It is Sunday afternoon. I’m grouchy and I’m groggy. I didn’t sleep a wink last night. My son is home from college and he obviously was not sleeping very well either. All night long, I can hear the creaking 1923 doors in our home open and shut. Back and forth. For hours…
He has no clue how loud he is – Until I fuss at him and then he opens and shuts the door for the last time.
As a result, neither one of us sleeps at all. I watched the hours flip past and thoughts of frustration roll across my mind…. I have to teach Sunday school in the morning…..So much to do….. At 2:03 a.m., I get up to let the dog out. “Certainly, I tell myself”, when I come back, “I will be able to sleep.” 3:014 a.m., 4:41 a.m., rolls past me. “It’s ok.” I say trying to calm myself. “You can sleep in. You’ve let the dog out, he can last until mid-morning. I’ll skip my morning quiet time.” I tell myself. “You have it every day, one day without won’t be a big deal.” I toss and turn. I try reading my Kendall. “If I get up at 8:30, there will be just enough time to get ready for Sunday school.” I close my eyes.
And then it happens. It happens all the time. I think of things a certain person did to me just this past year and painful thoughts dance across my mind. “How could he say those things?” I want to know. “How could one person be responsible for so much grief?” And the most important question: “When, Lord, when will it stop hurting!?”
It is 7:03. “Snooze until 8:30.” I whisper.
By 7:23, I am out of bed and making my morning coffee. I plop down into my salmon colored chair and my eyes gaze around the room. It is now 7:46. “Ugg, what have I been doing for 30 minutes???” I fuss at myself. “I wasted 30 precious minutes of my quiet time by rolling around in the bed and making my coffee. I shoulda had my bedroom slippers closer to my bed, my blanket needs to be in the same place every morning.” I tell myself. “This is my precious time, don’t waste it!”
And then the thought occurs to me…when exactly did this small time frame of my morning, my day, my life become so very important to me? My daughter, Izzy, has been getting up early for YEARS now to have quiet time. She reads her devotional, then she mellows alone. She does not like to be disturbed.
The question of when exactly this whole morning time started kept nagging at me, a burdensome little child who kept pestering “When was it? When was it? When did it become so important that it’s no longer an option to skip?”
So I ask Izzy in church. (Yes, we were writing notes during the sermon.)
And believe me, I wish I still had the note but I don’t.
Me: When did I start having my quiet time?
Izzy: Dunno, a year now?
Me: This summer?
I think back of when exactly this 30-45 minutes became a sense of pure peace…then suddenly, it became a must.
And then, it hits me…it hits us both.
Izzy: Yes. June.
We both looked at one another and watched as the chill bumps scooted across both of our arms.
Me: Yes, it was June.
You see, it was June 2014, when my whole world fell apart. I was sad. And hurt. Completely devastated. My life was falling apart at such a rapid pace, nothing seemed to give me any peace.
It was June that I woke up every single morning sobbing inside asking “Why God? Why did this have to happen??’
If you had asked me a year before, “Say, in a year from now, will you be jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn and rushing to grab your coffee for quiet time? ALONE?? – Will that be how you ultimately start your day?”
I would have laughed at you. I would have said NO. You see, I had very different plans for my mornings. I had looked forward to these well thought plans for 15 years. These plans were supposed to be the answer to all my dreams.
But God has His own plans and sometimes they match the ones we have for ourselves. Sometimes they do not. It was June that something or someone lifted me up outta that bed every single day. And yes, I was ALONE.
Now, I cannot, will not, do without it. Why?
It is because God is there, waiting very patiently for me. Always. I open a book, any book. No matter what, He is there, listening. During this quiet time, the thoughts of this past year are laid aside. I don’t have to worry for 30, sometimes 45 minutes. I’m not sad. I’m not angry. This is our special time. Just HE and I. I talk. HE listens. I think a lot.
Most mornings, 45 minutes feels like 45 seconds. And I know when I close my book and start my day, He has already taken the first step before me…and all I have to do is follow.
The price for volunteering can be well… High. Somehow, I had forgotten. You see, I was asked to decorate one of 6 tables for our annual Garden party and I said “Sure! I’ve Flowery plates, bright colored napkins. I’ll just toss some wine glasses up there and roll with it.
Easy. Peasey, right?
The rolling with it ended up not rolling so well….
For starters, I cannot and will not EVER just throw something together. I’m a planner. Which is why I showed up to decorate four days early – and was sadly sent away. “The landscapers need time to put the back drop in, they’re bringing in massive trees! Your table is right in their path. You can’t decorate yet! Wait until the day of the benefit, then you can come back!”
So I left and came back the minute they opened the doors Thursday morning.
The first thing I noticed was:
The were no trees whatsoever.
I panicked. “But sir!” I pleaded! You had all week to put up those trees. I need time to decorate my table. I don’t know what I’m going to do for my center piece yet! I’m not a designer, I’m a goof who has cute plates. That’s it! I need more time!” I holler at the poor man dragging a dead branch from his tree!
