Magic in the mundane

It was just a yawn. Just a simple little yawn with the admission of, “Man, I am so tired.” She looked at me with a gleam in her eye and said, “Mom, why don’t you lie down for a minute?”

I looked at her. She had a plan, I could tell. And, well, I was tired…

I dropped onto the couch and she stuffed her big sister’s blanket under my head. She gently removed my glasses and put them on the floor. I didn’t say anything about it. I knew she was being careful.

My two youngest girls like to play “massage therapist” quite a bit and I love volunteering to be their client. Katie saw what her sister was doing and decided to set the mood. She grabbed the dust buster and started cleaning up some spots on the floor right next to me. Millie put her hands over my ears so I wouldn’t notice. I grinned.

Katie suddenly realized that maybe running the dust buster wasn’t doing the job of making the atmosphere relaxing and she apologized. I assured her that the sound of someone cleaning was exactly what I love to hear. She grinned.

They took turns rubbing my back..with a 5 pound exercise weight. While Katie was rolling the 5 pound weight over my back, Millie was playing Mary Had A Little Lamb on the piano directly behind me, but as quietly as she could. Then she got a kitchen rag and ran cold water over it. She thought that might feel good against my neck. “Careful, Mom,” she said, “this might be a little cold.” I stifled the urge to yell, “YEOW!” as the damp rag was placed against my skin.

They continued their mission – to make me feel better. It may be that their methods didn’t quite match their intentions, but their intentions stood alone. I felt cared for. What they did didn’t really matter. They showed love to me and it was magic.

A few minutes later I heard her sigh. I said, “Millie, you can stop any time you want to, you know.” She sounded a little relieved. After all, it’s hard work to roll a 5 pound weight around your mom’s back. I thanked her for the relaxing time. I thanked Katie too. They smiled. It was over.

It was perhaps a mundane experience, one I’ve had many times before with a variety of other household objects substituted in the place of the 5 pound weight. But today I noticed their hearts in the matter. And it was magic.

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Mirror mirror on the wall…

…who has the biggest blog of all?

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And just like that, suddenly I don’t really care that much anymore.

There is this enormous mirror in the bathroom of my hotel room. There is nothing like staring at yourself in an enormous mirror and underneath some super bright lights to make you take some serious stock of what’s really what. There are things about yourself that you normally let slide that you simply can’t ignore when you are standing right there. The mirror doesn’t lie.

I’m feeling like this entire weekend of being at The Relevant Conference has been like standing in front of an enormous internal mirror. I feel like I’m standing square under these super bright lights. I’m seeing things in myself right now that before have been really easy to ignore.

It’s an uncomfortable place for me to be. And right now it’s a really right place for me to be.

I prefer a dimmed version of life. When it’s night and my house is on the messy side, a soft lamp covers a multitude of household sins. The house we live in right now has no overhead lighting in the living room at all so we’ve lived a lamp-lit existence for two years now.

I’ve lived a lamp-lit existence in my heart for quite a bit longer than that.

1 John 1:5-9 says this:

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

In him is no darkness at all. Not even that of a lamp-lit existence.

I don’t know what is really about to change in my heart, but I know something is.

And this is where I’m starting.

On my knees.

Reacting and Not Responding

New post up at WORLD Mag today.

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It never fails: When my husband goes out of town something unfortunate usually happens around here. Something that forces me to put on my grown-up shoes and act like an adult. Something like having a child slice off the tip of her finger.

This happened almost two weeks ago. The girls and I had just returned home from their choir performance and, while I was taking the dog out, my 10-year-old made a poor decision to play with my rotary cutter. A rotary cutter looks like a pizza cutter, but it has a much, much sharper blade. It’s for cutting fabric. She was cutting fabric with it until suddenly she wasn’t.

My 11-year-old came running outside yelling, “MOM! COME QUICKLY! CHLOE CUT HERSELF WITH YOUR SEWING BLADE!”

I didn’t run, but I did speed up my pace. I put the dog in her kennel and walked up the stairs. I saw her in the bathroom and blood was everywhere. And I mean everywhere. I wasn’t sure how bad the cut was, so I tried washing it off but that made her scream. I grabbed a bath towel and wrapped it around the tip of her finger and told her to hold it tight while I figured out what to do next. I walked over to my sewing table and saw the part of her finger that she cut off. What came next was a 911 call, a visit from the EMS team, and instructions to continue to apply pressure on our way to the ER.

From there the doctor took over.

From the time of the cut until the time we were home from the ER took three-and-a-half hours. While there was a very real sense of concern and urgency to my actions, I don’t remember freaking out. When you are the only adult around, you quickly realize you have to act like one. Freaking out would have served nobody.

Two days later I was picking my daughter up from school. One of the teachers came up to me and with big eyes asked, “What did you do? Did you just react?” I replied, “Well, I didn’t react so much as I responded.”

There’s a difference, you know. A reaction usually knee-jerks while a response lends itself to more reasonable behavior. In an emergency situation, a response usually makes for a better overall decision than a reaction does.

