There are times when I just need to unload, unhinge, and be undone.
Times when my heart thumps wildly in my chest and every cell screams to let loose and hold nothing back.
With whom you might ask? Who is willing to see the ugly and not run for the hills?
Nope times five.
All human. All have limits. And none of them have the power to fix me.
I let loose with God Almighty. You might call it prayer. I call it talking to God. Relationship. Sharing the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. You don't think God does ugly? Oh, friend, allow me to assure you, God embraces the ugly—especially when it spews from one of His children targeting Him. Why? One word. Well two. Unexplainable love.
In other words, when I need to step away from the sanitary rainbows and roses version of my life and embrace the full panoramic view of the breathtaking vistas coupled with the muck and mire only found in the valleys, I find Him.
What does fulling embracing faith, yet living in a state of transparency look like?
Years ago, I tried bottling all the junk welling up inside of me and capping it—never to be seen again.
An implosion followed by an explosion of gargantuan proportions taught me an effective lesson.
The end of me is a scary place to be.
The end of me is the beginning of Him working through me, and that my friends, is a force to be reckoned with.
Why? Easy. He can handle my wrath. He knows what to do with my crazy. Y'all, there are times when my prayer life sounds like a one-sided episode of Jerry Springer. For real.
However, that honesty unleashes a tenderness only known in a Father-Child relationship.
So, can I encourage you to push aside the thees, thous, yeas, and amens? Just talk. Be real. Get messy. Don't be afraid to get on your knees, bury your hands in the tear-soaked mud, and ask for guidance, peace, discernment, or maybe just enough umph to get through the next minute, hour, or day?
After all, the Living Water ain't afraid of a little dirt.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. I Peter 5:6-7
It's been 365 days since I saw you take a breath. A hair longer since I heard your voice. I miss you. And as we approach the holiday season, my heart yearns for those gone ahead.
I've been "celebrating" in the face of unspeakable loss since my 20th year on the planet. There hasn't been one milestone event in the last 23 years where someone significant has not been missing. I don't type those words to diminish the loss. However, I will say I'm somewhat of an expert in looking back with bittersweet memories while cherishing the here and the now. But only because of the grace of God. Only because of the hope I have in Jesus.
To Diana, my adopted mom, my mentor, beloved mother-in-love, Gabba,
Today, I remember and celebrate using your own words. (You always said I turned your words and used them against you.) LoL. Maybe God will let you have a peek today, so you can turn to Carol Hunter and say, "Look at her. Still sassing."
March 19, 2006
Focal Verse: John 15: 7-8
Jesus, I want so much to bear fruit for your kingdom. I want to walk in such victory that people will ask what's my secret to such joy. Your Word says if I ask You these things they will be done for me. I want them to be done for You, that God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost might be glorified. I understand that I must decrease so You will increase and pray You will help me be willing to do so, to not expect or desire recognition, but to give You all the credit. Lord, I've loved this study of your Word. Help me to continue to thirst for knowledge about what You have planned for the world and what your Word imparts. I ask that You bless my circle of important believers. Norma, Amanda, and Liz. Keep them filled to overflowing with Your love and the hope of Your calling. Help each of them to continue to a light in this dark world and help them to lead their families to You. Go with me this day, Lord. Forgive my sins and cleanse me from unrighteousness.
You are cherished, loved, and remembered. Your legacy and testimony lives on. Love you.
"So much more than a coloring book."
Or so the author and illustrator report on the Our Story page of Big and Little Coloring Devotional. That statement is on point. Here's why:
A frazzled writer/mama trying to keep her dishes spinning, while pouring into her children on a spiritual level, prayed a prayer that was answered, unbeknownst to an illustrator who felt a similar burden, but became overwhelmed at the idea of writing/publishing. God does what God does and Rachel C. Swanson teamed up with Jacy Corral to create what I believe is a brilliant tool for the parenting arsenal.
Yes, it's a coloring book for children. Join the million others on the shelves.
Yes, it's a coloring book for adults. Welcome to the newest fad, along with countless other beautiful patterns flooding the market.
Yes, it's a devotional. Between apps, websites, blogs, ebooks, and paperbacks...Lord, have mercy. Literally.
What makes this book unique is that it was created to solve a problem. Life is busy. Parents want to meaningfully interact with their children. Time is limited. What do you do?
This vertical coloring book presents the same scripture focus on both pages of the book. One side is a simple design with the verse only (Meant for the child). The other side is a more complicated pattern with an actual devotion paired with the same scripture.
You and your darling can actually face one another, eyeball to eyeball, color, and discuss God's Word in the interim. Win, win, win!
As a mama of Irish twins who were once upon a time littles, I adore this idea and recommend you buy now for Christmas morning!
Time flies when you're having fun!
Okay, fun might be extreme, but seriously, I feel most excellent coming up on the half way point during this #Whole30 journey.
I'd say I've been 99% compliant, just because there are only so many questions I can ask when I go out to eat without guaranteeing someone may/may not add unwanted moisture to my food.
I'm fitting into pants that were in that pile in my closet. That pile, otherwise known as the I can't button these without damaging a piece or a part/or my hips are now laughing at us rejects, is a sad, sad corner of the world. They are now being reacclimatized into the active part of the wardrobe. Tentatively. (Because we still don't trust them. After all, they betrayed us by shrinking in the first place;)
Cravings—gone! What? Seriously, this might be the most incredible part of the journey.
I tend to not be hungry as much which is kind of amazing, considering I'm never one to miss a meal—ever.
Without going there, I will report a certain time of the month is noticeably more pleasant.
Energy? When I do work out, I'm all in—as in not dragging. I attribute this to replacing the glucose with increasing amounts of healthy fats. Basketball season has kicked off, so two months of practices/games at different times/locations effectively hijacked the second half of my day.
I'm not bitter.
Or, I'm working on not being bitter. There. That's closer to honesty. My mind is shifting to gratitude toward the school system in making me more intentional with my time for working out. See how I just did that? Insert a work in progress expression.
So, there you go.
Progress in the works with Scribbles,
I feel good. I'm not sure about the reported tiger blood yet, but maybe a fast kitty cat.
So, there's that.
My cravings are gone. #miraculous
People are sort of noticing less puffiness.
I disobeyed. The #Whole30 Powers That Be tell you NOT to weigh yourself. NOT to measure yourself. Especially NOT on the days labeled For the love of Gosling, my pants are tighter.
I did it. Cringe. I stepped on the scale. Because surely, surely I've lost 10 pounds by day 9. Surely not putting sugar near my face and swearing off the world of all things processed has resulted in lower numbers.
My heart sank. My mood shifted. I rolled my eyes and may have slammed something down on the counter top. Then, I . . . DID NOT pray, DID NOT read scripture, DID NOT count backward from 10, DID NOT dial a friend for emotional support.
I was just irrationally irritated. First at the scale. Then at myself.
For real, y'all.
The power of that stupid number derails me every time. Thank goodness I had enough moxie to stay on plan and punch the desire to quit square in the face. But still.
I'm not even a fan of math and science, which is what weight is all about BTW. Yet, Argggghhhh!
And that, my friends, is why they tell you NOT to do this. It's not about the number. #Whole30 realizes most people have an unhealthy relationship with food, but oftentimes, the scale. Therefore, focus on the why behind the what and not the numbers.
