Updates and Manga

I wanted to give you all an update on our meeting that we had last week concerning our foster child. The meeting went really well and we were able to come up with a timeline that is long enough to enable a slow, hopefully smooth transition, with a lot of safety measures in place. It was definitely an answer to prayer and I am feeling a lot more peace about the upcoming changes. 

The meeting was Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning my husband went running with me (a sign of true husbandly devotion) and then I came home and ended up doing almost nothing, all day long. I was wiped out from stress. But I have felt God’s mercy on me as the last couple days have been worry-free, slow, and peaceful. 

In other news, this past weekend, I started reading one of my daughter’s manga. Basically, comic books. It’s a romance manga that my daughter really liked, and we used to tease her about it. Then for her birthday, we bought the anime series and all watched it with her, and it was so wonderfully sweet and fluffy that me and all the little kids fell in love with it. In a culture where “romance” is often just another word for pornography, it was very nice to see a version of romance where handholding is about the raciest thing that happens. 

My kids have been laughing about me reading this, but I have to explain a bit why this has grabbed my fancy. I have always had a fascination with how people interact with each other. The role of power and submission, friendship, protectors, the heroes, the villains. How it all plays out. And I have so many questions. Why are we drawn to these kinds of characters? Why do we think that this kind of interaction is “sweet”. It was really interesting to see drawn out pictures, cartoons,  of all these tropes that appear in every kind of literature I’ve ever read. My interest is not so much in the story, but rather the stereotypes that they are representing and trying to understand why these stereotypes show up so often. 

I’ve been thinking a lot, too, about the nature of Jesus. Our perceptions of him. How we interact with him. The connections between the literature we love, and our inner desires for a relationship with God. Because I do see a lot of connections. I look at this cartoon in this silly manga, and I find something inside of me is stirred, and I have to ask, what inner longings do I have that draw me to this caricature? And I find myself setting the book down and asking God about it. These stories that captivate us only do so because they are a shadow of what God originally designed for us in the Garden of Eden. So what is this desire and how do I find the real version of it in God? And it’s actually been a rather nice time of talking to God. I don’t feel like I’m getting all the answers, but I really feel like he is listening to me. 

The verses that he has put in my mind this morning are ones like Jeremiah 29:13:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

And Matthew 7:7:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

I just feel like God is saying, No you don’t understand it fully right now, but keep asking questions. Keep looking. You’re looking for me, and I want to be found. 

And I feel encouraged. God can be found in the craziest places, even in an anime cartoon. 

My Valentines Weekend

I’m going to start this blog with a big shout out to my parents who babysat our kids all weekend and gave Andy and I a kid-free Valentine’s weekend. Yay! We had a stay-cation at home, went walking in one of the Urban Wildernesses here in Knoxville, had some great Thai food, took a long drive in the countryside today and watched several good movies. 

The last several years I have not been much of a movie person. Mostly just watching kid movies with the family. There haven’t been too many movies that could hold my attention. Watching movies with my husband is hard because by the time the kids are asleep, I’m too tired to stay awake for the whole thing. But, this weekend we watched FOUR great movies. We started off with “Greenland”, an apocolyptic movie with Gerard Butler, then watched an old favorite “Return of the King”. The second night we started off with an Amazon production called “Bliss”, which I would call an artsy fartsy kind of movie that fits it’s self-description of MindBending. Then we ended with “Critical Thinking” which tells the story of an inner-city Miami chess team that won a National competition. 

By the end of the second night of movie watching, I was starting to feel a definite acceleration in my heartrate. I started thinking about how fast the earth is spinning in order to make day and night (roughly 1000 mph!!!). And then I thought about how fast the earth is hurtling through space as it makes it’s yearly journey around the sun (67,000 mph!!!!!!). And I thought about how tenuous our humanity and civilization is. All of the movies showed how quick we are to turn to chaos and violence when we feel threatened or when we feel like nobody is keeping us accountable. And it felt like there was no safe haven here on this spinning ball we call home. I could feel my anxiety rising. 

And then I had to take a deep breath. And I had to re-center my imagination. Instead imagine myself  held in the hands of a mighty God. Sheltered. Safe. The universe in all it’s magnificence and awe simply the craftsmanship of our God. The people whose crazy behavior makes me so nervous, his workmanship too. God is heavily invested in them and I can trust in His sovereignty. God is heavily invested in me and I can trust in his plan for my life. 

