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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Belated Stitch Fix Summary

Hey, y'all!

My email tells me that my September Stitch Fix box is on its way which reminded me that I never wrote a review of the last box I received.

My last Stitch Fix arrived at the end of July and as you may or may not know I spent most of July, August and September deciding that I had no words to write. I also spent a good majority of those months eating all the things in all the restaurants from Virginia to Pennsylvania to New York to Texas so I'm not sure any of these items would fit me anymore. :/

This was not my favorite box, but I did keep a couple of things. I have talked to quite a few friends lately and the opinion of Stitch Fix is definitely mixed. Some hate it and have never liked a single piece that they've received. Some love it and very often keep all five pieces.

I am in the middle. Needless to say I love clothes. I also love the little surprise of getting a box on my door step every other month. Of course, I've got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart from Jesus but sometimes, I feel like Jesus sends me the perfect fun top just when I'm feeling kind of low because He loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Anyway, generally the fact that the $20/month fee is lost unless put toward a purchase is motivation enough for me to usually keep one piece at least. All that to say that Stitch Fix and I are sticking it out for a while longer.

Of the five items this time, two were more geared toward fall and those are the two I kept. Perhaps it was because when I got this box at the end of July, Virginia was suffering temperatures the likes of which would have made the Heat Miser have to take a knee. For that reason, I was looking forward with great optimism to a time when I wouldn't feel like I was going to burst in to flames outdoors and the more fall-ish items appealed to me.

Here are the items in no particular order.

Papermoon Lupita Cross-Back Top

This top was just really pretty. Pretty colors, pretty style. It was a silky or rayon-y material if I remember correctly which was a little too dressy for my August schedule of events which included watching Joe play golf, shopping for faucets at Home Depot and the aforementioned sweating bullets.

I liked the back a lot. It was fun and interesting without the need for a fun and interesting bra. I'm too old and inflexible for clothes that require a bra that has the potential for all manner of strap configurations. I can barely get my necklaces untangled. I don't need to run the risk of accidentally hanging myself by my bra straps.

So  basically, I thought this was really pretty and it fit well, but I didn't keep it because for everything there is a season and this top and I were not destined to be together in a time such as this.

Bay to Baubles Alle Stone Teardrop Earrings

These are cute earrings. I didn't keep them. I'm still looking for some everyday gold earrings that don't have any color on them. I have worn the same silver hoops for years and years and am just now branching out into gold earrings every once in awhile. This is a process I need to take slowly. It's not as if I can just go full throttle into gold and gem stones at one fell swoop. I just didn't see me actually wearing these that often.

good hYOUman Teighlor Slim Fit Drawstring Jogger Pant

When I first pulled these "joggers" our of the box, I couldn't quite wrap my head around jogging in them. First they are too cute to be worn for actual exercising. Second, like I mentioned, it was so hot when I received this box that the mere thought of jogging made me want to pour a bucket of ice over my head. So, I changed the name to "bloggers" or "College Football Watchers" and went ahead and tried them on. They are crazy comfortable and so soft. I kept them and plan to spend an enormous amount of time in them this fall while I watch other people jog on tv.

Here's the side view that I wanted you to see because a lot of yoga/sweatpant styles these days are so low rise that there is always a risk of everyone seeing London, France and Your Underpants when you lean over to tie your shoe or pick up the bag of Tostitos you dropped on the floor while you were cheering for the Longhorns. These are not too low. They're pretty perfect.

Street Level Mila Suede Fringe Crossbody Bag

I really thought I liked fringe, but I've received a few items with fringe from Stitch Fix and I'm just not feeling it. This fringe would probably graze against my leg and make me feel like a mosquito was buzzing around me. I don't love the color. I like mint in my chocolate chip ice cream but not on my person. I sent this back.

Renee C Thisbe Colorblock Open Draped Cardigan

I was leaving to fly to Dallas the day after I received my box. I hate flying. I often feel claustrophobic and like I can't breathe when I fly, so I blast the air on me to cancel out the sensation that I'm enclosed in an airless cylinder of death and unable to get out. (#freak) So even though I was leaving about 523 degrees in Virginia to fly to 623 degrees in Texas, I knew I would need a sweater of some sort for the plane. The timing was perfect here and I brought this cardigan with me. I wrapped up in it and it was so comfortable that I slept all the way to Dallas. I might have drooled on it. (You can take a moment at this point to pray for the people that have to sit next to me on airplanes. Be near them, Lord.)

