I have never been much of a rule follower. Speed limits and due dates have always been starting points for me. And I’m not saying rules aren’t necessary or important. We have our share in our house.

Such as: no sharpies allowed (Tess always seems to find them anyways), If I cook dinner we eat at the table, whoever cooks doesn’t do dishes, if you use the last sheet of toilet paper, put on a new roll. You must wear pants to go outside.
And at school: No sunflower seeds (no food that involves spitting for that matter). No running with scissors. No taking things off my desk. Be in a seat. Any seat. No touching each other. No lining up at the door. No singing the Friday song, etc.

And of course all the usual rules.
And I've written about my opinion on rules before....and how they fall about third on my priority list here: the spirit of the game.

At work we have an entire book of rules for our kids to follow mapped out with the appropriate consequences. And I teach at a good school with good kids and for the most part they follow most of them. Sort of. Plenty of them walk into my room with Chicken Express cups after lunch even though we have closed campus. Walk down any hall or into almost any room and you are likely to see nose rings, cell phones and ipods. Which are all officially banned. Scan the staff and you’ll find a few flip flops, a few people who have forgotten their id, and even a few more sneaking in late or out early.

But for the most part, we follow most of the rules most of the time.
And that is how most of us do life.
We always follow the big rules. And pick and choose the little ones. Especially the ones that seem silly or don’t hurt anyone. And we validate what kind of people we are based on how well we follow the rules or at least how much better we are at it than the people next door or down the street or across the tracks. And we spend a lot of time and energy making sure we don’t get caught or called out or pointing at other people who are breaking bigger rules than we are. So no one notices our own  little indiscretions.

Recently I got busted. For something little. And it was a something I do all the time. And a something plenty of people I know do often enough. Some of them even daily. But when I got nailed, I got angry. It was unfair. I was being picked on. I questioned the motivation. I tried to take my punishment without complaint or excuse, but I was whining to all my friends. I was in a bad mood for days. I was (and am) having a hard time forgiving.

But ultimately I sounded just like my kids. The ones I teach and my own. I broke a rule. I got caught. I had consequences. And really, the consequences were incredibly minor. But I was still hot. And eventually after I got done being mad I realized I was mostly embarrassed. For getting in trouble. That someone felt the need to go so far out of their way to bust me on it. For getting called out. And I wanted to point my finger at all these other people doing things way worse than me.Which is what my 5 year old does and what my 16 year old students do and even apparently what some grown ups (me) do too.

No one likes getting caught.

Think about it. I’ve gotten my share of speeding tickets. And never once did I thank the cop for doing such a fine job of pulling me over. Of keeping the roads safe. Or thank him for not nailing me the other 247 times I sped without getting a ticket. I fumbled for my registration. I swore under my breath. Wondered why he didn’t get all those other cars that were passing me, obviously going faster than I was. I whined about barely being over the speed limit. And by barely I mean about 16 miles per hour. And waited as long as possible to tell my husband that I got another ticket and would need to watch defensive driving. Again.

And this is no different.

And we rate rules. Ones that we think are most important. Ones that we think we can ignore. And sometimes we try to apply that to sin, but it just doesn’t work that way. Jesus broke plenty of rules. And people were happy to bust him on it every time. But he was still perfect and blameless. And so that makes the judging other people and rule following and comparing especially tricky. Rules are rules. Policy is policy.  Sin is sin. And they aren't necessarily the same thing. The rule I broke was teensy. The sin in my heart a little harder to deal with. When I get caught, and especially when I don't.

So I went on a long run and tried not to be mad. But being mad is easier than being embarrassed and certainly easier than forgiving. I tried not to think about all the other things other people were doing that were worse. At least according to me. I tried not to think about catty comments I could make that would make me feel better. At least for a minute. Because, it is so hard to face our own specks. Much less our own planks. It is much easier to point out other people's.

almost summer playlist

It has been a while since I've posted anything. And even longer since I've put up  a playlist....so I'm going to break the dry spell for both.

And it isn't summer. I sitll have another full week of work and then some. but with sprinklers and snow cones and backyard barbeques...it might as well be.   And hopefully then I'll have a little more time to type....

*and for those of you that picked up on the Bridesmaids reference....(wilson phillips)...it. was. awesome.

the cool table

Junior high sucked. I had a grown out perm. Braces. Hit puberty years after everyone else (in other words, the bra all the boys were popping on my back was unnecessary). I was in orchestra which did nothing for my popularity (nor did my GT classes). I thought eyeshadow was supposed to match my outfit. I stacked my bangs and sprayed them with my mom’s Vavuum. And my outfits were especially terrible. Lots of Esprit. Some units. A benneton sweater that I snagged from my sister. An overgrown Cosby-style sweater of my dad’s that I wore proudly. And not nearly enough pairs of the cool jeans and way too many pairs of overalls that I usually wore with one side hanging down.

