The Toddler on my Lap, or Thermodynamics in Motion

I just kicked my son off of my lap.  He needs to take a nap, his Dad is snoring on the couch and needs to take the child upstairs, (as well as to take himself and his snoring upstairs), and I need to write.

There’s currently a general rebellion taking place, according to the wailing now coming from the small bedroom upstairs.

Now, if the chld could sit still on my lap and keep his grubby paws off of my keyboard, all would be well, but nope–pushing buttons of any kind is Just. Too. Tempting. So, off he goes, wagging his tongue at me for good measure (which got him into additional trouble). He’s something else.

I am not going to lie: Sometimes, all he has to do is smile at me with his ridiculously cute face, and I’m just undone. Sometimes, when he sits on my lap and I smell that Little Boy Smell (it’s a mixture of the fledgling remains of Baby Boy smell, dirt, and farts), I am undone. Sometimes, I hear his adorable voice say, “You’re the bestest Mama EVER!” and I am undone.

And sometimes, I internally buckle myself down, and say, “YES, CASSIDY, HE’S CUTE. However, you’re not raising an entitled hooligan, so keep him in line!!!!”  Things in life will naturally go from order to disorder….especially if toddlers are left responsible for control….

Parenting is a difficult balance. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction…we have to figure out what actions to take, to raise up a Godly, kind, compassionate, strong human in this world…and how to be Godly, kind, compassionate, and strong humans, ourselves.

He’s so darn cute. We sat down this morning and built a marble maze (I’m gonig to spell this incorrectly, but I believe it’s called a “Rube-Goldberg machine?”). He watched, David started it, and I did the bulk of it (because unlike SOME people, I WEAR MY GLASSES, and can read the fine print). I was quite proud of myself when I finished it, considering my hatred of puzzles. The machine pulls marbles up to the top, and circulates them throughout the machine using a variety of levers and gears. It’s pretty darn cool. We used to call this “science,” but now it’s called “S.T.E.M.” Whatever it’s called, I like it.

I like it because it gave me the opportunity to have a discussion regarding consequences with my son.  Thermodynamics aside, it was good to have a tangible method of teaching him about actions, reactions, and consequences. Hopefully, this machine will stay together long enough for us to reiterate the lesson a few more times.

If I could label each marble and each gear, I wonder how it would lay out? Spending = debt = indentured servitude. Sharing = joy= eternal impact. Kindness = more kindness in return. Fear = anger = resentment= hatred = violence = war.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

What actions have impacted your year thus far? Can you look at the beginning of 2017, and see the gears in motion and how they’ve affected you where you are now?

What will you label your gears in 2018, and how will you put them into motion?

And what actions/reactions do you hope to see, for this coming year?

Recovery

*Pardon any spelling errors. I’ve written this on my tablet, and I tried to catch everything, but I’m also on pain meds and trying to chase a toddler. Give the Grammar Geek a break on this one, LOL.

So, I’ve had a few people ask what in the world is going on with me?!? Well, surgeries 12 and 13 took place in November and December, and I’m in the recovery process. I had bilateral tarsal tunnel surgery and a plantar fasciitis (sp?) release, and a scar ressection on my left foot.

*Photo is 5.5 weeks post-op on right foot; I rejected the “dissolvable” sutures on the right foot, so the incision has stayed “open” since then. Basically, I’ve had a 5.5 week-long allergic reaction, which is not awesome. It looks really, really good, but is having a difficult time completely closing due to masceration. My left foot is 6 days post-op, and they used a different kind of dissolvable suture, so I’m looking forward to seeing the difference when they take the stitches out, hopefully, tomorrow.

How does this happen? Why did it happen? And why in the heck have I had so many darn surgeries in such a short amount of time?

My first surgery was complex wisdom teeth removal in 2004.  Since then, there have been 12 more surgeries on various areas (mostly abdominal), which is a lot over the course of 13 years. 13 surgeries–that averages out to 1/year, except when it’s not, and I have a year like 2013, when I wind up having 3 procedures within 6 months.  It really isn’t that much, compared to some people I know, but it sure sounds that way.  Each surgery has been difficult (we’re not made to be cut into), but most of them have had a pretty easy recovery time. I have tried to schedule the bulk of things around my work requirements, but occasionally, it hasn’t been possible. For these surgeries, I scheduled them around Thanksgiving and Christmas Break, so it has worked out.

