Friday, March 7, 2014

Stitch Fix: on jeans. and sweatpants. and motherhood.

Less about Souls today, and more about Life's-Nitty-Gritty.

Although, they are soooo very connected.  Aren't they?

I am battling a chest cold today,
seems my husband likes to share.
Which kinda makes me smile...

Ahem, anyway.

So, when I became a mommy...
my time for "me" became less.
To the point where I didn't even notice.  Partly pure glee.
And every errand is blessed by the pitter-patter of little feet.
Or, like last night at the tile store,
blessed by an acrobatic-like-bull-in-a-china-shop.

So one day, when I saw a friend post on Facebook about this little
web-based business called "Stitch Fix,"
I started to wonder...
You mean.... someone.... would shop clothing racks for me,
and really not charge me to do so?
And ship what they selected FOR FREE?
And I wouldn't have to spend time online--
searching all over for "my style" out there in the great beyond?
(I gave up clothing shopping years ago,
you know--when my little bulls came along).
You mean to tell me, therefore,
no more looking for free shipping sites... and coupon codes...
wondering what will fit (those models are all so-opposite-of-me).
No more getting items only to find that I got all the WRONG sizes...
and then having to somehow drag myself to the store to return all those items
that I didn't want to go to the store for in the first place...
to save on the blasted return shipping charges of course.
Ok. --I'm fibbing.
Want to know a secret?
I send my husband to the stores with my giant box of returns.
Because he is sweet, and he doesn't mind it.
(One time the clerk scolded him and told him he should make his wife shop
in-store, because online returns really mess up their inventory.)
Yes, sign me up to stand in line with a big box of returns while holding
a wiggly toddler and listening to my son ask why
none of the models are really wearing pants,
while you try to match up sku's 
and I wonder if

It's no wonder that most moms survive in sweatpants.
And that a good day is wearing a clean pair.


I'm not saying I'm giving up sweats.
But I will tell you--when my Stitch Fix box arrived,
I ran out there wearing those sweats and a smile to grab it.
And then I locked myself in my bedroom for some alone time
while the kids watched cartoons.


If you are anything like me,
you think it sounds neat but you wish you could walk alongside
someone to see how the process works.
And what kind of financial stuff this involves.
Because you've been burned before
by things that just sound too good to be even-close-to-real.

(I am writing this, in fact, in my favorite pair of sweats...)

1.  You set up an account online.
Answer questions about your style preferences,
including what colors you like/dislike. Tell them
your honest measurements.  Answer what parts of your
body you like and what you prefer to hide. They will
ask you what price point you prefer to stay below for each piece.
You can even link them up to a pinterest board.  They
truly desire to get to know your style--not to change you.

This is not a sign-up-or-else program.
You call the shots.
They won't send you a THING unless you tell them to!
And, for special occasions you can hop online and tell them...
"I need a fix for this wedding that I'm going to...on this date."
And they will send you a specific fix.
Or you can tell them:  "In this box I really need some starter pieces
to rebuild my wardrobe beyond sweat pants--
but please know my days consist of children and basketball games."
(this was similar to what I told them...)
But bottom line--they will never send you a fix unless you tell them to!

2.  Pick a date for your "fix."
They charge $20 when your fix is packaged 
and shipped to you.
(This happens about a week or so before your box arrives)
However--this $20 is credited toward anything
you choose to keep from your fix.

This is the pair of jeans they sent me, by Kensie.  They knew my body type and sent a pair of jeans
geared for curves.  I told them to send me somthing that I could wear with my favorite boots.
They did NOT send me skinny jeans, bless them.
This pair of jeans, which I never knew existed--even prevent "plumber butt."
Which you would only understand...well...if you are curvy.
The "cheat sheets" that come with each piece they send you, showing you what items will go well with each.
So--they sent me (5) pieces, so I have (5) cards--one for each piece.
My box did not include EVERY item you see here.  Just the main piece from each card that is listed at the top.
I clarify this because I don't want you to think they send 35 pieces in each box--leaving you overwhelmed!

--oh wow, this is the best day ever--
--and I am totally setting myself up for a box every month--

Try on your items.
They give you a cheat-sheet showing you 
what will work well with each piece,  
how to dress it up, or down.
And a clear list of each item's price.
{{and yes--they ship that fun little box to you for FREE}}
Whatever you don't want?
Put it into the prepaid, pre-labeled plastic bag
that comes right inside your box,
and put it into the mailbox.

