Simply writing about faith, family, and life stories.

What You Need

I spend a good portion of my life and work asking this question. What is it that you need? What is the need here? Where is it that the need intersects with the wants and how does that fit in with the resources that you already have? It’s a different definition for everyone it seems…what you need. But is it? Setting out our camping gear (oh, yeah!) caused me to reflect on this. We got everything together…by the way we have many camping trips under our belts…so we know what we need. We also know what we want to have. 

We have water, food, clothes, and a tent. That’s it, folks, that’s all you need. But that’s not all we took. Take a look at our first breakfast. You want some, dontcha? 

We were at Dinosaur Valley State Park, and we camped in the primitive walk-in sites. The week before was full with cramming work into 3.5 days and getting all the necessary things together. Monday, I had just arrived at work and was busy getting my plan ready for the day. My husband Matt called me and said that our high school daughter had called him scared because there was a shooting threat at her school. He said he was going to pick her up. My heart jumped. I’m not a panic person. But, how do you respond in this situation without a prick of fear filling your body? I’m a rational person. But, this situation and all the other ones like them blow your mind and all bets are off. What does my daughter need in this situation? I began scouring all sources to find out what was going on. Matt called me and said there were 30 cars in line to pick up kids. Not safe either. What do we need as parents in this circumstance? Ugh. He finally got up to the office and there were just as many parents in the line at the office waiting to get their child to put them next to them and know where they are and what would affect them….at least in that moment. 

In the meantime, I found out that some student had posted something on social media over the weekend that through other responding posts morphed into a perceived threat. The student was in questioning, and there was no immediate danger. I relayed this information to Matt and my girl. One of the assistant principals who goes to our church came out and saw Matt and assured him the situation was totally safe. Matt said he began to realized he was not helping by standing in that line. He called our daughter andby this  time (he’d been waiting a while) she was not scared anymore. She had heard the story, and she said she was fine to stay at school. She said irrational fear is hard to differentiate in this circumstance and the kids who were big into social media hadn’t even shown up to school. What does our community need in this situation?

I checked on her a few times that day, and she was jovial. I thought about all the lives, jobs, and learning that was disrupted today because of someone’s words. Not much work was being done because there weren’t many students, and she said there were a line of squad cars around the school. She said she felt fine. I thought about her a lot all day, and I was happy and relieved to pull into that very empty parking lot to get her that afternoon. When the car door opened, she plopped into the seat and grinned, “Well! I didn’t die!” I laughed out loud and then sobered quickly. That’s not funny, I said. “People made jokes all day, Mom, what else do you do?” she responded. What else, indeed? 

And here we are now, exiting from this society for a few days to get away, relax, restore which is definitely what we need. The primitive walk-in sites were super cool, and the trail to get to them is like a storybook walk into the woods. Yes, we were singing the song. We tried hard not to hike in the dark, but by the time we had all the stuff on our backs, it was dark. No one was nervous, not even Claire this time. We enjoyed the hike scanning for exciting creatures we might discover. 

The camp site was lovely. We were right next to the Paluxy River. The only downside was that there were stickers everywhere. The kids fussed at first, and my fingers protested the removal of them from all over my shoes, but we  pushed through. By the end, we were all just grabbing them and yanking them out, even out of our skin. I love it when callousing happens to our perspective esecially when it causes adaptation to be able to tolerate small irritations. It is truly amazing what we human beings can handle…even the youngest of us. 

 We spent the long weekend exploring dinosaur tracks and trails. I made my standard cowboy stew for the camp. We swam in the Blue Hole which is a sweet old river swimming hole with cold water and some dinosaur tracks to add to the fun. I felt everything and I smelled it all. I relaxed into the dirt under my fingernails, and enjoyed freedom from appearance. 

After meals, I rinsed my dishes in the river. And every morning, I went down to the river to wash my face. It was on that rock in that river, the cold water dripping off my chin that I kept thinking about what I need, what those daughters need, and even what does this culture need to ensure health and wholeness. 

