The Road That Leads to Me

A Lesson Learned From Chris Farley

I’ve been reading “The Chris Farley Show,” a biography about the late actor…comedic genius really. I’ve always loved Chris Farley, and was actually watching “Tommy Boy, ” when it was announced that he was found dead. Who can help but laugh when you picture motivational speaker Matt Foley, or the overweight Chippendales dancer? Who doesn’t quote a handful of lines from Tommy Boy on occasion? He was great, and went far too early. However, I never expected to be personally impacted by his life. When I picked up the book, I figured I would simply learn more about his childhood, his career, and read a few funny stories from his life. What has happened is much more significant than getting a laugh from some of the things he did in highschool and college (although that has happened too.)

Most people who followed the actor’s career knew that he had a problem with drugs and alcohol. His problem was actually much more severe than your typical college binge drinking and occasional Hollywood drug use. Farley started drinking in highschool, and started drugs in college, and couldn’t stop doing either. Though he took his work at Olympic Improv, Second City, and SNL seriously, his addictions were controlling his life, and spiraling him downward into a dark place personally. I think many people would surmise that I learned some lesson concerning addiction or moderation from his story. While I did my fair share of drinking/partying in college, I never had a “drinking problem,” and have never touched a drug. What I am struck by is not Farley’s behavior, but the behavior of his close friends and family.

Everyone around Farley knew what he was doing. They could see how out of control he was allowing his life to become. They saw his unhappiness and knew that he did not want to be the “big fat drunk guy.” They walked him home drunk every night, woke him up after he passed out, watched him trip on various drugs, saw him become obsessed with addiction, and sat back and did NOTHING. Quite a few people that contributed to the book stated that they would allow his natural charm and charisma talk them out of confronting him. A brave few would say something like, “So, what’s going on? Why are you drinking so much?” and the second Farley showed disinterest in what they were saying, they backed off and never brought it up again. Now, to be fair, people did start interventions once the problem had gotten extremely serious, and he was beginning to put his life in physical danger. However, I stop and think, would he have died if someone had stepped in earlier? Could it have been prevented if someone had been brave enough to say to him in highschool or in college, “Hey, we need to talk. I’m worried,” and not let him persuade them to stop talking…What if?

So where is the lesson for us? Its twofold really…First, is there someone in your life that has strayed? Maybe they aren’t spiraling out of control from insane amounts of alcohol, mushrooms, cocaine, whatever….but, maybe they have lost their way…lost their faith…given up on a career….stopped going to church…aren’t taking college seriously…allowing something negative to control them….in a relationship that is unhealthy…Are you allowing your like of this person to prevent you from loving them in a dangerous way? My principal used a term called, “courageous conversations.” Who are you allowing to slip just because you are scared of how they will react to your gentle correcting/loving intervention? Is there a “Farley” in your life?

Okay, now wait…before you go “confronting in love,” there are a few principles you need to remember. First, you need to prayerfully and carefully choose your words. Confronting someone in a way that puts them on the defensive typically can and will end up doing more harm than good. Approaching the person needs to be done because you truly care about them, not because you want to condemn them or have some time on your personal soapbox. This leads to principle two…genuine friendship/relationship. There are lots of people I think are doing dumb things. However, I know that it would be completely wrong for me to just go up to every casual acquaintance/casual friend I have and let them know my personal opinions on their life choices. That would be going against principles one and two. You need to have a relationship built on trust and respect before you can effectively confront someone. If that type of relationship is in place, you will also be more likely to approach the confrontation from a place of love and concern, not opinions and judgment.

Secondly, there is a lesson to be learned for all of us. We might be in a “Farley” situation…doing something that is unhealthy, detracting from our walk with God, causing us to lose our way, etc. We need to be open to those people in our lives who may have the courage to confront us, and allow them to speak truth into our life. I can remember a few instances where a close friend pulled me aside, and in a calm and gentle manner, (using the Matthew 18 principle when needed) called me out on stupid things I was doing. Yeah, at the time, it hurt a little. No one likes to hear the truth. No one likes to know that other people recognize the dumb things we are doing….typically because we know we are being dumb, and lack the courage to change..Having someone call us out, only makes it more likely that we will have to change, angering us. However, now, as I look back, I am so grateful to those people, who loved me enough to stop me before I spiraled out of control…who helped me get back on track….who cared enough to not allow me to screw up my life.

