Wednesday, May 20, 2015

we have a man child

My mom warned me.
The years....they fly by.
Before you know it the preschooler that clung to your knees in shrugging off hugs as
they run to make it to class before the elementary school bell.
And then they fly away.
To Washington DC for their eighth grade trip.
And you are left thinking, "What the heck?"
Because clearly, you are a profound thinker.
Or maybe it is just me.
Jack is 14.
He is taller than Scott and me and sporting a trace of a mustache
which we both can't stop staring at.
(Jack: "Dad, what are you looking at?" Scott: "I can't take my eyes of your mustache..."
Jack: "You are weird.")
We are not weird. We are perplexed.
When did this happen?
When did he become the one who was big enough to give piggy back his mother?
When did his voice take on that hint of bass?
Wasn't it just last year that he professed a deep love for "wubber wizards"?
(wubber wizards = rubber lizards...just in case you were wondering.) I guess that was a decade ago...but still....
Almost every morning we are astonished by this young man who has
taken up residence in our home.
Because in our minds he looks like this.

But this guy keeps showing up to breakfast.....

And maybe the craziest thing is that we are not so much missing
the little version of Jack as we are excited to see who this big version
of Jack is becoming.
We are thrilled to know him....and to stare at his facial hair.
And we are quickly realizing how little time we have with him as
he gets ready to enter high school.
Is time speeding up?
It really FEELS like it is speeding up.
When I dropped him off at the airport at 5:00 am this past Sunday to board the plane
for DC, he gave me a quick hug.
I grabbed him and buried my face in shoulder and kissed his neck.
I am pretty sure I horrified him.
But he smiled anyway, slung his backpack over his shoulder and said,
"Bye, Mom."
Is that what parenting becomes?
Feeling hopeful and terrified and proud all at the same time?
Wondering if you have done mostly everything wrong in the last 14 years and
wanting to know if there are do overs because really you know a lot more now?
Longing for the next 4 years to stretch out before you so you can savor them
(except for when he talks back than it is okay for them to go by fast?)
Watching this boy come into his own life...his own purpose and pain and joy
and thinking, "I don't think I could love this kid any more than I do right now."
Can you feel all of these things in 12 second interlude?
I blinked back a couple of tears.
It reminded me of that moment when I dropped off Addison at preschool for
the first time.
The director looked at me with concern and said,
"He is going to be fine. It's YOU we are a little worried about."
Jack is going to be fine.
Me? That remains to be seen.
But I know this.
I am really looking forward to Friday night when Jack lands at the airport.
He should prepare himself.
I will be kissing his neck again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

i survived tigernado 2015 and i owe it all to my friend, rene

Last Wednesday afternoon, I arrived at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City,
for a speaking engagement at my friend, Rene's, church.
It was a bit of bumpy landing due to the storm coming in.
When I got off of the escalator at the baggage claim, Rene was waiting for me.
Which was beyond kind...I always do curbside pick up.
I said, "Rene! You are so nice! I can't believe you came in to meet me.
Rene hugged me and then said something like, "Well, Sue, we have a tornado coming."
To which I said, "What? Right now?"
I have fond memories of tornado warnings as a child in Illinois.
To me it meant good snacks and a sleepover in the basement.
But as an adult....the fondness for a good tornado has waned.  I have seen the news.
And I have seen Twister. I am no Helen Hunt. I prefer to leave storm chasing to the experts
The storm was moving towards us.
So we were staying put at the airport in case we needed to take shelter.
Taking shelter is not something we do in California.
In fact, since the drought, we don't even do rain in California.
And thus began my schooling of words like "severe weather" and
"watch vs. warning".
It was also the beginning of my knowledge of flash flood lingo like
"turn around...don't drown" and hail terminology as in
"hail the size of pennies, quarters, dimes" vs.
"hail the size of golf balls, ping pong balls and baseballs."
As the storm closed in the tornado sirens started going off.
It is not a good sound. It's a kiss-your-mama-good-bye kind of sound.
We were evacuated into the tunnels below the airport with about 500 other people.
Rene was talking me through the drill.
Usually you are down in the tunnels for about 30 minutes until the storm passes.
As she tracked the storm on her phone radar like a seasoned meteorologist,
I sent frantic texts to my family for prayer.
I was basing my level of fear on the look on Rene's face. I told her this.
I was going to be reading her expressions like a book.
If she wasn't freaking out...I would try not to freak out.
Try is the operative word here.
This is a picture we took between evacuations.

