The Big Boo Cast, Episode 34

I just listened to this episode before I uploaded it, and doing that made me realize that Melanie and I had a guest co-host this week that we failed to mention: THE POLLEN. Oh my goodness. I cough, Alex coughs, I sniff, Alex coughs, I take sip after sip of Crystal Light to try to soothe my throat, and then Alex coughs some more. So basically the whole podcast is like waiting with a child in the sick room of a peditrician’s office. I’m just as sorry as I can be about that, but the pine pollen is just about more than we can stand right now. At least I didn’t resort to using Flonase or a Neti pot at any point in the proceedings.

As usual, we talk about many unrelated things: Melanie’s new career as a mom DJ / choreographer, my weekend in Oklahoma, my quest for a new spring purse, Mel’s fancy dinner this past Saturday night, my exciting MSU baseball-related achievement, the season premiere of Mad Men, and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t remember. And by all means, if you’d like to shop with us as we look at purses during the podcast, click on over to the Noonday bags page. It might be a nice visual reference.

You can click here to listen. Or here. You can even listen right here (I just realized that we could do this when I uploaded the last podcast, and I think it’s a convenient listening option).

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

Hope y’all enjoy it!

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

I am in Oklahoma this weekend for the Baptist General Convention’s Women’s Conference. Last night when I was trying to go to sleep I got very tickled thinking about what the 22 year-old version of me would say about the fact that I’m staying on a campground (there are lodges! I’m not sleeping outside!) for the weekend and hanging out with some of Oklahoma’s finest Baptist women.

I’ll go ahead and tell you that it’s not necessarily something that was on my 22 year-old radar.

I’m thrilled to be here, though, and it is an absolutely beautiful setting. Yay for Oklahoma sunsets and the fried pies that may mark the end of my Lenten resolve. I haven’t tried one yet because I’m quite honestly I’m afraid of the depth of my reaction. I think there would be a lot of feelings.

So.

A couple of weeks ago I did a little video call with my pastor, my pastor’s (sweet, funny, beautiful) wife, Heather, and Ann Voskamp. The fact that I was even in the conversation was sort of hilarious to me, but oh my goodness – I SOAKED UP the wisdom from David, Heather, and Ann that afternoon. We were talking about the topic of the next Secret Church – The Cross and Everyday Life – and it was so encouraging to hear everybody’s perspectives and challenges and stories in terms of trying to walk out the Gospel in the day-to-day. We talked about family, marriage, sports, spiritual disciplines – a whole host of stuff.

I even have this little picture collage as a souvenir, and it delights me for several reasons.

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1) I look just like my mama in these pictures.
2) MY HAIR?!?!?! Did I wake up that day and just swoop it all to the side?
3) Clearly I had no idea where to look when we were talking.

Anyway, you can read some of what Ann had to say right here in part 1, and then there’s my part of the conversation in part 2. Obviously I don’t have quite the, um, depth of Ann, but I hope it’ll make you smile. That’s about the best I can do, my friends.

I know that some of y’all have attended Secret Church in the past, and some of y’all are probably already signed up for the next Secret Church on April 18th. There’s probably also a few of y’all who may have wondered what it’s all about but been reluctant to sign up. I totally get that – because I was, too. But just know this: even though it’s six hours of fast-paced, intense Bible study, it flies by (seriously), it prompts great discussions, and it’s a chance to just go another step deeper in your relationship with God and your understanding of Scripture. There are really affordable simulcast options if you’d like to watch at home, and there are a whole bunch of churches serving as simulcast sites, too.

You can find all the info you need on the Secret Church website.

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

The Devil Is In The Details

I need to say something.

And I hope we can still be friends after I say it.

Here we go.

There is nothing – NOTHING – that stresses me out more than a bunch of details.

I’m not talking about the details that someone might use when they’re telling a story. For the most part I think those kinds of details are charming and delightful.

