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.

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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.

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Weak

Linking up with my favorite people today!!

It’s Five Minute Friiiiiiiiiiiday!!!!

The theme?

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Ok, the so obvious route to go here would be the plague-sickness that had descended on our family since what feels like Christmas. The weakness, you know. Wee tired cherubs, and one taller version (the husband) weakly asking for juice and popsicles and Tylenol all around.

But for some reason I am tired of writing about… being tired.

So, instead, I am going to write about my cat, Steve.

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Steve has serious swag.

Steve is a large. Like, if he was a car, Steve would have passed comfortable mid-sized sedan a long time ago. Steve is a Hummer. With fur.

In the morning, when I head downstairs to some coffee and quiet, I hear Steve get up. What I mean by this is: He is upstairs and I CAN HEAR HIM WALKING DOWN THE HALL.

This is no delicate flower, this cat.

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He’s holding my hand.

But, there is something about Steve that is a bit… lacking in natural cat-ness.

He can’t purr.

Somehow, Steve totally missed the bus on the purring thing. He emits this sad whispy sort of wheeze, instead of a purr, when he is petted (which is often). It makes me feel like I should offer him an inhaler, or at least some Vicks Vapo Rub or something.

Here he is, the king of the house cats, but when he purrs he just loses all credibility. He sounds like a squeaky toy.

Ok, so my point here…

What looks strong can sometimes have a really weak end game.

But also this: weakness is SO not the point. It’s what we DO with the weakness that matters. Steve does not seem to care two claws about his death-rattle purr thing. He still struts around like he owns all the kibble in this house. Also, he lives his life like this:img_6120

Steve is a cat of love.

He is giving his human a hug in this picture. I mean, just look at him. His whole body is purring. Pathetically, but you know.

I think I have a pathetic purr too, in many areas of my life. Like, my wimpy attempts at keeping the house clean. And my parenting skills after 8:30 at night. Or my battle with my squishy tummy.

That sort of thing.

We don’t honor weakness.We should. We get to give it to God, after all. He WANTS the weakness. And anything that He wants, I am more than happy to give.

If he wants our weakness, he must want us. We are pretty weak on some days. It’s ok.

At least you don’t sound like a squeaky toy when you purr. That’s just silly.Grumpy-Cat-Purring-Meme.jpg

I Just Wub You.

My kids. They used to be so cute. Allow me to show you:

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I  mean, that is some good genes right there. They have my looks and also, my adorable ability to make paper Valentines Hearts.

The cleft chins come from their papa.

All in all, my kids’ insane ability to blow the cuteness meter all out of the stratosphere is MOSTLY DUE TO ME. IT’S ALL ME PEOPLE. I MAKETH GOOD BABIES.

Yes. I know. Back away from the coffee, Momsie.

IT’S VALENTINES DAY. DID YOU KNOW? IT’S THE DAY OF LOOOOOOVE.

But, did you know? I used to kinda hate this holiday. As a bit of backstory:

I didn’t get married until I was 36. I know. I was so old I could barely make it down the aisle. They had to set me up with some oxygen and one of those scooter thingies. Also, I don’t think Brian remembers the event at all because HE WAS A WHOLE YEAR OLDER THAN ME AND I WAS ALREADY REALLY OLD so… you know. For him, dementia had set in.

But anyhow. We were married. And it was freaking awesome. Even though we were so old.

Also, though? Kind of not. Kind of not awesome all the time. In fact, today, even, as I tried to make conversation with two wee cherubs at 6:30 in the morning about whether or not they can have chocolate for breakfast… And I’m there in my robe and praying for the coffee to perk faster so it can catch up with the nutball children who TALK SO MUCH IN THE MORNING… I thought, “The awesomeness is not strong today. But hopefully the coffee will be.”

I ask you. How DO they talk so much in the morning? How? It’s a medical mystery.

Here’s my point (The lawyer, who has been absent a lot from my posts lately because of paycuts, gets to finally, FINALLY, add his “WELL IT’S ABOUT TIME.” to this post):

Valentines Day is a day to express love. The apex of love is NOT marriage. It’s not even kids although we all know they can be rather consuming in that department. I mean, did you SEE the picture above? Who could NOT love that? But also, might I add? The blonde one just spent a better part of this morning, walking around the house in aimless circles singing the Star Wars theme but with the word “Poop” interjected as lyrics. So… not so cute, huh? This moment was also accessorized by Red bending over and adding sound effects and you will thank me for not going into any more detail than that.

I’ll just let your imagination fly.

Ok, so back to my point. Valentines Day.

