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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Unveiled




"Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.
At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn
in two, from the top to bottom."
Matthew 27: 50-51


I cannot ponder the cross without rejoicing in the curtain in the temple being torn. My redemption is beautiful, but the curtain, or veil, tearing is significant because it means relationship. Before Jesus' death the only way to enter into God's presence was on the Day of Atonement. A Levite priest had to go through some serious rigamarole to get there, too. He had to have smoky incense in front of his eyes to shield him  from God, among other steps. Also, and this part always gets me, he had to have a rope tied around his waist just in case he died from being in the presence of God's holiness.

That is no joke. It also seems like it would hinder intimacy with God.

Thanks to Jesus we can enter freely into the presence of the Living God. For those who believe in Jesus the veil is lifted. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians: "But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. for the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord - who is the Spirit - makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."  (verses16-18, emphasis mine)

In Christ we are unveiled! No rope around the waist is necessary, no incense needed to shield our eyes; the blood of Jesus has made us clean.

Yet, often I remain veiled. 

In fact, I am the veil.

I do not fully embrace the joy of my salvation. I treat my freedom as imprisonment, my relationship with Christ as obligation. I forget that there is no rigamarole necessary.

 I want to have quiet time where I light a candle and I journal and listen to beautiful music as I read my bible and talk to the Lord. I am in a season, though, where this is hard and I cannot reconcile the picture I have in my head of 'Quiet Time' with the Lord with Kara In Real Life.

My picture looks like this: I am at the table with coffee, a candle is lit, and I am reading and absorbing God's word. I am journaling, I am being filled so that my day with my family will want to etch Proverbs 31 into my tombstone.

My reality: I stumble out of bed but cannot find my glasses. I find the candle but no lighter. I start the coffee (gotta make the coffee) but the filter is jammed and there's grounds everywhere. I have my bible but am afraid to turn on a light because if my children see the light they will wake up and be hungry and need to eat and need me to do lots of other things for them too. If I do settle in to reading scripture my body realizes that it's 4:30 a.m., the only time a mother can be truly alone, and demands that I give it more rest.

I am not knocking the candle/journal/bible scenario, please know that. I have had that season and I will again one day. Right now, though, that's not as easy for me.

I can, though, sit at the table after breakfast and read my bible. I can read verses out loud to the kids (even while they look bored and fidget) and ask what they think. I can tape verses to the mirror. I can listen to podcasts of sermons. Best of all,  I can talk to God all. day. long. He won't tire of my voice or be distracted by his phone. He won't demand that I get him a snack or beg me to take him to the park. God won't focus on my fears, or my failures, or my pettiness he'll just see me as me, as I am in Him. All I need to do is talk to him. As Brother Lawrence wrote, "There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, that that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice it and experience it."

Basically, my hardest job is to not be the veil. I am always the only thing standing between me and Jesus. I can't let the picture in my head keep me from enjoying the picture that God would like to be in. 

I will remember I am unveiled and embrace the Quiet in the chaos.  






Linking up today at jenniferdukeslee.com    Click on the button and read some more stories.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When You Love Someone Who Makes Life Messy

I walk into the laundry room and can tell immediately that he's been in there. The towels are more rolled than folded, the dryer is stuffed beyond capacity, and the washer is filled with clothes that are covered in suds from too much detergent.

My brother has definitely been here.

My first instinct is to roll my eyes, put my hands on my hips and feel irritated over the extra work he has created by 'helping' me. After a couple of minutes, though, I feel bad about my flash of anger. This guy is 34 and he can't even help with laundry without making a mess of it. I clean up the clothes in the washer and dryer then go give Erik my thanks that he got the towels folded for me.

I hate folding towels, anyway.

When you love someone who makes life messy you just learn to laugh. (And sometimes cry in private.)

Six years ago Erik came to stay with us for a while. I had to run some errands and he decided he'd like to stay home alone, which is just fine. He really loves to clean when he's home alone, and I totally get that. I came home and  he said, "Happy surprise!" as he revealed my freshly cleaned home school room.

