seventh grade desperation

***giveaway now closed***

I am about to recount a most embarrassing story about me and middle school. So. Let’s pray for my heart.

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When I was in seventh grade there was a boy in my geography class. I had bouffant bangs, checkerboard socks and buck teeth. And I was raw with insecurity.

But, oh, how I liked that boy. In my mind, he would ask me to dances and to his soccer games and we would be married after which I would become the most successful working girl you ever did see. Always, always there was-only for me to hear-a soundtrack of stolen whispers and bathroom chatter that I dreamed up. I imagined a kind of social redemption that was coup like.

The problem was that I was so pinky tender with a lack of any kind of confidence that there was no way to reconcile my mind world and my world world. I couldn’t even talk to him.

But I was desperate to be noticed. By him. Or anyone, really. But mostly him.

And, so on a day when I had gone to the counselor’s office for some everyday thing, I got a lightning bright idea in the seventh grade hall. Right there in a dull green tunnel of lockers.

If I had some sort of story, some sort of sad and romantic part of me, then he might notice. Right there in that tunnel I decided that a family emergency had called me to the office and not some everyday, middle school kind of thing like a forgotten lunch box or musical instrument.

That lie story spread it’s arms quicker than quick.

Until everything came crashing down at my evening soccer practice when my family and  school life collided. Right there in front of all of them I was exposed. I felt sicker than sick. I hated myself.

And that one boy didn’t even notice me.

I don’t hate my seventh grade self now.

I don’t know why I’ve been thinking of her but that scraggly toothed, big haired girl has been wandering my heart lately. Sometimes she tries to quick throw some of her insecurity into my heart still.

Maybe it’s opening my life and home to some 20 something women. Maybe it’s having a six year old daughter who even today came home a bit rubbed raw.

The thing is that we are all desperate to be noticed. And as my tender little smidget of a girl recounted the grainy sand in her day, I was thinking even then of this verse.

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Psalm 45:11 by Naptime Diaries.

And how does a six-almost seven-year old know this? How does a 20 something year old darling thing know this? How does a 35 year old wild-haired, cowlicked, raw bit of a thing really know this?

I don’t know but that we etch it in. Over and over again we rub this soothing salve over our sore hearts until it leaves lines behind.

You need to dwell on this?

I’d like to give this Naptime Diaries print to one reader. Let’s keep it simple. Leave ONE! comment. Tell me something. Something true. And then I’ll close this thing up on Sunday night and pick a winner.

the redemption of time

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Last week I sat drinking unsweetened iced tea (dumb diet) across the table from a lovely heart who has more life experience than I do.

This change I am seeking is going to require all of my thinking parts.

I want to delight. I want to cherish. I want to pour out love, love, love.

Homework time is a major battlefield. I feel tired. I’ve been up for years, it feels like. I’ve been in the physical world of a four year old. I feel not enough. And I’m just done.

But it’s a gift that I am able to be here in this moment. And it’s the sweet pulp of our day together.

And so as my words poured out over unsweetened tea and devilishly tempting coffee smells. I said it.

What is my part in redeeming this time?

The simple answer that came back was fresh air to my not good enough, work harder heart.

What would make me look forward to it?

And that very afternoon, we positioned ourselves right under the window where the absolute best afternoon light splashes in. It’s the kind of light that makes you want to do something fancy and important.

And we spoke God’s Word over and before that time.

And there was soft music. A bit of Sandra McCracken is always a good thing. Or the Wailing Jennys can make romance out of first grade spelling words.

Today? I think we will selfishly pilfer every camellia off the bushes just around the corner so that we can have a table full for tomorrow. Wednesday and Thursday are always hardest. The best part is that the quince is about to bloom and I cannot wait to look through wiry, white bloomed branches at third grade math.

There is peace in this time now and I am feeling less and less the pull to rush out of it (sometimes). Sometimes it is still hard and groan filled but we will do it anyway.

I was stuck in unlocking the mystery when all I needed was just to bring the sweet gifts to the table.

This isn’t about perfection. I’m trying to keep lofty expectations at bay. This is just about being present. Being Present. It might be grumbly on their part or mine. It might mean doing math that I needed a tutor for. It might mean digging in and pushing through and it might not feel delightful right this very minute. It might mean that I have to stop the whirlwind of a to do list that I was never going to finish in the first place. But they are worth it and I want them to know it. It’s a tiny portion of my day that I can stop and let be redeemed.

