Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

This week we had parent teacher conferences.  I’d like to tell all the parents with young children out there this: whatever your teacher said about your kindergarten child this year, is only a slightly different version of the same speech you will hear from your child’s High School teachers. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard this before, but leopards can’t change their spots.  You got what you got, sister.

That blonde, curly haired, black eyed cutie pie that got in trouble for entertaining his friends by squatting like a monkey on the toilet in Kindergarten,  WILL be getting in trouble for  wearing an obscene wrestling singlet under a robe, which he unveils during a high school Spanish presentation.  Just a couple of vague examples here.  I wouldn’t know anything about a kid like this.  I just know you’ve got your hands full.

I kinda know what my kids’ teachers are going to say about my kids before they even say it.

I told Scott that maybe I wouldn’t go to conferences this year.  He’s a teacher, and he thought that idea wasn’t a good one.  So, I went.  Or, at least I tried to go.

At some point in the busy week, Olivia was shoving this paper in my face.  “Sign up for conferences, Mom.”  I did.  Olivia told me what time and day I signed up for, and I told myself I’d remember.

Only, I didn’t remember. That must come as quite a shock to you.  I’m sorry for that.

I called the school on the day of conferences to ask them to confirm the time I should be there.  The person at the front office nicely said, “Your conference time is 5pm. Yesterday.”

What?  Olivia told me the wrong night.   It’s not like her to be wrong about the details.  She lives for that stuff.  If she’s not careful, I’m not going to let her be in charge of my calendar any more.

I asked the person in the front office which teacher my conference was with, assuming I had actually been there.  The front office person said the teacher I needed to see depended on which “team” Olivia was on, “A” or “B”.   She rattled off some teachers’ names.  I pretended to know which teachers Olivia had, because what kind of parent doesn’t know that?  I’m better than that.

Front office person says, “Oh, then your conference was with Ms. so and so.”

Great.  I knew what to do next.   I crafted a clever, humble and kind email to Olivia’s teacher. I let Olivia’s teacher know how sorry I was for standing her up at the conferences.   I explained that Olivia was enjoying school very much, and to please let us know if there were any concerns, or anything we could to do help.  I think I made some attempt at being witty towards the end of the email, and then, of course, thanked the teacher for all her dedication and hard work as it pertains to our daughter.

That night I told Olivia about the missed conference.  I told her I was a little surprised that she had the wrong date, but it wasn’t a problem, because I sent a long and nice email to her teacher, Ms. So and so.

Olivia said, “What?  Ms. So and So isn’t even my teacher!  Why would you do that?  MISTER So and so is my teacher.”

There you have it.  A story on how to fail at conferences.  I hope you feel better about who you are today.

Generally speaking, my kids are being responsible students, and enjoying school.  Can we just leave me out of it?  I don’t think I’m helping.

You know what else I’m not winning at?  Dieting.

I had this loony idea that it would be fun to have  a family weight loss contest with my sisters and their adult children.  6 weeks to see who could lose the most weight.  Final weigh off is on Thanksgiving.  Winner takes home about about 80 bucks.

Here are my before and afters:

walking posterabs

You can see that I’ve really leaned out here.  Which is cool, because I didn’t even know I could look better than I already did.  Scott’s so bad with technology.  I can’t believe he cut my head out of the after shot.  Plus, he caught me right in the middle of measuring my waist, silly.  How do you use a tape measure again?   They’re tricky.

All participating family members are self-reporting.  We’re on the honor system.  Suckers.

Some of my family members are reporting 5 pound, 7 pound and 10 pound weight losses.  I have lost 8 pounds.  Or, .8 (point 8), actually.  Who wants to get all bogged down with decimals?  I just like to keep things simple.  .8, round up to 8.  Simple.

Uhggg!!!  Losing weight is so hard.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re healthy, Miki.  Be grateful for the body God gave you, Miki. You already look A.MAY.ZINGGGG, Miki!!!!  Well, the first two things, anyway.  I just like having goals, and I like being on the lower end of the 10 pound swing my body finds most comfortable.  The older I get, the more naturally my body settles on the upper end. Plus, I have my fitness modeling career to think about. I haven’t gotten it off the ground yet, but I have always thought this could be a real money maker for us.

Some of my family members are doing some well thought out weight loss programs.  My program is one I made up.  It’s two steps: no cream in my coffee and no potato chips.  So far, I have not used cream in my coffee…on some of the days.   I think I’m getting awfully close to not eating potato chips too, and I certainly should get credit for that. Have you had potato chips lately?  They are so good.  I mean,  seriously good.  Especially when you’re jamming them in your mouth while you make dinner.

Anyway…I made up the stupid contest, so I can change the rules.  I think I’m changing the rules to, I win.