Well, that's it. I think my new box should be here any minute.

If you'd like to try Stitch Fix, I'd love it if you used my referral code below.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Weed-Whacking Guide

Last week I wrote about the fact that September has me tangled up in the weeds of tasks, busy-ness and the relentless pursuit of productivity and efficiency. I was being choked by an endless list of to-dos and I needed desperately to change my pace and undoubtedly, my attitude.

So here's what I did this weekend. I told myself that something (someone) has got to change. I told myself that I needed to take care of myself. I needed to breathe in some serenity and calm.

Ahem. How does that work? Serenity and calm are not in my wheelhouse. The good news is I know someone who is an expert at those things. (At least if there isn't a car going by or a pack of kids on their bikes.)

You see, I'm pretty sure that my dog, Mack, knows a thing or two about self-care. He can definitely be a fun, active little puppy when new people are around, but in general, if he chose a life verse it would be "Be still and know." and also "Leave me alone." Mack can be still and know for hours. He can lie around or wander around simply sniffing nothing. He sniffs at the grass, sniffs at the air, and stretches out his little body to as long as he can make it, laying his head down on the driveway or on the lawn or on the deck - basically wherever he can lay his head. So I walked outside with the master and stood there next to him without my phone, without a podcast, without an option for scrolling facebook, without my running shoes, without my list and pen and even without a book. I thought I'd just sit or stand or even lie down in the grass next to him and just be.

I lasted about 2.5 minutes until I said out loud (to my dog. who doesn't speak English), "Mack, this is ridiculous. I can't do this. Shouldn't we be at least making a list if we aren't going to try to do anything on the list? How can you honestly just be there and do nothing? What are you accomplishing? Aren't the tasks growing exponentially while we just sit here and smell stuff? Like what are you smelling anyway? I don't smell anything at all. There is no scent here. How do you sleep at night knowing you didn't cross one thing off of your list? I give up. You are totally in touch with your needs. You are the champion of chill. You're not even netflixing with your chill. You win. I can't do this."


Listen, friends. Rome wasn't built in a day. I decided I could slow down this weekend without completely slamming on the brakes. So I have some suggestions for those of us who aren't quite as adept in being in touch with our deepest needs for rejuvenation as Mack is. I still was able to have a relaxing weekend just by choosing to do some things that fill me up and make me feel like me. I tried really hard to not rush anything. Yes, I did laundry, I cleaned some toilets, I went to the grocery store and I ironed some clothes. And of course, I went to some baseball games because DUH. But, I just did everything slowly. I just made sure I was breathing. I don't know how, but it worked. Here are some other things I enjoyed this weekend. 

(Let's realize that I'm still making a list here. I am powerless over the list.)

1. The Bye Week 
The Texas Longhorns had the week off. This is when we realize that the Lord's timing is perfect, right? I think God knew I could not handle a game this weekend and needed a break from holding my breath for the Horns. I didn't watch any football at all and I think this restored my soul a little bit.

2. Fall TV

TV got a bad rap for so long, but then the Iphone and the Internet came in and and almost made TV seem like a reasonably healthy activity to me.  I love tv that helps me turn my brain off for awhile. I watched This is Us, Grey's Anatomy, Designated Survivor, some episodes of Scandal and the first few episodes of Shameless (Red Alert: Shameless is shameless. It's not for everyone and it most certainly can't be watched when any of your people are any where near the tv . . .like not within five miles of the tv. Be near Lord. Amen.) 

3. Reading

I finished Love Warrior by Glennon Melton, I think the words "brutal honesty" were created for this book. Really introspective. Really deep. Really painful. Really good. I also started Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I've got these in the queue: Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarity, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer since I am the last person on earth that hasn't read it. 

4. Online Shopping

This is where I probably need to make a disclaimer because shopping should not be used to manage stress. And sometimes I do the thing I know I'm not supposed to do. But everything was 40% off at JCrew Mercantile. And I only bought one thing, so no biggie, 'kay? And this photo doesn't do it justice because it isn't that boxy, it's actually navy, not black and it has a cute gold zipper. And it's finally getting cooler so flannel will be returning soon. And plaid makes me deliriously happy. So there.

