Monday, June 25, 2012

The Girl Who Cried Wolf

Once upon a time there was a beautiful Princess (rrrrrrrrpppp- that is the sound of the record player skipping....... indicating that I am already way off in my story telling).

Once upon a time in a neighborhood not far away lived a girl. (Blake recently informed me that I am not a "girl", I am a "mom") She and her 3 children and handsome husband lived together in a shoe. (I think I am mixing my stories up again)  Let's fast forward to the the part we know-  where she goes into the woods and sees a wolf.

About three years ago the girl and her husband received a letter from a far away land (Portland, Oregon).  That letter indicated that the handsome husband was on the Wait List for the P.A. school in Oregon.  They cheered with delight and faith as they prepared to move.  The girl  rushed from the woods (or in this case, the mail box) and told all of her friends, and the thousands of readers on her Blog that soon she would be moving to Oregon.  But disappointment struck when the Evil Witch, Pacific University, did not need anyone from the wait list and JT was told to reapply. (was there an evil witch in the story with the wolf? whatever)  The girl was heartbroken, and a little bit embarrassed.  She had been so excited for the move- and so faithful that things would work out for them- that she had not considered how it would feel to look back at the woods and tell everyone that they weren't moving.  The moving boxes were left empty, and life resumed in the neighborhood without much thought to the previous excitement.

About a year later a phone call came to the home of the girl and handsome husband.  Again, telling him that he would be on the Wait List.  But this time for an even more exotic  place (could anything be more exotic than Oregon?) P.A. school in Puerto Rico!  The same excitement ensued.  The girl rushed from the woods (or cell phone) and told her friends, again, that she would be moving.  And the packing began.  But as the weeks wore on, and the Evil Beast (Chattham University) filled it's roster, once again we were told to reapply.  The girl found herself, again, looking back at the woods- that seemed filled with adventure and excitement -and telling her loved ones (and  by now the millions of people who read her blog) that they would be staying here.

What would the Neighborhood Folk think of her and the handsome husband?

Two times coming out of the woods- with stories of far away and exotic places. And two times, ending up right here where they began.

Was she just a storyteller?  Was it ever going to happen?

Finally, a new letter came.  Acceptance.  "This is It!" thought the girl as she ran from the woods to share the good news.  Finally, something definite. It was time to pack and move across the country to the cold and snowy land of New York.  This was a far away place she had always dreamed of!  She forgot her previous embarrassment and confidently came out of the woods this time.  There was no wait list, no possibility of an Evil Witch with a poison apple.  They were accepted.

Little did the girl know, that her handsome husband had other things in mind.

And soon another phone call came. This time from the University of Washington.  Another acceptance.  How could they say No?   Instantly, the boxes were put away.  The frames left on the wall.  They would not be moving after all.  The girl was forced again, to inform her friends, and her billions of readers, that they would be staying right here.  Maybe.


Well, of course, the girl had dreamed of adventure.  Of new roads to travel and new flavors to taste.  And the handsome husband was seduced by the thought of living near campus.

So once again, the girl rushed from the woods with her sights set on The City.  They would move closer to The City and the school, find a small house, save time on the commute, and finally use those moving boxes.  She boasted to her friends that she would still have an adventure.

But time wore on.  And cheap housing in The City was scarce.  Prayers were said, apartments were visited, and renters for their own house were found. (yeah! that was a tiny miracle in and of itself) But nothing was working out.  Hope was wearing thin as questions began pouring in.  When will you move? Have you found a place? Doesn't school start in just one week?  Don't you already have renters for your house- where will you stay? Overwhelmed, and disheartened, the girl and the handsome husband had an idea.

An idea that would solve their financial worries, and buy them some time while they wait for student housing.  They would just stay here.  But move.


So the girl and the handsome husband will pack their bags this summer and move across the street.  No, it is not exotic.  And it isn't any closer to campus.  But they can afford to rent out the bottom level of a friend's home. :)  So yes, they will move, across the street- and yes, they are staying. (Is this fairy tale confusing, or what?)

The poor girl is tired of being the Girl Who Cried Wolf.  She is tired of telling everyone she is moving - only to discover she is staying.  She didn't do it because she was naive (although she felt that way),  she didn't do it for the Pina Colada Party her dear friends gave her when she was disappointed, she didn't do it  to be asked (again ;) to speak in church "before she moves", she didn't do it for help decluttering her house, or for help with the garage sale or the millions of other things that everyone has done for her the past few years.

She is in more shock than any of you at the fact that there is No Wolf.  (although she may still need help packing- to move across the street!)

The moral of this story is:
Next time you hear the story of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf-- just think  for a minute that maybe he really did see a wolf,  maybe he really wanted to see that wolf, or maybe he just got the chance to see that his friends would love him and support him no matter what or where he lived.

Unfortunately, in that story, the boy got eaten by a wolf.

And so the girl and the handsome husband moved out of their shoe (and into someone else's shoe) and lived Happily Ever After.