I had a pretty intensely fun, long weekend.  Why can’t fun drag on like boring stuff does? Fun just ends way too quickly.  I’m really against that.

Another thing I’m against is getting in fights with your friends on Facebook.  I know I’m against it, because I’ve done it.  That is NOT fun.  Facebook fights drag on for.ev.er.

You might find this hard to believe, but I’m not much of a fighter.  This weekend I had to turn my head away when my sisters told the waitress their fish was bad.   I don’t like conflict.

It’s  just that I am SO mad.  I’m so mad about the war on women.  I’m so mad that women and young girls are being held captive by evil terrorists.  I’m so mad that men are trying to force their will on women, controlling what they do and what they wear.  I’m so mad that these men are committing violence against these women.  I want to help.

I told my Facebook friends that I saw a woman in the store wearing a burqa that covered everything, even her eyes.  Her husband walked slightly ahead, wearing street clothes.  I told my  Facebook friends that I wanted to deliver a karate chop to this man.  Some of my Facebook friends were not on board with this.

Here is what I learned.  Some women choose to wear the burqas that cover their entire face, even their eyes.  I didn’t know that; that certainly changes things.  This fact surprised me.  I have a hard time comprehending why a woman would make this choice.  I thought that out of solidarity, any woman would refuse. Turns out I have very little influence here, which is surprising.

The other part of my plan that seemed a little shady to some friends (other than assaulting an innocent man),  was the part where I tried to cure violence with violence.  I think someone had some silly logic like, we keep trying that.  It isn’t working.

Where does that leave me? I guess not even one teensy weensy little karate chop will help.  I’ve been practicing too. So, that’s disappointing.

I did get some ideas from my friends on how to help victimized women locally.  That was a good thing. Sadly, it appears as if there is not one practical way I can physically help the women and girls in captivity who I read about last week.  Except pray.  We can always pray.

I asked my family if we could pray for these women before our costume party.  Here’s what that looked like:

praying

“Hello Reggie, ever heard of closing your eyes when you pray?” I told you he wasn’t a Christian.

I think praying women everywhere should keep praying. Our sisters need us.  Oppression sucks.

It’s hard to do normal life after reading about real girls who want to kill themselves to escape their torturers.  But, that’s what you have to do.    It seems like the whole world should be rushing to these girls’ aid.  But, I guess we can’t.  I’m not sure why, but it just isn’t done.

I have been told that there are any number of horrific things happening to people all over the world at any given moment.  What would happen to society  if we just dropped everything and helped all these people?  Probably nothing good, other than they’d all be helped. I mean, where’s the benefit?

All this human suffering is making me bitter.

I did carry on this past weekend.  I put the sadness away, and had some fun.

I hosted a bridal shower at my house for my nephew and his lovely new bride.  She’s such a sweet young woman, and she also has great ideas.  She asked us to wear costumes.  I’m going to recommend this to other new brides.

You know that feeling you get when you’re going to a party, and one person is the common denominator, while the rest of the guests are strangers to one another?   There is usually this awkward tension in the air.  That tension does not exist when people are dressed like cat burglars and Minnie Mouse.

niece costumes

I haven’t hosted anything at my house in a while.  I like having people over, but it feels like I’m in an era of life where finding time to host parties is extra hard. I’m in an era where finding time to get milk feels like a victory.  Party hosting seems unattainable.

I used to host parties a lot.  I liked it, and was getting sort of good at it.  I have lots of fancy dishes and decorations left over from those days.

For this party, I looked at a beautiful silver, rectangular bowl I have and tried to remember the pretty way I used to display it.  Now the bowl just sits empty on my buffet.  I take that back.  There was one, yellow air-soft bullet at the bottom of the bowl from a fight the boys must have had.  I’m not gonna say that bullet wasn’t pretty.  I just thought it needed something else.

I did my best.   I fluffed and polished.  I threw some cute pumpkins in that silver bowl. When I was finished everything looked medium to okay.  It didn’t really matter anyway, because I knew my sisters were about to descend upon my house. Once that happens, I can go play checkers.  I’m the baby, and lucky for me old habits die hard.

Those women were like a party producing tornado.   I know just the tricks to get out of work with these ladies too.

Me: I forgot I have to do the potatoes.”

Older sister:  Oh, I’ll do it.

Me: Shoot.  I meant to vacuum the front room before everyone got here.

Another Older Sister: Oh, I can.  Where do you want the vacuum when I’m done?

Me: I wish I would have remembered to get ice.

Another Older Sister: I can run and get it.  I’ll be right back.

Me:  My shoulders are really tight.  I was hoping to get a massage before this thing.