This morning during our sermon at church (which we got to listen to remotely while we took our drive) our pastor touched on the Peace that God gives us. A peace that is not dependent on circumstances, but instead allows us to go through the storms and chaos calmly and with confidence. It’s a peace that will carry us through giant meteors hitting the earth, war, illusions, violence, the confusion of our world. 

This Valentine’s Day as we focus on love, I am once again thankful for the Love of Jesus and the peace that he gives. Our closest family members, our spouses, our children…they are not capable of giving us the never-ending, always enduring, never wavering love that we need to live our lives in peace. And while I am Very Very Very thankful for my husband and my children and my parents and all our extended family who love me so well, I know with certainty that their love can’t save me, can’t carry me through every storm, can’t give me the peace that I crave. 

And so I cling even tighter to the promise that Jesus Loves Me…the Bible Tells Me So… And as we rest in his love and his peace we are better able to love our spouses and children and parents and all the people around us.

Happy Valentines to you all. As we spin through space on this dangerous planet, may we live in perfect peace, resting in the love of our God and sharing that love with those around us. 

Happy Anniversary

This weekend my husband and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. We kept it pretty low-key. Went out to eat one night, and then on The Day we went for an evening paddle in our canoe while my parents watched the kids. 

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My husband patiently held the canoe while I gingerly climbed in. I have yet to master the art of getting in and out of a canoe gracefully. I was sitting up front, he was behind me. He gave me some pointers on holding my paddle. I adjusted accordingly. We pointed out birds that we could see, fish jumping out of the water. There were many times that we were silent for so long that I half-wondered if my husband was still in the canoe. But, I could feel the tug and pull of his paddling as we sliced through the water. At one point in time, I felt him shifting around, getting a drink from the water bottle, and I was the only one paddling. Suddenly the canoe was barely moving, making it obvious to me that my paddling efforts were not really what was making us move. 

 

We went up the lake and found a creek that we explored a bit. The water narrowing, trees over top of us.

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Then the canoe started tipping back and forth and I could hear a scrabble behind me.

Long pause.

I finally asked, What are you doing? 

I’m trying to get rid of a spider.

The canoe stopped tipping. 

Another long pause. 

Then he says, He’s headed your way now. 

WHAT! 

Just how big a spider are we talking about??

 

Fortunately no spider attacked me. 

 

We ended our paddle peacefully. 

 

And I think about marriage. What do I say to my kids as they approach the age of where marriage is something to think about? 

 

I would say, marry someone that you can be silent with. Marry someone who’s willing to pull the weight of the canoe just cause they want to be with you, and they don’t care how bad you are at paddling. Marry someone whose company brings you peace and a feeling of safety and well-being. 

 

As I write this blog and smell the Chili burning on the stove, because I forgot I was cooking. As usual. I would also add, marry someone who will eat your burnt Chili without comment. 

 

Happy Anniversary My Love. 

Keeper of the Stuff

It came home to me today that I have a Job Title that I didn’t even realize. I am the Keeper of the Stuff. 

 

My oldest son: Mom, I have to take a present to the party tonight…where can I find a gift bag?

Me: Either top shelf of the hall closet or the bottom corner of the hall closet.

 

My husband: Where did I put my wedding ring? (Construction and wedding rings don’t always go well together.)

Me: Check my dresser.

 

Younger daughter: Mom, I want to give my teacher a Christmas Card.

Me: Check the top white drawer, there’s a stack of cards you can pick from.

 

Son: WE’RE OUT OF MILK!!

Me: No, bottom shelf, behind the eggs, there’s another gallon.

 

Extra Toothbrush? Check the pantry, above the washing machine. Plastic silverware? Look under the brown buffet, in the basket. Butter dish? I think I saw it in the bottom of the Catch All Drawer. Lost paper? Check my stack of papers in my room. Hair clips? Sorry, you’re out of luck. 

 

I think every family probably has one person who is the Keeper of the Stuff. It doesn’t have to be the mom. But, I think it is usually the person who has taken on the role of Primary Housekeeper and Primary Caregiver. It’s one of the requirements of the job: knowing where everything is.