No cost for you to return anything.
No lables to print.
No packaging tape to hunt down.
It is a self-sealing envelope all-ready-ready.
Blew my mind.

Return it within 3 days,
and meanwhile hop online to "check out."
Tell them which items you are keeping, if any.
They charge your card only for those items.
Deducting the $20 you already paid.

If you keep it all?
You get the entire box for 25% off.
That, my friend, was tempting.
And yes--I checked up on them.
Their prices are very realistic.
The jeans they sent me sell online for the very same price.
And many of the items actually were LESS expensive
through Stitch Fix by quite a bit.
Not to mention that 25% discount temptation!

If you have time, tell them briefly online why you are sending
back the rest--so that they can make your NEXT fix
even MORE tailored to your style.
The fixes, in theory, should get better and better!

My box as an example:
They shipped me: 3 blouses, a skirt, and a pair of jeans.
I kept the adorable skirt, $58.
It cost me zero to have this box shipped,
and I already had paid $20 when the box was packaged.
So, today I put 4 items in the prepaid bag and went online to
tell them I was keeping the skirt.  I was charged $38.
Had I kept everything in my box,
I could have gotten 25% off which would have
been an investment of $285,
for 3 shirts, a skirt, and a pair of jeans that retail at $400 total.
(Yes, truly I looked up each item--it retails for that much, Stitch Fix was not inflating anything.)
Maybe not the same as shopping the clearance rack at Old Navy
or American Eagle--but the value of having items
that were hand selected for me and shipped for free?
I consider it quite worth every penny.
And trust me, I'm a momma on a budget.
But the one piece I kept will fit nicely with whatever
clearance rack items I find during those once-a-year times I find myself without kids,
shopping with my sisters or a friend.

I am set up for them not to send me any items over $100.
That is the lowest price tier they offer-- the $50-100 tier.
And I was impressed at the wide range of prices they sent.
Yes, one shirt was close to $100--and I may have kept it had it been less $$.
And when I returned it, I clicked a little button that told-them-so.
So that next time, they will be less apt to send me blouses that would blow my budget.

What about sizing, did the items fit??
I know your mind.
I was soooo worried about this, considering my history of online shopping
and how hard it is to fit things to my body.
You see, Stitch Fix has your measurements.
They know what works on you.
So--in my box even the JEANS fit.
Two of the shirts were a bit snug in the arms, but not terribly.
Now I know to go to my profile and adjust my size for shirts,
and my designer, Joannie, also knows b/c I filled out the online survey
telling her which shirts fit too snug.
She does this as her career, after all.

The entire process of going online and plopping my package out for the mailman
took 5 minutes.
I won't tell you how long it took me to try on the 5 items
and dance around like a princess in front of my mirror.

You are worth it.
Your time is precious and scarce, I know.
When you open that closet and wonder which of two outfits to wear,
and you have a little money saved up...
that you didn't use on coffee drinks...
remember the blog you read about Stitch Fix.
And that Stitch Fix is the real deal.
A real blessing to some of us mommas.
And send yourself a gift!
And then tell me all about it :)
How this perfect skirt ended up on your doorstep
while you were busy doing life.

Stitch Fix has a referral program, which means that if you decide one day to
purchase a fix, and you tell them that I sent you using my code, they gift me with a credit.
This had no bearing on my review of their services,
I blogged this simply to share this wonderful little service with friends.
Part of me didn't even want to include this credit link--
because I don't want you to be skeptical that this swayed my writing.
If this service blesses you, I want you to try it even if you forget all about me.
Because I blog simply to encourage your heart.
And sometimes to make your Nitty-Gritty a little less...gritty.
Had my experience been terrible instead of skippingly-thrilling,
you would never have read this.
Because I wouldn't have taken time out of my day to write it.
I could, after all, be quilting!
Quilts don't mind coughing and sore throats.
{{Thank you for using my referral, bless you!
And enjoy your adventure!}}

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Confetti ~ In the Inbetween Places.

The kids tucked into car seats, warm October day with sun beaming.
Where is that rain the weather radio hinted of?
This is the inbetween place.

