table for one

Ok. So I’m still way too tired and too busy to process 90% of the conference stuff.
That and I still haven’t done my homework.
And the week is only getting busier, so maybe after Sunday I’ll unpack a little.

Instead I’ll talk about traveling alone.

My husband travels alone all the time. For work.
I almost never do.
Like I’m not sure that I’ve ever flown into, an airport other than my own,with no one to pick me up on the other end.

I was excited about the trip and exploring a new place and some alone time.
Until the few days before.
And then I kind of panicked.

My dad has always been a ridiculous traveler.
He is a crazy planner. When we take family trips I get bound copies of maps, itenoraries and things to pack. Really last summer it was 13 pages long. There was even a table of contents. My husband isn’t nearly that type A, but he does his research. He looks up maps and restaurants and even checks the weather. Even when I go somewhere with friends, I know I can usually count on someone else to mapquest it and double check the reservations.
I like to just show up for the ride.

Except when there is no one else to follow.
So I started to stress about how I’d get from the airport to the hotel. Or from the hotel to the conference or where I’d eat.
I have a rule that I never to do chain restaurants when I travel.
But this often requires research.

Thankfully, my husband helped me out a little. He sent me my own itineraries. That I hadn’t seen since booking it all in May. He looked up information on the rail system and even managed to find some cab fare for me ( and 2 days before pay day…when there is no cash to be had).

But I was still a little nervous.
About getting there, checking in, or if anyone would talk to me at the conference.
I mean, most people go with friends.

And by some crazy accident I ended up in first class. I kept looking around me looking for famous people and I totally didn’t know what to do with the hot towel. But I was more than thrilled with my fresh baked cookie and read the entire 2nd book in the Hunger Games trilogy on the way there.
I even managed to figure out some public transit, because I’d much rather pay 3$ to get to my hotel than 30$ (and give that cash to strangers of course).
And my hotel was fancy. Like fuzzy white robe and mini bar kind of fancy.

I had plenty of time before check in so I wondered around for a bit.
I stopped in somewhere and had some amazing fish tacos. And only felt a tad awkward saying table for one.
My conference was located in a little block of heaven: Powell’s books (as in the largest new and used independent book store in the world), gelato, Pete’s coffee and tea, and Anthropologie. When the conference finally started I didn’t make any new best friends. But people were chatty enough and it was fine.
And people kept being impressed that I went somewhere by myself.
That my husband let me venture off across the country while he played Mr. Mom at home. And I was pretty impressed by him too.

And the next day I had a large chunk of time before my flight. And I wasn’t going to spend it at the airport. So, I put on my sneaks and started walking.
I saw miles of the city. I crossed bridges, took pictures, ate amazing food,
Had tea and coffee and street food. I read books, and looked at flowers and watched kids playing in a fountain at the park. I almost joined them. I tried on hats and browsed bookstores and talked to strangers. Awkwardly at first, and eventually with ease.

And it was weird in my head. Quiet. Not having anyone to joke with or follow around.
It was just me.
And I was doing just fine.
I even kind of liked it.

And then, a couple stopped and asked me for directions.
Because I didn’t look like some lost tourist.
Or girl alone in the city.
But like someone who belonged there.
Who was comfortable on her own.
Because I was.

Although, I'm pretty sure I accidentally sent them in the complete opposite direction of where they wanted to go.

Ryan from Cleveland

I’ve been away for a few days.
I went to the Storyline conference by Donald Miller…
And it was uh-mazing.
I’m sure I’ll be writing about it a lot over the next few weeks.
Or at least things he/we talked about.
But tonight,
I mostly just need sleep and to process all that good stuff I am chewing on.

So for now, Meet Ryan from Cleveland.
I met him in Portland, but not at the conference.

Sunday night the conference went until nine. And afterwards we were invited to a special movie test run from an amazing director that Milller interviewed.
He rented out some cool theatres in downtown Portland…and I couldn’t wait to see the movie.
Except it was not at all close to my hotel. And it would finish after 11:30 pm.
And I wasn’t 100% sure I could even stay awake that long ( 2 hour time difference not in my favor). But I was not ok with walking over a mile in a strange city, when I wasn’t sure where I was going, close to midnight.
So I relucatnantly decided to pass.
I hate missing out, and tried to cheer myslef up with some gelatto and a plan. There was still plenty of people out and it seemed safe enough around 9, so I figured I’d get out my camera out, take a walk, snap some photos, wander through a bookstore and get a drink before crawling into my nice hotel king sized bed. All hopefully before 10.

So I walked and looked and started snapping.

Until this guy with amazing brown curls asked if I took a picture of him. He didn't look any older than most of my students.
I wasn’t sure if he was angry or joking.
But assured him I was taking a picture of the building behind him.
Kind of kidding, I then told him I could take picture of him if he wanted.