Not. the. numbers.
I'm confessing, leaving it right here, and will not do it the remainder of these 30 days.
Now, I'm going for a sanity walk.
Moving with Scribbles,
I am going to attempt to do what few others have done before: blah, blah, blah about #Whole30 life (W), articulate my crazy (C), and express immeasurable gratitude (G). Buckle up, buttercups.
This morning began with the standing pajama-clad, news-broadcasting, coffee in bed date with #bffhusband. (G)
Seriously, priceless in all the good ways.
Breakfast with out-of-town family, and in-town family. (G) In a restaurant. Insert big, fat (W) sigh. Ordering has taken on a new level of When Harry Met Sally high-maintenance activity.
And we broke our fast in a diner, where butter and grease reign supreme.
So, when I inquired as to whether or not the hard-working kitchen crew could prepare my spinach , mushroom, no-cheese omelette without butter , the sweet-slammed-I-appreciate-you-but-I-aint-got-time-for-this-nonsense server did a somewhat-believable job of NOT laughing in my face. The fruit was really, really delicious. (W) (G) (C) However, I did bring my (W) coconut creamer in a thermos, so I'm sure no one thought I was a strange, privileged, millennial-wanna-be at all.
We give and receive hugs and kisses with the fam (G), then my husband and I pull into our driveway where I am apprised of his intention for the first part of the afternoon. Quote, "I'm going to unload the trailer, return it, then blow up the cow to dry it out." (C) Because that is a phrase not everyone hears on a beautiful, Florida 80 degree Saturday in November. (B) B stands for bitter because 80 degrees in November is really unacceptable behavior for any state, regardless of whether you boast the sunshine.
Add in the fact the blowing up of the cow (don't think Halloween or Christmas yard decor; think a building Superman would leap over) is taking place in our front yard, and I'm pretty sure the neighborhood association will show up to picket later. (C)
I'm starving. So, I hug our bleary-eyed teenagers who barely noticed our absence during their oh-so-sweet youthful Saturday morning slumber session, and prepare a (W) meal that will last me through a work out and part of the afternoon. As a side note, licking avocado off my fingers is apparently not sexy. The whole green booger-like-imagery did not amuse my husband. (C)
Plus, he's really not a fan of the (W) "tools" being all over our kitchen counters. They are washed, but I will not put back up because I'm only going to use them again in two hours. They are arranged nicely. We will survive. (C) (G) (W)
On his way out the door, my husband decides to do something he has never, ever done before. He takes a bit out of my (W) bowl of yummy before asking me what is in it. He then proceeds to gag and make his way out the front door where he spews what is probably $5 worth of organic-unsweetened almond butter into the dirt. Now, I am not amused. (W) (C)
My son, in the meantime, is arranging a time where his science buddy can come over and make a volcano from homemade play-dough, vinegar, and salt. Lord Jesus, I just cannot. (C)
My daughter is asking me questions clearly not appropriate before I've eaten anything of real sustenance. (W) (C)
I open the fridge for something and notice what looks like a murder scene on the second shelf. The roast. The one defrosting for 3 days. The one I was supposed to cook in the crockpot, but because of the (C)—never happened—has seen fit to seek revenge by BLEEDING all over the glass shelving. I can hear my husband driving away, and I scramble to make this mess disappear. In my world, this is a 5 minute clean-up and look the other way project. In his world, this is a perfect opportunity to detail clean the entire kitchen. (C) (G)
I sigh and get ready to eat my (W) yummy. Then, I hear a strange noise that turns out to be the blowing up of a bovine. (C)
And my husband just told me he feels the need to purge, minimalist, simplify. (I have no letters.)
About-to-be-napping-despite-it-all with Scribbles,
I'm on Day 6 of the #Whole30 journey.
I made it through 5 days of black coffee, decided I could check that grown-up work week off my bucket list, and went and bought #Whole30 compliant coconut creamer. Deliciousness. #notashamed
A little reality this morning? My #bffhusband's first words to me as I'm propping up the pillows? "Babe, what is that smell?"
Never what you want to hear first thing in the AM.
But when you do begin the investigation, you can't stop until the stinky culprit is discovered. Keep in mind I hadn't had my caffeine injection yet.
Long story short. The scallops from last night. You know, I don't know how to make my house NOT smell like seafood after I make seafood. Feel free to leave me tips. Yes, I had taken the trash out, run lemon juice down the garbage disposal, washed all the dishes, and even ran the dishwasher. My kitchen still smelled like a seafood restaurant—except not in a good way.
Before you go there, scents are typically forbidden within our dwelling because of my people's planet allergies.
Desperate situations, y'all.
Christmas candle lit. Check.
According to the #Whole30 feelings barometer, I should be on I Just Want a Nap. Ummm...every day of my life, always. Ten minutes mid-afternoon and I'm golden. So, welcome to my life #Whole30.
Last night's dinner, despite the hangover smell, was really yummy. Veggies and scallop stir-fry with ghee and coconut aminos (I didn't even know this existed. So good).
Here's something you should know about my life, though. There are nights when I can't feed my people the same food. Our daughter has multiple food allergies, seafood being one of them. So, while I enjoyed the colorful explosion of Yum in my wok, Mackenzie and Zachary began their culinary experience with yellow rice and chicken tenders from Publix. Late night=they can't wait for me to cook because they will pass out from lack of calories, so I throw easy food at them and if they want the good stuff, they can have it as dessert.
She couldn't (Her feelings weren't hurt because of the peppers), but he could. And like any food, the boy showed it intense love by helping himself a few times.
J got home too late for me to feel comfortable serving him scallops that had sat a while (I'm a total temperature freak) so he, too, got chicken and yellow rice. He didn't complain. He's still unsure of my adventures.
If I had to choose the biggest hurdle right now, I'd have to say chocolate. I'm a bit of a dark choco addict, but I've combatted this by putting 100% cocoa in my coffee. Again, bitter woman, so it works.
My body's current status is, Okay, I get it. We're doing a thing again. Systems are adjusting and all engines are still operational.
I'm hopeful, y'all. I know I'm honeymooning, but at least it's good, right?
Moving with Scribbles,
Day 5 of #Whole30.
My brain is climbing on board. The neurons are stretching, waking from the detox-induced fog and we are all good. I still feel as if I need to close my eyes for 10 minutes come about 4pm, but that's okay.
On-the-go snacks and a little pre-planning. I'm a fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl, so I've had to slow down a bit. Not a bad thing, just a thing thing.
Sugar-free Bacon! I found the unicorn and it is delicious;)
Coconut Aminos-Non-Soy Sauce creating a flavor bomb for stir-fry, marinades, etc. Yum.
Rekindling my love for avocados and peppers.
What I ate yesterday:
Eggs, almond butter, carrots, a date, tons of veggies, avocado/olive oil, salmon, stir fry, water and coffee. Oh, and some fruit and nuts.
Ummm...not a whole lot of change except there is an awareness SOMETHING is going on.
