Monthly Archives: January 2015

Followers and Flu victims

I have a dream.  I do.  It’s not as profound as the one the phenomenal Dr. Martin Luther King shared in his history-making speech.  I don’t aspire to such lofty goals.  My dream is much simpler.

Are you ready?

I have a dream that someday, some way, my plans for the day or event or task or even hour, will actually pan out the way I envision them.  That is all, good friends.

Some of you are completely underwhelmed by this vision.  Others of you are nodding as though you are competing for Bobble Head of the Year.  You are thinking to yourself, “She is singing the song of my people.”  Good.  That means we belong to the same tribe.

I had a plan for today.  It was a great one.  I was all aflutter at the thought of wrapping up our wonderful online Bible readings/sharing time with The Blog to End All Blogs, completing our journey with a literary masterpiece that would enter the category of Things I Could Never Have Imagined Missing Out On to all who beheld it.  Ok.  That’s probably pushing it.  I really did have a great idea, though.  I took notes and everything.

As usual, that was not to be.  My first clue should have been the fact that Gregg left town yesterday, and we all know how well that goes for me.  For any of you just tuning in, my stints as a temporary single parent generally involve plague, pestilence or weird disasters.  It’s gotten to the point that’s just past funny and rounding the corner to enter borderline scary (like, truly scary….not just tossing the word out there).  My second clue should have been my pending trip.  I rarely travel, and I never travel alone for something that involves only my “stuff”.  I have this incredible opportunity to attend a Women’s Ministry training in Nashville, so bit the bullet and booked myself a shot at learning how to do this right.  I have been on pins and needles about this trip, alternating between excitement and intimidation (this is totally unfamiliar territory for me….and I don’t know anyone else in the group, including my roommate, who I’ll meet when we check in).  I have incredible Mommy Guilt about leaving kids, and Work Guilt about taking off.  Plus, I hate to fly.  Like, really hate it.  I won’t go into details on how much or why because that would take pages of explaining and result in me having an anxiety attack right here and now.  Just know it ain’t pretty.  And be glad you don’t have to sit by me on a plane.

Despite having trouble sleeping because of all the lists swirling around in my head, I was feeling pretty good about the whole situation.  So, naturally, Drew woke up with 102 fever the morning before I’m supposed to leave.  For the love….. I can’t type the words that came to mind because this isn’t that kind of blog.

I made the necessary calls, cancelled my work day, and waited for our pediatrician appointment.  Sure enough, the verdict was flu.  I knew it would be.  The poor child looked positively terrible.  Plus, Gregg’s out of town, so plague.

And now the crushing weight of additional Bad Mommy Guilt versus Flaking on a Marvelous Event Guilt.

I sat in the car with my sweet, sick boy and cried the whole way to the pharmacy.

Because, despite everyone’s assurances he will be fine (grandparents, friends, his doctor, his daddy) and that we got the Tamiflu early enough to help, and both grandmothers managed to keep his parents alive so should be able to pull this off……I just felt totally deflated.  I’m his mother!  I shouldn’t pick anything over him!  I should be there for every sniffle, every tear, every fever or need for a hug.  Yes, I feel called to pursue this path….but I’m called to be a wife and mother first!  Maybe I’m hearing the wrong calling.  Maybe I’m totally off.  Maybe I suck at this and God decided to knock me aside for someone better suited.

I bet the women who do this really well don’t have sick kids and disasters pop up when they try to leave.  God probably sets rainbows up to pave the skies for their planes.

Yes, that is ridiculous.  I can, on occasion, be ever so slightly melodramatic.  Shocking, I know.

So, I pulled John 21 for our final reading, and for my reality check to myself.  It’s pretty amazing.  You should read it if you haven’t in a while…or ever.

Jesus is super clear.  He says, “Follow me.”  And when Peter looks at another disciple and asks, “What about that guy? What’s he doing?”, He basically tells Mr. Nosy to mind his own beeswax.  If the path for the other guy is longer or shinier or full of rainbows, “what is that to you? You must follow me.”  I love a good Savior Smackdown (when it’s not aimed at me, of course).  Because once we hear His call, we’re out of excuses.  The detours and obstacles are temporary.  We’re supposed to follow Him.  Period.

In spite of our fears.  In spite of our egos.  In spite of our distractions, disappointments and devastations.  He has a plan, and we should fall in line.

The final verse in the book is John 21:25, and it was like a dagger to my little writer’s heart.  It says: “Jesus did many other things as well.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

Perhaps what I envision isn’t quite the point, eh?

