Assault with a deadly pair of socks.

 

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I’m not sure if it’s a blessing, or a curse. Maybe it’s both.

I’ll just come straight out and say it. I have an unusually good sense of smell.

I hate to brag. But, yes. I’ve got a good sniffer.

Case in point, I have called the city gas company on several occasions alerting them of a specific address or intersection where I smell a potential gas leak. Do you know how many of those times I have later seen a crew repairing said gas leaks in the exact spot that I’ve reported? Every single time. I’m not saying the city should hire me as a “gas sniffing unit” just yet, but they might want to keep the idea in the back of their minds.

Anyway, this sense of smell can come in handy, but it can also lead to suffering. Suffering in the form of extreme awareness of foul odors.

And let me tell you, I have I met some foul odors in my day. But just this past weekend, I experienced a new level of one particularly rancid odor.

And it wasn’t it a gas leak.

It was my son’s socks.

Granted, the poor kid has been hearing complaints from me for years about his socks. They’ve never smelled like roses. In fact, roses are probably now offended that I even dared make the comparison. Please forgive me.

Anyway, one time, in a hotel room, our family decided to put Karson’s socks and shoes in the hallway overnight because none of us could stand the odor with them in the room. We figured if anyone dare steal them, then bless their hearts. And noses. We’d buy new ones. But, his socks and shoes were there in the hallway the next morning, and my son’s pride remained in tact. Karson owns up to it. He’s just thirteen, but he’s a true man when it comes to owning his stinky feet. He’s not ashamed.

So, this past weekend, my husband and I “divided and conquered” with the kids. I took two of the kids to Michigan for my son’s basketball team to play in a tournament, and my husband stayed home to coach our third child’s game. We all had fun. It was a wonderful weekend of friends and basketball, and my son’s team got to play in seven basketball games over the course of two days. And bonus, they won them all! What great memories!

But here’s the problem. Minutes after getting into our van to drive the two hours home Sunday evening, I smelled trouble. I did not even have to turn around to verify my suspicion. Karson had taken his shoes off.

And I was about to pass out.

And then I find out why it’s this bad. This whole new level of awful. This “my eyes are burning” odor that is now assaulting me from the back seat.

He wore the same socks for all seven basketball games.

Yeah. You heard me. All seven basketball games. Same pair of socks. No washing machine. No spray deodorizer. No “airing them out outside.”

No comprendo. 

So… the conversation went like this.

“Karson. Something has to happen right now with your socks. I can not make it the rest of the way home in this condition. This situation is not going to work.”

Deep breath. Hold it. 

Exhale.

I continue. “I don’t care if you like those socks or that they’re Under Armor socks. Do we need to pull over and throw them away?”

“Hmm.” Karson thinks. Karson shrugs. Karson barely notices the odor and doesn’t understand why wearing socks seven games in a row without washing them is bad.

I exhale and reload. 

“Okay,” I add. “I have an idea. Why don’t we find a bag and you can put your socks in it and wrap them up SUPER tight to try and stifle the odor.”

Karson thinks. Karson shrugs. Karson slowly wraps the socks of death in a trash bag that we miraculously found in the van.

And we made it home.

Who knows, we may have passed several gas leaks on our way and I was not able to sniff them out and call them in because of the sock situation.  I guess I may never know.

But this I do know.

Seventh grade boys aren’t always going to smell great. Or even acceptable.

And they don’t care.

But, if you can hold your breath for awhile, and remember how much you love them, stink and all, you’re in for a great ride!

 

 

17 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2017

Each year for the past several, I have taken the time to sit down and write out my thoughts and ponderings at the end of the Christmas season. Granted, by the end of Christmas break (yes, it’s January 6th, but my kids haven’t been back to school yet) my “thoughts and ponderings” have been boiled down to bullet points. No deep philosophical quotes are being conjured up here. Even that last sentence took longer to write than I’d like to admit. But regardless, I like to summarize what I’ve observed during the month of December.

And so, I give you:

17 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2017

  1. If you’re losing to your son in a game of Checkers while on a date with him at Cracker Barrel, you can get out of the loss by claiming probable victory when your food arrives before he takes your last piece.

