It’s An Emergency

Otis loves him some community helpers. Police. Firefighters. EMTs. These men and women are gods in his mind.

We regularly watch firefighter videos and EMT rap videos (yes, that’s a thing). We dress up as firemen and police officers. I get arrested and put in jail on the regular.

Well, yesterday Otis was finally able to come to the rescue in a real-life emergency.

We were playing outside and I scratched my leg because mosquitoes hate me… or love me? When I scratched my leg I must have opened up a small scab and started bleeding quite a bit.

Me: Otis, look. I’m bleeding!

Otis: Oh no!! You ok?

Me: No, I need a napkin. Can you go get me one from inside?

Otis is eager to complete his first emergency assignment. He hops up and starts walking inside. Halfway to the house he turns around and say, “Mom, I’m the doctor. It will be ok.”

I stay seated and listen as he bangs on the front door.

“Dad! Dad! Open up! MOM BROKE HER KNEE! OPEN THIS DOOR NOW! BROKEN KNEE!!!”

I’m dying.

Mark probably thinks this is Otis being weird and is ignoring him or maybe just can’t hear him. I don’t know. Either way, Otis’s life saving skills are not working, and just like his mom, he gives up pretty quickly and I hear him say to himself as he stands at the door, “Oh well.”

He walks back to me and shrugs his shoulders. “No napkin, Mommy. Sorry.”

I remind him that there’s a first aid kit in my car.

He races to get it out and gets to work on my wound. We’ve got q-tips and tongue depressors out because #newdoctor, and finally we get to dealing with my wound. He has me open the band-aid and he winces as he delicately places it over the scratch.

“Mom, you better?”

I grimace. “No, it still hurts. I can’t walk.”

“Mom. YOU. ARE. BETTER.”

He helps me up and asks me to practice walking on it. I insist I need crutches, but he firmly insists that I am fine.

His bedside manner needs some work, but overall I am thankful that all those hours of YouTube EMT videos paid off in my hour of need.

#TBT That Fight We Had

I’m looking through drafts of blog posts because I’m trying to find a link to an article I read once, and I was sure it would be in here, but it isn’t BUT I did find this gem from way back in the day. I don’t remember this ‘fight,’ but I made myself laugh all over again which is all that matters.

***
It was one of those days when I had decided that I was done with McDonald’s. Done, I tell you. No more of that filth would be entering the temple I call my body.

By 10pm that same day I was hungry. Hungry for a Big Mac. However, even I have limits no I don’t on what hours I will go out to fill a McD’s craving. I was planning to just sleep through the urge.

Mark: I’m hungry.

Me:  Me too. But I’m not in the mood to get up. We’re starving tonight, buddy.

Mark: Ok.

(a few minutes later)

Mark: I think Kevin went to McDonald’s…

Me: Call him! Call him and tell him to get us food!

In counseling, I like for couples to repeat back what they hear each other say.

Readers, what did you hear me say in that last sentence?

“Call him! Call him and tell him to get US food!”

Thank you.

Mark: Ok. (calls Kevin) Hey, man, are you still at McDonald’s? Great, can you get me a #1?

Me: Yeah, I want a #1, too!

This is where it gets bad.

Mark: (covers the phone) I only have a few dollars-

My eyes got bigger and I gasped. Then his eyes got big and then he gasped.

I was just denied a Big Mac. By my husband. The man who vowed to protect AND FEED ME til death do we part.

The betrayal. The heartache. The tears. THE EMPTY STOMACH.

Me: (chilly silence)

Mark: (to Kevin) Ok, man, I’ll see ya in a little bit. (to me) I’m so sorry! You can have it when he gets here. I just didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay him back… Marie? Please talk to me.

What I said
Me: No, it’s fine. I decided not to eat McDonald’s anymore anyways. This was just God intervening. No, seriously, I’m fine. You can have it.