One moment yesterday had the power to derail my thoughts to a negative place. I saw a picture of me, several actually, and my self-esteem, self-worth hit rock bottom. Honestly, it was sobering. The power of an image. Never mind the lighting, the angle, the circumstances—my entire mood hinged on a photograph. Insert screeching brakes. Are you kidding me? I can't even right now. I'm still muddling through that junk.
I'm more still and am positive this has a thing or two do with the lack of sugar in my body right now; nevertheless, I'm coloring and meditating on God's Word. I'm more aware of relationships. I see more clearly and my ears are bent towards others instead of myself.
All in all, I'm not on the verge of killing all the things. But, I am a bit more introspective. The bandaids (comfort go-to's) have been put aside, so instead of looking out, I'm looking in.
I'm digging it.
Moving with Scribbles,
I don't typically refer to myself in third person, so forgive me for the title. However, I want to make it clear I'm not on my pedestal preaching, throwing out guilt and shame with these blogs about my journey on #whole30.
Just take care of yourself. Whatever that looks like for you.
Being overweight runs in my family. Addiction runs in my family. Neither are excuses; I'm simply recognizing the not-so-tasty morsels in my cauldron of genetic ingredients.
I'm a fan of moving. Always have been. So, exercising is not a stretch for me. (See how I did that?) I get a hit from the endorphin rush, and that high makes it worth the effort. Variety tickles my limited attention span, so I feel like I've checked in to a lot of classes over the past twenty something years. Aerobics, weight training, cross fit, running, walking, HIT, Zumba, kickboxing, the list could literally run on and on and on. Bottom line--
Eating. K. This is a whole other thing for me. Again, I've gone through my cycles. In my adult life, the little tag on my clothes has read anything from 2-12. The middle number on the scale ranging from 1-8. Some of you might read that and be a bit shocked; others may shrug your shoulders and say big deal or I wish. Again, this is just Amanda (forgive me) being transparent. At 43, I know my healthy weight range, and it is not what it was at 25. Here's the thing though, I can manipulate the scale and make it dance. I've been in this body a while now, and although it may respond differently, depending on my age, etc. if I put my absolute determined, this will happen mind to it, the magic number will eventually appear.
So, getting there is not my problem either.
My current issues:
A) I'm struggling to care. As in, screw it. It is what it is.
B) Forty-something hormones plus wacky emotions plus I can't even insane schedule equals emotional eating. As in, get those salty-sweet heavenly whatevers in my belly. Right. Now. I'm a pro at this. Refer to the genetics portion of the discussion.
C) I'm smart enough to know A and B can derail my train and affect the people in my life I love and like and care about, in addition to fulfilling my purpose which happens to be loving others like I love myself. Logic leads me to believe if I suck at loving myself, I will do the same to other people. #epicfail
Therefore, what I dig about #whole30 is the why behind the what. I'm no expert; visit the actual site if you're interested in reading about the plan. Basically, I'm stripping out what is potentially making me feel badly and starting from scratch. As in detox.
Second, and this is my favorite, I'm putting my pacifiers away and toddling through 30 days without them.
I'm on Day 4.
There's this amazing page (The Whole30 Timeline, Version 2.0) my friend messaged me that allows me to be in community with others who might be feeling similar emotions on the journey.
I've gone through So What's the Big Deal?, The Hangover (I almost fell flat on my face and passed out at 3pm yesterday), and am now on Kill ALL the things. This spree lasts for about two days, so I love you all and would never physically harm you—ever. Jesus will forgive me for uncontrollable thoughts, I'm sure of it.
As in black.
And yes, I know I can add coconut creamer, but this is one of those psychological blankies I wanted to pack away, so I am intentionally going to the dark side of caffeine.
So far, okay. I'm functioning.
B) The relentless hunt down for the sugar villain. I'm finding sugarless bacon today if it kills me.
A) Almond butter and carrots. Who knew?
B) Ghee. WoW.
In conclusion, I'm really okay. There is some what the heck going on in my body right now, but you know, so what? I'm in my 40's. If my body isn't used to the roller coaster right now, it's time to exit the theme park. And that ain't happening.
Moving with Scribbles,
An entire month of blogging.
They asked and I said yes. What a ride! That's a lot of words, y'all! And transparency moment: Some days I felt completely empty—as in I got nothin'.
The Lord provided direction and as my daughter would say, bada bing bada boom!
If you've read my scribbles, please know I'm so completely humbled and grateful. Time is a commodity we can't get back and you spending yours with me is a treasure.
Faith, family, and friends in the midst of traveling the peaks and valleys of life.
Landing page in case you missed any. Click here.
That's exactly what these last 31 days have been like. And today, I end this portion of my travels and take step one toward another finish line.
Y'all—tune in because me minus sugar is guaranteed to be entertaining at the very least.
Your prayers WILL be needed. Guaranteed. Remember this one? I'll remind you.
Dear God that Amanda believes in,
There you go. Easy peasy pumpkin squeezy.
Loves and hugs.
Dress up day is here!
Let the massive sugar distribution begin!
I can't believe we are at the end of October.
Buckle up for tomorrow!
Like all my hashtagless hashtags?
I might have just invented a thing.
Finishing with Flourish,
For a girl who doesn't like to cook, I'm kinda digging table time, y'all.
I mean I've known for a while now it's important to share family meals at least a few times a week and Jeromy and I have wheeled, dealed, and stretched calendars to make this happen. However, seasons alter the experience, for sure. And I'll just admit, this is the most enjoyable one yet. Let's rewind--
The Baby Years
Ummm, yeah, our darlings ate WAY before us so we could eventually enjoy moments of peace, intellectual conversation, and "grown-up sanity time". Yeah right. By the time we wiped mouths, cleaned spit up explosions, surveyed the collective damage, bathed them, and tucked them in with loves, hugs, and kisses—DONE. As in, heat up the hot pocket and let's just ingest some kind of sustenance. G'night. Love you. We get to do this again tomorrow. God help us.
The Toddler Years
Or what I refer to as the gag fest chronicles. These were the years where war was waged at the table. Foods were embraced or rejected on a whim. Screams, fits of rage, and thoughts no parent would readily admit to went down on the nightly. But the gagging. Oh. my. word. And, no, it wasn't because of my cooking. Even I can't screw up a can of peas. If either of us had an iota of appetite by the end of that ordeal, angels would be singing.
Date night. Date nights are really important, y'all.
The Elementary Years
Okay, this is where table time momentum begins to pick up a bit. Precious plural are old enough to learn manners, discuss dietary options, participate in conversation, and play cute little table games. A glimmer of light shines through the darkness and we begin to see the benefit of these minutes. Game on.
The Teenage Years
Oh. so. fun! Seriously, it's like hosting our own reality tv show. My husband and I absolutely look forward to eating with our pubescent humans. Why? They are drama-filled, hilarious, easy to embarrass, full of words, and wacky versions of incidents and oh good grief, this is it! We have arrived! Not to mention we are fully basking in the light of the ticking clock. We can count on one hand the number of years we have left until their place at the table is tentative. Precious moments.
By the way, these years have inspired me to up my cooking game a bit. As in, purchase new, funky appliances, cool cutting boards, and large colorful knives that make me happy. I stand in the midst of it all, chopping away, while swirls of you'll never guess and homework sucks and my life is over and this is the best day ever moments take place right before my mommy eyes. My son creeps up behind me and steals something out of the pot. My daughter inspects what is on her like menu and what is not, scheming as to how she's going to clean her plate. My husband happily cleans.