I’m sure lots of people had it worse. I didn’t wear glasses. My pudgy phase didn’t begin until about 26. Boys talked to me although not nearly enough asked me to “go with them”. I talked late into the night on my neon light up phone. I went to movies with friends and dances and experimented with better ways to do my hair, read more than my share of Judy Blume and Seventeen magazine, and thought that the cheerleaders had the life that I wanted. Their bangs never moved, they kissed with tongue, and I swear had every shade of Sam and Libby’s ever made. Figuring out what lunch table to sit at was way harder for me than my Algebra homework. The quadratic equation made sense, you just plugged in the right numbers….but there was no formula to tell me what group I fit in. And so I bounced from table to table. And I spent a lot of energy trying to be cool. And the rest of the time I spent trying to pretend that I didn’t care about being cool.

And we grow out of that right?

By the end of high school I was more likely to leave my house in sweatpants than I was overpriced jeans. I still didn’t know much about eyeshadow, but I was at least wearing less of it. I was still low on steady boyfriends but seemed to always have a date to whatever dance was going on. And I had good friends. That made me laugh and I didn’t feel the need to impress. But if I’m honest. I still probably thought that those elite kids had it better than me. The ones who drove fancy cars and threw the parties that I occasionally got invited to. That always had perfect hair and were a perfect size 2 with C cups.

And in college it seemed like people didn’t want to fit in, so much as stand out. Everyone wanted to be different. Just like everyone else. So I got a tattoo. And pierced my cartilage. And listened to weird bands. But I still bounced between groups. Which is essentially the same thing as junior high lunch tables. I was in a sorority. I played club soccer. I went to parties and church retreats. I hung out at coffee shops almost as much as I hung out at bars. I danced in clubs and went to bible studies and got highlights in my hair. And wore a whole lot of flip flops and pajama pants. The problem was I was mostly the same girl in every scenario and she didn’t quite fit into any of them. But I was starting to see that no one had it easy. And especially not the kids sitting at the table I envied in junior high. Their parents got divorced or lived above their means or had expectations on them they were never going to meet.

We were all the same.

And I think no phase of life is worse than right out of college so I’ll just skim over that. But married with no kids in a new big city wasn’t so bad. I thought I’d make friends just as easily as I did everywhere else….but it was even harder than junior high. But I found a few groups at work and church and even on the soccer field. And again these groups rarely blended well. I drank beer in the parking lot after a game. I played ultimate Frisbee on the Kimbell lawn. I went to church and I played board games at friends houses while I tried to learn to like wine that didn't come in a box, blew all our savings on plane tickets and went to weird movies and resturaunts in Uptown. And we had all kinds of free time and expendable income so I don’t remember trying to fit in as much as I do remember all of us trying to figure out how to be grownups. Because I think we all still felt like we were pretending.

And now my kid is in school. Kindergarten. And I’ve taken him lunch at school a few times. And they have the big stoplight in the corner just like my elementary school did. And thankfully, he is just five and his teacher still mostly tells him where to sit and occasionally has to help him put the straw in his Capri sun. And he is funny and silly and never short on kids asking him to sit by him or sharing their Nilla Wafers. But. Sooner than I’d like, he will realize that he is little and smart and fantastically different. And spent ridiculous amounts of his energy trying to be the same as everyone else.

And sometimes, even now, it still feels like junior high. Somedays I still am at a loss for where to eat lunch. The high school staff has almost as many groups as the lunch room. Somedays I have to remind myself that even though there aren’t any more cheerleaders or cool tables….that there are definantly groups of people that I think have it better or easier than me. And that they really don’t. And that they may have nicer cars or clothes or a 4 car garage but that we all still have our baggage. Enough to fill whatever size garage you have. And grownups don’t try so hard to be cool as they try to have it all together. And figured out.

And pretty much. So far. The only thing I’m totally certain I have figured out correctly is the quadratic equation I learned in junior high. (and yes, I am dorky and still remember it).
But I’ve also started to realize that no one else does either.
Regardless of how much they want me to think they do or what table they are sitting at.

