Stairmastering

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This morning I saw a lovely, inspirational photo posted on Facebook. Actually, it was commented on by a friend and posted by a total stranger and hence appeared on my newsfeed. It was an accidental stalker moment, not unlike thinking the woman in the next stall is engaging me in conversation when actually she is on her cell phone. When flushing is interrupting a conversation, there is nothing Emily Post or Dear Abby can do.

Pictured here, the image shows stairs that bear the chalked inscription: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. You just have to take the first step.” Ah, Pancake Wisdom. Hearty, filling, and sappy. I am confident most life changing decisions would not have been made if the whole journey had been laid out. (No wonder Moses was just given instructions to take off his shoes and have a pow-pow with Pharaoh. 40 years in the dessert with millions of Jews and I’m sure he would have rethought a few things.) I have many friends who now look back on broken marriages, unsuccessful pregnancies, poor jobs, and other aspects of life in a fallen world.  Sometimes we trip on the steps. Sometimes life is better than we could have foreseen.Handrails should not be underestimated.

Of course, the idea behind climbing the proverbial stairs is what is at the top. Unless of course you’re on the gym elliptical or stair stepper, but not falling as you feel the burn is still important. As I trudged up the stairs to bed last night in the dark, I was clinging to that handrail and squinting to see any shadow of toys, clothing, or other hazard. At the top the baby gate peered halfway over the top stair. That could have been the end of it right there. If one does take the first step, for heaven’s sake keep your head up and use your God-given sense.

Watching a Disney movie this weekend that featured a song about dreams, I turned to my husband and asked, “At what point in life do we go from dreaming and wishing on stars to making goals and planning?”  Do you remember that shift? Some people don’t; they declare themselves dreamers. These people are usually not terribly successful and bounce from venture to venture. Then there are the super-planners who are efficient but are no fun to have along on long road trips. Not all potty breaks are predictable, thank you.

The Bible is quite clear about the importance not just of faith and belief, but of having the wisdom to plan and work toward the end goal. “Don’t build without measuring and weighing the cost.” “Press on toward the goal.” “Run as to win the prize.” “Behold, I am coming soon.” “Seek wisdom.” “Do not grow weary in doing good.” “All discipline seems unpleasant at the time…” The point of all discipline and perseverance is the end goal. Impatience seems to be the life theme of this era. People firmly against capital punishment suddenly get very righteous once cut off in traffic or when the coupon lady has 60 items in the Express Lane. Things of true value take time, effort, and diligence.

Sometimes in life it is okay to take the elevator or escalator. Sometimes we have to carry others who can’t climb the stairs on their own. Other times  patiently wheel someone’s chair up the ramp. In  my home,  we have gates blocking the stairs. I’ve had nightmares about my son falling down our long flight of stairs. After a few good knocks from ungracefully dismounting the second stair, he doesn’t want to go any higher. Each day I get on all fours and we try to reach that third stair. By the fourth he clings to my neck like a spider monkey until we reach the top and he dangles toys through the bars on the landing. It really hurts to fall down- or up-the stairs.

The same advice we learned about the stairs as children applies to the proverbial stairs of life. Watch where you step. Don’t go too fast. Don’t play on the stairs. Turn the light on so you see where you’re going. If you left belongings on the stairs, pick them up and take them with you so no one else is tripped up. (This week a perfect outline of boots, uniform pants, and a shirt were laid out on the stairs. I called to my husband to see if I had missed the Rapture.) No pushing on the stairs. Stay to one side if someone is going in the opposite direction. Use the handrails- they are there for a reason. If you fall, don’t just lie there. If you smack your sibling’s rear on the way up, expect to be mule-kicked.  Expect those you love to tell others about your embarrassing stair injuries.

So yes, you don’t have to see the whole staircase. But as much as you can, watch where you’re going. You can bust your rump just as hard on the bottom stair as the top stair.

