Flashing Palm Trees and Elvis Impersonating Birds: Just another Day at the Duncan’s

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The day my husband announced he was going to order a fake palm tree to put next to the swimming pool, I was really just fine with it.

Since my gardening skills are limited to raising dandelions and morning glories that somehow grow with no effort on my part whatsoever, I thought a fake palm tree was a fine idea.

Maybe slightly tacky–yet nothing that would rile up the neighbors.

I worry about this because on occasion–and usually unintentionally–my husband riles up some of our neighbors.

He just isn’t used to worrying about etiquette, and especially neighborhood etiquette.

He is a country boy.  He believes that rusted cars are perfectly suitable yard ornaments.

This is the man whose gas-exhausted lawn mower sits in the middle of a half-mowed yard for a week and a half–in the exact spot it ran out of gas and directly to the American flag bearing nativity–our Cheistmas/Independence day decor.

So again, I thought this palm tree thing was pretty mild.

Until the truck showed up.

I was cleaning windows when I suddenly locked eyes with the driver of an over-sized semi who was carrying the parts of what would become the biggest spectacle on our street.

I could see the wonder in his eyes as he stared into my second story window: a look I am used to when it comes to dealing with my husband.

My husband ran out the door like a kid on Christmas as box after box of to be assembled parts were carried out of that truck.

Speaking of Christmas–if you have ever watched The Christmas Story–it was like that.

The sexy leg lamp.

leg lamp

The night sky aglow with tropical green and orange highlights, groups of men gathered around the house mesmerized by this 12 foot flashing monstrosity of a tree. Women stood closely by with their faces twisted in confusion–possibly despair.

On one side of me was my husband’s tear soaked face as an Elvis impersonating Blue Bird unpacked in one of the flashing branches, and on the other side of me were annoyed whispers.

“What has this neighborhood come to?”

Sorry–it just slipped out.

After clearing airspace with misguided pilots trying to land in the backyard and making sure that neighbors and visitors are properly instructed of all safety precautions.

“Do not stare directly at the tree.”

Even then, who knew that a 12 foot flashing palm tree with plastic coconut trimmings could cause such separation among the people.

Two groups dominated the fight: pro-tree and anti-tree.

My husband, along with most men I know and over half of my friends made up the pro-tree side.

The anti-tree movement contained of me, a disgruntled neighbor, and some people who I never actually met but heard about through the disgruntled neighbor.

Six years have passed, the bird has grown and moved on to pursued its dreams on the Vegas strip, the disgruntled neighbor moved on to the construction of a large and unattached garage (also ours) and I have finally made peace with the palm tree.

I have found it generally makes for good writing material.

And I kind of like making this card with it:

 

feliz navidad

For the Discouraged

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I want to sit down and write this masterpiece that you just won’t stop reading.

To captivate you…to inspire you…I want to provide those life changing words that you will always remember.

“I thought I couldn’t last another day but then that blogger changed my whole life.”–what I want you to say.

That’s who I always want to be: the person who can make the world smile.

I want to give hope to the weary.

I want to fix the broken.

I want to calm the storms.

Oops…

This is my head right now..

big head

I can’t be all those things I just mentioned up there, because of one little thing: I am just little old me.

I am the weary.  I am the broken.

My hand is too weak to calm any storm–plus I am terrified of storms and once took shelter on a beautiful sunshiny day when the street cleaner drove by and sounded a little like a tornado siren.

The kids still get freaked out when the streets start looking a little dirty.

“Is the street cleaner coming again, Mommy?”

So my point is that none of us are actually capable of fixing each other, but what we are capable of doing—and without a doubt what we are called to do–is point each other to the One who is capable.

f

My best source of help to any of you is to humbly agree that alone I have no answers, but that I know the right place to go.

It reminds of me of when I was a receptionist at a bank.

Can you help me figure out my statement?

I used to get that a lot.

Oh heavens no! I don’t know anything about money (they told me to quit saying that) but I sure know the guy who does!

