The beautiful blond hopped toward me and her smiling face could not hide any of her emotions. She was truly overjoyed to see me.
Her long blond hair bounced as she spun and bounced back a few steps. Before I knew it, she had hooked my thigh with the shephard's crook and was pulling me toward her.
Today was "rehearsal" for the 1st Grade Christmas play. The teachers were happy to see me. They were trying to get the "angels", "wisemen", and "shepherds" in their costumes and my Sunday Friend had other ideas for the morning.
I asked my favorite 7 year old if she would put on an Angel robe.
grumpily she stomped, "no"
Then the teacher said "What if Ms. Margaret wore one too?"
Oh, good grief, why suggest something that might not even need to be suggested!!
I sweated out the response, because even though donning a first grade Angel costume and placing my thick 40 year old self in a group of nine, tiny, 7 year old angels was a complete nightmare, I would do it for my Sunday Friend.
She dropped her head in a pout and grumpily stomped "no"
I spent the morning giving my Friend 2 choices for everything she did not want to do and standing my ground. She had to choose ONE. "NO" was not an option.
"Do you want to go in this room and color with these kids, or do you want to go in the other room and sing?"
"NO" plops in the floor
I lowered my voice and put on my expressionless, "I have no concern" face. I took her hand and in one move picked her off the floor and led her to the fish tank.
"I did not ask. Now you find 5 fish and I will choose a room, if you don't"
This confused her. She loves looking at the fish, so how was this a punishment? We named the fish, created a story and started giggling together.......while I led her into the rehearsal room.
We ended up in the corner, watching the other children. 15 minutes of her smiling at me, hugging me, wrapping her arm around my neck, and filling my heart. She listened and watched the children, saying only two things the whole time:
1. As she ran her little finger through my hair and found that it was a '2 clip day' for my curls, she said "my mommy can brush hair. You want her to brush yours?"
2. Can I see baby Jesus? I need to see his eyes.
The first comment filled my heart.
The second comment broke it.
I need to look at people's eyes when I talk to them, when I am unsure about myself, when I need to feel approval. I would give anything to look into Jesus's eyes as I beg him for help with my struggles, ask for forgiveness, or need to feel loved.
"yes, when all the kids are done, we can go over and look at Baby Jesus."
Her fingers clasped together, her eyes curved and her teeth clinched together as her mouth widened with an excited smile.
She kept her eyes on the baby doll the rest of the time.
The kids left the room and the teachers followed behind. I explained that my Friend and I were staying behind and the last teacher turned to look at us.
"Put Baby Jesus in the closet when you are done."
My Friend looked at me with worry. I whispered that Baby Jesus would wait right here in the room until next Sunday. No closet.
I would have to get her out of the room before stuffing the manger and baby in the closet with the costumes.
As the noise moved away from our room, I felt swallowed into a calm.
"Where are Baby Jesus's clothes?"
"He doesnt have any, that is why they wrap him in blankets."
We unwrapped the doll and looked at the hands, counted the fingers and smiled at each other with giggles.
We unwrapped the doll's feet and counted the toes.
"His feet are cold. Give him your scarf."
We wrapped Baby Jesus in my blue knit scarf.
"He feels better."
She grabbed the baby up in her arms, flopped herself into my lap, grabbed my right hand and placed it on her shoulder, grabbed my left hand and placed it under the baby's head, and then wrapped her right arm around my neck. We sat, wrapped up in each other, holding the baby doll.
She whispered "I like his eyes."
"yes, they are nice."
She looked at my eyes "I love Him."
Well.......shoot! My eyes welled up with tears and they overflowed to my cheeks. I smiled at my sweet friend.
"Yes, and he loves you!"
She shoved the baby toward my chest "Do you love him?"
Fighting back the ugly cry, my voice squeaked, "yes......yes, I do."
After my Friend left with her dad, I took back my scarf and wrapped the doll in all the cloths, folded it up with the manger and stuffed it under the angel costumes.
Then my dripping heart, eyes and nose ventured out of the quiet, warm and perfect room and into the loud screaming bustle of the hallway.
My Sunday FRIEND felt it was time to see how far she could push me today. I think she won.
