There is no peace in a mess. A house, a life, a schedule of responsibilities…any mess.
I slammed the front door.
I threw my dusty garden gloves on the floor and collapsed onto the stairs, hot tears flowing.
“What’s wrong?” Keith put hand on my shoulder.
“I’m all gross. I wouldn’t touch me.” I’d been working on my lawn for 4.5 hours. No…not “lawn.” It’s a hill of dust and clay, covered in mounds and mounds of leaves. There is nothing “lawn” about it.
“Did you hurt yourself?” He kept rubbing my shoulder.
My lower back throbbed. I shook my head, which was buried in my folded arms, resting on my knees. Then I lifted it up to answer.
“Well I was just about finished up with raking leaves and tilling up the stupid dirt and fertilizing and putting out grass seed and watering…well…and some of the leaf bags were barely on the road…because I had just watered the dirt below them, but I was going to move them back…but then this guy drives by and hits the bags on purpose with his truck and one busts all open! And he lives right there.” I point through my closed front door. It felt so mean, mostly because I was just so drained.
“The house on the corner?” Keith tried to see through the wall.
“No, the one next to that.” I opened the front door and corrected my pointing. “That black truck.”
“Babe I’m really sorry. I mean technically you’re probably not allowed to have the leaf bags on the road at all.” He tried to be fair about his assessment.
“People park all over this road. They put their trash cans on the road. Kids play basketball in the road. It’s not that uncommon for some obstacle to be on this road. They were barely on the road and I was just about to move them off. He ran into them on purpose, and he didn’t have to do that. Why would he?! I would never do that to someone out in her yard, working her ass off!” I cried some more angry tears.
“No. He shouldn’t have done it.”
“Well…I marched up to the corner of the yard and flipped him off, but he never even looked up at me as he checked his mail. So then I said, ‘Sir…I think you need to have your eyes checked. You accidentally ran into my bags of leaves. I’m worried that you may not be safe on the road.’ And he just looks up at me and yells, ‘Keep your leaves off the road. I was in my lane, and they were in the way.’ Then he just walked off so I came inside.” Revenge is human nature…and plenty of ideas ran through my head.
I wouldn’t do anything back to him. I know myself. I’ll calm down. It just hurt my feelings and pissed me off. And I’ll admit I shouldn’t have flipped him off. I shouldn’t allow anyone to make me lose my character, no matter how cocky and rude they are.
“Well…there’s nothing you can really do about it. I’ll move the bags off the road. Go take a shower.” Keith was calm and sweet. He went outside. I sat back on the stairs.
I wanted to call the courtesy police of common decency to plea my case. It was just mean. And I didn’t know this guy, and was fine to continue my existence never having to meet him. Why would he introduce himself to me in this way?
“Well I went over to talk to the guy.” Keith came back into the house after moving the bags of leaves.
“You did? What’d you say?” I love Keith.
“Well I was just going to talk to him calmly, but he came out of his house already mad and ready to argue, so I said, ‘Listen. I don’t appreciate you being a dick and making my wife cry. You could’ve handled that in a number of different ways besides the way you chose to.’ And then he was all, ‘Well there are kids on skateboards all over this road. I wasn’t about to drive into the other lane to miss the leaves because there could’ve been a kid on the other side of the hill.’ And so I asked him…okay, if the bag of leaves had been a kid if he would’ve hit the kid because it was in his lane. And he goes, ‘Well…no.’ And I asked if it had been a parked car, would he have hit the car…and again he said no. And I asked what would’ve been wrong with stopping and asking you to move it if he felt like he couldn’t safely drive past it. But he didn’t have an answer for that, just said your leaves shouldn’t have been on the road. So I looked him in the eye and said, ‘It was a dick move. And you know it.’ And then I came back over here.” My hero. I know if I was a guy, I wouldn’t want Keith as an enemy.
“Thanks for sticking up for me, even though I guess it was my own fault for having them on the road.” I couldn’t have stuck up for myself in my exhausted condition. I would’ve just cried.
