Why we need Ash Wednesday

When I was a girl, I attended Catholic school. I was the token Protestant girl in my class and listened while my friends chattered about their first communions and later on confirmations. I sat through weekly church history and religion classes taught by a priest where he explained the importance of each church tradition. On Ash Wednesday, we walked forward and had ashes smudged on our foreheads. During the weeks that followed, we had services each week where we went through the stations of the cross. I remember thinking it was a whole lot of sadness. I wasn’t used to going into such detail about my sin and the lengths Christ went through for my salvation.

Looking back, I think sometimes we all have a tendency to miss the ashes. We love Easter Sunday and Christmas morning. We sing happy songs in our weekly services. We prefer motivational, uplifting sermons. As people freed from our sin and living by grace, all of this seems natural. We have a lot to celebrate. Yet, I think there’s something so valuable about stopping and coming to terms with the depths of our sin that put Jesus on the cross. I don’t really think we can live out this grace fully without first looking deep into the ashes.

We need Ash Wednesday and the Lent season. We need to grieve our sin and sorrow over it to prepare our hearts for Easter. To be honest, I’d prefer to skip past this step. I know, my sin was bad, but now I’m forgiven so let’s move along. Is anyone else not a fan of coming to terms with their sin? The thing is, I don’t think we can fully appreciate how expensive our salvation is without also seeing how wretched our sin is. The cross is wasted on us if we aren’t completely wrecked over our sin.

This is so much more than a particular religion or denomination, it’s a position of the heart. We need to be people marked by humility over our own depravity rather than those with fingers pointed at the sin of others. People who are fully aware of their sin aren’t angered by the sins of everyone else. Because once we do come to grips with our sin, we see ourselves as those desperately in need of grace. When we look at  others who wrong us, we see only mirrors of ourselves. Their sin might be a different variety than ours, but it’s no different in front of a Holy God.

Then, once we arrive at that place of deep repentance, then we get to Sunday.

image

 

Originally posted March 2014.

This week on the farm

It’s Fridaaaaaaaay! So let’s talk farming.

I think I always assumed the weather impacted farmers, but I never quite knew how much. My Farmer – man is a walking 5 day forecast. Seriously. If there’s a lull in conversation, he’ll immediately inform anyone listening what the next week looks like and how it’s affecting our crops. So, let me play meteorologist here and tell you about the weather. Y’all. It’s hawt. I keep seeing pictures of other places with white stuff everywhere and I’m confused, because it’s 80 and 90 degrees here.

 

4307

 

Produce season is drawing to a close and hay crops are nearing their spring cuts. And guess who is paying us a visit with this warm weather?

 

4314

 These little critters. Aphids and weevils eat the leaves and leave a sticky residue behind, reducing the yield. We try to be patient before spraying, but these stinkers bring plant disease. As dairy prices are dropping, so are the hay and forage prices which leaves little to no wiggle room in regards to quality. It’s basically a big game of farming dominoes.

 So we’ll spray once or twice to hold us off until we can rely on the beneficial insects, like lady bugs to eat the bad insects. The pesticides we chose to use are specifically designed to knock the pressure down quickly with little to no residual. Contrary to popular belief, we only spray when absolutely necessary to preserve the life of the crop.

Making it happen: what I’m saying yes to

I am slowly accepting the reality that I am not, in fact, a superhero with 36 hours in a day. I can’t do and be all things. But I can do and be some things, so I want to focus on doing those things well. Last week I shared what I’m saying no to in this season of my life and today I’m going to share what I’m saying yes to. This list might seem kind of odd, because some things are really big picture while other things are just nuts-and-bolts ways I manage life. I think this is because saying yes requires the why as well as the how.

yes

7:03 – If I say yes to nothing else, I want this to be it: praying 1 Samuel 7:3 every day at 7:03. This weekend I watched the If Gathering livestream and one of the most powerful things I heard came from Ann Voskamp:

Make us strong and courageous to get down on our faces every morning at 7:03 and repent of our fears and our idols and our sins and our messes because there will be no regeneration in this generation until there is a repentance on our faces because we cannot win any battle with rebel hearts, so may a movement of repentance move us so You hear from heaven and heal our land, so the land is taken for you. 

The prayer in it’s full context is available here, just scroll to the bottom of the post. Ann also has a bookmark printable with it.