So I would send them on to the right place and take another call.

I don’t mean necessarily that we should just send them to God and move on, I just mean that God is where we need to be sending out our calls.

He is one with the answers.

I will search His word with you.

I will pray with you. I will pray for you.

I will cry with you. I will cry out for you.

I will hurt with you and for you too.

And He hears it and He sees it, and He will answer.

This is something I mean from the bottom of my heart. If you are hurting today, and even if I don’t know you, send me a message or comment to me here. I really want to help you pray and I want to be there for you.

Most importantly, though, I want to guide you to God.  You might never reach out to me, but if you will just reach out to God, you are going to the right place.

Start on your knees in a quiet place and place everything before Him. You don’t even have to say a word because He hears your heart.

psalm 34.6

And in the meantime I will say a prayer for each and every person who reads these words.

With all my love and in Christ may you be blessed.

The Ants and the Leaf (and a couple of gossiping birds): God’s plan for us

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the leaf

No lights are necessary on this day as the sun illuminates the room I sit in.

The birds are singing to each other, or maybe they are gossiping back and forth about that little cardinal who hangs around the grackle a lot.

I don’t speak bird.  So I don’t know.

So I just sit here in my small little English speaking world and appreciate all the wonders I can’t explain.

I love to daydream about the things I don’t know–and believe me there is endless material for that. I also love to daydream about the little things happening around me.

Just like today, it’s definitely a day for daydreams.

Tiny ants line up on my windowsill and they are on an epic journey as they crawl over the mountains of dried brown paint blobs. This historical trip into the unknown is where they search for new territory and they learn to be the ants they were always meant to be.

Momentarily it crosses my mind I might need to spray for ants.

Then out the window is a leaf blowing in the wind, it settles on the land and then starts to fly once again. It doesn’t know or care where it’s going (because it is a leaf and has no actual thought process) but it’s on a journey too.

Such a difference between the ants and the leaf.

The ants are determined as they march in unison. In a perfectly situated line, they are on a calculated path and they know exactly where they are going. However when my five year old–fascinated by their unity–stuck his little finger in the middle of their path they scattered all over the place in a panic.

The leaf just continued to flow with the wind, it landed here and there and wasn’t worried about where it was going. Somewhere in its little leaf heart it trusted the guidance of the wind.

My thoughts ultimately drift to God, and how His plan really falls in between these two extremes.  Maybe if the ants wouldn’t fully rely on their own plan, the chubby finger of a five year old wouldn’t uproot them.

Then again, the leaf was just along for the ride and waiting for the wind to move. How could there be joy without personal stakes and a determined heart?

I think God wants us to prayerfully plan our journeys just like those ants. They knew where they were going and they were on a mission to get there, and so should we be. Our walk with Him should be a confident and determined one to our final destination.

But when trouble sticks his finger in the middle of our path (and believe me that little finger is attached to trouble) we don’t have to panic because we need to trust where His mighty wind blows us.

We can trust Him even if He moves us to a totally different path. We just get right up and start again, redirect through prayer and knowing the final destination is always still the same.

So that’s the difference between the ants and the leaf.

Now, for the gossiping birds–they just need to stop that. Gossiping isn’t nice.

Find Humor in Struggles

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I am not a liar.

I definitely am an embellisher, though.

I color the truth with funny, really it’s usually already there and I just pull it out and shine it up.

Exaggeration might be the best word for it.

It’s the difference between this:

462 times in a row

And this…

IMG_3174

I didn’t actually count how many Reese’s I ate except that I ate the entire bag. It was in little spurts too. I quit eating them about six different times and then I would return to the kitchen for something (and sometimes that something would be Reese’s) and then spend the next five minutes eating just one over and over again.

Probably not 462 of them, though. That’s just the number I put there.

On the contrary, Redbox actually did reject me–flat out said I couldn’t have my movie.

