the higher the hair the closer to God?

So I threw the party of the season.  The party of the century.  The party of a lifetime this last weekend for my friend, Loyce, as she has  never known her birthday nor given it a thought about celebrating it.  Y'all, I asked about that, too.  I asked if I was disrupting the entire Ugandan cultural system by sending a full on birthday party complete with cute kids in a birthday parade.  The answer was no.  Apparently I did not rock their world in a negative way, but I think I definitely rocked it in a cake and balloons are crazy fun sort of way. 

It's party time!!!!  (this is a really fun link to the video that you may or may not be able to see, darn it all.  It links to the Facebook video of the birthday parade but not sure if I'm technologically savvy enough to actually make it work. But go ahead and imagine some cute African kids singing happy birthday, and carrying a giant cake down a red dirt road  while carrying balloons and dressed in their Sunday best.  I felt you smile all the way from here just thinking about it!)

Here's what I've learned about my Ugandan friends.  They are poor.  Not the kind of poor that I like to tell people that I am because I married a fireman.  When really I know I am one of the richest people in means and in spirit that walks this land, telling everyone that marrying a fireman limits my upward mobility is only sort of stretch of the American imagination, but really I just find it fun to say.  So there.  It's a fire wife joke.  Maybe you have to be one to get it.  

But anyway, my Ugandan friends are the kind of poor that if they have  the choice between putting food on the table and making or buying a birthday cake, food on the table wins, hands down every time.  If they have a choice between food on the table and school tuition and exorbitant fees and costs of uniforms that are required to attend - again, food on the table wins.  And y'all, really?  They just don't often have the choice.  So we have an entire population of people who can't read, write, or even spell their names.  Most don't celebrate birthdays because they just don't know when they were born.  They may know how old their kids are because they started counting at that time, but they may not know how old they are themselves.  

I happen to know when we think Loyce's birthday is because I had  my friend research it and found a list of birthdates in Loyce's family Bible.  It's still sort of a guess, though, because her mom lists her as born on March 23, 2005 and her sister born just 7 days earlier that same year.  Now THAT's either a totally different kind of twin we have there, or someone's confused.  And Lord bless the woman in labor for 7 days, right?  

And I love that Loyce and I almost share a birthday, and I told her a while back to expect great things coming her way.  In fact I told her that we would party together and make birthday ripples across the world with our celebrations.  I'm not at all sure that I made any of my own, but y'all, my girl sure did.

And a giant thanks to my friend, Vornita, who traveled the literal road less traveled on the back of a motorcycle with a cake in her lap to make it all happen.  If you ever had a question or doubt that women are changing this world, let me answer it for you right now.  Yes sir and yes ma'am.  Women are working together and joining forces and talents and planning all sorts of amazing-ness - then just hitting the big GO button and watching things happen.  Then of course we clean up the house and do some dishes and laundry, try to sleep a little, dream of what greatness can be accomplished the next day, and thank God for his generous dose of grace, mercy and she-muscles to carry onward and upward.  

I'm hoping that Loyce sees big things, fun things, and bright things beyond what she knew existed before.  I know I'm seeing all these things through my friendship with her. 

Now then.  For my own birthday we dropped Kid 1 off in College Station for a weekend to be a prospective Aggie, and then went on to Fredericksburg, Texas with the other kiddos and proceeded to enjoy some time off from work, school, baseball concessions and all the other things making us weary these days.  And my plan was to climb Enchanted Rock, my third climb, mostly for the experience, but probably just as much for the whole proof that I'm no less awesome than the day before my birthday.  I got to the top in 21 minutes, with one breather break because I thought I felt some panic coming my way and I totally have to get my act together before I lose it in that situation.  Panic alone is bad.  Panic on a mountain is a beast I don't want to ever face down.  But I was fine, and the view from the top of the rock, if you've never been before, is worth every panting step of the climb.  

And the time sitting up there, looking out at so much of God's beautiful creation is time well spent.  I find it a good reminder that I'm up close and personal to God all the time  - but just the like rule all Texas girls live and breathe by - the higher the hair, the closer to God - so goes that whole mountain top experience.  

It's also so much an eraser for everything else that's on my mind.  Looking down and seeing how small ALL the things are from up there has to be a good comparison to what God wants us to see each and every day.  That due date?  Not so big in God's eyes.  That prior commitment?  Not so grand in the big picture.  And that worry?  Y'all with a God's eye view from above, he's gotta see how it all works out.  

So I like to get up there and spend a while in prayer and ponderment.  Spell check just told me that's not a word, but life tells me that it is.  Ponderment of all the things that seem so crazy important, when nothing compares to the work that we are doing to invest in the ultimate outcome.  I've felt such a pull on my heart of late - the pull of doing more, but not of the mo' busy kind like my million trips to the TJ Maxx for cute workout outfits and summer dresses.  But of the worldly kind.  Of the Loyce kind.  Of the homeless student in DISD kind.  Of the spending time sitting around with Kid 2 catching up on This Is Us - quality time, where he talks and I am all ears.  

