Thanksday #89

Dear August,

I have big plans for you.

I have dreams of hot, sunny weather without rain where I can swim with the kids and not have Paxton’s lips turn blue.

I have dreams of getting my tan back that I had in June.

(Pausing in remembrance.)

I have dreams of not wanting to pull out my fall boots and sweaters — and desires of getting bright-colored pedicures once again.

Yes August, I have big plans.

Because the weather for the past month has been awesome…if it were September. But considering it’s still technically summer, a few consecutive sunny days and temps over 70-degrees would be FAB.

Sincerely,

The Pale Blonde in the Mountains

(p.s. Yes, Mom…I do wear sunscreen!)

In other news, I have still not broken my 745 score on my Solitaire app. So, I did what any other solitaire-junkie would do.

I downloaded another app.

And this one has Easy, Medium and Hard levels and I’m proud to say I made a #1 rank in the first day. #1 rank in what though, is to be determined.

#1 in Seasonal-Affective Disorder?

#1 in Jergen’s Sunless Tanning Lotion Buying?

#1 in Online Boot Shopping?

Yes to all of the above.

Moving on!

Thankfuls this week:

1. SOZO. My husband and a handful of friends went on a 10-day mission trip to Serbia to help work the Sozo Music & Arts Festival. This is a trip I’ve done three times before (when it was in Hungary, not Serbia). And while God kept me home this time (how rude!) — I am beyond thankful that people I love dearly were able to experience what Sozo is all about. They kept me abreast of everything via Facebook, and praying for them was an enormous honor for me. But next year, I’m in. Because you know what they say about a woman scorned? Nothing compared to a woman who missed out on an overseas trip.

2. Coconut Oil. It’s awesome on hair. Did you know that? And sometimes, just to tame some frizziness, I put a small amount in my hands and smooth it over my hair. And it makes my hair so shiny and Christy Brinkley-ish (without any of her beauty) and it makes me want to whip it back and forth. (My herrrrrrr, that is.)

3. Cheez-Its. I know. Repeat! But holy cow, they are my kryptonite. And I love every bit of their cheesy-salty-goodness.

4. Flying. If you regularly visit this place, you know I just finished a blog series on Metamorphosis: Embracing a Life of Becoming. And as I just wrote the final wrap-up, I realized that (as most things do in God’s economy), the wrap-up perfectly mirrors real life. Because as I talk about being willing to take a chance and trying to fly — trusting these new, bizarre wings won’t fail you and trusting God to carry you — I’m having to live that out. How? Just look:

METAMORPHOSIS-FB-COVER-01

Yeah. So that. I’m guest speaking. At an event. In person.

Me — the introvert, hermit, hide-behind-the-screen graphic-designer-writer-lover is trusting God’s direction and going to stand in front of people and open my mouth wide, trusting God will fill it (Psalm 81:10). If you would have told me a year ago I’d be doing this, I would have looked you dead in the eye and told you, “Get behind me, Satan!” (And I actually did that last summer at She Speaks — sorry Heidi!) And yet, here we are.

Because God loves to have the last laugh.

So if you’re going to be in the area and can stop by, please do. I’d love to hug your neck in person and force you to awkwardly tell me it wasn’t as bad as I thought. (I kid.) (Or do I?)

5. En Français. I made a funny little graphic on the sidebar of my site — the one that starts with “bonjour!” and “it’s important to note I’m not French.”

Well.

Shortly after I posted it, I got an email from my mother outlining our family tree. And it turns out, I am, in fact, a small part French. Who knew? (I mean, qui a su?)

I haven’t had time to change the graphic yet, and my mom’s emailed me almost daily to gently remind me that graphic is false…but I’ll get around to it soon. I’m still working on wording to adequately express “a little bit French and pompous enough about it to be annoying.”

So it could take awhile.

Until then, enchanté mon amis.

(And I’d like to add, this explains just so much about me.)

6. Grandparents. While Greg was out of the country, I decided to get outta dodge and call in reinforcements. So I dragged everyone to The Big City to spend a couple several days with Gamma & Papa. And the kids were spoiled and loved it, and Mama got to work out and get her hair done and have dinner. With a friend! Until the street lights came on! And loved it! And we all had a nice distraction from missing Greg. For awhile. (Thanks Gams & Pops!)

