The Weekly Recap: Puppies, Rotten Pumpkins, and a Whole Lot of Feelings

To say that this week has been full of emotions is a ridiculous understatement. I haven’t had words to put to the emotions, but now that the weekend is here and rest is available, I’m sure the words will come. But for now, let’s simply catch up on the family news.

All the falling leaves….

We actually got some yard work done last weekend, which really means that I finally mowed the lawn. I brought out the rake and had May Lee rake up the leaves that the lawnmower didn’t get. Honestly, when it comes to leaves, I’m not one of those people that care about having a neat and tidy yard. I am more of the “circle of life” mindset, meaning the leaves fall to the ground and decay for a reason- it enriches the soil. Therefore, I feel silly sweeping nutrients into a bag where they serve no purpose. I guess I’m just a little granola that way. Even so, my daughter is in desperate need of lessons about work, so this small raking job was a good opportunity for the lesson.

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The end result was a small pile of leaves just right for jumping into, so that was the reward for her work. She jumped and had herself a ball, and when her pile was in complete disarray, she got out the rake and worked until her pile was back together again. Thus, the lesson of “put in the work so you can have the fun” seemed to come full circle. Even better, we invited the neighbors over to jump with us, so it was a merry time for all!

The chill of winter and the single-parent budget:

The 80-degree temperatures have finally given away to more seasonable temperatures, and for that I’m grateful. Grateful, but unprepared. My budget has been very tight, and I have been able to set aside only $30 for a coatcoat for May Lee. You are probably well aware that coats for children cost about twice that, but wouldn’t you know it, I got an email from The Children’s Place that all outwear was 50%-60% off. Blessings come in many forms, my friends, and this was a blessing to this single parent. Due to this sale, my $30 got this adorable puffer jacket (http://thechildrensplace.7eer.net/c/336760/322455/3971) and a pair of gloves (http://thechildrensplace.7eer.net/c/336760/322535/3971). With the free shipping, my dollar stretched as far as it could possibly stretch, which makes for guilt free shopping (http://thechildrensplace.7eer.net/c/336760/316382/3971)

For this reason, I decided to become an affiliate for The Children’s Place. The links above are affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Free and discounted clothes are a big deal to a single-parent budget!

Training for the St. Jude 10K:

img_2570Training and fund-raising for St. Jude is still going strong. Despite the insane amount of stress eating that occurred this week, I was still able to hit the 5K mark on Tuesday evening. As what I like to believe to be a cosmic reward, I found this $5 bill on the ground. What a nice treat- a dollar for every kilometer run! If this is what the metric system is about, then it has my full support.

The animals:

Part of my job involves lab puppies, and sometimes these puppies are with us a few days before their owners arrive. In these instances, a staff member usually takes the puppy home and cares for it until the owner arrives. This week that staff member was me, and I brought home this adorable baby for May Lee to enjoy for a night. You may be thinking that this was a recipe for disaster, given the propensity of my own giant lab to be completely wild and of my elderly cat to be downright evil. The img_2581same thoughts occurred to me, but I did it anyway. We actually had a very lovely evening. My daughter just about exploded from the love in her heart for this little baby, and my heart just about exploded from watching the two of them play together. I even put the puppy and the child to bed together, where they curled up sweetly and slept peacefully all night. (I did wake up at 3:30 and take the puppy out to potty. He went right back to sleep after that.)

However, around 3:45 all hell broke loose and stayed loose for the rest of the morning. Shortly after returning to my bed from taking the puppy out, Stax began to whine. Upon investigating, I discovered that he had pooped in his crate. I made short work of the clean up process and returned to bed, sleeping fitfully until my alarm went off at 5 a.m. I got up and strategically went to work preparing everything we would need for the day in light of the fact that we had a puppy to work into our morning routine.

I woke May Lee up and put her in the shower. In the meantime, I prepared breakfast for the puppy and placed it and him in Stax’s giant and freshly cleaned crate. I thought this excellent plan would let us be about the business of getting ready while the puppy was safely in the crate. The puppy disagreed adamantly, whining and howling like I’d whipped him and placed him in a crate of nails. As I was helping May Lee finish in the shower, the puppy was overturning his food and water dishes and working himself into such a state that he would nervously poop in the crate as a result. He then proceeded to tap dance in the poo, creating a mess reminiscent of the one I had cleaned up around 3:45 a.m.

I instructed May Lee to get dressed in the clothes that we had already picked out while I went to hose down the crate and clean up the puppy in the front yard. It was during this chore that I looked up to see my still naked child with dripping hair standing at the door watching me while her clothes remained in her hand and not on her body. As you can imagine, a heated discussion ensued, and as I abandoned the poop-cleaning project to step onto the porch to offer my child whatever assistance she claimed she needed but really was perfectly able to do herself, I stepped on the rotting jack-o-lantern left to compost in the flowerbed.

That’s life, isn’t it? Feeling good about successfully maneuvering around the crap only to step into the rotting pumpkin. C’est la vie…

Somehow, we made it to school on time and free of any particles of puppy poop or rotten jack-o-lantern. This is due in part to my shoving lunch money into my child’s hands and telling her to order lunch. I have to say that overall it was worth it to have the puppy for a night. It has generated several discussions about responsibility, taking care of things, and at what point May Lee will be ready to take on a pet of her own.

All the feelings:

Clearly, the election has stirred up big feelings for everyone, including me. Life quickly gave me a reality check on those feelings with news of the deaths of people I know. Substance abuse and cancer are not only affecting so many families that I know but also claiming lives. This news has both confused and refined my feelings about the election, but both events have resulted in a deepening belief and intensified focus on the core values of this little family. Many important conversations have happened this week, and I suspect that they will continue.