I am so glad I taught school and had kids in my 20s, when I was creative and successful in making all children do the right thing.
After a horrible week of migraines and no sleep, I gave into rationalizing the need my FRIEND would have to roam the halls, instead of sitting with her class.
I convinced myself that it would not set a precedence for what would happen every Sunday.
As we roamed from empty room to empty room, we found objects that started with....whatever letter she chose.
Educational.....but with each shrill and giggle of enjoyment I knew I was losing the idea of ever joining the class for music and story time.
When my FRIEND shot down the hall and up the stairs, I knew I had created future Sunday disasters.
I searched my brilliant brain for a creative way to discourage anymore of these actions.
Knowing that she really doesn't like to be held or forcefully moved, I stupidly said:
"you come down the stairs or I'm going to turn you into a sack of potatoes."
She stared wide-eyed but curious as I picked her up and swung her over my shoulder (like a sack of potatoes).
Her giggles and big smile alerted me that this was NOT going to discourage her.
Trying to salvage the situation, I told her that next Sunday we must join the class:
"What would you like me to bring, for you to hold quietly in your hands, as we sit with the class."
"This fish!" she pointed to the ginormous goldfish swimming in the 1000 gallon tank beside us.
Her feeling of excitement met my "oh, crap" feeling.
Soon her mother arrived.
"Bye Market!", she melts me with the way she pronounces my name.
I can only assume that MOM was wondering why her daughter was roaming the halls with me instead of joining her class, because what is the use of ME if her daughter is not with her peers. MOM gave me an unsure but polite smile and thanked me for being with FRIEND.
"Bye 'FRIEND', see you next Sunday!"
My FRIEND melts me with her smile as she yells, "Market, put me back in the sack of potatoes!"
and skips away.
I glance at MOM. She's not smiling as she turns and hesitantly waves bye to me.
.......now, where to get a fish before next Sunday.......
This morning, our preacher addressed a hymn we sang earlier in the service.
"I am about to ruin the hymn for you......"
Well, my ears perked up! I love a good scandal and I could only imagine that a scandal would be the thing to ruin a hymn. I racked my brain to figure out what dirty secret we would find out about the sinful author.
"Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
I glance at Jeff. He told me several years ago that he loved that hymn.
I giggled to myself as I thought.....
Well, I hope he is preparing to be disappointed.....
AND ANYWAY, why the heck are we singing it, if it has a soap opera story tied to it??
The preacher proceeds to tell us about Robert Robinson, the author of the hymn, and how he eventually left the faith.
In the last stanza, Robert writes:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love
Take my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above.
Robert was prone to wander. The feelings he indulged were overwhelming.
I began to examine the words, starting with the title:
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing:
Please Lord! I am desperate for you to give me your endless blessings!
For me, the hymn went from a regular church song about worshiping God to an honest cry to God,
"I need you!"
I can feel exactly what Robert felt: the hole, the ache.
Please Lord! Take my heart, seal it! Protect me from myself!
Every Sunday, I pray a similar prayer, and feel awful that the JOY and choosing God does not come easily.
I, daily, indulge and meditate on earthly desires.
It is painful to follow God.
It is painful to give up desires.
It is painful to choose the Lord.
So I warn those that attend church with me. Next time we sing this hymn, I will be belting out the last stanza, making it obvious that God did not give me the gift of singing......
AND I quite possibly may indulge in the ugly cry, making it obvious that God did not give me the gift of self-control.
However, I know that he took my heart and sealed it!
If you haven't read my ClassicMaz blog from the beginning, then you probably don't know WHY it is named CLASSICMAZ. There was a SNL skit with Justin Timberlake as Classic Peg.
Peg would tell stories about how awkward things happened to her, or how she caused accidents and end the story with "Classic Peg".
I, too, am awkward and cause problems........ending a situation with "Classic MAZ" ringing in my head.
Like this morning...
I was dropping off my youngest at church. I sat in the car to finish posting a picture on instagram. I look up as a car is backing up and coming to a stop right in front of my car (about 5 feet away). The guy looks like my friend's husband, but not. I look back down. I look back up and he is grinning. I throw a stupid "stick your face out and grin big" right back at him and he rolls his window down. All this time I'm thinking, "something is different about SP".