5. Running/Walking/Hiking

I went for a run one day and then later I went hiking at Bull Run Park with a friend. Again, we have a misleading photo because the flowers of course were not blooming (and also that's not Nancy and me), but it was still really beautiful and quiet and calm. We talked and walked and talked and walked until there weren't many words left. Grab a girl, grab your shoes and move yourself. It works. 

6. Talk to your kid about nothing
One early morning while my son was outside waiting for his ride to his game, I should have been starting the laundry, or jumping in the shower, or cleaning up the breakfast. Instead, I walked outside and shot baskets with him and we talked. About nothing really. But he laughed. I laughed. I didn't ask about school or girls or even baseball. I don't even remember anything that we talked about. It might have been our best conversation in months.

7. Sleep

I slept 10 hours on Friday night. And this is either here nor there, but when I woke up after that epic sleep, I looked in the mirror and my hair looked amazing. I've no idea why, but before I was even fully awake I sent a text to a couple of friends telling them that I think the sandman runs a dry bar if you stay in your bed long enough.

Okay. So that was my weekend. And I feel like I should point out that I made a list of seven things which for chronic list makers is really hard to do because who in the world is able to stop at seven things on a list? Five things, yes. In general, the list-addicted among us feels that if we don't stop at five, she must go to ten. It's just a thing.

I stopped at seven.

My list is not the boss of me. I win.

Have a great day, friends. Do a little weed-whacking of your soul each day. We'll keep working at it and before we know it we'll be sitting on the lawn with my dog singing Kum Ba Yah.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A September in the Weeds


I wish I was finally coming back here to write something light and airy and funny. I wish I could bring myself to write about the fashion at the Emmys (I missed it) or a new fall tv show (haven't watched a one) or maybe an uplifting commentary on a scripture (sorry, no words on the Word). None of that is what I'm writing today.

I'm so tired I could spit nails. I mean I don't know if tired people actually spit nails. I think that's angry people. Tired people are too tired for spitting. I'm tired. Obviously too tired to come up with the correct hyperbole.

Come to think of it, tired people do eventually become angry people. And sad people. They become people no one wants to be around. And I'm precariously close to not even wanting to be around myself. Which poses a problem in many respects, not the least of which is that the goal here is to write something someone might want to read and that might require being somewhat pleasant. :/

For that reason, I keep avoiding this space. I don't want this to be a "woe is me" place. There is quite possibly nothing more irritating than a person with a reasonably healthy marriage, reasonably healthy children and a reasonably safe place to lay her head at night whining online. Especially if someone is posting very cryptically and asking for prayers and thoughts and attention, but won't really let you in on what's really going on. Well, no veiled references here. No trying to peak your curiosity that something seriously tragic is happening. I'm not on the edge of disaster. It's just basically this: (and it's golf season, so stay with me)

I'm utterly and completely in the weeds. Knee deep, lost the ball, gonna have to take a penalty stroke. Furthermore, while I'm fishing around here wondering what club I need to use to get out of this mess and find my way up to the glorious, light filled green, I'm probably going to get poison ivy which I will spread to my entire family.

Actually, I'm possibly right on the edge of disaster, it seems.

"September in the Weeds" appears to be a thing around these parts. So I'm going to hope that this raging, whining post won't seem so selfish. I'm hoping that anyone who's picking up what I'm putting down can just look at this as a "woe is us" post and then maybe we can get down to the business of pulling back the weeds that are choking the very life out of our days and find some light at the end of this tunnel, even if it might be that the light happens to be as far off as October.

Often, writing lifts my burdens. I can make a joke or observe something silly happening among the men and the mess around here. But nothing seems funny because there seems to be no time for funny. No time for introspection. No time for any thought of substance.

Back to School seems so inviting for mamas after the free for all of summer. For me, the days were to look a little bit different even compared to school years past. With one in middle school and two in high school and one of those two graduating in less than a year, my kids are much more independent and well they should be. I imagined our family falling into a comfortable rhythm. I was sure that outside of running my house and (assisting in) keeping my people alive, I would spend my days writing and reading and deciding how those things might work together to create, not necessarily a greater purpose, but perhaps a wider purpose for me. I was imagining that the fear of the oldest leaving would be assuaged by this new plan I would create for myself.

