queen of awkward

Recently I couldn't wait to see a friend.
Even though I knew it was going to be really awkward.
She just suffered a great loss and I knew we weren't going to be able to just hug and giggle about old times. There might be long pauses. Or some staring at our feet. Or laughing and then feeling guilty that maybe things shouldn't be this normal.

This summer I hung out with some old friends. Some were easy. And it seemed that we slipped into conversations like comfortable old jeans. Others were strained, and we weren't always sure what to say. Eventually we caught ourselves laughing almost as easily as we used to, but not after a few conversational dead ends and at least one failed joke. I hope to see both next time I am around. Bring on the awkward pauses, if it means I get to hug an old friend. Even if it means we don't have much in common anymore. I bet if we talk long enough we will find something.

I also have some friends that have made some decisions or done some things that I don't feel very comfortable with. (don't worry...it isn't you...most of those friends probably don't even know that I have a blog).

I have two very close friends that I have been friends with since I moved here. But we have seasons of weirdness. Like when I had to tell my friend, who had just decided to give up on fertility treatments because they were sucking her bank account and heart dry, that I was pregnant. Almost just by thinking about it.
But we tried anyways.
We still had dinner or pedicures.
We still complained about school and laughed.
Even though sometimes I know she cried on the way home.

Friendships may begin over a cup of coffee, grow over a gab session, but they are truly solidified in those awkward moments.
Calling anyways.
Even when we don't want to.
Or are mad or jealous or don't know what to say or don't particularly agree.
Asking about the new boyfriend, the one you think is a bad idea.
Letting them tell the same story, the one you have already heard before, again.
Apologizing, or accepting an apology...even if you want to stay angry for a bit longer.

As far as being a friend goes.
Well, I don't always remember birthdays.
I never write thank you cards.
I often don't think before I speak (read insensitive).
I can't keep a secret.
I am a chronic interrupter.
I make horrible coffee.
But, I don't shy away from awkward.
And I am pretty sure that counts for something.

How much?

On the way home from school Owen says, "I love you, mommy"
Sweet yes, but he also had alterior motives...he was trying to butter me up for a stick of gum.
So I responed, " How much?"
"More than........." (and he paused dramaticallyI expected him to fill in that blank with something he partiucuarly enjoys like cartoons, or cheetos, or the color red).
He continued, "More than 12."
12 huh.
Well, I guess it could be worse. He could have said 4.

A Slow Burn

Ok, disclaimer. Not of fan of 90% of “Christian fiction” (imagine that I just made those quotations in the air with my hands” and possibly even a gagging sound). It is often too sweet and sappy and unrealistic. But maybe, just maybe a mom of three with a nose ring can do it right. Within less than a dozen pages I was hooked.

Instead of going to bed at a respectable hour, or doing the dishes or grading papers……I found my self in the middle of Defiance, TX.
Mourning with Emory of the loss of her daughter Daisy.
Hoping with Hixon that he will manage to win Emory’s heart.
Wishing for Emory to finally come around.
Praying that Jed would survive under all the weight of his self-imposed guilt.
Wondering if Ousie would stand up to or be crumpled by the hand of her husband.
And most of all wanting to find out who the killer is.

And that is just the first few chapters. In other words, A Slow Burn, is anything but a slow read. So, let the dishes pile up. Let some one else put away the laundry and be prepared to stay up into the wee hours with this one.

This book can be dark, with themes of loss, guilt, abuse and addiction. But you are not left in the dark ( well, except all those tidy little answers that I hope to find in book 3!). In even the darkest of moments are patches of hope and grace that are enough to shine light on God’s bright and amazing love. Enough hope that somehow, you end up rooting for and wanting redemption even for the shadiest of characters.

One final question for our author Mary DeMuth, and surprisingly it isn’t who dunnit, but……..
When does the final book in this trilogy come out?

Some links of interest:
Buy it Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310278376 (I'd lend you mine, but I already promised it to my mom!)
Mary's website: http://marydemuth.com/
other bloggers on this tour: http://www.blogtourspot.com/slowburn-tour/slowburn-tour-stops/

the birthday blog

The doctor pulled and tugged and cussed.
Asked for more clamps and rags and billed us for extra time.
Thankfully I couldn't see much beyond the blue sheet.
It felt like someone was sitting on my chest. And really really cold.
The anesthesiologist tried to distract me, and suddenly there was a flurry.
A slippery slimy 8 pound 2 ounce little Tess.

And we waited.
For the nurse to suction her mouth, and for her to scream.
The relief of that sweet scream.

And she has been screaming ever since.
Before she got here I thought I had this parenting thing figured out.
Owen was easy. Laid back. Active, but usually eager to please.
I thought it was because I was good at it.
Apparently it was just beginners luck.

