I've been telling my husband that I need an afternoon or evening to myself. You know, just me and no kids? He has a couple of days off from work this week so we went to lunch today and after we finished eating he looked at me and said, "Babe, I can tell you are a little frustrated with the kids. Let's go home, leave us there and you go do something all by yourself." There was nothing to be said. I left. Although my time away was only three hours, it seemed quite refreshing. At first I struggled with what I wanted to do. How should I spend my time? I knew that I wanted to go to Half Price Books or Barnes and Noble. But first I stopped by to see Shawn. Shawn is my best friend from High School. She is single, no kids and lives a life quite different from mine. I tell her often that if I wasn't married with kids, I would do what she is doing. She is going to Culinary School in Dallas and specializing in Pastry. I am sure there is a much fancier way of describing her schooling but just the word Culinary gets me all excited! We love to dream about owning a catering business together. She does the baking, I do the cooking! Since school is something you have to pay for she also works at Recollections as a Manager. I'm not a scrapbooker and she thinks that's funny since I am a Mom and have tons to scrapbook about. She is single and loves to scrapbook and I think that's funny because I thought scrapbooking was for PTA moms but apparently cool single people to do it too! (Please don't get mad. I think I might like scrapbooking if I ever tried it. And someday I am sure I will be a PTA mom.) While I could easily turn this post on my blog into a story of my experience today at the scrapbook store, I won't. I will save it for another day. So I was unable to kidnap Shawn and take her with me to Barnes and Noble, she had ladies who longed to crop waiting on her. I wanted to talk and laugh with Shawn more but she was at work and goodbyes had to be said. As I walking out we both caught a glance of a woman walking in that had a perfect body with perfect breasts, perfect tan, perfect hair and the perfect smile. She looked like she had come straight from the Perfect Plastic Surgery Doctor's office. Instantly Shawn and I looked at each other and we instantly knew what each other was thinking. "I'm jealous!" Shallow thought but truth. And that's how I left Shawn. Now on to my time alone with books and coffee!
So it's my time. My time to be an adult. My time to drink a decaf coffee and read books. And yes, coffee! Nothing with mocha or latte attached and especially nothing with whipped cream! It must be coffee because I don't like sweet coffee drinks and it must be decaf because I'm pregnant and I have already reached my caffeine limit for the day. But first I must grab some books and read several pages of each before I figure out which one to buy. First I pick up Anderson Cooper's Dispatches From The Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival. I am not a CNN fan, I'm a Fox news girl but I do totally dig Anderson. I've seen him on Oprah and I heard Oprah say that she read his book in one night because she just couldn't put it down. Well, I may not agree with everything Oprah does or says but I do tend to believe her when she says a book is good. If you have ever listened to Anderson or seen his show on CNN, you know he can tell a story like no other. So, that was my first pick. Then I head over to the Christian Fiction in hopes of finding a book that is riveting yet Godly at the same time. I did not know this particular book would be in this book section but it was, Night by Elie Weisel. This was another Oprah book pick. When I set out to find books today, my intention was never to bring Oprah into it, it just happened. Oprah says it's good, a lot of people say it's good, and the author was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1986 so I had no other choice but to pick it up and give it a try. Then to my favorite, Fiction, Christian author, Francine Rivers. From her section of books, I chose and the Shofar Blew. Okay, so I have three books in hand. It was time to purchase my cup of decaf coffee and sit for a while.
Some of you that have been reading my blog from the beginning know that I did not grow up in a happy little home. Not very many people did but there are more out there than I thought. In fact when I read or hear of someone's happy childhood, I am more shocked by that than hearing about someone's horrible childhood. It's sad but that's the world we live in. There are too many details to explain so to allow you to understand pretty quick, let's just say my childhood was extremely painful and difficult. Instead of being a little girl that had tea parties and slumber parties, I lived in a constant state of fear. My Dad was abusive, an alcoholic and put my life in danger many times. My mom was abused, afraid and unable to truly be the mom God created her to be. It's hard for me to write about things that have to do with my Mother. I want to honor her. I want her to know that I don't blame her. I do grieve my childhood a lot and I do wish that I would have had a mother daughter relationship to look back on with great memories. But, that's not possible. I don't blame her though. I know it wasn't her fault. The Lord has restored those years we lost in many ways. He continues to do it almost daily. I don't go through the day without talking to my mom on the phone at least three or four times. But as I get older and I learn to be a Mom and a wife and as I anticipate the birth of our third child, I can't help but to think about the one thing I never got to be, a little girl.
As soon as I began to read Anderson Cooper's book, I instantly get sucked in by his description and experience of the Tsunami aftermath. With each page turn I look forward to more of his story telling and I see so clearly in my head everything he writes about. The more I read, the more I feel like I have actually been to Sri Lanka. Easily I can see how Oprah stayed up all night reading this book. It would not be hard to do. So I decide to try some pages of Elie Weisel's book. But my mind was still caught up in the story of the Tsunami. Although I would really like to read this book called Night, my mind wouldn't let me. I have heard it is another book that will totally sweep you away in many ways so I do plan to go back to it at some point. I couldn't leave without a few pages of Francine River's writing. Once again, my mind is only interested in the Anderson Cooper Memoir. I read some more of his book and realize how sad and depressing the stories are. I had made up my mind though. One book, only one book today and when finished with that one, I will buy Night, then Shofar Blew. But today, my pick was Anderson!