Perhaps my musings and ramblings aren’t the issue as much as my ability to listen, and then obey.

So, I’ll be boarding a plane soon.  I’ll be staring at my baby’s picture and lifting him up to the One who loves him even more than I do…and who is actually the Great Healer of all.  I’ll be humbling my heart and opening my mind to learn from those who know way more than I do, and I’ll be bustling down the path that leads me to my Father’s plan.

I’m sure I’ll be derailed plenty more times.  That’s ok.  I know a great book that was put together by an inspired team of writers for just such an occasion.

I’ll be clutching it tightly during take-off and landing.

Solidarity, sisters.   You are now free to move about your destiny.

Hamsters and RosesI am a hamster on a wheel.  There’s just so much to do….all the time.  And things are always messy and dirty and crazy.  The kids need rides and lunches and clean clothes and homework help and instruction…..and more than an occasional hug or kiss.  My husband has expectations.  My job has expectations.  My inner dreamer has expectations and plans.  My inner planner has lists and schedules.It’s exhausting.  Listening to the voices inside my head and coming from those around me keeps me spinning until I’m dizzy.  And then, I feel guilty for being dizzy.  If I were stronger, more grounded, more capable, more organized, more….just more, then maybe I wouldn’t even get dizzy.  Maybe I could just spin forever and not get tired.  Maybe I could hear all the voices at once and multi-task successfully enough to get it all done all the time for all the people.

Or maybe I should just stop.

I’ve been blessed to be a part of an amazing little group on Facebook (shout out to my She Reads Truth peeps), and we’ve been walking through a routine of daily scripture readings.  We’re doing them in 15-day increments, and my lovely friend, Nat, asked me to lead this set – which is on the teachings of Jesus as found in the Books of the Gospel.

It was the biggest favor she could have done for me.

Sitting and looking for these readings; picking them out and facilitating our online Bible study (I use that term loosely); looking for new gems in familiar stories; and best of all, spending time in the Word, in quiet time for which I am accountable, has helped me get through my days with renewed peace and energy.

Today’s reading is in Luke 10:38-41, the story of Mary and Martha.  Two sisters who had the honor of hosting Jesus in their home.  Martha, the ultimate hostess, bustled and cooked and cleaned and served, becoming increasingly irritated at her more organic sister, Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, absorbing every moment, every breath in His glorious presence.  In fact, she allows herself to get so worked up that she actually admonishes Jesus for not noticing the discrepancy in their entertaining talents, and then orders Him to “tell her to give me a hand”.

Oh, sister.  You forget yourself, honey.

She just got so caught up in her duties and tasks that her irritation overcame everything else, including the joy and significance of this momentous occasion.  She actually demanded God notice her work!!  Why should the lazy sister get all the attention, after all?

Sound familiar to anyone?
Perhaps I shouldn’t judge too harshly here.  I’m starting to feel uncomfortably linked to this tale.

This story was in the forefront of my mind earlier this week, thanks to our fabulous group.  So, maybe that’s why my reaction to the opportunity I had required less of a learning curve the other day.

I was bustling around the house, as usual.  Kids were off to school, and I had scheduled my first patient later so I would have a couple of hours in the morning to take care of things before heading out.  I had the washer going, dishes loaded in the dishwasher, my computer open to e-mails and my to-do list out and ready for tackling. Then Gregg walked in and began talking.  He has some stress at work right now and needed a sounding board, which is rare.  Even so, I found myself tapping my foot and trying to look interested while re-shifting my mental lists around.

And then came the kicker.
My husband, the capable, solid, rarely-at-a-loss man I love looked me in the eyes and said, “I just really need to know what you think about this, Bec.  Because your words are important.”

Oh.  Wow.
That got my attention.
So, I stopped.
And I sat.
And I listened…..with 100% of my attention.

This changed the entire course of my day.

Gregg had a really positive reaction to my intentness.  So, I decided to apply this principle of being fully PRESENT and IN THE MOMENT;  of not being rushed or in a hurry; on putting my focus on the WHO in front of me instead of the WHAT that’s lined up for hours to come….
I listened to music in my car.
I picked up lunch and took it to my mom, stopping to visit with her instead of eating in my vehicle while dashing from errand to errand.
I sat and chatted with Emry and her friends at preschool instead of rushing her out of the door – and learned a lot in that visit.  They are strict about coloring in the lines and do not mess around when it comes to playground etiquette.
I sang songs and played 20 Questions on the way home, instead of taking calls.
We had a dear friend over for dinner, which meant lots of talking and laughing and stories.
I fully participated in Game Night, instead of bowing out early or just watching in spurts as I worked on laundry or kitchen duty.
I prayed with Drew at bedtime, and let him facilitate and add on as he saw fit, instead of wrapping him up with an impatient “amen” (he was so overjoyed, he spent three minutes listing the reasons I’m the Best Mom Ever.  Be still, my heart).
I ended that day as I had begun it, in the teachings of Jesus.

