Thursday, January 28, 2016

10 hours 35 minutes

The boys are off track and we decided at the last minute to make a quick road trip to San Diego to thaw them out. The boys had a bounce back pass to Universal Studios and they got to go have a blast with their grandparents and cousin, Kaylie. Then we got to hang out with more cousins later in the week. Then I got a stomach bug and threw up in my parents' toilet which I hadn't done for, oh, 14 years at least. So, fun times for everyone.

But then...

I left this morning at 4:30 am because Troy and I are presenting at an adoption conference on Saturday and we need to do some prep work tomorrow.

My parents live 45 minutes up a hill in eastern San Diego county, CA. I live in the Salt Lake area of Utah. I am a road ninja. Also, I have mini ninjas for children. I made it home today (from driveway to driveway) in 10 hours and 35 minutes. This is, seriously, amazing. I mean, I think it's amazing for a full grown man with a bladder the size of a five gallon drum. It's practically a miracle for someone with children.

I've always longed for the perfect trip. I'll be making great time when, POOF! a semi is on fire on the side of the road and traffic is backed up for miles. Or POOF! there's a chemical spill just outside of Vegas and traffic is stopped dead. Or POOF! road construction in the gorge. Or POOF! southern California conspires against me and no one is going anywhere fast.

Not today, friends. Today I left at 4:30 so that I could get through southern California before the infamous traffic. That put me through Vegas just after their morning commute. The mini ninjas and I stopped twice--once in Barstow and once in St. George--for gas and bathroom breaks. (Just because I'm keepin' it real) I drove five miles over the speed limit most of the time. (BUT ONLY FIVE!) Cars were still passing me quite frequently. Traffic slowed around the 91 and the 60 in California but I was still cruising at a pretty good clip. There weren't many trucks on the roads to cut me off while it took them ten minutes to pass the slower truck in front of them. It did happen, but only a handful of times instead of the usual 5,726.

It was great. I was hoping all day that I would somehow manage to come in just under 11 hours and, thus, setting a record. I never dreamed I'd crush my goal.

This blog post is brought to you by Lori Is Insane and Needs Some Kind of Driving Intervention. However, now that I've set such a solid record, perhaps I can retire the dream and operate like those other freaks who take 14 hours to get to Disneyland.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The One Where I'm Horrified

So. It's like this. I want to crawl into a hole and live there until I starve to death. That's how embarrassed I am right now.

We have this dog. She's eight months old. We haven't had her spayed because of...reasons. We might breed her. We might not. We haven't decided. Since we haven't decided, we haven't spayed her.

(Now let me just take a minute right now to say that, yes, we believe in pet adoption. Of course we support shelters. We believe that shelter dogs are always an excellent option. We just also feel perfectly fine about buying purebred puppies that have papers. You can go ahead and leave a comment on this blog about how irresponsible we are and how we're contributing to the overpopulation of dogs while other animals wait in our local shelter for the chance to be loved if you want to. However, I'm only interested in reading the comments left by those of you who have also adopted children and/or financially supported orphan care. While I hardly want to sit here comparing children to pets, the same arguments you're about to make can be applied to biological children and adopted children. So you can preach to me about ONLY getting a shelter dog and the irresponsibility of pet breeding AFTER you tangibly support children who need homes.)

We haven't spayed our dog yet and everything I've read about goldens says that even though they MIGHT go into heat as early as six months, most of them are closer to a year. So, when I asked my friend, Christy, if she could watch my dog while we're out of town for a couple of days, I really didn't think it would be a problem.

Oh, you see where this is going, do you?

I warned my friend, because I'm very take care of business like that. "She hasn't gone into heat yet. I really don't think she will but you need to consider that she could, blah blah blah." Christy and Jeremy have watched our dogs, our children, you name it. They're great friends so they said, "Yeah. Sure."

I even checked the dog before she left on Thursday night because I would have straight up canceled my trip if I saw any signs of her going in to heat. The websites say they'll be temperamental, possibly aggressive and agitated. Nope. She was just our psychotic, happy-go-lucky pup.

And, OF COURSE, I got a text yesterday telling me that she's in heat. It's not bad, apparently. She's taking care of herself, apparently. It's not a super, big deal, apparently. I want to kill myself. Apparently. I hope that we can one day look back on this experience and laugh and say, "Remember that one time when our dog went into heat all over your house?" I'm not there yet.

I'm still firmly in Camp Horrified.

Who does that? Who sends their dog over to their friends' house for three nights WHILE SHE'S IN HEAT? THIS GIRL! Granted, I didn't know. Granted, it didn't happen until we were already well on our way. But there is a special place in purgatory reserved for people who talk loudly at the theatre and PEOPLE WHO GIVE THEIR DOG TO FRIENDS WHILE SHE'S IN HEAT. (Okay, theologically, I don't believe that but, at the moment, it feels true.)