To do that I was looking forward to regular routines, consistent meal times and bed times. I'm not sure what I was thinking because I don't think all five of us have had dinner together since some time in August. And bed times aren't even a real thing around here anymore. I remember when all of kids were asleep by 8:00 pm and I had a few hours to watch Project Runway and drink a glass of wine or actually talk to my husband.

(Is Project Runway even on anymore? Because unless Tim Gunn  has decided that a Red Sox uniform is the new black, I think that ship has sailed.)

The only thing that September has brought to my writing life is the composition of list after list after list. And a calendar full of drop offs and pick ups. Of appointments and practices and meetings. Meetings where I sit across from people and am not really listening because I've one foot out the door. Appointments where I'm tapping that foot on the waiting room floor in impatience because I need to get to the next thing. I'm not really looking anyone in the eye. I'm not really communicating with anyone. I'm not really living a full life of observing and connecting and relationship. So what on earth does a writer write about if not observations, connections and relationships? And even more, how does a mother do her mothering, a friend do her friend-ing, a wife do her wife-ing or a Christian do her Christian-ing if she's not observing and connecting and relating?

Exactly four months ago I stood in front of a church bursting at the seams with people in shock at the sudden death of a husband, a father, a friend. I urged them and promised myself to find freedom from busy-ness, franticness and a task oriented life. My voice shook with sorrow and with conviction as I tried to understand what God needed us to know in the wake of unspeakable tragedy that rocked our community. I told myself and those in that congregation with the truest sincerity that we should  pay more attention to our people and their souls. I determined that I would treat the ones God had gifted me as blessings to be cherished and not as problems to be solved or cargo to be shuffled from one place to the next.

I have failed miserably at this in the last few weeks. Perhaps even in the last couple of months. And I'm so ashamed. A great number of people looked me in the eye that May afternoon and seemed to honestly be touched and changed by the death of our friend. They believed in what I had said. They believed that I believed it. I believed me, too.

Why is it so hard to keep believing in what we know to be true and right and honorable? Why is it so hard to fight against this notion that we must be efficient and productive and on task at all moments of the day? Who decided this was a good idea? And how are we going to survive it? More personally, how are the members of my family going to survive me, if I continue in this frantic, unrelenting race to cross things off a list instead of establishing the walls of this house as their home? How will this be a safe place to fall at the end of the day? How will this become a place of grace and forgiveness and comfort? How will they know that these rooms offer a refuge where you are off the hook from performance and duty if I am unwilling to let myself off the hook for even an hour a day?

In the midst of wandering around wanting to write yesterday, I picked up a book, Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, which I received over three weeks ago and had yet to touch. As I was too busy to start from the beginning, I flipped through it. I landed in the middle of a chapter in the middle of a page out of any context and I read this:

"My regrets: how many years I bruised people with my fragmented, anxious presence. How many moments of connection I missed - too busy, too tired, too frantic and strung out on the drug of efficiency.  You don't have to damage your body and your soul and the people you love most in order to get done what you think you have to get done. You don't have to live like this."

I flipped a little farther and found this:

"What would our lives be like if our days were studded by tiny, completely unproductive, silly, nonstrategic, wild and beautiful five minute breaks, reminders that our days are for loving and learning and laughing, not for pushing and planning, reminders that it's all about the heart, not about the hustle."

Well, now. Perhaps one should have picked up this book when God put it in her mailbox at the beginning of this September of suffering.

This list I clutch and cross off is not my friend. It doesn't make me laugh. It doesn't listen to my dreams. It can't talk to me about Brangelina or the woes of the Texas Longhorns defense or about the anxiety I feel about my son going to college. It just goes along with me telling me that we're doing important, necessary things. It makes me feel like my needs and my wants, my connections and my relationships must wait for another time.

Busy-ness is lonely. Tasks are not life giving. Being surrounded by numerous people and beautiful things and admirable accomplishments and still being lonely is the loneliest place to be in all the world.

I didn't get it right after our friend Tom died. Maybe for awhile I did, but I fell right back to my addiction to busy-ness.