He said sure and half smiled.
And made a crack about all his homeless garb.

Before I knew what I was doing, I asked if he wanted to grab a cup of coffee or something.
He agreed. Changed his course and we walked the block.

He asked why.
“why are you offering to buy some random homeless guy a cup of coffee”
I wasn’t entirely sure myself.
Except of course, that it is what we are called to do, just not the course of action I usually take.
I shrugged, and said “I was exploring the city and figured he could tell me a few things”

He said that he could,
But that he was really from Cleveland and only been her about 3 weeks.

He asked if I was from the South. And I laughed, laid the accent on thick and asked how he could tell. We walked down the street talking about Cleveland, Texas and Portland.
And got to a coffee shop.
I pulled open the door and he kind of froze.
He looked down and said, “I’m not allowed in there”.
I looked a little puzzled and he continued, “Homeless people. They don’t let us in.”
“Oh”, I said softly. “Even if we are paying for stuff”.
He shook his head.
I asked if he knew of another place we could go. Somewhere they’d let us both in.
And he just said,
“That’s ok. Really, I probably need to be going anyways. I better go claim a door way before they are all taken.”
I reached in my pocket, handed him the cash I was going to use to buy our coffee.
I told him to buy a cup in the morning. And some breakfast too.
He took it. Thanked me. And again, asked why.

“Why are you giving some homeless guy you don’t even know 10 bucks.”

I’m sure this is where I probably should have told him about Jesus or something.
But those words didn’t come.

Instead I just shrugged again. And said, “because you need it” and that “it was my pleasure”.
He then stopped looking at the ground. Looked me square in the eye, stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Ryan”
“Ryan from Cleveland” I said, “nice to meet you. I’m Michelle from Texas”.
And he went right to go claim his doorway to sleep in and I went left, back to my hotel.

tess is two

Two years and one day ago, we were just another family of three.
And we didn't know how easy we had it.

Hurst, table for four, is at least 10X more work than the table for three.
We are way more broke. Way more tired. My car is even more disquisting than it used to be and suddenly there are dolls scattered among the Legos in the living room.

And I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Today, my sweet Tess is two.
And nothing about this girl has been easy. From a long sick pregnancy, to a scary delivery, to lots of long sleepless nights, ear infection after ear infection and temper tantrums. But, she has always always been ridiculously easy to love.

The biggest lesson you have taught me is that people are different, even ones that look just alike. What works for one kid, doesn't necesarily work for the other. One kid will sleep through the night at 8 weeks, and the next kid will finally get the hang of it around 21 months. My fabulous parenting skills before you got here were just pure luck. You make look just like your brother, and you can both do some serious dancing. but that is where the similarities end.

When I found out I has having a girl, I was excited of course.
But also a little bit afraid. I am not a big fan of pink.
That I would be girly enough for you. That I would know how to do french braid your hair or buy you the right dolls and clothes.
But you have been all girl from the begining and needed no guidance from me.
Put you in a dress, and you instantly twirl.
You could have your toes painted everyday and somehow amazingly manage to sit still for the process. Once I even caught you sleeping with a pair of shoes all snuggled up like a teddy bear under your arms. And give you a dolly and a diaper and you can entertain yourself for hours.  Of course you can make do with some hot wheels and Legos too in a pinch.

And you know exaclty what you want and never hesitate to ask for (demand) it. Even though you are only two, sometimes you and your daddy have screaming matches like you are a teenager. Mostly he wins. But only mostly. You two are the same. Introverted, introspective and occasionally stubborn. It taks you both a while to warm up to people and you both are a good judge of character (yes, even before you could talk you could pick the good ones and didn't hesitate to give your stink eye to everyone else). And I'm pretty sure yall will but heads for the next 20 years or so. And of course, besides your brother he is your favorite. Even if he makes you sit in the corner or didn't give you another cookie. You light up whenever he is in the room.  And then immediately start trying to push his buttons.

And your brother is your favorite person on the planet. You love him more than Elmo, or cell phones or possibly even chocolate. You both spend hours dancing in the living room. Fighting, giggling and breaking each other's toys. Even as sassy and prissy as you are, you can hold your own with the boys. And he would do anything for you. Even share his donut. And that is asking a lot.

So happy birthday sweet girl. Here's to many more years of watching you twirl, and dance in the living room.  I hope this year brings you more hair, big girl panties, more dollies to boss around and that you stop trying to chew gum that you pulled off from under the tables at resturaunts.
The table for four.

(and thanks rhonda, for taking such a great shot! sorry that you almost threw up when she chewed someone else's gum)

the friday playlist....with a little help

I used to have a cd habit. I had one of those huge black cd holder things that held like 100 cds. And some of mine had 2-3 cds in each pocket. I joined BMG and everything
And I still occasionally go a little crazy on itunes.

