When It Is Well with Your Soul, But Not with the Rest of You

When It Is well with your soul, but not the rest of you

I remember the somber voices singing at my mother’s funeral. I sat beside my dad, near the front of the church, as the crowd behind us led and echoed the chorus of the hymn “It Is Well.”

It Is Well

             It Is Well

With My Soul

            With My Soul

And though I was a child, a fifth grade girl sitting in shock and grief near her mother’s casket, I understood. Deep down, I knew it was true. The pain was almost unbearable, the confusion made it difficult to breath, and the sadness felt like it would overtake me, but yet I could not deny those words were truth.

It was well with my soul.

I knew God, and I trusted Him. I didn’t have a clue why He’d allow such a tragedy in my life, but in my very core, when I looked past the tears and the heartbreak, I knew I didn’t have to understand my circumstances for God to still be good, and for it to be well.

But the understanding that it was well was so far buried in my soul, that the rest of me struggled to bring it to light.  

My mind, emotions, and actions strained to see it.

My soul knew it was well, but the peace, trust, and hope that wellness could potentially produce were being held hostage in my soul’s white-knuckled grip. My mind, emotions, and actions could not wrestle it away for more than a few brief moments. It wasn’t greed that caused my soul to hold wellness at bay, but instead a desperate need to possess the truth at all.

My mind, emotions, and actions fought to grasp it.

My mind raced with fear and worry. My brain showed me horror films of more traumas I feared were to come. Would my dad die young too? Would my brother and I be left alone? Would I know how to grow into a woman without a mom to show me the way?

My emotions were in shambles. Sometimes I cried at the drop of a hat, and other times I laughed without understanding what was funny. I couldn’t rein in my emotions. Instead, many days they ruled me.

My actions simply followed the suit of my mind and emotions. Some days I’d find myself calmly executing normal mundane tasks; like homework. It felt the same as before the tragedy. Other days, nothing felt the same. I found myself in the hallway at school confiding in my teacher about my fears and concerns before even realizing I’d made the choice to talk to her.

My soul knew it was well, but my mind, emotions, and actions continued the daily struggle to concur.

Now, in the midst of a global pandemic I find myself in a similar state of internal grappling. No longer a little girl sitting in a pew, but a grown woman sitting at home with my own family, the statement and subsequent echo still ring true.

It Is Well

            It Is Well

With My Soul

            With My Soul

My soul once again can confidently proclaim that I know, deep down, everything is going to be okay. No matter what happens, no matter how long we are sheltered in place, no matter what losses are suffered, no matter if, or when, vaccines become available. It is well.

But once again, my mind, emotions, and actions are limping along behind, social distancing from my soul.

My mind races. It’s well trained for such events, where worry and anxiety thrive. What if a loved one is exposed to the virus? What if we have to cancel things we’ve been looking forward to for months? What if our economy cannot recover?

My emotions are all over the map, though I’ve hardly left my house. I’ve acted so silly and laughed until my stomach hurt over a card game, and then choked back tears while watching my child mourn the loss of her fifth grade musical performance.

My actions are sporadic too. One day I feel the need to clean and organize our home, to take advantage of this time. As I’m doing these mundane tasks, things feel much like they did before COVID-19 dictated our lives. Another day, everything feels heavy and new. I decide I’ll eat ice cream and sit and stare at nothing.

When my soul knows it is well, but the rest of me lags behind, I have to remind myself of this:

My soul knows it is well.

Though sluggish and tattered, the rest of me will follow what my soul knows. It may take time, and perhaps some forgiveness and grace, but one day, the rest of me will catch up with soul. It will be a happy reunion, where hugs are not only allowed, but encouraged.

As a teenager, it happened for me. I can’t name a date, time, or a specific reason, but I eventually found my mother’s death was well with my soul… and with the rest of me. The pain and grief didn’t come to an end, but my mind stopped racing, my emotions were more stable, and my actions jumped on the bandwagon too. Time and grace were big contributors to the wholeness.