The details I’m talking about are the ones that manifest as lots of tasks. I’m talking about the little things that have to be done in order to complete a project. I’m talking about the hoops that you have to jump through in order to pay taxes, renew a car tag, return clothes that you ordered online, work on a long-range plan, keep track of mileage, or set up new processes and procedures at your job.

Heaven forbid that spreadsheets enter the picture. Because if they do, you might as well send me a nerve pill when you email me the spreadsheet file.

I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. I’ve always liked the big picture – the possibilities, the what-could-bes, the touchy-feely objectives that might make people laugh or provide some encouragement or remind folks to hug their people a little tighter.

But as far as figuring out the hows and the whens and the wheres of those things? HERE IS WHERE I STRUGGLE. The to-do lists start to feel endless to me, not to mention that all of those troublesome details interfere with my Happy Feelings and Optimistic Reveries.

You can imagine what joy I bring to type-A, goal-oriented personalities.

The irony in all of this is that I live with two very detail-oriented people (as far as I know Hazel is a big picture girl like I am, and I think I will just continue to tell myself that because SOLIDARITY). David and Alex have never met a plan or a process or a set of objectives that they didn’t like, and while that makes for nice balance in terms of personalities (and also in the sense that, for example, my husband is going to the bank for me today since I have a book table at a conference this weekend, and a book table requires that you be able to make change, but unfortunately trying to figure out how much change – and what denominations – is pretty much enough to put me in the bed for the better part of two days), it makes me crazy sometimes (and also a little jealous) that they thrive on structure and lists and plans and goals.

Dealing with details reminds me of when Alex was little and we’d have playdates with different friends who made those toddler behavior charts for their little ones. There were always lots of lines and boxes and stickers and checks, and just the thought of keeping up with something like that made me all itchy and fidgety. I am all for affirmation and accountability and consequences, but if there is a series of daily poster-related action items that have to be completed in order to encourage good character, then I am instantly transported to the boondocks of the far reaches of my comfort zone.

And I will probably suggest that maybe a better idea would be to look at all the stickers and make a pretty picture and talk about how those pictures make us feel.

This past Monday afternoon Alex came home from school with a chart that he put on the refrigerator. I was immediately suspicious because of my long-standing resistance to charts, tables, graphs, etc.,, so I asked Alex what was up and pretended to be totally casual about the whole thing.

“Well,” he said. “We’re studying water usage, so for the next couple of days we have to keep track of how we use water.”

This was when I started to feel faint.

“So on this chart,” he continued, “every person in our family will make a tally mark after they wash dishes, wash clothes, flush the toilet, take a shower – you know, pretty much any time we use the water.”

Oh. Say it isn’t so, my child. Say it isn’t so.

And here’s what I knew within seconds of Alex’s explanation: 1) there was no way I would remember to fill out the chart, and 2) the task-oriented people in my family were going to totally overachieve with those hash marks.

For the last two days I’ve watched them dutifully document their water usage. They are prompt, they are consistent, and they even make all their tally marks the same size. It is a sight to behold.

I, on the other hand, have been true to my usual form. I’ve forgotten to mark the chart, then glared at it for awhile, then tried to count how many times I’ve washed my hands since Monday, then made a bunch of marks in the wrong column, then scratched them out, then thrown up my hands in frustration because IT DOESN’T EVEN LOOK PRETTY. I’ve been reminded by a certain fourth grader that I should just fill out the chart throughout the day instead of waiting to mark stuff down all at once, and I have politely smiled and nodded my head while silently wondering if he has ever met me before.

Mercifully, however, today is the last day of our chart-keeping. I can once again wash a load of clothes without a the pressure of a follow-up task afterwards.

Other than moving those clothes into the dryer.

And folding them.

And putting them away.

(Hold me.)

(The details never go away, do they?)

So, I’m curious. Which are you? Do you like the big picture? Would you rather get lost in the details? Or are you a little bit of both?