But for the most part. I am no loner that hip girl with the huge cd collection. So I need a little help finding current good tunes. I have my sources....
And one of my favorites is my 15 year old nephew who plays the trombone and knows a good tune when he hears one.
He needed some help from me on a science project. I said sure, if he'd write my playlist this week. Which he happily obliged.
And of course it is so current that some of the songs aren't even in grooveshark...(she's leaving home by outasight and holy roller novacaine by my terrible friend).

clariol and quicksand

Sometimes I get this urge to do something a little drastic.
And I’m mostly too old for piercings and tattoos (ok that hasn't really stopped me yet, but at least not during the school year), so last night I had to settle for a bottle of hair dye. And I’m not really sure what it is, but somehow the 8.99$ spent on whatever dye I choose always seems to renew me. At least a little. I know this is a little teenagerish of me to think that new hair will make me a new girl. But it always seems to help.

Last weekend, I ran a race and at one point we were trudging through the mud and the people in front of us stopped in their tracks.
Quick sand. They warned.
And they tugged and pulled and retrieved lost shoes from the mud.
The trick was just to keep moving. Not to stop. Because each time I paused, to catch my breathe, I would sink a little bit lower. And further. Making it only harder to move at all.
This week has felt a little bit like quicksand.
And it is probably because I am barely keeping my head above water. Much less moving forward.
I am stuck. And sinking. And occasionally even moving backwards.
And I refuse to stay here.

And last night as I lathered in my new shade (which is pretty much just my old shade because I wasn't brave enough to go for the black and thought that purple might get me in trouble at work), I wondered why I always want some physical change to represent a mental one.
And I think that color #46 should not be named lame “dark brown”
But instead,
“I am not the same girl yesterday that I am right now.
I am not stuck.
I have shiny vibrant hair, instead of the dull lackluster dead ends I sported yesterday. And this girl can tackle anything.
Even quick sand.”

But maybe that is too much to fit on the box.

Bigger Picture Moment

This post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts at Hyacynth's

all the single ladies....

…well the single moms at least.
Mad props to you.
My husband has been traveling much more than usual and I am so failing at the single gig.
As in right now, my son is watching G-force for the second time tonight.
And I’m pretty sure there is a one viewing per lifetime rule for a movie about talking hamsters. Or gerbils or whatever.
I don’t know because I have been de-licing Tess’s room.
Actually she doesn’t have lice that I know of.
But someone in her class does.
And when I picked her up from school and they handed me the letter,
I flashed back to all those “lice checks” in school where you had to put your head down on your desk and the nurse came and picked through your hair.
I was always petrified they would find something and washed my hair with vigilance that night.
Lets just say, for the first time I was super thankful that Tess has almost no hair.
But still, the sheets and clothes and pillows and blankies and teddy bears all must be washed. And I am feeling a little paranoid itch myself.

And back to my sucking at this single mom thing.
Today my kids ate McDonalds.
I actually had to wait in line, that went all the way outside because it was McTeacher night or something crazy and teachers and adminstrators at my kids school were working (holding a wet rag to wipe off tables that weren’t free while really just chatting it up with all their friends). Waiting 20 minutes in line to eat at McDonalds almost made me physically ill. Even more physically ill than actually eating at McDonalds.
But my kids loved every second of the over-packed crazy place. McNuggets and all.
And my son spotted a girl in his class and strode over to her table where she was sitting with her parents, pulled himself up a chair and started performing physical feats to impress her. Like putting his shoes on his head and running around and under the table. I was slightly mortified (but a little thankful he wasn't do his new favorite dance move the moonwalk) and introduced myself to the mom and said, “I guess our kids are in the same class”, to which she replied. “Oh yes, this must be the Owen she talks about him every day”.
Every day.
I can barely get the kid to tell me what they had for lunch, or if they had PE or music class.
But apparently my son is full of antics and dance moves and is something to write home about.
Or, and probably more likely, the teacher just says his name a lot.

I had big plans tonight to go to the gym, get caught up on papergrading and possibly even watch the last two episodes of Parenthood.
The gym was a bust. Dirty diapers (they don’t change them), forgotten swimsuits ( wanted to swim laps and save my knees, and no headphones (I can NOT do anything on the treadmill without tunes) caused me to turn my car right back around and stop at the nearest RedBox I could find.
For that horrible gerbil (or is it hamster) movie.

And papers.
They never even made it out of my car.

Parenthood. Well that would require finding the remote. Which sounds far too taxing for me at the moment.

