Archives for February 2014

Wintry Mix

Well, we’re supposed to get a “wintry mix” with possible ice accumulation starting Monday night / Tuesday morning, so it probably comes as no surprise at all that I’m planning to stay right here in my house until at least Thursday.

Just in case.

I mean, I know that I can’t actually avoid my work and A’s school tomorrow because I’m concerned that there may be ice tomorrow night, but I cannot even tell you how happy I will be to get home tomorrow afternoon. Because if the freezing rain and snow and whathaveyou are in fact coming our way, I want to be IN MY HOUSE WITH MY PEOPLE, AMEN.

And I think we all know that the fact that we’re actually planning for bad weather this time around means that it will sprinkle for five minutes Tuesday morning and then the sun will come out.

Still, though. SAFETY FIRST.

Thankfully, thought, we had a great weekend that will hopefully help sustain us if we face any (unlikely) cabin fever in the next 48-72 hours. Friday night I got to see a couple of friends who were in town, so that was such a treat, and then Saturday morning I got to spend time with some of the sweetest women at a Methodist church’s women’s conference here in Birmingham. I grew up in the Methodist church – so it is forever special to me – and as an adult I seem to get weepy whenever I walk in one. Saturday morning I made it to the fellowship hall before I started to feel the tears in my eyes, and as I was carrying my stuff up to the chapel where we met, I kept telling myself, “You have to hold it together. You have to hold it together. You are really going to embarrass yourself if you can’t manage to hold it together.”

But oh, y’all. That chapel. It reminded me so much of the church where I grew up. And what I loved even more was that the women there ranged in age from 20-something to (literally) 90. It was DELIGHTFUL. I will forever have the sweetest memories of our time together, and I was SO TICKLED when one of the ladies walked up to me at lunch and said, “You know, when they told us that a blogger was coming to speak, I was afraid that maybe you were going to teach us how to double-click here and then double-click there – but I figured I’d give it a try anyway!” I laughed so hard.

Saturday night we went to A’s banquet for Scouts, and after about two hours of dinner and awards and whatnot, I was feeling very patriotic and also wondering if I shouldn’t be doing more camping (thankfully my camping-related thoughts were short-lived). I thought several times during the awards ceremony that A and his den were being remarkably well-behaved, but when we got in the car to go home, A very proudly told us a story about how he made his row of buddies laugh when he let one rip after he received his badges. So, you know, we’re just doing our part to keep America strong.

Today was our usual Ch2 combo (church and Chuy’s). Our friends the Hamptons were also at Chuy’s with their boys, so A ended up going home with them, and then I braved the grocery store so that I could stock up on supplies for WINTRY MIX ’14. I thought maybe I’d get some writing done this afternoon, but by the time D and I covered some extensive conversational ground, I picked up Alex, and I started supper, the day was just about done. It’s been a good ‘un, though.

[insert witty conclusion here]

[conclusions are impossible for me lately]

[so I’m going with the brackets because it’s time to watch Downton]

[priorities, you know]

All Manner Of Links And Whatnot

Here are a few things I’ve been meaning to mention / share / give away.

I will no doubt think of four more things as soon as I post this, but I’m gonna go ahead and run with what I have.

Clearly I am very zany and devil-may-care-ish.

Except not.

— In light of all the marriage talk around here, I’ve been thinking about this excellent post on marriage by Edie. Chock-full-o-wisdom, hope, and truth.

— It took us over a month, but we have finally settled on our favorite of all the K-Cups.

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Newman’s Own Special Blend – Medium Roast, Extra Bold

I bought a big ole box because they were so much cheaper in bulk. And oh, we will enjoy the fire out of them.

— So. This year’s Allume conference is October 23-25 in Greenville, SC, and I am so excited to be speaking. I am also mildly terrified, but we won’t talk about that part right now because DENIAL. Anyway, I know that several of y’all have been to Allume before, so if you’re going again in October – or if you’re planning to go for the first time – be sure to let me know. Tickets go on sale March 1st.

