Baycation 



I have never not lived on a bay.  I grew up on a river that fed into the Chesapeake Bay a short drive away.

San Diego, Mississippi, Norfolk, and Monterey are all also on a bay. In this way Nick’s gig with the Navy has been a huge blessing because a life away from the water would be a real Charlie Foxtrot.  Bays are the best. So beautiful are they that Journey wrote a hit song about them.  I’d like to talk to you about each bay I have lived on.

Chesapeake Bay.  Perhaps this is the grossest bay I’ve encountered. But I didn’t really know it was gross since it was the only bay I knew about.  Growing up near the bay ensured I would know the words “estuary” and “Delmarva”.  Wouldn’t you know that at the height of my manatee mania an actual Floridian Manatee swam into the Chesapeake Bay.  Her name was Chessie and they wrote a children’s book about her.  Yah know.  Like Nessie but Chessie.

306004_959053981351_1446445845_nSan Diego Bay.  The bay in San Diego is so tight.  It’s filled with Naval war ships and helicopters and subs and jets and naval bomb dolphins.  Also sailboats and paddle boarders.  I love a Navy town.  The bridge to Coronado island is hella scary- way scarier than the Chesapeake Bay bridge (sorry Marylanders).

Bay St. Louis.  Which is in Mississpi NOT Missouri which could be confusing to people who are not familiar with the gulf coast of Mississippi, that is to say, everyone.  One time a bunch of nutria (that is, giant imported swamp rats) drowned in Louisiana and the current washed them up on the beach and they all blew up, literally,  so the state had to bring in hazmat teams to remove them.


Norfolk.  Also the Chesapeake Bay.  Norfolk is full of little waterways making their way out to the bay, not unlike Annapolis, and is part of the reason it was so appealing to me so fast.  Norfolk is right at the mouth of the Bay and brings to mind another bay word: “brackish.”  The major port town brings in thrills like very long container trains and an abundance of rats. Ya beautiful and I love it.  Minus the rats.


Monterey.  Monterey Bay is a marine sanctuary and there are otters.  So, I can say in all sincerity, “Hey Nick!  Look at that otter gamboling in the kelp!” And it’s truly true.   If you don’t love sea otters then you are either lying or dead inside because otters are like a hug made manifest or what an actually warm fuzzy looks like.  Even still, sea otter felt too obvious when I picked my favorite marine mammal and I veered left and chose manatee, which is more like watching reality tv made manifest.  They eat sea lettuce so it’s mostly water weight.  Sea otters do eat starfish which for some reason strikes me as incredibly gruesome.  I think I thought they were depicted with starfish because they liked the conversation or they were just playing with them like a toy.

Thank you bay, or should I say Bae?!  (That was a bad joke that I wrote anyway because I have a massive disrespect for the time you take out of your day to come here and read this).

🎶When the lights, go down, in the city.  And the sun sets on the bay.  Oh I want to be there, in that city. Ohhhohwoooo.  Oh oh ohohoh🎶

Journey does not translate easily to the written word.  Theirs is a language best sang.

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Old Testament boobs and other afflictions of motherhood.

Motherhood is a joy. It is a gift and a boon and to be absolutely forthright with you- it is an affliction.

After 6 years of pregnancy and breastfeeding- crammed as close together as Taylor Swift albums- I have become as dry as a page from Leviticus, as weary as Methuselah on his 969th Birthday.

Here I will list some afflictions, short and mostly to the point. (Shyeah right)

-I was sitting at a baby shower brunch (the only kind that exist in your 30’s!). And I caught an alarming glance of my side arm in a friends glasses! “They can’t be that wide” I thought “Perhaps they are distorted from the angle of her glasses”. The human heart has a high capacity for self deception…. but in that self same glance, out of my other eye, I perceived a lovely thing. It was a chocolate orange scone. And I forgot about my flabby arm and I ate that scone. I ate it real good.

-When given a moment to think, most mothers can speedily call up something to google. For me this mostly involves an appendage in -or function of my reproductive tract, like “why are my boobs a Chinese finger trap now?” Or “will this cystic acne from my spiraling soup of hormones ever leave?” I also have forlorn thoughts. I might just ask “Hey google, am I pretty?”

-Occasionally the old adage “The old gray mare just ain’t what she used to be” crowds my thoughts. Had I known what my body after 4 kids would be like I would NOT have squandered my youthful fawnlike body. What I lost in taughtness I gained in chin hair.

