Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Still Standing

Hello, strangers! It's been four months. Holy cow. I've missed you!! (So much so that I don't even care how weird that sounds!)

Usually when I go this long between blogs, I just choose to be mysterious and let y'all assume I have been doing something ridiculously time consuming and awesome. This time, I decided to give an explanation. I guess this blog has been a long time coming...I was just trying to become brave enough to write it.

You see, I've been sick. I would tell you more about it but
A) I really don't want a pity party, nor need one. (Sitting in a neurological research facility with the ability to speak and walk and eat almost makes you feel like nothing is wrong with you at all.) and
B) There's not a whole lot at this point to tell. I will say that we have been actively trying to make a diagnosis since February, and I've gone through so many specialists and tests, I am beginning to feel like there is a small possibility that I may be secretly starring in the next episode of House. (And if that's actually the case, sorry I haven't been blogging y'all. I've been doing something mysterious and awesome.)

The truth is, in the beginning, I really was just too busy to write. I had set aside Thursdays as "blogging days," and when my Thursdays starting filling up with doctor appointments and lab work, I never actually got around to writing anything. After enough Thursdays passed, I started to feel like it would be awkward just to jump right back into it. (Which now I realize is dumb, because that is exactly what I always do.) There was really only one thing that I needed to say, but I wasn't ready to talk about it yet. So I waited for the right timing.
I am not too ashamed to tell you out front that I was selfishly waiting to write you the I-was-sick-but-look-at-me-now-i'm-all-better-hallelujah blog. And I am also not too ashamed to tell you that I started to get really bitter that I wasn't able to write it. If I'm being perfectly honest, forgive me for saying I still wish that it was the blog I was writing you today instead of this one.

I am not better. But I am also no longer bitter. That's why I know that the timing is right.


I've enjoyed running for a long, long time now. I had never really considered it one of my identifiers, though. You know how some people describe themselves in one word: soldier, doctor, mother, blogger, etc. etc. "Runner" just never seemed to fit for me. That is, of course, until I moved to Missouri. I found myself with lots and lots of time and absolutely no activities to fill that time, so I ran. One day, I realized that I was running around an empty park trail in the snow. Happily, I might add. And on purpose. I figured then and there that I probably had to own up to my new identifier.

Running suits my personality because I am strongly competitive. I like to compete. I like to win. I like to set goals and surpass them. I am a typical first child that way, I guess. I remember sharing an experience with you about a time I nearly killed myself running so I wouldn't look weak in front of a group of soldiers. While I still struggle with that person from time to time, I am happy to say that I am learning to do the best with the body I have been given. But I won't lie to you and tell you that this acceptance has come easily. Anyone who runs regularly could tell you how disheartening it is to see your pace time slow from 7...to 8...to 9...to 10. I have chosen not to run longer distances right now because the recovery time is a bit too taxing for my body. ("Stay-at-home-mom" is one of my even bigger identifiers. I didn't want to run so much that I had to add broken/boring in front of it.) This worked for a while, until it didn't.
More disheartening than the pace time, it is so hard to see your mileage drop from 13...to 6...to 5...to 3...to 2.5. I kept on trucking as best as I could with a smile forced on my face until I realized once in the middle of a 2.5 jaunt, I either needed to slow down or stop and walk.
I was furious.
I was mad at myself. I was mad at my body. I was mad at everyone walking around me on that track like they weren't hurting and in the midst of personal defeat. I was mad at the stupid, extremely well-educated and capable doctors who weren't finding the right answers to help me. I was mad at God for not healing me and letting me write my hallelujah blog.

I think that I might have lied to myself somewhere along the lines about what a Christian should look like when they are struggling. I always thought that good, God-fearing girls should cry alone in their closets and then walk out into the world singing and dancing to Pharrell's Happy song. (And you got bonus points if you could find some minions on the street to join you.)
Furthermore, I thought that if you didn't act this way, then you weren't living right. I felt that a person who is victorious should live victoriously at all times. Don't get me wrong. It was never an issue about whether or not I would struggle---all people will struggle. But I thought I would be able to handle things with an attitude of grace that would help me overcome anything this world could throw at me...and then somehow, my struggles would just meld seamlessly into my life rendering it almost totally unaltered. Just a hiccup. Because I'm a warrior.
And for the past 10 months, this lie cost me a lot of grief. Then I found the truth:

Ephesians 6:18 King James Version (KJV)

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Sometimes a warrior is called to fight. And sometimes a warrior is beat six ways from Sunday. And then he is called to stand back up.

Because sometimes my standing back up looks just as victorious as doling a mighty blow, regardless of whether or not I have forced a smile while doing so. Standing back up, even through tears, says hope is still in me.

Now when I go running, I keep the pace a bit slower and more comfortable. If I have to walk, then I slow down to a walk. But then I regain my strength and I start running again. You see, I used to think it a discouragement if I had to quit. I used to think that if I quit running, then I was admitting defeat to myself and for my body. As it turns out, I can find victory in stopping too...because as long as I keep standing, I will find the strength to start up again.

And just so you know, the day we figure all of this stuff out, I am going to write the MESS out of my I-was-sick-but-look-at-me-now-i'm-all-better-hallelujah blog. And I'll post a video of me and some minions dancing to Pharrell's Happy song, too!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Oh, Honestly.

