November 29, 2012

Why I Quit Being Thankful

Okay, okay... I didn't altogether quit being thankful, I just quit recording my thankfulness for a few reasons. Most of them are weak and pathetic excuses, "I have been so busy!" or "My kidney hurts so much!" But, I also have a couple reasons that are actually legitimate.  My best reason is that I have really struggled during this "season of gratitude" with a lot of guilt and (admittedly) irritation.  Most of you can identify with the feeling of being inundated with other people's really great news on Facebook.  Trust me, I could't be more thrilled that your vegan turkey tasted just like actual turkey, oh wait... yes I could be, I could be way more thrilled.

You get the point though, right?  We all read other people's comments about themselves and their own lives and we think "WHO CARES!"  And then I sit down to write my blog, and I think "Who cares!?"  It doesn't make me feel bad, honestly it doesn't.  I barely care what I am making for dinner, I know that you people don't!  So, I felt a little sick about writing all the things that I am thankful for, when they are really just silly little things that only I could care about.  Additionally, I have grappled with the concept of  the "humblebrag" which is just a way of bragging under the guise of gratitude.  "So thankful for my precious son who can already write in complete sentences at age 2!" which really just means "So thankful my baby isn't as dumb as your baby!  Clearly I am a sensational parent!  Happy Thanksgiving, my kids are so smart."  Or maybe it doesn't mean that.  I don't even know what it means... but, I know that it sometimes makes people feel bad about having a child that cannot speak, let alone write, or not having a child at all.  So, I struggle to report in on the things in my life that I am genuinely thankful for, because I know that nobody really cares about the superficial details of my life, and sadly, I am just shallow enough to be really thankful for some very self-serving conveniences.  Plus, my kidney actually has been acting up.

But, alas... I have promised to share the things I am thankful for, and I shall do so below.  Please know that when I brag, I will do so in an outright and disgusting manner, I have zero interest in the humbebrag.  When I am a jerk, you'll know it.  So, please trust that anything I write is not intended to be braggy or competitive, unless I am blatantly trash talking.  Then, well... I am just a jerk sometimes, and it is usually meant for comedic value.  Or because my vegan tofurky was actually golden browner than yours.

Day 17: Road trips.  I love road trips.  Road tripping has been a huge shaping factor in my life.  They have given me (and my kids) a sense of adventure and have been the #1 healthiest outlet for my wanderlust.
Day 18: Invisible Children.  This organization has done some amazing things and I was so blessed to be a part of their MOVE:DC event.  If you don't know about KONY 2012, you should google it before it is 2013.
Day 19: Great nail polish.  (See, I told you I am shallow!)  I don't care what ANYONE says, unless I hear differently from Jesus Christ himself, I will continue to believe that God created nail polish for me personally to enjoy.  I like to think that there is a special little corner of heaven especially for mani/pedis... chip-free, y'all.
Day 20:  Lisps.  If I could go back in time and record one thing, it would be Marlie at age 3 saying "cookieth, caketh, candieth."
Day 21:  Bins.  Without bins, I would look like I lived inside an episode of Hoarders.  I have 1,060 bins in my basement that hold clothing for boys, girls, neutral, newborns, toddlers, etc.  Sorting out sizes and seasons is a miserable and time-consuming job... only made tolerable because of my deep adoration for a solid bin.
Day 22:  Consignment/thrift shops.  Anything that I cannot buy with a Marshall's gift card comes from a thrift store.  I love items that richer people have rejected.
Day 23:  Squinting.  I love to squint at things because you see things in a completely different way.  I know that this sounds stupid, but trust me... I do this all the time and as stupid as it sounds, it LOOKS even stupider.  Seriously though, you squint at your Christmas tree one time, and you will not be able to stop.  It is really the only way to look at Christmas lights.  (See?  I know you just squinted, and then sang "A Whole New World" from the Aladdin soundtrack.)
Day 24:  Ethnic food.  Cooking with only American spices would be like being in taste prison.
Day 25:  Songs that I know all the words to.  As it turns out, there are only, like, five songs that I know by heart.  I loooove knowing the words to songs, and I will make words up just so I can sing along.  
Day 26:  My kids' schools.  I am one of those horrible Christians that actually sent my kids to public school.  Honestly, I haven't regretted it.  They have had awesome teachers, made great friends, and been exposed to some really important life experiences.  Sure, there are some draw backs... but, so far, we have had a wonderful schooling experience with our kids.  After parent/teacher conferences today, I am feeling particularly thankful for how caring and nurturing their teachers are.
Day 27: Makeovers.  I am in the business of making gals look fabulous, and I really love it.  I love making accessories, and I love showing people how to "pull it off."  I love making people feel fabulous, and I love when I get to know someone well enough to say "burn those shoes immediately."  If somebody approached me at any given moment and offered me a million dollars to use for making over ten people... I already know the ladies I would die to get my hands on, because I have fantasized about overseeing their makeovers for years.  I am thankful for fresh starts, changes and the freedom to try something new.
Day 28:  Conditioner.
Day 29: My marriage.  Today, I have been married for nine years.  I am thankful that we are still married, and that we still laugh together every day.

