Thursday, June 25, 2015

Raising the Wicked

As many of you know, we lost our sweet pup, Nali last year in June.  It was a terrible blow.

I'd wanted a dog for years...and I've always loved large breeds.  After the divorce, I went through a super anxious time.  I mean, wake up multiple times in the night, barrel roll out of bed and snap into a ninja stance...in my pretty pink pajama pants, thank you very much.

During the separating time...the time when my ex would leave once...come back to us again for a short time...and then finally leave for good...I got us a puppy.  She was an itty bitty Labrador, 6 weeks old, we named her Lucy...He had left the first time, the night before we brought her home.

I'm not known for sitting still when I'm sad.

Thankfully, she cried ALL.NIGHT.LONG...and so did I.  Thankfully again, I have some friends who told me that I really must not have a puppy right now...really MUST NOT...REALLY!  Thankfully, the place I got her was willing to take her back, we just had to drive for it, but they would take her and find a place for her and it was all okay.

She was ours for about 72 hours.  My kids still talk about her today.  I found out that even without a dog, I would cry all night, every night, for quite awhile...and it was way easier to cry by myself than with a puppy.

Fast forward a bit.  We'd been on our own a couple of months...it was pretty clear my ex would not be coming back...things were settling into a new normal...I was getting REALLY good at that barrel roll.  When I started thinking about another dog.

I still wanted one.  My friends were still definitely positive that I didn't need a "puppy" right now.

A friend of a friend found themselves moving to the eighth hole on a golf course.  Of course a golf course does not really invite dogs to live in the yards that share a site line with the golfer...twould be poor-form to say the least.

That's how we got Nali.  He was 9 years old, and the most polite dog I have ever met.  He rarely barked and if he did it was ALWAYS appropriate.  He never snatched food.  He sometimes ate stuff if it was on the ground and he growled a big scary growl when we played tug of war with him.  He loved us and was a big old giant licking comfort to us all.  We were blessed to have him 2 years when, while at a friend's house he came across a chicken leg.   In the end that chicken leg damaged his guts beyond what we could repair.  It was awful.

But, again, I don't really sit still when I'm sad.

I'd been sorta looking around for a puppy pal for Nali when he died. So a friend of mine who knew this, and knew that we'd lost Nali forwarded me a post of free German Shepherd mix puppies out in a rural area near us.

I didn't think about it...not really...The girls were with their dad...I got in the car and went and picked up this tiny little black puppy with salt and pepper paws, a shield across his chest, a heart on his tummy, and the prettiest brown eyes....


I played with him.  He pretty much slept that first afternoon, and he cried that first night.  I spent the few hours I had with him showing him off to the neighbors and letting my literary mind run free while considering names like Atticus and Gilgamesh for him.  I knew that I had to let the girls pick the name, after all, I hadn't asked their opinion on getting a puppy.

                          

When the girls got home, I tried to exert some sophistication in his name...Reginald, Oswald, Simon.  "THEODORE," someone shouted.  I nodded.  I wasn't really GOING for the chipmunks when I said Simon, but Theodore was acceptable.  It IMMEDIATELY became Teddy.  I mean, I don't think they called him Theodore twice.  REALLY?  Total bait and switch of da momma.

This little guy WAS adorable.  And he did the absolute cutest little puppy things...


But it wasn't VERY long before we discovered puppies don't come pre-trained...and this little guy was growing fast...and naughty.  He was 9 pounds the first day we brought him home...he'd gained 2 pounds in a week...by 4 months old he was too big to weigh accurately on my home scale cuz it was big and he wiggled...but somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 lbs and he LOVED to chew stuff...all sorts of stuff...and us with those nasty pointy little teeth.


He kept growing at that rate.









Ever bigger, ever stronger, still wanting to be with us, wanting to play, still being simply a GIGANTIC puppy a huge portion of the day...still wanting to sit on my feet to eat. The last I knew how much he weighed was back a few months ago during the ehem, snipping...he was 72 lbs.  At the time his feet were still a little too big for him, now a couple of months later, his feet look almost right and my GUESS is maybe 75-80 lbs.

