Total Eclipse of the Heart

This is the story of a woman who had no interest in science.

She has a sciencey husband. He was all:

“Hey! The eclipse! Once in a lifetime! Let’s drive to Nebraska!”

She was all:

“I don’t want to. Because: packing, leaving, planning, lists, snacks, endless endless snacks. Just the snacks. Oh Lord, all the SNACKS.”

We drove to Nebraska. Husband accidentally booked us a hotel room in a smoking room. YES THEY STILL SMOKE IN HOTEL ROOMS IN NEBRASKA. You should be ashamed of yourself, Nebraska. I opened all the windows (possibly broke one, I don’t care Nebraska) and there was A LOT OF COMPLAINING.

Then: Ate chicken cacciatore that was… really good. Less complaining. Too busy eating bread slathered in garlic oil and herbs.

Then: Drove to a place called The Crane Nature Center. Who knew? Cranes! In Nebraska! The complaining has now cycled down to about one or two per hour. Sunshine. Hiking paths. Pretty nature stuff. IMG_6942.jpgIMG_6943.jpg

IMG_0001

If you look closely: SNACKS. Of course.

Then: made friends with the all the people. All of them. Everyone was all, “This is so cool! It’s nature! And barbecue! And we’re all in this together! Look at us being all together in this sciencey, once-in-a-lifetime moment!”

Complaining: 1/2 per hour

Then: WHAMMO

IMG_0015.jpgIMG_6957.JPG.jpeg

And yes, my pictures don’t do it justice. BECAUSE IT WAS AMAZING. TOTALLY.

I was wrecked. We all applauded and I cried and people hugged and the whole thing just made me realize two things:

  1. Once in a lifetime things are so cool. I wish they happened more often. But, that would change the verbage.
  2. Nebraska is awesome.

Husband and I held hands and I wiped tears. Then, Blonde came up to me and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much for bringing us.” Then Red said, “THIS IS AMAZABALLS.”

And then, a bit later, Blonde came over to me and flopped down in a chair. I said, “You ok?”

He responded, “I’m recovering.”

And Red asked, “Where are the snacks?”

Of course.

Complaining: ZERO

And THEN: We all packed up and walked past the river and the pretty butterfly field and all the people were smiling and saying hi and it was like a Happy Village of Everyone Getting Along Despite 2017, and I was kinda blissing out.

And then we ate at Tommy’s Diner in Grand Island, NE and I had the BEST BUTTERSCOTCH MALT EVER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.

IMG_0001 2

ACTION FOOTAGE OF OUR HIPSTER WAITER WITH MAN BUN. I love him. He brought me my malt.

It was, quite simply, a once in a lifetime experience.

Complaining: NEGATORY. NEVER AGAIN. I AM SHOOK.

IMG_6965.JPG.jpeg

Also, there is the hot fudge sundae experience.

I call this photo essay “THIS IS THE SNACK OF DREAMS”

 

IMG_6972.JPG.jpegIMG_6967.JPG.jpegIMG_6968.JPG.jpeg

You might say I had a change of heart. A “total eclipse” if you will.

And then: on the drive home, we listened to The Last Battle and I kissed hubs on the cheeck. “Thank you,” I said. “And I’m sorry I complained so much.”

And hubs said, “You complained? Nah. I don’t remember that.”

The world is a wonderful place.

IMG_0014.jpg

The end.

Advertisements

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.”

8cb4a8b1a69c074469bcc1ea3042a9e6_-living-in-a-van-down-by-living-in-a-van-down-by-the-river-meme_384-288.jpg

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:

IMG_6564.JPG

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

 

 

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

 

83232447.jpg

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.

IMG_6492.JPG.jpeg

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 Days of More

Hey, did you hear?

I gave up alcohol for Lent.

Yep. Also, I gave it up for December. And rainy days. And birthdays.

So, also, you know, the rest of the year. And forever. That sort of thing.

89f7900d542ad009de1f13e4a3d6bf52.png

 

So. Moving on.

