Sometimes after work, I get into my car and cry all the way home.
Yesterday was one of those days.
I spent the morning in a place that is in a tough neighbourhood. I'm used to this place. I know the kids. The kids know me. Usually they drive me nuts and I feel as though I accomplish nothing apart from nagging all day. These days are challenging, but not overwhelming. I'm used to it. I put on my no nonsense attitude and I get through the day.
But today, oh today was a very different day. Twenty six tiny children walked through my door and instantly I was hit with a smell that was almost unbearable. I soon found out that the smell quickly taking over the coat room was of cat urine from the clothes of one of the tiny girls before me. She greeted me with a big grin, her face dirty, her head shaved from a previous bout of head lice, but her mood as spunky and defiant as ever. When she got closer, the smell made me gag.
I can't do this today. I can't love her. I can't do it.
I carried on with my morning as usual, but every time this little one came close, my eyes watered and I turned away. She is a kid who is full of boundless, untamed energy. She was in my face a lot. I was meant to work with her one on one, but instead I directed her to an activity on the other side of the room. I turned away. I did so gently, but I still turned away.
After my morning had ended, I had a chat with another adult who knows her. We talked about her cleanliness. We talked about her lack of healthy food in her lunch box. We talked about her overbearing and accusatory mother who refuses to accept any help or support. We talked, both almost in tears, about how this little girl's spirit is not crushed, despite the fact everything in her life seems to be pitted against her. We talked about how this mother desperately needs help, but how she is fighting so hard against anyone reaching out to her.
I got in my car after work and cried.
I sat and cried, thinking of the unfairness of her situation. I cried thinking of how I turned away. I cried thinking of how I didn't love her, when that was what she craved most. I cried, wondering about this little girl's future. And I cried, thinking about how her situation is the very picture of us.
We are dirty, we are filthy, we are living in a world of brokenness. We are wild and untamed, yet we are trapped by something that does not let us run free. We are hardhearted. We refuse to accept help. We fight against what is best for us. We see light, but turn our backs to it. We turn away from what is good, what is blameless and what is truth. We are backwards.
Amidst my tears, I realized my own backwardness. I fight against the only One who can give me rest. I want to be free, but stubbornly refuse to look to the One who has already released me. I look downward in shame, when He looks at me with delight. I consider myself wretched, when He considers me beautiful. He never turns away. He never stops loving me. He never lets me go.
And when He does redirect me, it is ever so gently, lifting my head only to look back up at Him.
"Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain." - Phillipians 2:14-16 (ESV)
There comes a moment in every life where you know that you have arrived. In the "I'm infinitely cool" sense of the term. Until today, that moment for me was getting dubbed as Valedictorian in grade 8. Everything between then and now was a little disappointing.
But today, oh today is a new day! I have simultaneously been dubbed an Awesometown Resident AND a facial hair guru. Could things get any more majestic than this? Move over William and Kate, it's my time to shine.
Urban Dictionary defines Vaguebooking as the following:
1. An intentionally vague Facebook status update, that prompts friends to ask what's going on, or is possibly a cry for help.
2. An intentionally vague Facebook status update, that prompts friends to "Hide" future updates by the perpetrator.
3. Intentional or unintentional vague or ambiguous facebook status message, which people have no clue as to what the heck you are talking about. Also included is posting fragmented song lyrics without stating the artist.
You know the status updates I'm talking about. Everyone has at least one friend on their list that is a professional Vaguebooker. You sign on, and your home page is riddled with some variation of the following:
Wondering if it was all worth it...
That was probably a mistake.
I wonder if he knows?
Ooh I want you I don't know if I need you but I'd die to find out*
Can't believe this is happening!
This too shall pass.
It's likely that friend who spends way too much time on the interwebs and feels it necessary to post things about themselves in hopes of getting an affirming response. Maybe it's an attempt to be mysterious. Maybe it's an attempt to be clever. I don't know what your intention is because you are being VAGUE. Vaguebooking is like vanity license plates for your car. You understand your angle, thinking that other people will too, but they won't. And they probably don't care. You just wasted your money on something vague.
I have a confession, internets.
Last night I strayed from my usual nonsensical (yet delightfully hilarious) updates and I Vaguebooked. I changed my status to "No wonder I'm singing!" I was not being intentionally vague. I had been listening to Hillsong's Sovereign Hands in which one line says "No wonder I call you Saviour/ No wonder I'm singing!" That was my goal, but I was certainly not clear. Fortunately, I have great friends who called me on my error and made me see the light. Thanks, women. I, Amanda Marie, Vaguebooked, and I apologize.
I now realize how easy it can be to drown in the murky waters of Vaguebooking.
However, all is not lost. I have an idea. Let's start a revolution of sorts, internets. Let's call out our Vaguebook friends. Let us not stand for anything less than clarity. Let us rise above the confused masses and reclaim the art of clear and concise status updates. The next time you encounter a vague status update, do not ask what they mean. Do not inquire as to how you can help. Simply post the link to the following video and let this glorious man do all the talking.
What's the best or most vague update you've read recently?
*100 internet points to the person who can name the song without using Google.
I never went to summer camp because we were (and still are) a cottage family. We didn't need organized activities to have fun. We made our own.