Life. is. good.
And I am profoundly grateful.
Moving with Scribbles,
When I was a teacher, I taught students how to listen. As in break the skill down and practice. We talked about posture and body language, emoting interest and tracking. All the things.
Upon turning the television on or opening up any social media app, painful realization hits me in the face. We've lost that skill with one another. Instead of leaning in, we are stepping out of the conversation, plugging our ears up, and la la la'ing our way into our own world, our own point of view, and our own opinion.
We can't live like this, y'all.
Look at Jesus and the example He set.
I firmly believe Jesus walked the planet thirty years prior to public ministry, actively listening to others. Whether it be in the home with his parents, brothers, and sisters or in the synagogue or maybe in the marketplace, I believe Jesus heard and Jesus saw.
So, step back from this picture and remember Jesus was the embodiment of God and saw straight to the heart.
He still thought listening was necessary. He cared enough to stop, bend His ear, and lean in.
I skimmed the book of Matthew today and read several instances when Jesus listened during his public ministry. He leaned in to:
The disciples of others
The bleeding woman
His hometown folk
The Canaanite Woman
Obviously, Jesus didn't agree with all of these people. He certainly didn't see eye to eye with those diabolically opposed to the fulfillment of His mission. However, they were all beloved creations, image bearers, written on the heart of the Father.
Regardless of approval or consent, they were important—to Him. And He chose to die in an act of obedience toward His Father because of their significance in the Kingdom.
Here's the thing. Listening is not easy; it's a practiced skill set. Those who are gifted with the ability cause me to stand in awe.
But we don't even try. In fact, we stick our ear buds in and intentionally unplug from humanity.
Let's commit to follow the example of the One who walked the walk and talked the talk. Let's lean toward one another and in the process, maybe, healing will begin.
The last 36 hours have been filled with ups, downs, and sideways.
And to be quite honest, I'm emotionally and physically exhausted.
The joy paired with the sadness—necessary, cathartic, and priceless.
My middle brother and I—both in our forties—played with bubbles, took long walks, built waffle-block towers, colored, and read heavy board books. There was an adorable 19-month-old baby girl involved, so it wasn't weird at all.
I read half a book to my niece and she giggled.
I laughed with my sister-in-law as her husband whipped up a gourmet fare I couldn't begin to produce in my microwave, air-fryer, and crock pot culinary existence. Seriously, bro, that couscous—amazing.
We sat around their table, shared a home-cooked meal, and laughed.
The little girl who dreamt of story-telling sat in a chair in the middle of her hometown while people asked questions about her books. Some even bought them. What?!?
I hugged the necks of old (over 25 years, y'all) classmates, dear friends, and new acquaintances.
I visited love personified.
Then, I drove out to my youngest brother's grave, rubbed my palm over the concrete slab, traced his name with my finger, and shed some much-needed tears. The peacefulness of the moment—overwhelming.
I-75 flew by until I finally walked back in the door of our home and caught hugs from my not-so-little babies who had been lovingly cared for by my beloved mother-in-law.
My husband, traveling, called or texted a half dozen times to tell me he loved me. Just because.
The Dawgs won!
And I introduced the story of Mary Poppins to my daughter.
Somewhere in there I slept, ingested caffeine, and ate food not so good for me as I listened to podcasts about everything under the sun.
I don't have much tonight, but a few songs speak the words I hold in my heart.
Tell me about your family.
Our daughter: Daddy runs Chick-fil-A and flies an airplane, Zachary goes to high school and plays football, and Mom does—whatever mom does.
Insert gasp coupled with confused pigeon expression and you've nailed my response.
Now before I pinched that sweet little head off that thirteen-year-old neck, I paused, counted to ten, took a deep breath, and prayed. Then I laughed. Like really laughed.
Because I understood. It's not that she thought I was lazy, twiddling my thumbs on the couch—she just couldn't articulate what mama actually does. And you know what? Neither can her crazy mama!
What the heck do I do, anyways?!?
I care for my children and love my husband.
I tag team with my battle buddy and coordinate schedules, drop-offs, and pick-ups.
I pay bills.
I pour into my faith, my friends, my family.
I talk to Jesus—a lot.
Yep times ten.
That's what mom does. But to my girl—I'm just mama.
When asked about my relationship with God, I'm often as tongue-tied as my offspring. Who is God in your life? What does he do?
Ummm . . . crickets.
According to the Word, God is:
The Beginning and End
And so much more
But, as I stand tongue-tied, I answer honestly.
God is—well, He's my father. And He loves me.
Once I gather my words, I can move forward but initially, that's all I've got.
So, for now, I'll abstain from squeezing my darling until she can't breathe, and instead kiss her on the forehead thanking her for the sweet reminder.
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. 2 Corinthians 1:3 The Message
If you were given a window into our lives, you would immediately call for a comfy chair, popcorn, and a polar pop. Why? Because, it's crazy in here, y'all! We're running and gunning with our careers, attempting to raise a couple of amazing human beings, all the while spinning dishes, standing on one foot, rubbing our bellies, while patting our heads. Throw in words like fitness, balance of life, and quality time, and you might hear some serious screaming at the rain. Sound familiar? Do you live in your own crazy village? I'm sure you do. I pray you do.
"It takes a village to raise a child." African Proverb
Jen Hatmaker refers to people who come along side you and pour into your kids as bonus moms and dads. When I heard that phrasing, I immediately nodded my head in full understanding and agreement.
Our tropical snow globe consists of a motley crew of folks from varying backgrounds whom God has woven together into an enchanted quilt called family. The stitching and design of each square is unique, colorful, and perfectly placed. Whether we're talking moms, dads, singles, marrieds without children, senior adults, people younger than us, older than us; it simply doesn't matter. Whether we're talking blood relatives or friends who are family; it is completely beside the point.
We are not threatened by those who can bring depth and light and wisdom to our kids in ways we cannot. Do these people sometimes reiterate what we've already shouted from the rooftop? Yep. Will we initially bang our heads against a wall because our babies wouldn't listen to us, yet did listen to someone else? Maybe. But, step away from the ledge. What else is new on the third rock from the sun? No thing. We did it to our parents, and our grandchildren will do it to their parents. Bless them. It is the way of the world and that is okay. More than okay. For the love of all that is good and holy, if someone can penetrate the teenage brain and speak truth, praise Jesus, right?
Will we always be their mom and dad? Oh yeah. After all, we were there for the oh-so-fun beginning (wink), the topsy-turvy pregnancies, the post-partum aftermath, and the Oh my word, I don't know if I can survive the infant thru pre-school years. We will forever claim our son and daughter as our own. Besides, our genetic mini-me look-a-likes make them impossible to deny.