A Strange And Perhaps Unmerited Sense Of Accomplishment

We had flash floods last night and early this morning (MY WORD at the rain; there were times during the night when it sounded like people were emptying buckets of water on the roof), so most of the schools in our area had a late start today. The only problem with this development was that we didn’t find out about the late start until Alex and I were about to turn in the school parking lot, which means that we missed out on getting to sleep in a little later than normal, not to mention that I had gone through the motions of putting on make-up way earlier than was actually necessary.

SO. Since we were already out and about, we decided to head to Panera for coffee (me) and a cinnamon crunch bagel (Alex). We hung out there for 30 or 45 minutes, and I decided right then and there that I would like to start all of my mornings that way. It was so relaxing and peaceful and calm, all qualities that have been lacking during the early mornings at our house thanks to a certain adorable puppy who likes to run through the house with shoes and then wrestle them to the ground before she barks at them for an average of 3 1/2 minutes. She’s a cute one and all, but at least once a morning I want to pull a Frank Costanza and scream “SERENITY NOW” at the top of my lungs.

(And while I don’t have any idea what David’s Crocs have done to upset Hazel so much, I do know that she wages war against them at least twice a day.)

(The good news is that Crocs are seemingly indestructible and thankfully none the worse for the wear.)

Anyway, as I soaked up the quiet in Panera this morning, I eventually started thinking about what I needed to get done today – and reality set in. Since Mondays are usually my grocery store day, I knew that I had to make a list, and as Alex and I talked about what might be good for suppers this week and what I needed to buy, a very appealing thought started to form in my mind:

I could go to the grocery store right now.

RIGHT NOW.

AT 8 IN THE MORNING.

So that is exactly what we did.

By 8:30 I was putting my newly purchased groceries in my trunk, and I basically felt like I had cured a disease while crossing the finish line at a marathon and simultaneously advocating for world peace. There was just something about knowing that I’d planned the meals and done the shopping and IT WASN’T EVEN 9 O’CLOCK that made me feel like I could fly. It made me feel like I could touch the sky. It made me feel like I could soar. It made me feel like I could run through that open door. It made me feel like I could fly. It made me feel like I could fly. It made me feel like I could fly.

Sometimes some 90s song lyrics are all that will do.

So for the rest of the day – even after I dropped Alex off at school and went to work (where I stored all my perishables in the refrigerator) – I kept thinking about the early morning grocery run and how it had made my whole day. It didn’t matter what challenges I faced. It didn’t matter that the pollen was trying to choke and also kill me. It didn’t matter that my hair was totally uncooperative and flat as a pancake. None of it mattered.

Because I had gone to the grocery store, found what I needed, crossed every bit of it off my list – and I’d done it all by 8:30 in the AM. It really did make me feel like I had won all the things in all the areas of competition and clearly someone needed to give me a medal. Or, better yet, A CROWN.

And listen. I get it. In the grand scheme of life, it was a tiny little thing. Not that big a deal. But sometimes getting those little things out of the way – especially when you weren’t planning on it – makes you feel like you have accomplished the biggest, hugest, most majorest (totally a word) goal that anyone has ever attempted. That doesn’t make it true, of course, but still. THE FEELINGS.

Have you done anything lately that’s made you feel like you’ve unexpectedly conquered the whole wide world? Did you clean a bathroom? Weed a flower bed? Organize your silverware drawer? Pull the floor mats out of your car and spend more than 15 seconds vacuuming them? Buy a new container for your paper clips at work? Put a pot roast in the crock pot before you made the morning carpool rounds?

Don’t be afraid to bask in your victories, people. If you have just washed every towel in your house and maybe even folded a couple of them, you need to celebrate it. Let us cheer you on.

Unfortunately I Cannot Think Of A Title

It was almost 2 this past Friday morning when I rolled my suitcase into my hotel room in Chicago (well, technically I was in Geneva, but considering that I have very little understanding about the locations of various Chicago suburbs, it’s sort of surprising that I even know the name of the place where we stayed). I was asleep within about ten minutes, and somehow I didn’t feel like I’d been hit by a truck the next day when I woke up at 7:30. That was the most delightful surprise.