Love is not about sex or making babies (also sex ) or getting married or even, dare I say, the passionate weirdness I feel for my cats that means that every time I pass them I must grab them and hold them close, to check their furry status and all that. This is harder to do with Bob, the small nervous one who tenses up so much when I pick her up that I think she might break into a million tense and furry pieces.

ANYHOW. What I’m TRYING  to say, is that Valentines Day is about recognizing where all that love comes from. God created us to be like Him, after all.Which means…

He loves us like crazy. And, as I had observed this morning with the Poop Musical going on in my foyer, His crazy love is very apt for what He has to deal with on a daily basis.

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Also this: When my boys were little they used to come up and hug me and say, “I just wub you, mommah.” It’s one of those sweet things I remember, as a well-folded, frayed at the edges Valentine that I keep tucked away in my memory. All moms do this. We store them up, a memory box of adorable reminders.

I wanted you to know that I wub you too, my readers. You have been such a blessing to me.

And a tiny extra shout out to:

My dad. Who reads each and every post.

My mom. Who reads each and every one and then writes me letters and comments back. 🙂

Christy. Super Friend. Super Editor. Super Everything.

Julia Putzke. Super Friend Who I Have Not Actually Met Yet But Thank You Internet for Introducing Us.

 

I just wub you!

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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.

Hello, my name is Dana, and I can’t wrap presents.

Momsie, Christmas 2016:

This year I will make sure we do a meaningful and very spiritual Advent activity every day!

This year, we will not fight or argue during our Christmas break because Jesus is about to be born and he needs his sleep! Peace! Goodwill! Etcetera!

This year I will make fudge that actually ends up as fudge, not glorified frosting!

This year, I will wrap the presents BEFORE CHRISTMAS EVE.

THIS YEAR WE WILL DO ALL THE CHRISTMAS THINGS!

 

Bet you can guess how I’m doing on my list, eh?

You know that sledding scene from It’s a Wonderful Life where George’s brother careens right into the pond? Well, that’s how our Christmas can go if we are not careful. Right. Over. The Merry Cliff.

I am pretty sure Jesus did not have this in mind.

Anyhow, what will happen is that I do make the fudge, and we eat it with a spoon and it’s YUMMO.

Also, I will make divinity for my dad because he is the best dad EVER and he’s reading this right now, and I am maintaining my status as the favorite child.

Also, I will put off wrapping because when I wrap presents? I seem to channel my inner idiot savant (what? We all have one. Don’t judge) and my presents end up looking like this:

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I would like to state for the record that there is no booze in this post. The item in the sock is “stunt liquid” – perhaps some olive oil, or a lovely bottle of Sprite. Perhaps a nice 1997. That was a good year.

Anyhow.

Wrapping. Wrapping happens. It’s unavoidable.

NETFLIX TO THE RESCUE!

Netflix has soooooo many new shows to view, I don’t even know what to start. If for some weird reason your children* are a part of this whole wrapping thing (rare, and also very painful for all involved. I mean, have you ever WATCHED a six year old try to wrap a box? It’s like green and red paint drying.) You can watch these two gems:

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Tim Allen is so JOLLY in this one. It’s perfection.

 

or : 61456a59-f862-446b-bc27-9e0fb05c8332_1-40f4d8069640ced9fde27ccd4522295b

This bunny one? It’s adorable.

And, like the tag says, “Everybody needs some bunny to love.” SO TRUE. We could all do with more bunnies to cuddle! Bunnies for everyone!

Also, the movie also stars Florence Henderson in one of her last roles, and she is so gruff and real and NON Florence Henderson-y in it;  she really was awesome in this movie. The story line is about adoption and fostering children. I am such a fan of those families who open their hearts and homes to children – even the “tough ones.” Just watch it. Bring kleenex. Or, maybe a bunny to hold onto while you watch. To wipe away the tears.

*Um, it’s also possible that the boys whilst watching the movies will be so transfixed by Christmas goodness that you can slooooooooowly slide the presents out of their sweaty little hands and then wrap those suckers for them in two seconds. I’m not saying I’ve done that, or that I’ve even done a good job IF I’ve done that, but we needed to be done wrapping that ONE BOX by 2017.

If you’re not watching with the babies, and you are also husband-free (he seems to avoid the whole wrapping thing because he knows better. I get surly. Plus, his style of wrapping, as an engineer, involves a level and measuring tape and, I think at one point there was some math formulas from an app on his phone involved) I go for the Hallmark-channely, romantic Christmas wondefulness stuff that is fluffy and happy. I like fluffy and happy. Heck, I’M fluffy and happy, so there’s that.

Here’s an example:movie-poster-back-to-christmas-563e51c486673-cb49ecc125dffb8d4491e3688e98609ba30f8aca-1“Sometimes you do get a second chance.”

