Here Comes Santa Claus

We rarely saw my Grandpa smile or laugh, but this night he was like a little kid on Christmas!
We rarely saw my Grandpa smile or laugh, but this night he was like a little kid on Christmas!

I have been reading a lot of posts about the commercialization of Christmas and dialing it back to what Christmas day is really all about. I read a very powerful blog post about the magic of Christmas as well as an awesome Facebook post from Pastor Greg Laurie who said that this day wasn’t just the day when Jesus was born, but it was the day that changed the trajectory of the world forever. FOREVER. I believe that. Our family believes that and we keep that in the forefront of our minds and hearts during Christmas despite the very obvious distractions. But we also play Christmas music, we have a decorated and lit tree in our front room, we read Christmas stories, watch Christmas movies and because we are lazy and don’t want to hang lights, we have four – yes, four – Christmas lawn puppets (the horror).

We also have our family traditions and of course, we do presents…and (gasp) Santa comes to our house too. I know.

Of course, my kids get greedy and bug me about this toy and that toy and that’s when I just want to scrap Santa and say that he represents all that is wrong with Christmas! But then I remembered this story from my Dad. I remember this day too. I think I was probably seven, maybe eight? Although I didn’t fully understand the depth of what was happening (after all, I knew my dad was dressed as Santa) nor did I grasp the deep meaning of this moment, when I read this story now I can understand why we cling to that jolly old man in the red and white suit. Here is my dad’s account of that evening:

“My dad  had never been that close to Santa in his life.  Santa never made it to his house on Christmas Eve when my dad was a kid.  The family was so poor that my dad grew up not knowing the fun of waking up on Christmas Day and finding a toy, or anything, under the tree. My sisters and I always knew that Santa would come to our house… my dad would see to it the Santa made it there. As I grew older, and even moreso after my dad died, I discovered that he would always send money to his family (sisters) in Mexico for Christmas so that Santa would be sure to find his way there.  I discovered that he also would buy baskets of fruit and had them wrapped in cellophane to be delivered to the church and poor families in Austin at Christmas… where he knew that Santa would not make a stop on Christmas Eve.

On top of the basket was a red bow and a miniature plastic Santa.  He did this for many years… and he did not want the recipient to know where it came from. I found out through one of the produce vendors who sold produce to my dad for the restaurant and who delivered the Christmas fruit baskets. The people who received them thought that the produce guy had sent them, they never knew. When I was in elementary school, the nuns would pass out an orange, apple or a grapefruit in a box covered with a red and green bow on the last day of school before the Christmas break.  This was their Christmas gift to us.  I was having a discussion with my dad one day and brought up the Christmas “present” that the nuns gave us and who made a big deal about it. I was belittling what the nuns did because I was used to getting toys, candy and comic books for Christmas.

 As we talked he said to me that there are many kids who never even get an apple, orange, grapefruit, or candy on Christmas Day.  He said that what the nuns did was insuring that those kids would have at least that as a Christmas gift on Christmas Day.  He said that there are some kids who would be excited to receive something as simple as an orange.  I did not know until later that he had been one of those kids who would have loved to have received… even just an orange.  My dad was speaking from experience. 

One Christmas evening, Santa showed up at my parents house. My dad was totally surprised and overwhelmed with emotion. He couldn’t believe his eyes and tears rolled down his face.  He couldn’t even talk, but he was excited as a kid with a bag full of candy and toys. He kept slapping Santa’s back and hugging Santa over and over again. He hugged Santa so hard that Santa’s ribs hurt for two days. 

 So, that was why my dad was like a kid when he saw Santa come to his house.  Santa  sat there with him to talk and take pictures. He even had coffee and cookies with him. It really happened!!  Santa came to visit my dad and it made that my dad’s day…one to remember.  Santa will never forget that day, either…one that he will always remember…priceless.”