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Going Rogue

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Life is full of things we wish we could be rid of; grackles, mosquitoes, stretch-marks, obnoxious drunks in restaurants… but I have one that lies in wait. I knew it would resurface soon. Its evil shines through the stark white, dead appearance; its lack of color demonstrates the cruel lack of emotion. It’s my deployment hair.

It made its debut in 2007 the night before I sent my newly wedded husband off to training at Fort Benning. I stared into the mirror and saw one white hair. It was dead center of my head and stuck straight up. It was like shirtless potbellied drunk at the Superbowl yelling, “Hey! Look at me! I’m prominent enough to be a tourist attraction!” Naturally, I yelled, showed my beloved what the stress had already done to me, examined my face for laugh lines, and yanked that bad boy out by the root. I’ve searched for this hair a few times and it always lurks down below the auburn until a few weeks before deployment. It has a friend now; the “mom of a boy” white hair. My mother retained her auburn hair color until my brother. Those who know him and especially remember him as a child know full well why my mother is now a mix of blonde and platinum. Quite frankly, I am amazed she has any hair left; between the three of us and a dog who set new standards of flatulence she certainly could have ripped it all out and been justified.

Yesterday at the bathroom mirror I saw it once again. It was white, long, and wiry. All youthfulness drained from my body. At least it’s just the one hair; I could have had one per deployment or overseas assignment. Of course, I plucked that sucker out, gave it the evil eye, and tossed it away. (I believe the experts call this stage denial.)

Now, my husband has recently realized that I grew up as a GIRL in the 90s. Thus, I have spent many evenings reliving his childhood by memorizing the names and figures of Transformers and GI Joes, while also listening to his rants about the lack of security and the lack of planning by the decepticons and Cobra. Whew.  The one figure I do appreciate is Rogue from X-Men. Unlike the new non-animated movie where Rogue lacks the awesome superpowers and red hair, the cartoon shows Rogue as a sassy redhead with a patch of white hair that usually sticks up in a nice wind-blown look. I figure that with the neon-80s look returning and my secret love of yellow spandex (thank you, Wolverine) I have a back-up plan if my white hair really gets out of hand. With the proper combination of hair spray and a sweat band, I think there is great potential for me to pull this look off. If nothing else, people will take pictures of me and I will find myself on a Wal-Mart people picture montage.

I used to be mistaken for a student in the high school copy room. Now I get ads for AARP cards in the mail. Truly. (In my defense, the Texas Roadhouse Early Bird Special is a good value and leaves a necessary buffer for baby bedtime). There’s really nothing wrong with getting older. There are lots of benefits. I’d never want to go back to age 13…at least unarmed.

I’ve decided white hair is a rite of passage. Like wrinkles, uncool clothes, and horrific shoes our grandmothers wore that now strike us as “comfortable”, there are things that are inevitable. There are just marks that come with experience. Some scars boast, “I survived!” and some hips boast, “I carried multiple children and can seat 2 faster than a Cheddar’s waitress.” Some haircuts boast, “I am WAY too into Justin Beiber” and some tattoos boast, “I have no spelling ability- and neither does my tattoo artist.” Personally, a shining moment for me was when my son was 5 weeks old and I was literally in the middle of a cross-country move. My younger brother was making mom-jokes, so I told him I got a tattoo around my hip. He gave me a look of doubtful, intrigued respect and wanted to see it.  I led him into a side room. “Don’t let Mom see. She’ll freak out. I got tiger claws ripping up like a scratch. It looks like lightening.” I lifted my shirt and showed him stretch marks that clearly showed my waist had recently had its own orbit. He screamed and hid his eyes like I had hit him with acid. One point to the older sister tally. We are now even for the time he threw all my clothes into the pool and left me with no clean, dry underwear to wear to church after my shower.

