The Neti Pot

This is a story about the night I tried a Neti Pot for the first time.  

I have a cold, and I don't play with colds.

Earlier this week I stopped by Walgreens, stuck my arm out rigidly, and  marched down the cold & flu aisle, knocking one of everything into my basket, basically. I arrived at the counter with $37 worth of meds, and a Neti Pot.

Now, I have written before that I am not a Neti Pot user. Because KNOW THYSELF. Neti Pot zealots, save your breath. I understand why Neti Pots work. I believe in Neti Pots. I think that they are a wonderful concept. Great, in theory. Like kale. 

But desperate times call for Neti Pots, or something like that.

I got home, set the Neti Pot on the counter, and opened the instruction manual. The first thing of note was the SHOCKING LACK of direction included. I expected pages of warnings, red-lettered cautions, and medical diagrams of sinus cavities. 

Nada. It says, 

Tilt your head so that your right nostril is directly above your left nostril. Your forehead should be higher than your chin.

THAT'S IT.  Who signed off on this instructional booklet? What senior copywriter sat in a board room and shrugged his shoulders like, "Just tell 'em to pour the water up their noses? What could go wrong?

And apparently you can't use tap water to rinse your sinuses. Something about amoebas in the brain. I did not have distilled water, because I am a commoner, so I had to boil a pot. 

Then I had to cool the water back down to body temperature. There was nothing in the instructions about not pouring boiling water up your nose, BUT I FIGURED IT OUT. 

(If you ask me, the Neti-Pot people could learn a thing or two from the Pop-Tart people, whose boxes include detailed instructions on how to remove a Pop-Tart from its solar-blanket sleeve.) 

So there I stood: leaning over the kitchen sink, head cocked at a 90* angle, wishing I had a level with which to verify that my forehead was in fact higher than my chin. Then I had this moment. There was this moment when I thought, 

"Okay, I'm going to do it now.
No, now.
Now!
...

...

Okay, 1....2....3....
Now!
Wait, I need to collect myself."

It's like the moment after you've spread hot wax on your face and you're gripping the cloth strip, thinking, "Okay, I'm going to tear it off NOW...no, now...aaaannnyyy minute now."

Because there is a survival mechanism inside of you saying, "DO NOT RIP THAT STRIP FULL OF HOT WAX OFF OF YOUR FACE. IT WILL HURT."

In order to wax your face, you have to momentarily suppress your will to live. The same is true of Neti Pot use. 

There is something inside of you saying, "Do not pour that teapot full of water up your nose. That is a bad idea." 

I stood frozen for a few minutes, 29 years of swimming experience working against me. They were saying "Do the OPPOSITE OF THIS. Whatever happens, do NOT dump 8 oz. of water directly into your sinus cavity."

But as a woman who's done her share of waxing, I am adept at momentarily suppressing my will to live. 

I started breathing through my mouth, lifted the pot, and poured.

I am here to tell you that exactly one eternity passed between the moment the water entered my right nostril and the moment it started flowing out of my left. I was sure that water would soon be leaking out of my eye sockets, and that this was how it all ended for me. Slumped over the kitchen sink, Neti Pot in hand. 

But then it worked! I was pouring water into a hole in my face, and watching it flow out of a different hole in my face, and I thought, 

"THE HUMAN BODY IS A FREAKING ROCK STAR."

And that is the moral of this story.  That the human body is a freaking rock star, common colds and all.  

Yes Nights

Friday nights are my favorite, because Friday nights are yes-nights. 

One of my most deeply held parenting philosophies is to say "Yes" to every single thing I can. The number of times I shout "No!!!!" at my kids is in the hundreds of millions. I choose "Yes" so that their young lives aren't one big giant "No." 

Can you wear the cape to church? Yes.
Can you paint? Sure. Just whatever.

Weeknights, for us, are a marathon routine of dinner-bath-bed. There is no margin. During the week, the most loving thing I can do for my children is to make sure that their little bodies get enough sleep..

