Mighty Warriors

Well, our Monday wasn’t quite as Monday as it could have been, because Hubs, in a brilliant display of compassion for others, went to the grocery store at 8:00 last night.  He came home with a carton of half and half, and suddenly our coffee hopes for Monday morning were going to become a reality, instead of a dream.  He and I may live in the Wild West, but neither one of us has ever learned how to drink our coffee like John Wayne would have done, without the benefit of cream and sugar.  Clearly, we are a disappointment to our state.  My best guess is that John Wayne drank his coffee when it was as black as sin, but listen… if mine isn’t a pale beige with a hint of sugary goodness, I have no interest in it.

Of course, Hubs walked around our kitchen this morning like he was Maverick in Top Gun, who’d managed to shoot enemy fighter jets straight out of the sky, because he’d saved the day with some thick milk.  He’s going to have to step aside for me tonight, though, because LOOK WHO WASHED ALL THE SOCKS TODAY!  I’ve saved the day, too, because none of us are going to be strutting around town like the Flintstones tomorrow, with their calloused feet, bare upon the bedrock.  We have clean socks, and it’s all due to me, thank you very much.

Hubs and I both may need counseling, so that we can resolve the issue of who the better person is here.

Anyway.

I read a devotional one day last week, and it has stuck to me like glue at a kindergarten table during centers does.

I’ve had some things come up in my life.  Actually, they’re not so much things, as they are just plain mountainous volcanoes, that are shooting lava straight up and dumping choking heaps of ash all over my head.  Beth Moore always says that when you come to these kinds of mountains, one of a few different scenarios is going to happen.  Either God is going to make you climb that mountain, which is hard, but totally doable… or He’s going to walk you around that mountain, which, let’s face it, is the easiest route… or He’s going to have you tunnel through the mountain, which is going to involve three times the amount of hard work you were planning on… but one way or the other, you’ll get to the other side of that mountain.

Right now, I feel like I have two mountains of Mt. Everest size, sitting side by side right in front of me, and God has given me a little gardening shovel and a flashlight with no batteries in it, and He’s told me, “Start digging.”  So that’s where I’ve been for a few months here… digging.  And it’s not so much digging, as it is me slamming the point of my tiny shovel into the rock and yelling, “This isn’t fair!  This is not what I signed up for!  THIS IS NOT WHAT I ENVISIONED!!  How come THOSE PEOPLE got a straight path without any bumps in it?  Why do I have to be the one with these two enormous road blocks?  Why am I spending all this time DIGGING?  This is just too dang HARD, God!”  And then I’ve thrown in a few “I hate this” phrases, which were shouted loudly, just to let God know that I am quite serious about my feelings.  You know, in case He had no idea how I felt.

So I’ve been digging my way through two different mountains, which is really hard work.  It’s hard enough to dig through just one mountain, but when you have to keep running back and forth between TWO of them, the exhaustion sets in, and you really just want to pitch your tent right there and quit at the closest base camp.  You want to just say, “I quit,” and turn on Netflix.

And then last week, this devotional came along.  It was about Gideon, when he was threshing his wheat in the winepress, because he was scared to death that the Midianites would come along and find him, if he didn’t hide his work.  It said, “The Israelites have been invaded by the Midianites, and are totally oppressed by them.  In the midst of all this is a man named Gideon, who is threshing wheat in a winepress.  Normally, according to my vast and nonexistent wheat-threshing expertise, he’d thresh his wheat out in the open.  But Gideon was afraid of the Midianites and was hiding in a winepress.  So, while Gideon was hiding out, an angel appeared to him and said, ‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.’  Oh, how I love an angel who deals in irony.  Mighty warrior?  Gideon is hiding!  He’s threshing his wheat in fear, and yet the angel calls him a mighty warrior.”  (That’s from the devotional called Everyday Holy — Finding a Big God in the Little Moments.)

And that’s the paragraph that I’ve pretty much tossed over in my mind for days now.  I’ve thought about it while I was in PE, throwing foam balls at little kids.  I’ve thought about it while I was wide awake at 3 AM.  I’ve thought about it while I’ve avoided cooking dinner, and encouraged my family to PLEASE ACCEPT THIS OFFERING OF A TAKE-AND-BAKE PIZZA FOR YOUR EVENING MEAL, BECAUSE I CAN’T EVEN DEAL WITH ALL THE BUSY THAT THE MONTH OF MAY HAS THROWN AT MY FACE.

God, you see, has the ability to see our pasts and our presents and our futures… ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  So when He called Gideon a Mighty Warrior, He was calling him what he would become, because God had already seen what Gideon would become… because God already knew what he would become.  Gideon didn’t think he was equipped to be a mighty warrior.  In fact, he asked God for a sign that He was telling the truth, and he asked for more than one sign!  As far as Gideon was concerned, he was just going to try to trudge through his existence in oppression by hiding out and threshing wheat, so that the Midianites didn’t find it and destroy it.  Gideon was just focused on providing a little food for his people, but God was focused on Gideon rising up as a mighty warrior and taking out the Midianites with three hundred men on his team.  Was Gideon nervous?  You bet.  Here he’d been, hiding and threshing, when suddenly God spoke through an angel and basically told him, “You’re a mighty warrior now, and you’re going into battle.”  He had three hundred men behind him to fight, while the book of Judges says, “It was impossible to count [the Midianites] or their camels.”  There were just too many of them.  Gideon was bringing three hundred men to a battle against 135,000 soldiers, when he had been nothing but a common man twenty minutes earlier.

