It Has Been A Monday

For some reason I woke up this morning with the misguided notion that today was going to be kind of a breezy day. I knew I had a meeting at 9, but other than that I felt like I was going to have all sorts of flexibility and maybe even some time to think about / edit my talk for Allume.

So now that it’s 9:15 at night and I have the benefit of some hindsight, let me just say that Monday, October 20th was a lot of things, but “breezy” was most definitely not one of them. I won’t bore you with the details, but there have been a lot of feelings. There has also been a quick trip to the doctor’s office (apparently I have a sinus infection) that was followed by an afternoon of heartfelt talks, a lost puppy (not ours), prescriptions for an antibiotic and a steroid (I LOATHE AN ANTIBIOTIC), and a story that I thought would encourage someone that actually made them cry.

Let me tell you. I’ve never felt better about my communication skills.

So. I am about to fix me a class of Crystal Light over crushed ice, crawl under the covers, and watch TV for upwards of fourteen minutes before I fall fast asleep.

But first, I feel like we all need to watch this. Because awesome.

The only thing that would’ve made it better is if those batons were on fire.

And guess what?

Tomorrow’s not Monday, y’all.

Hallelujah.

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 39

Well, I can pretty much sum up this episode in two words: SEC football.

Well, I can probably add three more words: Melanie’s football angst.

Oh, we talk about a few other things – dresses, booties (THE SHOES), corduroys, our new books – but mostly we talk about SEC football. And the SEC coaches’ wives show on SEC Network. And the most miniscule details contained within the coaches’ wives show because apparently I have been a little obsessed.

Also, Melanie’s t-shirt kept making microphone noise because it was rubbing aganist the chair where she was sitting, and I may have mentioned it once or four times. But mostly this one is a lot of football, a lot of laughing, and a little bit of comforting Melanie because OH, AGGIES. Her hopes were so high.

You can click here to listen. Or here. You can even listen right here.

Or, as always, you can subscribe on iTunes if you’re feeling particularly fancy.

Enjoy, y’all!

38 Things I’ll Always Remember

1. Sister and I left the house about 6:45 Saturday morning, but we pulled over at a gas station right at 8 so we could see the opening for ESPN College Game Day from Starkville. We grinned like crazy and watched for about 90 seconds before we got back on the road.

2. We figured out how to stream Game Day from Sister’s phone to my car stereo and listened the rest of the way to Starkville. Sometimes technology is handy.

3. Sister looked at the sky approximately 14 times and said, “Nahhhh – I don’t think it’s gonna rain today.”

4. About six hours later I recalled Sister’s weather forecast and marveled at the sweet, sweet irony.

5. Everything was already so crowded when we got to State around 9:30 that we just barely got a parking space in our favorite parking lot.

6. However, once we were safe and sound in a parking space, we took several minutes to touch up and also spray our hair.

7. Say it with me one more time: sweet, sweet irony.

8. About 5 minutes into our trek to the stadium / bookstore / Junction, I realized that I’d made a grave miscalculation with my choice of shoes.

9. By the time we pushed our way through the humidity and walked in the bookstore, I was in dire need of two things: a different pair of shoes and about 3 bottles of ice-cold water.

10. I couldn’t do a thing about the shoes, but I drank my first bottle of water in record time.

11. Then I drank the 2nd bottle of water because HOT.

12. Then we walked over to The Junction to secure our spot for Dawg Walk.

13. Now this is only an estimation, of course, but it is my firm belief that there were roughly FOUR TRILLION PEOPLE in the general vicinity of The Junction.

14. However, there was also a Cheez-It tent near the place where we always stand for Dawg Walk, and I immediately decided it was a sign of good things to come.

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15. The sun was like a laser Saturday morning, and after about 10 minutes of trying to shield our faces from imminent skin damage, Sister remembered that she had an umbrella with her. We spent the next 90 minutes crouching under that umbrella and dodging the sun as best we could. Honestly, that umbrella may have been the only thing standing between us and a severe case of sun poisoning.