Let's talk about a bit of a downer people...

For the past several months I've been talking to an editor for our local paper here, and she had offered me an opportunity to write as a paid blogger for the paper's online publication. It was supposed to be geared around health and fitness tips for moms. I know for a fact that I totally would have nailed it, and I was so excited to cheat on this blog with that one, but alas--it never came to be. womp womp.

My wonderful and supportive husband had mentioned that I should post my pilot blog in spite of the situation, and Lord knows that is what I would normally do. (And Lord also knows I still probably will one day...) This isn't really what I wanted to blog about, though. It is more of an aside that I needed to get off of my chest. People don't want to pay for my writing yet, but that's okay. Will blog for free. As a bit of a consolation prize, here's one for the moms about mental fitness.
One thing that I have been noticing a lot in the blogging realm is the rise of the "Mommy Martyrs." If you have no idea what I'm referring to, then I'll quickly spell it out for you here.
In essence, motherhood is a soul-sucking, sanity-stealing, sleep-depriving occupation that kills any amount of human joy that may be physically possible and replaces it with a never ending cycle of butt-wiping.

In case the previous description left you thinking that I don't like reading those blogs, then let me tell you plainly: FALSE.
I am of the opinion that if you can't read satire or understand sarcasm without getting offended, then you should probably get off the Internet. Also, you can please take your lame excuse that one can't convey tone in writing with you. Allow me to introduce Mr. Winky Face: ;)

That being said, I try really hard to keep things light and rosy on my end. I may be up to my elbows in a land of smushed fishy crackers, but I am by no means drowning in it. And while I enjoy a good snot-out story as much as the next mom, we have more or less outgrown that phase and I already miss it. (Some days.... Kind of.....)
Moreover, in case you haven't noticed a bit of a trend, I try really hard to look for the joy in life's little things. (If you are confused, please reread my entire blog.) Truth be told, most of that joy comes from learning to laugh at my "martyr moments."

Some days it is really easy. Like the time I awoke in the middle of the night to find that both of my children had woken from their sleep, crawled into my bed, and snuggled up so tightly to me that I actually wound up sleeping on the footend of the bed with no pillows or blankets. Or watching my kids reenact every line and musical number of Frozen...In its entirety...Including the extra scenes and the Spanish rendition of "Let it Go."

Some days I get to laugh a bit after the fact. Which happened the day my daughter told and retold a fart story starring her mother to complete strangers in a restaurant. Or a little while after those instances when my son wakes me up in the morning by getting right up to my sleeping face and yelling "COCKADOODLE DOOOOO!"

And then there are those days where it really is just.stinkin.hard.
Last week I had about seven of those days in a row. In addition to the realization that my new blog opportunity was probably never going to be, everyone got sick with various ailments and I just couldn't keep them well. Even the dogs got in on it. Fungal, bacterial, and allergic. Thanks for sticking with the rule of threes, Murphy. We felt icky. We were cranky. We were tired. We were lonely. We missed Daddy. We felt low.
I looked and looked for the joy, but my own pessimism just wouldn't let me push past only seeing the crap. Literal crap. (That happens with bacterial ailments, folks.)
It took everything in my power not to complain with a snarky blog entry. Truly, all I wanted to do was vent and have people pity me. But instead, I called my momma, cried to my husband, and reread one of the classics. (And one can always glean something from the classics...) Like this gem:
Don't try to be cynical. It is perfectly easy to be cynical.

One of my favorite things about children is the openness with which they speak from their hearts. It's all beautiful and silly, of course. But there is also always so much truth in it.

Like in the pureness of their forgiveness: "It's not your fault, Mommy. You didn't know what was a fungus and what was a bruise."
Or in their unfailing optimism: "It's okay. At least I don't have to get cut apart and put back together!"
Or in their refreshing perspectives of wellness: (as the dog does a complete leap over the furniture and lands on us with his freshly muddied paws) "Mommy! Mommy! He's back! He's back!!!"

This week, during one of my roughest weeks in a while, the joy I found is that my kids have not yet been warped by the world's cynicism. And that they are so wonderfully and perfectly honest.

Sending us off with a "real life" selfie.

Here's hoping your joy is easy to spot today and all of your tomorrows.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Little Ol' Me

I am not one for keeping up with pop culture. This is not new news. Yesterday I discovered that Mandy Moore is the voice of the calico cat in the new Disney Jr series "Sheriff Callie." That will be as close as I get to being "in the know" regarding pop culture for at least the next 6 months... Because I'm a mom.

Last week I attempted to take a break from the preschool programming and watch the CMA's--like an ordinary, yet slightly more hip mom.
(FYI-If you actually use the word "hip," it pretty much guarantees that you aren't. Dangit.)

As I watched all of these extra-ordinary people get up on stage to perform, I noticed some things:
-They make the same faces at awkward dance moves that I do.
-They are just as tired of hearing Florida Georgia Line as I am. (It was a good song. It wasn't worth making five songs about. Sorry.)
-Their voices shake when they are scared.

