And finally at the end of a long day in the wild west, Miss Kitty closes her bedroom door, shuts out the world, and goes to bed at 8:30. And prays for a better day tomorrow.

So I thought to review the last few days we'd do a little role play.  Maybe a play.  Quite possibly a total re-make of the entire Gunsmoke TV series of yesteryear.  

Today playing Miss Kitty is me.  Miss Kristi.  And playing Marshal Dillon is husband.  Marshal David.   

And playing the outlaws in this episode will be my very own outlaws.  Kids 1,2, and 3 playing bad guys that tear the town of Dodge apart.  Not really any different than playing themselves on a daily basis. 

In short, here's how Gunsmoke worked in every episode.... Marshal Matt Dillon is in charge of Dodge City, a town in the wild west where people often have trouble respecting the law.  Miss Kitty is the red haired beauty that owns the saloon, the Long Branch, pretty much the community center for Dodge.  Kinda' like the YMCA but with drinking and gambling.  And Dillon and Kitty have a life-long love thing going on.  Now technically, they don't have any children but there are always a regular cast of wanderers and bad guys that make their way into Dodge.   Much like our home.


So we join Miss Kitty, discouraged and despondent, over her current state of affairs.  There has been conflict and more conflict building for days while Matt Dillon is unavailable on a 48 hour shift at his other job.  And her recent run-in with some bad guys has left her blood pressure elevated and her mascara stressed to the point of smudging.  Because she's been dealing with the worst kind of bad guys, really,... the local kind.  The kind that live close and she can't get rid of them.  And we can't kill them out in the dusty streets of Dodge like on TV.  Because that would just be wrong.  And then it would make the news.  

So Thursday morning Kitty sends an urgent message to Marshal Dillon to come quick.  Things are out of control at the Long Branch, and she fears she can't handle it alone.  But Dillon is tired and has been protecting and serving the citizens of our fair city for 48 hours and is in no mood for unexpected trouble.  

But at Kitty's urging, he hurries over to find..... Kitty looking lovely as always in her fishnet stockings and feather head-thing. 

But also waiting is outlaw 3, who needed the strong arm of the law to set him straight.   

And taking it all in, it looks as if a struggle has recently occurred.  And while Dillon hears Miss Kitty's cries of anguish over such a rough start to her day, he notices outlaw 1 lurking.  Looking for  trouble.  

As Kitty cries, something like, for the love of all things good and holy -  just get ready for school !!!!

And on the outskirts of town, but still close enough to benefit from the misfortune of others, is outlaw 2.  Who comes to Miss Kitty with an offer that she may actually consider.  As she is completely beat down, spiritually overdrawn and helpless at this point.  Outlaw 2 offers to clean up the dust and devastation from the morning's ruckus - for the low, low price of $20.  Now if he will throw in dusting and cleaning the boys' bathroom, Miss Kitty just may have an offer she can't refuse.  

So Dillon, swooping in to save the day decides to remove the offenders from the premises.  And take them to school.  Leaving them with strict warning for no further nonsense. 

And Miss Kitty thanks Marshall Dillon for rushing to her side in time of need and then considers a swift drink or maybe a cinnamon pop tart to drown her obvious sorrow at lack of parenting and/or crowd control.  And Marshall Dillon gets back to work, leaving Kitty in charge of all things big and small closer to home.

But the town of Dodge is only quiet for a few hours till more cries of wrong doing come in.  Involving  outlaw 3.  Who has apparently ransomed his very soul at school for the opportunity to get a few laughs and disturb as many law abiding 5th grade citizens as he can in a short amount of time.  So a call of distress comes to Kitty from the teacher - and she stands, once again, devastated at her lack of control over the situation.  And she braces herself for what is to come for the rest of the episode.  

And finally at the end of a long day in the wild west, Kitty closes her bedroom door, shuts out the world, and goes to bed at 8:30.  

And prays for a better day tomorrow.  And for a renewed sense of hope and purpose that she feels has been lost to the events of the day.  And then with all the strength she can muster, says thank you to a God of hope who has trusted her with not only the day to day affairs of so many, but for the young lives that are in her care.  And then she asks for strength for a new day and eyes to see the good in the boys she loves so much - outlaws though they may be at times. 

This week's top 10... read all about it

1.  The case of the mystery red and black tape measure on our front porch has been solved.  Because we thought some stalking criminal had been measuring our front door to see if they could fit our TV and maybe a couch through there.  But not at all true.  Turns out kid 3's friend found the measuring tape on the walk home from school and left it as a gift on our front porch when he was over.  

2.  Kid 3 is and has always been my go to man for solving any mysteries around the Walters house.  Usually because he's somehow involved.  But sometimes he's just watching everything up close hoping to get brothers in trouble so he takes in all of life's details.  He's a true resource in questioning times.  

