The Wait and the Delivery

When I graduated high school in 1993 (go ahead…do the math…I’m turning 40 this year…just like SNL…), I had an acceptance letter to Georgia State University that listed me as enrolled in their Music Department. I had a declared major of Music Industry.

For those who know me now, it’s okay to pause for a good chuckle.

I had dreamed, all throughout high school, that I was going to go to school to work in the recording industry as a record engineer. I applied to the only school around at the time that was close and had the major that I wanted. I was accepted, and that was that.

Back then, the college year was divided into “quarters” rather than semesters…and I wasn’t even finished with my first quarter there when I knew that this was NOT the place for me. I remember calling Kennesaw State University from a pay phone (yep. they had those then.), and requesting information on how to enroll in their Early Childhood Education department.

I decided, right then and there, I was going to be a teacher.

Only, I’m pretty sure that God had decided that little fact long before I even took my first breath on this planet.

Sometimes, I can be slow on the uptake.

It was a long and arduous process…and there were times that I just wanted to throw in the towel. I was working three jobs at one point and taking a piddly amount of classes just to be able to pay for the gas and food to get back and forth to the campus.

Eventually, I finally made it to my student teaching…the last step before graduation and a degree. They placed me at school called Shelton Elementary that was fairly close to my house and put me in second grade.

The principal there at the time pulled me aside one day in the spring and said, “I’m interested in hiring you. Let’s set up an interview.”

I interviewed and he offered me a job in either Kindergarten or fifth grade. As a young graduate and first time teacher, I couldn’t even give the man a preference. He said, “I’m going with Kindergarten for you.”

And that was that.

And I cannot imagine having taught anything different. It was the path that God had carved out for me, and I just let Him lead me on it.

All of the wonderful and amazing things in my life are things that God has brought TO me…rather than me going out to scratch and claw and make things happen on my own. I’m not saying that hard work and effort and diligence don’t have their place, they definitely do. But I think that God rewards those things by bringing TO YOU the paths and the blessings that He has designed for you.

I could list a myriad of things that God has just placed before me when I was expecting nothing, and He chose to give and guide with what I could only attribute to His faithfulness and provision because I had not been actively seeking for what He had delivered.

Everything from my husband to my babies to our house to our church community to our pets. It all just landed on my doorstep. (Quite literally with the whole “pet” thing.)

And so now that I’m in a bit of a transition mode, I am having to remind myself of all the times that God has guided me through to the next event, stage, thing so effortlessly that I cannot begin to claim that it was because of my human conventions.

This year, all three babies are in school. And it was never really my PLAN to go back to work once they were all “somewhat” self-sufficient, but something happened over Christmas break that definitely made me start looking at the “what if”s and “maybes” of going back to work.

Before I knew it, I was emailing principals and filling out resumes and even asking about substitute teaching openings at a few schools. The idea of subbing has always kind of scared the living daylights out of me…simply because I WAS a classroom teacher.

In all of my research, it turns out that I will need to retake The Tests in order to renew my teaching license. The Tests are those exams required to receive certification for teaching. (They aren’t really called The Tests, but around here we sort of refer to them as The One Who Shall Not Be Named…)

It’s a little daunting for someone who took The Tests 15 years ago with a pencil and waited six weeks to receive her scores by mail. These days, it’s all done on computers and the wait time to receive scores is like 12 minutes. (Not really, but compared to checking the mailbox every day for two months, it seems like NOTHING.)

I’ve had a few interviews and nothing has panned out yet. And as disappointing as that was, and a bit embarrassing, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is preparing and planning the best.

And sometimes I wonder if maybe if I am like Isaac…and God wanted me to just be WILLING to say Yes, Lord. I will. to the idea of heading back to work…(at this point I’m pretty sure that Stephen is all, “No no! He definitely meant FIND A JOB.”) :)

And let me pause right here to say….Stephen has been awesome. (“IS awesome”, honey. Stephen IS awesome.) For me to stay at home with our kids for the past eight years, has been a huge sacrifice in so many areas. I don’t regret it in any way, shape, or form. Stephen has worked multiple jobs for us to be able to make this happen….and it has not been easy by any stretch of the word. But it has been worth it for us.

But I have three kids to send to college (I hope). Two are definitely college material and the third is at least frat-boy material. (I kid. He really is a smarty pants…he’s just a six year old boy right now…and life is a party and everything is fun and nothing is serious and his JOB at school is to be fun and funny.) There are opportunities and privileges that I want my kids to experience and a second income right now wouldn’t be a terrible thing.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I know who holds the future. (Yes. I know that’s one of the most over-used sayings in Christian-dom…but it seemed apropos.)

Maybe I WILL be working sometime soon. Maybe God will choose to provide in other ways that aren’t even on my radar right now. The wait can be excruciating to see what He will do…and if I focus on that, then He seems to wait all the longer to answer because I am focused on the wrong thing.

Stephen and I didn’t get married until I was 27. And I had long mourned being single for so long. But I remember pulling into my driveway one night and suddenly thanking God for the singleness. Like, for real. I had read all these books and stories about how “once I was content in where I was, THEN God brought along the right person”…and I think about 1,298 times before that moment, I had tried to convince myself that I was happy with where I was so God could go ahead and get to Part 2 where He brought along Mr. Right. But it was not until I truly, of my own volition and not because I’d been to some singles Bible study that talked (yet again) about being content with your singleness, that God decided to bring along Stephen.

I really wasn’t looking.

And he literally, appeared on my doorstep.

All of that to say, I’m not really sure how this one ends. And it’s not that I think we all just throw up our hands and sit on our haunches and proclaim, “I’m just waiting on God! I’ll just sit here in my rat hole and do nothing until He decides to get on with the business of blessing me!”

I think we keep forging ahead with what we know we are called to FOR THIS MOMENT.

And the “FOR THIS MOMENT” part may not be particularly glamorous. It may not even be what you WANT to be doing. But when God delivers, none of it will matter.

I know the analogy has been made before…but God designed the pregnancy/labor/birth process the way He did for a reason. The anticipation and the wait of the pregnancy is tough. It’s not always easy. I threw up for four straight months with each of my babies. And towards the end, you can’t sleep. Nothing is comfortable. The wait seems interminable.

I remember standing in front of the bassinet where I would lay my newborn daughter and crying. The due date had come and gone and she was not making any indications that she would be arriving on her own anytime soon. She was due on New Year’s Eve, and I remember telling Stephen through tears, “It’s going to be Easter and I’ll still be pregnant!”

And when it finally comes time to give birth, now…I’m going to be real here for a moment for the sake of an illustration about waiting…it is painful and messy and risky. Those moments right before the miracle arrives, those are the worst. I remember thinking, “I’m not going to live through this!” And you almost forget what the end result of all this agony is going to be. You are so focused on the moment and the here and the now that you almost don’t remember that you are going to be bringing home like, a whole new HUMAN BEING.

