck its tail and go away. To make it stop hurting.

For want of the nail, the kingdom was lost, right? The whole kingdom.

When I was nineteen, I had to go to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. It sounds kind of dramatic – but what other kind of appendectomy is there? I don’t think those things are ever planned… I dunno. This is medical stuff and I am out of my element here, so if you are a doctor and you are reading this post, let me know. Also, if you are doctor and you are reading this post, do you think I have issues?

I am so wondering now if I have doctors and lawyers and such reading my posts! Maybe some past presidents from small, third world countries?

Oh my word, somehow I have taken a hard veer. It happens here occasionally. But, as I have the innate talent to write myself out of a paper bag, I will get to the point.

ANYHOW. THE POINT:

I was in the hospital and it was late at night. My parents and visitors had left, and I remember lying in bed, looking out the window to a very scenic view of a parking lot, and  feeling an ache of loneliness that seemed to ratchet through my body. True, I was also on a lot of pain meds at the time (Demeral pump – greatest thing ever! Yes, totally an alcoholic thing to say!) but this kind of ache was different. Demeral couldn’t touch it.

I was so lonely.

You see, my boyfriend had just visited and given me a huge bouquet of roses. It was just awful.

I really liked the rose-giver. He was, essentially, total boyfriend material. Nice. Cute Gentlemanly. Sweet natured. Law school. All of it.

And I knew. I just knew – I was not going to be able to love the guy.

I had a heart that was so lonely it felt like it was trying to leave my body. Find someone to love. Find a home.

My home was not with law school guy, although I am sure that my dad is reading this now and thinking, “What was wrong with the lawyer guy!!?”

The heart wants what it wants, and in those days? I wanted so badly to be able to love, but I couldn’t. My heart was, it seems, on hold. I felt iced over, frozen, stuck with this terrible longing but no ability to do anything about it.

I am writing this for all the single ladies. The ones who are looking out windows, late at night, longing for arms to hold them, longing for a companion. A lover. A friend.

And before you click out of this post, NO – I am not going to mess with you by saying, “Honey, Jesus is your true husband. That is all you need! Just, you know, cuddle up with Him!”

Good gracious people. I know there is total truth in that. I know it. But you tell that to a woman who is in her late thirties and alone and facing another Christmas with the family, alone, another friend’s wedding, alone, another Saturday morning with pancakes for one, and you might hear them say something like this:

“Jesus will not sit and eat the pancakes with me! Sometimes we just want someone with SKIN ON to sit, eat the darn pancakes, ask for more syrup, and read the paper!”

Amen, single friends?

Amen.

I know what it is like to ache and yearn and want. I sit on the other side now, with the husband, the two kids, the whole happy married package, and I remember how I used to shudder when people referred to me as “a single.” I hated that. We don’t introduce each other at parties as “a married” do we?

Ugh. This has so gone over the “Five Minute” rule. But it seems I have a lot to say. This morning, as I first woke up, I remembered that young girl, looking out the window, waiting and wanting something so much it felt like she would break into pieces. I remembered how it felt to want something with such intensity that I did nearly anything to make it work, to keep the relationship going even if it was all wrong, to try, like the step-sister, to make the shoe fit.

I could continue on that line and say that now, I am Cinderella and I found my Prince Charming and I have the cute shoes to prove it. But you know? I am not sure that’s the point.

The point?

I don’t have one. Wanting something is hard. Wanting and waiting is just painful. I have no words of wisdom or any sort of solution.

But all I can offer is this, in hindsight:

Wanting is a hole. What you chose to fill the hole with is the key. You can fill it with food. Or sex. Or wine. Or anger. Or endless television.

Or, you can fill it up with the totally invisible, totally not “with skin on” God. And yes, that’s hard and that’s full of tension and discomfort and yes, straight up pain. But it’s better.

It is not easy. But it is better.

And all the single ladies (and those who remember it very well) said, “Amen.”

Now, of course, cue the Beyonce video.

Or not, because the ring part? So nice, but so not the point here today. But it is a totally catchy song, amirite?

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Throwback Thursday: Z is for Zoo. Of course it is.

When Momsieblog started, waaaaaaay back in the day, I created my own, very special, full of snark, Alphabet Book for Parents. I was amazed by how many ideas I had, even for the letter Q, and how many extra ones I had to archive, never to see the light of day on Momsie. You poor readers. I mean, S is for Snot is a charmer, for sure. I wonder now why I never posted that one?

Anyhow.

