I hope never to move again

The last few weeks are a blur of boxes, phone calls, paint rollers, spackle, worry, stress...we've been moving for weeks now. I don't feel as if I've even had time to breathe. And breathing is always hard when you're allergic to dust mites, and packing surely involves pulling down the dusty stuff. Sadly, we don't travel lightly. I'm done with moving. And I'm not. We still have an attic and a storage unit with STUFF in it. I wonder why it's so hard to get rid of some things? My mind says things are just things, and then my optimistic core takes over and says I will use ________ someday.
I fear that our twice-as-big house is going to be just as full!
I need to have a serious purge. Just as soon as I find my soap. And shoes. The only room in the house with any semblance of order right now is the kitchen. YIKES!
I really, really don't ever want to move again. I'm not good at it. I don't want to be good at it. I think it is the most detestable thing. Our family and friends have been PRICELESS over the last few weeks. It has been good to spend time with them. They will cheer you on right when you're flagging and want to throw in the towel. Apparently, it takes a village to move the three of us. Looking forward to having some order. The new house is beautiful, and we can't wait to have everyone over and NOT put them to work. Thanks for bearing with us during the transition!

Much love,
Shelley, Jerod and Shepard


Peeling back the layers

Ever peel an artichoke?


I actually haven't before, but I can tell from pictures about what it's like. I had the oddest picture come to mind during church yesterday, though. The only thing I can liken it to is an artichoke. I had a picture of myself as a translucent (kind of glowing) egg-shaped thing. Perhaps that was my soul? And there were all these layers of dark petals around it, like a rose or an artichoke, but the layers were black. I could see a hand peeling back the layers, one by one, until you could actually see the inside. Or if we're still hanging with the artichoke theme, the HEART.
The layers were years of religious dogma, not grounded in the word. Years of being judgmental and pointing fingers. Years of putting up a facade of capability and performance. Years of pride. Thankfully, there is a hand peeling back these ugly layers that choke out the love of God. It's truth. The more I hear the truth, act on the truth and embrace the truth, the more God can peel back the ugly. Oddly, the layers protect me in a way, as I could see in my mind's eye how vulnerable the white, glowing center looked. Love makes us vulnerable. Loving radically almost surely sets us up for hurt. We can't be hurt by that which we hold at arm's length.
It's easy as Christians to talk about "those people." Whoever those people are to you. Abortionists, liberals, alcoholics, druggies, homeless, Muslims, homosexuals...and the list goes on and on. But the TRUTH of it is, Jesus died for "them" too. The same grace that I have received is a free gift to them too. And it's only our love + His grace that will change anyone's heart. Because what we're really after is not just behavior modifications. What would be REVOLUTIONARY would be people treating each other with respect and compassion. Putting others' needs before your own...walking in humility...being patient and longsuffering.
I die inside when I see "Christians" screaming and clamoring. As my pastor says, you are just another angry voice in a sea of angry voices. Jesus told us that "THEY will know we are Christians by our love."
What are your layers? What have you cocooned yourself in that keeps your heart safe and unexposed...and choked off from truth?


Confessions of (reformed) clutterbug

Here's what I used to think:


We've had about six house showings in the last week and a half. That means that people I don't know are strolling through my house eyeing it up to see if they'd like to live in it. No pressure.
I always anticipated the day we might put our house on the market with excitement and dread. Dread, because I am a life-long clutterbug. I always have a pile of SOMETHING in most every room. Magazines that I plan to read. Mail I need to go through. Coupons to clip. Shoes. Clean laundry. Hairpins. Yesterday's earrings. You name it. 

Having people over always meant several hours straightening up. I keep my bathrooms clean, and we both work on the kitchen every day...but our living areas have always been just a little less than perfect. All in all, I'm ok with that. We have a toddler, so pristine will not be an option for a long while.
However, I have definitely discovered in the last three weeks that keeping a clean house is a lot easier than cleaning a house. I'm trying like heck to be less lazy and putting things where they belong as soon as I'm done with them. My post-college roommate would read this and say, "WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG!?" My clutter-habits probably cost her a few night's sleep. I try to leave the house in about 20-minutes-til-ready each day. That's what I think it would take to get it ship-shape for a showing. It's sooo awesome to walk into a clean home each evening. I still need to work on actually FINDING a place for everything. That's my real challenge. But I surely am enjoying this keeping things clean thing.
Am I reformed? I hope so. I will never be a vacuum twice a day kind of girl, but it seems to take less time to keep the clutter at bay than it does to try to attack it every Saturday.

Now if only the laundry would magically load itself...


Hurry Up and Wait.

I like to think of myself as a fairly patient person. I do have deep faith in God, which should ultimately lead to all kinds of patience. I mean, if God is really in control...if His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts...if He really has me and mine in the palm of His hand and the shadow of His wings...well, shoot. He can handle my piddly little life circumstances! (I'm going to "amen" myself. That'll preach, y'all) AMEN? Amen.