 

Of course, I’m just human. I can’t keep up with everything. My oldest daughter used to help me with this. ANNA! HAVE YOU SEEN THE HANDMIXER??? And then she’d tell me where it was. Of course, she loved to cook and had her own organisation system so asking her where stuff was also had something to do with that old phrase, “Too many cooks in the kitchen.” But, Anna also tended to notice things around the house, so she was always my go-to person to help find something. Now that she lives in another state, I sometimes find myself looking for something  and think, “I should call Anna, maybe she knows where it is!?” Instead, I text my husband who is baffled as to why I am asking him. It just makes me feel better to pull one other person into my fruitless search for that one little attachment to the mixer that I haven’t used in two years. 

 

Hand-in-hand with KEEPER OF THE STUFF comes the job title FINDER OF THE STUFF. Now, this one, from my limited experience, does tend to be filled by the women of the house. 

 

Husband: I have looked everywhere, I can’t find that check I put on this shelf.. 

Me: (Walks over to the shelf, picks up check sitting on the shelf..) You mean this one? 

 

10 year old boy: I can’t find my shoes. I can’t go to school today because all of my shoes are gone.

Me: (Walks over to the shoe box, removes three pairs of shoes that belong to this child…) Put your shoes on, you’re going to school. 

 

Daughter, opens fridge: Mom! We’re out of salsa!!

Me: (Walks over to daughter, looks in the fridge, looks at the daughter…) The salsa is literally in front of your nose. If you walk forward about 6 inches, your nose will touch the salsa jar. 

 

Being the FINDER OF THE STUFF can be annoying. In fact, I have taken to warning my children, when they complain to me that they can’t find something. 

 

Me: If I come up there and find your shoes in less than One Minute….THERE IS GOING TO BE CONSEQUENCES! I don’t know what…But something. 

 

Anyway, I’ve held these job titles for years, I just hadn’t really thought of it till today. They are highly prestigious positions. I am sure they look good on my resume. 

 

NOT a Bad Day

I needed to write. So you all get a bonus Blog today. 

 

My lifetime enemy, depression, has been rearing its ugly head lately. I’ve been in denial. I’m fine. I’ve got this. I’m ok. Then today, when I found myself glued to my chair, not wanting to move, except to climb into bed and sleep, I realized, oh, yes, I recognize this pattern. 

 

I’ve decided to fight back a bit. The worst thing about depression is that it whispers, “Failure!” in my ear, constantly. So, I have decided to compile a list of ways that I did not fail today. Speak a bit of truth. 

 

First, my two and five year old boys, who were in my charge all day, are alive and well. They ate, got cleaned, played, watched tv, went outside. As far as they are concerned, it was a great day.

I got all my school age kids to and from school without a hitch, and they are all in a good mood, playing with friends.

Supper is cooking. The dishes are caught up. The laundry is doing ok. The downstairs of the house is clean. Sure, I paid the kids to clean it because I wasn’t able to force myself to do it. But, the kids got some pocket money, they’re happy, it was cheaper than hiring a maid, and I can say that I used my delegating skills.

I also signed our family up for health insurance for the next year on Healthcare.gov, which is a soul-sucking experience in itself. It actually took me two days to finish the whole application. But, it’s done! 

 

I kept the fire going in the woodstove. 

 

I’m getting along with my husband. 

 

My pets are happy. 

 

It wasn’t a failure day.

 

So, for all my friends out there fighting depression and anxiety, this is actually a pretty good tool. Write down everything that was right in the day, even if you have to grasp at straws, like, The sun came up today and set as normal. No tornadoes blew my house down. My car didn’t explode. I didn’t catch the plague… See! It works! I’m feeling better already. 🙂 

 

Thanks for listening. 

 

 

A Love Poem of Sorts

It is our 20th Wedding Anniversary this week. I thought that perhaps I would search the internet high and wide and find a poem that would immortalize our love. A poem that I could point at and say, Yes, that is what we have. I am not a poet. I read through these poems. These amazing works of art. My soul jumped at the beauty that was portrayed. Love displayed as passion, as longing, as yearning. As a lifelong quest. I am not a poet. I can’t create these airy pieces of lace, strung together with words. And I searched and searched. But I couldn’t find a poem for us. I am not a poet. But I long to gift you with an arrangement of words that would express our love for each other. 

 

Our love is not the kind that is celebrated by poets.

 

Our love was Slow. Solid. Practical. 

 

In a world of French Cuisine, we are meat and potatoes. 