Today I'm going to try again. I'm going to go for a run and then I'm going to sit with Jesus and I'm going take the time to start this book from the beginning. I'm going to go outside and sit with my dog and look to the sky to ask forgiveness. I'm going to look up at our friend, Tom and tell him I'm sorry. I'm going to tell him his death did change me. It will change me.

I'm going to begin again. I'm so grateful to my God that He allows this redemption. I might not get it right today. Or maybe I'll get it right for a little while and then mess up again. But I will remember this - again found in the pages of Niequist's book - at least for today.

God hasn't invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful - as beautiful on the inside as the outside. - 1 Thessalonians 4:7, The Message

Thanks for returning here, friends. You've no idea how much it means to me. Come out from the weeds today. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He is humble and gives rest to our souls. It's there for the taking. Let's go get it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Returning to Me Daybook: September 13, 2016

Outside my window:
It's the most perfectly perfect September blue sky day in Virginia.
I am thinking:
about women and friendship. My sister and I were talking yesterday about how much easier it was to nurture our friendships when the children were little since so many of us were stay at home moms who desperately needed each other to get through our long days. It's too easy now to get bogged down in kids' activities and work tasks and volunteering and to forget how important it is to make time for our girlfriends. One day these children and their activities will float away. And as Melanie Shankle wrote in Nobody's Cuter than You, "We absolutely need our girlfriends because no man wants to hear all the words we have to say in the course of a day." Amen?
I am thankful:
for the technology that let me watch the Texas game while in Delaware on the beach with my toes in the sand this weekend. I often think that the smartphone will be downfall of humanity, but then I remember the WatchESPN app and I quickly recall Romans 8:28. I'm not sure that the apostle Paul was exactly referring to college football when he said that the Lord works all things together for good, but it was awfully good.

In the kitchen:
there's been a remodel going on for what seems like 6 years. I have some serious patience issues when it comes to this. I blame Chip and Joanna Gaines. It appears that this stuff doesn't occur in one day, so that you walk in to angels singing and a Magnolia Market candle flickering on your giant island after a brief one hour episode. One day we had a beautiful new island but it was covered in a piece of cardboard. Then one day we had appliances and then one day we had counter tops. Still another day we had some bar stools. I have a backsplash now. Things are looking up and it's going to be beautiful, but just so you know Chip and JoJo are pretty little liars. ;-)
I am wearing:
running shorts, a #mathiasstrong tshirt and running shoes
I am listening to:
contractors installing an oven and range hood.
I am going:
to have to do a bunch of sandy laundry from our trip to Rehoboth Beach this weekend where we were for a baseball tournament for the littlest man.
I am reading:
Joe's college application essays (pause for deep, cleansing breaths). I also just received Love Warrior by Glennon Melton and Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist in the mail. I read exactly two books this whole summer. That is a record low. I miss reading and I don't think it's an accident that I didn't write much more than I read this summer. As a teacher, I always told my students that good writers read. A lot. I didn't do a lot of either this summer and I miss both so much.
I am hoping:
for a fabulous dinner idea to just pop into my head at any minute. Better yet, that it might just pop on to the table, too.
I am looking forward to:
celebrating our high school golf team tomorrow night at our end of the season banquet. We'll be specifically celebrating this guy and his senior teammates. How in the world?

I am learning:
to say no. This is not necessarily about needing to say no to other people's requests. It's not really about being a people pleaser. It's not about having a better system or a new organizational plan. This is really about figuring which things on my list most fill me up and make me the person God intends me to be. It's about finally choosing what I really want to do and how much of it I can honestly, feasibly do while still understanding that I have four other people in my home who need to eat and wear clothes. ;-)  To do the thing that is really my heart's desire, it means cutting out other things I really want and like to do. It's hard to make choices like these. It can hurt other people and it can hurt me. I hate it, but the truth is I cannot do everything and anything I want to do. Last week, as I screeched into the high school parking lot for College Information Night, I had to sit in the car before I walked in because I realized that I wasn't breathing right and my head was pounding. That wasn't about Joe being a senior, although that makes me lose my breath, too. It was because there is just too much. That day, last week, last month. It's all too much. And the "too much" is not all frivolous and unimportant. The things I'm doing. The places I'm going. The people and tasks on my list. There is not one thing I'm doing that does not feel vitally important when I write it on the list. And yet, I don't think God wants me to do all of this. What I have found in the last month is that I have one foot out the door no matter where I am or who I am with lately. God is not requiring me to have just part of me in a million different good things. I am learning that decisions will have to made that require me to take both feet out of some things I love, so that I can put both feet in the things He is really calling me to do. That night in that parking lot, trying to catch my breath, I learned that His still, small voice is getting pretty insistent and pretty loud. It's time to listen and learn NOW.
I am praying:
for patience and calm and serenity.
On my Ipod:
I've been running through several of Jamie Ivey's Happy Hour podcasts. Jamie interviews a different woman each week. They are mostly Christian writers/moms/bloggers/charity volunteers. It is honestly like having a glass of wine and chatting with a friend. They talk about serious things and fun things. It's a delightful way to pass the time while running errands, watering the 50 plants you just had put in your backyard or just sitting on the deck watching the clouds.
I am wondering:
If there is anything more beautiful than a sunset over the bay in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