Melanie and I spent most of the day at Tyndale, meeting with the sweet people who have worked so hard for us and our books. They made us feel right at home. They had all of our favorite snacks at the ready, and for lunch we ate deep dish pizza that was oh-so-delicious. There was also a chocolate cake that proved to be a formidable Lenten opponent; the fact that I made it out of the conference room without shoving the whole thing in my face was, in retrospect, a high point of the day.

Here! I will show you pictures!

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I should point out that I did not take pictures of the cake because it had taunted me enough already.

My flight left Chicago about 6 Friday night, and while I was sitting on the airplane before it left the gate, I decided that I am fascinated by people who talk loudly on their cell phones in quiet spaces. I’m not sure if there’s an absence of social awareness (others are quiet, but Loud Talker isn’t picking up on the social cues) or if it’s just plain ole narcissism (Loud Talker feels that whatever he/she has to say is very important / entertaining and therefore a quiet plane is the perfect opportunity for others to listen and, lo, ENJOY).

‘Tis a puzzle.

By the time we landed in Birmingham, I was so ready for pajamas and bed, and both of those things happened in short order after I got home. Hazel and I had a very emotional reunion since apparently she had decided I was going to be GONE FOREVER, but after she settled down and I visited with my fellas, I proceeded to sleep so hard that I couldn’t remember a single dream and had no idea where I was when I woke up Saturday morning. In other words: SUCCESS!

Saturday (are you still awake? I know this is so boring. A thousand apologies.) I ran a ton of errands; we have a jam-packed week ahead of us, and I knew that Saturday afternoon was my only errand window. I went to lunch with David and Alex and then ran to get a pedicure before I dropped by a bridal shower. The girl who did my pedicure was so sweet, and when I realized that she was expecting a baby, we started talking about her kids. After she told me their ages and where they go to school, she said, “Do you have any children?” I told her that I have a son who’s in 4th grade, and after I said it she looked at me for a few seconds and said, “Oh. So you had him when you were, um, older?”

Y’all. I was so tickled. I knew she didn’t mean anything by it; plus, she started her family in her early 20s, so my early 30′s pregnancy would definitely be “older” to her. But all I could think of was one of my favorite Suzanne Sugarbaker lines: “Why, if I’d wanted to be insulted I would’ve stayed home and waited for a crank call.”

People are funny.

I was halfway between the nail place and the bridal shower when it dawned on me that I was wearing jeans – not exactly appropriate attire for a bridal shower – but in a fit of courage I decided that it was better to go in jeans than to not go at all; there just wasn’t enough time to run home and change. So I pulled up in the parking lot and got out of my car and prayed that my mama would not ever find out because I fear she might be tempted to disown me. I did have make-up on (even some jewelry!) and had fixed my hair and all that, but when I walked in the shower and saw everybody in cute dresses and heels, all I could think was, “OH. I have failed at Southern womanhood. It is only a matter of time before I get kicked out of the club.” Thankfully, though, Southern women tend to be polite, so nobody said a word about the jeans, and I don’t even know if anyone would have noticed if I hadn’t been so quick to apologize for what I was wearing.

Who am I kidding? Of course they would’ve noticed. It’s just easier to surround my faux pas with some degree of denial.

Today we’ve been home all afternoon, and that has been pretty much the best thing ever. I feel like I’ve recovered from the travel madness, and I’m ready to face the week. Plus, since I need to redeem myself after the unfortunate denim incident, I may even break out some spring skirts and wedges and whatnot.

Or I may just wear a lot of yoga pants and pretend like I’m on my way to the gym.

It could really go either way.

I’m Sure It Would Be My Kind Of Town If I Could Ever Get There

So remember in the last post when I told you that Melanie and I were going to Chicago today?

