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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Friday Favorites: Running the Race Marked Out For Us

Well, even though it was one of the coldest days of the year yesterday, it was also the first baseball game of the high school season, so I do believe we are moving ever closer to putting winter behind us. Saturday it is supposed to be be 70 degrees here. And you know what that means, right?

The party's over, folks.

You know that party where you eat all the things and drink all the things and decide that it's too cold to exercise and whatnot.

The return of spring, plus the fact that I actually braved the scale this week after avoiding it for months have made me realize that I need to get back to intentional healthy eating and step up the exercise routine.

Wah, wah, waaaahhhh.

I'm no expert. My philosophy is to try to eat less and move more. I can't get more complicated than that. For me and I think for many women, discussions about diet and  exercise do become more complicated than that. In my case, these can conjure up some pretty stressful memories of my teens and early twenties when what I ate and what size I wore consumed me so much so that I sometimes can't remember a whole lot more about those years except for angst and worry and sadness. So I'd rather just focus on the fact that exercising is far and away the best thing I can do for my mental state.  I don't have to be an expert to know that. I have ventured into yoga lately and I love it, but running is still my go-to for keeping my sanity and my health on the right track.

Recently. the Lovely and Talented Mrs. C. started running and she texted me for some music ideas because her playlist was starting to bore her. My sister has asked me repeatedly to have a place on my blog where I list all the songs that I've mentioned over the years, so today's the day. In addition to the music which is the most important of my running essentials, I thought I'd add some of my other favorite running accessories for your reading enjoyment.

Or maybe you'll think "Whatever, Sister. Running is boring and excruciating and I'd rather eat dirt."

If you don't want to eat dirt, here is a Friday Favorites: Running Edition.

1. The Right Music

This is not a comprehensive list because after 12 years of running I have to mix it up. But here are some great running songs that get me moving and are on constant shuffle on my ipod lately.

Feet Don't Fail Me Now by NeedtoBreathe (I start and end with this song because 99% of the time I hate the first and last mile with my entire being. It gets me out the door and back in it every time.)

NeedtoBreathe: Oh, Carolina, Girl From Tennessee, Keep Your Eyes Open, The Outsiders, Multiplied
All the Third Day: especially Soul on Fire, Take Me to the Other Side, Tunnel
Modest Mouse: Float On
Crowder: My Beloved
Gym Class Heroes: The Fighter
Nelly: The Champ
(All the BonJovi, all the Justin Timberlake and the Rocky Soundtrack because DUH)

2.  Running Gloves

We all know good and well that Spring takes it's own sweet time arriving so running outside might require gloves for awhile. These North Face Women's Etip Gloves are awesome because they aren't too thick and also have some science-y thing happening in the fingertip which allows you to be able to operate your touch pad on your phone. This is perfect for when you need to shuffle past that KidsBop version of some song that you downloaded for your kid in 2005.

3. Knee Straps

I've been wearing these knee straps since I first starting running twelve years ago. I started with one, but now have graduated to two. (Hello, Downward Spiral of my 40s). They look like they wouldn't do anything but they do really help with knee and tendon pain. If I forget them, I notice the next day. That's my brother and me before we went to run out at Lake Anna one day. We think we are awesome, but realized we were not as awesome as we were kinda dumb when we got out there in the 95 degree heat with the humidity of 1,000%.

4. Socks

Socks are really important and these Balega Hidden Comfort Athletic Running Socks are my very favorite. They never slip and never make my feet feel too hot. I can't run without them now. (And now you might be wondering if I would pull dirty ones out of the hamper before I would wear another pair to run and the answer to that would be, "Yes. Yes, I would and I have.")

5. Arch Support Insoles

I've also worn these Superfeet insoles in my shoes forever. I have a high arch, so these are crucial for me. I have even cut some down and shoved them into my other shoes and boots over the years. Running can be pretty brutal on your feet, but I've had no major problems in twelve years and I think these are the reason.

6. Running Shoes

The running shoes you choose are the most important, of course. When I started there were a million reasons I wanted to quit, but none of them were for aching feet, sore toes or blisters. For those reasons, you shouldn't just call your girlfriend and ask her what shoes she wears or pick out the cutest ones in the color you like.  I highly recommend going to a running store to have the sales person watch you run on a treadmill. They can analyze your gait and how much you overpronate to determine the best shoe for your foot shape and stride. To prove my point I will tell you that I am currently wearing these Mizuno Running Shoes in a god-awful blue/pink combination, but I can tell you that it could have been worse. Sometimes you're lucky to get a good color and sometimes you're not, but you must get the right shoes for your feet.

That brings me to a funny/sad story about the current shoes I'm wearing and it seems an appropriate story for the end of this post on this particular day.

The day after our friend Tom passed away suddenly, I didn't know what to do with myself, but I needed new running shoes and since Tom and I frequently talked about running I decided to go to Potomac River Running and get some shoes. I was on the edge of tears for most of the day, but I figured I could handle this one small outing to the running store. I ran on the treadmill so the young sales guy could watch my gait and he brought out a few different pairs of shoes for me to try.