Rene is happy. Calm. At peace. Really lovely, actually.
Her look says, "We are okay. I have done this before."
My look is more of a, "We might die today but I will try to smile for my last picture"
kind of look.
So she proceeded to keep a look of absolute serenity on her face throughout
the eight hour ordeal.
Yep. Eight. Hours.
Even when we got re-evacuated for a second time down in the tunnels.
Even when I was laying flat out on the ground trying to use the cold tiles to ice my back.
Even when the only food we had between us was a small bag of almonds.
Even when there was a tornado sighted on the runway.
Even when the storm decided to sit on top of the airport and linger for the evening.
The only time Rene almost lost her cool was when we came up from the tunnels
between tornadoes and the guy at the coffee kiosk wouldn't sell us any coffee or muffins.
You should never withhold muffins from people who haven't eaten in 8 hours and
have been forced to smile a lot to keep their friend from California from freaking out.
There may have been a moment when Rene thought about looting a croissant.
But we found our way to some vending machines and proceeded to eat Cheezits, Ruffles,
Snickers and M&Ms for dinner.
Gross, I know. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
I have been not eating sugar or flour for the last month.
That second bag of Cheezits? Not a good call.
It was at this point when the flash flood emergency warning was issued.
So even though the storm was passing us at the airport, we couldn't make it to
Rene's house without renting a motor boat.
I think it was then that I asked,
"Are there tornado shelters at the hotel?"
"Then I will be staying with your house....the entire time I am here."
She didn't even flinch.
In the face of so many looming dangers, Rene took every weather change in stride
like it was just another other spring day.
Like there wasn't the possibility of drowning, being concussed by sports ball sized
hail or being sucked up into the vortex of tornadic storm at a moment's notice.
Certainly hosting someone at her home for 4 days wasn't going to shake her.
And I was not going to leave her side. She is the bravest most level headed person I know.
With the threat of the tornado passed, we just had to wait until the flood waters
receded so we could get home.
We went up to her car to recharge our phones and listen to the radio for the all clear.
With the sound of tornado sirens going off to the east and the terrifying bleat of
the emergency broadcast system echoing through the car, a final emergency warning
came over the radio,
"Breaking news, a safari park has been hit and there are tigers and exotic animals on the loose.
Stay inside."
We looked at each other.
In what reality do you have tornadoes, hail, flash floods and tigers?
At this, Rene's calm began to waver.
And then she cracked.
"Tigers? You have got to be kidding me!"
She started laughing so hard she was almost crying.
I had to laugh with her.
"Tigers? Exotic animals? I've got nothing."
There was no way she could spin this one for me.
It was possibly the best moment of the night....once we were sure the tigers
were far away and weren't trying to catch a flight out of Will Rogers.
We made it home around midnight.
None the worse for wear (except for the giant cheezit ball lingering in my gut.)
We will have a tale to tell our grandchildren.
We can literally say we survived the craziest storm of 2015.
And going forward, I know one thing to be true....
when the apocalypse hits?
I want Rene by my side.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

my friend're gonna love her

I am posting over at my dear friend, Lindsey Smallwood's, Songbird and A Nerd, today
This is Lindsey and one of her sweet boys.
She has three all together - 1 big one (Chris) and 2 small (Bobby and Tommy).
Her babies are like sugar. I could eat them up.
And Lindsey is a kindred spirit.
She loves baking and decorating with robin's egg blue.
She likes to dance and eat chocolate.
She has embarrassing things happen to her just like I do.
She loves Jesus. A lot.
And then there is the fact that she is a worship leader, pastor, and gifted writer.
When she asked me to write over at her place, I said, "Yes, please."
(You can read about my latest awkwardness and deep thoughts about detoxing here.)
I want in on whatever Lindsey has going on.
The joy. The hope. The awkward moments. The fun.
If you are anything like me, you will, too!
For your enlightment and enjoyment....Songbird and A Nerd.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

let's all take a nap

I have never been really good at resting.
Mostly because I am busy and caring for my own well-being seems at odds with life
and it feels like I am wasting precious time.
If there is a moment to be thinking of how I should take better care of my body
or mind or spirit, it is usually sucked away
by the children or a deadline or something to do with church or making the next meal.
I have some friends who are great at taking care of themselves...
friends who schedule time to go  away for a night to a retreat
or section off a portion of their day for a run or take a class to help them re-charge.
And me?
I prefer to run myself straight into the ground.
It's not the best choice.
These days I can barely keep my eyes open.
I am "pooped out" as my mom would say.
Done. Finished. Through.
I was talking to my cousin Beth yesterday and I told her,
"I have some speaking engagements coming up. What would you think if I just
laid down on the platform and said, "Let's all take a nap." That is my message
for the day."
Beth laughed and said, "I would love that! I am always down for a nap."
In all honesty, I am not just tired in body...I am tired in spirit.
I am in one of those dry, dusty places.
Where if I were a sponge I would be the hard cracked kind where you have to run 
water over it for a long time, and knead it liberally, before it begins to absorb any liquid.
I have walked with Jesus long enough to know that I have baby-stepped away from 
his grace and goodness, letting life creep in and overwhelm me. 
Scott asked me the other day, "Are you okay?"
I snapped back, "I'm fine." Which goes to show how clearly not fine I am.
What I am is.....
Bone tired. Cranky. Not particularly coherent.
With some back spasms added into the equation.
I think the back spasms are mostly Jesus saying, 
"Why don't you lay down? No...really...I mean it...LAY DOWN."
So today I am laying down.
With an ice pack. And a book on parenting teens. 
(Maybe the back spasms stem from this season of life?)
And I am sipping tea and doing deep breathing exercises and talking
to my muscles saying, "See? I am doing it. I am giving you a break. Now you can
go back to normal."
And mostly, I am realizing that I need to sidle up to Jesus 
and invite him one more time to flood the desert dry places in my spirit with his living water.
So that I can soak up his grace and swim in his peace and breathe.
And find that place of resting in his love.
Because I think it would be a good place to take a nap.

