Good one, Milton

So Milton Berle didn’t side with Darwin on his Galapagos Island/bird beak/transmutation conclusions. Somewhere in his career, he wittily quipped, If evolution really works, then how come mothers have only two hands? Excellent question, funny man. A keen observation. My own kids have noticed Hindu goddess Kali’s advantage over me, and she didn’t even have children. Like, being the goddess of blackness, time, and a lord/ess of death is any harder than being a mother. I scoff at her beyond timeness. Being beyond time is no match for being stuck alone in time with several children from four to seven in the afternoon. Why are the numbers of my limbs so inferior?

God thinks it’s funny. He puts on the heavenly Jiffy-pop, cracks a cold one, and has Himself a show.

That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

My letter to the third party insurance company used by Verizon

Dear Mr. Taweel,

I am one of the many unfortunate individuals who believed a peppy Verizon sales rep and purchased your “insurance” for $9.99 each month, for two phones. That means, since April of 2011, we have paid $299.70 believing that, in the event our phones broke, we’d be sent two new phones. No muss, no fuss, no extra monies involved.

Alas, as it seems to so often happen in the dark underworld of insurance, reality is far from what we were sold. We agreed to purchasing your third party plan, because of this chirpy sales rep. We now have two broken phones that will cost us more to claim through you than it will to replace them with Verizon. You will charge us a “deductible” of $169 per phone, and Verizon offers it, while under contract, for $117. If we had not sent you $19.98 each month since commencing our contract, we’d have the money to buy two phones from Verizon, and $65.40 to spare. Hmmmm. What kind of insurance is that?

I chide myself for believing the sales pitch. I kick myself for not insisting on tracking down paperwork from your company, that I never received, so I could go over each and every teeny tiny word with a lice comb. Ultimately, I am the fool here. But it makes me sick this is the very sort of thing that large faceless, seemingless heartless companies continue to perpetrate. You know we don’t all even think to look for the fine print that will screw us. Should we? Yes. But you set up a system in which only you will win, and add to your approximate 700 million dollar revenues (according to a Bloomberg Businessweek article by Contance Gustke). I applaud your entrepreneurial acumen. But I, like so many others, loathe those who seem to climb so far, they forget the purpose of business to begin with. Earn a great living, by serving others. Not by scamming them.

If I were you, I would give a damn to research my own company online and see the hundreds of extremely unhappy customers who see your “insurance” as the intentional rape of trust and common sense that I do. And then I’d go about making each one of them satisfied. And then I would create an insurance that actually insures the product for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in premiums you take in. For me, a return of our $299.70, and two new phones would do the trick. Hell, even just the phones, because that was the original stated purpose of buying your scam. I just want the premiums back because I’m mad.

I don’t know how you sleep at night. All the money must make it better. Meanwhile, those of us trusting you, and people like you, are giving you a hard earned portion of much lesser salaries, staying at home, raising children, choosing between retirement and college for kids, and we’re wishing that for just once, someone with all the power would give a shit. Now I’m off to write Verizon. Because doing nothing just makes me feel even worse.

Allison Tannery
(and my phone number)


An open letter to my children.

Dear bloodsuckers kids,

No. I will not share my crackers/diet coke/fruit/cookie/pasta/carrot sticks/any other thing that I’ve chosen to consume/enjoy with you. And stop touching it when I run to pee/into the wine store/answer my phone/turn my back/any other distraction that inevitably comes up 9-17 times in the course of one small moment. And, no I am not being selfish.

I don’t need to share with you to learn how to share. You all need to share to learn how to share. I am utterly exempt from this rule. I have learned to share in the most sacrificial, superior way to any sharing you will ever do ever with anybody, including sex, until if and when you become a parent. And boys, even then? You’ll still be on the sidelines.

