painted toenails

A while back I painted Tess's toenails for the first time. I know she is just a baby but I couldn't resist those little pink piggies. As soon as I set her and her new pink toes down on the ground she literally pranced around, beaming, and just stared at her sassy new toes. At 15 months old she already seemed to know what a fresh coat of paint can do for a girl!

Many sprink breaks ago, the kind before kids, I went to Atlanta. I had a friend there doing some inner city mission work and I wanted to have my own pretend mission trip to the week. I played with kids after school. I filed paperworked. I painted a house. I ate some really good food. Stayed up late talking. And on Thursday I went to a Womens Shelter and met a women named Constance. She went every Thursday and told her story and then painted toes. And it may have been the best thing I did all week. Here is what I remember about that day.

Constance met me at the car. She was a fiftyish black woman who was dressed simply and elegantly. I suddenly felt a bit underdressed in my jeans and t-shirt.
On the ride to the shelter she breifed me on what to expect. The kinds of people I would see. What to do if someone asked me for money.
I was pretty nervous about what to do when I got there.
How to engage these women in conversation.
How to love on them without acting like I felt sorry for them.

The inside of the facility is really nice and it is kind of hard to tell the difference between the women working there and the ones staying there.
I am not ready to see all the kids.
And they break my heart.
They are cute and clean and missing front teeth and playing and totally normal.
And homeless.
The women are talking in groups, listening to their cd players, picking out clothes for interviews and playing cards until Constance began to talk and sing.
and then some of the women begin to listen.
Others just carry on their conversations louder and crank up their music.
But the crowd starts to grow and a few people began to notice the tubs of nailpolish sticking out from under the table.
Constance finishs up her story and you can tell a few women are really getting it. Because you see she had been here. In their very shoes. With sore and tired feet.

And then it is my turn. I am supposed to give pedicures to anyone who wants one.
I have a small plastic tub to soak tired feet in, some lotion and about a dozen assorted colors.
Alice. A six year old with thick braids and a toothless grin is my first customer. She wants each nail a different color and I oblige while a line grows.
Before Alice I don't think I had ever painted anyones toenails before...except mine and I am really bad at it. Spots of pink end up on skin in addition to nails, but no one seems to complain.
After Alice, I do about a dozen or so grown up feet.
and they are really gross.
They smell and are rough and knobby and yellowed and aching.
Just like these women and so I smile while I lotion and rub them.
But I have to try and not think about it and breathe through my nose because these feet are so bad from living on the streets in the same pair of socks day after day.
As I soak and rub I wonder what the apostles feet must have looked and smelled like.
And I paint toe after toe and wish that I was better at it. Becuase these women deserve something good. I take my time and try and paint a little love and warmth and encouragement into each toe.

I know that painting toenails wasn't a very practical service. I wasn't feeding or clothing or training these battered and bruised women. But Constance was on to something. For at least a few minutes that day these women got to feel normal instead of afraid. And hopefully after we left they felt a little bit prettier and ready to take on the day with a fresh coat of nail polish and a clean pair of socks. Because sometimes, that's really all a girl needs.

i wonder where my passport is?

Blogging is how I tend to process things.
But some things are just too big to write about.

Like how great my husband is.
A camp I used to go to.
Some of my favorite friendships
And the huge ridiculous love I have for my kids.

Sometimes there just aren’t words.

Haiti has kind of been like that.
So despite everyone else’s blog posts about it.
I haven’t gone there.
Yes. I have seen the pictures.
Yes. My heart broke for these people.
And something instantly in me wanted to go.

But that was it.
I tried to help organize some fund raising efforts at school.
But mostly I have done nothing.
Except change the channel, because it is all a little too much to take in.
I haven’t even sent a dime.

On Friday I read this blog:
http://flowerdust.net/2010/01/22/im-going-to-haiti/
And felt a twinge of what she said wasn’t really ok.
Jealous.
Because I didn’t know what to do.
I didn’t have any money to send.
And it is so hard to sit and watch the news and do nothing.
And I know in the middle of all that rubble
Is God.
And yes. I know that god is here too.
But here he is sometimes allusive.
Hard to hear and find in the middle of all the starbucks and shopping malls.
But there He is passing out food.
There He is bandaging up the wounded.
There He is holding babies.
There He is offering up hope.
and maybe if I was there I could be a part of that,
rather than just watching some telethon on TV.