And guess what, there were three little kids (my sister, me and my little brother) who won’t forget that either. This is the wonder and magic of Christmas we can pass along to others as well. If you are blessed, bless others. You don’t need to post about it or snap an insta of it, just do it and don’t let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. Let your giving be done in secret.

That’s one of my favorite verses in the bible. It comes from Matthew 6:3 “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be done in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” My Grandpa did most of his giving in secret and although I doubt he was seeking a reward in return, I am sure he was blessed just by knowing that there were kiddos who would get to experience the wonder of Christmas and the magic of Santa on Christmas morning – a wonder he finally experienced much later in his life, thanks to my Dad.

The Rainbow Connection

teach them to grow and nurture
teach them to grow and nurture

I guess if there is anything I have learned day after day and week after week is that there needs to be a greater surrender to the family as a unit  and specifically my children if this whole thing is going to work over the years. That is not to say that I don’t take care of myself or my marriage, but there has to be a very real, very tangible surrender for me to create the type of relationship I want with my children. I have way more things that I would like to do in this lifetime, but most of them yield to raising my children – because you have one shot. One chance to mold them into kind people. One chance to fill them with love and let them know they are valuable, beautiful and smart. One chance to teach them the difference between right and wrong. To teach them kindness, humility and how to treat other people. If my kids never play sports, never excel in music or theatre arts, never paint one canvas, change one law, create new technologies or summit Everest but become kind, respectful, hard-working, God-fearing people who give back then I will feel that I have succeeded as a mother.

Do not lose sight of your purpose as a mom, we need you to invest in your children because they are the future.

(CLICK HERE) Rainbow Connection This article ran in Damsel Magazine in June of 2008.

Oh my, my favorite as a kid!!

Apples Don’t Fall Far

My Dad in 1959
My Dad in 1959

My Dad writes too. Guest blog post from my old man (isn’t that what they would have said in the 50’s?):

“I came across this high school graduation picture of me.  All the seniors had to sit for the formal pic and wear a coat and tie. Of course, there were the rebels who would not wear a coat and tie.  I remember one guy, a weightlifter, who showed up in a muscle shirt fresh out of PE class.  He had no idea what day it was so all he had was the muscle shirt he usually wore to school.  He was told that he could not take his picture in the shirt so he took it off.  He was a crazy one. No one ever argued with him. They just left him alone.

Notice that I had a lot of hair on my head at that time.  Almost every guy carried a black Ace pocket comb in his back pant pocket.  It was cool to pull out that comb and start combing… especially in front of the girls. I remember one Friday night, weekends were “dragging” night… usually after going to the record hop and then to the drive-in for burgers and malts we would end up drag racing (dragging) our cars around midnight. If we had a date, we took her home early enough so as not to miss the midnight drag races.

On this particular Friday night, I took on a guy who had a ’58 Pontiac with a big engine.  I had a ’55 Chevy… but not with the Chevy engine.  It had a ’58 Pontiac engine that was souped up with three carburetors, a magspark transformer for ignition, a full-race (almost flat lobed) camshaft, a 4:11 ratio rear end, traction bars, headers and dual exhausts, and a 2000-lb hydraulic Ford tractor clutch.  It was a screamer!!!  Anyway, the guy I was to race had no idea what was under the hood of my Chevy. He had won many a midnight drag race.  And, he was ready to do it again.

As the starter began the countdown… “on your mark”…. “get set” …  my shotgun man on the right front passenger seat told me that the guy in the Pontiac had a smirky grin, didn’t like the look on his face and had just given him the high sign… if you know what I mean.  I told my shotgun man not to worry, that he would be in my rear view mirror before we finished the quarter-mile race.

As the starter counted down to … “GO!!”, the Pontiac went by me burning rubber.  My Chevy was so geared down with the 4:11 rear end that I never slammed full power at the line.  If I were to hit the gas, I would fishtail all over and possibly throw me into his lane or off the track. Instead, I took off the line slowly so as not to fish tail… still on one carburetor and first gear.  By this time the guy in the Pontiac was about one car length in front of me. I slam-shifted into second gear and accelerated to full throttle… kicking in all three carburetors and, Godalmighty, my Chevy with the souped-up Pontiac under the hood took off like, as we used to say, “A Bat Out Of Hell!!!” You could hear the roar of the carburetors all the way back to the starting line.

