Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fray

Weeks of a child's health issue. Lesson prep for a new class. Lesson prep for Lanie. Yard. Home. Laundry. Shopping. VBS. Doctors. Rehearsals and recital. The Father's Day stuff. And a group gathering I thought I could handle just before a viewing and cakes to bake. I was cutting the grass fifteen minutes before they arrived.

I found I asked the same question to a friend at least four times. And when another friend texted about attending the viewing, I suggested we ride together. But when she replied later of extra in the car, I frayed.

I held my arms out balancing trays full of responsibility, and a daily onslaught of forward motion knocked them from my grasp. I watched it all fall.

This week--a specialist. A hospital. A yard to cut and food to buy. Recovery. Books to read and classes to prepare. Laundry. Shopping. More. This time machine keeps moving.

I grabbed a rag and wet it down in vinegar water, I got one for Lanie too, and together we started scrubbing baseboards. And then we wiped down cabinets and de-webbed the corners. It bonds us. We did the whole main level.

At the other house, I remembered therapy by fours. The little white 4x4 tiles on the bathroom floor and how I scrubbed them the summer we prepped to sell. How I prayed and cried and scrubbed and let the white clean soothe me.

Who am I in the midst of chaos? And who do I want to be? It humbles me.

I hunker down and time's forward motion pulls me.

The baseboards gleam and the laundry room's grays and whites are calming. I'm grateful for the very little things, the clean and order of one small space.


Monday, June 29, 2015

And still counting (7162-7173)

the wrestle
the new VBS
her early appointment with a specialist
peanut butter sheet cake

Sandy
Jennifer's dad
a great dance show
an open house
blossoms on the zucchini plant

a friends swim
the awareness of (my) boundaries
quiet days

Monday, June 22, 2015

The hardest day of the year

I sat in her chair. I got an appointment that morning by the skin of my teeth. Literally, someone else was booking at the exact moment for that exact time. So thankful that other woman had wiggle room in her day, because I didn't.

Last week was unexpectedly full, despite weather interfering with plans to visit with a good friend, or work in the yard, etc. Health issues for a kid kept us bound home too. I have a towering reading list looming over me, and I don't think I can do it. I'm not superwoman after all, even though I rock yard work and invisibility. I felt so much like I've been running and still too far to go.

I spent Saturday morning running around: dance studio, Walmart for a red tank top for Lanie and a friend's daughter, another stop, back home for lunch, the hair cut, to David's to hug him and give him the pictures I took, then to the in-laws' for a cookout. Sunday had its own schedule of to do. I sat in that chair. It had been winter when I last got my hair cut. I'd been hoping all week to work it in, and couldn't.

"I'm seeing relatives I haven't seen in months tonight," I told her. "I'm so glad you could fit me in ..." And then talk, the talk no one talks about, the kind where people who want authenticity don't really want to get sucked into your honesty and either stand back in discomfort or in judgment. But she didn't flinch, maybe because she's heard it before from her chair, and certainly because she'd been there too. Because weight gain, and feeling so very unpretty, and please fix my hair because that's all I can fix right now.

"I even bought myself a shirt--at Walmart," I said. It's all I had time for. And this was how desperate I felt--to change the outside because the inside was so broken. I got a lipstick. And wrinkle cream. A shirt. A hair cut. I even impulse purchased a pair of earrings on my way out. I recognized it for the crazy it was, the desperation, like some shopping version of an ice cream binge. And the conscience that said, "You are enough" was told shut up as want overrode self-loathing. In the end, I knew this desperation was just all I could do to make the outside of me feel and look as normal as possible. The inside was a wreck. Father's Day does that to me.

It was great to be with my in-laws. Great for my kids to see relatives--even a cousin to play with! I felt safe among the company where I really learned hospitality. And when Uncle Jeff brought out the M&Ms, two full bags for each child (including two for a little friend who accompanied), I wanted to cry. Their thoughtfulness and generosity always blow me away. There was a lot of laughter, and I appreciated having sisters. We cut out when it was dark, right during a spectacular lightning show, and headed home.

I'd had grand plans to bake a scratch cake for my sister. But I realized, again, I can't do it all. Erin and I got potatoes at the store, and I picked up an ice cream cake. Had just enough time to make potato salad and iced tea, prep the sandwiches, and cut up the remaining blackberry cheesecake bars to put out.

I spent the morning crying for a friend who thinks it's his last summer because of stage four cancer. Crying over a text from another friend whose father is in hospice now, and she wanted to tell me that the family photo I took of them all last fall is at his bedside and brings her comfort. Another good friend is struggling at a second year without her dad on top of so many disappointments and issues. And my head was full of its own.


We celebrated my sister and I put a candle on her cake slice, and on Dad's and Shane's slices. My gifts seemed too small and not enough. I wanted to take them back, or at least not be in the room when they were opened. But I stood there and smiled in my awkwardness, hoping for normal.

"Don't you have a gift for Shane?" my sister asked.

"The kids gifted him this morning," I answered. 

And if the day's success is measured by full bellies and smiles, then it was a success.

They said words like thanks, goodbye, see you in five months. Her need is on the outside. Mine is on the inside. I sank back into the shadows. And now I understand why Camera 4 was my word for the year.

I returned to counting blessings. Thankful for my man, my kids, for family in all its various forms. Thankful for Monday.