And I know it will happen again. I don’t know when or what will cause it, but eventually, I will find this pandemic, and all of its subsequent effects, are well with my soul… and the rest of me too.

Until then, I’m going to leave plenty of space for time and grace. And, I’ll keep encouraging my soul to sing.

It Is Well

            It Is Well

With My Soul

            With My Soul

And I’ll wait for the rest of me to join the chorus.

This Too Shall Pass, But What Will Remain: PART 2

I chuckled at the stranger’s tweet.  The words brought me a moment of joy in the midst of these crazy Coronavirus days. The Twitter user shared that their child had asked if “Daddy had lived through COVID 1 to 18 when he was a little kid.” How sweet… and how sad.

The truth is, none of us have done this before. No one. We are all learning as we go. Each day brings fresh understanding, and new questions. Each morning, we read updated guidelines based on new statistics. Each evening presents a dichotomy of hope and fear.

In the midst of all of this confusion, there are those of us (myself included) who are adding our voices to the sea of those trying to make sense of it all. We write blogs, post videos, make graphs, share photos, and more in hopes to find some meaning and purpose in these days.

And it’s wonderful.

I’m grateful for those who are presenting ideas and virtual help. Indeed these things are a gift!

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I lived through a three-year period of isolation and social distancing due to our toddler son’s cancer diagnosis and compromised immune system. That was 2007-2010. Even though that really was not very long ago, I didn’t have many of the “modern” conveniences that we have now. For example, I wasn’t on any form of social media during those days. I was so isolated and had very little idea what was going on in the lives of friends. I shared about this in my book, Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels:

Social media had not yet taken off, so I did not have Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms where I could keep my finger on the pulse of society and the happenings of my friends. The isolation left me out of the loop. One of my girlfriends, Amy, recognized this and began to send me weekly emails she entitled, “The Society Pages.” These updates made me smile, and sometimes laugh out loud, as she humorously informed me of news she thought I’d wish to know. This ranged from the story of a mutual friend who had recently received a traffic ticket for not wearing his seatbelt in the passenger seat, to news about a girlfriend who was due with a baby any day and her antics to start labor. She was considering drinking castor oil, but hadn’t yet brought herself to do it. I read the list of possible baby names for that little one, details of a remodeling project at our church, a friend struggling with her thyroid, and a couple whose water meter had burst and flooded their garage. And I was delighted to be part of it all, even if just in the reading of Amy’s words. She offered me social media before its time, without the annoying political rants and recipes. These emails filled a need for me, and I loved them. She cared for my soul, and it only took a little bit of time, and an Internet connection.

So, let me be clear that I LOVE the added connection technology has provided. That being said, there is something I keep thinking about that I want to share. Yes, I’m adding my voice to the din again.

Sometimes the opinions we hear and the posts we see add unrealistic expectations to our lives. 

It’s a new form of peer pressure, virtual pandemic pressure, if I may. We think we should be accomplishing what she is, teaching what he is, upgrading like they are, etc.

In This Too Shall Pass, But What Will Remain: Part 1, I shared 3 “G” words that helped me during our son’s cancer days; Grieve, Gratitude, and Give. Basically, I shared that I had learned to grieve what was lost, have gratitude for what I still had, and give back when I was able.

I stand by these three G’s and think that the process of grieving, having gratitude, and giving back is a continual cycle we all need to keep working through. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But, I’d like to add 2 more “G’s” to the formula. I think these new “G’s” help give it some added health. If we don’t add these two G’s to the cycle, the gear can get stuck when trying to spin. These two round it out and make it run much more smoothly.

Go on and Grace. 

First, Go on. Live. Simply just keep breathing. I know that many of us are trying to draw every lesson we can out of this time. I confess, this is me. This is a major “pot calling the kettle black instance” for me. I am not one to waste a moment, whether it be good or bad. (Um… my entire first book is based on this idea). I savor and I strive to learn and grow. This is okay, BUT, sometimes we just need to live. We have to go through the moment instead of around it in order to draw from it. 