I'm not sure when I started calling him Teddy the Wicked...but it stuck.  He continues to be far too much for me to handle a lot of days.  He still jumps too much...He still uses his mouth FAR too much.  I'm still bruised all the time from him just not knowing his own strength and being excitable.  I'm still not comfortable leaving him with very many people because he's a handful and a half.

But there are glimmers...


For instance, see that screen?  He's only knocked it off one time...and it was a moment of puppy terror...his feet were wet and he sliiiiid across the tile.  So far he lets it hold him back.   He gets into his crate pretty happily MOST of the time.  He hasn't had any accidents since the first couple of weeks that he was with us.  


A month or so ago, after a storm knocked down fences all over our neighborhood, we rescued a little chihuahua mix.  She was shaking and all alone with no collar, no tags and it turns out, no chip.  We searched for her family for several weeks, but it looks like she's ours now, chip and all.



She's been kind of a blessing in disguise.  For one thing, I had to finally take my friend up on the offer to get a little ME-training with Teddy and take some advise I'd sorta been putting off for awhile.  I had too, because Chloe the Courageous is so very teensy and Teddy the Wicked is so very huge and I had not be afraid to let them play together.  They LOVE to play together.






Teddy has needed someone to play with in this house.  He needed someone who would bite him and make him behave...and strangely, this little 10 lb chihuahua has his number.  

He still has salt and pepper paws, a shield on his chest, a heart on his tummy, and the prettiest brown eyes.  And for all that he has become an almost regal looking dog...he is still adorable...





How's that for a Throwback Thursday,

See ya around.





Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Cry in the Dark...

DUN DUN dduuuUUUUUHHH!

Scary title, huh?  I'm impressed with it myself, especially considering my topic today, which isn't actually scary at all.  Nope!  Totally delightful.

See, in the last few weeks, I got a roommate.  Well, I GOT her (them) last week...but we've been chatting about it for awhile.  I'm not telling you about HER right now, I'm not even going to talk about her 3 kiddos right now.

This one is about weird ol' me.

See...my roommate is working early this morning.  She left like a half hour ago.  Total Wee Dark Early.  As she left, she said to me, "Just get the biggest girl to change the baby, give him a bottle, and take him over to Mimi's when he wakes up."

Hmmmm.

Biggest girl is 10.  She is fully capable of taking care of her baby brother.  Mimi lives JUST across the street.  Roomy wanted to give me the chance to sleep in because she is awesome and considerate like that.

BUU-uut...I have the monitor and I can make a bottle...and can change him...and he likes me...and he is a smushy baby who grins and giggles...and I haven't had a baby to smush in my very own house in the Wee Dark Early in such a very long time.

So here I sit, in the dark, watching the monitor for those lights that bounce when there is the teeniest noise.  Nothing.  He's sleeping.

I'm not gonna lie, I kinda wanna poke him.  But then, I kinda dozed off.  Just a little.  It's dark and cozy and those lights are soft and kind of soothing.

I think it's funny how life changes how you feel about things.  I remember having to wake in Wee Dark Early with my own babies.  How I dreaded it.  I mean seriously, different place in the world, different couch, looking at slightly different lights, but same position, waiting for them to wake.  I remember the moments that I DIDN'T wake up before one girl or another cried.  That hot and cold startle that brought me out of sleep.  I also remember waking up just a little bit too early and watching those lights so that I could grab that KID before she really got wailing.

I don't think I always considered the joy of snuggling. Mostly, I could NOT believe I was awake again...hadn't I just been awake?  I remember wondering whose big idea the whole "cherishing" thing was and building extremely cogent and eloquent arguments about how it was not possible in the moments of sleep deprivation to actually "cherish" the baby...there was feeding and burping and cleaning completely unromantic stuff up going on before my brain was fully functional.  And I remember being just a little bit crabby, all the time.

Something startled me awake.

And then the lights jumped...and there was the swishing sound of a baby rolling over...and the little, "I might be awake" noises.  I LEAP to my feet...turn off the monitor...go and scoop him up.  He's a baby soft and cozy and I hug him a little closer and sniff his sweet little neck.

And then I change him and go wake up the biggest girl.  She turns over and I see her grin, and he reaches for his favorite big sister.  She plunks him down beside her and stretches.  In a few minutes, down they come, on their way to Mimi's.