I’m wondering if the Beatles were right. I wonder if all you need is love. If love rules the day, the week, the year, you can be anywhere and be right.  If there is love, you or someone is sharing food together, tents, water. If you’re loved, you don’t care to spout out words that might be taken as a threat. If there’s love, you wring your hands in love determining not under any circumstance to be ruled by fear. Perfect love drives out fear, after all. That’s from the Scripture, by the way, not the Beatles. 

So, get your basics together. Take a break from society every once in awhile if you need to. But, don’t forget the love. In the end, it’s all that matters. 


Slowing Down the Day

Do you ever hear your breath? In and out? Softly? Labored? Quiet. You have to slow down the day to hear it. I remember listening to my babies breathe as they slept in my arms. It slows down the day. I almost blogged the other day on how I should be blogging. I’ve had some things to say to you, but there hasn’t been time. Today, though. I slowed down. It’s a day of remembrance, see. And on those days, you must slow down. Three years ago this morning, my mother left us. She went to the safest place as brave as anyone, and now she is dancing around laughing with Jesus. I dreamed of her once a year or so ago doing this dancing. I think I wrote about it. Oh, here it is:

I saw her last night. She was with You. There was a meadow or a field or something. It was a green place…full of life.

She had on her boots. The ones she gave Maile. She was wearing her cowgirl outfit. You know the one she sewed herself with the material that she put on layaway at Leonard’s Department Store in Fort Worth? Yes, that’s the one.

You were sitting in a random chair at the top of the hill. She was dancing. She was so young. I just stood there and watched her beauty shine. I never saw her like this. She always looked like my mom. It was how I saw her.

She was skipping.

You were smiling at her. And then You smiled at me. Then she saw me.

I waved. Her smile brightened and she laughed. She laughed that loud, cackle laugh that I heard even in her hospice room. It was a lovely sound.

The trees swayed. She twirled around in her freedom. You were constant joy… just there.

I came closer and knelt. I put my head in Your lap. Your hand covered my head. Her hand pressed my shoulder. I heard her voice.

And I woke.

Thank you, Jesus…for this dream.

Anyways, she was lovely and she always was. I miss her. I always will. So, I slowed down. We didn’t do anything fancy. There are tickets everywhere for our school Fall Festival, and after church we all just sat and counted and sat and bagged tickets. Oh, and we watch half of the first season of Survivor. The girls had never seen that show. It was fun and slow and we ate popcorn. And we sang together in church loudly. And my heart squeezed in my tight chest while a daughter on each side of me played with my hands, my ring, my veins just as I would do with her. Her veiny hands were so cool to me and I held them in church and I moved her veins around and marveled at my thick child skin. Her hands were pretty and small and dainty. And I remember with a deep breath in holding her hand up to my cheek after she had passed and remarking, “She’s still so very warm.” to my siblings. My sister grabbed the other hand and nodded. My brother winced a little ready, kinda, to move forward, sort of. And then they came and took her body away, and we watched. And then we hugged each other wearily and left to go home. It was a slow day, a loud day, and I could hear my breathing.

And I remember her hand on my chest as a child having an asthma attack. Warm, comfort, light. Checking to make sure. Willing my breathing easier. And when any of us couldn’t sleep, she would gently play with our ears and it would work, oh wow, we would sleep. Her hands cooked begrudgingly with duty and sewed delightfully with grace.

And here these girls are, holding my hands, and playing with my veins, and I’m still here and breathing. My breath exhales in gratitude for the slow day, and maybe I’m not dancing, but I’m smiling. And I’m remembering. And I’m still loving. Thanks be to God.

Rhythm Nation

IMG_0380I’m looking for some rhythm. No, unfortunately not cool rhythm like Janet Jackson. I just need structure. In all areas. STAT. It’s an Emergency. I told my husband this, and he informed me that there is Emergen-C up in the cabinet and I should probably take some because my cough sounds so horrible. That was helpful. Not really.