This is not to say that I am usually starstruck. I'm not. I hardly know who the stars worth being starstruck over are anymore. But it's nice to see extraordinary people looking ordinary. (Which happens a lot when they insist on wearing Hanes undershirts like they are actual clothes. I will never understand...but I am getting away from the point of this story...)

As the writer of a blog with a poster on the side of it that promises not to be boring, I will be the first to admit that my life is so very ordinary. I wouldn't call it boring. It's just not all that noteworthy.

I think that's why I write it. I want to find the redeeming value of my ordinary story.

When my husband's grandfather passed away a couple years ago, we each took turns reading his memoir. He had lived through the Great Depression, fought during WWII aboard the U.S.S. Swasey and Brough, fathered three children, taught as a university chemistry professor for over 30 years, was an avid birdwatcher, an active member of his community, and a very interesting man to talk to. As I read his autobiography, I couldn't help but think to myself that I would never be able to write stories as wonderful as these to leave behind for my loved ones--I would never do anything as grand or awe-inspiring as this man. But to talk to Delbert, he probably would have told me that he lived an ordinary life. Not a boring one, but that his stories were shared by many others of his time and just so happened to be puzzled together uniquely into his life.

The thing that is important to remember about being ordinary is that ordinary people are capable of doing big things. That our ordinary stories are being puzzled together into a bigger picture.

Occasionally, you recognize that you have a story slightly outside of the norm.
Once upon a time, I went to college and earned a degree. While that used to be impressive, this has turned into somewhat of an ordinary story now.

But my study buddy didn't look like other people's.

Passing out with a bottle meant something entirely different.

By the way, thanks for that, Babe.

And "Hey, y'all want to come over for a party?" didn't mean what it used to.

(Although the boys did still try...)

Whenever I have a rough season in my ordinary life, I go back to that time. I play it all back in my mind. The shock. The fear. The tears--happy and sad. The drive. The determination. And ultimately, the feeling of victory that I get when I realize I have accomplished something noteworthy. Maybe not to everyone, but certainly to me.

Of course, I didn't do it on my own. I had ridiculous amounts of help from people who love me. And I hope that if they are ever feeling anything less than special, they remember that sharing this one story with me makes them really big in my eyes.

And isn't that a golden nugget? Even when we are feeling ho-hum, we may actually be living a life that is a key part of someone else's big story moment.
(By the way, using the term "golden nugget" also takes away hip points.)

As much as I love to joke that I am getting old, I realize I am still young. God willing, I have a lot of years left in me. A lifetime of achievements left to live, if you will. And if they are half as good as Pappy's, then maybe one day I will write a book about it. And I think I will title it "My Ordinary Life."
Just for fun, one of my favorite excerpts from Pappy's book:

My first date with Margaret [his wife] was on Halloween night, 1941. The college had a Halloween dance in Whitley Gym. There were several girls nominated for Halloween Queen and the Marpessa Club had nominated Margaret. In order to raise a little money, we voted on our favorite with a penny vote. Each club got the money that their candidate brought in. I think I spent nearly a quarter that night voting for Margaret. I only had a dime left over. She won! She didn't have a date so I asked her to go to the Chatterbox with me after the dance and she accepted. I spent my last dime on cokes for the two of us. Our first date was on Halloween night, October 31, 1941, and three years later we were married. The rest of these memoirs is a true story of "they lived happily ever after!"

Swoon. Gonna go have a coke now.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Let it Go

I am reeeeally late to the party, but I just wanted everyone to know that I do not totally live under a rock. I have two young children, so yes, I have seen Disney's Frozen. Once ever. I'm pretty big on inclusion, so I hate to separate myself from the masses like this...I didn't think it was all that good. It was not horrible, but let's be honest, people. It was not awesome either. Even my six-year-old daughter left the theater asking why Elsa had ice powers that made both clothing and life. I feel like that information was really missing from my fairy tale plot line. (And don't even get me started on the magic-love-rock-trolls...?!?!?) If I had it my way, I would let us all re-watch Tangled and forget this confusing animated musical ever happened.

Unfortunately, me not liking the movie has nothing to do with the fact that my children are completely infatuated with it (which I find totally confusing, because my son is the only one who has watched it more than once. He totals in at whopping two times, in fact.) But thanks to peer pressure and media hype, they too know all the words to all the songs and request the soundtrack playlist for our dinnertime music, putting on fully choreographed dance numbers afterward.

And so all of my readers without children are fully understanding---yes. Our children are STILL singing the "Let it Go" song every.day.

To share the sentiments of a fellow mom: they must be inserting subliminal messages into this music. That's the only way any of this makes sense.

Tonight as I was being serenaded by my children once again with what can now only be described as every mom's least favorite anthem the most beloved musical score of all time, I realized that the entire time Elsa is singing her song about "letting go" of her problems, she is actually running away and barricading herself in them. (I didn't need yet another reason to dislike the movie, but there it was.)

And while I don't want to admit that I let my thoughts wander instead of listening to my darling children belt out their favorite song, I couldn't help but think of an even better song about letting go.

(Well, actually I thought of two. This is the first one. (That's right, Disney! Tim McGraw thought of it first!!!))

But the one that stuck was this one:
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

(And this is the part where I apologize for getting all deep about this over-rated kid's movie...)