Here’s to hoping that my kids survive long enough for their dad to make it home.
Hurry up. We miss you.
Also, he seemed to have packed the only razor in the house….so if you happen to see me tomorrow, maybe try not to look below the knee.

and yes i realize this post was completely pointless and total rambling. So sorry. I need my better half around to stop me from this kind of nonsense.

And if you were reading this blog in hopes of advice for actual single ladies. I do have one: UFC night. I accidentally went into a bar on UFC night with an old college friend recently and we were the only girls in the place. Wall to wall 20-40 year old men. We were there a grand total of 3 minutes and am pretty sure got hit on atleast a half dozen times each before frantically fleeing the scene. Also I wasn't wearing makeup, so clearly their bar was low. I made a mental note if I ever find myself desperate and back in the dating start watching UFC. I am not really even sure what UFC is, but I bet it is better than talking gerbils.
or hamsters.

funny photos from my phone

I think I have admitted here before that no one would ever accuase me of being "tech savvy".
which is ironic for a girl who spends so much time on her blog.
but really, I've already told you that I can't use my scanner. still true.
and this confession is even more shocking. I don't know how to upload my pictures on my iphone to facebook. And yes I know it is super easy. I've watched friends do it for me a handful of times. But have never even attempted it myself. Which is a shame, because I am all about a funny photo. And plenty live inside my phone. Here are just a few...

1. my friend thais, never one to pass up a piggy back ride. good thing she weighs like 5 lbs. And yes, we were in public. a very crowded mall on tax-free weekend. the people waiting on us to take this picture were less than amused.

2. I decided to try on a swim cap in the car. alone. and take a picture of it. which is probably a horrendous safety hazard. and just weird. but not as weird as the fact that i look like a gypsy rather than a girl in a swim cap.

3. what my kids do on the sidelines at a soccer game. coneheads.
again they come up with this stuff all on their own.

4. a little bit of heaven. and no i am not referring to my husband, although he is pretty sweet too. sweet sammies. your choice of 2 warm cookies and a scoop of whatever bluebell icecream you want all for about 2 bucks. i'm in love with both of them :)

5. my friend vanessa. she moved, but not before I could buy her a pineapple.

6. i heart buckees. possibly the best gas station ever. and the only good reason i know to stop in madisonville. it is enough to almost make me look forward to the drive. and beaver nuggets are amazingly addictive. they are kind of like giant super sugar coated pops cereal. and that description is so not doing them justice. next time. stop and try them for yourself. and the bathrooms are sparkling clean!

7. yes, that is a dead rat.

8. owen tearing into his freebird. wearing my 5$ walmart shades. he is the coolest kid i know. even though those shades are not doing him any favors.

9. this peice of flesh is my back. right after my last allergy test. feel free to count all 80+ pricks. turns out i'm still allergic to just about everything.

10. Tessie and her cupcake. speaking of cupcakes...i can't believe she will be two in just a few days!

There are dozens more crazy pics hiding out in my phone, but I'll save them for another time....and feel free to add your own captions below.


My church is doing a sermon series on brokenness.
And recovery.
Last week I slept in.
And was a little tempted to skip again.

Even though the point of the series is that we are all recovering from something.
I am well aware that I am no exception.
And even though I share a lot of my life in this space.
I keep some things back.
Especially the cracks.
And this is a part of my past life that I have only hinted about here.

Partly because I have this fear that a student will stumble across it.
Or that maybe I am not totally all the way fixed.
And feel like I should be before I start writing about it.

Which really means there is shame.
And fear of accountability.

Because even though my bottom was a relatively high bottom.
It was still an ugly lonely place.
One that I would really like to avoid and not revisit.
And even though over a decade has passed.
It still feels pretty fragile.
Like those broken pieces have been tenderly and carefully glued back together.
But that it wouldn’t take much to send them shattering again.

Because looking back over the last decade.
I am still carrying the same baggage.
I am thankful that most days it is so light I don’t even notice it.
But on some very few days
It catches me full force again.
And it is so heavy that I feel crushed beneath it.
And I keep setting it down.
But it always seems to find me.
And out of habit, I suppose. I keep picking it up and lugging it along.

I think after all this time that those broken pieces should be solid enough again.
Because I learned so much in the being broken part.
That surely God has put me back together again.

And I get ever so frustrated when I run across a crack.
Like a broken dish or vase that has been glued back together.
It just isn’t the same.
The cracks still show. And leak.
And make it weak.

And even though this brokenness hasn’t won.
And that is was a long time ago.
I am painfully aware that it isn’t gone.
That I am just one pill.
Or one bottle.
Or one email.
Or one hurtful comment.
Or one pound.
Or one website.
Or one purchase.
Or one self-depricating thought.
Or one whatever your vice of choice.
From shattering all over again.
And finding, this time, a much lower bottom.
One in which I'm afraid I would never be able to find all the pieces.

