Saturday, June 30, 2012

it's political, obviously



I spent some time on Thursday weeping my guts out, in a metaphorical way, because our friends moved away, and I gave some thought to writing a blog entry about that that day, but as soon as I was done sobbing and simultaneously eating an avocado, it was time to do some other stuff. So. Another day.

This might be a long one, because I feel chatty. The other stuff I had to do that day was so great. Here's how it went down. We got invited to a  free special event for pastors and leaders and such that included 3 meals and an overnight stay at a Sheraton and speeches and such by politicians and theologians and so on. You might be asking yourself why would we be invited? I ask myself the same question, but I didn't fight it.

See, I grew up loving politics. I mean, I remember being 12 years old and spending 3 hours a day lying on the floor, listening to Rush Limbaugh. Love him or hate him, you can't deny the guy knows politics. And my parents loved this stuff, and I read presidential biographies and autobiographies and I studied history and so on. I was fascinated with the whole process until the 2000's when everybody started being born early and then people were dying and then I was sad for like 5 years and then I had 80 kids and I quit trying to learn and I just spent most of my time in Christian romance novels, where I didn't have to think at all. In fact, if I thought during those books it would mess me up, because there is no room for reality in there.

Yeah, it's a mirror pic. I never said I was deep. 
But there's a thread in me that loves this stuff. And I'm a patriot, like, a cheesy patriot that gets choked up during the anthem or a soldier and his dog, baby sleeping in a combat boot, apple pie crying kind of girl. I love America, I think it's the greatest country in the world and I would only leave it if Texas seceded, because Texas is even better than America. If I was my brother, I would also have an eagle tattoo.

So we were invited, and I wanted to go so badly, and let me throw out a special thanks to Luis and Jill for inviting us, if you read this, and Brooke and Anca for babysitting so we could go. Big time.
I bought two outfits, pre-owned outfits, and I was super nervous about the clothes, especially, because I spend every day in a 2 year old pair of jorts from Target and a t-shirt. But I found some stuff, and I think it looked good, so that helped. The MOG was not there the first night, and at first I was worried I wouldn't be able to think of anything to say to anyone that didn't involve diapers or Youtube, but I ended up talking a lot, although I don't remember what I said. Hm.

The speakers were amazing. I mean, sometimes you go to stuff like this and it's like when you sign up for the free dinner at Olive Garden but you have to sit through the 3 hour chiropractic presentation, and you start questioning are the breadsticks worth it? This was a different deal. The politicians were funny and conservative and genuine believers. (or at least they fooled me) Ken Graves was a.maz.ing. He would make Chuck Norris turn in his badge. And the politicians and the pastors both really taught, about history and voting and the potential evangelical impact on elections... it was totally fascinating to me. I feel like my brain went out for a long hard run, and came back tired but stronger. David Barton is a historian rockstar, and I plan on using some of his stuff here on the ol' blog as we get closer to election time.

Day 2 our luncheon table was catty-corner from Gov. Perry's table, and I watched him like a fangirl. Speaking of fangirls, the Governor had to pretty much swallow his lunch whole since people kept coming up and talking to him. In my secret little fangirl heart, I dreamed of getting a picture with him, but I would have had to interrupt him and I have too much respect for lunch to do that. Governor Perry report: 1.) he ate ALL of his salad, left only a chicken bone on his plate, nary a scalloped potato or remnant of sauce left. Did not check sweet tea status, but I can wager it was gone. 2. Wore worn black cowboy boots, just like my daddy. 3. Is a hugger. That's the catty-corner fangirl report. Oh, and his speech was funny and down-to-earth like always. Plus, the Texas thing. You know.

Sitting through the teaching, learning worldview and being reminded of America's history and heritage, not to mention being with primarily potty-trained people for 24 hours... I'm super inspired. I remember my heart. Exciting days to come.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the kids are moving out

Yesterday, I was laying or lying around on the couch like a lump, which you really can't judge, because I was up while it was practically dark, sweating and buffeting my body and such. Now, that's a Scripture, that buffeting the body thing, but it makes me think of Ryans. I tell you what, I bet many an ab workout has been short-circuited at Ryans. In fact, I wish I was there now. Lucky for my abs, I'm broke, and Ryans is a rich man's game.

