Hotel Shampoo

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I’ve spent the last few weekends traveling with my husband.  We have been chasing one of the kids around the country staying in various cities, eating at questionable restaurants, and flying in airplanes full of sick kids, and as it turns out “emotional support dogs.”  Sports parents get it, and as this is his last year of college, we gleefully back suitcases week in and week out to drive and fly through the country to watch him play football.  This is week number 4 of travel, and as I begin to suffer from a bit a travel fatigue, I noticed that my packing skills were also greatly lacking.  This morning when I went to get in the shower, I discovered that I didn’t bring my shampoo.  With a deep sigh of regret (because I take hair very seriously) I looked over to the sink and felt a sense of relief that Shampoo and Conditioner were provided in this hotel room, as they have been in almost every hotel room.

 

As I gathered up my showering supplies, I grabbed the shampoo, hoped into the shower and went about my day not giving any of it a second thought.

 

That is white privilege.

 

The hair products that work for my hair are the default item in every hotel room in America.  I didn’t do anything to make that happen, these products have been put in hotel rooms for decades before I was born.  I didn’t NOT do anything that made it happen either.  I just reserved my room, showed up with a poorly packed suitcase, and then grabbed the shampoo off the sink and showered.

 

Sometimes white privilege isn’t about highly volatile arguments of race, although there may be a time for that conversation as well, sometimes it’s just as simple as me grabbing the shampoo of the hotel sink and never for a second wondering if it’s for white people hair.  I never wonder because I know that it just is.

 

Next week before we travel, I’m going to be more careful about packing my bag because honestly, I really didn’t care for how the shampoo and conditioner smelled.  Next week I will bring my own products, but if I forget, I know that on that hotel sink will be fully stocked with usable hair products for me.

 

White privilege…sometimes it’s just simple.

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My Grandpa

Grandpa

My grandpa loved football.  He spent most weekends with his eyes focused on the television, cheering for whatever team was winning at the moment.  He would do his famous sit/lie sideways on his couch and watch the game with a muted television, but complete with closed captioning.  We were told many times that his heart couldn’t handle the stress of the game with the sound on, so he watched without sound.  That’s not to say he watched in silence…no, no.  My grandpa was the world’s greatest both sports announcer and sports psychologist of all time.  He would call the game by not only what was happening on the field, but would also regale you with the “Behind the scenes” information including each player and coach’s thoughts and feelings and what motivated each individual play.  He had a backstory to each “off-sides” call and knew how the coaches felt during pass interference.

My grandpa loved playing cards and when I was little, he took a special liking to playing with me.  He would sit at the table with me when I was 6 or 7 and taught me to play poker. He would tell me stories of inventing weather balloons, or purchasing a house for his mother with gambling money, of working for the oil company, and of meeting my sweet grandmother.  While we sat at the table, my grandpa taught me about him.  What he didn’t teach me, was how to actually play poker.  He would “bend the rules”, insist that drawing a pair off the pile required a forfeit because “It’s just not right”, always having the opportunity to look at the card on the bottom of the pile so “you weren’t waiting for it” and insisting that if you had 3 of a kind you had to show the other person your hand before you would bet. 

I didn’t much care to fact check his poker rules (which would later get me in trouble) because I got to sit and talk with my grandpa.  For a few moments, I was all his. Those days, I learned without a doubt, that he had an appreciation for smart and funny people.  He took great joy in raising 6 smart funny children, who went on to raise many more.  As I stand here today, I look around and see so many people who have been given a gift.  We have been so blessed by the wit, the charm, the drive, the passion, and the love for Jesus that my grandpa had. 

I wonder today as he is looking down on this moment from heaven, if when he saw me stand up to speak, if he reached for the remote to watch this like a football game and tried to mute it.  Grandpa, whether you’re reading this by heaven’s closed captioning or you are listening with your new strong body, know that you did well.  You shared the love of God with all of us and our lives will never be the same. 

Faith In Action

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One day at the ripe mature age of 17, I was running around with my friends.  There was this special place tucked back in the woods where you could cliff dive into the lake below.  With great bravado, I put on my swimsuit, hiked up to the top of the cliff and tamed my 1990’s style hairdo into a ponytail.  I was ready.  As I looked over the edge I couldn’t breathe.  It seemed to be 100’s of feet down, I couldn’t tell how deep the water was, and I wasn’t sure how exactly to jump far enough away from the rock so that my body stayed in tact.  I was afraid.  Each of my friends, one by one made the jump from the safety of the top of the rock, flying and landing with euphoria into the water below.