Melanie probably won’t tell you this, so I will. Tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon from 3-4 central she’s going to be a guest on Chris Fabry Live. You can listen online or find a local station (it’s on WLJR 88.5 here in Birmingham). I enjoy Chris Fabry’s show so much, and I have a feeling that he and Melanie are going to be fast friends.

I will not play Flappy Bird. I will not play Flappy Bird. I will not play Flappy Bird.

— This morning I wrote on the very last page of this journal.

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It has been a delight and a joy, and I will miss it terribly.

Also: I may be a smidge over-invested as far as my journals are concerned.

— This is a show that’s fun again.

— Every couple of months I land on a new book that I read very slowly in the mornings. My friend Anne actually got me into this habit, and I’ve realized that when I’ve finished my quiet time and the house is still quiet and I’m drinking coffee, I love reading a few pages from something that’s thoughtful and helps me ease into the day (I wouldn’t have been able to do this in my younger years because 1) early morning and 2) SLEEP). Here are a couple of books that I highly recommend for early-morning reading (or whenever reading, for that matter):

Notes from A Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
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God Is Able by Priscilla Shirer
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I have two copies of each book to give away, so if you’d like to win either of these, just leave a comment on this post. I’ll draw for winners Friday night.

Happy Thursday, y’all!

This giveaway is now closed. Winners will be notified ASAP.

We All Have Our Antelopes, So To Speak

First of all, our winners.

Jennifer – comment at 8:50pm on February 2
Karen S. – comment at 8:54pm on February 2
Kristen Gregory – comment at 12:30am on February 3
Kelly Brannan – comment at 8:21am on February 3
Karen – comment at 1:56pm on February 3

You should all have emails from me – and thanks so much, everybody, for the great response.

Second of all, some thoughts.

A few weeks ago David and I were waiting for church to start when the subject of Beth Moore’s Believing God came up. I don’t remember how it came up or why it came up, but I do remember that I said, “Oh my goodness – you know that I have such a special place in my heart for that Bible study.”

“Really?” David asked. “Why’s that?”

“Oh, don’t you remember?” I said. “It was one of the biggest growth spurts I’ve ever had in terms of faith. It made me realize how faithfully God pursued me – especially during the times when I figured that that He’d surely given up on me. And remember? Right after that was when we were sitting right down there” – and I pointed at the specific seats – “we were sitting right down there and we decided to host that neighborhood Bible study?”

Make no mistake, people. I was having A Moment of Earnest Reflection.

David smiled and sort of nodded and said, “Well, I think that’s great that it meant so much to you.”

And I could tell he didn’t have the foggiest idea what I was talking about.

About that time the person who makes our pre-service announcements was about to greet the congregation, but I couldn’t let it go. So I kept talking, but in sort of a whisper-scream.

“Remember?” I asked. “We decided to host that neighborhood Bible study? And we had four or five couples come over? And then our friend Elon started the neighborhood newsletter so we could try to draw more people? And she asked me to write a little column about parenting? And that made me start writing again?”

By that point D looked like I was trying to explain a physics equation in Greek.

“You really don’t remember, do you?” I whisper-yelled – and then I kind of punched his arm because DID I NOT MENTION WHAT A SPECIAL TIME THAT WAS IN MY LIFE?

“Yeah. I don’t have even the faintest recollection,” he said.

I sighed loudly.

About ten minutes later we were about halfway through the second song when D leaned over and said, I KID YOU NOT, “Hey. Was that the Bible study where that one guy came over and loved the fact that our dog liked to eat white bread?”

I mean, y’all. OF ALL THINGS. It was one of the sweetest times of spiritual growth IN MY WHOLE LIFE, and my husband’s take away from those few months was that a guy who came to the Bible study loved the fact THAT OUR DOG LIKED TO EAT WHITE BREAD?