But God called Gideon by his future name… Mighty Warrior... in the present.

Let’s just type that again.

God called Gideon BY HIS FUTURE NAME… which was Mighty Warrior… and He did it in the PRESENT.  Because God already knew the future.  God had already seen the future, and He knew the victory Gideon had helped lead the Israelites to, because of his willing obedience to the Lord.

And that made me think… How many times has God said to me, while I’m slowly digging away at my enormous mountains, with my tiny garden shovel, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”  First of all, in my all-consuming focus of letting God know exactly how unfair it is, I’ve forgotten that He IS with me.  I’ve forgotten that I am NOT, actually, digging alone.  And second…  Did He just call me a mighty warrior?  And doesn’t being a mighty warrior mean that I’m going to reach the other side of these two mountains, no matter which direction He sends me… WITH VICTORY?!

Even with the unlikely odds of three hundred men to 135,000.

Or with a garden shovel and a flashlight with no batteries.

Apparently, when you’ve been asked by God to dig your way through the tunnels, you can write down, in ink, that it’s going to be long and difficult.  There are going to be broken fingernails, bruises of all kinds, big scrapes, bigger aches and constant pains, cuss words that you regret, tears a-plenty, and nights when you want to quit forever, as you lay down on the ground in a heap of your own pity party, crying your eyeballs straight out.  You’re going to be jealous of the person next to you, who was handed different tools than you were.  Because that girl digging through HER mountain beside you?  Yeah… she got eighteen semi trucks filled with a cargo labeled DYNAMITE.  She also got headlamps that work and those giant lights that road construction crews set up on interstates at night.  You know the ones… they light up the dark like it’s noon, and they all have batteries and backup batteries and generators, too..  She also got a crew of men who are used to manual labor, and who have built tunnels through mountains before, and actually understand how to get it done quickly and efficiently.  She probably also got a food truck, that delivers breakfast burritos every morning, along with hot, BEIGE-COLORED COFFEE, which she sips while she sits on a giant boulder her crew just pulled out of the tunnel.

And that all looks a lot better than your lone gardening shovel and the flashlight that isn’t equipped with working batteries, and the handful of rocky crumbs you just scratched out of the itty bitty hole that you’re supposed to turn into a passageway.  I won’t lie.  It’s hard to take the meager tools the Lord has handed to YOU, while you watch the Lord hand someone else a Craftsman toolbox packed to the brim with equipment and a fleet of trucks, carrying everything else you could ever dream of needing while you work.  It’s hard to remember that God gave the Israelites manna in the desert, which was just enough for their daily needs.  It’s hard to admit that  your daily need is a small shovel, when someone else’s daily need is a thousand pounds of dynamite and a fellow who knows how to run the line for it.

It’s hard to admit that fairness has absolutely nothing to do with our VERY INDIVIDUAL, daily needs.

And that, of course, brings us to WHY God pared Gideon’s army down to three hundred men.  Had Gideon been blessed with an equal amount of fighting men behind him… had Gideon been flanked by 135,000 soldiers as well… he may have taken credit for winning the battle.  Gideon may have said, “I did it!  I conquered those Midianites!”  At the battle’s end, the soldiers would have slapped Gideon on the back, applauded his fantastic leadership skills, and then fought over who would buy their successful captain his first round of a nice aged, stout ale and a loaf of bread smeared thickly with goat’s milk butter.  And where would the people have seen God in all of it?  That’s right.  They wouldn’t have.  There wouldn’t have been a testimony that has lasted for thousands of years on how God fought for His people, using a nervous man named Gideon, who had once hid from his enemies in a winepress while he worked, and three hundred men.

With my gardening shovel and that flashlight that isn’t working, I will have no one else to credit on the other side of these two mountains, except God Himself.

Which is probably exactly what He has intended for me.

And… I can’t lie… I’ve hollered plenty at the Lord lately, “Thanks for leaving me alone on this!”  I’ve told two people in the past month, “God isn’t listening to my prayers right now.”  I honestly didn’t believe that He was; I was, in fact, firmly convinced that He had left me with the instructions to DIG, and then He’d walked away.  I was too busy watching the people next to me, who were using a gas-powered, high-tech tunnel boring machine to rip an opening into their mountain the size of an aircraft carrier, while the rock I was moving fit into a paper Dixie cup, to even think that He might be listening to me, because HOW UNFAIR IS IT THAT THEY’RE USING MODERN-DAY, HOLE-BORING EQUIPMENT FUELED BY GASOLINE, LORD, WHILE I USE THIS HANDHELD SHOVEL THAT’S PRIMARY PURPOSE IS FOR WEEDING FLOWER BEDS?!  But then… because apparently He loves me or something… God answered us in something entirely different this past Friday.

This past Friday, Hubs and I had a decision to make.  It wasn’t a life-changing decision.  It wasn’t a decision that was even all that hard.  It was just a small timeline that we were on, for something COMPLETELY UNRELATED to my mountains, that needed a yes or a no answer ON FRIDAY.  My mom said, “Well, pray about it, and ask God if you should do it or not do it.”

I went home, thinking, “Right.  Ask God, who isn’t listening to me right now.”

But I asked Him, because it’s all I know in life.  When you’ve been raised going to church, you’re raised to keep asking.  So yes… I asked, but I didn’t expect an answer, because I was too busy being envious of someone else’s easy digging while I was doing hard labor, so why would God even CARE TO ANSWER THIS SMALL REQUEST, THAT ISN’T EVEN RELATED TO MY MOUNTAINS?

