Monthly Archives: March 2010

Crossing the Cooper

There is never a problem too big or too small….that you can’t run from.”

I read that pithy piece of philosophy on a t-shirt bouncing in front of me as I ran the 6.2 miles across the Cooper River Bridge this weekend. I hate to admit it, but sometimes bumper stickers and t-shirts are all we need to sum up what’s going on in our life.

This weekend, broken toe or not….I needed to run!

A long time ago, the only thing that would make me run was a promise of cake at the end. In reality…that’s how this whole mess started. A few years ago, Jordan signed me up (without my permission) for the Girl Scout Thin Mint Sprint. I was furious….until… I learned that each participant would receive a free box of thin mints at the end of the race. Not kidding, my whole focus in training was on getting that out of season box of cookies (Tuck is not alone in his affection). I know it’s counter intuitive to run a race to eat, but my sense of logic has never matched the masses. To make a short story long, a cookie race introduced me to the world of running. I learned to like running even without a delightful treat dangling on the gates of the finish line.  Sugar and endorphins are good bedfellows.

When Chris was deployed, my first reaction was to find a race to run. I am sure psychoanalysts would have a field day with this one, but save the dissertation, it’s already on a t-shirt.

The 33rd annual Cooper River Bridge Run was my emancipation.

My best friend from Winston-Salem, Kathy Littlejohn, threw her support behind my method of madness and agreed to run the race and spend the weekend with me in Charleston. Little did we know in December what the three months in-between would bring…. If you read this blog regularly, you know.

At the starting gate we were grouped according to our running time. When I registered for the race, I was a runner. Nothing had changed. I was still a runner, but now I was one with a broken heart and toe. It was a moment of choice, a defining moment. I looked over at Kathy, my running buddy, and she completely understood what it meant; we were not going to walk this stinkin’ race…we were running! 

We looked like the “wonder twins” (did I mention…Kathy showed up without planning in the same cute running outfit as me…she has an excellent fashion sense:) and maybe we bumped fists and transformed into something better. I don’t know. All I know is that from the starting shot we were in this race to run. Surrounded by a menagerie of people, I have never felt so free…anything was possible.

Crossing the Cooper River was symbolic for me. When I was in college, the old bridge was our only option. I remember being scared to death to drive across that rickety bridge. I would close my eyes for the entire span. Unfortunately for my passengers, I did this while I was driving…which added another layer of danger to the trip. Now, many years later I stood on the other side. There was a new and improved bridge, but my fear was still present. I’ve spent the first three months of this year covering my eyes and peeking through my fingers only when I was forced to look. It has been gut wrenching. At the end of everything….if anyone says that this year has just flown by…I will slug him square in the jaw. Overcoming fear and doubt is a daily chore. The wolf is always at the door and each day I have to step over….or in the case of the race….completely run over him.

The theme of the Cooper River Bridge Run has always been “Get Over it!” 

On this day, I got over it!

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Are you awake?

I should be sleeping. I’m certainly tired. But…I just finished watching the healthcare debate and vote.

Is anyone else bothered by the timing of this vote?!? (On a Sunday and during the season of Lent)  It seems our country is thumbing its nose at God. I’ve read the Bible, so I know that approach never ends well. Congress should have really thought that one through, but then again…not many of them are familiar with the Bible. As I watched, I kept hoping locusts would appear on the scene, eat the 1000+ page bill and break up the party. But, no such luck…

Tonight, Nancy Pelosi announced that America is great because of the outstanding leadership of President Obama and the passage of a healthcare bill.

I adamantly disagree!

A few weeks ago, Tucker was with my dad in my grandparents’ barn. My dad was trying to clean out some items and in the process uncovered my grandfather’s foot locker from World War II. Popie fought in the Pacific. He was an infantry soldier. He was also part of what I still believe was the greatest generation of our country. He grew up very poor. He lost his mother at a tender young age and worked very hard to help raise his younger siblings while living on a tobacco farm in eastern North Carolina. Despite his difficult circumstances, he never felt entitled or owed anything by his country. In fact, when the war broke out,  he willingly answered the call to service and was passionate about defending his country. He was a patriot. He was a hero. He was one of many like himself that made this country great.

Watching the healthcare debate…I’m thankful that Popie cannot witness what is happening to his country. The arrogance and dishonesty are astounding. A political party’s agenda and power has taken precedence over our national stability and security. Our country has lost its way. We are writing blank checks on an empty bank account.  We are beholden to financing from foreign powers who do not share our passion for liberty. We are no longer financially independent. Ironically, Nancy Pelosi used the words of  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness from our Declaration of Independence to justify the passage of the healthcare bill. She claimed that healthcare was an “unalienable” right. What she and many others fail to recognize is that those rights came at a price and were never meant to be a guarantee. The purpose of a democracy is for the people to contribute, sacrifice and work tirelessly toward the preservation of those rights. Some are fooled into believing that the United States is an invincible “sugar daddy” despite our reckless behavior or demanding ways. Survivors of the great depression would disagree. They lived at the edge of losing everything. They saw their country fall into chaos and despair. I believe it is the reason why they fought so hard to win a war for freedom.