That is cinema gold, people. We all need second chances, and if you’re a It’s a Wonderful Life-Ebenezer-Miracle on 39th Street kinda girl, you might realize –

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SECOND CHANCES.

Jesus would agree.

And finally? I give you my second chance at wrapping:

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My masterpiece.

 

Merry Christmas! Sit back, relax, spoon up some fudge, and enjoy the season, with the help of Netflix.

 

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Momsie’s Annual Top-Ten Thankfuls!

Here’s what you have been waiting for, all year!!!!! I know you have. Me too.

Gratitude is the best reset button EVER. I belong to a facebook group where we post, every day, five gratitudes, and did you know? Every time I do it, I feel better. Even on the no good, very bad, worstest days ever. Gratitude is a multi-vitamin for the soul, I tell you.

So, here goes. My annual Thanksgiving Day Top Ten Thankfuls:

(In no particular order, because I’m doing this right after I had some coffee and a Clariton and I am totally squirreled out right now):

  1. Squirrel One and Squirrel Two. Might as well keep it in the rodent family right now. img_57831
  2. Also, of course, head squirrel, the hubster:

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4. Lemon Bars. I know. Kinda random. But really? Everything has been all pumpkin spice all over the place and I’m so over it. Let’s start a new thing – Lemon Bar Season! It could happen.

5.  That The Force Awakens did not rely on bad CGI and there was no Jar Jar in it.

6. My mom’s oyster dressing. I know that I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.

7. That Black Friday will be over soon.

8. This guy:IMG_5652He has hopes that one day he will be able to FIT in that box. But, as he keeps getting fatter, and the box stays the same, I admire his optimism.

9: This:

 

10: Also, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  And he is good.

Amen?

Amen.

 

Bonus #11:

Sober Momsie. I just am who I am supposed to be when I don’t have alcohol in me. I operate better.

I know, some would say, “Really?” But, if you knew me before you would not argue, believe me.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

When we fall down.

So mommas, it will be real today. No funny business. Sorry.

The other day, my son and I got in an argument. A straight-up, no chaser, fight. With a seven year old.

Because fighting with a seven year old is what a forty six year old women chose to do that day. Because the seven year old didn’t really chose it – he doesn’t have the emotional synapses yet to say, “Hey. Yea. I am choosing this.” Most of his stuff is still kinda… on automatic. Like, his synapses say, “Hey. SQUIRREL.” And we’re done.

Anyhow.

What happened was, the kid acted like a sullen kid. And misbehaved. And then, I took the reins and took OFF on making sure he knew it.

There are times when my mothering goes astray. And it just kicks the sides of that old, dead horse and tries to run off with it. Which is a terrible metaphor but I was trying to go with the “reins” thing. Which kinda means I want you to visualize me riding a dead horse. Off a cliff. Of bad mothering.

Good lord I hope this will make some sort of sense.

If you are still with me, picture me on that poor dead horse, galloping off, on a road towards my cliff. And there’s a sign by the side of the road that says, “CAUTION. STOP HERE. BIG HUGE DROP OFF COMING. TURN THE HECK AROUND.”

Perhaps I should name the cliff. The Cliffs of Insanity.

Or, perhaps:

The Cliffs of I Must Be Right.

I think the Cliffs of Insanity sounds a bit more catchy, but Princess Bride got to it before me.

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Oh. My friends. His face. After all the I-Must-Be-Right-ing and lecturing and trying to make my POINT because it is so important, his little face. It just crumpled in on itself. And he told me,

“I’m just a bad kid.”

And that’s just the awfulest thing. It’s just not not the truth.

It’s just Satan. With my help. And I am so sorry. I had to tell you because I thought, you know? I am so funny and this is so NOT and you need to know. I just so screwed up.

We all screw up. We cannot help it. It’s the tangle of motherhood. We are participating in a daily battle and sometimes I get too involved in winning MY side. When, really, the winning is not the point.

The point is that I watched his shoulders sag, and he said what he did, and then I went over to him, picked him up and put him on my lap like he was my baby, because he is. And I stroked his cheek and I said,

“You are my child. I love you more than I love my life. And you are a child of God. And He doesn’t make anything bad.”

I sat and rocked him. And kissed his cheek and wiped the tears and said, “I am sorry. I love you. You got that?” He nodded. And asked me to play Yahtzee.

And we got through that mess. And probably there will be another one coming soon, because motherhood. Kids. You know.

I wanted to share because I wondered if you needed to know – we all mess up. And then we all can say sorry and go play Yahtzee and eat popcorn and hug on each other. Because, motherhood and kids.

Can I hear an amen? Thank goodness I can. It’s the only thing that keeps me afloat, y’all.