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Today I’m the lady who lost it in a Starbucks drive-thru.

At 9am I was already holding my breath and trying to hold it together. The last couple of weeks have been filled with the kind of pressure that makes you feel like you’re locked in a clear box that is slowly filling with water while you watch everyone on the outside move freely.

I’ve mastered the art of reigning it in until I can let the dam burst and the tears fall and that’s what I was doing as I ordered my morning coffee, all the while thinking, “Just get through today and then you have the weekend to cry.”

Cry about the stress. Cry about the fact that you still can’t handle Mother’s Day and it’s the only time your emotions about your mom are out of control. Cry about the pressure, the overwhelming number of things you feel responsible for and about how last night in your small group you were supposed to write down your hopes and dreams and you realized that just the words ‘hopes’ and ‘dreams’ make you feel cold.

I pulled up to the window and Normally Aloof Starbucks Guy was standing there with a sleepy grin on his face. He told me my total and I handed him my money. Seconds later he passes my change through the window and tells me to have a nice day.

There’s an awkward beat where I just sit there and he just stands there, goofy smile still in place.

“But…” I finally stammer, “I don’t have anything.”

I’d paid, but I was sitting there empty-handed as he was sending me on my way insisting that I have a good day.

Starbucks Guy laughed and then so did I.

But then the laugh cracked me right open, right down to the core and to my horror the tears started streaming.
It was all I could do not to sob as the words I’d just said pressed into my soul.

I don’t have anything… Not today. Nothing left.

The look of confusion mixed with sympathy Normally Aloof Starbucks Guy gave me as he handed me my iced coffee was almost unbearable.

I can’t say that I had a huge spiritual moment there. Mostly it was mortifying and I started to wonder if I was actually losing my mind.

What I do know is that God saw, he cares, and he loves.

And maybe he laughs a little, too. I hope so.

This week my threshold for any type of ridiculousness has been at an all-time low. And by “ridiculousness” I mean anything and everything that falls outside of what I want to be happening at that moment.

I’ve been in my head a lot and cooped up because of the blasted cold weather in Texas ( PLEASE GOD, I know it’s a lot to ask considering it’s early March and all, but can we just be done with 30 degree weather? As a birthday gift?).

In spite of my less than stellar attitude about life this week,  good things have happened…

God has taught me some beautiful things about himself in unexpected places and I LOVE that. Even better, he’s given me people with great minds and hearts to talk about those things with, to bounce my observations off of and broaden my ways of thinking and knowing him.

I’ve been noticing how precious it is to have sisters– I don’t think I do a good enough job letting them know how much I love and appreciate them, because I do love and appreciate them and I’m proud of the women they are and will be. It hasn’t even been a handful of years since we lost our mom and so much has changed. We all have changed. I know that my mom is so proud of her girls and this week I have felt burdened, in a good way, to start looking for ways to let my sisters know how much they are loved and seen.  It’s terrifying and beautiful to me that I can remember running through the woods with them to our “Secrete Creek” as children so clearly and now, here we are, and I’m a week away from being 33 and they are all grown up, too.

There’s been laughter.

And speaking of sisters and laughter…  Several days ago I was having a meltdown in Kristin’s car, this is, for reasons unknown to me, the place I meltdown. We were taking the little girls shopping and on our way I just became overwhelmed by all of the things that felt like they were crushing me. My meltdowns are always preceded by the announcement, “I’m going to cry now.” As though I owe the person I’m with the curtesy of a warning. While bawling in the front seat of my sisters Mazda I just start spilling out everything, even the things that I think are stupid, that are bothering me, until nothing is left. Kristin listens silently to my whaling pity party and when I’ve finished looks at me calmly and says, “Thank you for telling me that.” Which is the absolute weirdest thing my sister could possibly say to me in that moment. “What?” I replied completely thrown. And then we both laughed until I cried again. She’d read that when receiving someone’s vulnerable thoughts it was good to thank them for sharing with you. Doesn’t quite work on your sister. After all of that we had a great time shopping with my nieces: Photos below.