7. Girl Time. While in The Big City, Jaana  and I spent a day at the American Girl store. And when I say a day, I’m not joking. We got there at 11 am for the “make a hot air balloon like Saige’s” craft, and stayed until about 2:45 when we finished with lunch with her doll in her own seat at the bar with a tea-cup. And the in-between was filled with a visit to the hair salon for Caroline (the doll), a Saige Creativity Scavenger Hunt, and analyzing every possible outfit and how it would look on Caroline. (After all, Jaana had $10 to spend and regardless of the fact it barely covered the gratuity for lunch, we’re all good.) We made wonderful memories, and she literally had The Best Day. I didn’t rush her or push her and just let her take the lead on everything. It was a long overdue Mommy-Daughter day where she didn’t have to share the spotlight with her little brother. Worth every moment of dodging large shopping bags, loud birthday parties and frizzy doll hair. (I guess the American Girls don’t know about coconut oil — but us French Girls do.)

8. Brie and Baguettes. I could make a dinner from a french bread baguette and some brie with chutney of some kind. (And this was before I found out I’m part French. Now, I just say, “duh.”)

9. The Cooking Channel. I don’t like to cook. I don’t enjoy it, look forward to it, plan for it, anticipate it. It’s the last thing I ever think about it. Therefore, we lack awesome meals at this house. Yet lately, Jaana’s favorite thing to watch is anything on the Cooking Channel. And no, the irony is not lost on me. All I can hope is that she’ll pick up where this pot-holder left off and start whipping up fancy things on a whim. (Or at least whipping her herrrrrrr back and forth.)

10. Happy Happy Happy. Does anything warm a Mama’s heart more than seeing her kids blissfully joyful at the sight of their Daddy? Nope, not really. My kids are beyond ecstatic that Greg is back, and seeing them light up makes my heart ooze happy lava. It’s awesome.

So that’s my week in a nutshell. I could’ve saved 1,250 words and just wrote, “Need sun, love Greg” and called it a day, but whatevs. What’s the fun in that? I’m off to eat some brie and massage some coconut oil into my hair.

And perform my next sun dance.

You’ll let me know what you’re thankful for this week, bien sur?

What are you thankful for this week?

MDS-SIG-01

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Fan of Fruitfulness?

I’m honored to participate in our pastor’s current sermon series, “#1 Fan?” as a guest writer. Here is the third installment:

 —

She handed me her swim mask to hold as she ran to the water slides. I sat on the edge of the pool — face to the sun — and watched her skip away, her bright yellow mask threaded through my fingers.

As she slipped and slided again and again, I looked around sheepishly. Assured no one was looking at me, I held the mask onto my face and peeked under water.

I had forgotten the joy of seeing life under water, even in just the pool. Baby toes wiggling beneath their floats. Wiser and wrinklier knees butterfly stroking back and forth and back and forth. Strong and muscular legs holding squeals of delight over their heads until they are plunged down into the depths.

I braced myself and looked down at my own body. Above water, my legs were distorted and bloated and pale. But with that mask on, they were normal legs again. They didn’t shift and change and convince me I was something other than myself: I saw I missed a spot while shaving my legs. The pink of my toenail polish was rosier. I really needed a professional pedicure.

It was all so clear.

When did I decide it wasn’t okay to keep wearing a mask? When did I begin believing the distorted reflections of a chlorinated world instead of the truth? The mask protects our eyes from foreign chemicals that burn and sting as we look around when we’re pulled under. And when we choose not to wear it, we just plain can’t see. We close our eyes and are swayed aimlessly, allowing ourselves to be carried along instead of staying in our lane.

I recently plunged into the ocean of a writer’s conference without a mask. I had a dream and a book and a hope, but no mask. And it was a beautiful and amazing ocean, overflowing with life and ministry and Jesus…yet I only saw what was visible while my head was above water. When I fell under the surface, consumed by the waves again and again, my eyes stayed shut and I missed all the life that existed in the depths.

And yet, sweet and merciful Jesus met me there anyway. He saw when I was drowning in currents of insecurity and fear — He saw that I wasn’t seeing. So He got a hold of me while I was trying to learn about writing life-changing devotions and He stood behind me and wrapped His hands around my eyes and whispered to me to look.

And His fingers opened.

There, beyond waves of discouragement and a haunting desire to quit was a sea of life.

And I saw.

And my eyes didn’t burn.

And then He Spoke:

“It’s not about the book. It’s not about the book. Don’t lose sight of the ministry and the mission by getting too focused on the method.”