3.  Our garage got robbed which is totally why we came up with the red and black measuring tape on the porch conspiracy theory from bullet point #1.  I just figured it's a little game thieves like to play.  Take a little, take a lot, come back for the rest later.  Our thieves actually took a lot. 

4.  Husband is just not the same since the violation of our garage and the kidnapping of his lawn mower and all power tools.  I found him out there the other day when I drove up and he looked like a boy who lost his dog.  Wandering around outside, a man lost in his brokenness, hoping to find clues or possible memories of good times with his tools.  

5.  The thieves took the lawn mower BEFORE we got to mow the yard.  So now our yard looks like we moved away quickly in the middle of the night.  And now the neighbors can all discuss that Walters family and how they knew all along we were probably up to no good, possibly even running from the law.  

6.  I will spend my 15th wedding anniversary heading up the boy scout garage sale this Saturday.  And I am hoping at the end of the day I will get a sparkly new diamond ring wonderful Mexican food meal to celebrate. 

7.  We have 2 single young men moving into the house next door. And all I can see thru my kitchen window at this point is one fella in a ball cap trying to set up electronics, which just about describes every male in America.  But hopefully these two will be perfect gentlemen and not make me break up loud parties in the middle of the night.  

8.  This is old news, well really recurring and consistent news.  But it seems it is still unacceptable for me to be seen out in public with or around the 14 year old.  Especially during the lunch hour at his school.  Which he made sure this morning to check that I would not be there to help with whatever fundraiser is going on right now.  Whatever.   

So we played the would you rather game... which goes something like this... Would you rather kiss a rattlesnake or have your foot run over by a car?  And I asked him if I were to come to school at lunch to help out today would he rather I wear pajamas or hair curlers? And would you prefer I sit with you or just wave and yell from afar?   

9.  Teacher conferences are minutes away and I could walk away ...
     a.  rejoicing in what I hear
     b.  rejoicing that it is over for another year
     c.  proud to be a mom and all that comes with it
     d. proud that we've made it this far
     e.  all of the above

10.  And finally, .... words from a movie that stuck with me this week on date day Wednesday.  Because even if I don't get a big new ring for my anniversary, or ever....   And even if another year down means another year's work is just beginning, .... we're still here.  
And these words really spoke to me and about me and for me..... 

But he smiled whenever he saw me. And we could've built a life on that. (movie, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day)

And I am lucky enough to say that he smiles every time he sees me.  And we've built a life on that.  

post script.... 

Teacher conferences. I went with answer F.  Unlisted because at the time I wrote it, I didn't know I needed an answer F.  Answer F being... pretend you don't know these children  - one in particular - the one who didn't come home when he said he would come home after school.... so we missed the teacher conference while mom drove all over creation trying to find him.  The kid I found with 5 minutes remaining on our conference appointment clock, playing basketball on the school playground.  So we went to the classroom and appeared humiliated and exasperated all at the same time... and I made him explain to the teacher why we were late.  Then I bribed her by paying, in full, the price of the upcoming science camp trip.  So now she doesn't hate us.  

And on another note.... y'all a couple of weeks ago I wrote a post that very possibly sounded like I knew what I was talking about.  About anniversaries and marriage and such.  And let me be the very first to tell you that I don't know.  I don't know any more today than I did for the last 15 years.  And I imagine I'll still be saying the same even years from now.  So once again, no experts here in the house of angels, pirates and thieves.  But plenty of questions and mistakes.    And thankfulness that even as I continue to walk blindly through our days as a family, I am granted the beautiful gift of grace for today.  Grace that has blessed me with more than I could've ever imagined or thought I deserved. 

The time Ebola came to town - and made me remember when AIDS visited my own family back when

So my 8th grader came home today and said his teacher told the class that Ebola is really an airborne disease... and that they just don't want us to know about it.  An us against them theory being taught at an early age.  And I'm trying at this very moment to breathe in and out before I cause a mom scene and a public school stir.  Because there's already enough stirring going on around here already.

And in the last few days my kids have come home from school convinced that more people have the virus - and that we're all next.  And their school bus skipped a drop off spot and rolled along to the next when the driver saw men in hazmat suits emptying school trash cans.  And I can already imagine important movie idea people flying right into the center of our deadly disease storm hoping to be the first to make a cable channel movie out of the fear. 

And now that the first official Ebola related death happened here .... it's just feeding the fire of fear.  And it's not over because there are too many people affected in this.  And all are in a holding pattern for weeks waiting to see which way things are going to turn out.   

And I understand fear and confusion.  And I understand a need to know more but not really sure what information to trust.  Obviously not the 8th grade science teacher.  But most of all I understand being on the other side of the fear and judgement. 

Because the chaos and confusion reminds me all too much of the days of AIDS.  When it was killing by the thousands and during a time before people really understood how and how not to contract the disease.  And I was afraid at first, too, till I spent 10 years alongside my sister and quickly learned that I had nothing to fear other than the loss of someone I love.  