Older sisters:

So, maybe they’re not ALWAYS there for me. It’s okay.  I still think they’re pretty great.

sister halloween

A Pretend Interview

I was recently interviewed by “People” magazine.  I thought perhaps I should share that interview on my blog.

You’re right. That didn’t happen.  My friend, and fellow blogger, Jamie Wright, tagged me on a Facebook post, asking me to answer some questions.  Just like she did for her friend that tagged her.  And, that’s why I’m special.

If there’s one thing I don’t do enough, it’s talk about myself.  I think we can ALL agree on that. So, because I’m shy, I thought I’d answer these questions, and then maybe, finally, you could get to know me.

1. How tall are you?

 5’6″, but the Doctor says 5’5″, and that’s how I  know they lie.

2. Do you have a hidden talent?

Wow.  This is embarrassing.  Yes.  Yes, I do have a hidden talent.  I used to work with the “Nerveless Knocks” at the Tommy Bartlett Ski Sky and Stage show.  We swung from a trapeze dangling outside of a helicopter, and jumped across swaying poles that stretched as high as the sky.  Well, by we, I mean, them.  I babysat their children, and I think that counts.

3. What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve? 

Hmmm…who am I to judge?  Except, I do judge.  Mostly I just read the blogs I like. Reading blogs is totally voluntary.  So, I’m not sure why I would read a blog that annoys me.  Wouldn’t that be weird?

But, you did come here for the truth, so I will tell it.

There is this ONE thing.  There’s a blog I read sometimes, because the author is FUNN-EEEE!  Except she’s kind of mean too.  She is often funny at other people’s expense.  She mostly makes jokes about people who are doing awful things and getting caught at it, but sometimes I ask myself how that helps. The negativity is pretty potent. But, there I am reading it, so what do I know?  Really.  Nothing.


4. What’s your biggest non blog-related pet peeve?

 I don’t know.  You might have to ask my family.  I can’t think of anything.  Maybe I have a high threshold for irritation?

Wait.  Wait. I just thought of something.  I’m sorry I’m going to say this, because I know some of the people I just love the ever livin’ daylights out of may partake  in this, but, again,  I’ve got the editorial staff at “People” breathing down my neck here. So, there’s that.

I do NOT like it when parents go ape crap in the bleachers.  I really don’t.  Especially, when they yell negative things, and scream at the ref.  It strikes me as pure silliness.    If I ever see a ref change their mind because of an angry parent, I may change my position. Until then…

There are lots of times I feel like my head’s going to explode, because I so badly want to say, “Please, please, just calm down.  Those are just kids out there, save all this hysteria for a real problem.”

Wait.  One more.  I’d like to retract my first paragraph.  Turns out my threshold for irritation is, indeed, quite low.

How about daily, or somewhat regular, selfies of grown ups?  I’m letting kids off the hook here.  Because, they are, after all, kids.  You’d expect that from them.

Usually, I like to “like” photos, or comment.  But, regular grown up selfies confuse me.  I’d like to encourage regular, grown up, selfie takers to leave a caption with their image.  Otherwise,  I’m not sure what we’re supposed to be thinking or saying about all these.

“My land, look at how you’ve grown in the last 72 hours.   I never would have known that was you with your hair in a pony tail, because If my memory serves me right,  I think you wore your hair DOWN yesterday, right?  Whew!  Thanks goodness for selfies, so we can remember what we look like.”

I know.  I’m being negative.  This interview is revealing

5. What’s your favorite song? 

Really?  That question?  I don’t pay much attention to who sings what. Mostly I like music for the sing-along-factor.  My kids tell me I am always singing the wrong words.  It’s just that I like hearing myself sing, and I can’t be bothered with waiting to find out what the ACTUAL words are.  I just start singing, and hope for the best.  When someone asks me who sings that song, I say, “Me.  I do.”

Here’s what I listen to on Pandora:

Contemporary Christian

Classic Rock

American Authors

Imagine Dragons

Trampled By Turtles

The last three were recommended to me by my son, Zeke.  I thought adding them to the list might make me seem just a little edgier and cool.  If they do, then for sure I DO listen to those bands.

6. What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

Well, you certainly have me between a rock and a hard place on this one.   I guess I’ll  just say I like my own hand knitted underpants I make from lambs wool that I sell on Etsy. What a niche I’ve found.

WHAT?  Who has their own Etsy shop?  My daughter just showed me what Etsy was last week.

7. What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

I need time alone like I  need oxygen.  I suspect most busy moms do.  I don’t think I’m unique that way.  I clean, walk, read, write and mime.  I mime to relieve stress.  You should try it.  Your kids LOVE it when you do that stuff for their friends.