I passed the guy in the Pontiac and saw him in my rear view mirror when my shotgun hollered “FINISH!!!” I beat him by two car lengths!!!  CREAMED HIM!!!! The purpose of the shotgun is, while I am concentrating on the road, speed, steering and things immediately in front of me and maintaining control as the car accelerates to 100 mph in a quarter-mile, to keep his eyes on the periphery for anything out of the ordinary… like the cops. After the race, we turned back to the starting line and picked up those who had come with us to watch.  While there, the guy in the Pontiac whom I had just creamed, came up to me to check out my car.  As was the custom, we popped the hoods to take a look. His jaw dropped when he checked out my Chevy.  He shouted at me and said, “Hey man, this ain’t no Chevy engine!!!!” “I never said it was… you picked the race,” I said. To my surprise (and shock) this guy was the weightlifter who showed up for his senior picture in the muscle shirt!!! The Rebel!!!

He had two other buddies who came with him. I had three… but his buddies were bigger than us and were weightlifters. As he got into his car to drive away, he drove up next to me  and got off. He looked at me and at my friends,….. reached in his back pant’s pocket ….  and pulled out ….  HIS BLACK ACE POCKET COMB!!!!!  He started combing his hair and said in a low voice… “That was a tie, right???” And drove off into the night.

He never raced me again.”

The One vs. The 99

IMG_3426
Conrad Jackson, one of the men who pulled the Hotshots off the mountain. He did the workout in full gear and ran with his axe. A very touching moment.

It’s not a secret. I like CrossFit. A lot.

There are the obvious reasons, like, I enjoy being fit and active. I also like the mental aspect and the variety of the workouts just as much as I love the community and the culture of CrossFit. It fits me well.

But last night after returning home from a CrossFit fundraiser for the Granite Mountain Hotshots Crew, something hit me.

For a while, I have been trying to put my finger on the reason why I keep coming back WOD after WOD for more than a year, four days a week and not missing unless I have to. Like the time I had strep and my husband almost had to hog tie me to keep me home to rest because I was contagious…whatever. Besides my family and my children, there isn’t much that captures my passion like this. The trump card? Jesus. Now don’t go thinking that I am in anyway comparing CrossFit to Jesus. I am not. But hear me out.

Matthew 18: 12-13 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.”

Two defining aspects of CrossFit are the culture and the community. It is thick, it is tight and it is welcoming. From the first moment I walked into our affiliate gym, I was treated like any other person. It did not matter that I didn’t have tattoos all over my body. It didn’t matter that I was sorely out of shape. It did not matter that it was my first day. The owner personally greeted me and when I felt like I couldn’t do anymore lunges or whatever we were doing, the people around me encouraged me and pushed me to finish the workout. I couldn’t explain it, but I was hooked. Here was a gym full of people who were in incredible shape and had muscles on their muscles who had every reason to look at me and think “what in the world does she think she is doing here?” And not one person did that. I felt like the one sheep. CrossFit goes after the one. And that is incredibly important for me. It is important for me to know that despite my deficits, I am still welcome.

God invented this concept. If you keep thinking that no one will go after you, you are wrong. Jesus will always leave the ninety-nine to go after the one, because every single person matters to him. Every single one.

Look at The Birds

birdie

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

Nature is a tricky thing. At times I find myself marveling at the wonder and beauty God has so meticulously created in the painted skies, detailed markings on butterfly wings or vivid colors of beetles, birds and flowers. Other times I feel overwhelmed by the powerful reality that monstrous storms create or the harsh and brutal knowledge that there is indeed a food chain.