Summer still holding on, gripping tightly,
it's last performance call, splendid brilliance and
almost-impossible gifted days of last warmth.
Autumn hot on its tail,
slowly orchestrating splendor.
You can feel the hint of chill in the breeze.
The inbetween place.

Out of the driveway,
the confetti rolls.
Breathtaking whirlwinds of tiny yellow leaves
swirling and enveloping the car.
We all gasp.
Confetti like a wild Creator party,
heralding the coming of the new.
The new season.
God celebrates the death of summer warmth--
with confetti.

My kindergarten-wise-one asks,
"Mom, do the trees not need their leaves anymore?"
That's exactly it.
There is beauty in the discarding and the death of the old.
There is rest.

The trees know:  this is the season of rest.
Get rid of the unnecessary--and let beauty be found in the falling sound.
What clues them in that this is the resting time?
The air?

The inbetween place.
The space between what was, and what will be.
Soft and subtle.
This is their cue.

God is at work, in the inbetween place.
When one season is closing, and the next is not yet revealed.
I find myself often unsettled in the inbetween place.
Wondering where I am,
Where God is.
Yet He is conducting the entire show.
And He speaks:  Child, REST.

Child, TRUST.

My day began with beautiful confetti,
I basked in the smiles of precious little ones,
watched the tiny ripples on my "lake,"
and lost my breath when a crane
swooped over the water.

Yet why I end some random days with
anxiety and it's-ugly-tangled-twin depression on my heels again?
It mystifies me.
I put up fists to fight wild hard.
I feel defeated--thinking I had already busted-the-jaw
of this wild creeping beast.
And God declares:  REST.

Rest in My goodness,
Rest in my working all things for your good.
Rest in My power over this.
Over every season of your life.
Rest, knowing that:

I bring BEAUTY out of dying places.
Splendor untold,
confetti parties,
ushering in the new.

And you, fragile one?
You are in the driver's seat,
front row seat to watching my magnificence
erupt your tired places
into absolute 

Yes, I dance in the confetti
of the inbetween place.
My soul learning how-to-rest.
Rest being spelled:

"And the children of men take refuge
in the shadow of Your wings.
They drink their fill of the abundance of 
Your house;
And you give them to drink of the river
of Your delights."

{ Psalm 36: 7-8 }

Drink your fill of His goodness.
Claim His promises over you.
He is faithful.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Front row seat.

Fall 2012

construction dust caught in a spiderweb

fall 2012

Beauty from Destruction.

The dishes done,
I set down my dishrag.
Enamored by the view.
My lake-front property view.

And it washed over me ~
This view is a reminder to me,
of God's incredible love for me.
Of his faithfulness.

When I look at it,
I am reminded:
To not look and be taken under by what I see,
But to trust in Him who is unseen.
There is NOTHING like God's faithfulness.
And often times it is the trembling difficult paths
that teach me the most about God's character.
Hard times?
They are a front row seat.
A front row seat to God's faithfulness.
The best seats in the house.

I am learning that there is only one healthy fear.

"Fear the Lord, you His Saints,
for those who fear Him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing."

We crazily, blindly bought this house over ten years ago.
This blessed little haven.
How naïve we were.
Blessedly naïve.
The roof was ancient.
God said -- I've got that covered.
Hail storm.
New roof for the cost of a slight deductible.  An amazing bargain.
Oh.  And a backyard that flooded.  Deep.
God stepped in,
And before a decade of living here had passed?
The backyard was dug up, drains were installed.
The city paid half, the neighborhood split up the remainder.
What would have cost us thousands, cost us one thousand.
Which we just happened to have leftover in our tax return that year.

We bought this house, in an instant, for ONE REASON:
for the forest across the street.
It felt like a little cabin nestled at the edge of the city.
I would seriously stop while putting down the garage door,
stop and just stare as the sun settled behind the trees.
Those beautiful, wild trees.

I would joke, that when we outgrew this house we would
simply add on a second story.
A second story with large windows facing those beloved trees.
A treehouse.
That's where I would sink deep into a bubbly tub in my very-own-bathroom,
up in the canopy of leaves.

And then last fall, that forest was ripped up.
To install a retention pond.
The city decided to trade trees for retained swampy water.
It decided to rip up beauty?
My immediate reaction to the city's plans were anger,
anger, and more anger.
And then -- helplessness.
As I watched the bulldozers and machines make
mulch out of beautiful trees, within the span of a single day.
It wrecked me.
It wrenched my insides.

