It's a baby shower! But don't go gettin any ideas......

Hey y'all, and happy whatever day it is that you're reading this!

Today I wanted to reach out to you specifically to ask for help.  You know I've been lovin' on a sweet girl from Uganda for quite some time now, but my heart keeps telling me that I can do more.  Really my heart keeps telling me that it's totally confused over all the ugly in the world and that if I can do even one little thing to break that cycle, then well, I should totally try.  So yay for my heart that nudges me in the direction of God even when it wants to just sit around and enjoy my not quite new anymore sectional sofa.

Y'all, it's funny how I can hear about things forever and pay little to no attention at all.  Oh, please... did you EVEN believe what I just wrote?  Truth is I sometimes pay no more attention to things of importance than I did in 9th grade Algebra class when the teacher sat me by the window.  Big mistake, said that teacher... as I stared off into space and beyond, considering everything but algebra.  I also used to carry one of those little pink foam hair curlers in my purse because I believed with all my heart that my bangs had to be perfectly curled at all times for me to be successful in life.  So basically, that was 9th grade, and my heart condition on many other topics all the way up to my current decade in this life.

But things happen, and people happen, and they make me annoyed and irritated and wonder where in the devil their ideas on what Christ in the world really looks like - and I think they're all aliens from a meanie planet -  and we need to rebel.  Starting today. 

So basically, I'm a rebel for the cause of Christ and I am asking you to join with me in helping in the simplest of ways.  How simple does shopping on Amazon sound?  Y'all, so darn simple that I do it all the time, and Fireman Dave would much appreciate it if I would quiet the call of spending his money on things he doesn't even know about till he sees the debit show up on his bank account.

So.... please let me introduce you to a wonderful organization, Gateway of Grace in Dallas.

"Gateway of Grace's Educational and Community ministries provide English as a Second Language classes, cultural integration classes, children's programs and ESL and special event transportation among many other services. We help refugees furnish their apartments, find jobs, enroll their children in school and begin the path toward developing new relationships and healthy communities. Each refugee family has a unique circumstance. Gateway of Grace responds to each family's specific needs with a standard needs assessment and plan of action. We empower refugee families with basic resources and celebrate their arrival, ensuring each new member flourishes in their new home. We passionately embrace that the sovereign Lord has brought refugee families to us for the purposes of healing, restoration and experiencing Christ's love." 

I've heard about Gateway for years as our church is a great lover of this organization.  And I've recommended this organization to several people over time as a wonderful volunteer opportunity, but I myself sat back and watched them change the world.  Then one day I just couldn't sit back and watch any longer... and here I am. 

I have volunteered to host a baby shower for a refugee woman, and I am over the top excited.  There is a current Gateway of Grace student expected to deliver her baby in early September, and I feel so strongly that we can make a difference in the life of her and her family.  Gateway serves refugees in Dallas from 13 different countries, and six different religious backgrounds.  One nation under God and all that jazz, right?  

And what better way to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this city and beyond, than reaching out and meeting the most basic of needs of those around us?  So today, I am asking you to click on my Amazon wish list for this sweet lady, and to shop and help me bless the soul of this little one that is about to become part of this world.  Help me make it a beautiful beginning, and a friendly hello to our city.  And help me get this child started on the road to safety, health and opportunity.

Did you even know that a baby bed and some diapers could do all that?  Well, turns out it can.

The shower will be August 18th, and there is an Amazon list of the most needed items by Gateway of Grace for their expectant moms. 

Please say yes.  Would you please say you will  shop and give and share and all those great things that make you feel all good inside? 

You can comment here or email me at  

And HERE, y'all, is the Amazon list.  Gateway of Grace baby shower hosted by Kristi 

( and because my blog is weird, the links don't show unless you hover over it.... so trust that it is there, but like all our cars, needs to be repaired by someone smarter than myself.  Click on Gateway of Grace baby shower and you will be taken to the shopping list.)

post script - the shower will be held at the student's apartment, due to transportation issues of the students and their invited guests.  And, note that shopping off the Amazon list will cause tons of baby items to be delivered to my home address, which will be totally weird, seeing that I had to google a review of diaper sizes and everything baby equipment related.  And please, if you prefer to give a gift from somewhere else and want to bring it to the shower, or have me take it for you, absolutely!  This list was my attempt at a well rounded list of basics.  Note the word, attempt.  

be careful what you teach your children. Or something like that.

Summertime isn't really a blogger's friend.  Meaning that I can pour my heart into something of a million words, give or take, and exactly no one will read it.  And then I can write a post like the one  I just turned in to the church, about my battle with a giant roach, and I'll get thousands of the most interesting comments and responses.  Which basically tells me that I need to stick the light and fluffy of post types from June to early September.

I planned to do just that... till I saw this on this beautiful morning at our church.  Can you see the silly people holding signs and trying to form a smallish picket line?  (You should totally read that last line out loud in a voice that you might use to read a book to a three year old.)

Granted, I've seen and heard worse, and we've had larger, more interesting protester crowds out front of our loving doors o' God.  But y'all, ... still.  

Today these particular people went over and above, appealing to the the basic rule of parents everywhere.  Be careful what you teach your children. 

And THAT, my friends, because I am so carefully concerned about what I teach my kids, is exactly why I bring them to this particular church each week, and have for their lifetimes.  Because this church teaches love and tolerance and acceptance.  

And truth.  Y'all, truth is where it's at -  and all the cool people are telling it.  

And just like our sign says out front, our church teaches everybody.  EVERYBODY. 