Are you on this journey, too? I’d love it you’d share.

the state of things right this very minute

On Tuesday I just hit publish and closed my eyes. And then there were three Valentine’s parties and baseball practice and a booming headache. And then I didn’t have appropriate words for your encouragement. Thank you seems too simple sometimes. You can rest in this, though: I have sufficiently heaped question upon question on my husband. What about sharing and when is it too much and why am I blogging and I’ve just got to keep it true, right, and am I having a bad hair day, like really?

Thank you for continuing to be here even as I am working out what in the wide world this space will look like.

So. How’s about a bit of here and there on the state of life right now in my four walls?

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The Valentine’s garland is still up. I have never decorated for Valentine’s so I don’t have one clue about when I’ve crossed the decorations up too long sad line. I didn’t really choose a word for this year but it appears that love is going to be a theme for me. I’m finding that I want to know more and more about what a costly love looks like and how it acts. I know where it begins-God’s love for me so rich and deep-and that is where I’m staid right now. But really the garland is still up because I keep forgetting to take it down.

On Wednesday night Tom and I went on a little date. And when he walked in with basketball tickets? I won’t try to pretty myself up here. I was like, whaaaat? But he L.O.V.E.S sports and he loves our school and so I said ok. We ate dinner at a dive, where I got a pimento burger and he got an $8 steak which was apparently very tasty and famous. And then we proceeded to have the most fun at the game. Simple is almost always best, I think.

Also. I got an iphone on Friday. I feel silly writing about it. But Tom and I have been talking about this for two years. And my phone was beginning to do very unfriendly things. I’m not sure how to paint a picture of my face when he casually told me it was time to get one.

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In a fit of naivety I signed up for the The Biggest Loser at Tom’s work. Oats and sweet potatoes and brown rice are my constant companions. Except for when I have to substitute a healthy oil and then I’m just mad.

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This scrappy little beauty is making a home in our backyard and I’m so glad.

on valentines day.

On Saturday we picked flowers.

And last night we worked on valentines well into dinner time.

I’m trying to be more enthusiastic about the day, having been a sort of Scrooge about the whole day for many years. We have garlands. And special snacks.

And so I committed to helping with those little notes until they were done even though I knew I had Bible study and I didn’t have my memory work done. But I kind of knew that my girls would be forgiving because my face bore the splotchy details of a good afternoon cry.

And that is where I am right now. I’m in that place where I’m standing in the corner of my kitchen at 4:30 in the afternoon while words and tears spill too fast for my husband to catch them.

I’m struggling with my voice in this space. If this little corner is going to be a place of honesty and encouragement then I need to tell you that I am in the middle of the kind of transformation that takes a good bit of tearing down before the building up can happen.

There isn’t enough I can do to stave off the undoing. And I’m just barely seeing that it’s not by accident. That way down deep in the foundation of my being is crooked stone and all the things I’ve built on it must come down so that every part of my being can rest upon the Corner stone. On Christ Himself. But, first? I’ve got to come up short over and over again until I see that I cannot good deed my way through this life.

This feels dark for Valentine’s Day. Except it’s not. Because I have hope laid up for me. It’s all stored up-boiled down and packed in-and it’s telling me that when all the tearing down is done and the new is being built up I will be stronger. And I will be freer. Free from the emptiness of doing, doing, doing. Free from perfection chasing.

Plus! There is Valentine’s garland.

tandem tethered.

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In January I ran a half-marathon. I’m sorry I was away from this space then. But. I took each of you with me.

It’s a Saturday morning and I’ve just run 11 miles.

“I don’t want to do this anymore,” I say. Standing in our bathroom. My body in rebellion. Hot tears burning rivers down my face.

“But you’ve done it.” He shuffles past me. It’s my last long training run.

And two weeks later I’m standing between centuries old buildings at the start of a half marathon.

He’s just squeezed my hand and made his way back to the car. Meet me at mile nine.

I won’t see you for nine miles, I think. Today that seems impossible. Even though I’ve already done it. It seems too far.

