oceans

It's been so long since Brent and I got away together, just the two of us. We've been working so hard that it seemed impossible, but we forced a break in the business with the help of a hoard of people taking care of the kids for us. I will never be able to express enough gratitude to them! 

We have had a few beach vacations with the kids that were incredibly fun, but I always wished I could just close my eyes for a second to rest. Vacations with kids are constant head counts and efforts to keep everyone alive somewhere different than home, especially around water. All parents know this. Incredible memories, but not restful at all. 

The beach is a spiritual place, regardless of what your belief system might be. The loudness drowns out all distractions, the rhythmic in and out ushers in release and acceptance, the vastness makes you feel small.

Yesterday we laid in the sun for hours (the pinkness of our skin bears witness) and played in the ocean. Brent prefers to just jump the waves while I use a boogey board to coast over them and float with the give and take of the tide. I floated for a long time on my own before Brent joined me. The waves were tame and we willingly surrendered to them. It was fun to turn my back and not know what was about to hit me because they were mostly gentle. 

Today there was a storm brewing far off on another coast, but it made the waves big and angry. We went in anyway. I got tired pretty much immediately. Wave after wave blasted us and knocked us down. I found that if you could brave the biggest ones you would eventually get to a sweet spot where you could coast over the crests before they broke. But it was far out and I couldn't touch, and the waves looked so big as they built that you just knew it was gonna break right over your head. A couple of them did and we summersaulted under the water. A couple of times I couldn't even tell where Brent had gone and stood ready to dive in after him in case he didn't pop back up somewhere. Finally, the beating was enough and we opted to just stand at the shore and get knocked at the knees. We stared out into the crashing and let our minds wonder.

I thought about how the ocean is like life. When our babies are little we protect them from life by keeping them on the shore to play in the sand and stick their toes in. I have had the pleasure of discovering some really awesome things just sitting on the shoreline with my babies. Tiny little crabs I wouldn't have otherwise noticed, the way the sea foam quivers in the wind, and of course the millions of seashells we have gathered. As they get bigger, we let them go further out. They get knocked down enough to respect staying close to the shore, but grow strong enough to enjoy the waves and play in them safely. Eventually they are heading out to the beach without us there at all. 

Some people prefer to just stay on the sand. They watch others live exciting lives, some on surfboards, some idiots going way too far out, some getting sucked in by an undertow. It's safe on the sand, but you don't really experience the ocean that way. 

Sometimes you go through a stormy season of life and you are just out there in those waves with your husband, your life partner, and you are taking a beating.  The two of you together are holding each other up and getting exhausted.You have to swim back to shore and take a rest when that happens. Some seasons are calm and smooth and you splash each other playfully and float on your back with only the occasional stifling salt water smash to the face. 

I thought of that song "Oceans" that declares a bold prayer that I think most people wouldn't pray if they really thought about what they were asking for. Take me deeper? Keep my eyes above the waves? Like I found today, if you can be brave enough to go past that point that terrifies you, you find yourself on the other side of the breaking point of the waves. It is deep, and there could be sharks, but you can float on your back. I prayed that prayer two years ago and God did take me past the big scary waves to the terrifying ocean. As I'm finding all the blog posts I lost, I'm reliving moments where hard decisions were made, things were let go of, new things embraced. The last four years have been big big waves.

For a couple of days I'm taking a rest on the sand, working on my tan. But I'll be ready to jump back into those waves with Brent, whatever kind they may be. 

a day in the life

Recently I was tagged in a facebook thingy to share 7 photos from my day, no matter how dull they are. Um, excuse me, but I don't have dull days. Sometimes I pray for a dull day, and then I get bored and find something to do.

Today's to-do list had me panting before I went to bed last night, but you know what? It turned out pretty great. First order of business was waking up on time, and Titus made sure of that. I stumbled downstairs, found coffee, made breakfast, packed lunches, broke up fights, and headed out the door to get my fourth grader to the bus.

We were halfway down the driveway when I glanced at her for the first time. She was wearing a Goodwill t-shirt that boldly stated "TODAY IS MY LUCKY DAY". I think there were rhinestones involved. "Don't you have your Honor Society thing today?" I questioned, like the responsible mother that I am. Why can't I be that mom that lays out clothes the night before important events? Why can't I even THINK about the clothes the night before? SHOOT! 

She ran back inside the house, dug through a laundry basket in the living room and retrieved the newest little cotton dress I had grabbed for Easter Sunday. Please do not think that by Easter Sunday I mean white gloves and ruffles. This is literally a sleeveless cotton play dress and I was classy enough to pick up some glitter flip flops to match. I dutifully set them outside the bathroom door so she could slip into them and run.

Now halfway down the driveway again she tugged at her dress and wondered if it had shrunk in the wash. No, she had it on backwards. We continued to walk while I held her backpack and she spun the dress around herself. There it was: a giant coffee (?) splatter stain all down the front of the dress.

Winning.  

"Just hold your certificate up in front of your dress when it's your turn. No one will ever see that from the audience." Fashion advice from someone dressed like this: 

We approached the bus stop just in time to save some poor children from mortal ignorance. "Donuts are not a nutritious meal," sneered one little know-it-all kid. I told her to quit cussing.

"Umm, no, donuts are the best meal ever for you," I schooled. "There are umm, grains, and also fats, real fruit, and BACON. Plus you eat them with coffee, which is a bean."

"No, I don't think so. There's way too much sugar in them," she persisted in her ignorance. Kids these days! Are you even kidding me?

"No way! If there was too much sugar, they wouldn't taste good. There's just the right amount of sugar obviously, because donuts taste great!" I'm here for the donuts, guys. Never doubt this. Hopefully I was able to save some of the children listening from a lifetime of carb shaming. 

My daughter picked the moment before the bus pulled up to casually toss out that she forgot she was supposed to wear black today. I swore that I would find a black top that she could slip over her little dress and that would fix the stain issue anyway.

I hustled back down the street and hopped into the shower. While balancing to shave my legs I told Titus 19 times that I could not give him gum because I was naked and wet. He didn't think these were great excuses. I slid into a black dress as my sixth grader banged on the door and howled, "We need to leave NOW or I'll be late!!!!!!" 

I hollered back that she would rather I not be naked when I walked her to the bus stop and GEEZforthelovegivemeaminute. 

Are you stressed out yet, reader? Because I sure was! And you know what my husband was doing during all this? Eating breakfast with friends! OH! To be a man! Sheesh. I sure do love him, don't I? 

I questioned whether you could see my underwear through my dress and briefly considered polling the middle schoolers, but decided against it. My sixth grader assured me that I was dressed chastely. (Can you dress chastely? Is this a thing?) Anyway, this kid made it on the bus without any surprised. Whew.

I hauled it back home (again) and turned on cartoons for Titus so he would stop demanding gum from me while I had to quickly get ready for the day. Why is my kid so obsessed with gum???