And I didn't get all mad at these lonely guys with signs like a few people who chose to take to Facebook to protest the protesters...... because, really?  I just can't  ... I'm not the ultimate teacher.  None of us are.  We simply have to have the courage to continue the work of God always, and that includes times such as these when a few will call us out on what they see as a spiritual technicality - a  glitch in what is written and spoken straight from the spirit of faith, and what they choose to hold on to way too tightly.  

But the good news is that God sees no technicalities.  He sees no color, no race, no political views.  He sees no sexual preference or orientation, and he sees beyond us and through us and mostly,... thanks be to God, despite us. 

Because y'all, I could just as easily be the person holding this sign - or any other - in public, private or just inside the walls of my own heartfelt opinions, but for the grace of God.  So church people, go gentle on our sign holders today.  Love on them the way we would want to be loved.  Teach them the way that we teach our own, especially our children.  And move on from there, doing exactly what we always do.  

Keep singing over the bullhorn voices.  Keep talking and inviting and welcoming everybody - even the ones with the signs.  I thought about how the Grinch thought he stole Christmas from Whoville.... and how he anxiously waited for the sounds of sadness on Christmas morning to fill his tiny, empty heart.  Sort of like our guests today who thought they could steal our joy.  But we still sang.  And we still learned.  And we taught the biggest of all lessons.  God is love.  End of story.  

Now.  Y'all, here's a link to a post I wrote about my mom's funeral.  It was quite a day.  These were my thoughts on it all.    And I feel sure there will be more in the future as I have time to think on things.  

My mom's funeral.  ( seriously... this is a real link that I can't for the life of me get to show, but if you click on the words, my mom's funeral... magic will show up.  Well maybe not quite magic.)

And on the great side of news - lucky, lucky me... I got to hear from my good friend, Loyce yesterday.  

Let me leave you with this little darling singing to us from Uganda.  I asked if she was learning to play the guitar.  No, it turns out, she is not, but is looking mighty cute holding this one that belongs to our mutual friend for use in her school.  It absolutely makes for an adorable accessory for any musical talent.  And just in case you can't tell, here are the words to Loyce's song:  

"  I am walking in promises.  I am walking in miracles.  I live my life in favor.  I know who I am."  

You bet you do, my little love.  You are a child of God, my sister in faith, and my precious friend.  

Thanks to Loyce for reminding me to keep it all in perspective.  

I found some of my long lost peace that night

It is Friday night, after the longest week since the last time I had the longest week... and my biggest plan is to read my new Dennis Lehane book and eat fried chicken strips.  The actual, crunchy, breaded in a bazillion carbs kind of chicken that not only hits that salty, crunchy sort of craving, but mostly just feeds the soul.  

And y'all, my soul is in its own place of hunger and confusion today, and begging to be filled.  I'll totally let you know if the chicken does the trick.  

My mom died yesterday morning when I was teaching my second class of the day.  And thanks to a work friend that stepped in for me,  I was able to see her one last time before the hospice nurse called the funeral home to come get her.  And let me just stick this little bit of my own brand of politics right on into this section... the hospice nurse was the kindest, gentlest, most patient gal - and exactly what I needed yesterday - and what my mom needed during her final hours.  And I couldn't love anyone more than I do my new friend, the Muslim, immigrant nurse from Kenya who loved on my mom when she needed it the most.  Her heart was evident, her caring glowed, and her hijab  - y'all, if I was Muslim, I would totally wear that thing.  Maybe I would wear it anyway.... It was beautiful.  But mostly?  She was beautiful.  

And thanks be to God for the care brought all the way to our family from so far away, and meant for exactly this moment in time.  "...God created you for such a time as this and he has a plan for you." (Esther 4:14) 

Tuesday night I learned that my mom had been placed on Crisis Care, which is around the clock nursing to manage pain and make the last days as easy as possible.  Fireman Dave took off work to come with me and the boys to get in one last great visit.  And it was.  

I don't even need fancy or pretty words to tell you that I found some of my long lost peace that night.  I was given the opportunity to sit with my mom alone before the first nurse arrived, and we prayed.  Well, I prayed and I like to think she heard me.  And I prayed the exact thing that I had been asking for weeks, that God take her suffering away quickly and easily and allow her to get on with some real living.  

And for me as a believer, that means that at 10:00 am Thursday morning, my mom saw my dad and my sister, and my Muh and my Granddaddy for the first time in a lifetime -  and not only saw them as she knew them here, but as her new Heavenly neighbors and world's best welcome party organizers.  

And I think that I will write about this more later as I take time to give it all some thought... but that Tuesday night when I sat with her, I held her hand as we prayed.  The first ever memory I have of holding my mom's hand has made a lasting memory for me, and now I'm trying to decide what to do with it.  And how.  And when.  

But for now, I want to read and watch a distracting crime show on Netflix, and eat comfort food till my body feels like it can function again.  

And the good news is that I know it will.  I worked today, regular schedule.  And I will keep on doing it each day till it feels normal again.  I even taught one class yesterday with the news in my heart of my mom's death, and I promise you it wasn't easy, but it was good.  

post script - I swear the good lord knows me like no other, and always finds a way to shine a light into my darkness, and a way for the Walters to leave their mark wherever we go.  Thank you Fireman Dave for turning my tears into laughter as you set off the after hours burglar alarm in the nursing home  at 11pm Tuesday night.  Thank you for waking every single patient by doing exactly what that door sign asked you not to do -  and bringing half the nursing staff running to what sounded like  a prisoner escaping a maximum security prison.  And thank you for holding the door open for us all as we made our get away run to the car on such a night as this. 