Anyway, the sweet, unsuspecting sales guy brings out the Mizuno shoes in the brightest, most awful purple color I had ever seen.  I have an irrational dislike for the color purple which makes no sense, but it is what it is. I tried on the other brands of shoes, hoping that one of them would work out. Finally, I tried on the purple Mizunos and went out to run up and down the sidewalk to test them out. And lo and behold, out of all the crappy things that could happen in one 24 hour period. Tom was gone AND those horribly ugly purple shoes were probably the most comfortable running shoes I had ever worn.

Hot, angry tears started streaming down my cheeks and I went back into the store all red faced and sniffling and said, "Sir, I'm sorry. I really hate purple. I really hate it so much. Like, so much that it doesn't make any sense, but of course these shoes which are obviously purple, feel the best. And I just can't buy these purple shoes. You have to tell me they come in another color. Please, tell me you have another color."

I don't have to tell you that this guy was quite alarmed at my reaction to the purple shoes. He hightailed it to the back of the store and came back with these slightly less horribly ugly electric blue and pink shoes. I looked to the heavens and gave Tom a shrug as if to say, "Are you kidding me with these, dude?"

That was that and now most of the days that I lace up these shoes, I think of Tom. Today is Tom's birthday. I can picture him running by my house and waving with his daughter, Grace, trailing behind on her bike and I still can't believe that I might not run into him at the baseball park or the basketball gym or at Glory Days Grill. Tom ran his race well. He finished strong.

So even though my heart is heavy for his family today, I will remember what his sudden death taught me. We do not know how long or how far our own race will be and we don't need to know. We simply need to lace up our horribly ugly, but not purple shoes, and run with perseverance the race marked out before us.

Ready, Set, Go.

One more song from NeedtoBreathe that made me think of those friends of Tom who are left here to do our best to finish our races strong like he did.

Disclosure: The View From Behind Home Plate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn small fees by linking to 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March Stitch Fix Summary

It's that time again! I got my March Stitch Fix box and yet again, my stylist did a pretty good job at picking pieces I really like. If you've read here before you know I'm a big fan of Stitch Fix for lots of reasons. At the top of the list, would be the fact that I seem to forget that package is coming every other month and since mail is so 1990s, it feels like Christmas every time it shows up on my doorstep. Also, the pieces they have sent me are unique, but not too trendy. There has not been a single time that I've not wanted to keep at least one of the items.

Having said that, the most I've ever kept was three of the five items sent. In general, for me, if I don't keep a piece it's because I already have something similar in my closet. Sometimes it's due to a color issue because I have some irrational aversions to certain colors. I have to say though that in those cases, I take the blame. Stitch Fix is constantly prompting customers to make comments and send notes to stylists. There is always the opportunity to update your style profile which includes details about sizing, style, price points and preferences.

So, if you want to try Stitch Fix, you can sign up by clicking on the Stitch Fix icon on the right side of the blog. You pay a $20 styling fee and receive a box of 5 items. The fee is deducted from the price of items you keep and you send the rest back in a prepaid envelope. If you keep all five you get a 25% off. 

Ok, here's the loot from this month.

Collective Concepts
Sofia Dress

This dress is adorable and perfectly my style. Even though I didn't say anything to my stylist, with Easter, Mother's Day, and Joe's graduation coming up there will be loads of chances to wear this dress. I love the color, the cute tie around the waist and the cap sleeves. It is lined which is awesome and the fabric is a great quality. It could be dressed up with these nude heels or worn more casual with sandals. If spring doesn't come quick enough I could wear it with boots and a jacket. This dress was a keeper.

Market & Spruce 
Colibri Polka Dot Print Top

I loved this tunic blouse. It fit perfectly and navy and white are a sure fire indicator that spring is coming. (And all the people said, "Amen!") I thought it looked so cute with white jeans, these wooden heeled wedge sandals and gold jewelry. Unfortunately, I couldn't justify keeping this one because I have too many similar tops already. I had to kiss this one goodbye.

Fantasia Accessories
Lindsey Crochet Detail Oblong Scarf

I think the best part of having a lightweight spring scarf is that you don't need to think much about the rest of your outfit. All you need is a tshirt and you're all set. This marigold/orangey color is beautiful. I was *this* close to sending this back only because even though I adore the color, I'm not quite sure it is the best for my complexion and coloring. I had pretty much decided to return it, but then I started having anxiety and regret about putting it in the envelope when I think the Lord intended for us to be together. I mean, I could dye my hair. This scarf might be worth it. So this was close, but it was a keeper.

Nine Britton 
Tenna Embroidered Knit Hoodie
Adele Skinny Jean

I put these two items together because DUH. Look how cute they would be. So happy and springy and fun! Who wouldn't keep these two things? 

I'll tell you who. 


But now, after looking at this cheery, happy outfit in this photo I'm becoming concerned. I think I might have personal issues. Point in fact, I am sitting here right now in our hip, cool, colorful library in my favorite writing spot wearing black leggings, a black cami, and a black tunic. Come to think of it, this is a very long table and I'm the only one here. Are the patrons of our fine public library scared of me? Do they think my heart is as black as my clothing? If I was wearing this outfit would there be people lined up to share an electrical outlet with the shiny, happy girl with the rose on her shoulder?