Before I know it, I’ve paced it four miles. Four miles through an old port city that’s peppered my summers since before I can remember.

Five miles until I see you.

And now it’s just railroad tracks, open spaces and put your head down. Dig in.

Three miles until I see you.

One foot. Two foot. Music filling my ears and an ice cold wind battering my body.

And I see him.

“I’m struggling,” I say.

He says words but it’s nothing compared to the moment I first saw him standing on a forgotten corner with broken beer bottles and empty train tracks. Looking for me. Doubt is weighing. But he promised to be there and there he is.

And now it’s the hardest.

Four miles until I see you again.

Four miles of every step is hard. Four miles of I can’t do this anymore. Four miles of muscle ache. Four miles of just trying to control my body.

I start to count songs. 20 songs until I’m there.

10 songs until I see you.

Just put one foot first. Then the next.

I round the last corner. I know I’m almost there. He’s made his way.

“You’re almost there. Just around this building.”

“Everything hurts.”

“I know.” He smiles. Claps. Walks behind me.

They call my name but I can’t even hear it.

He meets me across the finish line.

I don’t even care about the medal or the music or the party. I just want to be with him in the quiet of the car. My introvert is showing.

It’s, too, that I’ve come to the end of myself in the most physical of ways. I’ve been Sustained like never before. Every step a prayer answered. I don’t even have words for this part yet. Except that I want to be back in this. Not the pain. But the believing and the depending.

And there is something about uncertainty and pain. The sweetness of not knowing how we’ll do it. Or even what to say. That can bind two people together in the strongest way.

We are tethered in tandem.

february snippets

Snippets are little random bits of my life that I like to share with you.

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I think we might need to have a small yogurt intervention. The flavored stuff is for my boys. They L.O.V.E. yogurt. The unflavored, protein-filled, i’ll-eat-it-if-i-have-to greek yogurt is for me.

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Somehow we made it all the way to first grade for the second child without having to construct a diorama. It’s a very different experience working on a loose creative project with my crafty girl. She has verrrry strong opinions about every tiny detail and generally has a bigger vision than the project will allow. Also. She calls it a diOOOHHHHHraAAHHma.

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I have a confession. Homework time is not my favorite time of day. My energy is low and my children are just done sitting still. But. Because we have chosen school school it’s really the first fruits of our day together. We are working on redeeming homework time. This was one uncharacteristically cold afternoon. My gidget girl sipped on hot chocolate and I had a homemade mocha.

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Now. I would like for you to use your best imagineering skills to picture the look on my husband’s face when I pointed to that blue framed senorita and said that it was the only thing in the world I wanted for Christmas. Then imagine the internal “Wait? Is this tacky? Or is it quirky?” dialogue that I had with myself for at least thirty minutes. I’m still not sure but all sales are final so there she is up on our wall. I made a very bold and declarative statement this year that I want to start collecting real art-type things. Also! The beautiful scripture print is this one from Naptime Diaries’ shop.

how a smidget grows

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This little person right here went and turned four while I was on my small hiatus. It simultaneously rips my heart seams and overwhelms me with joy.

If you think for a minute that that face-right up there?-is not true to his forever energy and ham-ishness then I would love to have you over around, say, 2 pm. Just this morning he tired of helping me clean the bedrooms and I consented to let him rustle up his own fun in the backyard. I couldn’t exactly keep my eyes on him from the upstairs windows so I snuck down just to make sure he wasn’t running wild and free on the street. I found he had set up a bucket for a tee and a frisbee for home plate. He had assumed batting stance and was lightly tapping the bat on his frisbee slash home plate. Never you mind that this particular bat is his sister’s and pink as the day is long. Pink will not stop him. He MUST! play the baseball.

I’m terribly sentimental about everything he does, trying to stuff every tiny bit of what’s left of his young childhood into the pockets of my mind. It’s just that this birthday feels sort of milestone-ish since he is the youngest and here I go transitioning out of babies and toddlers and soon preschoolers.

It’s already strange enough to have a nine and six year old walking around in my life, promising to be taller than me. What to do when the baby fat and tiny fingers and still toteables are gone? I suppose we’ll make our way in tiny steps. It just feels awful big when you’re standing at the edge of it. Big but joy-bringing, too.