a dream

No, this is not going to be me talking about an inspiring dream I have for the future, but rather about a literal, middle-of-the-night, I-was-drooling, dream.

If you specialize in interpreting dreams, please pay close attention.

I walked into a very large church building. I realized quickly that this was my church that I regularly attended [in the dream]. I knew the people around me. I seemed involved and so forth. And that is why it didn't strike me as odd, at all, when I noticed that at each end of every pew was a Diaper Genie.

Okay. I'm going to pause here in case you don't fully understand what a Diaper Genie is.

[all of the following pictures are from googleimages]

This is a Diaper Genie:

Personally, I think they are a must have for a nursery because, well, have you smelled what comes out of babies? It really does contain MOST of the stench.

Mine has a nifty foot pedal, and all of the diapers drop into the sealed off bag.

When the bag is full, or it's trash day, you simple open it up, cut the bag with the built in cutter, and tie off the stinky treasures within and pull down the refill for the next delights.

The only thing that isn't great is you have to buy these suckers…but I just put them on birthday and Christmas lists and that has worked out well so far!
 And last but not least, you must realize that there are various Diaper Genies, as well as various diaper pails that perform similar tasks. These make an appearance in my dream:

 Okay, now that you are well-versed in Diaper Genies…back to dreamland:

The pastor preaches for awhile, and then before I know it the offering plate is being passed around and I know that this is my cue; this is when I'm supposed to fulfill my role in the church. I quietly slip from my pew and proceed down the aisle. I stop at the end of the first pew, flip open the Diaper Genie positioned there, cut the bag inside, tie it off, and move on to the next. I work my way up and down the aisles, performing my holy task at the inside and outside of every pew. In the end I have a large LARGE pile of diapers in blue bags, and I haul them out to the dumpster. 

Soon church is ending and I notice people have to shimmy kind of funny around the diaper pails at the end of their pews. I make a mental note and save this for the meeting we are going to have right after church. 

There are now about 20 of us dispersed in the pews and our pastor is back up front conducting a meeting. At some point it is my turn to talk. It's about to get controversial people because I suggest…GASP!…. that we eliminate all of the older types of diaper pails we are currently using and only keep our Diaper Genie Elite pails [the kind with the foot pedals and cutter inside]. I continue my speech by saying that one thing that drew me to this church was the fact that immediately upon entering the sanctuary I could tell it was a kid friendly congregation due to the diaper pails. However, I thought that one on the end of EACH row was a little excessive, and each Sunday I usually only removed one or two diapers from each pail [let that sink in a minute!]. Therefore, I suggested we not only update to the Elite pail, but only put them at the ends of every other row. 

I was obviously nervous while making this suggestion. After all, this is how it had been done for a long time at this church. But most everyone agreed. So I was then in charge of collecting all the older pails and finding homes for them, and reorganizing the Diaper Genie Elites to their proper locations. 

The end.


I know this probably means I'm changing too many diapers but that's a weird dream, right?  

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don't be fooled

The other day I was talking texting with my college roomie, and she said something like, "I need to catch up with you on the songs and coloring!" To which I responded, "Don't be fooled. Most of the time we're just sitting around eating Cheerios and trying not to drool on the floor."

Which got me thinking: Maybe I should make things a little more clear on my blog too. We don't have it all together.

If you don't believe me:

*Yesterday I just totally blanked on changing Blythe's diaper in the morning. She woke up at 7:30. At NOON I realized she had leaked.*

*I haven't folded clothes at all in the month of September.*

*In my fridge there is less than half a container of sour cream, half a bag of cheese, three apples, some milk, and a loaf of bread. That's it. Well…that's it after I had Brent go dump three containers of "stuff" that had gotten moldy.*

*Let's not talk about my kitchen floor.*

*We ate Subway twice last week for supper. [I'm trying not to add any justifications to these, but it is softball season…]*

*Blythe hasn't eaten a green veggie in I don't know how long. She refuses.*

*We went two days without a roll of toilet paper in our house. I used a napkin once.*

A little blurry…but we're all in it for once! 
I could keep going, and I feel like at this point you believe me when I say that, but I'll stop there. So don't be fooled-- we don't have it all together and we're just getting by and loving each other the best we can! Give yourself a little grace if you are too! 

