Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Grandmom's buttons

A great building will never stand if you neglect the small bricks.
~Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha

My grandparent's house had a small pocket of space adjacent to their laundry room.  Looking back on the intention of it's functionally in constructing the space, I'm sure the home builders assumed it would serve the purpose of a tiny office space or a storage closet.  While my grandparents did utilize the closet within the room closet for toys, coats, and other non-essentials of daily life; to me, that room was 'the sewing room'.

My grandmother was a pretty crafty seamstress in her day.  She was one to go to when you needed clothing repaired, costume pieces made, or the basics of sewing to be instilled.  I would spend hours of my childhood in that small, overstuffed space; watching her sew, and eventually being given control of the pedal myself.  I would find scrap fabric swatches on which to practice sewing straight lines and wavy lines in random patterns; both for fun as well as the occasional 'gift', when I felt like I needed to share the beauty of my abstract fabric art with the nearest family member victim. {now as a mom, I realize how uncomfortable I made my family when I would present them with a piece of 'art' that was honestly more worthy of being kindling than hanging awkwardly in plain sight for an uncertain amount of time}

For as much time as I spent in that small space, I would always manage to view it through the intoxicating lens of a treasure hunter.  I'd poke and prod around the shelves that hung above the sewing machine, peer into the cabinets and drawers; in search of I don't know what...but something new.  Something yet to be unearthed from the historical troves of my grandparents' lives.  More often than not, my search proved fruitless; so much so that recalling my findings now leaves me drawing a blank on the specifics.  But there was one place where I knew I would always be able to strike it rich.

The button can.

An old coffee can, having served it's original purpose years before I was even born, was the perfect place to score when you needed the high of an never-before-discovered treasure.  It was over that can that I would spend a great deal of time, pawing through its contents, sensorially calming myself as the buttons slipped through my fingers.  The tinkling sounds of plastic and enamel and metal merged together to create a cacophony that usually resulted in my grandmother suggesting I pour the can out, so as to be able to see everything better, all the while reducing the annoying sounds of a child playing with buttons in a can.

I'd spread the wealth of treasure over the orange shag rug {the 70's rocked}, conscientious of the smaller buttons that could become lost forever in the depths of the thick, fiery mass of deep carpet pile.  My fingers would amble over the buttons, selecting ones worthy enough to lift from the carpet for further inspection.  Occasionally, I'd choose a button or two to keep; ones that would serve as a worry stone of sorts, meant to be kept securely in my pocket for those times when I needed to methodically run my fingertips over the shape and designs in a feeble attempt to calm my {what would become life-long} battle with anxiety.

Being the oldest child and only granddaughter had its perks.  I was gifted with many hours of one-on-one time with my grandmother; talking, learning, shopping, coupon clipping, cooking, enjoying.  But it was the button can where I could capture her attention in a way that would result in my unearthing more than a button's worth of treasure.

My grandmother has always been thrifty.  A keeper.  A re-user.  Plastic bags, wrapping paper, empty margarine containers, you name it.  Sure, the family liked to razz her about her little quirks, but it is in those quirks that her legacy is found.  Take the buttons, for example.  Each time she'd encounter an extra button on a new article of clothing, she would methodically ensure that button found its home in the can.  Even after the article of clothing was long gone from her closet, those buttons would still remain.  Other buttons found their way in to the mix as well, and each of them held a story.  It was in my grandmother's thriftiness, in her inadvertent button collecting, that I found some unique treasures as she shared snippets of stories while rubbing her fingers over the various designs.  Fancy buttons that had adorned wool women's suits, textured boucle buttons that served their purpose on jackets worn over shift dresses, ornate enamel buttons from various skirts and blouses, and even ordinary plastic buttons from the more commonplace tops of daily life.  Each of them held a story, but as a child, my concern wasn't with the ordinary buttons.  The small, round, white buttons whose job it was to keep the cuffs of my grandfather's shirtsleeves closed when he was in meetings.  The large black buttons that secured cardigans and coats, worn daily by my grandmother as she performed the mundane tasks of running a household.  The no-names.  The left-behinds.  The buttons that didn't encapsulate an evening of dinner and dancing in a fancy ballroom, or a well-loved suit worn the day of a grandchild's christening.  I discounted those buttons, those reminders of what really took up the most space in that can.  They weren't the ones I wanted to hear about; and to be quite honest, I couldn't figure out why my grandmother kept them, with their ordinariness taking up space in the magical wonder of that can.

