A Girl and Her Gun

by Priscilla on May 7, 2015

I went to the gun range the other day with one of my BFF’s…and the Former Mr. TIS.

No, don’t worry. The Former Mr. TIS and I aren’t rekindling anything, especially romance. It’s just that I now bear a bigger responsibility in protecting the safety of our children since he’s moved out, and since I’ve never heard of anyone literally being talked to death, I’m going to have to do more than run my mouth on an intruder if my house is ever broken into.

(Before I continue, I realize guns and gun ownership is a hot button issue. I get it. I get arguments on both sides , but here’s the deal. It’s my life. I’m going to do what I have to do to protect my children. When you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, you can judge me, otherwise just butt the hell out if you don’t like what you are about to read. I really don’t care if you don’t agree with me…and I say this in all Christian love.)

Why go shooting with the Former Mr. TIS? Simple. He’s cheap.  The gun range charges $60 for an hour of instruction. Mr. TIS charges for ammo.  Tuesdays is Ladies Free Day.  Do that math, and there you have it. Also he’s a West Point Grad, Airborne, Air Assault, Expert Infantry Badge yada, yada, yada there are lots of ribbons and bars on my uniform veteran of the US Army. (I think that last sentence explains why I didn’t make the list of Top 10 Officers Wives to Emulate. While my friends were busy learning ranks and awards, I was checking out the latest Mary Higgins Clark novel from the post library and trying to figure out how to get out of going to the next battalion formal.)

Why go shooting with a BFF? Simple. She wants to learn to shoot too. Her dad’s a former Chicago cop.  She figures if I can deal with the Former Mr. TIS, so can she, but she did warn him that she’s Italian so he needs to tread lightly and watch his back for the next year….or two…or 10.  I have THE BEST badass girlfriends.

10802024_810553688983511_1295508646840406829_n

We spent about an hour at the range trying out different hand guns. She’s better shooting a Glock 9MM than I am. I prefer the smaller, single action revolver. The double action takes too long to pull back, and I don’t have time for that nonsense if someone’s trying to come through the back door. I have to give it to the Former Mr. TIS, he’s a great instructor. Very patient. Very thorough.

We shot at a pink asexual hanging paper target because I guess pink is fun for the ladies. Next time I’m going for the Scary Dude Comin’ Atcha target. Once we got comfortable, we hit the “10” circle and the bullseye more than we expected to. The Former Mr. TIS told us women make better marksman because we have a more healthy respect for shooting than men do in general. (The Former Mr. TIS shows  a hell of a lot more sense as a shooting instructor than he ever did as a husband…and I say that in all Christian love.)

I didn’t take any pictures as I was too busy shooting to worry about social media. My BFF took a picture of her target to prove to her husband she has skills. I tried to convince her that she needed to take the target home and hang it on her refrigerator as a reminder to him that he needs to behave.

I’m not going to lie, I like marksmanship. I like shooting bows and arrows. I like shooting guns. And now after one lesson and the fact that the third season of Longmire is on Netflix, I think I’m ready to trade in my nice little SUV hybrid for a dusty, beat up Bronco, buy some cowboy boots, shop for a pair of Wranglers and create a profile on DateACowboy.Com.

…or maybe I’ll just drink a glass of Cab while  looking over my girls’ 5th grade homework assignments, spend some time on Pinterest and call it a night because let’s face it, at the end of the day, while I’d like to picture myself as one half of Thelma and Louise, my friends will remind me that I’m still the girl who got ham salad stuck in her eyebrows in middle school lunch and owes the library $2.45 in overdue book fees.

 

 

{ 2 comments }

A Proverbs 32 Woman

by Priscilla on April 28, 2015

I’m not a big fan of the Proverbs 31 Woman. Raise your hand if you are surprised. I know some of you will accuse me of heresy, but I’d like to point out that this woman was created by a man long before women’s suffrage, equal rights or the pill. 

For too long I’ve beaten myself up about the fact that I can’t sew and choose to clothe my children from the outlet stores. I have no husband to say nice things about me.  I live on a city lot so the fields for me to consider are few and far between. I don’t eat the bread of idleness, but that’s only because I follow the Paleo diet so I avoid grains altogether.

Tonight after watching my oldest by two minutes daughter play her heart out only to lose in a championship soccer game, I had yet another epiphany, and that is that just because I don’t fit into a certain mold, and I’m raising my girls to pursue a life far different from the one I did, doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong or unbiblical. Maybe it just means it’s time to do a little updating so here it goes.

Who can find a tough as nails broad who raises her daughters to face whatever trial life throws at them without giving up or throwing in the towel? That woman doesn’t shrink from adversity. She’s worth a well financed 401k.

She yells from the sidelines and cheers from the stands. She encourages them to run and bike and read and write and sing and dance. She tells them they are just as good as any boy out there, and whatever it is they aspire to be in life, to go for it. Period. They can be anything they want. Even Airborne Rangers. Even professional athletes. Even pastors. Especially pastors.

She gets up before her girls  are awake and makes not only breakfast, but also packs the lunches and starts dinner. She signs school papers and researches the best place to rent a cello and looks for Six Sigma courses online because it’s time to reinvent herself. 

Her arms are strong because she has to lug 50 pound bags of salt down to the basement to the water softener. She also loads and unloads mulch from the back of the truck, wrestles to start the lawnmower, runs to school for awards ceremonies and attends work via video conferencing. 

She prays. Sometimes she only has enough energy to get out a few syllables before falling to sleep, and sometimes they are said through tears, but she prays, damn it. She prays as hard as hell.

She prays that her girls will be tougher and smarter and wiser and better than she could ever hope to be. She prays that God would watch over them and protect them and love them and guide them. She doesn’t have time to worry about what the folks up at the city gate thinks of her or her family because she needs to get shit done, so she does it. 

She messes up. Again, and again and again. She wears her heart on her sleeve, and this can get her in trouble, but she does it anyway. She cares about the poor and the needy. She cares about the disenfranchised. She cares about the lonely and the abandoned, because she gets it. She really gets it.