“I love you. You’re my wife. I’m not going to let some asshole make you cry because he had a bad day at work or something. Come here.” He didn’t care that I was all dirty and sweaty.
God, yes I did flip him off in anger, and I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry I did that. Did he deserve it? Well…maybe I felt he did, but I’ll let you sort that out. Please, please still bless my yard of dirt and help some grass grow.
So when I hear a story of one finger on a girl, I can’t exactly say that I cover my mouth with one lace-gloved hand as I fan myself in astonishment with the other.
There was a recent incident at a school event involving a child and a rude gesture. Unfortunately, emotions often run high in sports, and I can’t even begin to compile a complete list of inappropriate things I’ve heard the adult fans say.
It wasn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, that a student athlete (male or female) has used inappropriate language or gestures. And each time this happens, the students are rightfully chastised–whether by a ref, their own coach, their parents, the principal…or all of them. Her decision was unsportsmanlike, and she was properly punished by school officials.
That’s it. The end.
She is a child. If she is not your child, then concede to the proper authorities on this one–her school and her own parents only. She doesn’t deserve to have anyone else stand in line because they feel entitled to punish her further. It’s not your place. It’s been dealt with.
If some time in the future, some tables turn and I hear adults chastising your child and her character based on a poor choice, I will be the first one to jump in between. Poor choices are pretty common, but sadly compassion isn’t very common.
If you look around for some moral high ground to prance around on, you might notice that it’s pretty crowded up there. If you’re honest with yourself about your own bad choices as a teen, you might find some empathy in your heart. Humility is a beautiful thing; pride not so much. And as for myself, remembering my own recent finger, I decided I better just take a seat right next to her.
I don’t know where I stand.
I don’t have a political passion. I don’t know what I think. I step back and take it all in. And I am not eager to jump in and scream alongside either group of nuts. Yes. That is how most of it looks to me–you’re all nuts.
To be completely honest, I don’t see much difference between the extremely loud, self-appointed spokespeople on either side. But there are always a few quieter souls on each side, who speak wisdom and sense. And these are my people.
Back in the early 90s when I was 12 years old, I listened to my 12 year old peers mouth loudly about “their” political views. I remember on one particular occasion, one friend said about a candidate, “He’s completely ignorant! He’s been quoted as doing a complete 180 on so many issues.”
Is that ignorance? To see both sides of issues? But isn’t ignorance…not knowing? The more information I gather, the more I understand both sides–the harder my decision becomes to choose where to stand. Which group of nuts? THAT is ignorance? Indecision?
And then my most respected, favorite teacher responded that she sees the wisdom in changing your mind. I always find myself somewhere very close to the middle, yet somehow always strategically positioned away from both sides. Yes, both.
Every major decision/position becomes more difficult for me the more I read both sides of the actual issue, after filtering through piles and piles of fear propaganda, which inevitably floods both sides. Yes, both.
I just want to back away slowly to some third location. No marching, no signs, no political memes, no snark, no anger, no gloating, no mocking, no blaming, no rudeness…just…over here. Looking for an actual action to engage in and not merely the appearance of positive action.
I’ve read some and watched some and thought some about what life was like in the U.S. for the slaves and the brave few who risked their lives to help them. And also about the Jews in Nazi Germany and the brave souls who helped them.
I would be one of those brave souls if I lived in those times, I’ve always told myself. Probably many of us thought this same thought. But…would I have been? Would you? Would we?
And what about now. Are there opportunities to be brave and do something real? I don’t mean walking around with posters or laughing at memes or social media activist arguing or blog posts (tongue in cheek) or yelling that someone else is ignorant.
Who is being brave? I don’t mean loud. I mean real action. Who is brave? Am I? Are you? Are we?
I had a complete stranger bark at me the other day that I should “just keep on making those babies” and just keep on “adding more people to an overcrowded world.” She loved to dictate what I should be doing with my life, and I certainly could’ve returned the favor.
You know…it is overcrowded in my 1800-sq ft house when I have all of our 8 children here. My children are fed, loved, housed, clothed, but yeah it’s a little crowded. Should I stop feeding them to feed someone else? Could we find a space to take in more people? I considered it.