Because from the moment you were all conceived, I have shared everything. Everything about myself, my most inner self, including my innards themselves. You took up residence. I shared every meal, every vomit, every day, night, every rare moment of sex, until I shared so much of my body that I totally gave you certain things, like my slimmer hips, and innie belly button. And the those ab muscles that run vertically down from my sternum and if not for the miracle of plastic surgery, would never ever ever go back together again, because for you? I let them go and split in two. I shared my skin, and muscle and tissue layers to let them cut in and pull you out. I gave you my unblemished, young, smooth skin. And I was happy to do it. Because I loved you before I knew you.

I then shared my breasts to nourish you. I gave you my tender nipples to gnaw and shred, and to make bleed, and then gave them to you some more, because you needed comfort when you were not even hungry. I shared my bed, shared the lasts semblance of sanity to hold you, rock you, cajole and sing to you in the middle of dark night after dark night when you would not sleep. I shared my husband in order for him to learn to be a good father and for you to grow to know and love him, when what I was desperately needing was time with him myself.

As you grew, I shared my energies and resources, making sure you had the right shoes, when I’d not bought a pair in years. I did it with a smile on my face because you are cuter in those shoes than I’ll ever be in the most expensive designer pair available. I shared my breaks away, even when you were not with me, because once you were born, I gave up my ability to actually ever not have you in on my mind or in my heart. I shared my brain power, reading Berenstain Bears for the thirteenth time, listening to how Pokeman works, why Ben Ten has that freaky power, and just how it is you love those little collectible Schleich animals and trying to remember all their names like Snow Ball, and Dancer, and Pinky Princess. I share enthusiasm I hardly have anymore for the seventh game of Uno in a row.

I share my soul, my experience, my wisdom, and unfortunately, my many, many weaknesses.  I do this willingly, because I prayed to God for you, and know that you are one of this world’s, or any world’s deepest, greatest gifts. While I could never have known just how hard it would be, I asked for it and was blessed with the four of you as answer.

So for the love of Jesus, his mother Mary, his earthly father Joseph, the heavenly Father God, many of the apostles, and all the saints I don’t know the names of, do not ask me to let you paw my straw with your just picked up from school grubby fingers so that you might dribble streams of my rarely afforded diet Coke onto your ice dream. I don’t poop without conversations through the door, I don’t stand naked in my own bathroom without mediating some mess. Surely, this is not too much to ask.

But if it is, tough shit.

It is all quite simple.

I have liked being informed, educated in my life choices. It seems good to avoid trans fats. And fake fats that produce anal leakage. To understand that an apple is a better snack than a Ho Ho. Fruit juice beats Coke. Water beats fruit juice. Move your body, get the heart rate going one in a while. You know. Basic common sense.

But now I’ve lived long enough to be able to hear a few generations of information duking it out in my head whenever I think about what is healthy, and what is not, for my family. From playing, to what sort of water we drink, I’m becoming paralyzed by the glut of conflicting inputs. I can’t even go to the grocery store in mental peace. And it’s pissing me straight off.

Get outside and get some sun! Vitamin D is good. Wear sunscreen if planning to stand close to a window in your home! Sunscreen might have oxybenzone in it, which is absorbed through the skin, and is thought to disrupt hormone function and cause allergic reactions! It also could have Vitamin A in it, which is great! Vitamin A is healthy. VItamin A is potentially photocarcinogenic! It can cause cancer when you’re in the sun, which is where you will be wearing it, because it’s sunscreen!

You must exercise at least 45 minutes to one hour five days a week to get maximum heart and metabolism benefits. Or, use the Tabata method of four minute high intensity workouts three times a week for maximum heart and metabolism benefits. Running is a great workout. Running will destroy your feet, knees and hips. Pilates is a great way to exercise and lose weight. Pilates will not get your cardio going, therefore you will not lose weight. You should stop doing cardio and use weights if you want to get your metabolism going.