Anyways. There I was on the couch, with various small humans draped on and around me, because I am Child Mecca. I said something about not wanting them to grow up, and that they had to stay little forever and never leave me, the kind of stuff they'll bring up in therapy when they are 30 years old and still wearing pigtails and living in the basement in a Mario sleeping bag.

"I am going to get big," Brynn says. "I'm going to be a grown up lady and I'm going to marry Josh."

"I'm never getting married," Toby says, sealing his place as my favorite for the moment. "I hate wedding music, so I'm not getting married."

Brynn looks concerned. "Josh hates wedding music, too! Oh, who will I marry?"

I tell her maybe she'll meet someone when she's a grownup lady, but won't she miss me? Toby looks alarmed. "I'm just going to build a house in the backyard," he assures me. "So you won't miss me. You can come and visit anytime. Or I will come to you. I'll just come to your house."

Brynn makes a plan. "I'll live over there, by the garage," she says. "With my family. Or maybe I'll live in the woods, in a house made of sticks."

"I'll just live in the backyard, and I won't have a job," Toby decides. "I'll eat over here. Maybe Tristan will live with me. And Richy, if he can talk." He looks at me, pleased to have found the best solution.

So. It sounds like they'll all be sticking pretty close. That's a relief. Kind of.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

angels unaware

I had to get a key made today. Remember, this is where you come for the hard-hitting breaking news. But seriously. Don't you think we should be over keys by now? They seem so 18th century. I don't think the following things fit in our futuristic society: having to make deposits in person (as opposed to on your computer in your own home), CHECKS in general. I should not be writing checks for anything in this day and age, this is the future, and keys. I need everything to get digital faster, and to not be crazy expensive. For my convenience.

So today I went to get a key made at the hardware store, which, coincidentally, will not exist in the future. This is one of those little mom-and-pop places, and there were a couple of seasoned citizens working the key counter. One of the guys came out and reached for Tristan. And if you have a baby, you know these grandpa moments, where they talk to the baby and pull quarters out of his ear and ask confusing questions, all that. So he and Trissy interacted for a minute and then he said something that I interpreted as can the other old guy touch Tristan, and I said sure, but actually it was can the baby have a Tootsie Roll, which has to be some kind of world record for snacks-you-don't-want-a-baby-to-have, what with the choking and the sugar and the stickiness, but Tristan received it with such joy that I just let him gnaw on it, and the octogenarians were totally delighted. Eventually the other guy wandered off to "take a break", promising to be back at 1. Now, that would make his break 4 hours long. Either he was pulling my leg, or he might not actually work for the hardware store.

The main guy was 82, he told me. Soon to be 83. Children are so special, he said, and they grow so fast, so enjoy them. I said I would. As he made the key, he said, "We had one... she come out with the cord around her neck. So, she died, that one." I stood there with my chunky little toddler on my hip, aching to know that he remembered. I asked him how old she would be. "Ah, well. I guess she would be 47 now. My other girl, she's 45, and my sons are 51 and 52." Then he was back to the keys. I said something, anything, and he mused about people that are cruel to children, and how he couldn't understand that, and I agreed with him. He said that it had been nearly 3 years since his wife died, and how much he loved his grandchildren.

Somewhere in there, I forgot to need to be somewhere else, to keep moving, to check my email. I stood and watched him tickle Tristan with his wrinkled hands, his contagious joy. "Thank you." I said,  as we turned to go, "You've blessed us today."