Her daughters grow up and show empathy. They help out around the house without asking, and they are aware of the pain of others because they’ve lived through great pain themselves. 

Maybe no one will ever write poems about these females, but they are okay with that because they have chosen to live lives of substance. They live, and they work, and they play, and they create, and they connect and they thrive – not because they are married or single or mother or daughter. It is because they know in whom they live and move and have their being. 

…and He looks at them in awe and wonder.

…and He shouts from the heavens, You go girls! 

…and they do. By His grace…

They.Do.

{ 2 comments }

Turning Wine Into Canvas

by Priscilla on April 25, 2015

One great piece of advice that’s stuck with me in reading about surviving the whole divorce process is “say ‘yes’ to every invitation you get for social gatherings.”  (FYI social gathering is not a euphemism for dates. Some of you well meaning folks have started in with the I have someone I’d like you to meets. Stop.It.Now. )

I’ve attended Helen Free’s book club where I brought down the median age by 40 years. I’ve lunched with the Optimists where I learned about the great opportunities for high school girls in my area. I’ve danced into the night with the local LGBTQ community. (Straight ladies, if you want the chance to dress up and go out dancing, but don’t want to deal with getting hit on, I suggest you take this route because gay men make great dance partners and will let you know the good the bad and the ugly on the the pair of red jeans you are trying to pull off at age 43. ) And last night I tried my hand at art with the ladies from my divorce support group.

A new Wine and Canvas opened up in town. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the concept.  A friend creates an event for a fundraiser or just for fun. You pay money. You show up at the designated time, and you paint a pre-determined scene while attendees take your drink order. Think Bob Ross…franchised….drunk.

I dropped Twins A and B off at Fun Time Grandma’s to spend the night and returned home to check myself in the mirror one more time before going out. Why make sure I looked good before spending an evening with a bunch of tipsy, artsy women? I’ll let you in on a little secret.  We women know that in our 20’s we dressed to impress men, but in our 40’s we dress to impress other women. Why? Because we realize now that we are older and wiser, that it’s really not that hard to elicit compliments from our male counterparts. Men, I love you, but at the heart of it all, you are neanderthals, and you know it. Women, on the other hand don’t have any agenda, and they really do know what looks good so when one tells you that your butt looks great in a pair of jeans, that your earrings are fabulous, or that you are having a great hair night, those things are actually true. 

After I made sure my physical appearance would be up to par for a night out with the girls, I showed up to paint…and drink…in no particular order. When I walked through the large wooden front door of the downtown establishment, I was hit with the presence of about 50 people, half of whom were gloomy looking white males, all sitting in silence at long tables staring at easels. What on earth have I just agreed to? I thought. A nice young man took my name and said, Oh, you are wayyyyy in the back. Story of my life. I put on my confident face and marched uncoupled through all the couples until I reached another large room and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Here’s where the action was at. Lots of women. Lots of laughing. Lots of chatter. Lots of snacks and wine. Lots of Girlfriend Time.

I won’t bore you with the painting details because as you know, no one can ruin a crafty project faster than I. In fact let’s just get the whole ugly unveiling over with right now. I think it will look perfect hanging above the kitty litter box in the basement.

Upside Down Version

IMG_5361

Right Side Up Version (not much difference.)

Priscilla painting right side up

I painted the thing, and even I can’t tell you what’s going on here except I kind of like my daisy. The rest of it just looks like bloodied, beaten cocoons or a really bad illustration of stamens and pistils from my girls’ human sexuality textbook.

Turns out saying ‘yes,’ to another social event was good for my soul. Once again I connected with more women. There was the hygienist from my dentist’s office. A woman from an exercise class I used to attend whom I totally creeped out with my stares until I figured out how I knew her. I’d never seen her with makeup on and wearing street clothes. She’s an absolute stunner in real life. Another woman and I stared at each other until we realized her husband was my girls’ soccer coach a few years ago. (I don’t know if you are seeing a pattern here, but I manage to creep out a lot of people with my staring. That’s because I never forget a face. Ever. I won’t remember your name 30 seconds after I walk away from you, but for better or worse, your face is emblazoned on my my mind for eternity.)

As the evening went on and more drinks were poured the sound of chattering increased much to the chagrin of our long-suffering instructor.

I just walked up front through that date night class, and all those men looked so unhappy. One woman announced with a giggle.

Well, if I were a man and got dragged into a painting class on a Friday night, I’d look unhappy too. I replied. You know what they are all thinking.  “Okay, I did what you wanted tonight. We better get to do what I want later.”

More laughing. More painting. More connecting. The evening ended with our group photo which the instructor announced would be posted on Facebook in a few days. Upon hearing this I positioned myself and my painting in the back where neither of us can be seen.

I walked out to my car, smiling – just me and my bloodied cocoons – alone, but not lonely. Lonely is a state of mind, and I choose not to live in that state anymore. God’s giving me more opportunities to see that living single is truly a gift. This evening was yet one more affirmation. 

Tonight, I’m off to a birthday gathering for an 11 year old. I have no idea what’s in store. Hopefully, I don’t scare anyone off with my staring. The point is I accepted the invitation, and I haven’t regretted one yet.

 

{ 0 comments }

Last time I broached the subject of sex with my girls, I begged off the job to their grandmother who skillfully fielded such questions as, You did that with Grandpa? But he was so grumpy. While I, on the other hand, horrified them with the explanation of the breaking of the hymen, when all they wanted to know was why I wasn’t using a utensil to put the hotdogs on the grill.  (If you missed this Hallmark Channelish TIS Moment, you can relive it in all its glory here.)

Fast forward a few years, and yet again I am pawning off the teaching of one of life’s most important lessons to my friend. To be fair she is a minister and a trained sex educator. I hold a degree that allows me to correct others people’s grammar, and the only experience I’ve had in the sex department lately is asking my girls if they’ve seen a purple wand lying around because I’d lost my “back massager.”