As I watch them go, I realize that it is wonderful to have a sweet baby in the house, but it might be even more wonderful to have a sweet Mimi JUST across the street. ;)

See ya around...

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Curse of Mother's Day

I should start this by saying that I can be a little high maintenance.  Yep...just a titch self-important from time to time.  Please keep that in mind as you read on...it'll help...I promise...



So Mother's Day.

The day when children fill the kitchen with the sounds of their adorable breakfast construction resourcefulness.  It's the time when normal, me-first-NO-stop-it behaviors cease to exist and these tiny angels truly DO sprout wings and sprinkle love, kindness, and sparkly JOY all over your day.

Right?

Well...I think my kids might be broken.



First of all...Texas had some "weather" yesterday.  Starting at about 6:45 am the tornado sirens went off, which meant that I had to gently nudge scream like a harridan to wake the girls to get them INTO the inner closet that serves as the best possible place in our house to weather the storm.  This did NOT set the best possible mood for the day.  Mostly because, I don't like to get up at 6:45...I don't like to see people at 6:45...or talk to them...or sit in a tiny hot room and watch them wishing they were in bed while I wished they were in bed.  It was so NOT great.




At the All Clear, I sent everyone back to bed and thought I might go myself.  Except, it was Sunday and now it was time to do all those mommy-ish things that I do...take care of our dog and a visitor dog that is staying with us...decide what's for breakfast...look at my phone...y'know, important stuff.

On Saturday, there had been some hintings that I MIGHT get my breakfast made for me.  Like I might be able to sit on my duff while other small people created something sloppy but edible for me to consume. But see...well...I'd sent them back to bed and the time that every one MUST GET READY for church was fast approaching.  How, on earth, was I supposed to remind the oldest one gently without letting her know that her little sister had let the cat out of the bag on the surprise.  Well...I texted her, of course.  Just a little,"Will you be unhappy if you forget that it's Mother's Day before I wake you for church?" should do the trick.




Except, they didn't come skipping down the stairs...AT.ALL.

I put Teddy the Wicked and his compatriot away and headed off to shower and get ready for the day.  I peeked out right before my  shower...then right after my shower...then I made my bed instead of putting on my make up.  Still nothing, no kids.

It was time to wake them up...so off I went..."Heeeelllooo my dahlings,"

Now I was at a loss...did I make breakfast? (I was starving.)  Did I tell them to eat cereal?  Did I just leave it and finish getting ready KNOWING that if they had forgotten I was setting up a rough ride to church when that one kid who always forgets to eat realized that she forgot to eat and started up the crying.  Also, I was a little irritated.  Where were my little angels with food?  HUH?  Did't I deserve food once in a while?  Where were my super intelligent, super descriptive children rising up and calling me blessed all while feeding me and scouring the kitchen to honor me?

Well THEN, the very worst thing happened.  All this weather knocked the power out at my church so that services had to be cancelled.

When the children heard...there were actual tears. It took a long time to convince one of them that church was ALLOWED to be cancelled.  Clearly something had gone super wrong with the universe if we couldn't go to our favorite place, and it was probably my fault because I had borne the terrible news.



It all would have been heart warming...except I was STARVING...and they were making me PARENT...On MOTHER'S DAY!

In time, as it usually does, all crying ceased.  I did eventually eat food that they prepared for me (even though it sounded like they were hosting Thunder Dome while they prepared it...I tried not to parent), and I got a present that I love very much and I even got to sit and watch a movie with my girls all around me.  But the day...whew!  Was I glad that was over.  It was one of those days that you look back on in the clear light of day and find yourself ashamed.

Ashamed that there were any expectations whatsoever on a given Sunday in May.  Ashamed that I wasn't the joyful mom that I really want to be with my kids and that I lost that chance on this Mother's day.  Ashamed that in all of the silly drama I didn't end up calling my own mom.

The Curse of Mother's Day for me was the weird expectation.  My kids are amazing and they bless me in so many ways every single day.  I seriously don't know how I would survive without them holding me, praying with me, making me laugh and yes, sometimes, feeding me...especially ice cream...my kids love to feed me ice cream.

