The days of keeping company with Things 1, 2 and 3

I wouldn't say that I've battled depression my whole life.  But I've battled it enough for a lifetime. 

Depression, for me, has been like the Dr. Seuss book, The Cat in the Hat... remember when the kids stay home alone when mom goes out and the Cat in the Hat shows up to play?  And from that point on, there was no turning back.... especially when he brought in Thing 1, Thing 2 and other Things to add to the mess. 

Depression has visited me on and off from an early-ish age, I think pretty much when my mom left in spirit but stayed in body in a place she didn't want to be.  Thing 1 showed up in high school as severe stomach issues and near debilitating abdominal pain.  Every test under the sun revealed that I was stressed.  Um... I could've diagnosed that without any medical training.   

Thing 2 showed up in college as dependence on the wrong person followed by a giant dose of disappointment and heartbreak.  Plus a big ol' side of stomach pain and a doctor that tried to fix me with drugs that I refused to take.  But I was really thin and tan and those things worked well to hide the lonely. 

Thing 3 came around after the death of my sister, both my grandmothers and that whole getting robbed at gunpoint thing.  That time was probably the worst and it required a short round of an anti-depressant medication that thankfully worked a miracle in my overly distracted mind.  And finally, all the Things  joined forces to give me panic attacks a few years back.  But all that's still A-OK and I only panic when I see scary things.  

I had another birthday last week.  And with the extra year came an extra slice of perspective on several things.  It's really like looking at life from an aerial view and seeing all the pieces from above and how they've all crossed, matched up  and woven together to form the me that writes this today.  And I can honestly say that I like the way it's turning out.   It's taken me all these years to be able to say that with any confidence.  Because there were more days than I would like to admit that I looked everywhere for anything and anyone to fill the empty places in me that I couldn't manage to fill on my own.

Thankfully, I was blessed with some of the most amazing people in my life that a girl could want, and those people were a God thing if there ever was one.  Because it could've been very different had His direction not been involved.   But there were others that took advantage of a lonely person and shame on them for that.  And for a girl that more than anything in the world wanted to belong and mean something to someone, and fit into the exact Kristi shaped hole that waited for me somewhere out there, there were times and people that were knives to my heart.   

Today being Easter Sunday, I am loving how much promise this day brings.  Y'all know Easter is a season right?  Not just a day?  We are to be Easter people well past this happy, celebratory morning when we all looked pretty at church.  We're entering the season of Eastertide.... 50 days of Eastering.  But not 50 days of fried chicken and chocolate bunnies or that could be a problem.  

Y'all this is our season to faithfully and gladly and ever so loudly, live out the hope of the resurrection in our lives.  For all the world to see and want to be Easter people, too.  And this morning in church as the amazing Dr. George Mason spoke about the emptiness of the tomb, I thought about all my empty days over the years.  The days of keeping company with Things 1, 2 and 3.  Days that, if I let them, could still tear my heart into a million scarred and ugly pieces.  But what I never really considered about the emptiness of loss and the constant searching and looking  - is the opportunity for finding.  

And THAT, my sweet friends is Easter.  Going to the tomb and discovering our own emptiness.  But looking past it to find the hope of new life.   

May the joy of Easter live in each of us so others may see the light and love of Christ in us. 

And we were weary from travel - Spring Break 2016

We spent last week in Branson, Missouri. Here's the house we were in on lake Taneycomo....

Very nice, cozy, but the mice thought so, too.  We had to wash every dish when we got there for fear of mouse disease. (And we stored the utensils in the fridge so we knew for sure we were never eating off of a mouse fork.  But Kid 1 was up in the middle of the night one night making peanut butter sandwiches and thought it a fun idea to press a refrigerated butter knife to Kid 3's face as he slept.  Who knows why.  I guess because we don't keep our knives in the fridge at home so he had a new and novel idea.  No one got hurt in the cold knife incident.  But Kid 1 did get caught by his dad who happened to be sleeping with the kids because he snores).

This is our vacation family picture.

I shared it on Facebook the other day and it got a zillion loves.  It has all the elements of a shareable social media photo... smiles, beautiful background scenery and a nice close group huddle.  I like this one, too.  I didn't even have to fight with the boys to get them to stand still for it. 

But remember, behind every lovely Facebook photo, there's always more to the story.  And those are the things I like to share,... the  interesting details that make the story come alive.  Details that make a story even more true and understandable for those of us that don't take picture perfect vacations.  Or live picture perfect day to days at home.

So here were our vacation highs and lows... the behind the scenes details....

Day 1 vacation....That time we got stuck in the mud.  