Whew. The last few weeks have definitely been a test of whether I believe all that. We started house-hunting. Somewhat accidentally on purpose. For some reason, Jerod decided that there were a handful he'd like to go out and see. I mean, yes, I have been keeping tabs on the market pretty well over the past 10 months. As in, he would mention a property he looked at online...and I'd respond with, "Oh the brick one with the cute porch and purple kitchen? I think it's too far out..." To which he would stare at me blankly. "Imagine what else you could do with all the brain power it took to memorize every house for sale in Rock Hill." Yes, he said that to me.
Well, what fun would that be? I'm a visual learner, so after multiple looks at a house and pictures, I knew where they were on the map and which one had a huge painting hung UNDER the window next to the toilet. For real. Who hangs a picture at knee-level? Should we even discuss what manner of stuff might get ON said picture? So, basically looking at other people's houses is a fascinating exercise whether I ended up buying one or not. I *might have created a new addiction.

Long story short (what's the fun in that?), we found a house we love just a few miles away. Double the square footage, very affordable, even closer to interstate...with a stellar front porch and sunroom. Pretty much everything we've ever wanted in a house.

I've never bought a house. Without going into a litany of the back-and-forth, let's just say the past few weeks have been a difficult emotional roller coaster. Waiting on phone calls, checking email...and now our house is for sale. I stare at my phone hoping someone is setting up a showing. Ring, ring, ring, phone.

Then, I remember to pray for our potential buyers. That our house will suit them just it has us. They will have a place to make lovely memories. Prayer. Feels so useless sometimes, but I remind myself that it's the feet to that faith that I profess. I'm not talking to the clouds. This whole experience is a good reminder of all of that. Sometimes you step out in faith and trust the ground to appear beneath your feet.

Lord, please help me trust you in the midst of all this waiting. Help me not to be a worrying waiter. Help me trust in your goodness and grace. Amen. AMEN!


In the middle of the night...

That one night when we hardly slept for no good or apparent reason? Yeah, that was LAST night. (this post is way too long to reflect the 18-hour night we just endured)

6:59 pm: Toddler was sleepy after bath, rubbing eyes and putting blankie over face. Took two books and about two minutes to get zzzzz's. Mommy then sits on sofa to work on her words with friends games.

7:14 pm: Mommy showers for the night and settles into the sofa for some quiet while Daddy works on his online classes.

7:40 pm: Toddler starts screaming like it's the end of the known world. "Might have a poo..." Mommy thinks. Gives him a few minutes to settle. He doesn't settle. Mommy goes in.
Todder: "Hi." Nonchalantly. Standing up. Still smells like baby powder. Seemingly just wants to chat. Shows me toys. Asks (ironically?) for her to read him his potty book. Mommy refuses. Turns off light, rocks, and he is out in moments.

11:30 pm: Shoot. Mommy and Daddy meant to get to bed earlier. What happened? Mommy recounts details of potty book to Daddy as a goodnight story.

after midnight: Parents finally asleep.

1:30 am: Toddler starts screaming like it's the end of the known world. "Might have a poo..." Mommy thinks. Daddy volunteers to see about it. Screaming continues while we wait to see if he can settle down on his own. Mommy slides out of bed.

In the hallway, she sees a kitchen light turning off and on intermittently. Weird. Jerod never leaves lights on. Never. At first she thinks it's lightning, then maybe car headlights. But neither of those fit the bill.

Mommy: "Hon. There's a weird light flickering in the kitchen. Did you leave a light on?"

Daddy: "I don't think so."

Mommy tinkles and goes in to see about toddler. No poo. "May as well change him since we're all up. Maybe he'll sleep later in the morning if he isn't soaked," she thinks.

Daddy reports that the light over the sink blinked once and then was fine. Odd. It was definitely going off and on. At this point, toddler on the changing table says aloud, "Scary."

Daddy feels uneasy. Mommy rocks toddler for a solid ten minutes trying to determine what woke him up. He is happy as a clam in her lap and falls asleep swiftly. Pops his head up after a few minutes, "Shirt. Mommy shirt." Points to Mommy's shirt. This gets him chatting about music. Mommy turns on soft music. "I just want to go to bed," she thinks. "Please. Let. Me. Sleep."

Toddler again asks for potty book. Mommy turns off light and hopes for the music to do its trick. Toddler falls asleep. In transit to the crib, full-on wake up, screaming, standing...Mommy leaves the room to let him sort it out. All known variables have been addressed.

"Mommmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyy!" Toddler screams.

Daddy and Mommy discuss weirdness of the light. Now they're both uneasy. Toddler still screaming. Everything is weird in the middle of the night.