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  1. Just because the candy/icing/sprinkles say they are edible doesn’t necessarily mean they should be eaten.

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  1. You are never without holiday entertainment when you have two daughters ages seven and nine. Show times and themes vary.

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  1. If you invite a group of fifth graders over to your house for a Christmas party, you might as well take the mistletoe down before they arrive. The shrieking, pointing, and giggles will be quite disruptive until you do.
  1. Handmade cards with misspellings are my favorite. (Unless they’re from my husband. He should be able to spell correctly by now.)

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  1. If, due to sickness in the family, you all binge watch an entire season of a Hallmark show in a matter of two days, the sappiness in the acting and script may in fact lead to more feelings of illness.
  1. Sometimes your husband gives you three flashlights in your stocking with no explanation. Go with it.

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  1. Children love to shop at the school “Holiday Shop” and surprise their parents with “real gifts” on Christmas morning. They also like to hide said gifts in their shirts.

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  1. Pretzel rods dipped in chocolate > pretzel rods. This should really go without saying.

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  1. Eaves dropping on two sisters playing a strategy game at the table is well worth your time.

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  1. Store bought cut-out cookies don’t taste as good as homemade sugar cookies. However, the fact you don’t have to make them from scratch brings their taste level up to “rather delicious.”

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  1. You’re never too big to sit on Santa’s lap.

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  1. There’s something hopeful and fresh about the blank page of a calendar.

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  1. Candlelight services are beautiful and meaningful. Hot wax that drips from said candle onto your youngest child’s hand causing weeping during Silent Night seems to steal a bit of sanctity from the moment.
  1. When you are used to calling your son’s basketball compression shorts his “special undies,” and you need to take some back to the store and exchange them for another size, don’t ask the male sales clerk if he has “special undies.” Instead, stare at him for an uncomfortably long amount of time while trying to think of the words “compression shorts.”
  1. There’s nothing that will put a spring in your step quite like when you’re in what is literally the world’s largest high school fieldhouse and you’re sitting three rows from the bottom and have at least 50 steps to climb to get to the restroom, and your youngest child looks you in the eye and says, “I think I’m going to throw up.”
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  1. Sharing with groups of women during the Christmas season about the “Light of the World,” Jesus, and why you have chosen to live in His light instead of darkness is quite possibly as special as it gets.

 

Home Base.

When I was 10 years old, my dad took the position of pastor at Emmanuel Community Church. Six weeks later, my mom died suddenly in our kitchen while sitting at the table. She had been reading a book, and drinking a cup of coffee when she began to collapse.

Needless to say, it was a rough beginning of my tenure at Emmanuel Community Church. But our bond became strong, and we stayed together, and for the past 28 years, I’ve grown up at ECC. And come to think of it, the church has grown up with me too.

Last night I began the “speaking tour” for my book Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels. I will be traveling and sharing the messages of the book at various churches and venues across the country over the next several months.  I hit the road on Friday to speak in Erie, PA, and Buffalo, NY.

Last night I was able to start by speaking at ECC.  Home. What a logical place to step into the batter’s box.

As I stood in front of that room of women, many of whom are close personal friends, I marveled at how God had brought me to that moment.

And even that very spot.

You see, the church has grown and changed over the past three decades. The place where I stood and spoke last night is now called “The Commons,” and it’s a large gathering room with round tables for discussion and a little kitchen window in the corner for snacks. But it used to be our sanctuary. And the very spot where I stood last night is where my dad stood for years when he would preach. Now we have a bigger sanctuary (they say it’s called the ‘Worship Center’…) and the building has been remodeled.

But before the room became “The Commons,” as it is now, it went through some other transitions.

While it was still the main sanctuary, my dad got remarried, to the woman I now call “Mom.” I was her maid of honor, and stood up in that wedding – exactly where I stood last night as I spoke.

That room, in its original form, was where I sat through sermons, performed in children’s musicals, attended VBS weeks, and where I learned to love those people who became my church family.

I attended Sunday school classes behind the sanctuary in a little room with ugly red carpet.

When the room was remodeled to include a second-story loft, I helped with middle school youth group up there and later taught kids about God’s word using my Grow in His Word for Kids curriculum.