Tess is stubborn and sassy.
She takes short naps and wakes up at the smallest of noises.
She is picky and particular about what she is wearing, who is holding her, what she eats and even the room temperature.
But she can throw her head back and giggle.
A giggle so big that it consumes her whole body.
She jabbers and dances nonstop.
She is skinny and fair but tough enough to withstand a big brother who occasionally tries to ride her like a horse.
She can hold her own in a battle over a toy or the last cheeto.
She will grab on tight with both fists to my pants and follow me anywhere.
She will bang on the computer like it is a drum, empty a box of Kleenex in three seconds flat and splash toilet water all over the bathroom.
She will shake her head no at you, drop her dinner plate on the floor and then cry the biggest saddest crocodile tears when you so much as look at her sternly.
She looks so small and fearless walking across the room.
She doesn’t have much hair, but what she does is so soft and fine and smells like lavender.

I should have known that we were in for trouble in the hospital when the nursery nurses kept wheeling her back to my room in the a.m.
Saying that they were sorry, but that she wouldn’t stop crying.

But somehow something so little and difficult is so easy to love.
So now this little bundle of trouble weighs 18 lbs(ish), has 7 teeth, says a half dozen or so words and more often than not still keeps me up at night. But she can smiles as big as her eyes when she sees you and it is enough to make you forget how tired you are.

90 minutes

Yesterday Owen had his first official soccer game.
We have had practices and a soccer tots class, but this was the first REAL game. With jerseys and refs and long socks that go up to his thigh.

So Saturday morning I packed up snacks and drinks and the camera and headed over to the U5 fields. The ones that are smaller than my living room.

After circling a parking lot full of minivans and suburbans for 20 minutes, I finally found a space and unloaded Tess. I pushed Tess's stroller at top speed to the assigned field ( where O's game was already underway). As I rolled passed some of the bigger kids fields, I started thinking this was the first of many many mornings I would here. I usually try to shrug the soccer mom image, but I actually like the soccer part. I soaked in the smell of the freshly cut grass, the chalk lines, sunshine, whistles and the orange slices. I wondered how many goals my sweet little boy would score today.

I finally approached O's field ( and yes, I missed the entire first quarter) and immediately spotted my shaggy haired guy on the field. His yellow jersey swallowed him and my mommy heart swelled with pride.

And then I got closer, and realized that the rest of his team was further down the field actually playing soccer, while my son stood at the other end kicking at the grass. Oblivious to the goal scoring going on at the other end.
He is a star at practice. Kicking and dribbling and heading the ball even after the drills are over. However, he is apparently not a fan of the actual "game" part. He wants no part in the huddle of kids all kicking and runnig after one ball. He would much rather weave in and out of cones without a mass of kids or a ref blowing a whistle on his tail.

My emotions are the sidelines were confusing. Part of me was disappointed and slightly embarrassed at my kid not pulling his weight. Not trying. So I did what any good mom would do, and resulted to bribery. I promised candy and toys if he would just run and kick the ball with everyone else. And he would for a second, until someone else tried to kick it away from him and then he would stand off to the side and look for bugs in the grass.

I was kind of sad that my kid wasn't the soccer star I had imagined. Not only was he not as good as some of the other kids, but he didn't even seem to want to be there. Reconciling my hopes and aspirations for him .... for his own is a bit more challenging than I thought it would be. And lets get real. This was just kiddie soccer. Not even important stuff. I need to be ready to love and cheer on whatever he wants to do, not necessarily what I want him to do. Even if I don't like it. Even if he isn't the star.

I wonder if my God ever watches me from the sidelines. Playing my own game miserably, rather than the one I was designed to. Hoping and longing that I will start lining up my passions with His.






So I got the pants beat off me in the first round by a 4 year old. damn bumpers.
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knees knocking

I did something completely terrifying this weekend.
No, I did not ride the Titan or sky dive or spend the night in a haunted house.
Instead, I went to a conference. At a church. With some really nice people.
But, here is the catch.
It was a writing conference.

Still don’t see what was terrifying about this.
Well, some of these people were "real" writers.
They have written actual books, and articles and have their own websites.
Even the aspiring ones seemed to be carting around a manuscript or a service.

Me, well.
I blog.
Along with everyone and their grandma.
And after attending this conference, trust me everyone’s grandma has a blog.

I want to write.
But I’m not sure what exactly.
This kind of stuff.
But how do I describe that when you go around the dinner table with all these people who actually belong here, and someone finally asks me the dreaded question.
The one that I have been praying no one will actually ask me.
The one that makes my knees knock a little bit and my stomach start to churn.

“So, what are you working on, what do you write?”

You see, normally I have a safe answer to questions about what I do.
I teach high school.
This normally gets me a look of admiration, or pity or fear. And sometimes all three.
But to this question. The one about my writing,
I wonder if I can say “pass”.