Here is my Z. For you. #TBT !

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Well, we’re finally here.  My Z for you.

And then what? For those of you in the know, there is no letter in the alphabet after Z.  So, it’s time for me to pack up my blog and head for something new – like interpretive dance.  Or perhaps a degree in the philosophy of The Simpsons.  (This one really exists; click here.)  Or, I could see if Gwen Stefani needs a backup singer…

JUST KIDDING. I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE.

I got material to share, folks.  It’s not like the letter Z was going to stop my kids from acting nutball.  Or the internet to stop providing me with stuff like this:

 

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You are stuck with  me, my friends.  Stuck.  Like litter at the bottom of the cat box stuck.

But I digress.

 

Recently my family ventured to the skating rink for an all church skate extravaganza.  It was epic.  Here are some of my observations:

1. All skate rinks have the same carpet.  Stare at it too long and it’ll give you a seizure.

2. All skate rinks have the same guy, kinda circa 1970’s, possibly with a comb in his back pocket, who smoothly manuevers the skate rink like a BOSS.

3. All skate rinks should not try to attempt any food items other than packaged Twizzlers and maybe a chocolate bar.  Hotdogs?  A risky business.

4. All skate rinks have bathrooms with sloped, tiled floors that reduce you and your toddler to nervous laughter because why just go to the potty? Why not try to add a couple triple sow-cow and limbo lessons in that bathroom with a five-year old who has questionable aim?

5. All skate rinks have to do the limbo. It’s a cruel, cruel world.

 

One other observation:  I haven’t skated since, well, probably college, and I am just not very good at it.  BUT – our pastor?  He was ON POINT.  He almost gave the moustached, 70’s guy a run for his money.  He just kept smoothly gliding about without a care in the world, which makes sense, because Jesus, you know.

I was a bit envious.  At one point, I pushed my four-year old out of the way so I could grab onto my husband’s hand/hair/arm to keep me from planking on the skate floor. And you do know, don’t you, what planking with skates on ends up becoming, right? Just one, long, humiliating, stretchhhh while small children roll by, until your nose breaks your fall.  I think the words, “Don’t worry about Red! He’s closer to the ground – he won’t fall as hard!” were uttered.  Evidently skate parks kinda bring out a rather grim Game of Thrones mentality in me.

Again, it’s a cruel world.

 

So, after the skate party, we all decided to go for ice cream.  This was a fabulous idea because here’s something I forgot: skating is hard work. At one point, I was doing a sassy scissor move and just kept getting stuck with my poor scissors going wider, and wider… Not pretty.  Not pretty at all.  My thighs were angry with me, and only a chocolate malted would help.  And possibly some fries.  To gently assist the Skateland hotdog.

We all piled in the car. It was getting to be bedtime, and we were tired, rather cranky, and overstimulated from that carpet.  But we were going for ice cream! Family fun continuing! It’s just down here a bit!

And then our Favorite Ice Cream Place That We Always Go To just up and disappeared.

Allow me to explain.  We were on the main drag of a rather small city – one we have traversed a majillion times I am sure.  We have passed this  ice cream parlor a majillion and one times.  We knew where it is.  We were going RIGHT there!  It was just down this road a bit!

Until, of course, it wasn’t.  And we ended up driving up and down and then up again looking for an ice cream place that has ALWAYS BEEN RIGHT THERE. IT’S RIGHT HERE.  I SWEAR IT! IT’S… not. Oh, oops, maybe further down?

 

At this point, both toddlers in the back have caught on that perhaps, something is afoot.  They can sniff out tension and trouble like a puppy finding Cheezits in the couch, I tell you.

And so, when that happens, so begins the play-by-play commentary from the back seat:

“Wat doin’ Daddy?”

“Where’s da ice creams? I wanna da sprinkles!”

Daddy, rather grimly: “We’re on our way, kids.  We’re taking the scenic route.”

“Wats a swenic route?”

Daddy:  “This is.”

“What’s DIS?”

Daddy:  “The scenic route.”

“WHAT’S DA SCENIC ROUTE?”

DIS. IS.”

Both toddlers peer out the window as if to spot an answer to all these troubles, like why they are not eating da sprinkles yet.

Momsie starts to giggle.

“But daddy, scenic route? WHY we are going?”  (My children start to sound like Yoda when they become flustered.)

“Daddy, WHERE IS DA ICE CREAMS?”

Daddy:  “We are taking the scenic route TO the ice creams and that’s final!  I happen to like the scenic route!”