And you know what?
I went to bed at peace and settled.

When I got up the next day, life was still crazy.  Two of the three kids were sick, as was Gregg.  The timing of my work schedule was too ambitious for one person.  My to-do list was still a mile long.  I hadn’t gotten any more sleep than normal.

And I was ok.  Things were still as insane as the always are.  I was just more balanced.

When Martha temporarily lost her mind and snapped at Jesus, He answered her with the same love and wisdom He showed throughout His life.  His words rock me to the core: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Oh, how I know that feeling of worry and upset over many things.  There’s always something to worry about. The world is constant in its ability to upset and stress and weigh us down.  We can never run fast enough to keep up, can we?

What a relief to know we don’t have to.
He meets us where we are. His example of love and family and relationship shows us just where to focus and helps us discern the right choice.
And once we have Him, once we grasp His grace and love and mercy….it will not be taken away from us.

Solidarity, sisters. There is time to stop and smell the roses, especially when they belong to those we love.

So, I keep seeing all these blogs and articles that have number lists all over the place.  Like “5 Ways to Organize Your Life for the New Year” or “8 Must-Do Rules for Parents of Pre-teens/Pre-schooolers/Middle Schoolers/Labradoodles” or “12 Ways to Ensure Marital Bliss Forever and Ever, Amen” or “42 Simple Steps to an Organized Home” (I really could use that one).  It got me to thinking….I’m a relative rookie when it comes to the whole blog thing, right?  Maybe I’m supposed to have number lists, too.  Maybe I skipped an important “20 Steps to a Successful Blogging Career” memo somewhere along the way, thus depriving my readership and myself of Numerical List Nirvana.

Ok, “nirvana” might be somewhat of an exaggeration.  And now I have “Smells Like Teen Spirit” stuck in my head.  Great.

It’s also the beginning of a brand new year (insert fist pump here – way to go 2015!!), and time to start the list-making, goal-writing, resolution-creating madness we all know and love.  To reflect on 2014, picking out what went well, what we loved, the goals we managed to accomplish and triumphs we experienced and decide where we go from here.  What could we have done better?  What did we fall short of that was conceivably within our grasp had we just pushed a bit harder or reached a little farther?  And what was so laughable that our only explanation as to why we chose it as a goal has to center around cocktails or sleep deprivation?

I’ve thought about this a lot this week.  I’ve debated with myself, mediated discussions between the voices in my head (come on, don’t judge….you know you’ve had those moments) and prayed with varying degrees of resignation or determination.  And one of my decisions for 2015 is going to involve going back in time a bit.

Let me explain.

One of the complaints from Gregg that keeps popping up with alarming regularity is my lack of organization and inability to function at the mental capacity of our college/grad school years.  No argument from me there.  I am so far gone from that girl and her perky competence it defies explanation.  Over the past month or so, and increasingly during our “firm discussion” the other night, he keeps bringing up that when I ask him if he needs something from the store, he’ll make requests that I then forget (according to him, the majority of the time).  Let me go on record to say I think this is a stupid argument on many fronts.

1)  I think the incidence of my forgetting is lower than what he claims.

2)  This discounts the magic fairy that lives in our house and, in her invisible, unsung, never-ending, miraculous way manages to automatically refill/replenish all supplies as needed on a regular basis, thus ensuring no one ever runs out of things like toothpaste, batteries, light bulbs, toilet paper, food or clean clothing.  Oh wait – that would be me.

However, lack of intelligent dispute notwithstanding, this is obviously something that bothers him and has become more than a small bone of contention.  So, I shall endeavor to work on it.

Truth be told, it bothers me, too.  Not the item-forgetting portion as much as the overall decrease in function.  I used to be so much more capable, it seems.  As I started down the ever-familiar path of reasons-to-beat-myself-up-and-bemoan-not-getting-any-younger, this time around I had to pause for an epiphany.  In romanticizing his memories of my past, more proficient, fireball self, my beloved has managed to forget a few things about that girl.  And so have I.

Here comes the highly-anticipated Number List, my friends.  Maybe not all that highly-anticipated.  Maybe more mildly-curious-about or we-can’t-believe-you-actually-remembered-to-include-it.  Whatever.  On to the list!