What I meant
Me: You loser. I can’t believe you chose YOURSELF over your HUNGRY WIFE! How can I ever trust you again? How do I know you’ll make sure that my special sauce intake stays regular, huh? HUH?

Mark: Ok. I really am sorry.

At this point I really was fine. Sure, I was a little hungry and was imagining the smell of warm french fries, but fine nonetheless.

Then the food got there, and a mixture of hunger and anger consumed me once more.

Me: I just… I just… How am I supposed to know that you’re looking out for me? For my well-being?

Mark: Seriously, you can have the hamburger.

Me: No, this isn’t about OMG that Big Mac sure does look tasty a burger. This is a matter of principle. Of knowing that you are going to put me first. That you’re going to take care of me. If I can’t even get first dibs on a burger then how do I know what you’d do if there was just one life jacket on The Titanic?

Mark: We aren’t on the Titanic-

Me: IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TITANIC!

Mark: Oh, I thought that was where you were going…

Me: Just eat your stupid burger.

Letters to Margaret

Hi, Margaret.

You probably already know this, but your name isn’t Margaret*. It’s just what your brother calls you because he gets way too much screen time.

Finding out you were in my belly has been surreal. Like, I have possibly wanted you so bad for so long that I can’ believe it. Or I’m just terrified because the way you will change our little family’s dynamics feels so much bigger than anything that has happened to us before.

It might be a second child thing, but I keep forgetting you’re even here. That you’re real.

All the forgetting and disbelief and fear is so different from how I felt with your brother. And that scares me. Because is it possible to not fall in love with your child? My love for Otis feels so huge that I cannot in any way imagine my heart being able to hold more love or love that huge for another person…

And then your little 1-inch long body popped up on the screen.

4707961569992161130-account_id=1

Wow. That’s my baby. 

I’m still terrified. I still forget you’re here. I’m still a tiny bit shocked. But I’m no longer worried I won’t love you because, wow, you’re my baby.

See you on the outside!
Marie

*Margaret is Daniel Tiger’s little sister. We don’t know if we’re having a girl or a boy, but we do know that trying to convince Otis he’s wrong about the name is a hill we don’t want to die on quite yet so… “Yes, sweetheart, meet your brother, Margaret.”

Let me tell you a story

This is for my Never Trump peeps.

How much have you thought about Martin O’ Malley in the last year? You probably barely thought about him while he was running for the Democratic nomination, much less any thought to him since he dropped out.

I hope that brings some perspective to what Bernie Sanders and his revolution accomplished. Y’all, we weren’t supposed to even remember his name. He was supposed to be that Jewish guy that ran against Hillary.

I always think about this piece from a story about Jane Sanders getting on board with the idea for running for president:

When Bernie Sanders first broached the idea of running for president, Jane Sanders was not initially on board.

“First I said, ‘How can you win? We’re from a small state,’ ” she recalled. “I know the issues are important, but isn’t there another way for these issues to be discussed? I kept on saying, ‘Can’t you write a book? Can’t you start an organization? Can’t you do a speaking tour?’ And he kept on saying, ‘Yes, I can do all those things, and it’s not going to matter at all. It’s not going to change the conversation.’ 

Bernie didn’t get in this race to win (I mean, he did, but he knew what he was up against). He got in this race so that WE THE PEOPLE would start talking. And not talking about emails or who spent more money in which state or how many wives someone has, but talking about issues.

He wanted to get the country we love to talk about income inequality. To talk about the universal right to healthcare. To talk about trade that killed American incomes. To talk about how it’s not ok to let Wal-mart pay single moms $7 an hour and then shame them when they need food stamps to feed their babies. To talk about wars that we didn’t need to be in. To talk about corporatism. To talk about climate change solutions so our kids will have a planet to call home.

He changed the conversation. And if we play this right, the conversation stays here until it gets answers for all of the above.