It did my heart good.   

I'm not sure how I'm going to feel

Today I walked into my fourth class and yelled something along the lines of, I've GOT to find that awful air freshener someone put in this room - to which a lady came up and told me that she had to be somewhere earlier in the day and had put on perfume. .....   So I tried to cover my loud mouth rudeness by explaining my freakishly odd chemical sensitivity and how construction has been going on in our gym for months and I think... no, I'm sure.... I'm smelling something like glue or new carpet or paint solvent - and certainly NOT her.  But I think my eyes betrayed me and she read my mind silently asking if she needed help finding the showers in the locker room.

So let me just take this opportunity to share a little gym etiquette.... Please do not ever wear perfume, cologne, strongly scented hair products or self tanner to the gym.  Because I might mistake you for a Glade Plug In and honestly, as proven today, nothing good ever comes of it.

So much has been going on.  First, the monsters are out of school for the summer, bigger and dirtier than ever, and the funny thing is that they seem to have all the strength in the world to pick up chips and salsa by the ton, but not a one of them can pick up a dish and put it in the dishwasher.  And bless him, Fireman Dave has been working for months on building the backyard boy space, and the good news is that it's almost complete.  We even moved the extra couch that was being stored in Kid 2's living room bedroom outside.  Now we need a TV, and are waiting on a pre-paid VISA card to arrive soon so we can buy one.  And no, we do not have a pre-paid VISA card fairy or even a generous  distant relative. 

Actually, we had a bazillion dollar eye doctor bill when I got a crazy allergic reaction to my contact lenses about a month ago and had to get steroid drops to make me not look like I'd been hanging around a dive bar on the south side... or something.  Anyway, I ended up having to change contact lenses and  was told that I would get a $200 rebate if I did this and this and that and that and sent in pictures to prove I did it all.  But what they didn't tell me was that it wasn't ever gonna be a cash rebate,... thus the prepaid VISA card.  Not that it makes the eye disease worth any of it, but at least the boys will have a place outside of  my den to trash and call their own.  Soon and very soon.

And did I tell y'all that we went on vacation?  We went to North Carolina to the beach again and no one would ever know I was on that trip other than for one picture of my backside taken by my sister in law.  But I was indeed there, and didn't do much more than walk from my beach chair to the water for 6 days.  We did climb a light house, 207 steps straight up and I think that should count as one full week's worth of physical activity in vacation land.

Then I came home and got ready for my big stage premier which was just a couple of days ago.  I was so happy to have been chosen to share my true tale in front of this live audience.  They were a great crowd of about 350 or so... and filled with so many sweet friends that came out to support me.  You can watch the live video of the show here.  My part starts at 1:01:25, but you should totally watch all the stories as they are a beautiful cross section of life in our big city.  There was sadness, humility, power and laughter all packed into an hour or so of storytelling magic.

Storytelling is a gift, and an art - and one I hate to see fade away into the land of short attention spans.  I've wanted to participate in this show for some time now, and trust that I prayed the heck out of that request.  Then when it happened, trust that I prayed even harder for the tools to use to fulfill the desire God had placed in my heart.  And y'all.,  He did.  I hope this gives me confidence and courage to try even more things with this gift of gab that I have been given.

Now,.... let's get personal.  I told you that my mom would be moving into a memory care facility, and a few weeks ago she did.  And honestly, it looks like she won't be with us much longer.  Hospice nurses give and take away their time estimations, .... which is fair, I suppose.  If the weather men can't quite get an exact forecast, why should any of us.  But had I not been to see her last week and seen her in her current state, I would've laughed at the suspicion that she isn't long for the world.  ...  due to my family's ability to live for-almost-ever, especially us ladies. 

But between the time when I got the surprise driveway reunion that you can read about HERE, and today, she's a different sort of gone.  And about 80 pounds lighter than she was not too long ago, her body just isn't fighting back against this brain disease.  

The hard truths are these - she doesn't know me.  Literally, now.... and figuratively for basically the whole of my life.  And the woman that I see today is an older version of the mom that I knew in body, but not the mom I knew.  So I feel like I've had to grieve the loss of my actual mom twice over now,  - when we parted ways several years ago, and again now as she is not long for this world.  

And truth be told, I'm not sure which is the hardest.  The life she's living now, all locked up in her own confused mind, and stuck in a body, crippled by age and disease, isn't really a life.  Not one that I would wish for her or anyone.  And file my words away for a day in the future if and when I ever get into such a desperately awful position - please put my tired old body in a dangerous, crime ridden back alley, and look away.  Or if you can at all think of an easier way to end the madness, do that instead.  Please.  

And I would say that the hardest thing to deal with recently has been the re-introduction of my brother into the mix of me trying to be a part of my mom's last days.  And being discreet, let me just say here that addiction, mental illness, and decades of pent up anger are never a good combination, and me being the target of all of that is sort of sucky.  I've been fielding rage, foul language rants of hate and general idiocy for weeks now, and truly having to give thought to the safety of myself and my kids again.  All I can say is that, for all the doubt that the years of not dealing with this brought to me about my decision, it afforded me that many years of peace.  And I have to say the separation was my wisest choice.  

But this is the family I was given.  He learned it all from her.  She learned it from lord only knows where.  And that's hard to say and absorb, but maybe someday I finally will.  Love in our family often hurt.  It hurt each other no matter what or when or where.  It hurt to be spoken.  It hurt to be felt.  It hurt to be vulnerable enough to ever believe that love was anything more than what I saw day in and day out at home.  