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, and in a way it felt like deja vu to me. As my daughters cut out paper palm branches and we did an online “Hosanna lesson,” my mind flashed back 13 years ago when our son, now too old for children’s church, was sick and isolated on another Palm Sunday. That day in 2007 we didn’t have an online church service, but we held one of our own at the kitchen table. My husband, son, and I cut out paper palm branches that morning as well. We made it through and found joy and worship in 2007, and we made it through in a different but similar way to joy and worship in 2020. Paper and scissors and a little effort were enough both times.

So, make the best of it today. Live right where you are, sheltered in place, six feet away from others.

Go on. Just be YOU and live in your own way where you are. 

And while you’re going on, give yourself and those around you some GRACE!

If you are a healthcare worker or other essential worker, your life has not suddenly become more still, but has gotten more stressful than ever! We are so thankful for your time and talent. You are amazing! Give yourself some grace if you are doing nothing more than what is essential. You aren’t getting house projects done or playing games with your kids. And that is okay. What you ARE doing is helping many people do those very things you are missing.

If you are working from home and trying to hang on to your job and your laptop while trouble-shooting your teen’s math homework and breaking up a fight over Pop-Tarts amongst your children (speaking from experience here), give yourself some grace! You didn’t seize the moment today? Guess what? No problem. Take a deep breath and try again next time. We are not going for perfection here, we are going for grace. And grace is a much better companion.

We are not failing if we simply make it through this pandemic. No! Simply making it through this pandemic is the goal!

If we don’t capitalize on every moment, glean from every change, or produce something beautiful from every scrap, that is okay. Those things are bonuses! Extras! Wonderful gifts! But let’s not throw out the baby with the hand sanitizer, the goal is to do our best, not be perfect. And grace makes this possible.

Go on, and as you do, give yourself and others grace.

GRIEVE, BE GRATEFUL, GIVE BACK, GO ON, GRACE…

It’s a cycle. Let’s keep it moving individually and together.

And we’ll be ready to face COVID-20 to 100!

Is It Worth It?

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Sometimes I can’t remember if I just put a new coffee pod into my coffee maker, or if the one I’m staring at in puzzlement is the used one from yesterday. Even though I would have had to put the coffee pod there mere moments before, I seem to forget if I actually did it, or just thought about it. My memory seems to short out like that sometimes. But, I can remember what I wearing on a certain Friday evening in January of 2002. Black slacks and a lightweight pale pink sweater.

I remember because it was an evening that held a pivotal conversation in my relationship with my then boyfriend, Kraig. I had just gotten home from work, and had not yet changed into more comfortable clothes. I was planning to do so, because my plans for the evening were to sit around my house and wonder. Wonder why Kraig had not invited me to go with him to his nephew’s first birthday party. We’d been dating for about two months, and I’d met his family before, so I wasn’t sure why I was being excluded from this event.

And then the phone rang. This was in the days when one had to pick up the receiver without knowing who was on the other end. There was no caller ID or special ring tones for VIPS. I know, youth today shudder at the thought, but we somehow made it through.

I answered the phone and it was Kraig. He said he was on his way to his nephew’s party (he had a cutting-edge flip cell phone) and would I like him to pick me up as he drove by my house? I said yes and kept my slacks and pink sweater on after all.

The hour drive to his brother’s was where the aforementioned pivotal conversation took place. I started it.

“Why didn’t you invite me this evening until last minute?” I asked him from the passenger seat of his Chevy sedan.

Kraig paused for a bit and then told me that he was a little nervous about the evening. This was a party with his family members, and though some had met me, there could be others there this evening that I hadn’t yet met. He further explained that we’d only been dating a couple of months and if he introduced me and included me in such events as this party, then it would take the relationship to another level and it would be more difficult if it didn’t work out and we ended up breaking up.

