Friday, April 29, 2011

daddy and death and realities

There's a bit of a heaviness over this time of year for us. We lost my dad 11 years ago tomorrow. (Side note: even as I write it, I don't like the word "lost". I mean, he died, he didn't wander off in a train station. Actually, if it had been up to him, he would have preferred to be abducted by aliens. Then I'd say, 11 years ago we lost my dad during an alien invasion. He'd find that a cool way to go.)

Anyway. He died, at 52 from a heart attack and complications of diabetes, and it still doesn't seem real to me. He always claimed to be immortal, and sometimes I still think he's pulling an Elvis on us. Also, this is the beginning of my pre-term labor with the twins, so, the beginning of the end with them. It makes April, May, and the first part of June slightly moody months.

Grief is interesting in its ebbs and flows. Usually, around this time of year I just get a little down, and I don't pinpoint what it's about until, duh, the dates match up.

Most of you never knew my dad. He was a big guy with a big personality. He was a genius, a comedian, a software pirate, and a killer dad. I mean, he was really, really good at being a dad. Toby is a lot like him. He reminds me of him all the time, with the brilliance and the sneakiness.


That's me, with the tights. I've always been committed to fashion. 

I never really thought too much about heaven. I mean, I was raised Charismaniac, and I believed in it, as a far off land and what-not, but once my dad died and then my sons, it became a little bit more like a destination. I want to live to be very,very, very old, but heaven, and that reunion, is very real to me now.

and because this doesn't feel like a complete entry, here's a link to moody poetry I've written about him over the years, if you're into that sort of thing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

support beam: left behind wives part 1

I wasn't raised to be a supportive wife. I mean, I don't think anybody would've minded if I said that's what I wanted to do, but I never did. I wanted to be President. I don't want to be President anymore. For one thing, I have no idea where my birth certificate is. I kid. It's possibly in a folder in my van. Maybe.

But I was brought up thinking I could do anything, be anything. I knew I had giftings, talents, a "calling", and when I met the MOG at the ripe old age of 15, I knew our giftings would work perfectly together. We launched a successful youth ministry, started a band, graduated high school and got married, pretty much in that order. Then we trained teens and saw hundreds brought to salvation, and eventually hit the road full-time with the band. We brought baby R2 with us everywhere, and I preached and sang and I was right there, in the middle of everything, all the time.

At various points during my touring years, I would think about giving it up, and staying at home with what was becoming a growing family. And I hated the idea. I mean, I was miserable on the road without my kids, but I was seeing people get healed every night, and plus, the community and the fun of the band... it killed me to think about giving that up. Plus, there were elements of image involved. I liked being in a band, and traveling, and being a rockstar in the way that only a mother of 3 in a moderately successful  (among dozens of people) independent worship group can be.

But eventually, I had to make a decision. And I felt the grace of God to lay down that dream and to embrace my family, my home. So I started staying home. Night after night, they'd see deaf ears healed and drug addictions broken, and they'd break sound barriers. I would make sandwiches because I was too tired to cook and then fall asleep in a room that never quit smelling like diapers.

Here's the thing. I had to get it, what I was doing and why. The only alternative to "getting" it and embracing it was hating it and pulling the rug out from under Richy. So I took on my ministry. It wasn't as clear cut as I'm writing it, but I had to change my perspective. While I was cutting Barbie out of the mini-blinds and offering Band-Aids, I was doing the ministry. While I cried out of frustration because some animal got into the trash and I was the only one big enough to clean it up, I was enabling my husband to see souls saved. My giftings and callings, for this season of my life, are for my immediate community, and that includes the man I married.

Left-behind wives: what you do, how you give is crucial. You are every bit as much a minister and a part of what is happening in those services, in the outreaches, in the trenches. It would not happen if you weren't serving the way you are. If you can see that, you will be more likely to wash the Man of God's underwear without resentment before sending him back out on the road.

most of the band and all of the "home team"
Is it easy to share your husband with the world, or the church or whomever? Of course not. But very few things in life are easy. If you can send him out with your support and your blessing, you send a guy who can fight the battles out there he needs to fight, without having to fight you for the right to do what he's supposed to be doing.