The biggest wrench in the works has been that Jericho is ALSO on Christmas Break, so I’ve been in charge of him while I’m trying to stay couch-bound. That’s been a challenge, but fortunately, several friends have made time to come visit and lend a hand, or just make me laugh. 🙂 Things like this are why it is so important to build relationships; you never know when you can bless someone, or when you will need someone. With my work schedule, it’s hard to be the blessing to others that they have been to me, honestly…but I want to find a way to make that impact. Time really is the best gift you can give someone. 🙂

I’ve got maybe 5-7 more weeks of recovery. At this point, I don’t have to have physical therapy, but I may be seeking a second opinion just to rule that out. So far, my right foot, while hideous, is feeling better since I’ve been forced to rest it during the recovery of my left foot. Before that, though, it was really bothering me, and I am wondering if I gave it enough time before moving on to the surgery on the left foot? Time will tell. It’s not like I’m running a 10K anytime soon (or ever), but I do love to walk, and this holiday weight gain is SERIOUS when I’m just sitting on my ever-expanding butt. 🙂

And there you have it. Tarsal Tunnel is like Carpal Tunnel, but in your feet, which sucks. That’s what I’m recovering from. Pray for my husband & I, because this is stressful. I’m overwhelmed, as is he, and it kind of feels like the house is falling down aound my ears. It will be okay, but it’s a lot to deal with.

My neighbor is hosting some insane mega-party for New Year’s, which is the first time she’s ever done so. I’m not too thrilled about it (we live in an attached townhouse), but maybe it’s indicative of changes coming for 2018. Maybe it’s a sign to not take things too seriously, or to try something crazy or different. Maybe it’s a reminder that life is short–too short to spend waiting around in recovery, but long enough that you want to make sure you’re fully healed before jumping in for the rest of it with both feet broken?

Maybe I’ll blog again before Monday, but maybe not…If I don’t, have a blessed, whole New Year full of love, expression, and of getting to know the Lord in new ways. May you have fun, be safe, and remember the basics of toddlerhood: Wear your shoes on the right feet, share your toys, and don’t bite your friends.

Peace Out, Netskies. Have a Happy New Year!

Music, Worship, & a Little Bit of Chicken Fried

And if you know that next line is, “cold beer on a Friday night,” you might be my people. I have a thing for the Zac Brown band.. I can’t help but to appreciate a group of true, honest musicians with REAL talent. I like music with meaning, and I like sounds that can be recreated face-to-face, instead of only in a studio.

Music is my happy place. When I hear a song I like, it feels like someone has recharged my batteries. I can’t identify the feeling, and I can’t tell you what it is about a song that gets my attention. I heard “Almost Human” on the radio this morning, and felt like I could go into war. I blogged about “Reckless Love” the other day, because it completely undid me (and continues to do so, every time I get to sing it). A good, truly well-written and/or well-performed song hits places in the spirit like nothing else.

I’ve sang for as long as I can remember. My mom is one of those harmonizers that you only hear once in a lifetime; I remember singing Gatlin Brothers‘ songs with her while we did dishes, back in the Single Mom Days. If walls could talk, I’m pretty sure my childhood home would sing.

I used to sing in a small group of mediocre people on behalf of our college, on a scholarship team. Yes, I said “mediocre,” as I am also, “mediocre.” None of us were ever going to rise up to be Kelly Clarkson. 😉 We were all comfortable midwest singers who did what we did to get out into various congregations to raise money for our school. We didn’t really have the resources or the training to take it any further. There are certain things about that time in my life that I remember fondly, but most of it is with sadness. Music was a performance on so many levels. I was singing about a Jesus that loved us all, but I felt unlovable and ugly…singing had been a refuge, but at the end, it was more of a prison.  It was a very difficult time in my life; I was very, very good at playing “church,” but my heart was broken.

It wasn’t the fault of anyone that I was singing with; I needed more help than anyone knew how to give, or that I even knew how to ask for. Every day was increasingly difficult, and by the time I graduated from college, everything crumbled. I didn’t want to sing…I didn’t want to worship…and I really didn’t want to do anything.

I was clinically, deeply depressed, but this was 1999, and no one really talked about such things.

Church relationships that I had over the following years fell apart…family relationships struggled…and at some point, I hit the bottom, and I lost my song.

I never turned my back on my relationship with the Lord, through all of it…but you can shut down and hide in a cave, without turning your back on Him. My prayers were a string of unfinished sentences and runaway thoughts, for the longest time…and then, things began to shift…

I can’t remember if it was a book or a song, or a message; I don’t remember. I’d have to dig through some journals to see if it was a catalytic moment that began to pull me back. But gradually, slowly, my heart began to thaw out, and the music began to come back.  Random songs began to pour out…songs about laundry, songs about the walk to work, songs about Jesus, songs about my future husband. I never really wrote any of them down, but they began to rise up like grass in a forgotten pasture. They were there; they never left, even when I shut my eyes and closed my ears.