And again. I know that I can do things and be a part of all of that here.
But.
There are stories there.
And I want to tell them
And I want to be a part of them.
But I am here.
And don’t really see how I’d get there.
My stomach doesn’t travel well.
I don’t have any days off.
And I don’t have a way to pay for it.

But today at lunch with some people I haven’t seen in over a decade
An old friend said that she would be going to Haiti soon.
And before I even knew what I was saying.
“Can I come?”
Slipped out of my mouth.

And I meant it.
And I’m not really sure about all the details.
Like how I’ll pay for it.
Or what I will be doing there.
Or if my stomach will behave.
And did I mention that it is soon. In less than 2 months.
And somehow I think all the details will work out.
And if they don’t.
It will be ok.
Because it feels really good to tell Him that
I will go.
Because suddenly He is also very much here.

butt check

The other day I decided that my monthly dues to the Y might be good for a little more than a donation and decided to hit the treadmills.

7 pm in January is about the busiest time for any gym. So there was slim pickings on the equipment. I finally found an empty machine on the last row and settled in. I typed in my ever-growing age and weight and picked a program. I turned up the ipod. I started sweating.
I wasn’t going to make the 30 minutes if I didn’t find some distractions. I hate watching tv without any sound. Especially home and graden tv.
I can’t read on a treadmill ( too bouncy) so I started looking around.
Rows and rows of butts were in front of me. Most of which were crammed in to slightly too tight black athletic pants.

So as I stared at all these butts I started to wonder what I looked like from this view.
Because I think I have an idea.
And it isn’t really pretty.

But my self perception is usually a bit off. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. Or maybe it was even worse….
So I wondered if it would be socially appropriate to go down the rows and ask the owners of all those back ends how much they weighed?
Or at least what size they were.
So I could compare. And see where I fit in.

And yes, I had better sense than that. And I didn’t want to get beat up.
And let’s be honest. I probably don’t really want to know.
So I left with the same idea of myself that I came with.
Which is probably a little bit off.

But it got me thinking a bit about how we view ourselves.
Inside.
Or even in black work out pants.
And how easy it is to get it wrong.

How easy it is to walk around everyday and not really know who we are.

my day job part 2

Yesterday a student approached my desk to ask about her grade.
This particular student isn’t one I really notice. She is relatively quiet. Makes average grades. Less than stellar social skills. This is the kind of student that I run into a few years from now and think, they look familiar…but can’t place them…..or remember their name or much about them. Forgetable.
Until yesterday.
No, there is not some sob story that endeared her to my heart.
No, we didn’t have a “moment” where we bonded and I suddenly realized she is a lot like me.
No, she didn’t thank me for teaching her the laws of physics and making her life better.
Instead, her awkward social skills pointed out something about me that I did not want to hear.
And was so right on.

She stood at my computer and asked me if I liked my job.
Kids do this all the time. Usually because other kids in the class are driving them crazy and they don’t know how I can stand it. Or sometimes because they want to be a teacher too. I assumed this was her reasoning…
And I said, “Yes”.
And I do. I love my job. Most days.
She kept standing their awkwardly and finally said,
“oh, well most days it seems like you are just trying to get through it as fast as you can”
“like you just want to get the lesson over with”
I fumbled through a response saying something about how I just want to give them time to work, or want them to have as much time in the lab as possible.
But. She. Was. Right.
At least in her class.
It is my least favorite period. And this is finals week, which means we are all so done and burned out and desperately in need of a break.
I don’t think anyone in the class before hers or after hers would have the same observations….but that doesn’t matter. I show up with donuts and funny stories to the class before hers and ask kids what they want to do and where they want to go to college. And in the class after we talk about music and laugh a lot. But in hers we take notes, do labs and get started on homework. With probably a few stern warnings thrown in.
This girl saw right through me. She could tell that in her block I just want to get through the lesson so they can do their stuff and I can do mine. No wonder they don’t get excited about the material. Because I don’t.
So what if they are the class that hot glues lab stools to the floor, and gets bad reports from subs and cheats like crazy on quizzes and tests. Maybe if I loved them a little, hot glue and all, we would all be a little happier.
Also, in my defense I am a little distracted. Tess doesn’t sleep well. At all. Which makes my insides not work right. And now I have it in my heart that this is what I really want to do. Write. But I am not there yet. I still have 150 kids everyday expecting more out of me than me wanting to be somewhere else. Even if I only slept 4 hours last night. Even if I secretly dream of being a real writer.
I need to be here.
Because a 16 year old can tell when you aren’t.
And she will call you on it.