And how about this stranger who wanted to ridicule me? Is this girl brave? Not married, no kids, screaming at me, a stranger to her, about our social obligations. How many people is she personally responsible for feeding and clothing and housing? If only herself…then is she at least signed up to host some of the Syrian refugees? Let’s hope so.
She had already decided she would not have any kids out of social responsibility. This announcement was possibly meant to make me feel ashamed of my large, blended family. It did not. But it did make me wonder how many people she was feeding and housing between her selfie posts with perfectly applied makeup and styled hair and her angry, dictating rants directed at strangers…who was she feeding…
So how many of my friends have signed up to host a refugee family? How many of you? Be proud of your decision. Let us know you are one of the brave ones. Show others how they can sign up, and if not host…where do I meet you to volunteer for a worthwhile cause where people are doing something, not only complaining?
I filled out half of the “register to be a host” form, and then stopped. Will I go back and finish signing up? I might. You don’t know me. I just might.
I probably won’t. Should I myself host…or should I pick out strangers that I think should host, and sign them up…
One link to get information about hosting refugees…
And now for myself…
<Google search–birth control…what…is…that…>
December 17, 2016…
“Go inside!” The sky shoots tiny knives of sleet at us. Keith runs to the back of my van to get my groceries out and carry them inside.
“I can get some of these.” I start to reach for the bags.
“No. I got it. Get the baby and get inside.” He’s not even wearing a coat. Will I go soft and forget how to take care of myself? I obey him.
If you don’t know what it feels like to be an ordinary girl in sweatpants with your hair wadded on your head, and have a man fall over himself to treat you like you’re a celebrity beauty queen…I hope one day you get to know that feeling.
Everyone deserves to feel that. Don’t settle for being treated like you are only ordinary…because someone will see your royalty.
January, February, March 2015 (right before I met keith, some of my old sad bastard Facebook statuses italicized)
Oh bills and laundry! You are so loyal and steadfast. You will never leave me. Always home waiting on me, no matter how much I neglect you and curse you. You are so true and dedicated to me. Forever.
All vices are chains. And no person quite fits in the heart hole. So go ahead and trade one set of chains for another set, and choose to never see that. Stand still alone, breathe slowly, have the discipline to choose no excess, then every bullet will hit the force field and clink to the floor. It’s not a sad realization, it’s not angry, it’s not ignorance. I see it, and I do care. Always see, always hear, always care, probably too much. But no bullet can actually reach me or hurt me. Fill that hole with God, and that’s the only, only, only true freedom. Chains drop.
Dear God…please help me keep my skin tough, heart soft, mind sharp, eyes open, spirit strong, and mouth shut.
I’m having one of those days where you like…you think about the night before, and remember how you drank a huge bottle of wine and made some hilarious jokes that you don’t remember, and then you wake up and get to your step study Bible group at 8:30am. And you think about how many times you’ve drastically contradicted yourself in the past week, and then you feel the need to let the world know…yeah, I need to handle my shit.
Don’t be hypocrites and act like you don’t all do this too. See you at church. See YOU at the club.
Dropping bombs in groundhog holes. I am the sun, no shadows for anyone. In good news–Full moon in Leo tonight. We run this. I can have fun in the cold.
Cheers to you,Taylor Swift, lyrical genius, mind-reader, blaring you now. Push the clean laundry off the bed and onto the floor, eat Skittles for supper. I’m an adult. Buy cheap, one-ply toilet paper because I like it, put the silverware in the dishwasher handles up because I don’t want a fork to poke me, leave every light on, buy ungrated cheese because it tastes better, never lock doors, throw away every twist tie and every lid to everything because it makes life faster. My ways have always been better.
You are so lonely. Be honest. It’s eleven on a Saturday, and you’re scrolling through the newsfeed liking everything and smiling about every friend. You played a game where you had to post a picture of a baby animal. Who does that?