Hey, Happy Knit Hoodie and Bright Colored Denim: It's not you. It's me.

Let's start with the hoodie. While I am a diagnosed stripe addict, I just can't even with the floral applique on the shoulder. My friend, Nancy, came over to see my Fix this time and she thought it was really cute. She said that the flower patches are all over the place this spring.

Hey, Hoodie, what do I know? You need to be with someone who appreciates your jaunty little pop of color. Someday I'll be sorry. I'll probably beg you to come back, but you'll be whistling dixie in the closet of Patty Positivity. You're better off, Hoodie.

As for the jeans, I must say the fit was PERFECT. The best part was the length. It is a rare day when a girl who is barely 5'2" can find jeans that don't need to be hemmed. Still, again, perhaps my heart is as black as my shirt, but I can't with the coral/rose color. On other people, I think colored denim is adorable. I just can't do it.

Dear Colored Denim: You are all the rage, friend. You know it and I know it. Carry on. You'll find someone. I promise.

So that's my Stitch Fix for this month. Remember that Mother's Day is coming up and also Stitch Fix has now created Stitch Fix for Men. I think a Gift Card is a fabulous idea for your mom or your man and if you want to sign up for yourself, I'd be so appreciative if you use my referral link.

Have a great day, Friends!

*Disclosure: If you sign up for Stitch Fix and copy and paste my referral link when you sign up or if you click the "Stitch Fix" icon on the right side of the blog under the "About Me" section and sign up, I'll get a $25 credit on my next box. I also will get a small compensation for any gift card purchased.*

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Favorites: All The Green Things (And A Little Madness)

Hey, Gang!

It's Friday and it's St. Patrick's Day! And it's the first full day of school here since Monday! So many reasons for all the !!!! Here are my 5 Friday Favorites for this week.

1. The Chick Fil A "In a Rut" Commercial

I would guess I've been in a rut for about three months now which is not unusual for me in the winter, but the funny thing is that I think the snowstorm got me out of it. After lamenting for the 75th day in a row about my rut, my husband tipped me off to this commercial from Chick-Fil-A. 
I've watched it about ten times because it cracked me right up. I also sent it to numerous friends because being in a rut seems to be epidemic right now. Maybe all we need is a perspective change? Maybe we're not in a rut, but we're actually in a groove? Maybe we just need some chicken minis from Chick-Fil-A?

2. Warm Spinach and Basil Salad

Well, it's officially St. Patrick's Day and since we had two and a 1/2 days off from school for snow, I went on a baking frenzy and have already eaten all the green mint chocolate things I could get my hands on. This morning I made these St. Patrick's Day green pancakes. I think the rest of the day and maybe the next few weeks calls for a detox of sorts so I'm turning to other green things like this spinach salad. My mother-in-law told me about it many years ago. This is so easy and so good.

6 cups spinach
2 cups basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 oz. prosciutto, diced
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup grated parmesean cheese

Toss spinach and basil together in a large salad bowl. Heat oil in medium size skilled over medium heat. Add garlic and pine nuts and saute until nuts begin to brown slightly. Stir in prosciutto and cook one minute more. Season with salt and pepper. Toss spinach and basil with warm dressing and sprinkle with parmesean.

3. March Madness

Well, it's all about Bracketology and Basketball and March Madness in SkinnerWorld right now. Not to say that we haven't been watching basketball on tv for what seems like 124 months, but even I'm focused now. I'm feeling good about my bracket this year because the Texas Longhorns did not even make the tournament. I know that sounds like sacrilege, but the point is that this eliminates my need to push them all the way to Final Four as I do every blasted year while my boys roll their eyes and utter phrases under their breath which basically boil down to  "Are you high, Mom?"

Last year, I was the "Biggest Loser" in my Chicks Only pool with my college girlfriends so I got my $20 back. This year I intend to win the big money. I did use my far reaching basketball knowledge to pick Northwestern to win last night because I found out that Julia Louis-Dreyfus's son is on the team. They did win, so you're welcome because now we will see Elaine Benes again in the next round and I think America needs some Elaine about now. Also, Go Louisville. I've no idea why I picked them to win the thing. I just did. 

4. All the Green Plaid Things

As I've mentioned a time or six, I love me some green St. Paddy's Day cheer and I can't seem to get enough plaid in my life lately.  There are so many cute green plaid button down shirts around, so even if you don't get one in time for today, they are still fun for spring time which I think will show up any minute now. Fingers crossed.

I've been eyeing this JCrew Plaid Popover for awhile now and it's on sale for 30% off right now with the code BYEWINTER.

This is also a cute Plaid Tie Front Shirt from Nordstrom.

I zipped into Target yesterday for a couple of things and somehow this Merona Women's Favorite Plaid Shirt jumped into my cart. It's only something like $22.00 though. I practically saved money, right?