my day job




some of you might wonder how I do it?
you know write all these brilliant posts AND teach high school?

Easy-Peasy.
Tess does all the grading.

If by grading you mean rolling around in my nice neat piles, throwing papers around the room, scribbling all over them with a bright red pen ( at least she got that right) and eating a few corners. And just in time, beacuse my semester grades are due in a matter of hours.

Yes, I made As in both sarcasm and procrastination....


jumping in

Go read John 21 right now.
Really do it. At least the first half.
Even if you don't really like the bible.
Read it anyways just so this post will make sense.
And I promise not to get all preachy.

Ok, so hopefully you did it and now you're back.

Plenty of jumping off points and weird things to talk about in that story.
Like the fact that Jesus had already been crucified and this is basically a conversation with a dead man.
Like that fact that John is referred to "the disciple that Jesus loved" which is a pretty great way to refer to yourself.
That he asks Peter the same question three times.

That these guys who had followed Jesus everywhere just months before. Who heard him preach. Who saw his miracles and even did a few themselves. Seemed to be right back to where they started from. Out fishing. Having a pretty lousy morning.
Until some guy on the shore pipes up.

And yes. It is a cool story. Jesus shows up and of course they don't recognize him. Because they never do. And he tells them to toss their net over the other side. And they listen. Even though they still don't know that this is Jesus. Even though they haven't caught a stinkin fish all night.
And amazingly their net is full with fish. So full that the net should rip. That the boat should tip.
But it doesn't.
And finally someone recognizes the man on the shore.

And here is the kicker.
As soon as Peter realizes that it is Jesus.
He jumps into the sea.
In his clothes.
and swims to the shore.
The bible doesn't really go in to details here but I'm willing to bet that there was a pretty great reunion on the shore. With a fire and fish and bread and probably a few bear hugs.
And Peter got to him first.
Because he wasn't afraid to get wet.

Blog: Tour Simple Compassion


This is my third book of Keri's to read, and I must say that every single one of them has made me breathe a little deeper and slow down.
Which is really really hard for me to do.
I do everything fast. I read fast. I eat fast. I talk fast and I write fast ( which might explain all my typos). This is good in the world of multitasking and checking things off your to-do list...but not so much for playing with my kids, building relationships, enjoying and resting.
Sometimes "quiet time" or reading my bible is just something to check off my list. Which means the faster I read or pray, the faster I can go to sleep or do the dishes. Which means I miss out on pretty much the point and most everything that God has to say.

I read ridiculously fast. On vacations I like to pride myself on reading almost "a book a day".
Which means that I have read ALOT of books.
But it also means that I have forgotten most of them.
It means I have occasionally skipped over parts and missed things.
Occasionally there is a book that I really really love and maybe I will underline a phrase or two or dogear a page or pass it on to a friend, but what I really need to do is slow down and chew on it. Read a few pages. Think about it. And repeat. Maybe even re-read it again later.
But mostly I don't do that. I finish it and start the next book.

This book seemed to know I was that girl. And warned me against it. This book has 52 short chapters (devotionals to make a difference in your neighborhood and your world) which were intended to be read one week at a time. Not in one sitting.
In the introduction it says, " To read just one short chapter of this book a week is to offer God a year to mess with you, to equip you and strengthen you, and to live the adventure of following him."

Turns out it isn't a race.

And there isn't a checklist,
but we are told to act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God ( Mic 6:8).

