Thursday, December 19, 2013

Frosted Window Panes

I can always count on a certain radio station to play the same Christmas songs over and over, year after year. It's not as nauseating as it sounds; Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" has become more of a seasonal expectation now. 

When I sing along, I'm pretty sure I sound like her. It's even hard to tell whose voice is whose on certain parts - especially the beginning: "I-i-uhh-uhh-aye...don't wanna lot foh-orrr Christmasss..."

But nothing beats Frank Sinatra's "Frosted Window Panes," correctly called "The Christmas Waltz." Either name does it for me, for they both invoke feelings of wintry coziness and glee. And I'm no musician (just an amazing Mariah Carey-esque vocalist), but the pace and phrasing of that one part - "and this song of mine in three quarter time" - is genius.  

Actually, the only song that could possibly top "The Christmas Waltz" - or even come close - is "O Holy Night." It's ALL in there. Everything you need to know about frosted window panes, candles gleaming inside, and painted candy canes on the tree is basically found in "O Holy Night."

Check out some of these old school lyrics, broken down "Molly school" style:

O Holy night,
(A supernatural, set-apart time in all of history.)

The stars are brightly shining.
(Probably not a lot of clouds out.)

It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
(Our Savior came as a newborn baby, which means he knows what it's like to sit in poopy diapers, which also means he knows what it's like to cry, to laugh, to fear, to celebrate, to grieve, and to enjoy food.)

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
(People have been trying sooo very hard for sooo very long to meet God's standards - regretting this...feeling shame over that...) 

'til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
(Not sure, but I think this means that once Jesus came and word got out, people were amazed at the love he had for them. And they probably said things like, "He really DOES think we're worthy of saving and redeeming after all! He might even kind of like us. Who knew?") 

The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.
(At last! The exciting part! The "frosted window pane" part! The oh-so-tired-from-trying-so-hard-for-so-long WORLD finally celebrates by lighting cranberry-scented Yankee Candles and hanging candy canes that they may or may not have gotten on clearance at Target last year, before they got a REDcard and were afraid of identity theft because of the recent, nationwide computer hacking. Or perhaps, being that it was over 2,000 years ago, they probably celebrated in a different way, but was just as cool.)

And that's not all! The song continues on, speaking of how his "law" is now love and his gospel is peace. The whole song - both music and lyrics - is gloriously epic. 

And that, my friends, is why we celebrate this time of year. A time when HOPE finally waltzed (Christmas-waltzed!) into the world, changing everything.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Soul Tattoo

Eighteen (and a half) years of marriage is a good amount of time. We've passed that "seven year itch" thing you hear folks talking about. And we've survived money problems and kid problems (so far). And moving-across-the-country-and-back-again problems. Things are good.

And then there's the "do you still love me?" phase. Or phases. It's one of my go tos. Because I have a tendency to be THAT wife who, from time to time, says things like, "I just want you to love me. MORE. Like alotta lot. Pleeeez love me," in a snot bubble-filled emotional display.

But my husband does love me. I am now sure of this. You know why? Well, it wasn't the time he organized the pantry voluntarily or asked me how I'm feeling. Nor was it the time he went out to buy me over-sized, "I just pushed out a 10 lb 4 oz baby boy" feminine protection pads.

I was finally convinced of his love for me when he said, "I'm thinking about getting a tattoo. And I want it to have your name - MOLLY."

What? That's me! I'm her! ALL these years, and it took this! One little Molly tattoo and it's as if this whole "for better or for worse, 'til death do you part" deal finally becomes official. And he hasn't even gotten it yet. He doesn't have to! I'm all squared-away in just the knowing he wants to get one.

Fine, tattoos aren't for everyone. But I think I speak for all of us when I say: we girls have a huge appetite for love. And that sneaky bad guy Satan often tries to convince us we're hard to love, labeling us "unlovable" - a label he only wishes he could permanently tattoo onto our identities.

But no way. I would much rather believe in TRUTH and focus on the tattoo God has engraved onto my soul. His permanent LOVE tattoo.

Saddleback Church's guest speaker last weekend, Derwin Gray, even wrote a book about it: Limitless Life. It's about how Jesus removes old labels - addict, orphan, failure (kid-snapper-atter) - and tattoos new ones onto our souls - "soul tattoos." All of which help us to see ourselves as he sees us - lovable!

So before my husband gets all tatted up with Molly "sleeves," though appreciated (and perhaps a bit overboard), I'm already confident of the transforming love God has tattooed onto my soul.

"...His banner over me is love." Song of Solomon 2:4

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Handballs and Barbie Heads

Christmas 1983 was the year of the handball. A real playground-quality handball! I was 10 and couldn't think of anything I wanted more, except for maybe a Barbie head.

And I got both. A handball for my scruffy side. A Barbie head for my non-scruffy side. And all was right with the world.

Fast forward to age 15, and forget about playground-quality handballs and Barbie heads with seafoam green eyeshadow that never went on as dark as I would've liked. Didn't matter anymore. My own head was the Barbie head now, and I finally discovered makeup with staying power: black eyeliner.

And with that came a Christmas list that had "Lancome's Skincare Line" written at the top. I thought it was a very sophisticated thing to want (but still a toy), and I HAD to have it. It was an absolute MUST if that cute baseball player was going to notice me as we passed each other between 3rd and 4th periods.

So what is it with toys and Christmas, anyway? Just like this adorable, "I want a toy" video shown in church on Sunday, it's GOT to be a toy or nothing. (Click here to watch!) All hopes for having a spectacular Christmas are dependent upon getting a toy instead of a boring sweatshirt. (Or, Lancome instead of Oil of Olay.)

Now fast forward to age 40; has much changed? Are my hopes for Christmas joy still found in the perfect present? Not really. But let's be honest, I've replaced toys with other things now...year-round things...things ranging from shallow to very shallow to not shallow at all: new carpet, white teeth, adoring husband, tall boots that fit my calves, financial security, a car that works, healthy kids, healed relationships, a sound mind.

Anything short of getting all of that, and I find myself in "but I want a toy!" mode. It's not a very joyous and peaceful mode to be in. Not pretty at all. It's only "cute" when you're three.

But I'm a grown up now, both in years and in knowing my God has always taken care of every need. The "needs" of this world are false and fleeting. But what God offers lasts forever. So why not continue knowing him another 40-plus years? And putting my hope in his presence, not in presents.

"I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving Musings

Going out to lunch with girlfriends isn't what it used to be. Remember how they used to order ham and cheese sandwiches on grilled-parmesan bread with a side of thousand island? Yum. And then swap the fries out for onion rings? Good times.

But those days are gone. Over. And based upon my latest female lunch date, it looks like my deep dish pizza splurges will be a family-only event from here on out.

Observe along with me:

Friend #1: "I'll order the BBQ Chicken Salad with no black beans, no cheese, no corn, no BBQ sauce. And no other kind of sauce."