(There's a whole 'nother angle here, about raising worldchangers and your ministry in mothering, but right now I'm just talking about the support role)

Lift your eyes, friends. You are where you're supposed to be, and there can be great joy here. You just have to see differently.

Monday, April 25, 2011

momologue

"Okay, whatever, fine, just get in the van. No, don't pick flowers. Yes I see the dog. Why did you take your shoes off? No, don't switch carseats, the buckles... never mind. WAIT! Stay in your seat while I buckle in your brother. It's too late, you already switched seats. Quit crying or I'm leaving you here. Quit crying, I'm not leaving you here."

"Wait by the van, this is a parking lot. Quit screaming, no cars will smash you while I'm unbuckling your brother. Hold your sister's hand. I see that puddle. I see, DON'T splas... aw, nuts. It's okay, it's just your shoe, it will dry. It's really okay. Quit screaming, you can go in the EXIT side sometimes, it doesn't matter. Stay with me! Stay with me! No, not that basket, no I don't have any quarters. Ride or walk? Not you, you don't have a choice. Quiet, please. Inside voice. (whispering) because he's very OLD, honey, and his legs need help (SHHHH)." 

"Yes, I have a list. No, you can't hold the list because you can't walk and read. No you can't. No, you can't. I really know that you can't... I'm not arguing with you. There's... there's a LOT on the list, I'm not reading it all to you. Anybody need to go to the bathroom? Are you sure? Okay."

"Okay, let's pick a cereal. Yes, yes, yes, yes, no. Just pick one. Yes, fine, okay, sure, whatever. No, not that one. Because it's not nutritious. No, Marshmallow Mateys are not nutritious, exactly, but they're better than that. Because... I don't know, just pick one that's not chocolate or rainbow colored. What's that smell? What is THAT smell? Oh. my. gosh. No. no no no no. Quit screaming. You. Quit screaming, we'll come back to the cereal. Why didn't I pack extra clothes? Why did you do this? You're WAY too old to do this. Quit screaming. I'm buying little panties and pants, that's what. Hush! We'll come back for the groceries. Why? Aw, nuts."

"Okay, let's finish shopping now. Next time, tell me first, okay? There's 2 bathrooms, just tell me. No, you are not getting candy. You might not ever have candy again, or anything good or fun, until you're potty trained. No, you aren't either because I'm not making her scream, and besides, you keep running off and crashing into people. Come back here! Don't put that in your mou... Okay, we're almost done. Let's get some fruit. Stop weighing stuff, honey, we aren't buying, um, 6 pounds of tomatoes. Wow. Let's put those back. Okay, that's it. Let's. HEY! Come back over here. See all these strangers? Stay where I can see you. Well, no, they aren't all bad strangers, but we just don't know which ones... anyway, just stay by me." 

"No, you can't have any candy. Because it's bedtime, and you haven't had dinner, and you didn't obey me. Stop screaming, that's not going to make me buy candy. Not you, no, you will never have candy ever again, maybe. Until you're potty-trained. Oh, you're trained now? Well, let's wait a few days and see. Yes, I see that man. Inside voice! SHHH. Okay,  I just have to pay. Sit down. Sit. I don't want you falling out and cracking your head. He has what? Hey! Put that down and come touch the basket. Okay, let's go. Let's go, come on. Time to go home." 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Connected-ish

Last night I slept away from my baby for the first time in 5 months. I was on the sofa bed downstairs, and the MOG had Tristan duty. I still woke up at about the same intervals, but I went right back to sleep. It was awesome. What was more disconcerting than sleeping alone was sleeping without my phone.

I left it upstairs along with my computer, so I would actually sleep. Now, if you don't live in my kinda existence, that's probably crazy talk. But, I, along with a good deal of my generation, am rarely disconnected from the internet.

Really, I'm not that opposed to it. I mean, technology and progress are good things. So anytime someone starts howling about isolation and false senses of connectedness, I just think about cars. Aren't we glad for cars? I mean, sure, pollution and accidents and such, but ultimately, isn't it nice to be enclosed in climate controlled fiberglass and metal and rocket along paved roads to your destination? There are upsides to social networks, that's what I'm saying. (There are also almost limitless downsides, but that is not the topic here, keep up.)