So maybe I could read this book in a day if I wanted to.
But I couldn't make any changes.
At the end of every chapter are some specific things to chew on, pray about and actually DO.
And, maybe I skimmed ahead ( just a bit I promise).....and some of these are hard.
Not hard like sell everything you own....
but hard because you just might have to put down your book and do something.
Change.
Show someone compassion, and mercy, and hospitality, and generosity...
and maybe even Christ.

Some important links
Buy the book on Amazon: Simple Compassion by Keri Wyatt Kent
Keri’s website
Other bloggers on this tour

This is the 2nd book of Keri’s that I have had the privilege of reviewing (loved Rest). If you like the idea of these great books showing up in your mailbox in return for a short honest review…check out this site for some upcoming tours!)

pretty


I have some beautiful friends who don’t think they are pretty enough.
They have such a hard time with their body image. Even though their pant size is probably divisble into my own.
But I am ok with my body.
Mostly.
Except when Target puts out swimsuits in January. (not nice).

Or at least I think I am.
Because really, I don’t think about it much.
I buy my make up at the grocery store.
Get hair cuts once a quarter (or less).
Am not afraid to dye my own on a whim, or cut it all off.
Will wear the same jeans for 5 days straight.
And is not afraid to go to the grocery store in exactly what I slept in.

But maybe not caring.
Isn’t the same as being ok with it.
Maybe it is even worse.

The other day my friend asked me to “model” for a photography event she is doing.
I of course said yes because their isn’t so much I wouldn’t do for this friend.
But the request made me laugh and worry and wonder why she didn’t ask someone else.
Like some of our cuter, skinnier friends who know how to accessorize.

I figured that with me she was going for normal, or silly, or at least not something in animal print.

And I showed up.
Nervous and uncomfortable.

The other girls knew how to put on makeup. And had on dresses. And I’m pretty sure were about the size I was back in junior high.

And I got a little more uncomfortable and wished that my friend would offer me a big fat glass of wine. Especially when we pulled out the knee high boots that I couldn't even walk in.

Usually I am pretty outgoing and can make decisions but this was so out of my element and I had to ask for help and suggestions about everything. It is suprising that I even managed to button my own shirt.

So, my friend became my make up artist and helped me accessorize. And started snapping away with her camera.

And maybe it didn’t help that I was in a room full of size 4s with white shiny teeth. But it wasn’t so much the comparison that made me feel so insecure.

It was the mirror and the lens.

Which made me realize that it wasn’t so much that I am more okay and mature and healthy about my body, but that it is just something I avoid.
Something that I refuse to examine or face. To embrace, like Anne Lammot and her hips or to tackle, like my gym card that hasn’t been swiped in 2 months.
Or to really face the heart of and dig into verses like Genesis 1:27, or Psalm 139, or 1 Samuel 16:7…and so on.

And of course my friend got some good shots ( and she did some magic editing) and to be honest…body image isn’t really one of my big issues.
And yes, I have plenty of other issues.

The point is that we all have things that need to be laid in front of a mirror and examined and embraced and tackled.
Not just ignored because we don’t think about them.
Because we think we are okay.
Until someone breaks out a camera and shows you what you really look like.
Which is of course beautiful.
(ps. rhonda gets to the photocredits, for more check out her pretty stuff check out http://www.snapshotsonlocation.com/)

oscopies

This morning I had an upper GI and a colonoscopy. The hardest part was getting there at 7:15 am and waiting almost 2 hours before they even thought about the procedure.
Me nervous, hungry and tired in your waiting room without ample reading material is not a good thing.

For those of you who just read the word colonoscopy and are worried about what kind of gross things I will be discussing……don’t worry. I won’t go there. I don’t even like to pee if there is someone in the stall next to me, so I won’t be talking about any of the other goings on on that end. Except to mention that after last night, my colon is so clean that you could eat off it. I swear, I bet the doctor could see his little camera reflection in my colon…but really that’s it. I promise.

And for those of you wondering/worrying about why I had the colonoscopy, endoscopy and handful of biopsies in the first place. Don’t worry your pretty little head. All is fine. Except for a few matters that would fall into the paragraph above. Nothing a little immodium and some good sleep can’t fix. (except of course that I haven’t gotten good rest in years thanks to a cute little almost redhead baby girl of mine).

