what i learned this week #6

whatilearnedthisweek

1.  The Zombies, Run! app has to be the most fun C25K (Couch to 5K) app ever.  Armband + earbuds + this app = me having fun running for the first time in my life.

2. Kale chips don’t save well overnight.  Eat them immediately out of the oven.  You’ll be happy.

library23. A trip to the library is the equivalent of me climbing into a Delorian with a flux capacitor.  I’m not making a statement about books being antiquated; I’m saying that being among gobs of paper covered with cardboard reminds me that once I was a bookworm, and I still like books very much.  Dear Books, Will you be my friend again?  Check yes or no.

4. There seems to be nothing more the neurologist can do for me right now.  He’s run all the tests he finds appropriate, and his parting words were pretty much, “Well, you seem to be getting better.  See you in 6 months.”  He’s a good doctor, and I think maybe what’s going on with me isn’t going to be addressed by his field.  I doubt I’ll go back unless something drastic changes.

5.  My kids are so full of grace toward me.  At the same bedtime in which I’m kicking myself for being a sorry, impatient, selfish mom, my kids are thanking God for me in their prayers and snuggling up to me.  The way they love me so fully in spite of my failures reminds me of the verse that says, “His kindness leads us to repentance.”  You can’t help but want to be better when you’re the recipient of such an undeserved gift.

graduation6. People are so weird when it comes to ceremonies these days.  We complain if it’s too long, we complain if it’s too short.  Some people wouldn’t mind if it didn’t happen at all, because “it doesn’t change anything,” even though others would pay more than $1000 to suffer in coach for 15 hours just to attend.  Some of us get dressed up in our best duds just to show up and chat with a neighbor the whole time. We are weird, y’all.  (I still think they’re important.)

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no regrets, no problems?

I used to live in a house with 6 other college girls.  Three of them were named Erin.  It was awesome.  And yes, they did sing their names as a chord, arpeggiating the triad from the bottom up.  Wait, did that really happen?!  That is too awesome for words.

All three Erins emailed after my last post to say “that sucks” and “I’m praying.”  One Erin sent me a link to another blog talking about how that trite phrase God won’t give you more than you can handle is a load of crap.  I couldn’t agree more.  If you don’t believe me, you should read the other post.  He said it better than I could have anyway.

You know what else I think is a sad, misleading idea that gets tossed around a lot?  “Live life with no regrets.”  Yes, I think it’s a fabulous idea to live the best life you can and go after good things that might seem intimidating or difficult to attain.  Unfortunately, when you take a big idea that needs clarification and boil it down to a cute sentence that fits neatly on a facebook meme, people tend to drag that idea off into various dark corners.

“No regrets” should not mean:

  • As long as I meant it in the moment, it’s okay.  Authenticity trumps all, including compassion and wisdom.
  • Whatever bad has happened in my past made me who I am today, and I should like everything about me.  Therefore, everything bad is good.  I’d choose it again.
  • Apology?  What’s that?

How do I know people take a seemingly well-intentioned phrase and extrapolate such nightmarish conclusions?  Because my freshman students said all of the above in a conversation we had yesterday.  Are they sitting in an alternative school as a result of these attitudes?  Do many people have these ideas running through their heads?  Were they taught this explicitly by family or culture-at-large?   I’d really love to know.

To my way of thinking, the worst outcome of this approach to “no regrets” is that ultimately, it tells me I can do no wrong.  Sin doesn’t really exist for me, and there is no need for me to feel anguish over hurting someone else.

“So, you’ve never said something to your mom and felt bad later that you hurt her feelings?”  I asked them.

“No, because I meant it in the moment, so it is what it is,” replied one of my kids.

Pretty much all of the responses ran in that vein.  I had to remind myself that most of them talk out both sides of their mouths as a general rule, but…

Does that scare you?  It kind of did me.

update: {new normal} how it feels to be me

31days new normalThis post is for any gracious person who read this series last October.