I stood silent and alone at the top of the rock, watching my friends below.  I could faintly hear their shouts of encouragement and taunting over the sound of my heart beating out of my chest and my labored breathing.  Why would I jump from this safe rock?  Why would I leave what I know to go somewhere I’ve never been?  What if I can’t jump?  What if I die in the process?  What if I get to the bottom and want nothing more than to be back up at the top?

So much of life is made up of these moments of standing, and deciding…can I jump?  Looking back, I know that this is what faith looks like.  Faith is the space nestled between the top of the rock and the moment you hit the water.  It’s the delicate space between this known and that known.  Faith is about the unsure space. When God calls to you, He stands on the other side of the known and encourages you to take that next step into the unknown.

I did jump off that cliff that day and while I would love to tell you all about it, I don’t remember a single second of what happened until I hit that water.  Today, I’m working hard to embrace the fall and leap of faith as an important part of my spiritual journey.  Faith is as much an action as it is a thing and today I’m embracing faith in action.  It’s not as much about God calling me to a specific place or direction, it’s just about Him calling me, and it’s absolutely about me answering.

I Hear You

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It was a surprise being a mom at the age of 20.  Being a mom wasn’t a “party” kind of surprise, I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but being a mom while I wasn’t through college and didn’t have health insurance…SURPRISE!!!  After 10 hours of trying to have a Wonder Woman labor, I found myself lying in a hospital bed holding a tiny baby being called “Mom.”  Overwhelmed by the thoughts and feelings I was having, accepting that I was responsible for a life, I found myself also overwhelmed by the feelings my baby was having.  Every time I heard her sweet little cry there was something inside me that stirred in either straight Mary Poppins or “Mamma Bear Killer.”  After a very long day of labor and birth, there finally came time for lights out in the hospital room with my baby safely and securely tucked into her plastic newborn hospital brand bassinet.  

Around 2am, I awoke with a jolt.  It felt like a combination of lightening striking and nausea.  In my exhausted state, I could hear somewhere in my head MY baby crying.  It stirred and churned and made me feel like I would do anything to stop it and I equally felt as though I would be ill.  That sound was my job.  As I woke up more I knew that I was hurting and couldn’t reach my baby so I reached for anything thing I could grab.  I grabbed a shoe and flung it at my daughter’s dad to wake him in hopes that he could help me.

Why didn’t he hear her cry??? Was I the only one who could hear her agony and pain?  Was I the only one who heard her cry out in need? 

Two decades later I’m still a mom.  No longer green and fresh out of the box, but still struggling with hearing the cries of my children.  When my girls are hurting I hear it in my head, my heart and my soul.  At times, I wake up in the middle of the night hearing their call of “mom” in a time vacuum from when they were a newborn, a toddler, a young child, middle school, high school and now today.  I still hear their voice.  I still hear their pain.  I hear their struggle. I’m still connected to them, maybe not by umbilical cord, but by spirit.  I hear them.

No matter what is happening around me, I hear my girls.  No matter how joy filled, or stress filled or busy or crazy life is, I hear them.  Maybe that’s how God hears us?  Maybe regardless of the demands He has on His time, that He has tunnel vision when it comes to our hurt and need.  Maybe He is so tuned into us that He just hears.

I hear you.

I Am Mom

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Motherhood…it’s not what it looked like in the brochure.  There’s something sweet about having a baby in your arms that makes you think that you’ve got this parenting thing covered.  There are those sweet moments when big blue eyes look up at you and ask, “Can I hold your hand?” and declarations of wanting to be doctors and innocently declaring that they would never dream of drinking alcohol.  There are Easter Egg hunts and family dinners, and nights when you sit by their beds and listen to them thank God for their mom during prayer time.  There are so many intoxicating moments.  Moments when I would have sworn I had it all under control.  Moments when my inexperienced ignorance could have had me courting a publisher to write a parenting book entitled, “It’s Exhausting, But Really Not That Hard People.”

I’m not exactly sure when it turned, but I know there was a point when I looked around my house filled with 15 teenage girls all laughing and simultaneously crying when I knew that I may have started to slip out of the “perfect mom” role and more into the RA at the sorority house.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved and truly felt blessed that my girls trusted me enough to be transparent and open with me and I enjoyed helping all the girls that came to my house navigate the complications of “teenage boys,” but quickly I was canceling the perfect parent book deal.  At some point, I found myself awake at 2:00am saying out loud… “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

As I fumble through the ever-evolving transition of my girls moving from children to adults, I know that while emotionally excruciating…I’m blessed.  I am the rock that they turn to when life crumbles around them.  I am the voice in their head that can insist that they get their act together and the soft place for them to land when everything goes wrong.  I am the whisper in their heads that ask them to stay in school regardless of how long it takes, and the insistence that begs with them to not allow themselves to tolerate the abuse that I accepted.  I am the voice they hear, and it’s exhausting.