In 2003 (or was it 2002?), I met my husband. We bonded over a shared love of Caedmon’s Call and Vineyard music that he introduced me to.  We don’t have a whole lot of musical tastes in common (I like rap. No, that is not negated by my opening paragraph. Anyone that can recite in rhythm the amount of lyrics that are in any given rap song is TALENTED. Rap is poetry, and poetry is art). He likes jazz (which I think they play in elevators in Hell), I like Americana; he hates country, and I want to punch Diana Krall. We do have a mutual love of 90’s music, so there’s that–we’ll always have “Holiday,” LOL.  I feel like most of David’s personal music catalog is some kind of cross between Rod Stewart and Norah Jones, with some Melody Gardot thrown in. My musical catalog is something like Chris Stapleton with some Steffany Gretzinger and some Tiffany, crossed with Andy Mineo, Jason Mraz, and some Alanis. It’s a mess. We don’t “fight” over the radio, but we know we can only listen to 3-4 stations together (oldies, soft rock, and K-SHE 95). It’s a beautiful compromise.

I spent a long time with a strained relationship with singing for any reason at all. I really struggled with self-esteem,  with not understanding direction in various musical settings, and with the fact that I am not a musician (there’s a difference between a singer and a musician, just like there’s a difference between someone who can plunk out a melody on a keyboard and a trained pianist). I do not play any instruments, and I can barely read music. I totally can’t read chords (they make no sense to me at all). It makes me feel like I am “less than” the people I am surrounded by.

In the late 2000’s, I joined a worship team led by a man named Chris Clausen, who is just ridiculously talented as a musician, a singer, and a songwriter. He & his wife, Paige, are also incredibly kind and nurturing. Chris has every reason to be an arrogant clod of a man when it comes to music (he is anything but), and I have no idea why in the world he decided to let me be on his team at church, but for a few short years, I was privileged to be a part of his crew. It was a musical education that I hold very close to my heart. More importantly, it was a time of internal healing and recognition. I’d been in such a bad place mentally and spiritually the last time I sang in a group; I had no faith in myself or in any abilities, and I was absolutely petrified. I vividly remember sitting in a classroom in our church at one point, having a near-panic attack just before we had to lead an extended worship set. I was consistently focusing on the wrong things, and it took my time on the Clausen team to work through those issues.

My time on the team was such a great experience for me…to have a teacher who was humble but direct, who recognized abilities that I didn’t know I had, and who had so much patience, was a blessing. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that my soul needed that time to remember what music can do in our relationship to the Lord. Music is a method of healing. Music is a method of how God speaks to us, of how He speaks THROUGH us. Music affects us physically, spiritually, and mentally. When we allow ourselves to focus, and to direct our heart and our intentions to Him in worship, He hears it, regardless of how it sounds in our own ears. I think that music opens up our hearts and our brains to receive from Him in ways that words just can’t. Music carries His message like nothing else can.

My husband got the message that it was time for us to move to a different church in 2011 or 2012, and we found ourselves in our current congregation. I think I finally (fearfully) stepped out and asked to join the worship team in 2013 or 2014. It’s a different vibe, but it’s a good thing. Our pastor is a musician (and a beautiful guitarist), and he’s a man that understands that God speaks through music. Worship is something we can do to give back to Him, to tell Him how we love Him; things change in worship that wouldn’t change in any other way. Worship evokes the prophetic, which is so, so important (and which is so totally forgotten in may churches today). God speaks in worship!!!!  God speaks through music!!!  Every note, every trill on a piano, every chord on a guitar, every beat of a drum–it all affects atmospheres in worship! Nothing else does what worship and music can do. There’s a reason why there are so many references to music in God’s Word (over 1,150!). It’s so important to our lives, and is such an important medium to get His message out into the world.

I still deal with anxiety and occasionally, depression. When King Saul was going through his crazy days in the Old Testament, he sent for a harpist to come in to play to calm him down. I get it. I’ve rarely been Saul-Level Crazy, but any time stress or anxiety are an issue, music is the first place I go to refocus. Even if I’m not in a place where I can sing along, just having it play is huge. And singing….There’s something about the physical act of singing that releases endorphins. Like, physically, you just feel better when you sing (Carpool Karaoke, anyone?!?!), not to mention the spiritual ramifications of pouring out your heart in worship. There are times when it feels like the world is somewhere between imploding and exploding. Worship is where you find the balance. Music carries the journey of finding that place of peace.