16. Dawg Walk, as it turned out, was a little crowded. via

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17. It was also loud.

18. But it was glorious.

19. After Dawg Walk we went back to Daph’s tailgate, where I promptly apologized for being low energy and sat down in a chair and stared off into space and maybe also ate some ribs.

20. Approximately 15 minutes after I sat down, I had a talk with myself. I said, “SISTER,” (I don’t normally call myself “sister,” but apparently I was trying to empower myself), “this is a BIG DAY. The biggest in MSU football history, in fact. So stand up and PEP UP, and FIND SOME ENERGY, MISSY.” (I don’t normally call myself “missy.”)

21. Then we walked over to the stadium.

22. I may have prayed for a breeze.

23. I don’t know if I mentioned this after the A&M game, but the new addition to Davis-Wade Stadium is FANTASTIC. It’s beautiful, it’s the new home of the student section, and it’s pretty much non-stop noise from warm-ups until well after the game.

24. I tried to seize some pre-game optimism from the students, but I honestly felt a little sick right up until kick-off (NERVES, MIND YOU). Needless to say, I was relieved and surprised when we scored 21 points in the 1st quarter. Totally surreal.

25. The rain started in the 2nd quarter, and when the bottom fell out (thankfully I was sitting under an overhang), I got a text from Melanie. Clearly I was in a place of deep dependence on the Lord when I answered her.

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26. Sister sat with some friends from our hometown during the first half, and when she walked up to our seats at the end of halftime so that she could borrow my rain jacket, she was soaked to the bone. However, our mama would have been tickled to note that Sister’s lipstick was still perfectly applied, and her eye make-up had never looked better.

27. Sister sat next to me during the 2nd half. Every time she rang her cowbell, a little rain flew out. It made me happy.

28. About mid-way through the 4th quarter, I started to entertain the notion that we just might win. In the way that is unique to Mississippi State fans, I thought of every possible worst-case scenario – a dramatic comeback by Auburn, a series of turnovers by us, a plague of locusts descending upon the stadium – but from a purely mathematical perspective, I felt the slightest bit hopeful.

29. And then we intercepted on our goal line.

My bottom lip got all quiver-y.

30. Because when you’ve cheered for a team your whole life – when you’ve watched them struggle way more than you’ve watched them succeed – you can get used to holding the short end of the stick. That’s not to say that we haven’t had some good years at State (heaven knows the last few have been all sorts of fun), but we’ve never had a team like this one. Not in my lifetime.

31. And as the clock was winding down, I tried to wrap my brain around what was happening on that field. Our beloved Bulldogs were more than likely going to be the #1 team in the nation. To people as practical as State fans, that sort of thing can feel like pie-in-the-sky (we tend to err on the side of cautiously optimistic). But it was for real.

32. Because that team on the field? They are for real.

33. Right before the alma mater and the fight song, I picked up my purse and my cowbell, and as I turned around, Sister said, “I’m gonna need to stay here for just a few more minutes. I just want to take it all in. I want to soak it all up. Is that okay?”

34. It most certainly was.

38-23 from boomama on Vimeo.

35. About an hour later, we finally made it back to the car. We were exhausted from the sun and the crowds and the nerves and, in Sister’s case, the downpour. But we were just beside ourselves. Tickled to pieces.

36. On the way home Sister and I talked about how Mississippi State has always been a working class school. We’re farmers. Teachers. Veterinarians. Engineers. Architects. We like to grow things, and we like to build things. We’re not flashy, we’re not pretentious, and heaven knows there’s nothing fancy about us. We like to get our hands dirty, we like to work hard, and we like to look out for each other. We value loyalty more than just about anything.

37. This year’s football team – well, they personify everything I just mentioned. Granted, they’re also talented – but more than anything else, they work hard, and they fight for each other. They seem to value “we” more than “I,” and they are such a blast to watch. So no matter what happens from here on out, they have made us all so proud.