Loving people.  Naturally, I want to love my husband and kids and friends and family. But the truth is they are quite easy to love, and loving them comes pretty naturally. The harder part here is deciding I will love people who disagree with me, offend me or just flat out rub me the wrong way. I want to forgive, even when someone doesn’t ask forgiveness. I want to look inward instead of pointing fingers at how wrong everyone else is. I want to see each person as made in God’s image.

Bravery. If you’ve been reading here for long, you know I’m a bit of a chicken. A Crybaby Big Bird, to be exact. Getting over this means setting aside pretensions and accepting that this is who I am. It means being authentic, even if it makes me vulnerable. It means showing up to the play, even when I want to hide in the wings. I found this chalkboard to sit on my writing desk as a reminder.

10945563_10152675989328441_1449788326355912015_n

Rest. With our schedule, the weekends are the most feasible time for rest. When I was homeschooling, I got into some bad weekend habits. I tried to accomplish as much as possible every weekend to get ready for the week ahead. I did laundry, housework and made school plans all weekend. By Sunday evening, I was tired and crabby. Monday came and I was exhausted and the week hadn’t even started! One of the ways I am finding rest is through a little thing I like to call “the weekend reboot:”

- Friday afternoon:

  • I log off social media and don’t log back in until Monday morning. (Unless something SUPER important happens, like a twist in the Downton Abbey plot.)
  • The kids and I clean out the van, their backpacks, and the diaper bag. We reload everything so it’s ready to go Monday.

- Saturday morning:

  • The kids each have a couple of chores to do so the house looks decent.
  • I finish any laundry or housework not done during the week.
  • I sit down with my planner and write down any important things happening in the week ahead.

- Sunday:

  • As a family, we do nothing.  We go to Saturday night church so we usually sleep in. Jon gets Dunkin Donuts. I don’t do laundry. I don’t do housework. I watch my kids play. I read or write. I dismiss myself of any and all household responsibility. It is amazing. Monday morning, I wake up ready for a new week.

Capsule wardrobing. You can read about capsule wardrobing in detail here. The basic premise is you choose a set number of pieces of clothing and shoes per season. Then plan your wardrobe with this number in mind, shopping for quality things you really love. Once you’ve selected everything for your wardrobe, you buy nothing until the next season. Having a capsule wardrobe has made getting dressed each day so simple. It’s also saved me on my clothing budget because I’m more purposeful about what I buy. 10982707_10152675992088441_1045293965507724790_n

A paper-pencil planner. I know it’s 2015 and the world is digital, but I need to be able to flip pages! I simply adore my Erin Condren planner (and sometimes go into hysterics if I accidentally leave it at home.) The color – coded tabs are so handy for keeping all of the schedules straight. Here is my Erin Condren referral code if you’re interested in one.

1922460_10152675988223441_2123351132204113267_n

It’s your turn! What are you saying yes to?

This week on the farm

I realize a lot of people come here because they want to know what goes into running a family farm. Honestly, I was shocked at how much goes into growing food. My dear father in law basically has a spreadsheet for everything that happens! To share this in real time, I am starting a new series about what’s going on with our farm operation each week.

So this week……

With the warmer than normal temperatures, our vegetable season is a couple weeks ahead of schedule. On the positive side, our early alfalfa plantings are loving the sun and warmth. 

4065

While I was crunching numbers in the office, The Farmer led a “Field to feast” tour with Yuma’s Agritourism board. Our little border town explodes with northerners escaping the cold during the winter months. It gives us the opportunity to share what we’re doing with people from all over the country. For this tour, the group got to experience their own harvest with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. Then Jon led a tour through the valley and our farm. 

4060

 

Happy Friday!

Store-bought Valentines in 7 easy steps

I know I said today I would talk about what I’m saying yes to this year, but I realized something more pressing:

It’s February 5.

Ladies, we’ve only got 8 days until Valentine’s Day celebrations in classrooms (being that February 14 is a Saturday this year.) It’s time to get serious about Valentine’s Day. 

Crafty moms, I’m not talking to you. You ordered the fake hair for the three-dimensional Elsa Valentines you’re making 3 months ago and started working on them long before Christmas. Please, go make something lovely for the teachers involving a Mason jar or chalkboard. They’ll love it.