It’s just so important…worship is so important. As a singer, as just an average, run-of-the-mill, mediocre singer, I know from the depths of my heart that where worship is concerned, there is NOTHING mediocre about a soul that worships Jesus in complete humility and in complete honesty. It’s not the sound–it’s the heart, and hearts united in worship CREATE a sound that moves the heart of God. It’s so amazing, to be a part of a body of believers that come together every week with that one focus. It’s a movement that carries through the rest of the week.

Worship feels like home to me. I’m at a place right now where I am not afraid (which isn’t something I say very often). I’m not afraid of “doing it wrong.” I’m not afraid of embarrassing myself. I’m not afraid of being a mess in a room full of people. They’re family, after all. I know that when I come to that place, whether it’s on the platform or in my regular seat, that I am in a safe place where my King remains. My song–however it sounds–is beautiful to Him, and He hears me. It’s worthy of Him, because He makes it so. Worship is this beautiful whirling fire of incense that rises from our hearts to the very throne of God. He loves our worship, whether we sound like Cory Asbury or Gilbert Gottfried. He hears our hearts, and He LOVES our song.

I told David the other day that worship is the only place where my soul feels completely at peace. When I had my thyroid removed in 2015, I was so scared of the effect on my vocal chords, because I was so scared that I would lose my ability to get to that place…but I didn’t. My voice is different (weaker), but it’s still there, and I am so grateful. Worship is the only place I feel like every worry, every fear, every concern or outside thought, is shut out. It’s the single greatest place of focus that I can know.

Anyone who knows me or who knows how static I naturally am, knows what that means. Peace. True, unadulterated, uninterrupted peace. There’s nothing like it; there’s nothing worth more. It’s the eye of this hurricane called life, and when I’m there, I never want to leave. It’s taken so many years to get to this point, to have a revelation and a revolution in my relationship with music…so many years. I feel like I’m just getting started, and I get so excited when I think about an eternity with Jesus and endless worship. Ridiculous…just amazing….He’s preparing a place for us, with THAT. Crazy.

So, I appreciate music, and I appreciate excellence in music, because I understand Who gave it to us. I know what He gave it to us for…not to be entertained, but to bring it back to Him, for His glory…it’s all for His glory, and it’s unbelievable that He gives us all that gift to be a part of.  There are so many wonderful musicians that are so gifted; even if they don’t know Jesus, they are still part of creating a sound that He can use in ways we don’t understand. People’s hearts identify with the messages in music. It’s why musicians have a responsibility to celebrate goodness and joy with their sound, instead of misogyny and violence.

I love music in so many forms. It all has value, even the stuff I don’t like (jazz…ugh). It all creates movement in the spiritual, so as Christians, we have to be aware of the tug-of-war we’re a part of. Sing freely, especially this season. Worship freely, especially because we live in a country where we still can. “Let everything that has breath (it doesn’t say, “let everything that sounds marginally on-key, LOL, so don’t let that stop you if you “can’t” sing) PRAISE THE LORD!”

Psalm 150

 

Praise the Lord.[a]

 

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

 

 

 

  • Image result for art psalm 150

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and the Blessings of “Boring”

Christmas cards, postage, etc., COST. So, in the interests of saving our budget, we greatly reduced the number of Christmas cards that we physically sent out this year. Besides, everything–EVERYTHING–is online. Also, the only stamps I have left are either Harry Potter or Disney Villains, and NOTHING says “Christmas” like a Cruella De Ville stamp. 🙂 That being said, here’s our OFFICIAL Christmas Card/Letter for the year:

Christmas Card 2017

Christmas, 2017

One of the doctors in the clinic stopped by my office the other day, and commented on how sometimes, people need to learn to be happy with “normal.” I’m a big fan of “normal.” As a society, we’re told we need to “thrive on chaos,” and to “work well under pressure.” That’s all fine, but I think we’ve lost the luster of celebrating every-day life.

Wake up at 4am. Get ready for work. Drive—a lot—and maintain your Christianity in the process. Do your job—and maintain your Christianity in the process. J Drive some more. Pick up your child from school, head home, make something edible for dinner, and crash in front of the television, read a book, play a game, etc., until it’s time to do the whole day over again. There’s a schedule, and the days tend to flow into one another in some kind of monotonous blur…Or do they?

I’m definitely locked into my routine; I know I can hit that snooze button 3 times before I’m at Critical Rush. My closet is organized so I can spend 5 more minutes in bed, and I usually pack my lunch the night before. I’m as streamlined into my routine as I can possibly be, all in the name of a few extra minutes under the blankets. Do I look forward to every single day? Heck, no. There are more days than not where I fight a major battle just to put one foot on the floor. It’s for medical reasons, it’s for mental reasons—My “expectation” for the day is honestly just to get it over with. I know that sounds like absolute drudgery, but I also know it’s more common than some people realize. I think that’s part of why when something exciting happens, it’s so much more dramatic, because HOLY COW, WE HAVE BROKEN OUR ROUTINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you know one thing that breaks any concept of a “routine?”