Friend #2: "I'll also have the BBQ Chicken Salad, but with lettuce, tomato, and chicken ONLY. Please make it the entree size as this is my main meal for the day."

Friend #3: "And I'll have the 'same' salad, but no chicken and no dairy. I don't eat dairy. And definitely no BBQ sauce. It has sugar."

And friend #4 is me. Oh the pressure! It was junior high all over again, only food instead of Swatch watches. My dream of having an exhilarating break from the daily lunch grind of Cheerios and dried-out carrot sticks has gone out the window.

And with each consecutive order, my prospects went from "I'll take the deep dish ham and pineapple pizza with a side of ranch, please" to "okay maybe I don't need the ranch" to "alright then I'll keep the ranch but make it thin crust" to "I guess I'll do what the cool girls are doing."

And I did just that:

"Um, make that four BBQ Chicken Salads - I mean, I'll be the fourth one to of those types of salads. Got enough lettuce back there? (Awkward giggle.) And I'll just take mine, uh, the way it...comes? And maybe add avocado?"

Like I needed permission to order the real version of the salad. But I did get major props for adding the avocado. Two of them even went ahead and added it. (Who's the cool girl now?)

So as I entered a mild state of unrest - outwardly saying things like, "Ooo, I've never had a Mock-tini before!" to inwardly thinking, "Is my coroner's report going to one day say: 'death by genetically modified wheat?'" - my thoughts oddly settled on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving. These poor girls! How are they going to do it? Will they be dipping rolls in the butter jacuzzi that has formed in the center of their mashed potatoes? Will their cranberry sauce touch the stuffing that's touching the turkey that's touching the broccoli casserole? The world may never know.

Or maybe I'm the "poor girl," not sticking wholeheartedly to current nutrition trends? Let's just say I'm glad Thanksgiving is about more than food - whether it's paleo, vegan, or boxed scalloped potatoes with sodium levels through the roof.

Instead, we all know Thanksgiving is about the dessert.

What I mean to say is...Thanksgiving, for me, is about my ten-year-old's ultra-vibrato version of Katie Perry's "Roar." It's my husband's hearty laugh at really juvenile things. It's my mom's cozy couch and In-n-Out cheeseburgers at her coffee table on any given night.

Thanksgiving is also about thanking God for his faithfulness to me - even in all my doubting and my "I am, and there is none besides me"-type thinking. A God who day after day covers me, from first sip of coffee to last hobble up the stairs on my creaky knees, with his lavish grace. And, of course, a God who loves me the same same SAME even if I had gone with the deep dish.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sub Days

Part-time substitute teaching definitely has its pros and cons - what it lacks in consistency and predictability, it makes up for in donut-filled pink boxes in the teachers' lounge. Not to mention plenty of blog-worthy stories...

It already happened twice this year. Teachers leaving ME to do their dirty work - that one health book lesson they save for the sub to teach: the ill effects of drugs and alcohol, compliments of Red Ribbon Week. One lesson was in a 4th grade class. The other one - the most interesting and revealing one - a 2nd grade class.

So there I was, textbook in hand. And per the teacher's instruction, I stood before the class and read out loud things like, "Tobacco is a plant. Some people like to chew it. It can give you cancer." And, "Alcohol can make people angry. It can also make people act silly."

Hold on. Was I really teaching seven-year-olds about chewing tobacco and how it may cause mouth cancer? And was I really telling them about a special drink that can make them even sillier? 

And before I could process the age-appropriateness of it all, the hands shot up:

"My dad drinks eight beers every night!"

"My dad goes for the whiskey!"

And for the most revealing,

"My mom is in prison, and I live with my grandma!"

And all was said with the same enthusiasm as: "I sat on Santa's lap, and he promised me a pink pony!"

Oh for the love of substitute teachers across the globe! Can we please go back to popping in a Jack Cousteau video or teaching the kids a quick lesson on how to 'carry the one?'

Kids are just so airing of their family's dirty laundry. We subs know things now. It makes me wonder what my kids are telling their teachers. "When my mom flips out, she really FLIPS OUT. That's when her demon voice comes out!" 

Of all things, right? I almost told the class, "And for our next lesson, we'll be discussing the importance of putting a filter on the things we say."

A more fitting lesson would be to tell them that families are a work in progress. Especially us mommies and daddies. And then I might throw in one of my favorite Beth Moore quotes:

"If we could get our external lives under perfect and legalistic control, we'd probably rot on the inside with the heinous sin of pride. Given enough time, circumstance, and opportunity, we're all hopeless - except that Jesus came as the Son of God."

Only I wouldn't say it exactly like that. Would probably be a bit much. So I'd keep it simple and stick to the basics, maybe even quote my Aunt Shanna's answer to all-things heavy: "God made the world. Jesus loves the children."

But every good sub has her tricks, and my best drug topic - any topic - redirecting tactic is to ask this question, "Now who wants to play Heads Up 7-up?" And then call it a day.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Primitive Lifestyle Dreams

Have I ever mentioned my "primitive lifestyle dream" problem? It's more like a primitive lifestyle dream problem with a modern twist. (I really like electricity.)

Because sometimes I obsessively dream of
having a bedroom like this:

And a kitchen like this:

With a backyard like this:

In a neighborhood like this:

It's a very small problem to have - especially when it's Fall out and you live in Southern California, far far away from Vermont's Maple Festival and Ohio's Covered Bridge Festival. (Festivals that don't take place in mall parking lots.) You know, simpler places and simpler times. Where apple pies cool in the windowsills of non-peach/beige-stuccoed houses.

I imagine these places are teeming with folks in cable knit sweaters and flannel. (I would say calico dresses and bonnets - but that's taking things too far.) Not people, but folks. Folks who name their cows Bessy. They might even get their water from a well because it tastes so good. And they're really into their casseroles and baking cookie bars. They go around saying to each other, "You bringing bars tonight?"

Now several things make my problem worse - and cooking shows is one of them. Whenever Pioneer Women needs an ingredient, she usually goes "into town" on a Sunday.

It makes me rant: "That does it! Everyone, I am going (-dramatic pause-) into town (-another pause-) on Sunday!"

But leave it to Jeff to remind me I'm already "in town" every day of the week. And to then remind me of our Alabama years and how we HAD to drive into town, past picturesque black-and-white cows even. And deer! Yet the only thing I wanted in the entire universe - at the time - was to be in town IN California. (Grass is always greener...)

So the best way to make sense of it calm my primitive to assume one thing: folks who live the dream, my primitive lifestyle dream (with a modern electrical twist), are probably playing Candy Crush on their iPhones while riding with their kids on quintessential hayrides across covered bridges. Wearing something they got from Kohls using their 30% off coupon. (Not very primitive, folks. Not primitive at all.)