Except… He did.

On Friday morning, I looked at Hubs over our beige-colored coffee cups and said, “Are we going to spend this money and go for it?  Or not spend this money?”  And Hubs said, “I think we’re going to spend this money.”  And I twitched, because I am not a money spender, and I am not as brave as Hubs is, when it comes to spending money.

Two hours later, God answered in the form of a phone call, as He boldly announced, “And this, Mighty Warrior, is where that money you’re worried about is going to come from!”  I was stunned beyond belief.  I walked around my house on Friday afternoon, exclaiming, “I can’t believe it!  I asked… and there was an answer and a way!”  I told that to God.  I said, “God!  I asked… and You GAVE AN ANSWER AND A WAY!”  I told Hubs later, “We asked… and we got an answer and a means to achieve it!”

I think God did it, because He knew I needed reassuring that He was still there and still listening TO ME, while I keep digging with my simple, outdated tools on my two mountains.  I can no longer say, “But you reassured Gideon with his wet and dry fleeces, and you ignored me!”  Because He didn’t ignore me.

And He has called me a mighty warrior.

And I think He means for me to step out of the tunnel, when I finally break through to the backside of the mountain, into sunlight, while I say, “It was a long, hard-fought battle to dig my way through, but I asked for help, and You sustained me and kept me going; You provided a way through.”

With just a meager shovel and a flashlight that didn’t work.

Because when I stand in the sunlight, I think I’m supposed to yell, “God gave me the most meager tools, so that my testimony would simply say, LOOK WHAT GOD HAS DONE today.”

And then I’m going to have to REALLY apologize for all the bad words I used while I was laboring to dig.

Happy Monday, y’all.  I hope your husbands are those who love you enough to buy real cream at 8 PM, to insure that your morning goes well.  And I hope that you realize that God already knows you’re a mighty warrior… because He already sees you on the other side of your mountain.  So keep digging, Mighty Warrior; keep digging, even if you’re doing it with your bare hands and looking at me, yelling, “Why does SHE get that little gardening shovel, when I just have my ten fingers and no gloves?!”

If you’ve got breakfast burritos and pale coffee, you can borrow my little shovel for a while.

Hello… Again…

That’s exactly the truth.

I came into work here at the offices of Jedi Mama, Inc. tonight, and I went to stand beside the water cooler.  I didn’t even recognize half the staff members there, because I’ve been gone so long, and then folks reminded me that I’m the boss.

Apparently bosses set a bad example for their employees, when they take a week off work, with no explanation… especially when they failed to refill the rack of Keurig cups for everyone before they left.

My apologies.

Anyway.

My friend and I sat in enormous, leather massage chairs this afternoon, while we sipped Starbucks teas and got pedicures, so I really feel like I’m on top of my work game plan now, with a fresh topcoat of Last Dance on my toes.  Last Dance is red and filled with glitter, and I’m not going to lie…

It’s probably the exact color Megan had on HER toes, when she married Prince Harry this weekend.

Speaking of the wedding…

Hubs walked into the living room at 5:30 Saturday morning and said, “Why are you up so early?”  I simply pointed to the TV.  He squinted at it… wrinkled his nose a bit… and asked, “Is this someone’s wedding?”

Honestly, I don’t know how we’ve even managed to stay married for twenty-two years.  But, if I am to be totally truthful here, I DID ask Hubs last night, “What hockey teams are still in the playoffs?”  I feel like the stare he gave me was the exact equivalent of the one I gave HIM on Saturday morning.

Las Vegas and Winnipeg.  Tampa Bay and Washington.  Megan and Harry.

We’ve both been caught up to speed.

And we are completely out of half and half, which means we will have no coffee to start our Monday morning with tomorrow.  I don’t even know how we’re going to deal.

At any rate, the CEO at Jedi Mama is back in her twirly desk chair, making executive decisions, writing checks and asking WHEN the photocopier is going to be fixed.  It’s all business as usual again, so I’ll see y’all around here this week.

Happy Sunday night, everyone.  May your fridges hold the milk of the half and half cow.  Mondays are so much easier when you’ve got that.

 

The “Conference”

Hubs is gone this week, because he’s at a conference for work.

A “conference.”

He told us that he and his business partner were leaving the first week in May for a conference on firewalls and computer security systems, and blah blah blah… such a boring conference.

And then he said that it was in Miami.

And that’s when I knew he and his business partner were just going to Florida for some good barbecue and bottles of Corona on the beach, with lime wedges shoved in them.  They were going for the quiet hotel rooms.  They were each getting their own room, with room service and the sound of ocean waves right outside their seventh floor balconies.  Neither one of them would have to say, for an entire week, “Would you just BRUSH YOUR DANG TEETH, WITHOUT SPITTING TOOTHPASTE FOR NINE YARDS ACROSS THE BATHROOM SINK?” or even “WHAT IS THIS ON THE WALL?  A BOOGER?  USE A KLEENEX FOR YOUR BOOGERS!!”  Instead… ocean waves… fresh sheets daily… chocolates on their pillows… not a single soul in the room with you, to interrupt televised hockey playoffs.  You can’t tell me that this isn’t a dream that every parent of small children has.

In other words, Hubs has been livin’ the dream this week.  I know this to be true, because when I called him, he said, “Just a second, honey…” before he continued, in a muffled tone to someone else… “That was two of those pineapple drinks with the rum, and I want an umbrella in mine, and could you bring me some sunscreen, too?”  And then, when he got back on the phone with me, he said, “These conferences!  Can’t get a bottle of water to save your life and nobody knows how to turn the air conditioning higher in this convention center.”