But when the delivery is finished and the miracle arrives, your tears turn immediately to smiles. Laughter, even.

The wait is over. The contracting and pushing and agony is over.

And in your arms, is the miracle.

The delivery of God’s blessing.

RIGHT INTO YOUR HANDS.

 

 

Because New Year’s Day Should Not Pass Without A Blog Post…

New_years_2015-5

 

I’ve always thought it funny that people want to say that January 1st is going to be the start of their new routine/schedule/habit.

Because…let’s be real.

So many of us aren’t waking up to an alarm clock on January 1st. There are party foods and noisemakers scattered throughout the house, the crockpot probably still has that cheese dip in it, and you know a few of you had a little too much of the bubbly and are FEELING IT today. No judgment here, my friends. No judgment here.

Still, I’ve always loved the idea of a fresh start…a new beginning…a blank page.

And while I gave up on resolutions awhile ago and then moved on to calling them “goals” (gave that up eventually too…), I am a list-maker and I always vow to start anew with The Lists in the new year.

The Lists are anything that can be listed. Literally.
Tasks I need to complete, books I want to read, books I actually DID read, projects I want to do…I have lists for my lists. Does that make me sound intriguing and multi-layered and mysterious? Or…probably more just a weirdo with some slight OCD tendencies.

Either way, at the end of the year I can never find my lists so I can’t tell you if I’ve ever been successful. I don’t know if I lose them by accident, or if I subconsciously intentionally lose them so I can’t tell how much I DIDN’T do.

I always find myself intrigued by reading other people’s lists and goals though. As well as reading the “goodbye” sentiments to the past year. Some can claim that 2014 was a great year and they are thankful for the memories and they hope that 2015 is just as great.

But then there are others who bid the past year a hearty good riddance. A year fraught with pain and loss and sadness heaped upon sadness. Those make my heart hurt. And in the vein of being real and honest, they scare me a little. What is to say that my 2015 will not reflect a year I’d rather forget?

We all have good years and we all have bad years…and none of us knows what this next year will bring. But I have one hope…One Hope that sustains me, holds me up when it would seem that the world is devoting itself solely to destroying me. One Hope that presses me forward when I would rather lie down and forget it all.

As the old hymn says,

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;

In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.

Without the hope that we have in knowing that an Almighty God holds our future, knows our past, and even has the power to comfort us before the loss occurs or the pain even sets in, I wonder how I could stand and carry on in the face of an uncertainty like that.

Following a life, a calling, a purpose that God leads us into is not always without risk.

In C.S. Lewis’ classic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Susan asks with nervousness and uncertainty about Aslan the lion,

‘Is he–quite safe?…’

‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver… ‘Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.’

2014 was, for the Parrises, a year of renewal, redemption…and also a journey in faith and trust.

After months of searching, God brought us to First Baptist Church of Moncks Corner into a community of people that I absolutely adore. God has used these people to begin to heal the wounds of the past.

We were able to find a beautiful older home out in the country that we have slowly been able to transform. And the neighbors aren’t too bad, either. :)

We were able to take the kids to Disney World back in March…a trip that was just as magical as we had hoped it would be.

We rescued a dog, and later, a cat to add to our loud and rambunctious brood. They fit right into our family…bless their hearts.

Jack started Kindergarten, and I started the search for what to do with my time. The jury is still out on the result of that one. :)

We spent a week with Stephen’s extended family during Christmas, and the memories that we made here in Charleston that week will be some of the most treasured ones as my kids grow up.

And we said goodbye to Stephen’s Granny…a bittersweet time. She is happy and free now after years of being trapped by the horror that is Alzheimer’s disease.

It was a year that stretched my faith.  A year that caused my trust in a Hope that I couldn’t always see to expand with each answered prayer.

I don’t know what 2015 holds. I only know that there is One who holds my heart, my family, and my future in His loving hands.

And so with that, here’s to another remarkable year in the Parris house!

If the sugar content in my children’s bloodstreams right now is any indication of the amount of energy that will course through our lives this year…well, you should probably all take cover.

God, Zebra Stripes, and Control Issues

Pick your battles, they say.

Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill, they say.

I’m here to tell you that sometimes EVERYTHING about being a parent seems like a battle or a molehill.

Let me present to you, Exhibit A…

Oh…the iPod? Yeah. That’s another blog post. buy clomid online :)

This my middle. She’s a spunky one with a side of creativity that threatens to take us all over and hold us prisoner.

I mean that in the nicest possible way.

She did not want to wear the outfit I laid out for her for church that morning.

Okay…that’s fine. Pick something you DO like…there is a closet that has several cutesy little dresses and skirts and tops. Plenty to choose from. Go for it.

She is seven years old…and she changed THREE TIMES.

I need an overwhelming amount of carbs to deal with the drama around here sometimes. You really want to show me love? Bring me bread. Bread and butter and cheese.

And peanut butter M&M’s.

So here’s the thing: I let her wear whatever she ended up with.

Before you tell me how you could “never” let your child out of the house like that because you’re too neurotic about how they look, let me assure you…I’ve been on that side too.

So how did I make the jump from “Oh sweet mother of pearl! Where the heck is her matching hair bow!?” to “At least she’s wearing clothes. I’m pretty sure they’re clean…you know what? I should probably sniff-test them to make sure.”?

Well it was not an easy road, my friends.

I have/had a SLIGHT issue with control with my kids. I felt like I was the only one who knew what they needed and I needed to control all the elements of their lives.  What they ate and drank and wore and when they slept and…I kid you not, I used to have near panic attacks when they would get mud or some other stain-inducing substance on their clothes…I needed to get that thing off of them and Spray ‘n’ Washed immediately so the stain did not set and ruin that outfit. I carried around, IN MY PURSE, a bottle of Resolve or Shout or Spray ‘n’ Wash.

I die of shame.

And now…I  hardly check their clothes for stains. They are grease spots and pizza sauce and Sharpie marker embedded into, I would say, 3/4ths of their clothes.

It’s not because I don’t CARE how they look…I do own an iron and SOMETIMES I even USE IT, y’all…BUT, I’m just saying that I have other things that require a lot more of  my attention.

And this past Sunday, two of three of my kids wanted to wear their own selections from their wardrobe. And I let them.

Because I don’t think Jesus cares what my kids are wearing to church.

I could be wrong…but I don’t think multi-colored knee socks and a zebra print hoodie are matters that matter to God. 

And if it doesn’t concern Him, then it’s not my mountain to die on either.

Where once I did, I JUST DON’T CARE ANYMORE what other people think of my parenting skills because of how my child/children are dressed.