The closest I got to either role was back in the 7th grade when my BFF, Kristi Wallace, and I would sit in the back pews of church and laugh until we were gasping for air while reading Song of Solomon. We were supposed to be taking notes on the pastor’s series The Set Up of the Hebrew Tabernacle. You try to remain silent when you stumble upon the words, We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts. I believe it was on that day that God, watching from above, scratched Pastoral Care from His list of Some Ideas for My Will for TIS’s Life. 

I think in my case it’s safe to say leave the whole sex talk thing to the trained professionals and go take a nap.

The human sexuality course runs 8-10 weeks every Sunday for two hours. Last week at pick up time all I heard from the backseat were the mutterings of, This is so embarrassing. Why do the boys have to be in there with us? And Testicles sound like something on an octopus. Followed by made up jokes about an octopus juggling his balls.  This week I got a message from the teacher, Barn burner today. Reproduction and lovemaking. just so you know. 

Too late. I was already sitting on the couch with Twin A and Twin B, sex ed book open to various picture covering various topics, and I was fielding questions faster than Jose Bautista can stop a line drive to first. Were you completely naked when you had us because this drawing has a lady giving birth completely naked, and she looks ridiculous.

Lots of laughter.

I don’t know who got the illustration contract for their human sexuality book, but note to illustrator, it’s 2015 and most of us women in the Western world give birth in a place called a hospital, where the medical staff prefer it if we aren’t buck naked at the time of delivery.

No, I was not completely naked; I was wearing a hospital gown, and yes, for the record, that drawing is ridiculous.

Do you just lay there? When is it over? Have you ever fallen off the bed? How many times did you do it with Dad? Three? Four? Did you have sex more than four times?! How many? Like…10?

Well, you can just lay there, but there will be complaints. Your first time? In about four seconds. I’d rather not say, but for the record people can have sex other places than just the bed. Your father and I had sex more than three times. 

(Remember the story of Abraham going to God asking him to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah if he could find 50 righteous people? He didn’t have much luck so he kept going back to God, whittling down the number until he got to five.  I was starting to get a sense the frustration God must have felt with Abraham now that my girls were displaying the same obsession regarding the number of times their father and I engaged in sexual activity.)

Silence. Horrified looks.

Followed by more silence. And more horrified looks.

How many times, Mom? Mom, did you have sex when we were in the house? Mom, did you have sex when we were nine?  Mom, did you have sex when we were 10? Mom, is that why the door to your bedroom was locked?  Mom, when we were little, and we cried, and you and Dad came into our room to check on us, Dad wasn’t wearing a shirt… is that because you were having sex? Mom, when you said you and Dad had to go upstairs “to talk” were you…

Again, your father and I had sex more than three times. Maybe…like…4.5 times. We had sex when you were nine. We had sex when you were 10. I can have it on a boat or a plane. I can have sex on a train. I can have sex here or there. I can have it anywhere…wait a minute…I’m mixing Dr. Seuss with my sex life, but then again Sam-I-Am didn’t mess around.

Blank stares.

Okay, so maybe I’ve ruined the good doctor for them forever, but the point is I’m trying. I’m trying to do better by them than the sex ed that I got which was a nurse coming in to talk to us girls in the seventh grade about our changing bodies, and the only take away I got was that girls got really smelly every 28 days and boys wanted to touch our boobies.

I should probably look at Twin A and Twin B’s  books  to see what’s up for next week’s talk, but seeing how I hit it out of the park this week, I’m not too worried.

After all, I had sex one time and got two kids out of it.  That makes me some kind of expert.

 

 

{ 8 comments }

Eat, Pray, Love, The TIS Version

by Priscilla on March 24, 2015

We were lying in bed when I asked, Where are we on the plane tickets?

Silence.

More silence.

Did you hear me?

Deafening silence.

I’m not going.

What do you mean you’re not going?

Light switch turned on. Me sitting up.

I’m not going, and I can’t do this anymore.

Thus began my version of Eat, Pray, Love. Except I wasn’t Julia Robert playing Elizabeth Gilbert, the savvy New York writer who turned to her husband and said, I don’t want to be married.

No, I was the poor schlub of a husband staring shell-shocked into the eyes of whom I thought was to be my life partner, and I was being dumped.

Hard.

He didn’t go to Florida.

I did.

I made up some excuse to our girls about his having to work.  I packed their bags, got on the plane, rented the car, traipsed to the beach, traveled to the ball games, ate my weight in ice cream and shopped the tchotchke stores. My girlfriends kept saying, How are you doing this? I had a one word answer, God.

I slathered sunscreen on my girls whose beautiful brown island skin doesn’t need it half as much as my WASPy epidermis does. We played in the ocean waves and built sand castles and threw footballs on the beach.

I think.

To be honest I don’t remember much except the night time. That was the time I lay alone in the twin bed of the condo where we were staying wondering what the hell was waiting for me when I returned home. How was I going to do this? Seriously, How.Was.I.Going.To.Do.This?

That was a year ago.  You know those retrospectives they show at the Oscars that honor the actors who have passed that year? That’s what my year has been like. Lots of looking back. I’ve come to accept that my marriage died around nine years ago, only I couldn’t accept it at the time. I didn’t have the courage like Liz Gilbert did to say, I can’t live like this anymore. I was knee deep in potty training and news from Iraq and nice housewifey Bible studies at church, and even though I was well aware of my husband’s shortcomings, I thought I could change him….so I changed me.

I changed my hair color…several times. I changed my diet. I changed my exercise routine. I changed how I spoke to him or wrote to him. I read books about marriage and magazine articles about heating up my sex life. I listened to girlfriends whose marriages were solid, and I prayed. God, how I prayed. I prayed for God to heal my husband’s heart. I prayed he would grow attracted to me again. I prayed our family would remain intact because I knew intact was God’s bestAfter all, that’s what the pastors and counselors and Christianese writers of NYT best sellers say, and clearly they know best because they are on  NYT best seller list.