Hoo boy.

Here are some things you need to know:

1. My idea of organized looks nothing like Erik's idea of organized. His version means that all stuff is hidden. Not seen. Gone.

2. Erik is thorough. Like, OCD thorough.

3. He never means to mess up.

I was super gracious and profusely thanked him for his help. Then I locked myself in the bathroom and did the silent scream.

It literally took me two months to find one of the kids' math books. He had shoved papers, pencils, books, anything not nailed down into any available drawer. Dang, he was so proud of himself, though.

Another time I left him alone I came home to all of my furniture piled in the middle of the living room. I mean piled - tables, couches, chairs, toys, shoes - just in a heap. Erik really likes to vacuum, like really likes to vacuum and I will refer you above, to #2. Before you start thinking, "Hey, that's what you get for leaving him home alone." please know that sometimes what you come home to beats the heck out of dealing with him in public when he'd rather be home vacuuming.

Most recently Erik reeked havoc on a tree in my parents' back yard. We'd all been trimming honeysuckle off of some wires and instead of taking a lunch break Erik wanted to keep working. We let him go at it for a little while knowing that hunger would eventually win out. Later when we went out to finish one of the kids noticed some branches that were not honeysuckle.  Our eyes went to this:





This side looked okay, but then there was this:






He went all Edward Scissorhands on the bush.





This incident is a pretty great illustration of what it's like to love someone like Erik, someone who's body and brain do not always cooperate. Just like this bush, from the right angle everything looks okay but then you round the corner and BAM - it's a mess. The bush is not perfect but it's okay. We're going to keep it back there because it is still green and it still makes the yard look pretty and it hides the back of our neighbor's house. (My dad, after we all gazed perplexedly at the bush for a couple of days, said, "Well, if I'd known he was going to take that much out I'd have ordered a bigger shed for back there." Then we all laughed because it was funny.)

That's how my brother is - not perfect, but okay.  Unlike the bush with the big hole, Erik is not patient about waiting for the problem to solve itself. He wants to be an active participant in life, not a spectator. So he jumps in with everything he's got. He can look like he's doing okay and then, suddenly, not be okay, and we love him anyway because we know the whole story.

We know that Erik is the guy who loves to dance in the kitchen, who's favorite name to be called is "Uncle", who smiles on roller coasters like nobody's business. We know he's the guy that would walk one hundred miles to get a coke and candy bar and then gladly share it with you. We know that Erik, unlike this bush ever could, makes our lives richer.






Knowing Erik deepens my compassion. How can I not feel compassion for someone who has to work so hard at life?

Compassion is not the same as pity, though. I don't pity my brother. I do wish that things were easier for him, but then I wonder if I really wish he was more like the rest of us so that my life were easier. That's something to think about. Do I want my life to be easier more than I want his to be easier? Because the truth is he does complicate things, he does make life messier,  no doubt, but don't I? Don't you?

When you love someone who makes life messy you laugh during the good times and push against the hard feelings during the bad ones. You remember that making life easier isn't what this world is all about and you dig down deeper into who God says you are and you just keep going knowing that those verses from Ecclesiastes didn't just make good lyrics. They are truth and there really is a time for everything.

Then you go hide the hedge clippers and pray he doesn't ever decide to paint the house.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

While I Was Away...

Over the last month our internet connection has been hit or miss and I have not posted in that time. At first it started out with busyness - I had to take this child here, and that child there. I had to be on the phone for long periods of time figuring out about doctor appointments.

Then it became about perfectionism. I didn't have pictures to go with a post, or I wasn't quite happy with a post, or I just didn't  feel what I was writing.

As Lee's Granny would say, "Hogwash."

