Driving home one day I came to the light about 2 miles from my house. As I sat there waiting to turn right I stared into the back of an 18 wheeler. Expecting to see the reflection of my homely, tan minivan in the somewhat warped metal, you can imagine my surprise when instead, I saw a massive yellow Mack truck. I sorta gasped and mumbled, Whoa, where did that come from? When did my minivan turn into a big yellow truck?
I almost caused traffic to pile up as I ignored the light for a minute and glanced in the rear-view mirror to see if the Mack truck was a figment of my imagination or actually behind me. In this instance I wasn’t seeing things. There was a yellow Mack truck towering behind me, hogging all the mirror space of the truck in front of me.
It was like I had looked in my bathroom mirror and instead of seeing my petite 5’2” frame, I saw this 6’7” body-builder-muscle-woman who could scoop up the couch with one hand.
Uh-huh, I may be a simple minivan but I’ve got a Mack truck behind me. Don’t be messing with me!
I woke up this morning to the words It’s not supposed to be easy running through my head. It made me think of the P90X guy saying in the arm circle warm up…“We’re going to be here awhile. It’s going to burn. It’s supposed to.”
Life this side of Heaven: We’re here for an appointed time. It’s going to burn. It’s supposed to.
I know this, but somehow the creep happens. The comfort creep. I grow weary of fighting the same battles over and over again, so I start hunting for the cruise control button to make life easier.
But I forget ease and comfort are not the goal here. Life takes tenacity, endurance, perseverance. All those words you hear in cross country training and insinuate it’s going to be hard!
A few months ago I made a cake for a friend who turned 40. I had in mind this beautiful, elegant, tall, black fondant cake with the number 40 placed on top.
Simple and beautiful, just like my friend.
Black icing is a pain to make because it takes so much food coloring and even then has a purple hue to it. So I thought fondant would be easier and solve both of those problems.
Now, I haven’t used fondant much. My biggest undertaking would be this cake I made for my daughter’s 10th birthday party.
Notice the whole cake is not covered with fondant. Only the duct tape is fondant.
Nevertheless, I barreled ahead full steam. I bought 3 packages of fondant and set to work baking the cakes. Cake #1 was from my Betty Crocker cookbook called Best Chocolate Cake, and cake #2 was a vanilla flavor called Best Party Cake Ever from my Family Fun cookbook. Only the best for my friend!
Back in October life hit an unexpected bump which changed the trajectory of my plans for the fall. After a week in Kenya and then 10 days later speaking at the Hutto Bible Ladies Retreat, I was hoping for some peace and quiet and old fashion R-E-S-T. The kind where you zone out with a couple seasons of a Netflix show.
But apparently God had other plans.
The day I unpacked my suitcase from the retreat, Adam packed his. For the next two months, he had to work away from home for three to four days a week.
Not exactly snuggling on the couch watching Netflix together.
Since I couldn’t control the circumstances around me, this need for something to go as I planned bubbled up inside me. All of a sudden, I needed to sew something, paint something or rearrange something in my house to funnel the energy bouncing around within me and not take it out on the people around me.
As the leaves fall in layers outside my window, crunch beneath my shoes and swirl behind the cars, it reminds me summer is over and winter is coming. This little season we call fall prepares the way for holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It ushers in chilly mornings, darker evenings and pumpkin spice smells in the kitchen.
I’ve often said that if I was a deciduous tree in fall, I would be the one to look around and say, “You know what, I’ve decided I’m keeping my leaves this year! I mean these are my favorite set! What’s the point of dropping my leaves now just to get them back again in a few months? Winter isn’t too bad here, can’t I just keep them?!”
What’s going to happen to me?
I’m probably going to freeze to death because if trees don’t drop their leaves in fall, they’ll die in winter from lack of food. Winter is not the time for nourishing extra things like leaves.
