Saturday, April 9, 2016

When I Burned A Lasagna For Jesus

It's true confession time, y'all. I was peeling potatoes just now for our church's Friend's Day potluck tomorrow afternoon (SHAMELESS PLUG, if you're in or around Gulf Breeze, Florida tomorrow morning around 9:30 and want to join us you definitely should. Our pew is huge and we would LOVE to shuffle down for you. My crew stations up in the back and we are the rowdiest bunch of kids and constantly shushing adults in the entire place. Come as you are- because you'll fit right in with me and my husband and our rowdy hoodlums.) when I remembered back about a decade ago when I brought one of my first casserole dishes to a Dinner-on-the-Grounds. 

It was a badly burned lasagna.  

I was a newlywed so y'all can cut me a little slack. I shopped and chopped and assembled my sweet little pasta dish and then somehow after what was probably like 2.5 hours in a 550° oven, it came out looking like one of those "This is your brain on drugs." commercials. Bless my heart, I was so crestfallen. I may have cried. Nothing takes the wind out of a new wife's sails faster than a charred casserole dish. True story. It's depressing.

I was broken hearted, but we were running behind so I shoved it into my Corningware insulated carrier and dashed out the door. We made it to the building and I placed my humble offering at the verrrrrrrrry end of the serving table while I prayed no one would see and connect me to the disasterous dish I was setting down. 

Bible class and worship ended and the meal began. I made my way through the line and when I finally got to my dish I saw that there had been a few brave, sweet souls that had taken a few scoops of my charcoaled cheese extravaganza. I breathed a little sigh of relief, and found a seat to eat...right next to someone with a blackened scoop of my lasagna on their plate. Criminals under interrogation have sweated less than I did through that meal. My victim did take one small bite and then just sort of pushed the rest to the edge of his plate. (I couldn't blame him. I took some, but it was more out of guilt and obligation. And it really was terrible.) 

As everybody cleaned up, I collected my nearly full pan of untouched lasagna and smuggled it out of that fellowship hall. I was the 007 of church potlucks that day, y'all. The next time a Dinner-on-the-Grounds rolled around, I tried again and was much more successful. Thank heavens. 


Looking back, I'm glad I took a chance and burned that lasagna. I'm glad I took that leap out of my comfort zone and tried to do something that was new and hard for me. It took work, and loads more mistakes happened between then and now, but I believe who I am today is because of the effort I started to put forth back then. 

So if you're intimidated by something, let me encourage you with my humble and rocky and awful tasting beginnings. Go ahead! Burn a lasagna of your own! Bring a disgusting looking dish to a potluck. Sew some pathetic looking napkins. Plant tomatoes that die in a month. Paint your bedroom a horrible shade of green. Read a book with a terrible ending. Cut your hair. Cut your kid's hair. Cut up your credit cards. 

Just take a leap. Take a chance. TRY SOMETHING NEW. You'll look back at yourself in a decade or so and laugh and be an even better version of yourself. You'll absolutely screw things up but you'll be happier because of it. I promise. Or maybe that's just me. But I don't think so. ::wink::

Thanks for stopping by y'all, Katie. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Hamster Wheel

Because OH MY MERCY am I the only one who feels like they're trapped inside a rotating wheel of activity and insanity and laundry that's never ending?? 

My life is a hamster wheel. 

I wake up, jump on and start spinning. I keep the same routine with the same people in the same places 

My kids emerge from their rooms each morning bright eyed and optimistic for the start of a fresh new day. (Or NOT. There have been days that I've straight up sent my four year old back into her bed because I do not have the brain cells avaliable to battle first-thing-in-the-morning-meltdowns-for-no-reason. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT YOU FEEL THE NEED TO OPEN YOUR EYES AND IMMEDIATELY BURST INTO TEARS?? Please, tell me. These are answers I need to know. There will come a day when she will be a teenager who will want to sleep late and I WILL THEN REJOICE WITH THE ANGELS because my Josie is not a morning person. Bless.) 

We sit on the same couch and read from the same Bible and pray in the same way. We eat breakfast in the same kitchen and play with the same toys. Their squabbles are over the same situations (because there can only be one coveted train car in a mounding pile of railroad pieces) and the skirmishes occur in the same settings. There is a superior seat at our breakfast nook table and woe be unto the two kidlets who are unable to sit there during a meal. It's like the throne of McReynolds Manor and if you're not fortunate enough to reside on it you're nothing but a peasant and will have to kiss the ring and bow before that meal's reigning occupant. Sometimes, I hate that spot and no one sits in it

Our days continue on, with colorful interjections throughout OF COURSE, but mostly staying within that same hamster wheel of daily life. Breakfast is fixed, lessons are taught, messes are cleaned, laundry is rotated. The same toilet in the same bathroom gets disgusting (TWO YOUNG BOYS, y'all) so the same swishing and swiping happen before it's again compromised by bad aim and blind eyes.

 I sing the same songs to put one down for a nap and drink the same life giving afternoon coffee while watching the same episode of Wild Kratts with the same two bigger kids. (I have learned some stuff about the honey badger and the peregrine falcon. ASK ME ANYTHING.) We play the same games and build the same towers and put together the same puzzles. 

Then supper is fixed in the same kitchen and bites are bargained for with the same enthusiasm and dessert is the same prize for a meal well eaten. Shout out to three animal crackers for being the bribe my kids will willingly work for while eating the delicious and home cooked meal I prepare for them nightly. It feels so good to play second fiddle to a Sam's Club bear filled with bland, vanilla flavored cookies. 

I floss the same teeth and read more from the same Bible and pray with the same people before bedtimes. There are more of the same snuggles and songs and one-more-big-kisses given before we turn off the same lights and close the same doors for the (hopefully) last time that same day. 

And then, that day ends and another begins and the wheel starts all over again. The monotony of the life phase that I'm in can be exhausting, but there's part of me that's grateful for this hamster wheel running season I'm in. 

The wheel is work. 
The wheel is activity. 
The wheel is exercise and strength and growth. 

With each day that comes, I get a new opportunity to become stronger in my weaknesses. I get fresh chances to continue to work on the parts of myself that need attention. My impatience and short tempter and pride are all brought into check daily within this hamster wheel life that I'm living. I may lose my cool and become boastful and bark orders at the kids or my husband one day, but, BECAUSE OF THE WHEEL, I get to pick myself up, examine my flaws, and strengthen my resolve to do better before I jump back on the it the following morning. 

They're still going to fight. My husband will always have jobs and work obligations that unexpectedly keep him at the office late. They will spill the same chocolate milk and fight over the same Ninja Turtle umbrella while I work on refining those same character flaws that are triggered in these repetitious situations. 

I'm grateful for the continuing opportunities to grow and change and be better that this life is giving me. Living these same days over and over and over may feel monotonous at times (because they do), but it's through the diligent, consistent, constant effort that is afforded me during this monotony that I am able to face my sin and see my flaws and target my shortcomings with clarity that only repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again can give me. I'm able to really get down, dig out my sinfulness and work hard to eliminate it. I get so many repeat chances to do better because there is always going to be another opportunity to work on that same weak spot.

I get stronger everyday I run on my hamster wheel and I'm not anywhere close to being ready to jump off. I'm going to lace up my running shoes, y'all. (Figuratively, of course. I don't run. My cardio consists of taking my garbage cans to the road every week. Please don't judge.)

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:1-3

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win." -Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:24