Brent came home from his leisurely breakfast and thought it would be funny to jump around a dark corner and scare me. I slammed the door in his face like any good wife would do, and returned to my mascara. He really is a nice guy though, and located a black shirt for our child while helping me put my 5 thousand bags in the car. (Midwives carry a lot of bags. Women carry a lot of bags. Moms carry a lot of bags. Students carry a lot of bags. Wrap all that up into the fact that I don't know how my day is going to go, and there you have it: Five. thousand. bags.) Oh, he also informed me that you could in fact see my underwear through my dress, in the sweetest way. Guess what? I had some emergency leggings in one of my bags.

Winning.

I squealed into the school parking lot and impatiently waited to be let in. I tossed the shirt at the secretary and said that my daughter needed it urgently. Then I signed in and started down to the cafeteria to watch her induction into National Honor Society. I guess it's kind of a big deal? I saw her sitting up front, and realized I should have just brought the shirt with me. With five minutes until the ceremony was to start, I turned and went back to the office to retrieve the shirt. 

ONLY THE SHIRT WAS GONE. The secretary told me she got it. 

I went back to the cafeteria with approximate 4 minutes to spare and questioned via pantomime about the shirt. My daughter looked thoroughly confused, but to her credit, not embarrassed. I spun around and went back to the office where a different secretary informed me that the shirt had been sent up to her class room. I tried to remain aware that half the female school administration was standing there staring at me. I always feel like they are wondering if I'm newly sober or maybe if I'm a stripper in the evenings. I don't know why I feel this way because I'm always sober and as mentioned before, chastely dressed. 

I gave up and went back to the cafeteria and i just want you to see what I saw:

Not a dang kid was wearing black. And while she may have had a stained dress to wear, my child was one of the only ones that knew to sit with her knees together on the front row. That's all I'm going to say about that. 

I managed to get kicked out of three seats before I found one next to a nice old grandpa who chatted me up for a while before telling me to "Keep on keeping on". Right on, dude. 

My girl got her certificate for being smart and well behaved, and we both got cake. 

You know that movie, 27 Dresses? My friend Sarah recently showed up at my house with ice cream and homemade chocolate fudge sauce at 10 pm to watch it with me. This is the way to show up at my house. The night when she is going back and forth between two weddings all night, changing clothes in a cab and stuff? This is how I was starting to feel at this point. 

I left the school and headed to do prenatals at my preceptor's office. I adore my preceptors and thoroughly enjoy working with and learning from them two days a week doing prenatal care for mammas. I got there a tad bit late and jumped right in. Basically I do everything I can get away with while I'm there. If they think I can do it, I'm willing to try! We saw some mammas about ready to burst and some just starting out in their pregnancies, listened to baby heart beats, cooed at a newborn returning to visit, and trouble-shooted various things. 

I had to shoot out the door to go take my final three exams for my didactic portion of my learning at the local high school where my proctor's class room is. It's fun sitting in a high school classroom labeling vagina diagrams, let me tell you. One girls curiously asked me, "Umm, lady? What is it exactly that you.... do?" She also wondered if it involved blood and needles, since she was considering midwifery as a career path and hoping it did not involve blood and needles. Bless. 

My second visitor sticker of the day. I get around.

My second visitor sticker of the day. I get around.

It turns out that I don't stress over tests, but these three tests were causing me a great deal of anxiety. Mostly because one of the instructors likes to put stuff on the test that we never actually learned in class, and considers "short answer" to be two paragraphs. The other reason is because: math for health occupations. I'm actually really good at math, i just find it really offensive that I'm being tested on "Mikey needs 60 mg of this drug, and there are 20 mg per capsule, how many capsules should he take?" PEOPLE: I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO ANSWER STUPID QUESTIONS. The questions are so entirely asinine that I have to sit there and roll my eyes for ten seconds before I even begin to answer them. This is why I dropped out of school before, but also because I want to be a midwife REALLY SUPER BAD I am willing to endure this madness. 

I finished my three exams in an hour. I tried really hard to write sloppy so that maybe some of my "short answers" would lead my teacher to believe that I got the main concept and probably knew what I was talking about. C's Get Degrees. Mixed in with this was some texting back and forth with the sitter about whether or not Titus needed a nap. God help us, he is almost done with naps! 

I "changed dresses" again and jetted out to visit a mom who I had had the immense privilege of attending her birth just two days before. My preceptor met me there to supervise me. Haven't I been saying for YEARS that I need supervision?!? Finally someone gets it. We did a check up on mamma and sweet (gasy) baby, and a small victory for me that will make no difference to most of you reading this: I got my pulse ox machine to work!!!!! It's quite tricky, actually. And when you are trying to inform parents of whether or not their new tiny little precious baby has passed screening for heart defects, you sort of want to know what you are talking about. Whew! 

Can you believe my husband texted me at this point and asked what he should make for dinner? (See? I told you he was awesome!) Unfortunately, my plan for the evening was eggplant parmesan and he absolutely does not know how to prepare that. 

I made it home in time to hug kids and cook dinner! Look at me! So domesticated! 

Yes, i did put goat cheese in the eggplant parm. Yes, it was awesome. 

I left my sweet husband instructions on baking time and headed out to Zumba toning. Zumba toning is mostly hip-hop with a lot of body rolls (abs) and squats (glutes) and we use weights. I obstinately insist on using the heaviest weights and simultaneously hate myself for it every week. We sweat so much that mascara is dripping down our faces by the end of class. I love it.

My family had saved me the tiny bit of eggplant parm that was left and the kids were following up with bowls (and bowls) of cereal. I think we all have tape worms. 

I'm going to bed with my ringer on since we have a few moms within dates, and one in particular that would really love to have her baby tonight. 

Are you tired? I am.

Edited to add: I slept for approximately 2 hours before getting called out to a birth.  

more than a midwife

“518….517…516…515………..514……..513,”  I counted down the room numbers in my head as we passed. My legs felt numb, like they were carrying me against my wishes.

Only a couple of hours earlier we had gotten the call that our very dear friend and midwife had suffered cardiac arrest and was in ICU. Her situation was very grave as she had been without oxygen for too much time.

We had just happened to be in town looking at houses. So excited to get to live near her again! Later the realization would hit me that if Brent had gotten the job weeks earlier, when we thought he should, we would not have been in town to be with someone we love so dearly.

Crinkle… Crack… Crack… As I crush and peel garlic for our soup for dinner I think of Terri and how she was the first person to introduce me to raw garlic instead of “garlic powder”. Who knew you could use the real stuff? You can bake your own bread? Every meal doesn’t have to involve meat? How much vitamin c can i give the baby? Should the umbilical cord smell like that? Do you think this wound needs stitches and can you come do it? Can you come make my baby come out? (x 5, y’all. The woman is patient!) She was the first to introduce me to a lot of things.

As one of her other friends put it recently, Terri singlehandedly shaped the way that I view pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, health, wellness, food, herbs, medicine, and life… and death. Terri and I have shared tears at funerals. I’m not a good enough writer to pen the profoundness in experiencing the circle of life come to an end for a soul with someone who has personally ushered in hundreds and hundreds of lives. The similarities are many. The ushering in and ushering out of lives. The compassion and tender touch that that requires is not lost to Terri.

As I cuddled Ezra and read his bedtime book I realized that Terri had given us that book. And boxes and boxes more children’s books. Every time she visited her arms were full of books because she loves my children and knows how much they love to read.

