Monday, September 30, 2013

All Systems Go

Last night I had three glasses of tea.  This doesn't seem like a bad idea if you are under forty.  I am NOT under forty.  I found it difficult to fall asleep.  At 5:45 AM the phone rang.  Our window was open and the wind was blowing the sheers which put the sheers in the way of the phone.  My husband sleeps on the side with the phone and spent the entire ringing time fighting the sheers for the phone.  The phone call was the school calling to inform us of a two hour delay.

Now I don't know if you remember two hour delays when you were in school or not.  I can tell you that my children rejoice and I rejoice along with them.  I remember the days when I could just fall back to sleep and have two glorious hours more of rest.  Those days are now apparently behind me.

First I turned off everyone's alarm clocks and reset my oldest daughter's alarm as well as my own.  Then I thought I would get back into bed.  I did attempt it but that was when my bladder realized I had walked, so I went to use the restroom.  I crawled back into bed and tried to get comfortable.  I tried laying on my side.  I tried laying on the other side.  I tried laying on my back.  I couldn't get comfortable.  It was like the iced tea was back.  I kept thinking about those restless leg commercials and wondering if they have restless body meds.

My husband, God bless him, said "just roll over and I'll hold you so you can sleep."  This was not helpful.  It was now 6:00 AM and all of the systems were firing up.  My brain was arguing with every system yelling "No! False Alarm Go Back To Sleep!"  The bladder however said, "Remember the tea?"  And that was when I knew.  Everything else was going to wake up too.  Everything!  NO!  Not EVERYTHING!  Sleep!  I need sleep!

Everything woke up.  It was all systems go.  I went to the restroom and went back to bed.  I lay there praying that I would sleep.  I gave up at 7:30 and got ready for the day.  I even made my bed, loaded the dishwasher and started the laundry.  It didn't end there.  I made scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.  It was like Christmas morning.  I never cook breakfast.  We have cereal, pop-tarts, bagels, bread for toast sometimes we even splurge on Eggos.  It is a dealers choice really.  Continental breakfast.  Help yourself.  Today however I had more time so I made breakfast.  (On a side note here:  Did you know you can buy hard boiled eggs at the grocery store?  Seriously?  I found them at the store in a bag already peeled and everything.  My mind is blown by this revelation.)

The rest of the day went by without much excitement.  I went to work, did all I could do, picked up the kids, went to piano lessons with two out of three children and came home.  I sliced two of my fingers open on an apple slicer (I am now no longer using anything Pampered Chef that is sharp enough to cause bodily harm) digging through a drawer to find a kitchen tool that has apparently ran away. 

I was sitting on the couch applying pressure to my wounds when the phone rang.  It was for Daphne, who by the way was not home because she was at her very first job interview.  It was a college admissions counselor who informed me that she had been accepted to their school.

My husband brought home pizza (What?  I was injured.).  My daughter was accepted to college, she will hear about the job later this week.  I actually cooked breakfast not at 10 AM on a Saturday.  It was a big day.  Last week my other daughter was informed that she was chosen to go to another honor band.  My son is reading Harry Potter.  I couldn't be prouder.

Apparently getting older means you can't drink iced tea in the evening and expect to fall asleep.  You also cannot let your feet touch the floor or it is all systems go.  I'm getting older, the children are getting older too.  It is an adjustment.  Beauty for ashes.  I can choose to dwell on the aches and pains and inconveniences of aging or I can look at all I accomplished because of the lack of sleep.  I can panic and worry and spend this year in fear of next year or I can savor every moment of this year and let next year worry about itself.  It is exciting, all of the changes.  I suppose with God's help we are all systems go and ready to see the year unfold.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It's Not a Beauty Pageant

Last evening I took my daughter to a scholarship meeting.  My husband thought we were going to find out about different scholarships available.  This was not the case.  It was one scholarship that currently there isn’t any money for, but they hope to have some.  And if we win and go to state then if we win that there is scholarship money. 

It gets better.  It is a beauty pageant.  I take that back, they said it wasn’t a beauty pageant it is a scholarship program.  Does this sound familiar?  There are categories: Interview, Fitness, Talent, and Self Expression.  They even said they were hoping to raise enough money to have a Spirit Award also known as a Miss Congeniality award.

Many thoughts passed through my mind during this meeting.  I can only imagine the thoughts that passed through my daughter’s.  I did get a few enlightening looks during the informative meeting.  Of course, I tried to give her all kinds of excited and encouraging looks even though I knew there was no way she would be down with any of it.

