Wading in Puke

The weekend before this one just past my husband and I took turns with the flu. Kindly, he went first. Not so kindly, he made a couple unsuccessful trips to the bathroom, leaving behind a very unpleast mess to clean up. He managed to spew on every wall and fixture.

Fast forward to this past weekend. Saturday night our thirteen year old grandson went to bed early, complaining of a queasy stomach. He made one trip to the bathroom, seemingly emptying his belly completely, he flushed away, and put the lid on the toilet down (as is the rule at his house). The problem came when on his second trip he could not get the lid up quickly enough or even have time to turn and aim for the sink or tub.

May I just say, I have never seen such a mess, in either quantity or dispersement. And I have no words for the smell.

Then, I was awakened Sunday morning by one of dogs wretching off the foot of our bed. He made a rather thorough mess of things, too.

All I could think was, “Really, God. I need this, why?”

This morning, after dropping my grandson off at school, I headed to my favorite coffee spot and writing place. I no sooner had my coat off when my phone rang. Sigh. The grandson. What did he forget this time?

When I answered the phone, I knew I was on speaker—I could hear the laughter and noise in the background. Through laughter my grandson finally asked “Mema, legit, did I puke all over the bathroom this weekend?”

“Yeah, buddy, it was the worst puke I’ve ever cleaned up.”

“Thanks. See…” And the line went dead as hysterical laughter broke out.

Only a group of 13 yr old boys could enjoy a story like that and be congratulatory. He was so proud of himself. And for one moment I forgot how awful a mess it had been to clean up.

I will confess, I was laughing, too. I quickly texted his mother and let her know what a hoot her son was. She responded right back a message filled with laughing emojis. He had been bragging to his gamer friends about the event as well.

The whole thing reminded me of a conversation I had with Eddie Jones (writer and CEO of Lighthouse of the Carolinas at a writers conference. I was telling him how much I appreciated his books for middle grade boys. He waxed a bit philosophical, and then said making sure each story included farts, puke, and practical jokes was his ticket to success. “You have to know your audience.”

So, dear audience, what can we take from this gross, yet for some hysterical set of circumstances. I can think of three things.

First, puke happens. It’s not pleasant in the moment, but we always tend to feel better when it’s over. Sometimes we need to let the roiling fear, anger, or grief out to feel better and be able to move on.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. The laughing group of thirteen year old boys reminded: you can even laugh about the grossest stuff of life. There will always be enough sadness to go around, but learning to find the humor is a solid way to pull yourself out of the downward spiral sadness tries to suck us into.

And remember to thank (profusely) the person who has to clean up your mess. Over and over my grandson apologized to me. And over and over I tried to assure him that I knew he didn’t plan on the mess. I believe his contrite and sincere apology was what enabled me to laugh after his verification phone call. His previous appreciation for what I endured in the extensive clean project enabled me laugh along with him and his buddies instead of thinking that he was making fun or laughing at me.

Who knew you could learn so much the negative consequences of the stomach flu?

But really, I think I learned enough to satisfy me for a very…very long time.

Wednesday’s Word: Laughter!

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“They” say laughter is good medicine. If that’s true, then being around me must good for other people’s health. Because I make people laugh. Sometimes they laugh with me—other times at me. But it’s laughter all the same.

I remember a conversation I had with one of our foster boys. He got in a fight with another boy. A careless comment ended up coming to blows. As I pulled the details out of him, I uncovered some humor he had missed. We take ourselves to seriously. I pointed out the ridiculous statement that had been made and we both had a good laugh.

On a different occasion I was the one who needed to laugh. I recognized the comedy in the moment, but wouldn’t allow myself to laugh. Instead I adopted a controlling, dominant parent. It was awful—for both my daughter and myself. Laughter would have been much better than humble pie that day.

Perhaps it’s easier for me to find humor because it’s easier for me to see good, and find joy.

I hope you’re able to uncover plenty of reasons to laugh today.

Hopefully Devoted: You must be…

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14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body (1 Corinthians 12:14-20, NLT).

I had a very unusual interview this week. I will confess I was taken aback initially—it wasn’t what I expected—but I love the way it turned out!