I've prayed for quite some time now for what's next.  Not sure I completely know yet, but I think I'm starting to better unravel the code.  I think selfishness is one of the biggest and darkest blinders we can wear, and y'all - my selfishness never seems to go out of style.  I can wear it with makeup or without.  I can wear it with heels or boots, pants, dresses, and 100% without limit.  I can even wear it proudly on my sleeve and call it success.  But can I just as easily wear a badge of courage that says I will stand up and serve the less fortunate?  Can I talk freely with others about the latest idea I have about starting a library in a small Ugandan village because reading has always been a huge part of my life?  Can I find my courage and commitment to ask for help and volunteers and donations to make some real things come from my ideas?  

I hope so.  

And today I am following up with you on some greatness that you already helped with.  And I am asking you to walk with me on an new journey.  That post I shared with you that published on The Dallas Moms Blog - the one asking you to show up for the good of the approximately 3,500 homeless students in  Dallas ISD?  Well -  trust that my readers showed up and showed off in the most spectacular of ways.  There are STILL boxes of Amazon deliveries being delivered from the shopping list I provided for the high school homeless drop in center, and that post has been shared on Facebook over 2000 times.  2000 times times how ever many friends you have equals a whole lot of WOW, y'all.  Just wow.  I have been in touch with the manager of homeless student services in Dallas ISD and plan to do a follow up to grow our efforts even larger.  

And now let me put this one out there.  My mind is skipping around with ideas on how to help a certain little village in Uganda.  Why this one?  Because I happen to have a friend there who is nothing short of amazing -  plus a little girl that I think the world of.  And the fact that there is so much need is blinding me to thoughts other than what I can do to help.  

My friend Vornita has opened a charter school in Bulonde Village, about 20 miles outside of Kampala.  She currently has 76 students enrolled, some have had their tuition paid by an American sponsor, most have not.  And stop whatever you're imagining right now about private schools..... when you think of a private school in Uganda, don't even start to compare it to the states.  Uganda has no public school system in place so any and every school must be started on its own.  There are regulations, but simply no funds to support them.  And these kids and their families have next to nothing.  There are three school terms per year, and for less than the cost of a family dinner at Chili's you can send a child to school for a term.  Yes, that's a big request for some kids you may never know or even see in person.  But you know who does?  God does.  And he has giant plans for each of them, starting first with learning to read so they can break the cycle of poverty.  

Questions?  More details?  You know where to find me.  I hope you will.  

Y'all, thanks for reading.  Thank you for everything.  For stopping by, for contacting me when you haven't heard from me in a while.  

One year older, another year wiser, right?  Mmmmm...   We'll see about that.    

post script...  Did you miss a post?  Did you know that sometimes I don't share them on Facebook and you can only see them by following me by email or Bloglovin?  Here's one you might have missed and I'm super sad about that.  

the most boring blog post I've ever written. Maybe.

Recapping spring break - one kid went to Florida with a friend, where he went deep sea fishing and got very, very sea sick.  I did not go to Florida, but instead stayed home for Spring Break, and still got very, very sea sick.  Spring Break is my annual nod toward illness, be it stomach or sinus or some sort of odd virus that people only bitten by a certain type of tiny insect could contract, and only then if they were in Wakanda on a Sunday.  Yes, I saw that movie with the boys.  

The rest of Spring Break was filled with stuff like scheduled eye doctor visits, school baseball games and practices.  And work.  There's that.  Someone also left the refrigerator open all night but no one claims any knowledge or responsibility so we think it was the same no one that left the back door not only unlocked one day the week before, but hanging wide open as an invitation to maniacs everywhere. 

We also did a little household organization and unorthodox moving around of space this week.  And what I always think will be a super fast and easy job turns out to be a bit more complex than originally planned.  Which is why people everywhere need to stop watching fixer upper shows because it's all lies.  Anyway, I've had plans for quite a while to spread out the boys' living quarters from one shared room to a better use of our roomy, yet oddly configured house, .... but was waiting for this to happen first, then that to happen next so that I could make my move.  But just like watching water boil, things never work when you wait on them and rooms seem to get smaller the bigger the kids get.

So for the past 15 years that we've been in our home, all the boys have slept in one bedroom.  We live in a 1950's ranch style with the traditional formal living/dining room up front as you come in the front door.  It's funny how this space has taken on so many different shapes over the years as we just lived in the house.  We've always called it the wood room.  That's what the boys called it when they were little.  It was an empty room with an unfinished wood floor and not a stick of furniture in there and we used it as a toddler gymnasium of sorts till they got too big to ride their tricycles around in circles in there.  Then it morphed into an actual sitting room with an ugly yellow hand me down sleeper sofa from another fireman that housed our nephew on several occasions as he returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan and other of life's adventures.  Then it became the holding spot for the cushy blue chair that I saved from the thrift store, and saw its share of fits and tantrums as we made young boys get off of cell phones to prevent brain and soul rot.