Here’s the thing…it’s such a challenge to get three kids out of the door in the morning anyway, that I cannot waste my energy arguing over whether or not it’s okay for the boy child to wear his “I DOMINATE THE GAME” shirt as opposed to his nice, plaid button-down and khakis.

Because that happened the day the zebra hoodie happened too.

I used to fret over missing hair bows and ridiculously dirty lunch boxes because “What would people think?” And now, I let my Kindergartner out of the car with breakfast crumbs all over his little torso and a super serious cow-lick that would put Alfalfa to shame.

And even though my child owns a nice chevron print and monogrammed outfit, I kinda want to punch whoever invented the monogramming thing. (Oh my word. If that’s like, your great aunt, I’m totally kidding.)

I wish we could go back to the days of the kids going barefoot in the summer and only getting new shoes in the winter-time.

I need a friend to sing some Loretta Lynn with me, right now. 

Now, I have a seven year old that thinks she needs new shoes every time we walk into a store that sells more than just bread and eggs.

And sometimes I give in. Sometimes I say, “Who doesn’t need new shoes every once in awhile?! While we’re at it, let’s get lots of chocolate and ice cream too! GIRLS DAY!”

Cause that’s fun and spontaneous and I WANT my child to have The. Things.

But, sometimes I say, “No. Not today. We can’t get new shoes today. You have shoes that are perfectly good to wear ON YOUR FEET RIGHT NOW.”

Cause sometimes that’s life and we can’t ALWAYS have The. Things.

And I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I will never again try and convince my child to wear something that seems a little bit more easy on the eyes than a cheetah/zebra print combo, because I’ll be struggling with that need for control every now and again.

But, most of the time…when it comes to clothes at least, I will rise to the occasion of Battle Picker and yield to the neon prints and animal patterns.

And it’s OKAY if that’s not something you’re willing to let go of just yet. We can still be friends.

Embrace diversity, I say.

Also embrace smocking and chevron and monograms and zebra stripes…

Mrs. Doubtfire vs. Martha Stewart

I’m kind of like Mrs. Doubtfire when I clean.

If I dance and sing while I’m cleaning, it makes it a LITTLE better.

Throw on some 80s tunes…and BOOM! Instant cleaning energy!

I’ll let you in on a little secret I like to call “my favorite cleaning songs”….

BEST SONG TO MOP THE FLOORS TO: Eye of the Tiger

BEST SONG TO SCRUB POTS AND PANS TO: We Are The Champions

But when Phil Collins comes on with “In the Air Tonight”, you lose your steam and you’re left pondering “What the crap does that song MEAN anyway?!?!”

I never did figure it out…it’s so creepy. “I was there and I saw what you did. I saw it with my own two eyes…”

AAAAHHHHH!!! Creepster song.

ANYWAY…cleaning is not my favorite.

I do it because I have to, and don’t get me wrong, I ADORE a clean house. And when I deep clean a room, I will walk into it at random times throughout the day just to stand and smile and enjoy the beauty that it is…because it won’t last long. I have three kids and a dog. NOTHING lasts long in this house. Clean things, food, money, peace and quiet, shiny, new breakable things…. Nope. Nothing lasts long around here.

So…I have long struggled with the idea of what it means to keep a clean house. What is “clean enough” and what is “we should probably call the producers of Hoarders”?

Let me take a pause here, and reassure you we do not live in squalor nor do we have piles of poo and dead animals lurking up in here.

We’re more of what you call the ummm…. “ARTISTIC TYPE”.

All of my kids, and my husband and myself, are very…what’s the word?…”free-spirited”? “Impulsive”? “ADHD”?

Whatever it is, we are all a hot mess of it.

All of us, even the five year old, have journals. Just notebooks and notebooks full where we doodle, draw cartoons, write down plans for making that first million, dream, write words that mean stuff…that whole thing.

And I NEVER throw ANY of them away.

There is always noise and music and…just general LOUDNESS that sort of envelops our home.

And we are all very visual people….people who need notes and reminders and signs all over the place or we are going to forget it. Whatever “IT” is, we will lose it, forget it, or accidentally throw it away.

Last night, I had to put a sign on the back of the bathroom door that said, “WAIT! Did you forget to put on your clothes?” You wouldn’t think that a child would need to be reminded of that,would you? But I’m telling you, there are a lot of naked children running through this house on any given day simply because stopping to put on clothes seemed like a hassle…something that could easily be forgotten in their haste to do…well, ANYTHING else.

With the invention of Pinterest and bloggy blogs where cute things happen and everything is organized and labeled and has a chalkboard plaque on the outside of it, so has the increased Mommy-Pressure.

Because, someone please save my kids from me!, I don’t have any matching baskets with adorable signs or chevron prints for anything in this house!

Now…do not get me wrong…I love some chevron and I love some matchy-matchy and I love some seasonal decor and those of you who have their kids clothes for the week pulled out on Sunday night and labeled Monday-Friday with socks and underwear and hair bows to match, I. DIG. THAT.

And if you have a DAILY CLEANING LIST with boxes that you check off, I think YOU. ARE. AMAZING.

And if you NEVER have to frantically throw in a load of clothes at night because if you don’t, everyone will be wearing dirty pants the next day? Well, YOU. ARE…. wait— who ARE you? Hasn’t everyone had to do that at some point?

Anyway, I MIGHT get around to doing a few of those things myself, and I’ll post pictures of it for sure, and I will “like” your super cute and organized pantry/closet/laundry room on Facebook…and I will even MEAN it…but, and this is not the fault of the people who post the super cute things like embroidered underwear or run the super informative blogs that always have posts with titles like, “12 Ways You Can Make Your Bedtime Routine Work Like A Charm Every Night So That Everyone Always Sleeps and No One Has Nightmares or Ends Up in Mom and Dad’s Bed”…no, no…it is THE REST OF US who are putting this pressure on ourselves to be this SUPER PARENT with the SUPER ORGANIZED HOUSE and the NEVER WRINKLED CLOTHES and THE ALWAYS MATCHING SOCKS (geez! who ARE those people?!)

I’m kidding. We USUALLY have matching socks on our feet.

But that’s only because “socks” for kids is like, on the grocery list because I have to buy them so often.

My free-spirit, artsy kids take off their socks in the yard, in the car, in the bathroom, and the dog carries them away for chew toys, they get shoved under couch cushions, the squirrels outside take them to stuff their winter burrows with…You get the picture. We can’t keep up with socks for the life of us.

But that’s not the point.

Well, actually, it KIND of is.

See, God has created each one of us differently. We all have different skills and talents and interests…and that’s SUPER AWESOME! If we were all good at the SAME THINGS and did everything the SAME WAY, life would be kind of boring. I’m not interested in the Stepford Wife approach to anything. There are different strengths and that we all have that we should just embrace instead of always wanting to be THE MOST AWESOME AT EVERYTHING.