1:52 am: Mommy returns for one more round of rocking chair. Toddler easily falls asleep but oddly clings to her like a tiny monkey when she tries to return him to crib at 2:10 am.

Attempting sleep. Moments of quiet.

Toddler is sitting up in bed, visual courtesy of video monitor. Mommy is watching monitor to see if he lies down. Oddly, while watching, bleary-eyed, the monitor says "Medium Frequency" and then "NO SIGNAL." Ugh. Daddy thinks this is weird. Neither of us has ever seen this message.

Toddler still screaming.

2:30 am: Daddy brings toddler to parents' bed.
2:31 am
Toddler: "Dark. Mommy's bed....night night Mommy." Mommy hopes for dreams.

2:34 am: Toddler pops up. "Dark....pillow. Daddy's pillow? Mommy's pillow. Night night." Mommy's insane optimism. "Maybe he means it," she thinks. What could be better than sleeping between your parents?

2:36 am: Toddler adjusts positions seemingly trying to get comfortable for a solid 15 minutes. Some of the positions he tries are elbows-in-Mommy's-ribcage and on her head. Mommy has the head-end. Daddy must have been dealing with the kickers.

Toddler notices alarm clock. "One!" He says proudly. "I'm thinking it said TWO, baby. I remember a TWO. Do you know what TWO means at the beginning? It's time for night-night. Night-night, sweet baby." Toddler goes face-first to mattress. Mommy covers up alarm clock with a stuffed animal monkey. Mommy hopes for dreams.

Toddler pops up. Notices alarm clock on the other side. "Nine."
Mommy: "Cover that up."
Daddy: "Working on it."
Mommy: "Night-night, Shepard," she says with firmness and meaning.

Sounds of toddler sleep-breath. Mommy tries to get comfortable. Puts hand on toddler to see where he is. Why is Daddy's arm right there? Daddy tries to dislodge arm from under 30-lb. toddler. Toddler awakens. Again readjusts to get comfortable for a solid ten minutes. Squishes Mommy's chest and pulls her hair.

3 - 4 am: toddler moves around about every minute. Several times landing on Mommy's back or head and seemingly diving toward the edge of the bed. Mommy sighs audibly. Daddy sighs audibly.

Daddy: "what should we do?"
Mommy: "take him back to his bed."

Sometime around 4, but not sure because there's a monkey covering up her clock:
Daddy takes toddler back to his bed. Rocks him for 15 minutes. Gets him good and asleep. Mommy finally starts to drift off. Toddler will not go in crib. Screams. Daddy brings him back to bed.

Daddy: "He won't get in his crib. What should we do?"
Mommy: "Let him cry. I have to get some sleep." Mommy was callused and exhausted.

Daddy: "I won't be able to sleep if he's in there crying." Daddy brings him back to bed. Daddy is the nice one. The ratio between lack of sleep and Mommy's lack of sweetness is concurrent and direct.

Toddler kind of settles long enough for Mommy to have a paranoid dream about four people busting up into her house at 4 a.m. and acting strangely. Then she dreams of a violent thunderstorm outside, and a tree crashes through their bedroom. She takes the toddler to the nursery, and a tree crashes into the nursery, grazing Daddy's head. Next, she discovers that the people who visited earlier left magnetic nametags on her chairs that had bugs for listening embedded in them. She realizes they had been there under false pretenses. Daddy seems unconcerned. People show up on her doorstep again. She goes Georgia-hood-rat on them and starts yelling and hitting. They barge in anyway. Child won't sleep in the dream. They are in her guest room, bedrooms, and are interacting with her kid. Uncool, weird people.

Oh wait. Child is still crawling on her back and head and ribcage in real life. Perhaps there is some dozing between 5 - 6:15 am. Light dozing. And sweating because she's afraid to move.

6:15 am: Toddler moves to the foot of the bed and seems to get comfortable. Mommy laments that alarm is set for 6:45 am. Moves monkey and pushes alarm forward five minutes. Like that will help.

6:36: Toddler awakens. Tries to slide off side of bed. Mommy catches him with her feet and slides him back up. "Ten more minutes, baby. Please." She closes her eyes and hopes. Not for dreams, but for a magical dose of rest.

6:38: Toddler is ready to greet the sun.

6:40: Mommy finds sippy cup and Mickey Mouse on DVR. Makes strong coffee. Attempts to curl hair. Cannot get into any conceivable rhythm for getting ready. Has to be at work early today of all days.

7:30 am: Toddler is refusing all foods except four puffs and half of a graham cracker.

Hello, Wednesday. I've spent so much time with you already.

If you happen by my desk, and don't see me; I'm underneath, dreaming about a toddler climbing on me like a jungle gym in the night.