Team sports are awesome for kids. Team sports tear down the children into the losers and the winners. Kids should feel equal in everything. Kids should know that there is always someone better, and worse at something they can do.  Learning to be a good sport in losing is important. All children should be winners, and get a trophy saying so. Even if they lose. Children need to know they can be beat, learn to win gracefully, and deserve a trophy when they do. Winning creates egomaniacal kids. Football is a great sport. Football will cause eventual neurological damage and possibly break your kids neck. Contact sports teach aggression. Contact sports teach kids to tussle and helps to blow off excess energy.

Drink water, lots and lots of water. Water hydrates and replenishes. Except when too much water causes water intoxication and hyponatremia.  Any kind of water is good. Tap water is bad. There’s bacteria and flouride in there. Flouride is good for your teeth. Flouride was used by Nazi Germany to dumb down the general population. Buy bottled water. Bottled water is a racket. Just someone selling you prettied up tap water. You’ll never know difference. People can taste the difference. Carry a water bottle around and reuse it to save resources. But not plastic water bottles. They leach BPAs. Use glass water bottles. Until they break in the car under the feet of your toddlers. Who should be wearing proper walking shoes. Who should never wear shoes because their feet won’t form properly to learn to walk. By the way, if you exercise outside, you should always have good foot gear for support. And never wear any foot gear at all, as our ancestors certainly didn’t.

Asian people are some of the healthiest people on earth. Asian people eat the scourge to man known as White Rice. Do not eat white rice. Eat whole grains. Whole grains are toxic to your gut, and gluten is poison to the body, but buy gluten to add to your homemade whole grain bread to give it some body. Never eat bread at all. Eat only meats. But only organic meats. Eat only lean meat to avoid heart disease. Always use the fats of the meats to make your own tallow. Fat is good for the building blocks of the brain. Cook your vegetables in animal fat. Except when you should not ever eat meat, because vegetarianism is the best diet to follow. Vegetarians do not get enough protein. Paleos get too much protein. A vegan diet can reverse or even cure many immune diseases because cutting meat and dairy is good. Add raw milk to help alleviate immune diseases and severe allergies in children. Raw milk will give you a wide variety of harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, E.Coli 0157:H7, Listeria, Campylobacter and Brucella, causing illness and possibly death. Pasteurizing milk kills all the good bacteria in the milk that can heal/kill you. Never drink milk. Got milk?

Eat lots of fish containing natural Omega 3s. Too many Omega 3s can make you sick. Eat only wild caught salmon. Farm raised salmon is a good option. Salmon may poison you with hidden mercury. Eating any fish is inhumane. Be vegan. Vegans don’t get enough B12. Lack of B12 causes formation of abnormal cells, which eventually will lead to anemia. So use nutritional yeast. Yeast cannot produce B12, which is only naturally produced by bacteria.

Create healthy, made at home meals to be easily microwaved for food on the go. Do not microwave in plastic, it will leach toxins. Never microwave anything. You and your food will be radiated. Your cell phone will radiate your brain and cause damage. There is no harm in using a cell phone. Use only a blue tooth. Using a blue tooth makes you look like a tool.

Moderation is key. But never ever drink sodas. Children should be strictly monitored in every thing they eat and drink. Children should have a sampling of “fun” foods so they don’t freak out when they are on their own. Make cookies with your kids for a sweet memory. Making cookies with your kids will lead them to associate bad high sugar foods with fond memories and they’ll become obese. Obesity is a disease. Obesity is a choice. Children should get plenty of outdoor exercise. Children are developing asthma and other lung ailments at alarming rates due to outdoor pollution.

Vaccinations cause Autism. Except when they don’t. Immunizing your child exposes him to a vast array of potentially harmful substances. Not immunizing your child exposes her to a vast array of potentially harmful diseases. Trust your doctor. Never go to a doctor. Depression and anxiety can be alleviated by well researched medication. Eliminating gluten/chicken/wheat/dairy/sugar/refined flours can alleviate depression and anxiety. And Autism. Manage your menopause with hormone replacement therapy. Hormone replacement therapy causes breast cancer.