That's us and our car stuck in the mud on a dead end road, on a giant mountainous slope, in the dark.  After a long day of travel and one wrong turn later, here we sit waiting for the tow truck to get us to our vacation cabin.  That's Kid 1 in the driver's seat but he didn't get us in this predicament.  Fireman Dave was mad at himself and the sign that told us to turn here... and he was off somewhere being angry while waiting on the tow truck.  

Day 2....  The day I wanted to chop my head off at Silver Dollar City to stop a migraine.  I'm obviously allergic to Missouri. 

So I ended up finding whatever open space I could to lay with a jacket over my face and try to stay with the family as they rode roller coasters and didn't have migraines.

Day 3 - The day I slept off my migraine and spent most of the day in bed while the family watched movies.  Then we went shopping and bought things we normally wouldn't buy at home.

Day 4 - The day we took a day drive to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. 

Kid 1 couldn't sit up straight in the car on the drive, claiming he didn't have the strength nor the energy for such an exhausting hour long drive that took him away from his bed, the TV and whatever else keeps him plugged into the world outside of his boring parents. 

And here we are standing in front of the giant Jesus statue - where I look like I'm wearing an eye patch but I'm really not.  I'm really wearing my incredibly cute prescription aviator shades because of that allergy attack on Day Two that ripped holes in my eyes and left me for half dead with a headache.  So there's that.  No contact lenses for a couple of days. 

But standing in front of giant Jesus, where I stood so many times as a child and posed for these same pictures,.... I dared to speak.  And Kid 1 was perturbed at my invasion of his quiet, and overwhelmed with shame at me being his mom.  Then he declared me to be offensively loud.  And that my volume level may upset Jesus.  I added that part, but he totally might've if he had the energy to think of it.

Then there was that point in the day when again, Kid 1, God love him, ... told me that I don't know how to lock my car door correctly.  Because obviously my higher education was for naught. 

Then after walking the hills of Eureka Springs for a while and getting multiple street levels below where we parked our car, Fireman Dave thought it a grand idea to climb the tallest mountain in the Ozarks to find the car, testing my aerobic capacity and our marriage at the same time.  However, Kid 3 was handy and at the ready offering to give me a push on the behind if I needed help with the climb.  Which is actually very sweet and I may indeed need to cash in on that offer in a matter of years.  But this time I made it just fine all on my own.

I like to call this section.... Things You can Buy in Eureka Springs Arkansas.  Who knew?

1.  The essential for male strippers everywhere.

2.  A private sized man kilt.  Since it is around St. Patricks Day and all. 

I stand firm in these items being a big NO for any man named Walters.  But I couldn't resist sharing them with y'all because they're forever burned into my brain now. 

And yep, this is me and Kid 2.  Waiting for dinner in Branson and shopping for all the things we never knew we needed while we waited.   As long as it's not a man kilt, I'm totally good. 

And that sweet Kid 2 -  pretty much thinks his daddy and I are stuck living back in the days of yore....  and out of touch with the youth of today.  But Mom? Can you buy me these ultra trendy pants anyway? Even if I think you're an embarrassing reflection on my 14 year old awesomeness? That seems to be his mantra these days. 

And Day 5 - our last full day of fun.  

There were go kart races.  I didn't win. 

And a short hike/picnic combo where we took that pretty family picture.

And this....

Oh my goodness.  This is the Showboat Branson Belle... and if you've never had the opportunity to see an all male dance troupe do some hip hop style tap dancing while you float along and eat chicken.... you have to do it at least once.  

The tickets said to report to the boat at 3:15 since lines would be long to board.  So we thought we would get on and sail around a bit then have dinner and a show.  But y'all.  We got to our seats at exactly 3:45 and were practically force fed a roll and salad.  And the next course came and then the next and dinner was done by 4:30 and I had to eat a bowl of cereal that night before bed because I was starving.  I actually think that was the night of Kid 1's middle of the night peanut butter sandwich and cold knife trick.  

I don't think we were the youngest people on the boat, but we were in the top 10%.  But it was really fun in a way that things are fun when you've never eaten chicken on a giant paddle boat while listening to a show tunes medley sort of way.  

But that last night I found myself feeling a little sad for it all to end.  Because I loved having these boys all to myself again for a while.  And I knew when we got home that the sharing would be back.  Sharing them with school and friends and activities and just the fact of them growing up and away.  

And I believe the whole underlying truth to parenting is that we're supposed to love our kids with an eternal perspective.  And if we can't manage that, at least try for a long range plan.  And the biggest part of that is the sharing.  Learning how to be their mom, but share them with the world at the same time.  

So that's the true story behind that good mountain top family picture up there.  Part of me being in the present, and part of me knowing what was coming the next day.  

