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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Protect and Serve.

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It’s like she knows me, that Kate.

It’s our favorite Five Minute Friday!!!!!! And today’s theme has been heavy on my mind lately.

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So… we are going to see family this weekend. My dad’s birthday is July 3- which just means we start blowing stuff up a day early. Because nothing says “Happy Birthday!” like a bunch of pyro technics and one nervous mother.

I just don’t like the 4th of July, y’all. I just don’t.

I mean, I like it in theory. In the patriotic sense. I am so really grateful that the British don’t own us anymore because our idea of monarchy would involve some reality television stars, I bet, and that’s just classless.

But. The blowing up of the things? WHAT IS UP WITH THAT.

The tradition continues: My children run around, all hyped up on popsicles and fire, and blow up seventeen million firecrackers, while I sit somewhere, in the background, all sweaty and agitated. If I could get my own thundershirt, I would. (It’s a thing. For dogs. Who freak out about fireworks and thunderstorms. And yes, that makes me the dog. I’m the dog.)

Last year I watched my husband basically set both my children on fire about four times because he too loves fireworks. This is an admission that you can file under the umpteen posts about his maturity level. And yes, he knows how I feel about this. And yes, when I TELL him, “You are such a CHILD, Brian,” he gets kind of a gleeful look on his face. Like he’s tallied up another Immaturity Token. He wins a day of lazer tag at Jumpin Joes eventually, when he gets 100 tokens. At least in his mind.

Anyhow.

This post has no underlying deep message. Not one. There is nothing about how we have so much weight on us, us mothers, us parents, to protect and serve. To keep our little, grimy charges fed and watered, oh and also, BASICALLY ALIVE. It keeps me a bit nervous and quivery, that thought. Like parenting should come with its own Thundershirt. They should hand ’em out at the hospital.

“Congratulations,” says the Hospital. “Here’s your scunchie-faced newborn. And a Thundershirt. Because you’re so gonna need it. Especially after you see our bill. Ha ha!”

Nope. I’m not going there. Sometimes just thinking about all this protection stuff makes me kind of light headed and I wonder how I got the responsibility for two little ones when at times I can’t even figure out how to program our air conditioner correctly. (This is a constant argument at our house. Daily. It is hard, people. It’s a really new fangled air conditioner thermostat thingie, and there are a lot of buttons , and I just would rather it be something out of the Frozen movie upstairs instead of trying to deal with all the pushing.)

Yep. I got nothing about how I can’t protect my sweet boys, but I must. I got nothing about how this world seems to have done lost its mind and I have two boys that still think, maybe, just maybe the tooth fairy is still real.

I got nothing.

But I got Jesus.

And a big huge bucket of water that I set next to my camping chair.

And, this fabulous new-ish tradition (started over three years ago)  — NO big to-go cup full of vodka. So there’s that. (Did you know? The fourth of July? Some of us folks in recovery remember it to be, perhaps, one of those oh-so happy excuses for Let’s Drink All DaYYYYYYYY! because other folks were. And  I have to admit – a nice cold one helped make all the booming and basic armageddon happening all around me a little bit … softer around the edges. Sigh. Now, I just drink a bucket load of Tazo Calm tea and grab a hose and hope for the best.)

Now – remember, moms. Keep a bucket of water handy. Pray a lot. Keep an eye out for children running about, all hopped up on the power of fire and a late night and holy HECK DON’T YOU DARE POINT THAT AT YOUR BROTHER! DO YOU WANT TO PUT HIS EYE OUT? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I WILL CANCEL THE 4TH OF JULY RIGHT HERE IF YOU DO THAT AGAIN, YOU HEAR ME?

Ahem. Sorry. Was just kinda getting too in the moment there.

Happy Fourth. Stay safe. Be vigilant. Protect. It’s what we do. Even if we do a rather lousy job of it and it entails a lot of pointing and shouting and possibly spraying down with a hose.

And, maybe remember:

1. Thank your troops and our service men and women- all those who serve and protect, and have served – for keeping us free.