Well. FUNNY STORY.

This afternoon I was pulling into the parking garage at the Birmingham airport when Linda from Tyndale called and said they were getting alert messages that the flight from Chicago to Birmingham – the one that would eventually take me to Chicago – had been cancelled. I wasn’t overly alarmed because I had updated all my contact info with United just this morning and hadn’t received an email about flight changes or anything like that, but I told Linda I’d check just as soon as I got in the airport and let them know the news.

When I got to the United counter there were two very angry-looking people right in front of me, and I thought, OH. I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS IS GOING TO END WELL. So I told the lady behind the counter that I needed to check on my flight to Chicago, and I had barely finished my sentence when she said, “Yeah. About that. Not gonna happen. We canceled it this morning about 10 o’clock.”

As an aside, I would just like to interject what would have been a super-helpful gesture on the part of the United travel alert system: SENDING OUT AN EMAIL WITH A NOTIFICATION OF THE CANCELED FLIGHT.

Even still, I know how tricky flight schedules get when there are storms, so I said, “Well, could you just put me on the next flight?”

“Sure,” the woman replied. “It leaves tomorrow morning at 6 o’clock, goes through Charlotte, and will get you to Chicago around 10:50.”

Considering that I have a meeting in the morning at 8, that was not my favorite option.

The next ten minutes were a flurry of texts and phone calls and brainstorms and possible alternate plans. I had just about decided that my best option was to go home and then fly out in the morning, but on a whim I walked down to the Southwest counter and said, “Hey. Do y’all have a way to get me to Chicago tonight?”

They could not have been nicer. The non-stop from Birmingham to Chicago was full, but they could fly me to Tampa, then to Chicago, and I would be there by 9:25. That was our best option, so I got my ticket, rushed through security (the flight was scheduled to leave in about 25 minutes), and ran (okay. I didn’t exactly run. but I did walk really fast.) to the gate so that I could pick up my boarding pass. Just a few minutes later they started pre-boarding.

And then we waited.

And we waited.

And we waited.

And then we found out that our plane had a tire that needed to be replaced.

For some reason I have never thought about the fact that planes get flats.

Finally – a little over an hour later – we boarded the plane. But by that point I knew that I was going to be too late to make my connection in Tampa, so I had to get switched to a later flight from Tampa to Chicago. The Southwest people were so helpful that I can’t even complain about it; besides, planes don’t like storms, and there were storms all over the country today.

Oh! This has nothing to do with anything, really, but I was so delighted by this sign next to the play area in the Birmingham airport.

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It might as well say, “HAVE FUN SITTING, KIDS.”

Anyway.

We got to Tampa about an hour before the final leg of my flight, and I was tickled to death that I might be in Chicago by 9. But then I looked at one of those departure board thingies and saw that the second flight was delayed until 11:20. And that is why I am now typing this blog post from the comfort of Gate C40 at the Tampa International Airport.

(By the way, Tampa, you do have a very lovely airport.)

(And I appreciate the little study carrells that also serve as charging stations.)

(I don’t think I spelled “carrells” correctly, but I’m too lazy to check so I’m just going to go with what I have.)

Right now we’re scheduled to leave at 11:05, so FINGERS CROSSED that I get to Chicago tonight / tomorrow morning. Apparently the plane that is taking us to Chicago is on its final approach, so I have big hopes for that plane and also its tires. Not to mention its engines and whatnot.

Hope y’all have a great Friday!

p.s. I hope this post doesn’t sound whiny. I am so grateful that I get to even go to Chicago. And, you know, write books.

p.p.s. Air travel is almost always humbling, isn’t it? :-)

p.p.s. Here are five things I’m grateful for right now: I have a window seat, Hazel barks like a beagle and it makes me laugh, I get to see Melanie tomorrow, my husband is so supportive of the writing stuff, and Alex will have something funny to tell me when I get home. Because he always does.

p.p.p.s. I feel better now. :-)