It hurt almost everyday, past a certain age, anyway.  But if I was lucky, a quiet, hateful silence would win over profanity laced, hate filled tantrums that I just accepted as my daily normal growing up.  I am still to this day, thankful for my dad, for a specific point in time, when I was with him outside while he worked on the car, and he said this to me.... the words that gave me the only chance at changing the direction of my life.  He said, We've got to get you out of here.  And no truer words were ever spoken.  My choices were to go live with my crazy aunt in California, or go to college.  I chose college, and I chose a path that would open my eyes to the idea that I can have so much better.  

So at this point I've refused calls from my brother.  I've tried to block texts but they still get in.  So I forward them to Fireman Dave as documentation, and when and if it comes to it, I will have to take legal action.  But for now, I ignore the beast and call it by name - which gives me the power to control my response.  

But I know my mom loved me.  Maybe she didn't show it in ways I think would've been easier to understand - but she did it in her own way.  I had what i needed, always - even if it came with a loud, meanie mouth upon presentation.  And I remember things being better and easier when I was much younger.  I remember selling coke cans to get money for us all to go to the latest Disney movie in the summer times.  I remember special back to school shopping days - just me and my mom, and lunch at any place I chose.  And I remember her loving on my babies like they were angels sent from Heaven.  Which proved to me that they actually, probably were.  So maybe she went through a storm of life and I just got caught in the center - without an umbrella.  I'm now praying everyone always has an extra umbrella handy.  

I'm not sure how I'm going to feel when I get the message that my mom is gone.  I know for sure that I will ache inside like I've given up the last hope of a happy ending.  And I am so dreading it.  But I know that I will be able to ask her one day in Heaven, something along the lines of,... What the heck, woman?  And it'll all be good.  

And for now, again, I find it such a small Biblical world when I run across a verse that I haven't thought of in ages, but then it pops up and right into the very middle of what's going on in my life.  Today that verse is this:  

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.   Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:6-8)

To quote Patsy Cline, I'm crazy

Hey Y'all.... popping in here to let you know that I've been playing hide and seek for a few weeks because, well..  I'm crazy.  Life's crazy.  We're all crazy.  

So this post isn't filled with wisdom or even beautiful words... but sometimes neither am I.  

The fun news is that I submitted a story to the Oral Fixation Dallas Show - a live story telling event... and I was chosen.  I was chosen to stand on stage in front of hundreds of people and scare myself to death for no  known reason... other than the fact that, again... I'm crazy.  Life's crazy.  We're all crazy.  

Here's a couple of links about the show.  One is really about the show.. and the other one is about moi, and once published, committed me to see this thru to the end.  Do or die.  I would love to see you there.  I may need lots of hugs afterward.  And a Xanax before.  Does anyone have any?  

Meet story teller, Kristi Walters

How to buy tickets to the show

And on a completely separate topic, my mother will be moving into a memory care facility this week.  I'm working the best I can along side my brother to make the transition as smooth as possible, but he has done 99% of it.  I just hung curtains.  And maybe something else.  

But that relationship is difficult and to be perfectly honest, I've insisted on text communication. I'm just not at the next level on this one, and I'm taking a close look at my own heart to see what I need to do on my end.  I could use a God to Kristi discussion on this.  And a few prayers if you can handle that part.  Please and thank you.  

I want to write more about this as I figure it out.  And y'all,  I will.  

But for today, I think I can only say that her new care facility looks very nice, and I'm hoping this next stage is a good one for us all.  We need it.  

I'll be back around soon.  

Not today Satan

Today is technically Mother's Day, 2018.  Technically, I say because holidays around Waltersville aren't always the ones on the calendar.  One of the first things a new fire-wife will learn as she enters into this career with her husband, is that holidays are celebrated according to fire department calendars, not traditional calendars.  Santa has to come early some years, late for others.  Birthday parties happen when they can, and especially when the kids are younger, mostly when daddy can be there to watch his kiddo celebrate.  And today, Mothers Day, around here anyway, is just another day like the rest..  I got up, went to church, and came home to unload the dishwasher, cook some chicken strips and fries for the boys as they basically ignored me and moaned about how hungry they are.  Same old, same old. 

But the true celebration is in the details,  Kid 1 gave a little social media shout out to his Mama that I heard about through the grapevine.  Kid 2 wrote me a heartfelt and very sweet letter that he snuck into my room last night and left for me.  And Kid 3 sent me a Happy Mothers Day text while I was out and about earlier this morning.  Then he gave me some of his famous Kid 3 hugs that I love more than almost anything.  No, make that more than every anything.  And a couple of weeks ago when we had the chance to have the whole family together and we went out to lunch at the Arboretum, I actually declared that to be  my early Mothers Day celebration.  Gotta party when you can, right? 

And then this:  a screenshot from Fireman Dave who obviously sat around the station on this fine day and read his Bible.  Good for you, Fireman Dave.  But he sent me this in between his saving of the world, his watching of a new TV crime drama, and studies in Biblical perspectives on motherhood.  

So then I went and put on my, "This is the best day ever" sweater and took a nap.  

And I guess my final and most important thoughts on this subject are this....  me being the biggest, meanest scroogiest of them all at Christmas, and hater of commercially forced Valentine love - my hope is that I have raised boys that know the importance and value of giving and sharing and appreciating the people they love every day of the year - without having to be reminded by Hallmark or having to condense thankfulness and emotion into one 24 hour period.  I think I have.  