I am pondering:
. . . writing requires work. Kind of hard, brutal, sanity-threatening work. All the writing dreams in your head have to transition to your ten fingers on a keyboard, and I’m afraid there is no other way. Work requires time, which of course, you have none of. This is the writer’s dilemma. You will not miraculously become a writer by carrying on exactly like you are. It’s a whole thing and you have to make room for it. . . Writing will take time away from other things: sometimes kids, sometimes spouse, sometimes a thing you used to do, sometimes sleep. Work does this. You don’t get to keep everything as is and also add writing. That is not how the time/space continuum works -  Jen Hatmaker
A verse for today:
"For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay." - Habakkuk 2:3
One of my favorite things:
A group of 11 and 12 year old boys who transform from little kids screeching and riding the waves one day to fearless, focused competitors the next day. They won three games in a row on Sunday in their tournament and took the championship from kids who are older, taller, bigger and have more facial hair than they do. I can say with all honesty, that I will never tire of watching them play.

A few plans for the week:
ordering things for the kitchen, sending things back, baseball practice, orthodontist and eye doctor appointments and the first day of the new year of Community Bible Study.
A peek into my day: 
Some rest for the weary.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The (Arguably Irrational) Joy of being 1 and 0

Hey, Y'all.

Hey. Hey. Y'all. Are you there?

Do you remember me? I've been gone forever. Like 6 weeks. The longest since I've had this blog. And I've missed it. I've missed writing from my heart and writing from my mixed up brain. I've missed writing about Jesus and about the Nordstrom summer sale. I've missed seeing your comments and hopefully making you laugh or just stop for a second to see extraordinary blessings in an ordinary day. I've missed it like crazy and I've felt less of me without it. So if you're here, thanks for coming back. You're my favorite person ever. :-)

I thought for sure that the first week that the kids were back to school, I would be writing about all the matters under heaven, but the thing is:


And also:


And, furthermore:


I'll be back soon with lots of stuff. Like thoughts on my pastor's amazing summer sermon series on the fruits of the spirit. And the fact that it's my oldest's senior year and that makes me have to sit down and put my head between my legs at least once a day. And that I went to visit Magnolia Market this summer with my mom. And I have a new Stitch Fix post to write. Oh and I've got a least five posts worth of first world whining about the kitchen remodel I've got happening right now that left me without a kitchen sink or dishwasher for a month. And speaking of being Caroline Ingalls, we're going to need to discuss the fact that my friend Nancy sent me a text full of confusion along with a photo of Banana Republic's newest offering: the prairie dress.

What is that? In between the casual wear and the work wear they're offering the "I need to pick up some flour at Olsen's Mercantile wear"?

Lots to discuss. But the thing that really lured me back to this space even though I have 346 things to do before 10:00 am today is this.

Y'all. This game. This double overtime. This precious new quarterback who looks so young that I want to pack him a lunch and take him to the playground. This senior quarterback who barrels through people like an actual Longhorn steer. The record crowd in my stadium. Our coach jumping into the arms of our offensive coordinator.

I CANNOT EVEN. My Longhorns are 1 and 0. The joy this gives me is completely irrational.

