Friday, September 19, 2014

a family field trip to the lice ladies of alpharetta

sarah would like me to point out that she isn't making an inappropriate
 gesture with her finger in the picture on the left. it only looks that way.
it's easy to be unaware.
we're busy.
we go through the day scratching our heads a little more than usual, but we don't stop and think about it. 
let's be honest, we don't want to think about it.

we just want to keep doing what we're doing
... and scratching our heads.

but, as in most things, there does come a time of seeing.
a time when the blinders are ripped from our eyes and the realization is etched in our brains and the fear is manifested in our ... well ... in our everything. in our entire being.

(or our daughter does).

and if she has it, probably we have it and probably the entire family has it and probably the dog has it and the cat has it and everyone that's come into our home has it ... and if that's the case, than it truly is time to panic.

anyone ever been there before?

the time when the woman of reason runs right out of the room and the maniacal-mom moves in?

like the other night when i got an email from a mother in sarah's friend group who said she'd found lice in her daughter's hair and we had better check our girls and i did and i found it in sarah's head and i about fell down on the floor in the fetal position of my fear and began, immediately, to crave dark chocolate pudding, red wine and (being totally honest) the open road ...

yeah. that.

i didn't give in to the cravings, but i did give in to the crazy-mother mode. you know ...
where i completely lost of sight of the big picture and the little louse and decided i was going to eradicate this insidious issue by the power of my own strength, determination and the sanitary settings of my laundry machines.

the kids began to cringe and cower as they watched their out of control mama prepare her family for lice-lockdown.

we never know what a wednesday night might bring.

starting with lining up everyone on the deck.  no one allowed or wanting, for that matter, to touch each other. except bella. she didn't know the drill. she hasn't had the pleasure of this particular experience in our family before. so she continued to try to curl up with her siblings.


the children tried to explain to her:

"we have lice, bella."
"what's lice?"
"a bug that lays eggs."
"in the hair."
"bugs in the hair."
"bugs? huh? what?"


i moved from hair-checking to brush-boiling to bed-clothes gathering. i rummaged and rifled through all my under the sink products to find lice combs and shower caps and whatever leftover potions i could round up. i promptly soaked sarah's head with listerine -- because i remember that working once. the measly shower cap wouldn't hold her soaked hair and so i wrapped her head in a target bag and sent tyler quickly to the store for several more large jugs of mouthwash and a half dozen heavy duty shower caps. (most 17 year old boys might resist this kind of shopping errand, but he grabbed his keys and pretty much bolted out the back door, thankful, i'm sure, to escape my madness).

i'm not sure i can begin to describe what happens to a home when a lice-alert occurs. especially in the home of a large family. maniac mother starts to see everything in her line of vision as suspect. all soft surfaces become potential pest places. 

large trash bags are handed out, "YOU, bag all throw pillows. YOU, bag all stuffed animals. YOU, bag bedding."


speaking of sisters, the oldest was never so happy to be away at college and safely across state lines.

i called a friend about a prescription. (for my daughter with lice, not for me. though i'm sure a little something for me might have been a valid idea at this point). she started to talk me off the ledge and said "jody, call the lice ladies. they worked for us. they're awesome ... worth the money ... and they even calmed me down."

i needed to be calmed down. desperately. and so i called. and at 9pm someone answered.

"get that listerine off your daughter's head," they told me, "and don't do anything more until tomorrow when you come in. bring the entire family. we'll check everyone." i looked around at the war zone that had quickly become my home. "nothing more? really? nothing?"
my daughter, with her listerine-soaked-target-bag-wrapped head walked into the room. 

"honey. sweetie. we have to wash that out of your hair now."

she stopped and stared at me. mouth and eyes open in disbelief. her look said it all.

look at the date on this picture!
we were at the lice lady six years later -- to the very date!
you see, we've been here before. in fact it was exactly --and i mean, exactly -- six years ago on september 18th, 2008, when we were treated for lice the first time. we had an outbreak in our school which continued to recirculate for ... well ... for-ever. it recurred so many times in our family that i even included it in my christmas letter.  i'm not kidding: "the year of the louse." 

i know ... who begins their christmas letter with the announcement of a lice epidemic? for that matter, who blogs about it? 

i'm writing this at 4am because i woke up and had all these words spilling out of my (lice-free) head. i'm writing it at 4 am knowing it might never get blog-published because it will need the absolute approval of a certain 14 year old girl. and 14 year old girls can be kind of funny about things like lice proclamations. in fact,  if you're reading this, than you know sarah said yes. i won't pressure her, but i think she might. because she's the kind of kid who can handle this -- waaaayy better than her cra-cra mother.

even yesterday at the lice ladies establishment, she posed -- willingly -- for the picture up above. though the situation was far from the funny, we couldn't help but be amused with the waiting room all decked out in sparkly, hot pink and zebra print accessories -- and a leather {obviously} couch.  i assure you, there were no throw pillows. my kids were especially fascinated with WHO exactly IS a lice lady and HOW exactly did they end up in that particular line of work. 