Meanwhile, back at the landlocked ranch, I was home from work today with the six-year-old, who has pink eye and couldn’t go to school.  Pink eye isn’t really a sickness, so he’s not laying in bed, being all cuddly.  He’s been all over the house, building train tracks and jumping off furniture and dropping paper airplanes over the stair railing and showing me that the terrible twos were FLAT OUT NOTHING when it comes to a temper tantrum, because HERE ARE THE SCREAMING SIXES, AND I DON’T WANT THAT BOWL OF OATMEAL YOU MADE ME FOR BREAKFAST.  Clearly, we had a level 400 reaction to a level 3 situation.

If that wasn’t enough, the cat puked on the living room floor, while I was unloading our dishwasher this morning.  And by puked, I mean she apparently binged at an all-you-can-eat Meow Mix buffet and then let it churn and digest for a few hours, before she put her best dramatic skills in action, gagged and hacked and sputtered, and threw up a puddle the size of a basketball with a giant wad of hair the size of a mouse, dead center.

Naturally, I used all of my maturity and texted a picture of it to Hubs, and said, “I hope you’re enjoying your CONFERENCE.  I have THIS… and pink eye.”

He texted me back and said, “Don’t send me gross pictures like that.  I almost dropped my pineapple and mango skewer out of my drink, straight into the sand.”

And then, while I was downstairs switching loads of laundry, I came upstairs to find Thing 2, diligently working at the desk in his bedroom… pounding staples into a battery.  When I asked him what on earth he was thinking, he replied, “I was thinking about seeing what’s inside of batteries, but the staples aren’t working that great.”  Honestly, HOW do little boys make it to adulthood?

While I was folding that load of laundry on my bed in my room, Thing 2 walked by and announced, “Well… I decorated my room up nicely.”  Lord, be near.  Guide me beside the still waters and maketh me lie in the green pastures, as I go see what he has done now.  Decorating his room up nicely involved smacking twenty-one Star Wars stickers onto his dresser.  His real wood dresser.  His nice dresser.  We got a lesson today called SOMETIMES STICKERS ARE FOR LIFE, AND THEIR LIVES ARE BEST NOT LIVED ON A PIECE OF GOOD FURNITURE, UNLESS YOU WANT YOUR MOTHER TO BECOME A DAY DRINKER.

To make matters worse, Hubs’ business partner’s wife (Did you stay with me there?), who is at home with their five children, while her husband is sitting on the beach at a conference in Miami, texted me to say that her dryer died dead.  I don’t know about you, but a dead dryer in a family of seven is a crisis the likes of which we need to pray over and lift up to Jesus.  I texted her back and told her that the Lord would want her to drive straight to Home Depot and charge an in-stock dryer to the credit card, and ask someone to deliver it, without delay, that afternoon.

In other words… you know… things are pretty low-key and normal here in Small Town, USA, while our husbands are in Miami, at a “conference.”

All the blesses.

When The Carnival Came To Town

Well, the carnival came to town this weekend, as a special fundraiser for something for kids.  Usually, the carnival waits until the smack-middle of July to show up in Small Town, which is when it’s approximately 377 degrees outside, which is the perfect temperature to pair with a loud, obnoxious carnival packed with ALL THE PEOPLE.  I feel that our local general practitioners probably write more scripts for Valium in mid-July here than at any other time of the year.  “Gotta take them young ‘uns to the carnival, Doc.  What can you give me to make it bearable, in this heat?”

But lo!  A carnival in early May is practically unheard of in Small Town, so we took advantage of it.

It was every bit as over-priced and loud, with questionable rides, as it is later in the summer, but SEVENTY-FOUR DEGREES makes all the difference.  Hubs and I were a bit skeptical when Thing 2 went to get on one ride and the man with the ear gauges that had created holes in his lobes big enough to shove a Pepsi can through announced, “Sorry, kids.  We’re going to shut this ride down for a few minutes, because we’re having some problems.”  And then Hubs and I watched as this man and another carnival worker brought out two lengthy tie-downs… the likes of which might keep a car on a trailer on the interstate… and proceeded to wrap them around one of this ride’s carts and crank them tight.  It really puts a parent at ease to see this kind of attention to safety put into play.

Add to this the generosity of one ride worker, who said, “Hey, if you and your husband want to go on the Ferris Wheel together, I’m happy to babysit the little man at the duck pond,” and you can understand exactly how thrilled Hubs and I were with the carnival.

But… we did it for the baby.  Mainly, because he’d been begging to go, and we simply couldn’t take the begging any longer.  We shelled out $25 for a wristband, and calculated how many rides he’d need to be on, to make it pay for itself over a strip of tickets.

It came to six rides.  He had to ride six rides before we broke even with our lost $25 and could call it a day.  Except, in the end, he rode upwards of twenty rides, because he met up with a little buddy from school, and how could we say no to riding the little train thirteen times?

Hubs and I laughed and laughed when Thing 2 went in the house of mirrors, because he couldn’t even BEGIN to find a path through them.  He struggled and crashed into one glass wall after another, before the attendant finally went in and showed him the secret route to get through.  So… he went through it several more times, whipping through the confusing mirror maze like a seasoned magician, so that he could get upstairs in the attraction, to the conveyor belt and balcony and slide.