And I will tell you that the game itself was not one bit enjoyable. The bad guys scored right away, but then we did the same really quick. And then it was bad. And then it was good. And then we were up by 17. But then it was bad again and the world was dark and scary. But then we were ahead with very little time left. But then they blocked an extra point attempt and ran it back. I thought it would be a six point return and we would be losing, but then it was only for two points so we were tied. So there was overtime. TWICE.

Basically I died and came back to life like six times during the game.

But the end result was that I have walked around as if the world is brighter and full of more hope than is reasonable for a clinically sane person to believe just because of football. But how 'bout this? Because God loves me so, it just so happened that one of my dearest friends from college was in town the day after the game so we went to have margaritas and Mexican food in the middle of the day to celebrate and catch up. And by the end of our time together we had decided we would win the National Championship. We decided that our young quarterback was given to Texas specifically by the Lord for such a time as this. We determined that very soon we will be weeping tears of great joy as we watch him accept the Heisman Trophy.

Yes, I went all the way there.

So, anyway, my heart is already starting to beat too fast and I'm starting to get panicky about all the things on all the lists and all the time that keeps running out on me to get all the stuff done. Maybe this month is like that for you, too. If today brings you more than your share of OH MY GOSH I CANNOT EVEN DEAL WITH SEPTEMBER, just remember these words:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

And also:

Tyrone Swoopes busted through all the bad guys and reached that football over the line. 1 and 0, baby. I'm not sure if you're aware but that's an undefeated season, friends.

All is right in the world. Hook Em Horns

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The View From Behind The Tee Box (Repost)

I have spent many days in the past few weeks driving a golf cart over rolling hills, trying desperately to keep my eye on a tiny ball shot through the air and holding my breath as it rolls toward a black hole on a perfectly manicured green.  I've had to bite my tongue so that I won't bring out my "baseball mom voice" to cheer too loudly when things go right.  I've tried to conjure up jedi mind tricks to stare hope and perseverance back into my son's thoughts when things go wrong.

As for my personal experience with the game, it was short lived.  I took lessons seventeen years ago and played a few holes with some girlfriends that long ago summer.  The next summer found all three of us pregnant and spending our summer shopping for strollers and cribs.  It was - to be sure - a devastating blow to the future of women's golf.  My experience was that I could hit five ridiculously awful shots and then one perfectly beautiful shot. It is true that in that one shot, anyone, on any course, suddenly believes that he or she is the next Tiger Woods.  Those perfect shots were very few and far between for me, so the time I spend on the golf course now includes no clubs, just carts and cameras.

From behind my lens, I have determined that golf is both infuriating and exhilarating,  In watching my son play, I feel like I am observing some fickle girl who makes him feel like he is the love of her life, only to change her mind minutes later, breaking his heart.  And then she comes back, flicking her hair and batting her eyelashes, making him feel like a hero again.

That two-bit tramp. ;-)

Still, as frustrating as this game is, it takes place in the most perfectly serene of settings. I have to be still and quiet and my being welcomes that.  I am surrounded by white puffy clouds, brilliant blue skies and trees of every sort and size.  Often I find myself pulling up next to a mama deer and her baby. They are rarely fazed by me.

My son, his teammates and his opponents are calm and measured. (Mostly calm and measured.  Admittedly, my boy's own baseball voice makes an appearance on occasion)  They help each other in reading putts and clarifying rules.  They are polite and dignified, talking quietly with each other and encouraging opponents with, "Good ball." or "That'll play.  Nice shot."

The golf season for me is a welcome change from rowdy baseball crowds and blazing sun.  It is soft breezes and singing birds.  It is whispered encouragement and gentlemanly handshakes.  And for a few hours this:

It is almost impossible to remember how tragic a place this world is when one is playing golf.
-Robert Lynd

God finds me in both the oddest and the most ordinary of places.  Reminding me of the gift of this day, the gift of this creation and the extraordinary gift of this boy.