 

Our marriage was never about You and Me. It was always about You, Me, and the children we made. Always children present. 

 

And yet, somehow we have managed to lift our gazes high enough, to look over the tops of our children’s heads, and still see each other. 

 

Our love was never about extravagance and ease. It has been a constant pushing, striving, scraping, saving. Somehow, miraculously taking the small amount we have, and turning it into enough. And more than enough. 

 

Our love has never contained long romantic getaways, stealing away to be alone. No, our love has been about installing a lock on our bedroom door. Whispering to each other in the middle of the night when all the children are asleep. Exchanging flirtatious glances across the dining room table. Snuggling on the couch together as small toddlers crawl all over us. Kissing and hearing a chorus of “EWW YUCK!” from the nearby children. 

 

The most dramatic moments of our marriage have come in the form of conversations. Where I reveal to you a secret part of who I am, and you reveal to me hidden parts of who you are. And the conversation slowly dies out and we stare at each other. Amazed that it is possible to know another human so deeply. 

 

And always, the most romantic part of our week is to go to church on Sunday morning. Sit close together. Hands clasped. Stand together, lift our hands in worship. Heads bowed together in prayer. Our shoulders brushing together. Exchanging knowing looks when something significant is said that touches the problems we happen to be facing that very moment. 

 

Ours is not a love of fireworks and showy bonfires. Ours is the slow, steady burning of coals that light the kitchen fires and cook the meals and provide a constant, steady source of warmth. 

 

Ours is not the story of two puzzle pieces that perfectly fit together. Rather we are two rough-edged, world-scarred people who chose each other. We chose to wrap our two mismatched pieces of iron, jagged and sharp, and twist them together into one piece. Two separate, infinitely different pieces of metal, twined together by divine hands into one strong piece that cannot be broken…Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate…

 

I don’t have the money or the creativity to show my love in large flashy banners. Instead I show you my love in small ways. I try to leave enough hot water for your shower. I serve you a plate of food at supper instead of making you serve yourself. I speak highly of you to our children, even on days when I am irritated with you. I don’t give you any grief for staying up late to watch Fast and Furious #37. I keep your Louis L’amour books in one, easy-to-find spot on our bookshelves. I not only wash your clothes and fold them, but I also put them away. I have developed the habit of not talking about money or bills or other stressful topics right before you go to bed. 

 

Nothing big. Just daily little considerations to let you know you are important to me. I’m thinking about you. I want you to be happy. 

 

You do the same for me. 

 

Our love is not the love of flowery poems. Our love is Plain. Simple. Steady. 

 

And yet, something tells me. Something says, generations from now, our children’s children’s children, will still speak of us. They will say, That is the kind of marriage I want to have. That is the family legacy we want to pass down. 

 

Maybe one day, my love, we will be legends. 

 

But, the far distant future doesn’t concern me. Right now, I will simply enjoy the pleasure of sharing your bed every night. Cooking your meals. Parenting our children together.

Here’s to simple, unadorned love. 

Here’s to us.

 

We All Need Some Grace

This evening I feel very mixed up. On one hand we have a very stressful situation we are working through that always seems to be hovering in the background. Then I have a spot of pure joy bursting through me as my oldest child chose to get baptized yesterday. Then I have issues with my health I’m low-grade worrying about. My children cause a big mixture of love, amusement, annoyance, humour, anger, and really, any other emotion you can think of, sometimes all at the same time. I am feeling very thankful for the good things I have, and then I start complaining cause some things aren’t the way I like them. At a drop of the hat I could get angry about social issues. And at the same moment I could start crying because I just heard a story about someone being amazingly kind. It’s no wonder that when people say, “How are you?”, you just automatically say, “I’m fine thank you!” What else can you say? It gets a bit complicated if you say, “I am currently feeling every emotion on the spectrum.” 

 

Being human is so complicated. I imagine a big churning pot of stew with a million ingredients and as you stir a big spoon in it, different ingredients float to the surface. How are you doing? Well, right now I’ve got some happiness, joy, and enthusiasm going on. But if you stir things up a bit, I’m sure that annoyance, anger and selfishness can make an appearance.