Maybe my book idea wasn’t that bad.  Maybe it really isn’t that hard, maybe it’s just exhausting.  Maybe, just maybe I’m simply blessed that my girls trust my opinion. My girls still cherish the bond that this make shift sorority RA created. I never know exactly what being a mom will look like from day to day, as it ebbs and flows according to the daily life of my girls.  I know that regardless of how emotional they are or how incompetent I feel, that both my girls are not only asking me for advice, but praying to a heavenly Father that truly is the rock.  I know that I don’t have to have the answers, or even good advice, I just listen…and listen…and listen.  I know I just need to remind them that I will always be there and that where my inadequacies and the world leave them empty, our God is there to fill them up.  So today, I remind them that they are strong, I remind them that I am their biggest cheerleader, and I remind them that God is always there to fill in the gaps.  Today, I remind them that they are loved.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

It’s not that I planned on being pregnant at 19. I mean don’t get me wrong I wasn’t an “afterschool special” or anything. I was married and I eventually wanted kids, it just happened way before I was ready. As I struggled through diapers and breast-feeding and formula I soon realize that it wasn’t like it looked in the brochure. Every milestone came after much anticipation and provided instant relief of “Whew! Thank God I didn’t screw that up.” The time eventually came to start my baby on baby food, so I did what most moms do and decided I needed to research.

I packed her up in a carrier that resembled an infant straight jacket, and headed to the library, because in the early 1990’s, that’s how research was done.  I sat down at a table and combed through baby books. I discovered that infants should be introduced to savory foods before sweet foods so they won’t refuse healthy options later.  I thought that made some sense, but also didn’t relish the idea of feeding my baby pureed peas so I settled on Sweet Potatoes.  I figure it had the word “sweet” in it and it was a festive color, so it would be the first baby food I would try.

I unintentionally began a Sweet Potato obsession with my daughter.  She LOVED sweet potatoes.  She would swing her legs in joy every time they were mentioned and would reply with a “yummmmm” sound after every bite. Everyday…every meal…Sweet Potatoes. I grew tired of cleaning up sweet potatoes from the highchair and on my child, and I desperately wanted to get her to try something different.  “Would you like bananas?”  Crying ensued.  “Pears?”  More crying.  “Apples?”  Uncontrollable sobs.  I even offered the fine infant delicacy of “Tutti Frutti” and still hysterical opposition.  She only wanted sweet potatoes.  There was a whole world out there of delicious food!  Fruit, and bread, and SUGAR! But my sweet little girl would only eat Sweet Potatoes.

I would explain to her that things would taste so good if she would just give it a chance.  I would warm it up to entice her with the smell, and chill it to make it seem more like a treat.  I would beg her to try my way, and cry in frustration when she continually met me with ignorant opposition. It didn’t matter how convincing I was, or my promises to fulfill her palette with a taste she had never known, my 6-month-old baby fought me the entire way.

I find myself so infant like.  So many times I find myself clinging to a thought, a dream, and a lifestyle that limits my potential.  I find myself kicking and screaming and fighting and running from what God has planned for me.  I know He has a plan to bring me hope and peace and joy, but sometimes I just can’t let go.  I can’t help but wonder if God is enticing me with peace and joy for me future.  Is He the Father begging His child to just give it a try? I’m afraid of the unknown. What if I submit and become even more miserable and unsure?  Sometimes in my ignorant opposition, I’m holding on to things instead of surrendering to God’s plan and trusting that His plan is beyond perfect.  Sometimes I put my trust and faith not in God’s omnipotent wisdom, but in my experience. Sometimes, I just want the Sweet Potatoes.

Today as I look back on my life, the peace and joy have always followed a moment of obedience and surrender. As I embrace the collage of memories from the past, I can always see that when I would just trust in God, I was met with peace.  It was never how I pictured it, and certainly never anything I could have even imagined, but it was better.  Today, as I stand on the precipice of my next life change, I find myself crying out for Sweet Potatoes.  I’m holding on to them with gut wrenching force, knowing that I need to let go.  Today I pray for the direction and wisdom of the ever-powerful wooing that God does to entice me with the life He has planned.  Today, I’m looking for the Tutti Frutti.