And then to feel completely at peace, I'll throw in a few higher-than-mine thoughts: "...God has made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands." Acts 17:26

So what I've got here on the west coast is no accident. It's a God thing. As far as today goes, my "appointed time" is 2013, and the "boundary of my land" just so happens to be Southern California.

I guess it'd help to apply those tactics to my other smallish problem that surfaces whenever I watch movies like When Harry Met Sally - my "big city dreams" problem. And how I'd love to mesh with the locals and call taxis like a boss....

Taking stairs up to my home in New York like this:



Monday, October 14, 2013

Beautiful Nail

When a woman realizes her toenails need attention, she peels out of the driveway - away from the chaos that is her home - chuckling, "Mwah ha haaa! You won't find me now!" And heads out for a pedicure.

But as usual, she doesn't have a whole lot of time, so she goes to the nearest nail salon: "Beautiful Nail." Just one nail? She's amused. (Good one, Anjelah Johnson.)

Upon entering the salon, she gives the place a once-over and picks out a trendy nail color. She hopes she doesn't get the spa chair that sits under the 80-pound television. 

She gets the spa chair that sits under the 80-pound television. And The Price is Right is on. Really LOUD. 

"I should have gone to my regular place," she thinks to herself. But since she's working on being thankful in every situation - not for every situation - she whispers a quick prayer, "Lord, thank you that the customer with the pastrami sandwich is way over there. Oh, and help the spa chair water be nice and warm."

The water is Huntington-Beach-water cold. She's smugly GLAD she didn't shave her legs before she came. Or her toes for that matter. (Not that she has hairy toes.) 

Still, pride gets the best of her, and she wonders if she should apologize to the nail lady for not shaving first. But remembers a past experience - "stubble not a trouble" (they've seen it all) - and decides to relax in spite of the almost too aggressive spa chair massage features. 

"What to do now?" she ponders. "Text someone? Strike up conversation with the nail lady as she treats my cuticles? Watch The Price is Right in the mirror across the room?"

Then it hit her, "Nothing - how about I try that?" But doing "nothing" lasts two minutes before she picks up a magazine, a magazine with sophisticated, non-kid-topic headlines:

"Happiness is wearing black and white."

"Be a modern goddess, an object of worship."

"A hot movie coming out, cute new fashion line, and Ryan Gosling...Eva Mendes has it ALL!"

As she flips through the magazine to find out more about this modern goddess look, she sees bare boobs. BOOBS. "Is this even allowed?" she wonders as she sends out another prayer, "Thank you, God, that my kids only have Country Living and Cooking Light to flip through at home."  

But she doesn't stop there. She continues flipping through and reading about Eva Mendes having it all. And then something bad happens - she starts comparing herself: "I bet Miss Mendes doesn't have to defy death by sitting under an 80-pound television in order to get a cold water pedicure," she grumbles. "Hmm. Must be nice, being Eva."

Out of nowhere, the massage part begins. The real-reason-she's-there part, and she puts the magazine down. She surprisingly feels renewed - both from the massage and the thoughts that piece together in her head: 

"Since when does 'having it all' include Ryan Gosling?* I have everything God has thought good to give me. Besides, keeping up with magazines these that's chaotic! I wasn't designed to handle those pressures very well. Galatians 5:1 - 'It is for freedom that Christ has set me free!' "

So with a "beautiful nail" and a renewed perspective, she heads home freer than when she left.

But when a man realizes his toenails need attention, he sits on the couch and clips them.

*I have no intention of starting an argument here, my single friends.

Monday, September 30, 2013

And She's Off!

At the wide-eyed age of 24 (my overalls-wearing and Boyds Bear-collecting days), I clearly remember holding my baby girl and thinking, "Man. When I'm 40, this girl will be driving." Followed by a quick, "That day'll never come."

But days you never think will come do come, and instead of proudly talking about your baby's first poops, first pony rides, and first time not crying while going down the second hill on Pirates, you find yourself gushing over a different kind of "first":

"There she goes! First time driving to school!"

"Here she is! First time driving home from school!"

"And she's off! First time driving to work!"

And instead of worrying about chubby baby thighs getting stuck in the bars of her crib (thank God for smart aunts and Wesson oil), you soon worry about new things - more sinister things. I mean, she very well could drive herself to Maine now. Or pick up hitchhikers. Or decide to go buy her own frozen yogurt and eat it all by herself. Horrors!

So in order to keep her from driving to Maine on a whim, I've already followed her to school. But only once. I wasn't sneaky about it or anything. She knew what I was up to. Just making sure of a few things, that's all.

Turns out this whole "helicopter parent" thing we hear about (and accuse others of being) can actually land in your own lap, detouring past obsessive hand sanitizing and making sure toilet paper isn't hanging from your kid's shorts as they walk away from the car.

But I want all this for her, right? Moving onto the next thing. Having more responsibility in life. Moving beyond her expert towel folding skills and onto parallel parking. And maybe even bigger things, like, space exploring or quantum physicist-ing. (Cupcake store entrepreneur will do.)

And I'm thinking, what if I just relaxed a bit - maybe not freak out as much - during all her growing-up-dom? It could happen. After all, I know God has given her "everything she needs for a godly life through the knowledge of him who has called her by his own glory and goodness." (2 Peter 1:3)

Besides, there are perks to having a kid who drives. Think on this: in a year and three months, she can get my cigarettes for me. But then I'll have to start smoking. So how about for now, we just stick to the basics - milk, bread, butter (chocolate, salt and pepper potato chips, Redbox) - and sit tight for the next exciting "first" to come our family's way.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Worst Emergency Kit Packer Ever

I'm naturally NOT very good at doing all sorts of things: singing, swimming, sewing buttons, and twerking. But there's one thing I'm on purpose not very good at: packing emergency food kits for my kids.

"Please pack food your child likes" is what the schools are always instructing us. Shouldn't it be more like "pack the dregs of your pantry because you'll see it all again in 9 1/2 months anyway?"

So just when I was about to stuff a bag with a few last-to-get-eaten raisin granola bars, an old can of tuna, and an even older lime-flavored lollipop (a special post-earthquake treat), my fourth grader tells me that so-n-so's mom packed an aluminum space blanket in her emergency "food" pack.

Apparently this mom is not only prepared for emergencies here on earth, affecting both food and climate changes, but also in outer space. And to think - the whole time - while I considered sending in last year's emergency pack, moms like HER were walking around!

But why not recycle and resend? And save myself a Ziploc freezer bag and a couple of perfectly good Capri-Suns? Besides, emergency or no emergency, has a kid ever died from having to eat expired pear cups? It would have made the 6:00 news - guaranteed.