I roll my window down and realize, by the way we are parked, I won't be able to hear whatever he says...so I open my door to get out of my car. As I'm closing the door, his gaze seems to be slightly behind me as he says "what are you doing?" I prepare to say something witty as a lady walks from behind me toward his car.
Oh My Word......He IS NOT my friend's husband AND he IS NOT smiling/talking to me. I am so close to this interaction that I can't just get back into my car like an idiot.....
So I go into the gym, where my oldest son is working the desk. I am sure he is not happy that I have come to see him at work. I make up 2 random questions and then walk back to my car and FLEE!
(BY THE WAY, my friend's husband is a good friend of mine and there is no reason why I should not have been aware that this wasn't him........sheesh)
I am at a work seminar by myself. I am surrounded by nice dressed men and women of the business world, which means I am feeling VERY out of place. My table fills up.....thank goodness, because I was by myself and fearing that it was going to be high school ALL OVER AGAIN...
It would have been much better to stay ALONE because after my table filled up, a man asked if he could join us. I found this odd because he had to pull a chair away from another table to squeeze in with us.
After getting situated, he asked me "what was your maiden name?"
I told him and he loudly proclaims to the table "yes, we went out in college!"
Everyone looked at me. this guy has on a western style dress shirt with the pearl buttons and khakis that have western stitching ON THE SIDES.
My first and natural response was to say "...ha ha ha...whatever! I don't think so!" But I was not there as MAZ.....I was there as someone's employee....so I tried to think of a "professional" reply.....
Before I could speak, he continued, "we had History together, my freshmen year of college. this girl was hilarious! I took her to a party.....a mixer.....she was a riot! she had everyone in tears, laughing."
the table looks at me again.
I politely smile as my brain is scanning memories to see if I remembered any of what he was talking about. I looked at everyone's faces and developed a sudden urge to just slide out of my chair and under the table.
THEN it hit me:
I remember this guy. I DID have history with him. He saved me a seat everyday and told me stories of how he was a rodeo bull rider. at the age of 18, he had a fake hip.
I did remember the mixer. BUT I remember him asking "are you going?"
I said "yes"
I saw him at the mixer.
I dont remember being funny, so maybe he had been drinking. I don't even remember talking to him AT ALL. Not sure how he got "we went out" from that mixer.....
Back to the table,
as everyone is staring at me waiting for my response.....and probably waiting for a funny one, to put them in tears
I smiled. I stretched out my hand to get a drink of coffee....stalling. But instead of gracefully taking the coffee mug...
I spilled the guys water......and then the host rose from my table and walked to the podium to begin introducing the guest speaker......
The other Sunday was like any other Sunday.
I sat uncomfortable in my pew, cursing the man that invented pantyhose.
I fumbled through the church bulletin, while waiting for the sermon.
I read these words and immediately, without thinking, tore them out and stuck them in my Bible. I LOVE these words! I LOVE what it means to me personally!!!
This morning, I came across the piece of paper tucked in my Bible. I read the words again. I let the feeling of worship and glorifying God begin to trickle over me....
Before I let down my guard to feel emotion, I felt Jack shake beside me and then heard a small giggle.
I quickly snapped back into MAZ mode and shot Jack a "look". He stole a quick look at Max and then bowed his head but his shoulders continued to shake with laughter.
I looked at Max. He had dark circles under his eyes and his lids looked as if they would fall straight to the floor with the weight of sleep. I looked back at the pastor. Seconds later, Jack was hysterical again. I tilted my head forward so I could look around Jack, in order to see Max. Max's eyelids were huge and swollen with "sleepy time", leaving tiny slits for us to see his glassy eyeballs rolling around in the sockets.
As soon as I witnessed the next action, Jack giggled audibly. Max's lips were moving. Was he talking in his "pew sleep"? I smiled as Jack shook with silent giggles. Max's eyes shifted sharp to look into mine. A blaze of anger silenced my grinning eyes.
In fear, I turned to look straight ahead. As soon as the service was over, I heard a demon say "I will kill you. I will kill you as much as I can." I looked behind me at my sons. Max's eyes were black as he hissed these angry words at Jack.