And so, even though I am a long time “recovered”.
I am still fearful of exposing my cracks.
That eventually the glue holding them together just might give.
And I think this is because I have it all wrong.
Being broken.
Isn’t about God putting you back together again.

But about making something else entirely.
Something more beautiful from the pieces.
Something bigger that fits together perfectly.
Something that maybe I never even imagined.
Because a dish or a vase is just a plain old piece of pottery
Until it is broken.
And only then it can become a masterpiece.

(and I skipped the Friday playlist, so let me make up for it with one fabulous song that you will want to listen to over and over.)
and that really cool mosaic, I found here.

Free Coffee!

Freshman year, I lived in the dorms and Friday night dinner often consisted of a bowl of captain crunch. A friend’s parents came to visit her. And they were fabulous parents who volunteered to save not only their daughter, but also some of her friends on her floor (shout out 4th floor Stangel) from eating dorm food.
And they treated us to dinner at Olive Garden.
About halfway through the salad, her mom turns to us and says,
“So girls, tell me when you were saved?”
I about choked on my breadstick.

I am not sure how I responded. But I am pretty sure there was some mumbling and looking at my shoes.
Even though I had a real answer. I was super uncomfortable giving my “testimony” to people I had just met.
And to be honest.
You could ask me the same question right now, and I’d probably cringe and spit out some lame version of 8th grade church camp.

But if we just started talking. Really talking.
About things I love and like and where I’ve been and what I’ve learned and who I am.
Then I’d get a chance to tell you my story.
And ultimately Jesus’s story. Even if I never mentioned him by name.

To this day, I really don’t know what to do or say when someone tries to witness to me.
When a church group knocks on my door to invite me to their church.
When someone downtown hands me a tract.
I always find myself a little embarrassed for them.
But maybe I should really be applauding them for their courage and boldness.

And when I signed up for this blog tour I didn’t read the small print.
As in, the subtitle on the book that said “Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk”.
Because small talk gives me a rash.
Especially if I am supposed to be talking about my faith.
Saying things like “have blessed day” or “if you died tonight, where would you go?”
Asking about quiet times and prayer life.
I think I might rather go back and choke on that breadstick.

But I read the book anyways.
Since Zondervon was kind enough to provide me with a free copy and all.
And discovered that it isn’t so much a book about small talk.
As it is a book about listening.
Which is really probably the best way to share Jesus that I know.

Oh, and the free coffee part….
To be entered to win a 25$ Starbucks gift certificate
Leave a comment on the following post and review.
Some more great links (even if they don't give you a chance to win free coffee:
Buy the book on Amazon.
The Fincher's website

open eyes.

Lately I have been busy.
School started three weeks ago. And I’m already about three weeks behind in grading papers and lesson plans.
I’m training for a race in a few weeks that I’m so not ready for.
Soccer season has started.
And there are appointments, open houses, practices and already sick kids.

And today I noticed something I hadn’t noticed in about a month.
A man living in his van.
Literally down by the river (or technically a lake). I had just parked at the dam and was about to try and ride my bike across the 8 mile stretch . This slightly dirty long haired guy in a old beat up van started to pull all kinds of things out of the back.

Usually this is where I feel my heart being pulled and I can’t not do something.
Say something.
Give something.
At least try. In some awkward way to help.
At least, look the guy in the eye and say hello.

Instead, I wasn’t sure. I talked myself out of it.
Maybe he wasn't really homeless and I'd just insult him by offering to help.
Because when he pulled a bike out from the back of his van I told myself maybe he is just a guy with a messy car just like me, and about to go for a ride too.
I knew I was wrong.
But convincing myself that he didn’t need my help, that I shouldn’t really do anything was easier than adjusting my plans, or speaking up.

So I hit the dam.
And realized that this was the first homeless man I have seen in a month.
An entire month.

And not because the poverty issue in my town has magically been resoloved.
The problems didn’t go anywhere.
Nothing changed.

I just stopped noticing.
Because I was busy. And tired.
And it was easier not to see.

I promised myself that if the guy was still there, that I would talk to him when I came back. Even though I really needed to get back home. Even though I only had a couple bucks on me. Even though I was a little scared.

So after my ride, I pedaled back into the parking lot and saw a lawn chair sitting beside the van with some dirty jeans drying over them.
There was no denying it now.
He lived in his van.
But him and his bike were no where to be seen.

So I loaded up my bike in the back of my husband’s truck.
Slipped my few bucks into his dirty jeans.
And drove off.

No less busy.
But with open eyes.


Posted by Picasa

The jaguars had their first game of the season this weekend.
In the post flash flood sticky heat.