So in true Jen Hatmaker style, I am sure to win the "Worst Emergency Kit Packer Ever" award. But whether I pack my kids' emergency kits like a boss with cool stuff like astronaut ice cream OR just stick to half-eaten saltine sleeves, God's provision will follow them wherever they go - including outer space. For he has "hedged them in behind and before, and has laid his hand upon them." Psalm 139:5


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

40 Bites!

A 9x12-foot picture of food almost got me into an accident yesterday. The chicken sandwich was HUGE. Make that TWO huge chicken sandwiches. With curly fries. Tomatoes so red. Right there. On the side of a city bus. For the WORLD to see.

My head did a double-take like in old cartoons. Something Bugs Bunny would do. Or more fittingly, Porky Pig. Boing-oi-oi-oi-oing. Good thing a couch-sized fudge brownie wasn't in the pic; I would've crashed for sure.

The whole thing was unacceptable. I turn 40 this week. High time my foody-senses start scaling back. That's what they're telling me, anyway. Seems the right thing to do.

Or maybe...(I love "or maybes!")...I'll be fine if I just stick to my youngest sister's rule for her kids: "Five more bites if you're five years old. Three more if you're three."

Because right now I'm thinking forty more bites is a pretty good deal. And totally fair and square. After all, I am 40.

Hmmm, this getting older business may not be half bad.

But then...

Turning 40 might also mean it's high time I learn to play big people games like Solitaire.* Or read intellectual courtroom thrillers. Or better understand the stock market.

Or better yet...(I also love "better yets!")...

It's high time I start settling into who I am. Oh don't be fooledI'm more than a city-bus-gawking foody who, on occasion, thinks about cake more than Jesus. I am - and you are - a sought-after, thought-about, pursued, understood, and loved child of God.

So let's celebrate and eat cake! It's someone's birthday somewhere!

*From childhood to this day, Solitaire remains a mystery I think I'm still too young to figure out.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Dramatic Monologue?

Certain things in life make me uncomfortable. Like, bad underwear. Or when couples argue (at length) in front of me. Or when I don't get a joke, but laugh anyway. I even get uncomfortable when others feel uncomfortable.

And just like I would NEVER volunteer to sit in a dunk booth, I would certainly hate - detest, loathe, throw up in my mouth - getting "slimed" on Kids' Choice Awards. I'd even prevent myself from getting famous just so that would never happen.

And this past weekend, I was reminded of yet another thing that makes me uncomfortable - dramatic monologues. I would rather have a 10-foot-tall Frankenstein tap me on the shoulder than have to sit through someone's overly theatrical and artsy reading of poetry - or some such thing.

You know, like the finger-snapping Beat poets from the 60s. Or some kind of underground slam poetry scene where they all migrate together, monologuing about nature:

"Sky reddens behind fir trees. Larks twitter. Sparrows cheep cheep cheep. Cheep."

Or about super intense stuff:

"Put a bullet in my brain - straight through my brain - as the rain sweeps her out of my arms."

And if I'm close enough to feel their spit on me, though I may appear poised and attentive, inwardly I'm falling to pieces. So it was a good thing we sat in the way far back when "spoken word artist," Hosanna Poetry (yes, that's what she calls herself), stepped onto the stage at church yesterday.

I quickly looked over at my family and opened my eyes real big, as if to say, "You guys, is this chick for real?" But they seemed totally fine and cool with it. Jeff even put his beret on. Or might as well have. And right then, I knew I had to be a big girl and just listen.

And listen.

And before I knew it, my listening turned into crying. Well, Molly-type crying. I didn't have to leave the room or anything. Turns out Miss Poetry's monologue wasn't about chirping birds or bullets in brains after all, but rather an amazing love - God's love.

Yes it was a monologue. YES it was dramatic. But she hooked me in with her talk about how we tend to stack (or pile or layer - I forgot how she worded it exactly) all the mistakes we've made and all the lies we've believed and all of our "endings" in life. And how God is faithful, for he "heals things, he uses things, he makes things new."

Even when, along the way, "there's a lot of hoping, a lot of waiting, and a lot of still being in this," Hosanna Poetry communicated the story of a "relentless, restoring God." I was wowed.

So maybe I should re-think this whole discomfort thing with dramatic monologues and just stick to scary clowns and when people talk to me through the bathroom stall while peeing. Besides, God wouldn't send his comforter - "I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you." (John 14:18) - if life didn't get a little uncomfy from time to time.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Martha Martha Martha

What is it with laundry rooms? Or in my case, laundry hovels. It's the one space I can't seem to keep nicey-nice.

Well, maybe not the one space. There are other areas in my home where you might also find an empty chapstick tube, seven bobby pins, a feather, and a Luna bar wrapper all in one square foot of space.

The only difference is I'll (eventually) do something about it when the stuff is found on the fourth stair going up. Or around the bathroom trash can. Or in my fridge.

But the laundry room? Takes months. I once kept staring at a lone mitten that lost its way after unpacking from a glorious Canadian ski trip in Whistler. Eh, let's be realistic - more like coming home after a trip through Costco's frigid walk-in refrigerator. (Guess I was holding out for the lost mitten to show up.)

It's no big deal, really. Maybe it's those Hoarder shows that have me spooked. Or maybe the new and trendy concept of minimalism - clean, uncluttered, sparse, calm - is the reason I'm over analyzing laundry room spaces.

I recently read an article about it - "Steps you can take to start down the minimal road." It all sounded good to me. But when the author explained how, after her kitchen got a simplified, modern makeover, her non-peaceful laundry room really started to bug...I then decided her case falls under the "it takes money to live like you have none" train of thought, and I moved on.

Though I will say, super put-together people fascinate me. How doooo they do it? As far as I'm concerned, magic powers are involved. It's like, nothing gets in the way of keeping their house company-ready at all times. Nothing. No amount of candy bars, Instagram sneaky-peakies, Target runs. Not even sleep gets in the way of keeping a house like this:

(I don't know, though. That plant thing on the right side of the room screams clutter. They may want to seriously reconsider the stress it's putting on their family's thought processes.)

Okay. Alright. So I'm not a minimalist. And Biblically speaking, I'm not much of a Martha. You know the story. Martha and Mary - two sisters, friends with Jesus. And one day, Martha was busy serving and cleaning when Jesus stopped by. And she got upset because Mary was busy not being busy, preferring to sit and visit with Jesus. Martha even complained to him about it: "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" (Luke 10:38-40) That gutsy girl!

And what'd Jesus do? What he's good at - showed compassion and lovingly corrected: "Martha, Martha, are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)

Looks like we've got two good attributes going on here - Martha's orderly nature and Mary's relational nature. Definitely not a "wrong vs. right" thing as much as it is an "important vs. necessary" thing.

Soooo, I'm with a friend is better than picking up that dried-out baby wipe  peeking out from under the end table? I'm thinking yes. Though, I suppose I could do both. But whether I start taking steps down the chic-contemporary "minimal road" or the heart-warming relational road, I can certainly tell you that neither one will be passing through my laundry room.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Funny Shmunny

I often have this fantasy where I'm holding a "Hi Mom!" sign on the streets of New York, standing in a line-up of people behind Today Show's Matt Lauer and Al Roker.