For example, don’t ask me to organize or plan anything…but my friend Melissa can plan a get-together like no one’s business. Now, I’ll show up and I’ll bring the cookies and the casserole…but I won’t be scheduling the party.

And let’s not forget that our families also make up our house and our homes and our lives must reflect them as well. For those of us with mini-humans running around, you’ve got to do what works for their little strengths and weaknesses and unique little personalities too.

I mean, I would LOVE to have a pantry that’s organized like Martha Stewart’s with color-coded containers and Bento boxes and stockpiled canned goods in case of—whatever…BUT, I have three little PANTRY DIGGERS–seriously, they could teach a class in how to rummage through a pantry–so it’s not going to happen because it’s not reasonable FOR US.

Instead, I have this….

IMG_6335

And yes. That box only contains one sad Little Debbie and a mini-pack of Goldfish. Re-stocking is always an issue around here.

But….and here’s the point I’m TRYING to make…THIS is pretty representative of life around here. THAT PICTURE is Parris-style.

You’re not going to find that on Pinterest (“Can’t wait to try this! A $3 plastic tub and a neon green index card! Soooo adorbs!”)…and that’s okay. Not everything in my life is Pinterest-y.

I would much rather have a home that reflects who WE ACTUALLY ARE rather than WHO WE WISH WE WERE according to the internet.

Now, I DO have a crafty side that I try to explore every now and then…so sometimes you’ll see pictures like this…

IMG_5702That’s a flower pot that I painted and made flower pens and felt pencil topper creations for an end of the year teacher gift.

BUT…just take a peek at the background there.

See??? You can NOT have it all people. It was “create something fun while the kids created a mess” OR “keep picking up the same stuff all over and over again and WISH I had made something”.

I said we’re the “artsy” type. We forget stuff, we are impulsive, we can throw down one unfinished project and pick up another one and not think twice about it, and we can have a dance party every morning.

But it won’t be organized with everything neat as a pin every time, color coded and in alphabetical order.

I can’t base my standards on who I am as a housekeeper, a mom, a wife on pictures in magazines, on the internet, or even by walking into my friends’ houses.

Every one of us have different circumstances, different personalities, different talents and preferences and tastes…and your house may not look like mine and my pantry may not look like yours and you may not use your broom handle as an air guitar and microphone when you clean…and if we can be friends regardless, then I think we’re ALL OKAY.

But seriously, put on some Walk Like An Egyptian or Manic Monday when you’re feeling unmotivated to scrub that toilet and see what happens…

Trust me on this one.

I Really Don’t Care What’s In My Pumpkin Spice Latte

 

A delicious treat…or an instrument of destruction?

If you’re on social media of any kind, you’ve probably seen the links to the (and now, I’m paraphrasing…) “Starbucks is Killing You All With Pumpkin Spice Lattes” article.

Can we all just stop with the whole “everything you eat and drink and breathe and touch and look at” is going to give you irreversible brain damage/cause cancer/open up a hole in the space-time continuum and suck us all into another dimension?

I say this tongue in cheek, because I’m all for healthy eating. I throw some fruit into my kids’ lunch boxes every day…right next to their Lunchable.

And I don’t mean to propecia online be insensitive to people who really do have food allergies or sensitivities. Cause those are FOR REAL, and I have friends and family who personally deal with them and have to monitor every thing that they or their child eat. I don’t knock that AT ALL, and I am more than happy to keep those foods out of my kid’s lunch boxes so that another mom can send their child to school with just a little more ease.

So, hear me when I say, this is not the argument against the people who have to say “I can’t eat this because it makes me sick”.

This is about the 5 bajillion articles that pop up telling me that my coffee is full of pesticides or that my eggs that come from the grocery store and not from a free range chicken farm are really trucked in by cover of darkness from the government that’s corroborating with ANOTHER government and they’re not really eggs at all but rather an “egg-like substance” which will be used to gain mind control over unsuspecting American citizens so that the entire infrastructure of the global economy will collapse and we will all be forced into our own version of the Hunger Games by the end of 2020.

(And yes, I just posted a blog about real watermelon along with a remark about the “government grown” watermelon…so no one take me for a hypocrite. That was just a little bit of sarcasm… It’s probably one of my spiritual gifts. I can’t say for sure…)

I have no doubt in my mind that fresh eggs grown from chickens of someone I know are fresher than the ones at the store. No doubt.

And I don’t doubt at all that if I had a local butcher who I watched slaughter the animals right in front of me as he called them, by name, in from a field where they munched on grass and oats at their leisure and could poop wherever they wanted would be a better cut of meat.

And I will concede to you that if I could travel out to Jamaica and pick and dry roast my own coffee beans, that they would be that much more delicious than the Green Mountain Coffee Company’s little pods that now occupy my Keurig. No doubt at all.

And I don’t have a problem at all if you feel like you have a moral obligation or a spiritual conviction to not eat certain types of foods from certain places that are grown in certain ways. No problem at all. I can respect that…and I will even relent to eating at whatever restaurant suits your needs when we are out to eat together so as not to upset you or your conscience.

Because seriously, a bad case of anxiety while you’re eating will give you indigestion. So I will be happy to accommodate whatever dining needs you have.

But for the love, please do not post and re-post insane amounts of articles about the carcinogenic attributes of all the foods that I love.

We can look at this one of two ways…everything you eat, at some point, will lead to your death…OR everything in moderation.

Me personally? I subscribe to the latter.

I really don’t mean to offend…truly. But when the “news feed” on social media is constantly being blown up with articles about mandarin oranges that were packed in China with measurable amounts of paint thinner mixed in, then I want to throw my computer across the room.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen an article that I can tell just from the title is a bunch of bull.

Dear authors of “conspiracy” websites, First rule of thumb: Perhaps using spell check would help me at least read past the FIRST LINE of your article, and CONSIDER investigating your claims. A proofreader, an editor, a dictionary…anything!

Please, please, please….just research the information before you share it. It seriously doesn’t take that long.

Have I posted erroneous things before? Oh sure. Have I been convinced of something that later turned out to be a hoax? You betcha.

And maybe it’s that fact alone, the fact that I KNOW there are folks out there just waiting to dupe the American public, that makes me take a little more time before I become so quick to hit the “share” button.

Oh…and one last thing…I beseech you dear sisters and brethren, if someone offers you a home-baked goodie…let’s say a cookie, a brownie, a slice of apple pie…PLEASE…HAVE MERCY…do not ask them if the butter they used was churned in their own kitchen because if it’s not, you can’t eat that piece of baked deliciousness because you only eat pure and fresh, squeezed from the goat/coconut/almond this morning “dairy” products.

Because, for some people, baking is our love language.

