Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Worship, Interrupted

We've been looking for a church lately, and the past two weeks have attended one that I think we'll probably set up camp in. It's definitely not the church I would have picked if I was the only one to please, but for now, it seems to meet all of the immediate church related needs of our little family. The style is one that OS is comfortable with, the people are incredibly warm and friendly, the average age in the congregation is well under 75, and there are a lot of kids running around that look every bit as sweet and sour as E. All in all...I think we hit a home freakin' run! AND...the church is only a couple of years old...so it meets in a local elementary school...in the gymacafetorium.

So Sunday, when the words to a worship song that I knew popped up on the overhead projector, I allowed myself a moment to worship...something I don't think I've wholeheartedly done in ages. I closed my eyes, tilted my head up toward God, and allowed myself a moment to briefly be carried away in the thick harmonies of the congregation. And very quickly I remembered why I love worship. For a split second, it was just me and God in that room staring one another in the face. I was right there in the moment with Him...and He was right there in the moment with me. We were on the same page....breathing the same air...and once again He was a very real presence, one that I didn't have to try my hardest to have faith in because I just know it to be true....this time, I could FEEL it. I began to sink deeper into this warm hollow with God...just me and him....and

tap, tap tap....

Huh? Was someone tapping me on the shoulder....no, surely not. I'm just imagining things. Ok...back to the warm hollow....


I turned around to see the lady in the row behind me tapping me on my right shoulder. "Excuse me," she said. "I have to holler at my daughter." She then proceeded to lean forward...right into the midst of my warm hollow....and hissed with sheer venom in the direction of the red headed tweenager in the row in front of me, "DELIA, STAND UP!" and she made an "up" motion with her arm that would have sliced through my face had I not done a bouncy little hop to the side.

And just like that my warm little hollow dissipated into the far corners of the gymacafetorium.

The rest of the congregation went on singing...and for a few seconds I flipped the coin of what had just happened in my mind. Did someone really just interrupt my worship to snarl at her daughter that she should be standing up to worship? Really? And then it struck me as funny, so I began to laugh. And I laughed. The kind of laugh where you can't let yourself make any noise, so your shoulders twitch and you appear to be a Touret's patient. And I laughed, and laughed. So much for the warm hollow of worship.

But I felt light hearted just the same. Maybe I needed to be reminded that worshipping God isn't always a warm hollow. Sometimes it's shoulder twitching laughter. Maybe I just needed a good hard laugh.

And maybe...just maybe, God knew that before I did.

Monday, September 21, 2009

That Woman

God has been relentlessly poking me on the shoulder lately in an attempt to get my attention about sin in my life. I always hate when God does this. I'd almost always rather just curl up in the corner with my sin and have a private little moment. But alas, God wants to go and better me in the name of Jesus. I have fought it as long as I can...and I dare say it was a valiant effort on my part. But here I am anyway...typing away about the things I need to give over to the Lord...so I can be a better version of myself...or something to that general effect.

Ugh. Personal growth. It's so much less exhausting to just be content to wallow in your own personal imperfections of character. Lord, I mean really....what do we have to do to catch a break down here?!?!

Ok...all dramasm (a little hot toddy of drama and sarcasm if you will) aside. God has been trying to get my attention. As I have put so much effort lately into the discipline of my child, God has revealed to me that He wouldn't mind seeing a little more structure in my life as well. This time, I'm the one who needs to be plopped down in a good solid time out. It's my turn to taste the bitter medicine of structure and boundaries, and EW! DISCIPLINE. It's not that I'm a horrible mess or anything. I'm not bankrupt...I'm not obese...I'm not living in squalor like those pitiful people on that show 'Hoarders' that find 35 cat skeletons in their garage upon cleaning it out (true story!). It's just that a lot of little "slackeryness" in my life has added up to me being much less neat and organized and motivated than I'd like to be. It's the sick, sad combination of not matching the tupperware tops to the tupperware bottoms and my unrelenting inability to actually throw out the lint that I scrape from the dryer's lint trap that have melded together to form a woman who is just a little less than the woman I think God would like for me to be.

It's become very clear to me that God wants me to start tidying up my life...and all the things that go with it. However, as simple as this sounds, it's not all that easy for me to do. It's just not natural for me to be one of those people that has it all together. Case in point: It's taken me a solid week to actually finish this post and hit the publish button...A WHOLE SOLID WEEK. So as fall hangs delicately outside my window, I'm turning over a new leaf. I'm putting the tupperware tops with the tupperware bottoms. I haven't left a pile of dryer lint in the laundry room in days now. DAYS! And...get this....as I type this the laundry is going, the dishes are clean, the bed is made, the checkbook is balanced, the crock pot is slow cooking, and the dog is fed. Miracles really do exist!

I know this stuff really doesn't matter and that God loves me in spite of me being a slacker on the homemaking front. But my desire is to be the best partner I can be to OS, and the best mom I can be to E. Lately, I feel like my haphazard approach to living life often serves as a toxin to that desire. I feel like God is poking and prodding me to take care of the little, mundane details so that the big, important things that actually matter.....my husband and my son....can have the wife and mother that they deserve. And it's not just for them. I want to be that woman...the one who has her shit together and whose tupperware doesn't fall out onto her head when she opens up the cabinet. I imagine that life is just a little bit easier on that woman. Maybe.