I am quite confident that Thing 2 has proven to the world that he could be a king one day and deliver a rousing speech to his loyal subjects, from the upper decks of his palace.  It wouldn’t take anything at all for him to convince his army to suit up in their helmets and chest plates, don their swords and spears, and ride out with him that very night, to fight some cowardly neighbors who threatened the kingdom.

As much as he enjoyed the carnival as a lone rider (seeing as how his mother gets THE MOTION SICKNESS just WATCHING him ride, so there’s really no way under the sun for anyone to convince her to actually get on one and accompany him), he was thrilled to find a little friend from school, whose ride stamina and equilibrium are both as stable as Thing 2’s are.

They did have to do some serious measuring of one another, to determine if they were tall enough… PLEASE LET US BE TALL ENOUGH, LORD!… to ride the swings.  My biggest fear was that Thing 2’s buddy, who was a solid two inches taller, was going to pass the measuring test, and our little ninja would be left behind to watch, as some attendant told him to grow a little and maybe he could ride the swings next year.  Thankfully, they were both well over the height restrictions, so the swings got the big green light.

Hubs and I had a moment of anxiety, when we wondered aloud how many tie-downs were holding this ride in place, which our son had boarded with enthusiasm.  And then I had a moment of THERE GOES MY STOMACH, as I tried to keep track of the little man on the ride and snap a few photos.

The two little folks declared the swings to be the best thing they’d ever encountered, seeing as how neither one of them has ever been to Disneyland. They jabbered on and on about HOW! MUCH! FUN! they’d been, as Mama clutched her head and tried to hold the vomit down.

Motion sickness is a real thing.

Don’t judge.

That carnival was very possibly the dirtiest place we’ve been this year.  And the sound system crackled with so much static and feedback, Hubs declared that he was close to having a seizure.  Sadly, Thing 2 didn’t notice any of that.  All he knew was CARNIVAL!  CARNIVAL!  SWEET, WONDERFUL CARNIVAL!  Childhood is such a blessing.

And then… as we were wrapping up the carnival by standing in line for the promised bag of pink cotton candy, it hit me.

Not the motion sickness.

That would have been so much easier.

It was the gut pain.

It came out of nowhere, and I was pretty sure I knew what it was.  For months now, I’ve suspected that I have a hernia in my gut, because I know how to use WebMD, which basically makes me a doctor.  I have not gone to the real doctor for a diagnosis, because WHY?  WebMD assured me that I was spot-on, and the following write-up was that most hernias in the gut don’t cause a lot of problems.

And that’s been pretty much the truth.

They don’t cause a lot of problems… until they do.  And yesterday, they did.  I told Hubs, “The sudden pain in my gut is worse than childbirth.”  Of course, Hubs had no way of knowing that I was actually dying, because I do have a tendency for the drama, when it comes to pain, but Mama had to bail out of the cotton candy line to go sit in the air-conditioned car, where she could suffer outside of the public eye.

And then we came home, and the pain got worse, so I did what every normal person would do.  I consulted the professionals on WebMD, who basically told me that I could be experiencing a strangulated hiatal hernia, which could kill me.

And THAT is how I came to spend the next fifteen hours, sitting upright in a recliner, trying to sleep without leaning to one side.  I’d venture a guess and say that this pain last night was worse than a C-section without proper anesthesia, and I should know.  I’ve had one of those.

At 10:00 last night, Hubs asked if I wanted to go to the ER, but I told him no.  I was content to suffer at home, without medical intervention.  But I did tell him to let the boys know that I had loved them deeply, if my pulse wasn’t active, come morning.  So, Hubs did what all husbands do, in the face of their wives attempting to spend a night alone in the living room recliner, in excruciating pain:  he crawled into our bed, passed out cold, and got nine solid hours of peaceful sleep.

Meanwhile, I sat upright, wide awake, until about 3 AM this morning, when I could finally fall asleep.

It was all glorious and wonderful.

I cleared my entire schedule for today… cancelled a babysitting gig for a friend… cancelled my time to help in Thing 2’s classroom with Monday morning centers… as I decided that I’d rest today and take a nap.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when the school nurse called me at 8:25 this morning to announce that she needed to send Thing 2 home, because he HAD THE PINK EYE!

Goodbye, quiet house.  Goodbye, nap.  Instead, I got to shuffle my I’m-a-lot-better-but-still-really-sore self in to see our pediatrician.  I walked just like a ninety-four year old woman would walk, if she wasn’t all that spry and had just taken a machete to her gut.

And yes.  It was confirmed that we are officially a conjunctivitis victim.

I blame that dirty carnival for all of this.

Happy Monday, y’all.  May your guts be healthy and thriving; may your eyes be vibrant and gunk-free.  And may you sleep tonight exactly like a husband sleeps.

Who Wore It Best?

I am delighted to tell you that we got an early start on our day this morning.

Precisely, we started at 4:53, when forty-seven pounds of raw muscle and enthusiasm jumped on me and asked, “What’s for breakfast?  I’m starving!”    Hubs later announced, “I blame you for this.  YOU are the morning person in this marriage, and YOU are the one who used to wake ME up, long before we had kids, so that we could get our day started.”

I told Hubs, “I used to wake you up at 7:30.  Not 4:53.”

“It’s the Lord.  He’s paying you back for all of MY early mornings.  7:30 in my book is as early as 4:53 in your book.”

