Friday, February 27, 2015

science fair + flu = a special kind of hell

Science flu is what you get when you cross a vicious virus with
one mother and 3 children trying to complete their science fair projects.
Since I and 2 of my children are battling low grade fevers, sore throats and
congested heads it makes the process of putting together a science fair project
seems like adding evil upon evil.
Like getting chicken pox and then contracting boils.
Or like doing chemistry AND geometry at the same time.
In other words...something that was my least favorite thing in the world
is now even more un-favorite.
Is that even a word?
It is now.
Imagine me, nursing my wee cup of sudafed, while yelling mixed directions from
the couch,
"Who left the cap of the glue stick? We have ONE glue stick, people."
"Please don't breathe on Will. He is healthy. Breathe only on people who are already sick."
"You are not allowed to change the results of your experiment just so you can say
that you proved your hypothesis...that is called cheating."
"If you don't squirt saline up your nose right now, I am taking away video games for a year."
"We are not reprinting that page. It is already glued on your board. I don't care if
you misspelled a word. Now they will know it is authentic and that I did not
complete your project."
"If you refuse to use tissue, can you please at least not wipe your nose on the couch?"
"Glue down the corners of the pages. Do you want everything to fall off of your board?
You don't care about your board? You know who really doesn't care about your board?
That would be me."
and finally in one horribly glorious moment of ultimate failure as a mother and/or science fair
project director....
"I give up on all of you. I'm done."
To which my oldest son Jack told Addison the eight year old,
"Don't worry, Addie. I will help you with your science fair project....
even if Mom has given up on you."
He says this looking pitiful and washed out, while hacking up one of his lungs.
By no small feat, all three of the projects were completed and dropped off at school yesterday.
Tonight is the night that the projects will be judged.
Scott is out of town.
Only Will will be attending.
The rest of us will be staying home trying not to infect the populace.
I am going to crawl into bed and ask Jesus to do a new and glorious work of healing
in my nostrils and especially in my heart.
That I will be a new creation inside and out.
That I will become patient and loving and kind even in the face of many trials...
(science fair and flu included.).
And then I am going to pray that He will wipe my children's memories of this past week
like a Jedi mind trick.
Or at least drench them with the spirit of compassion and forgiveness.
And then I will offer up a prayer of thanksgiving.
Can I get an Amen?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

what wives are for according to 1 out 3 of my sons

The other day, I was in the kitchen and Will asked me to make him macaroni and cheese for lunch.
Normally, I would oblige but I was in the process of cooking something else so I said,
"Will, you can see that I am cooking. Why don't you go ahead and make it?"
I have taught the boys the basics around the kitchen.
Grilled Cheese. Quesodillas. Scrambled eggs. Macaroni and cheese. Chocolate chip cookies.
He looked at me and said, "I want you to make it."
"I know but you can see I am busy making something else. You are perfectly capable
of making your own macaroni and cheese."
To this he answered,
"But Mom, I don't want to make it. I want you to make it for me. That is what wives are for."
This stopped me dead in my tracks.
"That is what wives are for?"
" make us food. That is what my wife is going to do."
I just looked at him. And then called to Scott,
"Do you hear what your son just said to me?"
He answered, "Don't get me involved."
Will chimed in, "Ya, Dad! Cooking! That's what's wives are for...just like you taught us."
Scott said, "I never said that that is what wives are for, Will!"
He was laughing...but was he also sweating a little?
Will asked, "Well, then what are they for, Dad?"
Scott answered quickly, "Wives are for loving. That is what they are for."
Good answer.
I looked at Will and said, "I am definitely not making your macaroni and cheese."
He shrugged.
A plan is already forming in my mind.
I have some teaching to do in the area of wife appreciation.
Will will be improving their laundry and dish washing skills this weekend.
Just in case they are thinking that that's what wives are for.