Now these 2 front rooms have become oddly placed bedrooms for Kids 2 and 3.  Sort of like how the Clampetts used their Beverly Hillbilly mansion to raise livestock and fish in the cement pond, the Walters are using the formal spaces of our home to grow up our boys into unique individuals and give them space to grow.  Really we're just using it this way because as much as I love love love our contractor friend and all her brilliant remodel ideas, I happen not to love the thought of car insurance on multiple teen drivers soon, college costs, and really, debt in general.  

So I'm thinking I will never get invited to be featured in Southern Living magazine, but I probably wasn't going to get that opportunity anyway, even before I moved a bed into the dining room.  So there.  I actually have a mental timeline for this maze we call home.  I'm thinking a year of Kid  2 sleeping in the living room and Kid 3 sleeping in the dining room, which he can totally handle since he was the baby that was housed in the laundry room as an infant when he was noisily learning to fall asleep on his own.  (Yes, his crib fit in there nicely.  No, he did not have to sleep on top of the dryer. Yes, I could still hear him from  my bedroom so he was fine.)  Then after about a year when Kid 1 moves onto college, we can re-think our sleeping patterns and re-convene for the next phase of This Old House.  We should've totally bought a three bedroom house to begin with.

Anyway, here are some wise and wonderful thoughts that I've considered lately.... each brought about by differing circumstances, some blog worthy, and  some that just have to be more private for the sake of my family. 

First I think that if you're reading this and you are at all like me and have tried to have a person or persons be your fix, your safety net, your port in the storm, let me say that yes, they can and will be sometimes.  But only for a time.  And that you have to be your own rock to lean on when it comes right down to it.  I'm trying - and yet failing it seems, to pass this idea on to a certain kid or two these days. (and note this isn't a rock comparison between Jesus and us normal people.... it's just a plain ol use of the word rock as something strong.  I happen to believe that our strength comes from the lord, but it is through our own weakness that his strength is made known.  Pretty sure that's in the Bible...)

Second, if you are a parent reading this, I think what I would tell you today is that I get plenty of things wrong.  And I started on that road of wrong from the time of my kids' birth.  But today I know that it mostly all has a way of mixing together - the wrong and the right - to make a kid something kinda special.  And as a mom, that's about all I could ever want.  

And about stress levels - as I sit here and read my public library copy of Southern Living, and I ponder the search for the perfect daffodil -  ....... wHaT  on earth?  Yes, that's a real article in there....  here's a spoiler:  Ain't nothing perfect going on anywhere.  Give up on that and take a breath.  

We've taken on so many projects of late that we can't even keep track, much less, keep up.  An out building project still unfinished in the backyard, a sailboat in the driveway with its own boat club membership, but an unfinished boat slip.  And taking on the high school baseball booster club has turned Fireman Dave into an efficient grilling, concessions selling machine - but at the same time has added to his already heavy work load of fire department shifts, extra medic jobs, and the occasional contractor work with a friend.  So we pretty much play catch up or keep up around here at all times, and that brings on some things that, though living among us, showed up totally uninvited.  And for this I have no wisdom to offer other than to just stop every now and binge watch something mindlessly entertaining on Netflix.  Or write a boring blog post and tell the world about all your day to days that no one really cares about.  

But it's the slowing down and the thinking it out that brings me back to a better perspective.  I'm actually typing this at 4:15 in the morning because my body wanted to slow down, but obviously my mind didn't.  This is where the old, carb loaded Kristi would go for the cinnamon poptarts to soothe me back to sleep.  But the new me - the one that would still kill for a contraband box of those things - is holding strong and trying to channel my energies elsewhere.  

This week we take Kid 1 on a weekend college visit to Aggieland.  And from there, as he expands his knowledge of all things college related, the rest of us will travel on to one of my fave places to spend some down time and ring in another year of being Kristi.  I also get to celebrate from afar the special birthday of my girl, Loyce, in Uganda.  And y'all, I'm so excited to see how this turns out for her.  Very possibly her first ever birthday celebration and let me assure you that I have arranged some chocolate goodness to surprise her all the way from here.  She and I have birthdays one day apart, so we're practically twins, and I promised her that we would party in style this year. I'll share pictures as soon as I get them.  

That's about it for my early morning blogging.  Blessings to you as I know you are treading your own turbulent waters and trying to stay afloat.  I'm with you, I hear you and I see you for all that you are accomplishing and contributing.  And y'all, as hard as it is sometimes, it's worth it to take a look and breathe it all in from this point today.  Because I know it'll be great to look back on from tomorrow.  
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