And I told my husband -- this was the end of our stay here
at this house.
My anchor was gone,
and I wanted to move.

The day that the machine came to rip out trees?
I cried.
Just sat there, watching, and grieving.

Hopelessness has no place in the life of a believer.
Fear has no place.
My husband came home, handed me a blessed band-aid (mocha flavored)
and said, "God has a plan.  You'll see."

And from that moment,
I determined to trust.
To set aside my disappointment and just:  rest in the character of God.

There is a place in our neighborhood ~ my favorite place ~
a beautiful lake, just blocks away.
I often walk there just to sit and think.  Or to hear the cranes sing.
God and I have spent some deep moments there.
It is where I fled to weep over my grandmother's death.
And I would think to myself, as I passed those expensive homes --
how GLORIOUS would it be to see this lake everyday as the view from within?

And as I set down my dishrag today,
it washed over me:
my VIEW.
My front window view.
God brought that lake right to me.

For free.

Ponder this:  He intimately knows the desires of our hearts.

This retention pond is somewhat, strikingly beautiful.
It connects directly with my favorite little lake.
Like an extension of my favorite lake, pulled and molded right to my door.
It is lined with trees,
Less trees?  Yes.
But somehow, even more beautiful as they line the shores of my favorite lake-view.

Yes, this morning I even saw a crane wading in the water.
I have enjoyed a summer's worth of frog songs.
I've watched geese families follow each other in unison along the marsh grass,
and have delighted in the massive amount of dragonflies that ponds bring.

I set down my dishrag and was overcome with truth.
With the truth of God's character.
Why do I ever doubt that love?
With the wave of his Hand,
He brought a gift to my front door.
And asked simply that I trust.
Always, trust.
Trust even in the midst of destruction everywhere.
In the midst of noise, dreams fading, anchors being moved.
Trust that He sees, and that He moves on behalf of his beloved.
Do not forget, little forgetful one.
Do not forget WHO I AM.

And that I LOVE YOU.

Is it possible to weep over a dishrag?
In my fear, and my anger, I almost sold this place.
Almost cashed out before the blessing.
I spent way to much time worrying, and way too little time praying.
And I do that a lot.  With much bigger things.

Control is a response to fear.
Is an illusion.
We control...well, we control really nothing.
Worry sets in as we try to control,
and worry steals our joy.
Worry is a thief that promises to help us,
only it robs us blind the moment we let it in.

Fear the Lord.

He holds the lakes, and the trees, all of it.
He holds our fragile bodies, and our dreams and our children.
Even in death, we win.

Anchor yourself to the One in control.
Blindly, like a child.
Take joy and dance, instead of control and fear.


This metaphor,
of beauty coming from destruction,
of swamp water where beauty once flourished,
parallels much deeper seasons in my life.
And if you've lived any amount of time here on this broken planet,
Life throws curve balls, fells our trees, and rips at us.
Seasons come ~ where it is hard to see hope among the impending.
And when all that is left in the depths of your soul,
is Who lives there.
And you cling.
Cling through the waves and destruction.
Waiting for the beauty that you know will come.
Because God's character?  Is only good.
And He can be trusted.
I have tasted His goodness in the land of the living.
And I remember this sweetness when the bitter waves roll.

"Those who fear Him, lack no good thing."
Fear where it belongs = a content heart.

Go in great peace!
And remember to give grace always,
as almost everyone you meet has broken places
and battles things you would not understand.
Love one another.
~ Love God highest. ~

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter ~ Hearts and TREASURE.


The Rock That Easter Builds.
Last year, Easter marked a time period for me right before a storm.
I believe that God holds those He loves,
preparing them for the coming waves.
{If we are breathing, the storms will come, amen?}
It was during this time,
this calm...
that my heart yearned to elevate Easter to its proper place in our home.
To make it an event,
something really special ~ marked.
And in my muddled mind, was born the idea of pointing my children
toward the ultimate treasure:
Somehow the teaching of my children always teaches me most.

