Saturday, April 19, 2014

The In-Between

Yesterday was Good Friday.

A handful of years ago, I wrote about my take on Good Friday....and what's so good about it anyway.  Feel free to check that out HERE...

Tomorrow is Easter.

Today is the "in between."

I hate in between.

In between represents waiting.

In between means not knowing.

When someone says "I'm 'in between' jobs," it means they don't have one.  They used to.  And they hope to again.  They are waiting.  In between.

When someone says "I'm 'in between' a rock and a hard place," they are feeling stuck.  Trying to make a decision between two things; neither of which sound hopeful.

I am in an "in between" stage in life.  Not a rock-and-a-hard-place sort of thing.  And not an 'in between something I used to have and something I hope to.

Just in-between.

Kids are growing up.  They still need me as their mama.  Present and accounted for.  But not in the same way they needed me 5, 10 and 17 years ago.

And not the same way they will need me in another 5, 10 and 17 years.

I'm in an 'in between' state with my relationship.  Not married, but not just dating.  Not a bad thing, by any means...just 'in-between.'

I learned that I'm sort of 'in between' when it comes to my professional writing status.  I have the experience and bylines.  But not the degree.  I'm taking steps towards the latter while continuing with the former.  Not a bad place.  But still...in between.

Personally, I have hope for all of the areas that I am 'in between' in. 

And I am reminded of that today....the Saturday in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Last night I watched the "Passion of the Christ" with Brian and his daughter.  It was horrific.  It brought to life the last 12 hours of Jesus' life.

There was nothing pastel or spring-like or warm and fuzzy about Mel Gibson's depiction.

It was a visual reminder of the evil that exists and the evil that Jesus took on.  For me.

I've seen this movie before.  And I've taken away different messages from it before.

But this time I was struck by something way different.

THE IN BETWEEN.

What must Mary have thought as she watched her son tortured?  Surely, as a mama, she thought she would never recover. 
What did the disciples think while they watched the one they followed die.
Surely everything they thought was going to happen didn't play out they way they envisioned...during the last 12 hours of Jesus' life.
Surely Peter, who denied Jesus 3 times when all of this was going on, was distraught and not sure if he could ever recover.  

Surely anyone who was there, who had witnessed Jesus say "it is finished," and then die, questioned whether or not there was any hope beyond that.

Especially the day after.

The day in between.  The day of darkness.  The day of no hope. 

The day in between what you have seen and what you don't yet know.

Fortunately,  the end of the story is so way far out there, way far better, and way far witnessed and true.

Jesus did conquer death.  And He did it the way it was prophesied.  As the temple that was rebuilt after being destroyed 3 days before.

I could elaborate on that.  Show scripture. Act spiritual.   Pretend that I understand way more than I do. 

Maybe another time.

Right now it is Saturday.

The day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

For me as a christian, I can say I understand and believe the end of the story.  That's why we can call Good Friday, Good Friday.

For today....I understand the Saturday.

The in-between.

The part where everything looks dark, nothing is certain, and hope is something that just might have died a day ago.

I'll bet that others can relate to this in their own lives.

All I can say is that I know the end of the story.

I don't know how it will look here on earth.  I don't even know what we are having for Easter dinner tomorrow.

But I know that in the end of the "Easter Story," after Jesus is seen and he tells others in Mark 16:7 "but go, tell the disciples and tell Peter...."

Jesus wanted Peter to come.  To know.  That even though Peter denied Jesus, as was predicted, there is still hope.  Jesus is alive. And Peter is loved.  And wanted.  And not forgotten.  And specifically asked for.

I makes the whole "in between" thing okay for me.

Not 'cause I have all the answers.  And not because I want to answer for anyone else but myself.  And not because my answer is the same as yours, because you are a follower of Christ. 

But because Christ is who He said he was.  He did what He said He would do.  And He did and accomplished what was prophesied.  (journalist tend to look for facts over feelings)

There was an 'in between.'

And there is now.

I know where my "in between" is.....

and I know it won't be the same for you.

But no doubt you are in one.

And here is my *asterisk on this blogpost.....Do you have hope for whatever your tomorrows hold?

I'm here to tell you that it doesn't matter if you make tents (Peter), pump gas, give massages, write best-sellers.....

....whether you can see it today or not....

....there is a purpose, even in the in-betweens.





Monday, April 14, 2014

There's an App for That

Whatever question you have, need for information, entertainment or just because...there is undoubtedly an App for that.

Need to know the calorie count of your supper tonight?  There's an app for that.

Want to know what's trending in the news?  There's an app for that.