No, Jeromy and I are ever so grateful for:
-The mom whose shoulder our sweet girl can cry on and receive unending grace and sympathy
-The other mom who will provide Godly counsel and wisdom no matter the time or place
-The former teacher who will speak truth into their lives
-The principal who texts encouraging words and bible verses
-The young professional who shoots straight
-The youth pastor and his wife who dive deep, but also text and ask for yogurt dates and spur of the moment flag football outings
-The small group leader who shows up to cheer them on during their games
-The forever friend who texts from another state just to talk football
-The twenty-one year old who holds my girl accountable
-The countless adopted aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, moms and dads who LOVE our kids like their own
-And the countless other examples I simply do not have time to list...seriously, blessed is an understatement
Here's the beautiful thing! When you are part of this patchwork madness, you gain extra kiddos of your own. You get calls from the twenty-one-year-old-the one who you held on her actual birth day-asking for advice. You get a text from a seventeen-year-old junior in high school at 7:15am stating she loves you and is praying for you. You get to walk into your daughter's bedroom while she is Face Timing her BFF and smile as you hear, "Love you, Mama A!" You get hugs and laughter and trust and mentorship and oh my goodness, life-breathing energy knowing you are simultaneously pouring out and being poured into!
It's breathtaking and humbling and exhilarating!
So, to the members of our crazy village:
We love and adore you. Our gratefulness goes beyond words!
If you are reading this and don't have a village, can I encourage you for a moment? Go find one. Plug into a group of people who are life-breathers, not life-suckers and do these seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years together. God created us for community. Plug in and get going. You need them and you know what? They need you, too.
Moving with Scribbles,
I love my fellow Floridians! We are precious, and we are a unique breed.
Most of the time we are easy going peeps, not taking ourselves too seriously. We roll out of bed in the morning, humidity dripping from our veins, and go with the flow when it comes to hair, makeup, etc. None of its permanent and you put good money on two realities: your hair will frizz and your foundation will melt by mid-morning. Flip-flops of all varieties are a staple in every closet, and that whole thing about switching out winter and summer clothes? Yeah, no. Do you have a jacket? Check. Bets are you will be good.
When a chill peeks its head from the Georgia border and winks at us, watch out world.
Just as we can prepare for a natural disaster like no other, we can prepare for fall with equal fervor. We may line up to fill up gas tanks and clear the shelves of bread, milk, and water...but meteorologist, if you dare go THERE (as in whisper the words cold and front together) with your predictions, we will fill up our mugs with anything pumpkin spice and clear our closet shelves of scarves, sweaters, and boots-maybe attempting to wear them all at once.
Erase that judgy expression from your faces. These department stores prey on our inability to say no to the possibility of actual seasons. Tempting displays of anything other than shorts, swimsuits and t-shirts make us drool with hopeful anticipation and pull out that credit card for that mystical moment when Florida's crayon box, which is only filled with a twenty-four shades of green and blue, will suddenly admit a variety of other colors into the contents.
Never going to happen, y'all. But no worries, Floridians may be dreamers, but we are firmly grounded in the reality of our peninsular status. 💁
You see, we truly understand what the rest of the country does not get. This will not last. It is not a season. 50-70 degree weather could be a day, a week, or no we won't even go longer with our predictions because our hopes and dreams will likely be crushed.
If we aren't wearing shorts for Thanksgiving and Christmas we count it as a win. Stay calm, y'all and Fall to your heart's desire. Enjoy that latte and wrap that scarf a little tighter. We are tropical warriors and deserve to take a deep, cleansing breath of 58 degrees. Oh. My. Word!
Moving with Scribbles,
I’m getting better. Deep, healing breaths of fresh air fill my chest. The smell of the grass, the sound of the horses, and the knowledge that I’m discarding the broken pieces of my past, shard by shard. Maybe I’m not leaving it behind. Maybe I’m being pieced back together, and God is destroying the ugly in the fire of forgiveness. I’m not sure. Today, during my session, Katy and I re-visited my earliest memory. I’ve done this before, but today was different—maybe because of the dream. My father and mother—a happy time. The imagery so vivid I felt like I’d been transported. Everything jumped from the recesses of my mind and invaded each sense. The cotton sundress with the tiny daisies blowing in the hot, summer wind. The spaghetti straps repeatedly falling off my spindly arms, and me fidgeting with the knots rubbing my shoulders. Mama, dressed in a long skirt tied in a knot at the knee and a red tank-top holding my hand tightly. The floppy straw hat, shielding her eyes from the sun, threatening to blow away while she stood watching him prep the little two-seater airplane. Daddy, with his wavy shoulder-length blonde hair, walking toward us. So young and vigorous. Full of life. He bends down and scoops me into his strong arms. The scent of Old Spice and soap fills the air. Gently, he places me on my two feet again. Then, he kisses my mother—passionately, as if they belong in one another’s arms for eternity. He tweaks my nose and holds his hand palm-up like a cup. I dump an imaginary handful of kisses into his as he whispers, “Save all your memories for me, sprite.” The screams that came later that afternoon still ring in my ears at times. Looking back, I think my little girl mind took my father’s last words quite literally. Walls of silence were built, and over time, not even the most evil of men could penetrate them. But, yet, the best of men might have a chance . . .
Free and Clear: The Forest Chronicles Book 3
Our lives boomerang back and forth on 9 miles of road.
Our home, church, and son's school are on one side of town.
Our restaurant, office, and daughter's school are on the other side of town.
My battle buddy and I have taken this enigma of a year on with a divide and conquer attitude. I typically handle the transportation of the boy; he, the girl. Beautiful system.
Except when one of us is out of the picture for whatever reason.
Such was the case this morning. No worries; we make it work.
I get up, make coffee, drink at least one cup, and put on my take the kids to school outfit.
Allow me to describe the outfit. First, I have no intention of being seen by anyone during my boomerang journey. Just my children, and they have to love me. Work out shorts, t-shirt, undergarments (I mean, ya' know), and shoes. Add a hat to cover up the hot mess of unwashed hair and zero makeup, and voila, scary uber mommy at your service. Perfectly acceptable attire to pull up in car-line, blow a kiss, and pray them on their merry way into the land of 8th and 9th grade. Done.
BTW, this look was really cute in my 20's; 40's put a whole new spin on going natural. Just so you know.
Son drop-off? Check. No issue. (The school is basically in our backyard and requires about 3.5 minutes of time.)
Daughter drop-off? Lots of issues. To my darling's credit, she was ready to go when I pulled up. As in dressed, room cleaned, backpack loaded (good Lord, that thing ways at least a hundred), and praise Jesus, her lunch packed, iced and ready to grab from the fridge. Do y'all hear those angels singing? Yep, I did too.
We get in the car. She chooses her station. Music starts to boom. (Her equivalent of coffee. Can't fault her for that.) All is well.
Except the light thing on the dashboard of my car. The scary one that indicates one of my tires could be in peril. Deep breath. It's Monday. I get out of the car and check the tires. As in eyeball them. They look okay to me. I shrug my shoulders. Party on, let's go.
We choose our route. I know we live in Slo-Cala, y'all, but it took me 45 minutes to get her to school. I guess the amazing sunrise, followed by rain, then the vivid rainbow distracted drivers a bit much. Okay, I get it. God's a magnificent artist, and the green trees against the glow of an orange/peach sky is pretty awe-inspiring. Love it. But I'm gonna need you to simultaneously admire AND drive.
I try NOT to sin too much during the ride.
Forgiveness and redemption are given out in high doses during uber mommy trips.
The girl gets dropped off with a bit of time to spare. Yay! Okay, on with the day!