but just for the record, THE LICE LADIES ROCKED.

they did check us all. one piece of hair at a time. all the while calmly murmuring reasonable words of instruction and comforting us with their capable hands and trusty little lice combs. i know only God knows the exact number of hairs on our heads, but the lice ladies are probably next in that line of knowledge. 

i mean, my boys were pretty much mortified in the hot pink capes and mousse covered heads, but hey ... we can all benefit from a walk down the humble road, right? not only did they have to subject themselves to the hot-pink-and-zebra-print-lice-salon, but their little sister got to pick out the movie for everyone to watch: "princess-barbie-something-or-other." just for the record, someone really should make a "barbie gets lice" movie.

anyway, by the end of the afternoon, the professional de-lousers were able to deliver some good news. no one else in the family had it and sarah's case was mild and caught early. my children, by the way, would all like me to highlight that fact: NO. ONE. ELSE. IN. THE. FAMILY. HAD. IT.

driving home, we were all pretty relieved.
and, of course, i couldn't help but think about how the whole experience had something more to teach us ... scratch that ... ME.
you see, discovering lice is a lot like seeing your sin.
it's there.
we keep scratching at it.
sometimes even pretending it will go away on its own.

but it doesn't.
it can't.

it will, in fact, quickly become "an empire." (lice lady's words).
she went on to tell us a few worse-case scenarios.
and oh my gosh, that alone was worth the trip.

lice cannot be ignored.

i hate it. really. like when i get to heaven, it's at the top of my list ... why lice, God? why? i mean i know there's lots of stuff that is way, way, WAY worse ... this doesn't come close to comparing to some of the things others are dealing with, but it's a pain and it's disgusting. and even though it caused me to go all kookie-ba-lookie, i did (after the calming presence of the lovely lice ladies) realize it's truly not the end of the world.

but it does have to be addressed. completely.

and, like our sin, it has to be removed.  it can't just be handed a band-aid and a pep talk. that won't work. it might temporarily soothe, but it won't solve.

nope. there are certain things in life, like lice and sin ... which call for full deliverance. complete eradication. total redemption.

whether it's the lice ladies or Jesus, someone needs to pick through and wash it away for us. ever try "nit-picking" your own head? it's impossible.

i'm not glad we walked this particular road this week. it was a pain. and i'm sure it doesn't do a whole lot for our social status. in fact, feel free to avoid us. i won't be offended if you don't want to come over anytime soon for a cup of coffee or a cuddly little convo ... really. i get it.
i get it because we got it.
but there is something to be said for when you see something clearly and realize, you are in over your head. (yes, pun intended). there's a freedom found when our filth is finally uncovered.

because, truly, it is only at that point when we pause from our distractions, stop scratching our heads, see our sin and surrender ourselves, that we find the chance to be calmed, to be cleared and, ultimately, to be declared clean.

Monday, September 15, 2014

reclaimed: from trash to treasure

driving home saturday evening, i had imagined the look on rick's face.
and i was right.

what's a husband to say when his wife leaves in the morning and returns home 9 hours later with an SUV full of old wooden boxes.

the husband.
the son.
the other son.
they all just stared.
"mom, whatcha gonna do with all those boxes?" asked connor.

he asked. but before i could answer, he pedaled away on his bike leaving husband and oldest son to empty the truck and continue the questions.

"you paid money for these?"
"seriously, mom?"
"honey, where exactly were you today?"

boxes, branches, and botanical prints  ... that's what i came home with.

there's not a lot of places you can go to shop for interesting jewelry, reclaimed wood, rusty metal, botanical prints and door knobs all under one roof.
girlfriends, the mall just isn't the same thing.

my shopping sister, karen, and i had spent the entire day down at scott's antiques and flea market. it's a once a month event. and let me tell y'all ---- it IS an EVENT.

if you've never spent a saturday meandering through a flea market and picking through piles of interesting items  ---  i'd encourage you to do so. it's an experiment in finding things you never knew you needed. heck, it's just a plain old experiment! like i said, we were gone almost 9 hours ... and only covered one of the two gigantic buildings.

not everyone would have the stamina (i.e. patience) to roam like karen and i roamed. we moved fluidly from stacks of reclaimed wood to vintage-looking clothing and jewelry. stopping only to for a few minutes to wolf-down greek salad and baklava. oh, the baklava ... it's worth going just for the baklava.

can you think of a better saturday? --- i think not.

and the people. the p e o p l e.
it's a fabulous place to take in people.

jam packed, but jovial. no one -- and i repeat, no one -- comes to this kind of place to hurry in and out. seriously, you've got to buy a ticket to even drive into the parking lot. this is not a place for the running, rushing, quick-errand-woman. no mam. leave her behind in the aisles of target, this is a place for slow southern shopping.
it is about wandering and wondering. browsing and bargaining. it's about stopping and considering and contemplating the purchase.
a little of this and a little of that.