Want to play a game while waiting in the car in between events at a track meet?  There's an app for that.

Want to keep track of all of the places you've pooped?  It's true; there's an app for that.  *please see footnote for how I know this to be true. *please and thank you.

These days, there is an app for everything. 

I kind of hate this. And I kind of love it. 

When I was a kid, computer class was a 1 semester, optional class.  When we wrote our papers on the computer, the screen was full of "<" and ">" and other coding things and the words of the actual paper felt secondary to the grade if we didn't get all the code for it to print off just right. 

Typing class was also a 1 semester class.  We used typewriters that were plugged in to outlets.  Some of the fancier ones gave us the ability to see on a one-line screen what we had typed in before it would actually type out the line; thus eliminating the need for white-out and typing over it if need be. 

Oh, how vintage.

Things are so way different now.  As I look back and look at the now, it sort of feels like "little house on the prairie" compared to the virtual world I am raising my kids in.

I hate it.  And I love it.

I hate it because we no longer have to walk to the library, spend time browsing the shelves together and pick up our books and magazines that we think look interesting. 

Because there is an app for all of that.

I hate it because I can get the news before I get my actual newspaper, and that was how I relaxed with my coffee before the day started.

I hate it because the dinner time that I knew growing up with actually revolved around food at a table with everyone in the family.  For good or for bad, we connected there.  In person.
Did you know there's an app for that?

Hate that.

But on the other side of the coin, I love it.

I know my kids are involved in school, sports and other worthy things.  They are proud of it and so am I.  I can't always be at everything they are involved in.  But fortunately, there's an app for that.

Living in a divorced situation, I have never underestimated the power of text/photos/snapchat to keep in touch while the kids are with their dad.  I love that app.  I'm sure that works both ways.

When my teenagers send me snapchats of the fun they are having....love it.

When they send me messages of the not-so-fun-stuff....I don't love it, but I love being privy to what's going on.

In all honesty, they are able to keep in touch with me in far more ways than I was with my own parents.

For good or for bad....that connection...I love it.  Especially when it comes to family devotions. 

Long gone are the days when I was able to have "family devotions" the way my parents did; at the dinning table and after dinner.  These days the kids are all over the place and so am I trying to keep up with them. 

But I still try to feed them the way my parents did me...physically and spiritually. 

We may not always be together over a casserole and a scripture verse. 

But I can pack a lunch bag with both.

And when that doesn't work, I can share a link.  An app I share with the kids.  To send a message, read a verse or a quote that goes with the turkey and cheese sandwich I packed for them. 

Turkey and cheese...how vintage!

But it is where we are.  Physically. 

Spiritually, we share an app.  The bible app.  Yes, there is an app for that. 

The devotional time I grew up with would never work today.  That is not where we are at.  But I can catch up and I can meet my kids in the exact place they are at. 

With the messages that are timeless. 

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV

So there is nothing new under the sun.  But the ways of communicating that are.....

Love it or Hate it.  
One of my favorite phrases goes like this...."if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."  

But I draw the line at the "places I've pooped" app.   

It's funny.  But I draw the line. 

* I learned about the aforementioned app from my 17-year-old son who has a goal of adding as many nationally recognized places "he's pooped" to his app.  He assures me that his goal will end once he graduates college because then he wouldn't think it a "mature thing" to add that to his resume.  Clearly he has goals to change the world we live in.  And document it.  
oh my. 







Monday, March 24, 2014

Is it a schedule or a mathematical equation?

It's Monday.

It's back to work and back to school.

And back from spring break. 

And the kids are back from a weekend at their dads.

Alarms were set and breakfast actually happened before 8 a.m. this morning.

The rest of the day looks like this:


On call for morning appointments.  If someone calls in, head to Wilton for a.m. appointments. If no-one calls in, need to caption photos on a portfolio. Submit portfolio.
After school: Pick up Tookie. Nathan has golf practice. Marz has track. So does Claire. Claire will probably get done before Marz, and Marz will probably get done before Nathan. This means two more trips back to the school for me.  That is only if Nathan has outdoor practice. If indoors, he may be done sooner than the girls. 
If golf is indoors today, then there may be enough time to go to a movie that I wanted to take all the kids to.   If outdoors, probably not.I don't make much of a habit of trying to do these things on a Monday night, but then again, I have to take advantage of the times when all the chips fall on the same schedule..
 If we can't go to the movie, then I will be attending a post prom parent meeting for promenade.  