Like I told Kid 2 today, I am the luckiest mom in the world when my kids come and in and tuck me in to bed at night - now that they can outlast me by hours.  I am the luckiest mom in the world when they sit with me on the couch and watch TV, or come into my room and ask about the book I'm reading and tell me about something in their days.  That is mothers day at its finest to me, and I'll not only take it, but I'll keep it. 

Now, onward and upward....

We had this really great wicker chair that I had on our front porch for a few years.  One of my finest and proudest side of the road, big trash finds that I fixed up and called my own.  Then about a month ago the big trash fairy dropped an outdoor love-seat and matching chairs out onto the curb a few blocks down and I grabbed the love-seat, thinking I had the chair part taken care of and wanting to leave plenty of treasure for the other hunters in the hood.  So I put the love-seat on the front porch for a while till I decided that it was causing me undue stress in finding affordable cushions for it, and then I moved it away again.  So I asked Kid 3 to retrieve the original wicker chair from the back yard and move it back to the front for me.  Please and thank you.  And he is so sweet and did exactly that, but somehow missed the front porch part of my request and just cleaned it up and put it out on the curb for someone else to choose and enjoy.  So basically, long story, shortened..... I am in need of some awesome love-seat cushions at an affordable price point, and if you happen to see my chair around somewhere, tell it hello for me. 

And one day I forgot to pick up Kid 2 from school because I thought he was riding home with Kid 1.  Another case of Why do they let me be the Mom?  Anyway, I had Kid 3 at the dentist and was waiting for Kid 2 to arrive for his after school appointment, but only got texts that Kid 1 was nowhere to be found and has never come out of the school.  So by then I was mad and estimating how much a last minute dentist cancellation was gonna cost me.  I had earlier messaged Kid 1 to ask if he could bring his brother to his appointment - and I THOUGHT he said he had no football practice.  So I took that as a yes.  But after my adult temper tantrum, I looked back at the message and saw that he did not say that he had no practice - he said NO, he has practice and can't deliver the goods.  Anyway, by that time I was already driving around the back of the high school, slowly stalking the football practice field in search of my disappointing son, and may or may not had already text - yelled at him that if he didn't answer me immediately I would tweet to the world that Kid 1 Walters needs to call his mother.  

So basically I'm mean and jump to conclusions and mis-read clues and messages that mostly are just an inconvenience, but could in all actuality one day jeopardize life and limb or even an important meeting with a celebrity.  Or something.  I think he forgave me and filed it under the general category of I really need a new mother.  

And to sum it all up, I really just had a week that made me pull out another of  my themed sweaters - but this time, the one that reads, "Not Today Satan."  Fireman Dave laughs at me every time I pull that one out, but I told him he is laughing in the face of faith and basically, how dare he.  Sometimes I just need a little empowerment in times of weakness and if it's in the form of cute clothes, I'm digging it.  

And finally please let me give an update on my mom.  I took Kid 2 and Kid 3 to visit her a few days ago, and all was not well.  And I had to apologize to them for walking them right into the exact environment that I worked so hard to shield them from for the last years.  But maybe it was good for them to see that I had my reasons for putting them in the Mom Protection Program, but I know it was hard to watch.  But it appears that she will be moving into a memory care unit as soon as next week.  

And y'all, I feel like I am in the third, going on fourth round of grieving the loss of my mother.  I think the first was when I was so young and knew even then that I was missing the mom that was supposed to the guardian of my galaxy - a nod to Kid 2's fave movie right there.....  And then again when we reconciled over the birth of my kids and had a functional relationship for many years based on the shared love of these boys, I felt wholly the loss of her when I had to draw that hard line between what was expected and what was good for my family.  

Then she and I met again, by surprise, just a few weeks ago, and I rejoiced with the angels for the opportunity to meet her again, but cried for the loss of who she was - no matter who or what she was.  She didn't know me then.  She didn't know me a few days ago, and I'm not entirely certain she ever did.  And now I'm dreading the grief that is still ahead as we watch her make her final climb toward Heaven. 

And in honest to goodness terms, I think the whole thing just stinks.  And I think it's way unfair and a mean and ugly trick of the universe that has kept me wanting and waiting for a relationship with a mom that wanted the same from me.  Maybe that's what I'm grieving the most.  

Not a lot more to say on that one.  

You've come a long way baby

A few updates....

Rita the dog had a terrible time of it last week when I put her outside for the day because she scares the housekeeper ....  the housekeeper that visits me two times a month because I learned a long time ago that I can't be all things to all people all the time.  Basically, we can't all look good - it's either me or the house, and I choose me. 

Did I ever mention how afraid Miss Rita is of the wind?  So afraid that she tried to climb the fence to escape the wind..... silly dog... and she tore out a claw on her foot.  The patio and back fence looked like a battle scene from a war movie, but all turned out okay because of Fireman Dave and his emergency medical dog skills.  He treated her and casted her all up in bandages and one of the boys' mismatched socks that come out of the dryer with every load.  Because y'all, what can the man not do?

And an update on my library project for my favorite little African village - Y'all, basically I'm on hold till I come up with a better plan.  Seems that I have no lack of ability to collect children's books, and I think that I could figure out a fund raising plan to get them shipped, but the receiving end is presenting a problem.  My friend, Vornita, would happily accept the books and be a joyful community librarian -  however, she has to have a manageable way to get the books from the post office or other shipping location, all the way back to the village.  And here's how she does it when only picking up pen pal letters and small packages - ride a motorcycle taxi - a boda boda - to the nearest, larger taxi stand where she gets on a 15 passenger van for a long ride into Kampala.  Shop, go to the post office, take care of millions of other things then ride the van back to catch another boda boda home - where she carries everything in her lap back to the village while trying to not fall off the bike. 

