okay, fine. i’m thankful.

At the risk of sounding overly trite two days before The Year’s Official Day of Giving Thanks, I’ll instead keep today’s post of gratefulness short and sweet.  Because you know what?  I’m just plain thankful.  (There, I said it.  Sometimes it just comes out.  It happens).

*For a little sicky bubs, who’s just that much more more snuggly.

In case you're wondering, this is not the daily norm.  Like, ever.
In case you’re wondering, this is not the daily norm. Like, ever.

*For jam sessions with pianos and guitars and mandolins, and voices that blend just as they should.

*For meeting neighbors and playing on playgrounds, for quick hellos and those that last just a few minutes longer.

*For my grandmother’s piano, and the sign found inside the bench that makes me laugh each time I see it:

Follow me on Instagram!  caramac54.
Oh, Grandma Mac.

*For the HBH who pulls me up to dance to “Karma Chameleon.”  It happens, people, it happens, so come a come a come a come a come a chameleon...

*For the five pounds I’m about to gain come this coming week’s food: “…I only know how to cook normal southern Turkey Day food (read unhealthy and lots ‘o butter)…” says my lovely sister-in-law.  Watch out, Paula Deen!

*For blackberry margaritas and watermelon pico de gallo, and other such Pioneer Woman recipes that make mouths happy!

*For this new daily view, while on walks.  Might I never grow tired of shouting THANK YOU for this little slice of perfection.

Pacifica, CA.  Our new home.
Pacifica, CA. Our new home.

*For mamas to lectio with and the gift of sensory stillness.

So, it’s your turn: what are you thankful for today?  xo.  c.   

where in I embrace the Crazies.

Photo cred: IBT.
Photo cred: IBT.

We leave for Alabama (‘bama! ‘bama! fist pump, fist pump!) on Wednesday, joining the millions of other Crazies who’ve decided to make the trek across miles in that time period affectionately known as The Holidays.

Now my own insanity – which bears no relation to the work out regime of the same name, currently collecting dust in the media cabinet, having been used a total of 2.5 times before my wedding three and half years ago in an attempt to look Super Duper Hot in a large amount of white fabric – like a fine vintage merlot, has only increased with time.  Maybe it’s because the daunting, question-filled, idealized twenties are behind me, and now in my mid-thirties, I’ve finally begun to embrace The Real Me.

So I whisper the words “high-waisted denim” to the saleslady at Nordstrom, and hope that she doesn’t confuse my statement with the pegged, acid-washed Mom Jeans of the women of my youth (although those could totally be in now and I’d have no clue).  Because I just want to hide my Baby Buddha gut – is it really so sinful of a Club Mama desire?

I find myself not saying I’m sorry as much anymore, at least not in an apologetic White Woman sort of way – mostly because I accept me for me, and not for who I think You want Me to be.  I let bygones be bygones, and I choose not to read into what isn’t there, because I believe in the narrative story of each of our lives, and in the Divine Storyteller who apparently doesn’t need my meddling as much as I think he does.

Really, I stop living in fear, and when the little old lady introducing Anne Lamott on Thursday night asks if there’s anyone in the audience who needs to be introduced to Annie, my hand shoots in the air.  I stand up – because I’m already in the front row, you see – and she walks down the steps of the sanctuary and we shake hands.  Just like that.  Because what have I to fear?  Of course I want to be introduced to my Mentor; she is, after all, writing the forward for my book someday (even if she doesn’t quite know it yet).

Which brings us back to Point A: we’re flying across country on the busiest travel day of the year, and then back again five days later.  Hand me a strait-jacket now.

But I’m embracing the Crazies in all their glory.  I’ll overstuff the diaper bag with Cancan-friendly food, and – don’t tell our pediatrician – we’ll probably bust out the iPhone for Baby to stare at, just to tide him over.  I’ll plaster a smile on my face and I’ll search the haggard crowd for that One Joy-Filled Face, locking knowing eyes, gleaning their bliss.  I’ll laugh when I realize I’ve been staring at the same paragraph for the past five minutes, realizing that even though I’d really, really like to read The Book Thief on today’s flight, I’m really, really not going to get to read The Book Thief on today’s flight.  And that too is okay.

Instead, I’ll smile at the HBH who’s playing Giddy-up on his knee with a bouncing, giggling, ferociously delighted Little Man, jarring the passenger in front of him for the 12th time in the last minute.  And when we finally arrive in Huntsville, recounting the stories that make up traveling with a 16-month old, we’ll sit back and we’ll soak up our dear ones.