And when you turn down our cookie, you’re just squashing our soul.

 

BTW…the photo above is a picture taken from the Starbucks website…just in case some Starbucks lawyer reads this and I need to give photo credit…and also, you can go HERE to see the nutritional info on a PSL. 

And one last thing, are we really surprised that the Pumpkin Spice Latte actually does not contain pumpkin? Why is this shocking? Pumpkin basically has no flavor anyway…and that’s why it’s called a Pumpkin SPICE Latte. 

A Corn Tale…and some other foods

Food-ear-of-corn-clipart-620x400

 

My grandfather was a milf porn man of many skills. A “jack of all trades”, if you will.

One of his talents was gardening.

I grew up with fresh tomatoes, okra, squash, green beans, watermelon. And corn. Rows and rows of corn that I was taught how to pick off the stalk when the silk at the top had turned just the right color.

Not only did I learn how to pick corn, but I also learned how to pick green beans…and tomatoes… I was not allowed to carry the watermelons. (“I carried a watermelon?” Two points for you if you get that reference…) Anyway, not allowed…because I might drop them and break them and watermelons were money. My grandpa was the guy at the corner gas station selling his watermelons out of the back of his pickup truck.

And I do not care what you say, these “seedless” watermelons that the government has created, probably with secret transmitters housed inside to record our very DNA so that they can clone us and create a brand new underground society after we meet our demise of some origin of their choosing…yeah, THOSE watermelons? Well they are POOP compared to a home-grown, dare I say it?, FULLY SEEDED watermelon.

We always had an abundance of fresh watermelon straight from the back field during the summers that we rode in on the back of trailer hooked up to the tractor…and we sat at my granny’s redwood benches in the backyard, each with a quarter of a melon, a knife, and a salt shaker.

Cause that’s how you eat watermelon. With salt. T

hese days, I don’t always pull out the Morton’s when I’m nomming on some watermelon, but if I were at your house and you offered me a salt shaker when you sliced up that melon in little heart shaped bite-sized pieces, I would accept…knowing in my heart, that we were kindred spirits.

Every summer, when I bring home the first, not-as-good-as-granddaddy’s, watermelon, I always tell the same story.

“Did you guys know that my granddaddy—-”

In bored unison, they finish, “—used to sell watermelons out of the back of his pick up truck.”

To which I reply, “APPRECIATE IT, CHILDREN! IT’S YOUR HERITAGE!” Or something like that.

Along with knowing how to hug a watermelon while you’re riding it out of the fields on a trailer, I learned how to snap green beans over a big white enamel bowl that had a red thin line around the top. And a little rusted out hole on the bottom. These days, you would NEVER, EVER use a bowl with a rusted spot. I’m pretty sure that whatever problems I may have now did not originate with that rusted bowl. Heck, it was probably even painted with lead paint.

And I learned the fine art of shucking corn and removing their silk tassels…and inevitably, some of those little strings would get left behind all throughout the rinsing and cooking part of preparation. And that corn was served with a, GASP!, silk string or two on it! To us, that was just what corn looked like.

My kids would take one look, declare it a worm or some other parasite and decide they were never touching corn ever again.

One day, having realized that my kids have really only seen corn come out of bags from the freezer, I decided to grab some unshucked corn at the grocery store and bring it home so that they could experience the joys of a “corn-shucking party” just like I used to on a summer morning on the carport.

That’s right, y’all. I said CARPORT.

I lived in a ranch style house, across from a cornfield, with a CARPORT.

Kenny Chesney would write a song about me. Maybe he already has.

But about that corn….so I grab five ears of the unshucked, silky topped beauties and bring them home.

And do you know what my son said?

“Mom! What are THOSE?!”

Good heavens. Granddaddy, I’m just so sorry. I don’t even have words for this atrocity against generations of farmers. Please forgive me while I do my penance amongst the green bean and okra vines.

So, that day, Jack and I shucked some corn together. He called it, “cleaning corn” which seems pretty accurate, I suppose.

And when it finally came time to eat corn, he ate heartily. I’d like to think that it was because HE had helped to prepare it.

But it was probably just because he’s a boy. And he eats…A LOT. The idea of the war that will commence between him and the pantry during the teenage years frighten me.

All of that to say, our new home has some space for a garden. And if it doesn’t frustrate me too much to propecia online try to coerce forth a few tomatoes and some squash, I might give it a go next spring and just HOPE that I inherited my grandfather’s green thumb.

My kids need to see more “homegrown/ homemade” stuff. Now, please do not mistake this post for an “I’m never buying Cheetos or Oreos again! All organic, clomid online all homemade, all the time!”…cause Heaven knows that I love me some good ole processed-the-heck-out-of doughnuts with white, refined sugar.

I just mean a little return to the roots so that I don’t have “those kids” that think green beans come out of a can.

Which, for the most part, around here they do.

Or that Rice Krispie treats come out of a box, individually wrapped.

Honest to goodness, I made a pan of Rice Krispie treats one day. And you would have thought I had turned into Willy Wonka with the amount of excitement and sheer awe that Caia expressed at the “one giant Rice Krispie treat! In a pan! Mom! These taste just like the REAL ones in the blue packages!”

Oh for the love of Snap, Crackle,and Pop…no.

Just…no

Everyone Should Have to Shuck Corn Once In Their Life

Food-ear-of-corn-clipart-620x400 My grandfather was a man of many skills. A “jack of all trades”, if you will.

One of his talents was gardening.

I grew up with fresh tomatoes, okra, squash, green beans, watermelon. And corn. Rows and rows of corn that I was taught how to pick off the stalk when the silk at the top had turned just the right color.

Not only did I learn how to pick corn, but I also learned how to pick green beans…and tomatoes… I was not allowed to carry the watermelons. (“I carried a watermelon?” Two points for you if you get that reference…) Anyway, not allowed…because I might drop them and break them and watermelons were money. My grandpa was the guy at the corner gas station selling his watermelons out of the back of his pickup truck.

And I do not care what you say, these “seedless” watermelons that the government has created, probably with secret transmitters housed inside to record our very DNA so that they can clone us and create a brand new underground society after we meet our demise of some origin of their choosing…yeah, THOSE watermelons? Well they are POOP compared to a home-grown, dare I say it?, FULLY SEEDED watermelon.

We always had an abundance of fresh watermelon straight from the back field during the summers that we rode in on the back of trailer hooked up to the tractor…and we sat at my granny’s redwood benches in the backyard, each with a quarter of a melon, a knife, and a salt shaker.

Cause that’s how you eat watermelon. With salt. T

hese days, I don’t always pull out the Morton’s when I’m nomming on some watermelon, but if I were at your house and you offered me a salt shaker when you sliced up that melon in little heart shaped bite-sized pieces, I would accept…knowing in my heart, that we were kindred spirits.