For some reason I feel like this day reads like a mathematical equation.
 With two different track schedules, one golf schedule,  parent meetings and awards banquets, and an on-call work schedule, approximately how many times does it take mama to figure out a time to take four kids out to the the same movie before it is out of theaters

Maybe this is why I own so many movies.  



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Edition of "The Method to my March Madness

Last year in "The Method to my March Madness" I wrote about the system I use when filling out my NCAA Tournament Bracket. 

If you are new to Write-On, Mom!, you can read that post by clicking HERE.

I got quite a few hits on last year's March Madness post, and I feel pretty confident that a few of those hits may have been from bracketologists wanting to study some of my secrets.

It's kind of a science, really.

Only without all the boring numbers and team stats.

This year I've been feverishly honing my research, hoping to improve upon tried and true*(see footnote) methods for filling out the NCAA bracket, and I have discovered that it is time to change things up a bit.

Last year, the steps in choosing teams went like this:
1.  Team colors
2.  Locations I'd like to visit
3.  Mascot

This year I'm shuffling these steps around.  Feel free to adopt my theories in filling out your bracket. Here's how it works:

1.  Between the two teams, choose your favorite mascot. Go with your gut.  I chose the mascot that sounded tougher.  If I couldn't figure out what a mascot was even after looking it up (what's a billican anyway?  a wu shock? I don't think so) then I went with the other team. Additionally, if a mascot sounded like an unnatural mix of two different animals, I did not choose it.

If both mascots were the same or are equally annoying, and this will happen, don't panic, move on to step two.

2.  Team Colors.  Which are your favorite?  Which are hanging in your closet or decorate your house in?  Or which one is purple?  Tastes vary; go with your own.

If a team still cannot be chosen based on mascot and colors, it's time to move on to step three:

3.  Location.  Picture yourself buying a bus ticket.  Between the two cities of the two teams, which one would you choose?  That is your ticket.


You may be wondering what my bracket looks like.  Let me tell you, it wasn't easy to fill out.  Upsets are involved.  Mascot loyalties came into play.  And I really wanted to see a match-up between a mascot known for being a "proud and fierce rooster" and some "fighting blue hens."

Iowa, who has a play-in game, ends up going quite a ways in my bracket.  No offense to any "volunteers"--I love volunteers--but Herky the Hawkey and I have shared a high-five in a crowded arena.  This just can't be ignored.



Another factor in my bracket:  I'm partial to Wildcats.  I have a few of my own.  "Wildcats" mean family and and nobody gets left behind.  (oh wait, I may be mixing up bracketology and disney movies here).

But "Wildcats" do elicit feelings of "home" for me. And half of my closet has something "Wildcat" in it.

So my final match-up is between two Wildcats.

And the winner is.....the purple one.

Because this team flows with the method to my march madness:
Love the mascot,
Purple hangs in my closet,
and next year, we will be buying a bus ticket there to visit our very own purple Wildcat.

BOOM!

And there you have it.  You're welcome.

Got any fun ways for choosing your NCAA tournament teams?  


*footnote to indicate that the words "tried and true" do not mean winning any bracket prizes, rather "tried and true" to have your family members question your sanity and invite you to come a little closer to planet earth.




Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grades are motivating. So are good teachers.

Today I will be attending the second week of our spring Parent-Teacher conferences. 

I can't get through all of the kids' teachers in one day, it takes two.

We do this twice a year, every year.  Teachers show me a project the kids are currently working on.  We look at grades.  Talk about what's coming up.

And almost always I am told something like: "you have good kids.  they are good students.  i wish i had 40 more just like them."

Usually once at each conference day I will hear about an assignment that still needs to be turned in.  Or an upcoming test that could be the difference between a grade point for one of the kids.  

I take it all to heart.  It warms my heart to hear other people speak highly of my kids.

Inevitable each teacher will end the conference by asking me if I have any questions. 

Yes, I do. A few, actually.

Do you know how much I appreciate you?
Time invested in your work day means time invested in my child.  There are days when you probably see my kid more than I do.  Especially if you are one of their teacher-coaches.  When someone comes home with a story about how they were helped, noticed or encouraged by one of you, I am reminded how you are there when I am not.  I'm lucky that the kids have the teachers that they do. 

Do you need help?
A volunteer?  Someone to give a student extra homework help or attention?  An extra set of hands?  I can do that.

Why do go I to these parent teacher conferences?
I want to hear about what my kids are doing from the people who teach them.  It's great to hear nice things.

But I also want to tell them "you are good people; good teachers. districts all around wish they had 40 more just like you."

I'd buy you all a drink or send you a hallmark if I could.

Not 'cause my kids are doing great.
Because you are.