So herein lies our problem - I could ship tons of smallish boxes of books in order to be size appropriate and avoid insane Ugandan import taxes upon receipt, but be very inconsiderate of shipping costs to make that happen.  Or find a shipping organization to handle it for me in bulk, but then figure out how to hire a heavy lifter day laborer to get the books from point A to point B.  Geez.  I just want the kids to read some good books and have the fun of being able to have unlimited access to checking out and borrowing like my kids grew up doing.  So for now I'm giving it some better thought.  Maybe a collection for my friend to buy some books at the local market - few but decent offerings, often Christian teaching titles, paper back, think grocery and dollar store style books - and be content in knowing we did some sort of good.

I thought I had found the perfect solution in a charitable organization that organizes book drives for African communities and allows anyone who needs service hours to organize their own library to be shipped to a needy place.  Sounded perfect until I called them and they go to some awesome places, but not Uganda.  I'll keep trying.  And if you already donated books, trust that they will arrive to their destination one way or another. 

And more about Uganda..... yesterday I had the fun opportunity of video chatting my girl, Loyce.  I wish I could've live taped it and shown it to you, but seriously, it was all I could do to handle talking and aiming the camera at the same time.  My kids rank me in the oldish to slightly geriatric category in the technology department and sigh in clear disgust disappointment every time I yell for one of them to come turn on the TV for me.  Especially Kid 2, though he tries to hide his ever so frustrated feelings behind a thin veil of compassion and a hug, he thinks his mama is ready for the modern technology nursing home, constantly reminding me of how things are different these days.  I believe he actually used the words, "back in the 1900's," today at lunch.  Um, back in the 1900's I was cute and smart and somewhat talented with a side of amazing.  If they only knew. 

And my video chat with Loyce was fun even though I had to work hard to hear her sweet voice over the sounds of a million curious little villagers and a very loud rooster.  And we talked about what we might want to do if we were visiting each other - me in Uganda, her in Big D.  I think if I was with her today in her hometown of Bulonde village,  I would have her show me the sights - her water well up close and in person and then I'd find out a 13 year old girl is stronger than me when we tried to carry our 20 liter jerry cans full of water back to the house.  Then we'd hang out with her sisters and her mom and I'd tell her mama what a good job she is doing raising all these lovelies.  Then I'd probably get all sorts of embarrassed as I tried to help cook over a coal stove like she does every day and give up and invite her back to my place where we would order in Uber Eats Africa.  And if she was here, I would spoil her like nobody's business - in so many fun ways, but remembering that my ways are not hers, and that she is happy with her life the way it is.  I've had to learn that over time - that I can't change their way of life.  I can't fix the economy, and I can't assume that she misses things that she has never known.  I can only share her contentment and happiness at having what she needs while sprinkling her with a few surprises.   

Our talk was special to me, though much of what I said was lost in translation due to my not so subtle Texas twang.  Remember I told you that she speaks 2 exotic languages, and her third language, limited, yet very proper English?  Well she does.  And I speak Texan.   But we made it through just fine and had a sweet time of it.  I asked her if she likes to read her Bible and she says yes, a little, but mostly enjoys the part about when God created some things.  Yes ma'am that part is so good, but darling, it gets even better... 

So I asked her to learn Proverbs 31:25.  She is clothed in strength and dignity, she laughs without fear of the future.  Y'all, one thing I've learned about Loyce in our time together is that she is full to the top of kind and sweet and loving, but that she is meek of spirit in so many ways.  She looks to her best friend and her sisters for guidance and approval, and she waits to register her actions and responses based on what is expected.  I am praying for this young girl the gift of confidence, and I am working in each correspondence to teach her that she is fearfully and wonderfully made.  That she is completely clothed in the strength the dignity of the God that made her and loves her as his own. 

Then I asked her to write to me something that she would like for me to learn.  Seriously, no promises, but I can try for the sake of love and friendship.  I wish I could upload this video for you, but you can click HERE to see the follow up video I received a bit after our conversation.  This is Loyce reading and soaking into her already sweet heart, the promise of the verse we talked about yesterday. 

Before we ended our conversation, she got to meet Kid 3 and Rita the dog - 2 of my other favorite people.  And we ended with kisses blown from American all the way to Uganda and back.  Who knew blowing kisses was a world wide love language?  Turns out it is. 

And today this happened.  We went to the Arboretum after church and had all three of my sweet babies with me.  We were in the elevator to the parking garage with a tired mom of two little boys who thought they remembered which level the car was parked on.  They didn't, but I totally get it.  I'm forever trying to get into the wrong silver car in packed parking lots.  And the mom was apologetic and asking if Fireman Dave and I have kids..... so I gave her the Vanna White Wheel of Fortune hand sweep across my 3 handsomes standing quietly in the elevator with us - and she was, shall I say, shocked that the three grown "men" in the elevator were indeed our own version of littles. 

I've noticed that about moms of young kids - I remember doing it myself back when - that big kids seem SO BIG and SO GROWN UP, and SO FAR DOWN the ROAD.  Until day by day, they morph and change and become on the outside, as my friend Loyce would say, big people - but on the inside they remain very much your babies.  And yes, I still call each of mine, baby, and pumpkin head and anything and everything else that drips of love and affection.  I plan to keep it up till we're all too old to know each other anymore. 

A few random kids and I had to have some serious parent to son talks this last week.  And I'm talking the  no nonsense, hide your eyes from embarrassment if you want to, kinds of talks.  But the kinds of talks that I am committed to having with my boys to make sure I can deliver them safely to their Godly ordained life destinations.  Or something like that.  Really I just hope to deliver them safely to  adulthood with the ability to live both independently and responsibly, and I'll consider that a prize of this life. 