And her case was unique, as the AIDS virus was, in the 1980's, primarily a gay man's disease.  And first she was in denial and waited so long for treatment that it was just too late.  And then we found that she  - just by being a she - was such a small part of the problem that there wasn't a whole lot of medical research and care devoted to her particular situation.  And as we found out fairly quickly, medications that were tried and tested on men didn't necessarily work the same on women.  And the disease that showed itself in certain forms in men, didn't always show up the same way for her.  

Karen.  That was her name.  

Because Karen, at barely the age of 20, married young and into a relationship that proved to be less than honest, and less than she had set her heart on.  And so finding out that she was now alone and sick and in an all new place in her life, she came home.  And to Parkland Hospital in Dallas to receive experimental care for full blown AIDS.  Those were the scary words of the day.  And I can remember more than I would like of nights in the county hospital emergency room, and of the hours standing in line for her at the hospital pharmacy, and the eyes of others that looked at her, us, as now somehow different.  And I can't and don't blame them.... because I was doing the same.  

And I remember a particular church that told her she was welcome there, but they didn't want her in their kitchen.  And I think those words more than any in the entire span of her sick years, hurt more than any. And though they were words spoken out of ignorance, they were as painful as ones intended to tear and destroy.  Because that's exactly what it did.  And it gave me reason to question what I had believed as truth for so long.  A belief that the church is a place where all are welcome.  

But lines got crossed, and people listened to fear instead of reason, and words that cut like knives came out of otherwise, thoughtful and loving people. Because there aren't a whole lot of things bigger than fear and hate.

And y'all, I've done the same.  Spoken out of turn and out of ignorance and anger and fear and whatever else the moment's motivation may have been.  I've done the same.  That's worth repeating. 

And I would like to think that life has taught me to stop and listen before I speak.  And to think about how something may or may not be received before I just carelessly put it out there.  And to listen with my heart and mind and with reason and expectation and hope.  And not to listen with fear and misunderstanding.  But I can't make any promises. 

And I remember the excitement she had every time she would get a new experimental treatment... think seaweed treatment, even, at one point.  Because Parkland was and still is a teaching (and learning) hospital.  And these were the days before the miracle, life extending drugs available to HIV and AIDS patients now.  But along with the excitement came soon thereafter the disappointment when whatever she tried didn't work.  And thinking back on all of that now, she and so many at that particular time were pioneers for those to come later on.  (Since the epidemic began, an estimated 21.8 million people have died of AIDS worldwide.  17.5 million adults, 4.3 million children under 15. Source: UNAIDS)

And in her last days I put a poster above her hospital bed, full of pictures of Karen before her illness, so the doctors and nurses could see the person that was there, not just the illness that was there.  And now?  I remember back on those years with the biggest bunch of thanksgiving and love for the extra time I had with her and the valuable lesson in counting my moments.  

And I don't know anymore about Ebola than my son's 8th grade science teacher.  But may I suggest that before we turn on our TVs and give the bad news any more of our valuable time, that maybe we need to invest in knowledge and preparing ourselves for the best case scenario  - while at the same time trying to understand the dangers of the worst. 

post script.... and in 1995 upon the death of my sister, I received a phone call from a local pastor who offered words of support and hope.  A pastor that at the time was not mine, and had only heard of our story through a friend.  It was Dr. George Mason, pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, and the pastor of our church home now.  Dr. Mason being the one who has provided such loving support for Louise Troh and the rest of the family touched by the Dallas Ebola incident. And I can claim absolutely no part in our church's ministry to this family in the last days,... but I am over the top thankful to be a part of a church full of loving people who have.   

I have no idea why relationships come and go. Some for a season, some for a lifetime.

There was the storm sent straight from hell on Thursday afternoon that in less than 15 minutes tore this town apart and left tons, if not most people, without power or communication.  And lots of melting food.  And right before that was the appearance of ebola in our part of town that has everyone up in arms and afraid to breathe or walk outside.  But I, as an employee of the ebola man's hospital, can say that I walked into that place just fine last week and came out without fear or disease.  It's just business as usual in there with amazing people doing amazing things every day.  Anyway, ebola and hurricane force winds made Dallas the news center of the universe for a couple of days. 

And after we went through two of the however many plagues that originally appeared in the Bible, but not exactly the same ... only kinda',.... husband and I packed up and left this crazy place for the weekend.  And handed the kids over to the fun uncle, who when we come home from trips like this, make my kids groan at the return of their mean, boring parents. 

And on our weekend we found this very scary farmer/scarecrow/zombie out on the sidewalk.  His name is Jethro and he welcomed us to Glen Rose, Texas.

I  also found this place where you can get breast implants and a hearing aid all at the same time. 

