Crazy Okay

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Inside my head, I’m crazy okay. Ridiculous. How thoughts can be chill in the middle of everything happening all at once. This week, submitting another proposal, prepping my talks for camp next week, packing the last few boxes, ready to load the Big Blue Box on the driveway outside. Every evening I connect Bluetooth, GOAT playlist on shuffle, Nils’ 170+ soul-care songs. Yesterday we chatted on speaker phone while I made dinner, me telling Nils how I’d exhausted his list, Spotify kicking in with one of its own, not nearly as good. “You listened to ALL 170?!” Well, maybe. I’ve packed a lot of boxes.

Twenty-three years on Orchid Street. Five kids and one dog, not counting husband. Making piles of whose-is-whose, and what’s-going-where. And all things considered, I’m crazy okay.

The crazy comes out in physical manifestations of involuntary responses. I’ve become a horrible passenger, backseat driver. Startling and gasping at minor infractions, perceived or otherwise. Knee-jerk reacting, hands flailing, husband claiming injury by fingernails to forearm flesh. Borderline madness, and I make it a matter of prayer one morning, ask God for healing. Which is when it hits me. This might be a warning-light on the proverbial dashboard. Perhaps I’m not as chill as I think.

The Jeep is back, parked on the street, after round-two of post-deer maintenance. A month or so ago, coming home from the lake at dusk, we knew to watch out. Previous trips successfully skirting the occasional herd. Unpredictable creatures. Hard to say who hit whom, Jeep faring better than Doe. Two weeks on a body-shop wait list, one week haggling insurance, mending seeable damage. Two days back in our possession, me saying from the start, something’s not quite right. A trip to the airport, Luke barely making it back to Andover, back into garage, the old girl’s steaming like mad, hissing something awful. Next day Kyle’s halfway back to the body shop, calling a for a tow. Radiator, of course. Back home again now.

Flashing lights on a dashboard. A previous pastor liked to remind us at staff meetings. Heed the warnings. A nerve in my neck, seizing up for the second time this week, debilitating for a few seconds, but I shake it off, get back to work. A jaw achy from nighttime clenching. But inside my head, I’m crazy okay.

The dog knows something’s up. You can see the skepticism in her body language, head down, tail drooping, watching her people scramble about, filling boxes. Man’s best friend is savvy enough to know changes are brewing. That, and she’s somehow managed to mangle her paw just this week, no idea how it happened. Jimmy’s scheduled today for his required doctor’s visit—pre-college/pre-soccer. Might as well throw in a trip to the vet, load up the Jeep for a swing through Goodwill.

But I’m crazy okay. We’re almost there; we’re going to make it. Just a few more boxes, and some heavy lifting. And then, Sunday, I’ll pack my own bags into the Rogue, leaving Jeep behind for hauling trailer loads of everything we’re taking with us to Grammy’s and Brian’s and the shed at the lake. The guys will finish out their final days on Orchid Street minus Mom. Crazy timing, to be sure, for my week at camp. But I’m feeling ready. Excited even.

I put finishing touches on a week’s worth of camp talks, telling nine- to eleven-year-olds God is the Hero of Your Story—and there’s no doubt I’d be sunk if He wasn’t. No other way to explain this crazy feeling that all of this is perfect timing, a perfect plan, His perfect provision, and when it’s all said and done this whole family, including the dog–will be CRAZY OKAY.

Like Mom

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It’s my mom’s birthday today. She’s turning 75, but you’d never know it. According to my brother, Micah, “Mom doesn’t look old enough to be 65.” True enough. And—I must add—it’s one of the many nice benefits of being her daughter—this not looking old enough.

Last Sunday we got to see firsthand Luke pastoring at his church in Colorado Springs. He’s the youth pastor for a small congregation, so he gets to do a bit of everything—responsive reading, communion, and helping a special needs student recite a prayer. Blessed to be a blessing, and there’s nothing like seeing your grownup kids passing on faith. After the service two older ladies shook my hand saying, “You don’t look old enough to be Luke’s mom.” And also, “We really like your son.” I thanked them for the compliments, both.

Monday afternoon Kyle and I drove the last leg of our road trip back from Colorado, via Des Moines. I traveled with laptop open, listening to audio of four sessions of a writer’s class from a recent conference. Typing notes into a Word document, I caught a glimpse of hands, eerily familiar, but not my own. Narrow wrists, tan and weathered, veins slightly bulging, fingers long, and it’s not a keyboard, but garden produce scrubbed over running water in the kitchen sink. Small red scratches, nicks of whiteish scars, hers earned strawberry-picking, mine a miscellany of the week’s hiking.

I’m already thinking about Mom when Kyle says it. “You like being outdoors more than anyone I know.” A week spent staying at my daughter-in-law’s parents’ house in the Springs, and every chance I get I grab laptop or book for a quiet escape to their woodsy backyard. Twice during our visit the Fullers spotted black bear meandering through, but not on my watch, and thank goodness. Though plenty of deer.

And then, at the end of the week, two overnights with Nils at Glen Eyrie. Garden of the Gods meets private castle, sprawling estate. The first night at the Glen it thunder-stormed, and we ate our pizza under the old carriage house shelter with Nils’ new friend, Kurt, telling stories about boys growing up. Warm wind blew our napkins across the cobblestone pavement, and for a brief time we listened to hail ping on the metal roof above, but we were out of harm’s way, and cozy, in red-cushioned patio chairs.

The next day’s rain held out for Anderson boys to golf, while Ali joined Micah and me for a day of hiking. Beatrice, too, our newest grand-dog, who’d hiked her first ever (we think) 14er on the 4th of July. Now, two days later, we’re climbing the red rocks of the Glen, Micah trying to capture the breathtaking views on his iPhone, knowing it’ll never do it justice. Which it doesn’t, and which is why, next morning, I linger long as possible on the castle patio, one last outdoor breakfast before leaving for church. Long drive away from mountains to follow.

You like being outdoors more than anyone I know. I’m holding my husband’s hand and we’re making our way slowly, back up the hill from breakfast. And my very first thought is “Just like my mom…” This soul-deep love of mountain air, and a good hard hike. My mother’s daughter, all the way.

Our last night at the Glen, Nils pulled out his guitar and sang songs he’d written about Minnesota, being a kid, and growing up. Memory songs, meant to make a mom weepy. My heart was full. Is full. And this is her song, too. My mom’s song of finding faith, loving God, rewriting the story, passing it down.

And today is her birthday. Back home in Minnesota, we’ll spend her special day riding bikes down in Canon Falls, the day’s forecast 70’s and sunny. God’s throwing a party. My sister will join us, and Gina’s every bit her mother’s daughter, too. Twenty birthdays ago I doubt we would have seen it this way, but the years define us, and make us grateful.

Happy Birthday, Mom.