For the past two months we have been host to a sweet mama bird and her three little eggs. Our son has become so attached to this bird, that he has adopted her as his “pet” and aptly named her “Sing-y Bird.” Last year, we also had a mama bird make her nest in one of the eaves of our house, but unfortunately during monsoon season her nest got blown away along with her little eggs and one baby bird. We came home from vacation to find pieces of nest and egg on the ground and one of her babies under a bush. That baby had sadly not made it. We felt sad, but knew that Mother Nature had indeed run its course.

This year, our mama bird friend found a more suitable eave for her nest and we felt confident that this year all her babies would make it. We watched her build her nest from scraps of newspaper, leaves and other brush from the ground. Our kids would say “Hello birdie” anytime we left the house and we would feed her the scraps of bread from our breakfast toast. Mama bird appreciated our efforts and became part of our daily life. As a mother, I took my own opportunity to teach the kids about nature and birds and I was secretly relieved this year when our mama bird and her eggs made it though monsoon season.

Eventually, we found one of the eggs in the dirt below. We scooped it up and hoped that the other two would meet a different fate. Violent dust storms blew through the area and still our mama and her two babies remained. Rain storms pelted the house and the roof and our little eave, but still our mama and her two babies remained. My kids loved seeing the mama bird and I would give her a knowing wink communicating to her that we were somehow “sisters” and that “we were in this together.” After all, we are both mothers. But nature is a different bird. So to speak.

Last week as we were about to leave for a bike ride, my husband noticed one of the baby birds on the ground struggling around in the dirt. The helpless little grey bird had fallen from her eave as the mama bird sat up in her nest tending to her remaining offspring and seemingly ambivalent about the one writhing around below. We did what most people would do. My husband grabbed a ladder and put on some gloves and scooped up the baby bird, returning it to its nest as the children watched on. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the baby was once again safe under his mama’s wing and back in the nest he had called home for the past several weeks. But deep inside where mommy’s keep their intuition, I had a sinking feeling about this little fuzz ball.

You see, nature is all about the struggle. Ever seen a butterfly working to emerge from its cocoon? Ever seen the thousands of sea turtles break from their eggs and make the journey to the water’s edge before embarking on a journey that will either end in life or death? The struggle is not only important for the creature, it is imperative. Without the struggle the butterfly or the turtle or even the bird will not gain the strength they need to survive the harsh world they will become a part of. Our little birdie was no different. My husband was worried that the bird would be back on the ground when we got back from our ride. I tried to explain that even if that bird was on the ground when we returned that there were just some things we couldn’t fix. He thought I was being mean so I told him about the butterflies, the sea turtles and Robbie Hart, the Wedding Singer, who lives in his sister’s basement exchanging voice lessons for meatballs.

I told him that eventually, our little birdie friend would either need to learn how to fly or he would not have the strength to survive the world he was entering – he needed the struggle of flapping and flailing about in order to gain the strength to learn how to fly. It felt harsh even speaking these words out loud. I knew in my heart (in a place that I don’t like to think about too often) that I felt the exact same way about my own kids. As callous as it looked for that mama bird to just watch as her baby bird struggled on the ground below, that is how nature works.

And as callous as it may seem, when that time comes for my own children I know that no matter how hard it will be for me to see them struggle and flail from a distance that if I do not allow them to struggle, they will not thrive. I cringe at thinking that this time is nearer than I would like it to be. I feel like I am in a race with the clock to teach them everything they need to know before they enter that big world. I keep them tucked under my wing as much as I can, while trying to afford them freedoms so they can test out their own wings. I pray for them in the morning, during the day, at night and every single moment in between. I go to sleep at night wondering if I covered all the bases and then try not to think about how big they are becoming and how one day my son won’t say things like “Why do teenagers always run around without their parents? I won’t be like that, Mommy. I like being with you and Daddy and Sissy.” Sigh.