(photo credit here, and yes...i recognize me and my perm and braces would definantly be better entertainment. sadly all those photos were destroyed in a fire. what fire you might ask. well. one that i will one day have in my far place. we might even roast smores.)


going first

In college the big thing was accountability groups. Or prayer groups.
And I always left feeling like absolute crap. Like I was doing something wrong. And was just not made right. That something in me was broken. Because I couldn’t pull it together like everyone else.
But the truth was. Most everyone else was just lying. Either outloud or to themselves.
Because they would ask for prayer for their sick grandmas. Or that they missed a quiet time. Or only spent 1 hour in prayer that day instead of 2.
And when I talked. I spoke about the party I had been to the night before. Or my boyfriend. Or the fact that I hadn’t had a quiet time all week. And why doesn’t the bible actually mention the word “quiet time” if it is so important anyways. And when I had questions I asked them. Even if they were ones I already knew the Sunday School answers to. I wanted to know how my friends went from knowing the right answer to actually feeling it.
And I was met with a lot of stares. And sometimes people would write down verses for me to read or memorize. And I’m sure they all remembered to pray for me. even though I always lost the little notecard that I wrote down everyone else’s requests on.
And eventually I learned that some of those same people were struggling with some of the same things I was. Or had. They just chose safer things to say out loud and pray for.

And in the grown up world. Only some of that has changed. I almost never sit around in accountability or prayer groups. But sometimes we go around in Sunday school and voice concerns. And rarely are they personal. But very occasionally, someones voice cracks. And tears slip out. And they get real. And the whole room changes.
Because, someone always has to go first.
And I read about it in a book that I love….Anne Jackson's , Permission to Speak Freely, but she really got it from here.
And it is called giving the gift of letting someone else go second. And I’ve hung on to that thought ever since I read the book.

A month or so ago. I wanted to tell a friend something that I thought they’d get. Something I was a little ashamed of. But thought maybe they needed to hear it too. Something that I thought might help the both of us to talk about. But it meant I had to divulge and I wasn’t totally sure it was safe.
But I did anyways. I sent a text and waited.
And called another friend and said I wanted to throw up. Because going first is scary. And of course it was ok. And my instincts were right on. 

When I fight with my husband, one of us has to apologize before the other. When I make a new friend, someone has to be the first to ask or tell or hug or show another layer.
And I used to spend a lot of time waiting. Being second or third or fourth. Or sometimes never taking a turn at all. Because I didn’t want to look dumb or be vulnerable or get hurt.  And sometimes going first backfires. Because no one goes second. 

But there is a shift in thinking about it as a gift that makes it easier.

And so, I’ve done some things out of character for me ever since I read about it. I’ve written even more long crazy emails. I've hit send. Or publish. Or apologized. Told my story. Or stammered through some awkward conversations. I’ve hugged and said I love you and asked people for coffee. All when I didn’t know how they’d respond. And occasionally. I heard no. Or nothing. Or didn’t get a response. But more often than not. Someone went second. 
And it was a gift to both of us.

a few good seconds...my son's about to tap in his second goal of the game last weekend.

and many months ago....my second child on her second birthday.

a mothers day appropriate repost

The first time I posted this wasn't on mother's day or even close. And last year I even wrote something about my mom. And I might have a real mother's day post in my yet...but...I also need to get some good sleep, post my grades and hopefully go for a long run. so just in case I don't type it out....here is a mother's day appropriate repost.

My Favorite Scar

When I was ten I fell on a piece of glass and sliced open my left hand.

The scar is thick and a little lumpy because I waited too long to get stitches.
On my other hand is larger white scrappy scar from a bike injury. The involved me trying to beat the boys.
My knees are thick with scars. More bikes, tennis courts and plain old clumsy.

My son has a few already and he gladly shows them off.
They are a testament to his toughness.
The one on his back shows that he did in fact survive jumping (and falling off the bed).
There is one on his chin that the ER doctors glued shut – we no longer practice diving in the bathtub.
And a little one on his hairline that received a few staples.

But I have a favorite scar.
It is about 6 inches across and marks a thin pink raised line across my lower abdomen.
My son’s delivery ended in an emergency c-section.
After all the pushing and blood I really didn’t care how he got here.
Even if it involved slicing across my belly and eventually 19 staples.
Every nurse that came in and checked me commented on the incision.
They kept saying how neat it was and that it would leave a nice scar.
A nice scar.
I kept thinking they were crazy. That this was just their trained way to make people feel better. They kept saying that I could even wear a bikini if I wanted.
I wondered if they had been taking some of my morphine.
But the line was clean and neat and shrunk considerably even by my one month check up.

The second time around it was a little more scheduled.
My doctor encouraged another c-section so that I wouldn’t repeat what had happened the first time.
I didn’t need much encouragement.
Contractions weren’t fun.
So I had another c-section.
This one, was planned but wasn’t so easy.
There was a lot of scar tissue and she had some trouble stopping the bleeding.
This time, no one told me that I had a neat incision or that I would end up with a pretty scar.
Instead they just billed me for extra ER time and gave me plenty of morphine.