I hadn't thought much about that can of buttons in a long while until just the other day when I was perusing the aisles of the hobby store I all-too-often frequent.  I had a specific Valentine's Day craft in mind, which called for both red and pink buttons, so it was in that aisle that I soon found myself eye to eye with this:

Beckoning me.  Staring me in the face, boasting its random assortment beauty, quietly whispering "pick me up, take me home, search me for treasures".  Of course, when a plastic bag of buttons begins talking to you, it might be a sign of one-too-many coffees and one-too-few hours of sleep; but regardless of how my affair with insomnia has affected me, I found myself placing the bag securely in the front section of my cart, right next to my purse.  

When I got home, Raegan and I spread the buttons out on the carpet, and she immediately began searching for the 'pretty' ones, the unique ones, the magical ones that have the most ornate designs.  She began collecting ones that she regarded as 'pretty', fully intent on keeping them for herself, all the while discarding the ones she considered 'ordinary'.  

That's when I found God.

Right in the mess of buttons; right in the midst of the whining child, who couldn't understand why I would no longer allow her to assign labels and segregate and decide which buttons belonged in which pile.

Everyone has a can of buttons.  Our daily buttons far outweigh the fancy ones, but it is within those fancy ones where we try to find our worth.  We cast aside the mundane, the small plastic buttons, the no-name closures because they don't seem special.  They don't seem worth it.  We find ourselves asking why we even kept those buttons, because, really, will we ever need them again?  When the answer is YES!  Yes, we will need them, yes we will want them, yes we should keep them.  The ordinary, the mundane, the plain little plastic buttons make up the greater majority of your coffee can.  They're the days that you roll out of bed and perform the same dance of life that you do every other day.  They're the days when you look at yourself in the mirror as you brush your teeth before bed and think, "did I really accomplish anything worthwhile today?  Did I make an impact?".  They're the days when you robotically perform tasks and do what you need to in order to make sure your to-do list has received more checks than additions.  

It's in these buttons, these mundane and boring buttons where God meets us.  He sees our ordinary, daily-use buttons and observes them with his God-glasses to see the ornate beauty we may miss.  He sees the perfectly pierced holes, placed correctly so they can be securely fastened to an article of clothing with nothing but a thread.  God becomes that thread.  His strength is what makes something as thin and wispy as a few strands of fiber become the conduit for keeping that ordinary button secured to the uniform we wear to do life.  When we work the buttons each day as we become and unbecome the ordinary life-liver, they can begin to loosen a bit.  They wiggle, they sag, they even fall off.  Soon, those ordinary buttons we so easily overlook and discard become a necessity.  We need them to keep a shirt closed, a coat secured, a pair of pants around our waist.  We need the strength of that God-thread to keep those buttons in just the right place.  We realize just how much we love those ordinary little buttons, the ones without the ornate detail, or textures that make them so intriguing.  While God's in the details of those unique buttons and those special occasions upon which we don our fancy buttons;  it is in the plain and ordinary that we find ourselves needing His strength even more.  

The stories housed within the sparkly, the carved, the bejeweled buttons were always a highlight for me as a child, listening to my grandmother recall a time when she wore the ensemble to which the extra button belonged; watching her eyes soften as she replayed the memory in her mind, wishing so much that I could curl up inside that memory with a bucket of popcorn and watch it play like a drive-in movie.  