Am I in a box?  Oh no, my friend.  That’s just an imaginary box.  A box of my own making.  I’m free to fly.

Yeah.  It can get pretty deep, and that’s what I think my kids’ friends like the best.

mime

8. What’s your favorite junk food?  

 Mostly my kids make jokes about how sad their lives are because they don’t get junk food.  Don’t believe them.  We eat plenty of it.

I’ve had a bit of a preoccupation with health and nutrition in my  life.  It interests me. Then, I had a sick boy, and I became slightly obsessed.  I’m recovering from that now.

At my obsession’s peak, the only thing that resembled junk food in our house was stuff like, dried kale.  One time I bought dried Kimchi at Trader Joe’s. I thought this could be a good snack for my family.

Yummy Kimchi

I received an email from Scott one morning at work.  It said, “What on God’s green Earth was that stuff in the cupboard?  That is not food.  I don’t know what that is.  It is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten in my life.  It tastes like I’m eating out of the toilet. Stop wasting money.”

I wish others could appreciate just how funny this email from Scott was.  If you don’t know him, it’s hard to understand. Scott doesn’t complain.  He doesn’t use words like “the most” and “disgusting”.   He just goes along with my hair brain ideas. He’s loathe to overstate things, or exaggerate.  That’s kind of my thing.

That’s why I found this email so funny.  I knew from Scott’s description, that I must have discovered the most horrific food available.  I tried dried Kimchi when I got home.  Scott was right.

9.  Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?  

You silly question asker.  Why would you  open up that can of worms?  People don’t like getting me started on talking about my pet.

I have a sweet, fluffy, puffy, oopsy, doopsy, baby, wah wahh, goo goo, gah gah dog, named Reggie!!!  That’s how we talk to Reggie in our house (the girls do, anyway).  He’s so precious and cute. We love him, and treat him like a baby.

You asked.

Scott likes him too, but not as much when he opens his eyes in the morning to see Reggie’s private parts inches from his face.  That’s a part of Reggie, Scott does NOT love.

reggie

10.  What are your #1 favorite fiction and nonfiction books?

I better make my answers shorter. There are more questions here than I realized.  I’m actually even getting tired of listening to me.

“Grapes of Wrath” – Fiction

“Holy Bible” – Non Fiction – Sorry.  I defaulted to the Sunday School answer.
11.   What’s your favorite beauty product?    

Are you trying to uncover my vices here too?  My grandmas were product junkies.  So am I.  So is my daughter.  It’s in our DNA.  I like Lancome eye liner.  I like L’Bri skin care.  And, just so much more.  I like it all.


12.   When were you last embarrassed?

What does it mean if I can’t think of an answer to this question?  I know.  I must be a narcissist. I should probably be embarrassed every day of my life, but I’m not.  I’m Michael Scott:

Occasionally, I’ll hit someone with my car. So, sue me.

13. If you could drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Bourbon.  On the rocks.  I put my smoking jacket on every night after work, while Scott makes me my bourbon.

We sit by the fire in our leather wing backs, discussing who shall make the arrangements with the nanny and housekeeper for the following week.

wingBack

Scott, without his bourbon.

14.  What’s your favorite movie?  Adentures in Babysitting, of course.  Who’s isn’t?

I really just don’t know.  I remember liking that movie when I was young.  I’m not a movie buff.  And, it’s official.  I’ve lost interest in me.  Are we almost done?

5.  What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

 I was the valedictorian.  Just trust me.  No need to check facts here.  It’s in print. What further proof do you need?

16.  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Well, truth be told, I like where I live now.  I love small towns.

When we retire, we do have two ideas:

1. Third world country.   Helping whoever needs us.

2. A quaint neighborhood, in an older home  just West of the Capital of Madison, WI.  We will be within walking distance to bike/walking/running paths, famers markets, lakes, libraries, restaurants and coffee shops.  I would love that.

17.   PC or Mac?

Mac n Cheese, for sure.  That stuff is awesome.

18.  Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?  

I actually did a whole blog about Scott’s new habit of sending me emoticons.  They’re just lovely.  He’s set the bar real low for romantic gestures, so I swoon easily.  He’s always been clever like that.

19.  Favorite celebrity?

Steve Carell.  Will Ferrell.  Ben Stiller.  I know these guys can be wildy inappropriate.  They can also be wildy hilarious.

20. What blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?

Momastery Blogger.  Her name is Glennon Melton. She’s a bright lady, with her head on tidy and straight.  Mostly I just want to admire her though.  Making new friends sounds time consuming.  I’ve kinda got my hands full with all the miming.  I think she might have enough friends.

That’s it.  More than you ever wanted to know about me.  You’re welcome.