I love them by making sure they eat enough protein, so they don't get hangry and get disciplined for being poorly nourished.

I pack their lunches, I wash their clothes, I tuck them in. I say "No" a lot. That's how I love my kids during the week.

But Fridays.

Friday nights are YES-NIGHTS.

Can we color, Mommy? Yes.

Can we play Super Mario, Mommy? Yes.

Will you read us another book, Mommy? Yes.

Will you lay with me, Mommy? YES.

On Friday, there is no alarm clock waiting for us on the other end of the night. There are no lunches to pack. Bedtime is kind of ... eehhhhh. 

On weeknights, my love looks like boundaries to my children. It's the same love, but it looks like a bunch of rules. On weekends, my love delights them. 

I'm obsessed with Friday nights. Because on Friday nights, I get to go home and say "Yes."

 

The Things We Take Off At The Front Door.

My favorite chapter in Tina Fey's BossyPants is the chapter called "What Turning Forty Means to Me."  It says,

“I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn’t used to have to do that. But now I do.”

That's the whole chapter. 

This is great news because I already have to take my pants off as soon as I get home, so forty has nothing on me. I'm invincible to forty. 

But pants aren't the only things we take off at the front door, are they? We are always shucking things off there. I contend that we shed our very skins.  

In the summer we shed things that are wet and grassy: drippy bathing suits, damp towels, sweaty socks, grass stained shorts, shirts sticky with watermelon juice.

In the spring we shed things that are wet and muddy: rain jackets, sloppy boots, gardening gloves.

In the winter we shed things that are wet and snowy. We unzip and step out of our outer shells. We strip off layers of coats, hats, shirts, scarves, leggings, socks, and soggy mittens.  We peel them off like we're husking corn.

We don’t shed anything in the fall because fall is perfect.

When we get home from work we kick off the heels, peel off the pantyhose, unbutton the jeans. We take down our hair, cast aside the briefcase. We unclasp the bra, pull it out of a sleeve and toss it across the room.

And it's at the front door that we take off all of our defenses.  Home is where the masks come off.

We take off the “Everything is great!” mask.
The “I’m an organized parent!” mask. 
The “We’re so happily married!” mask.
We take off the "American-dream, I-can-do-it-all-myself-if-I-just-work-hard-enough" mask.

We peel off our skin, exhale, and become who we are.  Not what we do, or how our kids behave, or how we introduce ourselves at parties – who we ARE.

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We always undress when we come home.  Pantyhose and pretense: they both come off at the front door.

I wasn't sure this post had a point. I thought that maybe it was just an observation. But after I thought about it for a minute it came to me. The application is this: please, please, please don't forget to strip. Take off the masks, take off the pretense. Take off the blame pantyhose. Because if, when you walk in your front door, you can't peel off the layers of defense and pretense, you'll never really be home. 


Separated

Every time things pipe down around here, it’s because there is something consuming going on that I’m not ready to share with the internet yet. In this space, I share my thoughts and observations about the world. It follows, then, that when my world is permeated by a thing I can’t share, there is radio silence.

When I have a baby, that baby gets my thoughts, observations, and my world.
When I write a book, that book gets my thoughts, observations, and my world.

And the events of the last year have gotten all of my thoughts - all of my world.

One year ago today, I got, as our dear sister Glennon Melton calls it, ‘The News.’  She calls it “The News no spouse ever thinks they are going to get, even though so many of us do.”  It was Black Friday, aptly named.

I stayed.  

During the last year in therapy I received more News. Then more News. Then more News. Then more News.

It became clear to me that the things that needed to take place in order to reconcile our marriage were not going to happen.  So Dan and I are separated. In fact, we have been for a while now; the divorce will be final in less than a year.

Much prayer, much therapy, and much counsel have led me to this point.  I have every human emotion every day: sadness, anger, fear – so much fear. Relief, gratitude, hope. Loneliness, joy – even peace.