I thought about this for a bit. Then I decided to speak my mind.

“Kraig, you need to decide if I’m worth that risk. Yes, this could make things more difficult if we break up someday, but we can’t just plan and act in a manner that protects us from pain because then we’ll miss out on the fun stuff. You just have to decide if I’m worth that risk or not.”

I’m not sure if this was a mic drop moment or an expedited way to get myself dumped.

Spoiler alert: Kraig decided I was worth the risk. We’ve been married now for over 17 years.

I’m not here to make a statement about dating relationships. No. I was young and naive then, and in many ways, and I’m still naive now. But, I am here to say that some things in life require a risk.

No one likes failure, but successes worth anything are almost always preceded by risk.

When I wrote my first book, a memoir of many personal stories from my life, I had to decide if I was willing to risk people actually reading it. Because I knew some would not like it. I might get poor reviews (I have!). I would not be everyone’s cup of tea. And that stings. And it’s scary. And I don’t like the pain it causes. But, I took the risk anyway. And let me tell you, the joys and the opportunities to bring hope to others through my words has been worth the pain.

When we decided to have kids, we didn’t know how it would go! We were twenty-somethings who had never parented before. We sat through the classes at the hospital as wide-eyed rookies. But, we decided the joys of raising children would far outweigh any risk that we’d fail them. And guess what? Sometimes we have failed them! But the joys they bring us far outweigh the struggles. We wouldn’t trade parenthood for anything!

Speaking of our kids, we’re trying to teach our three that anything truly worth striving for may involve pain and risk. We told our son that yes, he might get cut from the sports team, but he should still try out nonetheless. How will he know if he doesn’t try? We tell our daughter that yes, she may not be given the part in the school play that she’s been practicing for and dreaming about. But that’s okay. What would she miss out on if she didn’t try at all? How would she learn and grow for next time? We tell our youngest that yes, she should try running club though she’s never run a mile before. Who knows, maybe she’ll find a new skill and make some friends along the way. How can you cross the finish line if you never crossed the starting line?

If it’s worthy, it’s probably risky. I wish it didn’t have to be so, but I haven’t yet found a way around it.

I still lose track of my coffee pods, but I do know what I was wearing one evening in December of 2002. A white dress. And Kraig was wearing a tux, and we were standing in front of family and friends. He had told me something weeks before. He said that because my own mother had died at the age of 34 from a sudden heart issue, he considered that I could die young also (another spoiler alert: I now know I don’t have the same heart condition). Kraig said he decided that even if he only got to be my husband for a short time because of such a tragedy, that I was still worth it. He’d marry me for whatever amount of time we were given. Basically, he was telling me I was worth the risk.

And that’s something I hope to never forget.

 

“But It’s Not Like Last Time!”: Finding Joy in Unmet Expectations and Change

Remember this?

Her face was red and wet with tears. Her fists were clenched and she was shaking her head spastically making her blonde hair flail around her head. She continued to whine and complain, but I could barely understand her words through her deep sobs. She was having a full-fledged meltdown.

Baggage was to blame.

No, not figurative baggage, as in difficult life circumstances that travel with us from our pasts into our future, I mean baggage, as in, our suitcases.

My 9-year-old daughter, Kenzie, was sitting in the one back row seat of our van that we had not folded down so as to have more room for our luggage. The van was still snuggly parked in our garage, and we were testing out the seating arrangements for our twenty-hour drive to Florida. This would be our second year taking a Spring Break vacation as a family of five. There was a lot of stuff shoved into our minivan: golf clubs, suitcases, beach chairs, snacks. Kenzie was surrounded by all of it in this trial run of making sure we could get everything in the van, including the kids.

Kenzie wasn’t crying because she was crowded or uncomfortable, she was crying because the suitcases were not close enough to her.

Sob. “Last year when I sat here the suitcases were right up against me!” Sob. “That was one of my favorite parts of the drive.” Sob. “I want it to be just like last year!” Wail.