Thanks teachers!  Happy Spring Break! 



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Writing Roller-coaster

The Writing.

The Life.

The Roller-coaster.

I've been writing for decades.  Writing for publication for one-and-a-half of those decades. 

I've had some significant high points in writing for publication.  And even a few welcome surprises. 

I won an award at a writers' conference.  I've seen my stories published in parenting magazines across the country.  I still sell the occasional reprint.  Years ago, I had a column run in my local paper.  (i loved writing locally, by the way!) I stumbled my way into journalism.  I've met and interviewed accomplished and best-selling authors.  Writing has even opened one or two doors to (gulp) public speaking. 

Then there are the low points.

The rejections.  The "no replies" from editors.  The waiting to hear back after submissions.  The hoping for good news but really just want any news to indicate that the submission was read.  The ultimate let down for me was making it to the final stage for a Chicken Soup title, signing a contract with them, only to not make the final cut. 

It was like a roller-coaster s-l-o-w-l-y climbing straight to the highest spot on the ride, where all you can see is the sky, a brief pause once there, and then barreling downhill in a fraction of the time it took to get to the top.

It's funny how the high points in writing for publication can make you feel really good about it all.  And the low points can make you question whether or not you should even call yourself a writer. 

I'm in one of those in between spots.  I'm writing.  I'm waiting.  I'm playing the comparison game.  Comparing my bylines with other journalists, bloggers, authors, etc.  I'm questioning my ideas.  Should I follow through with it or toss it? 

My focus for the last few weeks has been towards the low points.


That focus may have shifted a bit after a random conversation that I had last night after my kids' band concert.  As I was waiting for the kids, I was visiting with a friend.  We chatted about our kids in sports, our kids driving cars and other general stuff. 

As we said goodbye and turned to walk away she calls out "You keep writing and I'll keep reading."

She had no idea how much I needed to hear that. 

 
That is a high point in this roller-coaster ride of writing. 

Today I'm using the speed from the downhill part of the ride to boost me through the next loop-ty-loop. 

Thanks for joining me here at the amusement park I call Write-On, Mom!  And for my friend who made the comment to me last night:  Thanks for reading.  I'll keep writing. 




Friday, February 28, 2014

Field-Trip with the Wildcat

Tomorrow I get to take a field trip with my 17-year old!

Ten years ago, class field trips to the zoo, museums, IMAX, plays and things like that were a regular-volunteer-gig for this mama. 

Gradually, these field trips with his class dwindled.  But I hardly noticed because I was busy volunteering for the same things with his three younger sisters. 

Those field trips have dwindled way down too. 

But I have good news.  I think.  I'm adding more field trips with Nathan to my calendar.

Except they aren't called "field trips," as much as they are called "college visits."  

(sniff)


Tomorrow's field trip isn't one of those college visits.  It's a football kicking camp that he signed up for over Christmas break.

But to me, this camp represents more than football.  More than getting better as the team kicker. 

It represents picking yourself up after a devastating loss of a goal, brushing yourself off, and finding a new goal. 

It represents accepting a new role.

It represents commitment to a team. 

It represents a maturity of accepting a situation that couldn't be changed and instead, decided to make a change for himself.

It represents the heart of a kid who could have acted like he lost out.  But instead went after a new dream. 

If you've followed me here on the blog for any time now, you may remember how Nathan had some medical issues during his sophomore year.  During football season.  A season where he called plays, ran the ball and led his team.




Until he couldn't run the ball, call plays or lead the team.





Symptoms that acted like a concussion were really low red blood cell counts.  Counts that kept going down.  Counts that acted like leukemia.  Something that we couldn't know until the day that he went down. 

You can read more about that HERE

Fast forward to the summer before Nathan's Junior year.    Having been cleared of all medical issues, there was still a recommendation for no contact in football. 

For a leader like Nathan, who happened to be a quarterback for JV, this was devastating news. 

But.

He still wanted to be a part of his team.  Even if it meant doing something he had never done before.  Even if it meant wearing a jersey on the sidelines and filling water bottles. 

He spent his summer, after work and after baseball down on the football field.  He could no longer throw the ball, so he started to kick it.  He enlisted the help of sisters to hold the ball, and his mama to video him.  So he could teach himself what worked and what didn't. 

And he had success during his Junior year kicking. 


So this field trip is for him.  So he can learn from others who kick.  So he can be a better kicker his Senior year of high school. 

But to me...this field trip means more than that.

It represents a lesson that I have learned from my kid.

When one dream doesn't work out, you don't quit.  You pick up a new dream.

And you kick it through the uprights.