In the end, do your research. Lots of it. Listen to the experts. And always trust your gut. No body knows your self, or your family like you do.





Of course I have to discuss starting a new year.

Fortunately/unfortunately, I make little New Year’s goals, and save them. Most of them. It’s fortunate because it can be cool to see what we’ve yearned to accomplish over the last twenty years together (upgrade from five hundred square feet of living space, have baby), and unfortunate, because every year so many of the little goals are almost identical to the previous year’s, and that, well, that means we’re not really getting anywhere (get out of debt, drink less, get out of debt, drink less). *sigh*

We have plenty of living space now, and four babies. Who are not babies no more. And this is a year we can finally say we have no debt (other than the house), and we live within our means. Mostly. But we’ll have to work til we drop dead because there is no room in the budget for retirement. I just hope the kids drop off nice canned cat food once in a while, instead of dry boxed stuff. I hear it makes a difference.

There is always something about our marriage. Be closer. Stay closer. Be nicer. Be decent. Remember we like each other. Try to like each other. Make the kids think we like each other. More sex. Better sex. Sex at least quarterly. 2012 saw our twentieth anniversary and we partied with a second wedding. And it was wonderful. There were forty or fifty people who shared the evening with us and represented some of the best of our time together. People who inexplicably cared enough to love us and take the time to be with us for an evening. People who haven’t given up on us. People who know we’re messes and are no longer trying to pretend we’re not. That is a good feeling. One that beats insouciant youth any day.

But because many of them stayed the night, there was no hanging from the chandelier home-honeymoon. You can’t have everything. Which is something years of New Year’s goals has taught me. But we were very peaceful, fulfilled and grateful. To have made it twenty years, and be willing to look one more day right in the eyeball and say bring it on. And to have people who love us despite all our incompleteness.

I usually throw in stuff like read through the bible this year. I have approximately seventeen New Testaments under my belt. Be more consistent parent. Get through email action items. Unsubscribe from spam. Blah blah blah, blah blah.

There is inevitably some drivel about fitness and/or weight loss. Every. Single. Time. Does anyone arrive at a new year and say, aaaawww, man! Look at me! I could not be in better shape! I. Am. A. Specimen. Of. Awesome. I killed it this year. Scratch that off the list.

I did get my name on a real live book that was published this year, and got it’s own ISBN, and actually sits on a book shelf in your favorite bookstore near you, or in some Amazon warehouse. That is one goal that was only about thirty years in the wanting.

Largely, I have to say that this year, there will many of the same sorts of wishes I have for myself (eat healthier, exercise more). But I’m looking very hard at a concept our pastor had the gall to throw out at us this past month. Redeem your time.

Whaaaattt? Redeem my time? What the hell? In an effort to skirt around the long and winding road to my epiphany, and therefore not bore you to an actual death, the resulting destination is the realization I waste an enormous amount of time (Shut up, Blake). Therefore, any little goal I have, you know, like becoming fluent in Spanish and writing another book, enroll in nursing school, or just acting like I care to engage in my children’s lives is going be hard pressed to come into being, because I’m too busy doing other things. Very Important Things.

As the first step to healing, or changing habitual behaviors, or whatever, is to admit the problem, I have done a very unscientific observation of my time and how I spend it. And when I get the guts, I’m going to list them on this tiny site and attempt to mend the broken places. Then, I’m going to attempt to take my time back, and figure out what redeeming it means. Right after I catch up with the last few Grey’s Anatomies, and Law and Order SVUs.

Thanks a lot, Pastor Kris.

Ruby Star Wrapping, a review

It appears that yes, sometimes glowing reviews are from earnest, totally supportive relatives. At least, in our case, one of Melody’s cousins was the first to post on Amazon, and according to him, our book will do everything from help you whip up a pretty package to bridge generations. And if you read it just right, might even help broker universal peace. All those beleaguered people in charge of talking solutions to the Palestinians and Israelis would do well to take a copy of Ruby Star Wrapping along. Drop all that hate and wrap yourself happy, people.