Since I am a recovering perfectionist sometimes I have setbacks and I suppose this was one. So, here's a quick over-view of what's been going on in the Shepherd Abode for the last month:

I have been reading this book:







I cannot recommend it more highly. I love Joanne Weaver's honest, straightforward look at herself. It allows the reader to do the same. I read the first book in this series, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, a really, really long time ago. I think I only had two little girls then. This one, Having a Mary Spirit, has been just what I needed. I find myself re-reading chapters, digging deeper into the questions, and just generally enjoying being introspective.

Sightseeing around my hometown:

Every time we have moved to a new city the first thing the kids and I do is scope out the library. Then we begin to explore our new town. It's always funny to me that the natives rarely take advantage of the unique offerings in their own hometown. Now that we're living back in Lexington, I am recognizing how easily that happens. 

Now, I know that because I was born and raised in Lexington I have a skewed view, but I really think that it is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. It also has quite a distinct personality, and I love that, too. 

Some of our favorite places to explore so far have been the Lexington Cemetery, McConnell Springs, and the University of Kentucky's Art Museum.

These are some of the (not greatest) pictures from our day at Lexington Cemetery:



He insisted on wearing this tie for days. Five year olds are awesome.



Wallowing in self pity:

Well, just a little bit of that. I really miss working at the library in Tell City, and I really miss my friends there. Moving is hard because you can't take your friends with you. You can, of course, talk to them on the phone and go visit them, but that can take away from time spent getting acclimated to your new city and meeting potential friends. Instead of showing you pictures of me wallowing I'll show you what I do when I start to feel wallow-y:

This is a screen shot of a village I found. I pretend it's real.



I play Minecraft. I don't even care if the whole world knows. I want the whole world to know. I think that Minecraft is so fun. I can stress mine and it doesn't cost me calories. I can build my own home out of materials that I choose, or in survival mode that I have gathered, and there are no dirty dishes or piles of laundry. It's pretty great. On my survival world I have worked very hard to create a safe environment, keep up with my farms, and explore the area. I've only been killed by lava once. On my creative world I have filled it with sheep that I dye blue, cyan, and pink. I highly recommend Minecraft.

I let Liam, the five year old, play with me, too, but he does weird things like cover my house in vines. I really like to mine. My friend Deirdre also likes to mine and sometimes when we call each other we talk about our day in Minecraft. I'm thinking of starting a group for Minecraft Moms. We'll see. On a sad  note, I accidentally killed my pet pig (in Minecraft) four days ago. I wanted to feed him a carrot but didn't realize I was holding an iron sword. The squealing noise he made before his demise is still ringing in my ears. 

Moving on before I get the itch to go play.


Doing school at the library:


And making a bad name for homeschoolers everywhere. Homeschooling in public is just different than homeschooling, well, at home. There's a little bit more pressure, for sure. Especially when people passing by whisper, "I think they're homeschooling,".  It kind of makes you feel like a zoo animal. I have found that there are two thoughts when it comes to homeschoolers.  There is group a) that has the false belief that all homeschoolers are geniuses, and then group b) that has the false belief that all homeschoolers are completely ignorant. Thus, the pressure to prove Group A correct and Group B wrong can be insurmountable. 

I don't get the feeling the librarians enjoy having us at the library, either, but I could be wrong. I mean, generally people smile when they are pleased to see you, right? Especially when you come twice at week at the same time. 

There was a train table incident, but surely they don't hold grudges.

Seriously, though, library clerks across America, smile for Pete's sake. You look happier that way.


Trying to find things I lost in the move:

I cannot find my awesome spelling curriculum, All About Spelling, the only thing that is helping my dyslexic children learn to spell. I also cannot find three of the math books that I need for the upcoming year. I am certain they are in the same box. I am even more certain, after emptying out our 10x10 storage unit that I am not going to find them. I am also almost equally certain that the minute I order new stuff  I will find it all. 

The fam was super supportive the first few weeks I began looking. Now if they can't find me they just assume I'm tearing through stuff looking. I've even gone so far as to accuse people of hiding it so they don't have to do spelling. I was so careful when we packed. I labeled methodically.