This is all a little anti-climactic I am certain.  But there you have it, some things that I genuinely appreciate.  As for my challenge to you... the month is coming to a close, so I would encourage you to stop the humblebrag, and to share only things that you are truly thankful for.  Don't praise the Lord on facebook before you take the time to thank Him privately.  And since God isn't on facebook anyways, I challenge you to stop posting your prayers there altogether.  I challenge you to view life less competitively and don't be afraid to be honest about who you are, what you struggle with, and what you really love.

Even if it just just a lisp and some nail polish.

November 16, 2012

Work, Wounds, Christ and Candy.

Day 14, I am thankful for my little business.  I am behind on my blog posts because I have been busy making items for a new account with a gift shop outside Boston, as well as a  holiday sale at MOPS, and then restocking some inventory and my first and favorite shop, Thread.  The short story behind starting Piccadilly Rose is that I pretended to have a business, and business was great, so I decided to have a real business.  Between these accounts at shops/salons, craft fairs, and a lot of loyal customers and custom orders... real business is even better than fake business!  I really enjoy having a way to contribute financially, that rarely takes away time from my family.  The girls enjoy trying out all my new accessories... and they love coming to see my table at art fairs.

Day 15, I am thankful for when I am challenged by other people to be better than I am.  I am thankful for when someone calls me out for being selfish (I can be shamefully self-preserving, self-protective, self-indulgent, self-hating, self-younameit).  I am also a punisher.  By nature or nurture, I am not certain... but the bottom line is that when I get hurt, I punish.  I withdraw and have a hard time letting go of the wound, and I feel sorry for myself.  Perhaps it is out of fear of rejection, but my first instinct when I get hurt is to say, "Well, there goes that friendship."  I am kind of a relational quitter, more by instinct and feeling, than by action.  It embarrasses me to admit that because it takes one prideful person to hold a grudge.  I am thankful for the people who call me out when I am doing this, and who don't write me off even when I deserve it.  Feeling particularly thankful that "wounds from a friend can be trusted." (Proverbs 27:6)

Day 16, in a nutshell I am thankful for Jesus and candy.  It's an odd combination I know... but, here you will get an in-depth picture of my long history with both the lover of my soul, and my heart's secondary desire... treats.  

November 13, 2012

Golden Girls.

I am seriously behind on my thankfuls because of the long weekend.  So, here you will get Day 10, 11, 12 and 13 all in one.

Over the past couple of years, I have found myself exceedingly grateful for my friendships.  Recent years have come with plenty of ups and downs and my friends have been there to support me, especially during some of  the worst times.  So, all of today's post is about my different types of friends.

Day 10:  Friends of embarrassments past. These are my friends who I do not really keep in touch with in any significant way, but they are woman that I am so thankful for because they were a huge part of my life at one point or another.  A lot of these people loved me during some very unlovable seasons of my life, and they probably hate me for it now... but, I still consider them friends because they shaped me, tolerated me, refined me, or yelled at me when I needed it.  These are childhood friends, or college roommates that had to know me during some rough stuff, and while I was the ugliest, most broken version of myself.  These are people who I think about all the time (usually with total shame and embarrassment) but also with deep gratitude.

Day 11:  Friends from a distance.  These are friends who live anywhere but Rochester, NY.  Some of them are in Philly, some in Michigan, and others in Arizona, Kansas City, Boston, and Portland.  How much we keep in touch is usually determined by some wave of influence, like an impending visit, or need for advice, or some announcement about a major life change... or spontaneity and/or desperation to talk with someone who loves you, understands you, and has for a long time.  If I say that I am behind on laundry, most people think "yeah, sure... that makes sense, you have a lot of kids."  Only my long-distance friend, Heather, knows and understands what laundry failure really means for me.  Even though these women are far away, most of them know me better than the friends I see on a regular basis.  Some things, you can only learn through laundry freshman year.