We’ll cook collard greens together and eat deep-fried Paula Deen turkey together, we’ll go on walks together and watch football together and we’ll laugh, laugh, laugh at the woeful tales we all just had – because it’s just life, and really, it’s just another day, and well, we’re just crazy is all it is.

But really, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What about you?  Are you getting your crazies on this week, traveling to see dear ones?  And, more importantly, do you rock the Mom Jeans?

meeting a mentor I’d never actually met before.

Last night, a life-long dream came true: I met Anne Lamott.

Total besties.
Total besties.

I mean, it was like sunshine and puppies, glitter and sparkles and all that is merry and bright because in a totally normal, I-swear-I-don’t-pedastool-her that much, she’s My Girl.  She’s that mentor I’d never actually met, the one who taught me to accept that I am Loved and Chosen, Loved and Chosen, and love this Loving and Choosing Jesus in return, in a way only I know how.  She’s the one who’s reminded me to notice the little things, enveloping every detail of the senses.  She’s the teacher who gave me freedom to be me, and she’s the instructor who encouraged me to write, telling me that it’s good to be funny, if you’re funny, that is.

Because she finds Grace-Grace-Grace in the messiness, and beauty in the interweaving threads of The Divine One in her 60 years of a story.  And she somehow, someway then reaches a wide audience of messy, imperfect, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed humans who just want reminders that they belong, that Ordinary is Normal and Good and Exquisite all at the same time, that laughter is soul-food.  So her creative mind looks around, and she extracts yet another metaphor out of the stuff around her, and we, her readers, cheer “Brilliant!  Brilliant!” and parched, we salivate for more.

But really, Anne’s just being herself.  She’s just putting pen to paper, and doing what she knows best, which (I think) is found in writing.

So I’ll continue to do what she’s taught me to do: I’ll carry a notebook with me and record-record-record, but then I’ll throw that to the side and be present in every conversation, and in nature, and in the mundane, ordinariness of life.

And I’ll stop saying, “I want to be just like Annie Lamott someday!” affectionally calling her Annie, and dreaming of the Writer-Life.  Because since this Writer-Life is actually a reality, I need stop saying I’m going to write a book, and actually put my words to paper, beyond the 600-1000 word maximum I’ve lazily fallen trap to with blogs and guest posts and articles.

Because that, I think, is exactly what my mentor would want me to do.

What about you?  Who’s a mentor of yours you’ve never actually met?  (I have no snarky third question today – I just really, really like Anne Lamott).

celebrity dopplegangers (Vlog).

Well, friends, it’s happened again: Micha and Cara have joined forces to bring you an incredibly important, super duper serious video log.  So, what do Reese Witherspoon, DJ Tanner, Jessi Spanno and Elizabeth Shue from Adventures in Babysitting have in common?  Just about as much as Alyssa Milano, Sarah McLaughlin and Maya Rudolph.  So, pull up a chair, fix your eyes accordingly on the screen for the next five minutes and get ready to laugh – because we think you just might.

xo.

What about you?  Who’s your celebrity doppleganger, or who would you LIKE to be your celebrity doppleganger?  And, more importantly, do you think Maya Rudolph wants to be movie star besties with me?  Cross the fingers, cross the fingers…

that liminal-hallway of a place.

Our friends Russ and Linda came over for dinner a couple weeks’ ago – he’s a spiritual director, she’s a therapist.  Need I point out that they are certifiably the most positively lethal pair ever to grace this good earth?

Indeed, we’ve known each other for a few years now, and the HBH and I then had the honor of having them as a mentor couple in the months before we married.  And of course, when and if you choose to step into a mentoring situation, and – of course – when and if you choose to step into a mentoring situation with the aforementioned Russ and Linda combination, the stars will forever be in alignment for you, of that I’m sure.

So here we were a couple Saturdays ago, simultaneously sipping our sparkling water and pinot noir, shoving fistfuls of chicken potpie and persimmon salad into our mouths, when, collectively, they asked how the transition in leaving my job has been for me.

Where to even begin…

Because it’s been good-hard.  Making the decision to care for our baby and pursue my dream of writing and speaking is nothing short of a heart-palpitating miracle – but the loneliness can be overwhelming, and my desire to just be known and understood (and have book deals and speaking engagements, like yesterday), in this new vocational adventure creeps in all too easily, and I continue to realize, day in, day out, how easily I fall into believing that my identity is my job, or lack thereof.