2. Thank God that he’s truly in charge of all this nutball. And we’re not.

3. There is, always, eventually bedtime. Thank you, Jesus. For bedtime. Oh the quiet of Bedtime. Blessed be.

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Date Night

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Tonight we will be enjoying a lovely 2%, vintage 2016, for your dining pleasure. It pairs well with kids.  Note the tie.

Last Saturday night romance was in the air. It was intense, y’all. It was like we were on the Titanic and I was all Queen of the World, and then I got to make out with Leonardo DiCaprio, not long before I disallowed him room on my totally huge raft in the freezing North Atlantic. Very romantic. And yet, our evening was warmer.

Also, I would never make out with Leo. Nope. I am married, y’all. My husband completes me.

Of course, Leo didn’t grace us with our presence, but we had this blurry pic of another dinner guest:

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I am blurry. And furry. It’s how I roll.

There were roses. There were chocolates. Earlier that day, the husband let me take a nap, which is the universal, married I Hope I Get Lucky Valentine. But that is another post for another day.

There were also two small boys who had reservations with us for a night of fine dining. I  informed them that they had to come to dinner in ties. And they reacted as if I had asked them to lop off both arms, and then try to attach their ties.

They were informed, in a heavy French accent (I had to take on an accent. It freaks them out and I get to pretend I’m Catherine Deneuve.) “No tie? No food. Zees is Chez Momsie. Dress code, mes bebes.” They sighed heavily, with American accents, clipped their ties onto their Star Wars t-shirts, and showed up at 6:30 pm on the dot. Right on time.

We had a very swanky affair at our house on Valentines Day, and a tradition was born. I printed out menus (thank you, bad clip art!) Macaroni and cheese was offered as an appetizer. I poured the sparkling cider into tiny tippy glasses and no one spilled anything.

 

It was a Valentines miracle.

We ate strawberries and whip cream, the really fancy kind that you squirt out of a can. I offered table-side service for this, as I offered a shot of the stuff in the mouth to each patron. This was a real showstopper.

And we talked about why we loved each other.

“I love Blonde because he shows me how to play Legos,” says Red. He’s grinning like a maniac. This is all mushy and stuff, which is kind of right up his alley. His smile nearly lifts him out of the chair. He lifts his fizzy little glass with panache. “AND I LOVE THIS FANCY DRINK!” he yells. Evidently he thinks we are all in the other room when he speaks, because the bubbles in the drink had evidently made him quite giddy.

Blonde, the wisened 7 year old, has a bit of a tougher time with the mushy business. He is, in all walks of life, less forthcoming with the mush.

“I love Red because…” We all lean in a little.

“Because he is my brother.”

And there it is. The greatest law there is. We love because we are family. We love because we simply have no choice. We are for each other.

My boys are growing older and finding their own friends, their own ways they want to spend an afternoon. They are, however, still pretty inseparable. And what I have told them, almost weekly, is that they, as brothers, must have each other’s backs. They are the ones going to be left when the friends leave, when the family goes, when we get dementia and go into the home, your brother will be the only one left.

(I didn’t really go into the last part with them as I didn’t really want to stop and have to explain ‘dementia’ because depressing. Also, the one other time I sprang this word on them they kept thinking that I was saying, ‘Philadelphia.” Confusing.)

(As a side note to the side note: This whole dementia thing? Really possible because we had kids late in life and when they graduate from high school I’ll be using a walker and won’t be able to see or hear the thing because I will be OLD, y’all. I WAS AROUND BEFORE EMAIL. That old.)

But I digress.

We spent the rest of the evening looking up the bible verses that the husband had put on their Star Wars Valentines. The husband is super spiritual that way. I just shot whip cream at ’em. But he wins in the Jesus department.

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And then we all tried to massacre each other with a really cut throat game of Go Fish.

And that, my friends, is what I call the most romantic evening I have had in a long time.

I am wondering if it competes with Leo’s?

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Life Sentence.

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Something lately has been really really really bugging me.

No. It’s not the coffee cup thing. Don’t leave the post.

Here is my issue: Lately I had a review of The Book (I wrote a book. Did you know?) in a local paper. The review was really nice and well written and we had a great interview prior. It was, all in all, great press and great information about the book.

But.