Jack's eyes were dancing in delight of Max's anger.
If I were the one reading this about another family and kid, I would think back to my experience in dealing with emotional disturbed children and their families. I would start an intervention for the family...immediately.
However, it is Max.....my son.....just like his momma....quick to anger.
Add lack of sleep and poor diet......you get a demon in the pew on a beautiful Sunday morning.
Last year, Jeff and I took the boys on their first trip to Disneyworld.
A couple of weeks before this SHOCKING trip (because we never go anywhere unless it is to visit family), I engaged in a conversation with an older couple at church.
In my attempt to build a new friendship with this couple, I asked them about their family, life, etc.......which of course led right back to talking about me (I have a talent for that).
I told them about our upcoming trip to Disney. This 70 year old couple immediately turned into 10 year olds. They grinned and giggled and shared story after story about their Disney trips. The Disney man had the cutest grin with chipmunk cheeks and smiley eyes.....
They go every year.
They love Disney.
They stay a couple of weeks.
They love Disney.
It is the best place in the world.
They love Disney.
They wanted to hear all about our plans AND when we returned, they pounced on us to hear about the trip. I truthfully told them how my 3 guys loved it. In order to not offend, I kept my opinions to myself. AND I have avoided conversing with them about Disney for the past year!
Yesterday, I was in a conversation with another lady that has twin 15 year old girls. Her girls were upset because they were not going anywhere for Spring Break. I felt sorry for the girls until they told me that they were spending their whole week cleaning and organizing the house.
MY DREAM VACATION!
My youngest says "we never go anywhere either"
I shrilly respond "we went to Disney last year!"
picture the next few seconds are in slow motion
As my head slowly turns back to my friend, I loudly say
"i haaate dizzzneee it is theee woooorssst plaaaaacce eeeevvvveeerrrr"
As soon as the last word hit my lips and my top teeth were on my bottom lip forming the "V" sound in EVVVVER, my eyes caught someone in the background.
It was the Disney Man. His cheeks had fallen and his mouth hung open, life gone from his eyes. You would have thought I had just given him traumatic and shocking news (i think I did)
There was no way to recover. I quickly changed the subject to raunchy romance novels (logical, right?) and left the room.
HAPPY SPRING BREAK EVERYBODY!
You always know where you stand with kids.
"your breath smells"
"you look funny"
"i dont like you"
As you all know, I HATE wearing sunday clothes: skirt, hose, dress shoes
I was not made to look "nice" when dressed up. I look more like
and not even that cute
Needless to say, I wish I could worship in tank and jeans. Still wouldn't feel cute, but would definitely be comfortable!
This morning, I hit the "lost 22 pounds" mark and was able to wear my smaller sweater and skirt. It is rainy here so my hair was crazy, as usual.
By the time I got to church, I was wishing that I had not worn the smaller sweater and skirt. It didn't feel tight, but I was longing for a coat or snuggie.....a cover whole self suit.
We get to church early and I can usually sit down before the crowd arrives. I do this to avoid walking down the aisle feeling everyone looking at me.
(don't forget, everything revolves around me....even church services)
This morning, I needed to run to the restroom. When I came back in the sanctuary, it had begun to fill. I carefully walked down the long aisle hoping I did not look as ridiculous as I felt. As I entered the pew where my guys were sitting, I felt:
tap.... tap.... tap..... on my butt
I turned around and then let my gaze drop closer to the floor.
My favorite little kid in the whole church was looking up at me with his big blue eyes.
"you look beautiful today" and then he hugged me
This kid gives out hugs like candy so in the "big picture", it was just him being sweet and cute.....and his mother could have put him up to it......but for 5 seconds I felt like
but only 5 seconds because then my 15 year old leans over and grumbles....."sigh, you guys sit on the old people side of the church...sigh"
No matter how tired I am, how horrible the day has gone, what wonderful thing has happened, who made me cry.....well you get the idea...
Wednesday Night Church Dinner brings me joy.
Tonight, I walked from my table on one side of the giant room to the coffee urn 12 miles away, across the room. I filled two cups up with hot coffee and turned to cross the sea of people between me and my dinner table.