Jeremy and Christy, you guys are the absolute best friends and I can't thank you enough for watching our dog while she's in such a condition. I may never face you again but I'm glad we got to be friends for these past eight years. I love you! And Tessie does too. She just has a very bizarre way of showing it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

You Matter

Dear Kate,

I miss you. I can't help but think that, had you been born alive that morning, instead of still, the story would have played out in a more joyful way. And I wonder, "What if?" We'd have rushed to your side and cheered you on as you fought through being seven weeks premature. We'd have held you and cared for you and, modern medicine being what it is, hauled you out of the NICU in no time at all. There would have been an Easter dress and some sort of teeny tiny red, white and blue bathing suit. You'd have eaten sand by the fistful at the beach last summer and produced heinous diapers to prove it. Christmas would have been magical. Today, I'd put the final touches on your birthday party which, let's face it, in the absence of your opinion, would probably have had something to do with a couple of Disney princesses named Anna and Elsa.

I had it all playing out so differently in my mind.

But your life mattered. I want you to know that. Even though I can't tell you, I hope that, from your vantage point in Heaven, you somehow know. I hope you can see this family and how we're so much better for the lessons you taught us. I hope you know all the lives you changed without taking a single step.

Do you know about the mother who, after hearing your story, decided not to abort her child?

Do you know about all the people who have told me that they were deeply impacted by your life?

People saw the Lord move as we raised a ton of money in such a short amount of time.

People saw the Lord move as doors opened for us to be able to hold you and love you and bury you.

As for us, the year was not a total loss. We all miss you in ways I can't even begin to put into words. I hate that you're not here. If I could explore an alternate reality where I'm raising you and loving you, I would do it immediately with no questions asked. But I love your brothers a little more fiercely now. I love your Daddy because he's shouldered my grief while struggling through his own. I can't explain it, exactly, but despite never seeing your face, he's somehow still wrapped around your little finger.

I wish I could visit you more than the occasional trip to San Diego allows. I'm so thankful that your grandparents make sure to put fresh flowers on your grave often. Grandpa fills in the cracks and creases with fresh dirt and brushes off your marker so it stays nice and pretty. People love you. And I am hoping, more than anything, that one day we will meet in the heavenly realm and I will see your face and I will know...

That's my girl.

Kate, the tears don't flow as freely anymore. Time doesn't fix anything and the scars don't go away, but the acute pain is replaced by the desire to live each day to the fullest. I'd rather be scooping you up into my arms, kissing your chubby cheeks and your boo-boos, listening to your giggle, but I will settle for knowing that you are, truly, in a better place.

So, I think of you, Little One. Until we meet for the very first time...


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Self Identification

Listen. There are some things I need to do. I need to go to the grocery store to pick up a few things before my mother-in-law flies into town today. I need to come face to face with my Bible study today. I need to wash my dishes and I need to finish writing the book that I need to start writing. But, instead, I'm sitting here thinking about how to explain to my personal online diary that anyone can read that I'm spending a lot of time thinking about how to reinvent myself these days. How to be the person that I feel like I am inside instead of the person I project.

The truth is, I'm not sure how I got here.

Here is the place where I'm responsible and I take care of business and I'm serious and prudent and cautious. That's me. On one hand, anyway. I care about what people think and I want to make them happy and please them and have everyone like me. Do you know what this has looked like over the years?

It's looked like my freshman year college roommate finally losing her ever loving mind and calling a meeting with our R.A. in which everything I'd ever done to annoy her was spilled out while I sat uncomfortably on my bed. I refused to engage--despite having a laundry list of things I could have said--because WHO DOES THAT? Who sits around telling someone what they hate as though some earthly good would come of it? Newsflash though, it's really rude to blow dry your hair two feet away from your sleeping roommate.

It's looked like sitting at a table with someone while they tell me all the ways I'm a terrible pastor's wife and I just nod and say that I'm sorry and I'll try to be better. Because I understand that whether or not I agree, that's the reality for the other person. Even if I don't think it's a fair assessment.

It's looked like being the bigger person a lot.

It's looked like getting cast as the stage manager because I could be trusted to handle it when I really wanted to audition even though I knew I probably wouldn't get a part. And now, as I gain a small fraction of confidence in my voice, I wonder why I didn't just say, "I want to try. I can sort of sing, actually."

It's biting my tongue. And I certainly know that the Lord calls me to certain standards. It's just that He doesn't call me to be a doormat. That's it in a nutshell. I've spent a lot of my life (outside of my home) being a doormat and not speaking my mind.

