From the 40 Yard Line

40 yard lineSunday morning…  The wind is blowing, the sun is shining and we’re getting ready to get ready to go to church…  My Honey and I have a heart-to-heart and I decide that what I really want more than anything for my birthday is for our family to gather at our home, eat, laugh and experience love – real love, the comfortable, joyful, teasing, reminiscing, comforting, supporting kind that is the rare and precious gift I have received from my Father in the form of my Honey, our kids – biological and in-love…

Our Banana-girl immediately tells me that she will do whatever I want.  She and I make a list of what we need for a great yummy brunch.  She rallies her dad and they go to the store.  When I call our oldest, he is obviously tired and has to work later today, but he responds in just moments and tells me that they will be over in an hour.  I am blessed beyond measure that he and my daughter-in-love make time for me at the last minute on a Sunday morning.

Once everyone is here, the rhythm of my family begins.  Scott and Caleb are cooking at the stove, Bailey is baking cinnamon rolls, setting everything out on plates or anything else that needs to be done, Hannah is making Belgian waffles after she finishes cutting up all of the fresh veggies for the eggs, my Honey is washing dishes and doing general clean-up, while Aaron and his friend are eating Bailey’s cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven.  I am wandering around, putting the occasional pepper grinder away or warming up the maple syrup… Mostly I’m just reveling in this moment and setting up my Pandora station  – Great Outdoors Instrumental – because I know that today my children will put up with it for my birthday…

Does it get much better?…  Honestly, if I found out that I only had a day to live, this is how I would want to spend it.  I wish I could bottle this.

We talk about why I stopped going to Ponderosa and other “trough” restaurants twenty years ago because of Silence of the Lambs, how queasy Aaron also gets because of gory movies, and when Scott and my Honey met for the first time.  We laugh and commiserate while we reminisce about pieces of our family history that would probably seem ridiculous to others.  And I sit and cherish every moment because showing up is enough.  I feel loved, accepted.  My cup runneth over…

Peace…  I remember when I first came to begin to know God.  The difference I most felt in my life was this peace that I had never experienced before.  I waited for it to end for quite awhile.  It didn’t…  I still had junk happen in my life that caused stress, but I also had this peace that was new and constant.  It was incredible to me.  It still is.

When I’m with my husband, our children and their loves, I am brought back to this.  They center me and help me remember how blessed I am.  Joy.  Not always happiness, but always joy.

Now, I’m not trying to sound like that Christmas letter that makes out like my family is picture perfect – My kids are all youth group leaders, on the dean’s list, my husband received several promotions and raises this year and I am PTA President while remodeling our entire subdivision…  (yes, you probably received one of those from me several years ago, but it will NEVER happen again).

We get mad at each other occasionally.  We tease a little too much sometimes.  We let others do more of the work and enjoy the bounty in spite of our laziness once in awhile.  Sarcasm is a special talent in our home…

Grace.  Love.  Peace.  Joy.

Today I am blessed with these things in abundance and I am in my 40’s…

Finding Mrs. O…

Saving Mr. BanksEach year on New Year’s Day we take our family out to a movie and then we go out for Chinese food.  This tradition began when our oldest two were just 3 years old.  We either had them on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day opposite years and we wanted to make the latter something special for them when they were with us.  In 2014 almost everything is open on NYD, but 25 years ago, the only restaurants that were open (besides fast food) were Chinese restaurants and it is my Honey’s favorite kind of food, so there you have it!  As our family grew, it became increasingly difficult to find a movie that everyone would enjoy.  There is a 7 year gap between the first two and the next one.  We have 4 boys and one girl, who all have VERY different personalities.  Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia movies have always been no-brainers for us and I was SO happy when a new one of those made my life easier.   Although, the year Frodo’s eyes bugged out satanically when he saw the ring, I wasn’t so sure I had chosen a good movie for Aaron and Hannah who climbed on top of our heads in fear after Jordan and Scott whispered urgent warnings to us that that part was coming up – which we didn’t hear until it was too late.  It still kills me that Caleb just sat through it with a smirk on his face!

This year we went to see “Saving Mr. Banks.”  It was a tough choice.  There wasn’t a clear-cut winner while I was taking votes and doing the research.  I think we all love Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, but I was afraid it might be a bit girly for all of our men…  My Honey watched and enjoyed a preview and it fit into our time slot, so “Saving Mr. Banks” was the 2014 NYD Winner!!!

Kind of exhausting…  and charming…  and fascinating to see how she had worked through her past by creating this lovely child’s tale.  I’m sure it wasn’t a completely accurate picture of P.L. Travers.  I’ve read several accounts about her life that show she had an adopted son who was a twin and who recently died of alcoholism.  She was also confused sexually, having hetero- and homosexual relationships that were mostly unhealthy.   Gosh!  I wish that her life would’ve been like the movie in that she worked through her “junk” with her parents, and returned to England with a new lease on life.