5. High School Musicals or (THE High School Musical at Freedom High)

Last night we went to see our high school's production of High School Musical and it was delightful. I so regret that I haven't been to see previous productions at our local schools. Our students did an amazing job and I know they've been working so hard. I sent this photo to my sister because I was giddy with excitement and we loved the movies so much. She happened to be at her high school's production of Legally Blonde this week in California. I highly recommend going out to your high schools and supporting their musicals, plays and concerts. And if you're in my area you can see High School Musical and some really talented kids tonight at 7:00 pm, Saturday at 7:00 pm or Sunday at 3:00 pm at Freedom High School. And then you can get back to me and let me know if it was as hard for you as it was for me to not sing all the songs at the top of your lungs and dance in your seat. #troyandgabriellaforever

Have a very happy St. Patrick's Day, Friends!

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
and the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Linking up with:

(This post contains some affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on certain links.) 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Spring Snow Daybook 3-14-17

For Today

Looking out my window

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. Good morning, Snow-shine.

I am thinking
How very, very welcome is this beautiful snow. I claim to hate cold weather and snow, but after zero snow days this year this is a much needed break for all of us.

I am thankful
For the teenagers in my house. I know it's weird. But they are funny and smart and quick-witted and every morning they make me laugh. What a wonder are the boys He gave me? How is it that they can get on my very last nerve one minute and crack me right up the next? The other day as they walked out the door to school ribbing each other and yelling their good-byes to me, I realized that I had a giant smile on my face for almost a full five minutes after they left. 
One of my favorite things
St. Patrick's Day!!!

I love St. Patrick's Day so since we potentially have a couple of days off this week, I figured we would celebrate early.  And by that I mean we will eat all the mint chocolate things we can find.

photo from

The blog Mix and Match Mama has some really fun recipes for just about any holiday. Actually, to be honest, I don't care if they're fun, I care if they're easy. And none of her recipes give me an eye twitch. She has lots of recipes for yummy St. Patrick's Day treats. Yesterday I made these Mint Chocolate Chip Brownies and they're almost gone. Last year I made these Creamy Mint Brownies. Depending on how long the snow days last we might end up making this Mint Chocolate Oreo Bundt Cake. And then we'll hope we can fit into Steve's truck, power through the snow-covered streets and waddle into the gym. :-/

These stemless wine glasses would be so cute for a St. Patrick's Day party if one didn't have a baseball game to attend. They're from Target.

Also, Fake Daughter and I made it to Target yesterday to be sure we had a full deck of Skip-Bo cards and all the fun board games for the snow days since Real Sons never play games with me. While we play, Fake Daughter will be wearing these leggings.

I am creating
A list so long of light fixtures that I like for above my kitchen table that I could light the entire world. I cannot make the simplest decisions about decor in my home without feeling like  my head is going to spin off. Time to call in the bigshot again. My designer is a genius and keeps my head on my body. ;-)

I am wearing

I pulled out the flannel Christmas pjs at about 6:00 pm last night in anticipation of the snowstorm and I imagine I'll stay in them all day today. They make me deliriously happy.

I am reading

I am almost finished reading Sharp Objects which is by the same author who wrote Gone Girl and is equally creepy.  I hope to finish it today and move on to The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.

I am watching

By some miracle there were no basketball games on last night, so I was able to convince a couple of my guys to watch a movie with me. We watched Sully and it was really good. Can Tom Hanks make a bad movie? (Oh wait, yes he can. Joe Vs. the Volcano. I walked out of that one.) I also spent most of my weekend catching up on all the important current events of the day This is UsGrey's AnatomyBig Little Lies and Scandal.

I am listening to

I was listening to this song on the treadmill at the gym over the weekend and I ended up having to tightly grip the side rails so as not to raise my hands in the air like some kind of crazy church lady. I did end up with tears springing out of my eyes. This video is long and I think someone goes on to give a sermon after Kari Jobe sings, but it is worth a listen to hear her sing this, because oh my word, this voice. And even more, oh my word, this Jesus. Perfect song for Easter. Perfect song for running on the treadmill if you don't mind crying at the same time. 

I am hoping

As much as I am enjoying the snow today and might tomorrow, I am hoping that we could move swiftly from this to spring and baseball games where I won't worry about losing my toes to frostbite in the 6th inning. 

In my kitchen

photo from

Some kids are going to want some snow day pancakes soon. I might as well make these. We're on a roll.