What I am going to go into is the prep. (what goes in, not so much what comes out). If I took a survey of grown ups, ( I am going to define a grown up as someone over the age of 50, because we all know that 31 is so not a grown up)……most of them have had their share of colonoscopies. My mom has. My dad has. My in-laws have. My neighbor has. The teacher across the hall has. Even a handful of non-grown ups I know have. Point being: people do this all the time. And survive.

As un-fun as a camera snaked up my behind sounds, everyone promised me that the “prep” was the worst part.

So far I had already been on a liquid diet for over 24 hours and drank a small bottle of magnesium citrate. I was starting to think the worst of it was behind me.
Until I picked up my gallon of un-goodness from the pharmacy. But really, how hard can drinking a gallon of cherry flavored stuff be?

Apparently pretty hard.

Because a few hours, and very bloated later I was crying after just wretching the contents of my 15th or so glass of not quite cherry flavored snotty nastiness into the sink.
I few times I even uttered the phrase, “I don’t think I can do this anymore”
The only thing that kept me drinking. And gagging. And drinking some more.
(It took me 4+ hours by the way and almost the entire gallon, which started to get especially thick and nasty at the bottom......because….. “shake well” apparently means you need a centrifuge to do properly).
Was fear that if I didn’t get my colon clean enough, I’d have to do it all over again.
And the fact that plenty other people have done it before without nearly this much complaining. Or crying. Or making their husband drink some (yes, I really did).

If you usually read my blog, you know that this is the part where I make some oh-so-wise spiritual correlation or life lesson or at least make a point.

And I could.

Something about how hard and painful it is to get clean on the inside, as opposed to the outside.
Or about sucking it up, because plenty of people don’t have health care at all…
Or even just the benefits of protobiotics or happy drugs that don’t let me remember any of the procedure.

But, I’m not feeling quite up to that. So me and my snuggie are going to sit here on the couch and “recover” (catch up on the sleep I did NOT get the last two nights because of paragragh 2). I did come to one pretty big realization though. And it is this. That I am a big fat wimp. And your 80 year old grandma who has a colonoscopy every year without whining is more of a man than me.

On the upside, ( because there always is)……I lost a few pounds and I have a good dozen or so pictures of my shiny pink colon that Owen wants to take to show and tell. ( No, I won’t let him……I don’t think…….although I just might show my biology class.)

maybe this year will be better than the last.

because i am an eternal optimist, i can't leave that title hanging.
it was a good year.
ish.
december i could have done without.
and some other stuff in between.
but I have a job and beautiful kids and a fabulous husband and a home and friends and food.
and i can't believe it but i am going to quote my sister.
"even my problems are good problems"
i'd list a few but they seem pretty trivial.
just in the last few weeks, Shaun has gotten a phone call 3 times about the passing of a family member.
first his MeMe.
then an uncle, and barely after he got out of his funeral clothes on New Year's Eve, the phone rang again. His aunt.
3 funerals, 3 ear infections and one giant hole in the bathroom wall ( thanks to a slow leak and rotten drywall).
Let's just say it's been a long December.

Yesterday I told Owen, "Happy New Year".
He was puzzled and asked why I said that. I tried to explain that it was the first day of a new year. Still blank stares....
then I told him that this will be the year that he goes to Kindergarden, that his team finally wins a soccer game, that this is the year he will learn to read, this will be the year that he turns 5,etc. And his face started to light up with hope for what is in store.
I didn't write a long list of resolutions.
But I do like to "reset" a bit for the new year.
I hope that I finally get it together and do all the things that I was supposed to do all along.
Lose weight, organize my closet, publish something, start serving in some kind of significant way,I could go on but won't.
There is something in us that wants to be better.
That hopes that there is more.
That hopes that this is our year.
That we can be a little bit closer to who we were meant to be.
To who God created us to be.

What I love about New Years is that we remember that hope.
That for atleast a little while we believe it.
We go to the gym.
We go to church.
We believe that we can be better.