I have not led a perfect life. It is not a secret. I don't hide it from people, and I make it spectacularly easy to find.

Fun fact: when my husband receives his clearances, they always ask him if having a child out of wedlock would be valuable intel for someone. To which he answers: well, I hope not. Because that would probably make them idiots. (Man, I love him!)

My one happy thought is that Facebook was in its infancy when I was in college. Though I still have myself a few of these fine gems which often help to explain the previous picture:

And of course there are no pictures to document certain parts of my life that I wish nobody knew about me.

Even so---not in part. But the whole.

I can't run away from the past--no matter how shiny the ice castle or fabulous the dress.
But I can let it go, because He's already taken it from me. (Praise the Lord!) That's what it means to be free.
Here's hoping we never let yesterday's mistakes overshadow the promises of eternity...And that we never have to listen to another reprise of "Let it Go" ever again :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

For Nathan

Tomorrow my husband and I celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. To quote my husband: it seems like it should be longer.
Thanks honey. ;)
In his defense, though, it really does feel like it should be longer. (Mainly because we had a daughter and lived together for a full year before we were married.) So congratulations, babe. We've actually made it to the 7-year-itch phase!!!
I tease, I tease.

My husband is without question the very best person I've ever met. He is also my favorite, so that works out nicely for us. In no way do I want to suggest that we are unhappy together. However, when I thought about what I wanted to write to my husband in our anniversary blog, I decided not to do the whole story of how he's perfect and wonderful and we live in a land of lollipops and rainbows and bliss. Because that is not what our love is like. (Even though our son eats lollipops almost daily, our daughter likes to wear all the colors of the rainbow at once, and we used to live at Fort Bliss...)

We are in the "meat and potatoes" part of our marriage, so to speak. The real stuff. The stuff that is not always pretty or fancy or exciting to talk about. But it is the part that sustains you and fills you up.

And that's why when I thought about our marriage, I thought about mowing the grass. Here's to us, babe. :)

This anniversary, like so many others, will be spent apart from one another. I will say there are certain perks to being married to a military man. For one thing, he just looks so darn handsome in this uniform:

And while the separations do suck, I get a lot more love letters when he's gone. And the presents and surprise deliveries are pretty spankin', too. It's not that he doesn't love me when he's home; it's just that there is a realization that both of us have to work harder to keep the romance alive when we are oceans away from each other.

Most of the time, our life together can be summed up like this:

But there are some slightly dangerous parts about being married to a military man, aside from the most obvious ones. Separation is hard, but for other reasons than you think. People throw around the cliche' all the time, "I just couldn't imagine my life without you." Well, not only can a military wife imagine it, she lives it. A lot. And she survives. All of the things she was positive she would never have to worry about or was never really sure she was capable of doing before are flung in front of her as her responsibilities and duties. But she pushes past fear and then she does them! It is empowering!! She don't NEED a man!(dun dun dun...)
Take THAT spider!! Take THAT ridiculously heavy wooden piece of furniture! Take THAT overflowing toilet/broken sprinkler system/washing machine in flames! Take THAT children who have inherited entirely too many personality traits from your father! Take THAT lawn!
Bet y'all thought I was never going to get there...
Here. Enjoy this horrible picture of me as compensation for your time so far.

By the way, so glad I have friends who celebrate the fact that I look ridiculous with photographic evidence ;)

I've mentioned before that my husband and I have purchased our first home--a fixer-upper. I can't remember whether or not I have mentioned on this blog yet that my husband actually toured the houses on his own, and I never even stepped foot inside of the house until two days before we closed on it. I am not too proud to tell you that shortly after I took the first walk through, I cried. Big crocodile tears. I probably made my husband feel like a piss ant. (Because that's how we roll here in lollipops and rainbows land.) I was certain beyond a doubt that my husband had chosen our house because of this:

But after a while, I realized it was actually because of this:

Our house sits on a third of an acre in the heart of the city, which is awesome enough on it's own. But the part that's even better is that once you're back there, you don't even realize that you are only .4 miles from a Starbucks. Perfection.

Or at least it would be. Except I married a military man, and I have to mow that son of a gun all by myself. With a push mower.

While other moms may use childcare for gym time, or coffee, or grocery store errands, this mom put on her finest ball cap, sundress, and boots and snaked back and forth for an hour and a half mowing the lawn. And that's when I remembered...

There's a lot of stuff about our wedding day that I don't remember. Brides, you're with me on this. You plan and you plan and you plan, and then the actual day is kind of a blur. My husband and I joked one time that we don't even remember what we said to each other in our vows. "I'm pretty sure there was something about mowing the grass??" he suggested. And here's the thing. YES! There really was!

Our officiant had told a little story about mowing the grass. (I remember I liked it because I got to joke with my husband that lawn care was part of our wedding vows.) But when I got about a quarter of the way through the lawn, a part of his story came back to me like a flash. He had said:
People often concern themselves thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. They never bother to think that maybe the grass is greener because those other people are mowing it. If you want your grass to be green, you actually have to do a little yard work.

I cried like a baby cutting that grass. Big crocodile tears again. But this time, they were happy ones.
There are parts of every marriage that need tending to, and ours is no exception. But some things are worth putting in a lifetime of extra elbow grease for. Because I love my husband. Because I want our love to grow.