That darn light, y'all.
I simply cannot afford to have a flat tire today, and oh yeah, forgot to mention I left my phone on my nightstand. Perfect.
So, I make a grown-up decision and swing into the dealership.
The nice man in the starched white shirt, name embroidered on the pen-filled pocket, approaches my vehicle.
"What can I do for you today, Ma'am?"
He has the grace not to appear frightened at what is sure to be a scary I didn't intend to be seen in public sight.
"I'm kind of in a hurry. Could you check my tires? The light thing is on and I'm not sure what that means."
He smiles at me. That kind, customer-service oriented form of Bless Her Clueless Heart expression.
"Sure, Ma'am. Have a seat over on the waiting bench, and I'll go give it a check."
Ugh. The waiting bench? More public appearances. Might as well call in the paparazzi.
A total of two minutes passes before he pulls my vehicle right back up to the curb.
"All's good ma'am. They were a little low, but you're good to go now. The light's off."
I swing my bag over my shoulder and pull my hat down. "Do you know why they were low?"
He shakes his head and replies, "Couldn't say, ma'am. You can bring her back for a full check up if it lights up again. Keep an eye out."
I nod my head and say, "Thank you." Then I drive away.
My mind rolled over his words. "Couldn't say, ma'am."
I have mad respect for that response. I don't know. But, when you have more time, and if it happens again, bring her back in.
He did exactly what I asked him to do. Check out the symptoms out and fix it. But I didn't ask him to diagnose the problem. That would have required more time than I had, and he knew it. In two minutes, he had no idea what the root of the problem was and he said so right to my face.
The 8 or so miles home flew by because traffic had cleared. Everyone had apparently successfully traveled down their yellow brick roads to work. Me—I was mentally blogging.
You see, the older I get, the more life I've lived, the more experiences I've logged, and people tend to ask me for guidance and advice. Sometimes I know the answer. Other times, though, I can only share my experience and point them toward what I know is truth. Then, there are times, when I should just go where the gentleman went this morning.
I can bite my bottom lip, crinkle my brow and admit, "I couldn't say."
In other words, I don't know. You know why? Because I'm not God. I'm just a traveler. Now, I do follow a pretty crazy Leader; maybe you are on that same road or maybe you're not. I can share my story. I can give you a quick answer to why the indicator lights of your soul running on empty might be on.
I'm willing to put in the time and invest. But, ultimately, I don't have the answer.
That's going to require a more thorough conversation, a heart check, maybe even a full internal body inspection. I know a Guy—the One I'm following. He can give you the answers. Why? He crafted you and knows the workings of your innermost being. He's committed and will send you on your way with more than a keep an eye on it.
No, I couldn't say. So sorry. But He can and will. Promise. Let me introduce you.
Moving with Scribbles,
I am not unbroken because of my:
I am simply broken.
In need of mending.
I need of redemption.
In need of perfection I do not contain or desire.
In need of someone who loves me as I am, where I am.
In need of someone who holds my face, kisses away my tears, and tells me I'm wrong when I think I'm right.
In need of someone who pulls me close and assures me all can and will be made new again .
In need of unbroken.
In need of a Savior.
My heart turns away from the jagged shards and fully faces the One who doesn't deal in bandaids or messy stitches evidenced by futile attempts at fixing.
He heals with hands covered in blood—blood that binds, seals, and protects.
I am not unbroken. You can surely see the scars.
But I am redeemed, repurposed, and revived.
Day by Day.
Inch by Inch.
Refined by fire to look less—broken,
And more like the One who makes all things whole.
Moving with Scribbles,
Any given school night.
The teenagers, God bless their weary souls, are ready to call it a day by about 9:30. They have sat in the classroom, practiced on the court/field, and clocked in/out of homework. Their eyes start glazing over and as much as they'd like to finish The Voice, they are not able to make it. Sorry, Adam and Blake. Not even your priceless banter can induce them to remain conscious.
Our eldest, Mr. Responsible-from-birth stretches his lanky body and mumbles, "Love you, Mom," before reaching down and kissing me on the head. Yes, I know. I'm blessed.
"Should I say goodnight to dad?"
My son asks this question not because he doesn't want to kiss his father goodnight. No, it's more because he's not sure if dad has unplugged and is asleep by now. The chances are about 50/50. The children know what I know. Once daddy finally gets still, daddy tends to fall asleep. And no one really wants to chance waking daddy up. Daddy works really hard and is beyond exhausted. Bless him.
I nod my head toward our bedroom, "Go check."
In the meantime, I turn off lights, television, fold blankets, collect the dozen cups/glasses necessary for our family of 4 to function, pile them in the sink, wipe the crumbs off the counter and make the call as to whether or not I cram the remaining dishes in the dishwasher or actually take the time to wash them by hand.
Finally, I wade into the girl's room. She reluctantly unglues from Netflix (Full House. I can't even.), and plugs her device in so it will live to see another day. I brush her still wet, tangled hair back from her precious ever-expressive face. I kiss her forehead and we say prayers. A sweet moment to be cherished.
By this time, the boy has returned from our room and gives me a status on his dad. I nod my head and reach way up to ruffle his hair, since his head now rises 8 inches above mine.
The fortress is now locked and loaded.
I enter our room.
Before I describe what I may/may not see, allow me to share a little history.
Jeromy and I were married as babies and so now have been in this dance for over twenty years. Long time, y'all. Think of us as battle buddies. We can anticipate one another's words, expressions, body language, reactions. Most of the time this is akin to epic mind-reading tricks that blow our children's minds. But there are other moments too—moments when the slightest move sends us off into the land of eye rolling and head shaking.
Needless to say, after over two decades, we are aware of one another's sleeping habits. And the older we get, the more we must adapt. Jeromy, 45 years of age, is losing body heat. He's freezing most of the time, especially when we are in the same room. This is because Amanda, 43 years of age, now houses an internal heater that causes her to throw off every article of anything that might stick to her person. At 25, game on. At 45, he just pulls the covers tighter and looks at me with contempt and resentment.
You see, he's convinced I'm trying to freeze him out in what he affectionally calls the meat locker (aka cryogenic chamber), coupled with the F5 level tornado wind machine and the chunuk helicopter hanging upside down from our ceiling.
This night, I walk and yep, he's still awake—firmly tucked into his space wearing flannel pajamas and a long sleeved t-shirt (In AUGUST. In FLORIDA. Whatever, dude.), covered up by two sheets, three blankets, iPad set up on his lap, and noise canceling headphones attached to his ears.
Insert eye roll.
I adjust the thermostat from 74 degrees to 72 degrees. Take a moment to absorb this little detail y'all. Purely tropical conditions is what I'm saying.
I go through my bedtime rituals, climb into the bed wearing shorts and a t-shirt (Keeping it PG), and begin reading whatever book is on my Kindle.
About an hour goes by. This is when I cut my eyes and do my check in. You see, if the television is on and he is awake, I am not permitted to touch the remote control unless I want to engage in an arm-wrestling/hide and seek session that is by no means foreplay. Therefore, I wait until sleep sounds fill the room. Then, I begin the search for the "clicker" and very, very quietly click. it. off. If he's still attached to devices, he's on his own because I'm simply not risking it. Survival, y'all.