God uses broken pieces

Grief touches us all. Sometimes there are seasons of life, sometimes events knock the wind out of our sails. I told you about a trying time for me coming to terms with the fact that I was actually depressed. That post is here. Ecclesiastes 3 sums that up pretty well:
There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

The only ways I know how to describe the feeling I had was either that I was lost at sea. I was bobbing up and down with the waves of life and catching air, but not really feeling that there were any life rafts. I felt very lonely and a bit paranoid that anyone else was able to help me.

Of course, through it all God was there. We had such a beautiful message on Sunday for those who were either in a season of grief or battling with something more long-term. About how God can use the broken places in us to bring healing to others and how, even in our pain, he is PRESENT with us.
Here's the link to that: http://renovatuschurch.com/#/podcast

All of this to say, it is good and necessary to remind ourselves that we are all human. That sometimes you just need to be sad for a while and sometimes you need to just CRY with someone else rather than try to cheer them up. I think as Christians and perhaps Americans, we are tempted to just put on a smile or say "I'm fine" when we're not doing so great. You don't have to let EVERYONE in to your cave, but you need to let SOMEONE into your cave. And even when your faith takes a beating, know that "Jesus wept" at the death of Lazarus. Odd, since he knew what he could do and was about to do--raise Lazarus from the dead!!! He wept because he wanted to share in the sorrow, not because he had no hope.

Be a lifeline to someone around you. Grieving alone is the worst. You don't have to have just the right words or any magic prayers. Pray for the peace of God and healing of the heart. If you sense a friend is down, ASK. Dig. Pray.

Take time to grieve when you need to. You get no brownie points in heaven for trying to paste on a happy face. Seek the Lord and His joy.

I'm doing much better these days, now that I've faced and named what was going on and have been using life boats of medicine and friends and even this blog. Joy really can come in the "morning."


Lonesome Lion

A while back, lots of us at church were taking a particular personality test that categorizes folks into four basic animal groups. Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever and Beaver.

I am a Lion with a nearly equal dose of Otter. Click here to see general characteristics of each if you want. Or take the test!
Basically, lions are task-oriented. There are jobs to be done, done now, and done well! Otters are more the party animal, hoping for everything to be fun and highly social. Over the years, I've hopefully learned and gleaned traits from others to iron out the rough spots (read: weakenesses), but when it comes to friendships, I'm hopelessly LION.
This personality likes to lead. The lion is good at making decisions and is very goal-oriented. They enjoy challenges, difficult assignments, and opportunity for advancement. Because lions are thinking of the goal, they can step on people to reach it. Lions can be very aggressive and competitive. Lions must learn not to be too bossy or to take charge in others' affairs.
I tend to live my life in my to-do-list bubble. If getting together with people is scheduled, it will happen and my otter-half is happy. However, if life takes over and I fail to make appointments for fun and fellowship, I find myself going for weeks with meager outreach on facebook or email and no real interaction. This leaves my friendship tanks running on empty...and ultimately leaves me without a lot of good healthy friendships. It's not that I don't DESIRE good friendships. I'm just not good at them. It's not a cop-out. I want to be good at them. My natural tendencies are to be self-sufficient, independent to a fault and more concerned with plans and tasks than people. I'm a lion saved by grace.
It's not easy being a lion.

Whoa there, tiger.
God pretty much REQUIRES us to live in Christian community. He mandates that we are to be HIS hands and feet and to show his heart to those around us. "They will know we are Christians by our LOVE." Not by how many items on the to-do list were done. He makes a big to-do over how we treat our brothers and sisters and our community. In short:
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:11-12
It is so important for us to be a visible representation of God's love. I just have a really hard time in my day to day life making PEOPLE a priority. I do make Jerod and Shepard priorities, but their needs are pretty much in front of me all the time. If your need collides with my day, I will drop everything. But what if it doesn't? I'm working on this. I'm working this out. I actually write myself notes to call so and so, pray for so and so, etc. Because I have to have a visual reminder to connect. So, if we are at all friends, I would like to say thank you for BEARing with this LION (ha). I am often lonesome; not because I don't want your company or advice, but because I simply filled every waking moment with some THING right up until the moment of free time then realized that I could have spent said free time with SOMEONE or even calling someone. You know, like waiting until Friday afternoon to ask someone on a date.

My otter-half doesn't come out until I get to let my hair down. I really like my otter half.

Jerod and I need friends. I won't lie. Between his working in a foreign land Davidson and having the added joy of a toddler, we aren't just bumping into fellowship opportunities. He's a great friend. But many of his friends have moved or are out of our sphere for some other reason. But he's the best kind of friend there is...he's a golden retriever.  :)  He's a ready-made friend for this lion, but sometimes we just need to cavort with some other members of the zoo.
My sweet hubby. Easy to please. Loyal. Helpful.