Disclaimer:  I do not actually think that Pacific University of Chattham University are evil for not accepting JT- just foolish.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day Post- Part I

"The greatest gift a Dad can give his children is to show their Mom that he loves her."
or something like that....

I grew up hearing this phrase from my Dad all the time.  And trust me, as a kid, seeing your Dad kiss your Mom does not seem better than a Barbie Convertible.  But as an adult, it is pretty much priceless.

It's Father's Day.  The day we all stop to pay tribute to our Dads. The men who raised us.  Who taught us important things like how to throw a ball like a boy- not like a girl.  And how to build a fire when you are camping.   How to sleep in church without anyone noticing.  How to plant a garden.  How to ride a bike without training wheels.  How to serve a mission.  And my family's personal favorite, and little known fact: "It will stop hurting when you stop crying"  We buy our dad's ties, utensils for the BBQ, and books with random facts (if you have my Dad).  We try to visit them, or at least remember to call them. (does a blog post count as a phone call? just kidding)  We celebrate them. 

As I have reflected on the wonderful man that I call Dad- I kept coming back to that saying about him giving us the greatest gift by loving our Mom.  I had no idea how significant that was.  Marriage can be hard. (not mine, of course, it is easy and perfect)  Life in general can be hard.  But I grew up knowing that my Dad loved my mom.  This was an Eternal truth in our home.  There was no doubt or worry that he might change his mind or abandon us.  And in doing that - he taught me something to look for in a husband.  Someone who would love me.

My kids are so blessed.  Not just because they have the greatest Dad who will teach them how to ride a bike, and fix a tire, and climb  a tree (although JT is doing all of those things) they are blessed because every day they see him love their mom.

I wanted to have a beautiful post on here today with pictures of JT and our three beautiful children.  Unfortunately this has been the week from hell.  (Is that swearing? I don't know, but it is the only way I can describe this week.  And the rule in my house growing up was if you heard my mom use a bad word you were then allowed to use it yourself, and I am sure she has probably said "hell" before, so I am going under that clause and using it in my blog.  Thanks Mom) And JT's Birthday and Father's Day have been crushed under the weight of it all.  He is well aware of this.  And yet, he hasn't been upset.  He did the dishes from the Birthday Cake Disaster and the mess that Riley and I left in our wake.  He played with the kids all day today while I ran around like a crazy woman.  He cleaned the kitchen (again) from another baking adventure.  He keeps taking care of me and he really isn't getting anything in return. (Not even a blog post with pictures of him being an amazing dad!)

But the thing is- he loves me.  He really truly loves me.  It is an Eternal truth in this house.  So this year, instead of the Blog Post he always wanted (lol, I am laughing at the idea of a guy wanting a blog post over something from R.E.I),  and instead of something wrapped in ribbons (again, hopefully from R.E.I)  he is giving the gift this Father's Day. 

He is giving his kids the greatest gift any dad could give:  he loves their mom.  And I am so grateful that that it is me.

P.S. My Goal is to actually have a real post, with real pictures of JT being a really amazing Dad--- it will be posted between now and next June.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Bathroom Prayer (noun)

It all began in a public restroom.

When I was a young single adult I spent my summers as a Youth Counselor for the church summer camp "Especially For Youth".  This was actually a dream come true for me.  Ever since I fell in love with my own Counselors, as a teenager, I wanted to be one.  I had no idea what I was in for.

I loved it.  But it was much harder than I ever anticipated.

We spent our summers living out of our suitcases, traveling from one college campus to the next.  Each week we would be assigned a new group of youth- whose parents had paid a lot of money for them to come to this camp.  Each week we would spend our time getting to know the youth, and teaching them the Gospel and the standards of the Church in a fun and spiritual atmosphere.  We laughed, we cried, we prayed, we ate pizza- it was good.  But it was hard.

It was hard to know that some parents had sacrificed a lot to pay for the camp, and that they put a lot of faith in us to care for and love their children.  It was hard to hear some of the difficulties these young people faced at home and at school.  It was hard to try to give them as much love and attention and direction as we could in one short week before we would start all over with a new group of youth.

One week- that began rough (with me sleeping through my alarm clock before the big Monday Morning Kick Off Meeting for all of the counselors- and running across campus while spitting my toothpaste into the bushes at BYU-Idaho, having no time to comb my hair and walking into the meeting very late with some insane bed head and toothpaste dried to my cheek... not my best first impression), I found myself in the bathroom (probably attempting to tame the bed head) a few minutes before the youth would start to arrive.  In walked a woman.  A mother of one of the youth participants that would be arriving with the other 900 kids that afternoon, who looked as exhausted as I felt.  She saw me, wearing my bright EFY T-shirt and counselor name tag, and began to cry.  She hugged me and told me about her daughter that she was bringing to the camp. She told me of her daughter's serious struggles and her deep concern for the child.  (it is humbling to be thrown into a Mother's deepest personal concerns with hardly an introduction) She knew that with 900 kids attending that week, it was unlikely that I would be her daughter's counselor,  but she begged me to do my best for whomever my kids would be.  To love them, to pray hard and work hard for them.  "Hundreds of parents are praying for you and depending on you this week" she said.  I had always known that what we did was important (besides incredibly fun) but the depth of it had never hit me like that.  I can't imagine exactly how those parents felt,  I hope I never do.  But I did feel the weight of my assignment - like a ton of bricks. Forget the bad hair day, the toothpaste stain on my shirt, and the reprimand in front of my peers for being late to the meeting- this was serious.