At those moments throughout the day when I hold my little ones close and thank God for another moment with them, I think of Terri who was so pivotal in their arrivals and I thank God for her through each moment of the day too.

I have spent the last few days reflecting on the last 9 years with Terri. I can remember almost every single interaction because Terri threw her entire self into it. She loved hard and wholeheartedly. She never sat down! (Unless it was to hold a baby.) She was always laughing. Even when I was in excruciating pain, and it wasn’t even annoying.

To see her laying so still in a hospital bed is just unnatural.

Yesterday I stopped a nurse who was about to bathe her. “I want you to know this woman delivered all five of my babies,” I wept. As I told her about the exceptional care that Terri had given to me and h u n d r e d s of other mothers, Terri opened her eyes and stared at me, blinking occassionally. I don’t know how much she heard or understood what I was saying but I stared back and continued to tell anyone who would listen that this woman spent her life caring for others and we really appreciated every little action they did to make her more comfortable and get better. I rubbed her feet as much as I could. How many hours has Terri spent rubbing my feet, my back, my arms, my head…holding my hand during my most uncomfortable moments e v e r.

She’s seen me naked more times than she could ever want to recall. The woman knows my body just as well as I do. Which is why she was able to diagnose me and prescribe treatment over the phone last summer when I was sick, after two different doctors had seen me in person and run many tests and not had a stinking clue.

Personally, I am holding Terri with open hands. As Ann Voskamp says, “Joy’s a flame in the palm of the open & humble. Clench the hand tight, point fingers to self and this snuffs out joy.” I thank the Lord repeatedly every hour that passes for the time we have had with Terri so far and humbly petition Him for more. I believe very strongly that the Lord numbers our days and He will fulfill His purpose for Terri. I can trust Him. Haven’t I been learning that along the way so very recently?

I can trust Him. We can trust Him. You can trust Him. He.is.good. He gave us Terri. 

'splain, Lucy!

Before I launch into an explanation of how everything fell through and then… didn’t, let’s review the journey so far:

  • In March (MARCH, people! That’s 6 months ago.) I first felt that the Lord was getting ready to do something with us.
  • In April we decided we’d move somewhere local since we were bursting at the seams in our current house. We started making lists of home repairs and slowly checking them off.
  • We had a normal summer of farmers markets. Evie pooped everywhere.
  • In late June we decided that Brent would apply for a position in Atlanta. Here’s what you need to know: previously he had been asked to apply for a position on this specific team. But he always turned it down because we didn’t feel our time in Alabama was done yet. (Regardless of how badly my heart ached for the Promised Land. Even I knew it wasn’t time.)
  • In very early July we began trying to sell the house. It immediately generated a lot of interest, but mostly renters and leasers. We made a list of things to do to get the house sold.
  • I began packing.
  • Everyone but me got really sick. Then I cracked my head open with the hoe. Then Brent and the big kids went to Atlanta while he worked hard on getting the new job and I worked myself silly packing, painting, painting, and painting. And also getting myself stranded over night with the babies while Brent was out of town. This was a big week.
  • In late July we had a terrible time crashing my parent’s vacation.
  • Early August found us showing the house and the truck breaking down again.
  • Mid August I started to feel a little scared.
  • We finished up our farmers markets, expecting that they were the last.
  • Late August. Brent interviewed and did not get the job. See, what had happened was…. at the very last minute a dude that works in another region decided he wanted a lateral move. The interview panel logically chose him since he’s been in the industry a good ten years longer than Brent. (Incidentally, almost every time Brent has interviewed he gets knocked out by someone with more experience. How do you get experience in this scenario? It’s been frustrating to say the least. And we were so.close. And then lost.)
  • We spend the next two weeks trying to deal with the confusion of hearing God so clearly say “GO” and then slam the door shut in our faces. What the what?! It was depressing. A lot of chocolate was consumed. I gained 10 pounds, I’m sure. We sort of shut ourselves in as a family and tried to decide what to do.

And here is where the explaining begins…

I was literally unpacking boxes and praying lots (and crying intermittently) on Brent’s day off that week when he got a phone call. The phone call.

Y’all listen to this madness and tell me that it wasn’t the Lord’s doing: Through the interview process one of the other team members realized that she didn’t have the passion for the job that Brent so obviously exuded. (He really is suited for this particular position rather well.) So she quit. Who does that in this economy? Quit your job? Because you think someone else is more awesome for it?

So now the same position was open again. (Remember it’s a team of people. The other guy that had interviewed against Brent was still on the team… and super excited about the prospect of getting to work with Brent. Because my man is the bomb. Just saying’…)

We had cancelled the pending contract on our home. We had deleted our list of Atlanta houses we’d found available. I was unpacking boxes. In the middle of trying to cope and get a grip, everything got switched up again.

And we still had to wait one.more.week. A formality, they had to internally post the position for seven days. In case someone else wanted to apply.

I know. Ridiculousness. Only two people applied last time. They hired one. There was another spot on the team and one guy left to take it. Duh.

We chose not to tell anyone except a handful of people that we knew would pray with us and understand what we were going through. We didn’t tell the kids. We didn’t start looking for houses. We did nothing but pray. And stare at each other a lot. Because we were determined not to talk about it and get our hopes up. It was a quiet week.

And then they made us wait one.more.day. More protocol. Everyone on the interview panel had to be emailed and given the chance to state any reservations they had about giving Brent the job. (Of course, no one had any reservations.)

On September 7th, almost one week ago, we found out that Brent got the job! For sure! The Lord was granting me the desire of my heart. A desire that had been so strong, yet denied for so long. A desire that I let die and lay buried, forever as far as I was concerned. And also a desire of Brent’s heart… a promotion, a spot on a team that he really wanted to work with.

In our heart break we had rashly reserved a spot at our favorite beach spot for this week. Brent’s birthday week, and a new family tradition.

What a perfect place to be to reflect. To let go of things, like the tide washes away the old sand. To receive God’s good gifts, just like the tide offers treasures of shells and creatures in return. 

I’ve been studying the book of Deuteronomy and here are the take aways from this whole journey so far:

  • My lot is secure in the Lord. What He has promised, He gives. In Deuteronomy he told the people of Israel to leave three different people groups alone on their way to the Promised Land, because He had given that land to those people.
  • I don’t need to fight the battle. If it’s His battle, the Lord will fight for me. All I have to do is trust, obey, and wait. If I’m fighting, it must not be His battle, and it’s probably not worth fighting for.
  • God has been faithful to us along the way in our journey through Alabama. Hard times and good times, He is always there. Always carrying us, always answering prayers, always loving. Always, God is faithful and loving. Working on our behalf, even when we don’t see it or feel it or know it.

People, you can trust God. He is real, He is sure, and He is Lord whether you acknowledge it or not!

Boy do we have a lot of work ahead of us. Finding a house, buying a house, getting loose ends on our current house tied up, and moving. The journey isn’t over yet. 

either I'm crazy or I'm on to something

After a long stretch of physical, spiritual, and emotional unrest, things have been peaceful.

I’ve been practicing The Liturgy of the Hours. It’s a Monastic and Benedictine practice of pausing for prayer at seven appointed times during the day.