Nature, nurture…whatever it is, this raising kids business is not for the faint-hearted. One day my kids will test their little wings and I hope and pray that they soar. I mean really fly. And I will miss them something awful. But I also pray that God will guard my heart to bear seeing the struggles they will encounter because I just know that is gonna hurt and I am going to want to do everything in my power to scoop them up and put them back in their nest…and I know that won’t solve anything.

The little birdie that fell earlier in the week fell again today. The kids and I were gone most of the day running errands and when my husband returned from work, he found that once again the little fuzzy bird had fallen. But this time nature took its course and scooping him back up and placing him back in the nest was no longer an option. Mama bird sat content in her eave with her last remaining baby and I gave her a mournful look with my eyes downcast as if to acknowledge our shared sadness.

Nature can be a tricky thing indeed.

Provision

Rescuing a kite is provision
Rescuing a kite is provision

This past week I took my kids to a couple of museums. We usually go during the summer because it’s a good way to get in lots of sensory stimulation, keep them away from the constant lure of television for several hours and they have a chance to learn in an experiential way that would take a lot more effort and energy for me to create at home. Plus, I kind of love museums too and love being able to cultivate the love of learning, exploration, imagination and wonder in my children as well.

What I noticed this past week was that there were also several dad’s at these museums. I am not sure what kind of job allows them the flexibility to be able to take their kids to the museum during the day or if they took a day off to enjoy with their children, but it was so cool to see so many of them and made me reflect on a conversation my husband and I have every few months or so. The conversation of provision – as in providing for our family.

About four years ago, my husband was unemployed for about nine months. It was a really tough time for us financially. But since life does not happen in a vacuum, it was not just the finances that were affected. There was a huge amount of stress that came along with it and since we had just bought a new home and had just had a baby you can imagine that providing for his family was the number one thing on his mind. He was so frustrated and discouraged that he was not “providing” for his family. This put our marriage to the test and made us dig really deep. I still remember the weekend when I was trying to figure out where in the world I was going to get groceries and then (without even knowing our situation) a friend from church bringing us four grocery bags full of food. I also remember the humility of taking those bags knowing I had nothing but a big fighting-back-tears “thank you” to offer in return. My husband felt embarrassed that we “had to accept food” from people knowing that it was “his job” to do that for us. It was his job to provide for us and he felt that he was selling us short.

From where I sit, it seems like providing for a family in a financial way is a very big stress and responsibility for a man. If they aren’t married, they want to be sure they are in a position to provide before they get married. If they are married, they want to be sure they can provide the basics for their wife and future family. If they are married with kids, they want to be sure everyone is fed, sheltered, clothed and well taken care of. These are things I cannot fully understand as a mother mostly because my idea of provision is much different.

But where I was going with this whole seeing dad’s at the museum thing was that regardless of how a father is providing for his children in a financial way, there are a lot of other ways that he can provide that have little to do with money. I always remind my husband of these things when he gets stressed out about work and money and starts booking out his days from crack of dawn to past bedtime. Provision is not just about money.

I remind my husband that regardless of how much money he earns (and we survived on very little during those nine months of unemployment) that he is providing for our family by doing the things he already does every day. Being home for dinner most nights, reading stories to the kids at bedtime, taking them to a special breakfast on the weekends, going on bike rides, playing trains, cars, tea, dress up with them, planning a movie night and popping pop corn, telling them the ways in which they are special to him and praying with them, hugging and kissing them, holding their hands in a parking lot or when they cross the street, telling them stories from his childhood, taking them on a hike and packing snacks for an impromptu picnic, teaching them about Jesus and telling them of God’s provision for our family. Most of this stuff doesn’t even cost any money and I have to remind him that when we didn’t have very much money, that he was still providing for our family in a very big and very tangible way. And despite all the stress we did feel during that time, it will always be a time we look back on fondly because with what little we had financially, we made up for in faith, fun and togetherness.