Melody’s cousin is a doll.

There is also a review, an honest to goodness, bless her sweet heart review, by a woman neither related or known to us. And she really seems to really, really like our book. For this, we are beyond grateful.

And then there is this little gem, by a lovely lady named Jill: 

The book is written in a style that treats grown women like “Tweens.” The authors repackage old ideas to create items that no one wants……I certainly would not find a painted oatmeal box topped by a newspaper flower as a keepsake. And enough with the chardonay & margarhitas. I guess all these references to drinking are to convince the reader that the authors are really with it or to explain why the book is so lame…..the alcohol made me do it.

Oh Jill. Jill, Jill…Jill, Jill, Jill.  I wish we’d gotten a copy to you before talking to marketing. Targeting tweens is brilliant. They own the money in their folks’ pockets! Have you seen this? 

And all that crazy is for underwear! Imagine! And to your next point, it simply didn’t occur to us that people wouldn’t really want to hand down oatmeal boxes for generations to come. It seemed, to our inebriated selves, somewhere between the one hundred and first and four hundred and thirty seventh reference to c.h.a.r.d.o.n.n.a.y and m.a.r.g.a.r.i.t.a.s that recycled gift wrap would be right up there with Mi-Maw’s silver and Great Uncle Jack’s Purple Heart. Why not?! we said as we poured ourselves another.

Since our little vacay at Betty’s (as in Ford, of course), we see much more clearly the folly of our follyness. And we are humbled. How silly indeed, thinking people would be interested in using something more than once, before tossing it in the trash. That explains why those ridiculous reusable grocery bags haven’t caught on.

Melody and I thank you, our husbands thank you, and our children thank you, for your clearly kind, and constructive review. We’ll know better next time than to even think about injecting a little humor and levity into the sacred and serious that is Crafting.

Best Wishes in this Warm Holiday Season,

P.S. I happen to see this on your Wish List, amongst the other Alice in Wonderland paraphernalia…

Hurry! It appears there is only one left! And no, I don’t know why there is that little blip of text in the picture *hic* can’t seem to figure it out. Can five year olds use blenders?

Because “trunk and treat!” is the natural thing to say.

Our five and a half year old wants to go to school. Some school. Any school. Alright. But we’ve always homeschooled so this was not at the top of my priority list when he began his official kindergarten year this past August. What WAS on my priority list was making sure Captain Cragen of SVU was cleared of all wrong doing concerning last season’s high reaching prostitution ring, and going to Costco when my friend Julie did. To get the cheap wine.

He has persisted. His teen siblings do a one day a week thing, and his next up brother was enrolled in Montessori last winter. So what does a little man in a 5T skinnies in our house want more than anything? To have to get up, get dressed, pack a lunch, and be forced grumpily out the door to make it on time to school.

I offered a run through. A placebo, if you will. I was all dude. We’ll get up with the rest of them, do the drill, I’ll fuss at you about not moving fast enough, and tell you your teeth aren’t really clean when you blow in my face, pack the lunch, rush to the car, but then? BAM. We’ll crawl back in bed for two hours and pretend the day starts anew at ten. I’ll even let you play on my iPhone while I “rest” some more. Win/win.

As if to prove he was serious, he has upped the annoyance hijinks seven fold this fall, and has taken to talking nonstop, all day, every day with insistence on agreement of his assertions, or explanation therewith if something he posits should be wrong.

I found a sweet little two day a week program, which is hard to do for kindergarden, because most kindergardner’s parents are way smarter than I, and actually have admitted to themselves they want those little cretins out of the house. I? I am a ridiculous holdout. Like I get some sort of crown or something? Well, if I do, I want pink crystals. Big ones. And teardrop swinging things, like on chandeliers.

Well, this is a church program. A fact I happen to love and loathe. Church programs do neat things like talk about Jesus, and that you shouldn’t wipe your boogers on your table buddy because Jesus wouldn’t, and they plant cute little plants in pumpkins at fall time and tell children sweet stories about God’s sunshine and rain.