{Best Valley Girl accent} I’m, like, totally praying all day long.

I’m not a great pray-er. I get distracted approximately 3.5 seconds into bowing my head, my words are jumbled, and I just can’t think of what to pray about. Pretty pathetic.

To make matters worse, when my world comes crashing in around me, it never occurs to me to pray. Freaking heck.

Don’t get me wrong, praying seven times a day has not been magical or easy yet. I’ve only been doing it a few days with some sparse information I got online. And let’s be real, I’m at home with five kids all day. My prayers often go like this:

Lord, thank you for this day… stop licking the table… Uhhh, Lord…err…

Which is why I ordered a book with guided prayer topics and suggested scripture readings. Because prayer is a discipline. And carving out time to pray is something of a fast. Once you are done working out the logistics you find actual communion with God.

I’m already seeing results, even though I’m probably doing it “wrong”. Last night’s Property Virgins episode was in the Promised Land. In our price range. And instead of packing to move into one of the homes parading across the screen like I thought I would be, I’ve been unpacking. All the anger, disappointment, feelings like something had been promised and then stolen….it all started to rage.

Mercifully, my phone alarm clock chimed. It was time for The Great Silence, a time set aside for letting go. Gently evaluating the day and setting aside struggles to welcome rest and new mercies for tomorrow. I was forced to pause. Forced to acknowledge the Lord’s presence and hand in my life. Forced to commune with the Maker of the Universe as I was created to do. What a ridiculously wonderful blessing.

The first stuff we got out of storage was the school stuff. Our home is so complete with the massive black shelf with books and such weighing it down. Attitudes changed immediately and we haven’t even officially started yet.

They were like pirrhanas (I’m too lazy to spell check that.) attacking the books and demanding that I give them work to do.

We will start back to school when we get back from our 8 day beach vacation. You heard me. Since we ruined the last vacation, we are trying again.

Edited to Add: I had abruptly ended this because my kids were begging me for lunchI had nothing more to say. And later I checked in at Ann Voskamp’s blog. Her blog post today brought it full circle. Is it any wonder that two weeks into a vacation from Facebook that it occurred to me to pray more? She has such a way with words and said it better than I could have. I am being blessed by the ceremony of pausing to pray that is being squeezed into my schedule. I am being blessed by checking out of social media for a time and checking in to the moments happening in the present. Even the hard ones. 

when God's grace screams

I had big plans for today.

I spent most of the morning chasing down chickens while stressing out at everyone about a house showing we had later on in the afternoon.

And we had some places to go.

First, we had a meeting for our home school cover school. We, being the kids and I. Even though we will only be here for a month and a half of the school year ( unless Brent doesn’t get the job), we still had to sign up for a cover school.

After that I was prepared to brave the long lines at Chic fil a for their appreciation day, but we got a little bit later start than I wanted because we were enjoying ourselves at the home school meeting so much.

We had been in line at the light to turn onto the street that our Chick is on for thirty minutes when the AC of the truck went hot. I glanced at the engine temperature gauge and it was all the way hot. And lights were coming on and stuff on my dashboard.

ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME?! My mind raged. Didn’t I say I was never leaving home again???

I threw on my hazard lights and gave up on the line for Chic fil a. Careening into a parking spot at Panera Bread, I called Brent and proceeded to unleash the crazy. Brent brazenly stated that I should be good at this being stranded thing by now. The man has guts. He did marry me, after all. He was just encouraging me to let the engine rest for a bit when my friend Sheryl pulled right into the spot next to me!

“Girl, don’t tell me you are broken down again,” she teased. Then she saw the look on my face. I was so happy to see a familiar face!

I restrained myself from squeezing her too hard. She and her daughter helped us all inside and even bought our lunch. They headed back home with food for their own family and we made spectacles of ourselves in a booth inside Panera. At one point all you could see of Ezra was a pair of cowboy boots in the air while Titus refused to nurse with the nursing cover on. In between biting me, he was happy to flash the crowded restaurant his “lunch”. Evie was wandering around the restaurant, I think looking for a responsible adult to take her home.

Another mom in the restaurant recognized me from home school circles and asked if she could help. She supervised some of the kids while I took others potty. We chatted for a while and made our way back out to the truck, which I assumed had cooled down.

We all sat in the hot truck while Titus finished nursing. I assured the kids that the Lord was just preparing them to be missionaries one day. I mean, there isn’t AC in Africa, right?

No sooner had I gotten back out in traffic than the dang thing went blazing hot again. Again, I threw on hazard lights and pulled into the Target parking lot this time. If I was gonna be stranded again there was gonna be Starbucks involved, that’s for dang sure.

I called Brent again, and he concluded that I just shouldn’t be messing with things under the hood. He was going to leave work and come fix it, since AAA can’t be trusted. Unless I wanted just enough coolant to NOT run my truck. Humph.

{{ Of note: I was supposed to go get all fluids checked before leaving town for vacation, but getting stuck in Tuscaloosa had changed all that. So, follow me… Because AAA didn’t give me enough gas and I lost a whole day, I didn’t have time to get my coolant checked, and now… Well. Here I was. }}

We bought some nice cold bottles of water and headed for the dollar section. Y’all. The dollar section at Target is awesome this month! Flash cards, work books, children’s classic books, stickers, and cute Dr. Seuss totes to put it all in?! Yes, please.

At check out I explained to the cashier that I needed to group specific items together to go into specific bags. I could tell by her expression that she was less than thrilled so I explained that our car was broken down and desperately needed to create a silver lining for my children. She was more than happy to help.

I also had to explain that I had a receipt for our waters, but Titus ate it. For real.

It was the longest checkout process ever.

Brent arrived just as we were finishing up and we herded ourselves into the in-store Starbucks. I handed each child their bag of activities.

Voila!

$35. That’s what some emergency peace and quiet cost me. Worth every penny.

Brent purchased some coolant and requested my car keys.

“Uuuhhhh.” I couldn’t remember where they were because by the time we had gotten to Target Titus was screaming and Evie was having a nervous breakdown. The child cannot cope with any sort of stress. I don’t know where she gets it from. Eventually we found the keys. In my back pocket.

I’m so glad we had bought all the books and crayons and activities because he was out there for a while. I glanced out and saw a kind stranger was out there under the hood with him, despite the heat.

And a friend texted me and said she was on the way in case we needed a ride or just for moral support.

Oh yeah, God’s grace was screaming.

Eventually the truck was all better and we were on our way back home. I had barely two hours and not a thing done to be ready for showing the house. My plan had been to clean during nap time. But we had just spent nap time at Target.

I put the kids down for majorly late naps anyway. And of course Titus took f o r e v e r to nurse and go down for a nap. By the time I was done I had less than an hour to clean.

I did what any respectable mom with a large vehicle would do. I put everything into laundry baskets and shoved it all into the Suburban.

I instructed Charis to turn off the clothes dryer when our guest arrived, and Arwen and I were just finishing sweeping when the door bell rang. Charis jumped up and ran to the laundry closet like her life depended on it. Then both girls settled on the couch with books like we hadn’t just been rushing around. It was just like that scene in Pride and Prejudice. Only our guest wasn’t Mr. Darby. 