And maybe it's because I've blogged a couple times a week for nearly 6 years now, but I feel much more connected to the outside world and other humans than I did in the early parenting days, when I was 15 miles outside town with no TV or internet or close friends to hang out with.


I love it that I can stay home with my kids and be engaged in a conversation with friends from around the country. I love seeing your lives, your kids, your days. I love it that people can reach me, easily and silently, and we can "talk" while a baby sleeps next to me. I don't feel that those friendships aren't real. Is it a little spooky to arrive in a new city and someone I've never officially met knows what I usually eat for breakfast? Well, yeah. But it's a springboard for real relationship, a virtual ice-breaker.

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and blogging. It's the communication of the future, and it only has to be as shallow as you make it. It's true that you can control how you are perceived online, holding the camera to smooth the double chin and not writing about how your kid said they hate you or whatever. But that's true of in-life relationships too, honestly. I have lots of "real" friends who don't know many, many facets of my strange and varied personality.

I often think about those prairie wives, looking out the door of their soddies at miles of tall grass, and how they just went nuts. I get that. And that is why I appreciate and enjoy live-blogging my life on the internets.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

left behind: the ministry wife

Well. Evidently single people read blogs. Also, evidently my theory on the "one" is a semi-controversial topic. Thanks for my biggest blog reader day ever. Whoda thunk? Anyway, as usual, once I posted it I thought of a bunch more stuff I wanted to say, about dating and singleness and also about being married. And I will say more, next week. Today, Imma chill.

Last night, in what most people would call the middle of the night, my husband came home. (I don't call it the middle of the night, because there is no rest for the mommy, not ever, and day and night are the same to her) Anyway, he came back from gallivanting around California with a rock band and also sleeping on a cot and riding in vans with a bunch of preacher-type teenagers.

I don't usually blog about him traveling, because that would be dumb. I just try to carry on as usual, and the fact that I am blogging about going insane and joining a convent should clue you in.

I'm realizing there's a lot of us, ministry wives, that is, who stay home while your man travels about propagating the Gospel and whatnot. It's a tribe of sorts, who know how to get 3 kids and groceries in a shopping cart, and the fastest way to buckle car seats in the rain, and the glorious late hours when they're all finally asleep and you double your calorie intake and watch stuff your relatively righteous husband wouldn't watch, like sitcoms or Hilary Duff movies. And then, just as all is quiet, the one you love calls, because where HE is, it's not 11 pm. And you miss the guy, right? You love him, miss him, want him to come back. But now, RIGHT now? With the brownies and the sleeping and the moment when Hilary or Miley or Reese or whoever is going to admit she was never rich, and lied to him BUT she really, really loves him? Time for a nice long chat NOW?

Anyway. I've been the full-time stay at home part of this ministry partnership for a year or two now, and I've figured out a lot of coping tips, some of which are good and helpful, and some that are probably detrimental to the health and spirituality of the at-home household.

So there might be some kind of series coming about all that, since the MOG is slated for over a month at home, which is unusual, and I am planning to leave him alone to bond with his children often, whilst I bond with a Coke and notebook at some quiet locale. Inspiration might strike.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

dating, the "one", and what I'm not saying.

My dating post has gotten lots of feedback, which is funny, because it's such a departure from what I normally write about here. I wanted to write a little more, since pretty much any time I click Publish I think of 10 other things I should have said.

So, what I said was, I don't believe in there only being one person that God made that could "complete" you. That puts singles in this magic/fate land wrought with anxiety, because every romantic comedy out there says you should have love at first sight and not be able to breathe when you catch eyes across the coffee shop. So you have to wait for the magic moment you "fall" spontaneously, deeply in love. Oh, and you need to be in the right place at the right time. And holy smokes! What if you accidentally marry NOT the "one"? That's a lot of pressure.