 

Usually, when I’m writing, I have one set of emotions that is taking preference. They stir up thoughts and memories and I end up having a cohesive idea to talk about. Then there are days like today were my thoughts are going in a million directions, my emotions are having a wrestling match, trying their hardest to be the one on top that gets noticed. My memories are popping up from all kinds of directions, and I just kind of feel like banging my head against a wall to make it all go away. 

 

I’ve been reading a book about God’s grace. I guess that my current mental state is a good indicator of how much grace I need. I’m a mess. And I’m pretty sure I am not alone in the need for grace. I can go on all day about how amazing God’s grace for me and you is. As Christians we spend a lot of time focusing on how God extends grace to us. And that is a very good thing to spend time on. I think though,  I don’t spend as much time thinking about how to extend grace to others. 

 

I am very good at thinking about how downtrodden I am, how deserving of favor I am, how in need of a break I am. I don’t think I spend as much time thinking those things about others. But, when I do, life is so much better. When my husband comes in at night, and I think, I have been here all day with the kids! It’s time for him to step up and help me! I find that this attitude does not make for a nice evening with my husband. But, if I step back and think, hmm.. My husband has been working all day in the hot sun. He must be really tired. I’m tired too, but maybe if I give him a chance to take a shower and eat and give him a big cold drink, he’ll be in a better mood for our evening of parenting we have ahead of us. 

 

I find that this is the same with people who get on my nerves. If I put my entire focus on how they irritate me, kind of keeping a score card of all the things they do wrong, then, yep, I’m going to stay in a constant state of irritation towards this person. But, if I make the effort to walk in their shoes, see what struggles they are facing, try to get some insight into why they act the way they do…It’s a lot easier to extend grace towards them.

 

It’s interesting that the more we get to know someone, the easier it is to extend grace towards them. It’s like knowledge and insight naturally produce love and grace. Maybe that’s why God can love us completely and extend such amazing grace to us, because he knows us completely. 

 

In the end, we are all complex creatures who only show the world a tiny fraction of what we are thinking and feeling. May I remember daily to practice extending grace to those around me.

 

 

Fat Fridays: Week 22 How To Encourage People in Their Weight Loss

Hey Everyone. How’s your week been? Mine was busy but it looks like we are finally slowing down. My kids had their last day of school today. I’ve got a thing at my house Saturday night and then my schedule is wide open. Now I just have to focus on keeping a house full of children busy all summer.

The past couple days I’ve been thinking about how encouraging my husband has been on my weight loss journey. It wasn’t always that way. At the beginning of our marriage I put on weight with my first pregnancy and he really didn’t know what to do. He made a lot of mistakes. But over the years we’ve talked a lot and he has evolved into this amazing man who makes me feel loved and beautiful no matter what weight I am. And I genuinely feel like he’s ready to support me in whatever efforts I make at improving my health.

I’ll give you some examples. I am not a super active person. In fact, that’s an understatement. I know I used to run around as a kid, but somewhere around puberty I discovered the joys of curling up on a couch with a good book, and that became my default activity. There is one thing I do enjoy though, which I’ve mentioned over the years to my husband. I love badminton. It is so fun! So satisfying when you can keep the birdie in the air. I also like ping pong. Something about smacking an object back and forth appeals to me. 🙂 So, over the years,  we have occasionally bought a little yard badminton set. Flimsy poles. Flimsy net. The kids destroy it within a couple weeks.

Well, this summer my husband went all out. He bought a professional net, set up a sturdy pole system, marked out a court with yellow rope, bought me some fancy rackets..We are all set for badminton. But even better, in the evenings when it’s cool, he comes and asks me if I want to play, and we go out and play badminton together. How cool is that? I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have a great passion for the game. But he has a passion for me. To see me happy, see me healthy.

We also figured out that I like canoeing. Our 20th anniversary is coming up in a couple months and he is currently building us a wood strip canoe for two so we can get out in nature together. He’s kind of handy that way.

He helps me keep on track with my diet too. We were at a party this past weekend. One of my kids ran up to me and handed me a cookie and then ran off. Well. I really wanted that cookie. It looked so good. I took a bite. Andy was watching me. (He wanted the cookie too.) Hey! That’s not on your diet! Give that to me! Now. let me make something clear. I hate being bossed around. He knows that. I handed him the cookie, because the truth is, I really did want to stick to my diet. Then he said, If you don’t want to stick to your diet, just let me know and I’ll leave you alone. And that’s what makes him great. Because I’ve done that before. I’ve said, listen, I’m sick of this diet, I just want an ice cream cone. And then he takes me out for ice cream.