Or so I thought….a year ago.

Here’s the deal. The Former Mr. TIS did me a favor. In a failed marriage someone has to have the courage to walk away. I didn’t have that courage. He did. Yeah, he did some other stuff too, but those  were symptoms of the problem; they weren’t the root of it, and at the end of the day, he wasn’t ready to work on the problems so instead of dragging us both forward into 20 more years of hell, he left.

Here’s another deal. I chose him. I chose to stay in it and fight for it as long as I did. I chose to suck it up. I chose the false hope that I could change him, and so I changed myself….I lost myself so much so that when I look back over all of it, I don’t even know the woman I became. But I, and I alone chose that path. I created that life. That part is on me and me alone.

That was then.

I’m writing this from my bed…alone.  It’s better to be alone in a bed than share it with someone who doesn’t want to be there with you in the first place. I’m planning a return trip to the beach. Alone. The former Mr. TIS is taking Twins A and B to All Things Harry Potter land, so I called a Do Over. My own little Eat, Pray, Love. Yes, Liz  took off for a year to Italy, India and Bali. I’m just going to the Florida for a week, but cheap ass women from Fly Over country with kids still in grade school can’t afford a year off to find themselves.

I don’t know what’s in store in my next 20 years. I have no guarantee of 20 years in the first place, but this one thing I know: the spitfire, untamed mane little girl who got in trouble for praying the wrong way in the third grade is back in grown up woman form, and she’s praying the same wrong way again.  She’s a blonde again. She’s running and swimming long distances again. She’s reading again. She’s connecting with her daughters again. She’s in touch with all the girlfriends again. She doesn’t bawl through church anymore. She can perform 88 box jumps. And, AND she’s working on a future NYT best seller – several of them to be exact. Movie rights will be negotiated.  She still eats over the sink, though, and it was over the kitchen sink yesterday that God showed up in the form of yet another epiphany and whispered into her soul, You wanted me to save your marriage, but I wanted to save you. You asked me to heal your marriage. I did. I ended it.

A year ago the words, I can’t do this anymore, cut through my psyche. Today, the Still Small Voice beckons,  It’s you and me, kid.

And.I’m.Happy.

 

 

{ 3 comments }

Thank God for Bacon

by Priscilla on March 9, 2015

This weekday morning found me in my usual place – in the kitchen making breakfast for Twins A and B. Bacon’s on the menu a lot in our house, and as I was opening the package a small voice whispered, Give me thanks.  Small voices in my head aren’t all that startling. I can carry on whole conversations with myself covering a multitude of topics from Jim Boeheim’s  suspension to the President’s lackluster response to ISIS – I’m just that good. But this was a different small voice. It was The. Small. Voice. I’ve learned when The.Small.Voice. speaks, I pretty much need to listen. So, without much thought, I started in.

Thank you, God for this bacon. Thank you for providing food for my family. There are mothers all over the world wondering how they are going to feed their children today. Forgive me for not doing more for them. Thank you for everyone responsible for bringing this food to my table. The farmers, the butchers, the truckers, the buyers, the stockers, the checkout girls and the bag boys…and for all those people labeling me sexist as I write this, God, the checkout boys and the bag girls. Bless them. Thank you for the electricity I have to cook the bacon. Thank you for the light that comes on in my kitchen so I can see what I’m doing. Thank you for my sweet girls, the reasons I am cooking the bacon in the first place. IMG_5181

The list of thank you’s continued, and as it did, I looked up out of the window over my sink and witnessed a glorious sunrise. The pinks and reds and oranges and yellows captured my attention, and I stood in wonder and awe and whispered another thank you. Thank you for this gift of life. For a brief moment I didn’t nag myself that the window I was looking through needed to be washed. I didn’t beat myself up for not getting the dishwasher unloaded last night. I didn’t lecture myself for reaching for my third cup of coffee in an hour. I just stopped. And noticed. And experienced. And lived.

This may all sound so trivial but considering that about 12 hours earlier I’d found myself on my knees praying a whole different kind of prayer, this change of perspective was no small miracle.

There’s a lot advice our there for people like me going through divorce. Some of it is good. Some of it is not so good. Some of it is complete shit, like some of my  friends telling me the answer to my loneliness is, You just need to get laid. Um. No, I don’t. Religious convictions aside, having sex means I’d have to shave, and I barely have time to brush my teeth much less shave, and besides that, I think I’m due for a new razor which means another trip to the store, and considering I was there and back four times the other day for a whole list of things I kept forgetting, I think that’s a pretty good idea to leave the whole opposite sex thing off the table for a while. If I can’t remember the plastic cups…or the hummus…or the balloon order…or the drinks, God knows I can’t handle a relationship with anything other than my dog.

One good piece of advice I’ve taken, though, is to attend every social event to which I am invited. Yesterday was one of those social events.

Several months ago, I signed the girls up for a volleyball league, which, I found out after the fact, doing so meant that for the next three months, my Sundays would be spent traipsing to various area high school gyms watching the 12 &U crowd miss serves, stare in silence at the ball as it fell to the floor amongst them and tangle themselves up in the net. At least it started out that way…then something magical started to happen….

The girls started to click.

I’ve been reading about the female brain and how it’s biologically geared to make connections with others. It appears when boys (and men) get out on the court (and out in life) they are driven by the desire to win respect as well as the game.  Girls, on the other hand,  like to compete, and like to win, but what drives them (and us women) most of all is the fact that they like to connect, and when they connect, something beautiful starts to happen.

Not only did these little pint sized future Gabby Reece’s start mastering their overhand serves and getting their three hits in, they began to group text and plan play dates outside practice and games. With each Sunday we parents, stuck together for 4-5 hours, began connecting as well – learning about one another’s vocations, university backgrounds, families and vacation plans. We yelled at our girls to quit fixing each others’ hair and focus on the ball. We held our breath at each serve and wondered sometimes too loudly if the line judge knew what she was doing.  At the beginning of the season this group looked like the Bad News Bears of volleyball, but every week they just showed up with their big hearts and smiles and kept winning, and every week they moved up into the next level of competition bracket completely oblivious to what they were achieving.

