The Stuff I Forgot To Mention

Thanks for your sweet comments on Monday’s post. After I hit “publish” I thought, Oh, I believe I just overshared - so I appreciate your kindness more than you know.  Y’all are the best.

I about to get in the bed because, well, CALL ME MAMAW, bt I wanted to pass along a few links that I meant to mention earlier in the week. I realize that everybody’s life would go on quite normally if I’d just go ahead and surrender to some sleep, but I keep feeling like there’s something I haven’t finished (well, you know, in addition to a big ole deadline, among other things), so that means it is time to make a list.

- I am crazy about a NEEDTOBREATHE song called “Multiplied,” and the new video for it is gorgeous.

- “In a way, I love the poverty. I have to face it every day. And inside that poverty, I have to face myself. What do I hold dear? What are the things I just can’t live without? And do those things really matter?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg-o-wisdom in this article.

- Edie wrote about 10 Ways to Make 40 the New Fabulous, and I learned some things. Oh yes ma’am I did.

- If you grew up in the 70s or 80s, you will get such a kick out of my friend Joni’s post about Casey Kasem’s Top 40 countdown.

All righty. It’s not a huge list, but I’m ALL DONE.

See y’all tomorrow!

So Very Many Words

Well, I guess we have some catching up to do.

Last week Alex was in science camp, and I had imagined that every day of camp I would drop him off, go to a coffee shop, write hundreds if not thousands of words, pick him up, cook a delicious supper with lots of fresh vegetables, visit with D, write a little bit more, then fall into a peaceful slumber for upwards of nine hours.

Unfortunately, the week was more like a comedy of errors, partially because I decided on Monday that I was never going to write anything else for the rest of my life. It’s been a year since my book came out, and I determined that was enough distance and perspective to read through some reviews. By and large people have been overwhelmingly wonderful and nice and kind, and I’ve tried to have a pretty healthy attitude about the review stuff because logically I know that the book isn’t going to appeal to everybody – that just goes with the territory. It’s a collection of essays, not a linear story, and I write like I talk, which is totally annoying to some people.

But I’d spent most of the previous weekend feeling vulnerable because of a chapter I was writing for the new book – and discombobulated because of some stuff that was going on in real life – and those emotions (combined with hormones) should never, ever scroll through reviews, whether the reviews are positive or negative or neutral.

Those emotions should also never have access to potato chips or other simple carbohydrates. Hypothetically.

Tuesday I ran Alex to camp and then stayed in my pajamas all day and napped and caught up on the DVR. I honestly don’t know when I’ve accomplished less. I finally changed out of my pajamas late that afternoon because because Alex went home from camp with a friend and they were bringing him home at 5:00 and I didn’t want them to think that I’d been in my pajamas all day. Which of course I had been. While I watched an embarrassing amount of Bravo.

Wednesday I got over myself and decided that it was time to try the whole writing thing again. I could pretend like I had some moment of steely resolve and determination, but really it was just that Hazel got spayed and was at the vet all day and I had some time and around 10 or so I opened the laptop and thought, Oh, why not.

I ended up writing about 60 or 75 words that were just super inspirational.

I trust you can detect the sarcasm.

As for Miss Hazel, she did great after her surgery even though she was groggy as all get out (wait! here’s my favorite picture!) -

- but by the time she woke up Thursday morning, she’d harnessed the energy of 15-18 small race horses. I spent most of the day trying to confine her and asking her to calm down and please don’t run and CAREFUL WITH THE JUMPING, but the only thing I could do to make her settle down was to sit on our yellow couch (it’s low, so she could climb on and off it pretty easily), let her snuggle up right beside me, and provide her with an endless supply of chew toys.

For what it’s worth: it’s almost a week later, and we’re still in the same spot. This may be our summer tradition.

Late Friday afternoon Alex and I drove to Mississippi while D stayed home with Recovering Puppy. My daddy’s side of the family was having a reunion in south Mississippi, and I’d been planning to go ever since Daddy called to tell me that my cousin Amy was driving down from Kansas City. Amy and I are about the same age and were big-time pen pals when we were teenagers, but we live so far apart that we never really get to visit. Plus, Alex went to the family reunion with Daddy last year, and he thought it was pretty much the greatest thing ever because the dessert table usually ends up looking something like this.