Bernie won a lot of people’s hearts. And now he’s asking us to give those hearts to Hillary. Yes, I feel like a little kid getting dropped off at day care for the first time:

Do I trust Hillary? You want the truth? Nope. Not really. But I am the queen of a reframe, so let’s dive in…

What if Hillary looked a lot like Bernie on the day she became the First Lady? What if she believed in universal healthcare and being more than a FLOTUS that read books to kindergartners? What if she really wanted to shake the system up?

But then the Establishment happened. And healthcare for all was a failure. And maybe she didn’t quit believing in the progressive stuff, but she quit wearing her heart on her sleeve.

First things first. In my opinion, Bernie’s purity is a sign of his privilege. He’s a white man that can say a lot of crazy things (“Hey, Alan Greenspan, you’re destroying America”) and still get elected to office. I don’t believe women have that privilege. Even First Ladies turned Senators turned Secretaries of State. We don’t get to wear our hearts or our opinions so freely.

Hillary played the game. That’s why we are afraid of her. That’s why we hate her. She became one of Them.

Sharp left turn coming up.

I watched the Jaycee Dugard story a couple of nights ago on 20/20. That woman is amazing. She was held hostage for 18 years by an insane couple. She goes around telling professionals that they need to stop it with the Stockholm Syndrome thing. She argues that you aren’t “falling in love” with your captor, you’re doing what you have to do to survive. She referenced this YouTube video to show what it looks like to pretend to be dead in order to survive:

What if Hillary isn’t the Establishment? What if she has survived the Establishment? What if she’s been playing ‘dead’ and now that we’ve finally caught up as a country she can bounce back to life and be a true part of the progressive Dream Team WITH Warren and Sanders? What if they didn’t push her Left? What if she’s simply been waiting?

Maybe Hillary has been guarded for 30 years, believing that she couldn’t be progressive because that one time she tried it failed miserably. Maybe she’s scared to believe she can let her progressive freak flag wave. Maybe she can’t wait to be the nerdy, know-it-all, get-crap-done, Progressive Queen she has wanted to be since 1992.

Maybe.

I really don’t know.

But I do know that the current narrative that #BernieOrBust-ers are going to hand the election to Trump is wildly inaccurate. A lame campaign attempting to make everyone happy, coloring within the political lines of 1996, telling a story that’s simply “Vote for ‘Gina” because #woman, blaming an old man that was trying to decide between going on a book tour or run for president and accidentally started our generation’s political revolution because he can’t get his people ‘in line’, that is what will hand Donald Trump the White House.

The Clinton campaign has the perfect villain, now they just need to tell us the authentic & believable story of how the Secretary in Shining Armor saves the day.

*As a marriage therapist-type person, seeing a bunch of Democrats (not Progressives) tell emotional Bernie people to “quit being a baby” or “get over it and do what’s right” is the exact same thing as a husband saying, “Are you really crying over this?” when he forgets your birthday. Yes, it hurts. Yes, we need time. And if you condescend to me or tell me to “get over it” I will poison your dinner. Watch yourself before you wreck yourself.

This is our problem, Church

This post is for my fellow Christ followers.

Most of the time I’m like everyone else watching the United States of America the last couple of weeks.

It breaks my heart that there’s a mom looking at her little brown baby and genuinely terrified about the day he becomes too scary. Terrified about the day he becomes ok to murder.

It breaks my heart that there are babies watching their good moms and dads leave for work to serve their community scared they might not make it home.

It breaks my heart that there’s so much hurt that none of us can hear straight.

But these are nothing compared to the heartbreak I feel over the silence from the Church.

I get why the world is fuming and hopeless. I truly do. The entire thing is a cluster. I get why violence feels like an answer. It’s what naturally happens when we have felt unheard for too long. We cannot expect anything different from our flesh.

But when I see the Church fail to be the Church? I don’t even have words.

But Jesus did have the words…

I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.

Our oneness gives the godless world evidence that Jesus was sent here because God loved all of us.