Where is my spelling stuff??????

Okay, moving on again.

Getting caught up in school:

Well, that's not really a thing, is it? No one gets 'caught up' in school. We moved in January so most of December was spent packing. My dad had open heart surgery six days after we moved in, so January was practically a lost cause. My high school age daughters did an excellent job of staying on top of math, science, and foreign language, though. We are in ancient history this year (Year 1 of Tapestry of Grace) which I'm enjoying this go round. Studying ancient culture makes me super thankful to have been born in 1973, though, seriously. We haven't done any big art projects this year, though, and I am feeling guilty. I wanted to make a giant paper mache bull because the Minoans were really into bulls. Kiley, my 17 year old daughter who is in charge of making art things happen, thought I wanted to make a giant bowl, though. Once we figured out why our ideas weren't making sense to the other we moved on. 

Wondering about choices I've made:

I am not sure if it's because I'm 41, or if because I've had more time on my hands than usual, or if it's because I'm back in my childhood home, but I find myself just pondering over all the choices that I've made. I've got to tell you, that is no good. It has been interesting pondering the why of some of my choices but I figured out real quick that pondering the what ifs  was going to lead straight to a tub of Ben and Jerry's. I've read it a million times, heard it in sermons, and believe it's true: you have to study where you've been to figure out where you're going. I know that's true, and I think it's healthy. There are some places in my life I do not ever want to re-visit but I can say I am grateful for every experience because it's all helped shape who I am today, and where I am today. Putting too much time into wondering what would have happened if just leads to fiction, though. I like to write fiction, not live it. I'm in a full color documentary, man, and I'm choosing to be happy with it.

So eat that, ghost of Christmas past.

Enjoying attending church:

I've wondered for the past 13 years what it would look like if my husband was not employed by the church. Would we still want to go? What would it feel like to sit as a family in church?

Well, it feels much the same, but also much different. We tried a few different churches before we found the one that felt like home. We fumbled our way through explaining who we were and how we'd gotten there and before we knew it we had a church family again. Easy peasy. Right as rain.

This is something I love about being a Christ-follower: you always have people. They may not look like you, talk like you, dress like you, or even eat like you do, but God's people are God's people anywhere you go. When you love Jesus it is impossible not to love his followers and treat them like family. (I would also like to note that when you love Jesus it is is impossible not to love the non-followers, too. You're not doing it right if that's not the case.)


So, that's it, for the most part. I'll leave you with one of the other things I've been doing when I should be doing other things:





TTYS, peeps.

See how down I am with the young folk?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Dear Kids,

Dear Kids,

So, it's Mother's Day, and just like every year I think it was the best Mother's Day ever. I mean, you didn't make me coffee, you still fought like alley cats, and none of you helped me clean out the van, BUT, you each gave me a hug and made me feel loved, and that's all I really ever need.

I hesitate to tell you all this because it could lead to disappointment next year, but I actually don't ever need a gift on Mother's Day. I know it will sound cliche, yet I am sincere when I say that you are each gift enough for me. I didn't know it until I was knee deep in breast milk and diaper wipes that being a mother was what I always wanted to be when I grew up. When I became a mother it was as if a key had unlocked a door that I didn't know existed and my true self was let out, or if not let out then enhanced. You each have made me better, deeper, softer, and more transparent than I could have been on my own.

You remember the story of the Velveteen Rabbit that I read to you when you guys were little? The one that always made me cry? The one about the rabbit who was loved so much he became real? See, I am the velveteen rabbit.

Thankfully you haven't loved off all of my hair yet, but I'm sure that day is coming.

The way you all love me inspires me, cures what ails me, and helps me to see myself the way that you do. When you were newborn babies and my body had gone thick and spongy the pure adoration in your eyes made me forget what I thought of myself. You think I'm beautiful and I can't help but feel beautiful under your admiration. Thank you for that.