Love.

Although the first part of my day is routine, as soon as I pick Jericho up from school, it’s really “anything goes.” I know I’m going to get him, maybe talk to his teacher, and we’re going to drive home, have dinner, and talk about his day. I know he’s going to go to bed somewhere around 7:45, and that I’m going to bed at the same time. What I don’t know, is what he’s going to say…what he’s going to do, or what new skill he’s picked up. It seems like he grows every day, and before we know it, he’s going to be starting Kindergarten. Impossible. I know that when he says something sweet, that on the outside, I’m going to remain calm; on the inside, my heart is going to turn into confetti, and my brain is going to replay the memory a thousand times over the course of the next “routine” day. When he stops everything and hugs me, I know my heart is going to go full-on Grinch, and grow 3x in 30 seconds (it does that a lot). It’s a brand of love unlike anything I have ever known or can describe, and it’s mind-blowing. I don’t understand the love I have for my son. I don’t get it—where does it come from? How does it just keep getting bigger? How is every day with him so amazing? I mean, yes—he’s 4.

Four has tested us in ways we never thought we could be tested in. Everything everyone said about the “Terrible 2’s” or “Terrifying 3’s” is a load of garbage, because FOUR?!?!?. Four is insane. Four means we occasionally have a Tiny Tyrant who is dead-set on voicing his own opinions, on doing is own thing, and is NOT dead-set on simply accepting “DO WHAT I TOLD YOU TO DO!!!!” as a viable reason to do what he’s told. Jericho is feisty, opinionated, determined, and incredibly creative. He is also very loving and very sweet, most of the time. There is never a doubt as to what he is thinking, and I can’t help but to think that he comes by that honestly. J

He’s decided he wants to be a foot doctor, a chef, and a police officer. He’s working on his handwriting; he’s able to read lots of words, and his spelling is pretty impressive. He’s in Pre-Kindergarten!?!?! School has been very good for him, and it’s definitely been a year of transition. He’s just a typical 4-year old boy. I celebrate that.

David’s “routine” day is a little different than mine; he gets Jericho ready for school every day and takes him in. Jericho wakes up ready to punch the day in the face! His day starts with YELLING, “I’M READY TO GET UPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!” over and over and over again, until David finally goes into his room and turns the light on. The child is persistent. I’m not sure how David deals with the volume level of the morning, but on the weekend, it makes me a little buzzy. J I’m used to absolute silence in the morning when I leave, because everyone is still asleep. It’s a culture shock on Saturday morning!

David’s still working with MetLife, and if there’s any “routine” to his day, it’s that he’s going to be busy. Between hurricanes, floods, storms, fires, and crazy drivers, he never knows what kinds of claims he’s going to be dealing with (or what kinds of excuses he’s going to hear). We each have to maintain certain amounts of confidentiality with what we do, but when he does tell me a carefully-redacted story, it’s always jaw-dropping. People are hilarious.

I continue to work with the Center for Eye Care at UMSL. My favorite part of my job is working with our Mobile Eye Van to provide vision services in underserved schools. A proper diagnosis of a vision issue can change a child’s life; that’s exciting, to be a part of making that change. I also continue to work with contract negotiations, compliance, and credentialing. The laws change constantly, and my biggest challenges are being made aware of, and of understanding, these changes. I appreciate the “simplicity” of just being “Mom” at the end of the day, and of not having to worry about government regulation enforcements! J I also continue to do freelance editing when I have time, and “officially” launched www.CassidysCommentary.com over the summer.

We’re a completely “normal” family. We’re a Dad, a Mom, and a child, who start each day, work and learn each day, and go to bed each night. But when you look at that sentence, there’s a lifetime of hope and of love in each comma. There is no happier moment of my day then when Jericho crawls up into my lap, and sits with me. I’ve never known a fulfillment like I feel when we sit there, doing nothing. I’m so thankful for that little boy, and so grateful for the love I see in him. He’s such an answer to prayer, and such a daily testimony to David & I…

I remember that feeling of waking up on Christmas morning when I was a kid—the anticipation, and the expectation. I kind of feel like that every day when I pick Jericho up from school. J Even though it’s “routine,” it’s the best time of the day, full of the excitement of seeing his face and of hearing about his day. It’s a beautiful “normal,” and I am so in love with having it in my life. We are both so grateful to God for these “typical” moments…

For this Christmas season, I hope that you & your family find the gratitude and joy in whatever your “routine” may be. My prayer for all of us is that the drama we are so affected by on a regular basis, go back to being out-of-the-ordinary. My prayer is that the “routine” would be calm and joyful, and that as a society, we would learn to appreciate the beauty of the mundane. Celebrate “normal” this holiday season, and enjoy the peace of the Holy Spirit in your families as you celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Merry Christmas!!!!!