But as for the rest of you, it’s time to buckle down and come up with a plan. Luckily for you, you have your friendly blogger know-it-all over here to help you out. If you’ve been here long, you know I am an expert on the topic. Who could forget The Moral of the Pinterest Valentine? See, we bloggers know lots of things and do lots of things and we love to tell you how to do lots of things using a set number of steps. So today, I will share with you the 7 steps for buying the perfect Valentine you did not make.

valentines

Step 1:  Own the decision to buy Valentines rather than make them. Walk away from your computer or smartphone. Log out of Pinterest. Take a cleansing breath and make peace that the Universe has not bestowed upon you the gift of crafting. Store bought mamas, let’s extend the olive branch of peace to our crafting sisters as they toil amid hot glue gun burns and felt. We vow to acknowledge their efforts before throwing away the Valentines they labor over.

Step 2: Identify your Valentine buying personality. When it comes to store-bought Valentines, you are either going to be cheap or lazy, but you can’t be both. Case in point: if you are lazy, head right on over to Amazon Prime and order yourself a set of Valentines. They are several dollars more this way, but you will never have to step foot in the Valentines aisle of a retailer. You may skip steps 3 and 4. Cheapskates, read on. Namaste. 

Step 3: Set a date. You need to be strategic about planning your Valentines shopping experience. The optimal timing of this trip is 7 to 10 days prior to February 14, Monday-Friday before 2 PM. Once you have broken the 5 day barrier, you’re at risk of joining the Valentine’s Day Hunger Games where there will be approximately 3 dented boxes of Valentines remaining on the shelf. If today is February 10th or later, go back to step 2 and order some Valentines from Amazon Prime.

Step 4: Shopping companions.Once you have set a date for your trip down the Valentine aisle, think about who you will bring on this journey. Anyone under the age of 16 will likely hinder the process. This is not the time to be “fun mom who lets her kids pick out their Valentines,” unless you’re into that kind of thing. As for spouses, ask yourself: will your’s be a helpful partner on this – or are you better off on this trek alone? Do not end up like the poor couple I encountered today in Target who were in need of marital counseling by the time they left the Valentine aisle.

Step 5: Verbiage. Friends, this is an important step. READ THE MESSAGES ON THE CARDS. Many of them would get an employee reprimanded in the workplace if uttered aloud. If the word “hot” or the phrase “I’ve got my eye on you” is used, please pass.  Also, if you choose the ever-popular conversation hearts, you may want to preview those messages as well. Unless you’re comfortable having your child pass out the messages “be mine”, “hug me” or “true love” to 25 of his closest friends. When in doubt, ask yourself, “If my child said this aloud to another child, would he be suspended?”

Step 6: Candy. If you want to go send out organic fruit snacks, you go right ahead. If you want to go all red #3 sucker, more power to you. But let’s not get carried away. These are Valentines, not Easter baskets. I witnessed a woman pushing a cart that overfloweth with Valentines candy in the checkout line. I happen to know she has three children and had approximately 12 bags of candy. Look, I understand we all want our kids to be well- liked, but let’s be reasonable. One piece of candy per child and no more, please.

Step 7: Assembly and addressing. For this you will need: the class list and Scotch tape. After opening your box of Valentines, take note of how they should be packaged. THESE ARE NOT THE VALENTINES OF MY YOUTH. The days of a simple card stuffed in the little envelope are gone. Now we have all of this tucking and folding and stickering. Don’t lick the envelope. Please, just don’t. They don’t come with actual envelope glue, so you’re just going to end up with saliva- soaked Valentines.  Once you have assembled the cards, carefully affix the candy of your choice using your tape.  Now it’s time to address the cards. This is 2015, people, the era of unique spellings and pronunciations. If there’s a little girl named Pypper, you better not write Piper. It’s not the same thing. Pay attention! Presentation matters here.

Ladies, we can do hard things, including Valentines. Go forth and conquer!