So we talked about sex and the consequences of.  About sex and the price thereof, and what all of those choices look like from the other side of the teenage years.  We talked about decisions regarding the crap content we fill up our minds with each day via music and TV and social media - and how all brain roads lead directly to the heart and have even bigger prices to pay on that end.  And in plain Kristi/Mom talk, if something you are listening to or viewing or reading or whatever the h-e-double hockey sticks you are doing - contains lyrics, words, or a  script that you can't read out loud in front of me, then it's probably something you shouldn't be dabbling in.  And yes, Kid 2... when that little voice is nagging you to text your mother and ask when she might be home from running Kid 3 to his friend's house so she won't have to listen the that foul language movie you chose on Netflix - then you can be assured that the little voice is pretty much your body's alarm system that something is totally messed up in this situation.  Danger, Will Robinson...... abort mission. 

then and now.....

But then things like this  roll around  - and I can look back at all that has happened and can still happen and call it good.  Much like God did with his own creation, but on a much smaller scale.  Here is a before and after picture at the Dallas Arboretum, almost 17 years ago with Kid 1 with me and Kid 2 on the way. 

Man, we were both babies back then,....  but as the old cigarette ads of my youth claimed, You've come a long way, baby.  Kids 1, 2 and 3, we all have.  Fireman Dave included, of course, but the sentence flowed much smoother written like this.... 

And finally, last weekend I actually had a really tough time of being me when the whole family had things to do and places to go  - except for me.  And then it rained and darn if the the lonely didn't show up -  and I just had a bit of a struggle like no other, and finally ended up starting a new Netflix show and letting the troubles of others replace those of my own.

Y'all know that about me, right?  I'm all good when everything's busy and loud and plans are swirling about... but leave me alone for too long and the dark side appears out of nowhere like that rare eclipse we had around here not too long ago.  But I muddled through, I hung out at the fire station and bothered the guys and ate their food, and basically moved one foot in front of the other till I got to a better Kristi place. 

I've had to learn that sometimes times like this happen, and that 9 times out of 10, these times pass on by to be replaced with something far more favorable and productive. 

All in all, I'm going to channel my inner God voice on it all and call it good. 

surprise births - and surprise family reunions in my driveway

I had the nicest conversation with a woman yesterday. We talked about people we know in common, places we had lived, and for how long.  We talked about volunteering for our kids' school events and activities and why it makes a difference in their educations.  And we talked about our houses, and how she feels like she's been to mine before.

We talked about how her mother had an antique, red pie safe and I told her that I have one, too, in my kitchen.  It was my grandmother's, and it's filled with old dishes and things from my mom, grandmother and sister.  Some things so old and been with me or them for so long I forget its story.

And we talked about our kids.  She asked me again and again how old mine are, and funny thing is that she has grand kids that are about that same age.  And when I told her the names of my kids, she said she has grand kids  with those same names. Small world. 

And I asked her if she knows me.  She said she did - that my name is Kristi and that she just saw me standing in the driveway as she was driving by and decided to stop and visit.   She told me that she has a daughter named Kristi.   But she didn't know it was me.

I knew this day would come sooner or later.  I just didn't know it would be at 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon,  pulling into my driveway, and watching a car pull in right behind us.  Sort of pinning us in - in a weird sort of driveway robbery sort of way - except that most hardened criminals don't drive little Kia wagons and carry little old lady passengers and home health care nurses along with them.

But there was that very funny scene in the movie, Raising Arizona, where Hi Mc Dunnough robs a convenience store when he runs out of diapers for the  kidnapped baby that he gave to his wife as a present  - and using that as my guide, I figure that really, almost anything can happen. 

But we had a lovely time visiting in my driveway, - talking non stop and catching up for what seemed like maybe an hour.  She knew my former piano teacher, almost all my elementary school teachers, and she recognized Fireman Dave immediately as the preacher's son - because he obviously still looks 12 years old in her mind, and was just invited over to be friends with my brother but chose me instead.  And trust that there's a life long story that goes with that one... but y'all, another day, please.

I haven't seen my mom in six years, except for one short visit to the hospital after she called and left a message on my phone saying that she had been kidnapped and was being held hostage and that all of everything was pretty much bad news - and thank heavens for caller ID because I could tell that she was at the hospital and not tied to a chair in a dark basement-like place that I've seen way too many times over the years with Fireman Dave and Kids 1-3 and their love of action adventure/spy movies.  Think mostly James Bond with a side of Mission Impossible.

I actually first heard from/about my mom about a month ago when this happened.  Here's Kid 1 and his Nana. 

The details don't matter all that much, I suppose, but I wrote about it here in case you missed it.   It would be impolite to tell everyone how old my mom is, and trust that if I live this forever long and someone dares to even think it okay to share that info via blog, conversation over afternoon tea, or even in the quietest of whispers a million miles away from my ancient old ears, I will hunt them down and put all my years of athletic training into practice to show them that I am still capable of shutting them down.  And I'll probably show up again later to toilet paper their yard under the cover of darkness.  But anyway, she's not young anymore in mind or body.

But it wasn't long ago that she was one of the youngest grandmothers I've ever known... the kind that liked to get out and drive on the icy roads after an ice storm.  The kind that would drive all the way to Wherever and Back because there was a sale on bras and because of course, they have a Baskin Robbins Ice Cream way out that way, too.   The kind that would take care of my three littles and take them to Mc Donalds', the donut store, and all those picnics in the park.  Yes, they remember.