So, do you have a Farley in your life that you need to confront in love? Someone you have been watching go astray while you sat idly by….too scared to say anything? Do you love them enough to stop them before they “overdose?” If someone comes to you, or has come, and you’ve shut them out, are you brave enough to change? to listen? Don’t let the things of this world take you before your time. Don’t let them rob you of the happiness you can have. Don’t be a Farley, and stop allowing those you love and care for to be one either. They might end up in a van down by the river, and you wouldn’t want that would you? =)


Riding the Jesus Couch

“What I believe is NOT what I SAY I believe. What I believe is what I DO. ” ~ Donald Miller

Christians have a tendency to ride the Jesus couch…lounging in their own comfortable bubble of isms, mantras, and other media-ized “spiritual” propaganda. We’re purpose driven-coming back to the heart of worship-opening the eyes of our hearts- prayer “mmhmming”-“Jesus has a plan” Christians. We’re great actors really….It truly is amazing how much we can pull off..The question is, “who are we fooling?” The only answer that matters is, “not God.”

Is this the life we want? Do we want to fake our way through the only relationship that truly matters? Is it enough for us to profess and not act? We can close our eyes during the songs all we want, take as many sermon notes as possible, and even skim our Bibles every single day, and NEVER truly know the God we claim to love. Imagine if we treated our spouse, our children, or our family the way we treat our relationship with Jesus? Imagine if we only spoke to them once a week…on Sundays? What if we chose not to listen to 90% of the things they said to us? What if we took for granted all of the things they did for us?  Would the relationship last?

We get busy. We get tired. But building and developing our relationship with Jesus is not what we need to take a break from….its the vacation. But, we don’t care. We know all the right answers. Most of us can look to a time when we were right with God and remember the way we felt..we remember the fire…we remember what it was like to rely on Him…to trust Him…to really and truly LOVE him.

So why are we still on the Jesus couch? Why are we sleeping through this life? It may be comfortable…its certainly easier. Any relationship takes work, and the Jesus couch often looks more inviting, more entertaining….The thing is, He won’t give up…Even when we refuse to even glance His way…when we talk about Him one way and behave another…..when we refuse to pay any attention to Him…The question is, how far do you want God to go to get YOUR attention?

Its time to get off the Jesus couch.

“Pecking away at our confidence”: Mother hens and the quest for validation

As a new stay-at-home mother of two, I have found that one of the things I most desire is validation…Yep..not help with diaper changes, not a barrage of meals from family and friends, not even a nap…What I want most is someone else to say, “Yes! I understand what you’re going through!” and, “Don’t worry, I feel that way too.” or “You’re not the only one.” and “My child also…fill in the blank.”

So many people are quick to offer “advice”, and so-called “encouragement” to mothers..Why anyone feels compelled or in the right to do so baffles me…Would you walk up to a mechanic and give him tips on engine maintenance? Would you tell the cashier at the grocery store a better way to bag the groceries? Of course not…you don’t tell people how to do their jobs, or feel the need to shower them with cliches and pithy advice. However, people seem quick to forget that a stay at home mom is a full-time job, and perhaps one of the hardest jobs a person can undertake.

I think though at times a mother, especially a new one can end up feeling isolated and completely invalidated by these “well-meaning” comments. One of the things I remember ladies (especially older “churchy” ladies) telling me is that, “Being a mom is such a blessing.” or “Your children are the greatest and most precious thing imaginable,” and other such saccharine pith. Don’t get me wrong..both of those statements are absolutely true..without a doubt. My children are a blessing, and are two of the best things to ever happen to me..However, when that is ALL people tell you, you can sure end up feeling like a louse for ever feeling tired, stressed, you need a break from your kids..Good heavens, did someone just say that??

With all of the “mother-hens” breathing down our necks, and all of the pressure to be super-mom, we can feel as though we are in the wrong for being aggravated that you have to get up at 3 in the morning, or like the worst mom ever for just not wanting to play Play-dough right now, or feeling really selfish because all you really want is just five minutes of quiet. Its okay to feel like that…You’re not a bad mom for craving balance…for being human…

So don’t allow yourself to give in to the negative thoughts that are eating away at you…Don’t let other people’s words take away your confidence as a mother. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. IT IS OKAY. We’re great mothers…we do the best we can for our kids every single day…but, we’re human, and that’s okay too.

An Ode to Baz Luhrman Part 2: Life’s Absurd, yet Amusing Lessons
June 23, 2008, 5:57 am
Filed under: Life | Tags: , , , ,

As part of my series of blogs inspired by the single, “Suscreen,” (if you have not heard it, I highly reccomend picking it up…its so choice) I have decided to include  a list of the mundane and often times ridiculous lessons I have learned. This list also teaches an important lesson…Poke fun at yourself. Everbody does stupid things….might as well learn from them, have a good laugh, and pass on your hindsight to others.