Chances are your body has some identifying features- hair color, scars, tattoos, birthmarks… but they tell your story. One of my hairs says, “Life sometimes loses its brilliance. Sometimes you sacrifice and something less colorful is left behind. Oh, and I’m training to be a flying, strong super hero with a southern accent that can take you down.”  In a few years I fully expect to have several white hairs. Heaven help the stylist who asks the source of the white. One will be the deployment hair. One will be from my son rappelling from the balcony with suspenders. One will be from his streaking at the church picnic. One will be from his first broken bone. One will be from his first attempt to create an indoor pool. Etc. For the moment, I think I will just rename the deployment hair, “Rogue.” It stands out from the crowd and will remind me of my superhero potential. Cue the X-Men theme; I’m on a hunt for a sweatband and a teasing comb.

Night of the Cow Caper

Do you ever hear strange noises in your home? After 5 moves in fewer than 5 years, there is always a time of adjustment to the new sounds. Likewise, in the first few days of a military deployment, the source of every strange noise on earth suddenly resides in my home. Apparently last night around 2:00am there was a light metallic knocking on the front door. My husband reported this to me this morning, saying the neighbors had been out with the dogs as well. For the sake of all involved, I hope he greeted the noise with more than just his shorts and handgun (typical male uniform for nighttime noise discovery). We will see when the invitations to the neighborhood picnic go out.

This weekend a new noise broke the peace and ‘tranquility’ of the evening after the firstborn’s bedtime. Between a long day, hormone spikes (courtesy of my unborn), and having resided in Texas for more than 2 minutes, there was no way around it.  I needed the sweet Nectar of Life: Bluebell Ice Cream.

I smiled as I turned into the kitchen. My hand gripped the handle of the freezer when my joyous pre-Bluebell coma happiness was shattered by a clear, deep, guttural…”Moooooooo!”

Yes, at 13 weeks pregnant and reaching for the ice cream, my refrigerator mooed at me. For a brief moment I glanced at my shoulder, ready to squash the Jiminy Cricket who dared to offer dietary advice in a bovine manner. Then Another moo, but not from my shoulder.  A little more to the right.  I took a step to the right and saw the Fisher Price magnetic farm toy stuck to the side of the fridge. Apparently, about 4 minutes after last detectable contact the farm will make a noise and then go into sleep mode. Pieces of a barnyard massacre were scattered on the floor; plastic eyes stared up at me as if they had seen their frozen cousins at the last freezer opening. I ignored the call of the wild and opened the freezer. I hugged my tub of Happy Tracks (proper form for opening the lid of this glorious ice-cream) and prepared a small bowl.  As I returned the container to the freezer, I pushed the red button on the farm to “off”.

There are enough challenges with body image and self-esteem out there; no need to go into a rant on that behalf. I mean, diet advice given by a Fisher Price farm animal is worth much more than the billions spent by the beauty industry guilt trips.

We all have bad days. Lately I’ve had a few for the record books. I don’t always ignore the calls of barn animals but on this day my taste buds sang the Blue-Bell ice-cream jingle while I took a moment for myself. Well, myself and my unborn who clearly needs calcium. It’s about mother’s love, people.   There will always be dissenting voices in life. If you have a voice that says,” Hey, Heifer! After more ice cream are you?” may it be be as easy to put out to pasture. Image

When There’s No Doubt, Shout it Out.

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The school bell rings. Lines of kids sit in small desks. One of the kids is making spitballs. (He will become a weapons engineer. Be nice to that kid. The kid eating glue will make an 8 figure salary.) It’s elementary school and school is in session. This is where we learn life’s lessons. We learn the right answers. We learn to raise our hands before offering them. We also learn to be confident when we know the right answers.

Then we get to the ‘real world’ and it all backfires. In college everyone sits and raises hands and the professor says, “Come on, Call it out!” Okay. Then in group discussions you have to learn the right away of conversation traffic. Just when you think you have a handle on situation and group dynamics, you learn that your education is incomplete.

New scene. It’s Sunday School, 10 minutes left in class. The class has had lots of speaking and is warmed up. People are smiling and laughing. The pastor is asking questions. Answers are being called out.  A few correct answers had been mumbled, so volume is encouraged. Then, trying to make a point about the completeness of scripture, the pastor asks this basic question:

“How does the Book of Revelation end?”