I don't know, it was one of those things. I don't think I can capture the depth, the sweetness, in a snapshot. Angels unaware.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

church kids

If you hang around this blog (and I hope you do) then you might notice that I'm somewhat cyclical. I mean, I muse on things and then a year later or whatever, I muse on them again, maybe with the wisdom of another year, or the reckless abandon of having blown it before. Even ol' Solomon said there was nothing new under the sun. Although, Solomon was crazy depressed as a result of having like a thousand wives, so maybe I shouldn't weigh too heavily on his opinion. I've been depressed before, and I know it tends to skew your views on things. Have you ever tried to cheer up a depressed person? They're all like, "There is no sun." and even when you're like, "Hey, look up there at that giant ball of gas and fire that only avoids frying us all to a crisp by like one degree!", they aren't encouraged. Like that.

Sometimes I get a little sidetracked by my intro paragraphs. The point is, today I was thinking about something I have thought about before.

We were driving merrily along on a straight shot to VBS, and I had their kid's praise CD blaring. Parenting note: it is better if you never let children know that there is music specifically designed for their aural taste buds. Then they just like your music. I've made it 13 years, but I blew it. I put it in, and they got all excited, and I am hoist by my own petard.

So they're shouting JESUS and spelling it out and singing about joy deep down and so on, and I'm flashing back to my entire childhood, singing these sort of songs. And it hits me again, I am raising church kids. Which is fantastic. I mean, they are learning the Bible and about loving other people, about the power of God (well, a itty-bit of the power of God) and so on. The thing is, I went to all the camps, and the Christian school, and church a jillion times a week, and I'm so thankful. I feel like if someone cut me, I'd bleed Scripture, even if I barely read my Bible now... there's a foundation that made me.

Somehow in there I had a genuine experience with God, a salvation experience that made the whole thing personal. I have 2 days I can point to, but in a lot of ways, it was a long-term growing process and it's hard to nail down a beginning. A lot of my friends were right there by me, hearing the same things, responding to the same altar calls, doing the same hand motions, and it didn't stick. Something went wrong, or never went right, and I don't know what the difference was. A lot of them have come back around as adults, but there were years of wandering.

How do I point my kids in the right direction, even push them a little into things I think will help them, and make it genuine? How do I help the surface, which is great, go deep? And then there's the whole element of how do I raise holy kids who aren't afraid of broken people? 


And how do I get rid of this CD?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I am betrayed by technology

This week I have the privilege of farming out 3/4 of my children. The oldest 1/4 I always deliver to the custody of the state... a small yellow bus takes him away to the Child Indoctrination Center every weekday. The middle 2 and the baby generally hang around the house, eating rocks and fighting over identical cups. But this week, Vacation Bible School! You may remember, if you're an especially remembery reader (it's my blog, I can create words), that last year I cried when they went to VBS and had relatively deep thoughts. This year, I was less sentimental, probably because the sibling wars have been especially noisy of late. So yesterday I dropped them off and did a little jig, metaphorically.

Now, I don't go places without my GPS. It's old, and I haven't been able to update it in years, because of a glitch, so it still calls Russia the USSR, and it has Berlin divided, and it pretty much is unaware of Lee's Summit. But basically, it gets me places. Before I had it, I mostly drove in circles on the verge of tears and eventually called the MOG to explain which way was left. Stuff like that. But then we were given this and all of the sudden I was an independent woman, and I could go to Walmart whenever I felt like it. I was drunk with power.

So this morning I left with only 20 minutes to spare, which would have been fine if Pierce (the GPS) had been feeling up to par. I got in the car and backed out of the driveway, only to find a greyed-out screen when I got to the stop sign. Now, it is not hard to get to the VBS. There's basically only one way. But I faintly remembered it course-correcting my previous route, so I thought, "Eh, I'll turn left." Eventually it woke up, but it had me somewhere else, traveling down a highway I was not on, and evidently driving through forests and bodies of water, or aimlessly across lanes. "Turn left NOW," Pierce would say, as I passed a guardrail over an overpass.