A shoe does not make an effective hammer.

Steer clear of underage, highschool drop-out  rappers with multiple felonies and misdemeanors on their record. You are not that desperate for male attention. Run away.

If you are planning on trying sushi for the first time, have a vomit bag handy. At all costs, make every attempt to not leap over people to get to the trash can…especially when the trash can is situated directly in front of your highschool’s entire varsity football team.

It is possible to get a priest to dance in a cage. ( I’m not lying.)

Cloves have nothing to do with garlic, and DO NOT belong in spaghetti sauce. (At least I was ten when I learned this lesson…I’m a good cook now.)

Have the hose ready on the fourth of July. It is almost inevitable that one of your relatives will catch on fire…at least in our family.

Cookie dough tastes better on an ice cream cone.

If you are going  to downtown Portland, jot down which streets you are parking on. It is not pleasant to wander the streets for several hours trying to find your car.

Along the same lines, make sure you are getting on the correct Max. Winding up on the opposite side of town as your car at one in the morning is not a good thing. Interesting people hang out at the max station in the wee hours of the morning…

Under no circumstances leave your wet laundry in the washer while you are away on vacation.

If you happen to notice that water is pouring out of your ceiling fan onto a couch, something is probably wrong with your upstairs toilet.

If you live in an apartment or a condo/townhouse, and you are tired of your neighbor’s constant video game music, talking, etc., it is quite effective and rather amusing to open all your windows and play Barry Manilow music as loud as possible. In a pinch, you can also use Neil Diamond.

Always double check that what you are assuming (and about to dip a banana into) to be whipped cream, is in fact whipped cream. This is especially important when it is taco night in your school’s cafeteria, and when you found the bowl of “whipped cream” right next to the giant bowl of salsa. Also, question the quality of friends who don’t question why on earth you have a giant plate of sour cream.

Ottoman racing is a quality sport.

Nothing happens to worms when you put spray paint on them. (I swear I’m not a seven year old boy.)

If a movie features a rapper as its star, it probably isn’t worth watching. (Bones starring Snoop is my one exception..and perhaps 8 Mile.)

No matter how hard you try, your husband will probably not do your yoga DVD’s with you.

It is very funny to send your mother a subscription to a gay men’s magazine.

Do not eat more than four or five sugar free gummy bears at a time.

Waterslides give you wedgies.

Under no circumstances should you ride on the Spinning Strawberry  at the fair.

Should you happen to be in college, make friends with all RA’s just in case you decide it is a good idea to run around a dorm after visiting hours and pound on all the doors.

Inevitably, your child will poop immediately after you have finished changing them.

If someone has toilet papered your house and you are in the yard cleaning it up in your pajamas, make sure yo u do not lock yourself out of your house…especially if your husband is not home, and you have just moved into your house and do not yet know your neighbors, and you have to walk a mile and a half to church to find your husband….

It is quite funny to exchange all the Tums in the bottle for Shock Tarts.

Powdered iced tea tastes like fabric softener.

If you ever have the opportunity to be a “rent-a-cop”…take it. Its quite funny to bust little punks at a hotel and get them sent home from their conventions.

Aquafresh Extreme Clean tastes like Lysol.

Avoid guys who think it is fun for you to watch them play video games.

When you are working in an office and someone requests the number for another department, don’t accidentally give them your home number and then proceed to tell them that you are retarded.

If a college course is difficult for you, it would serve you best to pay attention to the material being presented, rather than the fact that your professor desperately needs to purchase an undershirt.

Don’t ever take a group of fifty children to the Pearson Air Museum.

Oatmeal is very hard to get out of your hair.

Don’t use the public bathrooms in Mexico.

Ketchup goes on anything except corn chips.

Hotel beds were not made for jumping.

If you lie very still on the ground, the search light won’t find you.

Beware of people who do any of the following: start screaming nonsense in German, hide in the cupboard in your dorm room, sing a Savage Garden song at the request of their mother to impress you on a first date, think that swim trunks are appropriate attire for the mall, and/or people who are carrying bags of trash that chase you down the street yelling that they will not hurt you.