It’s been a year since my first brain scan, and I thought I’d celebrate by having another one done later this month.  Ain’t no party like a Lauren Lutz party…

But seriously, y’all.  This party could happily stop with a diagnosis, and I’m encouraged that it could soon.  I’m almost through with another round of tests that have included about 2 gallons of bloodwork and a skin punch biopsy.

The results for the biopsy will be in at the end of this week, and I expect it to show damage to the network of small fiber nerves.  (I think I said that right.)  While that will technically give a diagnosis, it’s really only like a sub-diagnosis under the Big Question Mark.  I’ve been working jigsaw and crossword puzzles this week, and I’m appreciative of every piece that pops into place in health matters, too!

puzzle perspective

In other happy news, it has been thoroughly proven that I do not have Diabetes, and for that I am very thankful.  My grandfather is a severely brittle diabetic (I think I said that right) and I’ve seen enough to know that them’s tough cookies.  {*Comic Relief Alert*} During one of the bloodwork days, I was having 13 vials of blood drawn after about 8 vials drawn 3 days prior.  I was about 2 seconds from passing out when I started vomiting.  A second nurse ran to help us and boy, was she was overjoyed to hold my barf bag!  Me an’ my raging stomach virus rescued her from having to stick the head of the Board of Directors for the hospital.  You’re welcome, Nervous Nurse Nelly.

My joint and muscle pain continues, but recently I’ve recognized that at least some of the pains are recurring in the same spots.  The weird new pains feel like bee stings (infrequent, but annoying!) and an instant locking up of a joint.  Me hopping through the local discount store on one good knee audibly cracks me up, even as I’m wincing holding the “cramping” knee.

My vertigo came back for a few weeks, but I think it’s leaving again. *jumps & clicks heels together* It is so embarrassing when you look like you’re drunk and you’re not.  Numbness has become a problem from time to time in my limbs.  That makes it surprisingly hard to sleep sometimes!

I had one vision change where I couldn’t focus on the face I was looking at.  That only lasted for 3-5 seconds, and then I was fine.  Very odd, and really hoping that one never happens again.

The most frustrating symptoms for me right now are barely noticeable to anyone else.  I can tell that sometimes I’m not pronouncing things the way I want to, and I’m dropping smaller objects more than what I think is normal for me.  Those two seem a little scary.

Am I crazy to post this on the internet for the world to see?  Perhaps a career coach may say I’m ruining my chances at future employment. Maybe friends or family will exclude me from activities or opportunities because they’ll assume I can’t or shouldn’t participate.

Displaying my weaknesses is worth those risks to me if it helps you see those around you a little more compassionately.  Invisible illnesses are in front of you at the cash register, beside you at the baseball game, above you in the company hierarchy, and behind you in the generations to come.  What harm could it do to assume that everybody needs a little grace?

Displaying my weaknesses is worth those risks to me if it helps you hear one more time that God is worthy of your trust.  I don’t worry that whatever is wrong with me will make me ineligible for life.  God has a place and a way for me to do my thang, and is perfectly capable of using my strengths and weaknesses.  I trust that he’ll do that.

what i learned this week #1

whatilearnedthisweekI’m hoping to turn this into a weekly post, sometime during the weekend.  Um, don’t mind that it’s Monday, and I forgot to finish editing before today.  Other than the title, I haven’t set any other boundaries on this post, so it may be 50 words, or it may be 900.  Still interested?  Read on.