Friday, February 20, 2015's a love fest

Heading into the Lenten season always brings up questions for me.
Like if I give up chocolate for 6 weeks, will Jesus know I love him more?
Does is it really make a difference to Him?
Or maybe because He loves me so much, maybe what He really wants me to do is
EAT chocolate every know... to celebrate Him.
Because that sounds way better than giving anything up.
Who really needs Lent anyway? Let's just get to Easter and let the celebrating begin.
These are the things I say to myself.
But I have decided that Lent has nothing to do with Jesus.
He doesn't need me to give up anything.
Lent has everything to with me and the state of my heart.
It is a physical reminder that Jesus already gave up everything.
On my behalf. On your behalf. On behalf of the ones that He so desperately loves.
We need to remember this. It seems impossible that we could ever forget it.
How is it so easy for me to move through my day without remembering
whose grace and mercy I am breathing in and out?
Why do I struggle to find time in to pray and
talk to the One who loves me most of all?
What could be so important in my life that I can arrive at the end of my day
without acknowledging the God of Universe and what He has done on my behalf?
I don't know.
I think mostly it is because I am broken.
My heart doesn't work the way it should most of the time.
My brain is crowded with thoughts and plans and dreams and sorrows
and I am so caught up in the mess of it that I can't see my way clear to the One
who brings order out of chaos.
My life is so full that somehow I can't find a moment to spare to fling myself into
the arms of the One who came to give me life.
Lent doesn't have to be a religious practice.
It can simply be a jumping off place into the question,

Where are you at and where is He at?

Followed by the life changing thought,

"Whom the Son has set free indeed. Did you forget that?"

We may have drifted a little of course, gotten distracted or have felt the
darkness of life closing in, but now is the time to nestle in.
It is time for you and me to break into an all out run
straight into the arms of the One who can put our entire world to rights
and set our feet on the path of grace.
Lent isn't about giving up chocolate or self loathing or condemnation.
I'm pretty sure Jesus could care less about any of those things.
It is simply a physical reminder to check ourselves spiritually.
It is a kick in the pants to get us into a place of right thinking.
It is a shucking of things that don't matter and immersing ourselves in things that
are so powerful and lovely that they have shaped the world as we know it.
It is turning our face towards the light and drinking it in.
It is saying one more time to Jesus,
"I know what You did for me.
I know that You love me.
And I am going to love You back."
It is repentance and regeneration and relief
knowing that we are wholly and fully accepted in spite of ourselves.
Even though our brokenness keeps showing up.
It is remembering how amazing Jesus was and is and
wallowing the incredible fact that He was willing to give up everything
so that we could be free.
So that we might have life and live it to the full.
It is a full blown love fest.
I don't know about you......but I want in on it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

7 Horrible Things I Would Rather Do Than Help My Children With Science Fair

It is that time of year again.
The time children gnash their teeth
and parents pray for Jesus to come back
so they won't have to work on science fair projects again.
This year all three of of my boys have to do science fair projects.
And the thought of it makes me want to lay down in the middle of  Target and weep.
Target is my happy place.
But going to Target is not an option at this point.
I really don't have any options other than putting on my big girl pants and
getting this thing done.
I wish I had another option.
I read a book about a mom raising 5 boys.
They have a game that they play where they give each other a choice of two
horrible things that they have to choose between and make each other pick the lesser of
two evils for example:
Would you rather be constipated for the next 17 years or crawl across the 
Sahara on your hands and knees?
Would you rather be chased by a Tyrannosaurus Rex while wearing a meat necklace or
lick a poisonous lizard 6 times?
I have decided to make up my own list of horrible things I would rather do
than have to go through with 3 science fair projects.
I thought you might enjoy it:

7 Horrible Things I Would Rather Do Than Help My Children With Science Fair:
1. Get my eyebrows waxed.
(You may think this isn't a big have never met my eyebrows....
I think they actually take off more eyebrow than they leave on my face.)
2. Eat an oyster every day for a week.
(I do not consider oysters an aphrodisiac...I agree with the comedian Jim Gaffigan...
they look like mucous in a sea shell. I feel a little gag coming on just thinking about it.)
3. Try to open 7 plastic produce bags in a row without screaming out loud.
(Plastic produce bags are the bane of my existence.
I usually break out in a full body sweat just trying to open one.)
4. Trim the climbing rose bush in our backyard in my swimsuit.
( I always look like I have gotten in a cat fight when I am done. If the roses weren't
so pretty I would hack the whole plant down with a machete.)
5. Do my taxes.
(This isn't really a choice...since I have to do both my taxes and science fair...
but at least I get to do my taxes without trying to corral and motivate 3 very
ambivalent scientists.)
6. Use the restroom while wearing a short jumpsuit that buttons up the front.
(Did you know these were back in style? I thought we saw the last of jumpsuits
in the 80's. I had a mint green and lilac plaid short jumpsuit in 7th grade.It was a
cold and vulnerable time in my life...both literally and figuratively.)
7. Be chased by a Tyrannosaurus Rex while wearing a meat necklace.
(I learned a lot about dinosaur behavior watching Jurassic Park and Meet the Robinsons.
 I think if I just stood very still in a corner so that its tiny arms could not
reach me that he would lose interest and find a Stegosaurus to snack on.