In an old Cosby TV show, Clair Huxtable is sporadically speaking Spanish to a colleague, while Cliff Huxtable stands off to the side, staring at them, because he doesn’t understand what’s being said. The two banter back and forth while Cliff’s face contorts into half a dozen classic Bill Cosby expressions. When the Spanish speaking pair looks back at Cliff he responds, “I’m just listening for my name!” That’s the one thing he understands and can respond to in a paragraph of fast flying foreign words.
This past month has been like a blur of fast flying foreign words. It’s been a series of packing and unpacking suitcases, preparing and speaking sessions, and eating lunch when I can. Between a Kenyan ladies conference, a Hutto Bible ladies retreat and my cousin’s wedding, I have spoken in a microphone more in the pat 45 days than in my entire life!
So many times after we return from Kenya, my heart is on fire with passionate future dreams. I usually hit the ground running in a flurry of activity, praying for clarity and trying to attain to the vision, before I wear a hole in the carpet.
Except all that changed about two years ago when God told us to “go home” from Kenya. We weren’t sure if we’d ever go back – not because anything bad happened but because it felt like the same cherubim and flaming sword God placed to guard the Garden of Eden from being re-entered was also guarding us against returning west.
Basically, sometimes I think I can do things, I can’t.
Like in my head I think I can do a round-off back handspring in my front yard. I’ve watched my daughter do it countless times. It looks easy!
But have you tried a cartwheel lately?
Something happened around 27 years of age that biochemically defies turning upside down without torrential side effects.
I remember one time, I was really excited about something and I did a frontwards flip onto my bed like a little kid. Afterwards I just laid there, flat on my back, watching the room pass by in front of me.
But I have these moments in life too…not over cartwheels and front flips anymore for I respect those boundaries… where I think I can do things I can’t.
Now, it’s over schedules and activities I think I can jam into my week and stay sane. Problem is they have the same result as the front flip on my bed – leave me dazed and confused as to what just happened!
Adam broke the silence of our family dinner with a bang, “So what is something you failed at today? And what did you learn from it?”
Gulp. And gulp again to swallow my food.
I studied his eyes to see if he was serious. He was.
Silence hung in the air as the four of us contemplated his words, not really appreciating having to think about the areas in which we failed today.
In our Facebook, perfectionist, everyone gets a trophy culture, we generally frown on sharing our failures because it is neither a trophy or worthy of shares. We feel ashamed when we fail, which evokes in us the need to cover the evidence, not display it.
For weeks my daughter has been on the hunt to find a costume that represents Queen Isabella from Castile for our Classical Conversations end-of-the-year party. Back in the 1400s, Queen Isabella signed off on Christopher Columbus’s quest to find the New World.
After searching unsuccessfully online for cheap costumes we decided to try Goodwill. Walking up and down the isles, Mackenzie sized up each dress, long skirt and hideous shirt, looking for something we could pass off for fifteenth century royalty. Finally she made her decision. With a couple of scarves to add some color and drape over her shoulders, and some stick on fingernails that were four for a dollar, the outfit was set.
When the cashier rang up our treasures she noticed the seams on the inside of the dress and said, “Hmmm, this dress looks like it was made just for someone.” She looked further and found a tag nestled inside with a name inscribed with black sharpie on it. Kim Peterson, UT Austin.
I smiled at purchasing something homemade, for I can appreciate all the work involved. I said to the cashier, “I bet the owner would be proud to know her custom made dress is now in the hands of a young lady dressing up as Queen Isabella.”
A few weekends ago my oldest son wanted to sleep outside. And when my oldest son wants to do something, he lets me know of his plans every chance he can. We could be talking about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and Caleb would insert a plug for his case to sleep outside.
Maybe it’s partly my fault. Being the mama that I am, I don’t tell him yes to everything, for if I did, we’d be fur trading in Alaska and eating bear soup for dinner. I make him work for his yeses. He must convince me as to why he needs to sleep outside in such a way that I understand his cause and want to say yes to him with joy.
So I had put him off for days but by Saturday night I had no more reasons to say no. He had convinced me and with a smile I said Yes.