In the dawn light the morning AFTER Mother's Day, I remembered that I GET to be their mother and I am beyond grateful.  Every day, I get to wake up and play with these mostly delightful creatures who call me Mom.  I get to hold them.  I get to argue with them. I get to encourage them.  I get to walk in the world with them all around me, surrounding me, making me a better person than I ever could have been all by myself.

This time is fleeting.  Bean turned 16 last week, Bear is 12, Monkey-Face is about to be 10, and I am 44.  How many more days do I get to be their mom?  I don't know, but I do know that I want to treasure every one of them whether they are a certain day in May or not.




Praying that you all had a wonderful Mother's Day...now I've really gotta go call my mom!

See ya around...



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Evangelism...

I'm not sure if you know this, but I'm not a terribly confrontational person.  Now, my very closest relationships would probably disagree, because I'm not AFRAID of confrontation, but I don't seek them out in outsiders.  I'd rather keep you a little at arm's distance when it comes to those things that REALLY matter to me, unless I know you pretty well.

A friend of mine from facebook posted a link to this video a while ago...


It bugged me for a week or so, and then I forgot about it so my mind had some time to gel around it.  When I came across it again just the other day, I found that I had something to say...

See, I can see it from both sides. 

I like the preacher, I've seen him do a few other things in the past. I agree with much of his theology and have a had a few "RIGHT ON" moments listening to him...so even though in this clip we don't actually know what he is telling the crowd, I believe that I would have probably agreed with him.  Probably.

And yet, I can hear this girl's heart.  I can understand her desire to shut down angry judgment and focus on the love of God, and the saving GRACE of Jesus.  I can see myself arguing in exactly the same manner.  Honestly, one of the primary reasons that I DON'T like outside confrontation is that most people approach open confrontation from a spirit of judgment. They then USE that judgement to make assumptions about MY argument without listening.  We all do this to a certain degree.

People hear I'm divorced, they automatically assume I'll stop this homeschooling nonsense, or that one of us cheated or some combination of the two (weird combination of things to fixate on, I know).  People see that I'm heavy, they automatically assume that I sit around and eat piles of food every single day.  People know that I'm Christian and they automatically assume that I dislike entire people groups, and various natural activities because I have to if I'm Christian.  They also assume that I AM judging them, constantly and harshly.  Assumptions make communication super difficult.

Interestingly enough, by every religion that measures these sorts of things, I am a sinner.

Like Totally!

In my life I have been drunk. I have screamed at people in anger. I have committed murder (abortion).  I've have more than my fair share of caffeinated beverages AND shellfish. I have had lustful thoughts, enjoyed sex outside of wedlock. I've lied, I've coveted, I've disobeyed my parents, been disrespectful to my husband, gossiped, been divorced...and the list goes on and on and on.

You want someone to judge?  I'm your girl.  I'm the one that whole sermons have been studied and memorized and preached to convict and benefit.  But where, in this list, do you find a place for me to have secure enough footing to judge anyone...ever?  I'd love to know, because I can't find it.  I hate some of the things I've done in my life. I'm so very thankful to not be on some of those paths anymore.

It's what I love most about my faith and Jesus in particular.  He knew ME.  He understood the options I would have, the temptations I would be presented with and fall to, and He was not ever shocked.  He knew where I would fail, and how long it would take me to succeed.  He saw my belligerent defiance, and watched me break.  He knew my intellect, my propensity to doubt and argue points in my head, my procrastination.  He knew when I forgot to flush the toilet or didn't shower.  And far from judging all of that, and telling me all the ways that I HAD TO CHANGE, he took my sin to the cross and died with it there, so that I could know him, know the Father, have the Holy Spirit with me to guide me even when I did NOT want Him.

In the end, although I am not a missionary, I think they are both right.  I think people need to be loved.  I think some people NEED the jostling of their belief systems that a solid sermon on sin can cause.  That fight...the debate that pits RIGHT -vs- WRONG is necessary to fire the brain and solidify the track of thought.  I've been blessed to fight these fights on occasion. Sometimes I've been correct and sometimes I've had my understanding of the world and my core actions about that understanding challenged and corrected.  Iron sharpens iron, but it's not a gentle process.