Sure, sometimes we will neglect things for a little longer than we should: But I will always be willing to weed through the bad stuff with you.

Side note: Please no one tattle to BHG about the abysmal state of my garden!

Sometimes, forces will come from the outside and knock us down: But I will always be willing to rebuild with you.

Sometimes, prowlers will try to attack us: But I will always be willing to smack them on the nose :)

Because I know we have a lot of good worth fighting for:

And because if being a military wife has taught me anything, it's that I may not always need you here; I just always, always want you here.

I totally should have gave the thumbs up in my reflection. Would have really brought this thing full circle. ;)

Happy Anniversary, Soldier. Miss you!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fixin' Stupid...Again

There are certain principles of happening in our world that we have dubbed the laws of physics. Among them are scientific gems like:
What goes up must come down. An object in motion stays in motion. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction...which is like the first one but with not as much gravity in it. (I don't really know. HA!)

In my world, however, things operate under the laws of Liz-ics:
What is glass must fall down and be broken. And object in motion (i.e. a child) will stay in motion unless you are running late; in which case it will lay on the floor like a cement lump. And for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction--namely, if you write a blog about being smart, the very next one you write will have to be about how stupid you are.

This afternoon my daughter came home from school with her usual pile of first grade homework papers. We whizzed through the spelling practice together and then I left her to her own devices to complete her math assignment. I asked her to try it first and to holler at me if she had any questions. Instead of a holler, she met me about 20 minutes later with tears of frustration.
"It's just too hard," she told me.
"Okay, baby. Calm down. We'll look at it together."
After an additional 30 minutes of study, we were still at a loss. So I did what any good mother would do...I got on Facebook.
And I posted this picture asking for help:

Tricky, isn't it?! Impossible, right?

(Wait for it...)

The minute I figured out my mistake, I took my picture down off of Facebook. Not because I was embarrassed or anything, but because I was totally embarrassed, but because I didn't want some turd to take my photo and put it onto one of those lists of the stupidest people that have ever posted something to Facebook. I mean, it's not like I confused Stonehenge with the pyramids, people. I just confused the #6 with the #9, okay! So back up off me!!

(Also, so you know, the minute I told my daughter about our mistake, she was kind enough to let me know that my #8 was upside down as well. Thanks a lot, kid. Love you too.)

I wish I could say that this was the only stupid thing I've done today, but it wasn't. I may have brought a skateboard to a park with a group of four-year-old boys and let myself be surprised when one of them injured himself luging down the sidewalk on it. And I may or may not have told a solicitor trying to sell me a home security system that it was not a good time to bother me because I was on the phone with my husband who was overseas.

But probably the dumbest thing I did all day was get mad at myself for breaking my "one week" rule.
What's that?? Glad you asked.

My one week rule gives me permission to be a total emotional nutjob the first week after my husband leaves (in the privacy of my own home, of course--don't wanna be looking like no idiot on the Facebook!) After one week is up, the gig is up. I have to put on my lipstick and mascara and pull myself together and be delightful. Thinking on it now, that's a stupid, stupid rule if I've ever heard one.

I met my one week mark today, but I still got all weepy in the car. I would like to think it was because a sweet song came on the radio, but I'm pretty sure it was for absolutely no reason at all other than my husband is gone and I miss him. I heard someone jokingly talk about how rough this "deployment" was in a very sarcastic tone. Bless her heart. No, my husband is not in a war zone, and I praise God for that. But he is still gone. And life is still happening. And 6's still look an awful lot like 9's. And I still miss him, so doggone it I WILL CRY IF I WANT TO.
(In the privacy of my own home, of course, so as not to look like a fool on the Facebook.)
(Or on my blog, which is also very, very private...)

Sometimes I feel like I have to learn and relearn the same stupid lessons again over and over. I don't know what to tell you. Some days I feel like I channel the Dali Lama and the very next day it's Homer Simpson.

But even on one of my stupidest days, I got to learn something:
I am not strong.
I am resilient, but I am not strong. Those are two different things, my friends. Strength demolishes obstacles and powers forcefully over them. Resiliency is banged around by them, and then stands back up. I roll with the punches, I "embrace the suck", and then I carry on. Not because I'm super tough, but because I have no other choice but to bend.

Thankfully, physics proves that the trees which bend in the storm are the ones that are able to stand up afterward.
(And Liz-ics also seems to support this finding thus far.)

(Don't worry. Still not feeling smart.)

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Here's hoping you are boasting loudly and feeling empowered!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Passing Lane

It might surprise some people to know that I am smart. Lord knows I say a lot of stupid things, and I've done a whole lot of things that were even stupider. And I use the word stupider instead of saying "more stupid." And I use the phrases "all y'all" and "y'all all" like they aren't the two most redundant things that a person could string together. And I start sentences with conjunctions. But I don't care what all y'all say. Bless your hearts.

(Sorry, I was getting a bit off subject there...as any smart person would have done.)

I always performed very well in school, and hindsight has shown me that if I had applied the slightest bit of effort at all, (or showed up to more than 3 of my 8am classes,) I could have done even better. Even so, I have always figured that I would be successful. And I'm not saying that I feel unsuccessful now, but sometimes--just sometimes--I have to wonder if it is all because I just lucked out and happened to marry a really swell guy.