If you just read all that, then I guess I owe you pretty big. Send me your address, and I’ll have my assistant send  you a tootsie roll in the mail.  Or, just stop by in your smoking jacket for some bourbon.

Don’t you like it when bloggers like me say, “I’m sorry.  I just haven’t had time to post.”

Absolutely no one in the world cares when an every day blogger hasn’t blogged.  Those are just the cold hard facts.

But, I’M BACK!!!!  Never you fear, my friend.   I’ll be blogging from the grave.

Speaking of fear.  Ebola. Can I just say that me and my fellow hypochondriacs don’t need this?   I can turn a scratch on my arm into stage 4 Brain Cancer.  What am I going to do with bleeding eyeballs?

Don’t think I haven’t been making plans.  I told my family they were no longer allowed to talk to people in person.  They’ll be home schooled now, and I think we’ll be just fine with all the canning I did this summer.  Plus, Scott has all that smoked meat out back in the shed.  We should be good for quite some time.

Not true.  We’re totally screwed. We don’t garden, hunt, sew or home school. We’re so squarely on the grid, we might own it.

I meant to get off the dang grid.  Why do I have to be so forgetful?

I HAVE been talking to my family about improving their immune systems.  I heard that can help. But, I’m always preaching that.  That’s not really new.

My family is excited, because all this Ebola hype means that we’re going to have even less fun stuff to eat in our house.  And, they won’t get away with forgetting their vitamins.  That’s how you fight Ebola, with a vitamin.  I’m surprised the CDC didn’t think of that.

I was talking to my kids about Ebola at the dinner table.  I thought I was calm, and appeared unafraid.  I guess not.  Olivia’s hands started to shake.  She told me to just stop talking about it.  Yeah.  That’s not funny.  I promise, I stopped.  She’s a younger version of the big Fraidy Cat she calls, Mom.  So, I have to be careful with her.

Zeke told Olivia to stop being afraid.  He said, “So what if we get Ebola?  Then we get to go to heaven.”

Sometimes you just need kids to tell you it’ll be alright.

I admit it.  I’m prone to hysteria.  I hate that about me.

It’s just that lately I totally get it.  I get that the world is scary, and evil is real.  When I was reading the Ebola coverage, I clicked on a video about South American prisoners throwing prison guards from the prison roof.  I thought it was going to be a story to read.  It wasn’t.  It was a video.  Before I could process what I was watching, I saw these prisoners with Klu Klux Klan type white hoods on, literally pushing men off the roof.  One prisoner dangled a guard with a rope tied around the guard’s ankles.  I can’t believe I saw that.  I didn’t finish watching it.  Usually I avoid terrifying images.  Now those images are caught in my head.

Maybe I imagined it?  I’m not entirely positive,  but  don’t look it up.  I’m serious.  Don’t.

I didn’t actually sleep much the night I saw those images.   I slept for a while, but then I started dreaming about those prisoners.  I woke in a state of terror.  Then, I started thinking about Ebola.  Then, I wondered who’s dumb idea it was to never have any liquor in the house.  I was pretty edgy.

I started praying.

I begged, “God, just stomp it out.  Stomp out the evil.  You know you can. Why don’t  you?”

Then, God answered with a large roar from the heavens. Oh, wait.  That was Scott snoring.

I didn’t hear anything audible.  But, I thought something.  I don’t think it was my own thought.  I think it was a thought God was nice enough to give me.  I think He reminded me of how simple things are.    He reminded me that the ability  I think I have to control things  is an illusion. At any moment, I am one plague away from a completely different life.    I always forget that.

He reminded me that this comfortable illusion keeps  me insulated from the truth.  The truth that evil is real.  Evil is real whether or not I believe God is real too.   But, here’s the part that’s awesome. I do believe God is real;  I believe He wins.

I thanked God for the path He’s given me, given my whole family.  I thanked him for the comfort  I feel from Him.  I thanked Him for staying up late with me and listening to my heart.  I thanked him for giving me comfort when I’m scared of plagues and prisoners.  I thanked him for a battle that He’s already won.

I can’t remember what else I thanked him for, because that’s when I fell back to sleep.  And, that’s why I’m glad we believe God is real.  Because I can’t imagine a world with Ebola and scary prisoners without God.

Duplicity

I keep thinking of the word duplicity.  Here’s what it means:
 
 
1. contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action;especially :  the belying of one’s true intentions by deceptive words or action.
 
 
2. the quality or state of being double or twofold
 
 
 
I was going to describe my behavior with the word duplicity; I know that I am two things at that same time.  I don’t think I’m all deceptive about it though.   I’m the second definition: I’m straight up about my duplicity.
 