I don't recall asking her about the ordinary buttons.  The ones I'd cast aside in exchange for the pretty.  And I'm not sure if I did ask her that she'd even be able to recall the origin of any of those particular buttons, for after a while, they all start to take on similar characteristics.  But she still kept them.  Maybe for reasons as simple as "you never know when you need a button", but I'd like to think she kept them to keep track of the ordinary.  To make each button count.  No matter how plain or how small or how dull and normal they may appear, I'd like to think that my grandmother kept them because she saw church in those buttons.  She saw a time capsule of her life in clothing, a collection of all kinds of days that made up the life she'd lived thus far.  She realized that even though some buttons were boring and not-so-pretty, that each had a story to tell, a purpose, and a place. 

My grab bag of buttons doesn't have the personal history that my grandmother's can did.  Each one does represent a story, a history, a reason for existing...but I can't look at those buttons with my children, let me eyes soften, and replay a memory in my mind.  So maybe it's time to start my own button collection.

I just need to find a coffee can.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

God in the Gravy

"Friends are the family we choose for ourselves."

I can remember the first time I spent a holiday with Tommy Terrill.  I was filling a dual role: excited mommy-to-be, and bloated, beached whale.  Easter 2006 found me waddling up the driveway of my friend Sue's house, arms loaded with food {of course...what pregnant girl doesn't fit that stereotype?}.  My maternity clothes billowed around me, reminiscent of a partially filled hot air balloon, and my tree-trunk legs were still mourning the temporary loss of their slenderizing friend; the ankle.  Let's just say, I wasn't feeling like I had a snowball's chance at winning a pageant any time soon.

Not only did I look disastrous, my heart was hurting as well.  We had hardly been living in Colorado one year, and on our first Easter there, Randy was stuck logging wells in Utah.  I was feeling lonely, sorry for myself, and slightly excited about the idea that I could blame all of my candy-coated cravings on the baby.

So when I was invited to join the Terrill family in their home for Easter, I jumped for joy {not an easy, or attractive action at nearly 9 months pregnant}, because....people!  I would be surrounded by a family {albeit not mine--at the time}, but actual people with whom I could converse and laugh and feel included...and eat {score, pregnant lady...score}.

I don't exactly recall every detail of that Easter meal, but now I know it marked the beginning of a vital, comforting, God-given era in the lives of my family and me.  

Sue and I had worked together nearly an entire school year, and her presence in my life was integral those first few tender months of living so far from 'home': living as a new wife, living as a {surprised} expectant mom, living as a teacher who was feeling sub-par because of the 'newness', the unfamiliarity, the hard of education.  Sue and I became fast friends.  Her after-school hours were conducive to not only my loneliness while Randy worked, but also my loquacious personality.  Bless her heart for allowing me to spend countless hours, chattering her ear off while she worked hard to prepare her classroom for learning activities.  Her gift of time, along with a listening ear was one of the most generous gifts I could have ever received during that transitional time in my life.

Over the course of that school year, both Randy and I had been blessed to be introduced to the whole Terrill family.  Not only did Sue and Tommy; but Sue's husband Terry and their younger son Danny; serve as our 'movers' when we bought our first home in November, 2005, but Sue's dad Les had become a bright light I looked forward to seeing on the school days he volunteered his time to work with littles.

It was the way the Terrill family was--IS.  Giving, doing, sharing, listening, loving, volunteering, donating, serving.  Randy and I quickly became acquainted with--and fell in love with--their genuineness.  Over the course of our friendship, Randy and I have even taken to using the word 'Terrill' as an adjective for when we can't properly describe something that has a beautiful, wholesome, magnetic je ne sais quoi about it.  

Tommy was such a positive example amazing qualities his parents instilled in him, but even with all of that amazingness filling his soul, he still found room to fit more.  The unique blend of personality that Tommy possessed is one of those rare and beautiful finds that makes you pause for a moment to thank God for creating such a well-rounded, well-grounded, life-loving individual--and to pause for another moment to pray that He will create in you and others, more opportunities to be more Tommy-like.

