Thursday, April 9, 2020

HEAVEN'S COMING WITH ME!

I’m eating a lot of treats. Chocolates, jelly beans, assorted marshmallow fluffs. I know, big surprise, right? Welcome to Thursday. 

But I’m preparing spiritually for the WORLDWIDE FAST to kick Rona’s rump. #ronarumpkick #fullastfast #don’tfeedtheworld

I’ve been surprised and delighted to see so many people wanting to participate, especially when we often hear people declare that they abhor, or at the very least, dismiss, “organized” religion.

There are a lot of reasons given. “I feel closer to God in nature.” “I talk to Jesus all the time, I don’t need a building to do it in.” “My ‘church’ is holding my baby, swinging on my front porch.”

And I get it. All of these things are true. We can absolutely feel close to God in the midst of His creations. We can talk to Jesus any time we want, and there’s hardly anything more delightful than a beautiful evening spent at home sucking in the sweet smell of babies and cut grass. 

But to suggest that organizing something diminishes or corrupts, is not only disingenuous but intellectually lazy.

Take, for instance, education. Organized. From recognizing colors and shapes to scientific theories and algebra—organized. Line upon line and building upon facts, you learned and earned that degree that was organized according to your field of focus. 

Want me to perform your brain surgery? No? I guess I don’t blame you. My knowledge and skill set aren’t very organized. We assume and even base our life on the expectation that a neurosurgeon learns all that is required to remove a tumor based on organization. Someone had to figure out what the brain does, how it’s organized, and precisely how it can be effectively dissected to remedy the worst case scenarios.

The car you drive? Organized. Unless it’s a Pinto. The computer you’re reading this on? Organized. Circuits that all have a specific place to go and a precise way to get there to show us the very best cat videos the world has to offer.

Your career? Organized. Money and it’s value? Organized. Government? Organized (with a condescending smirk). Music? Casserole? The Avengers? Organized. My fridge and shoe collection and mind? Incredibly disorganized, but that’s not my point.

My point is this—although there is tremendous value in the individual and the lone, there is even more to be said for bringing together the many, the complimentary, the like minded and the diverse. To say that corruption only belongs to the organized is nonsense. Corruption happens on every level. Maybe even more so when we’re left to our own thoughts, choices and a bag of Doritos at 1:00 a.m. with nobody around to save us from ourselves.

It’s also important to recognize what happens when somebody or something refuses to organize. Take YOU for instance. You are one of the most perfectly organized events in the world. Your cells split and multiplied at just the right time and in just the right way to allow your heart to beat, your eyes to see, your brain to think and your bum to stink. What happens in the instance that our cells go rogue? All hell breaks loose, that’s what. And speaking of hell, if you don’t think they are organized, well, you are up in the night. With a bag of Doritos. About to regret every decision you’ve ever made. 

But maybe we’re using the wrong term here. Maybe it’s not so much about organization as it’s about unity. Unified cells. Unified people. Unified purpose. 

Anyone who knows God, knows His house is a house of order. And that doesn’t mean there are vacuum tracks in the carpet, although I am sure there are, along with pink roses and lilacs in crystal vases and robin’s egg blue walls and…but I digress. No, I think it means one heart, one might, one mind, one faith.

One God.

Organized.

United.

And that’s why we can expect a miracle as we gather in His name, fast for one purpose and lend all of our hearts to this cause.


LOOK OUT RONA! I’M COMING…AND HEAVEN’S COMING WITH ME!



Monday, April 6, 2020

THE RONAS DONE GOT US!

Well, the Ronas came and they done got us, you guys. Ruined our weddings, senior years and the mental applause we were sure to receive in our Easter Sunday dresses. 

When Rona first declared she was in charge, we didn't even lift our heads from our virtual shopping. Hawaii and Women's Conference and Rod Stewart in concert? Add to cart. We rolled our eyes at the jock straps and bras that were tied to people's faces and questioned the sanity of the people wearing water coolers as head gear. "Bat shiz crazy" (I still stand by that assessment) we called them as, speaking of such, we walked past the toilet paper aisle and figured we could go another couple of days with what we had. 

But now, just look at us. We prematurely carry our grass filled baskets through the house, gnawing on hardened marshmallow peeps and Chicks and Rabbits, wondering why we didn't have the foresight to not sign up for that weight loss app that is now charging us for every single notification and prompt we ignore, because LISTEN, NOOM, WE ARE JUST TRYING TO SURVIVE, OKAY?  FIRST A PANDEMIC AND THEN AN EARTHQUAKE AND ISOLATION AND NOW YOU WANT US TO EAT AIR AND GO TO THE GYM? WELL WE CAN'T, OKAY NOOM? NOBODY CAN. WE WOULD IF WE COULD, ACTUALLY THAT'S A LIE BECAUSE WE DIDN'T WHEN WE COULD, BUT YOU CAN'T PROVE IT, SO JUST BACK OFF! 