Most of my cottage memories were forged with my neighbours. They're the kind of neighbours that everyone wishes they had. Certain aspects of my life are sitcom-y , and this is no exception. We met our neighbours when I was nine and instantly felt like we'd known each other forever. We share a driveway opening. We have a little path from one property to another. We used to have a homemade basketball court between our two properties. We have a firepit that is exactly halfway between grass (them) and sand (us). We share tools. We share toys. We get groceries for each other. We accompany each other to the dump and the hardware store. We have coffee every afternoon. Even our dogs (the original golden retrievers and now their new retriever and our little black evil thing) are friends. But that's really not the point of this post.
One of our favourite cottage past times was frog catching. It was never an activity that we planned to do; it was always one that started when someone happened across a frog. And then another. And another. Before we knew it, the neighbour girls and I had a huge bucket of frogs with which we taunted my squeamish older brothers. I'm not going to tell you exactly what we did with the frogs so as not to upset some of my more uh, sensitive readers, but I can assure you that the frogs loved flying through the air us.
For my birthday one summer, my neighbours gave me a pair of frog earrings wrapped in a new frog catcher net. It was silly and I loved it. It was our little summer inside joke. The next summer I got something else froggy. Somewhere in there my family gave me a few frog items. The frog theme started to catch on*. My friends started getting me frog stuff. My family bought more. I started buying more. Pretty soon everything I owned was green or had a frog on it.
The debacle reached its breaking point on my 16th birthday. A boy who liked me bought me a frog statue. A foot-tall-flecked-with-gold-and-pretending-to-be-a-ballerina STATUE. It was in a position that looked like it required chiropractic assistance. The thing was hideous. It lasted two days on display until it retired to my closet. Needless to say, he was off my list of potential suitors. Another gentleman in high school went the frog route as well. I wasn't impressed. Frogs do not pass the gift test**.
I did not want frog things anymore. Nor did I like frog things all that much. Sure they were cute and silly at first, but now I couldn't go into my room without feeling their beady little froggy eyes staring me down. It was unsettling. My room, once a safe haven dotted with a frog here and there had become something straight out of Exodus 7.
I call this the Frog Effect.
The FE is never intentional. It's usually innocent. Harmless, really. It starts off slow, gradually building up speed until somewhere along the track it races out of control and completely derails at your 16th birthday party. You will know that the FE has taken hold of you when you're in a situation that requires pleasantries, but all you can think about is whether or not you remembered to pick up Listerine at the grocery store today because you'll need its taste bud burning power after throwing up in your mouth a little bit. It's wretched, I know.
Consider this your warning. Don't let the Frog Effect take hold of you and your loved ones.
Have you ever experienced the Frog Effect?
*oh how pun!
**If that hint was too subtle for you, here's another: DON'T GIVE ME FROG CRAP.
The Frog Effect
cottage|I don't get it|I wish I was making this up|memories|off colour and slightly disgusting|
I only have this dream when I sleep in. It's one of those dreams that happens in my regular setting so it feels as though it could really happen. Or maybe it has already happened and I just think it's a dream. Or maybe I'm still dreaming, and what I think is a dream is real life and what I think is real life is really a dream. I've never seen Inception so it's hard to know for sure.
In my dream I wake up in my bed after a long sleep-in. I get up and see a bug crawling on my headboard. I squish the bug and get on my hands and knees because I know what's coming next. More bugs and creatures. Under the bed. And in my covers. The bugs never move quickly and I'm able to squish them all on the first or second try. There are lots of bugs, but they don't swarm or overwhelm my efforts to squish them.
Throughout the dream, I remain completely calm. I am not phased by the multitudes of insects in my bed. There is always something weird to squish them with. Last night it was a lid to a Tupperware container. These are not tiny insects. These are great big, giant (at least two inches in length) bugs. Cockroaches. Scorpions. Beetles. Big crunchy bugs that make noise when I squish them. After they've been destroyed they seem to vanish. At the end of the dream, after all of the bugs have been exterminated, the same thing (sometimes there is more than one) comes crawling out from under the bed:
A baby turtle.
I pick it up and smile. I stroke his soft belly and I say, "Oh, a baby turtle."
And then I wake up.
I am now accepting analyses of this dream in the comments.
I was at the gluten free store* today and overheard bits of a conversation between two older women and the one woman's husband. From what I heard, both women had a son in the military.
Woman 1: So he's out in BC now.
Woman 2: Oh it's so nice out there. That's where Kevin was, too.
Woman 1: Yes, I think it's good for him.
Woman 2: But don't let him marry a woman from out there. Those girls don't like to cook or clean.
Woman 1: Well I'm just glad he's leaving. He needs to leave and go far away.
Woman 2: Well don't let him meet anyone out there. Their whole place will be a mess because she's lazy. And then she'll leave him.
Woman 2's husband: Now let's not talk about this right -
Woman 2: Our son made that mistake. She was disgusting. Took the kids with her, too. She was so lazy. That woman was the worst thing....
I could go on, but I won't.
A few things:
1. Really? All women from BC? I spot a fine case of Lumping.
2. That mother-in-law is terrifying.
3. I bet Kevin isn't completely blameless.
4. I'm sorry Woman 2's husband. I'm just really sorry.
5. Is this how parents talk about their children when they're not around?
6. That mother-in-law is terrifying.
Did anyone else overhear anything magical and uplifting today?
*Celiac side note: there is a store in this beautiful city dedicated entirely to gluten free things. I can eat Every. Single. Thing. in this place. I sing the hallelujah chorus each time I enter. My quality life has increased tenfold just because of this one store. Unreal.