Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wrong turns

Two Saturdays ago, Tony got a phone call from one of his best buddies.  He had 2 tickets to the Rams-Chiefs preseason game and wondered if Tony could go.  I mentioned needing a babysitter and all of a sudden Parker is going and I am staying home.  Despite the hit my ego took, the expression on Parker's face was priceless.  Needless to say, I had two very excited boys hurriedly making plans.  
The game was in a few hours so of course the thought went to changing clothes.  Chiefs attire all the way!  The boys plans quickly hit a snag when we all realized Parker's Chiefs shirts were for winter and probably too small.  We immediately started brainstorming of where in St. Louis could we find Chiefs gear.  We called Old Navy - they were sold out.  I checked online and Dick's Sporting Goods showed quite a few.  We headed over there to discover they only carry local teams in the store.  A few weeks ago, my mom and I had been shopping at TJ Maxx and Marshalls and I remembered seeing Chiefs shirts there.  We hopped back in the car and tried Marshalls.  No luck.  Tony was driving and since he usually avoids, I mean misses out on those stores, he took a wrong turn out of the parking lot.  Not to worry, we knew we could get back on the highway with a little zig-zagging.  Driving through an industrial park, I see a woman in a winter coat with 2 pieces of luggage.  Since Tony was on a mission, he was driving fairly fast.  I thought it might be the lady my mom and I had given a ride to a couple of months ago.  I told Tony that I thought it was her and she probably needed a ride to the hotel.  She was between Marshalls and standing in an empty lot.  I stated the time and asked could we still get done what we needed to get done and help her.  Without waiting for an answer, I said Parker has a red shirt he can always wear instead.  Tony turned around and drove back to the lady.  I hopped out of the car realizing up close that it was the same lady for sure.  
"Can we give you a ride?"
"I don't have anywhere to go."
"Aren't you the lady who lives in the hotel down the road?"
"I don't have any money."
I fell back in the seat to repeat what she said.  Tony asks me what I want to do.  I reply that we can't just leave her there.  We'll just have to pay for her hotel.  Even if it means we eat ramen noodles all week is what I was really thinking.  I get back out and tell her that we'll pay for her hotel.  I crowd into the back when it hits me in the face that Parker and Macy have been watching all this unfold.  She gets in and apologizes for sweating so badly.  She tells Tony that she has 9 layers of clothes on.  Then she turns to me and asks if I want to call the hotel first to find out how much the room will cost.  No, I tell her.  We'll take care of it.  I can tell she doesn't remember me.  Then she asks us if we would drive her through Burger King and she shows us $10 in multiple layers of ziploc bags.  Tony answers "Of course.  But we're buying your dinner."  "Can I have breakfast too?" "Sure!"  Listening to her order brings tears to Parker's eyes.  Even he can see how hungry she is.  We then drive back to the hotel and Parker jumps out of the car to help Tony with her bags.  Macy is still there so I stay outside with her.  Parker runs back out to let me know that Daddy has her checked in.  Without really weighing the consequences, I write down our names and our cell numbers telling Parker to run this into Daddy and he'll know what to do with it.  Tony give it to Ms. P and tells her to call us if she needs us.  "Are you sure?" she asks him.  Tony replies, "Yes, because God loves you."  Back in the car, Parker has a million questions about how she doesn't have a home or where is her family.  Questions we didn't have the answers for. 
The next morning at church, I am constantly checking my phone for Ms. P to call and asking "Lord, what will we do then?"  I'm fearful because I don't know what we can do to help her.  I know the saying give a man a fish...I know she needs a long-term solution.  Then I look around at my church family and I know if I ask for help, it will be given.  We're not alone in wanting to help Ms. P.  Parker worries too and offers his plan.  We can clean out the basement and make her a room to live with us.  I am grateful for his tender heart and think why not?  Children can break down a problem and simplify the solution.  Adults are the ones who make it complicated.  I don't know what my answer will be when she calls.  I'm just praying that God will answer for me and put the words in my mouth. That's the best I can hope for. 
All day long I kept thinking about how if Tony hadn't made that wrong turn, we would have never seen her.  I couldn't help but wonder how many wrong turns Ms. P may have made in her life.  Is she like the prodigal son? Too ashamed to call home? Has she made choices that her family felt forced to confront and say don't call us anymore?  
Then I looked back at our married life and all the turns it has taken. Turns we made with the best of intentions that turned out to be wrong ones.  And I'm thankful.  I'm thankful that we have a God who does love us and can take all of our wrong turns and make them right ones. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I'm officially a working mom again.  Today is my second contracted day.  I woke up this morning at 1:45, and my first thought was my school to do list.  It rumbled through my mind like a never-ending freight train.  By 3:00, I gave in and got up and got busy.  I went back to bed at 4:45. Now drinking my coffee at 6:30, I am marveling at how quickly my job consumes me.  I hate to say it's a job when it means so much more to me than that.  Nevertheless, it is still a job.  
And I had to stop and ask myself, will Parker and Macy know that being their mother consumed me?  Will Tony know being his wife consumed me?  Will my parents know being their daughter consumed me?  Will the dear ones in my life know being their friend consumed me?   Will people know that my faith consumed me?  I can be so focused on my work that I miss out on my life.  On this work day, I am reminding myself to put just as much effort into my life as I do my career.  Easier written the done, but I am going to try.