That first Easter I shared with the Terrill family was life changing.  The laughs, inevitable.  The food, delicious.  The way Tommy made it feel so normal to have a random and overly-pregnant girl chattering away at his family's dining table; it's a quality that struck me and stuck with me.

When I was growing up, holidays were almost always spent with family.  Blood relatives, interspersed with the occasional 'outsider'.  It's not that my family wasn't accommodating to other people joining our celebration, it was more of a 'that's the way it is' type of mentality.  I had never really experienced a holiday with those who didn't fall under the umbrella of 'family tree material'.  

The course of that changed while I shared an Easter meal in the Terrill's home in 2006.  Welcoming arms, warm smiles, funny stories, and 'so forth'.  The era of the 'Terril-ley' holidays had begun.  Sharing time and stories, breaking bread, debating football, and Randy explaining to Les 'one more time' what his line of work entails {"that's a fact!"}.  Standard activities whenever we were all together.

Needless to say, our family's move to Texas put to rest an ongoing tradition that had brought us comfort during our tenure in Colorado.  Holidays now carry with them the longing not only for time with our 'family tree family', but for our chosen blended Colorado family as well.  The kids had never known anything but holidays with the Terrills, so it was {and still is}, a feeling of 'offness' for all of us knowing we won't be eating Jell-o salad, playing with the beagles, being surrounded by the comforting blanket of love that is the Terrill family.  Thank you, God, for the memories of those times that we can carry in our heart.
Thanksgiving, 2014.

My heart shattered as I stirred the gravy and heard my sweet friend's wavering voice on the other end of the phone, confirming that Tommy's life had tragically been cut short in an accident the night before.  Physical ache took over, stealing my ability to speak and contain the tears that poured from my eyes like a river.  Our family, our blended and blessed family, had been cracked wide open, a wound too great to ever fully heal.

Tommy was a comedian.  An outdoorsman.  A talented athlete.  He carried with him an arsenal of quick-witted cracks, deadpan responses, and wise-ass comments that inevitably left anyone within a 30-foot radius with sore cheeks and a quasi ab workout from laughing so hard.  

Tommy was devoted.  Not just to his beautiful wife, Snowden, upon whom he believed the sun rose and set, but to his family, friends, animals, and the random stranger with whom he'd interact.  Tommy was the epitome of someone who truly loved, appreciated, and cherished the human experience.  His time on this earth was overflowing with his positive energy and inspirational outlook that influenced and motivated so many.  

Tommy brought a level of 'real' to any situation.  His natural charisma was a key tool he used to give everyone in the room a feeling of comfort.  He was approachable and welcoming.  He adored my kids.  And my kids adored him.  Gavin especially took a liking to both Tommy, and Danny as well, because when we spent time at the Terrills, he wasn't so outnumbered by sisters.  Both Tommy and Danny made my kids feel comfortable and welcome.  They would play with them.  Acknowledge them.  Enjoy them.  From a mom perspective, I was grateful for not only the respite from being their sole entertainer, but more importantly for the positive and loving influence Tommy and Danny provided for my kids.  And even though Tommy was a bit hesitant and nervous to hold a squishy newborn Raegan back in 2011, I saw in him a heart that I knew would make for the most incredible father any child could ask for.

While Tommy was not given the opportunity on earth to have his own children, it does not in any way mean that his legacy will not carry on.  Friendships forged because of Tommy's presence will be forever encouraged by his compassion.  Husbands who knew Tommy will be inspired to love on their wives more deeply and all-encompassing because of the way in which he loved Snowden.  Anyone with siblings will be more inclined to dedicate themselves fully to the unbreakable bond that God created when he gave us brothers and sisters, all because Tommy exemplified what it meant to not only be a brother, but a best friend.  And sons everywhere will want to deepen their relationship with their parents because of the way Tommy loved Sue and Terry.  He was a dedicated son.  Like every child, he didn't always make choices that were a perfect example of common sense, but he possessed within him the positive, Christ-like characteristics that Sue and Terry impressed upon him throughout his beautiful life.  