Church programs also do un-neat things like hold an entire Halloween event in the parking lot and not call it Halloween. Nor will they use any of the associated jargon. Well, not all of it, just parts of it. This little event was a Trunk and Treat. A Trunk. And. Treat. Keep the treat, drop the trick. Bring in and, drop or. No options, just trunk and treat unity. I guess tricks are more ghoulish, less Jesus-y.  Trunks are good. Jesus likes trunks. Or is divisive. And is inclusive. Inclusive is nice. This thing was complete will all the candy, the burgers, those big pink, fat hot dogs, miles of soda, cupcakes, a vat of Dean’s french onion dip with what I think was a kamikaze fly, and tins upon tins of chili and baked beans. There were scary looking big sibling kids with fake blood dripping down their chins, witches, goblins, and seventeen varieties of princesses and Hermiones. There was an awesome tin foil over cardboard with dryer duct arms robot, and his mom, a vision in white, with a white hair piece or hat of some sort, floating along under a clear umbrella adorned with pink and white streamers. I thought she was some enchanted fairy in such a costume as I had never seen. I was enraptured. Blake said she was a jellyfish and it was totally common. Huh.

Most of our time was spent making sure Hart didn’t slip in the vomit we were sure was coming in the gigantic Clifford the Big Red Dog bouncy thing, and then making sure he didn’t fall off the hay ride. You know, the bigger than you ever see in real life pick up pulling the extra long trailer loaded down with hay. And gooey chunks of reconsidered candy. And now sweaty half costumed kids gorked out of their minds on sugar. Because there should never be a gathering for kids where the first ingredient isn’t sugar.

For a little while we seriously considered running back to the house for a flask. But when I got in the house, I realized we were out of hard liquor and there wasn’t enough wine to make any difference thought better of it.

We were one hour and forty seven minutes in, after declaring that thirty one minutes was our TOP time for attendance, when they’d yet to unveil these trunks with candy I assumed the kids would plunder to finally reach the official sugar coma state that would allow us to pour them into car seats, and then would be sticky sheets and covers within the hour.

It is then that I realized, as parents and organizers who were wiser than I began to align minivan after minivan, that there were no trunks. There were trunks. Like the back of cars, decorated with little lights, and orange streamers. Awkward plastic skeletons, glow sticks, and tired looking adults.

I revealed my naivete to my sweet spouse, who bent over in guffaws and not quietly pointed out my stupidity. Trunks?!? Like pirates? Like pillaging and treasure and ahoy matey, yo ho ho and bottle of rum?!?

What would I know of these “trunk and treats”? We were Methodist, man. Mainstream liberals who got to hang in the ‘hoods with our pagan neighbors and do exactly every single thing this church party was doing except dig candy out of the back of cars while chanting trunk and treat!!! We at least got the exercise of walking door to door for a couple hours to burn off the brownies! What is this faux Halloween?!

Look. Love it or hate it, or be somewhere in the middle. I don’t care. But call a spade a spade, and a Halloween a Halloween.

And can we just admit yelling trunk and treat!!! at beleaguered adults perched on backs of minivans doesn’t really get one out of participating in Halloween, should one be opposed to such.

For our part, when I realized the madness that was about to ensue, the onslaught of high pitched, glazed over, sugared up kids about to hit one small stretch of the entire parking lot in apocalyptic unison, I spun into a fevered bribery plan.

In under two minutes, I had Hart convinced his Minecraft costume would not sustain the threat of so many little hands and feet, and he’d likely be mauled by the hoard of trunk or treaters. AND he’d not even get his favorite candies, as we all know those group things get the big cheap bags of Bit O Honey, candy corn, and those weird orange things that are a cross between marshmallow and Tootsie Rolls. They have to. Economies of scale, and all.  So the best bet any of us had was hitting up Publix on the way home. There, in the relative safety of optimal (if not harsh) lighting, wide aisles, and a pleasant colored cardboard display of seasonal goodies, we’d have our pick of Almond Joys, Kit Kats, Snickers and Charms Blow Pops. And several nice Chardonnays. And a couple of frozen pizzas (hey, Freschetta Inspiration Flavors) for us snobs not enticed by extra plump frankfurters.