As is my typical fashion, I showed up early. I always allow extra time for getting lost or behind a slow moving vehicle. Thankfully neither of those things were going to be an issue since the interview was just a couple blocks from my church office.

Well, I sort of got lost since I went to the wrong office suite first, and then couldn’t find the other in the maze of office suites.

When I finally made my way to the correct location, I was warmly welcomed by the coordinator of the interview. Ah, I felt my anxiety drop a couple notches.

Then it happened. One of the people in the group area looked at me and said, “You must be Tina.”

I stopped dead in my tracks and said (in an exaggerated and goofy manner), “Oh darn. I thought I was going to get to be someone else today.”

Fortunately she laughed and others joined in.

Sometimes I forget how to be serious.

But that is who I am. If you’re going to tell me I must be me, then I will. And Tina finds the humor in almost every situation.

I use humor to diffuse. I use humor to deflect. I use humor to get close. I use humor to disarm. I use humor to adjust perspective.

Please understand, I know how to weep—because there’s a time for that. I know how to lament—because crying out to God is necessary and healthy. I know how to be quiet, and serious, and respectfully silent. I can do those things…and do.

But God wired me to find the levity. God made me light-hearted. God made me. So I must be.

I guess in the body of Christ, I’m the funny bone. Not that I’m always funny or telling jokes. In fact I’m horrible at telling jokes—I always mess up the punchline.

Have you heard the old saying, “Rings on her fingers, bells on her toes, she shall have music wherever she goes”? I won’t always have music, but I will have laughter.

In the scripture quoted above, Paul is trying to help the Corinthian church understand the body of Christ, what we might identify as the church. They were caught up in valuing certain gifts and talents above others. Paul wanted them to see how all the gifts/talents are necessary, and in fact placed right where God wants them to be.

So if you must be you—where are you in the body? How does God want to use you?

I like the way Dr. Suess put it:

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Oh, and the interview went very well. I think I’m really going to enjoy working with this group of folks!

Feel Like Dancing?

This morning I was going through the many blogs I read and I pulled up one from the Steve Laube Agency. It contained two videos. I was so sucked in I watched three more and then went back and watched the first one again. Here, you watch:

So what did you think? I wish we could dialogue together about this.
-First, I love the freedom. I have led such a boxed up and carefully contained boxed life. Free would never be a word that describes me. Controlled, absolutely. I never knew how to play, really let loose. I have never felt creative or imaginative. And no one will ever confuse me with someone adventurous. Here’s the poem that best describes me:
My Inside-Self and my Outside-Self
Are different as can be.
My Outside-Self wears gingham smocks,
And very round is she,
With freckles sprinkled on her nose,
And smoothly parted hair,
And clumsy feet that cannot dance
In heavy shoes and square.

But, oh, my little Inside-Self —
In gown of misty rose
She dances lighter than a leaf
On blithe and twinkling toes;
Her hair is blowing gold, and if
You chanced her face to see,
You would not think she could belong
To staid and sober me!
“My Inside-Self” by Rachel Field

Yep, that about sums me up…and perhaps why when I see people dancing freely, I weep. Enamored with the beauty, the freedom.

2. I listened to the video of how this guy, Matt, made these videos. Can you believe this was his job? How incredibly cool. In case you didn’t watch more than just the one I posted, he reports in his “how I made the video” video that if you google him, Matt, he’s the top four results. Can you imagine?! He went into his world, all around the world, and invited people to dance. And they danced.

This got me thinking, and the more I thought the more I wept. No one is going to pay me to go around the world. I’ve been given my little corner. I firmly believe that God put me in this spot, at this time, on purpose. Am I dancing? Am I living an intentionally infectuous and all out life for Jesus that draws people in? Maybe a little, but that seal in the video danced better than me. (It’s okay, go back and look for it, I nearly missed it too. It’s at the 4:08 spot.) I don’t want to just be a good neighbor, a responsible community member. I want to shine and dance for Jesus. My prayer is that. Just that. Free me up Jesus. Take this love I feel for you on the inside and help me let it out, in ways that bring joy and a hunger and thirst in others to join the dance.

How ’bout you? Feel like dancing?