I think that about covers it.
If you are in the same boat as me, on the brink of science fair hysteria,
feel free to add your own horrible things to the list.
And then meet me at Target.
We're going to need as much happy as we can get in the coming days ahead.

Friday, January 30, 2015

celebrate good times - come on!

If my parents have taught me one thing it is this....
if you have something to celebrate?
You should do it.
And include some kind of ice cream if at all possible.
This past Wednesday, Jack, our 13 year old, was awarded
a plaque for an essay he had written for The Patriot Pen's competition,
a writing competition put on by the Veteran's of Foreign Wars every year.
And he was given a check for $150.
Which, for an eighth grader is like winning the lottery.
Actually, I would enjoy a good $150 check myself.
To say that Scott and I were proud would be an understatement.
Jack told me, "This is my first payment in my burgeoning writing career."
It may be since he actually knows what the word "burgeoning" means.
When I picked the boys up from school that afternoon, Addie jumped into the car and
handed me his report card, "Look, Mom! All A's and B's!"
His grin was as wide as Texas. So was mine.
All A's and B's is no small thing.
Another reason to celebrate.
Our afternoon was spent with Will, jumping over furniture in the house.
He did this because his basketball team was playing a championship game in a few hours.
And he could not contain his excitement.
But I tried to.
"Will, can you try not to break something in a weird way right before your game?"
He has a history of strange injuries.
He tried to comply.
We arrived at the game excited and of course, I was sweating, because that is what I
do when I am nervous.
I had promised Will I would try and control my loud screams during his game.
Scott's family, Grandma Sandy and Grandpa Dave and Uncle Kevin and Aunt Cheri
came to watch the game which only added to the excitement.
I was not able to keep my promise to Will.
There was some screaming of, "Help him!" and "Get that!" that flew out of me
before I could stop it.
Josh, Will's best friend, also received a few screams from me.
I like to spread the joy around.
Josh's mom,  Jenn, my BFF, is no better than me.
She likes to yell out  things like, "Uh-Oh! Uh-Oh!" and  "Good look!"
Our children try to ignore us. But we are hard to miss.
I believe it is because of our constructive yelling that
we all went on to cheer Will and Josh to victory.
They both played hard and you could tell that the whole team was working
together and putting everything they could into the game.
The joy on their faces when the buzzer went off was beautiful.
Will told us later that he was running so hard that he thought he was either going to
throw up or die.
Winning is like that sometimes.
It is not every day that you get a trophy and find out that your name will be displayed
on a banner in the junior high gym for years to come.
Wednesday was a banner day for the Aughtmon boys.
A day of high joy and a good return on hard work.
And it would not have been right not to celebrate with big dinner at In and Out Buger
with family and friends and of course, ice cream.
Have you ever tried In and Out chocolate milkshakes?
They are an ice cream treat worthy of celebrations.
There was laughter and chatter and happiness overflowing.
Life can be hard at times.
But in those moments, when triumph breaks in and hard work pays off
and you get the chance to let out a yell of delight,
I am committed to going all out, as my niece Claire would say.
So here is to more wins, more joy, more celebrations,
and definitely, more ice cream.

Monday, January 26, 2015

according to my stylists i have a lot of work to do

The last time I looked, I had three boys.
Boys who were interested in basketball, drinking soda and passing as much gas as possible.
I had no idea that these children consider themselves very fashion savvy and
have taken it upon themselves to get me ready for the red carpet every morning
when I walk out the door.
Their commentary has left me breathless.
The other day when Addison, my eight year old, was sitting next to me on the couch,
he looked down at my shoes and raised his eyebrows.
I was wearing a pair of  women's brogues.

