Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Start

Alright, so I've come to a conclusion. I am experiencing emotional gridlock. A traffic jam of cosmic proportions. Not only have the past few weeks been ridiculously busy, they've been full of one major emotional event after another. At this point my heart looks like one of those traffic problems you hear about on the radio traffic report when they advise you to "just take another route."

So I'm pretty sure it'll take a few weeks to process it all. But, a girl's gotta start somewhere. So here are a few things I'm learning:

-My five year old son is a great wedding date.

-My ten year old daughter is one of the wisest people I know.

-Single parents should get extra vacation time, extra sick days, and designated parking spaces. I'm very sure I had no idea what a single parent goes through until now that I AM one.

-Right now I hurt. I wish it would stop. However, as a very smart friend reminds me, "microwave food isn't that good." This pain won't be wasted, and it won't be forever, and it will make me into more than microwave food.

-Sometimes grief sneaks up on you. Sometimes when you are at someone's wedding you want to scream and cry out your pain. And sometimes you tell the grief to come back later. You tell it "Not today. Today I will celebrate with people I love." And then you let your tears just be happy ones.

-I must learn how to let go of perfection. It doesn't exist. In the words of my ten year old daughter, "You're still a good mom. You don't have to be perfect."

-I used to want to be everyone's friend. I'm working on that. Not everyone merits the time and emotional effort it takes to have a deep friendship. Not everyone has to love me, or even like me. It's time the completeness with which God loves me is enough. Enough for me to be ok with who He made me, with or without anyone's approval.

-Witnessing the beginning of a life is... well, that's life! Everyone should attend a birth at least once in his or her lifetime.

So that's a start... Now if only emotional traffic jams came with cute traffic cops to sort them out. :)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sleep on it

OK, well.... We made it.

Think I'm still a little high on adrenaline. Ah well, I suppose it'll take a few days to get in a good routine. But we'll get there.

I thought of attempting a recap of the last seven days, but the words escape me right now. There must be some deep and wonderful things I've learned over the past week. There must.


Maybe if I sleep on it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Almost There

Wedding done, kids in bed, just have tomorrow morning's services to go and week from hell is over. After I return Levi's tux, mandatory nap day will begin. I will, along with my children, have a delicious, luxurious Sunday afternoon nap.

So with no small amount of tears, no small amount of laughter, and no small amount of effort.




Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Fine Line

Had I truly stopped to grasp what this week would entail, I probably would have run screaming. As it is, I've missed my chance. And so here I am, caught in the current of the crazy, with nothing to do but try to get a breath every once in a while. Perhaps next week, or the next, I'll descend from these white rapids into some stiller waters.

Know what I need? I need some handy helpers. Mickey Mouse has 'em. They're in his clubhouse. They do everything, all the cooking, cleaning, even answer the door for him. Whenever he needs something, a hand pops outta the wall and does it for him. Where is the justice in this? A rich bachelor mouse (you ever seen a ring on Minnie's finger?) has handy helpers, and a single mom who's bustin' her behind gets cramps and burned-out light bulbs and closet doors that fall off.

There are so many strong emotions vying for my attention right now. Many of them inflated by stress and fatigue, I'll admit. And so for now, they will have to wait their turn. Already this week, I've attended a baby's birth and helped with her first latch-on. (Nursing moms know what this is, and how stressful it can be.) I've moved a married couple in at work. I've attended a musical and a K4 graduation with my kids, easy for most people but this is my first time attending all of the end of school events alone. Well, not truly alone. My Riverside fam was with me, even had one of em at the school graduation. But you know what I mean. Alone as in not attached. I've gotten Mackenzie to her last dance class before the big show, and found her a pair of shoes for this weekend's wedding. Still to go, I've got to pull off Wednesday night, finish the work week that includes another move-in, get my hair cut and Levi's hair cut, learn a song, throw an inappropriate party, play for said wedding and hope Levi pulls off ring bearing duties. I also need to write some material for a denominational committee I'm on, answer about a hundred emails, and clean my toilets. So emotions will have to take a number.

That's the thing about emotions, though. Stubborn, spoiled little things. Sometimes they simply refuse to wait their turn. That's when you cry like an idiot at K4 graduations, and then spend half an hour in your car in the parking lot REALLY crying. That's when you hope and pray people aren't nice to you because you might start blubbering at their tenderness. That's when you hope and pray people aren't mean to you because you might start blubbering at their meanness. That's when you sit in church and all you can pray is "Please take me away. I don't care where. Just away. Now."

