Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cheetos and Bluetooth

Those days where the second part is full, busy, productive, tiring and you look back and think 'I got a lot of stuff done today' -- had one of those today. I gave where I needed to give. Asserted myself when required. Laughed when appropriate. Put on my serious face when it made sense.


Then, I got into my car and started to drive home and remembered this third part was fuller and busier than I prefer. Ideal third part is going straight home and not having to cook dinner. It's not having to pack a lunch or lay out clothes or organize for the following day. Today's third part was not an ideal third part. It was more like what my third parts tend to be most nights during the school year. Not during the summer. It's still summer, right?

Oh, my summer is kinda over. Not the reminder I wanted August 9.

I had one daughter at the gym where my husband coaches. First stop, park and get her. Second stop, drive and get the other daughter at a friend's house who served as driver and hostess this afternoon after horse riding camp.

OK, if today's third part requirement was just a simple two-different place pick up, I'd have been fine. Yeah, that wasn't all I had to do in the third part.

Let me back up.

I ate almost half a bag of puffy Cheetos this afternoon at work. And, toward the end of work, I started in on a bag of crunchy Cheetos. A few of us were trying to show how we ate puffy Cheetos which I interpreted as 'let's keep eating them until the other people in the room really notice and take in how you eat puffy Cheetos.' No one cared that much, but I couldn't stop with just one -- that's Lay's, but it still applied in my case.

I was eating Cheetos not because it was a part of my latest diet plan, but because they were at the table and I felt the pressure of the upcoming days at work. Big days a coming and loads of accountability I'm feeling.

I trust my partners at work, yes. I know they are capable of delivering to expectations, yes. But. This. Is. A. Big. Deal.

Pass the puffy Cheetos.

Then, let's add in a Reese's Peanut Butter cup because that's another junk food item that needs explanation to how you eat it, right?

Or, let's step back and realize that there is a lot of coordination of life occurring in today's third part and the next two days.

More Cheetos, please.

The voice inside my head said, put them down, so I didn't finish the crunchy Cheetos. I drank some water, chewed some gum and headed home.

As written above, heading home involved two stops. Both of which were on my way and rewarding in that I saw my husband before his evening arrival home and I caught up with a friend (driver and hostess).

(I've a lot of thank you cards to write in the next few days and some gifts to buy.)

(When your thank-you list grows long, you know you have been asking for more than usual from others.)

(My thank-you list is long right now. It's really long.)

But before I even put the car in park while at the first pick-up stop, I'm finishing up a work call. It's a static-y mess of a call where I think I hear my work colleague and I say things such as 'glad we are on the same page.' That makes me want to throw up that I actually use those words seriously.

At the start of the call that my colleague and I tried to have a couple of times during the Cheetos-eating part of the day, she said she hoped I could hear her through the Bluetooth. I said yes because yeah, I could at that moment. And, then, as the call went in and out of range and static, I gave. There were no puffy Cheetos in the car so I tried my best to listen. Even upon parking, I tried to hang on and did that pressing a finger into my other ear to really hear.

I think I agreed with my colleague on what we need to agree and then we hung up. I went about the rest of my third part and started the pick-up efforts.

Agreeing over concepts at work seems so important at times. It seems as if it is life-saving surgery. At times, I let the tasks of work overtake the necessary tasks of life. I get into a mode of my job is critical to life, rather than my life is critical to me. And, that is plain ridiculous.

I care about my job. I do. I know I am making a difference.

It's just at times, it tries to become larger than my life. It interferes with the third and fourth part. It becomes too much. And, I remember that I need to be making a difference not because I'm paid to do so but because I want to do so. I need to turn off work once I leave. I need to honor my family. I need to be present in this life that if I blink my children are off and on to the next chapter of their lives.

And, I know that my role as wife, mom, sister, friend, aunt, daughter and yes, employee can be fulfilled by being true to myself and God. He tells us in Colossians 3:23 to work at whatever we do with all our heart as working for the Lord, not for men.

Maybe that's why I get tired, maybe that's why I want people to hear my voice at work. Maybe that's why I'm on a Bluetooth call with a co-worker figuring out how and why we agree on something. Maybe that's why puffy Cheetos become the plug for my mouth.

I sometimes (ugh, do I write oftentimes) work for men. The literal sense of working for men, yeah, I do, but when Paul writes this letter to the people of Colosse he's writing to refute heresy existing in the young church there. He's writing to share that we can find completeness in Christ. We don't need the praise of man.

We don't need puffy Cheetos, either.

So, when, the girls and I arrive home and we create agreements around the remaining third part activities, I have to make sure I'm not just running a list of tasks to make work just be work. The list is long. Pick a leo for tomorrow. Start a load of laundry. Get dinner on the table. Pack suitcases for a couple of day's at Camp Grandmother and Granddad. Talk to my son about his apartment. Go through the mail. Run bath water and wash two heads of hair. Put together tomorrow's lunch and snack for gymnastics.

Reminder -- work with all my heart as if I'm working for the Lord.

Everyone pitches in and I can feel the fourth part coming -- it's RHONY season finale and I've the RHOC on DVR. Big, big fourth part. And, I've a new bottle of rose chilling in the refrigerator picked up from Trader Joe's yesterday.

I'm working. I'm working for my family because as a mom and wife that's my way of working for the Lord. I'm honoring that time. I'm reading Charlotte's Web with the girls.

I'm putting everyone to bed. I'm turning on the TV and I'm getting a fourth part.