I laughed with friends and with children and it was good.

There were also lots of I love you’s. One of my favorites came from my youngest nephew who, holding my face with his small, chubby hands, looking me in the eyes said, “I loooooooooooove you” in the way only a toddler can. And you feel it all the way into the deepest regions of your soul and know that it is truer than just about anything.

For a rough week it’s also been pretty good.

May we all have the heart to find the beautiful moments stuck in between our frustrations and meltdowns. There’s hope and love and peace in those moments.

I finished Dear John yesterday. It’s the only Nicholas Sparks book I’ve ever read. I’ve seen others on the best sellers isle at the book store before, and they’ve always given me a moment’s pause, but a voice deep down in there somewhere would caution me not to pick them up, and now I understand why.

I had a vague idea that some of the things he’d written were sad, but I wasn’t getting the full picture. I never saw or read The Notebook… mostly because I thought it was kind of weird how the girls I knew talked about it like it was some sort of revelation, but again that sense of danger would kick in and I avoided it. Plus, if I’m being totally honest, there was no one cute enough to catch my attention in the film, so I never really had the motivation to see it, certainly not to take the time to read it.

I never would have read A Walk To Remember, but when the film came out I was going through my boy band phase, so all of my celebrity crushes at the time were the thug-polished type.

Shane West

Shane West (featured to the right), thought not actually in a boy band, definitely fit into that pretty-bad-boy category. Don’t be fooled by the I’m-a-bad-ass-grimace/smirk, or the pseudo-stubble going in this picture, Shane West is pretty and so I was more than willing to see A Walk To Remember when it came out.

I went in blind on that one… I had no idea what the plot was, and it ended up being tragic and sappy, but it wasn’t the saddest thing I’d ever seen, and the acting was bad so, again I failed to pay enough attention to what was fueling that voice inside my head telling me to stay far away anything Nicholas Sparks had touched.

Now we get to Dear John. I’ve seen the trailer for it a dozen times. Once again I’ve found myself drawn, not because the story seemed compelling, but because of a celebrity crush… and the fact that I really like the song that they play during the trailer.

With age my tastes have changed, but as this picture clearly exemplifies,  I still have a weakness for the clean, roguish types. Channing Tatum (whose name should have been Tatum Channing because it sounds more like a real name), plays John, and thus caused me to be just curious enough to want to know what the story of Dear John was all about.

I can’t say exactly how it happened that I decided to read the book, other than I just wanted something easy to read and light, and that voice I mentioned before had warned me to at least prepare myself by reading before paying to see the film. So I went to half priced books and bought it. I jumped right in and knew, before finishing the first page of the prologue that I was going to regret it. I knew it the same way I knew, a chapter into She’s Come Undone, that it was going to be the worst book I had ever read, and it was a chunk of my life and time I would never get back. But just like with She’s Come Undone, I forged ahead anyway, because I can’t stand the thought of starting a book and not finishing it.

I’m sure that many of you are Sparks fans, and so I wont go into too much detail trying to tear the book limb from limb. I will admit that I though his writing style was rather weak. I found myself counting the number of times he would use a particular word, which is just down right annoying. And then, in my opinion, the narrative didn’t fit John’s character at all, but alas, it is what it is. What I really want to comment on is Mr. Sparks taste for wanting to put a knife in his readers hearts and then twisting it about 5 times.

I mentioned to a friend at work that I was reading Dear John and she warned me that it was going to be bad and when I questioned why Nicholas Sparks seems to only write that kind of heart-wrenching stuff, her response was, “because we love it.”

Do we love it? Really? I mean, I’m the girliest girlie girl who ever existed, but I like my unrealistic happy endings. Sure I like the occasional tear-jerker, but I like it coupled with romance and warm-and-fuzzies and people not dying after all, or finding someone new to love. I don’t know… maybe I just don’t get it, but one thing is for sure. I will never read another Nicholas Sparks book again.

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