today I will put on my running clothes and then never make it out of the driveway, where I’ll stand texting friends who have generously offered childcare options.
today I will celebrate the anniversary of my parents by calling them and thanking them for sticking it out, even when it hurt, even when it didn’t seem worth it, even when. Will thank them for perseverance and servitude and stamina. Will thank Father too, who has redeemed brokenness and extended blessings time and again.
today I will stand in the visitation line with my husband as people pay their respects for a life well lived, for grandpa’s 93 and a half years.
today I will commit to finally finishing the flower girl baskets for my father-in-laws wedding on Friday. I will swear under my breath as I pick clumps of cooled glue off my burned fingers and will wonder for the thousandth time why I didn’t just buy the expensive, but already decked-out ones at Michaels.
today I will stand on the sidelines in my silk shantung wedges and pencil skirt and cheer loudly for my boy as he runs the soccer field. I don’t care who died, I’ll be there.
today I will feed my kids fast food as I shuttle them from game to cousins so I can stand next to my husband again as people pay their respects for a life well lived.
today I will probably worry (why do I do that?!?) about how to keep Lucy happy during the funeral at a time when she would normally be napping. I will briefly consider stapling her dress to the pew, but won’t want to rip the fabric. Plan B will involve lots of m&ms and some vis a vis markers.
Today I will run to Meijers and let Tess pick out whatever ice cream toppings she desires in an attempt to make up for the fact that she will miss, we all will, her Kindergarten ice cream social tomorrow so we can eat ham buns in the basement of Ada Christian Reformed Church, which is not a close second when you’re 6 and the center of your own universe. I’ll even let her get the sprinkles that are shaped like little crowns and scepters if she wants them, which she will, sweet girl.
today I will probably forget and I’ll take my eyes off Father and then I’ll feel like I’m drowning in this life and it’s demands and then I’ll stop and remember that this is not where my citizenship is. Nothing here is as precious as there. Nothing. Hopefully I’ll remember that fast food and missing an afternoon and getting to bed too late are not salvation issues. They’re just not.
This is me being real. Keeping my eyes on today. Tomorrow has enough worries of it’s own. I’m not going there.
We’re losing our grandpa, I think. He’ll be 94 this summer and has lived a good life. I sat next to his bed yesterday listening to disjointed accounts of childhood romps with various people who may or may not have ever existed. Listened to him ramble in his raspy voice, chest filled with fluid, legs too. And then at one point he stopped talking and reached out his hand toward the ceiling, his eyes distant from the present. My breath caught in my throat and I found myself so jealous, thinking I’d give anything to see what he was seeing right then. There is something so beautiful, sad too, but really beautiful about watching a Christ follower pass on. You get tiny glimpses of heaven through them, not enough. Never enough. But glimpses still the same. Was he reaching for his wives, Gert or Ruth? For Mumsy? For his Jesus? And so in what could be the last moments I spent with him, he taught me yet another lesson about faith and living it well. That our every moment should be spent with arms outstretched, reaching for Jesus. That this grasping motion should be our knee-jerk reaction to everything. Every. Thing. And it shouldn’t be born only of sorrow or suffering or deep rejoicing, but should come on the crest of every wave, even the teeny ones that move us just barely. Those too, should send us to our knees, reaching for Father, remembering that our citizenship is there, not here, and groaning for a new Heaven and earth to come. Just come.
This is me being real. Trying to bend my mind around the idea of living in Jesus’ home.
I wrote a mothers day post in my head while shivering in the rain at Grant’s ball game on Saturday. It was flowery and sweet and probably would have made you cry and then go call your mom. But it’ll have to wait until next year because in the midst of duct tape flowers and hot oatymeal in bed, there was a coon attacking the chickens and he’s consumed our attention. As I write it’s 10:42 and Dan is out in the pouring rain hot on its trail and protecting the Kevins. I’m laying in bed, looking for an antique signet ring on ebay and letting him blow off some testosterone. When he comes in I’ll tell him he’s the only man for me and then he’ll strike a match on his five o’clock stubble, light an unfiltered cigarette and settle in for a Rambo marathon. I thought briefly about joining the hunt, but if I’ve learned anything in two years of chicken farming it’s that I hate chickens. Ambivalent feelings aside, we’ve now lost five hens in three days. We baited a live trap with a dead hen and caught a raccoon. He was wicked pissed. Until Dan shot him. Then he was just dead. I made the kids swear not to say anything at the bus stop since one of our neighbors is an animal lover and is so sweet she’d likely climb our trees looking to see if the dead coon had babies she could feed with a dropper. I once saw her pick up a freshly killed opossum from the road by its tail and check its pouch for babies she could rescue. She’s that sweet. I just stood there swallowing vomit and trying not to cheer that there was one less of those nasty creatures in the world. I’m a wus. And I’m not particularly fond of animals either. So, instead of flowery words of praise about mothers, you get killed chickens and the mental picture of all my sweet babies watching from the deck as daddy shot that nasty coon, while I stood in the kitchen trying to choke down an egg as i remembered waking up Sunday morning to the hens cannibalizing their sister. I let the slippery mess slide off my plate and asked Dan to just throw the eggs in the woods for the next few days. Until then I’m sticking with oatymeal and googling how to make a coon skin cap for Peter. And Dan is standing by the window in our room dripping wet and shaking his head, muttering something about kingdom come. And I know I’ve said it before, but this is a weird place to live. This place where the natives only eat asparagus so it’ll make their pee stink and where traps are checked before anything else in the morning and where a bunch of hens can wake up and see a fallen sister and in the absence of rational thought, could think only to eat her. whaaaa? This is me being real. Down to 16 birds. Swearing off eggs until I’m sure it’s all out of their system. Thankful that my kids are getting an education in country living at 10, 8, 6 and 2 that I’m just now getting at 37. And wondering if that’s something I really should be thankful for?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is a foreign country. I don’t speak the language fluently, the natives are only partially housebroken or civil and the water is completely undrinkable. Thankfully it boasts good food and a steady stream of stories I’m tucking away for the day when I once again live in a civilized place where kids don’t pee off the deck or come inside and grab a cookie with frog cooties on their hands. And someday, I’m told, I’ll miss it here, which is why I try to get away a couple times a year and vacation in civilized countries with 500 thread count sheets and turn down service. Those lovely amenities serve as a crucial reminder that even though this is the weirdest place to live, even though only half of us wear underwear on a regular basis, even though a third of us are armed, I’m having my visa renewed because I love to visit the beautiful places. But I only want to live here.
