I think I’ll miss Nene the most.

Recently we decided to cut off the cable.  I mean, we have Netflix, we have Amazon Prime for movies, we have one of those Chrome-cast thingamabobs which I still don’t know how to use but whatever.  It just seemed redundant and unnecessary to have cable on top of all of those options for when you want to veg out on the couch, which is already to often for most of us anyway, amIright?

So let me preface the following with this: I’m really kind of a TV snob.  I like quality, award winning shows with amazing plots and critically acclaimed acting and all that jazz.  I just wanted to put that out there to gently buffer what I’m about to say:

I was kind of hesitant to cut the cable because I secretly enjoy The Real Housewives.  

Which franchise you ask?  Oh, you know just…ALL.

All of them.  

Orange County.  New York.  Atlanta.  New Jersey.  That’s right.  My guilty pleasure is watching a bunch of overly-tanned, overly done, wealthy (or insanely indebted?) over-40 women claw each others eyeballs out and then cry about the sad state of their “friendships” over too many glasses of “champs.”  Or “Ramona Pinot.”  Or “Fabellini.” (All, no doubt, mixed with a hefty dose of Xanax but hey, who’s judging).  They’re all just so …horrible and… entertaining!  And horrible!  I find it absolutely fascinating, in a train wreck kind of way.

As Kristen said with her best judgement face on as she found me engrossed in Jersey one day, “These people are too rich and bored to have any real problems so they go around creating their own.”  Yes I know baby, but shhh, Teresa might be about to shank Melissa with the heel of a Louboutin and mommy needs to see that.

I mean, I realize that this is sad. Somehow over the last few years I’ve gone from becoming a person who was fairly certain that The Jersey Shore was single-handedly responsible for the downfall of our society to a person who has every episode of every Real Housewives franchise lovingly recorded on the DVR to watch like a fiend whenever I have a spare hour.  One time someone accidentally deleted the episode where Nene was got back together with Greg before I could watch it (some of them stay on the DVR for a while before I get a minute) and I actually panicked a little when I sat down to watch it and it wasn’t there.  Like a mother who just realized her child went missing in the sportswear department racks.

I’m not really sure how that transition happened and you can’t possibly make me feel any worse about that than I already do, so don’t even try.  What have you done to me, Andy Cohen?

So goodbye, Housewives.  I’ll be missing you.  Until the appropriate amount of time has passed before I can judge other people for watching, anyway.

So let’s hear it.  What’s your guilty pleasure?

So apparently God has this banana boat…

I don’t really know where this post is going yet, but I just felt like pouring it all out because of the week I’ve had, and in true Me fashion, I can write it better than I can talk it.

Some of you know that I’ve been working with Global Impact for a shipment of hospital supplies and other assorted humanitarian aid items to send to Morgan, my sister-in-law who is working to build a children’s home in Honduras.  I thought I’d sort of document the process for those of you who want to know more, because I think it’s quite the story.  So, if you’re into that sort of thing, read on, y’all.

It all started when I saw a post that Morgan shared about the condition of the local hospital.  The gist of it was that the hospital had no supplies, no medicines, had their electricity shut off for failure to pay the power bill, and was generally a hot mess the way that only a third-world hospital can be.  They’d been operating the OR and the ER with a gas-powered generator, and really didn’t even have the funds to put gasoline in it.  Babies were being delivered with nothing but one precious package of sterile gauze, and people were doing without care.  One local man cut off a toe and was given a small packet of Neosporin.  You get the idea.

The thought of Morgan and her babies, or anyone and their babies for that matter, being in a remote area with no working hospital bothered me immensely and for whatever reason I wanted to FIX IT.  The first thought that came to my mind was of Global Impact, a local non-profit organization here in Prattville that has been quietly and faithfully sending literally tons of humanitarian aid to missionaries serving in impoverished areas all over the globe.  I knew of them because year ago we used to go to church with several of the people who began the ministry and who still work tirelessly to help missionaries be God’s hands and feet all over the world and when you hear about something that super kewl you don’t forget it.

So, I looked up their website and shot them an email roughly detailing what I knew of the problem, thinking they might could send a box or two Morgan’s way.

A week or two went by and I got a call from the Global Impact guys and before I knew it I was taking trips with Mrs. Pat, rounding up boxes of supplies from Christian Service Missions in Birmingham Alabama, which exists solely to serve as a warehouse to collect and distribute necessary supplies for disaster relief and overseas humanitarian aid.  Before I knew it, by the grace of God and Mrs. Pat’s dogged persistence, we had collected about $35,000 worth of supplies.  Miracle no. 1.

This was going to be more than a few boxes.  All of this was to be sent via the US Air Force (‘Murica!) through the Denton program, which allows our amazing military to send humanitarian aid shipments on planes that are flying to those destinations anyway, free of charge.  Research was done and it was discovered that our Air Force has landed planes on the airstrip next to Morgan’s property in the past for hurricane relief, so Mrs. Pat began filling out applications and the other appropriate paperwork to make it all happen.

We were told last week that there was a backlog in processing Denton-funded shipments, but Mrs. Pat instructed us to pray and the very next day Maxwell Air Force Based called requesting the shipment be brought to them immeditely, not only contrary to what we were told about the backlog but also bypassing a couple of routine steps.  Miracle no. 2.

Earlier this week we discovered that the plane cannot land next to Morgan’s property after all and will instead unload the shipment at the base in Sano Cano…17 hours away from where Morgan is in Puerto Lempira. Impossible.  I started to feel so discouraged, thinking that after all this time and work it might not even come to fruition, but sweet Mrs. Pat advised me to never pull back, only pray and press ahead in faith.  Still, I felt emotional and almost weepy most of the day.  Mrs. Pat made some calls and discovered that she knows someone who knows someone who is a medical missionary serving in Honduras, and they have access to transfer trucks.  As of today, this network of people is working together on a plan to get the shipment, which must go by transfer truck and then boat to get to Morgan 17 hours away, exactly where it needs to be.  This load of aid may even take a trip on a Dole company banana boat!  Say what?  Miracle no. 3, and somebody pass me some Dole!