If there's ever an answer...it's more love

Leave it to my wonderful Dixie Chicks to provide the title to this one.
The older I get and the more I learn, the more I'm convinced that the answer to ALL of the world's problems is love. Biblical, non-condemning, non-judgmental love. Somebody wise once said, "Love covers a multitude of sins." Another wise person said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Seriously, if we could grasp that concept, even a little, and release our self-serving and selfish defenses, I think the world would be rocked.
It's a day-by-day thing to practice and learn. It doesn't come naturally to us at all. But it does work. Rewind to my eighth grade year....my first introduction to love against the circumstances.
I played the flute in middle school band. Being a fiercely competitive person, I was always practicing and vying for "first chair." I often got to sit in that seat. The three years of middle school, I attended three different schools. Our district was working some things out, and we moved a few miles closer to town. So in eighth grade, I found myself at a completely new school, though a lot of the faces there were kids I knew from elementary school.
We had band auditions for chair placement...I made first chair! I was so excited!! Until I hit the band room. The flute who had been first chair the year before was suddenly second, and was NOT excited to see me. I'll call her Jennifer. Jennifer and I had been friends in elementary school. But clearly, I had inadvertently stepped on some toes. Jennifer and all her friends from seventh grade were glaring at me, like I had stolen a boyfriend. It's not as if I planned it. You just audition, and the band director places you. About half the flutes were on Jennifer's "side." They would literally just GLARE at me, in the cafeteria, in the halls, in PE. I felt kind of ganged up on. They didn't really even KNOW me. Just decided I was the enemy. As was the case, I went to my mom for some whining. My mom wasn't a fan of whining. She wisely told me that Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. I was to proceed with that in mind. I would speak to Jennifer each day, be nice to her and her mean girls posse, and be kind in everything I said in front of them and behind their backs. I could do nothing but show love. They didn't necessarily deserve love, and they surely weren't giving ME any. But that didn't change the reaction that Jesus required. It took months, and it was pretty un-fun being the girl who received mean notes, laughing when I walked in the room, untrue rumors, etc. But LOVE WON! I guess it just wasn't fun to continue to taunt someone whose reaction was continually kind. I'm not saying I didn't want to haul off and hit her (though she was about a foot taller than I was)...but I held out. And we traded around the first, second, and third chair throughout the year. But, somewhere during that school year, the glares stopped, the snickering stopped. Oddly enough, there was another girl that year that I didn't even KNOW who kept sending me messages through other people that if she and I were ever alone, she was going to beat the crap out of me. But by the end of the year, she came around too. Perhaps I was an annoying person. I don't know. What 14 year old girl isn't annoying to some degree?
But Jesus totally helped me survive that year. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Our only response can be love.

As I continue to have epic battles of will with my nearly-two-year-old, I realize that that's what he needs to learn now. LOVE. We are nice and sweet because we want to show love to those around us. Because we aren't the only person on the planet. Because compassion and regard for others is a better tool for dissolving arguments and tension than any show of force or will.

I control my reaction. I cannot control how you treat me, what you say about me, and even how you might use me. I certainly can't contain or really control Shepard's fits. But I can control the reaction I give you and him. Parenting has really been challenging this in my heart. Shepard will learn of the world and its ways what I teach him. I want to teach him the gentle response, the Godly response. That though we might not deserve love sometimes, God is forever pouring it out. Discipline and boundaries are part of that love, but the Spirit is my guide: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) My prayer is that our family will be Spirit-led and bear much fruit. And if there's ever an answer, it's more love.