This is how I yearn to spend my days.
Pointing toward the Jesus treasure.
My children are nuts about all things pirate, and all things treasure,
and adventure calls to them from every corner and every bedsheet.
So I am purposing to speak their language.
There is a verse that has always sung to me the song of adventure:

"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure
hidden in a field.
When a man found it, he hid it again,
and then in his JOY went and sold ALL HE HAD
and BOUGHT that field."
 ~words of Jesus, from Mathew 13:44

In years past we filled their Easter baskets with yummy sugar,
and then....
we made them put that sugar in the pantry...
having a little here and there ~ and most of it being forgotten,
and uneaten, and tossed out.
Or eaten by the wrong mouth...{sigh}

Last year, we started a new tradition.
Easter baskets, yes.
But with just a few pieces of candy that they can enjoy right away.
And then....
A mysterious note?

A mysterious note, that turns a clue....
 inviting them to partake in an Easter morning:

That FIRST clue will lead them to their SECOND CLUE,
and so forth....
and clue number THREE?
Will lead them to their treasure.
One clue for each of the days that Jesus lay hidden in a grave.
They will find their treasure wrapped in paper, with hearts taped on it.
One heart per child, with their name scribbled across it.
And the paper will have the following verse:

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor.  Provide purses
for yourselves that will not wear out,
a TREASURE IN HEAVEN that will not be exhausted,
where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
For where your TREASURE is, there your HEART will be also.
~ words of Jesus from Luke 12:33-34

As I type~ in our dining room, taped upon the door,
is a colorful cross.
Colored yesterday by little hands grasping crayons in delight.
Wondering what mommy had up her sleeve this time?
All week long we live in this house, in the shadow of that cross.
When we falter, when we fail,
we pick a little piece of scrap paper out of a basket in the center of the table.
We pray, reflect, and blot down our misses,
and put them right up on the cross.
I was the very first one to nail a transgression up there yesterday:
And when my husband arrived home late and I missed a few minutes
of my webinar, and was snippy? I volunteered up "impatience."
Yes, this cross will be full up around here over the span of a week.
On Easter morning the children will have the chance to
remove: every.single.sin.
To take them down, and toss them in the garbage.
Washed clean.
And they will have the chance to put their heart,
the one stuck to their treasure:
right at the foot of the cross.
To remember where our real treasure lies.
Taping our fragile hearts right there.
Then we will rip open the paper, and delight in our treasure!
We will talk about how Jesus is our FOREVER treasure!
And how His followers found Him alive on that third day!
And how He was seen alive by over 500 people, after his death upon that cross.
And how we carry the Holy Spirit inside us, ALIVE, everywhere, all the time,
if our hearts belong to Jesus.

Death, where is your sting?
Hell, where is your victory?

These are the hard-core-truths
that can carry us through any storm.
Sing it LOUD!
This will be the song infiltrating every room of our home on Easter Sunday...
The miracle, the love, the thrill of the Easter story ~ the rock to build our days upon.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I am a simple girl.
All twisted up in a life of swirling options.
I get sidetracked easily.
Like a child, chasing after butterflies.
Have you noticed
how distracted the world can be?
It is a very easy age to be entertained to death.
It wraps it's silent hands around the most precious, most scarce of jewels:
our time.
And it steals our focus.
Steals our mental clarity.
I was standing in my basement, gathering laundry,
when like a flood it washed over me.
Knocked me clean-over inside.
I looked there, at my four year old son,
giggling and jumping and playing in the playroom
just a few feet away.
His laugh, infectious.
His joy, exuding.
And I just stood there, basking in his childhood.
In his temporary, whisping status.
He is not a permanent fixture in my home.
He is here, just passing through.
Just passing through.
What distracts me from being all-in?
What takes my time away from getting on my knees,
drinking in the joy, giggling right along with him?
Whatever it is that distracts me, better be worthy.
Extremely worthy.