So why, then, is it so hard for me to respond in a non-emergency situation? In a heated discussion with my husband, I react; when one of my kids says something to me she shouldn’t, I react; when I don’t get my way with the world, I react. And it serves nobody.

My grown-up shoes come in handy in an emergency. I’m able to step outside of what this is doing to ME and take care of the situation. But in sin-induced instances I seem to lose that calm, rational ability. And I fight back.

Oh, for the gift of response when it is most needed. Oh, to be able to diffuse the sin in others because I don’t stir up my own. Oh, to live, love, and respond the way Jesus did in all situations. That’s the way I want to live.

Reminder: Be Cool

When I walked into the kitchen yesterday morning I glanced over at the family cubbies and saw this:

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Need a closer glance?

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A little note to self to “Be cool.” Apparently Katie wanted to remember that today.

Are you struggling with feeling like an outsider? Maybe a little note to yourself would help. Seems to work around here…

Conferencing, Take 2

So I'm going to a conference on Thursday. A blogging conference. A blogging conference for Christians. A blogging conference for Christian women.

I'm thinking right now that I'm not ready for it.

But I will go. And I will be happy to be there. And I will enjoy my time with Monica.

But I will NOT be wearing anything new or anything sponsored by a corporate anybody.

I will NOT have lost those pesky 15 pounds for the sake of the conference.

I will NOT have on my Jesus face the entire weekend because…I imagine I will struggle with sin at some point during the conference.

But I WILL be happy to speak honestly with anyone I get the opportunity to meet.

I'll just be speaking honestly in my favorite jeans and sweater.

And I may hibernate a little at night because I'm a raging introvert.

And that's about all I have to say about that.

Jamie Oliver Made Me Cry at Walmart Last Night

I followed a link on Facebook the other day to this lovely photo right here.

I read every comment. I learned the term "mechanically separated." I watched this video:

I went to Walmart with a $20 budget tonight. I picked up a package of something I've bought a bajillion times: hot dogs. Now. I've been told for YEARS what hot dogs are made out of, but I've managed to keep my rational thinking out of it. Because $0.88 will provide lunch for the whole family. I'll take two.

Tonight I bothered to read the package and saw the "mechanically separated" term in the ingredients list. I picked up another package that was labeled all beef and noticed the "mechanically separated" term was not in that list. Again, I'm not sure I really want to know how those "non mechanically separated" hot dogs are still made. But I'm guessing they are a little better than the $0.88 variety. And they cost $6.88 for the package.

And I started crying. Not sob-heaving, mind you, but hot tears that came down and prevented me from actually explaining to Craig, who was with me, why his wife was breaking down in the hot dog section of Walmart on a Tuesday night.

Jamie Oliver made me do it.

I'm telling you, I pull my hair out trying to just get food on the table. Something that my family will eat, that doesn't take the better part of my day, and doesn't bat our grocery budget so far out the ballpark we'll never see that ball again.

I don't know how to do it.

I'm waving the white flag. I'm sorry I've brainwashed my kids and myself for the sake of convenience and the lower price. But…it isn't exactly like I have the option to increase the grocery budget either.

What to do, what to do?

Jamie Oliver? Will you take a trip to St. Louis, Missouri and bring your food revolution to my house? Help me Obi-Wan. You are my only hope.

Somebody pass the tissue.

Bigger is NOT Always Better

I have a love/hate relationship with bulk warehouse type of stores. Certain things are, certainly, cheaper when you buy them in mass quantities. But a lot of things are just bigger. Not cheaper.

There are a few things I've purchased in bulk because the bulk price was a better deal, but it's taken my family jokin' FOREVER to use all of it up. The cheaper price doesn't justify the use of shelf space in my already space-challenged kitchen.

Some of my bulk buying boofs have been popcorn kernals, canola oil, and pancake syrup.

What say you? What have you purchased in bulk that you wished later someone had knocked some sense in your head before you bought? Are there items that you think really DO make sense to get in a larger quantity?

Inquiring minds (mine) want to know.

Emergency!

Ten minutes after arriving home from her choir concert, my 10yo decided to test drive my rotary cutter while I was taking the dog out for a few minutes.

In case you don't know, a rotary cutter looks like a pizza cutter with a razor blade for the wheel.

She cut off the top of her finger. We met the local EMS team and then took a field trip to St. John's Mercy Hospital.

Good times, good times.

 

Overheard

I was sitting here a little while ago working on something I'm going to post later today while my 11yo was at the table behind me doing something else.

Suddenly she said, "Mom, I'm having trouble getting this guy's attention."

Just so casually, just like that.

I zipped around in my chair and said, "What did you say?" It was then I noticed she was playing a computer game on my laptop and the page she was on required her to use logic to trigger the professor guy so he would ask her another question and thus allow her to move forward in the game.

Whew.

Score one for the delayed guy talk. Score one for the almost-12yo who remained clueless as to why I seemed a little concerned at her question. Score one for the mom who got to play a logic game on the laptop for a few minutes while trying to help her solve the puzzle.

Score two for the game. Neither one of us ever figured out how to get that guy's attention.