Please, Just Don’t

Forget about truth being stranger than fiction, truth is way funnier. It almost always is. And Jean Kerr wrote brilliantly about her truth as a mom. Originally a playwright, Kerr also wrote magazine essays. She parlayed those into books. And she sure had a keen talent for highlighting the laughter in the mundane. I like her style.

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Please Don’t Eat the Daisies was, for me, a perfect example of how our lives are the perfect material for any piece of art we have the desire to create. Whether it’s the feelings that accompany the varied life circumstances that are universal, or the cast of characters who are almost always by our sides (again, universally), a mom-writer will never be short of ideas if they look down about 20 inches to the nearest child.

The thing about humor writers like Betty Macdonald, Shirley Jackson, Erma Bombeck, and Jean Kerr is that they inspire me. For any woman desperately seeking time to mother, wife, and foster a writing career, these women modeled a way. They just took family-life experiences and mined them for gold.

Life is messy and parenting is tornado-level messy, but with quotes like these, I feel mollified when I must loudly proclaim things like, “Don’t lick the mirror!” Because, ew! And please, just don’t.

“The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like a five-year-old.”

Truth? Yes indeedy.

Enjoying the books I’ve chosen in my Write 31 Days Challenge series of the Best Books Ever? Missed a few days? Click the button below!

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An Hour of One’s Own

Forget about A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf, I simply need an hour of my own. Truly, my brain could exhale all of the thoughts swirling around and I could sort them so much better if I had uninterrupted time.

Reading A Room of One’s Own shaped my feelings about writing. Although I knew, even in fourth grade when I attempted my first “chapter” that fiction wasn’t my jam, Ms. Woolf helped frame my need for creative space. And that, as a woman.

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As I’ve gotten older, it’s not money I need to be able to write, though. It’s time.

And not only time, but then, I need to be able to explain myself correctly. That can be difficult to do. Especially when I’m carving words out of my soul space. It takes an hour (or eleventy-hundred) of solitude to do justice to the feelings that are attempting to worm their way into words.

Woolf knew that truth finds its way into words (written or spoken) too. And she knew the power of it, as she shares here:

“Be truthful, one would say, and the result is bound to be amazingly interesting.”

In a world where so many are vying for room on the grand platform of social media, being truthful isn’t always exciting. Or newsworthy. Or sensational.

But, Woolf was able to see beyond the illusion of it all. Even back in 1929.

“Why, if it was an illusion, not praise the catastrophe, whatever it was, that destroyed illusion and put truth in its place?”

Heeding the call to write, no matter the subject, is easier to do after reading A Room of One’s Own. And, while I don’t claim all of the things that Virginia Woolf espouses in this book, it was an incredible encouragement to this woman to just write.

Even if only for an hour.

Yes indeedy.

To see other posts in the Best Books Ever series I’m writing for the Write 31 Days Challenge, click the button below. 

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Getting To the Other Side

I can raise my hands in the air like I just don’t care. Mostly because I’ve learned, after 40 some years of life that it doesn’t matter much what the person next to me thinks about me. In fact, I’m a firm believer in the adage that what others think of me is none of my business.

We’re trying desperately to get Sweetboy to own that mindset, too. The one of not caring what others think of him.

Recently I pulled on my Smart Mama pants and told him how one of the most comforting verses to me, in all of the Bible, is where we are told that people look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.

He was only mildly comforted.

It did, however, distract him. And so, he started perseverating on his looks.

Oh joy.

“But, mama, people are looking at me and seeing my stupid autism!”

Sigh.

I reminded this Sweetboy of mine that it’s okay to detest his Autism. I detest pollen. And allergies. And horses. And clowns.

But, I also (while desperately trying to keep those Smart Mama pants hiked up) reminded him that detesting what is not good should drive us toward what is.

He wasn’t buying what I was selling.

Tempted to hang my head in parenting defeat, I was reminded that although we like to focus on the positive around here, sometimes… sometimes, we have to shine light on the negative to reveal it for what it is.

And, in this case, I recognized some of the hurtful comments from his classmates as Fear.

Seconds away from feeling a parental failure, I remembered that we struggle through the trials so that we can see the mind-blowing beauty on the other side. God’s great reveal, really, is how incredibly beautiful something can look from the other side.

The other side of awful-ugly.

Like, hurtful-ugly comments from preteens whose cheeks you’d like to squeeze clean off their faces. In love, of course.

So, I pulled up those pants and secured them with the belt of Truth. Particularly, 1 Samuel 18. We read through that whole chapter together. We uncovered some treasures.

The truth in this passage was that Jonathan, Saul’s son, found a friend in David, the soon-to-be-king that Jonathan’s father detested. I’m speculating here, out of the ugliness of Saul’s hatred for David came a beautiful realization for Jonathan.

You see, during those dark times, Saul was certainly not pleasant to be around. And, I’m guessing that Jonathan quickly realized, to his relief, that he was not alone. That David, too, suffered the wrath of Saul.