Love,

David, Cassidy, & Jericho Cooley,

And Holly the Boxer, who is very, very old….

For the Love of Toyota

Driving is something I spend a significant amount of time doing. I have to say, honestly, it’s in my blood; even though I didn’t get my license until I was 21 (!!), my paternal uncles, aunts, and cousins are all involved in amateur racing (https://www.facebook.com/Beier-Racing-107119746624381/). I wish I lived close enough to all of them to be involved with it. I think I could be a contender, LOL!  I’m pretty sure that having a leadfoot is a genetic condition. 🙂

My beloved car, Roxie the Rav4, is in the shop, just before her 100,000 milestone. She has a minor leak that I am PRAYING is covered by the extended warranty, as well as a small issue with the shift-stick-thingy that needs to be fixed.

Y’all, based on that last sentence (“shift-stick-thingy?!?”), you should know I am not into Car Talk. I’m going to fall on the sword of stereotype, by how NOT auto-savvy I am. I’m an embarrassment to my gender. I will use sound-effects, adjectives, and I will flat-out invent words when trying to express a mechanical issue to a repairman, and I can literally see them roll their eyes as they walk away from me. I haven’t fallen for the “blinker fluid” joke yet, but that’s probably only because of owning a smart phone and being really good at Google.

I love my car.

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Roxie the Rav4 (I name all of my cars, don’t judge me) is an answer to prayer. My beloved Camry (“Grandma Obama,” long story) hit 230,000 miles; a cable inside of her snapped, and we basically had to do that terrible, horrible thing where you have 1-2 days to find and buy a new car. We were sort of bent over a barrel, but I love Roxie, and I have no regrets. I do feel like she was the car God set out for me. I used to say that if I was ever going to spend a significant amount of money on a vehicle, I wanted it to be one-&-done. I desperately did NOT want to be nickel-&-dimed on repairs. When we bought her, she was gently-used (around 30,000mi.); she’s red (my favorite), she’s fully-loaded, and she has a spare tire on the back of the car. That’s important to me–that means I have more trunk space than the newer models of the same car. 🙂 It’s alllllll about the trunk space, let me tell you.

I don’t care about mirrors, lighting, or drink holders in a car–I’m a dumb chick when it comes to cars, but I’m not completely vapid. I care about trunk space. I want a car that can hold my dog, my groceries, jumper cables and various emergency supplies, a change of clothes, blankets, a first-aid kit, and Jimmy Hoffa. I. Want. Trunk Space, and my Rav4 gives that to me. Now, lest you think this blog is an endless plug for the wonder that is Toyota, please understand that…oh, heck, of course it is. I like my car that much. It’s awesome. It holds EVERYTHING. Not once have I had to turn down a purchase because I couldn’t fit it into my car. It’s glorious. From someone who drove a crappy Ford Tempo, to a well-loved Camry, to this?!?  Having adequate trunk space is HEAVENLY.

So, I’m in a rental..and yes, thank you Weiss Toyota, it’s a Rav4. 🙂 whiterav

I am very, very careful when in a rental. My last rental was a CHEVY SONIC, and I thought my 5’7″ chunky self was going to DIE. I felt like I was driving a can of tuna. Before that, I was in a Kia Soul (from Suntrup Kia), and I actually liked it. It was small, funky, and would be a great car if I didn’t spend 10 hours a week behind the wheel. But getting the chance to have a newer Rav4 for a rental MAKES ME HAPPY, and I’m really enjoying my drive. I’m going to be a tiny-bit sad to turn these keys back in today when I pick Roxie up.

I’m kinda in love with it. Like, don’t tell Roxie the Rav4–it’s not THAT level–but I can definitely appreciate this Rav4 as a pinch-hitter. It has two modes (Eco/Sport) that save gas, and in the Sport mode, the thing can FLY. Dangerous!!! (Yes, husband, I put it back in Eco. I don’t need no tickets, y’hear?!?)! This car is slightly smaller; it’s got bigger tires; and it is lacking the fancy bells & whistles that Roxie has (she’s EXTRA, just like me–JBLs, y’all!!!). However, as far as handling goes, I’m impressed, and will definitely continue my love of Toyotas when Roxie goes on to her eternal rest (in about 350,000 more miles). It makes me so happy to realize that Toyota as a company is not slacking as they get older. They’re getting better, which is unheard of in this day and age.