This morning I spoke with a Chief Master Sergeant at the base.  I’m scheduled to meet him at Maxwell Monday morning to see the shipment off to its first stop in South Carolina.  From there it will fly to Honduras and once it arrives there’s no telling what sort of journey it will see between there and arriving in Puerto Lempira, but I’m no longer worried.  I’ve learned that every plane and boat is really God’s anyway, and He’s just waiting on us to ask for what we need.  That shipment of little shoes and hospital sheets and gauze will get exactly where it is supposed to be, exactly in His good timing, and I get to be a part of it and watch it all happen.

This is just the beginning, as this shipment doesn’t even contain any medicines because that’s a whole ‘nother ball of government-regulated red tape.  This shipment looks and sounds big and it will bless, but really it’s also not sufficient for all the hospital’s needs.  I don’t know exactly how it’s going to get done, but all I know is that I’m willing to do it.

When I sent that email to Global Impact, I really had no idea what I was getting into. I thought I’d tell them the need and they’d handle it and a couple of boxes would show up, but the truth is that if you follow that little whisper, which I believe is His leading, and just step out and DO in faith what you’re being asked to do…it will take on a life of its very own and you’ll know it’s not you because the things that happen to get it done are things that you can take no credit for anyway.  You’ll most definitely encounter obstacles, but if you press on you will realize that every time things fall into place exactly as they were meant to, because it’s all His, y’all.  It’s all His work.  They’re all His planes.   It’s all to His glory.  He’s just looking for you to step up and believe it.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  -Eph 3:16-21

Things That are Awesome About Teenagers: A Comprehensive List

 I’ve noticed that more often than not when I get a compliment on my kids these days it is kind of coated in pleasant surprise that we all actually still like each other now that they are 16 and 13.  We’re right in the thick of the teenage years and I’m realizing that a lot of people are terrified by the thought.  Honestly I was one of them at one time.  I think that there’s this misconception out there that these years are destined to be full of angst and slammed doors and, well I’m just gonna’ say it…moody, hormonal assholes.  But I’m here to tell you that isn’t true.  

I mean, okay maybe that’s sometimes true.  But they usually forgive me.  Badump bump.

Lean in and let me tell you a secret that is not often told: The teenage years can be really, incredibly awesome.  I’d even go so far as to say this is my favorite phase of parenthood yet.  Well, at least tied with that sweet, chubby, laughing baby phase. 

Things That are Awesome About Teenagers: A Comprehensive List

1.  A teenager will NEVER wake you up at twenty til the buttcrack of dawn asking for Cheerios after she has kept you up all night insisting with a pouty lip that she needs to immediately watch The Little Mermaid for the eleventy-millionth time WITH YOU.

2.  Teenagers want to sleep in their own rooms…nay, in their own beds in a weird teenage blanket-burrito formation that keeps all their limbs neatly tucked in and will make you wonder why they didn’t sleep burrito style like that all the times they kept sneaking into your bed and somehow simultaneously stuffing one foot in your ear and another firmly in your crotch  while you prayed, “Just two solid hours of sweet, sweet sleep please God please.”

3.  If a teenagers spill something they can clean it up they dang selves.  What what.

4.  Teenagers do not demand to be carried, say, from the furthest point in the mall all the way to the car at the end of the parking lot.  They will willingly walk.  Unimaginable while you’re stuck in the toddler phase, isn’t it?  And even if they do get a little tired and over it, I have found that you can get them moving again by telling them that you think you saw a Starbucks near the entrance on the way in.  

5.  You can share shoes and sometimes clothes.  I mean, they’ll always look better in them but let’s not focus on that.  This is a happy list.

6.  Teenagers can have actual meaningful conversations with you.  You know those days when you think that if you don’t get some grownup talky-time with someone who, say, doesn’t let their own nose drippings flow directly into their mouth that you might die by your own hands?  Boom!  You’ve got it!  Your teenager has real grownup thoughts and opinions on politics and religion and pop culture and love and there will be times when you will be stunned by the maturity and wisdom that just came out of the same mouth that just asked you how you tell if muffins look “done.”  

7.  If they have a booger you can tell them and they’ll just, like, go handle that.

8. You can leave them home alone and go run errands, or get a pedi, or have a date night with your husband and not have to get a babysitter or worry that they might drown in a five-gallon bucket or stick their finger in a socket.  I know, that’s a revolutionary thought right now, isn’t it?   And moms everywhere shouted “FREEDOMMMM!”

9.  You realize that they are really growing into becoming their own person.  Not a mini-you.  Not a mini-him.  A separate, beautiful, independent and amazing person.  There will still be shadows and whispers of you and your spouse, to be sure, but there will be impressive and wonderful things there that you can take no credit for (believe me, I’ve tried. Nobody bought it) and you will marvel at them. This is when you realize your offspring aren’t merely little reflections of you, and that if you treat them as such you’re doing them a huge disservice (Btw, if you’re still doing that, stop it. Stop it now).  

10.  Once they are 16 they can go to the grocery store for you when you forget the milk.  I don’t really feel like this one needs to be expanded upon.  It’s that obviously awesome.

I think that pretty much sums it up, but I reserve the right to add to this list often over the next several years.  

Don’t fear the teenager, young moms.  And meanwhile appreciate those other stages too, because as much as I’m enjoying the now I don’t know that we ever stop longing for the yesterday too.  I guess that’s just part of it, isn’t it?