There are no words for when tragedies like this occur in the lives of those we love.  No one-trick-pony way to encapsulate the sadness and make it go away.  The hurt will be there, it will infiltrate daily lives; some days striking us down to rock bottom, while other days serving as a minor affliction while we choose to focus on the positive.  That this world was graced with the presence of a man, the likes of whom are a rare and beautiful find, is truly proof that God does not make mistakes.  Tommy confidently walked this earth and charmed his way into lives and infiltrated the hearts of so many.  The smiles and happy memories he has gifted those who knew him, I believe, were his way of leaving behind something that will pave the way toward a place of heart-mending.  

My heart is still shattered in many ways, shards of it fell into our Thanksgiving gravy as I stirred that day in shock and disbelief.  But even in that moment, even with that horrific news shaking the core of our family, I still experienced a bit of God's peace.
It was Gavin's second Thanksgiving, and we were gathered in the Terrill kitchen, helping with preparations for the meal, nibbling the appetizers Sue had prepared.  Tommy stood at the stove, methodically stirring the gravy that would soon enrobe the delicious smelling turkey, and cover mounds of fluffy, white mashed potatoes.  I couldn't wait.  Afterall, gravy is one of the food groups when it comes to holiday meals.  

Sue had just placed a Pyrex dish, piled high with delicious homemade mashed potatoes on the stove top, as counter space was quickly reaching capacity as the final components of the meal came together.  Randy was breaking off pieces of cheese and crackers for Gavin to mush into his crumb-covered face when all of the sudden we heard an explosion, of sorts.  The brief moments of flourished activity now blend together in my mind, but in the aftermath, what we discovered was this:  a cool Pyrex dish does *not* like to be placed atop a hot stove burner, even if that particular dish was placed there in an oversight due to too many cooks in the kitchen {literally}.  

The Pyrex shattered.  Not just into pieces.  No, no.  The shards of glass that were the result of this lesson learned were so insanely small, so well-scattered throughout Sue's kitchen, that if you went there today, you might still be able to find one {even though Sue keeps a very clean home!}.  Pryex was on the counter.  On the stove.  On the kitchen island.  The floor.  In the folds of our clothes {but thankfully not embedded in skin!}.  It was in the corn, interspersed throughout the plates of turkey, and in.the.gravy.  

It was a total loss.  There's no real way to bring gravy back after it's become 'chewable'.  All that work, the attentive stirring Tommy had done became a thing of the past as we cleaned up the mess of potato and Pyrex.  The memory of that serves as an ongoing joke, a happily recalled story for the Terrill-Conley family.

Tommy was a bit perturbed his hard work was all for naught as the last of crunchy gravy was poured into the trash; but Tommy being Tommy, he found the humor quickly, and laughed it off, embedding it in each of our memories as a happy one.

As I stood at my stove, just seven Thanksgivings later, my gravy had an added ingredient as well.  The tears that fell from my eyes were of course liquid, but the pain I felt in crying them hurt every bit as much as shards of glass in my eyes.  But while I stirred and cried, cried and stirred, I couldn't help but find God in that gravy.  
God gave Tommy to the world, and used him in ways that are so far-reaching we may never truly realize his impact.  He used Tommy in big ways, in funny ways, in comforting ways.  But perhaps one of my most special ways to remember the way God used Tommy, was in gravy ways.

Rest peacefully, Tommy, the hole you've left is one the world will never be able to fill.

Monday, January 12, 2015

I don't wanna be...

I want to be a writer,
I want my blog to grow.
I want my words to have purpose,
I *need* my words to flow.