 

I like the scenic route too.  Most of the time.  My children take me on it nearly every day.  We are often all a bit tired and disheveled, mainly from the fact that my boys must run and go and do everything all the time, and it’s hard to keep up, and allow for detours.  But, we are a family. God’s family. And we are on this journey together.

God asks us to take the scenic route.  It’s worth it. It’s not quite what I expected or want all the time, but worth it.

And yes, der will be sprinkles.

 

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Let That Be a Lesson To You

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Criminal A and B.

 

 

Every Wednesday night my church has a great event called His Kids, where seven million children alight upon our little brick church and play, eat, run about, and learn about Jesus.

Ok, not seven million. But it’s a lot.

My children, when they were small and adorable, used to call Wednesday His Kids, “Biscuits!!  It’sa da Biscuits night!” This would become even more compounded in meaning if the church meal there WAS actually biscuits and gravy, and my poor boys were swimming in biscuits all over da place.

This was so cute that I never actually corrected it, and to this day my children seem to link church going to flaky baked goods with honey.

There are worse things.

Last Wednesday night, His Kids was wrapping up, and I was attempting to get two boys in coats and boots and out the door before we hit the dreaded It’s Way Past Your Bedtime, and Your Mom Gets Grumpy deadline.

As I headed out the the car, I spotted them, running way ahead, down the sidewalk, to the car, past the car, and they Just. Kept. Going.

Let’s just say that right then is when I passed the Grumpy deadline. Inside, I had warned them, quite calmly, with a lovely and firm but soothing Mom voice: “Boys, head straight to the car. It’s Way Past Your Bedtime. If you stay up much longer you implode with exhaustion and hyperactivity with help from all those Starbursts you ate after diner.  And I am feeling a grump coming on… it’s a small tickle in the back of my throat, so we best get home. Now.”

As I watched them run past the car with only the roadrunner glee that a four and a six year old can, I thought,

“Humph. They are going to learn a lesson.”

So, I got in my car and drove away.

Now, before you start trying to figure out how to call the cops on a mom blogger, just know this: I didn’t LEAVE-leave… I slipped around the back, silent and stealthy as an unmarked vehicle, and pulled in the side. I sat there for about thirty seconds, giving Red and Blonde just long enough to realize I was gone, and then tears and repentance and all that.

I peered around, to the front of the church, looking for two very sad and sorrowful boys who will never, ever disobey again, like ever.

Instead, I saw two small boys who were sprinting like mini Usain Bolts, and they had a three block head start on me. They were going home. By themselves. At eight o’clock at night.

And, then, I spotted it: They were gleeful.

I was told later that at least two members of my church reported back that “Red and Blonde are out running down Lincoln street! Danger! Danger! And, WHERE IS THEIR MOTHERRRRRR??”

I followed them. I kept praying, “Lord, sometime along the way, could some sort of freaking out occur? Could they get cold or get attacked by a stray cat or something.” I sighed. “Somehow, please, could this whole thing not turn out to be an awesome field trip of wonderfulness? Could we have some misery at some point? Please, Lord?”

Nope. They were absolutely thrilled. When I finally pulled in and revealed my cover – Blonde ran to me, cheeks all red and eyes twinkling,

“Mom! Hey, where were you? We started home acuz you left and we ARE ALMOST THERE and I watched at each stweet and lookits both ways! I was very careful!”

Red interjected with a small jazzstep and some “vroom vroom” noises, and then shouted, “DIS. IS. SO. AWESOME!”

I had prepared a long speech for them. I opened my mouth. I shut it. And then I growled, “Your father will talk to you about this when we get home.”

“Okay! But… canna we walk the rest of the way? Dis is fun!”

Well. Let that be a lesson to you.

 

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Top Ten Momsie Thankfuls

 

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I am grateful that the interwebs will never run out of pictures of cats dressed like turkeys. The cat looks so grateful too, doesn’t he?

 

Top Ten Reasons I am Thankful Today:

10. Coffee and the Macy’s Day Parade. Lots of coffee. From my father-in-law’s Keurig. You just push a button and WHOOSH coffee. It’s like coffee from gadget heaven.

9. Pink jammies. Why? Because I’m still in mine. They are Tinkerbell jammies, and did I mention, I’M STILL IN THEM.

8. Momsieblog. It has brought me so many blessings this year. Mainly, an audience that will listen to me meander through my thoughts,  for cripes sake. I don’t get a lot of that at home. I wonder why?