MaMaw, in her elderly age, is no longer the morning person she used to be.  She has this fantasy now, where she gets to stay in bed, sound asleep, until the nursing staff comes to get her up, ’round about 9 AM, and get her into her dressing gown, so that she can be propped up in front of her television programs.  MaMaw doesn’t have hogs to slop or cows to milk, so 4:53 is a touch on the side of RIDICULOUS.

Needless to say, we had gluten-free blueberry muffins and copious amounts of hot coffee and cream for breakfast, while most of you were still in your REM stage.

Anyway.

A while back, Sister uncovered a bag of hand-me-down clothes that I had given her years ago, straight from the boy to her son, Cousin K.  Somehow, this bag had been lost beneath sleeping bags and Halloween costumes, and she never noticed it when she passed all of the stuff that boy of hers had outgrown on to others.  We never thought we’d have any use for size six, little boy clothing ever again, but the Lord had other plans, because BEHOLD!  Unto you a child shall be born, and he will get up early and streak your hair with gray and stand upon your kitchen counters like it’s a normal activity in polite society.  He will ice skate like Wayne Gretzky, scream like a lunatic whenever he sees a bee, and melt your heart with his brown eyes.  Oh!  And eventually you’re going to need size six, little boy clothes again.

Y’all, I’m just gonna tell you that this bag of hand-me-down clothes from the boy was a treasure to me!  I was ridiculously happy to pull items out of it that my firstborn had worn, so that my second son could wear them too.  The boy was a tiny runt of a little person, so Thing 2 is pretty much a full year and a half ahead of him in wearing this bag of stuff, because Thing 2 is not a tiny runt of a little person.  Thing 2 hits the 36th percentile for weight and the 40th percentile for height.  The boy never… not once… made it out of the 15th percentile for either height or weight.  Hubs and I feared that the boy would never be able to reach the top shelf in the kitchen cabinets as an adult, without a stepladder.  But… that kid surprised us… and he grew… a little.

Anyway.

I have a few snapshots of my children, wearing the same sweater and long sleeved T-shirt.

This is the boy… back when his feet were tiny and adorable and still smelled like baby lotion:

Oh, sweet mercy!  I’d pay a large chunk of money to go back in time and hold him once more when he was so little!

And then… years and years later… here is that Thing 2, who still has cute little feet that smell fresh and clean most of the time:

And then, here’s the boy, way back when, looking all fresh and pink-cheeked, with a new haircut:

And here’s Thing 2… in all of his own adorableness, and also with a fresh haircut:

And now, I need a Kleenex, because the boy is an inch away from turning eighteen and wrapping up his JUNIOR STINKING YEAR of high school, while MY BABY is four weeks away from finishing kindergarten.

I have no words, except for the old cliche that they really DO grow up when you blink.

 

Boom!

He concentrates on kicking.  Sticking his tongue out during a kick improves concentration, 800%.

He dribbles the ball.

He weaves in and out of players.

He shoots…

… HE SCORES!!!  His personal cheering section, involving grandmas and grandpas and parents, explodes in applause!  They wave giant signs… “THING 2 IS NUMBER ONE IN OUR HEARTS!” and “STEP ASIDE, MESSI.  THING 2’S IN THE HOUSE!”

Whoomp!!  There it is!  One soccer ball, at the back of the other team’s net.

(*cue Queen’s song, We Are the Champions, but not too loudly, because their moms are raising these boys to be respectable players with good sportsmanship*)

Craft Class On The Sidelines

Winter finally gave way to REAL SPRING this last weekend.  We turned our faces to the sunshine, like the plants, and soaked it up, clear down to our souls.  And then the REAL SPRING gave way to the monsoon season today, as we woke up to black skies, rain and chills, and the desire to put soup in the crockpot and make hot tea.

But… before the rain arrived today… Thing 2 played some soccer at the tail end of last week.  His team pulled off a four to three win, by the hair on their chinny-chin-chins.

Thing 2 didn’t score a goal in this go-around either, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.  He dribbled that ball all around the field… dribbled it like a boss… and he took several shots on the purple team’s goal, but listen:  Their team had a secret weapon, in the form of the cutest, tallest little first grade girl EVER.  She was adorable… she seemed incredibly sweet… and she could play soccer like an Olympian!  She shut our kids DOWN.  She blocked every shot Thing 2 tried to get past her, and then she was happy to run that ball back down the length of the soccer field and score another goal herself.  Our little shorty was helpless to keep up with her long legs.  Honestly, I just wanted to clap for her, because I expect to watch her on TV in another fourteen years, when the United States wins gold in women’s soccer.  And when that happens, I’ll be able to stand up in my living room (with the help of my walker with the tennis balls on the bottom), and say, “I watched her play my son’s team when they were six.”  We were stinking lucky to score one more point than this purple team did.  They played like beasts!

And this first snapshot?  Yeah… that’s Thing 2 on defense.  His mama captured the ball that went straight through his cleats… and straight into the net behind him.  At least his hair was on point and looking very trendy when he let a ball go through.

And who says the sidelines have to be boring, when it’s your turn to take a break and let your teammates see some action on the field themselves?  Thing 2 hosted a little craft class, right there on the sidelines at mid-field, called “You, Too, Can Make a Pine Cone Wreath Without a Hot Glue Gun or Fancy Ribbon.”  All the kids on the sidelines signed up to take this craft class, as they engrossed themselves in finding pine cones to contribute to the group project.  Their coach was just stinking proud of how well they all paid attention to their teammates who were OUT ON THE FIELD, laboring to keep up with that long-legged girl on the purple team.  (*insert that emoji that’s laughing and crying, right here*)

Anyway.

