Emergency Preparedness: An Accidental Guide

God, in His infinite grace hasn’t meant my family to weather a power outage of longer than 1.5 hours duration.  In His mercy, he has understood us in our weakness.  Because He has promised not to send a temptation beyond what we can bear.  An hour and a half seems to be all He’s willing to trust me with.  And that’s fine with me.  I have nothing to prove in this regard.  On the occasions of the extremely short term outages we have experienced, I have found the following to be true:

1) The husband’s first task is to report directly to the refrigerator and open it in search of a snack.  “We can’t go hungry the whole time the power’s out.” (It has been three minutes.  It might be 6 hours.  Either way, YES WE CAN.)

2) The husband/dad’s covering the task of ensuring we lose a refrigerator full of food, frees the girls to run down the battery on any and all mobile devices and electronics.  “There’s nothing else to do.  We can’t watch Netflix.”  Lest you worry that we saddle our kids with all the responsibility.  Dad joins them as soon as he finishes his snack, bleeding the last pulse out of that iPhone battery.

3) When all batteries are run down enough that no charge is lasting to sunrise, that’s the time to change for bed.  It’s important, especially to the girls, to dress attractively.  Eyelet camis and co-ordinating shorts remind us that summer is never too far away, and help us stay in touch with the falling interior temperatures.

4) Meanwhile, someone should find all the candles and light each and every one.  Because we can’t watch TV, but we can read.  Like Abraham Lincoln before us, we are going to destroy our vision and use up all the candles. When bedtime comes we’ll navigate the house in total darkness.  Tripping over the shoes and backpacks will be fun.  Thank God we left them out.  Everywhere.  All the time.

5) It’s important to notify the utility services company.  In our home, this task is delegated to Dad/Hubby. “But I hardly have any charge.” Then in 45 minutes, protocol dictates that he second guess himself and do it again.  Just in case the recorded confirmation that he got the first time was in error.  Then go find the wife/mom and reassure her that they got it the second time.  Even though they got it the first time.

6)  You’ll want to gather everyone around and talk at length about all the things you can’t do.  No TV, computer, coffee, popcorn, showers, or flat ironing hair.  Of course, conversation should also include speculation as to the extent of the outages in terms of both geographic area and number of households affected.  To these imaginary numbers, should be included conjecture as to the cause of the outage.  Downed power lines, squirrel in the transformer, ice, storms, a stoned man stealing an ambulance and running it into the pole on which the transformer is mounted.  The possibilities are endless. Take advantage of this opportunity to fixate on the misery.

7)  It doesn’t require hot water to take a night time pain reliever.  (Contrary to what my kids might say.  Water in this primitive state is still potable.  The absence of ice will not create a health hazard. Neither will the lack of exposure to a tea bag.) Depending on how much is left in the bottle, you might see to it that your pain is relieved by administering the recommended dosage to your spouse and covering them with enough blankets to keep them warm and blissfully unconscious until power is restored.  If there is not enough for both of you and a decision has to be made, take it yourself.  He is on duty managing both the crisis and the emotions surrounding the technological deprivation.  Your children will sleep on their own with nothing to do.  Until the interior temps drop below 72F degrees.  Then you are gonna need to call in an expert.

 

I am participating in Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop and

 

NaBloPoMo_November_0

 

 

 

Table Manners and the Grace of God

Yesterday, I made my confession where table manners is concerned.  It’s shocking.

You raise them up.  Maybe, say, you homeschooled.  All along you thought it was about the way school is done in a world where there are no wrong answers (I wouldn’t let my kid become an astronaut under the circumstances).  Eventually, they get big and recalcitrant and you wonder.

Right now.

I’m just about back in square.  I was a little sideways for awhile.

The table manners.  They don’t play three musical instruments.  They don’t speak three languages.

They can dance.  One can rap.

I wanted a picture perfect.  I got a tear-stained, snot-smeared, spit-fragranced struggle.  And a rapper.  They are probably geniuses, but will openly admit they knew it was two against one.  Their test scores will get them into community college (which is freaking fine with me because it’s free.  Free.).  We get sideways looks because their future plans aren’t pre-med, pre-law, pre-vet, pre-professional.  They aren’t looking at schools that can beat the local university in football.  Never mind the Ivy League or the full ride scholarships in piano, voice, or engineering.