Scott and I have made a HUGE decision.  It occurs to me that this would be a fun place to write something outrageous.  Something to really capture your interest (ie divorce/sex change/joining the circus).  Nothing cool like that happens around here. So, I’ll just tell you the truth.
 
 
We have decided to hire professional people to finish our basement.
 
 
This is monumental.  We are extending ourselves more than I’d like.  We’ve talked about it, prayed about it, thought about it, and now it’s done.  Well, not the basement, but the extending ourselves part.  This is a calculated risk we’ve decided to take.  As long as the economy doesn’t crash, or we  don’t all contract Ebola, odds are this risk will not take us under.  It might be a risk that will at some point, give us a return on our investment.  Maybe.
 
 
So, that’s scary.
 
 
We meant to finish the basement ten years ago, when we moved in our cute house; a bad roof, bathroom, central air and sick kid later, we decided we’d just have to make do.  For several years, Eddie and Zeke were sleeping in the basement.  We worked hard to make the basement look as nice as possible.  If I put a wig and clothes on my dog, would you think he’s a human?  No.  An unfinished basement is, really, always still an unfinished basement.
 
 
Last year, we moved Eddie upstairs to see if it might make him feel better, and to get him closer to the bathroom.  Lo and behold his little brother wasn’t keen on staying in the basement by himself.  Zeke’s been sleeping on the floor upstairs for almost a year.  Here’s his bed:
 
 
20141001_065153

Zeke’s Bed

 
 
So.  That’s our story.  We’re doing it.  We’re putting a bedroom, three-quarters bath and a living space in the basement.  We’ve been cleaning out the basement in preparation.  Last week Zeke and I were talking about how this thing is going to look.  I wish I could have recorded the look on his face when I told him he was going to have a bed, and be a short distance from the new downstairs bathroom.  He could hardly believe it.
 
 
Then he asked, “What about our clothes?  Will we still keep them all in the laundry room?”
 
 
I said, “No.  You will have a closet, Zeke.  A real closet.  You’ll have a dresser too.  All of it will be in your room.”
 
 
Zeke was amazed at this news.  Like, he thought he won the lottery.  I loved that moment.  I felt happy to see Zeke get so excited, and to realize we were doing something that would improve his quality of life.  Then, we both laughed.  We realized that the level of excitement we have about a closet might be weird.  Of course, I couldn’t resist pointing out that the level of excitement he had was his parents’ gift to him.
 
 
I said, “What if you’d just had a closet your whole life?  You wouldn’t even know a closet was something to be grateful for, right? So, yeah.  You’re welcome, kiddo.”
 
 
He shook his head at me.
 
 
So, we’re doing all this, and one part of me is glad, and thinks it’s right.  And, one part of me feels bad, and thinks it’s wrong. .  We might just be getting caught up in it all.   Tricking ourselves into thinking we need “stuff” to be happy.
 
I have this gentle friend from church who grew up in a third world country very far away.  Her parents are in their 80’s now.  Her parents worked their entire adult lives on translating the Bible into the tribal language of the people they served.  Her parents’ bodies are frail now, but recently they took a risky trip to this distant land to deliver the finally completed Bibles.  These missionaries weren’t about to pass up an opportunity to cross the finish line.
 
 
This same gentle friend has a young daughter who is also now a missionary. She’s in Guatemala.  I read her blog this week.  She thinks  the Guatemalans have a culture that emphasizes gratitude.  She explains that they have customs and language to express their gratitude. She can’t find an equivalent counterpart for these customs in the United States. Then, she talks about how the children she works with name what they are grateful for: learning, school, food, etc.
 
 
See?  They’re not spoiled. No one mentioned closets.
 
 
I read this sweet girl’s blog, and I  envied her.   She is not one bit confused about what is  necessary and what is indulgence.  I thought maybe I would like to work in the world she describes some day, where there’s no confusion.   A place where family, food, shelter and education are revered as life’s greatest blessings.
 
 
I sent the blog to Scott.  He emailed back and said he longs for a simpler life, serving others. He said maybe we could do this kind of work when the kids are older.  
I  replied, “Did you really just say that?  I was thinking the same thing.”
 

Katie and her Guatemalan friends

 
So, that’s an idea.  We’ve had that idea before, when we were young.  We went as far as talking to people in a Guatemalan orphanage about how they could use us.  The answers didn’t seem very clear.  Then, roofs, kids, and basements made us forget. I’m starting to remember now.
 