15 minutes later I was somewhere else, with trees and unfamiliar roads. It's always helpful, in those scenarios, to have a couple of miniature geniuses in the backseat. "Well. Why didn't you wait for the GPS to boot up?" they ask. "What if we drove into a hole?" another one offers. "Mom, you should sing." I used my Michelle-Duggar-having-a-calm-psychotic-break voice to explain that I was lost, and everyone should try to be as quiet as possible, forever, immediately.

I hard-booted the GPS multiple times, holding it up as a sacrifice to God, hoping for an accurate signal. Finally, it found us. "Turn around as soon as possible," it said. Right.

We got there. 10 minutes late. Considering that we came via Narnia, not bad at all.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I am poisoned

If you've seen me around town wearing 3/4 length sleeve shirts, you might be a creeper. But if you're a curious creeper, I'll explain. My arm, it is diseased. According to my Facebook friends, it is poison ivy. I tell you what, the injustice of ME getting poison ivy is just colossal. If I could get a tunnel from my front door to my van, I'd do it, just to avoid nature. I hate nature's guts.

All week I was trying to figure out what the rash on my arm was, and I turned to Google. On the bright side, googling rashes has made dieting infinitely easier. I might never eat again. Maybe it was a spider, I thought. Or bedbugs. I found one message board that had many people describing an invisible biting insect, which is a terrifying thought. You'd think, in this day and age, we could get rid of invisible insects. I lay awake at night, thinking about the spiders laying in wait, about the bedbugs and my 20/20 special when my whole body became a mass of itchy red bumps and I had to forsake society completely.

So after several days of putting various substances on it to make it quit itching, and then just giving up and scratching it all to smithereens, and then today I had enough and took to Facebook, where it was determined to be poison ivy and someone suggested Benadryl. I have children's Benadryl, but nothing for grownups. So I hit up the neighbors and they brought some over, and I partook.

Now I am floating, high above the cares of this life. My arm doesn't itch much, because I can't feel my arms, waving gently in the breeze like a red silk scarf. I am fairly sure that everyone who is grounded from computers is currently watching a movie, but I am unconcerned, because everyone knows that life is beautiful. You are all beautiful, all of you. I need a snack.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

eating healthier: or pizza is not a vegetable.

Usually, when we travel to Texas, we stay at my sister's house. Now, this is my closest-in-age sister, the one you might have seen shaking her dreadlocks and dancing wildly on a stage. My other sister doesn't have room for us, because her adult children have moved out and live in the spare room. And my brothers are rolling stones, metaphorically, and go where the wind blows. So.

We stay at my sister's house, and she and her husband are relatively healthy types, with the muscles and the flax seed and the running for fun. Sometimes she tries to prepare for our visits by going crazy and buying something totally sugar-laden, like Organic Honey-Sweetened Oat Bombers! and her kids are all like, WOAH CHRISTMAS. And when she's out of the house and I'm looking for something to eat, it's like cherry tomatoes and thin sliced swiss cheese, maybe some turkey bacon in the freezer, or in the pantry, it's baggies of birdseed and dried berries with some wheat germ or something. Maybe some jar of stone ground almond butter, stuff like that. And maybe that is why they look like this, except maybe less costumed.

At our house, not so much. We eat primarily fast food, and at home it's usually pasta, pizza or Mexican food. All of which are reasons I might only be months away from driving around on a Wal-mart scooter piled with Cheez Whiz and doughnuts. And then I'll have to get a chihuahua.

The first time through bootcamp, I didn't do the recommended diet, because I figured the exercise would be miserable enough. Besides, I love food. I think about it all the time. Food is so good. And I love all the bad stuff the MOST. But I've had this inner voice for a while, reminding me about aging, and genetic diseases like diabetes and heart disease and hypertension and such. I'm always like, geez, inner voice, you must be fun at parties! And then my inner voice is like, hey chunky, if you want to go to parties when you're 50 without an oxygen tank, maybe you should do some listening... and then I'm like, hey, inner voice, how you like these Oreos?