I don't work from a window office out of the top of a skyscraper. I don't travel on business. I don't work for a company that fills venues or hosts red carpet events. I don't save lives--or do research to save lives.
And I've been noticing lately that a whole lot of my Facebook friends do. Now I'm a smart person, so I understand that it is unhealthy for me to take such sharp notice of these things. But I am a person, so I do it anyway. And though I am genuinely happy for all of my friends and their success, I get a bit of an aching feeling sometimes like I am being passed up.

Which brings me to last week...

I was doing a short morning run on my usual trail and I had taken notice of a certain girl. She just looked like a serious runner. You know what I'm talking about. It was like her whole outfit looked fast or something; even her sunglasses. For the majority of the time, we were on opposite ends of the mile-long track, but with every lap she just kept inching closer and closer to me. Now running is something I enjoy, and I would even say something that I am pretty good at, but I know my limitations. Even so, I HATED the thought that the girl with the fast sunglasses was trying to pass me.
Eventually, the inevitable happened. I'm telling you, she bounded past me like a gazelle. Runners etiquette keeps you from looking back at the person you just passed, but she didn't have to. It was as if she was looking at me with her unnaturally neat ponytail bouncing along in time with her gazelle feet. It was taunting me.

For a while, I tried to keep her pace--not that it would prove anything. The girl had just half-mile-lapped me, after all. But it was as if the little voice in the back of my head was screaming, "Keep up with her. You're just as good as her."

And then all of a sudden, I got smart again.

I was already good. I didn't need to be "as good as." Watching her pass me, I had lost sight of why I run in the first place. Even more to the point, watching her had made me lose sight of myself.
Her pace is not my pace. Her body is not my body. Her health is not my health. Her purpose is not my purpose...and in trying to catch her, I had momentarily lost sight of mine.

I noticed that my legs were burning and I had run out of water. As I did my cool down and stretched out, I watched her run past me one more time. But this time, her ponytail looked an awful lot like mine.

Lord, teach me to run the good race. Thank you for making a path for me. And thank you for putting a really swell guy in it. Amen.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Once Upon a Parent

A few nights ago I found my husband looking through our old family photos on the computer. (We are peas in a pod, no?!) We oohed and ahhed over the classics. We laughed over ones that we didn't remember. We got all nostalgic about our first home fully furnished with patio furniture. And together we wondered where in the heck our babies went.
Eventually we switched from photos to home videos, and one in particular made me laugh and get all philosophical at the same time (which, if you haven't gathered by now, is kind of how I roll.) My husband was at work and I had laid my then 3-year-old and 3 month old on the bed together. Big sister got up and started jumping up and down on the bed, making her baby brother laugh hysterically, and when she was finished jumping she would flop down on the bed with a scream, which he would happily mimic. I thought it was so cute, I encouraged her to do it about 5 more times. "Do it again, Sissy. Make Bubba scream again."

As I watched that video nearly four years later, I was struck by how much time had changed things. Not only is my baby even older than his sister was in that video, but there is no way we could relive that scenario in our house now. As my husband and I laughed aloud, I interjected my thought: Could you imagine what we would do now if we found those two jumping and screaming on the bed? There would be no 'do it again, Sissy.' More like, "Have you two lost your ever-lovin' minds?! Cut that out right now!"

And I'm not gonna lie...that kind of bums me out.

Once upon a parent, I was surprised to find I was pregnant with a baby girl. I loved babies. I always wanted to have a baby. I was lucky enough to grow up with exposure to babies. But I had no idea what to do with a baby. So when I became a parent, I simply played with them.

Like all the time.

I don't own that outfit anymore. Face palm.

It was so natural to play with them, I didn't even notice if I looked like a fool while doing it.

I played with them so much, sometimes it didn't even register that what we were doing might be dangerous.

Seriously, who reads to their kid in the middle of a sidewalk?!?!

We made messes and we celebrated them.

I'm not always so sure I know where that mom went. Between the carpooling and the scheduling and the schooling and the growing up, she's not always that easy to find. But I hope I haven't lost her altogether.
I know that I can't let my kids jump on the bed and scream in the house anymore. We have to, at some point, make a collective effort to get our food into our mouths instead of on our faces. And if I ever tried to pile us on to a swing at the same time a) we'd break it and b) my daughter would probably die of embarrassment. But I want to try to play along with them as long as they'll let me.

And maybe if I'm lucky, they'll let me for a long time.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Your Friend, the Flake (Revisited)

I don't know about you guys, but about 95% of the time I waste on Facebook is spent looking through my own photos. Maybe it's because I'm slightly narcissistic--I like my stuff the best. Or perhaps it's because I'm very sentimental--I love my little ones' snotty baby pictures, and I am only partially embarrassed by the lingering evidence of my college days and bachelorette party.

In addition, I am probably one of the last people I know to keep honest-to-goodness photo albums in my living room, which I look at on a semi-regular basis with my kids and visiting family members. (Further proof that I have not fully latched on to the digital technology of my day.)