Here's when things have the potential to go badly, though. Jeromy can sleep through most anything except one move I haven't quite been able to transfer into my ninja-wife repertoire. When I settle in, place my Kindle on my nightstand, take my pills (because apparently pills become part of one's post 40 existence), and turn on my side, I am fulling expecting to fall into blissful slumber.
Except—I don't simply turn on my side. Jeromy calls this move my alligator death roll. Allegedly, I turn so violently, I upset his island—as in all devices are ripped from his lap and ears, causing him to wake up in a not so good way. Or, if he is still awake, allow us to interrupt this programming schedule (rockumentaries) with your wife's violent tendencies. His world crumbles like an old Roman city, into a big pile of rubble and debris. Now he is cold and he is not amused.
But then we remember the I Corinthians 13 sign hanging above our wall, kiss, and make up.
Jeromy says, and I quote, "I feel like a newborn child that has been ripped from his mother's womb. The doctor hangs me upside down and slaps my naked butt. I am shocked—mind, spirit, and soul. And you are totally oblivious, uncaring, and unmoved."
He turns his back, I turn my back, we fall asleep. G'night sweetheart, it's time to go.
Then, wake up the next morning for our coffee date, hearts full of love and brains full of words.
Remember when I asked for prayers yesterday? You can add a line and continue.
Married and Moving with Scribbles,
Amanda (and Jeromy)
Nope, nothing's terribly wrong. Many things are pretty right. Other things are up in the air.
Welcome to life as we know it.
But our corner of the world doesn't have to be turned on its head to ask for prayer, right?
As kids of the King, we can just ask. And if you're not a kid of the King, and don't even know if you believe in the King (aka God), you can ask too.
In fact, I wish you would.
Because you see, you might not agree with me, but our not seeing eye to eye on a worldview doesn't keep me from loving you and wanting the best for you. And the best, in my heart of hearts, is lifting your concerns to my heavenly Father.
You don't have to sign up to be part of the Jesus tribe for me to pray on your behalf. Reality—It would actually be pretty cruel and unfeeling if I didn't.
Hear my heart, and please don't get your feelings hurt. When I see a heartfelt, gut-wrenching post, and the responses are sending good energy, positive thoughts, all my love your way, I get warm and fuzzy. You wanna know why? Because those words typed out on the keyboard are absolutely sincere. Those sweet people are offering an individual all they've got, from the depths of their soul.
When people offer that to me, I'm thankful. They love me, and I'm so appreciative.
But for one who has been held by the Creator of the universe, who has opened her soul up, screaming I don't understand, Please help me, I don't want to go on, Give me peace, Oh dear God, No!, I don't like You, Your decisions don't make sense, and in turn, has been comforted with palpable gestures—tears wiped away, rocked into an overwhelming place of rest that makes no sense—I understand there is more than what my hands, my heart, my mind can offer you.
And that more does not come from me.
I can stare at your picture all day long, reflect on who you are as a person, send you all the feels my mind can conjure, and in my soul, I know it's not enough. However, if I say a heartfelt prayer to the One who loves me regardless of all the crap I've thrown in His face over the years, I know I've done all I can do.
You may be shaking your head as you read this in full disagreement and that's okay, too. I don't have my Bible out ready to thump you over the head. In fact, you will not see one Scripture verse in this blog.
Just a request.
Pray for me.
I'm still grieving. My parents, my adopted mom, Diana, my baby brother have passed on to eternity and I miss them. I'm functioning, laughing, writing, parenting, working, all that jazz. I'm not paralyzed or in a corner rocking, staring out into space. But I still need your prayers. My family needs your prayers.
I'm in between writing projects and sort of at a standstill on what to do next. I'm waiting for direction. And if you know me, you know I am not so good at the whole waiting thing.
I'm married, have two teenagers, a business to help run, and people to love. Need I say more? Prayers are deeply appreciated.
If you don't believe, I have a formula, a script for you.
Hey God that Amanda believes in,
There you go. Wham bam, thank you ma'am or sir. And I'll take all the positive energy, thoughts, virtual hugs, and kisses you can throw my way, too.
AND (I know there are a lot of those in this blog) if you do have a concern or a request, you know where to find me. I will pray for you. Promise.
Moving with Scribbles,
Yesterday, on a stroll back from the mailbox, several thoughts rambled through my brain, one after the other like multi-colored marbles.
It’s strange I’m home at this time of day. (Early release)
What time do I need to leave to go pick up the other kid so as not to sit in carline all afternoon?
I have a meeting tonight. What time is that again?
Do I have time to run before church?
What am I going to blog about tomorrow? 31 days is a really long time, Amanda.
Lord, what is my next writing project going to look like?
Where is that Amazon delivery?
Gosh, I love this dress.
Welcome to my brain.
My mind eventually settled on the dress before conveniently wrapping those muddled musings into a blog idea.
The dress—bought on clearance at SteinMart last Spring for like $12.00.
Purple, loose, fallish (praise Jesus for temps that start with 6), roll up sleeves, a cowl neck, and drum roll please . . . pockets. I stuck my hands in these precious folds of fabric as I pondered my fascination with them. Pockets, turns out are a selling point for me.
Cute tunic? Love the color, the cut, the length.
Wait, does it have pockets? It does? Yes, please.
If I could rewind to my wedding day, I would have had the tailor insert pockets into my gown, tipping those 24 hours into blissful perfection. (My husband will now look at me later this evening, raise an eyebrow, and question why he was discarded for pockets when discussing the perfection of our wedding day. Sorry, hon. I owe you a kiss. Don’t wake me up if I’m sleeping, though.)
Here’s the thing.
Pockets are a place of rest. Yes, true, they are a container of sorts, but that’s not why I love them. My black hole of a purse will suffice as a hiding place for all things loosey goosey. When I’m tired of using my hands or simply don’t know what to do with them, I rest them in my pockets.
Apparently my 43 year old hands require naps.
I don’t know about you but I could use more pockets in my life—places to kick back, breathe deep, and abide in who I am in Jesus.
Church (As in the people, not the building)
All of the above can evoke images of soul sitting and/or soul stirring. Either can be good or bad, and we get to choose! Just as our hands can hang by our sides or tuck closely beside us, we have been given the ability to rest, regardless of our circumstances (or our wardrobe).
Pslam 127: 1-2 If God doesn’t build the house,
"What a shame, for I dearly love to laugh." Elizabeth Bennett Pride and Prejudice
My favorite fictional character of all time, btw. Sass, wit, and class personified. Love you, Lizzy B.
Like Lizzy, I find humor necessary to a life well-lived. Laughter fuels the soul for the journey, puts a pep in your step, and propels you to just keep going. I tend to gravitate toward those who like to laugh, and I've said this before, but I firmly believe my husband's ability to draw joy from the depths of my sorrow during the lowest time in my life is what led me down the aisle straight into his forever arms.
So, here's to my friends and family who make me giggle, throw my head back, and at times, spit various forms of liquid right out of my nose.
To the friends who:
Induce laughter just because I hear theirs.
Manage to crack me up with one or two words phrased just the right way.
Have natural reactions laced with southern accents and exclamations that deserve a whole other category of dialogue.