I see how willing you are to learn, how eager you are to please and it encourages me to be the same. How can it be that I forget how amazing the world is? It is so fun to learn with you and from you, to explore new places, taste new foods, and find new songs to love with people like you. I never understood it when other mothers complained that their children sucked the life from them, that they felt that they had lost themselves when they became mothers. I felt like I found myself after I became a mom. I felt passion about issues, fell back in love with reading, became unafraid of meeting new people. Its hard, sure, but that's what I signed up for. What I did not expect was that being with young people, you people, is so fun! Even on the days when we yell and go to bed exasperated I can't wait to do it all again the next day.

After coffee, of course.

I thought mothering would be about teaching you right from wrong or to make up your beds or feeding you balanced meals. I had no idea that mothering is a kind of never-ending boot camp where instead of doing pushups in the mud you're scrubbing toilets and cleaning up piles of puke. Your drill sergeant is a tiny person whose demands must be met in spite of sleep deprivation.

Mothering has given me joy unspeakable. I have precious memories of first smiles, first baths, counting toes, and singing songs over and over until little eyes closed. I had no clue, though, that this journey would take me where it has. There were times when I was tempted to feel alone, to feel sorry for myself and then I would shake it off and realize that I was not alone - I had you four children. We took walks together, shared picnics, visited friends, went to doctor appointments - there was nothing we did not do together. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Except in the bathroom. I would desperately like to be alone in the bathroom.

The name 'Mom' must give supernatural fearlessness because I feel so brave when you call to me. In the night or whenever  you need reassurance all of my fears are gone because all I want is for you to feel safe. There is no length I will not go to maintain your security. I would not hesitate to go Rick Grimes on someone who threatened you.

You kids make me brave in other ways, too. I don't want you to have my weird fears (you can have your own, thank-you-very-much) so I force myself to ride escalators and roller coasters to help you be brave, too. You may not believe this but forcing you to do things you don't want to do takes an act of courage, too. It would be much easier for me to let you stay safe with me all of the time but like a mama bird I know when I need to push you out of the nest. How else would you know how amazing it is to fly?

Thanks to you four kids I know God way more intimately than I might have. My prayers for your lives first drew me to my knees in complete supplication, then later as you got older your temperaments (or maybe mine) encouraged me to cry out to God for assistance. I'm thankful for that time on my knees because I slowly learned the truth that you are not mine forever but for a time. My job isn't to keep you caged and safe but to help you become who God designed you to be. Easier said than done, but I think we're doing okay.

Thanks for a great Mother's Day, dudes. Thanks for loving me like you do.

Love,

Mama




Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Go Fly a Kite

My mom brought home kites a couple of days ago and my big boy has been chomping at the bit to get out and fly his. Today he wore me down and we walked to the park to see what we could do with it.




At the age of 11 I can see the young man emerging in my little boy. He is almost eye to eye with me, his shoulders are broadening, and he carries himself with more assurance. This is the age when kids are on the cusp. They crave adult privileges with none of the responsibilities. Eleven year olds desire independence, autonomy, but also grow fearful when given too much at once.

We get to the park and walk beyond the playground to the open field. It takes us a few minutes to assemble the kites and get the string where it's supposed to go. My kid is so excited that he cannot patiently wait for my instructions, he's just got to go try it.

It's a breezy day, but not constant. His frustration mounts quickly and it's less than five minutes before he throws the kite down in anger and storms off.

This is new. My words used to be gold to this guy. He would sit next to me, head turned up to hear, eyes locked on mine ready to receive my instructions. "Mom said" was the law in his eyes one short year ago.

This new thing, the not listening, the forging ahead, the I-can-do-it-without-you, is different.

My instinct is to chase him and lecture him, to force him to listen to me. To put my hands on his shoulders and remind him that if he had just listened to my instructions in the first place I could have eliminated his frustration.