At one point, the room was transformed into a hallway with three classrooms on each side. In that hallway, I first walked past a man name Kraig Cabe. I saw him, but he didn’t see me. We didn’t meet for a few month after that, but eventually, we started teaching a Sunday school class together in one of those rooms – just a few feet from where I stood last night – and we eventually fell in love and got married in that big new sanctuary, er… Worship Center.

That room, that very spot where I stood and spoke last evening, has great significance for me. And I was so blessed to begin my speaking tour right there. It was the perfect launching ground. And as I shared about these things with the ladies and told them some stories from my life (old news to many of them!) they laughed and cried along with me.

And they served brownies. What more could you ask for?

After I finished, these friends of mine lined up to get my autograph in their books. I laughed. “Really?” I said, “It’s just ME!” They hugged me and supported me and got their picture taken with me. And I laughed all the more.

Because who would have thought this dream would become a reality. That God would redeem my life – my story – and use it for His glory through a book with a brownie on the cover and an imperfect girl-turned-woman who is willing to share.

That room, that spot where I stood last night, has been repurposed, reshaped, and put to the best use for each season.

Sounds a lot like me.

And for this season of my life, God has given me the opportunity to share my story. I’m thrilled, and nervous, and excited, and hopeful.

Because God has proven faithful through every season thus far.

And I have no doubt He’ll direct me, around each stop along the way, until I get back home.

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For more about my speaking schedule, or to have me consider speaking at your venue, click on Speaking or Contact in the menu.

So, I released my first book this week.

I’ve carried three babies to term and have given birth to each.

And as of Tuesday, I feel as if another pregnancy has resulted in the birth of a 14.7 ounce 6 x 9 inch baby book. Mother and baby are doing well, although the three year gestation of this one was a doozy.

But she’s here. Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels made her debut on Tuesday, April 25 bright and early in the morning. And what a day it was!

And just like any mother, I’m prepared to fill you in on the details.

I’ll try to summarize and leave out the parts about the epidural needle (oh wait… that’s right, I couldn’t get insurance to cover one this time).

****My book released on Amazon Tuesday morning, and my wonderful launch team (those who I had asked to help me promote the book and to whom I’d given an early digital copy in preparation) did their job of leaving Amazon reviews and sharing about the book on their own social media pages. If you ever release a book, I’d strongly suggest using a launch team. But you can’t have mine. They’re too awesome.

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****My husband, who incidentally was a part of my launch team (did he have a choice, really?), actually posted on social media. This in and of itself is big news. When he left updates about my book on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Homeland Security may have been alerted about unusual activity.

****This same husband knew that I got up at 5:30 launch day morning and therefore went to Starbucks and got me my favorite drink on his way home from taking our son to school. Social media and buying Starbucks on the same morning… unusual activity indeed.

****All three of my children took a copy of my book to school with them. My kindergartner was the “sharing friend” that day and chose my book for her “show-and-tell.” My 2nd grader told the class all about what it’s like to be an author (I’m not sure what she relayed exactly! :)) and talked it up so much her teacher ordered a copy over her lunch break. My middle schooler showed it to some teachers and then kept it to read for one of his “free choice” class assignments. He told me after school today he just finished chapter 2 and as we talked about it a little, I had to choke back tears of gratitude for the moment.

 

****My doorbell rang twice launch day morning. Once it was flowers sent from great friends, and second time it was a different great friend standing there with her children and gifts. She brought flowers, brownie mix, a Starbucks card (do you see a theme here?) and a travel cup that says “Yay!”

 

****I had a launch team, and I had a LUNCH team. That’s right. My parents and my grandparents took me to lunch to celebrate. It was such a special time together.

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****My parents gave me a gift – a travel tote for when I travel and speak, and a pen to sign my books with (will I really be signing books?!) And, my mom even gave me a gift certificate to go get my nails done so that they’ll look good when I sign books. How awesome and thoughtful is that?!

****I got a shipment of books in the mail that I will take with me when I travel and speak. SO WEIRD to open the boxes and see them full of my books!

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****My husband and kids took me out to our favorite Mexican place for dinner to celebrate (I wasn’t even very hungry- but that didn’t stop us!) They each gave me a sweet card they’d made or signed.