This fantasy usually takes place in the Fall, and I'm wearing a jewel-toned scarf and brand-new lipstick. My look, of course, complete with a fancy coffee in my non-sign-holding hand and the latest in lace-up boots on my two feet. (Did I mention I'm also humming a tune I seem to vaguely remember from early childhood? "Who can turn the world on with her smile...")

And right after Mr. Roker says, "Temps sure did drop last night, giving us this beautiful, crisp New York morning," he turns around and asks me something like, "Whereabouts are you from?" Or "Who are you with today?" (More like, "Who did you drag here today?" if my husband came with me. Not a Today Show kind of guy.)

But here is where my fantasy comes to an abrupt halt, for I cannot imagine myself saying a single thing interesting or witty or charming. Sure I'd give an overly-excited, "That'd be Orange County, California, Al!" sort of reply. But how would I jazz it up? I'm not very good on-the-spot. Funny takes time.

It all began in the sixth grade. A radio station promised the 106th caller tickets to see The Jets in concert at Magic Mountain. So I called in. My cousin got a blank cassette ready and was prepared to push "record" if I got through. Sure enough, I got through. And it got recorded.

Hearing it back, I remember not liking the way I responded to the DJ's comments and questions and innuendoes: "Hi. What? Huh? No. Way. This is Molly. Really? Really? Um. Um. Wow. Neato. Neato. Neato."

I sounded very eleven, you see. But why shouldn't I have? I was eleven. Problem is, almost 30 years later, I fear Al Roker would also get an eleven-year-old version of me.

Or is it possible that age has nothing to do it? Maybe that's just the way I am under pressure? So what if on-the-spot Molly isn't all that funny. And who cares if it takes me 17 minutes after-the-fact to come up with something clever. I'll just save it for a blog, and call it a day.

Besides, since when is being funny a requirement when answering Al Roker's questions? Whose approval am I living for, anyway?

I heard it said that self-esteem is based upon what you think the most important person in your life thinks about you. And since I shouldn't give Al Roker and the entire United States of America the privilege of being M.I.P. in my life, it'd be much easier if I daily made Jesus that person, for his Word says I am lovable (John 3:16), capable (2 Peter 1:3), valuable (Luke 12:6), forgivable (Psalm 103:12), and usable (Ephesians 4:12).

So although my Today-Show-street-crowd dreams remain the same, I might as well move forward in the fantasy - heading straight through Al Roker's interview and right into the studio itself, where I'm then asked to replace the replacements for Katie Couric. (Where was I? Oh yes, "Your gonna make it after all!")

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Redwoods: God's Coolest Idea

You know how people mark their kids' height on the moulding of a doorway? We do that. But before you say, "Oh that Jeff and Molly - they think of everything," keep in mind we have four incomplete ones going at the moment - three of them in houses we don't live in anymore.

What about parents who chart their kids' growth on something moveable, like a piece of wood? Geniuses.

So, since we haven't been smart about it, our permanent measuring tape of choice has been our yearly (as in "so much for that trip to Hawaii" yearly) vacation in Mount Hermon.

Mount Hermon, California. Just a few miles in from Santa Cruz. "Where the trees meet the sea," they say. Ginormous, ancient redwood trees. A dozen people linking arms might still not be enough to circle around the older, pre-Jesus ones.

And nestled in the middle of it all is a magical family camp. We often call it Mount Hormone for those on the prowl. Its trees sometimes become kissing trees. I speak from experience. First kiss at age four (been going to camp a long time) and engaged there sixteen years later (different guy).

However, there's no need to ramble endlessly about my Mount Hermon growth record. I'll just stick to my kids. But I'm fairly certain no one wants to hear me compare their finger-painting-in-toddler-day-camp years with their current "I do what I want, go where I want, buy my own ice cream when I want" years. (Hear that? Doing stuff like buying ice cream, NOT kissing behind trees. Not my children. Do as I say, not as I do.)

So, without going into braggy-bloggy detail, let's just say my kids thrive in Mount Hermon like no other place. To put it poetically: The place nourishes their souls. To put it adolescently: "It's okay, I guess." But trust me, it's way more than just okay.

I'd even say the place has a redwood strength about it. A strength found not just in the trees, but in the people - counselors, friends, and family they've come to know. A lasting, generation-to-generation strength that can only come from God - their creator and defender, their redeemer and friend.

Who wouldn't thrive when surrounded by people like that? Spiritual redwoods, that's what they are. My kids tend to stand tallest up against folks like that. And year after year of measuring their growth in Mount Hermon, it sure beats doorway moulding.

"He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers." Psalm 1:3

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Love and War

I'm tired. Not just I-ran-a-zillion-errands-today tired. But soul weary tired. I think it's this whole woman thing I've got going on these (almost) 40 years. Being a girl can sure get complicated. There are lots of lasagna-esque layers to it.

Because the pressure is on to put organic spinach between those layers. Or kale. Or meatless things, flourless things, tasteless things. Non-GMO things. Or stuff our caveman ancestors would eat. Stuff Dr. Oz would eat. Stuff my husband wouldn't eat.

Forget about lasagna for a minute and think just layers. Life layers. The pressure to have a glowing skin layer underneath the designer handbag and size 2 skinny jean layers can be a bit much. What about the pressure to "better hurry up and get that forehead crease botoxed before it really sets in?" Too much, I say. Somebody please get me some quality chocolate and dependable WiFi. Quick!

Or what about the more noble and virtuous life layers? Like being a good, loving wife - the kind who helps her husband remember their anniversary. Or amping up the mommy skills by layering in more patience, becoming a "yes I would love to watch you do 23 cartwheels in a row" kind of parent.

That's not all. At any given moment, the pressure is also on to act smarter than I am:  "Nuclear proliferation seriously de-stabilizes international and regional relations..." 

Or act more sophisticated:  "No I didn't get this scarf on clearance at Target for $3.24...yesterday..."

Or more clever:  "Because seven-'ate'-nine, and roosters don't lay eggs!"

It all just makes for one very pooped-out me. So it's a good thing I was paying attention during Bible study this week, a Bible study called Love and War.* It's about the battle we women face for our futures and our hearts as we go into each day. And the speaker, Debbie Eaton, challenged me to ask myself this question:

"What would my everyday look like if I knew, really knew, I am known and loved by God?"

At first, I felt I had to reprogram my thinking - like I had to turn off the side of my brain that says "God loves me and sees me better when I hit the ground praying each day...and when I stop to listen to my chatty neighbor...and, oh yeah, when I floss."

So once I got all that turned off, my first response to God's unending love for me was:  "I'd probably be blushing constantly." Is that weird? Think about it. The God of the universe LOVES us. Ephesians 1:4 says, "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes."