Two weeks ago, their friend told them their mother needed to get with it.

Because I’m trying to get into a better school?  Nope.

I’m about to break it down in terms even a kid who isn’t majoring in bio-medical engineering can understand.

Get in.

Sit down.

Shut up.

Hold on.

I’m gonna tell you this, and I don’t want any arguments.  Well, I probably wouldn’t know how to move forward without arguments.  So.  Whatever.

I’m pretty sure one or more of my daughters was diagnosable with one or more of: ADHD, ODD, or RAD for most of their childhoods.  These people are adopted.  All of those are more prevalent in adopted kids; as are the 7 Core Issues – loss, rejection, grief, identity, guilt/shame, intimacy & relationships, and control/gains.

HELLO.

WE ARE STILL FREAKING ALIVE.

They are probably not diagnosable today.

I’m not claiming credit for anything.  I’m probably more like that person in the movies who plants their feet and ducks their head and lets the firestorm hit them full force.

It has been that ugly.

A year ago, I was rejoicing in the tremendous treasure that our lives are.  We are alive.  Healthy.  Enthusiastic.  Their teachers llurrrve them.  We enjoy each other.  We laugh, pray, shop, and gossip together.  We fight over clothes, chores, and school work.  I felt the full affirmation of God that we are where we are and it was just okay to be us.  On that day in May when Emma came home and told me someone had asked why she didn’t aim higher, I was shattered.  I let it drain away my joy.  Every place I look, there is a kid whose homeschooling family has lifted him or her up to super achievements.  And here we are, just in the middle. There is no way to describe this to anyone that’s going to make much sense.  I’ve experienced God’ pleasure.  Why worry about the opinions of a bunch of people?  Is that anyone’s worry but mine?

They will graduate under the sideways looks of all those close enough to us to wonder why we didn’t aim higher.

Higher than hoping to have a whole healthy family.

And not to see their food when they chew.

By the grace of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Informed Consent

In the reading for my classes, there has been mention of informed consent, in terms of research study’s responsibility for letting participants know what’s up with the study, their part in it, any risks, and what they may expect in terms of an expression of gratitude… cash?  a warm handshake?  a giftcard to the side show freak superstore?

Informed consent.

Life has been calling my name.

Last night, I got in late.  It was a little past ten.

Shut up.

I almost changed my fb status to:

THERE ARE TOO MANY THINGS TO DO.

But I didn’t.

OK, I gotta let you know I just realized, how much flackbook subs in for actually living.  I mean, I knew, but it just took my breath away.  And don’t start with me.  We aren’t adopting.  No one is graduating.  We aren’t moving.  THERE IS NOTHING TO UPDATE IN MY LIFE.  “Washed the car.”

Maggie.

NO. ONE. CARES.

I digress.

I was talking about how I am using informed consent today.

So a gal and I exchanged blog names over a bagel and decaf.

The blog has been calling my name.  I’ve been telling myself I didn’t have time.  I have been telling myself the truth.

Everything has been calling my name.

I am up to my tramp stamp* in stuff to do.

No end in sight.

But this morning, I have looked back at the last year and a half on the blog.

God said, “See.”

I said, “Yes, thank you.”

There is where I track the wound, the treatment and healing, the return to the field of play, and the victory.

He whispered back that he wants to hear it too.

It’s not supposed to go by the wayside for birthdays and Father’s Day and volleyball and driving people to work who refuse to practice driving.  Not even for a clean house.

It’s a gift to me.

He offered it back to me.

The downside, is that I have to make it fit in with all the rest.  Discipline.

Just letting me know what’s involved before I agree to participate.

Informed consent.

The purpose, the risks, the payoff.

Let’s just be honest.

If I move my foot, He always gives more than I can enjoy.

Sort of like the promised land.

A battle to possess.

A taste of milk and honey.

The call to dance to His song in the night.