IMG_5168

Human connection is a beautiful thing.

And then the whole thing came to an end.

Yesterday, was the final day of play for the season, and afterwards we met at one of the parent’s house for a Season Finale Party. The girls swarmed down into the basement while the parents clustered in kitchen drinking beer and sharing stories of creative marriage proposals, frustrating coworkers and one hysterical tale of I tried to break up with her, but she said no, so I just gave up and proposed three months later. Cops and doctors. Accountants and software designers.  All parents of little girls who happened to be assigned to the same volleyball team. I looked around and realized how far I’d come in my healing.  Months ago I would have been very aware that I was the only single in the group, but now I just felt like Priscilla. I whispered a prayer of thanks. The party ended. I drove home with the girls, and it was about the time I was checking to make sure their homework was finished, that I realized how much I’d loved this whole volleyball experience, and now it was over.

The Grief Struck.

I’ve been doing so well, but damned if The Grief doesn’t nudge the door to my mind open, shove its way into my heart and sit hard down upon the seat of my soul. The Grief reminds me as I’m climbing into bed alone again that I have no one to share the events of the day with. The Grief convinces me to get used to it, that this is my life now and to suck it up. The Grief mocks me, telling me I’m a complete emotional wreck and always will be.

Damn Grief.

A friend whose life journey is much harder than mine reminded me that The Grief lessens with time – that God will grow from my Holding on to Dear Life into My Enough if I lessen my grip on how I think things should be and accept how they are, and I fell asleep accepting The Grief. Thanking God for it. Asking Him to use it somehow for His will and His glory. (For the record, sometimes I can barely get those words out. I really hate saying them. Really. So sometimes I just don’t. I tell God a whole lot of other nasty things instead. But sometimes, I surrender completely…for 30 seconds or so…and in those brief periods, peace reigns.)

Which brings me back to the bacon. It always comes back to the bacon. I may have gone to bed frustrated.  I may have even awoken with more tears, but God showed up in a pound of pork and reminded me I’m not alone. I am loved. People do care. My girls are going to be okay. I’m not a horrible mother. My future isn’t as bleak as I’ve been imagining. Jesus came out of the desert to do amazing things, and so will I…

…and so will you, my friend. I don’t know what your bacon is today, but maybe it’s there right in front of your face so say a prayer of thanks and be amazed at the transforming of your mind.

 

{ 6 comments }

Before You Have An Affair

by Priscilla on February 18, 2015

This post isn’t meant to point fingers or assign blame. It’s meant to help others before they ever find themselves in this position. I have the blessing of the Former Mr TIS to write this, and we both hope in sharing our story, Good will triumph and Love can win.

It all started innocently enough. A flirty text. A conversation in the break room that lingered a little longer than normal. A casual comment. You weren’t looking to hurt anyone. You were just looking for validation, for affirmation, for a friend. You were hoping for at most a little excitement or at least an ally in this weary world.

Your world.

Your world that used to be fun and well ordered is now bogged down by bills and babies. The spouse that couldn’t get enough of you alone in bed now spends a lot of time shuttling kids around or working longer hours or sitting at the computer or talking on the phone with friends. Your best friend and biggest cheerleader in the whole world, who used to listen to your dreams and ambitions, has run up the credit cards or whines constantly or has just simply shut down. Tuned out. Turned off.

You can’t take it anymore. You don’t know why but you can’t talk to anyone about it. No one would understand how lonely you feel. No one else wants out. No one else has these issues. Everyone else has fun family photos on Facebook status updates and goes on family vacations together. Everyone else loves his or her spouse. No one else has ever wanted to say, Screw it! and walk away. Everyone else has a spouse who is better than yours. That praises. That makes an effort. God, would you just make an effort. Everyone else has date night and sits closely together in the church pews, arms around one another as they should in the House of the Lord.

No one else understands…

Except The Other One.

The Other One smiles and laughs and touches your arm and tells you, you are funny or sensitive or fun or attractive or all of the above. The Other One listens without complaining. The other one makes you feel special…like you matter. You don’t even know what’s missing in your own life until The Other One gives it to you. The Other One feeds your ego and makes you feel something you haven’t felt in forever…alive.

One thing leads to another and you and The Other One are now a secret couple meeting in secret places doing secret things…and it is all so freakin’ fantastic. It’s the steamy stuff of movie screens.

But in the movies, steamy sex scenes end when the director shouts, “Cut!” and the food service carts arrive with  catered lunches for the actors, who return to their trailers to eat in peace or rehearse their lines a little more. In the real world, your steamy sex scene ends when you return to your spouse and the job and the kids and the bills. Nothing’s changed. It still sucks – only now you have a bit of fun to look forward to…for awhile… before things start to trend downward. And they will trend downward.

You’re guilty and angry which only leads to more arguments or worse, more retreats because you don’t even feel like arguing anymore. Your home that was once a haven is now a prison, and you can’t wait to get back out…back out to The Other One. The Other One makes everything better.

Only she doesn’t. Only he can’t. Because they were never meant to. Instead of being honest with your life partner and laying all your feelings – the good, the bad and the ugly – out there on the table, out there exposed and easily seen, you are afraid and ashamed of being vulnerable so you just shut down. You quit talking. You quit sharing. You quit loving. You quit being.

And you realize that being with The Other One doesn’t offer any real solutions to your problems either. The situation only makes you feel worse – about everyone and everything. The Other One is no longer satisfied with being The Other One, and now you had to figure out how you will extricate yourself from your marriage and your kids or from The Other One, and you don’t want either option, not really. Not this way at least.