Every summer, when I bring home the first, not-as-good-as-granddaddy’s, watermelon, I always tell the same story.

“Did you guys know that my granddaddy—-”

In bored unison, they finish, “—used to sell watermelons out of the back of his pick up truck.”

To which I reply, “APPRECIATE IT, CHILDREN! IT’S YOUR HERITAGE!” Or something like that.

Along with knowing how to hug a watermelon while you’re riding it out of the fields on a trailer, I learned how to snap green beans over a big white enamel bowl that had a red thin line around the top. And a little rusted out hole on the bottom. These days, you would NEVER, EVER use a bowl with a rusted spot. I’m pretty sure that whatever problems I may have now did not originate with that rusted bowl. Heck, it was probably even painted with lead paint.

And I learned the fine art of shucking corn and removing their silk tassels…and inevitably, some of those little strings would get left behind all throughout the rinsing and cooking part of preparation. And that corn was served with a, GASP!, silk string or two on it! To us, that was just what corn looked like.

My kids would take one look, declare it a worm or some other parasite and decide they were never touching corn ever again.

One day, having realized that my kids have really only seen corn come out of bags from the freezer, I decided to grab some unshucked corn at the grocery store and bring it home so that they could experience the joys of a “corn-shucking party” just like I used to on a summer morning on the carport.

That’s right, y’all. I said CARPORT.

I lived in a ranch style house, across from a cornfield, with a CARPORT.

Kenny Chesney would write a song about me. Maybe he already has.

But about that corn….so I grab five ears of the unshucked, silky topped beauties and bring them home.

And do you know what my son said?

“Mom! What are THOSE?!”

Good heavens. Granddaddy, I’m just so sorry. I don’t even have words for this atrocity against generations of farmers. Please forgive me while I do my penance amongst the green bean and okra vines.

So, that day, Jack and I shucked some corn together. He called it, “cleaning corn” which  seems pretty accurate, I suppose.

And when it finally came time to eat corn, he ate heartily. I’d like to think that it was because HE had helped to prepare it.

But it was probably just because he’s a boy. And he eats…A LOT. The idea of the war that will commence between him and the pantry during the teenage years frighten me.

All of that to say, our new home has some space for a garden. And if it doesn’t frustrate me too much to try to coerce forth a few tomatoes and some squash, I might give it a go next spring and just HOPE that I inherited my grandfather’s green thumb.

My kids need to see more “homegrown/ homemade” stuff. Now, please do not mistake this post for an “I’m never buying Cheetos or Oreos again! All organic, all homemade, all the time!”…cause Heaven knows that I love me some good ole processed-the-heck-out-of doughnuts with white, refined sugar.

I just mean a little return to the roots so that I don’t have “those kids” that think green beans come out of a can.

Which, for the most part, around here they do.

Or that Rice Krispie treats come out of a box, individually wrapped.

Honest to goodness, I made a pan of Rice Krispie treats one day. And you would have thought I had turned into Willy Wonka with the amount of excitement and sheer awe that Caia expressed at the “one giant Rice Krispie treat! In a pan! Mom! These taste just like the REAL ones in the blue packages!”

Oh for the love of Snap, Crackle,and Pop…no.

Just…no.

Lessons in Self Discovery

Two weeks in.

Two weeks that I have dropped off all three children in front of the school.

Two weeks that I have had no pint-sized companion next to me, asking for the car buggy at the store (are those things not THE WORST to maneuver down the aisle?), asking me to peel an orange, following me to the bathroom, or reporting to me every bathroom activity that THEY themselves have completed.

You know what’s the worst?

When I flip on the TV, because I cannot…I CANNOT, sit in a quiet house, and I scroll through the channels and I see the listing for Paw Patrol or Team Umizoomi or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It’s almost physical the tug I feel at my heartstrings.

Oh dear Lord. They all said it would go by so fast.

And there were days where I felt pretty sure that the Mommy Assignment that had been delivered to me was surely not from Heaven but rather from Hell. (Don’t lie. You’ve thought it too.)

But all of a sudden, those years spent watching the animated Disney cartoons, or NickJr shows (and y’all, I remember when it was called NOGGIN)…they are GONE.

Oh they still watch Disney. But now it’s the tween shows where Every. Single. Character. has their own album or music video out. (Seriously. If we could put an end to that, that’d be awesome. Not EVERYONE needs to be auto-tuned and Pro-Tool-ed to death. Make it stop.)

Now, I can sit on the couch and catch up on all those New Girl episodes that I haven’t seen (“I HAVE touched glitter in the last 24 hours!…And I find it fundamentally strange that you’re not a dessert person. It freaks me out.”).

And I can eat lunch without sharing it. I can go to the bathroom and not have someone freak out every time I close the door.

Literally. Every single time I enter the bathroom and close the door, doesn’t matter what I’m doing, someone has some life-threatening emergency that is neither life-threatening nor an emergency.

In fact, right now…at this very moment, I am sitting in a Barnes and Noble typing this, and although I find it extremely unsettling how loudly people talk on their phones about their personal problems while in a public place, there is no one asking anything of me in this moment.

I could go browse the books, after I take a side-trip to the bathroom of course because I drank a venti…wait for it…Pumpkin Spice Latte, and there wouldn’t be anyone to throw themselves down on the ground and roll around and shout how they are “never going to love me ever again” because I won’t buy them a toy.

And while I’m at it….why does Barnes and Noble even sell toys? Can we stick to books and movies, please? It makes the life of a parent who just wants to swing by and pick up a book on parenting the strong-willed, thrice exceptional, gifted yet learning disabled child and their complex emotional and nutritional needs so much easier than having to wrestle little Tommy off the floor because he can’t have that $200 Lego set of Battlestar Galactica. I’m just saying.

But y’all. Can I let you in on a little secret?

I’m sad. And scared.

I’m sad with a side of remorse for all the times I wish I’d given just a little bit more effort to relishing all those times I snuggled with a toddler on the couch who wanted to watch a show that I could not even keep my eyes open for.

I’m sad that they grew so fast, yet so slow all at the same time.

I’m sad that I don’t have any reason to visit the baby/toddler aisle at Target or even Publix anymore. There was nothing like bagging up 154 tiny glass jars of baby food and carrying them, clinking and double bagged, into the house and wonder how the heck I was ever going to find space in the pantry to put all of those precious little containers of baby nutrition.

Do they even make jarred baby food now? I don’t even know. It seems like everything they sell these days is all “Here little baby. Take this squeeze bag of pureed kale, beets, rutabagas, and organic mangoes and squirt it in your mouth yourself.”

Anyway…I’m scared.