So with that in mind, it should come as no real surprise that I reread my own blogs. Again, narcissism or nostalgia...you decide.
As I was sorting through them, I happened upon this gem that I had written right before my husband deployed. Of course, reading it made me extra appreciative of the friends that have stuck with me through all of my flakiness. But I surprised myself when I realized that most of that post read with a heavy guilt that I just don't feel anymore. Do I feel sad when I don't get to spend time with my friends? Of course! Do I miss them? Like crazy! Do I feel guilty? Not even a little bit.

I am a wife and a mom first. Then I am a friend. It took me a while to finally see that. (I guess that's called growing up.)

Of course, none of the former statements mean that I don't need my friends. Oh, how I do need them.

Our last duty station was a horrible time for me. I was just not my fabulous self. (I don't reread those blogs because they still make me sad, so I won't make you do it either.) Making friends was both difficult and awkward. I was very fortunate to have had that year of quality time with my husband, but I was jealous that he was making friends in class and I was solely dependent on him to meet my need for adult companionship. Try though he did, he couldn't fill the void. After all, he is a dude and his capability of producing quality girl talk was extremely lacking (as was his capacity to tolerate it.)

I am determined to not relive that saga in our new home, and that is forcing me to step a bit outside of my flaky comfort zone. For one thing, I would rather be in a large crowd where people are slowly drawn to my subtle awesomeness, but that avenue has yet to present itself here. So I have to do things like go up to strangers and talk to people to make them like me. It would seem like a person who holds a communications degree would be good at that, but as it turns out, I am so very not...
However, my husband's work schedule is more demanding here--making it all the more important for me to "pimp my friendship out" the way that only military wives can.

For anyone who has no idea what that means, it looks a lot like this:

You have kids? I have kids!!!! Wanna have our kids play together?
You like to run? I like to run!!!! Wanna meet for a run?
You like coffee? I like coffee!!!! Wanna grab a cup of coffee?
You like wine? We will be best friends foreverrrr!!!!

Quite frankly, I feel a lot like this guy as I'm doing it:

They are frivolous starting points to be sure, but sometimes I get lucky and true bonds are formed. And these friendships stick because the other people in them realize at some point that they are friends with a flake.
Sometimes I will meet you out, but usually I would rather you meet me in. I'm lazy, I'm cheap, and I don't like to drive in the dark. My kids make me tired early, babysitters are expensive, and I live in a house that already has a bar in it. I will talk about my kids a lot. I will bring my kids with me most of the time, or you will have to meet me during their scheduled childcare hours. I don't call. I don't text. I hardly ever initiate any kind of meeting.
It actually takes a non-flake to make our friendship work...or a dude, because boys don't need constant interaction to validate their friendships. I realize that sounds extremely one-sided. I also realize that by those standards I should not have the amazing friends that I do, which makes my friendships that much sweeter to me.


Have you ever felt like you wasted an entire day before you even had lunch? That was me today. I spent three hours of paid childcare looking at my own pictures on Facebook and fussing over this blog, and at the end of it I realized that my blogs don't matter to me as much as my friendships. Thursday afternoons would be better spent over a play date, or a run, or coffee, or--when I FINALLY get to Europe--a glass of wine. I will probably always be a flake in some respects, and I'm sorry I'm not sorry for that. But I will be a flake who tries harder now, so you will forgive me.

So in case I have flaked on it lately and forgot to mention, I do love you, my dear friends. Get ready for me to bug you a little bit more often. Now please get on Facebook and post some new stuff for me to look at, because it is getting pretty boring ;)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Against the Wind

This morning the sky is overcast and it is very windy. A storm is on its way. But I guess our community already feels like it has been through one.

I was one of many people today out on the trail at one of the city parks. I've never seen it empty, but today it was very crowded, especially given the appearance of the skies. But I guess it was a good day to burn off steam. Some people were walking their dogs. Some were holding hands with a loved one. Others, like me, were trying to run off some stress. All of us seemed like we were trying to process--to decompress--to move onward.

We all desperately want to move on from the past hurt and history of this post. And yesterday, I know, felt all too familiar for some.

For the wife who within 30 minutes gets two separate texts: "Trying to leave early to make it to the game on time" and "Gonna be late. Active shooter on post."

For the mom who drops her kids off in hourly care for a quick meeting and can't get to them for the next six hours while the post is secured on lock down.

For the family members who are stranded in town indefinitely because they can't get back to their home on post after work/school.

For the soldiers who are trained to respond to attacks such as these overseas, but are forced to hunker down helpless on their home land.

For the families that were not fortunate enough to receive a text that all was well before the signals got tied up and had to rely on the fluid reports of the Internet for their information; who had to sit silently and worry while they waited.

For the families who feel relief when they realize that their soldier is unharmed; for the friends who feel relief when they know their friends were unaffected; both feeling guilt afterward that not everyone found relief this day.