If ‘saving the world in the name of Jesus Christ’ matters to you then UNITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST MATTERS TO YOU.

You want to ‘prove’ that God is real? THEN CARE ABOUT EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF HIS BODY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It makes me weep that when the race conversation blows up on CNN or Fox or your local Facebook page no one ever says, “How do we fix this? Let’s ask the Church! They have it figured out!” And do you know why they don’t ask us about racial reconciliation and how to become One?

Because Sundays are the most segregated day of the week. And everyone is ok with that.

Because when schools were desegregated churches responded by opening private schools so that their kids would never have to mix.

Because when I went on my first church trip as a teenager in 1999 the conversation in the van was whether or not it was ok to date outside of your race. IN NINETEEN NINETY NINE. 

No one looks at the Church’s ability to unite across racial lines and says, “Yes! That’s how it should be done!” That’s a problem, yall.

And I don’t say any of this like it should be easy. It isn’t easy today, the same way it wasn’t easy when the Church was born and God was explaining to them that “Yes, Jewish people you are going to start eating with Gentiles. It’s going to be awesome. Trust me.”

Paul was the biggest racist of them all and was essentially of the same mindset as a white supremacist, and God was like, “Hey! I want to use you to unite the Church!”

And then after God got a hold of Paul’s heart he wrote this to the church at Ephesus:

11-13 But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.

14-15 The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.

16-18 Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

THE CROSS GOT US TO EMBRACE AND THAT WAS THE END OF THE HOSTILITY.


Church, listen. Satan wins every single time we choose our fleshly desire to become defensive or violent over having compassion for the very real pain of our brothers and sisters IN CHRIST. I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of letting him win. Of letting him destroy the community and peace of His Church. Of being ok or indifferent or apathetic to the dire lack of unity in our churches. I’m tired of letting Satan tell me it’s ok to believe what I believe about my fellow earthlings instead of demanding that THE CREATOR OF EVERY SINGLE HUMAN renew my mind to make it look more like His and less like mine.

This is the spiritual warfare, Church. We don’t use weapons in spiritual warfare. We use love. So if you want to get in the fight why don’t we start with holding up all of our thoughts and opinions about race relations up to His word:

Love is patient. Am I patient when I hear a different perspective? Or am I unwilling to listen?

Love is kind. Are my actions drenched in kindness? Or have I chosen to be harsh?

Love does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. Do I just want to be right?

Love does not dishonor others. Are my words bringing honor to my family-in-Christ’s pain?

Love is not self-seeking. Am I fighting for what is right and fair for EVERYONE?

Love is not easily angered. Yeah… about that.

Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. Am I holding the past against you?

Love rejoices in the truth. Does being right bring me joy? 

Love protects. Am I standing up with the hurting?

Love trusts. Am I giving you the benefit of the doubt?

Love hopes. Do I have faith any of this can change?

Love perseveres. Am I willing to continue this journey to racial reconciliation with the Church even when it feels damn near impossible? 

Love never fails.

Church, let’s not let hate infect our hearts, ok?

To Fifty More

When you’re young and you hear a couple has been married for 50 years you think, “OMG! That is so adorable! Fifty years of hanging out with your best friend? Marriage and love are so cool!”

When you’re a little bit wiser older you and you hear a couple has been married for 50 years you think, “Wow. They didn’t kill each other. Bravo to everyone involved!”

My in-loves are celebrating 50 years of wedded bliss today. Bravo!

Aren’t they adorable?

These two are a lot like Mark and I. Very different.

One is the head, the other is the heart.

One says “Sure!”, the other says “Let’s think about it a little more.”

One says “Toss it, it’s junk,” the other says “But we might need it…”

Fifty years of this, y’all. Fifty. Years.

The remarkable thing isn’t that they had the differences, but that they didn’t let the differences tear them apart. That they didn’t give up.

And I’m so thankful that they didn’t give up.