7. When I just asked my husband, “Hey! I’m having a brainblock! What’s something you’re grateful for?” and he answered without any hesitation: “You.” Be still my heart.

6. Watching these boys watch the floats go by. They are entranced. “Da Spidermans! And ninja guy! And I don’t know who that is because mom won’t let us watch anything but der PBS!”

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5. Paired with the jammies is the simple fact that my darling father-in-law made his traditional pancakes for the boys this morning. I have not moved from the couch. Grandpa Ed is da best! I didn’t have to wipe der syrups offa anyone!

4. My husband, who keeps reading tidbits from the sports section of the paper at me. I am grateful that he still, after all these years, thinks I am interested in this.

3. Our church. Have already answered a plethora of texts and posts from them; so grateful for their friendship and their faith. I always picture my church family as those kids at the end of a Charlie Brown Christmas. We are faithful friends to even the most wishy-washy (me). We are also short and rather strangely dressed.

2. Family. Of course. I know it’s the obligatory answer, but holy cannoli I love them so.

1. Jesus. He loves me so. Proof still that miracles happen here on a daily basis.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Super Spies and #Netflixstreamteam

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It’s three am.  This is clearly a time that no human should ever be awake.  Unless, perhaps, you are a doctor or a police person. Or the president.    But no OTHER humans should be up.  AT ALL.

And yet, here is Red, standing next to my bed about two inches from my shut eyeballs.  His little face is glowing like an heart attack inducing alarm clock.  For the past three nights, Red waits until about three am, and then… he wakes UP.  Like BIG UP.

Like, he decides he’s Jimmy Fallon and I’m his next guest, UP.

I am ensconced so firmly in my sleep that when I am woken by Sir Chatsalot I am unsure of who he is.  There is this… a child here.  How did he get here? Clearly, he is not supposed to be here.  How did I have children?  Perhaps this is a post for a different type of blog.  But still, child, who are you?

And then, the questions:

“Where’s my balloon?”

“Canna I fly my paper airplane tomorrow?”

“Is dis a big ouchie or a little ouchie?”

“Can you tell us about your next movie?”  (Ok, he didn’t really ask that one, but I was trying to continue the Jimmy thing…)

 

This is super annoying, I know.  Even Jimmy Fallon fails to entertain when one is in DEFCON 5 level sleep.  And it would be immediate fodder for a stern talking to and immediate escort back to bed, if not for that fact that my sweet Red also has had a fever these past two nights.

Evidently, a 101 temp makes Red very… convivial.  He wants to share his deepest thoughts and dreams, and he wants to ASK about mine.  So at three am, I answer the poor dear as best as I can with assorted grunts and ahums, check temps, administer water, maybe meds, find Captain Spots (his stuffed hyena, of course), and get his chatty little bum back in bed.

So, here’s the problem.  I might have said, in my three am mutterings, that Red could go to VBS in the morning.  I might have.  There is no actual PROOF of this, but since the kid was basically asking me everything short of my blood type and do I prefer regular or spicy sushi rolls.

So BAMMO, next morning, there is a sad SAD little toddler who is gonna miss Da SUPER SPIES!  And he IS a SUPER SPY!  And der were clues!  And he is gonna MISS da clues!  And, most epic and catastrophic of all:  he is gonna miss da caaaaaaaaandyyyyy!

My kids don’t get out much.

Our church’s VBS (vacation bible school, for those of you who are terrible heathens or who have no children to farm off to these things because, FREE CHILDCARE!) is the International Spy Academy this year.  It’s got Jesus ,and SPIES!  My older child has been running around the house with a magnifying glass and some clues that make absolutely no sense because, well, he created them.  It has provided hours of entertainment.

And now, I have a sick spy who is obviously feeling demoted.

So, what does Momsie do when she needs to provide comfort and extra special care?

NETFLIX!!!!!  🙂

Thank you Netflix, for saving the day.  Red sat on the couch in his Elmo jammies (spy uniform) and watched this classic not once, but three times today.

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I realize it’s not exactly SPY material, but ders da clues!  And da magnafrying glasses!  And we will solve the case, together, right Mommah?

And we did.  We cuddled, ate grape popsicles, and rooted Basil on as he uncovered Rattigan’s dastardly deeds.

Did I mention we cuddled?  The whole time?  Sometimes a sick toddler who allows himself to just rest and take in a movie is a mommah’s dream.

And before you snark at me about copious television watching, YOU try to tell this one that he can’t go play spy with his brother at da church.  Go on, I dare you.

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