Mexican for Mother's Day

We were pulling out of church, full of encouragement and thoughts on friendship. Our sleepy little boy in the backseat, already saying, "All done." Um. We have a 30-minute ride, son. You'll have to get comfy. Being the one named Mommy, I got to pick the lunch spot. I opted for the very close and recently discovered Mexican dive near church, Miguel's. If you saw this place, you'd probably keep driving. It looks like it's attached to a sketchy motel by interstate. But their fajitas are fantastic. And they have an "A" rating.
There we are, and within 30 seconds of entering, Shepard knocks over the basket of tortilla chips. But within moments, we have a Mother's Day miracle! I show him for the 100th time how to drink from a straw (even though he has his own sippy cup, he really loves to play with straws). He takes the drink from me and promptly drinks through the straw! This endeavor is a leap away from last week's Sunday lunch that ended up in a full clothes-change in the Showmars bathroom. (For him, not me) Last week's sippy cup got left behind at the church, so we were trying to help him drink milk from a styrofoam cup. Milk-bath.
Fast-forward to Miguel's. I was so excited. I had started to worry that Shepard would be in his first day of college telling his classmates that the one distinguishing thing about him is that he never learned to drink from a straw.
 Our massive plates of fajitas came, as did Shepard's rice and grilled chicken. "RICE!" That kid loves some rice. As is usually the case, about half the rice makes it to his mouth, and the other half ends up in his lap and on the booster seat. We have at least graduated from the "everything on the floor" phase. As he started poaching the rice off my plate, and I had a teeny moment of "hold up! It's my Mother's Day lunch! Calm down little poacher!" Then I realized. I am his mommy. I am mothering him.  I helped him eat and drink (!), and I'll scoop all my rice to his plate so he can drop half of it. I will cheer him on when he tries the beans, even if he makes yucky face. I will take him outside and shake off his lunch in the bushes by the restaurant. I will carry him, draped over my shoulder in sleep, into the house after church and lunch and kiss his forehead and cover him up and pray for a good nap. I will hold him in my lap in his Elmo pajamas when I should be fixing my hair or doing the dishes...because he climbed up there and that's where he wants to be. I will tell him 298 times to sit on his bum and put him in time out despite his protestations. I will do all these over and over because one Mother's Day in the not-too-distant future, he will sit and eat something he ordered for himself and he will eat it all and ask for seconds and grow taller than I am. His long, lean body will get too long to sit in my lap, and his cartoons will turn into car shows or time alone in his room. I will tell him to sit on his bum because one day he'll be at a friend's house, and he'll need to set the example. I will always mother him to varying degrees, of course, but now I get the privilege of being hands-on. He still takes my kisses and runs to me at the end of a school-day. He still mostly fits in my lap. It takes four times longer to get ready in the morning because he still needs me. One day he'll brush his teeth and put on his own clothes. I constantly tell myself this or that phase will be over soon enough, but in truth, I'm not sure I want it to be. I'm very busy celebrating my "moments made of now."
Thank you, Shepard, for making me a Mommy. It's one of my favorite names.


Flashback Friday: Things I learned from my Mom

After my completely selfish post about Mother's Day, I thought perhaps I should follow up with something more substantial. I have such wonderful memories of my mom from when I was little all the way up until just this week. Of course, after 30 some-odd years of living, I can't get everything in one post, so we'll go with "greatest hits."
1. Speaking of hits. (yikes) Yes, I had a lying problem as a child. I've always been so very bad at it, and my Mom could always see right through my attempts. I would usually get a spanking for that offense, as my Mom needed to know that she could trust me. I was generally not a fan of these moments, but my Mom would always give me a number of spanks ahead of time. Almost every time, she would stop short of the last one, and tell me that she was showing me mercy and that I was free to go. I learned that we often deserve a harsher punishment or consequence, but that God, in His mercy, gives us reprieve. I also learned not to lie.
2. I learned to guard my heart. Not every silly boy who showed up at my door deserved my heart and my affections. While I might have crushed hard on a few boys, I did not have to suffer heartbreak after heartbreak because I entered into relationships with some common sense. When I did get heartbroken, Mom was always there to hug me and to talk, and most importantly pray with me.
3. I learned to be girlie and tough. One of the things I love most about my mom is that she has more jewelry than anyone I've ever met, and could open her own shop with her inventory...BUT, she also has her own toolbox and has been known to turn some wood from an old piano into a rockin' headboard with her saw and nails. She can dress to the nines and install a sink. She taught me both the value of celebrating the feminine, and the strength of doing what needs to get done.
4. I learned to believe in myself and God's gifts in my life. From the time I can remember, my Mom has instilled in me that I could be anything and do anything God called me to do or be. Her favorite saying was, "Where there's a will there's a way." I never felt that anything I wanted to do was out of reach. I wasn't always successful, but that's part of learning and growing. I'm thankful my Mom...Dad were always there to cheer me on, cheer me up, and to believe in me.
5. She taught me about the words to this hymn: "What a friend we have in Jesus...all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer."

(click here to hear my fave version of that song)

 I love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day. And I'm sorry that I just mailed your card this morning. ;)

And...I really need some copies of pictures when you were rockin' your seventies and eighties clothes. 


All I really want for Mother's Day

 Here's the part where I should write something heartwarming about how just BEING a mom is thanks enough. It is, really. I try to squeeze joy out of each minute (even the temper tantrum minutes...that seem so long). I steal kisses and hugs and light up at the thought of all little man is learning.
I can also dream. So, for this Mother's Day, I'm going to dream a big dream...a flight of fancy, if you will.
I'm going to be real. A real working mom's wish list...