As for today, it is Saturday, and we are going to slow down, rest, and let our systems process and recover from all the emotional hits of this week. More and more, I have come to understand the importance of laying low and being peaceful, even when nothing inside or outside of me feels peaceful. Peacefulness has to be invited to come; it won’t just overtake a person. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn, that peace is active. As in, I have to actively and intentionally make a decision and create a time and space for it to come into my life. I have to willingly participate in it.

Long story short, that is what today is about- bringing about peace. I hope your heart and your home are blessed with peace today as well.

 

 

Peace in the Political Season

 

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If you happened to catch the first presidential debate, then I’m sure you had some thoughts and opinions about it. Even if you didn’t watch the debate, I’m still quite positive that you have some thoughts and opinions related to the presidential campaign, because the thoughts, opinions, and feelings surrounding it have been tossed about like lawn furniture in a category 5 hurricane. Some of us have felt more free to participate in the larger storm, I mean conversation, with the general public. Thank you, social media, for allowing us to put our first thoughts out there into the world with little to no contemplation. What. a. blessing. I feel like some of us would be well served to coat our fingers in peanut butter or maybe bubble wrap before typing, so that by the end of the typing process, our thoughts may have had time to reach a more refined and well-thought out response. Just a thought.

hurricaneOthers of us have simply opted out of the conversation at large. We may share a thought or two with a close confidant, but by no means will we actually participate in this circus. That nonsense is for crazy people! We find ourselves in corners, whispering secretly to people who we know share our political viewpoint. This is what I tend to do, which is how I know that those of us who to tend to opt out still have all the strong feelings, we just internalize them. The same hurricane still rages, but rather than being “out there”, it rages on the inside.

Like everyone else, I can get caught up in my strong reactions to the current political climate, but the whole “no good choices” rhetoric is no longer holding water for me in my journey to wrap my head about what is going on with this election. Please realize that I used to be front and center on this way of thinking, declaring that my write-in vote for president would be Buddy Stax, the Large and Yellow. I fancied a large presidential portrait of my 80 pound labrador in the Oval Office, perhaps answering a large red phone while looking very serious but highly eager. Through prayer and an ongoing refining process of some of my thoughts and attitudes, I have been deeply convicted about some of the  double-standards that I hold. Since conviction, owning personal responsibility, and the process of growth tend to be somewhat painful, this was not a pleasant process for me.

After one morning of intense prayer about the level of distress I was feeling about this election and the general state of trauma that our country is in, a couple of my commonly repeated catch-phrases about the election and the candidates came to my mind. These thoughts were immediately followed with the question “Where in your life are you like these candidates?”. Well, let me tell you, that is not only a sobering thought, but it will make a body want to punch someone. Uh-uh, no way, no sir, I AM NOT LIKE “THOSE PEOPLE”. By saying this, of course, means that I am exactly like “those people” in some way or I would not feel so defensive.

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Lead by example and leave a trail so others can follow your footsteps.

As the weeks went by, every thought, comment, or attitude that came up inside of me about this election season was met with the question of “where in my life do I do the same thing, have the same attitude, or hold the same bias?” It has been quite the spiritually, mentally, and emotionally cleansing experience, and two major ideas have come out of the process. The first being, for those of us crying out for greater personal responsibility from our fellow citizens, shouldn’t we be leading that movement by our example of going through a personal refining process of our own personal biases, attitudes, and behaviors towards others? Shouldn’t we be leading the charge by taking our own personal moral inventories, identifying the areas that are lacking, and working on strengthening our own hearts and houses as living proof of personal responsibility rather than just shouting personal responsibility as an intangible theory that can really be very hard to find in actual practice in our culture?

The second thought I had was what if it is more important to God that I follow his guidance through the process of picking my candidate rather than who I actually vote for? Stick with me. I know some of you just got all prickly, but hang in there. It occurs to me that from the dawn of time as recorded all throughout the Bible, new and old testament, that God already knows who will be leading this country and all of the other countries of the world from today through the end of time. The outcome of this election is completely under His will. He has known who would win this contest from the day He created the earth, along with the plans He has to use this and all leaders to bring about His purposes. To put it simply: He’s got this. And if He’s got this, then doesn’t that make it my job to walk and talk with Him about the choices I make when it comes to voting for the leadership of my country and about getting my heart right with Him about the way I make those decisions?

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How do I know which door to open, which choice to make, if I’m not talking to God about it and listening to His response?

I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah, and the constant theme of Isaiah, as well as so many other books, is God’s people straying away from him, God’s people failing to heed the warnings of his messengers, God sending an enemy to rule his people for a period of time, and God’s redemption of his people when that time has passed. So it seems that since the dawn of time, God has used changes in leadership for the purposes of correction, deeper connection, and redemption. I think if we stay focused on the lower story of Hillary and Donald, we miss the higher story of God’s corrective and redemptive process for His people, individually and collectively.
For me, these two major thoughts and walking through this refining process with God have brought something into my heart that I believe precious few are feeling during this election season: peace. There is a peace in my soul that comes only from surrendering something to God. I no longer feel the need to defend and protect my opinion, to share my opinion with people who are reactive rather than responsive, or to hide my opinion from those who disagree in a reasonable and respectful way. I also understand that a person may go through the same refining process with the Lord that I went through, and the Lord may lead them to vote for the candidate that He led me not to vote for. It may seem like quite the paradox, and well, it is. But when the spirit of God is at work in individuals, real conversations happen even in the differences. Especially in the differences. Iron sharpens iron, and conversations about differences that are spirit-led create a forum for balance, for growth on both sides, and for opportunities to entertain ideas that you may not have thought of and experiences that you may have never experienced. And from that, real connection can grow. From real connection, unity becomes a reality.