I want to write.
For real.
I want to have projects that I am working on.
Manuscripts on my thumb drive.
Query letters in my portfolio.
And article ideas kicking around in my head.
Instead I just have a desire.
And maybe a voice.
And know that coming here and admitting that
Could be the first step.
To eventually having an actual answer.
So I mumble through my response while looking at my shoes.
Or just try to think of something funny and clever to say instead.

I am realizing that as a grown up – I have been playing it too safe.
My kids and students are forced into opportunities to fail all the time.
Tests, quizzes, play tryouts, asking that cute girl out on a date, SATs, or the Friday night game. But I have created a life with very little opportunities to fail.
At least significant ones.
Like aspiring dreams.

Instead maybe my lesson might fail, and my kids won’t ever really understand projectile motion.
Or the new recipe will fail, and we order pizza.
Or I can’t really get to all the places I am supposed to be, and Owen is late to soccer practice.
But nothing that is really going to hurt. Like a rejection letter.
It is comfortable and cozy here and most of the time I like it.
Except, when someone asks me just the right question and I know that I want to have more to answer with.
So today, I am ready to get serious and give myself the chance to fail.
Or maybe even succeed.

sandwich run

Today I forgot my lunch, so I ran a quick errand to get a sandwich. On my way out of the Which Which parking lot, I saw a man across the street that I thought might be homeless. Mansfield doesn't have too many of these people purusing the streets with signs or shopping carts so I took notice.
He pushed a shopping cart and seemed to be picking up trashn in a gas station parking lot. I watched him carefully because I was trying to decide if he was homeless or just cleaning the parking lot.
I gave away my last 5 bucks last night, but thought maybe I could give him half my sandwich. Then I felt guilty about only wanting to give him half. I decided that maybe I should give him the whole thing. I did have a granola bar stashed away in the store room back at school. But the more I watched him, the more I thought he was possibly an employee of that gas station. His cart seemed to be outfitted with all kinds of containers and cleaners -- and I did not see any "belongings". And his clothes seemed neat enough.
I was secretly relieved that I would get to keep my sandwhich, but as I turned the corner to drive off I saw him jump all the way into the dumpster and start tossing some things out into his cart.
He definantly did not work there.
As I kept driving off in the opposite direction, I kept thinking that I still had time to turn around. And although, I had already taken a bite out of my sandwhich...I could still offer him the other half.
Maybe I wouldn't make it back in time to eat with my friends, but I could still turn around.
I thought that all the way to the next light.
And as I pulled into the parking lot.
Instead I shamefully finished my sandwhich.
I did nothing.
And I hope, that he had more than my nothing to eat for lunch today.


Tonight I went fishing.
Really the plan was just to take lots of pictures, but I got distracted.
The fish kept biting.
I could hardly drop my pole in before I was reeling in another one.

Shaun, his dad and Owen were all packing up the land cruiser, and I was still reeling them in, in the dark.

Not sure what it was.
My hands were dirty and slimy.
My tennis shoes were covered with sticker burrs.
My pants were stained and smelled strongly of fish.

But it was beautiful.
And not just the sun setting over the creek.
But the dirt on my son’s face.
The wiggle of a worm.
And the wildflowers blooming on the bank.

This morning I sat in a church (not my normal one!)
And felt nothing.
The service was cold and boring.
The music ( sang to a tape of backup music) was lifeless.
And the preaching, well I have already forgotten what it was about.

But there at the creek.
God spoke.
Not in words so much,
As in grasshoppers
And crickets
And fish breaking the water.

for Tucker

I have a friend Beth who has my favorite laugh of all times.
It is the best laugh you have ever heard she is very generous with it.
She is just one of those bright happy people that you just want to be around. Because well, when she is you find yourself smiling and laughing more too.
In one word she is joyful.

But a few days ago, my sweet Beth had a son. He was a beautiful 4 lbs 3 ounces and looked a lot like his older sister.
He was stillborn.

I can't read or type those words without feeling like I am being hit in the stomach.

She wrote about it very breifly on her facebook page and I am absoultely humbled by the amazing grace that she displayed.

I know that our God is good.
But it is so hard to remember in this moment.
and it almost seems wrong to even type it.
People keep expressing sympathy for her loss.
And loss is such a huge understatement when it comes to a child.
She was robbed.
But my friend Beth still manages to see that she is blessed and will continue to be blessed.
By her daughter.
By her family.
By her friends.
that are all willing to greive with her.
that are all pouring out their love and sorrow and questions
by trying to find words that aren't there.
with flowers and phone calls and food.
and prayers and hugs and tears.

Because you see.
My friend Beth might have a dark hard path to walk down but
she will not be doing it alone.
and Nothing
neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to steal her joy away forever.

So however long it takes friend, I promise to still be praying for you when you are ready to laugh again.