 

 

 

*I don’t have a tramp stamp.  I think I’m funny.

 

That Scandalous Post Where She Goes Right Over the Edge

NO, seriously.

I haven’t been alone since January.

People enter the bathroom when I am showering.  People talk to me the whole time I pee.

I am with someone all the time.  All. The. Time.

Gah, I love these people, but I cannot have the same conversation again.

I can’t read a book or everyone has a catastrophic breakdown, moral and otherwise.  The grocery store is just another kind of contact.  Strangers, who must talk with you.

Panera has a higher population density than China.  Except in China, I don’t know 40%  of everyone who comes through the door.  And it’s SO loud.  Panera.  And China.

We go to extracurricular activities and community events.

Not enough anything else.

They act up.

We ground ’em.

So…they can’t go anywhere.

No.  I gotta be real.  We don’t really ground them, anymore.  Per se.

BECAUSE WE NEED A LITTLE SPACE.  AND THAT IS PUNISHING ME.

Did I mention, they never go to bed? I mean, they do, but it’s so freaking late.   I haven’t got what it takes to stay up and prowl around after they’ve gone to bed (I’m too old.  If I had my way, I would eat dinner at 4:3o and be in bed by 8:00.).  That’s an inconvenience in all the ways you grown people just figured out.  So, yeah.I..’m not just tired of being with people, but I’m not complaining.

I’m complaining.

They won’t practice driving so they can get their facacta licenses.

So I have to take them everywhere.

I love them.  They’re better than your kids.  A lot better (Don’ t even start, you’re supposed to think that about your kids, too.).

They can memorize anything the first time through.  All three of them.

They love food.  All of it.  No picky eaters.

They are nice people.  Every one of them.

The dogs.  They’re nice, too.

The kids are fun.  They get it from me.

They’re good kids.  Except for right now.  Right now, they’re up to their collective arse.

And I have to be the enforcer.

Tonight, was the Spring Concert for choir.  I love choir.

Except.

I’m.

Fried.

Like an egg.

Totally fried.

 

 

 

 

Jumping Off

You know when you were a kid and you would climb the diving board for the first time in the summer.  It had been a long time since you’d been so high in the air, mostly naked, and you’re about to jump free any bond to the earth and hit the water, which is probably too cold.  But you’re so excited and people are waiting….  You have to go.

It’s the chance of disaster that makes the blood race.

You could lose your suit.  You could get water so far up your nose that your dirty mind is no longer.  You could get that saddest of results– the pool enema.   You could drown.  Or you could simply look like a cartoon and get a nickname that you carry to the grave.

But it never stopped you.

You went anyway.  For the promise of relief from the heat.  To fly for a second.  For the momentary feeling of weightlessness.  For the feeling on your skin; first the air and then the water.   For the little brain rush of doing something a little dangerous, but with a certified lifeguard on the chair.

So you grow up and view the diving board as a ridiculous way to hurt for three days.

You have other planks to walk.

Deciding if it is worth the risk.

You’ve had the brain wash.  You’ve had the enema.  You already have the bad name.  You’re already naked in midair.

You have to decide if the damage to future relationships is worth it.  Because you know you don’t care about the relationship with the person you’d need to speak to.

You have to decide exactly why you want to make the jump at all.

For the bliss of the flight?  For relief from the heat?  For the weightlessness?

For the washing of living water on a thirsty soul?

I hate this.

Geronimo.

 

What Are You Afraid Of?

As I write, I’ve been battling a migraine for five days.  Pragmatics indicate an exam by a licensed medical professional.  The pain has made me too tired to put up with a doctor’s crap.

Memory takes me back 22 months to the start of a headache that lasted several weeks.  Fear grips me.

Momentarily.

Then another memory comes into focus.

And another.

And another.

I fear nothing.

I’ve lived a good deal of my life bound by fear.  Of whatever.  Once the fear is installed, it can borrow objects.  Once one is removed, another can take its place.  Seamlessly.

It’s not the object.  It’s the feeling.

Addictive.

Like hard liquor or Candy Crush.

It’s a chemical in the brain.