The truth is, I'm all the things I said I was. But I'm also adventurous and outgoing and energetic and a total spaz. I can be funny and fun and exciting when I'm not busy being reserved. It just takes a long time for me to let other people see this second side of me. So I've been sitting around trying to figure out a way to blend all that I am into one big personality that I'm happy with and not two separate ones that cannot coexist. And I've been trying to figure out a way to just say, "You know what? If you don't like me for who I actually am, I'm okay with that."

But can a pastor's wife BE okay with saying, "Like me or don't. Either way I still belong to Jesus."

And, when did I start identifying myself, first and foremost, as a pastor's wife?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

And You Wonder What If

Confession: I'm a stand at the stage door and wait for her to come out to sign my ticket and then be so sad when she doesn't because I love her that much kind of groupie. If this were the 70's, I'd be piled in a van, following her around the country and neglecting all my earthly responsibilities.

I don't really know how this happened.

Except to say that I guess I've been this way since 1999. I just had a lot less access back then. In 1999, the best I could do was search for sound bytes or print interviews.

And I loved her.

I've followed her career. What used to be almost entirely on the east coast has exploded into EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK thanks to a little Disney movie called Frozen.

This is how I have come to see Idina Menzel live three times since the summer.

On Saturday, I found myself in the front row of the Civic Theatre watching her perform in a show that has come to mean a great deal to me. It didn't receive rave reviews during its year long run on Broadway. It has some subject matter that I don't endorse but it's themes of starting over, of grief, of paths taken and paths ignored, of choosing and watching everything change, have breathed Broadway life into me this past year.

I've pulled from a lot of places to get me through the downs of the last twelve months. My faith, first and foremost. Worship songs. My husband and family and friends. Ice cream. Broadway. So when I found out that she'd be touring with the first seven cities, it was kind of all I wanted for Christmas.

Get me to a city that she'll be in. Of course, tickets and lodging and airfare and a rental car greatly exceed any Christmas budget we have. I decided San Diego was the only logical city. I'd eliminate lodging and the rental car by mooching off my parents. I texted my friend, who I knew had season tickets and asked which performance her tickets were for so that I could buy mine for the same day. I might as well get to say hey to a friend during intermission.

And the long story short is that she had an extra front row ticket that she refused to take any money for. That is how I came to watch Idina Menzel performing a role that has (not to sound too dramatic) changed my life. In THE FRONT ROW. All for the price of a plane ticket.

I really cannot describe it. To watch a show that has been, somehow, instrumental in my grieving and moving forward, from a place close enough to see the tears running down the actress's face as she connected to the subject matter through her own place of loss, was a priceless experience for me.

I'd always focused on the songs of grief and sadness and used them as a cathartic jumping off point for healing. I'd listened less to the songs about letting go and moving on and being brave because I didn't feel ready to let go or move on or be brave. In those moments though, it was as if, somehow, the performer I've adored for 16 years was telling me that it was okay to move forward not knowing and to be bold even when we're afraid of all the millions of ways it can end badly.

I do not know what the future holds for us. I continue to appreciate your prayers. I believe that God can and will bring another to child to us--if that is His plan. Sitting here though, in this moment, I'm not sure it matters to me. It's been a year of grieving while being told that people are looking at our family, considering us, thinking about choosing us. It's been a year of possibilities and a year of hopes raised and broken. But it has not been a bad year. Because in this year, we have loved tremendously. We have counted our blessings. I refuse to get so wrapped up in waiting for another blessing that I forget the ones that are two feet in front of my face every day.

This is what art can do for a person. It can remind us of what we already know to be true. We just have to know that we'll always wonder what if. We have to trust that we're doing the best we can with what we chose. Or what chose us.

You stop and say hey to a stranger
And where will it lead, who can know
But you learn how to love the not knowing
So here I go

Here I go
Here I go

You choose and then everything changes
Take a breath and then fly off the cliff
And you know that there's no turning back
No turning back
No turning back

And you wonder what if?
What if?

Thank you, Jenni, for the incredible gift. You cannot ever know what it meant to me as a once upon a time performer, as a fan, as a grieving mom, but, most importantly, as a girl who's trying to figure her life out. You are, truly, the best. Thank you for sharing the experience with me.

Thank you Kelli, for your support this year, for joining us in the front row, and for always seeming to accept me for whoever I am, wherever I am. My life is infinitely richer because you are in it.

Lastly, thank you, Idina, who will never, ever read this but who deserves acknowledgement nevertheless. Your portrayal of Elizabeth has moved me in ways I could never begin to explain. Thank you for pouring yourself into her. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sonrise Haiti Trip

My husband went to Haiti.

Here's a short video about their experiences.