Day 12:  Friends that are family.  I am lucky to say that some of my best friends are family first.  My sisters are also my best friends... all my sisters (biological, step, in-law) are some my closest and dearest friends.  There is something comforting about being loved by people who really don't have any other choice.

Day 13:  Friends who do life with me. These are women who I discuss books with, who I study the Bible with, who I cry with, and cry for.  These are women who have heard me sing (which I do loudly and constantly, despite having once been told by a college roommate that "even Jesus does not like my voice.")  Some have seen a baby come out of me, some have seen me throw up, some have seen my house (and my person) in a deplorable and unsanitary state, and they have all seen me cry.  (And dance.  If you haven't seen me dance, we really can't be that close.) They have forgiven me for a world of shortcomings, and still do life with me, pretending that people like me are normal.

It is a beautiful thing to have friends that have seen me at my worst and at my best.  They are one of the purest and most tangible ways that I can trust and believe that God exists.  He is the God that sees, and He has given me a slew of crazy friends throughout the years... all who have seen me, for better or worse, and have loved me in spite of an absurd amount of flaws, with a grace that only a merciful and very forgiving God could give.

*My challenge is for you to call one friend from each category and thank them for seeing you at your worst, and loving you anyways.  

November 9, 2012

The Gospel According to Harper

Day 9, I get a little back up from Harper who takes the opportunity to share his thoughts on faith... Ha!

Plus, a bonus almost-sighting of Tom sans shirt.

November 8, 2012

Please Excuse the Mess...

I have a sign hanging in my family that says this:

Please excuse the mess.  The children are making memories.

It doesn't make much sense when people come over, because when I have company, I pretend that we are tidy people.  In reality, we live in squalor... which is why my friend, Sam, thought of me when she saw this sign.  It was the sweetest, most offensive gift I ever got.

You see, for about three years now, Sam and I have met almost every Friday morning at the world's worst diner to do our Bible study together.  It is a time where we ask for accountability, we give unsolicited advice, we verbally abuse challenge each to grow in areas where we are struggling, and we confess how poorly we keep house.  Okay, she keeps her house pretty tidy... but, in my defense, I have twice as many walkers making a mess, so I blame the tiny toddling disaster-people.  Soon, my kids will be older and more responsible and her non-walking baby will start walking, and will make the place an absolute pig sty.  I look forward to the day I can smugly pass that sign back to her.

But, for now... it really belongs where it's at.

Day 8: I am thankful for my home.

I want to say that I am thankful for my home because I am a domestic goddess that keeps it sparkling at all time, after all I have a magic eraser in a holster alongside a toothbrush meant just for scrubbing.  Sadly, this would not be an accurate picture of me, or my home.  I won't say that it is a dump or anything, it is just so constantly lived in, that I can't stay on top of it.  I once took the time to figure out how much money I would make if I was actually being paid to do all of the things I do as a mom.  I could definitely afford a cabana boy housekeeper if I made just a little something for each monotonous task.

Well, until that happens, I am in charge of my home... so it isn't perfect.  So, instead of feeling thankful for my home just when every surface is completely free of calendars, art projects, yearbook order forms, and grocery lists... I am going to focus on being thankful for my house, just as it is.

I mean, deep down, don't we all want to be loved for who we are, just the way we are??  My house is old and lovely and she has kept us warm and safe for six full years now!  Doesn't she deserve a little unconditional love??  So, I am thankful for my home.  Clean or messy, quiet or chaotic... I am just thankful for it.

I love that our old heaters tick and bang.  I love that our house is very tall.  I love that we have brought two of our babies home to this house.  I absolutely love my bedroom.  I love it.  It is a cross between a rugged cabin and a bed and breakfast... and it makes me happy.

More than anything though, it is just the venue in which much of my life takes place.  So, I could honestly take it or leave it.  It's just the shell.  I am thankful for it, but I am not the type of person who gets really attached to objects.  I would love to move, again and again, and never stay in one place.  I am thankful that we have a home, but I am mostly thankful that it is filled with kids and noise and so many memories... and I am even thankful for the mess.

Okay, now I am just lying.

*note: the actual mess featured below the sign!