 

Make it happen: what I’m saying no to

A couple of months ago I was at Ikea with my best friend and I found a wardrobe I was absolutely in love with. I planned to use it in our playroom to store dress-up things. But when we looked at the box it came in, it was just slightly larger than the space available in my friend’s car. While I swore up and down it would fit, she gently assured me it would not – and she’s got a Master’s in Math and knows her geometry. I racked my brain for ways to get it from the store to my home. Eventually, I made peace with the reality that sometimes there are good things you have to leave behind. A few days later, I realized we had an old bathroom rack in the garage that made a lovely dress-up wardrobe instead. I saved the $150 – and the headache of finding a way to get the wardrobe to my home 3 hours away from the store. But in order for this to happen, I had to accept that there just wasn’t room for it and leave something behind that I thought I really wanted.

This seems to be a theme for the place I’m in right now. My life tends to be like that car would’ve been, packed full with things falling off of it. All good things, but there just isn’t room for everything.

 

Recently, I heard about Lara Casey’s book, Make it Happen and had to get a copy. Because when your name is Lara, it’s rare to come across anyone with the same name!  While I read through it, I started Lara’s Power Sheets. They’re a great tool for identifying what things you want to accomplish and how you’re going to make them happen. I don’t know about you, but my endless to-do lists scribbled on sticky notes method was lacking.

What I am learning is that in order to hone in on what matters most, I have to carve out space for it. I tend to have a slightly unrealistic grip on what I can actually accomplish and what can fit in a trunk. One of the things Lara suggests is making a list of things you’re saying yes to and things you’re saying no to. It’s so easy to make a list of lofty goals, but a “to – don’t” list is much harder. Going through this process, I found that pinpointing the things that aren’t working and choosing to let them go was really helpful.

Here’s what I’m saying no to this year:

Perfectionism. All too often, I have this mentality that things should always be better than they are. The house is clean? Great, but what about the baseboards? I lost 3 lbs? Super, why didn’t I work harder and lose 5?  This thinking leads to an overall feeling of failure everyday, because it could always have been better.  An old boss of mine often said this:

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

Interestingly, as I worked through my list of things I’m saying no to, I found perfectionism to be the toxic root of many of them.

Stuff. I had this epiphany that the reason it was hard to keep my house tidy stemmed from the simple fact that we had too much stuff. Simple solution – get rid of stuff, right? Why isn’t it just that simple?? Whenever I start purging things, I get so overwhelmed after 30 minutes that I’m ready to quit. I learned something that made decluttering much more effective: have a friend help you who is unattached to your stuff. In late December and early January, a friend of mine with a knack for organizing helped me purge our house. Together, we donated bags and bags of stuff and it made my home a much happier place. My kids got so excited anytime she came over, even though we were getting rid of their stuff! Having someone do it with me made a world of difference.

Being a Facebook Zombie. Do you ever catch yourself mindlessly looking at your phone and one of your kids is trying to get your attention? Me neither. I would never do that! But IF I did, I would cut out that nonsense. I would set social media hours, and they would be 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM on weekdays with no social media on weekends. After the first weekend of this, I’m sure I’d be amazed at how little happened on Facebook in my 48 hour absence! I’d be shocked by how much TIME I have to do the stuff I actually want to be doing when I’m not scrolling through what everyone else is doing/eating/thinking. All hypotheticals, of course.

Lateness. Oh my, this one’s hard. I am late all the time to all of the places. I found the reason for this was this mentality I had – just get one more thing done. I was always trying to do one more thing and I always ended up late.

Life on auto pilot. I noticed this phenomenon among moms, myself included. We get tired and overwhelmed and it’s as if life just happens to us everyday. We are no longer in control of how we spend our days, we’re prisoners of motherhood! Just stand in a group of moms and listen closely and you might notice this. Each day is a conglomeration of crumpled receipts and spit-up and laundry and errands and sinks full of dishes. Obviously, these are parts of life. I just want to handle them in such a way that they don’t consume my life – while accepting that they’ll never really be all the way done (laundry, anybody?) I want to have something to show for these years! I want to read books and dance to loud music in the car and let my girls make a mess making cupcakes and have conversations and laugh and make other people laugh and do stuff! I don’t want to end up cranky and exhausted by dinnertime each day. This requires deciding what I am going to spend my time on, and that is in itself a big task.

Do you notice a theme here? I am saying no to living life with a huge wardrobe dangling off the roof of my car. What about you – what do you need to say no to?

Come back tomorrow and I’ll share some of my “yes’s!”

