Monthly Archives: September 2013

First Day Of Fall

I We Some of us have been waiting for this day for a while around here. I bought a pumpkin for the porch last week and everyone thought I was nuts. But fall was so close I could feel it and I couldn’t help myself. Not everyone felt the same enthusiasm. After a few “why is there a pumpkin on the porch?!” questions I decided to play it cool and wait a few days before adding anything else. Tough crowd. Sheesh.

Ionely pumpkin

But today, fall is finally here. Maggie has been ready for fall too and last week she started counting down the days. She rescued me from yard work grabbed me near the precise hour she had been patiently waiting for. We listened quietly to the hands on the kitchen wall clock tick towards 4:44 and we waited to see the anticipated numbers illuminate the microwave. She let out a little squeal of delight and hugged me tight when the magic numbers finally appeared. Then we went outside and she jumped for joy, as happy as I was to have fall here.

Maggie jumps for joy

And I smiled at my lonely pumpkin as I introduced it to a new friend, ready to do my own happy dance and leaps in the air as we welcome my favorite season. Only I really won’t be leaping. That’s not likely to end so happily.

pumpkin and mum

Happy Fall!

Some Days Are Not So Rosy

It was raining this morning. It was grey and warm and depressing. It wasn’t even a good cold rain that makes you want to snuggle in and cozy up. It was too wet to walk the dog, but not raining enough to help the stressed lawn, tired and hanging on. The kids crabbily went about morning routines and I was irritable. We left the house late, drove behind slow school buses, and hit nearly every red light. I returned home from dropping them at school only to find not one, but two forgotten lunch boxes on the kitchen counter. So, off I went back to school, driving the repetitive loop that is responsible for most of the miles on my car. Once home I began to tackle the never ending laundry, deciding to ignore the fact that the washing machine sounds like a jet engine. An ominous sound I imagine equates to a costly repair. Towels billowed from the the dryer and out fell a renegade ink pen along with permanent black smudges that claimed white shirts. Ruined. I slammed the dryer shut.

Quite the start to the day. I debated joining Alexander in Australia so we could commiserate on our very bad, horrible no good days.

Returning downstairs, I rolled my eyes at the miscellaneous items left to be soaked in the rain on the back deck. I over-exaggerated a heavy sigh at the sight of every single dead plant that lies ugly and lifeless in window boxes and clay pots on the deck. I turned my back from the outdoor despair to clear a few juice glasses and crumpled, soiled napkins that others carelessly left behind – pondering again the martyr notion that all I do is pick up after other people.

It was then that I saw it. In the middle of my pathetic stroll down victim lane. A gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit to look beyond this spiraling dark place. There, across the littered table, beyond the window smudged with fingerprints and the dirty screen, hung a single, perfect yellow rose.

It was hanging from the climbing rose bush Jason planted a few years ago. He planted it on a slope in the back yard so that as it grew and bloomed the lovely flowers would be at eye level. The beauty planted purposely, intentionally for me to see. It showers us with beautiful flowers when in season. But the season was long over. Did he know one day a single glance at a single bloom would change my day? Would change me on that day, for the better? He very well may have. He knows me that well.

I stood still and stared at the rose in near disbelief. Everything in the yard was brown and dead. Everything. And outside it was dreary, wet, and depressingly grey. And there, right in front me, was a beautiful sign of life and beauty and promise. A perfect and unexpected stroke of yellow light and happiness. It stopped me in my tracks. I smiled and my eyes stung with humility and contrition. I went to grab my phone so I could have proof of my find. And in doing so, I found a note on a hot pink sticky pad. It was scrawled with “have a good day mom! I love you!” My heart raced and the room tilted. Was this neon note here all along?! Did I just miss the glaring message in my grumpy haste this morning? What else have I missed today?! What else has passed me by? What a waste of a morning. I was so quick to be pulled into a downward spiral of negativity. The more I noticed the bad things, the quicker they fell into my path – as if being sought and collected, a litany of meaningless woes.

And then it dawned on me (yet again) that blessings abound when I am willing to see them. How many times need I be reminded of that? If I can only get out of my own way and greet the day with gratitude, amazing things are meant to be seen and experienced. I remain convinced that often the greatest joys come from seeing gift and beauty in the littlest of things that are all too often so irreverently overlooked. Climbing yellow roses and notes left on shocking pink sticky pads, no exception.

I returned to the laundry room and fed a smelly green football uniform into the open mouth of the jet-engine washing machine. Only this time I was grateful that she could work her magic, no matter the dooming noise. I shut the dryer door more gently. My steps and heart were softened as I came downstairs for another Doubting Thomas look at the rose. Still there. And the sun just might have been trying to come through the heavy clouds as well.

I smiled at nothing and everything in the middle of my messy kitchen.

I am certain that while we were never promised rosy days, God gives us more than enough roses in our paths. Sometimes they miraculously come out of nowhere, unexpectedly. And sometimes they are there all along. Regardless, joy and peace and happiness are ours to have if we are only willing to stop and see them.

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First Concert

Dear Taylor,

If you must know the truth, I was a bit hesitant heading to the concert last night. You see, my girls were excited beyond belief at the surprise tickets from the heavens that appeared to them miraculously at the bottom of the laundry basket. Actually, excited doesn’t really even come close to capturing the pulse that could be felt through the entire house. There were large red posters carefully penned in neat writing waiting expectantly on the kitchen table. Outfits had been picked out, debated upon, and reassembled. Hair was done, phones were charged, grandparents were called, your songs were on replay. The girls giggled and bounced and skipped in the kitchen. They could not contain themselves. They. Were. Ready.

But for a few moments, I was not. As I watched them run around the house with each other I quickly realized they had no idea of what to expect. What if (GASP!) they were so excited by the idea of what was to come that they were disappointed by the reality? Would all the hype and excitement and fade like the overpriced glow stick strobe lights I was advised to purchase?

Watching them with each other, experiencing their first concert together, I realized it didn’t matter. This pre-concert delirium was part of the experience and they were enjoying every second of it. This, no matter how good or bad the actual concert was, was going to be a night they would remember forever.

I figured the concert would be good. I had no idea it would be great. You rocked our socks off. You hit it out of the ball park. I could not have imagined you would be so in tune with your audience (sold out crowd of screaming young ladies). I love that you acknowledged their tween/teen angst and reminded them of what a better place the world would be if there was less “mean” and more “kind.” Words said over and over by parents are sometimes heard more clearly when spoken by others – especially when that person is you.

In the end, their first concert was magical. It was worth every over priced line item ($20 for parking?!) and each indulged extra (hello t-shirts and stroby glow sticks and cotton candy). I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I only wish their innocent, joyous delirium could stay, stay, stay forever.

Thanks for listening.

And see you next time you come to town.

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A Swift Mood Change

This afternoon I surprised the girls with Taylor Swift concert tickets. I had the whole thing planned out and I stood in the hallway pretending to be trying to figure out something on my phone so I could capture them on video. They were shocked. They were thrilled. They were over the moon.

They were on an emotional roller-coaster.

Moments before they found the tickets, I asked them to fold some laundry (which, next to emptying the dishwasher, might be their least favorite chore). Let’s just say they were not enthusiastic about having to help. But, my oh my, did their collective mood change when Emily stumbled upon the golden tickets at the bottom of the heaping laundry basket. What a swift mood change! (Pun intended.)

See you tomorrow night in Raleigh, Taylor. I’ll be the one chaperoning the little ladies riding the wave of the swift mood change from teen and tween angst to unabashed joy!

Here’s the video. It’s long, but you need to get the full effect of the mood swing. Thank goodness for happy endings.

The end.