So here's to turning over a new leaf. Here's to accepting the challenges that God presents to you. Here's to turning around when He pokes and prods and relentlessly tries to get your attention and saying "I will" with a triumphant fist pump in the air instead of a sideways glance and a "Dude! What the hell?!?!"

Here's to being That Woman. That tupperware matching, lint throwing away, checkbook balancing woman.

And publish.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Parenting 101

Whoever said "It takes a village to raise a child" must have been talking about my family.
On any given week, my son spends time at 4 different homes with 4 different sets of people that love him...and 4 very different sets of rules and expectations. These rules vary from the extremes of "Eat what is cooked for dinner and when I say no, I mean no," to "King E is here...roll out the red carpet and lets all sniff his bottom...it smells like roses!" (Ok...maybe that last part was a bit much...but it's not unfair to say that often times, he rules the roost.)
As E gets older, this is a more difficult set up to not get frustrated with. It's hard enough that he gets shuffled back and forth between Mommy's house and Daddy's house. For the most part, Ex and I have done a good job at staying on the same page. But I have a lot of guilt...questions...worry...and what ifs over all the stuff that E's life will be sprinkled with as a result of our situation. And as he gets older and does more and understands more, differences in parenting are becoming more common.
I think any mom who is half a mother sometimes travels through the valley of the shadow of "Hi, my name is Mom, and I have failed my child." I think it's probably just part of the package...like stretch marks or the inability to hold all of your urine when you sneeze. It's just par for the course. But add divorce to that equation (or any situation that compromises your ability to be there for your child 100% of the time for that matter) and the sickness gets so much worse.
Obviously I'm struggling at the moment. "Hi, I'm the Village Idiot, and I have failed my child."
Everyone: Hi Village Idiot!
I feel like nothing I do is good enough...and lately it seems that everyone in this little village has a strong opinion about that. Maybe they've had these opinions all along...but blame it on the full moon...this week they are sharing.
"You're too easy on him."
"You're too hard on him."
"You correct him too much."
"You let him get away with too much."
"You don't have enough fun with him."
"He needs to know you love him."
"He needs you to be more firm."
Apparently I didn't get the memo...but it seems like everyone else was notified of all of the answers, and I know none of them. What I do know...what I happen to know for sure...is that I love my son with every breath I take. I have visions of a perfect life for him that he will never have, and hopes that upon his realization that life isn't perfect that he will respect me for being a source of love and consistency in his life. My desire is that when he is 28 and leading a life of his own that he will look back and associate me with plenty of "I love you's" and "she was always there for me's." Dear God, please and thank you.
I guess no mother ever feels like she's doing it exactly right. There's probably always going to be "I wish I had..." and "It would have been better if..." and a lot of "In hindsight..." And in my situation there will probably always be the rest of the village with an opinion of what I'm doing wrong and hopefully sometimes what I'm doing right. So in that case.....
Dear Lord, If it's not too much trouble, could you please speak up? It's noisy around here. Amen.
And now, if you will excuse me, nap time is over and this particular Village Idiot promised someone a play doh date. I may not have a clue about how to raise a child...
but I make a damn fine play doh pancake.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


There have been a lot of changes in my home lately, and discipline seems to be a major point of discussion. E is rapidly changing lanes from "toddler" to "kid," and the change feels like it has hit me without warning....little booger didn't even throw on a blinker or anything before he went and morphed into a big boy! It seems every week I send a certain baby boy back to his daddy's house for a few days, and without fail I get back someone who is bigger, taller, more smart-mouthed, filled with childisms, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, has smellier feet. True story.

Lately, I've noticed a lot of changes in the way E responds to discipline. I think a lot of this is due to OS's presence in E's life. OS is a former marine. Need I say more? (Like I'd stop here...)

OS is one of the first people to offer a consistent presence in E's life who doesn't talk to him like he's still a baby. E gets pretty much whatever he wants whenever he wants it...and while Ex and I have done a pretty good job at not raising a rotten brat, we have both (I think...I guess I can only speak for myself) fallen into the trap of "not wanting to a be a mean parent" and probably let him get by with more "little stuff" than we should have. Now that E is older, he's ready for some more structure. OS is offering that in fairly healthy measure. He doesn't look at E and see a baby. He looks at E and sees a smart kid who, and I quote, "if he can sit there and count to 200 then he's old enough to answer me about why he's in time out." Good point, dear. Good point.

Since I've come to the realization that E is old enough to understand and benefit from more strict discipline, I've been enforcing the "little stuff" more...kind of as a "for shits and giggles" kind of experiment and, in turn, have been getting a pretty interesting response from my kid. For example...the other day we were winding down for the evening and we were approaching E's bedtime. He was still pretty wired, so I handed him a book, we all curled up in the "tv room" and I told E there was no talking. He could look at his book, or play with a toy, but NO TALKING. E is a M-O-T-O-R-M-O-U-T-H...so I figured this would last all of two seconds. Within the first minute he began chattering. I quickly told him to go to time out because he hadn't listened to my instructions (something I would have overlooked before this.) He sat quietly in time out for about two minutes until I called him to come back into the tv room with us.