At times my words aren't poignant,
At times it's rambling stuff.
But I want to be a writer,
Fill this space with my word fluff.

Two nights ago, during an all-too-common {and equally annoying} battle with insomnia, these Seussical words snaked their way into my head.  Rising and falling on the sulci and gyri on the surface of my brain, nestling deep into my cortex, where osmosis took over and the words permeated into pangs on my heart, nagging jabs into my soul.

With the assistance of the dim light inspirationally reaching across the mounded blankets on my bed, I scratched that 'poem' onto the backside of a random reminder for a conversation I'd like to have with my doctor.  Folded in half, I slid my quasi-prayer into the cover of my kindle, and opted to make the most of my time awake buried both deep in my warm bed, and in prayer.  {While I *need* to be a writer; I [more importantly] need me some Jesus!}

And then I awoke.

Sunday mornings are one of my favorites--sipping coffee and relishing in the comfort of knowing I have one more day before the madness of a kid-filled, laundry-filled calendar takes over and demands 'crustless sammies', halved strawberries, homework guidance, clean clothes, timeliness for school, etc, etc, etc.  Sabbath.   Rest.  God's day.

Rain dumped mercilessly over the greater Houston area as we climbed into and tumbled out of the car, wrangling umbrellas and skipping over gushing mini-rivers and boot-soaking puddles in the church parking lot.  My anxiety levels were feeling challenged, as I dreaded the damp and chilly mess that would ensue whilst delivering my circus train of people to their appropriate spots within the confines of our expansive church campus {shout out to the awesome volunteers ridin' dirty on the plastic-enclosed, germ re-circulating golf carts!  I could never operate a semi-translucent capsule full of damp and drippy people without having something stronger than coffee in my mug!}

But my 'God meter' was greater than my anxious heart {shocking, I know}, and soon enough I sat in the refuge of my church home.  The annoyances of navigating a cold and rainy morning with children had been left clinging for life  right alongside the drops of water that dotted the inside of my plastic courtesy umbrella bag.  My anxiety washed away; my senses were awakened by the sights and sounds and tastes of a community of people on a mission from God--for God.  My standard order, vanilla latte from the cafe tasted all the bit sweeter; a perfect blend of espresso and milk, the flavor just right for what my tongue craved.

My constant companion, a black Mole Skin notebook emerged from my satchel, along with it the bold-tipped pens I so desperately seek out each time I peruse the enchanting office supply section.  Cracking open the pages, scribing the date in the top right corner, writing the topic for the day's message.  Typically a mindless action while waiting for the worship to begin; yet for some reason, it felt different.  It felt intentional.  It felt inspiring to pen the words "My New Selfie {part 2}", and to write, without hesitation or mistake, "2015" following the name of a month marked with anticipation, hope, and expectation.

Soon the familiar bass tones of a personally well-known and loved Gavin DeGraw song infiltrated my inner being by way of my auditory system pathway.

I don't want to be
Anything other than what I've been trying to be lately
All I have to do is think of me and I have a peace of mind
I'm tired of looking 'round rooms 
Wondering what I've got to do
Or who I'm supposed to be
I don't want to be anything other than me.

As the service went on, tears gathered courage enough to brim my eyes while the congregation sang "Blessed Be Your Name", along with a passion-filled rendition of "You Make Beautiful Things".  The tug on my heart was noticeable; my need to create filling the deep spaces of my soul.

Our pastor began his message with a quote he remembered from a conversation he'd had with a man years back about things they liked versus things did not like.  His conversation partner had stated, "I don't like NOT liking something."  Pastor presented the quote to us by way of a challenge--to resolve to like something that you don't like.  Not a fan of leafy green vegetables?  {I'm talking to you here, Gavin...}  Rather than dismiss that food item from your repertoire, why not expand your horizons and make an effort to dislike them less.  Cringe at the thought of scary/suspenseful movies?  Perhaps wrapping yourself in the coziest blanket you own, keeping all the lights on, and watching one with your comforting significant other during BROAD DAYLIGHT, rather than right before bed could help turn a former fear into a little less intimidating situation {this just *might* be a personal trepidation with which I struggle...}.