But still the staples came out and it shrunk down considerably. This time a little thicker, a little curved at one end and at least an inch longer.
I could still feel pain there for almost a year.
And sometimes it is still a little sensitive.

Occasionally I still trace my finger over this little pink line and amazed that my two children entered the world here.
It isn’t pretty.
It doesn’t say anything about toughness. If anything, my lack of.
I don’t show it off proudly like my son does with his scars.
But I treasure it.

And I believe that Jesus was fully man once.
That he scraped knees and chins like the rest of us.
I’m sure he had his share of scars.
I don’t even want to think about the ones on his back.
And I’m just speculating.
But I imagine, sometimes, Jesus probably looks down at his hands.
Where the nails used to be, touches them tenderly.
And treasures those scars.
And the life that came from them.

not just a football player.

My google reader is out of control.

And so is my schedule this time of year, meaning I’ve had to hit “mark all as read” more than once when it starts creeping up into the 500+. And something about that is freeing. Even though I’m always afraid I’m gonna miss out on something good.

So about two weeks ago, when I was behind on reading, writing, working, sleep, cleaning and all kinds of other things…..my husband texted me a link to a blog and told me I needed to read it.

And my husband knows me better than anyone. And he reads plenty. But. we rarely read the same kind of stuff. He even reads a few blogs besides mine. But they usually have something to do with sports. And I like sports ok. But mostly just watching them in person. With nachos in hand. I only watch a few teams on TV and I certainly never read blogs about them.
But this was my favorite team.
My college alma mater. And I may not be as school spirit crazy as the town I grew up in, I do like my college and their team and even recognized the name.
It was Barron Batch’s blog.
And my first thought was.
He is just a football player.
Even if he was a pretty impressive running back. Who was just drafted to the Steelers.
And it is no where close to football season…
Why does he want me to read this.
And it took me more than a day and my husband asking me more than once to look it up before I finally did.
And that phrase.
Just a football player.
Got me in trouble.
Because it was good. Really good.
And pretty much anytime I think someone is “just a _______________” (you fill in the blank), I have undersold them. Even if that someone is myself. Maybe especially if it is.

So today. Stop thinking of yourself as just a mom. Or just a teacher. Of just a whatever and surprise people.
Like Barron Batch did me.
And this isn’t the initial post my husband sent me…..but try reading this without crying.
(and diary 25 and 26 will also make you blubber)

this time a year ago

A year ago. Wasn’t a good season for me. There were a handful of things going on. None of which were too terribly awful personally but I was struggling in lots of places. With questions. With relationships. With my job. With my dreams.  With not quite fitting. With trying to be more like the person I wanted to be but not quite sure who that was. And there were too many things going on to really process or fall apart or even be sad. I just got through.  We went to swimming lessons. I got coffee. I read lots of books. And found my tennis shoes and ran it out.

And a lot of has happened in a year. Sort of. I mean when I look back my life still ultimately looks the same. But I can still look back and see a turning point sometime around May.
I’m not sure what kind of turn or where I am headed. But a turn.
And occasionally I ran too fast down one direction. And have since backtracked a little.
But ultimately things have been different ever since.

And I think a lot of that happened on my friend Beth’s couch. Not all of it. But enough.
 Mostly because there was no room for bullshit on her couch.
And. because we were both kind of stuck there. Her under doctors orders. Me because it was somehow both the easiest and hardest place for me to be.

That season is over. Other people’s grief. Doubts and questions. Those aren’t things I really carry around anymore. Maybe I left them there.  And it is a good thing because that couch and it's owner  are well over a 1000 miles away.
And what I picked up was some of that honesty and a willingness to struggle outloud and not just on paper. And I can't tell you that there were too many moving deep experiences on that couch. Because there weren't. There were never any tears or outloud prayers.  But there was a lot of takeout and pjs and catching up on my TiVo. Intense conversations mixed in with pointless ones. Hopes and fears and favorite songs and bad words and playdo and even some laughter at a time where that didn't always come easy.  Questions about potty training, and faith and shoes and budgets. 
And I've been attempting those same kind of transparent conversations ever since. In many other places with a small handful of other people. And I won't say I didn't have them before. I did. But with walls and borders and fear. And they still don't come easy. But good things rarely do.

And so the turning point might be loving anyways. Even when it is hard and scary and probably at some point going to hurt.  And a reminder that somewhere inside me I still knew how to do that. With great resistance. But I still could. And I have been ever since.

(and apparently couches are a theme in my life because I've written about them before.
This same one here and another old couch of mine here. The actual photo above though....I stole from here.