Thursday, September 29, 2016

It's about time we talk about my driving

I'm a bit of a distracted driver.  Oh, I keep my eyes on the road and I don't run into things, and I NEVER text while driving.  But I do miss turns and take wrong streets, and as I like to say, take "interesting" routes to get places.  The people in my circles know this about me...the ones in my close circles anyway (aka anyone who has actually ridden in a vehicle with me ever).  They like to say "Where are you going, hon?"  Or "mom...Mom...MOM!"  Or just sit there politely wondering what's wrong with me.

Like the other day when I was taking Hope downtown and we ended up in Wisconsin.

But I always get us where we need to be, yes I do.  This interesting way that I like to drive was easier to pull off before my kids were old enough to know where we were going...when they weren't really paying attention to all the turns and kept themselves occupied with other things. Things other than the turns we were making or the scenery out the windows.  Things like iPods and arguing.

But now that our youngest two have their driver's permits, it's a whole new game.  They pay attention to everything now and so does my husband, by the way.  This he has always done.  He is a silent road rager...I mean "driving expert"...and he makes comments in the car about other drivers (most of whom don't know how to drive and are in his way).  He can spot someone three cars ahead of us who doesn't use their blinker and will be all "oh nice, yea let's ALL not use our blinkers I mean really the rest of us don't need to know where you are going.  Wow. Have fun in driving school." This I don't understand. I keep saying to him "why do you care about that?  It doesn't affect us at all." And I shake my head with superiority, because I don't freak out over such things. Even when something major happens, like someone cuts us off and nearly causes an accident, I might say "oopsie, that was close" while Vince has a mini stroke.

So.

As I mentioned, our youngest two have their permits now.  Which means that in less than a year they will both have their licenses and their own cars and won't need us to drive them around anymore.

Sigh.

This is both cause for happy dances and sadness for me, because I actually do enjoy our car time.  I drive them to school everyday and pick them up most days too, and our car time is often when we have the best talks and laughs.  We connect and talk about our days and have each other's full attention (which may have something to do with the interesting routes I take). And we listen to music together - hello Sirius Radio my new best friend!  We listen to real music on stations like The Blend, Y2Country, Classics Rewind, 80's on 8, 70's on 7, and HAIR NATION!!  Cha!  Sometimes I let them choose but usually not.  Mama's car, Mama's choice.  And there are so many teachable moments, I mean how can we call ourselves parents if we don't teach our kids about Kansas and Elton John and Queen and Billy Joel and Guns N' Roses and Cyndi Lauper???  I mean honestly.  If our kids launch without knowing the words to "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Carry on Wayward Son" and "Sweet Child o' Mine" then we have failed as 80's parents.  That's all I'm saying.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just for a night

When your 19 year old son calls you at 11:45pm on a Sunday night because he needs to talk to you, you pick up and shut up about the lateness of the hour.  You listen and rejoice inside because your baby-turned-man-overnight still needs you.

Nicolas has always been the kind of kid that will talk about something when he is ready.  Not before, and not after.  If I would have picked up the phone and said "Son, it's late and I have to get up for work in the morning and can I call you about this tomorrow?", he would have said "fine" but then tomorrow would come and he would have told me "never mind, I figured it out."

And I would have missed the opportunity to be there for him.

Those times seem to be fewer and farther between these days.  He is out of the house, living on his own, going to college, serving in the army and paying his own bills.  He's the third of our six to fly the coop, so we have had some practice at this already...but this is my firstborn and even though I knew this day would come, I never really imagined this day actually coming...

...not when my kids were little anyway.  When they needed me all the time, it was easier to be their mom. I saw them everyday and knew who they were with and what they were doing and if they were eating/sleeping/happy/sad/mad/scared/safe.  During those years, I don't think I would have described it as easier.  But what I am realizing now is that while parenting gets less exhausting physically, I think emotionally it gets harder.  At least it does for me.  As they get older and more independent it gets scarier and as they leave the safety of solid ground and wade into deeper waters, I find myself standing on the shore longing for the days when I could keep them close.  They don't want to hear me yell warnings to watch out for sharks, or to wear a life jacket, or not get caught up in the currents.  They want to go their own way, charter their own course, face the dangers and navigate the waves on their own.