"No other game combines the wonder of nature with the discipline of sport in such carefully planned ways.  A great golf course both frees and challenges a golfer's mind.
- Tom Watson

"I'm about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That's the distance my left ear is from my right."
-Ben Crenshaw

"What other people may find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive."
~Arnold Palmer

"They call it golf because all the other four letter words were taken."
- Raymond Floyd

"Golf is the closest game to the game we call life.  You get bad breaks from good shots, you get good breaks from bad shots, but you have to play the ball where it lies." 
-Bobby Jones

"One of the most fascinating things about golf is how it reflects the cycle of life. No matter what you shoot, the next day you have to go back to the first tee and begin all over again and make yourself into something."
~Peter Jacobsen

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Girl on Fire

Hi, Friends,

I just wanted to check in right quick because it's been awhile. For the last few summers, I've been sure that I would be putting a priority on my writing. I imagined long stretches of time for writing submissions for magazines and online publications - maybe even working on a book. When imagining those long, wide open days, I never seem to remember that what I write about is the life of a mother and wife and if I'm not doing this life with full and present focus, then the writing can't come anyway. Summer around here, while not fancy and exciting, is still full and busy with living. I'd love to tell you that I've been summering in the Hamptons or Jackson Hole or wherever people who use "summer" as a verb do so. But I haven't. I've been summering right here in Virginia which feels exactly like the surface of the sun.

Last week, I spent my time schlepping teenagers to basketball camp, feeding teenagers all manner of teenager food, and eavesdropping on teenager conversations while they hung out in the pool. What I keep finding is that teenaged boys are smart and engaging and straight-up hilarious. They smell a little bit sometimes and individually, they can be closed off and moody, but I find if you get a whole mess of them together they can be delightful. I find no drama among them. No hurt feelings or efforts to be the head of the pack. This "enjoyable teenager" thing continues to be a shocking revelation to me. So far, I'm a fan.

Speaking of fans, I've also spent the last couple of weeks watching various Little League baseball games. I know you are shocked to hear this. My kid is not even on this team, but I think we've previously established that I have an obsession with Little League that borders on HEY, WEIRDO, GET A LIFE. The thing is that this summer our Little Leaguers are repeating what Drew's team did last year. Last year, we won the district and the state and got to the regional championship game only to fall short of the title. But I think these boys are going to take that last game this year. The world has been dark and twisted and getting on my last nerve. And watching little boys who are seemingly a gazillion runs down come roaring back to win the game is insanely fun. When the news would have us cowering in the corner of our homes in despair, I'd rather just celebrate the fire out of every little thing I can find to celebrate. So, bring it on, Little League. I'm in.  

Speaking of fire, the other matter I've been dealing with is wondering if we all might burst into flames at any minute because DEAR SWEET LORD THE HEAT. You will recall that I hate winter with a passion and every summer, I vow that I will not complain about the heat. Yesterday, when we went out for a walk, I turned to Steve and asked him if my shoulder was actually on fire. I was certain I needed to Stop, Drop and Roll.  Here's a photo of us yesterday when the "feels like" temperature was a balmy 109 here in Virginia.

Still, we are determined to power through this vacation staying hydrated and keeping the a/c cranking. I'll likely continue to be absent from the blog for the rest of the week, but if you are really bored you might be able to find me on Facebook HERE, Instagram HERE and Twitter (barely ever) HERE.  You will see no political posts from me, so if that's what you're up for go find me. You will likely not find much else interesting, but I'll give it a shot.

The last thing I feel I am obligated to say to you before I go is NORDSTROM ANNIVERSARY SALE. I know the thought of putting socks and boots on our feet right now makes us feel a little woozy, but it will cool off soon and the prices on fall clothes are RIDICULOUS. I'm eyeing all things Frye and sending links to my husband telling him he can be completely done with shopping for Christmas, my birthday, Valentine's and Mother's Day with one click. I'm quite sure that he is promptly deleting said emails, but a girl can dream.

THIS BAG is gone now. I am going to imagine that my husband snatched up the last one just for me because the heat has made me delusional.

THESE BOOTS are still on sale. My feet are sweating just thinking about it, but there will be a day when the baseball game will go into extra innings and I will be so cold I will not care who wins as long as someone will just get the last out. And to keep my mind off of it, I will stare down at my boots and remember the summer that I tried to stay away from flammable liquids lest I become a human torch.

There are so many more great things on sale, but I have to go because I have to burn through my data by live streaming a bunch of 10 year olds playing baseball in about 20 minutes.

I hope you are enjoying your summer, hugging on your people, and just generally loving the heck out of anything you want to love the heck out of. Life is good. It is messy and scary sometimes, but it is good.

And also it is hot.

PS. Yell, loud, Loudoun South Mamas! I'll be listening!