I'm just saying maybe it doesn't really, usually, begin that way. Maybe it begins by being a friend, and having an open heart. Maybe it means laying down some childish expectations and learning that people are deeper than how they look. I'm not saying give up on love and romance. I'm saying that love doesn't always HIT, sometimes it GROWS. I'm saying sometimes it's work to get to know someone, and they're worth it.

I don't know anything. I just live in a community full of godly, attractive single people that can't seem to find each other and it seems like hooey to me. Maybe I'm talking as a mama.

By the way. If you're under 20, I'm not talking to you. Read your Bible and help your mom with the dishes. Come back when you're 20. 

Here's a few things I'm NOT saying.
I'm not saying be emotionally promiscuous. I'm not saying date casually. I'm not saying marry a stranger because, heck, it could work out.
I am not saying, for the love of God, to kiss people. Don't kiss people. That is a whole other topic and man! can you muddy the waters by kissing people prematurely. Use your mouth for talking.

I AM saying.
• Disney has screwed us up. Love is deeper than we know, deeper than the initial feelings. If you're gonna make it 50+ years, you need to marry a friend.  (tangent: is it possible the divorce epidemic in our recent generations has something to do with "losing that loving feeling" ? AKA infatuation?)
• You should think about the way you're approaching relationships, just think about it. Is it possible that your value system for "looking" is upside down?
• It might be worth asking someone to coffee to talk, and get to know each other, without stirring up inauthentic romantic "feelings" by experimenting physically. You'll have plenty of time for the physical stuff later, if you build a solid foundation of trust and knowing each other's hearts.
• You should, absolutely, seek God about your mate. But if he doesn't send a lightning bolt shaped like a cross down on somebody, maybe He's letting you pick.


Sheesh. Even as I write this, I agree and disagree with myself. I'm developing all this thought process right in front of you. Maybe I'll come back and say I had it all wrong. I just think maybe it's easier than we make it. Maybe.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Do not be alarmed

Remember that stormy emotional time, back when it was 15 minutes ago? I feel a little better now. In fact, I deleted the post where I was griping about my son.

I feel it. I feel angry and sad and frustrated that he isn't normal and whole. But really, this is not a venue I want to use to vent, I want it to be uplifting. So there you go. Plus, I felt better as soon as I typed it out, so maybe it was one of those things you type but never publish.

Thanks to everyone who commented on FB and called and texted me. I'm really okay. If you want to drop off some BlueBell, I'd go from okay to FANTASTIC.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I am beaten

Kids can smell the blood in the water. Some mornings you just can't mask your weakness, and they seize the day to REIGN over you. Today I fell out of bed, figuratively, dressed R2 and sent him away to the care of the state, and then tripped back up the stairs to catch a few more minutes of sleep, but I was met by this face. Does he look sleepy to you?

He was followed shortly by these faces. They start slowly, seeing if they can get away with minor crimes. I make breakfast, force people to use the bathroom, offer weak threats to every challenge. The rebellion builds as they notice I am falling asleep at the table. Greater misdeeds are carried out. I, typically some kind of Dobson-esque disciplinarian, become a more Walmart-esque disciplinarian, correcting rarely, harshly, and inconsistently. It becomes clear. I am weakened, wounded, and they will win.

The rebel force starts to lose power when they turn to civil wars, and they are separated, forced to scream at each other from separate bases. Reforms are made, promises spoken. There is a brief period of peace, and I relax my guard for a moment, only to be ambushed.

In my broken condition, only one remedy will buy me the time to regroup. The computer. I surrender, but little do they know that as they feast on Barney and Dora, I am growing strong. I will rise again, and when I do, people will take baths when I say. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tristan is 5 months: an update

It's been 5 months since I looked at Tristan and loved him.


He is a jewel, a delight, a dream baby. He sleeps in our bed  (well, sometimes he sleeps) and wakes us up with his gummy smile and his baby babble. This last month, we've settled into a lot of routines, with a trip to Texas thrown in the mix. I don't think of his birthparents every day anymore, but still, frequently. People stop me in the store to comment on his eyes and I see his birthmom's clear blue shining at me.