If you heed my above advice, you will do yourself a favor. However, it is possible to live through all of these mistakes. Trust me, I know. =)

Slave to Time
April 8, 2008, 2:17 am
Filed under: introspection, Life | Tags: , , , , , ,

Life is all about timing…I’m a planner by nature. I’ve thrived on a schedule since I was a little girl. My friends just shake their heads at me, but its hard for me to understand why everyone doesn’t simply their life through planning. People claim they don’t have the time….that I have too much time on my hands. I want to respond by saying, “Well duh! Of course I have more time on my hands than you do! I planned ahead!” I plan out what we’re having for dinner a month in advance. I do my household chores on a schedule….I had my lesson plans for my kindergarten classroom planned out the summer before school started. It stresses me out to not have a plan…to not know what is coming next, and when. And here I sit….completely unaware of when the next HUGE thing in my life is coming. This is something I can only plan for to a certain degree. I’m a little less than three weeks from delivery, and know that my son could choose to come at any time now. As my contractions are growing closer together, the planner in me just wants to know WHEN. In times like these, I am reminded that I am not in control, and all the planning and scheduling in the world won’t give the control to me. I need to remember that I am in God’s hands, and that HE is the one who guides my course. Sure, He allows me to plan out the silly things….He lets me have laundry day. He lets me know that in three weeks, we’re trying that new flauta recipe. He loves me even though I need to plan out our social calendar weeks in advance. Regardless of whether or not I know when Henry is coming, God does. He knows the precise second. That is comforting if I allow it to be. If I remember that I have the Creator of the universe in charge of my life….how can I not let that comfort me? For a neurotic and compulsive planner and a slave to a schedule, it helps to know that even in the times when I don’t have the answers or the time-table, HE does.

Throw down the facade

Hermann Hesse phrased it like this, “Nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself.” It is on the journey towards finding one’s self that we must invert our eyes, and allow ourselves to see what it is we have been masking. Our mere apparitions of self must be confronted with reality. Idealism meets realism. We must face who we really are. Facades are much easier to maintain….they require no vulnerability, honesty, or original thought. To live as our “projected self,” allows us to blend…to fade into our surroundings as a chameleon; taking on the thoughts, habits, and attitudes that serve us best from moment to moment. I think Hesse understood that no man wants to truly see themselves for what they truly are….To do so would require a level of self-evaluation and change that most people aren’t comfortable with. I feel most of the time we become so used to living as our projected self, that we actually lose who we really are….So afraid that people would turn us away if they really knew….if they actually knew who we really were….We can’t allow ourselves to hide. We must be who we were created and meant to be. We must take the journey down the road that leads to ourselves, despite the hardships and brutal realities about our true self we will face. Throw down the facade. Be who you really are.

Chasing Super-Mom

Today is my first day as a stay at home mom. I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to stay at home with our beautiful daughter and our soon-to-be baby boy. This morning, I began to think about what this means…especially for my husband. His sacrifice deserves a great return…He is commuting over 100 miles a day to provide for our family, and still comes home with a smile on his face, ready to talk to me about my day, and eager to play with our daughter. He’s amazing, and I’m so blessed. As I begin this new phase of my life, so many doubts and questions overwhelm me…I don’t want to let David down…I don’t want to let Hannah down…My family means the world to me, and now that looking after them is officially “my job,” I feel as though I want to make sure their life is ideal. I am constantly trying to think of ways to make my husband’s day brighter…to meet just one more of his needs….to have one more thing done for him when he gets home. I want to provide my daughter with the best attention possible. I want to make sure that she is learning, happy, engaged, and loved. I want my house to be sparkling, my freezer to be filled with meals, my home to be warm and inviting….I want to get my projects done….I realize that I want to be super-mom.

I’ve said it before…life is one giant transition after another. It seems sometimes that just when we start to get comfortable in one mode of living, something comes along that forces us to step outside our box and evaluate our options. Of course, we can choose to crumble…to focus on our feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. However, we can look at what is ahead, and choose to grow…to learn…to embrace what life has thrown our way.

Will I ever be super-mom? Probably not. Will my house always be perfect? No. Will my daughter always have ideal, picture-perfect experiences? No. Will I let my husband down? Sometimes. Realizing my limitations, and choosing to not hold myself to some idyllic “June Cleaver” standard will allow me to ultimately be a better wife and mother. I know all of this is true. And yet, I know myself….I know I will struggle with the feelings of inadequacy. As a teacher, it was easy for me to simply do the best I could…knowing that “yes, there is always something more I can do, but I’m doing the best I can.” However, when it comes to my family, I know that my best will never feel like enough…I fear I may always chase the super-mom title…