38. And they really are #1. Our Mississippi State Bulldogs. The #1 football team in the country. Now doesn’t that just beat all?

Hail State, y’all.

Well, I’m As Nervous As I’ve Ever Been

When I was a little girl – not much older than Alex is now – I had a Mississippi State scrapbook. I faithfully cut out any article that was in either my hometown paper or the Jackson paper, and I’d carefully place it in the scrapbook, along with my ticket stubs and pictures from the game day programs. I’ve always loved words, and I’ve always loved college football, and that little scrapbook – which I believe I bought at Eckerd’s – was the first time I’d kept a record of either. I can still picture the way I wrote the score of each game next to my ticket stub – in a blue Biro pen, no less.

This week has made me think a lot about that old scrapbook. The internet has been CHOCK FULL of coverage about the Bulldogs and Auburn and their upcoming game, and it’s been a little bit like drinking from a fire hydrant. Today alone I’ve seen three or four articles about Dak Prescott, three about our coaches, a couple about recruiting, and from my perspective it’s almost been a little surreal. At State we’re pretty used to folks looking past us, so being on the cover of Sports Illustrated is, you know, SORT OF DIFFERENT.

Anyway. I think our game against Auburn will be a good one. And I can’t even imagine how nauseated I’ll be by kickoff because I’m pretty much on adrenaline overload right now. PUT ME IN, COACH LANCE.

(I may have to send a prize to the first person who gets that reference without the aid of the Google.)

Also.

The Bulldogs have gotten so much of my mental space this week that I haven’t even told y’all about something exciting and also terrifying that happened last Friday: I got home from work and found a box of Advance Reader Copies of my new book on the front porch.

First thought: WHOA NELLIE.

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Second thought: This is way bigger than the first book. (It’ll be a couple of months before I see the final typeset version, but there are more chapters in this one than there were in the last one, and apparently that makes a difference.)

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(I had trouble capturing the size differential in a picture. But I promise that the 2nd book is bigger. And also, please enjoy Hazel’s manic movements in the background.)

Third thought: WHOA NELLIE.

Fourth thought: I WOULD LIKE TO HIDE NOW.

Alex actually read the new book this week, and he told me today that he gives it two thumbs up. I was thrilled for about six seconds, and then I remembered that I am in fact the person who buys his groceries and cooks his meals. So I feel that the literal home cookin’ most definitely affected his analysis and evaluation.

Last topic.

I had a speaking thing today for the Samford Legacy League, and before the luncheon someone brought me a gift bag and said she’d been given instructions to deliver it. I put the bag with my purse, and because I had a bunch of stuff to carry to my car when I left, I didn’t open the bag until I got home.

Here’s what I found.

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Well. Well. Well.

It’s a brand new cowbell – and can y’all see that it says “BooMama” over there on the side? Only the “M” is actually the Mississippi State logo?

YOU CAN IMAGINE MY JOY.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that my unexpected cowbell gift is a sign that the Bulldogs will win this Saturday.

But I will say that receiving a customized cowbell two days before the biggest game in my school’s history – well, it sure did put a smile on my face. Maybe even a little sparkle in my eyes. So thanks, mysterious gift giver! My nerves and I surely do appreciate it.

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Hail State and Go Dawgs!

Somewhere In Between

Warning: this post is all over the place. It’s probably four posts in one. But I wrote it on and off yesterday afternoon – with plans to edit it later – and I decided this morning to just post it as-is. Clearly I’m feeling a little spontaneous and living on the edge. :-)

This is the first year that Alex has played football, and I’ve been a little surprised by what a commitment it is for our family. I don’t say that begrudgingly at all because he has loved it and David and I have loved watching him love it, but most weekdays I feel like I look up and it’s 9:00 at night. We get home from work / school and I check blog email and Alex walks Hazel and I start supper and he eats a snack and David gets home and then one of us takes Alex to practice.