Yes, maybe your marriage was over, but deep down you knew you should have seen a pastor or a therapist or even an attorney before seeing The Other One. You owed your partner as much. Or maybe the marriage could have been saved, but you’d traveled too far down that path, and you felt like you couldn’t go back. You were tired of trying. Nothing was going change, or so you thought, so why try. The damage was done.

And now you find yourself sitting down telling your shocked spouse. And later you find yourself sitting down telling your shocked children, your whole world, that you are moving out and divorcing their mother or father, and they have no idea why. Now they are sobbing and saying, No! Don’t go! Now the person who met you at the end of the aisle can’t get it together – the shock of it all leaves him or her dazed and confused. Now friends and family members are angry and hurt and are trying not to choose sides, but it’s hard. It’s very hard because they are human, and they make judgments even though you aren’t a horrible person. Even though you never meant for any of this to happen. Even though deep down you are kind and good and wonder why on earth you behaved in such a manner.

Your fantasy has led to this reality. And this reality sucks.

So, before you have that affair…ask yourself…is any of this really worth it? Ask yourself are you really the only one who’s ever felt this way. Ask yourself are you really the only one with marriage problems. Ask yourself have you really been honest with your spouse about everything that you are feeling – even if it means he or she might be upset with you. Ask yourself is there really no one to talk to.

Because here’s the thing. You AREN’T alone. You AREN’T a horrible person for being attracted to someone other than your spouse. You DON’T have all the answers. Everyone else IS NOT having earth shattering sex 18 times a week. QUITE A FEW PEOPLE have money issues and wonder how bills are going to get paid. LOTS OF PEOPLE struggle with their faith and how God fits into all these feelings when marriage gets REALLY HARD.

You matter. You are loved. The Creator of the Universe takes great joy in the fact that you are a part of His Creation. Your job. Your spouse. Your kids. Your life. All of these things will let you down one time or another, but the answer is definitely not found in The Other One.

It’s found in The Only One.

Remember this…all of it… before you have an affair.

{ 7 comments }

Valentines 2015 is in the books, and  it’s been one of my most memorable. I’m moving from a place of praying Help me, God to Use me, God.  I took a break from the Use Me prayer. I had nothing to give…to anyone. The old TIS would have felt shame and guilt admitting this truth. The new one, not so much. God knows I’m spent so what’s the point praying fake prayers. I’ve needed a lot of being time lately, but I’m getting nudged back into doing, and I’m ready for it.

When I married an Infantry Officer, I prepared myself for a lifetime of entertaining because that’s what the Army told me Officers Wives do. I have the crystal wine goblets and the china serving dishes. My hutch is filled with cloth napkins and tablecloths for all occasions.  I look at them every day and wonder what on earth I’m supposed to do with all of it – the sterling silver trays and the glass punch bowl. One of the things I’ve been wrestling with since the divorce is that I feel like I’ve got the gift of hospitality, but what does that look like now?  Who does a single mom trying to figure out her future hospitalitize to.(Yes, I just made up a word.) It’s a big shift…or so I thought…not having a man or his career as part of the hospitality deal anymore. Then God started changing my prayers to Use Me.

The great thing about God is that when I pray Use Me, he knows my situation with limited time and resources. He knows I don’t do crafts or sing or play an instrument…you know all the womanly things we folks who grew up in church were led to believe we needed to do in order to serve. He knows my daughters, not my social engagement calendar, are my priority. God knows I like to laugh at horribly irreverent things. I like kids and young adults. I like eating and drinking with people and connecting them with others I think would be a good fit into their lives. Yes, I know this is hardly the stuff of Heroes of the Faith books series, but it’s what I bring to the table, so when I say Use me, God.  God just says, Okay, kid.

And the next thing I know a carload of female family and friends is unloading in my driveway the day before Valentines Day, and for 48 hours straight my home is full of laughter and talking and music and the smell of bacon. Lots of bacon.

The next thing I know my college friends are continuing my quest to rip out more carpet.  IMG_5033

This is my sister-in-law’s first attempt at manual labor.  She struggled…

IMG_5047

until I handed her a beer and explained that the only way to get through tedious manual labor jobs is with the help of a cold one. She’s more of a wine/girlie drink lady, so I gave her something infused with vanilla. She became a fan.

IMG_5036

My Fellow English Major had a better handle on things, and didn’t need alcohol to get her through the process.

They ripped and cut and hauled away while I fed our daughters breakfast on paper plates.

IMG_5020

They kept on ripping while I ran a 5k with Twin A and B through the swirling snow that eventually grew into a blizzard later in the day

IMG_5021

The ripped, and they tore, and they pried, while I, loving to cook but just never getting enough time now, fixed a Valentines Dinner served upon, what else, but paper plates because friends and daughters don’t care what your china pattern looks like or if you own a silver service for 20.

IMG_5049

My SIL  is still nursing the same beer three hours later. You have to watch out for that one. 

Once the carpet was ripped out, we still had to spend a lot of time pounding nails back in and prying staples out. This small hallway leading to my bedroom proved difficult for some reason. The nails weren’t cooperating – some continued to stick out. This was when my SIL observed, Well, you’re the only one who will ever walk here anyway.

IMG_5054

I called her a bitch and  thanked her for the confidence she showed in my sex life ever making a comeback. The conversation went downhill from there.  The three of us giggled and howled and used horrible euphemisms and commented about all things sex. Pastors warning you about Shades of Grey should probably also warn you to steer clear of 40 Something Mothers ripping out carpet.

We finally finished.

IMG_5053

And before I knew it, Valentines 2015 was over, the car full of females pulled away, my girls left with Fun Time Grandma for the night, and I didn’t hurt…at all. In fact, I felt full and complete and loved beyond words.

A few weeks ago Twin A and I watched the 30 for 30 about Jimmy V. The biggest takeaway both she and I got from the documentary was Coach Valvano’s advice, If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. 