Oh! Oh! I know this one! Easy one! It’s time. Confidence. Volume. Clarity.

“Amen!” Taaadaaa! Yes, that is how it ends. Well, actually, it is The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all, Amen, but I was being specific.

Unamused look from the Pastor. Head cock to the side. “Before that?”  “ I am coming soon”, I answered, more quietly but still with confidence. Come on now, I read the book for myself, thank you very much. The pastor sighed. “I mean, what does the last warning say about adding to scripture?”

WHAT?! Well, fine! Let’s not look literally at scripture then! Oh, you meant Revelation 22:18? I knew that too. Please, allow me to sputter it out… nope. Too many people are now mumbling. When things go badly in class in elementary school, you wait and tattle to your mommy.  Thankfully, it was bring your parents to Sunday School Day! Victory in Jesus- they were visiting. My mother rang out with a near-direct quote of Revelation 22:18 to save me from spouting from the New  Paraphrased Version in defense. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book that if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book…”  Hooray for Mom!  At an acceptable break she looked over at me. “Well, each time you had the right answer- just not the one he was looking for.”

Does that happen to you? It happens to me constantly. Sometimes talking with people is as frustrating as yelling into the phone, “Representative! I want to speak to a representative?!” and hearing, “I’m sorry. Did you say, ‘Banking’? Transferring now.”  We live in a time where knowing an answer and knowing the right answer are very different- and often subjective.When did it become such a stigma to not know everything? If there is a constant need to be right in a specific way, how will any child ever raise a hand with confidence? I remember kids raising their hands and declaring, “I forgot” or “I am 6 today!” When you did get the right answer, you may see a little fist clench and pull back into a “YES!” just for the sake of knowing. Of course, stickers were awesome too.

There is a wonderful joy in the human being that erupts from success. Watch Olympic gold medalists or World Series victors. Arms raise, they jump, they smile, they yell- there is something wonderful in that. I noticed that when my high school students mastered a skill or something hard, they did the same thing. When they guessed correctly on a hard test question and realized they had been right, their hands go up and a “YES!” breaks out. Furthermore, when someone confidently and eloquently voices an opinion that echoes the cry of your heart, it is easy for a “that’s right!” or “Yes! Amen!” to erupt. Let us not lose that nature. There is too much uncertainty and questioning in this world to lose the confidence that comes with knowing yourself and knowing the right answer. This is not to praise the know-it-all who never shuts up or the need to always be right, but to reaffirm that it is okay to speak up even when saying what isn’t exactly desired. Whether you raise your hand, call it out, or keep it to yourself, the right answer is the right answer.  After all, the last word in the Bible is Amen; it is a declaration of affirmation which literally means “so be it; truly”. It’s a big ol’- “that’s right”- and it IS the last thing Revelation says. Thanks, Lord. Amen.

It’s Hammer Time

As a theologian once sang, “We’ve got to pray. We’ve got to pray just to make it today.”

Whether it’s traffic, teething, or a board meeting, we could all use a little help. So could the teens out there that think the neon spandex and ripped shirts look good. I think the teen brain interprets neon wrong. I had a similar problem in the 90s.  At least the saggers of our day could do it while their pants were hiked up to their Michael Jackson band jackets. Pants measured a 33 waist, a 54 hip, connected at the knee, and had tapered ankles. Rap Artist of the Year could be wearing a jacket used on The Three Amigos and Steve Urkle’s glasses and still be totally rad. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

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6 months ago my younger brother sent me a piece of sheer genius. Pictured above, it is “MC Hammer Babyproofing”. As a result, about 90% of the time I fasten a baby lock I end up yelling, “Can’t touch this! Ooooh!” while throwing up arms upward and busting into a sea-walk. Sad, I know. Madonna and her orange road cones were fashion icons during my formative years. I still bear scars from the 90s.