As I shared this story, afresh, with my Sweetboy, I saw light begin to spread through his eyes.

I then relayed that infamous incident during my fifth grade year where I was the recipient of cruel comments because I was the only one who hadn’t shaved my legs yet. The cutting remarks nicked worse than any razor blade ever would.

But, I found a friend, that year. We commiserated during gym about being the only two girls, surely, in the history of ever, whose cruel parents kept them from fitting in.

Miraculously, just as God likes it, grace washed over Sweetboy’s face as he realized that he and his two best buddies had each other. That he wasn’t the only one to be at the receiving end of spew from Jealousy.

“I’m glad I have a possie, mama. They get me.”

Yes indeedy, child.

He realized that he isn’t the only one.

Neither are you.

Nor am I.

And that, friends, is a beautiful truth on the other side.

A Catty Little Chat

Harboring bitterness in my heart toward a friend, I decided to vent about it with another friend.

I decided.

Because, that always works out so well for me!

And so, God waited.

While my friend and I had a catty little chat, God waited.

And heard every hostile word.

Later on that evening, as I poured a dollop of oil into the bubbling pasta water, I started going over the conversation in my head. As the water boiled, so did my envy.

But, God waited.

As I lay in bed that night, I began to feel restless. I turned my bedside lamp back on and pulled out my journal. I grabbed for my Bible and flipped straight to the back. I was on a mission, as I searched for a specific word.

And still, God waited.

When my eyes lit on the word “jealousy” and all of the verses He gives for dealing with that green monster, God finally chose to tap on my heart.

There are moments when the darkness, that resides within me, makes itself so glaringly evident that I’m left gawking at All The Ugly.

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God, Himself, tells me that all of His Words are summed up in one simple command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

One.

Simple.

Command.

That I get so wrong, again and again.

God was done waiting.

Patiently, gently, He drew my eyes here:

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

Do not deny the truth…

The truth was, the truth is, that I am envious of what comes easier to some than others. I am jealous of the special treatment I think I see some receive over others. It irks me to know that for some, recognition will be quick – and yet never at all for others.

Ultimately, it scares me to think that I might be in with the “others”.

Once again, God’s grace sheds light on my darkness.

You see, He decided a long time ago that He was going to show me special treatment and give me His recognition.

Thankfully, when God decides, it always works out for me.

It became pretty obvious that I needed to call my “other” friend and apologize. For the catty chat, yes.

But more, for not trusting our God enough to remember that there’s room enough for each one of us to stand on The Rock.

Yes indeedy.

I’m a Big Fat Liar, Too

Every time I say I won’t do something again, like eyeball – or worse, eat – another devil dog, I’m lying. I know it. Sweetman knows it. Even the grocery store cashier knows it. In fact, maybe she knows it most of all. One of those dear souls will half-jokingly ask me if everything’s okay if I haven’t been through with a box of my sweet treats in more than a couple of weeks.

Oh, I say I won’t eat another one again. I may even mean it. The point is, I lie.

And, not just about my eating habits.

Here’s the truth: I’m one hot mess of a human.

I need God.

I need His grace.

I need to keep rubbing shoulders with others who can remind me that I don’t have to keep apologizing over and over and over again for sins of gluttony, slander, covetousness, and the host of other things I constantly find my humanity bumping up against.

Because, Jesus came so that I could keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And trying it all over again with the next breath He gives me.

Jesus came so that I could see, so that you could see, how desperately we humans are in need of grace throughout our days.

All of these thoughts are swirling around me this past week, as news of Brian Williams’ audacity to lie about news he was delivering, to lie to us on national television, is broadcast through every media outlet possible.

As if, there are no other lies on National Television.

Do I even need to go there?

Are we all so righteously living, and grace-less, that we can decide how awful a man is without thought to how thoroughly hypocritical that is?  Aren’t we all staring down the tube of our own RPG’s daily? Even if only in our minds?

He screwed up.

I don’t know about you, but I do this daily.

Hourly.

Yep. I’m a big fat liar, too.

I thank God for the grace to keep trying again.

I’d like to think that we can extend grace beyond where we feel comfortable.

Lord only knows how often it’s done on our behalf.

Yes indeedy.

A Resolution About Storytelling

Questions. So many questions. I’m watching the ending of a show that began seven years ago. It does not seem like it is going to end well. (And, allow me to define my terms – by ‘end well’, I mean all tied up neatly. With a bow. And rainbows. Possibly even unicorns. Or, at the very least, logic.)

Ending a show on a note of “Huh?” doesn’t do a thing for me. Lost is a perfect example. It ended with loose ends sticking all sorts of out. It. Was. Awful. Many of us viewers put in countless hours dissecting the Dharma Initiative and whether they were living in an alternate universe and making predictions about whether Jack and Kate would ever finally be happy together?

But that ending!

Because, huh?

No questions were answered. Lots of new ones were raised.

Here, exactly, is where post-modernity and I part ways. I like a Conclusion Ending. My post-modernist friends tend to like the Possibilities Ending.