Nothing is for free, there is always a consequence.

My husband is serving and fighting in a country that lost its freedom. Most Americans ignore and have forgotten about the war in Afghanistan. They would be wise to learn a little history. It’s a cautionary tale of what can happen when a country loses its economic stability and security. It is also a lesson on how evil leaders can rise to power despite their radical agenda. The people have no choice when they are completely dependent on a system for survival.

An alarm is sounding. Does anyone hear it or want to wake up?!?

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Taxes and Trash

This has been a week filled with accomplishments: first, I tackled our taxes and second, I got our trash picked up.

Taxes – I’ve been on the topic of fairness lately which could have possibly been prompted by the fact that I’ve been gathering all our documents to submit our taxes. Nothing is fair about taxes, but it seems even less fair to have to pay them when your husband is off serving this country in a war zone. Let’s just say…I am sharpening my pitchfork for a march on Washington. Forget tea bags, that’s too civil. Anyway…preparing taxes is a new frontier for me. I sent Chris numerous emails in Afghanistan asking about a variety of issues. His first response was a real shocker!! Apparently, I am doing our 2009 taxes and not 2010…no wonder there wasn’t enough information?!?… Well, there you go. I just learned another valuable lesson. This is certainly a year of growth for me.

Trash – For some unknown reason, I can never remember that trash pick up is on Thursday. Since Chris left…every Thursday morning you will find me running down the street in my nightgown with two bags of trash chasing the garbage truck. If you are my neighbor, I apologize. Then again, some of my neighbors pour an extra cup of coffee to watch the show. The fellas working for Earth Waste are also in on the joke. They have throughly enjoyed my Thursday morning sprint. They slow down the truck enough to make me think it’s going to stop…then, just as I reach them breathless…they floor the accelerator and speed off. The two guys hanging on the back roll in laughter and point at me. Being mocked by the garbage man is a new low.

BUT…not this week!!! Tuck left me a series of “post-it” notes around the house on Wednesday to remind me to roll the herbie curbie out to the driveway. His note read “MGBTK” …translated…”Mom, garbage truck”…very nice job  letter name speller…I remembered this week!! On Thursday, I sat at the window and drank coffee until the truck pulled up to my house. Then, I waved sweetly at my garbage friends (using the finger I crushed in the door last week). “The fair” came in March on this morning.

All in all…I can cross a few more things off my “to-do” list.

Chris, if you are reading this… the “talk,”  taxes and the trash will be all yours again when you get home. I know you can’t wait!

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Family of God

I drove into my driveway this afternoon and noticed that there was a laundry basket on my front porch. My first thought was, ” Please… don’t let there be a baby or dirty laundry in that basket!!!”

I know that isn’t the most positive thought to pop in your mind, but it’s been a kind of rough week.

Tucker jumped out of the car with a completely different perspective. He said, “Look Mommy, someone brought me a ton of presents!!!”   He was right!

On my front porch was a basket full of prepared meals and gift certificates. Tuck went wild…it looked like Christmas morning as he was tearing through the basket and opening the wrapped certificates. Most kids could care less about food, but we are talking about Tucker. His girlfriend is a baked good. He was so excited!!! So was I!!!  There were enough meals for a month or more.

Goodbye, porcupine balls (i.e. greatest cooker post)….hello, food that tastes good!… There were even side dishes (something I’ve been unable to remember lately)!!

I didn’t even have to open the card to know who it was from…it was my family in Christ. The church is not a building made of bricks and mortar; it’s a family pulled together by God. Our Sunday school class pooled their resources to assemble this amazing basket and in so doing demonstrated God’s love and goodness. I cannot find words to thank them enough. It was God’s perfect timing and an opportunity to see His hand actively working in my life. I am so grateful for the experience.

At the beginning of this week, I was feeling overwhelmed by the length of this deployment. I just couldn’t see an end in sight. I’ve only made it through a few months and have many more to go. Today, that sense of dread was replaced with a new feeling; excitement. I am beginning to understand that the journey will be just as important as the destination. God has treasures buried for me all along the way. 

At the end of this week, I’m still overwhelmed….but this time, it’s by God’s enduring  and everlasting love.

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The Fair

My favorite parenting phrase: “The fair only comes once a year.”

I usually whip out this “one-liner” when my children are arguing and on my last nerve. It is an immediate conversation ender. The debate is over before it started because who can argue with that?!?… In Columbia, SC the fair comes in October…like clockwork it arrives and departs for its one and only yearly visit.

After my children hear this “catchy phrase” they usually roll their humongous brown eyes and stomp off (thinking… “One day when I’m a parent.I will never say something so…so..so…unfair!!!).

Kids have a keen sense of justice early on in life. They will holler “foul” immediately when a wrong or slight appears on the scene.

While I hate to admit it, I have to agree with the kids. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair!