The thing is, though, that I remember being frustrated like that. Feeling that just one thing should be easy, feeling like everything was against me, even the wind. So I push against my instinct, turn my face into the wind and run with the kite.

I run and the kite catches the wind in just the right way and it soars into the blue sky. I let out more string so that the kite can go further. The wind whips it around and the tails fly in a frenzy. The kite settles down and I stand grinning in the field. I have also been joined by my boy.

Suddenly the kite does a crazy figure eight and crashes to the ground.

I hand the kite off and tell him he'll figure it out, that I know he can do it, and I mean it when I say it.

Then I walk away.

I am playing with my younger son at the park when I hear him laughing.

"Mom, mom, I'm doing it!"

And he is. He is flying the kite without instruction, and he's just fine.

Arriving home my mom is in the kitchen and sees the kites in our hands.

"Oh, good! You took them out! Did you get it up in the air okay?"

Me and my boy, our eyes meet over the pitcher of tea he's holding. He is asking a question with his sweet brown eyes. I smile in answer. His body relaxes and he rushes to answer.

"Yes! It was great, I flew the kite all by myself!"

I walk out of the room listening to him tell of kite flying and wind and perfection as only an exuberant 11-year old can, and I am so glad I got to fly a kite today, too.






Saturday, March 28, 2015

Five Things


I'm not a big keepsake person. My family has moved so often that I find it's just more stuff to put in a box when it's time to move. There, are however, five possessions I have that mean a lot to me right now.







My wedding band

It is a plain band made from white gold. My husband has two matching ones (that story later). Two nights before our wedding we realized we had never purchased the bands we were to exchange with our vows. We went to Service Merchandise because we had no idea where else to go. We also didn't have a lot of cash since we were both still in college.

A clerk caught us looking at the bands and kindly showed us some $300 sets. They were pretty, but still too expensive for our budget. We found the plain bands for about $50 a piece and were out of the door 15 minutes later.

It's funny how a symbol develops meaning over twenty years. That plain metal band is so important to me, not only because of what it means but because of where it's been. We were on a mission trip to Jamaica a few years ago and I noticed it was bent. I have no idea how the tiny dent got there. I've tried to straighten it out as best I can. I could take it to a jeweler and have it fixed but I worry that it wouldn't be my band anymore. I figure I earned that dent.





~ A  drawing from a friend

Our fourth child was born in October of 2009. I was severely anemic and also had horrible postpartum anxiety. To top it all off I had to have an MRI and a spot was found on my liver, sending my anxiety into overdrive. My other three children felt that there mother had been exchanged for someone who looked like me but acted like an alien. An alien that leaked breast milk and tears. An alien that had to be hooked to a machine to help increase the leaky problem. The alien also came with an alien baby who wreaked havoc in their lives.

My sweet friend Jenna took the kids for afternoons so that they could escape the leaking alien. She drew this for me on one of those trips.  It served as a reminder that motherhood is a privilege not a prison sentence and still does today.





~ My red sneakers


I bought these sneakers four or five years ago. I have always loved red, red anything, but these just called to me. Plus, they were on sale for a GREAT price. They are a little flat so I have to get those squishy things to make my feet feel happy but overall they have been awesome shoes. They have been on walks with me, they have helped me look cute as I chase one of my dogs through the neighborhood after an escape. They have walked on the beach at Dauphin Island with me. I love these shoes.

I packed them away late last fall when we were preparing to move. I forgot about them in the shuffle of everything. A couple of weeks ago I found them in the bottom of a box with some other forgotten items and it was quite a happy reunion. I saw those shoes and recalled all the places we'd been together and couldn't wait to show them around their new city.






~ Baby clothes

I just can't quite put these baby clothes away permanently. I keep them in one of my drawers and like to look at them a couple of times a year when I'm trying to clean out my drawers. My babies are all getting so big now. My girls are 17 and (almost) 15, and my boys are 11 and 5. On days when I'm finding it hard to remember the sweet stuff I pull these clothes out.