ME: "Why did you have to go to timeout?"

E: "I talked and you said no talking."

ME: "When I tell you to do something you have to listen. We are going to sit here and read without talking. Ok?"

E: "Yes ma'am."

And then what do you think happened? My two year old sat with me on the couch for 30 minutes with a Dr. Seuss book...and didn't utter another word! He pointed at pictures....looked at me to get me to notice the book...cuddled....and MINDED! I was utterly floored.

Maybe the United States Marine Corps is onto something with this discipline mumbo jumbo. Heck...for 30 minutes of peace and quiet and my smelly footed little boy cuddled up on the couch with me...I say Semper Fi baby!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wedded Bliss

Well...I'm married!

I haven't blogged in forever, because this thing called life kept getting all in the way and everything. However, things seem to be settling down to a new version of normal...and I'm absolutely loving it!

The weeks leading up to the wedding were pretty emotional. There was a lot going on in my head, and I think it's fair to say OS's head was pretty swamped with "Oh my God!" also. While we weren't the best versions of ourselves every moment during this time, I think it's pretty accurate to say we did some of our best talking and listening, and the result was a bride and groom who stood up on their wedding day and said their vows with complete and total peace.

I will post pictures of the wedding day as soon as I get them back from our photographer, but I couldn't wait to go ahead and write about how perfect the day was! It was everything we wanted it to be and absolutely nothing that we didn't.

We were married on a hillside at the back of his grandfather's farm. The weather was absolutely perfect for an outdoor wedding! The two most amazing girls ever met me at the farm at 10 that morning to do some last minute reception organizing and errand running, then we grabbed lunch at Chili's and headed to get our hair and make up done. With curls in place we headed back to the farm.

At this point E came bounding in with a dinosaur in one hand and a sandwich, courtesy of Mimi, in the other. With crumbs on his face we began draping him in his wedding outfit...he was about as adorable as you can possibly get...and I threw on my wedding dress. Then, my girls went to work again!

"We can see your underwear. Try these..." Ok. Check.

"Do you have your flowers?" NO? "Ok...we're going to find them."

"Here's your garter...(Marines camo garter as a surprise for OS.)...leg up and I'll put it on you."

"Something old, new, borrowed, blue?" Check.

Then, the photographer grabbed OS and sequestered him in the sun room so he could get his first look at his bride. I walked in, pictures snapping away, and he teared up. (Let's all assume it was joy and not overwhelming, mind numbing fear. Let's just assume.)

After that, we all headed out to the yard for family pictures...the only part during all of this wedded bliss that Bridezilla even remotely reared her ugly head! Kudos to me. Then, it was time to caravan up to the top of the hill. We bumped over the lake road, rounded a few corners, climbed the grassy hillside...and there it was. The clearing, overlooking rolling hills and tree lined valleys, was warm and inviting, a hint of shade and several well placed pockets of sunshine.

We organized ourselves, spoke with the preacher, and laughed as E gathered up wild turkey feathers, each time hollering "I FOUND A FEATHER!"

Within minutes we heard the rumble of cars climbing the hill, and we knew our guests were on their way...just on the far side of wedded bliss. They began piling out of their cars and making their way to the edge of the hill where we were standing. We milled around with our guests, greeting each of them and introducing them to each other. There were hugs and handshakes, and a lot of "Wow, this is gorgeous!" Which it was! The preacher gathered us together, and I stood across from OS who teared up as soon as the ceremony started. We listened as my father spoke about the blessings of marriage, and then we each shared a personal message to the other one. OS's message blew me away! He had been extremely stressed, because he wanted the vows to be perfect. I guess he felt like they weren't quite right, but OH MY GOD, they were IMPECCABLE! He had all of our guests tearing up, and by the time he was finished telling me exactly how and exactly why he loves me, there was a trail of snot running down my face and my Kleenex was rendered powerless.

We exchanged rings and made promises, and before I knew it, we were husband and wife! Our guests made their way back down the hill to the house for the reception, and OS and I lagged behind for some scenic photos. We joined our guests, shoved cake in each other's faces, tossed the marines garter, and then made our getaway in a Shelby 500 Mustang GT, imprinted in shoe polish with the words "Honk for Sex," courtesy of my new father in law!

It was the best day.

The past couple of years have been quite a journey, and I'm so thankful for that time of growth. I'm looking forward to the rest of the walk, now with my new partner. I am married to a man that I honestly believe loves me from the depths of his toes. He's experienced his own measure of growth over the past 2 years, and he continues to welcome transformation in his life as God works on him. I appreciate his dedication to a better life, and I accept him exactly as he is...along with all of the wonderful, terrible, funny, icky, and crazy things that come with it. He was my best friend when we were 7, and he's my best friend today. I'm blessed to have found him again, and I am so excited to walk this journey with him....perfectly imperfect, and perfectly in love.

I am, in a word, happy.