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the importance of leaving

I told Brent recently that I wanted to re-read all of my favorite books that I read while I was in college. I told him that I feel like if it was a book I liked then, or if it spoke to me somehow, that I should re-read it now,  5 to 9 years later, as the person I am now, and see what different parts speak to me.

And so I pulled out Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller. [Small side note: if you have only ever read Blue Like Jazz by Miller, you are sorely missing out. Jazz is my least favorite of his books]. Immediately I remembered why I loved it. It is the story of the author and his friend, Paul, setting out on a journey across the desert country to Oregon. They travel in a VW van with no agenda and no plan. The book chronicles their journey, and Miller's spiritual journey, along the way.

In the author's note there is a paragraph that jumped out at me:
…everybody, every person, has to leave, has to change like the seasons; they have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it is God's way. All my life I have been changing. I changed from a baby to a child, from soft toys to play daggers. I changed into a teenager to drive a car, into a worker to spend some money. I will change into a husband to love a woman, into a father to love a child, change houses so we are near water, and again so we are near mountains, and again so we are near friends, keep changing with my wife, getting our love so it dies and gets born again and again, like a garden, fed by four seasons, a cycle of change. Everybody has to change, or they expire Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons…. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently. Only the good stories have the characters different at the end than they were at the beginning. 
 I tried to think of my college-self reading that; tried to picture me, age 20, curled in my comforter in a small dorm room pondering what it meant to really leave and change.

I've written before about change, and it's no secret that I'm not its biggest fan. But last night, curled up in a different comforter, in a house I bought with my husband, in a home where I brought my first daughter back from the hospital, at age 27, my perspective on change is different.

I looked forward to college, but was scared to leave what I knew.
I looked forward to starting a new life with Brent, but was absolutely terrified to move to a new state and city.
I looked forward to returning "home", but was worried that I wouldn't fit in the places I once had.

Some of my fears were justified. I spent a lot of time homesick and missing Brent my first year of college. I was the loneliest I had ever been when we moved to Louisville. And "home" was very different than I thought it would be when we returned here.

But each move was necessary in changing me. I'm not supposed to be the same person I was when I was that 20 year old in a dorm room in northwest Iowa.

I really like how Miller says, "Everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons."  When I left for college I didn't realize just how taken care of I had been at home. And then I left for Louisville I didn't realize just how amazing the community of people I had been surrounded by at college was. And then when we moved back to Missouri I didn't realize how hard it would be to leave. And when I look back now, I love them all for new reasons. I love the people in each place, whom I realize shaped me and taught me. I love the ways my school challenged my thinking and yet grounded my faith. I love the way that my marriage had two solid years of "getting our footing" completely on our own, away from anything familiar to either of us.

And I thought about how I have had to change to become a mother, in some of the hardest ways possible, and some of the easiest too. How I had to learn to imitate the change in the trees to take on my new role as a stay-at-home mom and leave another thing I loved deeply.

Sometimes it is hard to see people you love stay static. I know some people who have moved and moved and moved  physically, but have never let their hearts be changed or grown. And I know some people who have lived in the same place their entire life and yet have fertile souls for growth and change. I don't think relationships die because people change; I think relationships die because some people don't change, and they need to. They need to let God keep working on them, keep molding them, keep letting them go through winter and fall and spring and summer. I've heard a lot of marriages end when one spouse says to the other, "You just aren't the same person I married X number years ago." And that is probably a fair statement, but it's not a reason to leave. It's a reason to keep growing with them. The times that I get frustrated with Brent the most are when he is growing in an area and I feel stagnant. I resent it. But I think it is in these times we must bury our heads to the plow and get moving, and find ways to grow along side them.

I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago…

Yes, I have learned that change is constant. Change is necessary. Change is hard. Change is good. I do want to be different at the end of this life than I am right now. I want to be better. I want to have learned more. And leaving and breaking and changing is what will shape that in me. 

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my joy

I try not to let Blythe totally take over this blog, but from time to time there is good occasion to let us all bask in her adorableness for a little bit.

Today is one of these times.

This morning the weather was absolutely beautiful, so I strapped some shoes on her, and strapped a camera on me, and outside we went. I've been wanting to be more intentional about taking pictures of Blythe with my camera and not just my phone, so I thought today would be a good start.

I've been shooting solely in manual lately, thanks to some motivation from Meagan. I have always loved over-exposed black and whites, so I wanted to shoot a few of those while my little subject was cooperating/playing with my lens cap/singing the itsy-bitsy-spider. Here is what we came up with today [no editing].