I’m sure a lot of you have someone important in your life who is struggling with weight issues. I can tell you from experience that the best support for me has been my husband’s unconditional love for me. Knowing that he he is willing to take me like I am actually helps me feel empowered enough to want to make changes to become healthier.

Goals for this week: look into Chiropractic Neurology at the recommendation of my brother. Get out and play badminton. Write a meal plan for the next week, as our eating has gotten a little haphazard.

See you all next week!

 

Confessions of A Car Hoarder

A couple of days ago I was at home with my two little boys. My alarm clock went off on my phone informing me it was time to get in my car and go pick up the kids from school. Well shoot. The baby was still asleep in his crib and I hated waking him up from his nap. I knew that he was barefoot and it was cold outside and I didn’t have time to mess with shoes, so I grabbed a pair of socks out of his dresser and then woke him up and quickly put his socks on him and ran out to the car with him and his brother. I had the heater going full blast and eventually it was downright hot. I noticed in my rear view mirror that Noah was pulling his socks off and dropping them on the floor. I instantly thought : Mental Note, we now have a pair of socks for Noah in the car…This could be added to other mental notes like when David took off his shoes: Mental Note, we now have a pair of shoes for David in the car, or when I was cleaning up trash off the floor, found some clean diapers and stuffed them in a little cubby: Mental note, we now have some clean diapers in the car…

It occurred to me that I might have a problem. I believe I am a car hoarder.

hoard

/hôrd/

noun

  1. 1.
  2. a stock or store of money or valued objects, typically one that is secret or carefully guarded.

Dictionary.com

I hoard objects in my car so that I will always be prepared for any emergency. Why, you may ask.. Well, lets see. There was the time that I loaded up about 7 kids into the car to go grocery shopping, got to the grocery store, started unloading the kids and then found out that one of my boys had somehow “forgot” to put on shoes. BUT! I was prepared! Another child had left a pair of flipflops in the car and so I was able to take those abandoned shoes and give them to the shoe-less child instead of having to load everyone up again and go home to retrieve shoes. Or, the time, recently, when I took two little boys to a doctor’s appointment, went to unbuckle the four year old and found out he had wet his pants and not told me about it. BUT! I was prepared! I found not only a clean pair of jeans on the floor of the car, but also a clean pair of underwear! Or there was the time that we were waiting in the car line and the baby was fussy and hungry and I had forgotten to bring a snack, BUT! I was prepared! There was an apple sitting on the dash that had been left from a previous day and a previous snack time.

My husband does not understand or sympathize with my car-hoarding tendencies. When I open my van doors, I see Preparedness. When he opens my van doors he sees MESS. Allcaps. Every once in a while I will bend to his disapproval and send my kids out to clean the car, or let one of my boys earn some pocket money and do it by themselves. Inevitably, the day after the car is cleaned out I run into an emergency. Ack! I forgot the diaper bag and the baby has a poopy diaper. I HAD DIAPERS AND WIPES RIGHT HERE ON THE FLOOR!!! WHY DID THE CAR HAVE TO GET CLEANED OUT!!

This is why I rarely clean out my car.

My husband would be quick to point out that I could keep a stash of supplies in the car in a nice neat box in the trunk and thus eliminate the need to be stepping on shoes and socks and diapers that now litter the floor of the car. I would be equally quick to point out that my brain doesn’t work that way, I am neither organized or neat. The only reason my car hoarding works is because it happens naturally, organically. Like fruit falling from the trees to the forest floor.

Of course, I love my husband and so I try to hide my hoarding from him or at least make it not so obvious so that it is not as irritating to him. He only drives in the van on Sundays. If I happen to drive on Saturdays, you will find me grabbing a grocery bag and stuffing it full of trash, grabbing a handful of cups and random water bottles, tossing things back behind the front seat so that it’s not as noticeable from the driver’s seat. See. That is love. Or maybe just affection? Or maybe just trying to avoid arguments with the least amount of work? Occasionally we use our van to drive around other people besides our family members. Then I will clean out the car myself, vacuum everything, wipe down sticky surfaces…I figure this happens often enough to keep my car from completely turning into a dump.

So, now you know. Esther is prepared for all occasions. As long as she is driving her van.