Yet, as I was reminded by a phone call at 11:45pm on a Sunday night, they do still want to know that they have a lighthouse waiting for them on the shore.  One that will always be there, shining a light to guide them home.  To provide for them a hot meal and a warm bed and a reprieve from the harsh reality of the sea, even just for a night.  And then, just for a night, I get to cherish being needed.  I get to be mom. Not that I want our kids to remain dependent on us forever, that doesn't prepare them for life and it's not loving. I know that.  But I'm still learning to balance the holding on and the letting go.  It's a process...a journey that I think I will be on for a while.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Heroes, another edition of "perfect purse awesomeness", and being in a funk

Husbands who get up at 4am to kill spiders, with nary a complaint, score BIG POINTS with their wives!!!

I don't like spiders, but I can usually handle grabbing them with a kleenex and flushing them down the toilet. However, when they are big, black, gross baby tarantulas, then I'm out.  (That is not in my job description, and is one of the reasons I got married).  The intruder was in my bathroom sink and as creeped out as I was, I did not take my eyes off it while Mr. W was waking up and putting on his cape to come to my rescue, because if the thing would have scurried off somewhere and escaped I would have had to move out.  Mr. W took care of it without batting an eye (or even sighing at me) and went back to sleep.  As did I, however my torment continued in my dreams, where the spider's MOTHER, which was as big as my hand, was crawling around on our carpet and I was throwing all kinds of stuff at it to try and kill it.  Mr.  W was not available in my dream, but my son Kyle was sitting in a chair calmly watching my antics as I freaked out about the mother spider.  (That's totally something he would do by the way - he obviously gets his calm demeanor from his dads.)  I don't know if I killed it tho, because all of a sudden my dream diverted to me trying to use our kitchen sink and discovering that the faucet had shot out through the roof of our house like a rocket and got stuck on top of some phone lines above our house. I'm not even going to try to analyze what that means, but it distracted me from the spiders so that's fine with me.

So.

I've been in sort of a funk lately.  I'm not sure why, nothing bad has happened, in fact some really good things have happened.

Like, I got a new purse.



I have been using it for exactly two days and already have decided it meets my standard for "perfect purse awesomeness".  It's been a while since I had one that met my stringent criteria   (you can see previous winners here and here and here), so I'm pretty stoked.  Here is how my new purse stacks up to the criteria:

1) It has to be real leather. Or a fake material that I happen to think is real leather.  This one might actually be real leather.  I mean I got it at Nordstroms so there's a chance.  It's soft and has that wrinkled leather look and feel that I love. Good 'nuff for me.

2) It has to have a short handle.  Check.  It's short enough to carry around like a grandma, yet long enough to fling over my elbow, and over my shoulder if I am in the mood to be annoyed by it falling off 8 times before I resorting to my other two carrying options.

3) It has to have separate pockets for my cell phone and lip stuff on the outside of the purse.  Check.  This has one large pocket on the outside of the purse, which is perfect for my phone and lip stuff.  Score!

4) It absolutely cannot have any sequins or tassels or unnecessary gaudy embellishments.  Check.  Not even a buckle on this baby.

5) It has to be able to zip shut. Well, here is where we deviate a bit from the criteria.  It doesn't zip.  It has one magnetic snap, tho.  We'll see how this goes.

6) It has to have at least two big separate sections - one for my wallet and notes, the other for all my crap important stuff that I don't leave home without - which now includes my planner, iPad, notebooks, and sometimes my lunch.  Another deviation:  this one has just one large compartment.  It's more of a bag than a purse, but that's ok. I have a bag obsession too so a purse-bag is a winner on all fronts.

Another good thing that happened this week is that Vince and I purchased our first vehicle together.  We have had the same two vehicles since the summer we first met, which was 2007...my dark grey Pontiac Grand Prix and his bright red Kia Sedona.  They have both been great vehicles, but the van is approaching 200k miles and after sinking a few thousand dollars into it this year already, when the "check engine" light came on last week and I was told  it would cost $94 JUST TO FIND OUT what was wrong (and me having a subsequent snit about it) we decided that it was time for "Suzanne the Van" to go buh-bye.  Hope named her that, by the way.  She really wanted us to let her have it as her first vehicle, and we considered it, but now we just want Suzanne to find a new home before she overstays her welcome (and we go broke).

Back to my funk.  I get into them from time to time, and every time I do it is usually because of one of two things...either something is bothering me that I am not aware of yet, or I have not been spending time with God. And sometimes both.  I can say in all honesty right now that the latter is true.

I have a prayer table at home that I have set up in our office.