You looked up the setlist for Garth’s Tulsa concert and had your own little concert of one. But only played the gut-wrenching ones, no fast ones. You wiped snot on your jeans more than once. Admit it.
Your toes are going numb. You should put socks on. But who cares? There is no one in this bed to be bothered by these cold feet.
You’re not the boss of God. And you can tell him exactly what he needs to make happen in your life, but he knows better than you what lessons you need. So accept them. Don’t wish today away. Embrace your now.
Or what? Trip over all the sad suitcases in your past? Hold hope for the future? If I just knew some of the keypoints, God, I could endure all this much better. How does it end up?
Someone needs you now. Most of them call you Mom. No, not you. Me.
I am lonely, but I’m not vulnerable. I hold a hand that no one sees. But you all do see. Take this paltry patchwork. It doesn’t have to make sense to you. It’s the scraps pieced together.
“God doesn’t exist to help our lives turn out the way WE want. He exists to help US turn out the way HE wants.” (Celebrate Recovery last night) #WORKinPROGRESS #LIFEisMESSY #GODisGOOD
I need a man to take out the trash; I need a man who wants to talk to me all day long; I need a man who wants to wash my car; I need a man who makes me laugh; I need a man who mows my lawn; I need a man who is smart and keeps me on my toes; I need a man who is athletic with me. Annnnd it’s really probably best if all these guys don’t know about each other.
If you’re married or in a serious relationship, be so proud of that. Hold onto her with all your might, only think of her good qualities and your faults; it’ll keep you thankful and humble.
Post a profile pic of you two having a nice time; that means sooooo much to girls. Never private message another female; there’s rarely a reason a married or involved man ever needs one private word with a woman he’s not married or related to, be respectable.
Never do or say one thing you wouldn’t if she was right with you, have integrity. Want to stand out as an awesome guy? Treat your woman like a queen, not many guys do. Praise publicly, pray privately for the changes you would love to see.
Be so, so careful with every thought and word and action. I’ve been on just about every road a person can be on. Adulterers are a dime a dozen. Loveless lust is cheap and common and nothing at all special. A man (or woman) with a pure heart and mind…that’s a rare treasure.
And single people, try your best not to behave as a stumbling block. When I trip up, which happens a lot, I have about 4-5 different friends who will text me and tell me that it looks like I’m seeking the wrong kind of attention. Sitcoms lie. Being single sucks. It’s boring and lonely. But it’s only right for all of us to behave respectably too.
And if someone saunters into your personal space, and you’re a taken man/woman…run away. You’re not special and she’s not either. Put your arms around your woman as tight as you can.
It doesn’t matter how big your muscles are or how toned your legs are; if you wrap them around the wrong person, you aren’t special.
If you’re thinking or saying or doing something you know is wrong, just stop. That’s all. Just stop.
I’m awfully bossy tonight. And every night.
#beRARE #beingSINGLEisNOTglamorous #dontLOSEaDIAMONDchasingGLITTER #takeANhonestLOOKatYOURSELF #HUGyourSPOUSEforPUTTINGupWITHyou
God sees your worth. 🙂
A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked. “Who would like this $20 bill?”
Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you – but first, let me do this.”
He proceeded to crumple the 20 dollar note up. He then asked. “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air.
“Well,” he replied, “what if I do this?” He dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?”
Still the hands went into the air.
“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.”
Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless; but no matter what happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.
Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes, not in what we do or who we know, but by …WHO WE ARE.
You are special – don’t ever forget it. 😉
Shovel the ice from my driveway, shovel the ice off my heart. Oh, hm…too much too soon for you? Go away then. I’m feeling…not enough, not soon enough.
I am not filling a void. I filled that heart hole with the only thing that fits and fills it the right way–love for my God. So anything I have to offer is all overflow now. I am a whole, complete person, and I take each step with a careful wisdom that I’ve never known til now.
I didn’t know what I wanted or needed. I knew what I didn’t want or need. It is possible to have an Inception-esque, exponential level of connection and possible to cover 8 years of conversation topics in 2 weeks. That’s possible. That is happening.
Buckle up. Hold on.
You couldn’t handle it.