We're laughing at ourselves, the MOG and me... parenting at 32 and 33 is very different from the way we parented at 20. We're not so busy, and it's not so important to put him down and do something else. When the MOG is home, generally one of us is holding the baby.

Specifics: I don't know how much he weighs, but I'd guess around 15 lbs. He's huge for a Clark. He's thinking about sitting up, and it bugs him to recline in his carseat or chair. He drools constantly, and chews on his fists all day long. So far, no tooth, but it's gotta be coming.
He spits and laughs and babbles all the time, except when he's eating, which is also all the time.

Toby and Bean are crazy about him, and demand to help when he takes a bottle or fusses. They love to get up in his face and BELLOW baby talk, which he loves.





We are so blessed and grateful to have our son to love. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

kiss dating hello

I spent the majority of my youth pastor years as a staunch anti-dating advocate. (the first part of my youth pastor career, I was 17, and dating, so I was pro-dating back then) The thing was, and is, teenagers are idiots. Go ahead and howl, idiot teenagers. In a couple of years you'll agree with me. Teenagers are great at making terrible decisions, and with 100+ in our little "flock", I guess we figured the easiest way to keep the hormones at bay was to strongly discourage dating. We did a lot of stuff wrong, but I'm not sure how much of this particular issue I'd change, if we did it all again.

I have made a reversal of sorts in recent years, as all of my youth group kids have quit being idiot teenagers and started being at least semi-responsible adults. And that is why I am telling them meet a nice girl and settle down. 


I think this concept of "the one" has really hurt us, in the church. When I take my 5 year old to the Dollar Tree, sometimes I give him the option of choosing 1, and only 1, toy. He will walk back and forth for as long as I will let him, trying on a pirate hat, then swinging a plastic bat, dry-shooting a water gun, etc. At some point I have to say, enough. Just pick one. It's agonizing. Listen, guys and girls: there are multiple people you could be blissfully happy and soulmated with, on this earth. The "one" is a myth. 


I'm no expert, I mean, I got married when I was like, 12. But from my 32 years of life, I see some pretty clear issues. There is a SURPLUS of single Christian men and women. And I think a lot of people are holding back from engaging in friendship and getting-to-know-you because they have a list, and if they pick an inferior candidate, they will never be happy. Hogwash. There's something to be said for arranged marriages. Stop looking for perfection and start seeing the beauty around you. She will be fat and he will be bald in 30 years, anyway, so maybe look a little deeper. Talk to people, get to know them and their humor and their passions and their pain. Sheesh. People are great. I have rarely met a person I didn't love something about, once I talked to them enough.

This is kind of a rant, because I know plenty of single people that are awesome and waiting.  I'm mostly talking to guys when I say quit being shallow and start seeing deeper, but I'm not just talking to guys.


So look around you, see the depth and the kindness and the character and the loveliness and ask someone to coffee. Worse case, you get shot down. Let me reassure you again, the "one" is a myth.






Liz. Ask her out. She's awesome.

Monday, April 11, 2011

not going out there

I'm not such the fan of nature. I mean, I love the God who created all things, and I dig flowers and sunsets or whatever... I just don't really get into touching nature. There's bugs out there, and no climate control, and there's nowhere to sit.

Sit on the grass, you say. Lie down on the grass and stare up into the cloudless sky. Like heck I will. Lie down in the grass, which is probably a little damp, and just an inch from dirt, and likely, VERY likely to be crawling with insects. No thanks. When I see a beautiful woman lying on the ground in a movie, all I can think about is crawly things in her luscious flowing hair. Oh, and when you stare into the sky, it hurts your eyes. So.

Or picnics. Why? Why take my food outside where it is hot, and there are ants and mosquitoes and bees and dogs? I like to eat at the table, with the air conditioning on. I like to sit on a chair, or maybe a couch, not a blanket on top of dirt and rocks and grass, and again, BUGS.

Sometimes the MOG and I will be driving, and he'll stop and get all choked up about some trees and hills and the sun and such. And I look, you know. Noted. Beautiful day. Nice surroundings. Let's move it along.