But now I'm going to try it. I think. Maybe. Just try to cut out my daily Coke, maybe make it a weekly Coke. And maybe try to eat fruit for the sweets craving. And try to make meals with meat and vegetables instead of pasta and butter. Just try to clean up our act a little, maybe add some more years to our lives. Years of eating broccoli and drinking water.

Disclaimer: if you see me snarfing fries and Coke, don't judge. I have a LOT of loophole room in the above statements. Also, expect some whining about this.

Monday, June 11, 2012

one with the couch

I love a day without a plan. You know, you wake up in the morning and assess the situation: is there any reason I need to wear real pants today? and the answer is No. When the situation demands it, I pour some cereal and melt into a corner of the couch, and there I stay. These days usually happen when the MOG is on the road, because when he's here, I feel some obligation to look productive on his walk-throughs. 

He has an office here, just off the living room, which he has soundproofed to the best of his ability, and he locks himself in there and works. I don't actually know what he does, but it takes all day and pays the bills. Approximately 1000 times a day, he strolls through on his way to the coffeepot (he has a problem) and usually, he forgets what he was doing and wanders around for a while, judging other people's housekeeping standards and putting his checkbook in the freezer or something, and then he remembers coffee and back to the cave he goes. 

The strategy, young housewife, is to have something nearby to put your hand to. The metaphorical plow. Mine is usually a basket of clean laundry, which I fold when I need to. You catch my drift. Now, on a day when I am genuinely productive, no one will notice. I'll sweep and scrub like Cinderelly and all the while, I will think this is why I need a reality show, so the cameras would catch this. But then I think, the last thing I need is a reality show, because talk about judging. Now, I don't watch television, if you ask me in those precise words. But I watch the internet frequently, and so I know about television. And I read these message boards and MAN, people have a lot of opinion about their reality TV. I saw threads about Kate Gosselin get shut down on multiple sites, and that was even before the divorce and the plastic surgery. So. I don't think I'd fare well in the court of public opinion. Anyways. 

Today wasn't that day. I woke up and dressed the oldest child for school and then went to the gym at 6:30 and did much better on my 2nd fitness assessment, and then I came home and fed kids and changed diapers and then I melted into the couch. But I'm wearing normal pants and trying to make a 3 week meal plan and grocery list, and trying to write up some kind of diet plan that limits my Coke and cookie and candy intake and focuses more on stuff like meat and vegetables. So it's no vacation, judgy eyes, and you're out here for coffee. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rees and Evan- 8 years


It's always been a bummer to me that the birth and loss of my twins falls in the same week as R2's birthday. It's a bummer for a lot of reasons, but especially because it's hard to mix up the happy and the sad and the confusing and throw a birthday party and give my heart room to remember. 

But that's how it went. In 1999, I had R2 at 24 weeks, and 5 years and 2 days later, I had Evan Roberts Clark and Rees Howells Clark at 24 weeks. I always think about the fact that they were bigger than R2, weighing in at 1 lb 8 oz each, and that they were a couple of days older and hadn't had to live without amniotic fluid, etc... and he survived and they didn't. Just always a reminder of what a miracle his life is. 

I've been feeling the ache, like I always do. I have a little anchor in heaven, and it pulls at me, longing for the reunion. My twins, my sons are always with me. Their absence is part of the fabric of my life, and it's not even something I am aware of on the surface, most of the time. In my spirit, though, when it's quiet, I can feel the separation, the sense that all is not right here, even though it is a rich and beautiful life. We were not designed to live without our children. 

So that ache, that eternal tug is at the forefront today. They were born on the 7th and they fought for life until the 9th, when their tiny hearts couldn't keep up. They died 17 hours apart. As awful as it all is, I know they have each other, and a couple of other treasured family members and friends. Part of what makes all of it bearable is believing in heaven, in eternity. I've missed all the milestones, but I will see them again. 

If I had it all to do over again, I'd do a lot differently. But if I didn't have that choice, and the only option was to live it the same way again, I would. Because I had 6 months to carry them inside my body and 2 days to see their faces, to know them. And they are worth missing, and celebrating.