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****I started to actually SIGN a few of the books that I was giving as gifts. I actually autographed a book. CRAZY!

****The first of three podcasts that I’ve been interviewed on was posted on Tuesday. Two more will air later.

****I checked Amazon and saw MY BOOK in the bestseller list for the Spiritual Growth category. It was amongst the names of Ann Voskamp, Tim Tebow, Mark Batterson, and Lysa Terkeurst. I about fell off of my chair.

 

****And today I’ve been getting texts and seeing posts from friends who ordered the book on Tuesday and who have received their shipment already! What a fun and strange thing for me to see! 🙂

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The three year gestation of this book baby was a lot to bear. I’m not gonna lie. But, as a friend teased me yesterday, “It will be just like when you forget how painful labor was after you hold your baby for the first time and then you end up going through it all again to have another child.”

Yes, maybe it will be like that.

But all I know for now is that I’m happy to be able to hold this one in my hands.

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And I pray that all who read it will be encouraged to savor life — and given a little dose of hope, joy, and love along the way!

Thanks for sharing in the journey!

Christy

To see the book on Amazon, click HERE

All the feels.

There’s this phrase that young and cool people say now-a-days.

When someone is feeling really emotional, good or bad, they say they have “all the feels.”

Because I am not a cool person (and my young-ness is debatable, at a week shy of 39), I don’t often (ever) use this phrase. I tend to be pretty traditional. So if something is giving me really strong feelings, I will most likely say, “Wow. I am feeling emotional today.”

But today…

I HAVE ALL THE FEELS!

Deep breath. 

Here’s why.

First off, today is the anniversary of my mom’s death. She passed away 28 years ago when I was a week shy of eleven. Her death was sudden and shocking and has obviously impacted my life.

Feels.

Secondly, after three years of working on writing a book (and doing all that the process of having it ready for release entails- which is A LOT) I sent the Advanced Reader Copies of my book, Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels, to my book launch team this morning (digitally). That means that my launch team, which is comprised of friends and family, is potentially reading my book now. It’s out there! It is a vulnerable and honest telling of my story and it encourages the reader to savor life through heartache, joy, and the moments in between. And, I was able to time its early release with the anniversary of my mom’s death- which is such a special way to honor her life and memory.

Feels. 

Third, I unveiled my book cover and the release date to the general public on Wednesday of this week. I posted the details on social media and asked my launch team to help me share it before the book releases (which they have already started to do!). The book releases in just over a month, on April 25th, and will be available on Amazon, both in paperback and for the Kindle. In the weeks to come, more will be shared on this website and on social media, including a book trailer (a short video teaser about the book) and endorsements.

Feels.

Fourth, our family has been asked to share our son, Karson’s, cancer journey at two fundraising events for the children’s hospital which diagnosed and treated him, Riley Hospital for Children. We share Friday evening at a university, and Saturday evening at a high school. My husband, Kraig, Karson, and I will all speak together and our girls will be with us.

Feels.

So, you can hopefully see why I have given my uncool self permission to use this young and cool phrase. All the feels, man. I think it is merited in this situation. I will try to limit my use of it to this weekend, and then go back to my “I am feeling very emotional” verbiage. Thanks for understanding.

Here’s a glimpse at the book cover. More to come!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

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Island Issues.

My dad called me earlier this summer and sent me on a mission. He was out of town and afraid Costco would sell out of a large raft he’d seen and he thought we needed it for our upcoming lake vacation.

Operation vacation floatation accepted.

And then I stood frozen in the aisle at Costco. I stared at the box that contained the said raft and dialed Dad’s number. Actually, I shouldn’t use the word raft. The thing comfortably seats seven adults and boasts six cup holders. It may be visible from space.

“You know this thing is ginormous, right?” I said into my phone with raised eyebrows as I tried to figure out how to lift the box into my shopping cart.

“Yes, it will be fun. Just grab it. I’ll pay you back.”

Never mind the story of how I got it into my van with only my six-year-old’s assistance, and how we blew it up and got it into the water and anchored at the lake.

Bottom line: we’ve got our own island now. Zip code not included.