I’m scared because my existence revolved solely around being the mommy 24-7. And while I still spend ridiculous amounts of time transporting them in the car to and from and suffering through the tears and hand cramps and eraser hole ridden papers of homework….and the lunch packing and the lunch buying and the breakfast making and the uniform washing and the sock finding and the backpack packing of having three in “for real” school, I also have several hours in the day that I need to fill.

It’s like I’m having to relearn everything about myself. And IT IS OVERWHELMING.

It’s a new season here in levitra online the Parris house. And I’m desperately seeking and searching what my days should look like now. Where should my time and effort go to before the kids arrive home? Am I being lazy if I just sit around and watch 6 straight episodes of Andy Griffith? (My heart says no on that one. It’s good parenting technique research. Andy was a pretty good dad, I think.)

For now, I can tell you this…what I have learned TODAY, Friday, August 29th, 2014…

Hanging out at a Barnes and Noble Starbucks “cafe” trying to think and write? Yeah…that ain’t happening. People sit way too close to me trying to hog the outlets and I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about the two groups of ladies that have discussed everything about their neighbors super loud. And…the dude to my left claims he’s only sent one email in his life, can’t figure out how to log on to the Wifi, and has repeatedly asked the barista for tech support like she’s behind the Genius Bar at Apple. I can tell she wants to be all, “Dude. I gots some mochas to make. Take a class.”

Oh…and there’s another guy here…I call him Exasperated Man. He sighs REALLY loud about every two minutes. He alternates his sighs with knuckle cracking.

And it is DRIVING ME BONKERS. I’ve got to get out of here. Maybe run by the non-fiction section and pick up book on dealing with high maintenance people who make rude noises, hog outlets, have no personal space, or sense of other people’s time.

Yep. I’m learning more and more about myself everyday.

I’ll call today a success.

 

Dear Summer, It’s Not You. It’s Me. Actually, It’s the Kids…

It was a simple enough question.

“What are you eating?”

I was sitting on the stairs to the bonus room. And I was eating Muddy Buddies Chex Mix.

“AAAARRRGHHHH!!! Seriously?! Can I not just BE ALONE for 10 seconds without someone asking me something?!”

My poor husband. (Let me take a moment right here and publicly say, I’m sorry about that, honey. Nothing personal. And I’m also sorry that I didn’t save you any Chex Mix. Kisses!)

Y’all. Let me get real for a minute here.

The summer is starting to wear me out.  It started out great. It always does.

We were sleeping in and we were swimming in the pool and we were eating ice cream every day. We were putting together jigsaw puzzles and slicing up watermelons every morning to nibble on throughout the day. We were happy and carefree and loving it.

But…quite honestly, I think we’re sick of each other.

All day. Every day. The bickering, the whining, the incessant noise.

Oh the noise, noise, NOISE, NOISE! Yes, yes friends. Just call me the Grinch.

I feel like I am being pecked to death by chickens. And I cannot escape it. All I really want to do is lie down or sit or stand or heck…I’d even hang by my toenails from the ceiling fan if I thought that I’d be enjoying just a little bit of silence for a moment.

I read an article once that said, “Stop telling us that you love your kids”…or something close to that. Basically, the point was…we don’t have to preface our statements about how we need a little breather from our kids by saying “I love my kids, but….”

This is the part where I DON’T tell you how much I love my kids, buy priligy then.

And yes, yes, YES…I DID make the conscious choice to be a stay at home mother. But let’s get real, no one QUITE knows what we’re signing up for when we decide to take on that gig. Am I right?

In all seriousness, it HAS been great to be at home, but when you are the one always with the kids for long, long  hours and there is this constant noise and you’re always having to share whatever it is you’re eating that looks somewhat edible and when you’re cleaning up messes that I’m pretty sure chimpanzees hopped up on sugar and caffeine wouldn’t even make, well it can wear a person down.

So, after I snapped at my husband for interrupting my Chex Mix snack break, I got up and decided to go… Nowhere.

There was absolutely NO. PLACE. in my house that I could go where I would not hear my kids or risk them banging on the door and asking me if they can eat six Oreos and an ice cream sandwich at 7:30 p.m.

We have a Jack and Jill type bathroom between the master and the oldest child’s room and an architectural layout that creates a massive circular loop throughout the house that allows them access to me at all times.

It is so NOT divine.

And then I thought, “Well, I’ll just go somewhere.” But I wasn’t really keen on driving anywhere, because…where was I going to go? Going shopping or even to the grocery store when I’m feeling the need for space just results in me doing one of two things: wandering aimlessly around the store and wasting my time and just getting more and more tired and irritated all the while knowing I’m still going to go back to a house full of loud and messy…OR I end up impulse buying where I think thoughts like. “I really DO need more coffee cups! And this one has OWLS on it! It’s super cute and fall is coming and aren’t owls sort of fall-ish and maybe I’ll create an owl theme in my kitchen. Yes! This owl mug is a super wise purchase!”

Really all I want to do is just lie down somewhere in the silent anyway. And I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but there is ALWAYS a kid throwing a fit two aisles over from you no matter what store you go to. Thinking you’re hitting up Target for some peace and quiet is about like thinking that you can go to the zoo and not smell elephant poop.

In the end, I wound up frantically searching for head phones so that I could put Frank Sinatra on and not hear the children while I typed up this blog post. And then…I felt better. As Frank would say, “I did it MY WAY!”

Sometimes…fellow mommies, you just need to take a breather. You just need to press the pause button and fill up your own tank and enjoy something that’s just yours. And you don’t have to feel guilty about it. If you end up with a  half gallon carton of ice cream and a spoon while sitting in your bed watching Mean Girls on Netflix, I won’t judge. In fact, I might ask if I can come over.

And you can tell me no.

And I won’t take it personally.

Cause sometimes, mama just needs some space. And some ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

“With Every Broken Bone…”

I have this thing with words.

I love, like…it’s probably bordering on obsession, the way people can use words to create an image and convey a message and turn the world right on its end. For better or worse.

Well, I don’t love the “worse” part…but it goes without saying, though I’ll say it anyway, that words are powerful. They carry weight and you can tear down or build up with them. And in my life, I have experienced both.

I have been crushed and made to believe that I was “less than” because of someone’s words. Haven’t we all? SOMEone, SOMEwhere has sent your world spinning out of orbit with things that they’ve said to you or about you. And if I may borrow Taylor Swift’s words,  (yes, yes. I said Taylor Swift…I’ve mentioned before that we have very eclectic music taste around here), these are the words that I’ve felt that I’ve wanted to dance around my living room singing into a hairbrush (I AM basically, perpetually 12.) and shout these words over and over and over again to the ones who’ve caused me pain.

You, with your words like knives

And swords and weapons that you use against me

You have knocked me off my feet again

Got me feeling like I’m nothing…

…You have pointed out my flaws again

As if I don’t already see them

I walk with my head down

Trying to block you out ’cause I’ll never impress you

I just wanna feel okay again

Now, I know that I have not always used my words to encourage either. Pot, kettle, black. The end.