 
I bought a print to put on the wall in our house. I’m going to frame it and put it up by the door when all of remodeling is done.  Scott and I were looking for something that would be like a blessing for the kids as they walked out the door.  Normally, I’m kind of hasty about choosing home decor.  Not this time.  I searched and searched the interwebs.  I wanted something that would almost be like our family motto.  I found it:
 
 
In everything give thanks - 1 Thessalonians 5:18 - Typography Wall Art - 8 x 10 or larger print - inspirational quote Bible verse

Family Motto

 
 
 I showed Scott the poster online.  He said, “Yep. That’s it.That’s the one.”
 
 
We liked this verse.  We know that every time our children walk out our door, we lose our ability to protect them.  They will experience disappointment, hurt, rejection, jealousy and anger.  We can’t stop those things from happening.
 
If our kids have this verse hidden in their hearts, and they believe it and practice it, they will be content in all circumstances.  It won’t occur to them to feel sorry for themselves.   I can’t think of a better family motto than that.
 
 

beauty ashes

I wonder what my sister, Gail,  would say if you asked her if she’d rather be hugging her eldest son who is now in heaven, or writing books with a prestigious editor.  I think she’d say,  “I’ll take my son back. Thanks.”

Life’s tricky like that.  Some of the things that we want more than anything to have a say on, we don’t have any say at all. The only say we have is in how we respond.

I always think about how God says He will turn ashes to beauty. I feel like the only way God can make the beautiful part is with our permission. A life can remain ashes.

Gail gives God full permission.  She’s open and trusts His greater purpose.

When I was young, I always thought Gail was like a warrior.  She welcomed going places she’s never been; places where other people are afraid to go.  So, here she is.

If you want to know a secret, I’ll tell you that having a sister with this kind of faith is always inspiring, and, occasionally, (just like twice a year or less) annoying.  Let’s just keep that here.  Okay?  I blog a lot of stuff that’s confidential.  Just seems like the right place for it.

Sometimes.  Just sometimes.  You want to be afraid.  You want to question.  You want to doubt.

Sometimes, Goliath just scares the crap out of you, and you want to yell, “Pick on someone your own size, ya big bully.”

You don’t want to hear, “Fear not.  The battle is not yours. The battle is won.”  You don’t want to hear that, because you’re the only one with the itty bitty sling shot in your hand.

Next time I’m having one of those days, I’ll read Gail’s blog.  Her blog is all handsome and professional now that she’s a real writer, wearing a real writer’s fancy pants.  Her blog is full of “Choose Faith.  Choose Joy.  Just choose it, for goodness sake!” I love it.

God allowed my sister’s beloved son to be taken from her on Earth.  Then, God lit up a new path; showing her just where to step, and how to give birth to something different; something that expresses truth and inspiration to so many others who feel like ashes just remains ashes.

I can see it all very clearly.  It certainly is beautiful.  Maybe you’ll see it too:

Gail Wahl’s Blog

I get so mad when my life doesn’t know I’m a blogger.  It’s all crazy and busy, and I’m like, “Excuse me?  I’m a little bit of what you call a blogging genius over here.  Could we make some room for that?  I mean, someone has to save humanity through blogging.  It may as well be me.”

My life doesn’t listen.  It just stays all high speed and wild; never giving me a chance to think.   I crave time to think. I miss it when it’s gone.

I’ve been thinking a lot about humanity lately.  What a complicated, beautiful heap a crazy that is.  I just read one of my new favorite books that made me think about humanity even more.  Have you read, “Hiding Place”?  This book is a biography about Corrie Ten Boom.

Apparently, I am the last Christian on Earth to read this book.  The story is freaking me out.  Whenever I mention it to a Christian friend, they’re all, “Oh, I know.  I read that book 8 years ago.”  Show offs.

Corrie Ten Boom is just this wonderful, amazing, incredible embodiment of strength.  I can’t believe someone like her existed.  It seems impossible.

ten-Boom_Corrie

Corrie Ten Boom was Dutch.  She came from a loving, Christian family.  During World War II, Corrie and her family helped with the Dutch underground network.  They  assisted Jewish people with avoiding concentration camps and death, actually.

Corrie had a secret room built in her own bedroom.  When the Gestapo finally discovered Corrie and her family’s illegal activities, they stormed Corrie’s home. Corrie’s Jewish friends snuck into the secret room, and survived the raid.  Corrie and her family saved their lives.

Corrie and her family were sent to prison, and then Ravensbruck, a concentration camp.  Corrie was in her 50’s when she went to prison. Things got ugly.

This is a beautiful story.  I cannot explain how much Corrie and her family members moved me to want to be better at being human.  I cannot explain how much their faith in Christ renewed fervor in me for things unseen.  If you’re sort of anti-Christian, because Christians act all know-it-ally and holier-than-thou-ee, you’ll like Corrie Ten Boom and her family. They aren’t like that.