I'm not anti-nature. I like to go to the beach and look at it, from my hotel room. I see the waves and breakers, the expanse of shore, the brilliant sky and light, the birds rising and falling like the waves; all the while, sitting with a book in a recliner, and temperature control. Win-win.

It always amazes me, people who go for walks and hikes and camping. Quirky. Give me a quality piece of furniture and something to eat.

Indoors, with sunshine. 

I know in the end times, maybe it will be all apocalyptic and we'll be living in caves or something. I will probably be one of the first to go, dying from exposure to the outdoors. It's just a risk I have to take.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

domesticity, I am your master.

Everyone, stop the presses. Those of you who have presses. The rest can just... look over here for a minute. I bought a deep freezer. Wait! That's interesting! Stick around!

Years ago, I read The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and I got lots of ideas about being frugal. I'm into being frugal, to the point that it's a tiny bit of a neurosis. Like, I don't reuse baggies or wash foil, but I get my money's worth out of a Kleenex, and I buy all our clothes at thrift stores, because come on, new clothes are ridiculously overpriced. Stuff like that. But in this book, she teaches a lot of good practical tips for saving money and living simply. It was before the internet, so some of the stuff is goofy, like phone books. Ha! Phone books.

Anyway, that book and others like it have always caused a yearning in my soul to have a deep freezer and buy meat on sale and always cook inexpensively and creatively. But I never bought a deep freezer, and buying meat always stressed me out because I overcook it and it's so pricey. I just make stew. All the time.

And stew is great, when you have a community of people around, either living with you or coming in and out, eating occasionally. Beans and cornbread, lentil stew, that's how we roll. But I'm trying to grow up and learn how to cook real meals, you know, that go on a plate and have multiple items on that plate like meat, vegetable... you know the drill. Somehow I never got this down.

So we had an alloted portion of our tax return (may Obama live forever) for home purchases, and I found a deep freezer for $60 on Craigslist and I bought it. Then we drove to the end of the world and picked it up, with the MOG muttering under his breath and arguing with the GPS the whole way.

It looks great, I'm stoked. I signed up for e-mealz.com and I'm about to get super organized up in here and start meal planning and cooking some good stuff. And freezing stuff! Then you can come to my house and eat at the table with a plate. Or, if I've regressed, you can eat some stew on the futon. Well, in a bowl on the futon, it's not that bad.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

he said, she said

He could be on the phone for an hour. When I ask him who it was, what it was about, he freezes up. I get one word answers. Meanwhile, halfway into my description of the cashier's hair, he glazes over and doesn't hear anything. 

He, at one time, bought a huge variety of solid gray t-shirts. I feel terribly, terribly confined when my clothes are too matchy. 

During a "fight", I will think of all the issues that this issue brings up, and try to resolve them, while we're at it. He is confused, because as far as he knew, we were fighting about him throwing away the mail. 

We did premarital counseling for a young couple last fall. I think one of our most useful pieces of advice we gave them went something like this. "At some point, you will have conflict. It is important to remember that the reason your spouse is totally illogical and/or nuts is because you married the opposite gender." Call it stereotyping, but we are different. 

Today I told Toby and Brynn to draw a picture of a "fun day." Here are the results. 

Toby: "This is me, on a slide."
Brynn: "I'm on a swing! And this is colorful!"

Monday, April 4, 2011

dear Tracie:

My friend: I'm watching your journey to bring home the baby that you love, and reliving my own journey, some. You're gonna make it.



They want to know
And you want them to understand
But they can’t, not really
And you find yourself, time and time again
In the center, explaining while they cry


And you’re mad
Because it didn’t have to be this way
And it’s worth it, every minute
But it didn’t HAVE to be this way


Your heart, your eyes, your arms ache
He is rich, and alive, and so much more
And you want them to understand
But they can’t, not really
They stand on the outside, pity and admiration and fear


And you’re lonely, I know
I wish I could help
But I’m here too


I want to say
That hope doesn’t die
And love makes it worth it
And you will live through this, and grow
That every crisis will make you love him more
That there will be easy days, full of laughter
And that I understand, even if I can’t think of anything to say

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