I circled around and around the track, people watching and silently praying. There was about a quarter-mile portion of the loop where you ran face first into the gusting winds. Moms with strollers slowed to a walk. Men and women with little dogs on a leash moved ahead of the dogs and braced them from the wind so they wouldn't blow up in the air like a kite on a string. I actually watched some people "about face" and take the track the other direction. I stubbornly pushed onward. (It's the Texan in me, I guess.) At one point, I wondered if I was even still moving forward or if the wind was pushing me backward. Dust from baseball dirt and mowers spit at my face. I was about halfway done with the windy stretch when I decided that I would finish it out and be done. There was just no reason to go running against the wind.
I put my face down to the ground and I unzipped my jacket to help let some of the breeze cool me down. But then, something better happened. A gust of wind caught my open jacket and it blew up behind me like a cape. I know it sounds silly, but I suddenly felt empowered. I lifted up my face and I charged through the wind. I finished up that windy stretch and I took an additional loop around the track, letting my "cape" fly freely behind me.

Sometimes in life we will feel like we are constantly running against the wind. We'll want to slow down. We'll want to turn around. We'll want to stop. Today, I realized that the greatest way to overcome is to simply push onward. That's the way everyday heroes are born.

The moment I "earned my cape," this song came on my playlist. I don't think it was the song's original intent, but today I think it lends itself well to our community and to our fight. We will push onward together. Because if tradition has taught us anything, it's that the Army goes rolling along.

Trace Adkins: Bring It On

Here's hoping that today the wind is at your back---or providing your cape!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

This One is for Me(me)

So my husband was not a fan of my last blog. Not because he didn't like the message, but because apparently husbands do not like it if their wives tell the world about their under-thingys. Who knew??

Of course, I want my husband to like everything I do--or at least not to dislike it--and I am a girl, so I cried. And when he asked me why I was crying, I said it was because he didn't like my blog. And nobody else did either. After a few more minutes of my pity talk, my husband hugged me and said, "You're right. No one really likes your blog the way you want them to, because it's your blog. And it's about you and your thoughts, and your kids, and your husband, and your life. And you don't tell anyone how to cook or workout or dress. And you don't post stupid pictures about cats."

I thought about what he said and about how he was right. (He usually is, but don't tell him I said so.) People may not like my blog, but I won't ever change it. However, that doesn't mean I can't have fun every once in a while with it. (After all, that's the beauty of this whole thing.) So I hope you like this one. And if you don't, it's okay, because this one is for me.

I remember the first night I decided to sit down and blog. (I've talked about this before, I know.) I was sitting around way too late watching Julie and Julia, and she said something along the lines of "I can write! I have thoughts!" I always laugh out loud at that part...like way too loudly. It's a funny line, but I don't think it's supposed to be that funny. However, I always laugh because I cross-reference it in my mind with that movie Easy A, where the teacher is like:
"I don't know what your generation's fascination is with documenting your every thought...but I can assure you, they're not all diamonds. "Roman is having an OK day, and bought a Coke Zero at the gas station. Raise the roof."

Comedy gold.

I had very young children at that time and craved adult conversation. I was on Facebook a lot. And let's be honest; Facebook blurbs aren't really conversations. So I would try to say actual things, and I would always get that stupid "read more" tab attached to my status updates which no one ever clicks on because we're all scrolling for stupid cat pictures. So in my sleepy stupor I thought to myself, "I have thoughts. I could write!" And so I did. I was pretty sure that my first post would be received like this:

But instead, it generated lots of positive feedback, so I kept writing. I am very green in terms of motherhood, marriage, religion, humanity...I am by no means an expert on any subject. I just write what I know. And it turns out I don't know a whole heck of a lot, so mostly I just write what I feel. Whether people love it or hate it is yet to be determined, but for some reason, people keep clicking on the link. It is possible that none of my actual friends are clicking on these links in which case,

(And it's okay if you are. If the blog title is any indicator, then you are in the right place.)

Whoever you are, thank you for allowing me to continue having adult conversations with myself.

I would be lying if I said that I didn't care whether or not my words resonated with other people. Lord knows I try to put up a big front.

But I have been (strangely) fortunate enough to know when my blogs are well received. And so when they aren't I am more like:

I didn't actually make this one. Best money on professional photos ever spent!

I have watched really talented people jump start all sorts of things all around me. Part of me wishes I could have one of those random success stories just doing something I love--Like when Julie writes for months with no following and then becomes a published writer. I wish that was my story.

But it's not my story. And it probably never will be.

Every now and then, I think about throwing in the towel. The blog was something I started on a whim that hasn't really done anything other than suck a few hours of my life out of every week. Or every other week. Or every other month. (Because as you know, I'm not all that consistent.) And about the time I resolve to give it up altogether, something deep inside of me goes like this:

And then I'm at it again--writing broken, run on sentences about something random that is totally impacting me at that moment and means absolutely nothing to anyone else...or something that someone else completely disagrees with.

Sorry, it's just that I am still butt-hurt about the last blog...

Never mind how there is a whole book in the Bible that references how God used a woman's physical beauty as a platform to save her people.

You're right, kids. I don't care.


Thanks. And I know :)

The thing is, it's okay if you don't like or relate to my blogs. Sometimes I don't like my blogs or relate to them anymore either. So I go back and edit them. Or sometimes, I outright change my mind and delete them. But now I finally get what this blog is all about. It's about a girl who is very green in terms of motherhood, marriage, religion, humanity...and her own personal evolution into womanhood.

And not that it's any of your business, but I decided not to wear the rubber boobies to the ball.