So, oh heavens, someone might be out there singing into their hairbrush about me.

And that pretty much makes me want to vomit. 

I’ve said things, and in the age of social media, WRITTEN things that I’ll go back later and think, “Oh bless. That does NOT sound at all the way I thought it did when I first said/wrote it. The world thinks I am amazingly harsh. I should never be allowed to speak again.” (We are own worst critics, right? At least, I hope.)

And on the flip side of being the recipient of harsh words, I have also received notes and cards and, once again…in the age of social media, Facebook posts and emails that I have read over and over and over again…because they make me feel good and loved and warm and fuzzy  and happy like puppies and popsicles on a warm summer eve. (And also, I’m basically, perpetually 12.)

This whole post came out of the fact that on Saturday I was able to spend some time with some of my Georgia girls by meeting them “halfway” in Greenville.

Let’s take a moment and say that Greenville is not necessarily “halfway”…but it’s alright, ladies. It’s alright. You were worth the midnight arrival… Kisses and hugs, friends!

They “made” me hike down to the river and I almost passed out from heat exhaustion and had to later stop and buy deodorant to replace the clinical strength stuff that had already faded thanks to the fact that we HIKED TO THE RIVER… nothing but love, ladies. nothing but love.

I’m a bit of a heavy sweat-er. I have no idea why…but I can just walk out to my van in the summer and I’m all “Water! I need water! I’m hallucinating! Is that a mirage? I’m hallucinating!”.

At one point, we walked into a smoothie/coffee/bubble tea (btw, BLECH!) shop…and I was immediately hit with the smell of “ripe person”.

I thought it was me and decided to stand at least 3 feet from all of my companions for the rest of the day.

Turns out, it wasn’t me. It was just a very organic crowd that likes to hang out in this particular shop. They have amazing pineapple/melon smoothies though. There’s always a trade off.

Not only did I have to repeatedly apologize for what I’m sure was my overwhelming and offensive odor…but I also found myself asking if my eyebrows had melted off. I only naturally have half an eyebrow above each eye. Again, I do not know why. I suffer from Half-Eyebrow Syndrome. My most used makeup product is my “brow fix kit”. Yes. That’s a thing. So I know I’m not the only one who suffers from this affliction.

Anyway, we wandered up and down the main street in Greenville, where they have an obscene amount of restaurants to choose from. (Here’s where I plug Nose Dive. French Toast that was heavenly.)

We were looking for “shops”. You know, where you go in and buy random kitschy stuff that you don’t necessarily need, but can always say “I picked it up on Girl’s Day in Greenville”…so it’s kind of worth the price. Three out of four of us ended up buying some flavored salt and spices from a spice store…Can we say “chocolate sea salt”? Whaaaaaaat? I needed it. NEEEEEDDED IT.

Finally we found the “general store”. I don’t know what qualifications you have to have for a “general store”, but this one contained 1000 square feet of over-priced t-shirts, hiking boots, flannel shirts and sundresses. I kind of wanted to cry tears of heartbreak when we walked in.

But as with most things in life, keep walking through the junk you hate and think “why?? WHY??!!! Who needs this?!”, and you will find the barrels of candy in the back.

Down the stairs and into the glory. Puzzles, and old-timey looking dishes, random kitchen accessories, penny candy barrels.

Penny candy barrels are not really a penny anymore. I paid $9.00 for a bunch of loose candy I could’ve bought for $3.50 at Publix.

I’m a sucker who overpays for suckers.

I really do have a point to this story about “words”, I promise. Stick with me.

So, I wandered to the journals. Heaven help me, I love anything that has paper. And you stick a cool cover on the front and then, be still my heart!, slap a quote on top of THAT, and suddenly I’m willing to dish out $15.00 for a stack of paper.

Two of my girls were already wandering the candy barrel section and buying RC Colas and moon pies when I happened upon the journals. I made an audible “Oooooohhhhhh…” while parents hugged their children a little closer to them to keep the safe from the crazy paper-sniffing lady one aisle away from the over-priced plastic Dollar Tree toys.

And I found one quote that I fell in love with right there. Like I almost melted into the floor. (So long, what’s left of my eyebrows…)

The most beautiful people we have known

are those who have

known DEFEAT,

known SUFFERING,

known STRUGGLE,

known LOSS,

and found their way out of the depths.

These persons have

an APPRECIATION,

a SENSITIVITY,

and an UNDERSTANDING of life that fills them with

COMPASSION, GENTLENESS, & A DEEP LOVING CONCERN.

Beautiful people do not just happen.

That is a quote from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the psychiatrist who first talked about the “five stages of death”.

Now theologically and spiritually speaking, I don’t believe that Mrs. Kubler-Ross and I have too much in common. But I would be very narrow-minded to not think that there are truths, God-ordained truths, that even the loudest critics against Christianity can not deny. And this is one of them.

Pain is universal. And pain can bring beauty. IF you allow yourself to not become bitter.

If you can turn the pain over to God, daily or hourly or moment by heart-breaking moment, you can be SURE that He will redeem it. I can’t explain it. I only know that I’ve seen it.

I am LIVING it right now.

On my drive home from Greenville on Saturday night, my road tunes of choice were mostly from One Republic. If you’ve never listened to One Republic, just do it. You’ll be able to take their catchy tunes and poetic lyrics and over-analyze them to fit whatever situation you find yourself in. (Or maybe just the Word Nerds like myself do that. I don’t really know.)

One of the songs that I hit repeat on, like…a LOT (because I’m basically, perpetually 12 years old), was a song called I Lived. And in short, it’s another one of those songs that someone will play at their kid’s high school graduation all perfectly choreographed to a slide show chronicling every event of their child’s life. And really, we do not NEED ONE MORE SONG that we dedicate to our little children (“I Hope You Dance”, “My Wish”, etc,etc,etc)…but THIS song… Well, THIS SONG…I’m probably going to write out the lyrics to and frame or sew on a bag or tattoo On. My. Face.

The entire song is flipping awesome…but the part that gets me is that when he looks back on his life, he wants to be able to say…oh my gosh, are you ready for it???….

With every broken bone, I swear I lived

Everyone can interpret song lyrics to fit their situations. That’s not lost on me. But THIS one…well, this one said to me that through the pain and the scars that made their marks on me, I chose to keep going. I chose to NOT shut down or build walls or grow bitter and give up on life or humanity.

It says to me that I allowed God to heal my heart. That I took the time to recover and rest when the road broke

and the pain hit

and the people left

and the night fell.

But then, I got up.

Changed, yes.

But for the better…

because I allowed God to rebuild and restore

and to “make a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”.

(Isaiah 43:19)