I soon got caught into a vortex of MC Hammer. I realized that my busted mom-moves could create a music video montage that would fit most of MC’s hits. Everyone who’s experienced a blown-out diaper or an impromptu vomit-launch knows the feeling of grabbing the child under the armpits and running wide-legged to the sink or bathroom, avoiding the drips. Tell me that isn’t the sea-walk leg move happening.

As I occasionally spot a reflective surface and wonder where that 21 year old body went, my back-up singers break out into, “Have You Seen Her? (Tell me, have you seen her?)” Well, that immature girl has been replaced by a new role. I am too legit. Too legit to quit.  This thought will be broken by a giggling boy running with some form of contraband, leading me into another round of “Can’t Touch This”.

I don’t remember ever having MC Hammer tapes or MTV in our home, but somehow I fell prey to the MC. Although in 2012 I am not quite what I pictured in the 90s, neither is The Hammer. Perhaps these moments that I am promised to look back and miss are much like the moments of my own childhood.  I can look back and wonder what on earth I was wearing, be slightly embarrassed for what was caught on camera, and smile while remembering the glorious joy of that time. That’s what reliving your childhood is all about. After all, it’s Hammer Time.

 

 

 

Out of the Mouths of Babes

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It is every parent’s duty to instill a healthy fear into their children, whether it is of putting an eye out, waiting until your father gets home, or driving in Houston rush-hour traffic (where my mother informed me I would be killed by an 18 wheeler…I was 8 at the time). While crucial, these small lessons are NOTHING compared to the fear a child instills into a parent. There are common and important fears; physical injury, kidnapping, warping their personalities… but then there is the fear of the inevitable. It’s the fear of some irrevocably embarrassing comment the children say to the wrong person and the worst possible moment.

Even the most confident and well humored parent feels this fear and knows the feeling that comes right after the moment occurs. You’ll note that in Forrest Gump the camera didn’t pan to Sally Field’s face after her beloved boy dropped trou for the President on television.

I guarantee that once I had a grasp on the English language my mother’s prayer life kick-started like it got a new pace-maker. I have no idea why she would fear what would come out of my mouth. Perhaps it was because I had a penchant for brilliant comments at church.

On one occasion at age 6 I sighed with great exasperation and dropped my tithe of a dime rather than the usual two nickels into the offering basket. “I only had a dime today, so God and Jesus will just have to share. “  When I talked to the pastor about baptism, my parents stood outside the door wringing their hands. As the pastor asked me questions confirming my understanding of doctrine I spouted off this gem: “Weren’t you listening to the sermon today? You’re the pastor. You should know these things already!” No doubt you have hundreds of hilarious comments from children flying into your head.

There is nothing like the faith of a child. When I was the director of children’s ministry I kept a journal of kid’s comments. You never know when little Sarah will buzz her own hair, allowing you to use her for an object lesson on Samson’s shearing or Silas will declare that although he is in this story, he didn’t know Paul and he has NEVER been to prison. Oh, the testing of patience and perseverance when at 8 months pregnant and alone 5 year old Dakota will declare that he is stronger than you and doesn’t need God’s help. Oh, when the boys ask on Easter Sunday how the women rolled away the heavy stone and little Courtnie confidently replied, “The women didn’t need to know how, just that they had to do! Hooah!”  Then there’s the mistake of a pastor asking for prayer requests in service. A two year old stood and proudly proclaimed, “I GOTTA PEE!” Amen. Me too. In many ways a year of children’s ministry is like a year in seminary.