10 Facts About Little Miss Pulled Together Pistol

1.  She was a lot younger.  Let’s just rip that Band-aid off quickly to expose the age wound, shall we (I’m still reeling a bit from the whole turning 40 experience)?  She had (practically) limitless supplies of boundless energy (which, when depleted, could be refreshed by 16 hours of uninterrupted sleep if necessary), and a much firmer grasp of the English language, memorization skills and mental lists because her brain cells hadn’t started to die off, yet.

2. She was able to multi-task well…..for one (as opposed to five).  She could focus like a laser beam because her primary responsibility was herself – her life goals, her path.

3. She wasn’t responsible for remembering all of his stuff all of the time.  It came in spurts, as a bonus, not expectation.  And he had less baggage then as well.

4. She was militantly inflexible.  Truly.  She had a system in place for accomplishing things that any drill sergeant would envy….and she did not deviate from it.  Period.  No one and nothing got in the way.

5. She was incredibly task-oriented as opposed to people-oriented.  See #4.  Her list got done, regardless of the needs of those around her.

6. She was single and young, then married and young.  Her role in life was totally different.  The reason her list got done regardless of the needs of those around her was helped by the difference in the needs of those around her.  She had fewer commitments, fewer entanglements.  No one comes to the 20 year-old for help or guidance or mentoring (thank goodness – can you imagine the disastrous advice that would be given?).  Her apartment wasn’t Grand Central Station.

7. She wasn’t a mom.  I don’t think I can write enough on this one.  On how the parts of your brain that go to mush with each pregnancy never fully recover.  On how the parts of your brain that fall out during each delivery (science is going to find a correlation there someday, mark my words) stay gone, so that with each subsequent child you have fewer brain cells to begin with, and continue to lose the same proportion, thus exponentially decreasing your cerebral mass (and intelligence quotient, as a result).  On how every waking moment is spent with part of your heart, mind and soul sectioned off for “kid stuff” no matter what you are doing; and waking moments outnumber sleeping moments by bigger and bigger margins because who actually sleeps anymore?  On how even when you do work on organizing and task-accomplishing, it’s in short, fitful bursts, usually interrupted by people clamoring for your attention because they are hungry, bored, tired, dirty, angry, excited, thirsty, constipated, in need of a ride, can’t find their shoes or want to climb in your lap.  On the guilt that accompanies most non-mommy activities because they take time away from your children, who are your most precious treasures and won’t always need you in this way and are growing up way too fast and someday you’ll miss all this (so I hear).

8. She existed in a season.  And what she did worked well, during that season.

9. She had no idea what she was in for.  Thank goodness.  That girl would have had a nervous breakdown if someone had given her a crystal ball and a picture of her future self.  The change in jeans size alone would have put her over the edge.

10. She changed.  She had to, in order to survive.  She grew.  She aged.  She adjusted to the planned and unplanned moments life brought her.  She decided that loving her spontaneous, active, type B husband was more important than trying to control him (and that his constant need to escape to the outdoors for hunting and fishing expeditions does not mean he loves her any less).  She learned that dance parties take precedence over dish-washing (in the minds and hearts of her children, every time).  She fell in love with people, and formed relationships she never imagined could exist.  She lost a little of herself, but gained grace, mercy and forgiveness.  She discovered she isn’t nearly as smart as she once thought she was.  She’s more fun, though.

I like to think that, while she would be mildly (or maybe not so mildly) horrified at certain aspects of her older self, my younger persona would also be proud, perhaps a little excited, and a lot joyful at the foresight a glimpse into the future would bring her.  It’s her life, after all.  And so far, a pretty good one.  It might do her good to be a bit intimidated, though.  You know, just to keep her humble.

And while I plan on bringing this list out at intervals to remind myself (and perhaps my overly-eager spouse) that a bit of slack-cutting is due, I also plan on bringing bits of that girl back.  She’s still in there.  I can feel her, kicking and screaming to break out when things get too out of control.  She was a warrior, and I could use some of that now and again.  Things go better when I’m not past my capacity to handle chaos, and too much disorder doesn’t work for our family.  The New Year is the perfect time to restructure and regroup.  And while I don’t have all the answers to how we’ll do this, and none of my goals are in a spreadsheet or graph system, some type A behavior is in order here.

The old me will be so pleased to be allowed some control again.

Not too much, though.  My kids would eat her for lunch.

Solidarity, sisters.  In with the new doesn’t always mean out with the old.  And yeah, I could totally take her.  Time teaches us all a few tricks.