This may or may not have been related to the 46 cent balance attached to my card at the time, but do you really need to know EVERYTHING?

To me, those are life’s little adventures, and if you can’t see the humor–or even the lesson–happiness will never result, but it doesn’t mean I also don’t see the seriousness of it too.

I was thinking that sometimes I might need to elaborate a little on that.

Maybe I should have put this:

Ate 462 Reese’s…Felt like puking all night long…my self-esteem is dwindling…my eating is totally out of control.

Redbox rejected me…I have 46 cents in my checking account…the US Cellular people called and threatened to turn off my phone…just have to hold off two days until we get paid.

Well, there’s the honesty behind those posts, and they aren’t all that funny. I think they are relatable though, because more people than we know suffer from the same things we all so often hide behind.

My humor is sometimes a glass door to the troubles in my heart, but my intention is for my readers to see behind that and know they aren’t alone in their struggles or mishaps.

Even if we battle different opponents we are all trudging through some kind of battlefield.

Some fight to lose weight while others fight to gain it.

Some fight for control while others fight to the need to control.

Some fight shyness while others fight the desire for the spotlight.

Yes I had 46 cents in my checking account that day, but some people had 46 million in theirs and had just as much to complain about, or something even worse.

Self pity can drown out your blessings if you let them, but I honestly do believe that our weakness is what strengthens us in Christ. For me, humor is meant to bridge the gap between struggle and appreciation, and in it I draw closer to God.

It is also meant to connect with you.

You might not want to eat 462 Reese’s but you can identify with my weakness because we are all weak, and maybe if I show you mine then you can start to face your own.

God reaches out to others through the struggles we are willing to share, and there are different ways to share them.

Humor isn’t always appropriate, and a social media broadcast isn’t either; sometimes it is just the person right beside you who needs to hear your story.

And sometimes you need them hear it.

As for me, I will continue to share life through silliness whenever I can but I will TRY not to exaggerate quite so much.

For now though, I gotta go, a rogue sock from the laundry pile just tried to eat the kids again.

Old habits die hard.

How to know your husband is grouchy

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1. He is using a stud finder and fails to take the opportunity to put it on himself and make little beeping noises.

2. He is asking couch pillows for marital advice.

How to prevent husband from being grouchy:

1. Do not accept offers for a free couch and agree to move said couch on his only day off. Especially when hubby thought current couch was just fine.

That said, I really like my new couch. 🙂 Ssssshhhhhh

  

Five Days of Working Out (And eating brownies)

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Day 1 of working out: 
The first thing she said was to put my hands on my waist, but I couldn’t find it, and by the time I did the workout was almost over. It was worth it, though, because my waist and I hadn’t seen each other for a while and I think we are planning to go have some brownies after this and catch up.

 Day 2 Of working out: 
The instructor is hilarious. Her one liners kill me, “touch your toes” and “run in place.“ I decided to get some brownies and watch the rest from the couch.

 

Day 3 of working out: 
 After waking up from the floor crunches, I attempted a squat and got stuck halfway down. My family was nice enough to slide a chair underneath of me and I stayed there for the rest of the afternoon eating brownies.

 

Day 4 of working out: 
I found a new muscle today. It is called the gluteus maximus and I fell on it while standing on one leg and extending my arms. My gluteus maximus and I are now sitting on a bag of ice, eating brownies.

 

Day 5 of working out: 
Today it all became clear to me. After five days of working out and today my workout clothes were too tight. Obviously, the workout instructor has a secret plot to sabotage me. I decided that I would have no part of it, and went to the kitchen to make some brownies.

 

Mom gets real

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Sitting down to a late dinner after a good, but exhausting, day and Logan looks at me and cocks his head.

“MOM! You didn’t get me a drink!”

All I wanted to do was tell him to get it himself because I am tired and I just sat down with my own food, but I am a mommy first. I mustered my strength and looked at his sweet face and said:

“Get it yourself!”

Seriously people he’s almost six and he knows how to work the water faucet.