Relax and enjoy your leisurely kid time.
When you grow up, you will have to do things like–eat peanut butter reindeer cookies and chocolate syrup coffee for breakfast. You will have to lay around all Sunday in your pajamas, ignoring piles of laundry and dishes, snuggling with a cat. Know why? Because you’re a grown ass woman, and no one can tell you that you can’t.
Being a kid is so easy. You just have to go to school 35 hours a week, plus maybe 10-15 hours of overtime for extracurricular activities…and probably about 5-10hrs a week for papers, projects, and homework. And you get to do cool stuff like…never talk, scarf down your lunch in 12 minutes, work your tail off for no pay, sit in a hard chair all day, ask permission to go to the bathroom.
Man, you got it made. No responsibilities. No expectations. No disrespect from any adult…ever.
I didn’t forget, and I won’t forget my own hard work as a child. Being a kid was never easy.
Want to be a good parent? A respected teacher?
Don’t forget what life was really like as a child. Hold those memories and feelings so close.
You will not reach me. You will not change me.
A soft-shelled, napkin roof battered with hail could never hold up. You’re wrong.
Tears can be patted. Make-up setting spray, not needed today.
I never wanted to be a rock. I never will be. I will not harden. You will not, cannot change me.
“Don’t take it personally…holidays are the saddest time of the year for many people,” my brain could not, would not absorb this sentence.
Mom used her hands to iron the wrinkles of Mr. Gobbles’ construction paper feathers. Slow little exhales, burning nose, tight throat. Each feather had a letter of my name written neatly on the back.
Red feather-E, orange feather-M, yellow feather-I, green feather-L, blue feather-Y, purple feather…oh, no. At first I was a little sad that it didn’t work out evenly. Then aha…purple feather-K.
It was a good idea. You can call yourself “Emily K” if your name is Emily Knoll. This trick especially helps if the kindergarten class has 2 Emilys. You don’t have to say the whole name. My letters were very straight, all the same size…I forgot to show Mom the back, but I didn’t want to right now.
Why can’t I spin in the grocery store aisle with arms wide, faster and faster, listen to his feathers flutter, whoa…whoa, no one has EVER spun this fast, canned foods a blur, probably a world record-
“WATCH what you’re doing!” His hand was quick and precise. I know an accident, and I know on purpose. Grab, crunch.
He did not look like my grandpa, but he looked like he was SOMEone’s grandpa. All old people love all children. No. They don’t.
Sometimes if I close my eyes tightly, I can see pages in my reality scrapbook, and the days when more details were added. Pages that were once only a brightly colored paper plate turkey, that now also have a black and white photograph of a stranger–large glasses, a veiny nose tip, deep frown lines–“WATCH what you are doing!” Thanksgiving page.
“He was NOT SAD. He was MEAN.” I no longer felt like crying. He wasn’t on the aisle anymore, and I wasn’t tall enough to reach his face. But I was a good climber, and I also had a good imagination. Our paths could cross again on a different aisle. I could climb into the cart and slap him in the face with my turkey. Slap, slap, slap, slap, slap…I could probably get 5 or 6 whacks in before anyone could stop me.
“Sometimes sad people SEEM mean,” Mom interrupted my violent fantasy. And caught up in my own angry-sadness, the irony of her statement was lost on me, for many years. Hurt people hurt people. Adjectives and verbs and…I get it now.
“Why would a holiday be sad for someone, Mom?” We would collect cans at school for homeless people, and I knew what they looked like because I would see them at the library reading Western books on the worn, upholstered couches.
I knew a lot. He was not homeless. He was clean and dressed nice with a good haircut for an old man.
“There are lots of reasons people get sad on holidays…sometimes they are lonely. He might’ve lost his wife recently.” I knew that “lost” could mean she had died, and probably did not mean that he couldn’t find her.
People don’t like to hear the words “dead” and “died,” so sometimes we say…”my dog passed away.” Or “we lost my dog last night.” And most people will know this means died.