And I was broken and I wept and I sought refuge in the prayer room and saw some more. And He didn’t say the book would happen and He didn’t say it wouldn’t happen. He simply said it wasn’t about the book.

I needed to let it go.

So I let it go.

Trying to reflect on all He showed me that weekend is like swimming with my eyes closed. I don’t know where I’m going. I’m afraid I’m going to bump into others and interrupt their focused strokes or crash and burn into the sides of the pool and be left with scars and scratches. I continue to look at myself and only see distorted desires and a bloated ego and extremely pale talent, especially compared to all the other swimmers.

But in order to swim and not sink, I have let the Holy Spirit show me in His timing what I specifically need to mediate on. Drop by drop, splash by splash, one stroke at a time. I need to let Him show me which lane is mine and swim in just it, unhurried and steady. So that when I pray and seek and trust Jesus, it’ll be okay to open my eyes because He’s the Mask that protects my eyes from burning. And He speaks what I need to know for this moment in this day. And He reassures me I don’t have to process it all in one stroke…that I can take it lane by lane, pool by pool.

So give Him your oceans and your pools and your rivers and your streams. Let Him guide you through their forceful shores and take away the fear of life.

Let Him show you how to really see.

Masking (aka Thanksday #73)

She handed me her swim mask to hold as she ran to the water slides. I sat on the edge of the pool — face to the sun — and watched her skip away, her bright yellow mask threaded through my fingers.

As she slipped and slided again and again, I looked around sheepishly. Assured no one was looking at me, I held the mask onto my face and peeked under water.

I had forgotten the joy of seeing life under water, even in just the pool. Baby toes wiggling beneath their floats. Wiser and wrinklier knees butterfly stroking back and forth and back and forth. Strong and muscular legs holding squeals of delight over their heads until they are plunged down into the depths.

I braced myself and looked down at my own body. Above water, my legs were distorted and bloated and pale. But with that mask on, they were normal legs again. They didn’t shift and change and convince me I was something other than myself: I saw I missed a spot while shaving my legs. The pink of my toenail polish was rosier. I really need a professional pedicure.

It was all so clear.

When did I decide it wasn’t okay to keep wearing a mask? When did I begin believing the distorted reflections of a chlorinated world instead of the truth? The mask protects our eyes from foreign chemicals that burn and sting as we look around when we’re pulled under. And when we choose not to wear it, we just plain can’t see. We close our eyes and are swayed aimlessly, allowing ourselves to be carried along instead of staying in our lane.

I plunged into the ocean that is She Speaks without a mask. It was a beautiful and amazing ocean, overflowing with life and ministry and Jesus…yet I only saw what was visible with my head above water. When I fell under the surface, consumed by the waves again and again, my eyes stayed shut and I missed all the life that existed in the depths.

And yet, sweet and merciful Jesus met me there anyway. He saw when I was drowning in currents of insecurity and fear — He saw that I wasn’t seeing. So He wrapped His hands around my eyes from behind, and told me to look. And His fingers opened. There, beyond waves of discouragement and a haunting desire to quit was a sea of life.

And I saw.

And my eyes didn’t burn.

And then He Spoke:

“It’s not about the book, Steely. It’s not about the book. Don’t lose sight of the ministry and the mission by getting too focused on the method.” 

And then I really saw.

Trying to reflect on everything She Speaks showed me is like swimming with my eyes closed. I don’t know where I’m going. I’m afraid I’m going to bump into others and interrupt their focused strokes. Or I’ll crash and burn into the sides of the pool and be left with scars and scratches. I keep looking at myself and just see distorted desires and a bloated ego and extremely pale talent. Instead, I have let God show me in His timing what I need to mediate on. Drop by drop, splash by splash.

I need to let God help me find my lane and swim in it, unhurried and steady. So that when I pray and seek and trust Jesus, He’ll tell me when it’s time to open my eyes anyway. Because He’s the Mask that protects my eyes from burning. And He speaks what I need to know for this moment in this day. And reassures me I don’t have to process it all in one stroke…that I can take it lane by lane, pool by pool.

This is what I’m most grateful for. More than a list full of ten little things that I usually post, this one thing is what has changed me most profoundly in the last week. He is so faithful, my friends. So very faithful.

Give Him your oceans and your pools and your rivers and your streams. Let Him guide you through their forceful shores and take away the fear of life.