The trick is to find an avenue that will help you acknowledge your former nemesis, and find a perspective that will make it a little more tolerable.  {And in case you were wondering how to improve those leafy greens...the answer is bacon.  When in doubt, bacon.}

Life change doesn't happen without action.  The birth of a fresh new year is always an inspiring time to resolve to change.  To set goals, list expectations, quit bad habits, begin healthy ones.  The change of a digit in the ones place sparks a match within that is fueled by the realization that time is passing, regardless of the futile attempts to capture it, bottle it up, and post it on social media.

The year 2014 felt like I was a Roomba robotic vacuum.  I randomly moved around in my space, gathering up whatever was in my way--good, bad, and everything in between--and containing it all inside in a capsule that wasn't quite air or water tight.  It leaked.  While some of the good permeated throughout my body, most of the dust and dirt and crud that was bad also found their ways through the porous parts of me, causing me to operate in a dysfunctional manner.  When I found myself on a path that was limited by cliffs or walls or obstacles, I didn't utilize my inner strength to transcend; instead I'd bump into the wall, nudge the obstacle, teeter along the edge of the cliff...and then turn the opposite direction and run.  Then there were the times when I came upon the edge of the cliff, and rather than use wisdom and intellectual instincts, I took to the air like an over-caffeinated base-jumper without looking back.  And when I finally did look around find myself mid-air without a parachute, I flapped and flipped and scrambled in a fruitless attempt to right the downward spiral.  It was is exhausting; physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally.

So I find myself at another precipice.  A calendar-based, dawn-of-a-new-year kind of precipice.  The deep rooted desires for change bore harder and deeper as I crawl from the depths of my previous years' lows.  I am a seeker.  I am a reader.  A learner.  A devoted wife and mom.  A friend.  A daughter by both earthly and heavenly standards.  I'm a craver.  I crave peace and order mixed with just the right amount of whimsy.  I crave to create.  Food and art, laughter and decor, inspiration and words.  I crave to create it all.

I don't like the fact that I go for long bouts of time feeling like 'not me'.  I don't like the times when what my mind and heart and soul and body crave and desire don't all mesh together to make feeling better a 'quick fix'.  I don't like the times when I feel like I'm not doing what it is that I'm called to do.  It feels uncomfortable to be in that space; flapping and scrambling for something that gives you a sense of security that you're on the right path.

But when I think about what my pastor said during the opening of his message, I am challenging myself to like being in those spaces more.  To like the disarray of my life at times {read: all.the.time.  three kids equals perma-mayhem, yo.}.  I'm challenging myself to embrace the fact that what I consider {and have considered} me, isn't really so...and that the real me is who I'll discover when I do what the song says, '{a}ll I have to do is think of me and I have a peace of mind.'  I really don't want to be anything other than me...because to be something else, someone else is to discount the person my Creator made me to be.  How disrespectful it is to say, "I don't like me" to the One who made me!  So I challenge myself.  To like what it is that I don't like.  To find the avenue that will help acknowledge my former nemesis, and find a perspective that will make me make it a little more tolerable.

So to meet this challenge head on, what makes me more tolerable to 'me', is writing.  Growing in my words.  Expanding my repertoire.  Climbing toward my bucket-list, deep-rooted soul desire of being a published author.  Adding to my verbiage on the page--computer screen, paper, whatever medium available--foster and grow the legacy I want to leave for my children and grandchildren, so they may glean a snippet of what it means to grow through life having sought and caught a heart for God, a heart for self-betterment, and a heart for the human experience.

And of course, I'll also be utilizing the gift of bacon.

Because...let's be honest.  The number of things made better by the meat salve of the universe far outweighs things made worse.  Me included.