We got him off the ceiling, hosed down, and strapped into bed by nine thirty, then watched the last two episodes of Nashville. All in all, a very happy Trunk or Treat indeed. Happy Whatever You Want To Call It, or not. But fall is a damn fine season, and I love it.






It is hard to walk into a church and know no one. It can be harder when you’ve had the particular experience of getting to know people only to be hurt later. And who of us has never had a hurt handed over by someone we trusted? Someone we trusted in the church?

It’s a mean thing, to understand that the church is made of people, and that people are messy, ergo, churches are messy. Full of people who could hurt you. Who may not mean to, but sometimes will mean to. And that if you quit the church, no matter how badly he/she has beaten your feelings to a sad little bloody stump, you will ache even more.

Because if you are of that persuasion of faith that says to better live your faith you need people with whom you can, well, live it, then you need church.

Being with the other bodies that warm pews, slosh coffee, drop bagel bits, joggle babies, mumble lyrics they can’t remember, and sing off key Sunday after Sunday is actually part of the prescription for living through this life less alone. Less lost. And to be honest, it kinda pisses me off.

The job of getting to know, and be known is not an easy one. It takes risk, vulnerability, and visiting those damn small groups. The meetings that take place in the middle of a work week when kids have crap, and you have crap, and the last thing you want to do is get cute-ed up again, and head out to impress. The meetings that take place during a time of day when the children are making you consider driving the wedding present fondue skewers through your ear drums, NOT take them to a stranger’s home.

Yet here is where the all the stuff you think is trash can gel together with other messy people’s trash and make real friends. It’s here, and in those “meet us after church for lunch” invitations. Where all the way to church you threaten your kids/spouse/all of them with sleeping in the mailbox for best behavior, knowing all the while you’ll never get it. You won’t even be able to muster it yourself. Because you’re human.

Why do you go? Why do you try?

You’re lonely to be known. And to know.

Sitting among strangers only goes so far. We crave the flicker of recognition in another human’s eyes. A moment we both can remember, and chuckle over. Or wince. Either. Just something to bind us. Anything. The Spirit that drives us to a building full of unknowns also compels us to push further, even though it feels like hot coals. We are built to be familiar. To be understood, and to be accepted right there in our mess. But encouraged to keep moving forward.

A few weekends ago, we were able to break burritos with a family from the church we’ve been plodding through. The talk was pretty easy, we tried not to look too desperate, and we found the whole thing actually fun. Talked all the way home, hoping and praying we’d fooled them into thinking we were decent real friend material. So the next Sunday? Someone would know us! Even just a little bit. Eyes would meet and recognize a tiny thing had been shared. The smiles exchanged would come from knowing. And it made getting in the car the next Sunday morning one trillion times easier.

This week, I met a lovely lady who just had her fourth baby, because I am driven by the hounds of heaven to take food to people who need it (another story, not so interesting). We found we had much in common, and we both need a place to hang sometimes, and talk all the stuff that comes with having families our size. Maybe it’ll even turn into one of those “small groups”. I don’t know. But I do know, that come Sunday, there will be just one more pair of eyes who will have had a bit of time with me, and I with them, and church will start looking more and more like I think Jesus wants it to. A room full of people who care about the people in the room.

Because what is there any of us want more than to be known for just who we are, and loved all the same? It is the example that has been set for us, after all.






Trials like gold.

Once upon a time my almost seventeen year old was just eight, and he took Karate. Because I’m super original with my kids’ activities.

He sat with his buddy in the Sacred Quiet Karate Circle, listening to Sensai Tim (Tim being a waaaaay back ancient Asian name). Buddy whispered a joke, Jake chuckled. It was probably something involving farts.