Those poor boys who never seem to run out of energy,
Looked like they were going to melt out there. Most of us sat on the sidelines under umbrellas downing Gatorades and sweating through our clothes just watching.

Owen has decided that he now likes soccer.
Even games.
And he is still the littlest and least decorated ( they get a patch everytime they score a goal). I am happy to get to keep my seat on the sideline. And even happier to not have to bribe him with a nickel for everytime he touches the ball.
He may not be scoring any goals, but I’d be out at least a few bucks these days if we still resorted to the bribing.

After the game which was lost in heartbreaking last second fashion, the jaguars quickly forgot their misery as they got snacks and high fives.
We were packing up our chair and cooler when someone else’s lawn chair flipped.
Another player’s grandfather sprawled on the sideline.
A few people started to laugh and help him up when they realized he wasn’t moving.
Or even conscious.

And then things started to move in slow motion.
There were shouts to call 911.
And all I could do was repeat it. Rather than actually do it.
A circle of people started to gather around the man laying motionless on the sidelines.
My son and his teammate stood in the circle around his granddad.
I tried to pull them back and distract them. This was not something I wanted my son to see. These were not questions I was ready to answer. And even more so for the kid whose granddad it was. I decided the best thing I could do was get them out of there before the ambulance came.

The man started to come to a little.
And I told the other boy’s mom that I had her son.
I didn’t know her cell phone number and could hardly tell you her first name.
But I could see the fear and panic in her eyes as she agreed and I rushed her son out.

I threw Owen in Tess’s car seat despite much opposition and pulled out of the parking lot as the ambulance and fire trucks pulled in.
I tried to distract them with promises of candy or ice cream or slurpees from a nearby gas station.

This little boy had just witnessed his grand daddy collapse on a soccer field.
A bunch of grown ups panic.
I was worried about how I would answer his questions and quell his fears.
What would I tell him about what happened?
Should I tell him that his granddaddy would be ok, even though I really didn’t know.
What if he started crying? What if I started crying?
I started to panic about what to do and say when the questions and comments started coming.

Instead, he told me politely that his mom didn’t let him have candy and that maybe we should go to McDonalds instead.
And that my car was really messy.
Really, really, messy. He repeated. Just in case I didn’t hear him the first time.

His granddaddy had heat exertion, recovered well and was released from the hospital the next day.
The kid got a happy meal and doesn’t seem to be permanantly scarred from the ordeal.

My car on the other hand is still an absolute wreck. And apparently of a lot scarier to witness than a heat stroke.

(if you need some proof I posted pictures once)

like riding a bike

For the last month I’ve been training for a sprint triathalon.
It is a 300m swim, 20K bike ride and 5K run.
Guess who won’t be sprinting?

It was a little crazy for me to sign up. Because I’ve never swum laps and the peak of my cycling career was about when I was around 10 years old.

I have run in over a dozen 5Ks. Or at least mostly run.
And even a few longer races.
So training for the running part doesn’t really scare me.
And back in the day, I owned my neighborhood on my Schwinn, so how hard could the bike part be.
I was petrified however, of the swim.

So. I joined a gym. Bought a decent pair of goggles, a speedo and started swimming laps.
I even broke down and bought a swim cap.
My first time in the pool was rough. After only two laps I was winded.
I couldn’t figure a breathing pattern out and the water felt thick and heavy and hard to push through.

But eventually, every day I swam a few more laps.
The water started to feel relaxing and I got into a rhythm.
I still haven’t figured out those cool flip turns but I can swim my distance with ease.
And now the swimming is my favorite. It gives me very sore knees a break. The fluid motion of swimming somehow centers me.

I do own a bike. But it is a mountain bike (from a very brief mountain biking phase) and not a road bike. But I figured it would do. Unfortunately it has been collecting dust and growing cobwebs in some corner of my garage for the last seven or so years. So I have been using the bike at the gym. I love the stationary bike because I can read while I pedal. I have been biking at the gym for about a month now. The distance still isn’t easy but I have done it at least a dozen times. Each time trimming down my time to an almost respectable number.

I haven’t done as much running as I’d like, but I have run my distance several times over and was feeling pretty good about it all.

Until I left the gym.

Last weekend we were at the lake and I put on my cool goggles and swim cap ( while the rest of my family laughed at me) and dove off the dock. My race actually has an indoor swim, but most tris, are open outdoor swims. I thought I’d give it a shot. I hoped to swim to the end of the inlet and back. But only seconds in the water and I started to panic. This wasn’t the cool blue water at the pool and there was no dark line on the bottom for me to follow.
The water was brown and murky, smelled of dead fish and gasoline. The wind had picked up and the lake had a pretty good bounce to it. My feet couldn’t touch. I couldn’t see anything and every time I picked my head up I seemed to swallow mouthfuls of lake water from the waves.
I was completely freaking out.
I immediately tried to turn around and climb right back up on my dock when Shaun convinced me to keep going.
I knew I was just panicking and tried to convince myself that it would be ok.
But I imagined fish and snakes and boats running me over.
I hated not being able to see in the murky water.
And the waves made swimming twice as hard.
I only made it a few houses down before turning back and heading to the pool to finish my laps.