Here is what I am hoping you will do... have someone over to your home without cleaning up first.  Let them see the squalor in which you live, and let them love you in spite of it.  (They will judge you silently, and buy you a sign if it's really that bad.)  If your house is impeccable, then be thankful that you do not live within a stone's throw of me... because I would constantly be throwing stones at your and your stupid cleanliness.

November 7, 2012

Day 7: My Husband: A Close Second to a Good Breakfast

Okay, this time I really am thankful for my husband.  Our wedding anniversary is at the end of this month, so I was going to try to wait until then... but, after dissing him in this video yesterday, I felt like I should extend a peace offering.

First of all, I should clarify that Tom was not really enraged about my cinnamon halo.  When he opens the microwave at 6:30pm to heat something up, and he sees my ice cold coffee just sitting in there from the last time I did a reheat and forgot about it... his "enraged" response is that he blinks a little slower than usual.

Honestly, that is about as angry as he gets.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I have only heard Tom raise his voice on extremely rare occasions, and on those occasions there was either imminent danger, or we were sleeping in a thuderstorm.  Or someone poured cold water on him during a shower.  He does not love that.  He is a very gentle man, not in a weak way, but in a warm and comforting way.  My kids will likely never understand how lucky they are to have him as their daddy.

This past Sunday, our pastor gave a really great sermon about serving others.  One thing he said that stood out to me was when he addressed dads, saying that "nobody in the home should outserve" them.  For most guys listening to that, my guess would be that they were either ashamed, offended, convicted or guilty.  I can say though, that this is absolutely, 100% already true of Tom.  Hands down, he outserves us all.

I feel like I should try to give him a run for his money at least... but, there is no chance.  He is an invested, involved and interested dad... so he reads, he helps with homework, he wrestles and plays and is Mr. Napkin-head.  He is a good provider, and he sacrifices all the time, putting everyone else in front of himself.  He makes decisions based on what he believes he should do, never what he wants to do.

Granted, that last one can be taken a little too far... at a restaurant, 100 times out of 100, my husband wants a chicken finger basket.  Never in my life have I wanted a chicken finger basket, but he always wants one.  If you woke him up at 3:30 in the morning and asked him if he'd fancy a chicken finger basket, he would probably weep, because the dream he was in the middle of having, just came true.  Still, he "feels" like he should probably "try something different," so he orders some spinach wrap that never tastes like a chicken finger basket.  Even in ordering, he tries to do the right thing.  He is just a really good guy.  (Horrible orderer, but great guy.)

I am thankful for how Tom treats me.  You can't even begin to imagine what it is like to live with me.  Just a taste of life with me would send weaker men running in the other direction.  I would totally run in the other direction if it were an option, so it perpetually shocks and blesses me to know that Tom could fake his own death to get out of living with me, but he chooses not to.  I'm a handful y'all, and he doesn't just tolerate me... he seems to enjoy me most of the time!

Tom works from home.  Men with regular wives might find this to be a challenge, but in our house it is absolutely ridiculous.  I want to tell him things all day.  He calmly and patiently listens to my crazy ideas every five minutes, and he even survived The Great Video Chat Obsession of 2011, wherein I would video chat him constantly.  From downstairs.

We laugh together all the time, and when we disagree, we do so amicably.  That is 100% because of Tom.  Trust me when I tell you that I am not being humble about this... I AM A FIGHTER.  I don't like being told what to do, I don't like being wrong, (although that almost never happens), and I don't like pretending things are okay if they are not.  I have never loved these things about myself, but I can clearly see how God has used Tom to soften me.  I am still pretty feisty, but in all reality, I do not need to be a fighter.  I don't need to defend myself, and protect myself, and I don't need to look out for myself all the time... I have the kind of guy who wants to fight for me, defend me, protect me and put my best interest ahead of his own.  I mean... how can you fight with that kinda guy??

He really made me lose my edge.  What a jerk.

So, this is it.  I married a pretty phenomenal man, and I am thankful that the Lord has paired us together to refine, encourage and playfully insult one another.

November 6, 2012

Thankful for my Husband, I Mean Breakfast Foods

Today I am thankful for my sweet wonderful husband breakfast foods.

Here is what I want YOU to do... watch this, and cook breakfast for dinner for someone sweet!

November 5, 2012

Three Thankfuls for the Price of One.