I thought of my own grandmas and great-grandmas. I did not want holidays without them. And that would be sad. Where would we go? My great grandma came to my grandma’s now. My grandma is her daughter.
“Well, why can’t he just be happy that he can have Thanksgiving with his kids and grandkids and other family? He’s not homeless.” THANKful. FULL of thanks. Reasons are everywhere. You have to teach yourself to see them and to say them and to feel the thanks. I had been practicing myself.
My neighbor had SEVEN Cabbage Patch dolls. I had only one Cabbage Patch doll–Lily Lynette. I did not name her. Her birth certificate came in the box. I called her “Lily the Net,” and I did not like her middle name, but my sister said I cannot change it.
I told mom that my friend had seven, and she told me to be thankful for my one. I never said I wanted seven. I was just telling her. And I did love Lily. We would swing together. I was full of thanks for her.
“Baby…you just never know. He may not have other family or…maybe they all live far away or…” Mom was scribbling out items on her grocery list.
He ended up in front of us at the checkout, just like I had hoped. I didn’t know what the word confrontation meant back then. Or intimidation. I only knew that I was not a pretender. He could pretend he doesn’t see me, and he did. But I was not a pretender. I would just stare.
Three bananas, a loaf of white bread, one roll of toilet paper, a package of bologna, a frozen Salisbury steak dinner, the smallest container of pecan ice cream.
Ice cream with nuts: that’s the dividing line between young and old. I had been trying my best to keep my parents away from old flavors, to keep them young. It was an exhausting fight that they didn’t comprehend. I didn’t even know you could buy only one roll of toilet paper. I did not want to think about him going to the bathroom, but I kept thinking it.
I don’t hate you anymore, old man. I really never did. I am so sorry about your wife. Life has a way of humbling us all.
My name was Emily K for exactly one month shy of 19 years. And then Emily S for exactly 2 months shy of 14 years. And then Emily B for exactly 2 years and 3 months. And today, it has been Emily C for 3 days shy of 1 year and 4 months.
Sometimes you stand in the front rows of church with your hands lifted, belting out joyful noises.
Sometimes you sit on the back row even though everyone else is standing, and you just listen with a repentant heart, thinking…I shouldn’t have spanked my daughter so hard this morning RIGHT before we left for church.
Sometimes you only make it to the parking lot, and you can’t bear to walk in, past all the people who love and hug you. So you just text a friend and ask her to please come sit outside in your minivan with you and let you cry while you tell her that he packed and left.
Sometimes you come back too soon, all alone. And the sermon series is called “Songs of Love” and all about things your heart isn’t ready to hear yet, so you have to make a brisk walk sobbing past the huggers, before the service is over, back to a minivan full of no one.
Sometimes you come alone during a holiday sermon, and a little girl inches closer and closer to you with the warmest smile, and she tells you that she wants a Christmas sweatshirt that lights up.
And then sometimes you make it back on the front rows, and not everyone knows about the back row days or the parking lot…but you will never, never forget them. Life’s scrapbook pages are so full of clippings of every sort.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:11-12 NIV)
Family holidays and gatherings change so much over the years. I am thankful for the memories of big holiday gatherings with lots of food and a roomful of family members. Memories of paper plate turkeys.
And I am thankful for holiday alone times too, years when I don’t have my daughters with me, thankful for quiet morning times with God, thankful for all the other people who love my girls, thankful for the good food and laughs they will share in the homes where I no longer go, thankful that I can relax and not cook. Absence does make the heart grow fonder, so I won’t lie and say I don’t miss them. I am thankful that I miss them, thankful they will be back.
Much love to all my family and friends. I hope your day is lovely. And lots of love and prayers to those friends who are going through hard times, friends who can’t be with their family today, friends who are deployed, friends in prison, friends who are eating Salisbury steak and pecan ice cream alone, friends who lost a loved one recently…or not recently, friends who don’t see their blessings, friends who do see theirs, friends who have to work, friends of broken and blended families, friends struggling with addictions, friends who are sick or in the hospital.
Love to my friends who are laughing today, and especially to my friends who are crying. May God bless each of you in special ways.