It’s just a teensy bit possible that I have not really given up anything else for Lent in a long while. Unless, of course, you count last minute trips to Paris, or goat farming or walking gracefully. I totally gave those up ages ago.

You see, I am just so horribly bad at Lent. I do not get A’s in Lent. This bothers me. I would plan something for it, and journal about it, and chirp about it to my so-good-at-doing Lent friends, and then, BAMMO, in about four days I would have totally forgotten.

Maybe I could give up memory for Lent?

I have made my peace with it. Jesus forgave me a long time ago for my inability to half-heartedly give up chocolate for four days. But, Jesus wasn’t done with me on this subject yet. That’s just His way. You have obstacles in life? He is there. But He also says things like, “Here, let me work with you on this… for a really long while…”

Sometimes I just wish He would say, “Here. Let me COMPLETELY FIX THIS THING FOR YOU. ALL DONE! PRESTO WHAMMO!”

It would be so cool, if that were His way. And, I have heard that sometimes it is. For some reason, I never get to have the “presto whammo” version of fixing things with Jesus. I wonder why? Just once, I’d like to get the PRESTO WHAMMO. It would be so cool.

Anyhow, this year Jesus and I had a little talk about Lent. It went like this:

Jesus: No, I am not talking to you in an audible voice. I know some of your readers are gonna think I showed up in your living room, all glowy and talking.

Me: THAT WOULD BE SO COOL WHY DON’T YOU DO THAT?

Jesus: We’ve discussed this before. I think you might get distracted by the glow. I’ll stick with still small voice today, okay?

Me: Sigh.

Jesus: It doesn’t work, the grumpy thing. I’m too holy. Just bounces right off. Let’s talk.

Me: Ok, Lent? I don’t like it? It kinda feels like 40 days of gritting my teeth over not drinking Pepsi, when You fasted for 40 days in a desert with Satan bugging you, and then, AFTER that You went and died for us. I dunno. Pepsie? It seems a bit… underwhelming.

Jesus: Ok, for the readers here who did give up Pepsi, I totally think that’s awesome. She’ll get on track here. Stay with us.

Me: Oh. Yes. Sorry. Sorry, Pepsi people.

Jesus: Look, if you don’t think your fast is legit enough, then why not totally fast for 40 days?

Me: Uh… totally? Like no food? Did you have water? No water? Again, you’re sure? No food???  That’s impossible. I mean, true, YOU’RE JESUS, so YOU could handle it, but…

Jesus: Yes. I am Jesus. But it wasn’t all fun and games for me either. Ok, well let’s dial it down then. I could provide some locusts and honey?

Me: Ew.

Jesus: So… the Lent thing. It has to be under your control, huh?

Me: *crickets*

Jesus: How about this? How about you add to your life? For 40 days, you study what Lent is about.

Me: Hey. Yea. I like that! I could ADD to my life, for 40 days. You are so SMART, Jesus.

Jesus: I get that a lot. So, you’re not officially fasting, but I’ll take it. Maybe we can think of it as “fasting from distraction and adding focus.” And then, maybe, one day you can really give up chocolate for 40 days and not overthink it so much.

Me: Still doesn’t seem very comparable…

Jesus: LOCUSTS AND HONEY. I WILL SEND THEM. DON’T TEST ME.

Me: OK. Bible Study. Every day, for 40 days. I’m in. Call off the locusts!

So, this year, I found myself mired in some bad habits that had me stuck. And I realized, as one who just SPOKE AT A CONFERENCE ABOUT OVERCOMING BAD HABITS that irony was going to come up and smack me upside the head if I didn’t get my mind right.

So here is my 40 Days of More Lenten Package for you:

  1. Up at 5:30 am.
  2. Study the bible
  3. Run
  4. Eat an egg for breakfast*

* I know. The egg seems totally random, but it matters. I need something to help with my blood sugar. Like, lately, I have found myself eating Frosted Flakes and cheese. If there was a restaurant called Cereal and Cheese, I would be there. Every day. This does not make Momsie’s brain or body happy. And each time I try to make sure I make a protein shake with more than two ingredients, I want to curl up on the floor with coffee and a Ring Ding, and cry. Ingredients are HARD at seven in the morning.