Post Script
from studiomcgee on Instagram

I am loving the Instagram feed and website Studio McGee for home decor ideas. Such beautiful photos.
Shared Quote

"A holy God in the middle of life's mundane activities will change your life." 
-Lysa TerKeurst

A moment from my day
Lots of moments with these guys. And lots of moments when I don't have to take out the puppy in the snow because of these guys. :-)

Closing Notes
"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in all the earth." Psalm 46:10

Prompts from 

(This post contains some affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on certain links.) 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Repost from 2015: My Fears, His Plans and Happy Meals (Titles are Hard)

Even though we had 70 degree weather around here in February and our baseball home opener is slated for Wednesday, we're bracing for snow today. So I'm spending the day buying all the things at the grocery store and cleaning up all the things in the house so that the boys and their buddies can bundle up over here and eat all the things and mess up the house if we get a snow day or two. I hope to spend some of those snow days writing, but for today, I thought I'd post this that I wrote in 2015. We are inching ever closer to the kid going to college and it seems as surreal and ridiculous as it did two years ago. I guess it will never seem like it makes sense. That's why even though I usually hate snow and ice and cold, I am praying for a whopper of a storm so that I can keep these boys close and shut in with me for a few days. Have a great Monday, Friends!

Well, due to the time change and the fact that we actually had school every day this week, I am confused as to what day it is.  It's somewhere between Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday. Since I'm feeling rather annoyed by my inability to control time in the lives of  my children, I'm throwing it back as far as it can go for my oldest boy.

This is the first time Joe looked at me.  (Just in case you're wondering, he is much cuter in color)  Earlier this week, after coming home from an appointment with the doctor who delivered two of my three boys,  I went on a frantic search for this photo.  I was a bit of a mess when I got home because that day I had had a sonogram - the first sonogram I'd ever had where we weren't looking for something wonderful like baby heartbeats and baby spinal columns and baby fingers and toes.  (ALERT:  Earmuffs, Male Readers) I'd had some sort of odd "female issues" happening in the last month, so my doctor was mildly concerned and to be on the safe side, he wanted to check things out.  The good news is that there was not anything very interesting to see in there.  Perhaps a very, very minor thing, but nothing scary, nothing unmanageable and most certainly nothing wonderful.  *sigh*

Looking at that screen, I knew for sure what was not in there this time. There was no baby, of course.  Still as I looked at those black and white shadows while the technician drew lines measuring ovaries and fallopian tubes and whatnot, I have to admit that I imagined for a few minutes what it would be like if there had been some sort of wonderfully crazy and highly medically improbable story to tell when I called my husband later that day.  What would it be like to see one more little fluttering flickering light? What would it be to know that there would be one more of us?

Don't be alarmed, I wasn't delusional.  It's just that I needed to keep my mind occupied since they had told me that I had to have a full bladder for the procedure, so I lay there and imagined the impossible possibility that there could be something wonderful on that screen so that I wouldn't focus on how desperately I needed to pee and how ridiculously fast I had become a mother of a child with a GPA and daily mail from colleges flooding my mailbox.

I imagined that I was just like all the women who had sat next to me in the waiting room a few moments before.  The one whose shirt stretched tight against her growing belly as she shifted in the chair trying to get comfortable.  The one whose young husband sat nervously beside her, his hand on her knee while they filled out paper work.  The one who leafed through a Parenting magazine as she used her foot to rock a newborn baby in her carrier.

I know, I know.  For some reason I forgot about the hemorrhoids and the economy size bottle of Tums that sat next to my bed and the fact that every time my husband made me laugh I peed. (DUDES.  I was pretty clear:  Earmuffs!)  I forgot about how I threw up every time I ate pizza and how I had to change from sleeping on my back to sleeping on my side.  Who am I kidding?  I forgot about the fact that there really was no sleep anyway.

But I also remembered how Husband and I would stay in bed on Saturday mornings watching Saved by the Bell and talk about names.  He would say no to about 90% of them.  If he liked one, he would try it out by putting on a mad father voice and yelling out "JOE CHARLES, GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW".  When I suggested Kelly for a girl, he would sing the Kelly, Kelly Kelly Song that Woody sang on Cheers and I would picture a green-eyed girl with a blond ponytail and a daddy who would be wrapped around her perfect little finger.  I remembered how I went to Whole Foods and bought whole wheat flour and all the other stuff they told me to buy in What to Expect When You're Expecting, but how I ended up at the Taco Bell drive-thru a couple times a week.  I remembered that first sonogram and how we sat in my 1996 Honda Accord in wonder for awhile.  I don't remember which one spoke first or much of what we said, but I do remember that although Husband was not the rallying activist type, he said he thought he might need to find a ProLife rally to march. Instead of that, I think we went to Taco Bell.

And then last night, that little grainy baby who I swear to goodness was in my belly five minutes ago and I went to the high school to listen to a panel of folks talk to us about College Admissions.

And I cried about it at least twice during the day leading up to it.  I thought for a bit that maybe I'd changed my mind about the whole higher education nonsense.  I loved my college experience, but I forgot about it for a good part of yesterday. I mean, were my parents completely INSANE?  Who decided that 18 was a good age for that madness? Sure, there's learning and expanding your horizons and meeting new people, but College is not HERE in my HOME.