My daughter is reserved.  She is pretty and kind and smart and sarcastic and quite humorous but not usually around other people.  Being that she is my daughter we walked out on the same wavelength.  “So you want to do it right?” I said.  She looked at me like I had grown another head and laid an egg while walking out of the building.  She said no that she didn’t want to do it and asked me what her talent would be.  I reminded her that apparently they will find one for her if she didn’t think she had one.  (Sound familiar?  They also offered to provide dresses.) 

This was at the point when I couldn’t hold back anymore.  “Hey I know what you could do!  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  You do the perfect imitation of that.  Or you could do your Kate Winslet impression.”  She does a fantastic Kate Winslet impression from an awards show she saw once.  It is the funniest thing.  She cracks us up every time because she is so good at keeping a straight face.  She didn’t think she could do that in front of a panel of judges.  This would be when I came up with the best idea of all. 

This morning I presented my idea. “I have the perfect idea for the talent portion of that thing you don’t want to do.” I said (Insert annoyed teenage girl look here) “Miss Congeniality.  You do a monologue from the movie all about how it isn’t a beauty pageant it’s a scholarship program.  It’s PERFECT!”  While she did think it was funny she didn’t agree to do it.  I explained to her that the way I see it she would either make them laugh or she would make them annoyed.  It doesn’t compute with me how that wouldn’t be funny. 

I think that if my daughter was less like me and was able to relax and just go with it, there is no way she wouldn’t crush the talent portion of that competition.  The rest of it may take some work.  Interviewing is intimidating in any situation.  (We tend to forget that the interviewers are also human.)  Fitness?  Well…doing a jazzercise routine on a stage is not really our thing.  (We stopped for sundaes at McDonald’s on our way home.)  Self Expression?  Well yeah…we have all sorts of ways of expressing ourselves around here.  Not many of them would be good on stage. 

I don’t know what next year looks like for her.  I don’t know if we will get any scholarships to help with college.  I don’t even know where she will go to college.  There are so many unknowns about this year as well as next.  We are on this adventure together.  I worry about her.  I worry about me.  In acknowledging that I suppose I realize how ridiculous it is to be worried.  Not one ounce of worry will change what the future holds and it will only rob us of our peace for today.  Besides we have the best tour director.  We don’t know, but God already knows His plan for her and for us.  I think we best both get on the boat, it is taking off with or without us.  It’s going to be an adventure.  Maybe not an adventure that includes a beauty pageant but to be sure as far as God and I go, we both think she is a beauty.  

I almost forgot!  If you want to use that Miss Congeniality bit for your own scholarship program?  Yeah that's a freebee so let me know how that works out for you.  I really want to know if the judges would think it was as funny as I do.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Full Moons, Deep Gladness, and Hershey Kisses

From my Daily Guidepost yesterday:  "The place God calls you to be is the place where your deep gladness and the world's great hunger meet."  "Don't be compelled to do what you should do, ought to do, must do, have to do, don't want to do.  Rather, get in touch with your greatest gladness and be free to go do it."  Frederick Buechner wrote those words as quoted by Scott Walker in my Daily Guidepost.

So I have to ask:  What brings you deep gladness?  Do you know?  Have you thought about it?  I suppose I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that what brings me deep gladness is not necessarily something I do or have accomplished, for I may never accomplish it, but more an idea of what I envision.  The idea of bringing joy to others, making someone think, smile, maybe wonder, brings me deep gladness.  The idea that maybe at least one time maybe I said the right thing or did the right thing.

I flail through life.  I mostly go along thinking that I am failing most of the time.  I should have said this or I should have done that.  Did I do what I should have, could have, would have?  Did I really yell at the kids again?  Did I mess up another meal?  Why is it so impossible for me to stay on top of the laundry?  I finally have an oven with a self clean option and I am scared to use it.  How crazy is that?  Why can't I just turn to God when under stress and rest in His arms instead of turning to food?  Am I alone in this?

I don't have any of those answers.  I don't know really what my call is.  I don't know if I am making an impact on the world or if I will come to the end of my life and people will remember me or if I will just fade away not even worthy of a single memory...or at least a memory worth remembering.

When I pray, I pray to be a small light.  I pray that maybe I can be a glimmer of light...a light that shines not on me but through me and others will see Jesus through me. In the morning I pray that I can be a blessing.  That I can do my job well and that I might make someone smile or think or know that I care.  My heart longs to see Jesus and to have others see Jesus through me and yet I know that I am human and sometimes I get overwhelmed in life and I fail to cling to the One that my soul longs for.  Instead of shining a light I hide under a blanket and hope to disappear.