Worn with skinny jeans and a cute shirt, they are very stylish at the moment.
Or so In Style magazine says.
My son, on the other hand, said, "Ummm, Mom? Why are you wearing men's shoes?
Did you accidentally get them from the men's aisle of the store?"
"They are not men's shoes."
"They look exactly like men's shoes."
I gave him a withering look and said,
 "Just remember who feeds you, buddy. Be careful what you say."
I am not above silencing my critics with threats.
Will, the eleven year old, has been paying great attention to my hair.
He told me this week, "Mom, you know there is so much white in your hair right now."
"Really? Thanks for that."
He smiled lovingly, "Yep. I think you probably want to color it again soon....
because there is so much white."
He made sure to repeat it so that I wouldn't miss out on the fact that I have
SO MUCH WHITE in my hair at the moment.
In Will's mind my hair looks like this:

Jack is in junior high. Of all the boys, I would expect him to be the most
aware of fashion. He could care less about himself and what he wears.
But he is very aware of what I put on.
This past Christmas, I was singing a solo for an outreach at our old church.
I wanted to look festive.
I had on a red shirt and tried on a gold statement necklace with lots of charms.
I thought it was fun.
There was a general outcry when I walked out into the living room.
Will said, "Wow. That's a lot."
Addie hid his head in shame.
Jack took one look at me and said, "I pity the fool who wears that necklace."

So since I didn't want to look like Mr. T, I took off the necklace and wore
something more stop the heckling.
Scott remains silent about my fashion sense or says things like, "You always look beautiful."
Because he values our relationship and he doesn't want to be stabbed with
a pair of dangly earrings.
But today I am going with a pair of sweats and Pumas.
I just can't take the judgment from the peanut gallery on a Monday.
I am pretty sure they will approve.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

sometimes I forget I am a new creation

Last night was one of those mothering nights.
You know the kind where you lose your mind because you have asked
the children to do something 713 times and they still look at you like,
"Did you just say something?"
So you become a yeller
and you can tell by the expression on their faces
that you have become someone they no longer recognize
and they are clearly wondering if is there any chance in the near future
that "Nice" Mom might make a visit?
I put them to bed without kisses...not that they wanted any from me.
My back was so tense that I had to go do my rehab exercises
on my bedroom floor.
It was there doing leg stretches that I cried and had to ask Jesus to forgive me.
I don't think he is super fond of me yelling at his kids.
I think when Paul was telling the Corinthians that if they are in Christ,
they were a new creation,
the old had gone and the new had come,
some of them may have been struggling with yelling.
When we are talking to Jesus and being in him,
we can't hide from who we are or what we have done.
It all hangs out there. It's ugly.
But he can't work on that area in our hearts if we keep it to ourselves.
And for some reason, He keeps on loving us.
Even when we are mean.
It is hard to see ourselves for who we are.
Especially when we want so much to be the person we are created to be
i.e. non-yellers.
But slipping into that old skin of anger and selfishness and self-righteousness
is so much easier than asking Jesus to make me new.
I know how to do angry and irritated. I am pro.
But calm and logical in the face of blatant disobedience...not so much.
The kicker must be the "in Christ" part.
I have to be willing to invite him into the heat of the moment and say,
"Okay, what does being "new" look like in this moment?" or
"What words would you like to come out of my mouth right now?" or
"Does being a new creation mean that you would like me to take a time out
and do deep breathing exercises?"
Instead of giving in to the rush of emotion that overwhelmed me,
what would it have been like to feel the rush of his presence, holding me steady,
leveling me out with his peace and self-control?"
I can't change last night but I can let Jesus change who I am today.
Today is a new day.
We started out the morning with hugs and hot chocolate.
I told them,
"I was wrong last night to yell at you. I am so sorry I did that. I am going to get better at it."
Will kissed my cheek and said, "It's okay, I still have video games?"
Being a new creation is a daily business.
Sitting with Jesus, letting him see you for who are is an ongoing process.
Letting him work out his grace in your life and heart is like oxygen.
We have to have it on every moment of every day to live the new life that
he has for us.
So....let the grace flow and the good, new work begin.