These days, I completely enjoy being able to afford organic produce and museum trips with my kids, but I also know that when we found ourselves in a very tight situation financially, my husband was still providing for our family in huge ways. I know that mid-week museum visits or being home for dinner every night is not possible for everyone (not even for us), but kudos to all the dad’s out there making a difference and being plugged into their families and providing in ways that money can’t even touch.

(Disclaimer: I understand that this post may sound trite to some people and some families. I get that there are families out there without Dad’s or that there are heart-breaking situations that this post does not cover in the slightest. I realize that my experience is different from the million different scenarios out there. My point is to encourage. My point is always to encourage.)

carrying the shovels to the beach is provision
carrying the shovels to the beach is provision

The Tyler Effect

I wouldn't change a thing
I don’t wanna miss a thing

So, I have been witness to something in my family called the “Tyler Effect.” Tyler, as in Steven Tyler, as in front man for Aerosmith…the band. How old am I anyway!?

Really, the effect isn’t in my family, it is something I have noticed primarily where my son is concerned.

I need to back this up about five years so it makes a little sense. Okay, when I was pregnant with my son I was, like most firstly pregnant women, completely delusional. Completely. I just decided to pick and choose the things I thought would be useful for me during my pregnancy, my labor and delivery and even when I became a first time mother. For example, I had a very serene playlist of Jack Johnson, Natalie Merchant, Elton John, Stevie Wonder (if I go on, I will burst into laughter so I’ll just stop there) that would be played exactly one time through and then I would promptly meet my perfectly sized 7.5 lb. baby boy who would coo sweetly and snuggle upon knowing that he was now safe and warm in his mother’s arms. I knew he was just as excited to meet me as I was to meet him. Of course he was.

It didn’t exactly go like that. The word “opposite” would only scratch the surface of the actual experience and when my doctor happened to be on the only vacation he had taken in several years and the on-call showed up with a football jersey, a mullet and a small gold hoop earring, I should have known that the Jack Johnson was definitely not gonna cut the mustard…and yet…

After two and a half hours of pushing  – with a surgeon waiting outside the door for an emergency C-section – my son finally decided to join our little family. I did not realize how close I was to being rushed to surgery until the wonderfully English labor and delivery nurse came chim chimmery-ing up to me during the last few moments of pushing and like Jiminy Cricket said to me “you can do this, we need you to do this…now.” And so, I did. What I had not realized is that my iPod had gone through my carefully orchestrated playlist four times before kicking into shuffle mode and my beautiful TEN POINT TWO POUND baby boy came barreling into this world to none other than Aerosmith’s “Crazy.”

In that crazy moment, I did not think anything of it. I was just so enraptured by my new little love – and his subsequent non-stop screaming – that I decided to do what I did best at that time and I cast that little tidbit of information into the “not useful” bucket. But, like everything else in my neat little world, “Crazy” had a way of making an appearance time and time again. Enter, the “Tyler Effect.”

Over the past five years, I have noticed that every time…EVERY TIME, my son hears an Aerosmith song, he gets completely quiet, completely still…stops whatever he is doing and just listens. I am not kidding. I am not. At first, I thought it was a complete coincidence. Like, okay it sounds different than “Baby Beluga” so he must just be trying to figure it out. But like a dulcimer stomp again and again, when an Aerosmith song is played (whether on the radio, or when he stumbles across the album cover on my iTunes – what child wouldn’t click on the album cover of “Get a Grip” with that cow…and those…utters?) he gets completely quiet and just listens.

So, today when he scrolled through the music on my iPad and inevitably came across “Cryin’,” of course he got quiet and just listened. I had half a heart to tell him the charming story and why he must love that music so much, but just as I sat next to him to enjoy his sweet little moment he looks at me and says “Mom! Will you please go brush your teeth?”

I guess I’ll have to wait a few more years.

Mama Bird

Mama Mourning Dove
Mama Mourning Dove

You know that story “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman? It is a page turner.