I’d originally thought that practice would be a fun time for D and me to get to eat out or walk around a book store or hang out on the practice field and talk, but as it turns out Hazel’s least favorite thing in the world is going into her crate for the second time in a day. So one of us stays with her, one of us does the practice run, and by the time we’re all home again and we eat supper and try to have a conversation that lasts longer than two minutes, it’s A’s bedtime. On a good night I manage to stay awake until 10:30, but most nights I don’t make it past 10.

5 AM is always early, you know?

At least once a day I think about all of you who have 2, 3, 4, or more kids – all involved in an activity – and in my head I applaud you for getting those young’uns where they need to be every single day. As kids get older, practice schedules are no joke, and even though I am the first person to jump on the STOP OVER-PROGRAMMING KIDS soapbox, I am also mindful that part of our job as parents is to help young’uns figure out what they love to do, to help them realize what they’re good at doing, and to put them in situations where they’re working for something way bigger than themselves.

It’s a fine line. But right now – on this Tuesday night at the tail end of September – I feel pretty good about where we’re standing. Tomorrow may be a different story.

And then there’s this. I’ve spent a big chunk of the last 20 years in a classroom. I’ve taught a bunch of different subjects, but mostly I’ve taught American literature. This year, though, I’ve shifted into a new job. I have an office instead of a classroom, and now I spend most of the school day talking to and praying with and occasionally handing out Kleenexes to high school girls. It’s weird to be in an office after so many years with chalkboards and then white boards and then SmartBoards. I have a phone on my desk now, but I’m not at all used to it and I jump when it rings. Anybody who has been a teacher can relate to the strangeness of a ringing phone during the workday. Ringing bells are one thing, but that phone? That phone is something else.

My new job doesn’t come with any sort of fancy title and doesn’t require special credentials. Thankfully we have a licensed counselor who can deal with the more serious issues, and that is such a comfort to me. I’m really just there to love on our girls and help them navigate day-to-day stuff: problems with friends, questions about faith, frustrations with hair or clothes or boys. I told somebody last week that I’m sort of like a drama coach – only my job has nothing to do with musicals or plays. And I’m not trying to help the girls get better at drama; I’m trying to encourage them to stop it. Walk away from it. Love each other. Honor each other. Honor each other. Honor each other.

(That last thing is a pretty big deal to me.)

I probably visit with an average of 8 or 10 girls every day, and for the first couple of weeks, I talked a lot. Shared my ideas. Told them how I thought they should handle things. And they were super gracious to me in my over-enthusiastic attempts to solve their problems. But somewhere around the end of week two, I felt like the Lord was reminding me over and over again to keep my mouth shut. I mean, He didn’t say, “SHUT UP” or anything like that – thankfully God’s a whole lot more patient than I am and not even a little bit rude – but almost every time I’d open my mouth to “fix” something, I’d get that check in my spirit that sounded a lot like, EASY, GLADYS. NOT SO FAST. DIAL IT BACK A NOTCH. LET HER TALK.

It’s been such a good lesson.

For those first few weeks after school started, I felt consistently overwhelmed by the new work stuff. And at least a small part of that, I think, was that I wanted to do my best to help but couldn’t figure out how to manage my days. People floated in and out of my office. I couldn’t plan what my day would look like. I missed the structure of my junior English class and the element of control that comes with HERE. LET ME TEACH YOU ABOUT JAY GATSBY. I HAVE SOME POINTS. YOU’RE GONNA WANT TO WRITE THEM DOWN.

It’s so much better now, though. I’m still smack dab in the middle of a big ole learning curve, but I’m figuring out how to flex a little more. I’m don’t feel pressure to fix everything because I’m reminded every day that the Lord’s timing is so much better than mine. It is a kick – A KICK – to see the Lord at work and marvel at how intricately He designs the details of people’s lives. And I told David tonight that I’m learning – slowly but surely – that what I’m really getting to do every day is see how Light ripples and bounces when it gets to shine in dark places. Each day preaches a new and different and beautiful sermon.