I am allowing myself to run a minimum of one measly mile. If I want to go longer, so be it. I usually do because after one mile I’m all warmed up and singing along with Toby Mac and ready to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Or not.

That’s the plan. I’ll keep you posted. If you walk past my house and see a FedEx box labelled LOCUSTS AND HONEY you’ll know.

I’m still hoping that some day Jesus asks me to give up tightrope walking for Lent. I’d be so in.

Presto whammo.

813db80cc9784e96293652bccf6ae2f8.jpg

 

 

 

Fight the Good Fight

IMG_6346.JPG.jpeg

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:

woman_writing_at_laptop.png

Step Two:

facebook-notifications.png

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.)

IMG_6350.JPG.jpeg

 

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?

Girls-600x600.png

 

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

th-1.png

 

and…

 

th-2.png

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.”

moon14day-1985c.png

 

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

Banish Worry and Anxiety in Five Easy Steps!

Gotcha.

I hate to say it, but worry doesn’t go down that easy. It doesn’t do “steps.” Sometimes, it doesn’t even do logical.

And it doesn’t play fair. Does it?

Some of you know my whole story – the one that digs back behind the funny parenting posts and tells you that I am an alcoholic, in recovery. And here is the rub:

Worry was my THING.

And sometimes, it still is. The holidays are a time of festivity and lights and our Savior’s birth, but did you also know? For a lot of us, the holidays are fraught with fear, anxious thoughts, worry. Sadness. Depression. A whole cocktail of tangled thinking stirred with a cute little swizzle stick of “We SHOULD be totally happy right now! It’s Christmas! NO ONE can be sad at Christmas! It’s un-American!”

In some ways, worry is an addiction all its own. It can be picked up and put on, like one of those big puffy coats that make you look like the Michelin Man – it buffers you from all else. It wraps and constricts and, at the same time? It might just be what we think keeps us warm and safe. If we worry, that means we just might have a shot at fixing whatever worries us.

We think we can fix, with worry.

Instead? We only damage more.

Lately I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing this:

screenshot-2016-11-29-12-38-45

Here is a bit of wisdom (in the form of a list! You KNOW how I love lists!) from the author, D. C. Berkel, CPA:

Worrying has never:

  • Paid a bill
  • Turned around a failing relationship
  • Made a sick person well
  • Improved anyone’s physique
  • Changed anyone’s mood to one more positive
  • Made a job more fun or secure
  • Taken out the trash
  • Mowed the grass
  • Painted the house
  • Or kept the mother-in-law away

Now, not all mother in laws are worry-inducing. But, this list? It makes sense. We worry. We worry about all sorts of things. And Christmas? Sometimes, in all this joy and celebration, it crashes up against us and makes the worry hit back. This workbook? It has a lot of help to offer. It defines anxiety, and worry, and tells us why we sink under it. It gives us some very practical advice, in a written workbook format, step by step. It takes it slow.

And that’s how we deal. We need to take a breath, do some writing, some thinking about our past, some work. Maybe because we owe it to our future.

I still worry. But, I don’t let it control me. And I don’t suffer from it, like I used to. It doesn’t cloak me, and my life, like it once did.

Did you know? About six years ago, every time I got in a car with my family to go on a road trip, I would envision our little vehicle ending up in a terrible crash. I would see it, the metal on the road, the ambulances, the terror. I would breathe deep and clench my fists and pray like crazy, but that, my friends, is some palpable, evil anxiety to deal with. So, today? I do every thing I can to work on it. I gather my tools and I keep them close. God asks us pursue wisdom, and knowledge, and live right.

This book is one of those tools to live right. I highly recommend it.

If you are interested in getting a copy, click here.

b486cf4047c940999436fd96653a9c22