I sure did show the house with three sleeping children.

And she LOVES it.

I think the soap sealed the deal too since I gave her a free bar. The lady can’t wait to move in. Seriously? Is the first person we show it to gonna take it?? We’ll see. 

Brent had offered to stop by Chick fil a on his way home, for dinner. I hesitantly suggested it might take too long. I was impressed when he shook it off.

Until later when he called to tell me it was “Chick fil a appreciation day or something.” Oh, really?

He doesn’t get out as much as I do. And it’s probably a good thing. I need someone on standby to rescue me. He even tracks my iPhone by an app on his. Can you blame him?

So, what sweet things has the Lord done for you today? Did you find His grace everywhere? Cause I’m telling ya… It was there.

rodeo!

We’ve been a little down in the dumps around here lately, and several weeks ago I saw an advertisement for a rodeo that benefits Rescue 1 “an abolitionist movement to end sex trafficking”. I tore it out and stuck it on the fridge for a back up plan, in case the unthinkable happened and we were not in Atlanta looking at big beautiful houses with trees.

And, we weren’t, so we went to the rodeo.

And it was awesome.

You might have correctly assumed that I have never been to a rodeo before. While the Promised Land is in the south, we are more of city people. People here in the Home Land? They are for real about their horses and cows.

And I was the only person snapping pictures right and left with an iPhone. I also wore inappropriate footwear. I completely understand now why everyone else was wearing cowboy boots instead of cute strappy sandals.

The girls quickly bought themselves some hats.

After about ten different tributes to the USA, the rodeo got down to business with bucking broncos.

Um. Ow.

Most of my pictures from the actual rodeo are of blurry horses, cows, bulls, and rodeo clowns. But the kids got cotton candy for the first time ever!

We were a little disturbed about the calf roping. But thankfully it transitioned to the grabbing the bull by the horns part. Somehow that was exciting and not disturbing at all. Don’t over think that. I tried.

Our citified selves stuck out worse when they called all the kids into the thing rink big circle. We missed the garbled instructions and suddenly all the other kids took off running through the dirt (and horse poop?) with Arwen timidly trailing behind. I don’t blame her. So far we’d only seen people get trampled by horses and bulls, and cute baby cows thrown onto their backs and tied up.

Turns out they were chasing a cow. One kid actually tackled it. This was obviously not his first rodeo.

Exhausted, we took our gringo selves home.

what's next?

The last two days have been really hard. Wrought with disappointment, frustration, and anger. Filled with lots of tears and painful feelings.

I have done the equivalent of donning sack cloth and ashes: I have sat around in capri yoga pants with unshaven legs. I have sported a neon blue tank over a pink sports bra and layered bobby pins on my head for lack of washing my hair.

In some very real ways, there were some losses to mourn. I’m not ready to delve into that right now.

Mostly I’ve just been asking God to help me be content again. Once I let my mind roam into the possibility of more, it’s been hard to go back to less. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Just normal. And less isn’t a bad thing either.

So. At nap time today I curled up with Charis and chatted about her new Wednesday night class at church. They had learned about church plants and she wanted more information.

I recalled when I was 12 years old and our family left sunny Florida to plant a church in the Promised Land. It must not have been easy on my parents. Our current circumstances in Florida had been very hard for them. People were being malicious and unkind. I remember watching my dad weep and my mom struggle to make everything happy for us kids. We were poor. We received government welfare, even though both of my parents worked two jobs. It was just hard.

So I was recounting these events to Charis, how the Lord led my parents to Georgia on a wing and a prayer. How we lived in a rental house for many years until I graduated high school. I remember that house. It had a whole wall that was 1969 era marbled mirror. I bet my mom hated it. Did she have friends in fancy houses that made her squirm with wanting more for her family? I don’t know. I cant remember her complaining. I can’t remember anything except that my mom could make a shack beautiful. And she made that house pretty.

Then I told Charis about how my parents bought their first home, their current home, just as I was taking off for Bible college in Texas. At that same time, her daddy was leaving Arkansas for Texas too. And then her Papa and Nana moved to the Promised Land, where her Grammy and Grandpa already were.

She giggled. If you’ve heard Charis giggle, you can appreciate how comforting that was.

Then I told all about how eventually mommy and daddy fell in love, and with Arwen in my tummy, we moved back to the Promised Land. To Grammy’s house, where Arwen was born.

Then we moved to a rental house in Tucker, Georgia where Charis was born.

More giggling. 

Then we moved to Pell City, Alabama to another rental house, and Ezra was born.

Then we moved to our current house and Evie was born. And then Titus was born.

“…And now we are still here…” my story trailed off.

Charis smiled and looked into my eyes like an old soul and said, “I know what you’re thinking, Mamma.”

She turned to a page in a little book she’s been working through for fun.

"Give this page to an adult"....

"Give this page to an adult"....

What’s next?

I don’t know. Maybe nothing? Maybe this is it. We stay here, we continue to work hard.

I know one thing for certain that is next: I lay it down. All the hoping. I just.lay.it.down. And I repent for longing for more than what Christ has already done for me. Because what Jesus did is more than I will ever need or hope to accomplish on my own.

I will always hate my kitchen though.

And that’s where I’m at.

grace to remember

Do you know how the Lord chose for this day to start off for me?

The clanging of dishes outside my door. That’s the very first noise I heard. Shortly after I opened my eyes and my sweet Arwen girl had prepared the very best breakfast in bed that she could muster up: extremely buttered bread, a banana, a nectarine, and an apple. On a tray and everything.

“Do you see those sparkles on top, Mamma?” her sweet voice asked. “I added something special.”

Oh, my heart. 

I realized that it was about 5 minutes before Brent was to interview and quickly texted him to check his fly. I’m such a good helpmeet.

What I really wanted was to dramatically sit by the phone waiting on news of how the interview went. But the baby was screaming, four other kids needed breakfast, the chickens kept escaping to the front yard, and well…. you get the picture. Before I knew it, Brent called to tell me the interview was over and he felt like it had gone really well.

And then about an hour later he texted that he didn’t get the job.

Cue the confusion. Was this a joke? You went to the interview for the job that they practically begged you to apply for, right?

Cue the anger. They picked the other guy? The lateral move guy? The guy who doesn’t even work in this department?

Cue the confusion. What about all our stuff in storage?

Cue the anger. You mean I did all that work for nothing?

Cue the confusion. Well, wait. Where are we going to live? Are we still going to sell the house?

Cue the anger. You mean we are stuck in this house ? You mean I have to move all that crap back into the house?

Cue the confusion. Wait. What about school stuff for kids? I can sign up for stuff now?

Cue the anger. You mean I did all that work for nothing?

Cue the confusion. So, I need to make more soap? I’m not cutting back on soap work?

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Then I tried to give Hard Hallelujahs. They don’t call them hard for nothing.

I added buckets to the tears that the soap room carpet has seen, today.

I’m not really ready to talk about how I feel. It’s like two rhinoceruses are battling it out inside me and I’ve got the bruises to prove it. It hurts.

And did I mention I’m confused and angry?

But the reason I am typing this out right now is because there are a couple of things I want to remember.