I think some people NEED to be held gently, carefully...safely, until they find their feet.  And most of the time every person will need BOTH the igniting of the mind and the cushioning of the heart at some point in their lives. This isn't even the flip side of the coin...this is simply one facet of the diamond that IS loving cantankerous, beautiful, intelligent people.

And that's all I have to say about that.

See ya around...


Thursday, April 23, 2015

What You Do In a Day...

I think I learned something for the first time today.

Did you know that you can only do so many things in a day?

Did ja?

Now wait a minute...before you say, "Well, duh, Stace, thanks ever so much for that piece of wisdom...Oh, look, Trivia Crack is calling," give me just a minute.

You can only do so many things in a day.

I live in a world of opportunity these days.  There are LITERALLY tens of things I could / should / would do in a day.



Let me give you a list...

I should...feed the kids, do laundry, walk the dog, pay the bills, wash the dishes, wash them again, make the lesson plans, school the kids, work a little, weed the yard, mow/weed whack the yard, get the tires checked, grocery shop, menu plan...

I could/would...grow a spectacular garden, work on my quilt, craft with my kids, paint a wall, paint another one, get the windows fixed, consider a new fence, walk the dog, watch the TV, take a bath, cook something fantastic but not particularly good for me, blog, play with friends, call friends, text friends, post on facebook...

I have a list somewhere around here of all of the things I really feel I should or would like to do.  It is at least 4 yellow legal-pad sized pages long at this moment.  I wrote it as a means to remember the stuff...all the stuff...that slips my mind so that it doesn't get completely lost.  It was written as a dream list.  A "Wouldn't it be wonderful if only I could accomplish THIS stuff" list.

Somewhere a long the line, it has become something else in my mind.  Instead of a good thing that someday I will accomplish these things, in time...it has become a, "GREAT!  Look what I didn't finish AGAIN today" burden of guilt that rides around on my back, like a grasping monkey.

In my life, if it needs to get done it's up to me to see it done.  If something in the house or with the car needs to be done, I do it.  When the kids eat, sleep, need to be medicated, need to learn something new academically...that's me.  If the kids need to be trained to DO a household thing, because they are capable, because I need the help, because they should learn some basic skills before I foist them on some unsuspecting roommate or spouse someday...I'm the one who needs to train them.  That's just the way it is.  I don't always like it.  Honestly, with a teen and tween and that other one who would prefer to remain ignorant in the ways of cleanliness, I don't like it A LOT of the time...but I do recognize that it's my job.

And I do that part.  ALL.THE.TIME.

What I don't get to is the other stuff.  The seemingly constant need to sort every busy area of my house...the pantry...the garage...the yard...right now, the front room. 

The epiphany that I was telling you about happened BECAUSE of one of these things.  I've needed to reorganize the garage for awhile.  I've done a bunch of small projects around the house over the last few months and the tools have become jumbled, the paint cans scattered, and there were a few Christmas things that still needed to be put away in the boxes that were already packed and put up.

So I did.

I found everything, gave it a place.  Made it possible to find the hammer and the drill and the paint and the screws and the handy pack of drill bits...all of those...to have a place.  And I swept.  The GARAGE.  I swept it.  And I spent about 3 minutes looking at what I had wrought...and oh my, dear reader, I found it good.

So very good.

And then I walked back into the house, where, while I'd been cleaning and sorting, people had been living...and playing, and wearing clothing, and playing with the dog...and now, to add insult to injury, wanted to EAT.

I gotta tell you...every single one of those "good" feelings broke open and oozed frustration right out on the floor.  I remembered that I'd forgotten to remind Monkey-Face to empty the dishwasher, so she hadn't emptied the dishwasher.  Because she hadn't emptied the dishwasher, Bean hadn't washed the dishes resulting in a dirty sinkful of grossness that needed to be washed before anything could be cooked .  Bear had needed a clean shirt and because I was in the garage she had dug through instead put away the basket, meaning that I needed to either fold it again (the easier option) or parent her through re-folding and now putting everything away.

So very NOT good.

Then I had a stroke of luck.  Right as I was about to lose my mind in a most un-motherly-like fashion, my neighbor (let's call her Dimples) showed up.  Dimples has a special place in my heart in that I NEVER feel like I need to clean up for her.  She is new to me since the new house, but as far as I'm concerned, she's family...which is handy for this story.