Ah well. I'll just have to keep my tissues handy, hang on for dear life and keep on going. I sneak those "away" moments in with God wherever I can. I keep moving forward, trying to enjoy every moment. I keep my emotions in line and give myself grace when I can't. And I'm my own handy helper... or handy hindrance. Or both.

In case any of you are doing some type of psychological study project, I'm confident you could really use this blog as a case study. It could be called "The Fine Line Between Victorious Living and Utter Insanity."

Walkin' it every day, baby.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Two Thumbs Up

If you haven't seen Prince Caspian yet, well... you should have. I'm not even sorry that I'm about to ruin part of it for you...

The kids and I finished reading the book and then we saw the movie. Much Hollywood artistic license was taken, of course. But it was still AWESOME! There was one moment in the movie that was most incredibly profound for me.

Throughout the story, Lucy, the youngest of the four Pevensie children, sees Aslan, the Great Lion and knows she is to follow Him. The other children don't really see him, though, and she is outvoted. So the group continues on the opposite direction, much to their disadvantage.

Things get bad. Real bad. Battle is fierce and dangerous. And no one knows where Aslan is. There is little hope. As a last ditch effort, the older three Pevensies send Lucy on a desperate search, for Aslan of course.

As the battle rages, Lucy finds the Great Lion and they talk. Expecting Him to commiserate with her frustration that the others didn't believe her, Lucy is surprised when Aslan asks her "Why did you not follow me alone?"

Then, in a shining moment, the two opposing sides meet at the river Rush. The only hope for Narnia now is Aslan. The Telmarine (enemy) warriors stop short at the river's edge, seeing a little girl on the other side. Standing silent, but strong, yet alone against an entire army, Lucy simply pulls her small dagger out of its sheath. (As if the entire army were no match for her tiny dagger.) A moment of questioning silence lingers, and then He appears. Aslan stands at her side. He roars His majestic roar and the enemy is no match for Him.

Sad, sad, sad thing is that many people will watch this film and not understand what C.S. Lewis meant to tell when he wrote the story. But, never one to read too little symbolism into anything, I am totally caught up in the symbols of the Narnian stories.

You see, I am Lucy. So are you. And sometimes, Aslan (Jesus) our Great Lion asks us to follow Him. Even alone. Sometimes He asks us to face odds that are impossible. Sometimes the people we love can't see Him. Sometimes we go the wrong way because we are too afraid to follow Him alone.

And sometimes... We stand facing an army with only a little dagger. Sometimes we have to look fear in the face and pull our pitiful dagger bravely, and wait for His roar.

DO YOU LOVE IT??? I do!!

I may be only one woman. I may be standing alone. I may face grief and despair and ugliness. I may look more like a pitiful little girl when compared to my fears and my circumstances.

But I lock eyes with my enemy, my dagger in my hand. Because a Lion stands next to me. And He roars. And He was all I ever needed in the first place.

Finally, money well-spent at the movies. Perhaps I'm too dramatic, or perhaps I've romanticized it a bit too much...

Nah!!!! I've been a queen of Narnia way too long to have misinterpreted this one.

GO SEE THE MOVIE, for Heaven's sake!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Past the Foam

Never one to let go of a thought that might be "something," I've continued to ponder the whole "who am I?" thing. I've concluded that there are many words that could be used to describe me, my traits, my idiosyncrasies, my upbringing, my aspirations. But the essence of who I am really boils down to very few things, foundational things that give way to the many other complicated layers of me.

I think we are all that way. There are a few things that must be established about who we are. Once that foundation is laid, it must constantly be referred to as a check point for additions or subtractions or decisions made about the many other layers of who we are.

Here's what I mean: When I got down to the bare essentials, I discovered there are just a few things about who I am that REALLY matter. Those things, if I know what they are and base my decisions on them, will determine all the other stuff for me.

So who am I?

I am HIS. I am totally redeemed, loved, forgiven, accepted, and taken care of by God. I, first and foremost, belong to Him. I am covered in grace, and absolutely right with God. I'm His girl, and that's the way it will always be.

I am a woman. I have my own unique blend of beauty and femininity (with a pretty generous dose of spice thrown in.) Though my particular brand of female-ness is of the strong-willed variety, I still approach my world with a very female perspective.

I am irreversibly, frighteningly, passionately determined to follow God's call for me. I love that He has called me, dared me to go on an adventure with Him, and I will accept nothing less.

That's it.

That very basic information IS the perspective from which I perform my duties as mother, minister, friend, writer, employee, daughter, sister, whatever. That information, when I let myself realize it, stand on it, and rely on it, is all I need to know. It's all anyone needs to know.

I think all this time, I've been working backwards. Starting with the layers and layers of stuff that is part of me, I get distracted and forget what IS me. Sorta like drinking a cappucino but never getting past the foam.