This may just be my favorite. I did not pose her for this, but rather we were singing and this was right before "WASHED the spider out…" 

She is quite the little play thing right now, and her eyes just sparkle with life. I love my little Blythe Kathleen.
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my generation's day of infamy

This day is significant and yet losing its significance just because that is what the passage of time does to history. I wonder if this is how many people have felt over time about the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

When I was still in the classroom I always had a writing prompt for my students on September 11th. When I first started teaching it went something like, "Write down everything you remember about September 11th, or the days following." Very quickly though I had to change that prompt to something more generic, "Write down everything you've learned about September 11th", because my students were no longer old enough to remember anything first hand.

google images
My last year of teaching the students walked in and grabbed their writer's notebooks and saw the prompt. They were always asked to write for 8-10 minutes, but many struggled to come up with enough to put on paper for this prompt. A few remembered their kindergarten teacher crying, but that was it.

And so, this was one of those times, test scores be damned, that I set aside the lesson plan and we just sat and talked and learned.

I was amazed by some of their questions:
"Wasn't there a plane that they thought was headed for the White House?"
Some other kid piped up and answered,
"Yes, but some guys took it back over from the terrorists and they landed it. No one died on that plane, right?"

The more they talked the more I was baffled. Some didn't know the Pentagon was also attacked that day. These kids that have lived in the shadows of a war on terrorism, who can come up with the name of Osama Bin Laden as easily as Abraham Lincoln, didn't fully understand the depravity and hatred that attacked our nation in 2001; didn't fully understand a day that would shape their histories and their futures forever.

So we kept dialoging. We kept asking each other questions.

 I was merely a sophomore in 2001, taking a quiz in Biology, when we caught wind of something strange and flipped on the news in time to see the second tower being hit. Even at age 15, almost 16, I remember knowing that the stunned silence of the news anchors was something I never wanted to hear again in my lifetime. I remember them finally getting their bearings and stammering, "…This seems to be on purpose." I was merely a sophomore, and yet for my students on this day, at this moment, I held answers that no one had ever told them.

google images
I went to historychannel.com and pulled up some of the videos they had posted from first hand accounts. My students had seen a few specials on TV here and there, or pictures on the internet, but these videos, with their raw footage and no soundtracks to mask the chaos, were the first glimpses many of them saw of what we all watched unfold in horror that day.

I didn't scrap the lesson plan for the day just to scare them or shock them, but because they wanted to know, they were thirsty for the knowledge of this piece of their history. I was an English teacher, but on that day I remembered what one of my great college professors always told me: You teach STUDENTS first. You teach ENGLISH second. 

Yes, I may have more of an appreciation for history than the average person, but I would encourage you [teacher or not] today, and any day, to realize when these moments to really learn are present, and don't let your fear of "not being an expert" stop you. You remember pieces of history no one else does. Pass on your knowledge…the next generation is hungry for it.

google images
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at it again

A threesome of senior girls asked me to take some pictures for them last month, and I had so much fun. I had the privilege of teaching these lovely ladies when they were sophomores, and they are as bright as they are beautiful. I also have been able to coach two of them in softball for four years [tsk, tsk to the other one for being a GOLFER! I kid, I kid], so even though they are probably sick of seeing my face, they still asked me to take some shots for them-- isn't that sweet?
 It was a fun evening, no doubt. 

This may be my favorite one in the whole bunch, because this is what they are really like when you get to know them. 

Seriously? I told you-- they are beautiful!! And all that gorgeous hair of theirs? They are awesome. My sister in law [who is an AMAZING photographer and just needs to open up her studio already…mmmkay, Beth?!], once told me senior girls are her favorite to shoot. I now understand why. They are the perfect combination of sass and giggles that make for some great photo shoots! Thanks ladies, for letting me be a part of this.

I also shot a few four year old pics for Mr. Wyatt. I snapped a few of his family while we were at it:

 It was hotter than blazes this morning and the sun was shining fiercely… and any of you that have taken pictures at all know that is not a good combination…throw in some little ones and it could be a disaster ;). But it turned out just fine, complete with Blythe eating some chalk in the background while I wasn't paying attention.

You think he's cute? You should be around him…he's even cuter when you have a conversation with him. Happy #4, Wyatt!

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