Y'all.... I heard Fireman Dave considering out loud the great power of the what if.  I know for a fact that he has on more than one occasion considered the What if .... I married someone else who doesn't wake me up a million times a night telling me to stop snoring train of thought. 

But the night we arrived in Branson, he was pondering and wondering..... What if  we had arrived just a little later.... when it was just a little darker.... when we couldn't see that sign that led us down the wrong road.... and got us stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere without another soul around, in the dark woods of the Ozarks with hungry kids and a restless old dog in the car.  What if....there was no cell phone service out there?  And the What if...we cancelled that AAA membership like we thought about doing and we have to stay out here forever and live off the land and whatever snacks Kristi has hidden in her purse?

Because y'all... it was bad.  And we were weary from travel.  And hungry.  Then add lost and stuck in the mud to all that and I knew this would be another Walters family vacation where something gets run over or explodes or lost or whatever the gods of family vacations think is funny for me to write about on this blog.

And I've done my time pondering the What if's of life.   What if I married that fella back in college?   What if I gave up a long time ago on wanting and wishing for more than I was told I would ever deserve in this life?  What if I didn't get so tired of trying to work it all out myself that I finally let it go and let God lift me from the depression and worry and fear that make up all things Kristi.... and lead me into the adventures of parenting and family life with these people?  These people that became my people?

And I can say this with all certainty... there are no other people in the world that I would rather be stuck in the mud with on a dark Missouri night.  

And if worse came to worst, I am confident that I could've yelled loud enough for someone to eventually find us.  Kid 1 can vouch for that. 

Youth = craziness

Happy almost spring break to you.  And to me.  I so need it.  My body is ready to not do aerobics for exactly 7 days.  Especially my feet.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak... um, maybe from the Bible? Or maybe from somewhere else and I think everything's from the Bible.  But how true it is...  If my feet were willing, the rest of me would totally do aerobics every day over spring break.  Says the woman who just downed a big bowl of macaroni and cheese followed by a cookie dough chaser.  

Today is my day off and I'm resting and enjoying the quiet of the house.  And the hardest work was when I just went to Ross and found 2 giant rugs to try out because ours are exhausted and stinky.   And of course Ross has a firm policy on offering zero customer service.  So I dragged the first rug to the car in the rain, and then a man felt sorry for me and brought the other one out for me.  He wasn't doing anything anyway except sitting in a chair hoping his wife would finish shopping soon.  Maybe he'll still be there when I decide the rugs don't look good and I need to return them.  

Y'all, the house has been crazy lately.  We have a 4th kid around here now.  But he's a part timer.  I call him Kid 4 since I feed him multiple times a day and always find him sleeping on my couch and handing me his laundry to wash.  He's the current best friend of Kid 1 and I'm even kind of enjoying the commotion myself.  Except for that broken glass thing.  Kid 4 was the runner from responsibility.   And he keeps eating all my Ritz crackers, which Kids 1-3 know are mine.  But this one needs us a little bit right now.  And I think we need him, too.  He brings lots of energy to our home, and he's good for Kid 1.  

And I've seen some beautiful lessons in friendship as of late.  I've seen sharing, and patience, and actual conversations.  But mostly I've seen Kid 1 looking out for his buddy in ways that are surprisingly mature and reassuring to me as a mom.   

I remember when I was in high school and met a young man that I was never really good friends with, but frequently acquainted because of other people.  But he treated me like I was his dearest and best.  And at first I found it a little odd when this fella would tell stories of us,... created make believe memories more or less,... as if we had known each other forever, .... as if he was looking to create kinship with someone who would return the same.  And turns out there was a reason for it that I figured out later.  Because there's always a reason. 

This guy knew my boyfriend, so he was around quite a bit.  And he was very rough around the edges... think drinking problem and for all practical purposes, homeless.  And he was especially needy.  It wasn't uncommon for him to be missing in action for a couple of days then when a friend would look for him, find him sleeping in his truck after another rough patch.  But what I learned about his growing up years put a lot of his behaviors into perspective.  And I guess I was willing to take that for what it was worth and not give the guy the boot.  Youth = craziness.    

But what I always noticed about him was how gentle and kind he was to me.  Maybe we were to each other.  One day he showed up at my house a complete mess.  He had been in a fight involving poor judgment and lots of blood, and he didn't have anywhere else to go.  

And I think what surprised me the most... knowing my mom the way I did, our difficult relationship and all.... she welcomed him in - not in a kind and loving way, but in a dutiful, do the right thing kind of way, and let him get cleaned up for a fresh start.  Not the mom I was expecting to see in that situation.  But she washed his clothes, and got him fixed up like moms do.  He stayed at my house for a little while that day.  And she didn't ask him to leave.  Neither did I.  