Plus that cinnamon roll ain't gonna eat itself, am I right? 

Just chalk up my chins to a casualty. Unintended consequences. This Rona has been a ruinous thief in the night and as my daughter ran into my arms in the parking garage of the airport, I couldn't help but consider the collateral damage we're now experiencing. More has been stolen than just our simple joys and expected homecomings—also our sense of purpose and control.

Julia's 18 month mission was cut short by 14 months. She went from teaching people about Jesus Christ and writing us stories about the *misguided (see *meaner than hell) folk who threw coffee on her car every day, to a midnight phone call telling us she was coming home tomorrow. 

I hardly slept that night. 

I worried about everything from her sense of worth to my own part in this play. Although it was true that her asthma put her in a high risk category, it was also true that for months, she'd had the lazy trained out of her until productivity was her new normal.  

Now, overnight, she was told to stay in her apartment, do nothing, go nowhere and think of only herself and her companion while nobody accepted the invitation to be taught or contacted. Indefinitely. That's kind of like telling a nursing mother to stop producing milk and forget her baby for a few weeks or maybe months. Despair is sure to follow. 

"Don't lament the experience," they said. "Celebrate the homecoming and act like nothing was lost!" "Just focus on all of the good that's coming from this time in the world," they suggested. 

Wonderful advice. But really hard to follow when you hold the other end of the experience stick.  This side feels incomplete and disappointing and fills the palm with slivers as we pretend to only notice the smooth wood. 

The other night, Julia said through tears, "I know you're disappointed in me. Go ahead. You can tell me. You wanted me to stay on my mission and you're disappointed. So am I."

For a moment I considered the lie. But then I thought better and I told the truth. Yes, we are disappointed. But not in our daughter. Not. In. Our. Daughter. This was not all she was meant to have or experience and we are sad. Pretending it doesn't exist is like telling that nursing mother she has nothing more to offer her child when everything in her says otherwise. 

But grieving is not the same as wallowing. And sitting in the sadness for longer than is necessary negates all that is ahead. Julia is meant to have and experience more than she did, and that is what the rest of her days are for. The weeping ends and she'll rise again.

We're not the only ones looking at a weird, surreal wreck right now. And this isn't the hardest thing that has or will happen to any of us. We are all together in this misery, and it turns out the old cliche is true—Misery loves company. It also loves Cadburys and pandemic memes and Dr. Pepper and sweats. And it loves prayers, fasting, sunshine and hope. 

But mostly, misery loves Christ. Because if ever there was somebody who knows what it feels like to be isolated, disappointed and sad, it is Him. And yet, He didn't wallow for any longer than was necessary to redeem us from the weight of our burdens. 

He had the rest of His days to live, so He rose again. 

And we will, too.
























Monday, January 28, 2019

IT'S DUE TOMORROW

Sometimes my mind becomes a sepia toned filter and I lament my vanishing days of wine and roses. The days of apple juice in baby bottles and matching Easter outfits in the spring. The handpainted roses on the nursery walls and the satisfaction of opening a new bag of diapers and filling the drawers with stacks that smelled of baby powder...if only for the time being.

On cold wintery nights, I slowly walk the streets while my dog tears up the landscape, sniffing the ground like it holds the secret to life rather than another dog's urine, and I'll think of what's lost and wish I could go back..."If only for a day, what day would it be? Would it be Christmas Eve? Or camping at Bear Lake? Or the day they were born or..."

But my reverie is interrupted when a booger covered mini-van flies down the road carrying a frantic mother with murder in her eyes on her way to Smith's hoping to hell she can find EVERY SINGLE ITEM NECESSARY for her 4th grader's Science Fair project—including the actual scientific theory—that is due tomorrow.

I know this because I experienced this. I also experienced sending a kid to school without his decorated shoebox county float because said kid never mentioned the assignment until the actual morning it was due. Oh, well. Sometimes you just have to keep in mind that their record isn't permanent until Freshman year. And college is overrated.

I also screamed my children out the door nearly every other morning, even though I had a Come to Jesus with myself EVERY DAY to remind me that I was the voice in their head and if all that voice did was scream, well then, it was almost certain that my name would be brought up in front of a judge or a therapist one day.