“It sounds like you’re in a liminal place,” Russ said.

Images of unknown subliminal messages by major marketing corporations (Coca Cola is better than Pepsi, Coca Cola is God’s gift to soft drinks, Drink Coca Cola NOW…) covertly swept across my mind, and I wondered how and why Russ the Spiritual Director used this particular word to make his point.

But, of course, that wasn’t it at all.  Liminal is that in-between space.  Liminal is when we find ourselves in transition, in that messy, hard time of processing where we’ve come from and where we’re going.  And I’ve been in a liminal place for good chunk of the past year.

Then Linda chimed in with this quote that hangs on her wall:

Photo cred: Dead Homer Society.  I added the quote.
Photo cred: Dead Homer Society. Added quote, mine.

When she said it, she paused for what seemed like minutes after the first half of the phrase – and my cynical self began its internal screaming, hands over my ears, at what sounded like another attempt of a Jesus-accolade.  But then she added the hallway bit.  And yes – it can be hell in the liminal-hallway.  I get it.  I understand.  

So while I can’t necessarily give you Russ and Linda, I can give you their perfect, sage words.  Because are you in the hallway right now?  Have you ever felt stuck in that in-between place?

I get it and I understand – and friendlies, we’re in this together.

xo, c.

What about you?  Have you ever found yourself in a liminal, hallway of a space?  And, more importantly, how jealous are you that I can call this lethal pair FRIEND?  

my new dmv bestie.

Somehow, somewhere, in the midst of downsizing to one car and buying a new-to-us vehicle that we both wouldn’t mind being seen in, and in trying to organize an exhaustive amount of boxes filled with paperwork (because the HBH excels at printing and saving, printing and saving), and in having a baby-turned-toddler, and in thieves rummaging through said newly-organized files, and in packing and unpacking and moving to the ‘burbs, although our registration was up-to-date, we never did get the 2013 tabs on our car.

Whoops.  

So we’ve been rocking the 2012 tabs for awhile now – and, well, if you do the math, that’s a little two thousand and late.  

But then a ticketed tornado of sorts arrived: in the course of three weeks’ time, the city of San Francisco graced me with an expired tabs ticket, another stealth motorcycle cop pulled me over for – you guessed it – expired tabs, and almost five hours over the course of two different days were spent at local DMV offices because I couldn’t get my act together to make an appointment before the grace period of the ticket wore off.

We’d paid our registration and updated our address online, but then the VIN number wouldn’t go through – are those zeroes or O’s?  What an evil number versus letter trick! – so registration complete, the address didn’t go through.  Subsequently, the new tabs still have yet to arrive, and the post office apparently won’t forward All-Important Department of Motor Vehicles mail as requested.  And no cop, no DMV person, No Nothin’ could then sign off on my correctable ticket without the pretty new rectangular stickers.

What can I say?  You win some, you lose some (among other first-world problems).

But today, after standing in line for an hour a half, after entertaining the Little Man with Cheerios, cantaloupe and grapes, a blanket, a book, an empty Starbucks cup (first eggnog latte of the season, thankyouverymuch), a walk up to the window to knock at strangers, a walk back to the stroller to push, another walk up to the window to knock to now-stranger-friends, another walk back to the stroller to push, a giddy-up, a conversation with the nice man in front of us and an awkward conversation with the couple behind us, and a trip to the questionable women’s restroom later, salvation arrived in the form of the Lady at the Front Desk.  

Hallelujah.  

She said “Hmphhh” at the ticket, and called the officer who pulled me over Silly.  She shook her head at the antics of the other DMV office who shall remain nameless (although, hint hint, it starts with a “Daly” and ends with a “City”), calling them “liar” and “crazy” and making me promise that I’ll never, ever, ever visit another DMV besides the San Mateo location again.

Done.  

Photo cred: Shop Hullabaloo.
Photo cred: Shop Hullabaloo.

“You’re my DMV bestie!” I shouted merrily, looking around to those around me for confirmation, as Cancan wrangled and wriggled and writhed on top of her desk, throwing the empty Starbucks cup on top of her keyboard.  Meanwhile, with an actual smile on her face, she signed off on the ticket, doing what no DMV worker or police officer before her had been able to do for me.

Absolute bestie, for ever and ever, Amen.  

I’m totally buying her a necklace next week.