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So early Saturday morning we woke up and got dressed and drove from Mama and Daddy’s house to Bay Springs, Mississippi. The reunion was at City Hall, but before we got there, Daddy turned down a side road and gave Alex a tour of the area where so many of our relatives lived when Daddy was a young boy. We had a great time at the reunion, and I loved getting to catch up with Amy and her girls (not to mention my aunts and uncles on Daddy’s side, who are some of the most dry-witted, flat-out hilarious people you’d ever want to meet). Before we left Bay Springs we drove over to my great-grandmother’s old homeplace, where one of my cousins has built a replica of the property’s original shotgun house. That land is where we used to have family reunions when I was a little girl, and I’m so glad that Alex got to walk through the house and see a little bit of the land. It was a good day.

We drove back here Saturday night so that we could celebrate Father’s Day with D on Sunday, and while it was a little bit of a haul to do so much driving in 24 hours, it was totally worth it. Sunday ended up being super-relaxing, and I’ll give you one guess about where we ate lunch after church. Here’s a hint: it starts with “Ch” and rhymes with “Louie’s.”

I hope you’re still awake, by the way. This post is endless and also ramble-y. I do apologize.

Yesterday I woke up and thought, If nothing else, I will catch up on this laundry. I haven’t washed everything in the house, mind you, but I’ve washed most of the essentials and folded everything that I washed. I realize that most people accomplish this feat on a daily basis, but for me it’s so rare that last night I looked around the house and felt like the guest room bed seemed weird without a pile of clean clothes on it (and I could say the same the wingback chair in the room off of the kitchen).

In the midst of all the laundry, I managed to write a little bit and watch a big chunk of The Mindy Project, which Melanie and my friend Merritt had assured me that I would love. I hardly ever watch sitcoms anymore because, well, I don’t even know why, but I blazed through season one of The Mindy Project and have now started season two. I also got way too emotionally invested in the USA soccer match yesterday and at one point had it on two different TVs so I didn’t have to miss anything as I put away clothes.

It just occurred to me that of all the adjectives that someone might use to describe my personality, “even-keeled” probably isn’t one of them.

Today is going to be Errand Day (capital “E,” capital “D”), but it’s taking me longer than usual to get out of the house because last week I got my hair cut and asked for a lot of layers and BOY HOWDY, I got them. So now I’m a little iffy about how to style my hair, and even though my sweet stylist told me to call or stop by if I had any trouble with the styling, I think that I’m just gonna put some texturizing cream in it and pretend like I was going for the tousled look. This is my plan.

So. I think that is all. Except that I just thought of three – no, four – things that I left out.

We will save those things for another time. I think you’ve endured enough for one day.

“Any” Is Enough

This is gonna be super quick because I have to leave in approximately 26 minutes to take Alex to science camp. The time constraint makes me feel a little bit like Jack Bauer, but I wanted to type this out because I’m scared I’ll forget it if I don’t.

I’m officially at the write-it-down-or-it-never-happened stage of life, I reckon.

This morning I read Philippians 2:1-18. It’s not a passage that’s unfamiliar to me – I even taught a lesson on it one time when I spoke at a conference where people expected me to be funny only it never occurred to me that I was supposed to be funny so I prepared a nice little lesson because, well, teacher habits die hard. I had my passage and my five points and some neat, typed out notes – and let me tell you, I have never been more aware that I totally missed the mark in terms of meeting audience expectations. They thought they were going to hear about bacon and the South and TV, and I waltzed in talking about Paul and humility and selfless service.

You could’ve heard a pin drop in that conference room – because those women were BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS.

Anyway, I looked at that same passage this morning (SIXTEEN MINUTES! I HAVE SIXTEEN MINUTES LEFT!), and I was struck by something completely new. Here are the first few verses of the passage.

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I actually went back and looked at my notes from a few years ago and saw that I’d written “look out for your people” at the end of verse 4. And yes – that’s part of what Paul is saying here, I think, but this morning I couldn’t get past verses 1 and 2.

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (emphasis mine).

All those “any”s don’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room, do they? Unity and like-mindedness are our starting points as believers, not our final destination. Yet I was struck this morning by how often I have a tendency to justify how puffed up I can get in my (supposed) rightness and how condescending I can be about someone else’s (supposed) wrongness. And I tell myself my reactions are okay because I’m just not “there” yet – with “there” being that elusive state of abiding in Christ where love and peace and unity and humility consistently mark my disposition, my reactions, my decisions.