Monday, August 6, 2012


My classroom keys jangled as I balanced Target and Dollar Tree bags down the hallway to Room 30.  I stood outside my locked classroom door and peered in.  Do I really want to go in?, I thought.  Opening that door meant that I was no longer a stay at home mom, but a working mom.  Guilt is on the other side of that door.  Guilt for devoting time to my students instead of my own children.  Guilt for organizing my classroom  instead of doing laundry.  Fear was there too.  What if this year brings a child I cannot reach?  How many parents will I manage to irritate?  Part of me wanted to drop my bags and run the other way.  Another part of me knows that despite the guilt, my job blesses my family and in many ways, it blesses me.  
As I walked through the door, I am reminded that we all walk through doors totally unaware of what lies ahead.  We walk through doors where we have to grasp whatever courage we can find and say a prayer to be able to walk out whole and healthy.  The hospital's door.  The counselor's door.  The unemployment office's door.  Yet, we do not walk through doors alone.  The One who knows what lies on the other side walks beside us. In front of us. Behind us.  This week, I am trying to "Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD, your God goes with you, he will never leave or forsake you."  Dueteronomy 31:6  Whatever doors you are walking through this week, I hope and pray you are able to do the same.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

July's Hits and Misses

July was unusual for us in that we only had one recipe that wasn't a keeper!

Two Timin' Pasta Bake claimed to be a ringer for the Four Cheese Bake Ziti at Olive Garden.  The claims were correct!  Even better though was the recipe called for jars of spaghetti sauce.  It doesn't get any easier.  This will definitely be filed under the category of fast weeknight meals.

Our family loves breakfast for dinner because our normal breakfasts require no prep.  :)  We tried Make Your Own Mini Frittatas.  The kids loved these and again, my favorite kind of recipe - easy!

Mini Frittatas

I try to plan one meat free meal a week.  Needless to say, not the kids or Tony's favorite night but they humor me.  To disguise all the beans in the wrap, we substituted refried beans for the pinto beans for these Spicy Bean and Rice Burritos.  Even Parker who doesn't like beans declared these keepers!

Now for the miss...Cheeseburger Pasta was like a made from scratch Hamburger Helper.  I don't mean to be a food snob, but I've only had it once in college when my roommate couldn't believe I had gone through my whole life without having Hamburger Helper.  Once was enough for me.

This new recipe brought me the most joy!  If you love appetizers, especially dips, then don't wait another minute!  Make Loaded Baked Potato Dip.  Now.  It takes a lot less time than baking a potato.