I want to remember the sweet way that the Lord graced my morning. He was padding the fall. Such a faithful God!!

And when the kids found me crying on the floor in the soap room, their responses floored me. They were disappointed, sure. But the grace and compassion that poured out of them was astounding. They left me quietly at my request and settled themselves at the table and created page after page after page of sweet drawings. Masterpieces, really.  God’s grace, expressed through a crayon medium.

And halfway through the morning my midwife, who lives so far off the grid it’s crazy, texted me. She said she couldn’t stop thinking of me and hoped I was okay. Now that’s some midwife intuition right there. Lots of friends checking in and praying today. So so so grateful. Y’all are a big chocolate covered piece of God’s grace too. Unless it’s weird to tell your friends they are covered in chocolate. (But my real friends would totally appreciate being covered in chocolate, I think.)

I had been thinking, worrying really, about how to tell the kids the news, whether Brent got the job or not. This entire  process has been so disruptive to our lives and the kids have been troopers. How could I make it easier on them? After weeks and weeks of, “Well…we might not sign up for art this year…” or “Hey, in the new house, maybe we can have room for…” or “I’m sorry I’m so tired guys, life will get back to normal when…” And if I had $1 for every time I said “IF WE MOVE” in the last month or two…

After a restless naptime I came downstairs to see that Arwen had created an entire party scene.

Y’all. There was a banner, and she made a party hat for everyone. And some party wands made from pipe cleaners and pom poms.

I half-bitterly questioned what she was celebrating.

She didn’t know, I could tell. She just knew there needed to be a party.

“It’s a cheer us up celebration, Mamma!” she proclaimed. And then proceeded to do a puppet show in her home made theater with the seven or so puppets she had created.

So, there it is. A lot of processing left to do. A lot of humming and hawing. And it doesn’t help that I just finished reading some Francis Chan, am currently reading Hatmaker, and pastor preached on Revelation 2-3 on Sunday.

Oh, and I’ve been watching way too much of The Office with a dash of Hunger Games.

Oh, my brain.

three times the charm

As cliche as it sounds, it’s hard to believe that another season of farmers markets has gone by. It’s tough- the heat, the missed naps, God help us if it rains…

But the farmers market people at the three weekly markets we sell soap at have become like family to us! They have watched our kids grow. They have worried about me through a difficult pregnancy. They have seen us at our sweatiest and stinkiest. Evie has essentially spent every summer of her life at the markets, for some perspective.

Our first summer we worked our behinds off to get out of debt. The second year it was all about the beach vacation. This year, we went because we love those farmers market people.

We missed a lot of markets this year. The Tuesday market concluded a couple weeks ago. Attending that market involves yanking kids out of beds from naps and surviving for an hour or so by myself while helping customers until Brent gets off work. We were so blessed to have sweet friends, the Vines, in the booth next door this year. Between the two of us, we had 9 kids roaming around!

Then we have a day off to prepare for the next market of the week.

Our Thursday market is on the Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa.

::::::::::ROOOOOOLLLLL TIDE!!!::::::::::::

Anyway, yeah we go because we are big fans. And they are big fans of our soap. And I kid you not, big burly football dudes totally love the Happy Thoughts soap. 

This market is a family field trip day. Brent takes the day off, we skip naps altogether, and roll with the punches in the name of adventure. You might recall this was the epic scene where AAA totally let me down.

Even though the market is still swinging, we had designated last Thursday to be our last. We have a big markdown sale on the last market and folks stock up like its Y2K. A really dirty Y2K. Of course our last Thursday had to be just one.more.adventure. Because our lives have been totally boring lately.

We had just finished setting out ridiculously large piles of soap on our table when lightening struck and a squall broke out overhead. Tents flew everywhere. Tree branches sailed by. After we ran circles around the table screaming “What do we do?!” and wringing our hands, we settled on throwing the edges of the burlap table cloth over the soap and lowering the tent like a big giant umbrella. It took both of us hanging on to keep it from blowing away. And when you’ve got several hundred dollars worth of soap on a table in a monsoon, you will do whatever it takes to keep it relatively dry.

And would you believe our loyal customers ducked right in and bought soap anyway?

It’s good people in Alabama.

The kids were still in the truck when the storm hit, thankfully. Except Titus, he was in his exersaucer and I threw him in the way-back and shut him in. Evie stayed in her seat and peed gallons all over herself.

Once the storm blew over we raised the tent, let the kids out, and cleaned Evie up.

Now, I’m not the mom who ever has diapers, wipes, or spare clothes on hand. But Ezra is a unique little boy who always packs three changes of clothes for any day trip.

So Evie was dressed like a boy the rest of the day.

We concluded the trip with our favorite dinner destination: Five Guys. I broke my diet and ate there too, out of sentimentality.

Today was the last Saturday market for us. The market director nearly cried when I told him we were possibly moving. I enjoy this market a lot. Even though it involves leaving the house early, and sometimes 100+ degree weather.

I’m normally giddy at the thought of putting away all the market signs and boxes at the end of the season. It’s exhausting, restocking three times a week, loading up three times a week, unloading three times a week, etc.

But it’s also familiar. Farmers markets are good for the soul. You can be having the crappiest day, but by the end of the market, life is just peachy.

I hate not knowing if we’ll be back next year. I hate not knowing what two months from now looks like. I get queasy at the idea of not having my home school support group. I get nervous at the idea of relocating our business. Atlanta is really honking big.

But there is also a tiny thrill at the unknown. Elation about living near family and old friends again.

Three days until the interview! We are sitting tight.

life goes on

I suppose an update of sorts is in order. Y’all know there is always something to report on. It’s just a matter of having the time to do it.

 

In short: Arwen turned eight, someone got sick with the lovely virus we brought back from vacation, someone else got it, someone else got it, and then someone else got it. Also: we are ready for fall.

And, look! Eggs!

 

Even a double yolked one. Maybe it’s a sign. Does a double yolked egg mean that you are destined to one year free of sickness since at least one person in the family has been super sick for four weeks straight?

I hope so.

While the rest of y’all are going back to school, we are getting lots of (forced) down time and scouring the Internet for houses in Atlanta that will accommodate a family of 7, a soap business, and 6 chickens.

Brent flies out for the interview to take place on Tuesday. We should know relatively quickly. If he gets the job, he will start October 1. That gives us about four weeks to find a house, close on it, and move in. We have a lucrative offer on our house, pending inspection and contract approval. (Now y’all can stop asking me if, when, why, where, or how. That’s all I know.) 

You can ask me if I’d like some chocolate or how my sanity is holding up or if we will need help packing when it comes time. Grashus.

what i feel and what is

So we thought that the very first person who looked at our house was gonna work out. I held back from any grand announcements because who ever heard of that happening.

And it’s not looking so great right now.

And we are 12 days away from the interview.

And I don’t know what 2 months from now looks like. While all our friends are planning school years and field trips, I’m stalled out.

And we’ve only been out of the Burgess School for a couple weeks and I’m ready for structure to our days again.

And I don’t know where we will live if he does get the job.

Or if he will even get it.

And what if he doesn’t? ALL THIS WORK?! For NOTHING?!?

What if he does get it and we pick the wrong neighborhood. Or we don’t know anyone nearby.