I got there a bit before Joe did and took my seat among other neglectful parents who were considering this colossally bad idea.  For a few minutes when those college people started talking it took all I had not to stand up and shuffle past everyone in the auditorium shouting, "NEVER MIND, WE'VE JUST MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE IN COMING HERE.  WE'RE GOING TO NEED TO JUST SCOOT BY REAL QUICK.  MAKE WAY, PLEASE.  WE'RE JUST GONNA STOP OFF FOR A HAPPY MEAL.  IT'S JUST THAT WE'RE COLLECTING ALL THE MONSTERS, INC. TOYS, YA KNOW?  WE HAVE LIKE THREE OF THE SULLY TOYS, IF ANYONE WANTS TO TRADE? WE NEED THE GUY WITH THE ONE EYE?  WE'RE FEELING LUCKY TONIGHT, SO WE'LL JUST BE ON OUR WAY NOW.  CARRY ON,"

Then Joe came in and sat next to me.  He's gigantic now. And he's handsome.  And he's funny. And he's sweet and smart and he loves Jesus. And sometimes he gets on my last nerve.  And, OH MY WORD, I just love him so darn much.

And I almost laughed out loud because it is so ridiculous how soon I forget one incredibly important fact.  God made my child who he is.  God thinks he's all that I think he is and He knows what he will be later.  God is not at all panicked about this boy's future.  God does not feel like He's gonna puke.  God loves that kid so darn much.  Even more than I do. EVEN MORE.

It was only two days ago, that the intro speaker at my Bible study read the verse from Jeremiah:

"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future."

So, I tried really hard to focus and listen to the panel.  I tried really hard to remember that the plans He has for my kid are His plans, not mine. And I tried to remember to talk to God about my fears and to trust God with whatever path this boy decides to take.  And I tried to remember my friends who would gladly skip into that auditorium if only their children were still here to look toward a future.

Then I forced my hand to grip tight to my pen so that I wouldn't reach over like some crazy freak and hold my 16 year old boy's hand.  And I took a deep breath and realized that even if I couldn't hold his hand, God would.  Forever and ever.  No matter what, He would not let him go.

"I will give them eternal life and they will never perish.  And no one will snatch them out of my hand."
John 10:28

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dear Grandmom

Dear Grandmom,

A few weeks ago on a Sunday morning. I stared at the row of dresses in my closet and listened to the wind whip against the house outside. I looked up to the heavens and gave you a sheepish grin and a quick apology as I decided I would wear jeans to church that morning. I pictured you turning to Pop and saying, "Well, I declare, Fred Allen, I never heard of such a thing."

I know you weren't happy about it, but I don't know if you understand this cold. It's not the kind of cold that we had in East Texas when the morning might start out a bit chilly, but by the time we headed to the "picture show" and lunch at Luby's Cafeteria it had become so hot that we were sure we were going to melt into a puddle. It's a cold that stays in your bones and makes you shiver all the way until you're well into the 3rd verse of "He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own". And you think, "Sweet Lord, is it hot and humid in that garden with you? Because if so, I'm ready. Now."

Anyway, please forgive, but I wore jeans to church. That started me thinking about you all morning and how the world has changed since you left us. Lots of times people (including me) talk about how things were better back "in the day". And in many ways they were. And in many ways, they really weren't.

I've been pondering the course of your life and the course of mine. I wonder today what you would think. I wonder how you might have changed. I wonder, too, how we might have changed each other. In the last years of your life I was bogged down and intensely focused on my three babies and my life. I regret that I didn't give more time to you. I wish I'd taken the chance to talk with you and listen to you more when you were here. I think there was so much more to learn from you and I think, perhaps you could have learned from me, too.

Like the jeans thing? Well, you might have a hard time with what some folks wear to church today, Grandmom. But I'm going to tell you that it is so much easier to get the boys to church if they don't have to shove themselves into dress shirts and ties. And one of the most important things about our Jesus is that He wants us to come just as we are. Messy and broken and sometimes wearing jeans. It does help some folks feel more welcome at church, I think. Still, I miss the days when everyone dressed up for Jesus. It made worship seem special. It was more reverent and I felt like it gave God the respect and honor He deserved.

Remember when you'd give us white toast covered in Karo Syrup for breakfast? Grandmom, you cannot even imagine the judgment that would get today. The white bread alone is practically cause for Child Protective Services to be called. Now we have to look for bread with whole grains and without additives and preservatives and I'm not sure very many people even know what Karo is. It's exhausting to keep up with all the things we're supposed to do. I tell you what, though. I might need to serve that for breakfast this week some time. I will say when I pick up the white bread and Karo at the grocery store today, you can bet your boots, I'll hide it under the whole wheat bread and the pure maple syrup in my cart.

Remember how we used to have to be right in front of the tv at 12:30 to watch your "stories"? Well, now As the World Turns isn't on anymore, but I can pretty much watch whatever I want, whenever I darn well please. The thing is that when you think you have all the time in the world and all the options in the world, sometimes you choose no time and no option. And we miss sharing moments together because we figure we can put them off until it's convenient. It seems that all too often convenient never comes.

Back then after church we'd go to Luby's Cafeteria or through the drive through at the fried chicken place. Or we'd have that casserole with the egg noodles and some sort of beef and I can't even remember what else was in it, but we'd sit at the table and eat together when we visited you. And there'd be that lime or orange jello thing? And maybe pecan pie that you usually left in the oven a smidge too long or pound cake for dessert. And it seemed like you always had a little tray of those tiny, freaky pickles and I never understood what the point of those was.