There was a full moon last night and the kids at school were wild and crazy and out of control.  I subbed today and I felt completely overwhelmed and out of my league.  But then at the end of the day as I was in my room talking to a teacher, another teacher walked in to my room and handed me a baggy with Hershey Kisses in it.  On the bag was a note with a reference to a Bible verse.  Proverbs 3:5-6  "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

This makes me think maybe even if I don't realize it, God is directing my path, like maybe I am here for a reason and I may not know why God has placed me in this job or given me the family I have or the personality I have or even the opportunity to share with you and maybe I don't have to know.  I just have to trust that He knows and He has a plan for what comes next.  It doesn't really matter what anyone else says or thinks about what we do, only that we are doing what brings us deep gladness and in that gladness we know that we are also bringing God joy because our Father delights in His children.  What brings us deep gladness was placed in us by Him who created everything about us.  So it doesn't matter what we should do, could do, would do, it only matters what we are willing to do for Him and in turn we will find our deep gladness and bring Him joy.  The impact that I may or may not make in this world is only measured by God and if I allow Him to direct my path there is no limit to what He can do.

All of that being said, I began the day completely overwhelmed by the day ahead.  I spent a great deal of my day overwhelmed and I ended my day exhausted, spent, and feeling a bit like I totally bombed the day.  And then I got a reminder that I am loved and I need not worry in the form of some Hershey Kisses and a note from a friend and a reminder from God.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Restroom Mints

When you work in a school you get very little time to go use the restroom.  In our restroom at school there is a small table that holds a basket of mints.  I have always found this completely fascinating.  Mints in the restroom instead of the lounge.  Do you find it interesting as well?

You go to the restroom to take care of your business, you do your business, wash your hands, and the next thought you have is "I think I need a mint."  I just don't think that way.  I don't take care of the downtown and go looking for mints.  I go have lunch in the lounge or grab a snack and think, "I may need a mint."  But never after using the restroom.  Make sure I flush, make sure my hands are super clean, maybe grab some hand lotion, make sure I am zipped, make sure I don't have toilet paper on my shoe.  Mints?  Not so much.  Maybe that's just me.  

Please do not misunderstand me.  I love the mints.  In fact, at the end of last week I noticed that the mints were gone and it made me sad.  The restroom experience seems incomplete if you can't grab a mint on the way out.  I asked who was in charge of mints.  Apparently no one is in charge of mints.  Whoever feels the desire, buys mints and donates them.  It was suggested that I might find it in my heart to fill the basket.  That would require me to go to the store and actually remember the mints.  I can guarantee that I don't usually go to the store and think, "I need some mints for the restroom."  Sometimes I don't even remember to buy bread if I don't have a list.

I have been to the lady's restroom obviously, but I have never been to the men's restroom.  I was curious, so I asked the principal if there were mints in the men's restroom as well.  Apparently fresh breath is exclusive to the women in the building.  He kind of gave me an odd look too.  I must have been the first to wonder.

Quirky is what we are.  Completely and utterly quirky and I love it.  People have different ways of doing things.  At school we keep mints in the restroom.  I love my job and I cannot think of another place where it could be more fun to go to work.  Also I need to remember to go buy some mints because the restroom experience is not quite as fulfilling without them.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Finding Ourselves

This morning I found myself crying while getting ready for work.  It occurred to me that it was Friday.  While I am excited about it being the end of the week, I am also very distraught about it being the end of another week.  The time seems to pass so quickly now.  Time is a funny thing, isn't it?  When we are younger we can't wait to grow up and move on with our lives and as we get older we only wish for more time.

My daughter is a senior.  Yesterday she brought home order forms for graduation invites, thank you cards, and all the other things that apparently we must have in order to graduate.  It was then that I realized that this is really happening.  She was a cute little blonde in pig tails telling me she was a big girl and that she had to get on the bus to go to school.  That was yesterday.  I remember it so clearly and then I blinked and this young lady is preparing to end her time in high school and move on to the next phase of her life.

I asked her this morning if it was OK for me to be excited for her and yet sad for me.  She will be leaving to go to college and her sister won't be far behind her.  Their brother, who was our surprise child, will be all that is left to keep me running around and doing mother things.  Running a kid taxi from this activity to the next.  Going to school functions and helping with homework.  I have no idea how to prepare a meal for only three people.