It is an antique table that belonged to my Grandma, and has a matching chair and magazine rack which are on either side of it.  Mom told me that Grandma and Grampa bought this set early in their marriage, which would have been in the 1930's.  I love the idea of this being my prayer table.  I have no doubt that my Grandma prayed at this table, and most likely my Mom did too.  There is a legacy of faith in my family that I am so grateful for...there is power in generations of women who love the Lord.  Power in prayer.  And I can imagine the prayers and tears of the wives and mothers and grandmothers who sat at this table...moving Heaven to intercede for our husbands, children, grandchildren, and friends...for generations. The bible says that our prayers are like incense, rising up to Heaven, and God hears every one.

"May my prayer be set before You as incense, the raising of my hands as the evening offering." - Psalm142:1

I can imagine all the prayers that have been offered at that tear soaked table...my prayers...rising up as a fragrant offering to God. Carrying with them the echo of the prayers of my mother and grandmother.  He receives them, breathes them in, allowing them to mix with His wisdom and love and grace.  And in His timing, He breathes out His blessing...like a cloud of smoke that descends on me as I sit at the table. Desperate to believe and trust that His answers to my prayers will line up with His promises.

I have not been spending enough time at my prayer table lately.  When I go too long without being in the Word and in prayer, well, that is funk material right there.  Things in life start to bother me, I begin to feel "off" and am tempted to fill the void with all kinds of things to distract me (social media, news, shopping, and of course, food.)  I start sleeping less, get more tired during the day, and then want something to make me feel better...and the cycle continues until I find myself here, blogging in a coffee shop figuring it all out.


It's not a bad place to be, in fact it's good therapy for me and helps me clear my cluttered mind and get back to what's important in life.  Like purses and prayer.  And green tea lemonade.  With a splash of raspberry.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Things that give me anxiety that probably don't bother normal people

I have issues with anxiety.  So, it's kind of funny how I get told, quite often actually, how calm I am.  I mean, I guess I can see it.  I don't tend to get riled up about stuff very often - not in certain situations anyway.  Like at work, I am told frequently that I have a calming effect on people.  I suppose that's a good thing since I'm a social worker.   I can't explain why, except to give God ALL the credit, but I am generally not uncomfortable in emotionally charged situations.  Someone is sad or grieving?  I'm on my way. Someone is angry, furious even?  I'm on it. Confused? Agitated? Unreasonable? Show me the way.  I will be on a mission to make things better.  I love the opportunity to diffuse, comfort, bring clarity and healing.  In every job I've ever had, the most challenging people are my favorites.

But then there's the fact that I am also crazy.  I mean, my family and some lucky friends know all about my crazy, but I am usually able to conceal it well enough from the rest of the people in my circles.  Where things are a little less transparent.  Where it's kind of a necessity to keep a lid on the crazy and maintain some assemblance of normal.  Like at work, and at church, and well, in public - it's kind of important not to FREAK THE CRAP OUT.  But there are some situations that get me rattled and anxious that probably don't bother normal people.

1.  Small talk.  We just met five seconds ago and you want to talk about something deep and personal? Well pull up a chair, my good friend, I'm all about that.  Let's get some coffee and bear our souls.  But saying "hi" and "how are you" and trying to figure out something superficial to talk about makes me all kinds of uncomfortable.  I never know how to answer the "how are you" question.  I don't like to be fake, I much prefer real and transparent.  But if I don't know you very well then I am not quite sure if you are just being polite, or if you really want to know that I'm a little crabby because I got into an argument with my husband/child/dog this morning and have a headache and a raging case of pms. Is that what you want?  Or will you look at me like "Heh, um ok. Well, nice to see you (wow, TMI much?)"

2.  Running into people I know while shopping.  Uh boy, here we are - carts approaching. Should I stop my cart to chat or will we do a drive by hello?  What if I stop and you don't want to, but feel obligated to stop because I do?  And then we will be in a full on small talk situation.  And if we do stop, how long will we talk? Am I blocking an aisle and people are getting mad at me?  GAH!  This has nothing to do with whether I like you or not.  I probably really do, and in another situation I would love to chat a while, but when I am shopping I am on a mission and I just want to get in and out of there as quick as possible and if I see you I might skip two whole aisles just to avoid the awkward grocery store greeting scenario.