Y’all have a happy Monday… as happy as Mondays can be.

Early Mornings, Picnics And Whatnot

I am sitting at my big computer, sipping a cup of hot chai tea and eating a chunk of Hub’s Corona beer-soaked, smoked jerky.  I don’t even have an explanation.  Clearly, my afternoon eating habits are the same as an unchaperoned teenage boy.

(Except for the chai tea part, because I think it’s obvious that I’m refined and elegant.)

Our weekend was a good one, if you like the idea of getting up in the thick of the darkness every morning.  If those are your currency, then WELCOME TO THE BEST WEEKEND EVER.

On Friday morning, I got up with the boy at 4:45, because he had to catch a 5:30 golf bus.  Tournaments wait for no boy, and when they’re a good distance away, the bus leaves early.  I packed him snacks for the bus and dug the sunscreen out of the bathroom linen closet, which are the two things I figured a responsible mother would do, and then I waved goodbye to him, as he drove away in the dark.  And then I went back to bed, because listen:  It was only 5:15 in the morning.  The only problem is that I’d already been up, which caused my brain to believe we had already started the day for good, so there wasn’t any way my brain was going to power back down for sleeping.  That’s how I found myself sitting at my dining room table at 5:45 Friday morning, with coffee and my Bible study homework.  Apparently, God is always awake, so He doesn’t mind meeting early.

Afterward, I actually discovered REAL PERPETUAL MOTION, as I kept my washing machine moving and spinning and filling and draining all the livelong day.  I kept it up until the machine and I both lost track of how many loads we’d done.  I kept it up until I had perfectly empty laundry baskets in our walk-in closet, and the only dirty clothes in our house were the ones we were currently wearing.  The Finished Laundry Feeling of Bliss and Happiness lasted until 7:30 that evening, which is when Thing 2 disrobed out of his dirty clothes and put his jammies on.  And then he dumped laundry in the baskets.  Goodbye, Finished Laundry Feeling of Bliss and Happiness.

On Friday afternoon, I took Thing 2 to our library, where they have a new program known as COME BUILD WITH LEGOS.  The librarian sets out tubs upon tubs upon enormous tubs of Lego bricks, and… well… there you go.  Kids flock in droves to come create Lego structures, with the hopes that the librarian will chose theirs to be displayed for the week in the big, glass showcase.  Thing 2’s “straight from my imagination” spaceship had the honor of being featured in the showcase two weeks ago, and his chest nearly exploded with pure pride.  This week, he took his Lego building skills to a Level Nine Hundred, and he built a spaceship that was roughly the size of a Volkswagen van.  The monstrosity was so large, he had to drag it gently across the carpet to the librarian, because carrying it was going to defy the rules of weight distribution and the laws of counterweights.  He told her, “This thing is READY for the showcase!”  And THAT, my friends, is the exact moment in life when the librarian chose twelve other Lego creations of a much smaller stature to be put on display for the next seven days, and when my six-year-old’s heart broke plum dadgum in half.  She gently explained to him, “Your spaceship is so gigantically fantastic, it’s just TOO BIG to even FIT in the showcase!  It’s almost BIGGER than the ENTIRE showcase!”  We had tears and we had disappointment and we had to learn that sometimes bigger isn’t necessarily better, even though sometimes bigger is AMAZING.

On Friday evening we kick-started this upcoming season of Glorious Weather with a picnic at the playground with friends.  It was also known as CAN WE WEAR THE LITTLE FOLKS OUT BEFORE BEDTIME?  We actually ate real food at a real picnic table and had real conversations, because WINTER IS IN THE PAST!  (And I say that loosely, because in Small Town, USA, winter is never, actually, IN THE PAST… even in mid-July.)

The boy came home very late on Friday night and he wasn’t even sunburned, because listen, y’all:  That man child finally heeded the instructions of his mama and applied and also reapplied sunscreen to his fair skin.  It was the first time he’s made it home from an all-day golf tournament without being Bob the Tomato’s twin brother.  And, not only was he not sunburned… but he was also grinning from ear to ear because he had just golfed his personal best score!  He was exhausted to the bone, as was his mother, because 4:45 in the morning is somewhat unforgiving when 10:00 PM has rolled around.  We all went to sleep with enormous dreams of sleeping in the following morning.

And by sleeping in, I mean until Thing 2 would jump out of bed at 6:30.

Except… glory be… Thing 2 actually jumped out of bed at 4:45 on Saturday morning, because he didn’t want to be the only son left out of early morning time with his mother.  There was absolutely no convincing him that it was actually still the middle of the night, so there I was, back at my dining room table before 5:30 on Saturday morning, with a piping hot cup of coffee and my Bible study homework, because I was fairly certain the Lord was up for the day, too.

Our Saturday morning was spent doing little chores.  We washed sheets.  We cleaned the fish aquarium.  We cleaned out the fridge.  We had the oil changed in the Suburban.  I finally took down everyone’s Christmas card photos, which had been smacked up on our magnetic board since December.

And then I had lunch with a couple of friends.  While we were sitting at the restaurant, Hubs texted me a snapshot of Thing 2, sound asleep on the sofa at home, with the words, “We’re just taking a little break from chores here.”  A nap in the daytime hours translates into Thing 2 not sleeping in the nighttime hours, so you can bet I wasted NO TIME AT ALL, GLADYS, in responding to THAT text message, as I typed, IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, TO SHOW THE IMPORTANCE OF MY WORDS, THAT HUBS SHOULD GET THE MAN CUB UP, UP, UP, RIGHT NOW, GET HIM UP!!