So in she came, right into the worst of the mess, right at the worst possible moment where I had been seriously considering loading the girls into the car and dropping them off somewhere unsavory...and she said, "How's the garage?"

I'm sure there was more conversation.  I'm sure I blubbered about what a mess and a failure that I was and how someone more mature than I was could do all this better and probably make it look easy and anyway, someone more mature wouldn't want to kick the wall (I didn't, but if I'm honest, I wanted to).

But in that one question, "How's the garage," I knew that I HAD done what I was supposed to do.  I'd done a good job with a BIG project and because I had, I'd be able to find things that I'd been having trouble putting my hands on and had lessened my stress level.  And honestly, I was proud of myself for taking the time to do it.

I realized that I did THE thing I was put on earth to do in that moment...for that day...and I realized for the first time, just like any other person, I can only do exactly how much I can do in any given moment.  If I do this...then I can't do that.  It's simple.

I've spent a lot of years making less of what I do because it isn't what another person does...comparing my worst to other people's best.  It's wrong-headed and destructive, and I'm not alone.

If I want to do this, need to do this, feel compelled to do this...then I can't do that.  My list.  My choice.

It's a pretty freeing thing actually.  Realizing that you CAN NOT do it all and forgiving yourself for it even in the midst of wishing that you could.  I actually kind of like it.

I think I may start a new list.  A list of things I did INSTEAD.

Because I want to remember.

See ya around...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Wonderful Wordiness of Words...



I was reading today.

Not that odd actually.  I read SOMETHING everyday.  But today I was actually by myself, with a real live hard backed book, reading something that I wanted to read with no one asking me questions or expecting anything out of me at the end of it.

It was lovely. 

As I was reading, I found myself sinking into the words. And then, a real live interruption occurred.  Not a big deal, normal, daily life edging out the quiet space the author and I shared.  I went on with my day, but in the quiet moments, I found myself going over the words that had delighted me.  Chuckling to myself, finding joy in the cleverness of words strung together to paint a picture for me to experience inside my mind.

I know I'm a word person.  From lyrics to poetry to prose, words have always stuck with me.  OTHER people's words.  The details of a scene that can be shown with words...the simplicity and the magnitude...words are cool.

Things like:

"Lastly, in lieu of these shifting scenes, came back the rude market-place of the Puritan settlement, with all the townspeople assembled, and leveling their stern regards at Hester Prynne--yes at herself--who stood on the scaffold of the pillory, an infant on her arm, and the letter A, in scarlet, fantastically embroidered with gold thread, upon her bosom." Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter

Or


"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all..."
Emily Dickinson


Or

"Jesus wept" John 11:35 NASB

I don't really memorize, but I do remember the jist.  Thankfully Google / Bing / Yahoo and the like have made it unnecessary to memorize popular words so long as I always have my phone near me.  I'm a little ashamed about it.  I mean really, my mom knows all the words I know and more, and she never spaces out on how to spell them...maybe I'm more jealous than ashamed.

I just know that I'm an odd ball because of this passion for words.  Now it's kind of cool.  In my 40s my peers understand me and often think me charming for my quirky vernacular. (or at least that's what I tell myself.)  But...oooo...growing up?  Not so much.

My bestie, Kehaar...I've told you about her...we lived in Florida at the same time from the time I was 9 until 13.  She was a word nerd, too.  And I have many lyrics and rhymes in my head that we learned together in those years  But then, as happened a few times in my life, we moved, and then moved again...Two high schools my freshmen year doesn't make for deep friendships who understood my...ehem...charm.  Honestly, I didn't like to write back then, so I didn't chase where the other wordy kids hung out.

But in my second high school, my English teacher, loquacious in her own right, pushed me (kicking and screaming, I might add) onto a path that would eventually lead me to my love of Shakespeare and eventually my love of chronicling...and I suppose even blogging.

Someone teased me the other day that I speak like I write.  I had no idea what she meant, I mean, doesn't everybody?  But I suppose she meant that she liked that I have too many words and a nutty vocabulary...and I'm glad because it is fun to figure out new words that fit the situation.  Except when I'm tired...and I'm out of nouns...then I use words like doohickey...and stuff...liberally.

or if I've had more than one glass of wine...then all bets are off...