But I do think that there is something redemptive in naming your afflictions. Perhaps they seem frivolous in comparison with other afflictions. I mean, Leah had a ton of children and she had weak eyes and had to hauk a mandrake with her sister to sleep with her husband. I can certainly see where my pathetic groaning about the state of my rack can come off as a first world problem. It plagues us because the decaying of a fallen world feels so wrong. So absolutely backwards. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Our saggy Old Testament boobs? They’re a -okay. Because salvation does not rest on our beauty but it rests in Christ’s sacrifice for us. We will ultimately be redeemed and whole and a witness to the glory of Christ. A glory so filled with light that Moses walked away from it glowing. Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I think it’s ok to lament the loss of your youth. But I also think it’s rich to praise God when you see the ravages of time and childbirth on your body. Because He entered into our world to deliver us from it.

Come soon Lord Jesus, until then, thank you for allowing the invention of underwire.

procrastination.

Hi.  My name is Kaley.  And right now I am procrastinating.  I am procrastinating because there are, like, so many piles of laundry everywhere.  Imagine a prairie dog colony and how when the colony expands the prairie dogs must make more holes to come up for air.  The laundry in my house is much like an expanding prairie dog colony.  Piles just keep springing up.  Sometimes I call my guest room the laundry room because it is where I put clean laundry that I intend to put away, but then never do.  And sometimes when members of my family go in to the “laundry room” to find clean clothes they leave their dirty clothes in with the clean clothes and then I call that room a “Charlie Foxtrot” which is a military term that I bet you could figure out if you applied any effort at all.

I am also procrastinating because I have to finish working on my bible study which includes words in the English language that are strung together in sentences.  My eyes are bleary because Henry has a touch of the croup and my brain is making sounds that a derelict factory machine might make.  Grinding gears, squeaky wheels.  What is that phrase, the squeaky wheel gets the oil?  Did you ever wonder if the squeaky wheel just wanted a nap?

I am procrastinating because the carpet is so icky.  Having kids is icky.  In the not so distant past they got into the fire pit and colored the patio with charcoal and so now whenever anyone goes outside their feet turn black because the last time it rained in California was when the wooly mammoths were barreling around falling into tar pits.  Have you seen the news?  It’s straight fire in Cali.  And as a side note I would like to say that where I live it is not the land of fruit and nuts.  Where I live is where they grow artichokes and garlic and lettuce.  You have to go a couple hours away to get to the almond groves- so there.

I am procrastinating because I am wearing control top underwear which are very uncomfortable because my waist in so unruly and unwilling to submit to the control of the underwear.  Every time I sit down and try to concentrate I am liable to think “You know what?  I shouldn’t have eaten ______________ (just go ahead and insert everything I ate this weekend, none of which was a “healthy food” besides the avocado I added to my crispy chicken sandwich)

I am procrastinating because I stayed up late watching “Naked and Afraid” for shark week, which is when they drop you in shark infested waters.  Naked.  And you have to survive for 21 days.  And no one made clothes.  And I think my priorities would go as follows: Water.  Something to cover my lady bits.  Food, Shelter.  I SAW things they could have used.  I saw them eating coconuts ok?  Instead of laying around getting bitten by insects you could have been crafting an intricate coconut bra.  Probably they just didn’t want the stereotypical “coconut boob tanline” that every one knows you get on naked survival shows.  Don’t act like it’s too hard.  One time on Project runway they went to the dollar store with 10 bucks and then crafted COUTURE BALL GOWNS.  I’m just now realizing this is what Nick is talking about when he tells me I can’t prioritize what needs to get done.  This is why they would find a skeleton of a woman wearing a fabulous palm frond headdress.  And maybe I should be doing laundry.  Or bible study.  Or dishes.  Or carpet cleaning.  or parenting instead of writing this blog.

I’m going to do that now.

Duke

Duke. I’ve told you nothing of Duke.

Let’s start from the beginning. I found out I was pregnant with Duke the week we arrived in Monterey. It was… startling. But then, it wasn’t.

I threw up in my mouth. A lot. I laid on the ground and read quotes about suffering by Spurgeon. I made sport of my OB/GYN’s Russian accent. And throughout all of this, I did not one dish. Not. A. One. It was a misery. But eventually, it wasn’t.

I knew this baby was a girl. I had girl clothes on my Amazon wishlist. I sat through 2 ultrasounds where Duke resolutely crossed his legs over his umbilical cord so I caved and did a blood test. This baby was supposed to be a girl, but he wasn’t.

After coming to terms with, let’s be honest, the loss of all the tiny tutu purchases I had anticipated, it was time to name my 4th baby and 3rd boy. I was taking suggestions because, it’s like, who has this many names?!

Duke was induced a week early because of my diabeetus. Fairly uneventful. Count Dracula. Uterus gone. The kid on nickelodeon who turned inside out on the swing.

Duke was born. Duke, to my surprise hates loud music. And his car seat. But other than that is happy and affable in every way.