Can mix the sacred and the silly.
Share a like-mindedness and have the ability to sum our thoughts up with the perfect mix of empathy and sarcasm.
Overflow with energy and excitement, therefore causing a joy bomb to explode, bathing me in precious sing-song shrapnel.
Send me videos and gifs and memes that have the power to pull my car over on the side of the road so I don't take someone out while in the throws of hilarity.
To my brother who is a phone call away:
You just genetically sync with me and force laughter from my person with a simple facial reaction or eye roll. Why do you think I video call you every other night? No, it's not just to see my adorable niece and your charming wife, although I love them both. We get each other, and I'm grateful.
To my brother who now resides in heaven:
I'm happy for you, bro. You have graduated and are now with Jesus and a host of family and friends. However, can I just tell you your sense of satire and wit is sorely missed? It's simply unfair that I can't call you after watching the train wreck of our present national circumstances and get your reflections and thoughts. I miss your laugh, man. Love you. Until later.
To my children:
Gosh, your dad and I have done a good job because y'all are turning into two of our favorite people. (Wink.Wink.) Zachary, your timing is impeccable and your word bombs send your father and I into hysterics. Mackenzie, you inherited sarcasm and wit. Once you have graduated from thirteen, you will be well on your way to mastering both. Together, your one-two punch is without comparison. Seriously, y'all make us laugh and keep us young.
To my husband:
No words. Except. My prayer is we will be blessed with many, many more days to lay in bed, watch the news, roll our eyes at the ridiculous, simultaneously break out into laughter at whatever, exchange snarky comments meant in the most loving of ways, and play off one another much to the amusement of our friends and family. I really, really like you.
To the world:
Oh, we are funny creatures. People watching is a nice way of saying the world is our zoo so let's just cop a squat and wait for it.
I'll end this here:
I'm not a fan of making fun, but I am a fan of having fun. Let's not miss out on the laughter in the process of taking every, single thing so darn seriously.
And, to drop the mic and make my little space a bit spiritual:
"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24
I am not good enough.
What am I even doing?
What prideful insanity has invaded my brain?
What possessed me to think I could?
There are so many better than me.
What is the purpose?
No wonder they rejected me. I would reject me, too.
God, really, how could You have planted this idea in my head?
This doesn't make sense.
Me? I can't even.
Just me, myself, and I on the couch last night with my two children watching The Voice while questioning why I ever thought I had the audacity to put my fingertips to a keyboard and attempt a writing career.
True story. And no, I'm not fishing for affirmation or constructive criticism. Just a little truth-telling on this Tuesday morning. You see, my hormones had stirred my emotions into a full blown cyclone. Much like Dorothy, I was on my way to being swept up in the funnel cloud—a target of flying debris/tittle-tattling lies, destined to be dumped out into the familiar pits of Hopeless and Confused.
Here's the good news, though. This Dorothy is no longer 14. This Dorothy is 43 and can call out my companions for what they are—biological, cyclical indicators of my current emotions. I take a deep, cleansing breath, say a prayer, grab my figurative megaphone, and demand they step away from the controls.
But these lies aren't only whispered when the whackadoos (I name them) threaten to steer my ship; no, these lies can threaten to knock me off my road at any point of any day—no matter where I am or what I am doing. Sometimes, they sneak up from behind, when I'm least expecting the attack. The struggle, my friends, is real.
Have you ever been rambling down the road of life, trip in a pothole, or stumble over a rock, only to notice upon regaining your footing and looking back up, the path is not recognizable?
When (noticed I wrote when, not if) this happens to me, I either immediately shake off my injuries, shine my light and find my way back on the right path or I stop—confusion and fear rendering me paralyzed in the darkness, wondering Who am I?, Why am I here?, and What am I doing?
I have spent years standing still or blindly clawing my way back onto a road not meant for me.
Allow this seasoned road-weary, battered fellow sojourner to impart some hacks you might not be aware of:
1) Know the terrain. The road—on this side of heaven—is shall we say, a bit bumpy? Understatement? Agreed. Y'all that's not changing. No matter how well you've planned, provided, and protected, the world is broken and your road will be affected by the seismic shock waves of sin. Cracks and crevices appear when you least expect it, causing the well-laid route to resemble an after scene from The Weather Channel. We are not Dorothy traveling the yellow brick road, nor are we saints rejoicing on the streets of gold. Not yet. Recognize the broken path and prepare accordingly.
2) Know your Companion. Never believe the lie of solo. If you have asked Christ to accompany you on this journey, He will be there. Remember, He is the light that illuminates the path.
3) Know your destination. Fix your eyes on Jesus, so when you fall, you aren't gazing at the ground; instead, you are focused on what matters—who is in front of you and Who awaits you.
4) Know your purpose. Be prepared to defend it. Battle-weary travelers can be lured off the path by promises of easy-fixes, feel-good fillers, and shifting shadows. Scripture isn't just an ancient book. It's a compass, a sword, and a shield all wrapped up in one.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Hindsight often defines the happiest moments in one’s life. Much like in a talent show, you don’t know the best act until the very end. And when the finale isn't fixed on your timeline, one must learn to appreciate the vivid colors of life as they come, because any moment could end in a bow and an until later adieu.
Here comes the bride.
One step at a time, dressed in layers of white satin and lace, I readied to walk toward my happily ever after. Flanked by my brothers, I looked at one, then the other and winked. We had been laughing outside in the scorching hot south Georgia July sun. They were fanning me to keep my makeup from sliding into the cracks of concrete on which you could easily fry an egg. The sight of them waving their arms as if they were attempting to take flight caused us to erupt into a fit of giggles. The laughter alleviated the nerves.
Tears of joy were a blessing. As in most weddings, there had been hiccups, near disasters, and temptations to call the whole thing off and elope. None of that happened. The day had arrived, all had fallen into place, and the time had come. Tall, dark, and handsome shifted from one foot to the other beside the good reverend as I paused just inside the arched entryway. Time stood still. They tightened their grip on my arms; we looked at the wedding coordinator waiting for the official nod. After what seemed like an eternity, she gave it, and off we went.
My brothers nervously smiled at friends and family who had gathered to support my groom and me during our wedding. In the absence of my parents, whose lives ended prematurely as a result of a car accident, my two siblings, one 19, the other 13 stood in for my dad. That sight alone—three orphans, banding together, moving forward—was enough to cause emotion to flow.
Add in a young couple desperately in love—all the feels were present.
They gave me away. I kissed each one on the cheek and stepped up into my new role. Wife.
Many happy moments during the last twenty years have lined up on my timeline. The birth of our two children ranks somewhere near the top. Anniversaries, holidays, vacations, reunions all call out for their place in line.
Death shoved one memory to first place—for the moment, that is.
Not the death of my parents.
The death of my baby brother. The one on my left. The one who grew up, served his country in a war, only to be ultimately taken by the ravishing disease, cancer. Thirty-four years old and the sensation of his grip no longer tugs on my arm.
Branded onto my brain and inside my heart, the memory of our fit of giggles in a churchyard over twenty years ago will never pass away. A perfect moment in time that didn’t gain precedence until much later in life.
A celebratory occasion made sweeter, more precious, and more vivid by a loss so significant.
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.