These are the thoughts I think all night long.

These are the thoughts rolling in my head as I change diapers, wipe noses, wash dishes.

And these were the worries knocking in my brain when I took out the trash.

I stopped to examine the sun set. To think about how huge the sun is, how far away the clouds actually are. How tiny I am in this galaxy.

And I remembered that the God who made all of that… Loves me.

Cares for me.

Remembers me.

Astounding.

3

S is for Secure

After we made it home from our adventure, Brent immediately came home to supervise me and bring me and the babies to the Promised Land to meet up with the rest of the family, on their way to a family reunion/vacation in the mountains.

Look at the scenery here, will ya?

We took a stroll to the lake nearby and listened to a sermon while a weird guy did yoga. Ezra wanted to know why he was naked. The next day we went to a little man made beach on the lake and it was the perfect destination for our little family. Arwen proclaimed it was “the best water experience ever”.

This was shortly followed by the second third fifth one of the top ten most stupid things I’ve ever done. (Okay, so I’ve done a lot of stupid things.)

The next day we had our “worst water experience ever.” Admittedly, it was by choice. We took the whole family tubing on the Chattahoochee river. See previous statement about caution and wind.

Uh. Whoops.

In our defense, we were assured by other family members that it was totally baby friendly and more like a “lazy river” than tubing. The water was no more than two feet deep, and the “rapids” simply spun your tube a little down a 6″ drop. I would agree that this river was quite lazy. It did barely ANYTHING to move us along. So there I was, in a giant inner-tube with a seven month old, floating along and “bbbbbvvvvvvvvppppppttttt” , the vinyl of my tube slid to a stop. Stuck on the tip of an algae covered boulder. Now, what do you do when you are in a river, on an inner-tube, with a baby in your arms, and stuck on a rock? Any bright ideas? Because this happened repeatedly. As in, every fifteen feet or so. I was STRANDED with a baby with no transportation, that’s for sure.

Our trip down this “lazy river” was supposed to be an hour long. I began to despair approximately 1 and a half hours into it after listening to Titus scream for 45 minutes. I couldn’t ignore the nagging feeling of being STRANDED again, just like in Tuscaloosa. I don’t do “helpless” very well. I tried to be thankful for the smooth stones I walked on as I tried to just let Titus ride in the tube (it had a bottom in it) while I pushed it along. But mostly I was just really mad about being stuck by myself in this stupid river with my baby. Brent had a couple kids somewhere down stream, my dad had a kid somewhere up stream, and my mom stuck close with Ezra. Until she got pummeled off her tube and run over several times by a gaggle of jerks. We were in two feet of water for crying out loud. Finally I convinced a strange man to rescue my mother and son and we waited on the bank for my dad to appear. Bless his heart, he now had the task of herding an injured Grammy, a four year old, a 7 year old, and a grumpy Mamma and her screaming baby about another mile down the river. It was ridiculous and miserable. He deserves a medal.

And I don’t ever want to talk about it again. Just know, that if anyone ever tries to convince you that it’s a good idea to take your baby tubing, you can slap them in the face and tell them that your idiot friend Missi did it and you know better now.

Just when we were recovering from the trauma Brent got a call that his grandpa was in life threatening condition in the hospital and no one was with him. Brent rushed to be by his side, leaving me STRANDED on the side of a mountain. Again, with kids and no transportation. What’s with the theme?

After he got to the hospital it was discovered that his grandpa’s life was not threatened and he did have a couple of family members near by checking on him. We were still glad that Brent was able to get to him quickly because we love Grandpa Farmer dearly. Brent got a hotel and I spent the entire night keeping everyone settled in strange beds. I was mad because the rest of the family had been going off doing fun things all day and me and the kids (and my parents by proxy) were stuck at the cabin.

I struggled to be content. I’m just being honest here, because I know that we all have these struggles and somehow convince ourselves that no one else does.  I wanted to dwell on “S” is for STRANDED. Because here I was AGAIN stuck with kids and nowhere to go. Our basic needs were completely met. We had family with us. We had WIFI. Shoot, I even brought along my favorite pickles. And I still couldn’t be happy.

And this made me even more mad. At myself. I need Jesus so bad. 

At the other end of a restless night a text from a friend awaited me. She felt like her storm shelter from life was about to collapse. In praying for her, I got the resolution I needed. The Lord brought my mind to Psalm 139.

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

(Psalm 139:1-14 ESV)

I encouraged her that her storm shelter was the Lord and He never faints or grows weary. He is a sure protector and she was free and SECURE to praise Him in the storm.

THUNK!

I could very easily read this passage to state:

You know when I am stranded in Tuscaloosa and when I am safe at home.

You search out my path and my lying down.

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me, even when I’m being a grumpy jerk. 

If I am stupid enough to go tubing with my baby and get stranded on a river, you are there!

If my husband gets called away during our only vacation of the year and I am stuck on the side of a mountain, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

God is so gracious to free us! So faithful to love us when we act as though we have been abandoned. I realized I was free to be secure, in the midst of a life that is changing and uncertain right now. I longed for solid, familiar ground to stand on and I found it in His Word.

Evie and I wandered outside and played bubbles and then treated ourselves to a lunch of hot dogs, pickles, and green Naked juice.

And just like that, all was right with the world again. All was right all along. It was me that was wrong.

“S” is for Secure. We are always secure with Jesus. Always. 

But I am never leaving my house again. 

A is for adventure

I could never be described as a cautious person I suppose.

Most people would just stay home and watch lots of preschool television in their pjs if they found themselves home for a week with their two smallest children, and the rest of the family out of town. I guess?

Me? I saw opportunity! I could finish touching up the house to get it ready to sell. I could move plenty of stuff into storage. I could handle the farmers markets just fine with the littles.

I worked myself silly moving boxes, sanding and painting, and staying up all night with a teething infant and potty training toddler. I had forgotten to figure that into my equation.

By Thursday I was super pooped but I still had a lot of painting and a farmers market an hour and a half from home.

I rushed through the morning painting and greeting soap customers with their pick up orders and quickly threw babies and soap in the truck for the market. An hour and a half from home.

I was feeling pretty positive as we hopped the curb onto the market lawn. And then my truck sputtered to a stop smack in the middle of the farmers market. I hopped out and called for able bodied men to come to my aid. Luckily, this market is on a college campus and there were plenty. They pushed me to my spot and I quickly set up to sell soap. I could set up for a market in my sleep, we’ve done it so many times. Which is good, because I was super tired.

At some point I called AAA to come give me gas, in between helping customers and doing hostage negotiations with my two year old who was clearly suffering emotionally from the little bit of transition our family is experiencing right now.

Brent has me covered with the most expensive premium package AAA provides. Because I throw caution to the wind as a habit.

AAA came and put gas in my truck and it still wouldn’t start. So I had this big muscled man who makes a living working with automobile emergencies telling me that I needed a new fuel pump and would have to get towed. This is similar to going to the ER for abdominal pain and being told you needed to have your appendix out when really you just had gas from some cauliflower you should have avoided. But you believe the man in the dr. smock with the nerdy glasses because he’s a surgeon.