Oh, the crisis of faith when it’s understood that God doesn’t have a mommy to take care of him! The joy when a windstorm rushes through! “It’s the Holy Spirit! You should tell him there’s no fire allowed in the house, though.” Amid prayers for hamsters, toothbrushes (I am thankful for those too!), mean kids in class, and deployed daddies are the prayers that knock me flat. During the recent rip-roaring tornadoes in Kentucky I got a call.  The following conversation had just occurred: “Your prayer wasn’t good enough, Mom.  Let me do it. Oh Lord, we need you to send a WHOLE HOST of your angels to protect our house, because a host means A LOT. You can calm the wind, so make it stop RIGHT NOW! Thank you. Amen. ” My friend said, “Honest to goodness, the wind stopped immediately. This kid can pray!”

At these moments adults often say, “Out of the mouths of babes…” No one has ever said the whole verse, so I don’t mind if I do.  Psalms 8:2: Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have ordained strength because of your enemies, that you might still the enemy and the avenger. A child’s words have strength. If a child’s words have the been ordained strength by the Almighty, no wonder they can calm storms. (I say they earn allowance from FEMA and NOAA.)

Let us not forget, however, that children repeat everything they hear. This leads us to another issue I dealt with frequently in the church… the misunderstanding of Christian clichés. The greatest of these is the great confuser of children, Ephesians 3:17 (That Christ may dwell in your heart through faith).  I cringe every time I hear a preacher ask, “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” Easy to ask from the pulpit, Pastor.  Join us in the room full of curious 4 year olds right afterward…

  “How does Jesus get into my heart?” “Does Jesus have enough room? I thought he had the whole world in his hands?” “Do I swallow Him like a pill?” “How is He in everyone’s heart at the same time? Does He make visits? My grandparents do that.” “Does he leave?” “Will I feel him?” “What if I have a heart attack?” “Are there pieces of him like a puzzle?” “If he gets hungry, will he take snacks from my tummy?”

One of my favorites was a voice from the backseat, “Mom, Jesus is in my heart! He’s also in my tummy and He says, ‘Let’s go to Sonic’.” Hey, thus saith the Lord.

For the love of Christmas Carols! Scripture says Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father- let him stay there or join us in Children’s Sunday School ready for a new testing of your faith, Pastor. Great is the Sunday School teacher who brings those children to Jesus and does not hinder them. Theirs is the kingdom, and I often feel that their understanding is greater.

Remember the amazing power of our words and what we teach our children.

Today a dear friend received a call from her grandson. “Di Di! I accepted Jesus into my heart!” She replied with joy and congratulated him on becoming her brother in Christ. “I thought you were my grandma?” After an explanation, he called to tell his other grandmother. “Guess what! You’re my brother in Christ now!” he greeted her. Case in point.

Now, I fully expect my son to be the child that streaks at the church picnic. I will smile sweetly and tell the church ladies that it is life application of the demon possessed boy he studied in Sunday School that day.   I love that children are mentioned so frequently in Scripture- the word child or children occurs over 400 times.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” (as fast as they can, aiming for the shin). Wisdom has been granted to the lowly of this world. Let us listen.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10

Knowing Is Half The Battle

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When I was in high school, I really struggled with math. Abstract reasoning challenged me; logarithms just seemed like isolated knowledge and confirmed my need not to be an architect.  Thanks to outstanding teachers my two final years of high school, my grades rose and I truly learned and retained some mathematical knowledge. (I’ll never forget you, SOHCATOA). My confidence was still shaky, so on my quizzes and tests next to the Name line I would sometimes write, “Ignorance is Bliss”.  In that isolated instance, it really was. Then I became a teacher and the real life questions began.

“Did Jesus have Superman underpants?” “What is syphilis?” “Can you teleport?” “When will I EVER use this?” “What do I need on the final to pass this class?” “Why don’t old people see their own nose-hair?” “Did you know Moses?”  “Why did my parents give me a baby brother instead of a puppy?” “When are you finally going have kids?”  I am quite sure my children will be familiar with the a Steel Magnolia’s quote, “Don’t ask me these questions, I don’t know why! I don’t make the rules!”