What about you?  What woeful tale of tickets, police officers and DMV offices do you have for us today?  And more importantly, is it too soon to buy my bestie a necklace?  Just wondering.  

that arky, arky (& the 300th post!)

Today I’m writing for the DPC Prayer Connections blog, which also happens to be the 300th post here on be, mama. be.  Yippee!  

Steve Carrell, Evan Almighty.
Steve Carrell, Evan Almighty.

Here’s the truth: when I think of Noah, despite his – mostly – good standing in the early chapters of Genesis, and his exemplary faith story in Hebrews 11, the children’s song, “Rise and Shine” (or “The Arky, Arky Song”) instead is the first thing to pop into my head.  Soon I’m a freckled eight year old again, singing about when the Lord said to Noah, “There’s gonna be a floody floody,” and he’s directed to build an arky, arky out of gopher barky, barky.  The story of Noah’s faith journey in boat-building is told, and at the end of the story, we children lyrically find “…everything is hunky dory, dory.”

It’s in and through the simplicity of this song that I’m also brought to a greater truth of Noah’s own faith in God. How difficult the journey in trusting, truly trusting, must have been for this ordinary man, his beliefs stretched taut as the years went on.

But what brings tears to my eyes is the chorus that wraps itself around each verse’s story, as we, the Children of the Lord, are told three times over to “…rise and shine and give God the glory, glory.”

Click here to read the rest of the post…

xo.

What about you?  How is Noah’s faith, regardless of your own religious perspective, an example to you?  And more importantly, how excited are you that I’ve now put “The Arky Arky Song” in your head?  You’re welcome.

the tree & its house (FMF).

Today, just for kicks, I’m linking up with a group of online folks who participate in what’s called Five Minute Friday – you write for five minutes only, saying no to the backspace key and editing altogether, and you see what comes out on the other end of your timer.  I kind of like it.  Join in, will you?

The word?  TREE.  

Photo cred: Kevin Kidney.
Photo cred: Kevin Kidney.

We had a large, overgrown maple tree – or perhaps it was an oak – in our backyard growing up.  When I was in the third grade, Dad, a civil engineer, deemed it his mission to build The World’s Best Tree House, without (of course), a nail in the tree.

Who does that?

Mi papa.

We three kids watched him as he began his mission, after the Oregon rains stopped.  He started with the main level, a triangular wedge of a platform with sides and rails, all constructed from dumped materials found at the nearby construction site.  Soon enough, level one was done, but there was a problem: how were we actually supposed to get in the treehouse?  So he constructed an alcove, an entryway of sorts, to welcome us into the main level after climbing up the ladder.

We called it our one and a half story treehouse, and it was awesome.  I mean, we were Swiss Family MacDonald, Keizer, Oregon-style.

Eventually, a bigger, third (or second and a half?) story was built a couple years later, and with it, sleepovers and hideouts and hang out sessions were had.

Our treehouse, built in that old, once-forgotten maple now breathed new life, for three squirrel-y children and eventual teenagers, found it home.

To this date, that old tree (which eventually died a sad, chopped-down death), remains one of my favorite childhood memories.

Five Minute Friday

What about you?  When you think of the one word, “TREE,” what comes to your mind?  And, more importantly, how much on a scale of 1-10 did you love Swiss Family Robinson at Disneyland?

cara’s highly coveted text awards (ahem).

I used to loathe texting – I suppose because of the impersonal nature of the beast.

When I worked with teenagers, I found I was unable to get them to pick up actually answer their cell phone, but fully able to communicate for hours over the thumb-driven medium.  [Sad, but true.]  Then I left ministry and found myself relieved not to have to answer the phone when it rang, for I held no directorial obligations any longer; so, no joke, I kept the ringer on silent for eight months until I felt okay to hear the phone ring again and found that I missed missing every call.

Well, fast-forward to the present day and age: I’ve returned to the Land of the Living, and find that I’d like to have a phone call reminiscent of my middle school days when I sat in the back bedroom with my black and white Radio Shack steal-of-a-deal extra-long cord wrapped around my fingers, with Saved by the Bell blasting in the background as to keep Brother and Sister from hearing my super-secret “Did you hear?” conversation.

But alas, Little Man makes it near impossible:

“Aw shi, aw shi, aw shi!”

“Mamamamamamamamamamamamamamama!!!  Dada?  Dada?  Baby!”

Bang bang bang bang, clank clank clank clank, “Cancan, uh uh, no no – no gravel for Cancan [two-minute pause in which I forget there’s someone on the other end of the phone while I extract pea-gravel from my toddler’s mouth]what were you saying, Friend?”