I want that for her because I want that for me.  I want it for the other people in my life who are striving like me to move on with their lives in peace even though some days just weigh you down with such grief.  I love my heavenly Father and I know He loves me and most days I have such peace about that and it is enough.  Some (rare) days I hit this wall that says, “They’ve never really loved you and you aren’t worth the fight,” and that knocks me off of my everything for just a while.  I used to fight these days and believed that it meant I was right back where I used to be, living in the lie.  When it happens now, I just allow myself the grief.  I sit in it and move through it with Him and it’s okay.  The lie is still the lie… and so is the truth.

I’m working to make a different story for my children.  I’m still human and a product of my family of origin – the good and the bad.  I make mistakes – too often.  I work to remain humble in my relationships with my Honey and my children.  Our family code is “Grace” and we strive to live by it.  Defining it is not easy.  We’ve come to believe it doesn’t mean that you are a doormat and can’t have healthy boundaries, but it does mean unconditional love and acceptance.  It means we have to be very authentic with each other and that’s just uncomfortable sometimes.  Occasionally, in my attempt to be authentic, I overstep my loved ones’ boundaries.  Now and then, when my children make a critical observation about me, I want to shut them down and tell them to treat me with respect because I am their mother – but geez, who’s going to respect that kind of reaction?   I’m still working on getting better at that one.  It doesn’t fit into my perfect martyr mother picture of myself that I would like everyone to embrace…  We try SO hard not to sweep our junk under the rug because we’ve experienced very painfully how that blows up in everyone’s face, that sometimes we over talk stuff that just needs to be put to bed and left alone.  It isn’t easy, being transparent and choosing unconditional love.  I’m sure our children will write blogs one day about how we messed them up…  Well, truth be told, I’m hoping they won’t.  That’s why I’ve chosen this road…

When did that happen?!…

I’m going to be 50 in just 3 days.

Seriously… When the heck did THAT happen?!  I can tell I’m starting to experience a bit of a mid-life crisis.  I’m a bit unsatisfied with my life and how little it feels like I’ve accomplished.  I can’t really discuss this with my Honey or our kiddos because they all feel this need to make me feel better about what I’ve done with my life and that is the LAST thing I want to hear right now.  It feels like they’re patronizing me… in love, to be sure, but still, I don’t want to be made to feel better.  I want to be heard.  Acknowledged…  I realize I have hidden behind some very legitimate looking excuses during much of my adult life in order to avoid falling on my face in a smelly pile of failure and now, I just keep thinking, “So, Tricia, how’s that working for you?”

Do you ever feel like you have all that you need and/or want – You know, that “My cup runneth over” feeling?  When all of us are together – my Honey, our kids, the grandbaby – and everyone is getting along, there is this deep satisfaction and joy I feel overcome by.  It just washes over me and I do everything in my power to just savor every moment because I know it will end.  Someone will get angry, someone will let someone down or misunderstand someone or…  Life is so busy that it’s hard to catch those moments, to make time for them is a constant struggle.  Keeping the house reasonably clean, paying the bills, being a dedicated teacher, changing the cars’ oil, doing laundry, etc. – those things take most of the minutes from my day.

Then there are these other moments, usually in the early morning, when I wake up trying not to think/worry about all of the stuff mentioned above, and I start remembering that longing feeling to do something meaningful with my life.  Not something that will make me famous or anything like that.  I mean like REALLY being in His will and doing what He has planned for me.  I want to know what that is because I am so sure that I have veered off the path SO far during the past 5 or 6 years that I feel overwhelmed by how long it may take me just to get back to “Point A.”

I know that I have helped raise 5 truly amazing people.  I know that I am a very good teacher and I have touched many lives over the years.  My husband would tell you that I am a wife beyond his dreams.  All of that matters more than I can put into words.  But there’s more.  I know that there is because He put this longing in my being and I feel as if I will burst if I don’t start living in His will.  This isn’t a feeling that suddenly appeared on the “approaching 50 horizon.”  It’s been stirring in my soul for such a very, long time.  I hid from it for decades trying to be a picture perfect Christian wife, mother (step and biological), daughter (in-love and biological), and friend.  It’s a great way to look good and gain accolades, but He knows the truth, even when we’ve buried it SOOOOO deep that we believe the lie we are living in.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in being the Stepford family that when the ugly truth finally explodes all over the front yard and is headlined for the public, it takes a while to get back on our feet – heck, it takes a long time to roll over and even consider whether or not we even WANT to get back on our feet.  No One can tell you that you will be thankful for the ugly truth being exposed

at first.

But, the truth is, I am thankful and would not go back to being Mrs. Stepford for all of the tea in China.  I’m also lost in a way that is easy to live in much of the time.   After having all of my junk exposed and feeling forsaken by God, I found myself utterly lost.  I don’t trust myself completely, yet.  I’m struggling to find Him again because the old way doesn’t fit me anymore and there’s so much to keep me busy that complacency is  an easy friend.  And, honestly, it’s been years… and I’m almost 50…

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