Who said it was easy?

Mini-Me and Me!

I tease my daughter… I call her “mini-me,” though she’s never seen the Austin Powers movie the silly comment comes from.  But I call her that in love, as she has inherited the uncanny ability to mirror my looks in a much more beautiful fashion than I ever sported at her age.  It took me most of my life to finally break free of the awkward teenage years – yes – long after I turned 20 something they still haunted me.  But her? Just one short year into her “official first year” of being a teen and she is drop dead – head turning – gorgeous. Long red hair, perfect complexion, adorable freckles that smatter across her cheekbones, vibrant green eyes…  okay, okay, I’ll stop.  I can see her “MOM!” look, now. But that’s what mom’s do, right?  They say that gooey stuff about their kid.

But I’m right.  I know I am.  So I tell her she’s wrong, all the time, when she caves to self loathing, listens to the inner voice that says she’s not got what it takes to make it, and when she lets the world tell her she can’t when I know God has a bright future full of “YES YOU CAN” waiting for her.

It’s hard to be a mom of a teen.  It’s hard to combat the world out there who wants to tell our young people that there is only one thing that makes them beautiful…  one way to do something, or one thing that is worth doing.  But doing hard things are worth doing.

I hear other mom’s around me talking about how “hard it is” and it’s said with a bit of a whine.  Yep.  You’re darn tootin it is.  When did someone tell you this parenting thing was easy? Can I ask you when the last time LIFE was easy?  Period?  Cause I have not experienced a whole lot of that easy thing lately… and from the look-see I’ve given to the “world” lately, it hasn’t seen much of it either.  Something about that whine worries me too…  they seem to want to make life too easy for their kids, to take the pain out of it for them, to do the hard things FOR them, and to protect them from it all.  I sooooo get that.  I do.  You can’t imagine how I do, because there’s a journey behind getting to this photo you will never get to hear…  but what you will hear is this – Life is hard, and unless you teach that to your kid, you fail them.  Yep.  You fail as a parent.

I should see some failure freaks sitting up and taking notice now.  I should know, I’m one of them.  So here’s what to teach your kid if you DONT want to fail them…

The 3 simple things all teens should know

Here’s the secret to all the good things in LIFE and the 3 things every teen needs to know heading out into the real world…

#1 – LIFE is hard.  DAMN hard.  Period.

#2 – Hard things are worth doing.  Period.

#3 – If it was easy, everyone would be doing it… and then you’d just be one of the crowd.  In order to STAND OUT and BE someone worth being – you need to go back and re-read #1 & #2 again, stop whining, and decide to go for it.

Yes – it really is that simple.  Anything you put your back into, your mind into, your heart, soul, sweat, tears, and work your ass off for will count.  It will matter.  It will be something you will fight for and protect.  If it’s handed to you, it will never hold the same weight in your hand as something you worked for.  I don’t care what it is or what we are talking about.

And when in doubt, error on the side of having worked for it anyway.  Parents, error on the side of having taught your kids life skills they will be able to make it through the hardest of times with, not ones where they will be left shell shocked and wondering WHY the world is just so mean to them.  It is because it is.  Period.  Not even God promised it will be easy.  It’s written no where.

And THAT is what I gently teach my beautiful daughters and son, each day, in a way that will hopefully sink deep into their knowing places.  That and Grace – God’s beautiful and healing Grace.  It’s this legacy I hope to pass on so that they never look back and hear the whine in my voice and wonder where Life did them wrong.


Kick Ass Genes

“You have kids?”  The look on the face of a young woman I’d just met made me crack up.  “I thought you were maybe 25 or something.  No way you have kids.”   I showed her a photo of me and my girls together and she just shook her head.  The picture was taken back in my not so good days – when I was over run with pain on a daily basis – but that night was a wonderful memory amongst the storms of life then.  I’d kept it as my phone’s home screen since that night.  My girls breathe youth into me.

My two girls and I out for a Girl’s Night Out – taking in a girlfriend’s musical and eating cheese cakes while we watched! Lindsey was sporting an awesome shade of Radical Red in her hair that night and Alli was wearing MY top and heels!

She was shocked and it was funny to watch her mind race.  She thought I was in college.  I figure I either seemed too silly and immature, or the carefreeness of being back doing what I love, (theater), was doing what I’d hoped.  It was removing the layers of stress that were weighing me down.  I no longer felt stuck in the muck, but like maybe I was actually holding my head above water.  It’s more than refreshing.  It’s life-giving.