I’ve been a pretty fearful person.

One day, I got a call that changed everything.  The standard for the worst that could happen changed.  Statistically, it was unlikely to happen twice.  And then.  Everyone survived.

I stopped obsessing about impressing.

The “four-second rule” turned into the “three-minute rule”.

I fought for “truth-in-love” honesty.  I was spectacularly clumsy and awkward.

Stunningly.

Permanently. Irrevocably.

Make-a-freaking-name-for-yourself.

Clumsy.

Truthful and loving?  Yes.

Smooth?

No.

Because it was “Get it all out there and it will be messy and disorganized, and we’ll sort through it.”

In my religion, people don’t do it that way.

It feels weird.

But. You know Maggie.

We all lived.  I became fantastically in love with it.  Jesus.  People.  The process.

Totally unafraid.

You may be afraid of snakes or clowns or public speaking.  Or, maybe you deeply fear something much more complex.

Listen to me now, while I am still sitting up.

The worst that can happen already has.  And we survived.

Go ahead.  Join the circus.  Get that basket and play the recorder.  Preach that sermon.

Ask that princess, who is so obviously out of your league, to the ball.

Offer your friendship, full and free, to someone incredibly cool.

The worst that can happen?

Is none of your business.

Grab onto what scares you, now.

Throw your head back.

And laugh.

 

 

 

 

Counted Out

In a way, I am not much of a fighter.

In another, I am a guerilla waiting for my opportunity.

I refused to follow in generational footsteps.

I didn’t get pregnant as a teen.

I didn’t abandon my children.

I didn’t become an alcoholic.  Obviously, that’s still open to me if I choose.

I finished college.

Perhaps, that doesn’t seem like a victory because both my mother and father, demanded I stay in school, even though I really didn’t know what I wanted to do.  One of those people wanted to make sure I could get a good job and be off the books.  The other always expected nothing but failure from me and told me so.  And was always surprised when I didn’t fail per the prediction.

I did what I was told in school; I got results, as promised.

What. In. The. @#$%.

I didn’t even get pregnant in college.  Not that it’s a measure of anything, folk were just planning on it.

The trouble I got into?

Strictly PG-13.  OK, I dabbled in R, but it made my nerves bad.

Yeah, quite a rebel.

Graduating in the top 10% of the university.

Working a job.  Even if I was under-employed all the time for a little while.

Staying married.

How dare she?

Yeah, it was clear all along that every victory was unexpected.

From being good in school, to being good on a date.  From being hard working to being funny. From being thin to being able to dress well.

Total freaking shock.  Disappointment.

Years pass.

Slow years of working through that @#$% alone.  Anchored to my feelings of being unloved and not enough.

Then.

A fast year of learning to believe God.  FOR REAL.  Not just believing in Him.

Just when the harvest of the peaceful fruit is starting to ripen…

when I’m learning to dance in the rain.

when I’m able to share with someone else.

And able to believe what He says about loving His own refers to me.

Comes a voice from the past.  A cakehole, who doesn’t know anything about me, reads me like a book and hits the chink in the armor.  The laser hits the processor.  I am debilitated.  Fighting unseen hands that would reclaim me to that dark place I was never meant to inhabit.

I will not surrender the battle.

Having drunk of the joy,

danced to the song,

worn the garment.

Having taken my seat at the table, I will not take up the burden of my own salvation, again.

I won’t own failures that aren’t mine; I won’t be nailed to a cross for someone else’s sin.

I won’t withhold forgiveness from someone who seems to never have felt the Father’s love.

I will walk in the green pasture.  Beside the Stillwater.

My soul restored.

It might hurt.  It could bleed.

When they counted me out, their math was bad.

They forgot to factor in the truth.

It sets you free.

 

Algebra: post high school use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving Life

If you’ve read the blog for any length of time, you know I’ve struggled to stay positive while feeling life had me pinned to the mat.

I might have turned the corner.  I hate to lay hands on the thing, but 2013 reeeeeeeeeeeeally contained much in the way of polishing, burning off dross and chipping off all the pieces that didn’t look like what God wanted me to look like when He’s done.