The final paragraph or so was about my brother. This was a fitting place to end because his story intertwined with mine is really important. He died from alcoholism. I didn’t.

Well, there’s a lot more to it than that – but that’s not the problem. The problem is the final line of the article. It says something like: “After what happened to my brother, I was cured forever.”

No. Just. No.

I don’t think I said it, but to give proper credit to the writer who did a good job (I am not trouncing him – interviews are tough and he did a great job of fact checking and making sure most was copacetic prior to print.)

But, no. I am not cured forever. Chris would certainly understand that.

I understand this: I am an alcoholic. After all this press and marketing and “Wow, I read your book” from my small town peeps, I still have a hard time saying that, ‘out loud’ here for you. After all this time. Still bugs me to say it. Still kinda bugs me to have people say, “Yea you! Good job! You’re awesome! You are in recovery! Woo hoo!” I know. That isn’t quite the way they say it, and I KNOW it’s not quite the way they mean it, but humility is really important in my program, and sometimes all the pats on the back can be a way to forget.

That I’m an alcoholic.

Forever. It is a life sentence. It can be a death sentence if I forget. And it’s a sentence that has given me more freedom than I ever thought possible.

So. Nope. Not cured.

But, forever grateful.

Thus is the essential paradox of my situation. If I think about it too long, I get a big wonky, so most of the time, I just mutter the Serenity Prayer and get a coffee and do the next right thing.

Thank you for listening, readers. Does it sound mushy to say I am grateful for you? Well. I am.

And now, I’m gonna go get a Starbucks and while I stand in line I’m going to lay hands on the barista and speak and pray to Jesus to save her soul.

This should go well.

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No Gift Returns

Linking up with Five Minute Friday today. The theme is:

Screenshot 2015-06-05 07.08.25We have a really great tradition at our house. At about four pm, we all kinda fall apart.

It’s typical. I feel pretty adult-y until then. We go on bike rides. I feed the cat. We weed the garden (read: I weed, the boys end up looking like they just went to the spa for a mud facial). It’s all pretty normal. “Look at me!” I think, as we buy healthy food at the store, “We are at the store! And we bought kale! That’s what big people do!” And I even pay for the groceries myself. I drive home. It’s all so very grownup.

And then, it turns four. And that’s when the monsters come out.

Yesterday, that was when my sons had some milk and graham crackers (so, not a healthy-ish choice, I know. Graham crackers are on the cusp. Sorta healthy, cuz they’re brown? Perhaps the crackers are a symbol. The graham crackers are a sign that the adultish-ness is starting to break down.) And then, my sweet cherubs spilled their milk. And THEN, they proceeded to try and clean it up. The horror.

Yes, I realize you might be thinking, “Wow! They tried to clean it up! That’s awesome! What responsible little darlings!” Yea, sure.

Have you ever seen a five and a six-year-old attempt to clean up something?

One small one grabs my decorative towel and proceeds to grind it into one spot on the table, thus pushing all the milk onto the floor beneath the refrigerator, where it will soon fester and make my house smell like something died. Along with my soul.

Then, the other one takes a wash rag, and with one corner of it, proceeds to hover it over the gigantic pile of milk on the table and proceeds to wave it weakly about with the focus of a newborn.

“OH MY GRAVY,” Momsie says, “THE DECORATIVE TOWELS. HOW COULD YOU. JUST LET ME” and starts to grimly scrub up wayward milk with the martyrd gloom of Joan of Arc. If Joan of Arc had to clean the kitchen, with two small boys circling her at all times, she would fuss about decorative towels too. I am sure of it.

And then, both children slink away; their job is done.

They have Momsie fully trained.

So, as I’m trying to clean all this, I move the table away from the wall. When I do that, I notice a whole other subset of grime and despair that is lining my walls. Which then makes me see the ucky dust all over the floorboards. Which then leads me to the fact that there dust balls (balls? how?) all over my WALLS. And I want to cry a little. It’s like Sisyphus and his whole family set up camp in my kitchen. I want to cry a little.

f0e2ab11de5657835cdb621b00834259But then, I spied it.