I think that's what surprised me the most.  Because most days I wasn't even welcome at home, but for some reason that day, I was. Along with my misfit friend.  

I'm really proud right now of Kid 1... as he recognizes some specific needs in his friend, and brings him home to help him out.  I'm not sure what's going on at Kid 4's house, but I'm pretty sure it's something.  And that's all I need to know.   

post script.... my messed up high school fella? He followed me to college as well.  Not as a student, but as an occasional guest and visitor.  Most of the time, by surprise.  But always good to me.  He ended up making some mistakes in the next year or so and spent quite a bit of his young life in prison.  And it was then that I became the occasional visitor.  Yes, I have been inside a Texas maximum security facility on more than one occasion.  I didn't love it.  But sometimes doing the right thing takes us out of our normal and places us right in the middle of another person's need.

Post post script... 

21 years ago today I lost my sister to her battle with a long fought illness.  She was a good one. 

I was just trying to take a shower

I can honestly say that it's the day to day stuff that's the hardest thing about parenting.  Looking back over 15 years, though, it seems like it was easy enough.  But when I was right there in the middle of having three kids ages 3 and under, days could either fly by or be an endless parade of blood, sweat and tears. A combination of mine and the kids'.  

There were many days when the boys were little when I would wake up and wonder how on earth I was going to fill all the hours - and even get a little panicky over it.  I was just remembering when I would open up the back window of our little Honda CRV parked in the driveway,  and put the boys in there like it was a playpen.  And I would finally get to sit down in a lawn chair and relax.   The back of that car and a few toys was good for at least 30 minutes of rest on a pretty day.  

Just coming up with new ideas to use up all the energy when they're little is huge.  I remember... And I'm glad I'm past that stage. I remember being completely exhausted and taking the kids over to my mom's house so she could entertain them for a while and let me take a nap.  I couldn't have done all those young years without her help.  

And now that the boys are older and I'm back at work much of the day, I get tired just the same.  So if you're still in the early kid stages, and looking forward to a future of kid independence and parental rest, don't get too excited yet.  Now they can stay awake forever and totally outlast you.  

This was the week of broken glass around the Walters house.  And all of it could've been avoided had I thought to remove every pillow and couch cushion within a five mile radius.  Tonight's broken glass was the result of a fight between Kid 2 and Kid 3.  Kid 3 threw a basketball at Kid 2's head.... same story, different day.  So there was a giant beating with a bed pillow followed by Kid 3 crying, and me sweeping and vacuuming broken glass for the second time in a week.  

The first time was just a few days earlier.  I was just trying to take a shower ... says every mother on the planet.... when Kid 1 ran in to tell me that the end of the world had arrived in our den.   

Which just proves that a tile shower in a 1950's house is both solid and sound proof because the destruction in the den was severe.  A friendly pillow fight gone wrong sent a nameless guest running out the door and away from responsibility .....  and exactly 2 billion shards of glass ceiling fan lights strewn from here to everywhere.  

And the funny thing is that while I hated all the clean up and was debating whether jail time would be necessary for those involved, Kid 2 hugged me and said he was thankful to have a mom to help with things like this.  Same kid that a few weeks ago told me he needed me to help him with a problem involving a girl and situation he couldn't get out of.  Which are never words the mom of a teenage boy likes to hear.   (Happened to be that he just needed to buy Valentine gifts for two young ladies - and needed me to drive him to the grocery store.  Pronto.  Now I hope he doesn't ask me how to pare down the two young ladies to one.)

But y'all, cleaning up the messes this week, I guess I vacuumed with a joyful heart. Which is heaven come down to earth in it's purest form, I'm sure.  In the form of grace that creates a calm where there may otherwise be none. 

And I really have come to understand that my reactions to events and situations with the boys has a whole lot to do with the outcome of each day.  Doing the math, it works out something like this .... 

Each day... multiplied by my choice of anger, frustration or worry   


Each day... multiplied by my choice of a positive attitude, forgiveness and understanding 


 a lifetime of valuable lessons for my kids 

Luckily I actually enjoy vacuuming.

post script... broken glass story #3.... The one where I almost ate glass and died.   

I've had a favorite, beautiful salad bowl for almost 20 years.... 

I didn't notice the giant crack in the bowl a few days ago, till I poured in the spinach, added a few other things ... and then noticed something sparkly.  And it wasn't one of those special love stories where a girl finds a diamond ring in her spaghetti.... it was a sharp sliver of glass about 1/4 inch long.... very thin... and extremely dangerous staring up at me all mixed in with feta cheese and dried cranberries.  And I saw visions of my lacerated liver flash before my eyes.  Y'all... the salad gods were watching over me that day.
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