And I found a super size Jesus possibly saying the Pledge of Allegiance in a boutique shop on the square in Granbury, Texas.  And I found it all too funny since I had also just heard a song called I met Jesus in a Bar.  Because, as you all know, I'm a big believer that Jesus can and will meet you wherever you are.  

And we stayed at a place that was lovely, with chairs by the river and beautiful porches and good food. And it was a weekend for spending some needed time together and celebrating early our upcoming 15th wedding anniversary.  So now I know you're doing the math.  There were years before the actual marriage license was signed, sealed and delivered.  And during those years lots and lots of events and happenings took place  -  and through it all, one man stood with me, beside me, and at other times, held me up.  Official paper or not.  My husband.  So for however many years you would like it to count, it's been a lifetime for us. 

But all weekend I was nervous and a little worried over our concentrated together time.  Because though we get time, think Date Day Wednesdays, when we're both off work, concentrated time where I might have to be entertaining, enlightening and/or borderline fascinating for an extended period had me concerned. 

Ever see that Ashley Judd movie about a 17 year old pregnant girl abandoned at a Walmart and she lived in there for a while till Ashley took her in?  Well that totally happened to me.  But it was at Chubby's diner, not Walmart. And I was way older than 17, but still super pregnant.  And husband said he forgot his wallet or something and left me on a cold, rainy night, sitting on a vinyl bench by the cash register at the Chubby's  - and said he'd be right back.  And I know every waitress in there was deciding if he would or not.  And in my condition, I think I wondered it a time or two myself.   

But he did come back and paid the bill then we went home and he slipped in the rain chasing our runaway dog and broke his ankle.  Whereupon I cried,  something like.... NOOOOOOOO!!! WE NEED THIS JOB!!! afraid he would be kicked out of the fire academy for his injury.  And since he didn't abandon me to become a diner waitress, I took him to the emergency room at some ungodly hour of the night.  And so ended a pathetic worry filled night for the Walters.

And last night in Glen Rose, Texas I sat, all alone in the dark.  Again. At the Paluxy River Bluegrass Festival, as concerned eyes watched my husband walk away from our picnic table and never come back.  In about forever.  Because earlier he had the crazy idea that we should walk all the way over to this place through a dark and lonely park possibly filled with serial killers.  And we only passed one guy in the whole park.  A man all alone, wearing overalls and carrying a large duffel bag.  Which to me, was very suspicious looking in a killer kind of way.  And I was too afraid to walk back through it again, so husband walked the death path alone, back to the inn, and finally brought the car back to get me.  As I was re-living my feelings of abandonment just like that night at Chubby's.  And I thought how this has to be IT.  This is how it all comes to the final page of the story.  Husband tells wife it's a celebratory weekend and dumps her at a small town bluegrass music festival.  Wife cries a little while then finds a single banjo player to replace him. (Not really.  I'm sure I would cry much longer than a few minutes before I took up with the banjo player.) 

And at least for the first night of the weekend we were the youngest people at the inn.  Along with about 4 senior couples that had met there.  And it looked like the ladies did most of the talking, and the men did a whole lot of sitting and listening.  Or not.  One lady really likes her mascara because it comes off so easily, and one lady always uses the pre-wash cycle on her machine but only adds detergent when it comes to the final wash cycle.  And the ladies were held captivated and comparing, and the men just nodded or nodded off out on the beautiful porch on a lovely fall day.

And I thought it all beautiful.  Right there in my small eaves dropping moment I saw a picture of what a lifetime together is really made of.  Not a whole lot different than mine.  

Because it's not built on the get away weekends that are special for a time.  I think most of it is built doing exactly what we're doing now.  One laundry load at a time.  One day at a time full of the day to day adventures of growing a family together.  And it's not all romantic.  And sometimes none of it is.  And there are plenty of times when I wonder if we're boring.  Or if maybe I'm boring and he might dump me at the Walmart.  Or our next bluegrass festival.  

And it turns out I didn't have to be any more fascinating this weekend than I am everyday at home.  Which, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being super fascinating... I may or may not fall somewhere right in the middle.  Depends on the day and who you might ask.  But the good news that I was reminded of again is that I'm loved anyway.  Turns out that's how love works when it's really working. 

And honestly, I have no idea why relationships come and go.  Some for a season, some for a lifetime.  I can't even count the number of people who have touched my life in one way or another, in passing or in staying.  But have turned my direction toward where I am today.  

So maybe our relationships are meant to take us to new places.  Maybe to take us away from others.  But I like to think each has a purpose.  

post script.... I had never before this weekend been to a bluegrass music festival in my entire life and have no plans to make it to another.  It was there, we were there. It was something to do and we didn't get killed on the way to doing it.  And everyone but us brought lawn chairs.  And as husband said before he left me sitting alone in the dark last night, now we can cross this off our bucket list.
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