Anyway, I stared at D for a good five seconds, and then we started to laugh because the whole thing was so predictable. I have memory upon memory etched onto my brain and my heart as a result of that particular time in our lives…and David’s memories pretty much boil down to NEIGHBOR, DOG, BREAD.

That’s real marriage, y’all.

I have thought about that conversation (and there was way more to it than that – I have mercifully only shared the short version) over and over the last couple of weeks, because I think that during the first four or five years that we were married, I would have taken great offense to the fact that D didn’t react or respond to that whole situation exactly like I did. Now, of course, I can recognize that it was because I’d convinced myself that we needed to be essentially the same person, and I cried MANY A TEAR in those early years because we didn’t see everything the exact same way.

But let me tell you what.

We have now been married sixteen years, and I can’t imagine where we’d be without our differences. I’m mercy; he’s justice. I’m overly trusting; he is SCARILY discerning (it’s not really scary – but it is CRAZY how accurate he is at reading people and certain environments). I’m all over the place; he manages his time better than anybody I know. I throw things together; he does things the right way. I’m all up in the gray; he is black and white. I’m blurred lines; he is boundaries.

And listen. I rarely write about my marriage because there has never been one time when David has said, “You know what? I think you should write about us more.” Plus, we are such a constant work in progress, and just as soon as I start to think that we’ve figured something out, we’re smack-dab in the middle of another lesson. But make no mistake: there is nobody – NOBODY – who has been more supportive of this whole blogging / writing thing than D has been. Y’all have no idea. He is the one who encourages me to carve out time, who makes our schedule work so that I can go to Starbucks with my laptop and not feel guilty, who looks after me to make sure that I’m not overcommitted on the calendar or stretched too thin on the mental / emotional front.

(Just a couple of weeks ago, in fact, we were talking through my calendar, and he said, “You know what? I think you’re all good until June. No more new stuff until June. You are gonna be a crazy person if you take on anything else.”)

(And you know what I said?)

(I said, “Okay.” And I felt SO RELIEVED.)

And all of that leads me to this.

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It’s been almost two years since Melanie told me that she was going to write a book about marriage, and since she and I talk to each other A LOT about that very topic, I knew that any book she wrote would be hilarious. So last summer, when I read her first draft of The Antelope in the Living Room, I was not at all surprised by how much I laughed. I wasn’t surprised by the tears, either, because I know how much Melanie adores P. But I was a little bit surprised by my reaction at the end of the book, because more than anything else, my reaction was this:

OH. THANK GOODNESS.

Here’s why.

It’s a real book about real marriage, y’all. Not the marriage you think you’re going to have when you watch a Say Yes to the Dress marathon and can’t wait for the day when you look like a pretty princess. Not the marriage that you think you’re going to have when you read romance novels where people’s eyes meet across a room and they live with perpetual butterflies in their stomachs for the next forty years. And not the marriage you think you’re going to have when you’re watching some gorgeous famous couple talk about how things are just as white-hot between them as ever.

I don’t know. I just have A LOT OF THOUGHTS about how people’s expectations for marriage can be completely unrealistic. I mean, you may look like a pretty princess on your wedding day, but there will in fact come a point in your relationship when your husband sees you in the throes of a stomach bug. PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THAT. And the perpetual butterflies are all fine and good, but I’m betting that they’ll disappear when your husband gives you a new vacuum for Christmas or decides to invite 25 people over for your birthday and YOU HAVE TO COOK FOR ALL OF THEM. And as for the white-hot attraction – well, you should know from the get-go that once a young’un or two arrives on the scene, you may have to find you a hotel room or take a vacation to rekindle that spark. AND THAT IS OKAY. Don’t you dare let our oversexed culture make you feel like you’ve got to be or act like somebody you’re not when you’re with your husband. But perhaps that is another topic for another time.