Some friends just had their third child a few days ago. Bringing home baby to four and two year old sons has been a train wreck. They are exhausted and can barely remember their own names. I told Roger, the new dad,  "One day, you'll look back and remember these as the sweetest days of your life."  He laughed and said that's what other people had told him.

"Nah, I'm lying,"  I confessed, "You'll always look back on these days and remember how hellishly tired you were and wonder how you did it."

Don't get me wrong, I miss having a newborn, and if someone would hand me (or two) one I would be overjoyed. Being a parent to a new child though, causes you to have to dig deep into the well, especially when you have other small children to feed and clothe. It's hard, really, really hard. I think, though, if you can get through those first six weeks or so and not turn on each other, you're gold.

I look back on the early days with my babies and I think, "I did that, so I can do anything."

As long as I have coffee.






~  My journals


I don't journal consistently, but I have notebooks/journals filled with thoughts, pictures, writing ideas, bible study notes,  and letters to people who have ticked me off. Sometimes I lose them and then will come across them months or years later. I love to peruse their pages and see myself through fresh eyes. I am occasionally really embarrassed by younger me. I am also occasionally surprised at how deep my bible study was. My journals often inspire me to do more of the same.

Those are my five favorite items right now. I realize that each item is special to me because it has my history wrapped up in it. I read once that knowing our history is important because it tells us so much about where we are and will help us determine where we want to go. These simple items, things I could no doubt live without, hold a special place in my heart.  Each item helps keep me grounded in who I was, who I am, and excited about where God will take me.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why I Keep Hershey Kisses in My Purse

I don't like clothes shopping. Never have, never will.

I just feel that the clothing industry is where the real war on women is. Like someone out there wants us all to either wear sweat pants and t-shirts every day or they have something against women in general. I do not understand it, the average woman's weight is steadily rising yet the fabric used to make our clothing gets increasingly thinner. And stretchier. And less forgiving.

What the heck?

Last year at Easter Mom bought me a dress. I was pretty excited because it was my size. It was not a style I would have picked but I was game. I put it on in the bathroom and from the neck up I was pretty impressed. I went to the full length mirror and wasn't so sure.

I called my husband in for a second opinion. He stood behind me while I turned to and fro trying to get a feel for whether or not this dress would accompany me to church the next morning.

"Well, what do you think?" I asked Lee.

He didn't answer so I turned to see what was up.  "Well?" I probed.

Lee looked pained, like he had swallowed something the wrong way and couldn't get it out.

The poor man answered shakily, "I'm so scared right now. Is this a trick? What's the right answer?"

The answer was I looked like a hot dog that had been left in the water too dang long. Lumps and bumps were popping out all over the place. I had tried to wear undergarments that held everything in before and was not happening again. It took three people to get me out of the contraption and my ribs have never been the same. Also, the dress was obviously made from the same type of material that they must use for topographical maps because every hill and valley was highlighted.

The next week I exchanged the pretty dress for a pair of pants with an elastic waist band and two t-shirts.

A few months ago my daughters convinced me to go shopping with them, probably because they know that I am weak after a dressing room experience and that they could get me to say 'yes' to just one more pair of jeans. All shirts are now see through. I'm not even kidding. I guess you're supposed to also buy shirts to go under or have on a fancy bra but I don't get it.

I'm not the only confused one. I've met plenty of confused women in the dressing room. We take turns in front of three-way Mirror of Shame. We say nice things to each other to try and clear the confusion. Clearing up confusion is not easy under the sickly yellow of fluorescent lights, either.

"Oh, I think the zipper is supposed to be open at the top a little. It's a thing now," someone will say.

"When you stand with one hand in the air and one in front of you it looks really good," another offers as encouragement.

I've told my daughters that it's totally normal to hear soft weeping from an adjoining dressing room. "Just throw some chocolate under the partition and leave. She'll be fine."

 And that's why I always keep some Hershey kisses in my purse.

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