I am sorely behind on my month of gratitude.  I think that not blogging on the weekends may happen more often than not, so... let's all just start being fine with that, shall we?

So, Day 3: I am thankful for lightheartedness.  I know that sounds cheesy, but I have had a pretty heavy life (if you read my blog last month, then you know what I mean... that was just ONE month of all my baggage people!  Can you imagine 12 of those!?!?)  Anyways, life is hard.  We are all faced with adversity, challenges and the limitless shortcomings of people around us.  Okay, okay... it is possible that my own shortcomings also make life a little touch and go at times.  That being said, I am deeply thankful for any moment that is not just "easy," but truly joy-filled.

I am most thankful for the playful moments... jokes, laughter, affection, friendly banter that may seem a little like verbal abuse, but are really just fun jabs at the expense of your loved ones.  These are the moments that I treasure.  I am so thankful that I can honestly say that the people I am related to, are people that I would actually choose to be friends with.  This is miraculous.  My life is so filled with heartache at times, that I can't help but rejoice in every drop of dry humor, sarcasm and hilarity that each day offers up.

My challenge to you:  Make somebody feel lighthearted.  Give a really specific and genuine compliment to cheer someone up, be more affectionate than normal (not like heavy petting, just a non-pervy hug or maybe just a high five if you can't control yourself.) Or make somebody laugh really hard.  Just email somebody with a word or phrase that will trigger a hilarious memory or inside joke.  I just sent a heytell message to my step-sister that only she would understand, and it will surely make her laugh until she pees a little.  And isn't that the point??

Day 4: I am thankful for pain.  Weird right?  But, try and follow... I once saw an episode of Oprah, where a little girl could not physically feel any pain.  She was constantly injuring herself, because she never really learned to not run directly into the corner of a coffee table.  Without pain, our brain never receives the signal to avoid danger.  Pain is a really important part of survival.  It is also the place where we become so aware of our uselessness and weakness, that we are forced to look for something bigger than ourselves.  If I hadn't had a heavy dose of pain at a very young age, I believe that I would have been susceptible to believing that life is good, people are good, and I am pretty good.  Instead, pain has taught me that actually, life is hard, all people are capable of heinous sins, and I am as sin-sick as any of us.  Pain has taught me that God is the only source of good.  Pain is where I first met Christ, and through His pain on my behalf, I am freed from my sin-sickness and will actually be equipped to do or be something good.  Without pain, we would all need to wear helmets, and we would think we could handle this life on our own, and we might even feel like we could escape this life unscathed.  What a preposterous and ridiculous perspective.

So, I am thankful for pain.  It keeps my kids from touching fire, and it keeps me from buying shoes too small, and it keeps my heart desperately seeking the only One who offers any relief.

My challenge to you:  Thank someone who taught you a painful lesson that you needed to learn.  That, or punch someone really hard and make them thank you.  (Only kidding.)

Day 5:  I am thankful for the country I live in.  I am thankful that I have freedom to say whatever absurd things I want.  I am thankful that I have a voice, and that I have enough guts to speak up, even when it is scary.  I am going to use my voice and my freedom later this month, to speak out against the atrocities that are happening at the hands of LRA leader, Joseph Kony.  While many have found Invisible Children and their efforts somewhat controversial, some friends and I have decided to take the opportunity to join them at the global summit in Washington D.C.  Whether you agree with the organization's methods in stopping war crimes, child sex-slavery, and children forced to become soldiers or not... this is a way to bring this issue before important law-makers without giving to Invisible Children as a cause.  In my opinion, it is the perfect opportunity to use our small voices to collectively speak up for those who have suffered at the hands of Kony and the LRA.

Here is My challenge to you: consider the country we live in and how blessed we are to have the freedoms we have, and consider speaking up and DOING something on behalf of those with no voice.  This is just one opportunity.

November 2, 2012

The Easiest Thing for me to Write About

I am thankful for my kids.  I know this seems like a cop out, but seriously, if you met my kids... you would probably report my poor housekeeping skills to CPS to try to get custody of them. That's how awesome my kids are.  I am so tired, and have such a headache... so, i am going to default to list mode.