There is the necessary.
The tyranny of the urgent.
The laundry to graciously consume piece by precious piece.
The dishes to prepare.  To present.  To clean.
The minds to fill.
The necessary ~ yes.
The necessary in and of itself can take the entirety of a day.
Maybe there is even more necessary than there are hours.
It is a matter of sleuthing out priority.
Those precious moments of time,
when the necessary-of-the-necessary are covered...
are fleeting, temporary treasures.
Some to spend on my soul.
And some to pour out into the banks of memory,
which will be all that remains
once childhood vanishes.
All that will last ~
is what I've poured into those banks of memory.
I pray it be a river of life.
I am on a mission to simplify.
Cutting the clutter of all the time wasters.
Of all the wispy, cute little butterflies that flitter across my mind...
and send me chasing.
Distracting me from the worthy.
Distracting me from the main event.
I'm on a mission to elevate the important in my life.
It is easy to think that everything is worthy.
So to help myself gain clarity, all the unnecessary must go, for awhile.
It's just a little experiment of mine.
A journey.
I don't want anything to hold power over me,
and when the thought of deleting facebook made me cringe,
I knew it had to go.

I was walking a street in Milwaukee this weekend.
Turning the corner of Oakland and Bellview.
Walking briskly, frozen snow crunching beneath boots.
Sun spilling and breaking late in the day between naked trees.
Trying to escape the frigid cold.
When I heard it.
A small song.
It hit my soul, woke me up ~ and I stopped.
Right there.
The sound of spring?
My eyes had to search, my ears had to be tuned carefully...
to find it.
And there, yes there--up about twenty feet perched on a branch,
was a Robin.
Orangey-red chest swelled.
Singing her little heart into spring.
And my heart sang with her.
She can sense it.
Despite the cold, the bitter, the weariness of a long winter...
the snow so bright it blinds and makes eyes quench shut...
there are signs of spring everywhere.

Walking through life can be head-down, fast.
Get it done.
Get through.
Focus on the next task.
But what joy we miss, when we are distracted and
flitting from one thing to another? 
There is incredible joy in the simple,
in the simple journey.
In waking up to it.
I want to be alert for the gentle voice of God.
The opposite of alert?  Distracted.  Asleep.
And one of the enemy's greatest strongholds upon our generation?
Putting the soul into a trance-like-sleep.

I know what sleeps me, what reaches out and steals my clarity.
So I purge, and reorder, and find quiet.
Until the cold grip of distraction loses its hold.
I want to leave you with this:
 one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
So.  Good.
May you be listening for Him, my friend.
Elijah, a prophet,
is weary.
He is running for his life.
He is the last one standing for the Lord,
He is alone.
He is full of dread, fear, and defeat.
Overwhelmed, you could say.
And he wants to give up.
And the Lord feeds Him.
Elijah finds strength, and wanders on.
Wanders for 40 days until he reaches a mountain,
and he spends the night in a cave.
And God meets him there.
In Elijah's exhaustion, and his overwhelm.
He speaks to Elijah,
Elijah replies basically: I am alone, and running for my life.
Alone.  Overwhelmed.
And what does the Lord bless Elijah with?
Not treasures, or an army, or instantly taking away his problems--
God blesses Elijah first with the ONE thing that is beyond compare:
His very Prescence.
He tells Elijah...
"'Go out and stand on the mountain in the prescence of the Lord,
for the Lord is about to pass by.'
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart
and shattered the rocks before the Lord,
but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake,
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.   
After the earthquake came a fire,
but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a GENTLE WHISPER. 
When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face
and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave."
~I Kings 19:11-13
And here is where God
tells Elijah where to go, and what to say.
God, powerful enough to be preceded by grandeur,
A gentle whisper.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Navajo fry bread.