This is the frog habitat the kids made for Burpy, Feisty, Jumpy, Nicey and Twinkle. It’s made of the kiddie pool I used to let my kids play in until right now. And rigid pink insulation. It’s totally green and completely recyclable. That’s just how we roll.
She was not helping so much as chewing her dinner and cheering for the frogs when they jumped. She’s only wearing a leotard because earlier she fell into the habitat and I made her take a tub to wash off the germs. What she was wearing earlier was even uglier and less appropriate.
I went out to meet the frogs and to see this masterpiece in my back yard. Then I threw up a little in my mouth thinking of all the hours that pool has entertained my kids with clean things like bubbles and Barbie swim parties (don’t judge me).
Did I mention before that the natives are incredibly adorable? Even covered with slime and frog cooties, which I’ve told them will give them warts if they don’t wash it off with antibacterial soap. I like to just be up front with my kids right from the get go. Saves heart ache later on.
What fun, disgusting, awesome things are you doing this weekend?
This is me being real. Headed to check if they have a Rosetta Stone for this place on Amazon.
I have a teensy obsession with the Appalachian trail. Love reading about other’s hikes along its 2,160 mile length. Even dreamed a sugar dream of thru hiking it in my early twenties. Luckily, the only person we told was Mumsy and she had the good grace to neither laugh hysterically nor take us seriously. Because, honestly, I hate animals, can count on one hand the number of days I’ve gone without showering in the past five years and will only drink water from my own reverse osmosis tap (don’t judge me). These things and a tarp load full of others would preclude me from spending more than two and a half hours in the woods and from anyone wanting to be within swinging range if it ended up being longer. So I choose instead to lay on the monster bed, cocooned in clean sheets and smelling my own sweet smells and read of others doing this insanely cool thing called thru-hiking. This month it’s been Isis and jackrabbit, the barefoot sisters who started at the trail’s northern terminus in Maine and hiked south to Georgia. Upon setting foot on Springer mountain, they decided to keep their packs on and walk back to Maine (those of us in the know call this a yoyo, but you can just call it crazy). Their stories of hiking nearly 5,000 miles, mostly barefooted, are spread over a thousand pages in two books. I’ve been devouring them. Have even been able to ignore the just arrived new release by one of my favorite authors, Sandra Dallas. And here is what struck me on this latest armchair adventure: everyone who hikes the a.t. gets a trail name, something funny or meaningful that becomes your new identity. When you are given your trail name, you shed your old identity and take on this new persona for the duration. Because this journey is so epic that it demands a new identity at the same time as it gives birth to a new person who can fit it. At the beginning, you are just a scared, determined hiker with this new name wrapped around your neck like a scarf and sounding weird to your ears and by the end, you are that name. Somewhere along the trail you break it in and it starts to fit and by the end you can’t even separate yourself from it anymore. And all this is making me think of a particularly rough patch I hit last summer and the sticky hour I spent in my therapist’s office learning that I, too have a trail name. As I learned the rhythms of listening prayer, I began to hear myself addressed by Father in the same way each time i listened. It’s vivid even now, that one session when I sat, listening and she reached out and said, Megan, what does He call you? And I answered unhesitatingly, Beloved. And now whenever He speaks and whenever I stop and quiet myself, really quiet myself enough to listen, it always starts with Beloved. Because this trail is even more epic and I’m walking it slowly and sometimes with weeping blisters and a parched mouth and other times I’m leaping from rock to rock on hinds feet. Because I’d rather be on this trail with this Father than anywhere else, even when it’s hard. And I’m learning to shift my thinking from, He calls me beloved to I am beloved. Trying to become my trail name even though it’s not deserved and even though I don’t wear it well sometimes. Trying to put one foot in front of the other and look up and enjoy the scenery even when it includes twenty one pooping Kevins, even when I snap at Tess that, I’m going to cut your hair short again if you won’t let me do it in the morning. I mean it. Even when my trail mates are bickering unceasingly and the shortest one has been in the throes of wicked pissed all day and I spent another forty three dollars on duct tape this morning. Even then. I am moving forward. I am Beloved. This is me being real. Wondering if you’ve asked Father for your trail name yet?