When really they just didn’t give me enough dang gas.But I didn’t find that out until much later.

Are you still wondering how the police and chickens come into play? Good. Keep reading.

At this point I wept into the tail of my baby sling like… A baby. I had been trying so hard to be strong and not complain about how tired I was. About the anxiety that I battled with every box I packed and stowed away in our storage unit. About the sweet hand prints on the walls that I was painting over, erasing every sign of a happy life lived in our home. Trying to be strong and show Brent that he could trust me to do important things while he was out of town working equally hard to get this new job. And now I had to call and tell him I had majorly failed and I was stuck overnight at least until a mechanic could fix the truck. And did I mention that I was supposed to leave the next day to get to my other children? Yeah. I was devastated.

Brent found some sweet people for me to stay with. They recommended a trust worthy mechanic to have it towed to, and chauffeured me to Target for clothes, diapers, baby wipes, pull ups, and food. I was very grateful to have a place to stay and kids for Evie to play with.

Sometime the next morning the mechanic called with the news: it simply needed more gas.

I don’t have anything nice to say. Which is why I haven’t called AAA yet to let them know, for future reference, that 3 gallons of gas isn’t enough to restart a Suburban.OH AND THANKS FOR CRANKING IT SO MANY TIMES THAT YOU ALSO KILLED MY BATTERY AFTER YOU DIDN’T PUT ENOUGH GAS IN.

Ahem. See? No nice words.

I finally made it home. 24 hours late. The babies were exhausted from a very long and sleepless night so they dozed in the truck for quite a while. I was happy just sitting in the driveway. Eventually Titus woke and I took him inside, leaving car doors open for Evie while she slept in her car seat. Oh, and my wallet and iPad in the front seat. And my change bag stuffed with cash from the market. See previous statement about caution and wind.

I got distracted as I was unloading when I remembered we had chickens and I hadn’t tended to them before leaving the day before since I had only planned to be gone a few hours. Not 24. I didn’t see any of them and their water was bone dry.

I rushed out there, leaving the front door standing open, and was happy to find them alive and cackling angrily at me about their thirst. I let them out and filled their water dish while they circled my ankles. I’m pretty sure they think I’m the mamma hen.

I decided to circle back around the outside of the house to check on Evie who was still sleeping in the truck.

Imagine my surprise to find a cop standing in the doorway looking alarmed.

I snuck up on him and said, “BOO!”

Just kidding. But that would have been awesome. I did surprise him when I poked my head around the corner to ask what I could help him with.

He inquired whether I knew I had left all my car doors open with valuables inside and my front door open with sweet baby playing.

“Oh. My chickens just needed water real bad or they were about to die,” I explained. And, realizing that made no sense I added, ” I just got home. I was stranded in Tuscaloosa because I ran out of gas and AAA killed my battery and I was in the middle of unloading when I remembered I had chickens.”

Because all of that made me sound really credible, he cancelled his call for back up.

Whew.

Evidently there has been a rash of car and home burglaries in our town and he was sure he’d caught the perpetrator in the act.

I was just glad he didn’t realize I had a sleeping two year old in the truck because cops in our town are really bossy about leaving your kids in the car in the drive way in case a pervert comes down the street. True story. A cop said that one time.

“As long as everything is okay?” the cop said cautiously. I assured him it was and that I was gonna finish unloading. He smiled and left and I know he was thinking, ” Did she say chickens??”

the idiot's guide to FREE

I have been all over the place with Freecycle this week.

Since we are going to be trying to sell our home, we want it to look like a family of 7 doesn’t live here. So we rented a storage unit to put extra stuff in and are also just getting rid of some things we don’t want to move. Moving has a way of making you think about all your “stuff” a little less affectionately.

One piece of furniture in particular has never received any affection from me, and it’s the rocker/glider that we bought from Wal-mart when I was pregnant with Ezra. Five years ago. It hurts. After Titus was born I flat out refused to rock another baby through the night in it, and it has been replaced.

So I listed it on Freecycle. (If you are unfamiliar with Freecycle, it’s an email group categorized by city and people list items that they either are seeking for free or would like to get rid of for free. It’s a great way to get rid of big things that you have no idea what to do with, or broken things that you have no idea what to do with. Trust me- someone on Freecycle wants your junk!) In my offering I said in no gentle terms that it needed to be picked up immediately and I did not have time in my life for people who wanted to claim it and then not pick it up.

A woman called immediately and rambled on and  on about how she was not the type of person who would say she was coming and then not come and she knew what a hassle it was to wait on someone like that. Evie was peeing on the floor and Titus was screaming and in no gentle terms I said, “Great. Just come get it.”

Two days later, three phone calls and several texts, the dang chair still sat in my living room. And a bolt fell out the back.

So I relisted it as needing repair and in very aggressive terms communicated that I was going to hunt down anyone who wanted to waste my time   not going to hold it for anyone, and please don’t respond unless you are telling me what time you are coming to get it. And that I would give it to whomever said they were coming first.

Y’all. I got a lot of responses. Here are my favorites:

  • Can you take a picture of it? NO
  • What color is it? It’s FREE. FREE is a neutral color and it goes with everything. 
  • Can you measure how tall it is? Why don’t you measure your back seat and tell me and then I’ll tell you whether my chair will fit. After you tell me what color your car is. (Unless your car is FREE and then we’ll all know that it will go fine with my FREE chair.)
  • What is a glider? This one was my personal favorite. You probably don’t need it if you don’t know what it is. I’m considering responding with something totally made up. Got any ideas?  

And later I had some picking up of Freecycle stuff of my own to do. I’m an honest free cycler. I always come when I say I will and I don’t claim crap that I don’t need.

 

This lady had tons of moving boxes and packing supplies. (And no, I did not ask her to text me a picture of the boxes or what color they were.)

 

{GULP}

 

As she and I were loading it all into my truck I chatted about how we were just “pre packing”. Because I’m in total denial. Come to find out her family was crammed into a small space and had to do the same thing to sell their home. And here she was on the other side of it with a house double the size and beaming like she’d won the lottery. She was on the other side of this insurmountable task of moving a whole family (only I don’t think she has chickens or a soap business.) And her family is considering adopting from Uganda, only they aren’t sure how to go about fundraising. Imagine that. I bubbled over with information and I think I’ll hear from her again. 

 

I got home and it was time to put some things into the boxes since Brent was taking me by the storage space to show me the ins and outs.

 

And I realized that packing is a lot like unpacking. As I packed photos and hand prints and board games and what nots I realized I was unpacking a home into these boxes. One piece at a time, a life that we shared here was being wrapped up and packed. For where? We don’t know! Oh, the uncertainty!

 

When we moved here it was just a box with a bunch of dead plants outside. Our neighborhood was a wasteland, and now there is so much life! Babies were born here, and that’s always the hardest part about leaving a house. (There were two here.) Ezra and Evie took their first steps here. We’ve just fit ourselves so nicely (and tightly) into this space. So much love and life has happened to transform this box into a home. Thriving plants crowd around every side of the house. Chickens cackle in the back. My sweet girls’ flower beds burst with color.

 

Packing is hard. I am swallowing down tears and trying to be excited about the unknown. But it’s just.really.hard.