so, i’m standing outside in the rain this morning, waiting for the bus with Lil. we only have one umbrella. so i give it to her. i can get wet, but if she got soaked, she’d be miserable all day. at least i can come in and dry off. it’s cold and a little breezy, but not too bad. it was chilly, but if just a tad warmer, not at all terrible. it made me think of when i was somewhere between the age of 5-8. for the life of me, i can’t remember how old i was. but it was an experience i would never forget.
it’s raining outside and my sister and i come up with a great idea. let’s put on our bathing suits and go stand in the rain on the porch. what would mom say? OMG! she said yes. what?? so we put on our bathing suits and we go outside. all i can see is about 3 feet in front of me. it’s raining hard. no lightning and it’s quite warm. a warm summer soaker. it’s so hard to see. so we start pretending that we are waterskiers on the back of a boat and hold on for dear life. i think we even had a rope that we tied around the railing of the deck and that was our tow rope. we leaned back and ski’d like pros. i even had the sensation of bobbing up and down on the water, making jumps and doing tricks. what a powerful experience. my sister and i squealed and frolicked in the downpour and literally danced in the rain. i didn’t worry about getting hurt, i just enjoyed the rare delight of getting completely wet on purpose.
well, as adults we lose that ability to enjoy the storm. we think about our things that get wet, our basements, our stuff, our cars. we think about that leaky roof that we want to hold for one more storm. we think about how the storm might damage our flowers and plants. we wonder if the wind and rain will claim our possessions, houses, lives even, if it gets really bad. we wonder if the power will go out and if we will be left in darkness. we fear the thunder and lightning because we don’t know what will come. i can’t think of a time as an adult that i enjoyed the actual storm. maybe if i was inside, under a blanket and the rain was light. but i would never willingly stand in the rain.
i did get caught in the rain with my husband on the huzzah (pronounced hoo-za) river one year, in a canoe. it hailed on us and lightning all around. hail. and we were in a metal canoe. with lightning. i was scared to death and all i could think was to paddle like hell. we made great time after the hail started. never paddled so hard in my life. Guy was humming “Ride of the Valkyries” from the back. for a minute, even while paddling, i thought, “maybe we should stop.” but where was there to go to escape the rain? the banks were small, no trees really, no shelter. the people on the sides of the river were being rained/hailed on just the same. might as well keep going. just keep paddling. we’ll make it through or die trying. i’d rather be struck by lightning trying to get to where i need to go instead of waiting around on the side of a river and be struck by lightning. we were the very last team among our friends to make it to the end. worst experience canoeing ever. ever. many mishaps on the river that year. but we made it through and i can laugh about it now. at least we had a boat to float it out! and a dry ride back to camp.
but this morning i stood in the rain. and it wasn’t so bad. i can get wet and it’ll be okay. this is life. with God. he’s my umbrella. and while i may not dance around like i did when i was a child, i can still smile through the storm and know, it’ll be over soon and He’s got this. I don’t have to worry or be afraid. there will always be storms. there will always be rain. it makes things grow. like me. be thankful for the rain and don’t worry.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
boy, does it.
If you’re going through hell, keep going. Winston Churchill
Last year, I took my mom to her hometown on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. That was probably the best day I’ve ever spent with her. (<<—Click the link to read more!) It was a relaxed sunny day. On the cool side. Not in a hurry. Able to talk and drive and eat and remember.
I took pictures. I listened to my mom’s stories. I asked questions.
I wish these country roads could take me home today. I wish I could fly home and see my mom, even for just a day. I miss you, Mom. I love you, Mom. Thank you for all the love that got me to here. Happy Mother’s Day.
I just have to praise my daughter for one moment. She deserves some praise.
Lilli started her freshman year in a new school last fall. She was ambitious and hopeful. She took AP World History because her previous history teachers were awesome and she’s always taken advanced placement classes when possible. She got to pick her schedule for the first time without input from us. (Truly! We did not encourage her to take this, it was news to us!) She had no idea how tough it would be.
AP World History is a class usually reserved for sophomores and juniors. It’s a college-level course offering college credit with weighted grade points. She didn’t really understand how grueling it would become or that it was for college credit. She just assumed this is the class she should take. The other history course offered to freshman was just regular old History.
She quickly realized the amount of note-taking and homework was unusual. A Bible-sized amount of vocab note cards later, she was drowning in stress and anxiety. This wasn’t even like any college course I’d taken. No notes dictated by the professor. Just endless excavation of words from reading. This was difficult for a 14 yo who should actually still be in 8th grade (she skipped 4th grade). Hell, it would be difficult for anyone of any age.
But she just found out–she got a 95 (A) on her final exam for the class! Honestly, I was overjoyed, but not surprised. I knew she could do it. Of anyone I know, Lilli could do it.
Lilli is smart. So are many kids these days. But what Lilli has above most, even her parents, is an undying work ethic. I’m so proud of that. So thankful for her constant devotion, integrity and bottomless strength. She inspires me.