3.  Sitting in back seats of cars.  This is a claustrophobia thing as well as a motion sickness thing.  If it is a large vehicle with a roomy back seat and I have the whole back seat to myself and some Dramamine in my veins, I will probably be ok.  But put me in the middle between two other people in a cramped back seat and I will go into full freak out mode.  This also applies to buses.  I just can't do it.  No way, no how.

4.  Being in a crowded room.  It doesn't even have to be like shoulder to shoulder crowded, it can be a spacious banquet room, but even then I could not sit at a table in the middle of the room.  I would have to sit in the back, or along the side where there is easy access to an exit.  This stems from my social phobia as a child.  First days of school were so stressful for me because teachers made seating charts and I didn't know where I would have to sit.  What if I had to go to the bathroom or vomit or something and I was sitting in the middle of the room and had to get up in front of everyone?  I was much better in high school when teachers started letting us pick our own seats.  I would always strategically place myself closest to the door.  I still do that to this day if I go to a workshop or church or any other type of gathering.

5.  Having to introduce myself in a meeting.  I can lead worship at my church or give a presentation at work, but when we have to "go around and introduce yourself" all the blood drains from my brain and I suddenly can't remember my name.  I have even been known to write my name down on my notepad in front of me in case when it's my turn I freeze.  Seriously.

6.  Paying at the pump.  This has to do with my (I know it's irrational) fear of getting arrested and going to jail because I did something illegal and didn't realize it.  This is not new for me, it's been a (irrational) fear of mine for my entire adult life.  I am a rule follower.  I don't even speed (ok, maybe four miles over). I wear my seatbelt, even if I'm only driving a block away.  I put my cart back.  And I don't park in the spots designated for "senior shoppers".  Ever.  So I am always a bit anxious paying at the pump with my debit card because what if my card doesn't work and I drive away without paying for my gas and an hour later a cop shows up at my house to arrest me?  Accidently shoplifting, having someone stash drugs in my car, or running over a pedestrian are also ideas that freak me out because they could land me in the slammer.   Or, I suppose, the psych ward would be a bit more realistic.

7.  Walking out of a store without buying anything.  This also stems from anxiety #6.  As I said before, when I shop I like to get in, get my stuff, and get out.  I do not enjoy leisurely pushing a cart around without a purpose anymore.  So if I happen to go into a store for one thing, and they don't have it, I will leave and I always feel like all the employees' eyes are on me walking out of the store without going through the checkout line, and as I take those first few steps out the door and onto the parking lot, part of me (the crazy part) waits to see if alarms will go off and I will be tackled by the Target security guy for shoplifting nothing.

8.  Taking the first item off the shelf.  Ok, this one sort of borders on OCD.  I don't buy the first item in the row.  I might pick it up and look at it, but if I decide to buy it I will grab the second one in line and put the first one back.  There are a couple reasons for this.  The first item was handled most by other shoppers and probably dropped.  Or wrinkled.  Or sneezed on.  If I am going to spend my money on something I want it to be in mint condition and booger free.  Also if it is a grocery store item in the refrigerator section, I have this thing that the stuff in the front row is not as cold as the stuff behind.  That probably isn't true, but it is a thing for me.  And everyone knows they put the newer stuff with the later expiration dates in the back. So I will always reach in the back for the coldest, freshest stuff.  Because I have a thing with expiration dates too.

I'm sure I could come up with more, but that is probably enough neurosis for one blog post!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Not My Blog: Classics Edition

Here are some of my all-time favorite posts by other bloggers.  These are just golden.  I'll probably keep adding to this as I discover more gems.  This is mostly a reference for myself, so I don't have to rack my brain trying to find "that one favorite post" that I really want to read again.

15 Minute Lunch:  Strap in, shut up and hold on. We're Going Back.

Stuff Christians Like:  Lists (this is where you can find links to all 500 of his posts - so much funny!)

Stuff Christians Like: The Prayer Grunt of Affirmation

Stuff Christians Like: The Jesus Juke

Stuff Christians Like: Forgetting that you are famous

Jen Hatmaker:  Worst End of School Year Mom Ever

Jen Hatmaker:  Worst End of Summer Mom Ever: A Sequel

Jen Hatmaker: A Fake Film Crew, Armpit Paste, and Beer: A Day in the Life

Jen Hatmaker: Quirky

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Not My Blog: Turtle Edition

So I am getting ready for bed and just took a peak at Ann Voskamp's blog "A Holy Experience", and read her last entry from a couple days ago.  I swear I didn't read it before writing my last post!  Sometimes God leads me to the just right thing (book, blog post) at the just right time when I need it most. To continue to lead me through the journey of growing that He has me on. That is what this is...perfectly timed with the just right message, all wrapped up in adorable baby turtles.  God loves me so much!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sort of finishing a book, learning to let go of fear, and getting out of the way

So I just finished this book, sort of....