I’m wondering about the state of your house. Did you know your home has a culture? It’s like a little nation. There’s rhythm (even if it’s chaotic). There’s rules…written and unwritten. There’s a few people in charge, and there’s a lot of people making a mess and cleaning it up. Some people take more responsibility than others. It depends on the day. Some people don’t care and just want to stretch out on the couch leaving their socks and popcorn kernels lying around.

There are animals who are dependent on you to give them water. There’s economy here, and there’s a lot of consumption. Frequently there are sick people. There’s complaining, and there are crises. There’s land to care for, and machines are breaking and working all the time. Every once in awhile, someone asks, “What exactly are we here for? What is our purpose?” Sometimes people forget where things came from, and sometimes there’s a massive clean up that needs to be accomplished. Perspectives about the culture can be worked and reworked. New roles may need to be established. Major transformation doesn’t happen all the time but sometimes. Most days people just want to get their stuff done and have some time to chill.

So where’s the rhythm? Mutual purpose? Finding true value? The method of decisions? Respect? Love? Where is it?

Where is it for you? What keeps it all flowing for you? Is it easy for you? Does everyone in your house have a mutual purpose? Do you like the culture of your home? What part do you contribute? Are you a leader? Who drives this train?

You’re helping me. I’m starting to see. But, I would like to know the real answers to my questions if you have some time to waste. I’m starting to see that this rhythm of this nation is about what we are after. Our households have a purpose to be a refuge but also to be a starting block. The culture of this household doesn’t just have to be about consumption…it can be about economy too. This place, this house, this little nation can have a rhythm of which we all play our own part. It’s a safe place where people can dream, get real with each other, and grow. It’s a place to rest and to create. It’s where we put our feet up and where we pull weeds.

This place sounds pretty important. Really.

So, why would there be chaos allowed here? This place needs to be peaceful and orderly. Systems have to be created and learned and will only work when built around the mutual purpose of this place. Deep breathing, good rest, and hard work can be taught and learned and had by all in this rhythm nation.


So, I have a question: sometimes you have to go to an unexpected funeral at the end of a heavy work week in the middle of writing curriculum at the end of summer while you are on day 63 of P90x3 with your oldest daughter (working out every single day) in the midst of the week of your local book signing. So, you’re distracted a lot. Your kids are soaking up their last bit of lazy at your house’s expense, your bathroom needs a good AJAX scrubbing, and you have callousy-flip-flop feet. I’ll bet you don’t know what AJAX is. Go ask your mom.

You call your big kids from work and ask them to take out the ribs from the freezer feeling good about remembering the dinner plan. But, you have church first and your last appointment at work goes well but longer than you thought. You rush in to get the kids for church and see the meat on the counter they pulled out for you. It ain’t ribs. And you forgot about this mystery meat wrapped in white paper. So, you turn it over, and it’s a pork shoulder from a wild pig your neighbor shot last year and generously shared. I love that neighbor. Except I didn’t receive any bounty from the hunting this year, so I don’t know what that means. And your feet hurt. But you have a book out, so that’s something.

What do you do?

It sounds like a bad riddle. Not clever at all. Here’s the answer:

Deep breaths help. Dude. Just take that pork shoulder, slap in it the oven with some olive oil and garlic salt, and go to church. You need to go to church anyways. Then when you get home, eat it with your kids (the ones who don’t know what ribs are, apparently). Then just sit and enjoy your family. That’s where it is anyways. Sit on the floor. All your pets will come see you. Then you’ll realize you’ve been so busy to even notice them much. And it’s fun because your kids will decide to do a photo shoot with you and the pets and then everyone is smiling even the oldest dog. If you’re lucky, you might have a little dance party with the kids before cleaning the kitchen.