But Paul’s not telling the church at Philippi to hold tight until they reach that elusive end goal of Christ-likeness.

Here’s what I thought this morning: if we have “any” part of the fruit of salvation, and followers of Christ certainly do, then being like-minded, loving, and unified should be Christianity 101. Those qualities are where we start – not where we finish. We shouldn’t be striving for unity at some point down the road when we feel a little more cooperative (which, honestly, let me just RAISE MY HAND because I am forever thinking that I will do such-and-such when I feel like it). We should be unified, like-minded, and loving in the here and now. Paul says “being” and “having” – not “will be” and “will have.” Unity, like-mindedness, and love are present and ongoing. Because the second that we professed faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit took up residence in us, we had our “any.”

According to Paul, our “any” enables us to have an “attitude [that] should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (v. 5).

And just to be clear, the footnotes in my Bible point out that “like-minded” is “not uniformity in thought but the common disposition to work together and serve one another.” Certainly there are major issues facing the evangelical church right now, some of which are incredibly divisive, but we can absolutely work through those issues (lovingly) in our local bodies (as opposed to, you know, Facebook).

(And as a side note, I would love to know Paul’s thoughts about Christians calling each other out on Twitter).

(I promise that I smiled when I typed that.)

(But have mercy with the in-fighting – it WEARS ME OUT.)

So. Here’s my takeaway from Philippians 2 today: If I have “any” of those things that Paul mentions in verse 1, then I have exactly what I need to be like-minded, loving, and unified in the local bodies where I worship and serve. It’s a mighty timely reminder.

And by the way, I didn’t make my self-imposed time constraint. I left, took Alex to camp, then came home and finished this post.

Clearly I’m no Jack Bauer. But at least the blog didn’t blow up.

Y’all have a good Thursday!

Some Items For Your Enjoyment

Well, this particular Monday has certainly been a Monday, so I have been on the hunt for some cheerfulness tonight. Hope some of these links make you smile.

- I am typically a little iffy when it comes to cats (no offense, cat people – I just prefer dogs), but I got so tickled watching this video earlier today. Very clever for a commercial (“it can eat and yell at the same time”).

- This right here may be my favorite album of 2014 (so far).

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WE LOVE IT SO MUCH.

I read somewhere that people are calling this type of music “folktronica,” but all I know is that it’s catchy as all get out and ROCK-SOLID in terms of lyrics. My favorite song changes by the hour, but right now it’s “You Are.” So sincere and worshipful and good.

- Not too long ago the actor who played Tim Riggins (Friday Night Lights) was a guest on The Tonight Show. That in and of itself wouldn’t have been a big deal, but it made me realize how much I miss Tim Riggins now that FNL is over. Then I started to think about other characters from other shows that I’d love to be able to catch up with, and, well, I wrote all about it over at Ree’s blog.

- This post of Nester’s made me feel like somebody finally explained the way my crazy brain works. Just last night I told D how frustrated I feel when I try to write in short bursts – and after I read Nester’s post, I’m starting to understand why that’s true for me. THE INTERNET. IT TEACHES US THINGS.

- Kelly Minter has an absolutely gorgeous book, Wherever the River Runs, coming out in August (this will not be the last time I mention it because I ADORE IT), and today I saw her book trailer for the first time. I didn’t expect to cry, but I totally did – not because it’s sad, but because it’s beautiful.

“Wherever The River Runs” Book Trailer from kelly minter on Vimeo.

Y’all have a great Tuesday!

This One’s A Keeper

Alex has been in day camp this week (he is officially at an age where he wants to go to ALL THE CAMPS – sports, science, Scouts, whatever), so I’ve been trying to knock out some writing and figure out to do with all the clutter in this house. I feel like I’m drowning in books and candles and plates and whatnots, and this morning it’s taken every bit of restraint I have not to run over to Target and buy three or four plastic bins and just LOAD ‘EM UP for the thrift store. I feel like I need to be more methodical than that, but by the same token, if I just go ahead and get rid of that bowl / those cookbooks / that basket that holds all the random pieces of paper, then it’s done and it’s gone and we’re probably not gonna miss it.

And listen. I don’t buy a lot of stuff for my house. Which is why I can’t figure out where in the world all this stuff comes from.