One of the hardest life lessons we learn is you DON’T have to tell all you know. Example A: the child-anatomy expert in Kindergarden Cop.   If you were a parent, a child, or remotely conscious in the 90s, you are aware of G.I. Joe. This real American Hero touted the wisdom, “Knowing is Half the Battle”. Preach it, Joe. There are a lot of unknowns in the world. We have a natural curiosity and a natural plan of attack for our ignorance; ask and conduct research. Our first frequent question is “Why?” and then progresses to the 5 Ws and How. (How in the WORLD did you fit that up your nose?) Thankfully, these days we can always ask Google or our i-gadget. There are endless solutions, ideas, advice columns, maps, books… there are even explanations “for dummies” for the self-aware.

I have sometimes called to apologize to my parents for various stages of my youth, but particularly my infant and teen years. Both were times I habitually rolled my eyes and said, “I KNOW!” As a teenager, I knew everything. I should have written it down. Now I am a total ignoramus. Anytime I doubt it, a more experienced mother or perfect stranger in the grocery store (see previous blog) will do me the honor of reminding me of what I should apparently already know and how to do it correctly.

The problem is that knowing is only half the battle.

In this house, I’m the Mom. Thus, I’ve got it all under control. I also have no idea what I am doing. It just depends which minute of the day it is. This morning of teething joy renewed my faith in demon possession and confirmed the accuracy of Hell’s description: “wailing and gnashing of teeth”. Welcome, two new molars. I knew it would be ugly, but “knowing isn’t doing”. After a year with this man-child I may not have the answers, but I can certainly troubleshoot better than the annoying Microsoft Paperclip Assistant. I think he waits for us to look away and then “reformats” our papers to the place where the missing socks are detained.  Usually the cause of the whine or cry can be identified as hitting naptime, meal time, or- the great cause of universal frustration- having pants full of poop. Sometimes there is a solution; sometimes there is none at all.

My awesome husband spent the first several months coming home to a crumpled, crying, vomit-soaked Gollum-like creature that resembled his wife. A year later, I have progressed light-years (with a long way to go). No wonder when the crying starts my beloved asks me, “What’s wrong with him?!” The poor man has no idea when there will be a logical answer or when that last crank on the Mom-in-the-Box will come popping up, hands flying and declare, “I DON’T KNOW! He is another human being that doesn’t speak in sentences! I have NO IDEA what is wrong!”

Confess:  when did you last walk into a room and promptly forgot why? When did you last forget that birthday, that important call, or that “have to have it” item from the store? When did “knowing better” last have no impact whatsoever on your behavior?

 If you’ve ever taught a novice ANYTHING, chances are you’ve heard, “I don’t know how” or “I don’t know what I’m doing!”, even if they’ve mastered this particular skill or they have every capacity to do what is asked. Often this is an indication of the OTHER half of the battle. Confidence, experience, flexibility, the ability to handle problems and successfully maneuver to plan B; these are just pieces of the other half of the battle.  I’m not certain that the phrase, “You don’t know what you don’t know” is true. As I get older I am ever-aware of all I don’t know. Even if I know the answer, I can’t always offer a significant, well-articulated answer. I will soon need to know what bubbles are made out of, why squirrels can’t teleport, and how cheddar goldfish get smiles made into them.

 What skill, person, or information did you used to know that is now hard to recall? Ah, the whole premise of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” unraveled. The truth is, sometimes not knowing is a blessing. Other times it can be terrifying. Not knowing about a child’s well-being keeps mothers awake until 2 am and loved ones eating hospital food for weeks as they await word. Not knowing terrifies the young soldier’s wife, stock brokers, bookies, and surgeons.  The element of surprise can determine victory or defeat in battle. Knowing warning signs can save lives. What you don’t know CAN hurt you.

Sometimes what we ‘know’ changes too frequently to plan adequately. (Amen, military folks and parents? ) Sometimes what we know is not correct or not the entire picture. Often, we just need to be reminded of what we already know. As we fight life’s battles, carry your knowledge and the wisdom to know it isn’t always enough. My dear ones, “knowing on only half the battle”- but, you already know that.