Without puffy Cheetos, without Bluetooth.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Eyebrow Pencils and Cornbread

All of us recognize when summer is coming to an end. I don't mean the actual calendar date of when we are to claim fall over summer. I mean when the start of school occurs.

Some people know it comes by the turning of the calendar pages to August. Others know by the tax-free weekend sales and school supply displays at grocery stores. Many recognize the close of summer by the influx of school activity calendars -- that have dates beginning before school starts?

In my house, there are three activities indicating summer is coming to a close. The first -- a big work activity that happens mid-August every year. The second -- coaches school, freshman football camp and two-a-days. The third -- Chris goes back to college.



And, ugh.

This summer, we've had the bucket list, we've had family game nights and we've been to the beach twice. We've watched plenty of Netflix (Caroline has a goal to watch all that are in the kids' queue. Today, was Pee Wee's Big Adventure) and eaten more popsicles than I can count.

Yet, it's coming to an end.



And, ugh.

It's hot. Really hot. Hot as how my grandmother would describe the placement of Devine, TX, on this Earth -- either straight over hell or directly below the hole in the ozone layer hot. It's so hot, you don't want to be outside except when you are neck deep in a swimming pool. Or at the beach. (Oh, how I wish we could squeeze in one more trip.)

And, because it is so fire hot, we limit late afternoon activities. But, when we do have the need to get out of the house, we run those errands and get ourselves to the places where we need getting faster than well, someone trying to get out of the fire. It's hot. So hot.

This afternoon, after a day full of planning and organizing and re-planning and re-organizing my big work thing, I volunteered to pick up Camille from gymnastics. I knew I still had to do some work once I arrived home, but I needed to do a quick run to Sephora. It's in the mall. It requires parking in a parking lot that is out in the heat.

I had to go today because I had used every last drop of my foundation -- it weeps off my skin in this heat so I was able to stretch it because I don't use too much in these summer months -- and had a stub of an eyebrow pencil left. I couldn't even sharpen my pencil anymore because it was too short.

Apparently, Sephora was the place to be on a Wednesday afternoon.Air conditioning, maybe? All I needed was the foundation and eyebrow pencil. Everyone else in that store wanted to talk returns and product allergies and girlfriend gifts. My little gymnast and I navigated the tight product-laden aisles and waited in line. While it went faster than expected, it was still drawn out. Like my eyebrows will be tomorrow.

I'm not so hip that I blend two or three colors, use the liquid setting gel or even get a good brush in most days, but I do have a pencil. Maybe because I have those bald spots in my brows. Or those gray hairs.

These last few weeks have had atypical fourth parts. I've watched plenty of Party of Five on Netflix (oh, the fashions!) and played many card games with the family, but I've also been searching Pinterest for pink hair ideas. You see, while my brows are balding as I age, I have a dear, dear friend in the midst of chemo for her breast cancer and her hair will fall out and no stinking eyebrow pencil can help. The fourth parts of doing what I want to do have been that but it's also been praying for my friend and trying to figure out gifts and casseroles to take to my friend.

It all seems just not right. This friend also works with me and is very involved in the big work thing I mentioned above. I have told her countless times I don't need anything from her for work, I just need her. But, it's so nice to have her at work because she's a part of my band.

It doesn't seem right to be shopping at Sephora, watching crappy TV and thinking about backpack ordering and school supply shopping when my friend is . . . her life is forever changed.

It doesn't seem right to be thinking about my stinking selfish fourth parts when I need to be thinking of meals and care calendars and inspirational sayings to share with her.

It doesn't seem right that I'm frustrated I have to make homemade cornbread to go with the beans G made for dinner tonight rather than pop open a box of Jiffy cornbread mix when I should be frustrated my friend has to think about all the foods she can and cannot eat.

It doesn't seem right for me to be picking out just the right color of eyebrow pencil when she's looking at her new hairstyle in the mirror and wondering how it will grow back after her treatments are done.

It doesn't seem right that I'm continuing to claim the scripture that God works for good and that he has the peace that passes all understanding and we can cast our anxieties on Him.


That is right. I should do that.

I should be deep, deep in God's word as I pray for my friend. I should be even deeper as I speak to her about all that I know my mighty God can do. I should go way deep when we cry and pray together.

Yes, our summers are coming to a close and we all have different indicators. My friend is in a whole other season right now. It's not simply defined by a date on a calendar or the placement of the moon or sun in the sky. It's a season no one wants to be in, and yet she and her family are just starting to plan for it, shop for it and live in it.

Ecclesiastes 3 runs through the time for everything and a 'season for every activity under heaven.' You can hear Simon and Garfunkel singing now . . .'to everything turn, turn, turn, there is a season turn, turn, turn.' Right?

When you spend time in Ecclesiastes after you've read Psalms and Proverbs, you see it's the author (King Solomon?) trying to explain life. He's taking stock and looking around to then share that God controls and orders all things. In those moments of study, you want to get a little peeved because if you are in a season that is far from enjoyable or is extremely difficult to endure, you don't want to read that we just punt to God and all is for His purpose.

But it is. And when you sit and marinate in that and you really go deep, that's all we can think. We can't figure it out. We can't understand. We can't know why something bad happens to someone so good. My friend is really good. She's so good, she's great. We don't call her Wonder Woman for nothing.

We can recognize that God does provide, He does work for good and He makes everything beautiful in his time. He sets up this desire for eternal life in our hearts and soul wanting us to have him fill that -- where we ask Him for eternal life because he sent his son to die on the cross for us to save us.

He doesn't need eyebrow pencils. He doesn't need a good cornbread recipe.

He just needs our hearts.