Am I claiming to be a better person?

Oh, No.

Just more aware of the furious love of God.

The thing is.

He didn’t just reveal His love for me, to me.  I got to see into other lives He wants to liberate.

It’s made me a pain in the ass neck, quite frankly.  Mostly just Mickey’s, but I can give you other references.

I’m speaking the truth about stuff.  And a good bit of the time, it’s not decorated with ribbons and flowers, so it might not look like love.  But.  As God is my witness (as if He isn’t always), I hope I never again see something dangerous in the bud and say, “That’s none of my business.”  “Their family knows and is handling it.”  “It’s just a phase.”  “I don’t have enough authority to speak into their lives.” “They probably have a lot of people in their lives who can.”

Look. If I see it.  That means God saw meant for me to see it.  Those other people probably can’t see it because they are too close.

I will not turn my back on the call to love.  Ever again.

Sometimes love means wading through the shit business with someone.

Sometimes love means standing back because I’ve been invited to “step off.”

But then it means standing in front of God on behalf of that situation until the stone rolls away.

UNTIL THE STONE ROLLS AWAY!!!

I hope to keep short accounts in all my relationships.

I hope to hate sin more and love sinners more.

I hope to help Him liberate captives.

If that is the plan.

I’m on fire like this.

I’ve already fallen on the road.  Palms and knees bloody, I learned a lesson.

Love hurts.

Obedience has a cost.

Neither is as painful or as costly as their alternative.

 

 

“…[B]ut if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

 

 

 

 

Simple Story

Several months ago, Mickey suggested I consider going back to school.  He thought I should look into the MFA in Creative Writing at UT (Tennessee.  I know, I don’t think it’s right either, but there are only 26 letters in the alphabet. I don’t live in Fricassee.  Well, now look at that.  Actually, some days I do.  I digress.).

I found out who I needed to speak to, got distracted, and never followed up.  The admissions process looked difficult.  In my opinion; difficult is stupid.  I’m SO old school, I think people should speak on the phone, learn cursive, have a favorite kind of pen, wear their pants pulled up, and I’m really uncomfortable with visible tattoos (I think it goes back to the State Fair when I was a kid. That said, I’ve been campaigning for a navel piercing. Mickey is in opposition.  Except, he wants to know how much it would cost.  But, you’ll never know if I get it.  Unless you follow me on Instagram.).

Really, really old school.

Time passed,  Mickey didn’t forget about it, but I did.

One of our daughters decided what she wants to do.  Doesn’t look to the right or to the left.  She’s decided to be a dental hygienist.  Period.  Shut up. Leave her alone.

The other daughter simply doesn’t know.  If you walked downstairs and asked her this minute, she would say she is going to be an interior designer.  If you had asked her last Saturday, she would have said phlebotomist.  On any Saturday in February, she would have said, cosmetologist.   There is an upward trend, yet, cosmetology has been her mainstay, as you can walk to an Aveda Institute from our house.  In January, however, she was exploring her options.

One day, we drove out to a little Bible college, tucked into the hills.  She was stoked.

I thought in the interest of research, we’d visit another Christian University nearby.  I couldn’t get any takers.  I knew we needed to go.  We kept getting mail from them.  Offers of free basketball tickets for the family, if the high school student takes a tour.

“We’ll take the day off school.”

*crickets chirping*

I grumbled and clicked over to their website to find a picture of a cute boy or a danish or something.

My hand slipped and I clicked Adult and Graduate Programs.

I shot them a quick e-mail.

They referred me to a departmental advisor.

She and I talked on the phone.

I told her my interest, but also my barriers.  It was way simpler than I thought.  When we got off the phone, I told her I would talk to my husband.

Okay, here’s the deal.  I probably shouldn’t say this, because then everyone will know, but a lot of times, I “talk to my husband about it” so I don’t have to move forward.  To Mickey, a decision is like buying a gun, there should be a 30 day waiting period.

I promptly called him to activate my 30 days.  I told him about the call.  Things were simpler…graduate assistant-ships…blah blah…

He said, “You need to do it.”