With 40 closing in on me in just a short year and a half – I felt like I should send my mom some flowers for the awesome kick ass genes she passed on to me.  It’s true.  I don’t look my age.  When I had kids, I looked like a teenager, not a twenty something who was married with a house and dog.  I have a whole line of awesome women in my family I could thank for passing those genes down the line  🙂

I realized something on the way home that night.  I’d turned the proverbial corner.  I wasn’t just surviving life anymore…  I was living it.  Heck, I wasn’t just living it, I was loving it.  It’d been a long time since I had the get-up-and-go that made me even want to get through a whole day, let alone the moxy to plan more than a week ahead. I would never commit to anything long term… and I’d just committed to a full two months of rehearsals, and 12-15 runs of most likely a full house of Christmastime shows.  Part of me wanted to say “What the HELL are you thinking?”

Then it occurred to me… not much HAD changed, not really… Yet everything had.  I’d still had three blasted migraines inside of 7 days this week, but it didn’t weigh me down so much.  I handled them better than I had before and I rebounded faster.  Maybe it was because  I now had an extra reason to want to get up and figure out how to make life work.  It’s not that I didn’t want to get up for my family before.  I did, more than I can put into words… but I never had anything filling me up.  I was just emptying out all the time.   Auditioning for “It’s a Wonderful Life” was the best thing my husband could have encouraged me to do for my physical and mental health.  Far better than any prescription or exercise I’m prescribed.

When you take time to do something (selfish) that makes you come alive inside – YOU are better for everyone around you.  So maybe that is not so selfish after all.  Maybe that is the best thing I could do for my family…and even for myself… to take some time away, to just be Christi, and not mom, or any other hat-wearing person that I may be. To just live a bit.  To have permission to be something more than I was, and more than people needed me to be… because someone alive inside is far better for her family than one who is just existing and getting by.

I’m far from 25 -but I’ll take the compliment any day!

And obviously it’s showing.  I just didn’t realize that.  It was just a few months back I walked past a mirror and didn’t even recognize the woman who looked back at me.  She was haggard and worn, tired and weary.  She’d sorta given up.  She’d given up because she stopped living and was just existing.  I took this self portrait just a week after auditions.  My husband has the girl he married back.  Finally.  🙂

So – watch out world.  Christi is fully alive, with her kick-ass “genes”, and she’s on the loose!

Living “Alive” or Living “Dead”

This blog is brought to you from the tears I’ve shed for my friend Joyce McCartney.  She lost the love of her life last week to a motorcycle accident and it’s affected me in ways I thought I’d moved on from…

A guy walked up to my husband and asked him if the bike out front was his.  While this man was a total stranger  to my husband, they began to talk bikes with the ease of long time friends.  What’s the big deal you ask me? My husband is not even a smidgen like me, and making conversation with a complete stranger is not something he prefers to do.  He’s as far introverted as I am extroverted.  We are polar opposites in this area.  The fact he was not only talking, but interested in the conversation, laughing, and asking questions of this guy made ME smile.  It’s a side of him I love to see in action.

Bikes – meaning MOTORcycles, not BIcycles – make my husband come alive.  When he pushes his bike out of the garage, zips up his leather jacket, straps on his helmet, and takes off, he’s a whole different person than the one who climbs in beside me in the van and drives off.  I love to see my husband fully alive.  His eyes are vibrant blue, with crinkles in the corners, and he grins a sideways smile and stands with purpose.  He’s a man who is fully in the moment, participating in life, not reacting to it.  I didn’t know this man existed till we’d been married for years.  He began dreaming of owning his own bike long before he shared it with me.  When he finally did, he was sure I’d shoot it down.  I’d been known to say there was no way I ever wanted someone I loved on a bike, EVER.  

Derek with his first bike

I remember the day he first spoke his desire and God silenced my lips.  I shocked myself by hearing him out and telling him that I fully supported any dream he was that passionate about.  Then we agreed to pray over it.  If God could find a way to deliver the means or ways to go about getting a bike, then we’d know it was what we should do.  

When the opportunity that seemed perfect came about later that winter, after about 6 months of prayer, my husband got his first bike. It was an older bike that had been totaled out after an accident.  A buddy gave it to him when he got a new one and they fixed it back to riding condition after long hours of labor and even machining parts for it in some cases.  By late spring it was ready to go.  He’d taken safety riding classes and learned the basics… but now it was time for rubber to meet the road, for real. Derek came alive in a way I cant even put words to that first spring and summer while riding the backroads on that old Kawasaki.  

I wanted to understand his passion.  So again, I called upon God.  I asked that He bless me with eyes to see what my husband saw when he was on that bike.  I wanted to feel what God lit in his heart when he was out on the open road.  I wanted to know what made him tick.  God blessed me with a yes answer to my requests and then some.

The first time I ever got on the back of the bike with him, I imagined I’d feel pure terror as the bike accelerated and took up speed.  Instead, I felt the rush of freedom like I’d never felt it before.  It was like flying.  The wind didn’t noiselessly toss the leaves around outside a car window… it swirled, and pulled, tugging and whipping at my clothes in response to my pushing against it, conquering the resistance of motion.  The air on my skin was invigorating.  Hunched down with my chest wrapped around his back, arms hugging him tight, we moved together as one.  Scripture flowed through my mind and I heard God wordlessly knitting my heart to my husbands as repeated, “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Gen 2:24.  It meant a lot to me then, because both of us had had trouble in our early marriage in learning to “leave and cleave”.  I can honestly say, that first ride was more than amazing.  It was spiritual.