Happy 8th birthday to my shadow boys. I miss you. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Like riding a bike

When I was 4 years old, I told my mom I had heard from the Lord, and that we were to go down a mile or so to visit my friend. I think I specified that the Lord wanted us to see my friend's mom, just to be more legit. My mom had some questions, but we're a prophetic bunch and she thought maybe I was on to something, so we climbed on the banana seat bike and headed out. Well, God blew it, because they weren't even home, so we biked back, with me perched on the front portion of the seat. As we turned the corner to our road, the bike slipped in the red dirt and pebbles and we made a glorious ascension, followed by a violent crashing and sliding. I vaguely remember standing up, knees and elbows bleeding, to hotly inform her that she "don't even know how to ride a bike!"

I took a break for a few years then, and I was pretty busy reading books and tape-recording stories about me and my brother's best friend falling in love and getting married. I (In retrospect, I'm glad that never worked out) Somewhere, though, someone informed me that only the lamest of people do not ride bikes. So I petitioned the court and I think the court was probably just relieved that I might leave the house for a half hour or so, since the tap-dancing to Elvis in the hallway was getting monotonous, maybe. So they bought me a little pink and teal bike and somehow I learned how to ride it. I don't remember anyone teaching me, but I was 9. Maybe I figured it out.

The problem was, or one problem was that I had genius psychologist type parents, older parents, who had seen a lot and no longer had faith in humanity, and my mom was fairly certain that drug dealers and pedophiles were just hanging around down the block, at the luxury golf course. So I had a pretty short leash, I could just drive on our street. I did that for a few months and then I put my bike on the curb and watched with delight as a family of pickers drove by in a pickup truck and threw it in the back, where some kids were screaming with excitement.

And that was the end of my bicycling career until last week when it was part of my bootcamp. I expressed strong enough doubts about my biking ability that I got to opt out and run instead of biking. But today it came up again, and I thought, "Dangit. I'm a 33 year old woman. I've had like 5 kids and I can ride a dadgum bicycle." So I tried. I tried to climb up on it, but it was tall like a mountain, so they lowered the seat a lot, but my feet still didn't touch the ground, and it had a foot harness thing, some sort of stirrup on one pedal, and I thought, "When I fall off this bike, my foot will be attached and the bike will fall and we'll flip over and I will die." I think it was the Lord, telling me not to ride the bike. I'm prophetic that way. But I just hardened my heart and started to climb up and then I noticed the dashboard, with all the levers and switches and whatnot, and I was informed that they were brakes and gears, which was helpful, like if you were going to take up a space shuttle and they told you "This is the defromoxillator." By this point, encouragement was being yelled from the gym, things like "Get on the bike!"

I got on the bike. It was so high off the ground, and the road was concrete, and I knew if I fell I would bleed but I just manned up and coasted for 1/10 of a second before I received a clear message from my Panic Center, or maybe the Lord, that I would surely die, so I bailed off into the tall grass, left the bike on the side of the road, and ran a lap instead. Some things just aren't meant to be.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

R2 turns thirteen

Where I spent 4 days trying to stay pregnant
13 years ago today, I gave birth to a 1 pound baby, after my water broke at 23 weeks. Very few people expected him to live, and we had been holding on desperately to hope that we'd make it far enough that the medical establishment would consider him "viable" (24 weeks) and take drastic measures to save his life. We made it to 24 weeks and 1 day. Full story here.

Home
Once he lived 72 hours, they started saying he might survive. Pretty quickly, though, they discovered these massive brain bleeds and the terms "quality of life" started getting thrown around. We were 20 years old, shell-shocked and exhausted. We sat and listened to the prognoses, learned how to read the brain scans, and how to become invisible when the big alarms went off and the crash carts came running. 

2 lbs + here, starting to get "better"
We trusted the staff, respected them, and at the same time we had to learn how to live in 2 realities. One: there is no reason he will live. He's having constant seizures, his brain is a shell, and nothing seems to be improving. Two: God gave him to us, we "feel" like he's going to live, and our prayers matter. However it might end, we knew we should be praying, hoping, believing for the best. 