February Update + Meal Plan

Well, here we are, all February and all.

febgraphic

I decided after 2 years, it was time to update my design. But, due to the fact that I can’t make decisions, this took 3 weeks. My bad. Thankfully, I had an eternally patient designer who was a real gem to work with. I highly recommend Little Web Writing Hood if you need a redesign!

A few new things around here:

- My “About” page has been rewritten – thrilling, I know.

- I now have an RSS feed.

- Also, you’ll notice there are no more comments. I promise, it’s not that I don’t want to hear from you! There are so many social media platforms now that, I needed to eliminate the most unused one (which happened to be the old commenting option.) You can Tweet me, Facebook me, Instagram me or e-mail me if you want to respond to a post, but commenting is no more.

*Please pause for a moment of silence for the comments section*

So what else is new?

I’m glad you asked. Lots, actually. (If you follow me on Instagram, just skip this, unless you find my life really fascinating and want to know all about it.)

We said goodbye to our teenager. It wasn’t something we anticipated. I can’t say much other than that. We learned that sometimes you say yes and don’t get a perfect ending. This is one of the hard things about foster care. Our hope is in the fact that Jesus works all things for good.

And so, we’re back to 5 kids.

I got a spaceship er- I mean, big van. It’s 12 seats of awesome-sauce.

10914519_328387150691810_1537316598_n

Lucy is half a year old and I don’t wanna talk about it.

10950585_1783625235195395_775685930_n

The boys are turning 8 soon and I don’t wanna talk about it either. I’d like to pretend Amby is still a 4 year old fresh off the boat, with his Westminster Abbey accent and loud tantrums in Target. Maybe not the loud tantrums part.

928911_1595470550664812_2066543443_n

My kids love school and never, ever want to be homeschooled again – gee, thanks, kids.

I am on a healthy eating kick to try to shed the Lucy leftovers. Once I’m back to my svelte self (hahahaha, I don’t think I could ever be described as svelte!) I’ll go back to my eat-whatever-you-want method and stand on the soapbox of not dieting. But, for today, I’ve got my health to think about. Womp womp.

10522821_1534878096800705_352175984_n

My mother actually had this magnet on our fridge when I was a kid!

As promised, here’s February’s meal plan: Farmers-Wife-February-2015-Menu, with recipes linked. I’ve only listed main dishes, because our sides are just whatever vegetables I’ve got in the fridge or Daddy-O brings home from the farm (it’s broccoli season, be jealous.) I also started repeating the same stand-by meals that are easy that everyone loves.

This month I’ve got posts in the works about organizing, capsule wardrobing, scheduling, helicopter parenting, Christianity, plus some book reviews and farm pictures taken by the Farmer, who is secretly an amazing photographer (glory, hallelujah, because I’m not.) See that subscribe box over there to the right? Put your e-mail address in there and you’ll never miss a post!

Related posts:

- Monthly meal planning FAQ’s plus January’s menu

- This {unexpected} season

Gifts I Didn’t Ask For

For Christmas this year, my husband got me some unusual, yet surprisingly thoughtful gifts. A salon-style hair dryer and curling iron stand with a power strip. A make-up bag with two clear pockets so my makeup wasn’t always falling out as I dug around it. A mini speaker so I could have music while I took a shower. A pretty scarf and poncho from a local clothing shop.

Nothing I asked for (to be fair, I didn’t ask for anything.)

Nothing I knew I needed, or even wanted.

In the days following Christmas, I found myself smiling when I used the gifts he gave me. That he stopped and noticed that I never had enough outlets in the bathroom and that I was always dropping things while digging through my make-up bag and that I could never quite hear the music on my phone when I took a shower.

In a way, his gifts remind me a lot of this year and the gifts God gave me. 2014 did not go as I intended. In fact, it was the polar opposite of everything I had planned. I started off the year thinking if I could just manage it all, find a good enough system for keeping things orderly and going according to plan, I would be successful. I would have fulfilled my purposes. I somehow mistook myself for a manager of all of the things instead of a person, a wife, a mother, a friend. My Jesus, in His goodness, knew that I needed something different.

I didn’t plan to have a teenager join us 7 weeks after giving birth. I didn’t plan on this being the year I stopped homeschooling. But both things turned out to be the gifts I didn’t know I needed. Each time I unclenched my fist and let my agenda slip through my fingers a bit more, he would fill my open hands with gifts too good to dream up.

