Wednesday, September 2, 2015

For Goodness' Sake

Hi friends.

It's been so long since I've done one of these things that I've almost forgotten how to start them. So I'll just start it like this, if that's okay.


Last night my husband came home late from the office. Very late. 0400 late. We went into this job assignment knowing that there would be days like this, and so I didn't nag or even ask about it. My alarm went off a couple of hours later and I hustled the kids off to school, happy to help my husband sleep for a little while longer, though slightly concerned that he was not rising as early as he usually does. Once the kiddos were dropped off, I returned home to find my husband getting ready--lacing up bloodied boots.

He began, "So last night..."

Apparently he had left the office at a slightly more reasonable hour. He was waiting at a signal light that would take him to the highway when he noticed a man on a motorcycle weaving recklessly in the opposite direction. He was very obviously drunk. I wasn't there, but I can see my husband shaking his head as he swerved passed. The man wasn't wearing a helmet. He was in a sleeveless shirt and shorts.

I'll go ahead and say what everyone is thinking: What an idiot.
(But we all act like idiots sometimes. So let's move on.)

As the light changed to green, my husband turned and began to merge onto the highway, and then he saw it--an erratic light bouncing around in his rearview mirror. It took a few moments for my husband to realize that what he was seeing was the tail light of the motorcycle bouncing around in the dark. My husband turned his truck around to assist.

Upon approaching the man, my husband realized that he had lost control of his bike and crashed into a barricade on the highway. The cyclist had gone through the windshield on his bike head first into the concrete barricade. He was unresponsive, though alive. But he was not breathing.
The collision had left the man choking and suffocating on his own blood. My husband was able to take the man in his arms and help him expel the blood so he could breathe. The emergency 911 operator argued with my husband to stay on the line with her and talk until the paramedics arrived, but he had to put down the phone to support the man's bloodied head. He assured her that he knew what he was doing-that he wasn't scared-and that he would let her know when the paramedics came. About the time they arrived, the man awoke.

My husband notified the 911 operator, and drove his truck home. He came in quietly without waking me or the children and washed that man's blood out of his soaked clothes. He got a few hours of sleep. Then he woke up, put on a still slightly-bloodied pair of combat boots, kissed his wife, and went back to the office to work.

After hearing him tell me this story, I couldn't help but think what he wouldn't ever take credit for: You saved that man's life. Bigger than that, you saved that man's life and he will never know it. He might remember the paramedics. He will certainly remember the doctors and the therapists that will work to fix his broken body. But he will never know that man that saw his need, helped clear his passage ways so he could breathe, and held his maimed body in his hands until medical help arrived--the man that came home and washed blood out of his uniform--the man that went to work the next morning with bloody boots.

I tell you this to let you know that my husband is amazing. (He really is.) But more seriously, it is because I want to let you know that people are doing good things all the time--even when it doesn't seem like it.

We are bombarded with the bad news. Our world is crumbling. Future generations are lazy. Politicians are evil. People are mind-numbingly ignorant.
Every so often you hear of someone doing a heroic act-something that's just as fantastic as the bad things so that it gets noticed. And we wonder if there's enough of those people to offset all the bad.

There are.

There are people every day who respond to trouble and then call the first responders. There are people every day who do good things that you will never ever hear about. Things that are even bigger and better than buying you that free cup of coffee at Starbucks. (Not to shun that; God bless those people.)

And you do big things too.
(Yes you.)

The dollar you give at the register that buys a vaccine that saves a child's life.
The spare change you give to a man you don't know that buys him food to sustain him.
The clothes that you donate into a random box that protect someone from the elements.
The genuine smile that you share with a stranger that makes him feel, if only for a moment, that he is not alone.
The kind word you say to someone that comforts and encourages him.
The prayer you send up for someone that is answered in a way that you never get to see or know. But because you asked...

And really truly, that time you fronted the money for the car behind you in the Starbuck's line that gave them liquid happiness for free.

I guess all this is to say, we can shake our heads at the "idiots" or we can help them. We can watch the world spoil or we can be salt and light.

Never grow weary of doing good.

(And if you ride motorcycles, please please please wear a helmet.)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Funny Girl

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who discovered that if you make a person laugh, they tend to like you more. (Flattery didn't hurt either, but laughter was truly infectious.) She made a lot of sweet little friends and pretended that boys were icky. Later on that girl grew into an awkward, knobby-kneed teenager. And while her sweet little friends began to blossom around her, she realized that if she wanted any attention from those icky boys, she'd better keep them laughing.

Spoiler alert: that girl was me.
[insert surprised gasps from the audience.]

I was able to catch a man with my hilariousness, thank goodness. (Hope for knobby-knees everywhere!)
I've grown to care less about care a lot less about the way I did or did not fully blossom, but I'm still a goof. You see, I've been training since youth, and old habits die hard.

I'm pretty unapologetic about my silliness. I yam what I yam, I guess. I'm a happy person by nature, and I genuinely love to see other people respond in happiness around me--Because joyfulness is what brings me peace. Because joyfulness is what gives me strength--it energizes me.