“Don’t worry, Sissie, you’ll have enough time. There are expecting 500 people tonight , I think he just wants the trees to be perfect. It’s ok. Where are your chairs?” Ellie, a designer decorating the table next to me asked.”
“500 people?” I ask as I choke back the vomit in my mouth. “Errrrr ummmm chairs? The email said we could pick from white ones, gold ones or cane colored. So I just figured they would already be here and I could just grab some….”
“Uh oh.” Ellis says. “You had to order the chairs a month ago. I don’t think you can get any this late.”
More panic….. Costing me more years of my life…
“It’s all be alright lil lady. I’m sure you’ll do a fine job. We’ll be outta your way in about 2 hours.” The nice landscaper said.
Gasp! Two hours? Chairs?!?! 500 People?
“And wait a minute!!! You’ve got 5 buckets of flowers from the florist wholesaler. And just how many people are here to help you?!” I asked Ellis.
“Oh just a couple of friends.”
I counted 5 friends there to help Ellis with her 5 buckets of fresh flowers.
Behind me, a mother / daughter team laugh together as they finish their FABULOUS center piece. (Their table was not in the way of the trees.)
Behind them, I watched one of the best floral designers in town put up two of the tables with his team. Evidently, people had hired him to do their table because they were “unavailable.”
I had no team. No chairs. No center pieces. I had no buckets of flowers. No business decorating this table. I looked like a bride who showed up with no wedding dress or better yet, no groom.
But I can explain… I was planning on running by Kroger and grabbing some flowers AFTER my table was set. If my table was ever going to get set……Suddenly, I am totally intimidated, embarrassed and angry. At Myself, mind you. What was I thinking agreeing to do this? I’m no designer, I’m a goofball who loves colors, cooking and shiney wine glasses. I could feel my heart beating as I watched Ellis giggle with her friends; drinking champagne and discussing what they were wearing for the festive event. As I watch them pull out a sterling silver service, I panic a little more – costing a few more years of my
Life. All I had was my TJ Maxx finds. I fumble out the door. I had to step it up a notch while those landscapers were taking their time putting up those trees. I pull out of the parking lot and out of nowhere a little boy on his bike darts out right in front of me. I slam on the breaks and before I could curse him or even honk my horn, he is gone.
That lil boy cost me 3 more years off my life.
I turn the corner and I kid you not, 3 more boys scoot their bikes out in front of my car. This time I did honk which made me look like a freak because other volunteers were standing outside watching me honk and shake my fist at 3 boys on their bikes. We are outside of a church, mind you.
Uggggggh. Yea. You guessed it…..More years.
I speed over to my friends house who I know owns chairs. Her husband tells me “Wow! Had I known you needed the chairs I woulda brought them down the steps for you. I’m walking out the door for a doctors appt. Sorry.”
Three separate trips down three flights of stairs later, I’ve got chairs. A bit of a workout but worth it.
I stop by my own house for some candlebras, then a silver biscuit box. Next, I grabbed all new wine glasses and five different vases. I headed to the wholesale store wayyyyyyy across town for white candles but won’t let myself buy flowers, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do for a center piece. Next, raced back to TJ Maxx for yet another set of glasses ‘just to make sure I had enough.’ I was determined to not be out done and look like the complete idiot I truly am! I call my friend on the way but she doesn’t answer! UGG!!! She’s at work, I remember. I’m wondering if the 24 four year olds would miss her is I ran by and borrowed their teacher?!?! I need a team of 5 like Ellis.! I tell Myself frantically. So I’m tearing down the road, still cursing and costing myself more and more years off my life, and then I look over to my left….
It is another bike.
I’m SO not kidding.
It is baby blue. It has no rider. It is crumpled under the front of someone’s car. I did not see the rider, only two people trying to get the mangled bike from underneath the car. It did not look promising.
And this is when I stopped.
I stopped worrying about what my table was going to look like. I had cute plates. It is what it is. It’s just was not that big of deal. Calm down, I tell myself. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a designer. Do your best and move on. Stop racing around town in a total panic taking years off your life because maybe….just maybe in all your panic, that coulda been YOU who hit that boy; possibly taking his life.
And that my friend, was when I realized it just wasn’t worth the cost…
This is Ellis’s table. She had the whole mad hatter theme going on. Look at the succulent plants covering the chairs. She had chicken wire stuffed with fresh flowers flowing out a silver tea pot. Fresh grass was stuffed in her tea cups topped off with a golf ball. Precious! These two tables were done by a well known florist. Beautiful. Bet it cost them $$$$$$ Above, This was the mother daughter team. They had 7 containers filled with fresh flowers. They own a design store in town and unlike me, were in and out of there in under 2 hours. Their center piece was AMAZING!! And here’s mine. It took me all dern day to get it settled but I walked away pleased. Everything you see here, except the candelabras, are from TJ Maxx. Oh wait … The flowers came from Kroger. 6 bucks. Guess this day didn’t cook me so much after all…
By the time one’s child hits 14, it’s safe to say that I have experimented with every kind of birthday party idea known to man.