All that to say (after almost a thousand words of rambling): I feel a little bit like I’m in transition. David and I now have a boy who is finding his way and loving life and starting to figure out who he is and what makes his heart beat a little faster. I’m doing this new thing at work, and in the strangest way it feels as natural to me as writing does. It’s a different side of my personality, but the days are full and they fly by and by and large they are a blast. And then there’s this new book that comes out in about four months, and while I do feel all kinds of vulnerable about the fact that people may read it and decide they don’t like it or the first one was better or whatever, the process of turning it over to my publisher and letting go of it, so to speak, has been such a relief that I can’t even describe it. I held on to it long enough. It’s time for it to move on.

I didn’t mean for this post to turn so reflective, by the way. It was gonna be light and breezy. But I’ve been reminded so much lately that this is such a sweet, rewarding phase of life, which is sort of ironic because ten years ago I would have told you that there was nothing about the mid-40s that sounded even remotely fun to me. I always thought I’d be so sad to not be the mama of a little one anymore. But as it turns out, I’m not sad at all. I’m just grateful. I turn 45 in a couple of days – FORTY-FIVE – but I don’t feel a single bit of the inner freak-out that 40 dumped on the front doorstep of my mind and my heart. Earlier today I was trying to figure out how to put this particular time in my life into words, and here’s what I came up with:

GIDDY UP.

So maybe I should warn you that 45 may not be a particularly eloquent time for me.

Thankfully Mumford & Sons can express themselves way better than I do. I heard the song “Below My Feet” about an hour ago, and this right here? THIS IS IT.

Keep the earth below my feet

For all my sweat, my blood runs weak

Let me learn from where I have been

Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

GIDDY UP.

A Few Friday Favorites

Here are a few things that I’m loving this week.

Besides the State/LSU game, of course.

I’ve now watched it five times.

1. For Such A Time As This by Angie Smith -

Angie is one of my favorite writers. She’s smart, she’s funny, and she has such deep, practical understanding of Scripture. She’s written a new children’s Bible storybook especially for little girls, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it. It releases October 1st.

2. SheReadsTruth

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I’m linking to the website so you can see how this Bible study community is set up, but if you have a smartphone, you will most definitely want to download the app. In addition to being chock-full-o-Truth, it’s absolutely beautiful, and it feels like a giant exhale every single time I open it on my phone. You can look up verses, work through a study, jump into community – whatever suits your needs at the time. You can also find all sorts of beautiful artwork and photography inside the app, each with an encouraging verse or quote. There’s lots of great information right here if you’d like to learn a little more or give it a try. I think you’ll love it.

3. “Being Left Out Hurts – Let’s Stop ‘Social Engineering’ Now”

Here’s my two cents that nobody asked for: as mamas we need to be really clear – REALLY CLEAR – that if we’re gonna orchestrate and manage and hover over our children’s friendships, our kids will be the ones to suffer for it. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be aware and involved. But there is no joy in cultivating a culture of exclusivity – just years of heartache and unhealthy relationships for the parents and the kids. I will spare you my soapbox, but oh have mercy the Gospel compels us to something higher and better in terms of how we treat people and how we expect our children to treat people. And that’s all I have to say about that. :-)

4. Ben Rector – Live in Denver

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Ben Rector has a new live album, and it is FANTASTIC. Reminds me of my college days when I’d drive back and forth to Starkville listening to Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits. It’s a real treat.

5. And last but not least – MSU/LSU Highlight Video

Maybe one day it’ll get old.

But I really can’t imagine when that will be.

(And don’t worry – I’ll be completely focused on A&M next week.)

(The team needs me, you understand.)

(Except not really.)

Hope y’all have a wonderful weekend!