The trick to being a funny girl is that you need to know when to turn the humor off, and this is the area where I struggle. I often tell my children "there is a time to play and a time to be serious." Oh, how I wish it was always play time. For reals. Because sometimes life gets really hard, y'all.
And in those serious moments, I tend to use my humor as a defense mechanism, which more often than not leaves me with my foot in my mouth. Honestly, if I had a nickel for every time I've made a "joke" and then immediately wanted to suck the words back in...let's just say I'd have a lot nickels.
And I don't want nickels. I want people to live joyfully.

And with that, it's time to be serious.

I saw a post from a sweet momma who was voicing her irritation at a certain "joke" that has become pretty commonplace among the parenting circles. There's all kinds of variations, but they all come back to "if your kids are alive, then you did your job."

It pains my heart so deeply that I know several women who have lost their babies. It's unimaginable to me. I literally can't find the words...
And yet I use my words so hastily sometimes.

I think one of my toughest challenges I face in motherhood is that I seriously don't know what I'm doing. Straight up. I feel no shame at all in admitting it.
Sometimes, the kid has a problem with a friend from school and I'm answerless.
Sometimes, the kid gets sick in the middle of the night, and I'm checking Dr. Google and giving myself a heart attack because I don't know how to help them.
Sometimes, a child blatantly disobeys me and I don't know how to discipline them, because despite my own ignorance, I have birthed children who are super smart and outwit me all the time.
Sometimes, I walk outside and my super smart children are literally wallowing in the mud with their good clothes on and I don't know why or how it happened.
Sometimes, they get themselves into predicaments where I am utterly useless and I can do nothing more than fall on my knees and cry out to God to help me.

But oh, do I love them.

I'm sure I've shared this multiple times on this blog, but after I had my first child my mother-in-law gave me the best advice I've ever gotten. She said, "Just love them, and you'll do fine."
There's the answer, by the way. Right there:

At the end of the day, if your kids are ALL LOVED, then you did your job.

(Man, I wish I knew how to work graphics. Somebody please make that into a poster.)

We cannot completely control our babies--even the Creator gives his children free will. And no matter how hard we fight it, we cannot keep life from happening to them.
But we can love them. We can love the snot out of them.

Not in a coddling way, but in a way that shows them how grow-ups ought to act and ought to love.

To love people enough to give them grace when they use their words hastily--in the kind of "forgive them Father, for they know not what they do" way.
To love people enough to be humble, to admit wrong-doing, and to make an effort to correct your actions.
To love in a way that puts others first--before your pride, before your comfort, before your needs, before your "habits."

And maybe way at the bottom of the list: to love people enough to laugh at their corny jokes, even if they're not super funny.

Because if we loved people like this, the world would be a lot more joyful.

(Ephesians 4:29 ESV)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Here's hoping your words "fit the occasion," friends, and that you are able to live joyfully today.

Friday, April 3, 2015

My Tomorrow Song

Occasionally I write things with absolutely no intention of sharing them, (which is extremely weird for a person with a blog to say, I know) but I came across this poem today in one of my notebooks and thought it was worth putting out there. I am not exactly sure what was going on when I wrote it, but I do think that it pairs nicely with the solemness of today.
Hope it might strike a chord with you too.
Tomorrow comes
With all its worries and its doubts
With things that never will work out
And unanswered questions

Yes, I do know
It will be easy not to care
To drag my feet and hang my head down for a while
But I'd rather smile

Tomorrow comes
With challenges I've yet to face
And all the plans I've yet to chase
And may never realize

And while I know
It will be easier to cave
To guard my heart and tell my foolish dreams goodnight
I'd rather fight

Tomorrow comes
With its own brand new set of foes
With more bad news and bigger woes
That leave me uncertain

I do still know
It's easier to feel afraid
Than to live with abandon and give people a chance
But I'd rather dance

Tomorrow comes
With all new ways to knock me down
To take my light and block it out
And to keep me quiet

And yet I know
It's easy to blend in and hide
And act like tomorrow has nothing good to bring
Oh, I'd rather sing

Tomorrow comes
Just like every day before
With acts of love and cries of war
And this revelation

We have to choose
To take the easy way, or live
Like "bright hope for tomorrow" is something we believe
As for me

I'd rather smile
I'd rather fight
I'd rather dance

I'm gonna sing

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Hundred Second Squeeze

Yesterday my youngest turned five, which is weird, because I'm also pretty sure it was only yesterday that I was walking around El Paso wondering when in the world this baby was going to But I must have blinked and somehow ended up fresh out of babies.

After I gave him the appropriate amount of sugar and toys and fuss (and couldn't figure out for the life of me why he didn't feel like going to bed on time,) I went to my computer and did what I would suppose many other moms do: I drank and a glass of wine and cried as I looked at pictures of my baby.

Oh, what a difference a blink can make.

Now, we can all pretty much agree that my cupcake-making ability hasn't changed as much as the boy, but let's not lose focus here...