Emotional moments when we got to hold him
We've lived for 13 years in those realities. The natural and the supernatural. R2 has a spirit, a vibrant, alive spirit, and his broken body doesn't change that. Every challenge we've faced, we have to take in the medical reality and then hold out hope for a greater spiritual reality. We've learned that God is good, God is always good, even when the answer is no. We've seen R2 learn how to walk, to feed himself, to accomplish so many small things, when there is no medical explanation for why he should be able to, given the extent of his brain damage. 

He has a great sense of humor, and he's a little bit of a prankster, although his pranks are things like turning on the dishwasher and running away laughing, or closing the door on you. His best friend is his iPad. He carries it everywhere, and sleeps with it if we let him. He's not making a ton of progress on the communication software, but we're going to keep working on it. His technological skills are going to be a major asset in that effort. 

He has been obsessively pointing at the whiteboard calendar, at the birthday cake, every day, multiple times a day. He has indicated with much pointing and flapping that, given a group of options, Nemo is the highly exciting and definite party theme. I am so grateful that he's doing so well emotionally and medically right now, and for his joy, his excitement, his understanding that this is his special day. It was the day the world exploded for us, and it was months and months before we saw any light. But now, 13 years later, it is a good day. 

Happy Teenage Birthday to my tiny Tweety Bird! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

when mommy cries

I tried to cry yesterday. I'm not such a crier. I think I used up a lot of my store of tears in that 4 or 5 years when everybody kept dying. These days, I reserve most of my crying for marital fights I can't win or youtube videos of flashmobs.

But now, we're in this season of transition, with the Radiants all growing up and moving away or going to college or whatever, and it's very emotional. I mean, over our 15ish years of ministry, we've gotten pretty good at saying goodbye to ministry buddies, because people eventually do other stuff. But usually they leave one at a time, not en masse. So this one has been hard, because everyone is moving on to other stuff except me and the MOG, who are stuck together because of covenants and children, and plus, we like each other. 

Yesterday, our drummer and his family (who are also our good friends and immediate neighbors) moved back to Texas. Actually, they just moved that direction... they are still en route as I type. How y'all liking all this French I'm using today? Hot dog! Zut alors! Anyway, they packed up their rig and sent their 6 year old over to play with Toby one last time. Toby and Noah handled it like men for a while, staring at Toby's computer game, but once I tried to make them spend time together, Noah was out. I guess I wanted them to have a heart-to-heart, I don't know. After Noah went home, Toby melted down a little, and to reassure him, I told him I was sad, too, and I would probably cry once we went over to say goodbye.

With those words, I became a science experiment. Toby climbed in my lap and stared intensely in my face. "Now? Are you going to cry now?" I told him I'd get to it eventually, but he and Brynn were obsessed. Every time I sniffed, there they were, watching expectantly. We walked across the street, said goodbye, hugged and took pictures. One time my voice got pretty choked up and Toby was triumphant, "I heard it! I heard that sound in your voice like you were going to cry! Are you crying now?" 

Once their trucks were ready to pull out, we walked back over and sat on our steps, waiting. I watched the trucks, everyone else watched my face. "I heard you crying, Mom!" yells Brynn, after I sniffle a little. "Dear Jesus," she says, laying her hands on my back, "Please make mom not cry. Please." Toby tried a couple of fake sobs, peering through his fingers at me. By this point, I was genuinely sad, with a knot in my stomach or whatever that phrase is, but I was laughing. "PLEASE GOD," says Brynn. "PLEASE make mom not cry." I think Toby might have been rebuking her prayers silently, just out of his own curiosity. 

And then they were gone, and I sat with my curious little band of Texans, alone in Kansas City for a moment. When the truck was out of sight, I gathered everybody up and we went back inside, to the next thing, whatever that will be. 

Me, and him, and these little ones will laugh and cry through the next thing, together. So we'll be okay. 

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