Now when I think about this life I didn’t ask for, I smile at the good gifts I’ve been given. When my kids spill out of the car in a flurry of hugs and kisses and goodbyes each morning, I realize that while I didn’t know what I needed, Jesus did. His gift to me in 2014 was stretching me to trust that He had something greater than what I saw in front of me. And if I would just trust him with my little yes, He would make something spectacular of it.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. – John 1:16 (ESV)

{Stupid} Easy Laundry

I have some deep, insightful thoughts to write about. But all these thoughts are stuck half-formed in my brain because I’m up to my elbows in laundry.

My cute little laundry system from 2 kids ago needed some improvements.  We still use hangy things, often abbreviated as “hangies.” Once a week I fill them up. All week long, my kids are seen not wearing plaid and polka dots. But the daily load technique needed to be tweaked.

So, like any good mother in 2014, I spent 75 minutes on Pinterest feeling woefully inadequate looking at tips for managing laundry. I found a wide array of ideas, ranging from complex dot labeling systems for laundry to homemade detergent. After sorting (hahahahahaha, I’m so pun-ny!) through it all, here is a roundup of the best laundry tips Pinterest has to offer, with my little *spin* on them (last pun, promise.)

laundry

Let me start by telling you my problems, because I know you want to hear them.

1. My kids are dresser terrorists.

They love to stuff those drawers as full as they can with wads of clothes and jam them closed. Actually, I’m convinced they have a giant Kitchen Aid mixer they take to their drawers after I go to bed each night. This is compounded by the fact that our dressers are from Ikea and bought used off Craigslist. People, hear me, DO NOT BUY IKEA FURNITURE ON CRAIGSLIST. Hence, I have made the executive decision that no one should be allowed to use a dresser until they have a high school diploma. If your kids are not dresser terrorists and you’ve trained them to not be clothing management hooligans, please pause and congratulate yourself on winning in the game of motherhood. As for me, I’ll be hauling our dressers off to be used as fire wood.

The solution: ditching the dresser in favor of these klassy laundry baskets, which live in their closets. This will make more sense in a minute, keep reading.

2014-11-23 18.24.01

2. Folding is awful and takes forever.

The solution: no mo’ folding for me.

Can I do that? Is that allowed? Isn’t there a rule that folding is mandatory? My poor mother is probably having a seizure if she’s reading this. Button-down shirts, skirts and dresses get hung up. Everything else gets folded by kids, except pajamas and underwear which don’t get folded at all. Will they do an awful job? Probably, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. So if you see my poor kids walking around school with wrinkled clothes, take pity and spritz some Wrinkle Releaser on them as they pass by. This tip inspired by this and this.

3. Laundry goes on forever and ever and ever and is never done.

The solution: take a deep breath and make peace with this reality.

Then, assign each kid a laundry day and follow these steps:

- The night before each kid’s laundry day, have them bring their hamper to the laundry room. Sort and put it in the washing machine. If you have a delay start, set it to finish around the time you wake up.

- When they get up, have kids put their clothes in the dryer first thing. Then, if needed, put their next load of laundry in.

- Here’s where the magic happens: have them bring their klassy baskets to the laundry room. When clothes come out of the dryer, they go immediately into the correct basket. When the laundry is done, baskets are returned to their rooms.

4. Sock drama.

 The solution: inspired by this idea, I bought mesh bags.

Because I’m so fancy, I used an old skirt hanger to hang a bag on the boys’ door and one on the girls’ door. When socks come off a person, they get turned inside out and put in the bag TOGETHER. I told my kids the socks are married and can’t be separated. On laundry day, the sock bag gets tossed in with the load.

20141123_163814

Now go forth and conquer that laundry pile!

 

 

 

Batons, Bullies & Big Bird {a story about being brave}

 

IMG_20141105_111614

I’m not brave.

I am many things; funny, loud, and friendly, to name a few. But brave is not one of them.

I learned this when I was 9. My baton class was performing at half time at a high school basketball game. I lived in a small town where high school athletics were a big deal. It seemed like there were 10,000 people filling the bleachers. Nevermind that this was a town of about that many people. I am certain every resident of the town was at the game that night.

Our routine was to the Sesame Street theme song. I was Big Bird, complete with a costume and big old headpiece. The music began.