There are moments in parenthood where you lose your cool. There are also moments when you’re overjoyed with your child. Then there are moments like this one when you’re just plain confused.

“So you’re telling me that you’re throwing a fit right now because the golf clubs are closer to you than the suitcases?” I said with a bit of a growl in voice.

Sob. “Yes! I want the suitcases to be closer to me so it’s just like last year!”

And thus began year two’s vacation where we frequently heard the phrase, “but last year we ___________ (fill in the blank).

My kids are huge fans of tradition. They savor life and enjoy each season and activity that comes with it. Each fall, they want to make a trip to the same apple orchard. Each Christmas, they want to hang the garland on the banister just like we did the year before. They love each tradition and have big hopes, expectations, and emotions involved in each one.

Speaking of apple orchards… the apple has not fallen very far from the tree. I wish I could say my husband was the tradition-lover who has thus modeled big feelings toward repeating expectations, but he ain’t that tree, folks.

I’m going to have to take the blame on this one. This baggage comes with me.

I love tradition, and I have a lot of hopes riding on expectations. And for many reasons, I’m going to say that’s a fine way to live. We tradition-lovers are also big on noticing and appreciating things, and we are often full of gratitude. If I do say so myself, we can be really lovely people to be around when traditions and plans go as scheduled.

But hitching our hopes to tradition and expectations can sometimes lead to a bumpy ride when plans come unhinged.

Over the years, I’ve had to learn how to recalibrate when it comes to traditions and expectations. Just as an infant is trained to self-soothe when she cries in her crib and no one comes to pick her up immediately, I’ve learned to self-soothe when expectations turn into disappointments. I’ve come to understand that joy can still be found in the changes, even if joy seems to be wearing a disguise.

Our first year in Florida, we went to a beach on a beautiful intercostal waterway where we found about a dozen whole sand dollars. It was amazing, and the kids loved these fragile sea treasures. But on our second trip, when we returned to the same beach, the wind was strong and the choppy water churned in a way that made it impossible to find any sand dollars. The kids were super disappointed.

But, as we walked along a different beach, we found some really cool shark teeth, a treasure we hadn’t found the year before. I capitalized on this and starting saying a five-word phrase each time one of the kids, or myself, would let disappointment creep in over a failed expectation or change.

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

Guys! Think about it! Both are treasures! So we didn’t find sand dollars this year, kids. But, we found shark teeth! How cool is that? It doesn’t have to be just like last time to be good.

“But last year ate at that one restaurant that had the popcorn shrimp!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

“But last year we made those apple pies!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

“But it’s our tradition to have cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning!”

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

And this doesn’t just help my kids deal with changes and unmet expectations. It helps me!

When my second book launched and it didn’t go the same as the first book had, I repeated “sand dollars and shark teeth” in my mind often. It was a mantra to remind myself that it didn’t have to be just like last time to be successful or good.

When my child’s schoolteacher didn’t run their classroom the same way my older child’s classroom was operated when they were in that same grade, I had to recalibrate. Wait, I thought I knew what to expect and how this was going to work! But it’s okay. Sand dollars and shark teeth.

When holiday plans changed last minute due to illnesses or activities beyond my control my gut reaction was, “this won’t be as good as last year.” But maybe it was. We made new memories! Sand dollars and shark teeth.

I’m going to be honest, Kenzie’s meltdown over not sitting close enough to the suitcases was a little over the top for me. I did not initially understand her response and I got pretty upset with her.

But after a week of finding zero sand dollars and realizing that unmet expectations and change were the reason for her tears, I understood a little more. I didn’t let her off the hook for behaving like she did, but I file the realization away in my mind.

“But, it’s not like last time!” can be baggage that travels with each of us. I get it. I’m a frequent flier in this club. But just because it’s different, changed, or not what we expected doesn’t mean it can’t still be good.

Sand dollars and shark teeth.