Have you read “To Kill a Mockingbird”?  That’s another favorite of mine.  Atticus is the only other character in my history as a reader that has moved me in the way Corrie Ten Boom has.  Too bad Atticus was fictional.  I think Atticus and Corrie Ten Boom should have gotten married.  They’d make extraordinary humans together.  How is that relevant here?  I don’t know why you want to talk about stuff that can’t even happen.  It just seems silly.

Atticus and Corrie Ten boom touched my soul because they both have a super human quality.  Humility.  They have unnatural ability to suffer humiliation with dignity.  In Corrie’s case , she claims her strength is not her own.  In fact, more than once when she’s at the end of what she can bear,  She admits it to us and to herself.  She tells God that she’s just out of strength; If he means for her to keep going, He must sustain her.

Right there.  That is the part when Corrie is revived.  Her strength is renewed. It’s almost like God wants her to get to the end of herself, to see His power to carry her is real.  Not a fairy tale.

Here’s what else I love, love, love about Corrie Ten Boom.  She does not judge.  She’s filled to overflowing with love for humanity. She works feverishly to meet the needs of those around her.  At one point she described celebrating Christmas and Hannakah with her Jewish friends. She spoke with respect of her Jewish friends.  She did not cast herself in a superior light.  It sounded beautiful.

Corrie figured her whole purpose on this Earth was to show Christ’s love.  She talked about it all the time.  But, more importantly, she showed it.  She didn’t try to convince people.  She didn’t engage in debates. I love Corrie.  Did I mention that?

I want to be like Corrie.  I want to know why I am here.  I want to remember that I have been called by Christ to love.   I want to make loving people my mission: Christian people, Jewish people, gay people, heterosexual people, Morman people, atheist people, all people.   That’s the point.

These are the kinds of thoughts I’ve been having.  They’re big thoughts. I was pondering Corrie’s dependence on Christ when I became distracted by Kim Kardashian.  It’s true. Sometimes that’s on at our house.  Olivia discovered this show on Netflix.

Do you know what happens when you are contemplating the love of Christ and saints like Corrie Ten Boom, and you’re yanked from your thoughts with angry voices arguing over a prada purse?  Or you catch sight of a 13-year-old girl showing her sister how to use a stripper pole?  It’s harsh.

It’s like being snuggled up in a warm quilt on a cold day, and having the quilt stripped away and ice water poured on you.  Or, it’s like eating a deliciously sweet apple and biting into a worm.  It’s alarming and abrupt.

I’ve been reading better books lately; books about inspiring people.  I’ve been trying to meditate on more scripture too.  I guess I’ve been doing a little too much of that, because I’m now officially unable to tolerate the Kardashians, or real housewives, or any other screaming, materialistic, self-serving reality TV personalities.

See how far I’ve carried my Corrie Ten Boom lessons?  In my world,  you love everyone expect for the people on reality TV.

I should probably tell Olivia that she isn’t allowed to watch the Kardashians.  But, I’m not going to do that. Not yet.  I think the Kardashians and folks like them are causing us to crave entertainment that is as good for the soul as Cotton Candy is for our body.  Cotton Candy is sweet on impact, but offers no nutrients to sustain us. We eat it because it tastes so good and harmless. But, a diet of cotton candy will make us sick and lethargic. And let’s face it, cotton candy is gonna slowly crowd our organs and skeleton with globs of fat.  Which is really bad, mostly because all those globs of fat will make our butts look big.  Sometimes I just get all caught up in this complicated theology.  It’s hard for the common person to even understand me.

Let me say it this way: Cotton candy offers us nothing but taste. That’s it.  That’s all you get out of it.  Oh, and a big butt.  If you want that, you should eat it.

If you like the Kardashians, I hope you don’t think I’m judging you.  Hah!  I have some ladies over in New Jersey and Orange County who I want to eat cotton candy with all the time.  I have SUCH a hard time saying no to those gals.

I’ve explained my position to Olivia.  Because, I’m Corrie Ten Boom’s protoge, remember?.  Corrie Ten Boom doesn’t judge.  She doesn’t tell other people how to live.  She just follows the path God lays before her, and loves everyone along the way.  Christ’s love through Corrie draws people towards her.  Towards Him.  He changes people through her.  It’s beyond her control. Corries friends are on their own paths. She’s not in charge of changing their direction.

I’ll keep loving Olivia, and eventually she’ll leave the Kardashians, because God is calling her there.  Yes, I’ll have loved her into it, because that’s what I learned from Corrie Ten Boom.  That, or I go bat crap crazy when I hear those Kardashian girls fighting over another dress.  Then, I’ll smash the TV in the driveway.

I’m not very good at this, Corrie.  I think I need to read the book again.

corrie ten boom quote

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