Hubs texted back that I had no faith in him as a babysitter.

I think the fact that Hubs allowed the man cub to fall asleep while he was on duty is answer enough to that question.

While the boy worked at the golf course on Saturday evening, Hubs and I took Thing 2 to the playground with his bicycle, where he rode three hundred miles, right before bedtime.  And since my afternoon babysitter really HAD been responsible after all, and since he SWORE that Thing 2 had only been below the hard deck asleep for sixty seconds, bedtime went in our favor.  We didn’t even make it through our routine first bedtime book, before Thing 2 looked at me and said, “I need to lay down while you read.”  And then when I picked up the routine second bedtime book (because we read two books a night, or Mr. Follow-The-Scheduled-Routine lets his circus monkeys loose), Thing 2 said, “I just need to sleep.”

And that was the easiest bedtime the Jedi House has ever seen.  Our son was asleep before he was even covered up fully.

Our Sunday was full of church and friends.  We had our second picnic of the weekend with more good friends at a different park, so that our kids could run and run and also run.  And then, people, I came home and listened to Priscilla Shirer’s simulcast, which she put on yesterday.  I bought the download, and I sat down at my big computer with my notebook and my Bible, and I wrote notes until my nerdy hand felt like it would fall off my arm from carpal tunnel syndrome.  I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, because Priscilla had a Word to share, and it was a Word that I desperately needed.  When the simulcast finished, I had to sit back and stare into space for a while, as I regrouped and made plans to re-enter the real world, where she was no longer preaching what I had needed to here.

And then I had hot chai tea and Hubs’ homemade beef jerky, and wrote this blog post.

Y’all have a marvelous Sunday night.  If you need me, I’ll be over here at the Jedi House, flossing jerky out of my teeth and still thinking about everything Priscilla had to say this weekend.  Bless.

 

Alexa And Dinner

I seriously asked her this.

She told me, “I’m sorry.  I don’t know that one.”  Neither do I, Alexa; neither do I.

Although, I just need to go on the record and state before the judge and jury that last night I made broccoli taco bowls for dinner, because Pinterest suggested that recipe to me, and I was all, “Hmm.  That sounds like something that could bring a revolt and succession from our family.  Challenge accepted.”

I had the hamburger meat going, with all the appropriate taco spices in it, and it smelled divine.  Hubs and the boy walked through the kitchen and said, “Why do you have twelve pounds of broccoli steaming, when that is VERY CLEARLY taco fixings?”

I just nodded and said, “Yes.”  Sometimes it’s just best to pretend you don’t know what they’re asking, in order to postpone the Spanish Inquisition.

Hubs looked at me and asked, “Are we somehow… COMBINING perfectly good taco meat with useless broccoli?”

I said, “Lovely weather we’re having.”  Except it wasn’t, because RAIN.  RAIN AND SNOW.  SNOW AND RAIN.  SNOW.

And then it was time to dish up our dinner, and there was no way I could avoid the announcement any longer, so I simply said, “Y’all need to fill a bowl halfway with broccoli and then dump all this meat on the top of it.  Add cheese and sour cream, if you so desire; I do not care.”  (THAT was said in my best Ron Swanson voice.)  (And I really DO care if Thing 2 adds cheese and sour cream, because he’s allergic to dairy.)

The menfolk were tentative.  They wanted to know what fresh hell I had designed for their dinner, because WHERE ARE THE FLOUR TORTILLAS, WOMAN?!  THIS IS NOT HOW THEY DO THINGS IN MEXICO!  We all sat down at the table with our bowls full of broccoli and taco meat and black beans and cheese to pray.  Thing 2 said, “I’ve never had broccoli in my taco before, and I already know I won’t like it.”

The menfolk all raised their glasses and said, “Here, here.”

And then we ate.

And it was divine.

And all three of the members of the male tribe at my house ENJOYED.  THEIR.  MEAL.

In fact, the boy even said, “I thought that was going to be really gross, but it turned out to be kind of tasty… you know... if you’re into broccoli and taco fixings.”

Thing 2 said, “You can’t actually taste broccoli with taco meat, so that was the best part about dinner.”

Hubs said, “That’s a repeat dinner.  I liked it.”

And there I sat last night… right there at the dinner table… knowing I had conquered MOUNT MAKE THEM EAT VEGETABLES and won.  If you put it all under a pile of hamburger and beans that tastes like Taco Monday, they will eat it.

Also… On an entirely different note, I feel like you should see this picture:

That is a LIVE shot.  As in… it is currently happening, as I type this.

Thing 2 is rollerblading in the house.  He has a balloon creature, that our favorite eye doctor made for him yesterday, around his neck, pretending that it’s a light-up necklace, because nothing says MORE FUN than a disco with flashing jewelry.  In his hands, he is holding the top to our French press coffee maker and a lid from my pots and pans drawer.

He is banging them together.

They are both made of metal.

The sound is wonderful.  A bit like relaxing ocean waves.  Or a calming campfire.

And… although Alexa wouldn’t feed my kids tonight… she DID agree to play the song Shut Up and Dance With Me for Thing 2… and she agreed to jack it to VOLUME TEN.  (He tried to get her to use Volume One Hundred, but she informed him that her cutoff point was a whopping ten.  I’ve never loved Alexa more.)

I just thought y’all should know how life is panning out at the Jedi Manor, this very second.  Pray for us as the Spirit leads.