I wanted to be a cheerleader, I wanted to be a dancer, I wanted to be so many things that little girls dream of. Unfortunately, I didn't get to be the Pee Wee cheerleader or the ballerina because money was tight and my home life was so dysfunctional that my parents did not even know how to really make my dreams come true. Holidays were stressful, family vacations were non-existent and family meals were few and very far between. We didn't have tradition and we didn't really know what the family unit looked like. Ours was filled with nothing but anger and fear. My mom was a prisoner of her own home, my brother was young and oblivious and I was living in a constant state of deprivation. A little girl should not have to worry about what to eat, whether or not she will have clean clothes to wear to school or whether or not she will have a ride when school is out that day. Will her dad be sleeping again? Will he be drunk? Will he be sick? Will he be mad? What will the mood be today? Will my mom spend another night sobbing and screaming for her life?
As I walk through the bookstore to place the books I am not buying back in their proper place, I see a table that says "Summer Books". I've always heard of the book called Charlotte's Web and even though most girls read this book in grade school, I have never read this book. A huge stack is sitting on this "Summer Books" table and it has a great price. So I pick it up. Ever since I became a Christian when I was five years old, I learned pretty quick that I can have a conversation with the Lord anytime I want. All day long I have conversations with the Lord. Today while I was in the bookstore I was aware of my budget. I wanted to make a wise choice when it came to buying a book and since I pray pretty much about everything I prayed that the Lord would help me choose the best book. Some people find it hard to believe that as you walk close to the Lord, you learn to hear His voice through out the day. As I stood there reading parts of Charlotte's Web, I heard His voice and my choice was clear. This was the book I needed to buy.
Since there didn't seem to be a sense of real family love in my home, I craved it. When I was a little girl and spent time with friends at their home, I began to realize all the things my life was missing. We lived in a mobile home in a trailer park, my friends live in a house in pretty neighborhoods. While they could easily find clean clothes to wear by going to the dresser drawers, I had to look for mine in piles and piles of dirty clothes. While they had nice, pretty toilet paper to use, I had to sometimes use a towel because we had no toilet paper. While they went to sleep at night in their nice cozy bed, I slept in a bed that I had peed in the night before because I was too afraid to get out of bed to use the bathroom. So many things I did as a child to survive and now the simple things in life are sometimes so hard to sit back and enjoy because I feel like I'm always on the brink of something bad happening. I did not learn how to be a little girl, I learned how to be an adult and survive. Now as a thirty year old wife and mother, I struggle every day to learn how to be a kid. I don't know how to just have fun. Those that know me would say I am a fun person that will make you laugh. That's true. But when it comes to the day to day living, I struggle to just enjoy. There has always been something for me to worry about. Why is it so hard to learn how to be a kid? It's so much easier for me to be serious and fear what may be ahead.
Standing in the bookstore I realize how much I am drawn to negativity. I am drawn to the bad stories on TV. When 911 happened, I could not turn the TV off. When Hurricane Katrina hit, I sobbed and stayed up many nights crying out to the Lord for those people in Mississippi and Louisiana. Their burdens became mine. And today I am sucked into horrible stories all over again as I read Anderson Cooper's book. Standing there reading a few pages of Charlotte's Web, the Lord speaks to my spirit. It was a moment I knew I had really heard from Him, no doubt. When I heard "Mandi", I knew the Lord was trying to get my attention. My family calls me Mandi, Jeremy calls me Mandi, those that really know me call me Mandi. It's almost like a term of endearment and when someone uses that name, a part of me feels like a little girl and that's what I have always dreamt of being. Over and over again I hear, "Pick something for Mandi. Choose a book that Mandi would like." With all that God is currently doing in my life, I knew. I knew what He was trying to show me. So today I bought Charlotte's Web and as much as I would love to read Anderson Cooper's new book, I'm reading something for that little girl named Mandi. I'm excited. I am excited to read a children's book. The Lord speaks to me constantly and I am quite sure there is something in this book that He wants me to get. I know it's a classic and I know by sharing that I know nothing about it may make me sound like an ignorant person but this is who I am and that's where I've been. Today I had to choose something for Mandi.
May the little girl enjoy the book and continue to daydream about who she wants to be. Mandi was meant to be something incredible!
(I love you Mom. You are a beautiful, Godly woman. I know you were only eighteen when I came into your life and your life was far from glamorous, let alone enjoyable. But, I am so glad that the Lord has given us what we have today. I pray that He can use our story to minister to women who are hurting. Thank you for teaching me so much about the Lord. I love you.)