A kind friend’s husband offered to tune up my bike for me. (thanks again Paul), give me some road tires, wash off the cobwebs and tighten up the brakes. I’m sure he did a million other things I just don’t know enough about biking to even know what they are.
So yesterday, I hopped on.
I figured biking on the road would be easier. On the stationary bike there is no coasting or drafting. Just constant pedaling.

But the gym had not prepared me for the road.
Especially biking with my headphones in, book in my lap, in the air conditioning and the resistance dialed down pretty low.
Outside was hot.
And there were hills.
Gears to figure out and more hills.
There was no little magic button to turn down the resistance if it caught too hard.
I just had to push through.

Inside I had been doing my 12.4 miles in about 36 minutes. Legs churning the whole time. After about twenty minutes outside, I figured I had gone only 4 maybe 5 miles.
And was exhausted. I wished I had brought my cell phone so I could call Shaun to come get me. Or at least a few bucks to buy a drink.
And yes there was some occasionally coasting. I certainly didn’t pedal the whole time. But mostly it was hot. And the down hills hardly made up for the uphills. My gel seat cover wasn’t nearly cushiony enough. My butt hurt. My knees hurt. My pride wasn’t doing too well either.
I worried a little about cars hitting me, but more about them laughing at me. I felt like I was moving in slow motion.

Eventually I made it home.
And even went out again for a slightly longer ride today.
Let’s just say that I-20 is not place for a beginner
I won’t even mention my flat tire and long walk home.
Which gave me plenty of time to think.
That my training in the gym with air conditioning, cold water fountains, and towel service was not the same thing as the open road (or lake).
Just like my reading books about things I am passionate about isn’t the same as doing them.
Writing about justice isn’t the same as living it.
Telling someone you love them isn’t the same as showing them.

And that swimming in a clear pool is easy. But most of the time we really can’t see very far ahead. That most of us take our beatings from the waves and let them carry us when they can.
And that there is no good stationary practice for the uphills or the resistance of the road.
On my bike and in my life.
That you just have to shift down, ride them out and rest when you can.

(and p.s. still no internet! not sure who to be mad at AT&T or the monsoon we had last week. So for now, it will be both. And throw a few sick kids into the mix. So please be patient with me about posting, reading and returning comments!)

technical difficulties

So on top of crazy September and back to work...
My internet is not working. Making me a negligent blogger and commenter.
I'm pretty sure God is grounding me. Or at least making me be productive.....

No time for a real post..........because I have a concert to go to :)
A friend at work, stopped me earlier in the week and said she had an extra ticket to these girls...who happen to be one of my favorite bands. (and Paramore).
I gladly agreed to sit next to her while her sweet girls moshed (or whatever it is you do at concerts these days) in the pit. I am just praying I can stay awake past 10 pm!

a lesson in falling

A few months ago, we ordered our son a piggy bank.
The kind with different sections for saving and spending and donating. We have been trying to teach him about money. And that he doesn’t need every thing he sees advertised on TV. (if I see the pillow pet commercial one more time I just might scream).
And he has been sticking his little coins and dollars in the slots and buying his own ice cream when the truck comes around. And he has been saving up.
For a skateboard.
Really, I have no idea where he got this idea. But he saw one at Academy about a month or so ago and wanted it. Bad.
Finally, he had the 10$ he needed. So we emptied out the piggy and went on our way.
He handed the sweet cashier his 10+ change. While dad waited behind him to spend twice that on a helmet. And I hoped our insurance coverage would be enough for whatever injuries might ensue.
And we got home, strapped on the helmet and tried the thing out. And I do mean we ( but I won’t be posting any of those pictures J )
It wasn’t quite as stable as he thought it would be and he was a little reluctant to get both feet on. But eventually he did. And about 2 seconds later it all came tumbling down.
Knees and wrists on the pavement. There was no blood. But, it looked like it hurt. I tried to assure him that falling was a part of riding a skateboard. And this would be the first of many. And the fists went up towards his eyes and tears started to come.
He eventually made it back on his feet and started to walk back inside, while trying to rip off his helmet.

"Oh no. You did not just spend your life savings on something you are going to fall off of once and give up. Get back on that board, kid."