Right there.  Right then.

I went home and looked at the online application.  I sort of filled it out.  I had work to do, so I didn’t send because I was scared there were blanks I couldn’t answer.  I just navigated away.  It wouldn’t be a big deal to fill my name, address and phone number again.

The next day, I got an email from the office of Graduate admissions letting me know that my application had been received but that I had left a field blank.

WHAT!!!

At this point, let me take a break and tell you about a little side story.  We love to hit Plato’s Closet.  It’s a juniors and young men’s re-sale shop.  In January, we breezed through with some Christmas money.  I kept holding up this striped sweater.

“Hey! Y’all.  Someone get this sweater.  J. Crew.  Cool colors.”

Who do I think I am?

I tried on some skinnies from the $1 rack.  They were…size 2.  It was a triumph.  I got the freaking sweater.  Because, size 2.  That’s why.

So, back to my story, where I sneaked behind my own back and applied to grad school.

I went for my interview with departmental advisors.  I’ve never had so smooth an interview in my life.  There were high fives and cheering.  Someone told me there was a possibility I could….

Publish.

I know what that means.

She said it quickly, but I got it.

Like a perch gets a worm.

I was hooked.  Through the eye.  As usual (usual for the perch.  Not me.).

Hooked.

In a couple of weeks, I received a call.  Not the one where I talked to the gal in admissions about everything under the sun for 45 minutes.  I love her.  Different call.  Department head asking which program I was interested in and the names are being changed, and was that okay, and look for a letter in a couple of weeks.

She and whomever was in the background were… Giggling.

Yes, America Jennifer and Carrie.  I received this in the mail:

IMG_2614

Manicure Level: Lower Primate

 

And.  Even before the trip to the first college…

IMG_2091

Selfie Level: Senior Citizen

A sweater in school colors.

Confirmation? The people who matter instantly affirmed the idea. The kids and my best friends are excited. Geeked.

Who hesitated?  Exactly whom you’d expect.  The ones who don’t love you enough to let you follow your path unless it’s the same as theirs.

Apparently, God submitted my application and gave me a sweater.

Mickey didn’t forget.

Dream. Come. True.

#bookwormstatus

 

 

A Little Lovin’ In the Oven or the Crock-Pot

What I had intended to write about yesterday was sex, but other more burning issues pre-empted that post.  Sorry.  You missed out.

Today, I am going to share a recipe.

This could have been prevented.

Previously, I shared a lasagna recipe that you could find online and add the after-market details to make into something special.

Today, I am sharing Creamy Chicken Breasts.  Some people call it Swiss Chicken.  Both those names are foreign to my home as we call this Lindsay Chicken for the very special woman who shared the recipe.

LINDSAY CHICKEN

4 WHOLE CHICKEN BREASTS

8 (4X4″ ) SLICES SWISS CHEESE

1 CAN CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP

1/4 CUP DRY WHITE WINE

1 CUP HERB SEASONED STUFFING MIX

1/4 CUP BUTTER

Arrange chicken in a lightly greased 13 x 9 x 2″ baking dish.  Top with cheese.  Combine soup and wine in a medium bowl, stirring well.  Spoon sauce over chicken evenly and sprinkle with stuffing mix.  Drizzle melted butter over the crumbs.  Bake at 350 for 45 to 55 minutes.  Yield: 8 servings.

That’s the basic recipe off the page Lindsay gave me (she never made it that way either).  Here’s what you do to make this really,really something to roll around naked in special:

DOUBLE THE SOUP

DOUBLE THE WINE

DOUBLE THE BUTTER

MASH SOME POTATOES

DON’T EVEN DO INSTANT

JESUS IS NOT A FAN OF INSTANT

IT’S EASY AND DOESN’T TAKE THAT MUCH MORE TIME

Another great feature of this recipe is that you can be done in the slow cooker.  Like so:

Don’t make fun of my crock-pot.

One of my daughters recently commented that she couldn’t wait to have a boyfriend to cook for.  (Okay, cutest thing,…ever.)

I know he’ll be enjoying some Lindsay Chicken.  Lucky devil.

 

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