Well, now during a lot of the year we go to baseball games on Sundays right away after church. And not just one game, but a double header. And really we usually have two kids playing on Sundays so if you do the math, that's four games right after church.

And Grandmom. You might need to take a seat on one of those puffy clouds in heaven when I tell you this, but there have been a time or two that the boys have worn their baseball uniforms to church on those days.

I know. You're giving Fred Allen an earful on that one.

So on Sundays after church, we usually grab Subway sandwiches and we stick them in a cooler and we eat them on the bleachers and in between games. And lots of times we aren't all five together. But, Grandmom, we've met some of the greatest people you could ever meet through the boys' sports. And I've chatted with mamas on those Sunday afternoons who have shared their hearts with me and I've shared mine with them. They love my kids and I love theirs. I think God put us together for a reason. And I wouldn't give them up for anything.

And that's another thing. This "sharing" business. You know, nowadays people will seem to tell you every darn thing that's going on in their lives. This new internet thing has given folks an opportunity to tell you every feeling they have every moment they have it. It's as if we've decided that the entire world should grieve the fact that the traffic was terrible this morning or should know that today we had a headache or that "someone" is on our nerves. Sometimes I think we need to cowboy up a little bit and just muscle through some things without having to drag everyone and their dog through our muck with us.

On the other hand, this sharing our hearts thing can be beautiful. We were fortunate that our family was solid and we loved each other dearly, but you and I know that we weren't immune to struggles. Many of our people suffered pain and addiction and sickness and broken relationships. And back then most people kept their brokenness close inside. They put on brave faces and pushed hurts aside. I wonder if you'd been able to talk more about some of the pain in your life if maybe it would have turned out to be not so sad for you. Sometimes when you take just a little bit of the burden of your own heart and let some one else carry it for you, your heart lightens a whole lot. There's a popular saying that "hurt people hurt people". Unfortunately, I think that's true, but recently I read a book which stated the opposite. Often, hurt people heal people. And we're pretty good at holding burdens for each other these days. We're pretty good at looking into people's pain and saying, "Me, too."

Grandmom, here's the most amazing thing I want to tell you. I remember that you loved your Sunday School Class so much. I think it was the Sunshine Circle or something like that. I remember that when Joe and Kyle were born they were tickled to pieces and they put an announcement in the church bulletin about the fact that you were a Great-Grandmom.

Well, for the past five years I've been in a Bible Study, too, but it looks different from yours. I've been in groups where there are so many different kinds of women that I think you'd be a little shocked. I've prayed with Asian women and Black women and Hispanic women and Indian women. They hug me and love me and I love them, too. So much. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding the accents and I think they might have a hard time understanding me. But we all love Jesus. We love Him so much. Some of them had childhoods completely different from mine and some were similar. Some were scary  - ones where they weren't sure when the next meal would come or whether or not they would have to watch their mamas get beaten. Some of them weren't told about Jesus from the moment they were born like I was. And when they met Him it was because there was nothing left to hold them up.

And every single time they tell a story my heart is busted open by the fact that their Jesus and my Jesus and your Jesus, Grandmom? He is the same one. The same one whose spirit filled the Wesley United Methodist Church while we sat in the pew in Texas is the same one that saved my friend from her abusive father. The same one that gloried in the hymns you played on the piano is the same one who made an unwanted little Korean girl feel loved and important and valuable. The same God who saved our loved ones from addiction time and time again saved a friend who lived on the other side of the country from the same exact struggles. The same Jesus that saved me from postpartum depression when your death and Drew's birth came crashing in on me within months of each other is the same one that saved another woman when she lost her child to a horrific, random accident.

And when I ask these women to pray? I know that they hit their knees for me. I know that they do. Just exactly like all the women in the Sunshine Circle did for you. Many of the women don't look like me, they don't dress like me and they don't sound like me, but they write my needs and my sorrows in their journals and on their hearts and they lift them up to the same Jesus you taught me about.

Because for all the changes good and bad over the course of our lives? For the good ol' days or for the good nowadays? Our Jesus remains the same yesterday, today and forever. The same for you, for me and for them.

I wish I could sit on the swing with you under the carport and talk about all of this, but I suppose it's not time yet. When I see you again, I imagine that swing will hold more people than either of us imagined it could. Maybe Jesus and you will scoot over and make room and pass me the bowls of green beans and corn from the garden. And we'll snap the ends off the beans and shuck the corn like we used to and talk some more about all of this. I can't wait to see you again.

 I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.

Jennifer Lynne

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Monday Daybook on a Tuesday Morning 3-7-17

For Today

Looking out my window
Well, it looks pretty grey right now after what was a spectacularly bright, cold morning. We've had some amazing sunsets in the past few weeks with our skies beaming with orange and pink. Tonight is our first baseball scrimmage of the season so I was hoping to see one of those sunsets again tonight. I'm afraid the clouds rolling in might not allow it. Good thing I caught this one last week.