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But here’s the problem. There’s no good way to get on this thing. No ladder. No handles. No flight attendant holding out her hand for assistance.

My process to board the island resembles a walrus rolling onto shore, only not nearly as graceful.

One time my son, who was already on the island, offered his assistance. He pulled me up and our momentum continued until I knocked us both over and landed on top of him.

“Are you okay?” I asked once I found which way was up.

“Yeah, you didn’t hurt me, you just held my head under water for awhile.”

Oh, that’s all. Glad it wasn’t more serious.

The kids are the most successful at boarding the island, but teenagers and grandmas alike have had some serious island arrival issues. We’ve laughed at each other and cheered our successes. Sometimes we tell others to look away so as to save some embarrassment. Other times we own the hilarity.

And as in life on dry land, it helps to know we’re not alone in the struggle.

Sometimes we help each other by offering a hand. Other times we make life better by laughing together at our failures and encouraging each other to try again. Sometimes we take each other down in our desire to be a team, and sometimes we lift each other up in triumph.

But we’re in this life full of struggle together. It’s a lot better that way.

No man is a floating island.

 


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are invited to write for about five minutes about a topic after being given a one-word prompt.

This week’s word: HELP

 

 

 

Snail Spa

I’ve heard it said that no lake vacation is complete without a man-made snail habitat. Er, something like that. But I can’t argue with the saying, because it certainly rang true for us.

While spending a week with our extended family, my daughters and their cousin not only discovered the snails in the shallow water of the lake, but “rescued” them and carried them a good twenty feet from the water to our deck railing. The girls then spent hours caring for the snails and building a natural habitat out of paper bowls, water from a squirt gun, leaves, scissors, and dish soap.

Of course the scissors and leaves were part of the snail clothing design unit and not so much the living quarters, but useful nonetheless.

The habitat was complete and the snails were quite spoiled with their own bathtubs, showers, and even a hot tub. I can’t speak for the snails, but who could really dislike such a variety of hygiene and relaxation options?

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As I watched the girls bathe the snails for the forty-second time it occurred to me that as parents we really don’t need to create fun for our kids as often as we think we do. Sure, sometimes it’s good to play a family board game or a round of “I Spy” in the car, but most of the time, kids just need a little freedom and maybe some Palmolive.

It’s a delight to watch a child’s imagination at work and to see their little hands design and create- even if it leaves you with a mess and a few less paper bowls in your stash.


This post is was inspired by the Five Minute Friday blogging community where bloggers are invited to write about a topic for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. To see more of this week’s post from other bloggers visit here: http://katemotaung.com/2016/07/14/five-minute-friday-create/

This week’s prompt: CREATE

A Pain Around the Neck

DSC_0703Almost every Spring for the majority of our marriage my husband has hosted a fundraising banquet for his local ministry, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. And, being the good wife that I am, I buy him a new tie every year for the event.

I know, I’m pretty sweet.

What’s more, I don’t just buy any tie, I buy him a tie that is color coordinated to match the keynote speaker for the event. For example, if we have a former Indianapolis Colts coach speaking I find a tie with a blue and white motif. If it’s a coach from Butler University, I go for “butler blue.” A Detroit Lion, you say? How about light blue and silver? How do I know what color each of these teams are, you wonder? That’s what Google is for, friends.

So anyway, I’ve been on a roll for years with these ties and quite pleased with myself and my husband’s neckline. But, as they say, pride goeth before the fashion blunder and this year proved that to be true.

This year we had a sports commentator as a speaker and this gave me such freedom in my choice of colors, since he’s not currently tied to one specific team, that I got a little carried away.

I decided to go with a pretty light green for the occasion.

I bought Kraig the tie and actually gave it to him for Christmas. This was fine, but since the banquet was not until April Kraig did not try it on until the day of the banquet when he stopped home to put his suit on and head up early to the venue.

Only I accidently bought him a kids’ tie.

Yep. When Kraig put the tie around his neck it only came down to about mid-chest.

The green was really a nice color on him though.

And so Kraig had to digress back to a tie from the 2010 banquet. I’m sorry to those of you who attended this year’s banquet and noticed we repeated a tie. We’ll try not to let it happen again.

I just needed to get that off my chest.

And Kraig’s.