When I learned I was going to have a little boy, I remember feeling excited to the point that I wanted to jump up and down. (But decided not to as I remembered that I was pregnant and more likely to pee my pants if I did that--so I'm sure I just smiled a really scary-like Cheshire Cat smile instead.) It's not that I don't love little girls; I absolutely do. But ever since the moment I'd found out that I was pregnant for the second time, I felt in my bones that I was going to have a little boy--and I love to be right almost as much as I love babies. So with the confirmation of my boy, I got my win--and man, did I hit the jackpot with this kid.

He's as boyish as they come. Messy. Loud. Tough. Athletic. Busy...Messy...Loud...

I remember so many nights kissing his soft, squishy cheeks over and over, telling him "I'm stealing all your kisses so there won't be any left for your girlfriends."

(Yes. I absolutely said that. Sorry in advance to all future girlfriends.)

But just like any good boy, he has started to outgrow my kisses. He has informed me that he still really likes hugs, but just like any good boy, he doesn't call them hugs. He calls them "squeezes."

A few days ago, I was running ridiculously late. It was one of those days where you rush around so fast to get ready and fly out of the door that the makeup melts off of your face as you apply it. I asked my son very sweetly to put on his shoes and meet Mommy at the door.
"Yes, Mommy," he answered. "But first, may I have a hundred-second squeeze?"


Regardless of what my Mother's Day cards say, I very seldom feel like the world's most awesome mom. But as I looked at the clock and then back to my sweet boy's outstretched arms, I couldn't help but answer, "Sure, Bubba. Come give me a quick squeeze."
"Not quick," he said. "A hundred seconds."

My mom once told me the story about the day she brought me home from the hospital. Trying to be sweet, my dad told her, "In five years, she'll be starting kindergarten. In another five, she'll be more than halfway through living in our house. In another five, she'll be dating boys. In another five, she could be having babies of her own."

My mom started to cry. In her defense, my dad grew me up in four whole sentences. But to be fair to Dad, I'll bet my mom would say that there were days my childhood seemed that fast. After blazing past five years already, I can't help but feel like thirteen more just won't be enough.

And as my son hugged me tightly and counted to "a hundred" that morning, I couldn't help but wish that 100 seconds was a lot longer than a minute and forty seconds.

Because I tend to blink.

Monday, February 2, 2015

More Lessons from a Cheesecake

Once upon a time, a really awesome lady started a very entertaining blog. She fearlessly shared her deepest thoughts and aspirations with the world, she selflessly allowed her readers to glean from her vast insight and knowledge, and she made promises to keep the blog alive and active as her generous gift to them.

Then a dragon came, gobbled up that lady, and spit out this new and improved one.


Ever notice that the moment you think you have everything figured out is always directly followed by a moment where you discover that you actually know nothing? Normal people might refer to that season as the "calm before the storm." I think it should also be called the bliss before the ignorance.

Last year I promised that I would blog once a week for a year. I didn't even bat 50%.
Last year I announced that I was returning to work. Well, I've technically been hired by two different companies and don't do any work for either of them.
And with my birthday approaching, I had to reread my post from last year and laugh at the fact that what I figured would be absolute is still wrong.
I don't know if I'm who I'm supposed to be today. And I'm not really sure what "self-identifiers" will mark me next year. But this much I know: I will love Jesus. I will love my family and friends. I will drink wine. I will crack a lot of silly jokes and laugh at a lot of inappropriate ones. I will overdress for almost every occasion. I will be hard on myself. I will be reflective. And I will eat a cheesecake when I turn 29...and probably write a blog about how old I feel the year before my life ends ;)

Don't worry-- I still love people, and fart jokes are still hilarious. However, my lovely body has decided it no longer likes to digest dairy food, and so the birthday cheesecake that I have held so dear for so long will not be coming to the party this year. I don't know who will be taking his place yet. Probably a lame brownie.
(No offense to brownie-lovers. I'm bitter and the wound is still too fresh.)

Obviously, there have been things in my life bigger than my sudden departure with cheesecake. I've had a lot of change-ups thrown at me lately. There were the somewhat "regularly scheduled crazy moments" that you win when you are married to a military man, or while you experience all the joys of motherhood, or for simply being a female with hormonal fluctuations. But our family has really dealt with some unexpected trials this past year too. We still have a lot of unaswered questions that are leaving us in want of solutions. Sometimes, I feel an intense longing to return to the season of bliss I had before I was left feeling so helplessly ignorant--if for no other reason than so I could appreciate it better the next time around.

If someone would have told me that I would not be able to eat cheesecake again after this year, I would have made it a point to eat a lot more of it. It wouldn't have been reserved for special occasions, but rather the occasion would have been made special simply because it was there.

But life isn't like that. It's not predictable. There is only One who knows what your tomorrow holds, and that's why He tells us to rejoice today.

I'm a year older, and while it's debatable if I grew any wiser, I did learn one thing:
Eat your cheeseccake, people. Eat your cheesecake.