Because not giving up taught my husband what real love looks like, day in and day out. They taught him commitment and loyalty. They taught him not to talk when you’re mad. They taught him how to serve someone even when you maybe don’t always like someone. They gave him an understanding of love and marriage that a romantic comedy could never touch (well, Up probably got close).

If they were writing this blog they would probably mention that they got here because of Him. They would tell you all the stories about how they almost screwed it all up, but God. They wouldn’t call theirs the greatest love story, they’d call it their greatest testimony.

A testimony to a God that redeems.

A testimony to a God that forgives.

A testimony to a God that provides.

A testimony to a God that showers blessings.

A testimony to a God that is good, even if nothing looks the way you thought it would 50 years ago.

The Lord is good. His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations.Psalm 100:5:

This family you two have built is beautiful. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us and taught us!

Love you both!

On Emailing Strangers and Catching Fireflies

A couple of years ago I was watching PBS do an interview with a science dude that was explaining the Polar Vortex. I liked his explanation. I liked that he seemed passionate about weather science stuff. I felt like he needed to know that his contribution to the world was appreciated.

So I googled until I found his email address, and let him know:

polar vortex

 

There’s a kid in grad school that has been predicting the primary election results using data from Facebook. It’s fascinating. He’s very good. He’s doing it for ‘fun’ and because that’s what he wants to do in the world so why not? He put out a tip jar and I threw a couple of dollars his way because good work deserves a little something, something.

pedigo

 

***

I don’t know that there is anything I’m more protective of than what I call the Holy Spirit tingle. You can feel it in your bones when you’re in the zone, when you’re doing what you’re uniquely gifted to do.

I think we live in a very distracting world. We chase down material things or status or security, and the Holy Spirit tingle is lucky to be an afterthought. The Holy Spirit tingle is quiet and gentle. It doesn’t demand attention. I imagine finding it is a lot like catching fireflies. Once you see it light up, when you see the general area she’s in, you have to change your focus so you can still see her when her light fades away.

It’s so easy to get discouraged when you are chasing down fireflies or Holy Spirit tingles. It’s so easy to give up. That’s why I look for random scientist’s email addresses and donate money to kids that are doing insane amounts of work “just because.” That’s why I fight for Mark’s songwriting, write books in the hours before work, and am trying really, really hard to get a school started where kids get to chase down every firefly they are blessed to get a glimpse of. In a very loud world full of “Be practical!” “Don’t dream!” “Grow up!”, I’m desperate to add my voice to the voice whispering, “Keep going” “Add your magic to this world” “Have faith.”

A Tuna Butt Walks into a Bar

Otis: Mom, let me see your tuna butt.

Me: My tuna butt?

Otis: (turning me around so he can see my butt) Yes, the tuna butt!

Mark: What is he talking about?

I have no clue. And I know I need to figure it out quickly because if you don’t know what Otis is talking about things get crazy fast.

So I fake it.

Me: The TUNA BUTT!!! OF COURSE!!! (shrug my shoulders at Mark and hope he knows to play along)

Otis: YES! THE TUNA BUTT!!!!

Me: 

Otis: 

Mark: 

I changed the conversation quickly because if it became obvious that I had no clue what a tuna butt was then I’d be in big trouble with the Littlest Boss.

We went on the rest of the night uneventfully. Until bedtime.

Otis: Mom. Where’s the tuna butt?

Oh dear. I really wanted to sleep.

Me: 

Otis: (speaking slower) Where is the turd in your butt?

Me: Wait. What? The turd? In my butt?

Otis: Yes! The turd in your butt!

Me: (yelling downstairs to Mark) Tuna butt is TURD IN YOUR BUTT!!!!!!!! I FIGURED IT OUT!!!!!!!!!! I’M THE BEST MOM IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!!!!!!!

Mark: You two are so weird.

Once I got over the ecstasy of knowing what my kid is talking about, I had lots of questions.