Whew! I got a little wobbly there. Started questioning who I am based on other people and their reaction to me. But good thing! It got me thinking and asking questions and eventually got me past the foam.

It's good to know who I am. It's good to be who I am. Same goes for you, you know. It's good for you to know and be who you are. And I, for one, hope you get right down to the very depths of your cappucino. Way past the foam and all the way down to where the flavor syrup settles and makes a puddle of sweetness on the bottom of the cup. There's just something steady and sure and secure at the bottom of the cup, down there past the foam.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Ever feel distracted? Like something's amiss but you can't place just what it is?

That was me today. The first thing that clued me in was when I was standing at the counter in Wendy's and tried to swipe somebody else's order. I caught myself before my hand was actually IN the bag so thankfully tragedy was averted. We got our food (the food that was REALLY ours) and sat down. We ate and I managed to get a few coherent sentences out to my friend, Carrie, in spite of about a gazillion interruptions: "MOM, he hit me!" "Mommy, can I have a milkshake? A swirly chocolate one?" "Mama, guess what?" "I'm done, Mom, can I have a milkshake now?" To which I answered a gazillion Mom-answers, like "Stopit!" "Get up off the floor, please!" "Please sit down. All the way." "I need you to eat two more pieces of chicken."

After such a peaceful dining experience, I took Levi to the bathroom. We walked in, did our thing, washed our hands, and on the way out I noticed something strange. There was a urinal on the wall! I hadn't seen it on my way in. For a split second, I thought "Wow, I've never seen a urinal in a women's restroom before." Then reality hit. I WASN'T in the women's restroom!!! THAT was my second clue that I may be a bit preoccupied. Thanks be to God we were in New Orleans East, which is still not very heavily populated, and so we were the only people in the bathroom throughout our bathroom experience.

We laughed our heads off, the kids, Carrie and me.

But on the way home, I started thinking. (Dangerous, I know.) Thinking how funny it is that all the bumbling I had done on the outside seems to reflect how I feel inside. Or maybe all the outward goofiness has to do with what's going on inside me. Maybe the staring into space, forgetfulness, and general preoccupation are parallelling my inner attempt to right myself. To figure out who I am and where I fit these days. Guess I've been thinking about that a lot the last few days. Perhaps a wierd holiday like Mother's Day brought on the out-of-place feelings. Or perhaps it's the change I've observed in how others see me and how they treat me sometimes, the unsure way they approach relationships with me. (And you thought I didn't notice...) Or maybe it's a change inside. A change in how I view myself.

So now I'm alone in my room. Just me and Jesus. And here's the thing... He doesn't care how many dumb mistakes I make. He doesn't care who rejects me or befriends me, or why. He doesn't care how many times I swing back and forth between adolescent insecurity and mature grown up confidence. And some way, He will sort all this out in me. He will show me who I am.

And hopefully keep me out of the boys bathroom.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Lucky Mom

In honor of mother's day, please enjoy this original composition by my 10 year old daughter, written to me--her very lucky mom:

Moms are cool
Moms rule
Moms like to chill out in the pool
But you are the best mom I have ever met
You are as good as moms ever get.

It's your job to love and care
And it's our job to give you gray hair!

by Mackenzie Hughes

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Never take a laxative and a sleeping pill on the same night

NO I didn't try it. That's a chapter title out of Karen Linamen's book "Due to Rising Energy Costs, the Light at the End of the Tunnel has been Turned Off." I've read several of Karen's books and always enjoyed them. I picked up this one and was interested to find that she is also a single mom of two. Like me!

Anyway, this chapter was profound. I know you are dying to know how I got anything profound out of that title, so stay with me.

In the midst of pain, a bad situation, or grief of any kind. It's not unusual for people to reach for something completely wrong as a solution, even if a temporary solution, to ease the pain. Now, I'VE never done this, but SOME people might, finding themselves hurting and rejected and alone, pick up a bag of Double Stuf Oreos and consume nearly all of it. How bout THAT for a pick-me-up? Except it doesn't pick me, um... I mean that person whoever they might be, up. It only makes things worse. It's as silly as taking a laxative and a sleeping pill on the same night.

That's crazy. But we do it all the time. Instead of facing the pain, dealing with the grief, or walking the hard road, we often create a whole new problem as a diversion. Except then we find ourselves with pain multiplied instead of pain lessened. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves?

I have a couple of theories.