In case you haven’t read it, I can give you a quick synopsis right now. It is basically about this baby bird who falls from his tree top nest onto the ground and embarks on a fast-paced journey filled with suspense, mystery and betrayal…or not.

Actually, it is about a baby bird who falls out of his nest while his mother goes in search of food. He gets confused after the fall and starts walking around asking a menagerie of characters (i.e. dog, kitten, cow) the question from the books’ title “are you my mother?” Character after character he is told “no, I am not your mother” until the plot thickens and the bird encounters a “scary snort” which turns out is an excavator. Trust me, it is an excavator not a bulldozer. My son and I debated this fact for several months before I finally gave in and told him he was right. He was right from the get go, but I coulda sworn!

Any who, the story ends with the “scary snort” lifting the tiny bird into its basket and placing him gently back into his nest way up high in the tree from whence he fell. Sorry, I just gave up the ending. But here is what I discovered after reading this story a hundred times to my son and now to my daughter. The scary snort is not just doing some civic duty. It is not just being altruistic and trying to help a baby bird out. The snort is actually anxious to get the bird back into its nest because the mother of the baby bird has gone on a recon mission to retrieve her baby and has pecked the bejangles out of the snort operator who is obviously messing with her offspring.

Now, I too would have missed that detail and be none the wiser had it not been for a recent encounter with a mother bird and a fallen nest. Last week, I took my son to a doctor’s appointment. My daughter grew bored with the waiting room so I decided to take her on a quick walk across the parking lot. Whenever I do this, I usually try to point out things that might distract her and allow our walk to last more than five seconds…because sometimes I feel like I can walk a hundred miles pointing out all manner of things and it ends up being about thirty-five seconds and I am exhausted and my daughter is still bored. So here I am pointing things out and I come across a bird’s nest that has fallen from a very tall palm tree.

I think I see movement in the nest so I decide to take a closer look. There is movement! I take my foot and gently move the nest a millimeter and within nanoseconds, nanoseconds, three birds come out of nowhere and start pecking my head, my sunglasses, my shoulders, my clothes! I am flinging my arms wildly trying to shoo them away but they are relentless! I have already fled the scene of the nest, but these stinkin’ birds do not relent! My daughter is very excited and begins almost chanting “Mommy! Birds! Your Hair!” And for the life of me I cannot figure out why I am still walking! Why am I not running!?

Thankfully those birds spared my daughter and left her un-pecked although she was certainly entertained. And pardon the Hitchcock reference, but for reals that’s exactly what it felt like. I was helpless I tell ya! Helpless! Next time you read “Are You My Mother?” to your children remember that the sweet ending with the scary snort rescuing the bird is really only a response to being pecked incessantly until that Mama bird’s baby is safely returned to his nest. The end.

Oh, and happy Mama’s day!!

Ain’t Nobody Got Time

Is time closer than it appears? Or is it fast fleeting?
Is time closer than it appears? Or is it fast fleeting?

I do not have time to wander through Anthropologie for three hours searching for the perfect soft tee or empire waist dress or whimsical journal.

I do not have time to spend ten minutes picking out my favorite cardigan to wear to the bookstore and then spend two hours sipping on tea and losing myself in several books that I will purchase to bring home and then spend additional hours tucked into my bed reading while my cat purrs loudly on the pillow next to me.

I do not have time to read all those papers that are sitting right next to my computer barking at me to do something about them.

I do not have time to get sick. I do not have time to pick up every single toy that the kids take out. I do not have time to iron any clothes so we all wear t-shirts from Target and jeans or twill shorts that can be air dried without wrinkling. I do not have time to judge those who do have time to iron.

I do not have time to hold grudges, be angry (for very long) or spiteful because I disagree with someone or something.

I do have time to hold my daughter extra long at night when putting her to bed. Breathing in deeply the fresh smell of baby shampoo and diaper paste. I have time to pray for her innocence, her spirit and her big amazing voice.