I fell in love with riding, and I fell in love with the closeness it brings any two riders who move in time to the turns and angles of the road ahead.  There are no words spoken on rides, just the rush of the bike down the road,  the intense closeness of God that is so powerful it defies words.  

A girlfriend said to me, “I’d NEVER let my husband have a bike.”  It was in response to my sharing our bike trip to Indy to watch the MotoGP races a couple years back.  I kept my comment to myself, but I quietly realized I’d never make him get rid of one.  Never.  Not even if it meant he’d be here less time with me.  That’s right… the risk of loosing him is worth the “risk” of keeping him.

Say what?  

Hear me out… If I had to choose between a man who was truly ALIVE while he was living with me – happy and doing what he loves, and a man who was safely LIVING, and yet obviously quite dead inside… well, I can honestly say I have thought and weighed this many times over and I’d choose risking it and being alive over and over again, every time.  Yes, even now while shedding tears for my friend’s loss.

Biking with friends

Really – this isn’t all that different than someone who takes up skydiving in their spare time as a hobby, learning to fly planes, rock climbing, backpacking in the wilderness, or any other NON-safe, sport.  Why do people pursue something passionately?  Safe or not safe?  Take ANYTHING…  Think here with me?

They pursue it because it gives them life.  It makes them tick.  It makes them come alive inside.  For me?  It’s writing and theater.  I have gone years without being on a stage, and honestly, a little bit of me has died out bit by bit.  My flame that burns hot in my soul only is awakened when I am given a chance to pursue the things that God gifted me with, and I only can hear HIS voice speaking clearly when I am soaring down my own roadway – racing with the adrenaline that God chooses to speak to me through.    It comes out in my writing and in my performing.  I am so incredibly blessed by these two giftings.  

My husband knows this and last week he handed me a postcard with a listing for auditions for “It’s a Wonderful Life” down at the local theater and I did a double take when he said a simple, “You should go,” urging and left it at that.  I asked him later on if he really meant it and he shrugged and said, “if you want to, yeah.”  With that, he’d given me permission to be alive again.  There are a TON of reasons why I shouldn’t go, I told myself.  None were ones I wanted to listen to.  So I went.  It was by far the best three hours of the last 2 years of my life.  I didn’t even care if I got a part.  I had proved I still “got it” to myself, and I knew I “COULD” if I wanted to.  The fire was still there.  

Last night the cast list went out and my name was on it – holding my trend of being cast in every show I auditioned for.  I was over the top.  I was alive again.  My son, in response, asked, “Is Mommy going to be THIS happy ALL the time now?”  Yes, my dear sweet son.  Mommy IS.  Worse things could happen than having a mom who gets to do what lights her passion and she lives fully when present in her daily life because of it too.  I will be a better mom because CHRISTI is alive under the Mom hat she wears.  I had asked God to cast me ONLY if there was something I could do in this season that would be a light to Him.  If it was only for me, then let it pass, the audition would be enough.  Obviously, there is something for me to do this Christmas.  I’m excited to see what that is…

So that said… Is if fair for me to say to my husband to choose something safe, so I can feel better about how God chooses to talk to him?  I don’t have to understand why God chooses to speak to my husband’s inner core by climbing on a bike.  That’s not my job.  My job is to support whatever God chose to do in him, how he chooses to use him, and to believe that He has a purpose for that.

Men fly all over the country on business trips, travel numerous miles down commuting highways, and criss cross the globe in business and in pursuit of providing for their families and pursuing their passions in life, and in following the giftings of their hearts.  My husband works ten miles from home and loves to commute those miles three seasons of the year via his motorcycle.  The odds are against us all – in reality.  Accidents happen.  Period.  There is no way to know when or how.  But to live in fear of the “what if’s” in life is to live dead.

Find what makes you alive inside and begin to live.  If you are not living while you are alive, what’s the point?  Truly?  You might as well be a fatality counted amongst the tragic accidents of lives taken from this earth… for, frankly, you are far from living a life that will be counted as one worth being missed if one day you suddenly weren’t here the next.


And my prayer for you, Joyce, and to Tom’s family, is that I hope you smile with joy as you see the picture of him in front of his new bike.  It was not the one that was to be his fateful demise and take his life.  It was the one he road to heaven, having dreamed about owning for so long.  He would have been riding that day anyway, if he had wanted to.  Accidents happen, and they happen to really good people.  I pray you find peace and can begin to smile again.  Tom would want you to.  He would.