Just keepin it real.

See ya around...





Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Worth...

I do this thing.  It's always been a secret...until this year when paint has been so much a part of my life...and I got caught.

I paint my prayers on my walls.

For all that this screen is my favorite form of communication, I am a pretty tangible person.  I like to get ACTUAL letters because it means that the person that wrote to me actually touched the paper.  I love things that people touched, wore, used in someway, because it gives me a hand to hold long after the person has gone, whether it be across the street or on into eternity.  I'm a toucher...always have been...this is just an interesting quirk of the same weird-touchie-aspect.

So under every wall I've ever painted (alone, because again, like fight club, we don't talk about it) there are names of people that I love. But then, I paint over the names, because like everyone else, I painted the wall for a reason...fashion, baby.  But I still can tell you where certain people's names are. When I'm missing those people I still touch their names and pray about them.

A few months ago, a friend was helping me paint one of the many walls I've painted this year and I knew her well enough to share my quirk.  Pretty soon, the kids (hers, mine already knew) were involved...and then another friend, and her kids.  Turns out, they had prayers too.  Things that hurt so much that they couldn't share exactly what was going on...but they had names...so I handed them each a brush and a little pot of paint...and everybody got a turn.

And then time went on.  I painted over the names.  They are still there...but underneath because that's what you do, right?

Yesterday, one of my children brought one of the other little girls on the street over.  My Bear wanted me to help her friend with the STAAR test studying.  OY!!  What do I know about STAAR testing other than every kid on the street worries and hurts because of them?  Seriously, I remember testing as a kid...it was kinda fun...I don't remember studying...it just was what it was...a couple of days of number 2 pencils and booklets and sitting in the gym (those were the fun ones...way too many people) or the classroom not doing homework.  WOO HOO!

Except, that's not what I'm hearing from these kids.  Realize these are my neighbors, my kid's friends...random children who pass through my house, hurting and wanting help with these tests.  Actually no, not really wanting help...actually wanting to know that this test will not be what defines them.  This test won't be what measures their worth in the world.

Like I said, I don't know anything about these tests.  Homeschoolers don't have to take them at this time in history in this state.  We may have to in the future, but not right now.

But I do know something these kids need to know.  NO TEST can define you.  Sure, we can measure what you've learned in the last week or so.  Some of them may be able to tell if you are a good test taker or if you are able to read at some level or if you are good memorizer.  We can measure some stuff that you know TODAY.  But what exactly does that matter for your worth?  See, the thing is, tomorrow you may learn something more and you may very well be even smarter than you are today.  Sometime in the future, something might happen that makes you forget this stuff that you absolutely know and you might have to really think about it to draw it back out of your mind...(Hey mothers...let's have a HOO RAH for the stupefying factors of child birth and infant rearing, huh?)

This is a moment.

It doesn't define who you are.

You still get to choose who you will be.

Did you hear me?  I won't care if you remembered the ROCK CYCLE tomorrow.  I'd forgotten there was a rock cycle until yesterday.  You matter, rock cycle or not.

You will be a beautiful amalgamation of joy, and intelligence, and talents, and humor, and kindness, and courage and maybe pain.  But let's not have an arbitrary test on arbitrary facts that someone has decided that you REALLY need to know today cause you pain.  That stuff REALLY doesn't matter and anyone who says it does needs to spend an hour in the company of a child.

So I'm outing myself.  I'm painting on my wall again...and this time, I don't think I'm going to paint over it.  I'm praying for little souls today.  Not tests.  Not that they do well.



I'm praying that they realize that no matter how they do...THEY MATTER.  And I'm praying for my teacher friends who have to administer these tests because I know that THEY know what I'm saying.  These tests aren't coming from teachers who love our kids and teach them and struggle with them and triumph with them over every skill taught.  These tests are from much too far away to ACTUALLY matter.

When the psalmist said,
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are WONDERFUL, I know that full well. 
He didn't mean, "Wonderful until you go and screw it up with that STAAR Test."

I'm just sayin...

See you around.

P.S.  Let me know if you need a brush and a pot of paint...