I do have time to sing my son songs at bedtime even after Daddy left and already sang him the exact same songs. I have time to scratch his back and lay next to him as I pray for his night of sleep, his day at school tomorrow and his future. I have time to pray that I get a million bajillion gazillion more moments just like this one.

I do have time to drive six hours for my kids to play with their cousins and snuggle with their Grammy and Papa and climb the tree house and pet the dog and eat jelly bean after jelly bean…after jelly bean.

I do have time to get up at the crack of dawn to workout because it is as good to me as therapy is, maybe even better. I have time for therapy – when I need it.

I do have time to order soft tees and whimsical journals from Anthropologie from their website and hit the minimum to receive free shipping. I have time to open the box when it gets to my house.

I have time to call my parents. Often.

I have time for date nights with my husband.

I have time for church. I have time for Jesus. I have time to read my bible.

I have time to make a difference.

I have time serve other people.

I have time to love.

I have time to live.

I have time…now. I will not always have time.

It is always time to make the most of what you have.

Beautiful Noise

candle light is so beautiful
candle light is so beautiful

I am a completely sensory person. I feel, smell, taste, see and hear everything. I mean everything. My husband thinks I am part bloodhound and when I am pregnant, I can tell you if the guy five rows over in church showered this morning, forgot to brush his teeth or if his wife is wearing deodorant. Really, it is amazing.

My favorite smell? Probably has to be tuberose. Most intoxicating smell? Hands down, baby smell. Nothing quite like it. Such a sweet little olfactory delight!

I have favorite foods that burst open my taste buds (anything Japanese, a big chunk of sour dough bread, amazing scallops, most chocolate). I have things that make my eyes happy (the ballet, rain, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, superb athletes doing what they do, watching my kids fall asleep).

Then there are the sounds that literally change the rhythm of my heartbeat. The sound of falling rain as it drip drops to the pavement. The sound of the fog horn from the beach on a cloudy night. The sound of my kids belly laughing. The sound of the front door opening when my husband is home from work. Such wonderful sounds! But all pale in comparison to the sound I heard one Sunday evening at church.

A few years back, I was visiting my family out-of-state. I had found a church that I really liked and attended every time I was in town. They had some young pastors and a young congregation that was right on the mark for me. It didn’t hurt that Chris Tomlin was their worship pastor at the time and worship was probably my favorite time of the whole evening.

I always sit in the front at church, mostly because I have church ADD. It’s not an official diagnosis, but over the years, I discovered that the further back I sit, the more time I spend in “prayer.” You know, the kind of prayer where you have to keep your eyes closed and hope that you don’t drool on yourself. Anyway, there I was in the front, eyes closed and singing “How Great is Our God,” (before it was even released, mind you) when I heard it. I heard the sound. Actually, it was more of a noise, but it was the most beautiful noise I had ever heard. I didn’t open my eyes, I just began weeping. Chris Tomlin’s voice faded and another voice became crystal clear. The voice of an angel.

When the song was over and I finally opened my eyes, I realized that I was sitting right next to a young adult in a wheel chair. I am not entirely sure what his medical condition was or if he was developmentally delayed or otherwise handicapped. I know he seemed to be paralyzed from the waist down and had trouble moving his arms and his hands. His face was angular and his body was mostly slumped. And his voice, although loud and off-key to many others…was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard in my life.

You see, I believe God loaned me His ears for just that moment so that I could hear what He hears. I believe He wanted me to understand that no matter how distorted, how loud or how immobile I feel at any given moment; he sees me and he hears me as perfect. And when I feel bound and loud and off-key, God reaches down and touches me and covers me in His never-ending grace.

I don’t know why I was allowed to share that moment with God, but I am so thankful that I did. I am so thankful that I carry the voice of an angel in my memory, in my soul and in my heart. I am thankful that God allowed me to see and hear perfection in a way only He can communicate, in a way that society shuns and ignores. And every time I visit that church, I close my eyes during worship and pray that I get to hear that angel voice just one more time.