I recently saw a bumper sticker that made me angry. It said something about how it’s impossible to be a patriot if you’re driving a “foreign car.” I had to laugh at the total ignorance of this statement, particularly in regards to Toyota. My car was most likely made in Woodstock, NY. When I lived in Kentucky, I lived within 10 miles of a plant that made Camrys. My car supports American jobs just as much as the Dodge Charger that my father-in-law drives (and the Dodge pickups that he helped to build for 30+ years at the Fenton plant). Based on the stories I used to hear about the shenanigans at the Fenton plant (now closed), I don’t think I would ever actually drive a Dodge anything. Based on the amount of money I poured into both Fords that I owned (the Fairmont–which was SUPER old–and the Tempo, AKA, “The Yeti,”), I will never, EVER own another Ford, as long as I live. I see no reason to “buy American” if all I’m doing is throwing my money away.

I’m quite sure that if anyone actually reads this blog, I’m going to catch shade for that last sentence. My parents are retired employees of the U.S. Postal Service and lifelong Union members, that weren’t particularly thrilled when my sister brought home a Hyundai Sonata several years ago (she drives a Ford now, BTW). Buying a “foreign” car is not met with affection in either my, or in my husband’s, family. However, I like things that are made WELL.

I’m not saying that I appreciate the finer things in life (who doesn’t?) like I’m some kind of spoiled diva. I’m just an ordinary person with an obsession with trunk space. I don’t demand first-class, or caviar, or brand-name whatevers. I think I basically stay in my lane. However, I appreciate it when something is in my lane, budget-wise, but is made so well that it makes me feel like I’m first-class. Both this rental Rav4, and Roxie the Rav4, are so incredibly made. It’s a spirit of excellence, and we forget as lazy human beings just how wonderful it is to encounter something that’s up to that standard.

I’ve been extremely happy with the customer service I’ve received with Suntrup Kia (I take Roxie there for most of her maintenance; I purchased my vehicle from Suntrup Used Cars) and with Brian, “my” service guy. He speaks “stereotypical female car talk” very well, and has been great to work with. 🙂  Any minor recall issue for my year of a Rav4 has been handled with care by Weiss Toyota, and they’ve been fantastic.

After putting almost 330,000 miles on the two Toyotas that I have owned, I figure at least 1 blog post ought to extol the benefits of owning one of the greatest cars ever made. Like I said before, I”m not great with “car-talk,” but I am a huge fan of things that are made with excellence. I’m a huge fan of quality, and I’m a huge fan of solid customer service, so if you’re thinking of getting a great family car that eschews the mini-van mindset, consider a Rav4.

And if you DO get a mini-van, LOL, get a Toyota Sienna. 🙂

 

 

 

Reckless Love

To be a woman is a wonderful thing. We live in full color, full, intertwined, sometimes blurry, sometimes crystal-clear COLOR, & it’s an intensity that is unique to our perspective.

Or maybe that’s just me, and maybe my crazy is showing.

It comes with drawbacks, this intensity. You feel everything so deeply: love, hate, joy, rejection. You have to learn how to control how much you let certain things affect you. When someone loves you, you reciprocate with your entire heart…but then you realize they’re witholding, & you’ve overplayed your deck. You don’t feel s….l….o…w…l….y. You loveFastAndFuriously.

And sometimes,

You break into a million pieces.

You heal…and then you do it again…and it happens again…and you heal again, maybe a little more slowly this next time….and it happens again…and you…heal…again….a little more slowly….yet again…more slowly…

And the scars meld together.

People love with such reservation…but we don’t want to,  because we’re not MADE to. The world preaches love in the light of narcissism: You will love me MY way. We don’t know how to love someone outside of ourselves, so we are selfish in how we give and in how we receive love. And when two people in a relationship only focus on how they receive love, and forget to ask the other person how THEY receive love, dissonance occurs.

It’s like living in a household playing an endless loop of the audio of nails running down a chalkboard.

You’re endlessly annoyed with each other. You bait each other. Course jesting takes the place of conversation to the point that you can’t even look at each other, and your relationship becomes governed by the remote control and your calendar of events, where you will smile & look lovely, but internally contemplate an impactless life together. Is this all there is?

And the scars meld together.

Marriage is an institution with the possibility of incredible impact. Two people who love Jesus,  and love each other? They can send thousands to flight, and change the atmosphere of a nation. Satan knows this, so he destroys marriages.

Just because you live in the same house, doesn’t mean your marriage isn’t destroyed.

However…

As long as you are in that same house, there is hope (unless there’s an abusive situation—then get the heck OUT. DO NOT try to salvage an abusive relationship without intensive professional help!!!).