But that didn't stop me, because then there were the mornings that I heard a honk outside at, like, an ungodly hour. This would cause me to fly out of bed, throw open the shutters and tear the sash off the wall as I tried to figure out if the car was in front of our house while hoping and praying it was at the neighbor's. But it never was. It was always freaking at our house. Which meant, ONCE AGAIN, that one of my children had made arrangements for something that required them to act like responsible adults, and then didn't tell me. Well EVERY MOTHER KNOWS her kid isn't responsible. SHE is responsible. Her kid has a wonky, underdeveloped, crippled frontal lobe and that is why they aren't allowed to do practically anything without adult supervision at that age. So WHO ARE THESE FOOLS WHO LET THEM MAKE PLANS WITHOUT CLEARING IT WITH THEIR MOTHER?!

The honk was always followed by me turning on every light in the house, yelling up the stairs to the guilty party to, "WAKE THE HELL UP! YOUR RIDE IS HERE!" then running to the door with Bride of Frankenstein hair to make the universal, "Hey! Yeah, hi! Good to see you. Just one minute and they'll be out. Sorry, we're just running a little bit behind," sign—a deprecating smile and holding the pointer finger aloft.

There was also the day I came for a PTA meeting and saw my son in the principal's office. I thought, "He's probably being given an award. Wonder why they didn't call me?" Turns out he was pointing at his bum and telling all the little girls to, "Kiss this." Mm hmm. That's right. #metoo.

Add to these stories the broken teeth and broken arms, the slug fights at 1:00 a.m. because, "HE'S SNORING ON PURPOSE!" Julia intentionally stomping on the heads of her sleeping brothers in the truck because they were in her way, the baby hands grabbing the burning griddle, the croupy coughs, the lost elections, the poop in the tub and the vomit on the plane.

Now ask me if I'd go back for a day?

The answer is yes.

But it sure as H wouldn't be the day of the Science Fair.





Pretty sure Julia tried to kick Ashton's pumpkin right after this shot was taken.

Is there ever a time that a costume knife isn't a good idea? Prove it.

Sunday morning chic.

I made those vests. I rocked the homemaking scene.

Goggles. An accessory for every outfit...or lack thereof.

And they all turned out just fine, despite my worst efforts.


Friday, December 28, 2018

IT WILL NEVER BE

My childhood friend's dad died.

Today I sat in the chapel, looking at the back of his daughter's head with her beautiful gray hair, sitting next to her mother behind his flag draped casket as they listened to the last song they'll ever experience as a family in this realm. And I remembered when she used to wear her hair curly and pulled back with little butterfly barrettes. And laughed so hard and so easily that we did all we could to get her going. And accidentally dropped the baby hamster when it pooped in her hands and every kid in class yelled that she probably killed it and made her weep because we were young and dumb and couldn't see past our own 11 year old noses to care how we made other people feel.

You see, I was there for the beginning. But most of the time we're not. Most of the time we know the ending and can't imagine it's ever been any other way.

I didn't know how Angela's dad began. I just knew he wore a hat, was really smart and always smiled. Turns out he loved horses, talked so much that his date (who later became his wife) thought to herself she'd never marry him if he was the last man on earth, and when it came time to pop the question, parked his car and said, "Well?...Well, you know...What do you want to do?...I guess...I guess we might as well."

And they did.

They were married on a cold winter day, with snowflakes as big as quarters falling down as they drove through Sardine Canyon on their way to Logan. Only the two of them knew that at 5:30 that morning, she had locked her purse with their temple recommends inside the apartment and he had to hoist her up to climb inside the window. The perfect way to start their eternal journey—depending on each other.

They fought while she proofread his papers. They had a daughter and raised her as their only child. They worked on a lesson plan to teach people about Christ. They lived for nearly 50 years in a home on David Drive and together made memories to last a lifetime.

And that's just what they did. They lasted his life time. All the way... to the end.

I've known a lot of people lately who have found themselves in this space. Faithful friends walking behind coffins, thanking people for coming, telling stories of how it used to be and wondering how it all happened so fast and why the end came so soon.

And those of us left behind can't help but feel that way. Like it's the end. And we can't imagine it will ever be any other way.

But one day, we'll all be on the other side, waiting for our loved ones to come back to us and we'll know...

we'll know.

It was only the beginning.

And it will never be
Any. Other. Way.



BECAUSE OF HIM












Monday, February 19, 2018

MILLIONS OF CATERPILLAR LEGS

"Once upon a time, there was a caterpillar. He had a million legs. Every day he would look at all of them, trying to decide which one he should move first. Finally, he died in the same position he began. The end."