All of them are fleeting, scuttling in and out of the chambers of my heart like a bunch of wily hamsters that I can’t control. 

My people have carried me in ways that you would not believe. I am excited to share that part with you – the part about how we carry each other. 

I will continue to write about the world, and now that this is a part of my world, it's probably going to make a cameo in a post or two.  It was time for you to know.

Please hold this news gently. 

And before you comment, please remember that this is the Internet: the place where words live forever. 

I will never stop being grateful for this space and this community of readers. I really, really love you.

Kate

Music is a Heart Language

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When I was in high school, I heard a song called, “Clear the Stage.”

It was gorgeous. It was intense, poetic, and convicting, and I loved it. But I also misapplied it.

Instead of hearing “Christ is greater than,” I heard, “Lights, decorations, and great music are distractions.”

I began to feel guilty for loving a good stage set. I started to wonder if I really loved God or if I just loved music. I started to believe that appreciating graphic design and smooth stage transitions meant I was loving the experience over the Creator, and that I had to push those things aside in order to worship Jesus more purely.

Fear and shame caused me to twist a call to authenticity into a denouncement of anything that was beautiful besides Jesus. I was on track for a confusing, shame-filled, puritanical few years.

Mercifully, there was an artist that attended my church at the time. He had loved both Jesus and art for a lot of years, and one evening I heard him say: “Maybe the beauty isn’t a distraction from worship. Maybe God made it beautiful so that you could worship.”

Well, yes.

I believe that beauty is God’s signature. Or maybe more like His fingerprint - He leaves it on everything He touches.  I believe that beauty points to God, and that things are beautiful so that I can worship.

I love good music, good design, a good stage set, and logistics. I would even say that those things enhance my worship experience - and that there's nothing idolatrous about that.

I've recently begun to think of music like a language.

When you’re in a foreign country, even if you’ve been there for decades and you’re as fluent as fluent can be, when you hear somebody on the subway speaking your first language – your heart language – your ears perk up. You want to turn to them and say, “Me too!”

That’s why it’s so beautiful (and important) to see the Bible translated into the heart languages of people that don’t yet have access to it. Because you can hear the stories in a language that you know, but when you hear the gospel in YOUR language, your heart language, the words carry a little more weight. You feel them pressing in on you differently. Like they don’t have to filter through your mind first, they get fast-tracked to your heart. 

I think that music is similarly intimate. Music knits itself to our experiences and it can transport us back to places and people with the force of tidal waves. This has happened to you: you hear a song and it slams you.

We have a heart language and we have heart music.

When I was in a church that was different from the church I grew up in, I still loved Jesus. I still learned things, I still worshipped with sincerity, I still served. I still had lots of joy. But when I stepped back into a church like the church of my childhood, I couldn’t help from crying, because it was like hearing somebody speak my heart language.

It felt like the setting in which I learned to love Jesus. It was exactly like the first time I heard the gospel, and the first time I raised my hands in worship. Everything about that place reckoned back to the early, formative years of my faith. To be in that kind of building, in that kind of atmosphere, hearing those kinds of songs was like hearing my heart language after a long season in a foreign country.

I try not to be critical of other styles of church: different music, or seating, or orders of service, or communion protocol. I also try not to be critical of people that have a very strong preference about those things. I try to remember that they may just be clinging to their heart language.

Hear me: I believe that the gospel is paramount. I believe that it comes before heart-music (or style or language) every time, by a million miles. I believe that we must be willing to leave our country, to learn a new language. If you are clinging to your heart language at the cost of allowing others to hear the good news in THEIRS, you are choosing your comfort over their rescue, and you’ve got to let it go. Reaching people comes first.

But I am not a Puritan. Greater suffering and greater boredom does not necessarily mean greater holiness. I believe that God made things beautiful so that we could worship. Right now, I am a part of a church that is speaking my heart language, both linguistically and musically, and I love it.

What is your musical heart language - in church or otherwise? What album feels like hearing your native tongue for the first time in a long time?