Now, this blog isn’t about marriage (maybe it is); rather, it’s about LOVE, and how as women, we desire so strongly to be deeply, deeply loved.  I don’t know much about the uniqueness of men & love. I would like to think that my husband believes I love him, even when we’re spatting about something (which we currently are). I feel like he’s much better at letting things roll off of him, whereas I will stay angry for a week (which I currently am). Along with that, though,  when I say nice things to him, he also lets THAT roll off of him, so it can be very, very difficult for me to know what I’ve said to him that’s registered, that stays with him. I think that finding out HOW to communicate ANYTHING to your spouse is a lifelong struggle for men AND women, much less, finding out how to LOVE them. And the two go hand-in-hand.

I am not the type to tell someone directly what I want for Christmas.  I prefer to drop hints, to see if they listened. It’s manipulative, really: I will judge how well  you know me by the accuracy of your gift. I’m being really, reaaaaaally genuine here. I’m not saying this is a good trait–it’s probably not. But I listen & I watch, & I put a great deal of thought into gifts, because the accuracy of how well I know you is in that little box. I am pursuing your affections by showing you how well I have paid attention to you, and I expect the same.

There’s an example of narcissistic love.  I love how I want to be loved. I love with communication, with an attention to detail, and that’s how I receive love.

But maybe my husband isn’t that way.

And that’s not a bad thing…but it is a mystery I have to unravel, & I have to have patience in the pursuit of that process.

I can’t give up on figuring out how to love him, even when I come to a frustrating standstill.

God never gives up on loving us, on pursuing us, on chasing us down and relentlessly fighting for our affections. He never, ever stops.

I get frustrated. David gets frustrated. We bicker, we spat, we volley for control. We can’t stand to be apart, but we hurt each other when we’re together, but we’re best friends/frenemies, but we really do love each other, but we will never be separated, because God put us together, but that doesn’t mean it’s always smooth sailing, but it doesn’t mean it’s NOT.

But

He

Never

Stops.

I’ve told David before that I’ve been frustrated to the point of thinking about taking a break. What I actually meant is that I want to be PURSUED. I want to feel worthy in his eyes of being pursued again, like I did in those early days….pursued with romance,  with words. That didn’t happen, but again, that’s a narcissistic love. Security generally means there is no NEED to chase; there is only a WANT to be chased, so why ask your spouse to play games?

I will say this, though, with such absolute joy: Our Jesus never stops pursuing us. He values us, He covets our love, and He relentlessly, recklessly, past the point of reason, deeply pursues us to pursue Him. “Further up, and further in.”

We keep singing the song, “Reckless Love ” at our church.  It’s a popular one right now,  and I am here for it. It’s everything I want in a relationship–it’s the pursuit of the Beloved and how He never stops.  He’s not side-tracked; He isn’t blocked. He faces no obstacle in how He chases us. He is CONSTANT. He’s not like us as people…He isn’t detoured by emotion or mental state, or bad hair days, or financial crises. HE LOVES US, and He never, ever stops.

Like, I can’t wrap my head around it. Everything I need as a person, as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, is there in His reckless pursuit of me, and of you.  There’s no communication breakdown that takes it away,  there’s no “writer’s block” that stops it from coming. His love is a runaway train, and when it catches you?

You’re shaken to your core.

You’re undone.

I’m undone.

I can’t process what He does, or Who He is…it’s like getting shattered into fractals, it’s like the sun exploded into your brain…it’s like every circuit that makes you who you are, overloads and short-circuits into a trillion galaxies.

It’s like a molecule of Heaven blew up in your brain.

That

Is

The

Love

Of

God.

And it chases after ME.

Shipwrecked Heart

And how many ways can I pour out my heart?

Can I pour it out in words?

In song?

In deed?

Do I shout it? Whisper it? Write it on the wall?

Does it matter?

Unrequited love leaves a woman

Shipwrecked…

All of the goals…

All of the plans…

Wondering what went wrong…

Wondering if there’s anything left…

Any remnant to be saved?

One is external…

One is internal…

And there’s nothing in the middle to

Translate…

I didn’t know I could feel so alone

When there’s another person in my bed.

The less I feel heard,

The more I scream,

And the more I am blocked off….

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know what to say.

How can you study the sweetest of words,

But have none for me?

How can I feel any more

Rejected

By the only one

I want?

You’ve told me before that you wouldn’t fight for this,

And I know.

You won’t fight for me.

Three years is a long time to

Fight

A

One-sided

Battle.

I’m exhausted.

Unloved.

And unappreciated.

I can’t give what I don’t have

And I’ve poured out everything

In me.

How many ways can I

Pour

Out

My

Heart?