Sensai Tim zeroed in on the offenders of the Quiet, and ordered thirty five push ups from the scrawny jokesters. I experienced my first psychic break. No longer calm Suburban Mom, but instead raging Flames Shooting from Eyeballs Warrior Mother Goddess, I contemplated the best method of removing Sensai’s skin so that he could really feel it.

The tittering parents quieted, and watched the stunned little boys decide how to best interpret the deal. Was he for real???

Yes. Sensai Tim was.

Jake and his friend scrambled to their feet and hands, prone, plank style, while I guestimated just how quickly I could crawl up Sensai’s back and implement that CIA neck-cracking technique. Dropping my shoes first would likely help me shimmy faster. They were open backed, duh.

Instead, I sat rigidly, frozen to my stupid metal folding chair, with the dawning of understanding in my gut that I had to let it go. The sideways glances shot from the other mothers communicated clear relief it wasn’t their little yellow belt on disciplinary display. My face burned hot, and I could feel my bottom lip quiver, as I sat trapped between a fierce desire to grab my boy and flee, kicking idiot Sensai’s shins on the way out, and the horrible realization that this was a lesson he must take on his own. I willed a simple I-believe-in-you smile on my face, and stared unwaveringly into the back of his bobbing head to drive my strength and support into him telepathically (which I totally think worked.). And seventeen hours later, it was over. He took it on the chin, like the other boy, and pumped out those push ups, the best he could. Never having done more than maybe 5 in his life, it was a herculean task. Or so it felt. Maybe it was just that it was a herculean task for me to stay rooted and allow him to carry through.

The time crept by, one earnest, quaking push up after another, with the other boy finishing first, and mine left to finish the last 10 all alone. I could see his arms shaking, his sweet face scarlet. His knees buckling. Two dozen pairs of eyes staring. Waiting. I sat conjuring black magic curses on dumbass Sensai’s shiny head. I wanted to K.I.L.L. that man, and scoop my boy up to rock him. I did neither.

I had spent the better part of a decade protecting this child. Smoothing his way when I could, pushing him into the edges of discomfort when necessary. That terrible moment while he was on his hands and knees was like leaving him to rabid wolves to my mother’s heart.  But he was not eaten. Afterwards, he apologized to his instructor, who held no grudges. All was well in the studio, and apparently, in my son’s spirit.

He seemed to run a bit faster that afternoon in the backyard. Maybe even hold his sweet head a bit higher. I might have said he even looked a bit older, wiser. Perhaps, he was.

Is this anything like God sees us? His precious creations, his messy little boys and girls, who have to weather the trials, stumble over the stones, sweat out the push ups? Does He want to swoop in and rock us gently, all the while knowing that we must take it on the chin to grow stronger? To in fact, be wiser? Somewhere in Proverbs, where people who actually read their Bibles regularly could probably tell you to find it, we are told taking trials from a man is taking gold from his pocket. How horribly counter intuitive is this to our craving the most velvety verdant path possible for our children?! Yet, He does set the example.

Somehow seeing the proof in the proverbial pudding makes it taste even more bittersweet. For knowing surely how I want the best for my son means that I want him to grow strong, and independent from me. This means that every stumble from which he rises, every hurt from which he heals, every challenge he overcomes…they all only serve to further this eventuality. He will not always be my boy. In truth, he never really was. I was merely loaned a child, with the tremendously high interest rate of nearly unbearable love and attachment, to be paid in full, sometime in the not so distant future.

Fortunately, our parental parallels stop with the final outcomes. My growing up to be a big girl doesn’t mean I have to move out of Jesus’s house, as Jake better damn well eventually move out of ours! But instead, my growing in Jesus means I get to learn to lean even more heavily on Him, which is a very, very good thing. For I fear that one day, holding up my end of the deal to let my first born truly walk into his own life will be almost impossible to do all by myself.