It's probably a good thing:
that I don't know how to "fry" things.
A testimony to the excellent upbringing I had,
where:  if it didn't come in a box labeled "Helper,"
It was just never served.
The second-last week of our
"Adventures in US History"
and we are called to pretend to be Navajo's
and make up this easy, 5 ingredient thing called:
Navajo Fry Bread.
The kids get all sticky,
I get all sticky,
and I am determined that this is gonna be super awesome.
And it was.
The boys asked for triple helpings.
And then some.
And then it was time for me to clean up the kitchen.
Now, please have a little sense of humor and cut me a little slack here.
It was the end of a REALLY long day, and I went straight
into "cleanup mode autopilot."
I grabbed the pan of hot-frying oil,
one inch deep hot oil...
and I thought to myself,
"I really need to get the oil outta here so I can get this cleaned
and put away for the night."
I then remembered that my grandmother used to pour hot oil
into a little container.
So I pulled a half n half container out of the recycling bin,
opened up the top really wide....
and prepared to pour.
My tired brain stopped me.
I cannot pour this oil--it's going to slop all over the sink
if I just up and pour willy nilly.
So I instead grab a ceramic bowl.
A ceramic bowl with a little pour spout.
As I am about to pour, something inside me begins to wonder...
just how HOT do I think this oil still is....
is it going to damage this ceramic bowl?...
oh well, what's the worst that can happen....
And by this time I am already pouring.
Hot, sizzling oil.
Into this precious little ceramic bowl.
And the bowl begins to sizzle and  TERRIFYING noises erupt,
LOUD noises--
and I yell to the boys who are snacking on their fry bread just a few feet away:
I grab them and grab the high chair and
I'm pulling kids and pushing them fast into the living room.
Kids covered in sugary fry bread and pizza hands from supper.
One of the kids smiles and yells,
They are looking at me, and I am totally clueless.
They are safe on the other side of the wall and the sizzling continues...
we are all listening.
and I am wondering if this--if this is how this little house will end.
"In flames, after a homeschool experiment recipe (!) gone awry."
I stand there with the boys, waiting.
I am seriously expecting the bowl to just start exploding all over the place.
I am picturing Thanksgiving fry turkey fires...
and wondering if this whole oil/ceramic mixture
is meant to just KABOOOOOM!
That MUST be how oil fires start?
Curiosity is my middle name...
I venture back to the sizzling sink...
I peek to see a bowl with hot oil sizzling in it...
a bowl that is still in tact.
and I realize that we are all going to be okay.
That we are all okay,
and that the house is still standing.
And I begin to laugh.
I begin to LAUGH like a little girl ~
straight from the gut.
Earlier I had posted a story about the mess of the house,
and how sometimes it's tempting to push all the mess out the back
door and start a bonfire.
Who woulda thought I almost started a bonfire in my sink?
The laughter began to peel out of me,
and the boys laughed, too.
We were all just rolling, doubled over in laughter.
And I find it ironic that after a stressful day full of the mess
of motherhood,
that THIS, ~This~ is how my Saviour allowed me to end my day.
My mind earlier, talking of pushing the mess outside and just roasting
marshmallows over it,
and my day ending in crazy rolling laughter that the mess is all safe.
That I DIDN'T start it on fire!
My Lord certainly has a sense of humor.
Me at the brink of explosions,
realizing that all that noise was simply hot-oil-poured-into-a-room-temp-dish.
The laughter must have brought my tired mind back to reality.
Back to scientific explanations.
And I remembered that grandma used to use a TIN can for her hot oil.
Funny how that came to mind so easily,
after my mind was allowed some deep, pure laughter.
Oh, Grandma, if only you could hear this one.
I can just see this story, handed down to my grandchildren someday:
"the day that mom told us to take cover during supper."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Insanity of Motherhood.