Earlier this morning I took a writing break and decided it was a good time to wade through the stacks of paper on the end of our kitchen counter. The month of May was so crazy that I sort of gave up on going through the mail, so today I paid the postal piper and sorted all of that stuff. I threw away most of it, but I also put wedding invitation dates on the calendar, ordered some graduation gifts, and basically felt like I was an organizational wonder.

Don’t worry. It’ll all be a train wreck again in a few days. But today? I CONQUERED THE PILE.

And in the process, I found something that I am oh-so-happy to save.

When Alex’s class was learning about persuasive writing this past year, his teacher asked them to write a letter to a parent and make a case for something that they wanted or wanted to do. They had to be logical, they had to be clear – and they had to deliver the letter to a parent. The catch was that there couldn’t be a conversation about the issue at hand; the parent had to write a reply and then send it back to school. Alex’s teacher read each response out loud to the class, and apparently they laughed their heads off.

Not literally, of course. That would’ve been terrible.

Diptic

This morning I re-read our letters, and I got so tickled. It was such a great assignment because it encouraged the kids to write in a way that’s unique to their personalities, and it also provided some sweet moments between the kids and their parents. I love that I can look at Alex’s letter and hear his voice when I read, and the fact that I had to respond made me really think through my rationale for the answer.

By the way, he asked for an iPad mini.

By the way, I said no.

I’m pretty sure that Alex wrote the letter to me instead of D because he figured I would be more likely to say yes – but oh well. At least we had some good laughs in the process.

And I even have a handwritten souvenir.

In Addition To Watching Baseball, We Have Watched Some Baseball

Listen. I don’t know much, but I know that ESPN’s comprehensive coverage of the NCAA Baseball Tournament has felt a little bit like a big ole summertime gift this weekend. I mean, granted, our beloved Mississippi State Bulldogs have been playing in a regional in Lafayette, Louisiana, so that’s given us a vested interest in what’s going on, but I’ve found myself watching schools I’ve never barely even heard of before. Plus, there’s been a little bit of a rivalry angle – Kentucky and Louisville are playing right now, as are the Aggies and the Longhorns – and I love games with some behind-the-scenes history.

And really, I think that more than anything else all the college baseball has been my sign that I get to take a mental break. I spent most of the weekend sitting in Panera and trying to get words to turn into sentences which might perchance turn into paragraphs which might eventually help me finish this new book. Fortunately it was a really peaceful weekend in my local Panera; since school is out, there weren’t 14 soccer teams coming in for lunch at the same time, and that change alone eliminated about 85% of my people watching. That made it so much easier to write some sentences. Go figure.

Anyway, when I got home Friday, Saturday, and today, I turned on the TV and turned on the computer and pretty much zoned out with some baseball while I cooked supper. And then there was more zoning out after we finished supper. And after we settled in for some family time. It has been delightful.

Saturday also happened to be our 17th wedding anniversary, and it was filled with all the pomp and circumstance you’d expect from David and me. D spent the day painting Alex’s bathroom and the half bath. I stayed at Panera until 5, then came home and made beef stroganoff. It was pretty much exactly like one of those helicopter dates you see on The Bachelorette. And make no mistake: as far as I was concerned, it was perfect. The bathrooms look great, and D was happy that I made some good forward progress with the writing (listen – I keep things light and breezy on the bloggy end of things, but my people at home would tell you in ALL CAPS that the book stuff tends to preoccupy me on a WHOLE ‘NOTHER LEVEL).

Anyway, we had a super low-key anniversary, and that suited me just fine. Who needs a fancy night out when you can watch college baseball in yoga pants? (D would probably appreciate it if I clarified that he did not in fact wear yoga pants – that was all me.) And to top it all off, D said one of my favorite things ever after we finished our Saturday night supper.

THAT IS THE TRUTH.

And that’s real life, you know?

So now it’s the end of the weekend, and I’m still watching baseball. State is trying to rally in the 8th (it’s not looking good – but there’s always the 9th, I guess), my fellas are asleep, and tomorrow afternoon I’ll no doubt be at Panera again. It’s an oddly comforting pattern for these early days of summer.

(I’d be a whole lot more comforted if the ‘Dogs could score 9 runs in the top of the 9th.)

(But maybe I’d better take this calm however it comes.)

(Hope y’all had a great weekend!)