It's by the same author who wrote "Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs", which is one of my favorite books on marriage - as I have already blogged about.  And what I mean by "sort of" finished reading, is that I didn't actually read all the pages in the book. After about the 4th chapter I started skipping and skimming and I'm pretty sure what the author took 254 pages to write could have been adequately done in about 62 pages.  That's why I didn't finish the whole thing.  He just kept going on and on belaboring the same points...which I may or may not do myself on occasion, but this isn't about me.

As you can imagine from the title, it is a book about mothers and sons, and how respect is the key to winning their hearts.  Much like "Love and Respect" is about spouses building their relationship on the concepts of wives respecting their husbands, and husbands loving their wives because the greatest need for women is to be loved, and the greatest need for men is to be respected.  This book builds on the concept that boys...being men in the making...need to feel respected in order to feel loved.  Respecting my husband, I get that (I'm still working on it, but as a concept I get it). It's a little more complicated when it's a mother and son.  It's kind of a balance that needs to happen...how do you respect your child yet remain in a position of authority over him?  What does that look like?  The author does a great job of showing how a mom can respect her son as she corrects him, guides him, disciplines him, and all the while honoring his God-given need for respect.  And that goes beyond just our relationships with our boys.  We mom's really are teaching our sons how they can expect to be treated by their future wives.  Now there's a thought.

And here's another thought:  fear.  Much of my life has been effected by and sometimes controlled by fear, and the book addresses that too. This is an area that God has been working out in me for some time now...most intensely in the past couple of years. Probably because I am finally ready for the healing.  One of the biggest areas of fear for me has been in my parenting.  To one degree or another, I have always struggled with fear that something bad will happen to my kids.  Fear that they will make bad choices or turn from God, or drift away from me.  Fear that although my love for my kids is immeasurable, I will screw it up somehow. They will not know how loved they are and I will fail them.

Fear...the thing that has motivated me so often to hover and protect and react and control and worry...is also the very thing that causes me to stumble.  The. Very. Thing.  Fear...not the things I am afraid of...but the ACTUAL FEAR is my greatest enemy.  I recently had a light bulb moment during prayer, where God revealed to me that by holding on to fears I feel like I can control them.  But in reality, by holding onto fear it is fear that is controlling me.  Mind blow.

Here is where the book gets real for me, where the words on the page spoke so loudly to me I had to bookmark and highlight it and read it over and over.  (I really could have stopped reading the book at this point, but I pushed on for a couple dozen more pages.)

"I can say this with certainty: when fear controls a mother, she seeks to control.  In controlling her son from that which could harm him physically or hurt her emotionally, she feels less fear.  Control reduces her anxiety and insecurity."  But as the author points out a few paragraphs later, this type of overprotective and controlling mothering can result in a son feeling disrespected and pulling away from her - the very thing I fear most.  "She does not see him as the conqueror, protector, provider, authority, strong one, problem solver".  And that has an effect on a son's spirit.  By not honoring and encouraging who God designed him to be, a son pushes back.  Even rebels.

If I could recall all the times my boys have said "you don't trust me", or "just let me do it my way", or "stop treating me like a little kid"...I bet in the moment I thought I was loving them by helping and protecting and instructing.  But what they were actually receiving from this was my unintended message that they were not conquerors, not competent problem solvers...not worthy of my respect.  It is no surprise that they pull away from me and act less loving when that happens.

So now what?  How am I going to use this information from this book that I sort of read, and apply it to my relationships with our sons?  First of all I need to stop the temptation to beat myself up over not getting this sooner.  I do that to myself a lot.  But as Maya Angelou would say, now that I know better I will do better.   I will remember not to yell (yes, I admit I yell sometimes), but it is so disrespectful...to our daughters as well as our sons.  I will affirm their need to feel respected, as well as their need to be acknowledged for their accomplishments and their competence.  I will trust them more and hover less (it's a process).  I will instruct a little less, and allow them to try on their own more - and fail sometimes, even when I see it coming.  Life is sometimes the best teacher, and even better than that - the Holy Spirit is THE best teacher of all.  Sometimes I just need to shut my yapper and get out of His way.