like, "what could i doooo with a collection of colorful faucet handles?"

one of my favorite purchases was a large bunch of boxwood branches - the perfect brown. yes, branches. (special from north carolina)! what for, you ask?
well ... for my coffee table, of course.

we met nice person after nice person. chris was one of those nice guys. he helped us with the aforementioned 25 wooden boxes,  working to get us a deal. when i told him they were going to be used for an adoption event which is raising money to help bring home kids, chris didn't ride off on his bike (like my youngest son) but listened and said, "aww, really?... i have a soft place in my heart for kids who need families." he worked between us and the owner on the price. i know chris would have just given us those boxes for free, but the owner - on the phone - wasn't quite as moved about our orphans coming home event.  still ... there they were. waiting for us. we needed 25 -- the exact amount on the cart in the midst of piles and piles of other crazy stuff.

those boxes are old. really old. they came from madison, new york and were once used to hold nuts and bolts. (we asked). reclaimed wood.
aren't they beautiful?
i know, however, that even if you like the look of them, most of us aren't in the market for 25. but i'm working on an adoption/foster care event for next month and they are going to be filled with fall treasures and turned into centerpieces. yes, they are! pictures will follow!

i love the idea of "reclaimed" as it relates to adoption ... as it relates to all of us.
[reclaim]: retrieve or recover(something previously lost, given or paid);  obtain the return of.
reclaimed. recovered. repurposed.
maybe that's part of what attracts me to an event like scott's. another place to find beauty in something broken. something dismantled or discarded.

and maybe, just maybe, that's why this flea-market was overflowing with people ---
it's not just about going to buy something.
it's about going to be a part of something.

it's finding treasure in the midst of what might look, to some, like trash. there's an energy and emotion and experience involved in that. i realize not every person there would consider this from a spiritual angle. (though we DID happen to find a booth selling these t-shirts).
clearly, people ... it's spiritual! lol!

seriously though, whether we started life as orphans or not, we all know the feeling of being at some point "previously lost" ... or not good enough ... abandoned. discarded. rejected.

and Jesus ... well ... regardless of what your t-shirt says, He is the ultimate Reclaimer of all things previously lost. can't you just picture Jesus walking the dusty aisles of our world and seeing the opportunity, possibility and beauty in His created. whatever pile of junk we find ourselves in, He knows our true value ... we are precious in the sight of the One who recovers ... the One who reclaims. 

"it was fitting to celebrate and be glad,

for this your brother was dead, and is alive;

he was lost, and is found." ~ luke 15:32

Monday, September 8, 2014

home and her dad's hug

200+ facebook "likes."
that's a lot for me. an awful lot for one picture. okay, two -- i collaged (morphed) two pictures into one. more bang for my buck. or maybe just an indecisive post-er.
whatever. 200+ likes made me wonder.


what facebook logarithm clicked?
what exactly was it about this picture which made people push that elusive "like" button?

the element of surprise?
the event of a birthday?
the enthusiasm of a college girl?

or maybe it's just the plain encouragement we all get from one who returns home.

she's only been one state over.
and it's only been for two full weeks.

but something about emily coming home and surprising her dad out on the deck for his 46th birthday felt ... precious. the rest of us kind of knew no matter what we wrapped up in our boxes or wrote in our cards --- she had trumped us all with the gift of her return.

and that was okay.
all of us. perfectly okay with this particular trumping.

because we were all just as excited about seeing our sister-daughter back where she belonged. home in time for dinner. a birthday dinner which i, by the way, happened to ruin. (adding sherry vinegar to homemade chicken marsala is not the same thing as adding plain, old sherry -- sigh). rick's favorite dish a disaster. i've been making this for years -- could make it in my sleep -- except i guess i was a wee bit distracted watching out the window for her car.

but even the ruined birthday feast was wonderful with oldest girl back at the table. 

sometimes that's all it takes. 

everyone home.

and i kept thinking ... all this rejoicing. it's so much fun. so much fun to watch the middle girl come barreling through the door and hop up into her big sister's arms. so much fun to hear emily say to her 11 year old brother, "connor, give me a real hug." so much fun to hear her talk and tell us about all those things she hasn't had time to fit into phone conversations or text messages.  
so much fun to just see her. sitting there. her. here. home.

even after only two weeks.

and that hug between emily and her dad. out on the deck. crazy cute, right? especially the monogrammed hat. but really --- that's what we are all "liking." isn't it? the little girl back in the big arms of her dad. that's what we all want out of life. to be welcomed home. to be held.

to be rejoiced over.

surprise or birthday or college or whatever. it's about how it feels to be back where we belong; to be home.

and if we felt like this on a friday night in september, just think of God's rejoicing when He welcomes home each of His children. think of that embrace. think of that enthusiasm. think of the hold in that kind of hug.

a girl home for her dad's birthday -- a glimpse of God's embrace when we return home.

and, one picture or two,  that's a lot to "like."

this is her: i did it! i-surprised-my-dad-dance!