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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Jealousy

If it's not a dirty word, it ought to be. When I was a young girl, I vividly remember the emerald-eyed monster invading my psyche. When Scott dated Denise instead of Thea, that was a national disaster. When Bob glued himself to Debby's hip, there was another tragedy. And when Marc invited everyone (so it seemed) to his party except Thea, well, that was just devastating.

I did, however, survive. In fact, I thrived. I graduated high school and college with honors. I raised two amazing children who make me proud every day. I have a career that gives me great satisfaction because I'm contributing something important to society.

So why do I feel green, scaly claws gripping me around the throat after all these successes?

John D. Rockefeller was once asked how much money would be enough. His answer: "Just a little bit more."

I'm interpreting his comment to address more than the accumulation of wealth. I take it to mean, despite all his material blessings, there was still some sort of emptiness that he mistakenly believed more money could fill. Despite the fact that the oil tycoon held a strong faith in Christ, apparently he was only human.  So I guess that puts me in excellent (or at least expensive) company.

The thing that's eating me is my lack of progress in being published. I hear of others getting book contracts and winning awards, and it pretty much galls me. Seriously. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I'm feeling somewhat like it's a lost cause. Like I'll never master the social media game that seems to be a must in this business. That I can't "do" marketing, which is another prerequisite for publication. And let's not even talk about building a website or affording someone who does.

Like Moses, I'm caught up in the reasons why I can't do something that God has called me to do. I seem to be forgetting that He's already lined up the Aaron's to assist with the goals He's mapped out for me. He's not expecting me to be a one-woman show. He's got the staff, timetable and, oh, yes, budget all nailed down.

So why do I doubt? And why do I feel angst when others succeed before I do? Isn't that the natural order of things? Somebody has to be first, but that doesn't mean there isn't room at the end of the line for a late up-and-comer.

I'm actually helping myself fail by procrastinating. I have a book proposal to write, and I need to get busy and write it. As the saying goes, it isn't going to write itself. I need to spruce up my novel with a few ideas that have been nagging at me. I need to take responsibility for that which I can do, instead of negatively comparing my place on the authorship continuum with someone else's.

And I need to TRUST that the One who commissioned me is still in the business of making miracles happen. Even for girls who don't "do" marketing and Instagram.

Friday, August 5, 2016

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

We're having dinner at Anita's, celebrating the birthdays of all three of my kids - the two I gave birth to, as well as my "labor-less" daughter, Elise, who in a few short months will assume that role legally when she weds my firstborn. Elise and I rinse dishes while Anita - that great roaster of all things fowl, not least of which is the incredible Peking duck she just served us, complete with homemade pancakes - recuperates from all her effort.

That's when it happens.

I glance out the window to catch a glimpse of Aaron, who went outside to catch a smoke.

Except he's not alone. And he's not smoking.

He's playing catch with Ethan, barely 19, who used to drive Aaron to distraction and even goad him to violence. Once Aaron got over the thrill of finally having someone cute and cuddly to play with, he realized Ethan was here to stay and did annoying things like leaking through his diaper while they sat cheek to cheek watching cartoons.


Five years behind his brother, Ethan quickly figured out how to aggravate Aaron to the nth degree by making up in mouth what he lacked in stature. I ruefully recall the feeling of being a human barrier between two warring kids. Of delivering lectures on the importance of brotherhood and being each other's best friend, those "you and me against the world" speeches Paul Williams himself couldn't have pulled off convincingly.

It wasn't always like that, I remind myself. There was that time I left the two of them at football practice while I ran a quick errand. I can still see the picture of love incarnate that greeted me when I returned 45 minutes later - Aaron carrying injured Ethan across the field and into my arms.

I sneak another peek out the window. They're cracking up at some comment I'd probably disapprove of, then chucking the ball around some more.

Tomorrow, unbeknownst to us all, we will say goodbye to Anita's dear Dusty. My boys, no, men, will take a leading part in her sendoff. She was our "rent-a-dog," coming for visits and even sleepovers. The dog they walked and never cleaned up after, despite Mother's regular reminders. Dusty supplied a vital ingredient in their lives, and in return, they will gently escort her to her final resting place, cradling her lifeless body wrapped up in a special sheet. They will crumble handfuls of dirt into her grave and wish her well.

A week later, Ethan will leave a night of fun with his friends to come home and help his brother grieve over the loss of a second beloved pet. The irritating little brother has become a lifelong friend, available when the chips are down.

But tonight they play ball without a care in the world.

I find myself humming Diane Warren's timeless tune:

These are the moments I thank God that I'm alive
These are the moments I'll remember all my life
I've found all I've waited for
And I could not ask for more

These are the moments I know heaven must exist
These are the moments I know all I need is this
I have all I've waited for
And I could not ask for more

I could not ask for more than this time together
I could not ask for more than this time with you
Every prayer has been answered
Every dream I have's come true
Right here in this moment
Is right where I'm meant to be
Here with you here with me

I smile through tears at Elise and say, "It doesn't get any better than this."

Check out the full version of I Could Not Ask for More