Tuck that phrase away in your baggage.

Listen closely.

“I learned something really cool today in biology,” my freshman son stated as he began to search the pantry for an afterschool snack.

His words caught my attention. This was better than the grunts and shrugs that often follow my “How was your day?”

“What did you learn?” I asked as low-key as possible.

“Did you know that humans have a faster reaction time to sound than we do to sight because our eardrums are 3 centimeters closer to our brains than our optic nerves?”kisspng-tape-measures-ruler-adhesive-tape-measurement-clip-measurement-tape-5b1665d7538f80.2881284015281945193423I thought about this for a moment and felt my eyes and ears in an attempt to measure how this was possible. Then I decided to take his word for it. He went on to explain how it was tested and proved, and I enjoyed the science lesson, glad I wouldn’t have a test.

Later in the evening, I began to doubt this fact as I watched this same boy, stretched out on the couch watching a baseball game, reach his arms behind his head and accidentally knock over a glass of water on the end table behind him.

Tink. Tink. Tink.

The sound of the glass hitting the table was easily audible. Yet, my son’s reaction time was almost nonexistent. He propped himself up on an elbow and glanced apathetically at the water that was running across the end table toward my husband’s phone and various papers.

“What are you doing?” my husband said. “Go get a towel! Quick!”

Of course, it may not have been the best timing, but I was happy to add, “You heard that spill before you saw it so you should have had a quicker reaction time, son.”

He rolled his eyes at me on his way to the kitchen. Science does sometimes come in handy.

But here’s my point.

Perhaps technically, we should react faster to sound than to sight, but we still have to make a choice to do so. We have to not only hear the sound, but listen.

Listening requires action, whether it be in the form of a nod, or a response, or a thought you file away in your mind for later. We can hear something, but not truly listen, and sometimes, that can be detrimental to those around us.

Listen. It can make all the difference. Three centimeters at a time.

 


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are challenged to write for 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: LISTEN

How I define success. (Now THAT’S a great name!)

I held my phone in my hand and glanced down to see her message waiting for me. I sensed her desire for a solid answer she could grasp onto as well.

“I hate feeling like I’m running in the dark with this thing. Like what’s good, what’s not so good?”

She was wanting a definition for success for a particular project. I get it.

I want that too.

Success is such a slippery little noun. Hard to define. Hard to pin down.

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I’ve actually been thinking about it a lot this week, even before her message arrived in my inbox. Abraham brought it up. Well, not directly, but by reading about him as I studied for a class I was teaching.

I had just finished studying about the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament. Weird story. Basically, to summarize, a group of people “wanted to make a name for themselves,” (Genesis 11:4)  and so they tried to build a tower to Heaven. There are other indicators in the story that they were being disobedient to God’s commands, and so because of all this, they are punished. Their languages are mixed up and they can’t understand each other or work together.

“Simeon, hand me that brick, will ya?”

“Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”

“No Comprendo.”

Anyhow, their desire to build a name for themselves, without God, led them to confusion and disappointment.

I kept reading in Genesis. God enters into a deal with Abraham (then called Abram) and basically tells Abram that if he obeys and worships God, making known that God’s name is great and worthy to be followed, then God will make Abram’s name great in the eyes of men. There’s the same “making the name great” thing again. But this time, it’s approved by God. But the route to get there is different. 

The people of Babel wanted to make their own name great, without God, and it led to failure.

Abram wanted to make God’s name great, and it led to success.

Abram’s desire to make God’s name great even led him to his God-given purpose.

So here’s what I gather from all of these tower-building, deal-making, success-defining thoughts.

“I hate feeling like I’m running in the dark with this thing. Like what’s good, what’s not so good?”

What’s good: Obeying God and making His name great

What’s not so good: Making your own name great without God

The rest is just a pile of bricks.


This essay was written as part of the Five Minute Friday challenge where bloggers are asked to write for 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: SUCCESS

 

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.