I prayed Use Me, and He returned with a Heck of a Day. I learned that yes, I still do have the gift of hospitality, but for this season of my life it’s going to involve paper plates and lots of little girls – not ornate place settings and military balls. I asked Him to fill up the lonely spaces, and He sent girlfriends with irreverent senses of humor who kept on with my DIY project. I prayed He would make me content in the state that I am, and he sent Full Days.

I don’t know where you are in your prayer life or if you have one at all. I don’t know if you are married, single, widowed, divorced. I don’t know if you are cancer free or just got the news from hell. I don’t know if you’ve born children or buried children. I don’t know if your career is in full swing or if all the wheels are coming off. I don’t know if your bank accounts are offshore or in the red. I don’t know if you are on the wagon, off the wagon or dangling precariously over the side praying to hold on just one more night. I don’t know if your cup runneth over or if it’s shattered in a thousand pieces lying on the sidewalks.  I don’t know if you are standing tall on the mountain’s peak or shirking at the base camp, looking up and wondering how the hell you are going to scale the thing or why you need to bother in the first place.

But  can I share a secret? I’m learning in this crazy journey called My Life Doesn’t Look ANYTHING how I’d planned,  I don’t need to know how, because I know God. 

Knowing God doesn’t mean the path gets rosier or easier; it means I’m never alone. It means in the wee hours of the morning when I lie in bed soaked in tears, God’s already planning  my next Full Day. He’s got just the right people and experiences lined up to get me through that day, and the next and the next and the next. He’s got friends who rip out carpet and family members who share dirty jokes. He’s got daughters who will run side by side with me through the snow and bitter wind for 3.1 miles, and He’s got Valentine’s Dinners served up on Chinet plates and red Solo cups. It may not look anything like I’ve planned, but pretty soon, my Full Days, become my Full Week, Become my Full Year, Become my very Full Life. And in the grand scheme of things, I couldn’t ask for a better deal.

 

 

 

 

 

{ 4 comments }

While I’m not quite ready to stick my foot into the dating pool, I’m getting there, and  my friend Hattie and I have been compiling a list of qualities a male companion to TIS must possess.  I’ve read not to make any such lists too extensive because men find these to be a turn off, and I will set myself up for failure because there is no such thing as Mr. Perfect.  That being said, a girl has to have some standards…

My list started out quite mundane. You know the normal stuff: 1.) Must be kind. 2.) No smokers. 3.) Plays for team Jesus. 4.) Dog person. 5.) Doesn’t borrow my skinny jeans without asking.

I’m not asking for much, at least I don’t think I am,  but then I started paying more attention to the news – because after all, a woman out there in world of dating needs to be conversant in all things newsy in order to work a room with charm and poise. (Also she needs to wear a lot of red, lean in closely whilst listening to a man, nod her head constantly, laugh at his jokes and look down and up a lot,  smiling coyly. Yes, these are the kinds of skills the internet is telling me I should master when it comes to man baiting.  Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go shove myself into a corset, practice on my spinet in the parlor and relinquish my right to vote.)

Maybe I need to just stick to the printed editions of  the Wall Street Journal  and The Atlantic for my news like my dad taught me, because I’m completely ADD when it comes to links in news stories. Reading news online is like trying to corral cats.  Every name, organization and event is highlighted and hyperlinked, and I just can’t help but click on anything written in bold blue print.  It’s like eating Lays chips. I can’t have just one, and before I know it, my 20 minutes of news reading has morphed into three hours, and I’m wearing an empty Lays bag over my head, licking out any last morsel of salt.

Wading through all this information has brought to my attention the fact that there are a whole lot of men making a mess of things out there for women. So, despite what the Dating Gurus advise, I’m throwing caution to the wind, knowing very well my high standards might leave me single and looking for ever, and I’m publicly sharing my list.  Yes, it may come back to bite me in the ass, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take in order to be a good role model for my daughters as I try to exemplify what a woman should and should not put up with. Also, it allows me to weed out the scaries right off the bat…I hope.

6.) Doesn’t try to outlaw women wearing yoga pants in public…or exposed nipples for men.  First of all, you’re negating half of my wardrobe. Secondly, what girl doesn’t love a glimpse of a male nip every once in a while to get her all kinds of hot and bothered. David Moore .

7.) I understand we may not always see eye to eye on all the issues. I’m okay with that. In fact, I welcome spirited, intelligent debate. It’s quite the turn on for me. Just please don’t bite me if you get angry. Apparently, this is a problem in my hometown.  Also, please give me enough heads up to tidy the apartment before inviting the landlord over. This is just common courtesy.

8.) Doesn’t start fires…in the hospital…trying to smoke crack. Lee Vern Cook

9.) Darwin Award Winners. A study, authored by all men and published in the British Medical Journal finds that men who do stupid things really are idiots. Other idiots are the men who pay out the money to fund such studies. If you are in one of these two groups of idiotic men, don’t call. It saddens me to say this because if you know anything about me, you know I’m a big fan of pasty British men.

10.) When choosing Breaking and Entering as a professional occupation, please be able to afford a decent ski mask instead of resorting to merely scribbling on your face hoping to disguise yourself.  Matthew McNelly, Joey Miller. You know, taking a second look at these pictures, I think I might be judging Joey a tad too harshly. He appears to have made a decent attempt with his Sharpie, but Matthew went at his scribbling completely half assed, and I can’t have that in a man.

11. Thinking about suggesting we attend a Gator Wrestling Class for our first date? Think again. No, Gator Wrestling Class isn’t a euphemism for anything. It’s a real class…with real gators. I’m not going with you. Don’t ask. (I might, however consider wrestling koalas.)

12. Don’t steal my underwear. Seriously, guys, have you priced bras lately? It’s like financing a used car so go buy your own undergarments. Tan  (The article doesn’t give Tan a last name so I’m assuming Tan thinks of himself as being up there with other people in this world, like Madonna or Bono, not needing a surname for recognition like the rest of us poor schlubs.)