So even when I am busy running from who I am, he loves me. Even when I doubt my value, he loves me. Even when during the very act of telling my friend, "You know, blogs with cuss words in them are usually the popular ones. I'm thinking of adding one here and there," HE LOVED ME. But of course, because of his love and the woozy, I'm-forever-yours effect it has on me, I've never added a cuss word. (But keep praying for me. We all have a breaking point.)

Okay. Where was I. Oh yes, lasagna. I'm thinking God would go bonkers over my lasagna layered with pork sausage, cheese, whole milk ricotta, and more cheese...nestled between regular ol' 1980s lasagna noodles. Truth is, he'd go bonkers even if it was layered with sea kelp and pumpkin seeds and coconut milk. Nothing cheesy about that!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fourth of July

Most people don't know I have a side. I do, and it's pretty hardcore. So don't try to get crazy with me. I've got connections in North Orange County.

So what's it gonna be - what's your poison? Purple Rains, Piccolo Petes, Roman Candles? Or if you'd rather start off slow and work your way up, I've got flowers, sparklers, smoke bombs. Bing bang boom, I'm the firework pusher. And it's gonna be on like Donkey Kong this July 4th.

I just hooked-up my neighbor with some snakes - black ones and rainbows. They're hard to come by in these south county parts. Good thing I know people who know people at a,

Okay fine...who work at a firework stand near my mom's house that just so happens to support my Alma mater's band and colorguard. But keep it on the down-low, okay? The cops. They don't monkey around. They put up that sign: "Firework-Free Zone!" And one single Piccolo Pete peep could shut this whole thing down.

All jokes aside, Fourth of July is so much more than forking out the caysh for fireworks. We are free people. Not just free people because we live in this amazing country, but true children of liberty - no matter where we live - when we realize just how much our Creator loves us. Because..."If the son has set us free, then we shall be free indeed." John 8:36

Have a wonderful Fourth of July!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Age Nine is Sublime

Need a boost? Lacking a little joy these days? My solution: Have another kid. A third kid, to be precise. They're great. Especially when they turn nine.

Don't have even one kid yet? Go adopt a few. Or go hang around a bunch of nieces and nephews and cousins. Or perhaps you have too many kids? Pay close attention to what the younger one says, particularly how they respond to their older (teenage) siblings. Things get funny.

There's just something about being both the baby of the family and age nine. Day in and day out, my nine-year-old is privy to all sorts of juicy family details...details I wish I could share. But my kids would flat out DIE if I dished all. So since I can't talk about their "poopy diapers" anymore, just watch an episode of The Middle or Claire's family on Modern Family, and you'll catch a wiff. Er, I mean...catch my drift.

So as you can imagine, my youngest is my savviest. Who else asks the tough questions around here - "Is Bud Light real beer?" "How much money is a lot of money (and) do you make it?" "What are six-pack abs?" "Did you guys kiss yet?" "Did Michael Jackson love Jesus?" - while practicing hand stands and waiting for UPS to deliver her new craft book and 48-count gel pen set?

I often tell my "thank you but we are happy at two" friends to do what needs to be done - close your eyes if you have to - and go for it. Have one more before you get the snip-snip. Yes, life is sweet when they're eight and five. But trust me, soon they'll be 16 and 13, and you'll wish you had a third one doing cartwheels in the background when your 13 year old burps obnoxiously in front of company and your oldest one almost crashes the car into the garage.

Sure it's not that easy. Having more than two - or having any - isn't always a practical decision, I guess. And of course, kids these days, right? Plugged-in all the time. Kind of bratty and entitled. Before you know it, their bra strap is showing - on purpose - and you've had it up to here.

And if adoption isn't an option, there's the whole getting pregnant again thing. And having to get it out of you thing. AND the first three (exhausting) years of the kid's life thing. All that is over with in a flash. And what if that bonus oops baby extends stretch marks an extra inch? You can always work it out with a plastic surgeon later on.

But what I'm saying is, if at all possible, have at least three. Joy aplenty will be yours. That's my experience, anyway. Got a third and it's not working out for you? Like I said, hang in there until they turn nine, an age that stands bright and cheery up against the backdrop of all-things teen.

Besides, children are a gift from the Lord. "How joyful is the one whose quiver is full of them," says Psalm 127. How full is full exactly? There's no rule. I'm merely suggesting three. If not for any other reason than to hear your youngest - when he or she turns nine - say, "Can I have another brownie? Because I wasn't paying attention when eating the first one."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rooftop Party

It happened. A rooftop party happened. More like "pooftop" party, if you know what I'm saying. The night was complete with loud, sizzly Latin music, a panorama of Vegas lights, my smokin' husband, my good underwear, and a cheap point-and-shoot camera.

I just hope I did it right. I ate every single appetizer that passed my way. That okay? And I walked around holding my chin up just so, as in, "You think I look like that girl from that one movie? Because I am her."

And to think I thought I didn't know the right people. Apparently I do. Or the hubs does. Or his boss does. Or boss's boss.

What was I doing anyway, making fun of rooftop party types a few blogs ago? (See Viva Las Vegas.) Because I am that type now. Well, maybe not now now, or tomorrow, or the next day - as I sit here, eating a bag of Raisinets and wondering how I'm ever going to get rid of this foot eczema.

But whatever man. I went to a rooftop party.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer Chores

It's going to be a long summer with these kids. Good thing I have a plan: summer reading program (not going to happen), volunteer at church food pantry at least a dozen times (okay one time, but we'll talk about it all summer), "proper technique" swimming lessons (never swam properly and I'm still alive)...

...and chores. Organized and kid-specific chores. Like "you haven't earned a blue star on the refrigerator chore chart yet so no Minecraft for you" kind of chores. (But I'll have to rethink that for my 16 year old - so maybe she'll get "no eyeliner for you" chores.)

Not only that, but chores done PROPERLY. Poorly done chores are for sissies. Just look at this attempt at putting dishes away:

And this attempt at nicely folding throw blankets:

But there's always a catch to getting a chore done "properly." Kids first need to learn how. Sure they're whizzes at taking the trash out and feeding the dog. But it's high time they graduate to the big stuff. That means I'll have to crack down and actually teach them the right way - whatever "right" means. (Now who's got the chore?)

So where to begin? What do I say?

--"Looky here, kids! This is how you drag an old wet towel across the kitchen floor after you've sprinkled it with Mr. Clean."

--"This is how you repeatedly jump off a chair - with a broom pointed upward - in hopes of eventually reaching cobwebs on high ceilings."

You see, there's nothing conventional about my methods. I just git-er-done. Uh, maybe that's it. Maybe that's where my frustration lies - assuming my kids were born knowing how to clean the blinds. "Figure it out yourself! Put your hand in a sock or something and start cleaning!"  

Although my oldest has the most potential, my kids lack the drive to figure things out. Patience on my part will def come in handy. And what about a teachable attitude on their part? Even more sock-in-handy.