  • Where did he learn about turds?
  • Why is he looking for them?
  • Is this a high level fart joke?
  • Is my kid a comedic genius?
  • He’s my kid. OF COURSE HE’S A COMEDIC GENIUS.

And with that, I’ll end this post with…

TUNA BUTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Toast I Would Have Given

These girls have been friends since Apollo Middle School.

Junior high.

Who does that? Who keeps in touch with and likes hanging out with people who know what you looked like in that awkward stage where your hair was so big because you didn’t understand mousse and you wore the same wide-legged jeans every single day because they were the only pants that you knew wouldn’t be mistaken for ::gasp:: highwaters #horror

We do, but only because of Shelly “The Glue” Nickerson.

That’s right. Shelly P just became Shelly N (this nickname will probably not stick #allgoodthingscometoanend).

My best and longtime friend got married this weekend. We didn’t do toasts because I’m pretty sure that Shelly and Matt were done being in the spotlight as soon as the ceremony was over, and I’m never going to volunteer to public speak, but public write? I will public write all over the place. So here’s what I would have said…

“May I have everyone’s attention? I’d like to toast the happy couple!

Shelly, there really aren’t enough words to tell you how much I, and probably every person in this room, love you.

This week I was in charge of “planning” the bachelorette party. Y’all know this because I didn’t shut up about how hard it was, and how drained I was, and how OMG I’M NEVER PLANNING ANYTHING EVER AGAIN!

And I thought about how Shelly has been thinking about me, and probably every person in this room, for years. FOR DECADES! She’s been thinking about what we like to do and what we like to eat. When it’s been too long since the last get together. She’s been thinking about what the easiest route is for everyone. She’s been thinking about us and showing up for us and helping us calm down when we want to be dramatic for many, many years.

She’s been an anchor during crazy times. She’s been a compass when things feel crazy. She’s been the first text when we want to share the good news. She’s been the opinion that made the most sense. She’s been the encourager when you’re pretty sure you suck at life.

And I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know this. I have not said thank you enough. There’s no way I could. You’ve done too much for too long and too consistently. You win at friendship.

And friendship? That’s the key to this marriage thing. Showing up when it’s hard. Being kind when you want to be mean. Making sure it hasn’t been too long since the last Hint, Hint, errr, I mean, get together.

Matt, I know you know you’ve found a winner. And as your pretend marriage coach, here’s what I’m going to need you to do:

Tell her thank you. Every morning. Every night. At the end of every text message. Before every “I love you.”

Tell her thank you because she’s your glue. She’s holding things together that you didn’t even know were falling apart. And she does it all with grace and kindness and beauty.

Shelly, thank you for being my best friend since before text messaging.  Matt, thank you for making Shelly so happy, and congratulations on finding the very best wife on earth. I love you both! Congratulations!”

So Much Truth You’ll Slap Yo’ Mama

He is 4 and still in diapers with no interest in the potty at all.

WILL HE BE IN DIAPERS FOREVER?!?!

Ok, he goes to the potty now, but only when he has no pants on. The minute his bum is covered all potty training is out the window.

WILL HE EVER WEAR PANTS WITHOUT AN ACCIDENT?@!?@?

Fine, he’s going to the bathroom without incident, but he insists I go with him. He drags me to the bathroom every. single. time.

WILL HE EVER GO TO THE BATHROOM WITHOUT AN AUDIENCE?@?@###$

 

I have finally started slapping myself whenever I go into the tail spin of despair and anxiety about how fast or soon or well things are supposed to be going. I don’t remember the last time we used a diaper. I don’t remember the last time he sat around wearing no pants because I didn’t want to clean the couch cushions again. And one day I’m going to not remember the last time he grabbed my hand and demanded asked me to go with him to the potty. And I might cry. Because I’m me. That’s how I do.

He’s a late bloomer, and my only job is to stop trying to pry his petals open. He’ll bloom when he’s ready. We all do.

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