And still counting (7146-7161)

This has been such a crazy blur of a week. Thankful for:

even sketchy internet
the couch
a hair cut
and a pair of earrings
David's hug

big burgers on the grill
family together
cousins for my kids
sisters for me
Connie, who understands

sunshine
Shane at the pool
blue splash
another year with my dad
tomato plants from a neighbor

hope

Monday, June 15, 2015

And still counting (7126-7145)

Lanie's good news
friends who pray, call and care
a last class before the recital
smoothies for breakfast
trash pick up

sunny skies
friends over to play



a little boy who delighted in showing me the kaleidoscope
vintage toys in the basement
that mama's hugs and friendship

dusky talks with Lisa on her couch
invisiblenotinvisible--thankful for friends who see me
Nicole for tea
summer fruits
salads

good books
Erin's creativity
tree limbs that fall overnight
neighbors who show up to help
community


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday morning

It sounded like a thunder clap above our house. Wee hours being just before dawn. I waited for more thunder, and there was none.

Erin came into my room some time later.

"Mom, the power is out," she said, and climbed into bed with me.

Ugh. First thought: no coffee. Then subsequent things: the toilets, running water, the fridge.

I knew I would be sent to go get takeout coffee.

"There's a limb in the driveway," Shane told me. I went out to see it, and it covered the width, split from a nearby giant. At least there wasn't further damage and it happened when the kids weren't out riding bikes.

I began to send out text apologies to neighbors that we were firing up a chainsaw at seven in the morning. (The electric company was on the way and needed access, and I knew, again, I would be sent out to get coffee.)

"Get me a large," Shane said.

"I'll get us two larges each," I replied.

But then, the neighbors I texted started showing up. At seven in the morning. One offered to bring us coffee. Others prepared to lend a helping hand to drag off the cut pieces. One neighbor in his wheelchair brought along his teenage son. We had cleared most of it, and stood around talking. All of us sleepy-eyed, morning faces.

"Thanks for coming down to check on us," I told them.

"That's what community is all about," one said. He said some more things, and his wife reiterated later by text. But I'm going to keep those words as treasure in my heart.

***

Erin started making books about her characters Elmy and Bambam. She is a hoot. She wants to sell the books.

"They are one dollar each," she said.

I bought one. I don't really keep cash on me. But then I wanted all of them because she is hilarious, so I bought another. Again. Low cash.

"Are you going to buy any more?" she asked, before she takes it to a larger market.

"I really wanted another one, but I ran out of dollars," I said.

"Well, I forgot to tell you I'm having a sale. They are buy-two-get-one-free," she said. So she let me pick another.

***

Last night Erin and I read books on the couch. We've been reading this really awesome series about Christian missionaries, and they are amazing stories. Real page turners. Thought provoking. Emotional. One quote I have up on the fridge brought me to the brink of tears as I read it out loud. We are starting a new one about Nate Saint. But last night, she brought in Mr. Putter and Tabby, and a Henry and Mudge book.

I love reading to her. She's old enough to read to herself, but she likes to cuddle up next to me and hear the stories. (Seriously--I'm not about to pass that up. I saw a friend's picture of his daughter asleep in the high chair and I thought how it was just YESTERDAY Erin was doing that too. Then, you know, I realized it was more like seven years ago and this ride is one non-stop blur.)

"Where are you?" she'll ask if she loses her place as I read. But with these easier readers, she keeps up.

We read about Mr. Putter's adventures with his neighbor and Erin howled at the illustrations. Then in Mudge, she laughed at his antics so hard I had to wait for her to recover. She has some real wit.

"I think that's my new favorite story," she told me.

***

The pool is open for the season. The kids had their first splash today.

Monday, June 8, 2015

And still counting (7114-7125)

books in the mail
a quiet, rainy week

a friend's husband who helped us open the pool
big blue
a photo of the kids doing selfies
bikes and scooters
veggie pitas

field fragrance
big church with Lanie
the opportunity to pray for strangers
cantaloupe
books at the library


Monday, June 1, 2015

For Nora

Because she's an inspiration.

Because she used the photos I took of her kids to feature them for the school year.

Because it made my heart so crazy happy that she thought enough of the photos to use them.

Because she shares Toffifay with me.

Because we get each other, O Captain, my Captain.

Yeah. All that, at least. Thanks for being a friend, Nora!






(And if you're wondering who Judas is, it's obviously not the one who betrayed Jesus. I would bet we could all think of a betrayer in our lives, who may not have sold us into torture and death, but has treated our hearts [feelings or very being] as worthless. That's the one who sat at my table, the one who has looked at me through nearly a dozen sets of eyes throughout my life, and even across a table. I love that Jesus broke the bread and served the wine for him. It was hard for me to push through to that moment, but miraculously easy and peaceful in my heart the day I did--sometimes crap isn't so bad when you do it for God's glory. He's the only one who really notices anyway.)

On, on!

And still counting (7088-7113)

sidewalk chalk
best friend play dates
snoballs for everyone!




Christy
Nora
Denise
Marshall's Mom
Shane

evening walks with Lanie holding my hand
the smell of honeysuckle
peonies in neighboring gardens
pine cones in high places
the napping squirrel



Linda at dinner for lasagna
excitement for all for a year with Lanie home
that she worships next to me in big church
I am a child of God
one man's humble honesty

that God loved us while we were still his enemy
and how it teaches me by example
David's unhidden, unashamed love for me
baby foxes at the front door
coffee

Denise's text
a Sunday visit with her
library books