And, I’ve started to wonder how all of this translates into how stories are told.

More importantly, I’ve started to consider how they are received.

Storytelling is an art. And, as with all art, how one perceives it is so incredibly subjective. I might think the podcast “Serial” is the best thing since sliced bread. (I don’t, mind you. I tried. It didn’t speak to me of unicorns and rainbows. Not. One. Bit.) You may be a Walking Dead fanatic. (I tried that one too. Nightmares on my street. Still. After just 20 minutes of the first episode. Again, no unicorns. No rainbows. And the bows used weren’t the kind I’m interested in!) I’m more of a Good Wife watcher.

I’m noticing that many of those who tell stories, now, are less interested in imparting a social lesson, because whose ultimate authority? They don’t often end with a moral lesson, because, whose morality? And they seem to integrate fewer timeless truths for fear of offending those for whom The Truth is not true.

You might be wondering what stories, then, are left to tell?

Plenty! There are plenty of stories that are still universally needed. We humans need stories that bind us together and remind us of how we were created to need each other, rely on each other, and encourage each other. We need stories about family, faith, friendship, and love.

Those stories cross all boundaries and build strong bridges.

I choose to be that kind of storyteller.

To that end, I’m setting my sights on telling stories that encourage love, that share faith, that celebrate family, and that facilitate friendship, in 2015. That is my New Year’s resolution.

And, I resolve to tie this one up at the end of the year with a big fat bow. Oh, yes indeedy!

Any resolutions for you, in this new year?  Share! I’ll send you a unicorn if you meet it by year’s end. (In the interest of full disclosure, that unicorn may, indeed, be drawn by Sweetgirl. But, in that case, you may get a rainbow out of the deal, too. Win-win!)

Why The Little Drummer Boy Still Rocks

Sweetman came home, the other day, with a boxed set of “Christmas Classics” DVDs. We only wanted Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeeryou see; but, we missed the buying boat for just that one. Everyone else had already been there and bought that.

Because Sweetman is brilliant (and really, because he knew coming home without the movie in-hand would cause a mutiny), he bought the boxed set. All for the low-but-actually-not-so-low price of 2 Many Dollars. It includes Rudolph, of course, and Frosty the Snowman, and The Little Drummer Boy, and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, and a couple of other “original” classic Christmas movies.

Except, I don’t remember some of these movies as being classics.

In fact, two of the movies included are Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol and Cricket on the Hearth. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure I would have remembered a “classic” about a young woman going blind from shock, and a crow sent out to murder a sweet little talking cricket, and Brandon Thomas’ toothy grin as he narrates it all. Oh, I especially would have remembered that. That’s the stuff of nightmares, folks. Oh, yes it is! No matter how delightfully Mr. Thomas croons about the birth of The Savior.

Anyhoo, one of the movies that I had plumb forgotten about, was The Little Drummer Boy. We snuggled in and began watching. Five minutes into it, though, I considered the choice a mistake.

WHY did they kill his parents, Mama?” Followed by, “But WHY does the little boy not have people who love him?”

And then, the tears!

I’ll be honest, I wanted to have a stern word with the folks who thought this kind of story line was a good one for children. Until, of course, I realized I’d likely be yelling at a bunch of dear elderly persons in a nursing home.

Sweetboy interrupted my imaginings by innocently asking why the little drummer boy wanted to be alone with the animals and why he hated people?

And, I realized with a start that I had one of those rare golden parenting opportunities. We, parents, only get this kind of opportunity every-so-often. I wasn’t about to let this one go by with a shoulder-shrug.

We pressed pause.

As two expectant pairs of eyes stared at me, I realized how many directions I could go with this conversation. Anger is an emotion all humans experience. Death is an experience all humans will eventually meet with. And, hatred is something none of us ever wish to encounter, but far too often do.

Where to start? How far to go? What words are appropriate for a six and eleven-year-old?

The words I chose were the ones that were the simplest. And the most truthful. I asked them if anyone had ever hurt their feelings. When each said yes, I asked them how it made them feel. One said sad, the other said angry.

Ah, yes. Emotions that we all feel.

We talked through some of the ways people respond to others when they are angry. Or hurt. Or sad. Because, really, sometimes they’re all bumping up against each other. Right?

I asked them why they thought Jesus came to earth as a baby. That was a tricky one for Sweetgirl. But Sweetboy? He nailed it. “So we could be in God’s family.”

Oh, child… YES!

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The Truth. It’s the best place to start and the best place to end.

Always.

They both got antsy, after that, and asked me to press play. We watched on as, in the end, that little drummer boy was able to give away his most prized possession out of love. Love that was placed in his heart, and is placed in ours, for the purpose of overcoming the anger and the hurt and the sadness.

Thank you Jesus!

What grace!

It turns out, The Little Drummer Boy still rocks! He may be stilted in his movements, but the heart behind his story beats strong among us all.

Oh, how it does!

Yes indeedy.