What I would love:
1. A grocery concierge. Someone to go put stuff in the cart that will magically turn into meals. I'll pay for the grocery bill. I just find grocery shopping to be overwhelming and tedious. Much like staring at a full pantry and wondering what we have to EAT. (first world problems, I know)
2. Three days in a row with no morning wake-up. No alarm, no video monitor, no lawn mowing neighbors, no worries about whether I'll get an actual shower or have to resort to a bird-bath in the sink. I just want to awaken naturally and feel the cool sheets and wonder what day it is and smell some coffee...ease out of bed and take deep breaths because there's just no hurry. I sometimes get this little delight on Saturday. It feels like a morsel of heaven.
3. For my entire house to be entirely clean, even if it's just for a day. The baseboards clean, the kitchen art free from oatmeal splatters, the assortment of toys under the sofa gone, the corners of the bathroom sparkling, the laundry done, the bills all filed...I actually don't have enough imagination to see this in my mind's eye. I can only make a list and pretend that it could ever be possible in another dimension or world.
4. One day a month to do house and crafty things. Pinterest alternately inspires me and repels me. I find lots of the posts to be actual do-able decorating ideas. I just don't know when or how to accomplish them. There are always other irons in the fire, it seems. And I have limited wall space. But there is a end table in my den calling my name. I need to figure out how to get that re-done. Soon. Perhaps I'll just take a day off and send little man to school.
5. Instant hair-dryer. This one may seem silly to you. I detest drying my hair, especially May through October. It's like willfully submitting myself to a sweatbox. My hair just doesn't air dry for myriad reasons. It must be blown out. If it could happen in 30 seconds, that would be a slice of heaven.
6. More time to volunteer. I know, I went all humanitarian on my dream list. But it would be amazing to have some time that I could dedicate to helping someone else. At this point in life, I just don't know where to fit that in on a regular basis. It's kind of all I can do to take care of the ones I have.

That's a short list, right? Not too much to ask or dream?  :) Dreaming is good for the soul.

And when I get back to my reality, my never-quite-clean house, there's this little nugget to keep me smiling:


Excuse me, can we have April back? Someone stole it.

April was just a blur. There was a birthday, work events, work events, surprises, a trip to Atlanta, a trip to Greenville, work events...and I'm sure we did something fun. Oh yes, we had a birthday date night to see the Hunger Games, ate at the Beef and Bottle and saw Starving Artist's excellent spring show...and got to see Les Mis (musical version).
One fun thing I did was take a break from my no-new-clothes 2012 edict. Yup. I'm okay with it. When I pulled out my summer wardrobe in March ('cause it was already 85 degrees...what?), I realized that I was seriously struggling in the summer/warm weather clothing department. So, I took my birth-month off and picked up a few items to fill out what I had in the closet. Without making an exhaustive list of why I hate summer clothes...I just find it difficult to be dressed nicely and not be hot. I don't wear sleeveless, I'm really pale, and I hate getting sweaty in dress clothes. Just FINDING stuff I like can be a challenge.
But I think I'm back on the horse, so to speak. I should be able to swim through the summer with what I have now, after I exchange a few items that don't work. I still cannot find a decent pair of chocolate brown cotton dress pants or khakis that fit quite right. Alas, this challenge does not include my learning to sew. Maybe one day...I can sew things that fit my flat behind, my 6'11" husband, and my sure-to-be-tall son.
We're keeping up with kiddo news over on www.shepardjones.com. Which of course, ends up being some family stuff too. I'm looking forward to summer, when we can spend some time outside with the little guy and his backyard playground.
I'm thinking a LOT about how to teach him how to be in the world with others, and that he's not the only person on the planet. I'm thinking a lot about making my moments made of now enjoyable. I still need to paint something besides a wall this year. And keep plugging away at freeing the thoughts that run around in my head late at night.
In other news, I finally went back to the short haircut I love. Between that and Shepard finally answering "YES" to the question "Do you love Mommy?" I'm having a pretty good May.


What's Going On?

I can always tell when life keeps throwing extra balls into juggling routine. I don't get to jot down my thoughts. Busy is my mother-tongue, but every day I am checking in to be sure I'm doing the "right" busy stuff.
What's been going on?
1. No-new-clothes 2012: We had some seriously WARM weather for a St. Patty's day weekend, and I went scrambling into the attic for something short-sleeved and cotton. I also went digging in my closet for sandals! Sandals are the one thing I love about summer. However, after limping around work for a day and shredding the tops of my feet with a pair of black dress sandals...and remembering how I needed some all last summer, I caved and purchased some black dress sandals. The ones I had rip the top of my feet. It's just not worth it. While I was at it, I picked up a pair of bronze-colored flat sandals that should go with literally everything else in my summer wardrobe and cover the bases. These were my birthday presents.
Happy Birthday to meeeeee....