She’s had her low moments in this class. Feeling overwhelmed. Feeling inadequate. Feeling like she’s in over her head. But she always rallied. With encouragement from us, she didn’t linger long in her feelings of vulnerability and weakness.
After the first week, she was ready to transfer. Through tears and shaky voice cracks, she was serious about moving to a less-challenging class. I asked her to try. Try until the end of first semester. “And if you still want to transfer, let’s do it,” I told her.
She tried. She finished. She succeeded. And she stayed the whole year.
We’ve helped, but she’s done most of it on her own. Just being willing to try was her biggest accomplishment. Pushing past difficulty and pain. Tackling this class has been the hardest, most challenging job she’s had so far. And she aced it.
Big lessons other than history learned here. Way to go, Pencil Princess. I am so happy that you’re my girl. So happy you kept going. You’re getting a huge reward from us! AND you don’t have to take World History ever again! LOL You’re a genius!!
You can change the world. You just have to change your mind first.
I open tonight in Grapes of Wrath. I’m nervous, excited and filled with emotion. All the things you should feel right before a debut. Except. I miss my mommy.
I chose to move to Florida. I chose to risk everything and make a new life, here in paradise. But I left behind a few things to come this far. Not possessions or a home. Friends. Most of all, my mother.
We had a beautiful day before we left. It was Mother’s Day 2017. We went to her hometown and drove around for the day. It was really special. Had lunch in a small cafe. The whole day was relaxed, yet compelling. Exciting and at the same time, comfortable. Familiar.
Perfect day for pictures. Sunny, cool and countrified. I snapped a pic of my mom and daughter at the restaurant in a very comfortable moment.
I put my own mother’s picture, the picture above in black and white, in my memory box on stage. That’s the one that gets me.
I have a box of pictures and a pair of earrings. I take the earrings and leave the pictures to burn. There’s no room on the journey for papers and keepsakes. I have to summon emotion to hold back tears to leave this precious box. So the one picture that always gets me? The one of my mother and daughter.
I ask myself, when I see the long, lonely road, “Will I travel this way again?”
I ask myself, when I look at her childhood home back in Missouri, “Will I see this place again?”
I ask myself, when I look at her picture, “Will I see you again?”
And I don’t have to do anything but that.
It’s a real concern, when you stray far from home, will I see these faces? Will I return to these places?
I’m homesick. Terribly so. But honestly. I feel like I’ve found a home at theatre again.
Whenever I have been lonely. In need of care. In need of laughter. Tears. Emotion. Connection. I have found that home on stage.
It’s bizarre. I know. Most people would chalk acting up to the pinnacle of emotional cutting. It is. But I have connected with people in audiences from all walks of life.
I met a downright Marlboro Man from western Nebraska who shared his tragic life story with me after I shared my story with him on stage. He waited at the end of the receiving line after the performance of my original play Fat. He waited to be last in line, hung back, so that when everyone had left, this chiseled-and-hewn rail of a man could cry in my arms. That would have never happened without theatre.
The breeze was blowing over my legs last night as I sat on my front porch. I was relaxed and happy at the work we put in yesterday to prepare for opening night. I’ve felt the same feeling before.
Sitting outside my community college, just starting back to school in 2009, waiting for my husband to pick me up. Late at night. I looked up at the trees. The wind was swirling through the shuddering leaves. The night was cool. I was happy with my effort. And I just felt God’s overwhelming presence as I sat and meditated. It brought a smile to my face and warmness to my heart. I didn’t know where God or my feet would take me, but I had hope for what was to come. I was right to have hope.
Whenever I feel those same cool breezes, I know God is with me. I just wish my mommy was, too. Love you, Mom. This isn’t for me or for you, I’m telling this story to share God’s grace and mercy for those who have hard times and continue to rise up and labor for goodness. For simple souls who need a voice.
Thank you, God. For such an amazing opportunity to share this story. Thank you for reminding me–God is with us. Even when our loved ones are not.
In the play that I’m in right now, Grapes of Wrath (sorry, lots of blogs about Grapes, that’s at the top of my thinking right now), I take a pair of earrings with me from the house as we make way for California from Oklahoma.
We don’t have much room on the truck, but a pair of earrings has value and fit neatly in my pocket. I give the earrings to Rosasharon later.
When I came to Florida, we didn’t have much. Some household items: couch, TV, everyday odds and ends, enough crap to fill a U-haul, but not many valuables. More than some folks. Enough to be eternally grateful.
But. It could have all burned up in a fiery crash, fell down a cliff in a runaway U-haul, or ended up in the Gulf for all I cared.
My earrings were/are my husband and child. They are my precious jewels. The treasure I slip into my pocket when all is lost. The value I take with me. The items I can’t do without. The adornment God has dripped from my ears and hung around my neck. They make me feel beautiful.
Thank you for a wonderful birthday, Guy. It was so fulfilling.