A few months ago, I was feeling ambitious. So much so that I pulled up Amazon, found the unabridged version of Les Miserables and clicked order. When the over 1200 pages arrived, they looked more friendly than I expected and I immediately poured a bath so I could get to know them.

Several months later I climbed out of that bath a changed woman—shriveled and pruned and dehydrated from weeping so long and so hard—and changed. Of course, as we all know, "changed" rarely lasts. Just as Baby in Dirty Dancing, great intentions get shoved into the corner of our minds as we tend to forget why we were inspired, what we were always going to remember and what flash of brilliance was revealed to us in those fleeting moments.

It made me sad to think that those godly ideals would stay hidden in the shadows of my library and dimming mind. So I picked up my worn book, a yellow highlighter, and climbed back into that watery casket intending to mark the brilliant passages and use them as a catalyst for my blog. Weeks have passed and I am still stagnant, but this ends today.

Here I go, moving one of my caterpillar legs.

"...you are looking at a plain man and I am looking at a great man. Each of us may benefit." Monseignor Bienvenu—Bishop of Digne

I was a pretty big deal in elementary school. I could roundoff back handspring across the entire field, I was "going with" Troy who gave me his lunch orange every day and I had started wearing a purse and blue eyeshadow before most of the other girls. As I said, a pretty big deal. The world was my chocolate box and as I wiped the brown drool off my chin I had no reason to believe it would ever be any different.

The first day of junior high I kicked open those school doors and those school doors kicked me right back, figuratively knocking my teeth out and giving me a bloody nose. My face was wrong, my words were wrong and my jeans were wrong. Apparently Kings was not the place to buy them. Falling from grace was painful and humiliating and I spent the next few years trying to become what I used to be, only to Pinterest Fail over and over again.

During this time, my big sister was my opposite. She was Valentine royalty, Best All Around and Homecoming Queen. Every boy was secretly in love with her and like Ursula, I would watch her, trying to figure out her secret powers and how I could steal them from her. I used her perfume and chewed her gum. I tried to emulate her walk and her talk and even read her journal. (Sorry 'bout that, Nick.) I would hear, "Why don't you be more like Nicki?" as often as I'd hear, "Why do you always try to be like Nicki?" I just couldn't figure out the perfect recipe and she became a blessing and a curse to me until I eventually came back to myself.

Fortunately, confidence returned with highlighted hair and a savage tan, and popularity was no longer my master. But I had definitely benefited from being plain and looking at a great man. Turns out Nicki's secret was kindness. To everyone. They loved her because they knew she loved them. In appearing lowly, she was great.

Nicki continues to be great, but I'm sure she'd tell you she's been on both sides of the window in her lifetime. We all have. The lesson is in seeing something worth aspiring to no matter which set of eyes you're looking through. Great or plain. Low or high. It doesn't matter. Each of us may benefit.











Tuesday, February 6, 2018

JUST KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT



My son screaming that life isn't fair


Lori, this one's for you—

A couple of things; first, went in to the dermatologist today on account of I'm nearing the half century mark and every day is a new and exciting pending disease. Second, you've never lived (and by lived I mean died a slow, humiliating death) unless you've tried to keep your 49 year old chest from spilling out of a too small surgical gown that you accidentally put on backwards while seeing your speckled and freckled skin under fluorescent lights while a younger, thinner, more intelligent you-in-a-parallel-universe-where-you-applied-yourself examines and judges your lack of self care. That poor dear. Full frontal is super offensive after four babies.

Anyway, turns out the moles I thought were worrisome were not and the ones I took no notice of were. A squirt of lidocaine and a melon baller later and I'm several hundred dollars closer to meeting my deductible. And maybe have cancer. But whatevs. I deserve it. Just today I said these words...out loud, mind you..."At this stage of life I no longer tremble at the thought of trials." See? Same as yelling, "COME AT ME, BRO!" to Heaven and Hades. Idiot.

On a lighter note, guess how many times I've seen The Greatest Showman? FOUR! But that pales in comparison to Karyn who is going on SEVEN. Cuz Hugh. (She's kind of a stalker, but I get it.) And if by chance you're lucky enough to sit by me next time, you're welcome in advance for how much better you're going to know the lyrics by the time the lights come up.

Also, full disclosure—I lied and told my daughter I'm off pop. But back to trials—I've had some dear friends and family gut punched lately with the wiles of this earth life. None of it fair, none of it easy and none of it with a clear map of how to navigate. Of course, we all know from experience and our mothers telling us every day for the first 20 years of our lives, "Fair? FAIR!? (maniacal laughter) Life has never been fair. I never promised you a rose garden. Also, hogwash and pig guts, Lisa!" Maybe that last refrain was unique to our household—hard to say—but unfair was a visitor in every home which is how we became adept at splitting a piece of Wrigley's spearmint without it being obvious we kept the biggest piece for ourselves.