I let myself into one of the stalls, sat down, and wept.  (You should know I don't like the word "wept", it feels extremely old fashioned, kind of corny, and for some reason makes me think of a sad old man which makes me feel very uncomfortable- so I have rarely used that word- but it is the only word that describes how I cried)  And then I prayed.  Just like all of those parents.  I prayed for strength, and courage, and guidance, and for the toothpaste on my shirt to disappear.  That wasn't the first time that I prayed in a bathroom stall.  But it was the moment that I realized that that is what I do.  I am a Bathroom Prayer. (definition: One who prays in bathrooms) I have done it ever since.  (It was more difficult on my mission in Madagascar when occasionally bathrooms were scarce...) I even do it as a Mom.  And much like a public bathroom- my master bath has a lock, and is a quiet place where I can hide for a minute of solitude.  And unlike a public bathroom- I don't have to hover over the seat.

Recently I have added a new addition to my title of being a Bathroom Prayer.

This new habit formed a few months ago when a friend of mine lost her husband.  I thought I was handling it well.  Until one shopping trip to Fred Meyers.  My kids were happily coloring in the Kids Club (which they love, and I love Fred Meyer for having one!) and I was getting some grocery shopping done, when it hit me: Mortality.  For some reason at that moment in Fred Meyer it all became very real to me.  I sensed my own aliveness. (how is that a real word?) I felt the fear of how one could be on the cereal isle one minute and at "home" with their Maker the next.  I felt guilty for doing something as ordinary and mundane as shopping when a friend of mine was mourning.  And soon I found myself crying.  In Fred Meyer.  I couldn't figure out how to get out of there fast enough.  Do I simply turn from my cart and run out of the store?  Or do I brave the check out line, tears streaming down my face?  And were other people wondering what it was about the picnic isle that was causing this outburst of emotion?   I could hardly get through my list before I left and buried my head on my steering wheel sobbing.  Poor Riley and Blake in the back seat in total shock.  (The only reason I finished my list is because the idea of returning to the grocery store two days in a row is traumatic for me.)

I thought this was a fluke.  Just a really bad day.

But then this week I found myself back in Fred Meyer.  Kids happily coloring in the Kids Club, and the weight of my world crumbling down on me.  We just got the final numbers back from the University of Washington on the amount of student loans we are allowed to take out for P.A. school.  The meager amount of money we can borrow launches us below the Poverty Line.  How is it possible that they will not allow us to borrow enough money to live on? (I am not asking for comfortable, I am just asking for above the poverty line - Ok, but comfortable sounds nice too...) As I stood there, staring at the Cream Cheese asking myself if I can justify spending the money on cream cheese to make JT's 30th Birthday Cupcakes- knowing that these are the kinds of  overwhelming decisions I will have to make for the next two years, I began to cry.  (And the cream cheese isle is so much busier than the picnic isle!)  Again, I was faced with the decision to abandon my cart and flee to the parking lot or struggle through the rest of my list.  This is when it hit me.  Last time wasn't a fluke.

This is the new me.  Someone who prays in bathroom stalls and cries in grocery stores.

I am not sure what it is about these places that incurs such strange habits.  There is something peaceful, or at least private about closing yourself into a bathroom stall. There is also an abundance of toilet paper in case your prayers get teary.  And having a place where you can usually be left alone is always a good place to pray.  Then with the grocery store- is it the few quiet moments with out my kids, where the reality of our decisions can truly sink in?  Or the fact that I spend most of my money (the temporary bane of my existence) at Fred Meyer?  Or is it simply that choosing between cream cheese frosting and plain butter cream is just too much for me?

So if you see my feet under the stall in a restroom, don't knock on the door, don't ask if that is me in there- because I am probably deep in conversation.  (Or possibly peeing, and in that case I like my privacy also.)

And if you come across me standing in the frozen foods section with tears streaming down my face- don't offer me your solution or tips on couponing.  Please don't give me advice on the part-time job I should get, or belittle my emotions by telling me about the time you supported your 14 kids on $50 a month "and if I can do it, anyone can do it", or judge the 4 cartons of comfort ice cream filling my cart.  If you want to help, please just pick out the cheaper of whatever two items I am crying over, place it in my cart, maybe give me a hug if you are not a stranger, and walk away.  Just know that I am a Grocery Store Crier.  It is who I am.