Sunny day, sweepin’ the clouds away….

Then something small happened which triggered a series of things that made this whole event quite memorable. I dropped my baton. I’m going to blame it on my giant Big Bird head obstructing my vision. Instead of picking it up and continuing the routine, I froze. I suddenly couldn’t remember what to do. Time stood still. All 10,000 (yes, 10,000) people in the stands were staring at me. No, they weren’t in line for the bathrooms or focused on their hotdogs or conversations about the game. Not a chance. They were all staring in horror at Big Bird Girl. After a few seconds, which felt like 38 minutes, I ran off the basketball court, leaving my baton in the dust. At this point, anyone who was focused on their hotdog was now trying not to notice traumatized Big Bird on the side of the court. As luck would have it, two boys from my 4th grade class just happened to be standing on the sidelines where I was sobbing. As boys naturally would, they found the concept of a crying Big Bird quite hilarious.

You messed up! Well why’d ya run off? Why’d ya leave your baton on the court? Why are you crying? Crybaby Big Bird, Crybaby Big Bird!

The worst part of this ordeal was the fact that there were roughly 42 minutes (I swear, they must’ve had that theme song on repeat) left in the performance for the crowd to notice pitiful Crybaby Big Bird and her tormentors.

And that was the night I learned that I’m not brave. I’m going to be painfully honest here. Somedays I still feel like Big Bird, dropping my baton and running. The other night I worked on some new posts about topics I’ve never written about before. I stayed up late in a burst of inspiration, certain that these were important things people needed to read. The next morning, however, my inner 4th grade bully took over.

Are you really going to publish that for all the world to read? Nobody wants to read that. Just delete it all. Right now. Hit delete. Everything that needs to be said has already been said somewhere on the internet.

I have probably 50 unpublished posts sitting in my drafts folder for one reason:

I’m Crybaby Big Bird.

If I post my thoughts on something on social media and World War III of opinions erupts, I delete it.

Because I’m Crybaby Big Bird. Then, the next time I have a thought, I make sure not to share it. People already have their opinions, they don’t need mine, I tell myself.

One time I wrote a blog post and it went mildly viral. I panicked. I wanted so badly just to delete it, leave my baton on the court, and run. When 250,000 people read something, a few whack-a-doos are bound to come out of the wood work. Rather than facing them or brushing off their harsh responses, it felt easier just to run. The only thing that kept me from deleting it was the fact that I would have had to explain to people why I deleted it.

How’s that for Crybaby Big Bird?

I’m still not brave and really haven’t evolved much past dropping my baton and running. Yet, I have learned a few lessons from all of these years as Crybaby Big Bird.

First, there will always be 4th grade bullies standing on the sidelines. A few years ago I published something here I was very proud of. It had a big response where people engaged in some meaningful dialog. Months later I noticed a “friend” missing from my Facebook friends list. Through a series of events, I learned that this person – who was not an internet troll, but a real person I knew – had said horrible things about me and called into question my faith and character, all because of that one post. I wasn’t mad. Instead, my inner Crybaby Big Bird took over. I very seriously contemplated deleting the post, which thousands of people responded positively to, all because of one 4th grade bully. This year one of my kids was faced with an actual 4th grade bully. Do you know what you do with a 4th grade bully? You pray for them. You smile at them, never letting them mess with your joy. You walk away. And then you forgive them.

Secondly, I learned when your Big Bird costume gets in the way and you drop your baton, you pick it up and keep going. The fact is, it’s not a matter of IF you drop your baton and forget the moves, but when. It’s bound to happen. The only way to avoid dropping it is to never twirl a baton again. I don’t want to sit in the bleachers for fear of dropping my baton! If you forget the moves, you make them up as you go, because nobody knows the difference anyway.

Finally, and most importantly, I learned there is no Sesame Street without Big Bird. When I ran off that basketball court, do you know who I wasn’t thinking of? Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, and Elmo, to name a few. I never thought of the fact that my Crybaby Big Bird moment threw them off too. Now I’m at a place where I can at least ask myself, if I drop my baton and bolt, who am I leaving behind? Who needs to read that post that I’m just sure is the dumbest thing ever written? Who might be encouraged by it?

I’m still not brave. Sometimes I want to run off the basketball court. But you know what? I’m still twirling my baton anyway.