An earring. An amethyst earring that I had lost ages ago. An amethyst earring I bought for myself back when I was in college, from a time long (LONG) ago but fondly remembered. There it was, sparkly and sitting amongst all the disgustingness that is my floor, as pretty as you please. If the milk hadn’t spilled, I wouldn’t have found it…

But you know that. I bet you, dear reader, can tell me already what the lesson is:

Look for the good. There are gifts everywhere. Even in spilled milk. Yep. It’s an easy lesson. God wants you to look for the good in it all.

Well, and also; DON’T PUT DECORATIVE TOWELS ANYWHERE WHEN YOU HAVE SMALL CHILDREN. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

And now I’m gonna go pour a pitcher of Kool-Aid in my living room to see what I can find there. Maybe a hundred dollars?

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Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23

When Life Hands You Lemons, Try Not To Throw Them at Someone

Last night I had a bit of a tantrum.

It involved:

  1. Rules.
  2. The children that keep breaking them.
  3. Children in general
  4. My children, specifically
  5. Marriage
  6. Husbands, in theory
  7. The husband sitting at our dinner table – so not in theory anymore.*
  8. You know, pretty much all the nonnegotiables in my life. Like the stuff I’m stuck with. FOREVERRRRRRR.

I’m very grateful for my family. I am. Last night I forgot that. It’s just… they are adorable and wonderful,

But holy nuclear family we are always ALL AROUND EACH OTHER.

Last night’s conversation, in all its brilliance, went like this:

Blonde: What is this?

Momsie: Dinner. Eat, minion.

Red: I don’t like the green stuff.

Dad: I think it’s yummy! (False bravado, here.)

Blonde and Red: withering stares at Dad. Well, not Red.  He can’t master the wither. Bless his heart.

Momsie:  Justeatitsgoodforyou. (Growling, here.)

Dad: So, how was your day?

No one responds since he didn’t address anyone specifically, and we are all a bit lost when it comes to polite dinner conversation.

Momsie: Blonde, how WAS your day? (Pointedly, here, with much foreshadowing that there needs to be a sweet and gentle answer of joy.)

Blonde: I think the green stuff in here is gonna kill me. (Totally dropping the ball on the sweet and gentle bit.)

Momsie: THATSITIHAVEHADITWHATWHYCANTWEJUSTUGGGGHHH.

Dad: I think the green stuff if YUMMY!

Blonde: My day was yucky. Just like the green stuff.

Momsie: It’s not like I’m feeding you NAPALM. NOW JUST EAT IT.

Red: Napalm! This is the only word I will remember from this conversation! And someday, I’ll tell my Sunday School teacher my mommy feeds us napalm! Napalm! YOU CAN COUNT ON IT!

I think I need a safe room.

Especially at 6 pm. Really, really need a room then. A small one, is all I ask. With some throw pillows. Maybe a scented candle. Padded walls.

So… a friend of mine just recently gifted me with this bit of furry perfection:

Photo on 5-28-15 at 9.16 PM I apologize for the grainy picture. I was too distracted by chocolate to really worry about quality photography. I wanted to eat, y’all, not work on focus.

You know, actually, I think that pretty much sums my day to day existence. Eating. Not much focus.

Anyhow. Grumpy cat is my sweet muse.

In fact, he is staring at me right now as I post this bit of nonsense about how I am grumpy at times.

We all get grumpy. Yes. We even say things we regret. So this morning, I told said, “Sorry I was grumpy.” Blonde eyed his breakfast and said, “I love this! And I forgive you, mommah.”

Red said: “Is dis the napalm? It has raisins in it!!”

* Yes. I know. You’re probably thinking – the husband bit? He was never all that annoying? He tried to stick up for the green stuff… and he was sweet and positive and all that. I know.

I really had no reason to be annoyed at the husband. It’s POSSIBLE I was just annoyed at the world and air and anyone breathing air in my vicinity.

It’s possible… I was mad at the husband… simply because he was sitting there.

Yep! That’s marriage!

But you know? He kissed me goodnight as I drifted off to sleep, and this morning, he kissed me awake. And he was still breathing air and all. And he forgave me, even though I didn’t ask it of him.

And that, my friends, is marriage.

And a really good man.

No napalm here.

No napalm here.