I’ve spent a lot of time kicking the dirt and thinking about fairness. Right now, nothing seems fair and it won’t. I’m not sure why I’m wasting my time or mental energy. I should take my own stupid advice and lower my expectations. I’ll be lucky if “the fair” comes once this year.

I guess I am sinking into this line of thought because of something that happened yesterday. I was contacted about attending an event to honor Chris for his service to our country. I actually get quite a few of these calls because of the nature of Chris’ civilian job. While an event like this would typically be an honor and a nice tribute, the part that kicked me in the gut was that it was scheduled for Mother’s Day weekend. Throughout the entire conversation, the “scheduler” never noted that it was mother’s day, that I have 2 children at home or even acknowledged that I might have a “full plate” running our household alone.

The soldier is a much more glamorous image than the ragged wife left behind with two kids in tow.

Don’t get me wrong. I want everyone to be proud of Chris, pray for him daily and honor his service…but I also would like to remind folks that being the family left behind is a tough gig too.

In your prayers today, please pray for the protection of  our soldiers, but also add a special clause for the families left behind. They are serving your country too. Sometimes they are forgotten and it’s really not fair.

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Gnarly Feet

I know when Chris reads the title of this…he will think I am about to reveal something about him…

Breathe a sigh of relief big boy…it’s not about you!

Actually, it’s about Jordan.

This afternoon, I was struck with the stark realization that I am not prepared to parent a teenager. What’s even more terrifying is that I will be a single parent for the next year. I taught middle school, but even the seasoned teacher knows that 7th grade is an animal all to itself. I was smart enough to by-pass it and teach 8th and 6th grades. Now, as we round the corner on 6th grade…I know it’s coming…I can hear the theme song to “Jaws”…we are moving into dangerous territory.

 This afternoon, Jordan pulled me aside and whispered in a lower register, “Mom, I need to have a private conversation.”

Who doesn’t dread that request from a pre-teen?!?

I know the emergency phone number Chris gave me is to only be used in cases of death and dismemberment, but surely this qualifies as an emergency. I was ready to dial the thousand digits and hand the phone to him. I am sure in the marriage vows we said something about “the talk” and I am certain that he agreed it was his responsibiltiy along with taxes and the trash.

Anyway….I braced myself and held my breath.

To my surprise, Jordan looked at me with her most serious expression and said, “Mom… you know, sandal season is just around the corner…. (I nodded in disbelief…this was not what I was expecting, but I was following and waiting for a segue)…she continued…I don’t know if you’ve noticed……Mom….and I don’t mean to complain because I know God made me special and all….but, I really have some gnarly feet.”

I shook my head. Did I hear her right?!? Are we talking about feet?!? Am I off the hook?!?

She ignored me (teenagers perfect this over time) and then proceeded to explain that she needed the best possible advice on how to smooth and exfoliate her feet.

My first thought was… Tuck, a pair of scissors, and a rock…that combination would exfoliate anything beyond recognition…but I knew she wouldn’t find the humor in my joke. Apparently, foot care is an important topic that needs to be approached with delicacy and tact. Lately, I haven’t had either of those qualities on the ready. Jordan is so easily wounded these days. I knew I needed a straight face and an Avon degree on hand.

Another stark realization…my master’s degree in reading education has been completely useless with my children. Tuck reads food logos and Jordan thinks reading is was what people did before they invented “fun.”  I would have been better off at Kenneth Shuler’s school of cosmotology…that’s what parents need to raise a middle school girl…a little spa knowledge sprinkled with some acetone to take the edge off.

Jordan is floating in her egocentric world and hasn’t bothered to look down at her mother’s toes. It will be a crushing disappointment to discover…those gnarly toes are genetic. At the foot doctor last week, he spent and inordinate amount of time telling me I had taped my pinky toe all wrong and that it was beginning to look deformed. I was too embarrassed to tell him….that toe looked deformed before I broke it in 2 places. Geez, buddy…do you have to rub it in?!?

We all have our tender spots; for Jordan (at least this week) it is her feet. Last week, it was her braces (I forgot to tell Tuck it’s not funny to put paper clips on your teeth and stick food in them)….

Next week….who knows what it will be…just pray for us. We are stuck in the middle of middle school.

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Queen of Pain

Remember that 80’s song by the Police titled “King of Pain” ?!?

Well, I’ve got the rights to remix the song for 2010.

Yesterday, after arriving home from my broken toe/foot doctor’s appointment, somehow… I inadvertently slammed a door on my right hand and crushed my pointer finger!

Lovely, a real black and blue beauty!

It really does take talent to injure so many things in a row. I’ve been praying lately about discovering my spiritual gifts…I just hope this isn’t it. I’m not sure what God is telling me, but the fact that it was “the pointer” finger might suggest that I have some introspection ahead. It’s either that…or I need bubble wrap.

This has not been a good year for appendages.

In Woody’s case, he at least had a reattachment of his amputated limb. Me, on the other hand (no pun intended and please…let’s keep that one healthy)…I have a deformed looking pinky toe and a blackened fingernail that is hanging on by a thread.

I can’t wait to go to a nail salon for a manicure and pedicure. They are gonna love me!

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