Some people might say that I’m way too realistic. But I think that finding a person who is steady and funny and loyal and kind – and being able to laugh and share life with that person – well, that’s better than just about anything I’ve seen in a romantic comedy. That doesn’t mean that our husbands won’t get on our dadgum nerves from time to time (and heaven knows that we’ll get on their nerves, too), but there’s something so wonderful about being content within that commitment. Melanie does such a phenomenal job of celebrating that, of reminding us that an “ordinary” marriage is something very special indeed.

So. The Antelope in the Living Room. It’s out at midnight tonight (February 4th is the release date) and just waiting to make you laugh really hard. And cry a little bit, too. You’re going to have such a blast reading it. You can find Antelope at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookstores.

Enjoy every single bit of it, y’all!

It’s Time To Give Away Some Antelopes

Well, I think we are officially back to normal after last week’s craziness. I got THE SLEEP OF MY LIFE Wednesday night – the best sleep I can remember since the Saturday night after I took the ACT in high school – and Thursday I got to do really fun things like picking up my car and shopping for groceries. You’d better believe that I did not take either of those things even a little bit for granted. It felt like sweet, beautiful luxury to be mobile and run errands and come home and cook supper. Perspective teaches some memorable lessons, you know.

Friday I had a speaking thing (I don’t know what else to call it. Please forgive my awkward terminology.) down in Opelika, Alabama, and spending some time with those sweet women was a great way to wrap up the week. I was home by noon on Saturday, back in pajamas by 2, and happily napping by 3. So it was a pretty good day as far as Saturdays go.

(By the way, I have another speaking thing this Saturday, February 8th at Trinity UMC here in Birmingham, and the ladies who are organizing the event asked if I’d pass along the info to the folks who read my blog. So here’s the info if you’re interested; it would be so fun to see some of y’all there.)

So that’s about it, really, for our weekend. Today was pretty much a typical Sunday. I did manage to wrench my back when I was getting dressed this morning, so I have spent most of the afternoon slathering on Icy Hot and wondering when I turned 107. I’ve even thought about when I was little and those commercials for Doan’s Back Pills would come on during The Price is Right. I couldn’t fathom why the grown-ups had so many issues with their backs, but apparently the folks at Doan’s knew something that I wouldn’t know until I made friends with my 40s.

But listen. None of that even matters right now.

BECAUSE.

The real point of today’s post is this little treasure right here.

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Oh, y’all. I love it so much. IT IS FANTASTIC.

And yes, I know that I am shamelessly, unabashedly biased when it comes to Melanie. She is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world and one of my very best friends. But that’s part of the reason why I am so crazy about The Antelope in the Living Room – because this book is so her. It’s hilarious and tender and real. You will laugh out loud on page one (and countless times after that), and you will shed a tear or nine, too. Basically it’s like sitting in Melanie’s den and listening to her tell stories – and by the time you get to the end of the book, you will be encouraged, inspired, and relieved that there’s someone out there who has shared the same struggles, the same joys – and who sees the same very good God behind every single bit of it.

This book is such a good ‘un, y’all. You don’t want to miss it.

So. I haven’t even told Melanie this (and considering that we talked, you know, last night, that is sort of a feat), but I’m giving away five (5) copies of The Antelope in the Living Room. This giveaway isn’t sponsored by anyone; neither Mel nor Tyndale asked me to do it. I just want to give away some copies because I love this book and I know that you will, too.

SO – if you’d like to enter to win a copy of The Antelope in the Living Room (which comes out THIS TUESDAY, February 4th), just leave a comment on this post. I’ll leave this giveaway open for 24 hours, which means that I’ll shut down the comments at 8:00pm central on Monday, February 3rd. I’ll notify winners ASAP, and you’ll be able to choose whether you’d like to have a paperback or an eBook. I’ll order your book just as soon as I have all the necessary information.

Ready, set, Antelope, everybody – you’re going to love it!

This giveaway is now closed.