2. I continue to justify my two-shoe pick-up with the fact that one of last year's pairs of sandals actually came completely apart last Friday at the grocery store. I had to walk out with one shoe in hand and one shoe on. I don't even walk barefoot in my own house. I can't stand to have bare feet! So the idea that I was walking in a filthy parking lot kind of put me over the edge. Sadly, this was a pair of "investment" shoes. I had been looking for a pair of beige dressy yet casual sandals for years when I found these, and spent a little more on them than I normally would. Let's just say they haven't worked out. I had to take them to shoe repair last year when the soles were coming off...and last week, they entire cork wedge came apart from the top. Ugh.
3. I haven't yet purchased ANY clothing or jewelry. And hopefully won't be needing any additional shoes. I will say that it was much much easier to coast through fall/winter weather with my wardrobe than it will be for summer. Pretty much my entire summer wardrobe was purchased last year, as the post-baby-body wasn't fitting into my summer stash. So, when you see me sporting my black and white striped shirt for the bazillionth time, just know. It fits. It matches. I'm wearing the heck out of it.
4. Shepard is starting to talk and make sooo many connections. When he hears an airplane overhead and waves his hand around, as I showed him how the planes fly. His inquisitive nature is at work the moment he wakes up. I love to see him scrunch up his forehead when he's trying to work something out. He knows most of his animal noises now and attributes them to the correct animals. Crickets still buzz like bees, but that's fine.
5. Speaking of the short guy, we were sooo blessed to pull down a bag FULL of summer clothes for him. I was thinking he didn't have any, then lo and behold, a TON from my friend Jill were hiding behind a Christmas box! Thank you, Lord for your provision again and again. We were able to pass on a ton of clothes on to some other little boys too, so I'm thankful to give and receive.
6. My boss is retiring. At the end of next summer, we'll have a new President of Winthrop. Crazy, since he's been president since Jerod and I were students here (and a few years before that, even). So, the next year or so could bring lots of change to me and my co-workers as we have the "last" events all year for this president and make plans to inaugurate a new one.

I still have no idea why this list was numbered. Sometimes I just like to number things. Two of the items were about shoes. You can't help your passions, now can you? For the record, I would like to highly endorse the Clarks Privo sandal line. Stylish, flat and cushiony (see picture above). All the things a girl with bad feet and a shoe fetish could love.
Happy Spring!



I know. I know. You've been feverishly refreshing your "keeping up" blog since Friday wondering where the heck I was with a riveting flashback. It's Monday. It may or may not happen today. Last week, I was on spring break, got sick and had my folks in town for five days (yay!); so I was busy blowing my nose, having fun, going to the park, and eating out. I'm a hot flying mess today trying to get my massive work week underway. Perhaps I'll write a flash-forward, a la LOST about a time when my child magically does what I say, my nose isn't stuffy, and I'm independently wealthy and can write some each day. Yes. I like it.
See you soon! --ish.


Clothe me, Lord

I made a crazy decision to go a whole year without purchasing clothing for myself. A whole year, y'all. Here's the post on that in case you're not caught up on your "keeping up" reading...
I just felt that I should make use of the clothing I had and not feed my shopping habit. Some of you have asked me how it's going. I like to imagine about 400 of you cheering me on. I know this is also crazy, but it helps when I'm having a weak moment...
Like Friday. At Target. I went with no real list, other than Jerod needed some hair gel, Shepard could use some more socks, and I wanted to look at kiddo riding toys. I mean, why not just STROLL through the ladies clothing department? What could it hurt? I had a personal gift card I could use, so I wouldn't even spend actual MONEY if I found something. (justify much?) I looked and looked. I settled on a black and white tank top. I put it in the cart. I kept looking. I moved to shoes. If they had had those coral wedge sandals in my size, those would have gone in the cart too. I circled back into the clothing section. Tank top went back on the shelf. I really needed to pull down my summer/spring stuff before I go buying anything, I thought.
Come on, Shelley!
Then I moved on to the toddler clothes section. I filled the cart with cute little boy shorts and matching shirts for summer. Then made my way to the toy section...then felt compelled to go put most of the toddler clothes back too. I need to see what he has stashed away in the attic too, and since it's just March, there is no need to purchase his entire warm-weather wardrobe! I was having an all-out battle.
"Come on, Shelley, it was just a $9 tank top and some kid shorts..."

Yes, and it's more than that too. It's trusting God to provide. It's acknowledging that he is my source, for material goods and for my fulfillment. It's about being a steward of the closet I've amassed. It's about this:
 Matthew 6: 25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28“And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
 And I realize that not everyone needs to do what I'm doing. But it's important for me. Likewise, on Sunday, it all came home to me with Colossians 3.
12Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
I think the Lord sometimes uses real-life lessons to show us what He wants to do in our hearts. He wants me to worry about a different kind of clothing during this season. Not about being beautiful or stylish on the outside for others to see, but about being compassionate and beautiful on the inside, because I allowed his love and compassion to flow through me. As our pastor said yesterday, we don't need to just put the old ways behind us, we need to adopt NEW ways. We need to move forward with things to DO and do them.

So, perhaps this year will bring some new God-colored clothes my way. And as much as I've always detested anything heart-shaped in my style, I hope that's exactly what I'm going to get.