One comes out of the same chapter in Karen's book. There is a subtitle that says, "Please don't hurt me... let ME do it." I have to wonder if sometimes our propensity for those quick, yet devastating distractions from our pain stems from some deep assumption that we'll never amount to anything better anyway. So why not have that drink or two to take the edge off? Who cares anymore, anyway? Why not eat myself into a sugar coma? I don't deserve to be healthy anyway. Truth be told, it's HARD to take the high road. And it takes some amount of self esteem and determination to demand nothing less than God's best for myself.

The other theory is that we don't exercise faith. Now, don't go thinking I'm a name it and claim it girl. No way. My God isn't an order taker at a heavenly drive thru window. He's so much bigger than that. I wouldn't be caught dead saying that someone's painful circumstance is due to a lack of faith on his or her part. Hear me out... today I read in Psalm 105:19 "Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph's character." This verse is referencing Joseph's experience (start in Genesis 37 and read through the end of the book if you aren't familiar) with the time he spent in slavery and prison, before he was snatched out of prison, appointed as VP of Egypt and recognized for the amazing guy he was. During his prison and slavery years, God tested his character.

I can identify. I feel as though there are dreams out there. I can even see some of them on the horizon. But right now, I'm in the holding cell of character testing. Can I trust God the same in the dark as I can in the light? Can I remain committed and faithful to Him and to what He has called me to be, even when sometimes I'd like to forget the character test and just take the easy way out for Pete's sake?

Well, perhaps I can. But in order to do so, I must get out my faith, dust it off, and put it into play in my life. I must put it on, wear it, use it. If faith is the substance of things I hope for, then I must practice that faith by living as though the dreams I hope for are reality. For example, if I truly believe that full time ministry (a dream God and I have) is coming for me one day, then I don't have time to get addicted to anything, even something that seems to mask my pain. Problem is, when that quick fix is calling, and the dream fades into the background, it takes actual usage of my faith in order to maintain the character needed to stay on the track. It's one thing to say I have faith, sing about it, or study on it; but another thing entirely to PRACTICE it.

I totally stink at the game of tennis. I once tried to play it and I was horrible. It's one thing to know the game, read about it, watch it on TV, try on cute little white skirts or whatever. But actually getting out there to play is a totally different matter. I don't want to play nearly as badly as I want to stand around looking too cute in a little white skirt-y thing, with Reeboks at the end of my lovely tanned legs. (Are you cracking up yet?) To play you have to run around and sweat. You might miss the ball and make a fool of yourself. Not anywhere near as glamorous, right?

Same goes for my faith. I think I often create unhealthy diversions to mask the pain of my problems because I am too scared to get out there on the court of my faith and take the risk of running around and sweating and maybe missing a shot or two. It's hard to live in the substance of things I hope for. It's much easier to live in a tangible, even if unhealthy, solution of my own making.

But what if I could do it? What if I got out there on the court of faith, and won the game? What if I ran around, got sweaty, missed a shot or two, but stayed in the game and actually won? IT WOULD BE WORTH IT, that's what!!! It would be worth it to come out victorious with character intact, making my Father God proud. Loving Him back for all I'm worth by LIVING like I BELIEVE Him.

Whew! This post is getting long. Perhaps I should have made it a series. Or perhaps I'm not making any sense to you at all. But hey... at least you'll think twice before reaching for the Milk of Magnesia AND the Tylenol PM.

Monday, May 05, 2008


I got nothin'. I've been sitting here bonding with my rocking chair, laptop warming up my lap, fingers poised over the keys....

and I got nothin'.

It's not that nothing is happening or has happened. There is more going on in my heart and in my mind and in my life than I can begin to tell you. I'm not sure if I'm too tired or too stressed or too overwhelmed, but I just can't bring myself to write coherently on any of the hundred things I'd like to tell you about.

But guess what? I know what to do. I know where to go. I know just what my heart needs. So if you'll excuse me, I'm off with my nothin' for some time with my Everything. (That'd be God.) He knows just what to do with nothin'. Made a whole world out of it, as a matter of fact. No tellin' what He might do with this...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Winnie the Pooh Wisdom

Trying to convince Tigger to stick around when he wants to quit, Darby (character in Disney's new Winnie the Pooh cartoon) says "We'd be lost without you!" Pooh adds, "Which would mean we would have to find ourselves, ourselves. That might be difficult with just the two of us."

I swear I wasn't looking for a profound moment when this came along and I'll take the risk of a few giggles at this, but I got chills at Pooh's words. I gotta say, I'm quite the Pooh Bear myself at times, bumbling through life trying to make sense of things I don't have enough brain to comprehend.

But thank God, I don't have to find myself, myself. By SomeOne bigger, smarter, greater than me, I've been so very, very found. I just get to play and live and eat all the honey I want. Much friendlier this way, don't you agree?