But cancer is not a piece of gum. And divorce is about thorns, not roses. Hogwash and pig guts applies to pretty much everything that's ever been, but that goes without saying.

Years ago I heard a man express an interesting viewpoint. He said as he rode through a war torn country and saw little children suffering, he decided they must have been bad people in another life. That made him feel better. It was punishment. He couldn't imagine a god who would allow opposition and he just felt better knowing that bad things only happen to bad people.

I'm not sure how he convinced himself of this distortion, but hopefully most of us understand the real need for opposition. It is a masterful teacher. What better way to learn the blessing of sleep than to go a night without it? What finer way to enjoy a spring day than to endure what feels like a year of Januaries? And what greater way to appreciate life than to suddenly find yourself fighting for it?

No, life is not fair. And my goodness, shouldn't we be grateful? If it were, I hate to imagine what I'd deserve. All that I have is through no fault or goodness of my own. Why do I get to live in a country where I can get skin removed before I die of its mutation? How come I don't have to fight or kill to go to church on Sunday? Why do I deserve to live in a fantasyland filled with Chick-Fil-A, Dirty Dr. Pepper and Kate Spade purses?

The answer is—because life isn't fair.  If we ask why bad things happen to us, we also have to ask why good things happen to us. And to be honest, I am completely unwilling to even things out. Please let Heavenly Father never figure out how undeserving we are of His goodness.

I will even give you the biggest piece of gum if you promise to keep your mouth shut.










Tuesday, December 5, 2017

THIS IS HOW IT ENDS

So this is it, you guys. This is how it ends.

One day you're young and perky and able to bend forward far enough to shave your own legs and you feel like it's always going to be this way. Like those stories you heard growing up about a grandma who went outside to get the mail but tripped on the hose broke her hip and died were just crazy talk. And you're going to be different. You're not like other grandmas. You're the special kind of grandma who will never need to trombone when you're reading a menu and who people think is the mother of the baby you're carrying and say when they're your age they hope they look half as good. The kind of special grandma who, when you feel like it, will have the option to get into shape and start running marathons and can hold your grand baby without your arms shaking and your body will always produce hair and hormones and red lipstick will be your forever friend. THAT is the kind of grandma you're going to be and you just really feel sorry for all of the normal grandmas out there who did something wrong along the way which is why they find themselves in such a sorry state—those poor dears.

But then one day you wake up in agony because you threw your back out turning over in bed and you realize that you are, in fact, not the special kind of grandma, but are, in fact, going to have to wake up your husband to help you get to the bathroom.

Here's some of what we've got going on here:

Daily medication for migraines.

Aging eyeballs, but not the way normal people's eyeballs age. Nope. See, mine still see close up but can't focus once I look farther away unless I give them a few minutes to pull their shit together.

High blood pressure, which I always insisted was anxiety induced because every time they checked it I was at the doctor where they nearly killed (weighed) me, then told me to "scoot your bum down to the end of the table aaand relaaaaxxx..." So is it any wonder? But then after years of daily indolence, Dr. Peppers and doughnuts, anxiety induced turned into me induced.

Hiatal Hernia which is a displaced stomach with some kind of hole or tear or fissure or I really don't know what but what I do know is it is responsible for SONIC BOOM burps, lots of stomach aches and the inability to take a swig of water in the middle of the night. Or in the morning. Or in the afternoon or really any time on a clock.

Herniated (bulging) disc with nerve impingement. Didn't even feel the needle they stabbed into my foot.
Sciatica. Could barely drive without screaming.
Achilles Tendonitis in FREAKING BOTH FEET. I don't want to talk about it.

But what I do want to talk about is these bumps all over my body but mostly on my legs that just kind of appear every few days with no explanation of where they came from or where they're going but with all their belongings strapped to the top of their car and a beach bag on their arm clearly intending to stay a while as it seems my middle aged body is ocean front property and my vanity is paying their taxes.

So THAT is where I find myself.  And as I hobble out to the mailbox eating a fistful of pills, pale pink lipstick feathering away from my thin lips and avoiding the tangled hose, I realize I am a normal grandma which means, according to my logic, I must have done something wrong. But I'm even more sure I did something right to be blessed with doctors and husbands and aging friends and beautiful grand babies and nude tone pantyhose and Kate Spade purses to journey with me to the bitter end.

Speaking of grand babies, I present to you all LYDIA EVE BINGHAM and her eyebrows. She's my favorite...for now.