"Hey sweet thing! Have you been able to sleep this week?"
I turn to see my friends mother, Mrs. R, sitting at a table of 10 people, all in their 70s and 80s.
I had told her Sunday that I am not sleeping anymore.
"Well, I had a migraine this week, so...no, no sleep."
Her husband, Mr. R, motions me over for a hug.
"Have you gotten to the point where you are sweating in bed, throw off the covers and then start freezing and pull all the covers back on you?"
I am amused that Mr. R would ask me about "hot flashes".
"No, I am not there yet. I am turning 40 this year, so I bet it is soon!"
"Hey, are you married?"
A very old lady across the table squeaks at me.
"Yes, I am." I politely walk toward the lady, with my two hot cups of coffee. I am sensitive that each person at this table may not have complete hearing (due to the amount of years they have been on this earth).
She loudly continues as her husband puts his arm around my waist.
"I heard that a good go at sex is great for getting rid of migraines. That is why I asked if you were married. If you weren't married, I would not have told you that."
I was suddenly aware that I was awkwardly close to this man, the coffee was strangely getting heavy, AND a flash of heat flushed over my face.
I stood there staring at her with the polite grin that I had fixed to my face BEFORE the word SEX came out of her mouth.
The whole table started giggling and looking at me like I was a kid.
Mr. R turned and looked up into my face with the biggest grin, "your face is really red"
I turned away from all of them and said "I think I better go back to my seat."
I heard another from the "old sex table" say
"Her husband is going to get it tonight!"
WHA.........church........... people, we are in church!
Later in the dinner, I guess I lost my mind and went back for a second cup of coffee. This "old sex table" was right next to the coffee urn.
Our church's resident Dr. Ruth grabs my arm. "so how are things going in the bedroom? Is everything working right?"
"Well, my migraine is gone."
I'm skipping the coffee next week!
Wednesday, I was a little "off".
Not my usual super self....
When 5:30 finally rolled around, I headed to church. In a zombie-like state, I went through the motions of dinner and then helped wrap some buckets with paper (preparation for an upcoming conference).
7:30 slowly made the clock and I headed to a parent/teen meeting. As I sat in the meeting, I felt everything drain completely out of me. I had driven separate from the family, so I whispered to Jeff that I needed to go home.
I had my 70 pound backpack thrown over one shoulder and started down the 75 step staircase. On about the 3rd step, the backpack popped off my shoulder and landed in the crook of my arm. The force brought me down....down....down all 182 steps...one bounce at a time.
I sat up at the bottom, unwrapped my leg from around my neck and propped my back up against the wall.
I am not sure how long I sat there. Here was my thought process.
"I hope nobody saw that." As far as I knew, I was the only one NOT in the meeting. PHEW
"I'll just crumple right here until Jeff comes out of the meeting and then he can get me to the car."
"nope, I am sure the teens will come out before Jeff.....I am sure ANYONE will come into view before Jeff."
"oh crap, I hope I'm not on the security camera."
I have no idea how I made it to the car, home and into the shower.....crawled under a blanket in the rocking chair, went to sleep.
Then, Thursday came!
By 9:30AM, I was positive I had broken the right ass cheek.
In a recent "sermon", the teacher used an analogy that I cannot get out of my head.
If you see someone's house burning down, you don't stand back and say "mmm hmmm, I knew that would happen because they....."
You would scream "your house is burning! get out!"
This was in reference to Christians continuing in sin and fellow Christians stopping them without judgement.
The problem is that most sin is not as scary as a burning house.
Sin can be exciting, a thrill, and sometimes a comfort. Most of the time, we can rationalize the reasons for our sin.
Some of us have a small trash can fire. Some of us have a multiple alarm fire.
The teacher used another picture of God taking us by the hand, like a parent. He pulls us away from danger, covers our eyes as we continue to look back at the sin, and grasps firmly to our hand to keep us with Him.
It continues to blow my mind that He would even bother to keep turning us back to him when we continue to choose other "delights" instead of Him!
I have a hard time with the fact that God CHOSE to love us. He loves us because He loves us. Not because of what we do, who we are, what we look like, or even what WE choose to love.