So, unless I’m driving or on a walk, talking on the phone is near-impossible, and I’m back in love with texting again.  And Friendlies, I’ve had some AMAZING texts as of late – so let me share some of these nuggets with you:

1.  BEST COMPLIMENT VIA AN 8-YEAR OLD TO HIS MAMA THROUGH TEXT: Christopher (and Heidi).  I mean, not only is my taco soup AWESOME and the best soup ever, but I am called a fine soup.  Is there a higher compliment?  Yes, I will make you soup weekly, you precious little Ghanian!  This set of texts was also followed up by a phone call, in which his love for my soup was again broadcast and I was called a good friend.  SOLD.  heidi

2.  BEST USE OF EMOTICONS IN PROCLAIMING WHO YOU ARE: Kara.  New mama Kara’s daughter, Isla, currently lives in a wooden wonderland of a nursery – but that’s not enough to actually get my friend to sleep in a tent, under the stars, sans a hot shower.  I will work on glamping, though.  kara3.  BEST WISDOM IN A LITTLE NUGGET OF A TEXT: Lily.  My friend is soon moving from San Francisco, her home of six years, to Seattle – and while it’s going to be a great fit and opportunity for her, moving is still hard.  Leaving the familiar to head to the unknown is a form of grief, but I love that Lily is embracing and aware of the moments of sorrow and moments of joy.  Truth!  

lily4.  MOST CHEWABLE TEXT OF A THOUGHT: Erin.  Again, pertaining to moving: but have you ever thought of it as “lightly soul-crushing”?  I’m still thinking about that, even today.  What do you think it means?  How have you found it true?

photo copy 45.  MOST OUT-OF-CONTROL, HILARIOUS SET OF TEXT: Neighbor Mark, of course.  I’m pretty sure he’ll win this award, uh, always.  The context is on what “Uncle Mark” will be teaching Cancan as he gets older – and this he then clarifies…  (Yes, I deleted the last one for highly inappropriate and potentially offensive reasons – although it was pretty funny).

photo copy 26.  BEST CALM-FACE IN THE MIDST OF THE MOST FANTASTIC NEWS EVER: Cousin-Kait …who just got engaged after dating her boyfriend, Ken, for the past nine years.  I speak in exclamation points, she in steady underground giddiness.

photoHonorable mentions: The HBH (be still my heart), Sister (always), Jeannie-friend (cryptic hilariousness), Bianca (oh, soul sister), Cousin-Han (we speak in funny), and Micha & Wendy (for collectively “getting” my scar-tastic love language).

For these highly coveted awards, you’ll be receiving …all my love.  And the opportunity to have your text showcased again.  Watch out, now.

What about you?  What text has put a smile on your face and made you giddy all the way down to your toes?  And more importantly, do you speak in emoticons?  

lavender fields & then some.

Certainly, one of the greatest gifts of writing and blogging online is the friendships made, many of which seem to have burgeoned this fall alone.  One of those gifts-of-a-friend is Katie from Cardigan Way – I’ve yet to meet her, although when (not if!) I do, I’m pretty sure I’ll be hoarse from a weekend of laughter and tears, stories and questions.  DO get to know her today, and in the meantime, here’s the post I wrote for her…

Photo cred: Cardigan Way.
Photo cred: Cardigan Way.

It all started with lavender dish soap.  While certainly not the most luxurious product on the market, its sole purpose is simply to clean my sink full of dirty dishes.  But as I stood in our kitchen, hands deep in foam, scent wafting upwards, I knew everything was going to be all right.

The smell did just what its marketing team hoped it would do: soon I was brought back to 2004, riding a dilapidated rental bicycle through the scent-filled lavender fields of Provence.  Flamingos danced in the sanctuary to my left and to my right, drooping, overgrown sea reeds swayed.  The scene was nothing short of idyllic, and at 26 and 28, my friend Laura and I knew we were the luckiest of girls.  On the trip of a lifetime, nothing could take away the joy and the perfection and the freedom of that moment.

In the mental snapshot of that scene, of the perfection of peace that exists in that memory, my heart is calmed.  I breathe deeply and I exhale slowly.  I let the soothing scent do its job.

I recognize that everything’s going to be all right – we’ll be just fine, whether or not I find my surrounded by actual fields of lavender.

Click here to read the rest of the post…

xo, c.