Let Him show you how to really see.

Thanksday #72

Gotta keep this quick – I’m leaving for She Speaks today! EEEEK! And it’s 8:20 am and I’m leaving in just three hours to drop off the kids with Greg and then head on my way. And I still have to shower and pack. (Because naturally, I haven’t packed in advance. Doing so wouldn’t be true to who I am…a procrastinator.) And I still have to do a quick hair treatment. Nothing like pushing it ’til the last minute, no? (My poor mother-in-law is probably having heart palpitations right now. She’s been calling and emailing me about packing all week.)

But at least everything is printed off and tucked away nicely in my bag. (Confession: after I printed everything off, I did not look at it one more time. Not one. Because I’m deathly afraid there is a glaring error, and if I find it, it’s too late anyway. So I’m just trusting it’s fine and moving on.) (Ignorance can, indeed, be bliss.)

My short and quick thankfuls list this week:

1. A Good Night’s Sleep. I finally slept last night — I went to bed at a normal hour and didn’t wake up once. I feel like a new woman. Maybe I just need to take three Advil PM before bed every night. Is that the trick? Maybe it was just the freedom of having everything done, I don’t know. But I do know that the nauseous feeling I’ve had for the past 48 hours due to lack of sleep is gone. Praise the Lord.

2. Proofers. I had some amazing people jump in to help offer another set of eyes on my proposal, and they all brought unique skills to the table and helped me catch some important changes. Y’all are amazing.

3. Naps. I took two naps this week, due to the “I can’t sleep” random phenomenon that took over the past couple of weeks. They were good.

4. A 3-Hour Drive. I’m driving to the Charlotte-area for the conference. Alone. Just me and my thoughts and dreams and phone calls I get to catch up on. No Veggie Tales playing as the soundtrack of the trip, no bickering and tattling. I. Can’t. Wait. If I have your number, I’m calling you. Just because I can. In between listening to new music I downloaded and praying, natch.

5. Reminders. Paxton had some of Greg’s birthday cake the other day and left a huge mess everywhere. “Paxton, you sure are messy!” I said as I cleaned him up. And he said, “That’s okay, Mommy. It’s okay.” And you know what? It was okay. And I love him for reminding me not to get caught up in the mess but to enjoy the moment. (That’ll preach right there. Take a selah moment if you need one.)

6. Concerned Husband. I just love Greg. Is that clear from week-to-week? My car had a ridiculously bald tire on it, so much so he was worried it would blow up driving to the conference. I told him I’d just drive his car instead, because really, who wants to throw out money for a new tire right now? Not me. But he insisted that we get the new one before I left. Because he wanted me to be able to drive in my car (knowing I adore my car) and have a nice ride to the conference. I love that man.

(Just took a break for a quick do-it-yourself highlighting touch up.)

(Hair Guy is going to kill me.)

(I live three hours from him and just couldn’t fit in a trip before this weekend.)

(Don’t judge me!)

7. Office Supplies. To prepare for the conference, I had to get a few things at Office Depot. Office supply stores are a sanctuary for me. (Does anyone remember J.K. Gill??)  I could spend hours just slowly meandering through aisle after aisle of presentation folders, mechanical pencils and pad folios. It brings me peace. So does Nordstrom. (What can I say? Retail therapy works for me.)

8. Dum-Dums. Paxton threw up a few weeks ago driving to church, after complaining, “My tummy hurts.” And now, every single time we go anywhere, he says, “I fink I might frow up.” I have a feeling the poor lad is developing carsickness, which is awesome since we live in the mountains. My remedy is to throw a Dum-Dum at him. He hasn’t thrown up since, but it might be because it’s a ploy for him to get a lolly. I’m sure we’ll be paying for it in dental bills in a few years. But at least I haven’t had to disassemble the carseat to clean it since.

(It’s now 10:49 am and I’m packed, showered, and my hair is alright but Hair Guy is still gonna kill me.)

(Now just gotta get Paxton changed and lunches made and car loaded.)

(All in a day’s work.)

Alright. That’s all I got. Yes I could find two more things to add, but I have to leave the house in 30 minutes and I’m shaking with that adrenaline-rush feeling and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the background is just stressing me out.

So now it’s your turn! Let me know what you’re thankful for this week and share the love. Leave a comment by clicking the bubble at the top of the post. It’ll bring more peace than office supply stores. And almost as much peace as Nordstrom. True dat.