I am thinking

about my new skin "regimen". I'm pretty sure that after the hell I put my skin through as a teenager in Texas, only Jesus Himself can repair my mistakes. (I'm looking at you, Johnson's Baby Oil and that reflective aluminum towel we thought was a great idea.) After hearing about Rodan and Fields from everyone and their best friend on Facebook even though I didn't know many people who had tried it in real life, I decided that my face situation was getting dire enough that I was ready to jump right on in. I am not going to say that there are, at least yet, any miracles happening on my face. Still, last week after about a month of being obsessed very consistent with my Redefine regimen, at least three times I caught my reflection in the mirror and didn't cringe. I thought my skin looked somewhat better - brighter, maybe? Less dull and less splotchy. The jury is still out, but so far I think Rodan and Fields might be created for such a time and a face as this. We'll see.

I am thankful

for the truth of Hebrews 13:8 - "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." No matter how I ignore Him, no matter how many days my Bible stays closed under a stack of books and papers, no matter how I occupy my mind with other things, He stays there waiting for me, never changing, never shutting the door. I am seeking Him with my whole heart during lent and He is the same as He always was. He has seen me all along during these days when my mind and heart have wandered. I am so thankful.

One of my favorite things

I might be jumping the gun here because I've only been at it for a few weeks, but I think one of my favorite things might be Vinyasa Yoga. I've been three times in the past week. I think the beauty of it for me is that I have to concentrate so hard that my mind can't possibly wander to the 7.000 things it wants to ponder. When I run I can sort through all those conversations I regret having or not having, all those fears, all those needs and wants and worries and for that running is great. In yoga, my mind can only focus on two things: how can I get my body into that position and how can I not throw up on the person next to me. Also if you love yoga you should check out my beautiful cousin's website. (Well, she's my cousin's wife. Same thing.) That's her up there doing some ridiculously fierce pose. She's a real legit yogi who probably doesn't spend most of her time praying that she won't throw up during her practice and her photos are stunning.

I am creating

A "Done" list. I've been caught up for my entire life in my "To Do List." I never have, never will finish the list. I've been in quite a rut this year listening to a voice continuously telling me that I am not productive enough, useful enough or valuable enough. Some days it's louder than others. Lately, I've taken all my pretty colored pens and turned my To Do List upside down. At night, I've written down every blasted thing I have done that day - from returning a phone call, to making an appointment, to walking my dog, to texting a friend to check in. Once I even wrote down that I wheeled the trash cans in to the garage. For women raising a family, it's hard sometimes to remember that little things add up to big things in serving her family and friends.

I am wearing

There is nothing that will get me more motivated to exercise than new exercise clothes. I realize that I could wear any old shorts and a tshirt to work out, but if I can shop for something brand new then I'm in. I'm a big fan of Carrie Underwood's Calia line of sportswear at Dick's Sporting Goods. Today I'm wearing this Sports Bra, this Strappy Front Neck Striped top, this headband, these socks (which are not from Carrie Underwood's line, but are my absolute favorite), a hoodie from Costco (because I'm very high fashion) and these Mizuno running shoes. I left out my underwear - it's Hanes from Target, if you must know. I'm pretty sure that the more money I spend on Carrie's line the closer my legs will be to looking like hers and also that I will be able to sing How Great Thou Art so that Jesus won't cringe. #goals ;-)

I am reading

I finished All The Light We Cannot See and have started Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I also just joined a new Women's Bible Study at my church where we are studying What Happens When Women Say Yes to God:  Experiencing Life in Extraordinary Ways by Lysa TerKeurst.

I am watching

Steve and I are on Season 5 of Homeland. I have a massive crush on Quinn and at the same time I think he might be the scariest person alive.

I am hoping

That the warm weather we had a few weeks ago will come back as we officially start the high school baseball season this week. I'm not sure I'm ready yet. It will be the last season I ever watch this guy play. Senior year is brutal.

I am learning

Patience. Whenever I read about the fruits of the spirit in Galatians, the word patience glares out at me. I've determined in the last year or so that impatience is perhaps one of my greatest sins. I am impatient with my family, with myself, and even with God. Sometimes the Lord puts certain people (or perhaps, animals) in your life specifically to teach you about your sin. I'm going to bet that's one of the reasons He sent me these little knuckleheads. So in a nutshell, I'm learning that 12 year olds and puppies can serve the same purpose. :-)
In my kitchen
I've got a kid trying to gain some weight which is a completely foreign concept to me so there have been lots of big breakfasts and lots of protein shakes and smoothies being blended up lately.

Post Script
Our church did a sermon series this winter on the Apostle's Creed and each sermon focused on one phrase from the Creed. I thought my pastor's sermon "I believe in the Resurrection of the Body" was really good. It's worth a listen. GO HERE.

Shared Quote
This quote from All the Light We Cannot See reminded me so much of my friends in the pediatric cancer world who have lost their children. They are so brave. And yet, what choice do they have?

“When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don't you do the same?” 
― Anthony DoerrAll the Light We Cannot See

Prompts from
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