Sonrise Haiti 2015 from Hungry For Life USA on Vimeo.

Monday, January 4, 2016

On the Eve of 2016

So we decided to let our children try to stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve.

I feel like I should stop there and let you write the story. Be sure to include a catchy exposition, some good rising action, an equally engaging climax, etc. and etc. I'll help you out with some story development. How long had we been playing Sorry when Matthew started to cry?

It was my bright idea. I was around Garrett's age (which would have made my brother around Matthew's age) when I first stayed up until midnight. My mom rented movies and I remember Milo & Otis, in particular. I also remember fighting to stay awake on the couch for what seemed like hours before it was finally time to bang a few pots and pans and call it a night.

In the afternoon, I headed out to obtain the necessary food items. Pizza, appetizers, ice cream, sparkling cider, chips and dip. And, because I'm not a complete lunatic, veggies. When I explained to the kids that we weren't really having dinner, exactly, but were, instead, piling our paper plates with calories and plopping down in front of the TV, they were excited (and maybe confused). It's not that we never watch television during dinnertime. It's just rare. And dinner usually doesn't include pizza, mozzarella sticks, chicken wings and chips and dip all on the same night. We almost never chase such a fat fest with ice cream sundaes.

I got a DVD of classic musicals in my stocking. See, Mrs. Claus--who actually does most of the work--saw it at Target and called Santa and said, "Mr. Claus, there's this DVD that I really would like and I'm here now, looking at it, and there's only one left and could it maybe come home with me and make an appearance on Christmas morning?" Santa was then like, "Yeah. Sure. Go for it." That there is the riveting story of how we found ourselves watching Annie Get Your Gun on New Year's Eve. I didn't know if my boys would enjoy it but WHO WAS I KIDDING? Wild west shows, horses, SHOOTING GUNS! Turns out, Annie Get Your Gun is basically their love language.

After that, we spent some time watching football while the boys spent some time speaking their love language to each other by acting out all the scenes in Annie Get Your Gun EXCEPT the love scenes because they are nine and six and kissing is gross. Although, to be fair, my nine year old seemed less disgusted all the sudden and my six year old, who is basically a tiny little Romeo with the ladies, slapped his hands over his eyes and gagged. So we've found ourselves in some sort of alternate universe where my ladies' man is grossed out by love and my older boy tells me he saw a pretty blonde at McDonald's. (Shhh. Do NOT tell him I broke his confidence by sharing that with the three of you.)

After that, we tried to play Sequence. Somehow, the stars aligned and Matthew and I won even though my teammate had little to no strategy for helping me. It took him a decade to decide which card to play and then he got all in a huff when we pointed out that he couldn't play a two of spades on a two of clubs. "Maybe we should stick to games like Sorry for awhile," I suggested.

But it was 10:30 and Matthew was already exhausted and Sorry didn't go quite as swimmingly as I'd imagined. You'd have thought that, with every bump back to start, we were actually removing one of his fingers with a butter knife. If I had a dollar for every time one of us stared the kid down and instructed, "IT'S JUST A GAME!" I'd have a lot of dollars.

When Sorry ended, I made them go upstairs and take a shower. Because, honestly, I was trying to buy some time. We were 45 minutes from the ball dropping and I didn't know if we'd be able to make it. That's when Garrett started to cry. He didn't need a shower. He was tired. Why was I inflicting this horrible punishment upon him? Thankfully, I shot him the Mom Look of Death and threatened bed and he rallied.

At 11:30 I took this picture and posted it to Instagram with the caption, "They're still going strong but oh boy is it ever meltdown city all up in this house. Thirty minutes. WE CAN DO THIS!! Go team!"

We turned on the TV and prepared to watch the ball drop. We popped open the non alcoholic bubbly, made a few toasts, and clinked glasses. Ninety seconds before midnight, I said, "A minute and a half boys!" And Garrett responded with, "And then we all kiss?" Apparently his knowledge of midnight on New Year's has been strictly gained through television. But if the shoe fits...

The clock struck midnight and there were five combinations of kisses shared. The boys refused to kiss each other because THAT, apparently, would certainly bring about the apocalypse. I banged a pot with a wooden spoon, Garrett slammed two pots together, neighbors let off fireworks, and the dog decided to freak out. (Great! We were doing so well with this one. I had high hopes she wouldn't shake like a leaf and hide in the bathtub like her predecessor. She wasn't nearly AS bad as Beck used to be so I'm holding on to a shred of optimism that we can view this as a mere setback, but she's been demonstrating signs of being afraid of the vacuum now too so I might be delusional.)

At 12:15 the children were sound asleep.

Happy New Year and all that jazz! (Wait, wrong musical.)