Day 2:

  • Even when my kids make me nuts, they are hilarious and adorable.
  • They mispronounce things in such awesome ways, I can't correct them because I never want it to change.  (Who would want to correct Meglical Joidan back to Michael Jordan or say lasagna once you know alabazunia is an option??  How could we ever go back to "family movie nights" when "fanny noonie nights" are so much fun!?)
  • They give the worst compliments, that are really the best.  Like "Thank you, Mama, for these yucky eggs!"
  • They are so honest. ("I don't like your air smell." aka breath.)
  • They have given me the chance to have my dream job.
  • They still want me to come to their school and eat lunch with them and read books to their class.
  • They all sleep in a specific position, but there are no repeats.  
  • Awake or asleep, they are completely unique individuals, which I feel like is rare for a large family.
  • When London wakes up, she has one flap of hair on top of her head that sort of stands up and waves back and forth slowly like it is under water.  It is a gravity-defying miracle on top of a child's head.
  • Harper tells me I am beautiful pretty much every day, even if I haven't showered in decades.
  • Annalee has a scroll the width of our block with detailed illustrations of tiny vegetable people.
  • Marlie can identify most of the seasonings and spices in a dish, using only her sense of smell.
  • Harper can dribble better than most junior high basketball coaches.
  • I don't know if her clock is ticking or what, but London cannot pass a baby on the street without petting him and gently shooshing him, then asking if we can keep him.
  • If it isn't a school night, the girls sleep together on the top bunk and stay up late having "quiet sister talk."  If you press for details all you can get outta them is that they talk about "their feelings."
  • They have inspired me to say and do things I never thought I would say or do.
I could seriously go on and on about them forever.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while already know that.  :)  I am thankful for them and I will never understand how in the world I am the one who gets to be their mother.  

All of us either have kids, work with kids, know kids, or know somebody else who has kids.  It is a big responsibility to have influence in a child's life.  I am going to work on encouraging parents more, and I am going to work on the way I speak to my kids.  I want to eliminate all harsh or critical talk and only speak nurturing, life-giving words to them.  Here goes nothing!  What child could you influence??

November 1, 2012

1st Month Free, 2nd Month... I Put You to Work

I just finished one of the crazier months I have had in a long time.  Kindnesses were randomly splattered across Rochester by my friends and I, then across the country by so many of you who got on board and joined in!  I was inspired by how many people are really eager to DO something.  We also had an unsuccessful adoption, and are back to square one, just waiting... but, now we wait with this whole new fear and fragility that we hadn't had before.  I am ready for this month to bring new things, new life, and who knows... maybe the baby that God has selected to be in our family forever will finally make his or her way home.   

For the month of November, I have gone back and forth, counted votes and suggestions through emails, facebook comments, texts and calls.  Here is what I have decided... I have no idea what to do for the month of November.  I wanted to choose something that would keep everyone super involved and excited and inspired... but, the bottom line is that I am not that interesting.  I am a story-teller, yes, and I am passionate about sharing my life and struggles with other people, but it is really all pointless if there is no bigger purpose behind it.  I don't have any interest in telling all my deep, dark secrets in such a public way... if it does not inspire transformation.  So, I am going to spend the next 30 days reflecting on the things I am most thankful for, but I don't want to stop there... I want to MOVE in some sort of responsive ACTION.  Here's the thing though, I want you to come with me this time.

First I am going to tell you what I am going to do, and then I want you to think about what you are going to do.  Our generation has been accused of being major slackers.  Let's be honest, we are a shortcuttin' people are we not???  So, there is a part of that accusation that is true.  When we actually try to stand up for something, people have called it "slacktivism."  (It is such a clever insult, I can't even hate on it.)  But, I would like us to try and prove this to be untrue.

I will continue to pour out my heart, openly share my struggles, and take comedic jabs at my poor husband... but, only if you guys join me.  Well, leave the Tom-jabbing to me, but other than that... this is an "all-skate" as my pastor would say.  It is audience participation time!!  Get. on. board.

So, Day 1.  I am overwhelmingly thankful for my mother today.  I cannot bear to spend more than a few moments at a time thinking of how she felt 20 years ago today, when she had to come home and tell us that Adam was gone.  I remember each slow-motion moment, and I hope that I never have to dream of being as strong as she has been.  

As I shared before, I was dressed as my brother for Halloween the year that he was killed, and I came home and took off his warm-ups and sat down in his wrestling singlet and ate candy until I was about to vomit.  The next morning, when my mom and sister (Kristin) and her, then, fiancee (Joe) came home from the hospital, Adam's warm-ups were still on the floor.  As clearly as if it happened this morning, I can remember my mother seeing that little pile of Adam's clothes, crumpled from when his baby sister stepped out of them the night before, and asking Joe (with her sad eyes and one small movement of her hand) to take them away.