  1. I should have bought a wax-based eyebrow pencil a long time ago.  It takes me from  15 to adult in about 12 seconds.  (Far off, that is.  Up close in the mirror, it’s quite obvious I’m past 30, cleverly disguised brown marks or not.)
  2. Deciding that your biggest professional moment to date is not all about you becomes a professional strength.shoes
  3. The 20 year-old stories you were told may not very well represent the person standing in front of you.  In fact, they’re more likely to be inaccurate than not.
  4. I love how my husband prioritizes.  Playing in a basketball tournament so he can hang out with people he would like to feel more included takes priority over a long-time dream of running a marathon, even though he’d trained as far as 16 miles this time.  Mr. Point Guard strained his calf muscle twice, ending his dream for this year, and yet he doesn’t regret it.
  5. I need a new toothbrush.  My toddler just walked into the living room with it in his mouth.  And that’s not the first time this week.  Maybe I really need a bathroom door handle that works instead.
  6. When you’re memorizing Jesus’ sermon on the mount, his claim that his “yoke is easy” a few chapters later stands out like an open patch of carpet on my kids’ bedroom floor.  You just want to stand still on it.  You spend a couple of months trying to remember his words intensifying the Law of the Israelites, making it further impossible to keep, and then he says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  And that reminded me…
  7. Jesus is all about grace.
  8. Scripture Typer is my favorite new tool for memorizing.
  9. Jay Bilas is my favorite Dookie, and I want to read his new book Toughness:  Developing True Strength On and Off the Court.
  10. Sixth graders still do not understand my sense of humor, but eighth graders and I are on the same plane.  Sorry, eighth graders.  That’s not good news for you.

31 days of a new normal {day 6} foggy

This post is part of a month-long series.  You can read the rest here.

I made a plan.  I called neurologist #2 and made an appointment.  Er… rather, I called and was informed I already have a follow-up appointment scheduled for October 29th.  Well, that should give us something interesting to talk about the last few days of this series!

Sometimes I want to blame incidents like that on brain fog, because, frankly, I know that there have been periods in the last couple of months where I’m running on a Pentium II instead of whatever’s really in this headdrive. LeBron James (Like that?  I like making up words.  My husband does, too.  The best one he ever accidentally made up (while in the pulpit!) was “satisfication,” and then LeBron James used it in a press conference.  I’m still hearing about that one.)

This morning we missed my daughter’s soccer game, because I put the wrong time into Google calendar.  Is that brain fog?  Is that stuff that happens to everybody? Is that typical Lauren?  Don’t answer that, Dad.  I am so much better than I was fifteen years ago.  No doubt.

It used to make me feel so much better if I could justify my reason for messing up.  Now I just want to get better.  Perhaps that’s part of growing up.  In the meantime, I’m so grateful for the gracious attitudes of my family and especially, in more weighty soul-matters, the continuous grace of my Savior.

i have everything i need

I haven’t posted in at least a week, but I’ve thought about it every day.  I haven’t exercised in at least a week, but I’ve thought about exercising every day.  I even watched the CrossFit games on ESPN.  One time I heard that your muscles make tiny movements as you watch dancers, so imagine the benefits of watching women smaller than me push cars and houses and elephants 3 miles down the road and deadlift ponies 45 times in a row.

I haven’t done a lot of things that I need to do to keep the machine running smoothly, because I’ve been tired and in pain.  Much of this year, I’ve been experiencing odd symptoms which have yet to be fully explained by a doctor.  If I gave you the details, you might change the address in your browser or offer up another “have you thought about this?” diagnosis, and I don’t really want either of those.  What I’d really like is to share with you the encouragement that was passed on to me in the last 48 hours.

Yesterday, the hubs preached about being satisfied.  Not complacent — satisfied.  As in:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

(I love typing that from memory.  Again, I say, get your memorize on, y’all!  It brings about unexpected blessings.)

Then this morning, I seewhile I’m waiting for my preschooler.  I look it up and find

and I think, “Yes.”

I have all that I need, even though fatigue has had me coming up short in so many areas.  When my lesson plans stink, grace is what I need.  When I’m raking piles of crumbs off the bottom of my feet every time I cross the hardwoods, I need grace even more than a broom.  When I’m hissing empty threats through my gritted teeth at a preschooler, I most desperately need grace.  And grace abounds.  I know, because I feel it.  I see it in action.

I’m too tired to make the words come together for every example, but here’s one:  Any teacher can tell you that a good lesson plan is the crux of the classroom, so walking in every day with a flimsy plan is asking for disaster.  You should also expect the superintendent to come in on those days.  I should have counted how many times in the last month I’ve heard, “Those who fail to plan plan to fail.”  There have been days when it was all I could do to get together a pitiful outline, but my classes have gone remarkably well, despite the fact that I won’t be receiving instruments or resources for a few more weeks when our funding comes in.  Somehow I still have everything I need to serve my purpose well, and I’m strangely satisfied in a non-complacent way.  (Lord, I look forward to serving this purpose in more consistent excellence and with great energy!  *Ahem.*  Amen.)