But her mind was going years ago, and that's sort of what started the whole family feud.  I think Person A got confused over what was real or not, then told Person B about it and Person B happens to be insane.  And not in the dementia diagnosis usage of that word.  I'm talking about the kind of insane that made angry, threatening phone calls to my house again and again. The kind that accused and pointed in all the wrong directions, all while under the influence of something other than healthy foods and Jesus, and broke a relationship that was already hanging on by a thread.

And know for a fact that if I had the power to influence or change any of it even way back when, I would've done it.  But my health and safety and that of my kids had to come first.  And if it meant that me keeping my distance all this time never allowed me to defend myself against what would, I'm sure in the court of all that daytime TV I watched as a young person, be deemed as slander and slight and malice and just plain ugliness - it meant that I had time to heal.  And I had time and space to raise my kids in the values that I see as right and true for our family.

And over these last 6 years, I have walked through not only regret, but through panic and anxiety and a full on emotional tight rope, dealing with things from my childhood that had the nerve to creep up on me even as an adult.  And if I could've separated Person A from Person B and put them in separate rooms and held an intervention for each of them, cleansing their minds of the wrong ideas and their hearts of all the weirdness that came with being part of my family, I would've called in that priest from the Exorcist, and a whole host of super heroes to fight all the bad and restore law and order.  

My superhero of choice?  Thor.  Or maybe just that adorable actor that plays him even if he shows up without his tight leather suit and only those bulging biceps of steel.  I happen to have seen every Thor movie with Kid 2 because he's totally into all things superhero and we both agree that Thor represents them well with his strength, powers and wit.  And I just happen to think he has beautiful blue eyes plus some other things.  Anyway, now I'm all confused and feel like watching The Avengers.

And y'all, I thought our reunion would be under far different circumstances, and end up shedding some light on things like my misery, low self esteem, and life long inner conflict.  The things of my youth.    I thought it would be talk of why - why did you say this?  Why did you say that?  And do that and that and that.... that made me feel like the most unloved kid on the planet. 

But I was wrong.  My lady in the car.... my mother .... listened to me as I told her about how my mom baked the best things ever, how she always had muffins or cookies or something freshly baked for us after school.  And how my kids loved when their Nana baked the same things for them.  And we talked about how my mom worked hard and how I knew how nice the house was going to be when I came in from school and it smelled like Pine Sol.  I love a good Pine Sol clean to this very day.   And we talked about how I learned to volunteer at my kids' schools and be a leader in organizations like PTA and booster clubs because I watched my mom do it all the time.  And how proud I was to be the kid in the class whose mom was the one hosting the Christmas parties, the Valentine parties,....

And she laughed and said how she had more fun than the kids at those parties and carnivals when she used to volunteer at her kids' school ... and I told her that I know her kids are proud of her.  And how they know how much she did for them.  Now granted, intermingled into our conversation she would occasionally trash talk her own daughter Kristi.... and I would think to myself, Good Lord THAT Kristi sounds pretty awful and I bet she's out robbing banks or convincing old people to hand over their wallets right about now....

But maybe one of the most important things we talked about is how hard raising kids can be.  And I told her that at the end of the day, more often than I would like to admit, I have to humble myself to my boys and ask if I can start again.  And I told her that so far anyway, they've always said yes.  Just like when we go to God, day in and day out, admitting again that we didn't get it all quite right this time either... and may I please start again?  Y'all, he always says yes.

It was all a bit confusing.  Talking to her like I was catching up with a neighbor that I hadn't seen in a long time.  And talking to her, trying to tell her that I turned out pretty good, considering.  And trying to get hints of if she thinks so or not.  I may not ever really know, but I'll just put that on the list of almost everything else I don't know.  Right now I'm at about chapter 201 of Things I Don't Understand About Life.

But honestly, I felt no anger.  I teared up a few times trying to get a point or two across, but I think I did okay, given what I had to work with.  I remember being terrified of giving birth to Kid 1 and praying with all that I had for God to sneak up and surprise me when it was time.  I often suggested the grocery check out line as an option.  And y'all, as proof that God listens, I did indeed get surprised over 5 weeks early with that particular birth story.  And I think he knows me well enough by now to know that I am indeed strong, but that I don't really and fully accept that as my only choice, opting far too often for fear, worry and self doubt.  So he stages surprise births  - and surprise family reunions in my driveway.

And he gives opportunities to heal that I have prayed for a million times and then strength to get back up and share that healing with others.  I ended our conversation hugging my new, old friend, and telling her how nice it was to chat, and that her visit brought me joy.

How I feel today about it all is a little teary eyed.  A little torn and a little confused about all that we talked about.  I guess really just a whole mix of sad and relieved and mad about all the time that I've lost with her.   I'm predicting a fair amount of crying in my future, actually.  But it's a step forward.  

post script - no.  my mom was not driving a car.  My brother was driving and my mom didn't get out of the car.  She doesn't walk much more than a shuffle step.  But put that to music and it could be something wonderful... is what I'm thinking.  She has actually been placed on hospice, but knowing the women in my family, I'm not yet convinced that will stick.  God only knows, right?  Anyway, the brother part of the story still has some repairs to be made, but he offered his apologies for his portion, as is in anything - we all have a piece of the pie to share.  

But my prayer is for full healing - of disappointment, of hurt, of betrayals and inconsideration.  And if last Wednesday was any indication of the power of Godly surprises, I'm a bit on the excited side to see how far this goodness can travel.   
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