In a moment that a mother's pain could so easily have drifted her away to another world... she stayed there in the most painful moment of her life, so she could try to protect my sister (BethAnn) and I.  Nothing could have softened that moment that we learned that Adam would never come home, but the fact that my mom tried, makes her the most amazing woman on planet earth.  

I am so proud of who my mom is, and how she has faithfully served God and ministered to the souls of other woman who have lost their children.  She is funny and ridiculous and she taught me that it is better to stand out for being yourself than to blend in by pretending you are somebody that you're not.  She was the primary influence in me becoming who I am.  The original Hurricane Sandi, my mother and friend, and also my hero.  

(Besides Norm Green.)

So, here is what I am going to do.  I am going to publicly declare that my mother was always right.  There is truly nothing else that I could do that would make her happier.  You, Mom, were right about everything.  I will also call her to say thank you for every dime she spent on me, and every prayer she prayed over me, and every tournament she drove me to.  I will thank her for the surprise outings she took us on (except for that one time where she was like "surprise, it's a horrible musical!")  I will thank her for letting me check out as many audio casette/books in those huge ziplock bags from the library as I wanted.  I will thank her for being her, and for letting me be me.  

Now, it's your turn... time to call yo mama... or someone who plays a motherly role in your life, and tell her why you are thankful for her.  Then, share your story in the comment thread below.  Take it from me... we are all in this together, and when you think you are telling your own story, you are probably telling someone else's too.  So, let's spend this month giving thanks together and sharing our stories with each other, and for each other.


Helping the Ho Ho Homeless

For Day 31, the final day of my 31 Random Acts of Kindness, I put together a bag of stuff to deliver to a homeless man... Warm coat, warm socks, gum, snacks, meal replacement bars, candy, soap, cocoa, tea, etc.  I hit a few of the spots where there are some "regulars" but nobody was there.  We had dinner plans and trick-or-treating with friends, so we bagged the hunt for the homeless, and decided to try again on our way home.  We pretty much just drove through the worst parts of the city looking for a homeless person who might want tea.

This led to a totally ridiculous dialogue between Tom and I. Here are some highlights...

L: I don't know, everyone looks homeless.
T: No, he is walking too fast.  The homeless don't have to rush around like that.
L: Just because he is carrying so many plastic bags doesn't mean he is homeless.
T:  Have you ever seen anyone who isn't homeless carry that many bags?
L: Let's just see if that guys needs anything.
T: I'm not just going to assume that someone is homeless, I am not stopping until I am sure.  I need to see someone actually lying on cardboard before I approach them.
L: There are never any homeless people when you need one.
T: I don't know... maybe they cured homelessness.

We ended up bringing our care package to a local mission.  We are hoping that one of the extremely well-hidden homeless men in Rochester will come to the mission tonight, looking for a bed, and will discover a warm coat and some snack foods.  This felt a little like a fail, which is not how I wanted to go out... but, I also think that the idea here is that we are trying.  The intentionality of the kindnesses are the point.  It becoming a way of life is the point.  Glorifying God by seeing past ourselves, is the point.  I think that we accomplished those things this month.  

By the end of the night, spectacles were mangled, all the givers were "thank you ma'am"-ed, the candy was sorted and bartered, and we had a good time with friends and family.  There are only a few minutes left in the month of October, and while that is usually a good thing, I have to admit that I am feeling like I have to say goodbye to a dear friend I don't want to let go.  Partly because this is the most connected I have felt to Adam since he died.  And partly because this is the closest I have felt to the community of people who knew and loved him during his short life.  And also because of the amazing stories many of you have shared with me, of kindnesses that you passed on and ways that you creatively served others.

I believe that I will make this a yearly tradition for my family because I can't imagine a better way to celebrate the memory of Adam's life, instead of focusing just on his death.  

As promised, I took lots of pictures of my four little Santas.  I was Mrs. Clause and Tom was an elf.  You may have to look close on Tom's but he has pointy felt ears, and a curl on his shoes.  ***Important Advisory!!! If you have a heart condition, or are easily nauseated, do not look at the following pictures.  I made myself into a future version of myself.  I was saddened by how disturbed Tom was with Elderly Me.  It ain't pretty y'all, I'm not gonna lie.  (But, Tom probably should have.)