Not that I want to encourage skateboarding or more skinned knees. But I do not want to encourage quitting.
My kid needs to learn to fall. And most importantly to get back up. To keep trying.
Because life is full of falling. And not everyone learns how to get back up. For some people this comes naturally. My husband likes to call it stubborn.
For others. Like my son. It is something he needs to learn how to do. The falling will come naturally, but the getting back up will take some practice. Even if it means lots of skinned knees and elbows in the process.

Still crying. He even more hesitantly, put one foot back on the board. Pushed a little ways and tried with both feet. This time he stayed on. For a few seconds at least.
And it is doubtful that my son will be the next Tony Hawk. Actually, I hope he isn’t. I’d like to keep his bones in one piece for as long as possible. But I’m proud of any kid who can fall. And get back up.
Especially mine. Even if there are tears. Maybe even especially if there are tears involved.
(and yes, I checked. We have plenty of band aids on hand).

Posted by Picasa

breaking news...

My husband just sent me this link.
Go read it. Try not to cry.

CNN headlines

This couple was one of the first ones we met when we moved here and got involved in a church.I vaguely knew there was a story there. But never the details.
Mostly I knew that he would always sport a funny t-shirt and be the first one to laugh at a joke. And that I didn’t want to go up against him at Ultimate Frisbee. His wife and I were in a mom’s group for awhile……..and we have been to a few of that sweet boy’s birthday parties.
We have sinced moved to a different church and mostly run in different circles. But his story hit me. Not so much the unspeakable tragedy. But the amazing compassion and healing that came from it. His dad literally shot him in the head after killing his mom and his brother and later himself. Medics declared everyone in the house dead.
They were wrong.
And after all this. He tells his CNN interviewer that he knows that God has a plan. He looks at his son and states proudly the good that came from this. And I have heard that boy laugh. I brought over chicken enchiladas after he was born. I have seen his soccer pictures. And God is indeed good.
What also struck me, is what he says helped save him. Eventually telling his youth director his story , and a friend. And seeing them both cry. Seeing that he was loved. Tears and love can heal some pretty big wounds. Even ones made by a .38.

two little piggies and a playlist

(...pigtails not toes)

Her brother came out with a headful of thick hair.
Her head has been bald for her almost 2 years.
Some of those months, shiny bald.
But eventually the hair came in with soft fine wisps of strawberry blonde hair, that was still hard to see.
We still get mistaken for a boy.
Even in pink.
Even with her ears peirced.
And I hate those big giant headbands (and yes we tried them anyways).
But I finally made peace with my sweet bald babies head....and hold my tongue when someone asks how old my son is.

And then yesterday I picked her up from school and she looked like this.
She was in no mood for a photo session so I coulnd't get a smile out of her....but you get the idea.
Those wisps -- were long enough for two tiny pigtails.
And suddnely she looked every bit her almost 2 years.
And now if someone mistakes her for a boy I will punch them in the face.

And so here is an "all girl" (atleast mostly) playlist in her honor.

the list

Recently I read Radical by David Platt. I’ll talk more about that later. Maybe.
I kind of had a mixed response ……but the last chapter I am especially a fan of.
It asks you to commit to reading the entire bible and praying for the entire year (and a few other things) over the course of the next year.
And I decided I was in.
That was a few weeks ago. And I’m not so good about every single day.
But I am doing it.
The praying for the world part is especially challenging because I’m pretty sure I am the world’s worst prayer.
Atleast the focused, remember to pray for your friends, and quiet listening type of prayer. And big general things like world peace and countries I have never heard of. Forget it.
The “please help” and occasional “thanks” prayers I have down pat.
But there is a great website ( that walks you through specific countries and needs to pray for each day.
And so today. I was good.
I had some time before my 1st block class and I went to the website. I scanned the information. Threw up a quick prayer for the people of Nigeria.
And then I literally checked it off my list.
It was on my to do list.
Right between pick up copies and make a test review.
And as I marked off pray for the world on my to do list something inside me screamed.
This is not how God intended it.
His kingdom is the entire list. Not something sandwiched between items 6 and 7.
And guilt filled me a bit as I headed down to the copier, I tried to pray a bit longer for the Muslim – Christian conflict in Nigeria.
But mostly I just hoped I could get the rest of my stuff done before the bell rang.
And I am torn.
I’m a bad prayer. And part of my wanted to congratulate myself for remembering to pray. And especially to pray for someone besides myself.
But mostly I felt like a legalistic Pharisee checking things off my list and hoping to be noticed. Rather than loving with my whole heart.
And I’m trying to find a way to live radically and get my papers graded, my son’s lunch packed and a good workout in at the gym. And am afraid that maybe it can’t be done. At least not with a list
Because then all I will be is radically productive.
Bigger Picture MomentThis post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts at Hyacynth's blog.