When did ~THIS~ become my normal?
It's quiet time, and I am looking for:  a REMOTE.
Not to watch tv.  I don't really ever watch tv. {gasp?}
I am looking under basement couch cushions...finding lost toys...
I am hunting shelves that are piled with dust.
I look behind a giant speaker from my husband's-bachelor-days
and find random clothing tossed by a son, toys hidden there, too.
An empty, tipped bottle of rubbing alcohol?
I am on my knees, thinking it HAS to be here, somewhere....
And it washes over me like a wave:  WHEN did THIS become my normal?
I want to find this black remote, which holds the key to my health~
the one non-negotiable that is MINE:  my workout dvd, Insanity.
The DVD will not work without that remote.
So the intro of the DVD plays over and over...calling me....
and I realize that time is ticking, and I'm already behind schedule.
And this was THE WEEK that I was going to start fresh and
not miss a SINGLE workout.
And I begin to feel the tears well up.
I swore, before kids--and even with my first kid--
that my house would always be organized.
That our toys would be well-cared-for, and neatly-arranged.
That I would get down on the floor and play with toys, with my kids.
That we would, yes, play with all those organized toys, all pieces present.
A game comes in, pristine, with all its hopefulness of pure family fun
and giggles and all the promised-happy-memories.
And then it spends just a few months here,
and its identity is lost,
its soul is wandering,
it is a shell of its former glory.
Used as a jumping board, or shoved in a tight space,
or emptied out to play pirate ships.
My ideals were high.
Now look at me, on my belly searching the deep darkness, the-under-spaces.
How did every toy in this place end up looking like a battered rummage item?
I search for the remote, and lift up puzzle boxes with missing pieces and
BENT edges.  Game boxes half closed, half empty.  {sigh}
I rummage through glorious green bins that I bought to "organize" toys,
that now hold random pieces of games here and there...
Nothing in one place--all scattered. 
My mind is spinning in chaos.
I find myself muttering that ol' saying that mother's through time say:
"Now THIS, THIS is why we can't have NICE things!"
I lift a couch pillow and find a piece to a game that I don't
even think the kids PLAY.
And how did it make it's way here??
I  bet that's an interesting tale...
I think about my morning,
of the milk that spilled down the unreachable-crack...
the one between the fridge and the cabinetry.
How in the early part of a fresh day,
anything can be spun into joy:  
how I had counted it an Opportunity.
An excuse to finally: clean behind that old-piece-of-ancient...
whirring, buzzing, stained refrigerator.
With it's broken deli drawer.
Reminding myself it's all about perspective.
Reminding myself that Laura Ingalls grew up without one of these.
I thought about how the dog hates me.
How I take her aging bladder out for "business" twice an hour,
and she still found a way to leave me presents THREE times today.
One which a child handed me, one a child stepped in.
Disinfectant wipes, skin washings, and more laundry.
Yet I still rescue her from a tragic death of eating plastic and spare my own
fingertips as I pull a plastic-wrapped piece of forgotten-child-size string cheese
from between her snarled teeth.
Trying to remember that one day she will pass,
and I will be sad to see her go.
Because she follows me everywhere,
and keeps me warm on chilly winter nights.
My footsteps are followed in beat by the click-clack
of tiny dachsie claws.
It's the sounds of:  home.
School lessons with a runny-nosed, miserable toddler
who tipped over a tote full of school supplies.  Cracking it.
Countertops piled with randomness waiting for my "free time"
to organize and put things away.
I just keep piling, waiting.
Thinking every day:  tonight I'll take some time to put
all of this away.  Instead, piles GROW.
Into pile-trees.  It's a bountiful harvest of clutter now.
The crunch underfoot in a kitchen needing sweeping.
The jersey that needs washing and the stars
that yet need be ironed on it.
Laundry baskets full of clean laundry--
somehow it cleans, but the folding part and away part is
akin to impossible.
I feel like when I do get it folded and put away it
lasts there for about 12 hours and then
I turn right around to repeat.
Yes, there are days that I want to just sweep it all into a big heap,
Right into the backyard.
And then sit it afire.
And read a book.
Quietly, warming my tootsies.
I wonder if the kids feel the same?
I resist the temptation to sit there in the basement, and cry.
I felt the tears welling,
and I reminded myself that this:  IS ALL blessing.
For me it takes deliberate REMINDING.
It's a blessing to have mess, to begin with,
And I did what every overwhelmed mother does:
I took five.
This is my five.
I set aside all the mess and the walls caving in,
to write.
Not to turn on the tv, or cry, or yell.
Although I wanted to yell about the remote, and the cry part we-know.
I tucked the children down in the mess, to play.
They seem to enjoy themselves amongst the chaos that makes me cringe.
And I'm sitting here writing.
Clearing mind clutter.
And in front of me, the verse...
bound by a clip:
Psalm 34:
Of David.  When he pretended to be INSANE before Abimelech,
who drove him away, and he left.
"I will extol the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord;
let the afflicated hear and rejoice."
I think it would be therapeutic to pretend to be outright insane.
Sometimes motherhood can take my mind to insane places.
It can take me away from my Insanity workout.
But it does one thing well:  it reminds me that I am weak.
And that I cannot get through this insane job-description
without a really BIG head-choreographer.
Who knows my insane.
Who gifted me my insane.
And that in my afflicted states,
I can still rejoice.
Because when you sweep it all into the backyard--
peel away all the clutter and overwhelm:
All of this is a gift.
Every sacred overwhelmed day,
is a gift.
Ahhh.  Back to peace.
Now, to get the a little school,
and dance amongst our mess.
Dear God, please be our peace today.
Keep my mind fixed on blessings.
Praise always on my lips.
I stray so easily.
(Better yet, Lord...I'll bring the book, you bring the marshmallows...)