We were married in May,  my husband and I.  We got pregnant in June and found out in July.  I have been pregnant or caring for children almost from the beginning of our marriage.  We didn't have the time, that people who understand where babies come from and try to prevent them when they are first married get.  We jumped right in full throttle and started our family.  I think I am afraid mostly because I haven't yet figured out what my life is going to look like once they are all gone.  What if once we are alone and have no one else to take care of he decides he doesn't like me?  When we have no one to team up against in a battle between us and the kids is no longer an option, what then?

My husband is very self reliant and so much smarter than I am.  He doesn't need me to do anything for him.  He can survive without me and the realization that my children are no longer going to need me either is terrifying.  If I'm not needed, what is my purpose in life?  What do I do with my time?  The fact of the matter is that perhaps they have never needed me as much as I have needed them.  Is that sad?  It might be.

All of these realizations as I approach these next milestones with my children and myself have been a road to self discovery.  Interesting how we continually search for ourselves long after we are adults and yet what do we really need to know?  How much do we need to know about ourselves that we cannot find out from God?  As I think about all of the changes and the unknown, I hear a whisper of a song from my internal playlist.  Matthew West and his song that says: Hello My Name is Child of the One True King plays in my head and I think maybe that is all I need to know.  Maybe that is the journey.  The journey for all of us is to discover who we are in Christ.  What His purpose is for us and not dwell on the unknown but search for what we ultimately know...that who we are and our purpose is to be His children and lean not on our own understanding but to put our trust in Him who understands.

Monday, September 9, 2013

God is Not in the Bathtub Cleaning Business

The bathtub in the kid's bathroom is pink.  I have no idea how it came to be pink and I don't know how to get the pink to go away.  The only thing I can come up with is that the shower curtain that has pink on it has somehow faded onto the tub.  I cannot get the pink to go way.  I cannot get the few little paint spots on the bottom of the tub to go away from when we painted a room three years ago.  I can use cleaner and scrub and scrub and scrub.  I can get soap scum and hair to go away.  I cannot get pink that I have no definite confirmation of it's source or paint to go away.

It is interesting don't you think?  I don't usually go into the kid's bathroom except to mop.  The rest of the bathroom cleaning  falls on the kids to do.  I happened to go in there because my restroom was occupied the other night and I didn't want to wait.  As I looked around I noticed the tub was pink and there were streaks of yellow on the wall that I just painted last Christmas break.  I still don't know what was on the wall I only know that I was able to get it off of the wall.  As the teenage girls are the ones who have custody of that bathroom I cannot pin that on a little boy with bad aim.

I was flabbergasted and a bit afraid of what else I would find in that restroom and I even told a few friends about it and then as I sat down today it occurred to me how very much that bathroom reflects what we try to do with God.

I have never met anyone besides Jesus who was without sin.  In fact, I am quite ashamed yet confident in the fact that I probably sin daily and sometimes without knowledge of it.  I have a problem.  I tend to turn to food or friends before I turn to God.  I am like a child on a rewards system for my good behavior.  Are you?  Do you ever seek rewards for a job well done?  Have you ever rewarded yourself with something like dessert or a night out for an achievement?

On the flip side of that when you sin do you automatically go to God to seek forgiveness or do you try to hide it and hope it will go way?  You do everything that you can think of to erase it or cover it up and yet there it is a big pink spot on an otherwise white bathtub.  A big X on an otherwise perfect record.  But our records aren't perfect and no amount of covering up or trying to erase it will ever make them that way.  We are perfectly incapable of accomplishing the task....alone.

There is good news for us.  Jesus.  Jesus came to be a light unto the world (John 12:46).  Jesus came to save us from our sins.  With Jesus and only Jesus can we be cleansed of our sins.  John knew this.  In John 1:29 it says, The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  John had been preaching the good news and baptizing with water but he knew that Jesus would come and baptize with the Holy Spirit.

John knew what we need to know.  We need to know we can't do it alone.  We need to know that we need Jesus.  We need to know that Jesus can take away all of our sins and make us white as snow.  His blood paid the price and without Him we can never be truly clean no matter how hard we try.  You haven't done anything that is so bad that God cannot forgive you.  He loves you.  Micah 7:18 says:  Who is a God like you, who pardons sins and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?  You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

God is not human.  He doesn't hold grudges against his children who love him and confess and ask for forgiveness.  I hope you will come to know him more and trust him just as I continue to work on on doing.  I am human and I am a sinner.  God knows this about me but I believe He loves me anyway.

In case you don't know, I just found out that apparently there is a concoction that is sold in stores that will take any stain out of the shower.  I'm not sure it has been tested on pink from unknown sources, but unlike trying to take away our own sins, I think it is worth a try.  While God will clean you from the inside out, He is not in the bathtub cleaning business.