And then there’s the book signing (Yay!), so maybe you should paint your toes, maybe, probably, definitely. And get some sleep because there is yet another workout tomorrow. Also, you can have ribs tomorrow.

What I Need to Write

1. Memories…and not just in the corners of my mind…not that my mind has corners…my head is round, isn’t yours?
2. Good memories that might be happy and sad all at the same time. Happy Birthday Mama!

3. Inspiration and wishes. This was her last birthday with us. Hope she is celebrating today. We are. So glad she was born.

4. A good candle.

5. A cup of tea, of course. Perhaps a biscuit. But there aren’t any account of our healthy eating right now.

6. A sense of adventure.

7. Support.

Keep Walking

   It all started in the checkout line when I was so hungry even the gummy bears were starting to invite. The guy behind me was chatty and so was the checkout worker. He said he was going camping and I didn’t listen very much because I was eyeing the Babyruth. I looked up and engaged the banter a little. My heart sank just a bit and I was sad some but after years of camping and hiking for our summer vacation, this year we opted to stay home and just go to the bay. I absentmindedly reached into my purse for my phone forgetting it was broken and I was waiting on the new one from the insurance. 

It was actually peaceful without a cell phone for a few days. It was kind of like 1982 though. I had to drive somewhere like my office or my house to make a phone call. Also there were a few folks who thought I was mad at them and therefore became mad at me for not texting them back. We made up. No worries. 

I finished with the checker and reflected on my sadness. I’m glad about our decision. It’s just different. Why do we not like change?

Did you read my book yet? It’s out there! This last year took a lot of energy and although always still up for a road trip we decided to just keep walking. Just like the old girl Tater at the end of the picture line, sometimes if you keep walking, you’ll have the time of your life. You might do Warrior 1 and 2! 
Then you might find some salt flats and a big red buoy abandoned in the pasture. And you watch with all smiles your kids as they frolick ahead of you in wonder.  Then in the middle of your “place revelry” reality pops up as your dog emerges from a hole in the ground burning your nose with the stench of skunk spray. 

Yeah, it was Dot. It was so strong we could see a green stripe where she was sprayed! She was clearly embarrassed and tried rubbing her body all over anything. It didn’t work. Two days later, she still stinks. And this prompted Matt to ask me why I didn’t tell you all the skunk story in the Waco chapter of Place Value. And I don’t know the answer except it didn’t come to me while I was writing. Excited that I had a working phone again, my children kept taking it from me to show off their photography skills. Claire took a picture of poop. It’s pretty good…for poop anyways. 

I will tell you the skunk story eventually. Maybe soon. In the meantime, keep walking, old girl. Seriously. Get out there. Don’t cry about your arthritis. Tater doesn’t…much. Dust off your shoes. Stand up straight. Get. Go on now. Keep walking.

So, I’m doing a little revamping around here since the old book is fin. Anna and I found this post I wrote a few months ago, and we laughed a lot. So, I decided to repost it for you while you are waiting not so patiently for me to finish my not so presto change-o. Enjoy!

Quoting on WordPress is weird. You can quote me on that. It looks like this.

But then you have to stop the quote. It’s like stopping the press. I’m picking up more quotes this week than the junk laying around my house. It’s been fun. Did you ever stop and think bloggers have it together? I think there are a million jillion killian blogs out there in the world. Lots. Heaps and heaps. I went to Australia once. They said heaps  a lot. They don’t say bunches. They say heaps and other words like yonks. I liked it there. Anyways, sometimes I feel like we (bloggers) are all trying to offer you advice. Maybe not. Many are just offering assistance or pleasantries or lists or their two bits. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of advice. We can sound like we have it all together. I’d like to break the barrier between us and tell you something. Nope. No. We don’t. We do not have it all together.