In the past, we have celebrated in many ways:
Putt Putt, clowns, magic shows, little ladies tea, roller skating, (or was that my son?!), movie and dinner night, beach trips with special friends, a luau, oh the list goes on. So this year I shouldn’t be surprised when my daughter tells me:
“Momma, this is the MOST IMPORTANT BIRTHDAY EVER!!! You have to make it special!!”
And I can’t help but to ask: “Wasn’t last years birthday supposed to be the most important birthday EVER?! Hmmmmmm.”
So I struggle with new and creative ideas. Finally, it hits me:
We had a
This is our outside patio area that has 1000,000 plants, pots, arbors, two pergolas and way too much furniture. Yes, it is actually my driveway but I had it stained and built a pretty fence with an arbor to make it feel like a patio. It’s a real pain to take all that stuff off so you can pressure wash the sucker but it is supposed to be the “most important party and all..” so I did.
The blank blank blank pressure did NOT work.
I decorated with various folding tables and fun table clothes. If you’re like me and can’t sew a stitch, Stitch Witchery is fabulous!! Fabric glue is a good friend of mine as well. I ordered the cupcakes but really could have saved money just making them myself. They were cute but……not sure if three dozen cupcakes were really worth 60 smacks. I also used lime green burlap which was totally cheap and cute. With a movie night, we had to have LOTS of candy – which we did and ohhh.. don’t forget the popcorn. This produced a problem because who in the world has a popcorn maker these days? I asked a friend of mine who has a big fancy commercial one who eagerly said:
“Sure!!! I’ll pull mine out of storage for you tomorrow afternoon!”
And so I must ask: do you see the cute commercial fancy smancy pop corn popper anywhere? Errr ummmm. Nope. Never heard from my friend again. Oh wells, I thought about the jiffy pop so the kids could pop their own. This woulda been nice had my grocery store had it…which they did not. Sooo, in case you’re wondering, movie theater microwave popcorn will do in a pinch. I got the cutest EVER pop corn boxes from Hobby Lobby. They were adorable Finding a projector so we could actually have a movie on my lawn produced a problem as well. And despite Izzy’s dad’s best efforts to talk us into “Just bring your living room television outside, the kids will never know the difference…” I was determined to have the real thing but who in the world has a projector? After much searching, Uncle George to the rescue! Now, how to work the joker….
I have to admit I was a lil nervous because the Honey was out of town and Uncle George lives 30 minutes away. I didn’t want to blond out and not know how to work the projector and watch in horror as 25 ’14 year olds’ run around throw soggy pizza at one another because they are so bored. I tried very hard to pay attention to Uncle George’s instructions on how exactly to run the projector.
An hour before the party, a tiny rush of teenage hormones emerged when the only movies I could dig up were The Flintstones or Barbi and not her Mean Girls. Luckily, things calmed down after an hour of intense searching. Mean Girls was found in my bathtub. Phew! And don’t ask!
You can’t barely see all their lil bodies but there they are. All sprawled out on sleeping bags. They were so cute and quiet and very patient with me.
Because I ummmm completely blonded out.
Even after intense projector lessons, I still had a blond moment, ok several blond moments. You know, just simple start up issues like no volume and at one point somebody bumped the projector and the movie was playing in the trees and not on the sheets I had draped on the fence, etc. I had my neighbors husband come to help. Twice. Maybe three times. But hey, we got her running.
This was one of the cutest parties Izzy has ever had. Thought I would share a few tips:
Ask earlier than one week who has a projector and if you’re a single momma like me, make sure to find one who is not technically challenged and is near by. Alert him he is on call
We ordered 10 pizzas which was wayyyyy too much and really, they were so excited and jacked up on candy, they didn’t want it.
Make your own cupcakes.
When lighting the fire pit/chimnea, make absolute sure that you do not use two outdoor fire logs (one will do) or a massive fire explosion inferno could occur. Luckily, all the kids were too busy watching the movie and not witnessing Izzy’s freak mom wildly running through the yard with the garden hose; trying to put out the enormous flames. Later, It was a little unsettling when the the fire became so hot, the bottom of the very old chimnea busted out and fire embers rolled across the patio. It’s amazing how confused kids at that age can get. For instance, what part of “the bottom of the fire pit has busted out and that are red hot fire coals all over the ground. Please put your shoes back on so you won’t burn your feet?” is so completely hard to understand?
Hmmmmm. Not one of those jokers listened to the crazy woman with the melted mascara holding the garden hose.
Luckily, the only flesh burning occurred when a sparkler hit a girl in the eye ball. (Which was fun to explain to her mother) Thankfully, she can still see.
After most of the kids have left, a few neighbors and I sat outside on lawn chairs and watched the Flinstones. It was. Very. Cool. Not the Flintstones but to have a giant movie playing in your back yard.
By midnight, everybody is gone. The fireS are all put out; excessive food is given away and I find my sweet adoring, thankful daughter sitting on the kitchen floor surrounded by all her gifts. I look down wearily at the wrapping paper, colored tissue and my daughter with many gifts surrounding her. She gazes up at me lovingly and says:
“So what are we gonna do next for my 15th birthday party? You know that’s going to have to be VERY special…..”