If you don’t know Jesus in a personal way, what I’m saying might sound like crazy magic. It sort of feels like that sometimes.  It probably felt like magic to his disciples during that whole (fish+loaves)÷multitudes=abundance episode, too.  How did that end anyway?

And they all ate and were satisfied.

 

Have you seen God’s grace in your life lately?  Please share.  I love those stories.

how we speak to children

My friend Libby is forever telling her students that excuses belong in the trash can.  I think she even had a pail labeled “excuses” at one time.  Without a doubt, she’s a compassionate and forgiving person, but I think we could all take a dose of her no-nonsense medicine at some point in our lives.  I had a big spoonful of it this morning fed to me just this morning by my 3 year old son.

Mom, why did you say that mean to me?  You were happy just a minute ago.

He’s at that stage where he asks 19 questions per hour, and at least 10 of them he already knows the answer to.  Another 5 of his questions don’t really have an answer unless you want to get into philosophy or metaphysics.  I’d just finished an hour-long, unplanned visit to my doctor — with two kids and a loud baby in tow — when he asked,

Mom, why is this the way?

Gadget Mobile“We’re driving this direction because Mommy is still saving up for that Inspector Gadget-Mobile we want.  Otherwise, we’d be sprouting helicopter blades right now.” Okay, I didn’t say that.  I wish I had.  Sometimes I remember to use humor, but today I was more focused on getting out of the tightly crammed parking lot and getting the promised milkshake rewards.

I don’t know, Ben.

My words were clipped, and my cadence conveyed my annoyance.  Even a 3 year old knows tone, and we are foolish to forget that.  If this tiny 4-word sentence held enough meaning for my very young son to comment on it, what is it like for kids who hear daily that their very existence is, at best, an annoyance?  Sarah Mae recently wrote about an incident in an store that left her crying in the parking lot, and I’ve had so many similar experiences.  In a store, in a kitchen, in a school, at a gas station, way more children than you might realize are hearing horrendous, spirit-murdering statements from those who should love them.

I wish you were never born.

You screw up everything.

My life would be so much better without you.

To these fear-mongerers I’d like to say: No excuses.

  1. Bring the worst of your life’s circumstances to the table and they still won’t get you a “not guilty” plea in front of your judge.  Of course you’re angry that something bad happened to you;  you wouldn’t speak like that if everything was swell.  You can’t bring a worthy excuse regarding your own pain.
  2. Your judge is God, who created that precious child to be a tiny reflection of himself.  It really doesn’t matter if the kid asks 47 Q/hr.  It doesn’t matter if she just ruined your plans for the weekend out of her selfishness or if he did exactly what you told him not to do again.  You cannot bring a worthy excuse regarding how bad you think your child is.
  3. Newsflash:  All children are born selfish, impatient, and needy.  It’s a parent’s job to help grow them out of these traits and grow them into that reflection of God they were intended to be.

Parents are hurting, and they’re hurting their children in turn.  How can we teach parents to apologize and mean it?  How can we help them steer their pain away from their children and toward healing?  How can we warn teenagers and young adults that parenthood is so much more than having some cute picture to post on Facebook?  I find all of these lessons in Jesus.  He models humility, he brings peace and healing, and he grants undeserved grace to me over and over again.  My excuse pail runneth over.

I apologized to Ben, and I told him I’d work on not being mean.  He said, “Okay.  I’m still happy.  I love you.”  Parents who say and do really horrific things to their children and parents who get snappy over silly things have this in common:  we need mercy and grace and miraculous help to get over our selfishness.  I am so very grateful for a child who speaks grace to me.

What are we going to do for these kids?  Yes, we.  I don’t have an answer yet, but I know that a large mass of people need to take note, pray, and… I’m hoping someone knows what comes next.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. – Psalm 19:14