13. Since we’re on the subject of Tan, the Proper Noun, I might as well be up front and tell you that I’m not interested in Tan, the Verb, either. So, if you are a man sporting an orange glow for reasons other than medical, please don’t contact me.

14. Again, with the stealing. Guys, really. I know times are hard, but breaking and entering and helping yourself to a can of Chef Boyardee, then not wiping off your face before being interrogated by the cops. So.Not.Cool.  Michael Don Mitchell.  And Russ Neff did you not consider that the poor woman whose house you entered  may have been PMSing hard that day and was looking forward to coming home to a nice long bubble bath, but instead had to find you in the kitchen stuffing yourself with that chicken pot pie? Bastard.

I know I said 20 in my post title. I lied. My creativity is shot, and it’s time for me to go get my hour of lap swimming in (because the experts say men want a fit woman, and who am I to deny middle aged men who steal underwear and eat out of a can the chance to date a fit woman.)

This list is in no way exhaustive so feel free to comment either here or on Facebook. We all learn from each other, and heaven knows I need a lot of schooling in this area.

{ 0 comments }

Why I Don’t Give A Rat’s Ass About 50 Shades

by Priscilla on February 7, 2015

These past few days have found me flat on my fanny in bed thanks to the flu. I deserved to get it because a few days earlier when  I was nursing Twin A back to health, I said, out loudOh, I never catch whatever you girls get. Never say words such as these out loud. The gods hear and will make a mockery of you.

This quality time with my Serta Sleeper has been spent binge watching Parks and Recreation because really, is there any place on the planet more entertaining than Pawnee, Indiana? I’ve also been reading stuff online about what Christians should be doing or not doing or not reading or not watching.

Sigh. I need to read the internet less and tear out carpets more. So many Christian bloggers fixated on 50 Shades.

In a few years, I will enter 40 years of of my relationship with Jesus, and as I grow deeper into understanding of what it means to be a Christ follower, my ideas of what church should look like are changing.  My views, which are my own, are simple, Church (i.e. us, not the building) should be more about listening and less about lecturing. Less and less people are attending church, and the problem isn’t them. It isn’t their hardened hearts. It isn’t their distracted minds.  It’s us, people. It’s Effing Us.

I’ve got news for you. This isn’t the time of the Old Testament. We don’t live under 600+rules handed down by robed men in a tabernacle.  We live under two rules paid for by the blood of a broken God on a cross. 

Want more people in the church, fellow Christians? Stop lecturing them about seeing 50 Shades of Grey and start listening to their stories of heartbreak and rejection, and you might see the draw of reading the book or watching the movie. Stop telling people that sex done at a certain time in a certain way is evil, and start listening to how they wonder how they are going to pay their next electric bill or feed their families. Stop telling people what they need to do rid themselves of what you believe are the evils of same sex attraction and start asking, Hey, wanna do something this weekend? In fact, can I just suggest that we as a church stop fixating on sex and who is doing what, where and with whom and start simply reaching out and loving people….you know…like the guy on the cross did? There’s so much more to my faith than sex. Really. There is.

A few years ago I was sitting in a Sunday School class listening to the teacher rant and rave against the evils of The Da Vinci Code and how it was leading people straight into the pit of hell. I was one of the few people in the class who had actually opened the book, read it, and found it entertaining.  (I would have gotten up and walked out because the entire thing was so ridiculous, but my twins were two and were in the nursery, and this was the only time during the week I got any kind of adult interaction. I realize now I would have been better off at home sequestered with toddlers.) A friend of mine halfway through the lecture raised his hand and dared to assert, But this is a work of fiction, right? I mean no one is arguing that? So, really why are we talking about this here in church?  The teacher stuttered with deer in the headlights look. I would have much rather been discussing the works of The Prophets – you know – the guys who really made things happen –  but somehow, I’d found myself in room listening to the equivalent of a very bad junior high book club. This is what passes as Church to some people.

I don’t know about you, but I go to church To Be. To Feel. To Learn. To Grow. To Worship. To Give. To Connect. To Confess. I bring my big hot mess of a self every week, and I need a little more than a lecture of how we on the inside are doing it right and how those on the outside are doing it wrong. I go to church so that when I leave, I can face a new week -a week as a newly divorced mom, wondering how I’m going to do it from here on out, looking for a job, trying to be a good example of a woman to my daughters, wondering how the hell any of this happened, wavering between faith and failure. I go to church because the people who sit next to me in the pews hold my hand and whisper encouragement to me. Beautiful seventy year old eyes look into mine and say, Oh, honey, I’ve been there, and I know it’s hard. I’m praying for you. God, I love those women. The women who whisper these words are tough and gritty and faithful and good. They get Jesus. They get the cross.

They don’t worry about 50 Shades or whatever the latest craze is because they are too busy looking at the world right in front of them – the real world filled with real characters, not fictional ones who need to be loved by the love of a God who came down to earth to dwell among us.  We live in a world hungry to meet the El Roi, The God Who Sees Me, who appeared to Hagar in the wilderness and told her she’d be okay. (If you ever want to read a story about a woman who got a really shitty deal, read about Hagar. Read it and wrestle with it because it was God’s Chosen who did her wrong.) We live in a world that needs us to rescue victims of human trafficking, supply fresh water to remote villages, free women from patriarchal societies and adopt abandoned children. We live in a world of Hagars who need to hear the love story of El Roi not another lecture about what’s wrong with Hollywood.

Have I read 50 Shades? Yes, two paragraphs. A friend gave me her phone on which it was downloaded.  I took it, started reading, and I couldn’t stop laughing – the writing was that bad, and you all know I’m a writing snob – so I gave it back. Will I see the movie? Um, no. That means getting a babysitter and taking a shower so I can be seen in public on a weekend.  All of this takes planning ahead, and I think we all know how well I do that.

50 Shades will come and go. A blip on the radar. There will be more books and more movies that will fire up the masses, pro and con. I don’t give a rat’s ass about them. I’ve got more important work to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 6 comments }