Friday, April 10, 2015

just hold on....I am having a moment

Living with boys is fun.
I am surrounded by them 24/7.
They make me laugh.
They fill me with joy.
I can't get enough of them.
But in spite of all the joys of living with boys,
we still have a lot of work to do in the social skills department.
When I got my hair cut last month,
Will came up to the car after school and asked,
"Do you want me to tell you what I think of your hair?"
He had a worried expression on his face.
I looked at him and said, "No. I don't. Please get in the car."
Addie got in the backseat and looked at me and said,
"Mom, I think you have a mullet."
To which I said, amid a great amount of laughter, "It is not a mullet. And you are mean."
This comment came on the heels of Addie recently mentioning how much he loves my arms
because they are so squishy and chubby.
The statements have started to erode my self confidence.
I have started to doubt I have a mullet?
Are my arms lovable because they are squishy and chubby.?
These are the kinds of thoughts that plague you when you have boys.
Then there was the moment this week, when Jack told me that he thought
Addison smelled like peanut butter,
Dad smelled like breath mints and sweat,
and that I smelled like breakfast and anger.
Somehow Will got off without having his "smell" identified.
I am pretty sure I do smell like anger.
Because once you tell me that is what I smell like... I become angry.
Even after all these years, the children have still not learned that there is a time
to speak your thoughts and a time to keep your mouth shut in hopes of self preservation.
But this week when we were getting in the car to go visit cousins,
an incredible thing happened.
As I buckled myself in, Will said, "Mom, did you put perfume on?"
Jack chimed in, "It's called taking a shower, Will."
I answered, "I put on some lotion."
He leaned forward and said, "Mom, you smell really good and you look pretty."
I almost fainted. And wept. Simultaneously.
As I blinked back a tear, I said, "Thank you, Will!"
Joy and thankfulness burst forth in my heart.
I was light headed with the beauty of it.
So that's what it feels like to get a compliment from your child.
Later that afternoon when Will came into my room I told him,
"Will, when you told me that I smelled nice and looked pretty today,
 you made me feel great. Thank you for saying those things."
He grinned and said, "Well, Mom...that's because you ARE great."
And there it was.
My moment.
Weeks from now when my kids tell me my bangs are weird
and that they can see the back of my underwear when I am picking up their toys
and that I need to stop dancing because I am embarrassing them
and that they can't believe how old I am, because really I am so old,
I will think about this moment...
this moment of high praise and love and deep regard....
and remember what it was like.....
when I was great.

Friday, March 27, 2015

dreams are mostly impossible

I have dreams on the brain.
I was talking to my friend the other day, we were talking about following our dreams.
We started talking about what we want vs. what God wants for us.
And about our Christian brothers and sisters who are walking out persecution
and even though it is incredibly difficult and heart wrenching,
could that actually be the path that God has them on?
Could it possibly be the path that He has for us?
Do his dreams for us include some hardship?
Because any kind of dreams that I have for myself do not involve any pain and suffering.
Or toil.
Or discomfort.
Or difficulty.
My dreams for myself are feel good kind of dreams.
Think rainbows, unicorns, giant bars of chocolate and large book advances.
But when I read God's word I am struck by the fact
that all of the dreams that God has for those that He loves takes them to impossible places.
To do impossible things.
And some times more than once.
As if one hernia per person isn't enough.
And there is nary a unicorn or book advance in site.
They dreamed the impossible dreams that God placed in their hearts.
They went impossible places.
They did impossible things.
They didn't always get it right.
But in the course of their lives, they became more than they could ever hope or imagine.
If you are dreaming dreams that you can by chance, fulfill in your own steam,
complete with your own talents and sustain with your own provisions,
you probably are dreaming some great dreams.
But they are most likely your dreams for you...not his.
(Welcome to the land of rainbows and chocolate...I look forward to your company.)
If you are embracing the dreams that God has for you,
you will absolutely not be able to complete them in your own strength.
They may bypass your talents and skill set completely.
(Think parting seas and leading armies.)
You will probably on occasion be completely freaked out and may be exhausted.
(Think hiding in caves and saving nations)
And you will be scared.
(Take are in great company...almost everyone who dreams God sized dreams is)
But you will also be invigorated...
lifted up...
hemmed in on every side...
led by the Spirit...
given thoughts and talents and abilities that you have never had before....
and you will become more than you could ever hope or imagine.
His dreams for you...
the ones that He has birthed with great hope in your spirit,
are and always will be....impossible.
Aren't you glad that it is up to Him to make them come true?