I’ll start by telling you about the hair balls under my bed. I dropped my work name tag somewhere in my room and got down on the floor to look. You could weave a rug with all the dust and hair and dog hair under there. Yep. It’s nasty. I commented on it. Then, I put my coat on and went to work and left that hairball to gather more bulk. Also, I don’t bathe my dogs enough. And last night was one of the worst dinners I ever made. I was dishing it out and everyone was asking me what smells so bad. I was talking up this bean soup that Mattea gave me and all I had to do was warm up and couldn’t understand all the fussing until I took my first bite. Ugh. It was so gross. I had burned the tar out of it. Burned kale all in that bean soup. Close your eyes and picture how my hairball house smelled. Maile went outside. I had a loaf of wheat French bread I had warmed too, and the girls watched me amused trying to wipe the burnt nasty off my tongue with a big piece of bread. I kept eating it. I wanted to be a good example which brings me to my first quote. They were yelling at me to stop eating it. I was cringing with every bite.

Waste not, want not.

I chimed this and Maile said:

Well, I want not any of that soup, so I’m good. And please don’t eat any more of it Mom!

We’ve been doing a lot of math homework around here lately. It’s been a little painful. I just want you to know I win the prize for the best in long-division in our family. :) I was thanking everyone for my accomplishment, and then I told the girls that I wasn’t great at math in school but I loved division. I also had a great relationship with algebra. I got along great with fractions and decimals, but geometry and I just didn’t work out. I told them I didn’t find trigonometry attractive, but I did connect with elementary analysis. And then one of my daughters stopped me and said:

Whoa, whoa. What is trigonometry…is that like shapes?

And then I had a little doubt moment with our public school system. And then I remembered homeschooling Anna. And then I remembered how much I love public school. But, sometimes we still teach at home. Tonight we had a political science lesson. We watched the STOU address with the kids tonight. Lydia came in and asked me to tell her who the men were behind the President. She ran out of the room and came back with the Wii microphone and kept getting in front of the television. We were fussing at her and then I realized she was holding the microphone out for John Boehner. “What are you doing?” I asked.

She giggled all sparkly and said:

Well, you said he is the Speaker, but he won’t speak!

We all laughed. I still can’t believe she’s so funny because she didn’t talk much her first few years of life. Before bouncing back out of the room she said:

I want to be the President! Hey! I’m going to be the first girl President everybody!

You go, girl. Go on now.

We always have clothing issues. I can’t keep up with all these little bodies growing. Claire doesn’t like to give up the clothes she likes even if they are too little, and Maile’s legs keep growing. We were talking about their jeans this week, and Maile said:

I guess we all wear high-waters now. You like my high-waters? I’m waitin’ for a flood, Mom!

I appreciate her comedic responses more than I can tell you. And don’t worry we are getting new jeans. Anna couldn’t find the right socks the other day and this is what she prefaced her groan with:

I know this is like…a first-world problem and all that…but I can’t find the right socks for my Converse.

Um, make that my Converse that she stole. Hmph. I love her. If she’s going to have a global perspective, she can have all my shoes. Well, that’s going a bit too far because I really like some of my shoes. But, you know what I mean; she is growing up. We went to the high school tonight for her 8th grade preview. High School. It was interesting. Her response:

It’s hard to think about the future. It’s so unknown and I don’t like it.

I said: Yes, but the unknown is more real than the known.

And then I paused to take in my own words. She stared at me. I mentioned something about taking hold of the unknown and braving the adventure, but it’s hard. We all hate to acknowledge our lack of control. I’ve been reflecting a lot on this little blog and the point of it and all that mumbo-jumbo. So, let’s be straight with each other. I’m not really here to give you advice. Maybe sometimes, but I’m a little broken just like you. I don’t always scrub my bathtubs as much as I should. I don’t always like doing my kid’s hair. I’m not always content, and I have days just like you where I doubt my faith and I kinda wish I was somewhere else. This is honest space here. We have to laugh. I want to be real. And I want you to know that there are dark spaces that everyone goes through. There is light there too.

And God is here with us in the real unknown.

And not just in quotes.

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