So I think memorizing Corinthians 13:4-7 will go a long way this summer: "Love is patient, love is does not dishonor is not easily angered...Love hopes all things..." Because although loving my kids comes easy, always acting out my love does not.

But what if, even after my brilliant instruction, the bathroom still looks like a McDonald's restroom? Well if it's true what I've heard - "wit, wisdom, and understanding of human nature come from all the years of trying and failing at things" - then poorly done chores will be my children's gateway to success. (Or something like that. Long year and I'm tired. Let me believe what I want.)

Thursday, June 6, 2013


My new most-favoritist song is "Hero" by Abandon. Sure it's sung by a Christian alternative rock band, but for those who aren't in the know about faith-based music, that basically means AMAZING. You won't find it on KIIS or KROQ or even on my teen-years-favorite, Power 106! (Yeee-ah boyz.) But you'd be surprised - there are tricklings of it in pop culture all over the place.

And I've provided a link of the band singing an acoustic version of "Hero" LIVE on Air1Radio:
See Abandon on Youtube HERE! (You're welcome!)

And you know, when it comes to my kids, I ask myself, "What kind of lyrics do I want circling around in their heads as they wait in the handball line at recess?" A song about birthday shots? No.

Which is funny - or sad (you decide) - because my kids and I really do listen to all kinds of music. And a couple years ago, Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" was at the top of our list.

But here's the thing, that song apparently has sunk into my nine-year-old's head - to the point where this very morning she asks me out-of-the-blue, "Mom, do you have that one song..."it's a quarter after one, I'm a little drunk and I need you now"...laying around here somewhere?"

"Um, well honey. Not sure. (But I really am sure. Number 5. Blue cd. Glove compartment.) But for now, how about we stick to songs about our hero like 'Hero.'"

"Okay mom!" (Kids these days.)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Turning 40 Means...

Just got our city's "Summer Concert Series" newsletter in the mail. Rarely a cause for celebration because, well...Donavon Frankenreiter anyone? Along with a bunch of other never-heard-of-hims-and-hers. Or some third season American Idol kick-off. Or only musicians my parents' generation knows about.

But this year is different. I'm suddenly a "parent from a generation" because I actually know, like every-single-lyric know, who some of these guys are. And based on my reaction (which I wish I could take back - good thing I was sitting down), you'd think I just found out Justin Timberlake or the Biebs or even Jesus was coming to town. Which is not the case - at all.

Instead we've got Michael Bolton and Wilson Phillips. A couple of my generation's singer-songwriters of my generation's slow dance music and make-out music and drive-to-the-beach music.

And there's no sense in playing the "Hey kids! Guess who's coming to town?" game. They don't know. They wouldn't know. But I know. And you know. (And are a little jealous? Minus the "lake opens at 6:00 a.m. to reserve your spot, so expect delays" part of the free concert.)

Like I said, I'm a "parent from a generation" now. Turning 40 means you know who the lakeside concert performers are. And all the guys who perform at non-Vegas casinos. And those on cruise ships. But I'm not worrying about it. God has not only helped me to "hold on for one more day," but to also "break free, break free from the chains" of getting older. (Ba dum tish!)

Friday, May 31, 2013

When a Woman Goes to Bed...

When a women goes to bed, she first grabs her reading tablet before arranging her three pillows juuust right - one for legs, one for arms, one for head.

And the pillows remind her of earlier in the day when she saw the cat "bathing" itself on her head pillow, and it grosses her out.

So she searches for a fresh pillow case, hoping to find a super soft one because she once heard Heather Locklear - 20 plus years ago - say something about how high thread-count sheets help prevent face wrinkles.

But to no avail, she can only find a cheap tween-ish one that has a bunch of sayings on it with hearts and squiggly lines - "Rock Star!" "Glamorous!" "Call me!"

Feeling the exact opposite of rock star and glamorous AND not wanting anyone anywhere to call her for any reason, she hears her 16-year-old daughter calling her from the other talk.

All done talking for the day, she goes in there and talks anyway. "I bet Michelle Duggar would gladly talk to her teen daughter(s) at any time" is the prevailing thought that guilts her into chatting for longer than intended.

But soon other thoughts take over: Did I hook my phone up? Should I apply extra eye cream because of the low thread-count? Is my husband mad at me?

So with great mom precision and care, she smoothly brings the Kaila/Kenzie/Kelsey/Kylie drama discussion to an end and slips out of the room.

Surprised she didn't offend her daughter with her fabulous advice, she wonders to herself, "Maybe I am a rock star after all."

She then goes pee for the 29th time that day, but not without stubbing her toe before collapsing into bed - where she leans over and whispers to her husband, "Honey, are you mad at me?"

And she gets nothing. So she whispers more forcefully, "Honey, are you mad?" Still nothing.

Amazed at her husband's ability to completely shut down like that, she finds comfort in her three pillows and in the thought, "Well at least God isn't mad at me."

So she double-checks on God not being mad at her by going to her Bible App and finding this verse: "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides quiet waters, he refreshes my soul." (Psalm 23:1-2)

Feeling stilled, feeling refreshed, feeling cared for - and kind of wishing she was in Hawaii - she FINALLY rolls over and falls asleep (right after spending a few minutes worrying about money).

But when a man goes to bed, he lies down and goes to sleep.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Garage Sale Finds

Community garage sales are all the go these days. One neighborhood = two dozen garage sales = eight panini sandwich makers, several "shake weights," and countless VHS Barney videos...

...but only one very-Molly antique hutch. Picked it up for 45 bucks. See:

And I'm thinking of leaving it as is - at least for now. One day I'll get a wild hair and paint it an aqua/gray color and distress it. Or butter yellow. I'll keep you posted.

I also came away with a few 50-cent shirts (to be clear, not the rap star 50 Cent, but rather Gap and Old Navy). Oh, and two ladderback, "rush-seated" chairs. (Great. More things to add to my old lady house.)

I almost came away with the first thing that caught my eye - a pair of crutches. You know, just in case. But God quickly put a thought into my head: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34

And that was that. Not a day to plan for broken bones after all. I had a hutch and two chairs to play with:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Viva Las Vegas

Just found out we're squeezing in an extra vacation this summer. Goin' to Vegas, baby. It's a little tag-a-long business trip with the hubs.

And with the kids.

Which is fine. I think. Fine with Jeff and I, anyway. We don't do (nor know how to do) very Vegas-y things. But I've got a couple fancy friends who do. And their FB pics are always of them standing on rooftops of tall buildings, one hand on hip, chin-tilted down - with the flashy lights of the strip in the background - wearing something shimmery that you know didn't come from Kohls. (Adding to the bucket list: "Attend a rooftop party.")

So since this will be a family excursion, all will be fine and kid-friendly. Or will it? I'm not so sure, because after listening to this guy yesterday explain what it's like to actually live in Vegas - with his family - I'm having second thoughts now.

At first he said it's just like any normal town or city. There are regular people all over the place. Even people who love Jesus. There are parks and nice schools. Even churches.

But there are also billboards. You know the kind.

And on just an ordinary day out with the fam, their minivan stopped at a red light. And there it was. A billboard for their seven-year-old son to stare at while waiting for the light to turn green. A billboard with six half-naked girls posed "just so" on the larger-than-life photo.

So the boy turns to his ten-year-old sister and very innocently says, "Which naked girl is your favorite?" Like he's asking which Star Wars character does she want to be. Or which M&M color is she going to eat first.

And in perfect mom-timing, the guy's wife turns around and says, "You're NOT supposed to have a favorite naked girl!"

And although I don't know what all else was said, I do know three things:

1. That's some funny stuff.
2. That's kind of sad, though, too. (Boo on Vegas!)
3. Good! My family isn't the only family.

Oh, I already knew my family wasn't the only family whose kids say the darndest things. And that I'm not the only mom whose first response is a "not supposed to" instead of an empathy-filled, "There there, now. I understand your wanting to have favorites in life, but..." and yackity smackity.

But good for this boy's mom for piping in. Whether her approach was lacking in grace or was super right-on (it was right-on) - we moms need grace all the more when our parenting takes a detour OR seems at odds with the one whose child isn't the same age as our child...or has same fears, temperaments, tendencies, and struggles.

Then again the Bible does say to teach our kids God's ways for living. And they're good ways for living, too, for his love for us motivated each one. And Deuteronomy 11:19 says to teach our children his ways when going to bed and when getting up, when hanging out at home and when out on the road (checking out billboards, apparently).

With that being said, I sure hope I'm never one to add or take away from the Bible. But if I were to do such things, I'd add an 11th commandment: "Thou shalt not have favorite naked ladies."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It's a Giveaway! Celebrating My ONE YEAR Blogiversary!

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wife Insurance

Lately I've been doing a little "where's all our money going?" inventory. That means I have to dredge-up account passwords or call customer service representatives. Oh the things I'd rather do! Like maybe try on bathing suits at Target - on a Monday, the day after I do things like dunk each bite of pizza in ranch.

And one of the calls I made was to our life insurance company. What a weird call that was. At first I asked about my policy, and things were going good. I totally held it together. (Read The Vacuum Lady.)

But then I asked about my husband's policy. And that's when Jake the representative questioned me, "Ma'am, if I may ask, why are you calling about your husband's life insurance policy today?"

What? Who asks about that sort of thing? Okay fine, life insurance reps do. But why? Does he think I'm considering...(whisper)...muurrrder? And I'm weighing the pros and cons? Should I...Shouldn't I?

So I stammered out, "I, uh...seeing about money and uh...just checking in with you guys. You know, wondering if it's a tax write-off...or not." (It's not.)

Whew, that was close. Then I thought, "Oh please, Jeff. Don't die anytime soon. Or anytime ever. They'll trace back to this phone call and find motive. And I'd have to get out of! Pack my bags!"

Which the very thought is dumb. Hellooo, I love the guy. Even more so after reading Pioneer Woman's cookbook over the weekend. I, too, have my very own Marlboro man, you see - minus the hat and chaps. And he is wanted not dead, but alive.

Sooo, Jake. The representative. I have a few questions for you. Where were you at 4:45 a.m. when I reminded my husband to drive safely - in the rain - on his morning commute? Hiding in the closet, trying on a pair of his khakis? I don't think so.

And where were you when I actively wished my husband to not die by handing him heart-healthy fish oil softgels - "swallow these!" Or when he plays basketball - "don't break your nose!" Or when he's rearranging the garage - "careful about your back!"

Oh gosh, I hope I'm not mothering my husband. But as long as I don't chase after him with a Metamucil concoction to cure what ails him, I think I stay within normal, "concerned wife" limits.

I just worry sometimes. It runs in the family. Not only about Jeff, but my kids and money and...other stuff. Will my 200,000-plus-miles Chevy make it another year? Will non-organic apples really harm my family? Will The Bachelorette finally find true love? (This week's trains-of-thought, anyway.)

But I heard it said that it's easier to sing your worries away than to reason them away - which works double-duty when sung in the direction of heaven. La la la, mi mi mi, figaro figaro!

And Philippians 4:4 says to rejoice in the Lord two times in a row: "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!" That's in the Lord, mind you. Not in circumstances. And definitely not in life - or wife - insurance.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Show Continues

I love talking about my shows with anyone who'll listen. It's like, "Hi, I'm Molly. What are your shows? Elementary? The Middle? Mentalist? Duck Dynasty? Love It or List It?" And things can get a little awkward if they say, "Yeah well, about that...I'm not really into any." (Not one single show? Who are these people?)

But this time of year gets a little sad as my shows soon take a break for the summer. (See One 'Heck' of a Show.) Guess it's time to load up the ol' Kindle with some good reads. Or maybe just stick to T.V. and finally jump on the Homeland bandwagon. But first I should jump on the Netflix bandwagon. Or maybe even Walking Dead. But zombies aren't my favorite.

Another show I've never gotten into is House. A friend at the gym raves about it, but not without warning me that the main character is an atheist. I thought, "What a weird warning to give someone."

But what should a person with my world view say when being warned this way? That Jesus hung out with atheists? That it takes more faith to not believe in God than to believe in God?

But instead I casually said, "Oh now, stop. It wouldn't bother me. But I do wonder how many true atheists are out there. I'm guessing not too many." And I'll never forget what she said to me, "Not sure, but I think we're all just schmear."

Schmear? As in a bagel topping at a bagel shop? Like, maybe she thinks we're all earth splatter with no real design or purpose for our existence? But I get. It's hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes. Heck, I've even felt like schmear before.

So I stood up tall, gave her a little back rub, and lightheartedly said, "Look, I know you might feel like schmear. But you are not cream cheese and the earth is not a bagel. You were created by God. Loved by God. And that's that." (How'd that sound? Did I do good? Still unsure about it.)

Now where was I? Ah yes, my shows. So I got all excited at church today when the guest speaker, Frances Chan, talked about 24 with Kiefer Sutherland. It's an oldie but a goody. And now you can easily watch one episode right after the other.

And that's what Frances Chan did when a friend gave him season two on video. But there was one episode where Jack Bauer's survival seemed impossible. He thought to himself, "Jack Bauer can't go in there - too many bad guys!" But then it struck him, "Of course he can go in there. Of course he'll survive. I'm watching season two while everyone else is watching season three. His life does continue!"

And that's what I wish I could tell my friend. No matter what happens in this life - although it seems impossible - there's a season three! Even if you're tied to a chair and there's no escape, rescue is coming! You've got a knife hidden up your, I've got a God who's preparing an eternal home for you when you put your trust in him and your hope in heaven. So no matter how dire your situation, it's not the end of your show.