Duke is a peacemaker. Duke refuses to play with toys and would rather play as if he is trying to make the team at training camp. And what I mean by that is he pushes heavy objects across the floor over and over again- then occasionally clothesline’s his older siblings. Duke is a tank. Duke loves to laugh.

And now you know about Duke.

this is the one where I talk about my butt.  

For all the lamenting, belly aching, and general stink I’ve put up about being pregnant on this blog, one would think that a fourth pregnancy would be ripe for the blog topic picking.  It ain’t.  It’s been a lot of things, but it hasn’t made me want to put my experience down into words until now.

Why now? 

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It’s my hump.

This pregnancy finally put a name to my hobbling Quasimodo walk, or as I also called it, my newborn baby deer walk.  Turns out I had inflamed sacroiliac joints!  

Friends, can I tell you the remedy for this malady?  Can you handle it?  It is a butt massage.  A massage where a strange person is in full view of your large (and I can only assume gelatinous) pregnant butt and also butt accoutrement- like- ya butt crack.  I personally try to keep the number of people viewing my buttcrack down to Nick, but at this point in my pregnancy it’s down to – 


I feel like I need to clarify because I just threw down that a strange person was massaging my dereraire and that’s hella shady.  This “stranger” is of course a licensed  physical therapist.  And they’re also a miracle worker because with kinesthtic tape and the directions to never pick anything up again including my own children, and to not push a stroller or walk up hills, my hips are feeling great!  Of course, I need help picking Owen up from school, grocery shopping, going to any store, and wrestling Henry out of the tub.  

This hump situation has led to a great need for humility in asking for help and an extremely greatful heart to those who happily help me every day.  I don’t like asking for help.  

1 Thessalonians says: 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

I am thankful when I see God’s provision for me, I am humbled by His providing.  I have felt the prayers of my friends and family.  I have eaten the meals of many and I have fought the guilt that Satan tempts me to feel when others come alongside me to help.  And I even made several jokes about my butt online for my children to discover in 10 years and be immediately struck with mortification when they read them.  

Why Maisy is wonderful. 


Maisy Jo is a wonderful enigma.  She is a tiny wispy thing with a will of iron.  I have never felt more confident in the name I picked for a child than her- for there is no one who is more “Maisy Jo” than Maisy Jo.


Maisy Jo- what a time to be alive!! Why?  Because you love unicorns and unicorn merch is reaching a fever pitch.  Why is this so wonderful?  Only because you pronounce unicorn as “municorn” which is a mutated form of Maisy-corn.  Maisy knows the difference between horses, zebras, Pegasus, unicorns, and ponies.

Maisy has a wonderful and passionate love for her brothers.  She strives to imitate Owen, but belly laughs with her BFF, Henry Benry(as she calls him).

Maisy jo has never not answered “candy” when asked what she wants for breakfast.

Maisy’s favorite color is pink- and Maisy is committed to choosing a pink crayon/ marker/ pencil for every craft project she must tackle.  She’ll go with purple in a real pinch, but It’s not great.  Just like every time she’s not wearing a dress it’s an uneasy compromise.

Oh.  And Maisy gallops.  Everywhere.

Pizzeria- gallops.

Park- gallops.

Children’s church- gallops.

You see where I’m going.

Maisy is also very into Skrillex.  Or any pop music for that matter.  Owen told me it’s his dream to be in the marching band, but Maisy?  I doubt she’d be caught dead there.  She’ll be starting some sort of cover band in her room.


And that is precisely why Maisy Jo is so wonderful.  

jesus and kaley, bff’s 4ever.

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I’m going to tell you a great little anecdote about the time Jesus and I went to get matching best friend tattoos.  (Okay.  That’s not true.  But He did tell me once that my name was graven on His hands so…..)

You might wonder how Jesus and I have gotten to the point in our friendship where we would consider getting matching tattoos.  I’ll tell you.  Early on, Jesus and I were more loosely acquainted.  I trusted Him and took His advice on a lot of moral issues.  I didn’t want to let Him in on too much of what was going on in my personal life.  It’s just that He was so holy, and I was so… not- despite attempts to remedy my condition.  I kind of thought he’d be mad at me.  Then I began hearing about grace.  One of the first pivotal breakthroughs in our relationship came after I read the book “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller.  Consider the following excerpt:

“In bringing your real self to Jesus, you give him the opportunity to work on the real you, and you will slowly change.  The kingdom will come.  You’ll end up less selfish.

The Kingdom comes when Jesus becomes king of your life.  But it has to be your life.  You can’t create a kingdom that doesn’t exist, where you try to be better than you are.  Jesus calls that hypocrisy- putting on a mask to cover the real you.  Ironically, many attempts to teach people to pray encourage the creation of a split personality.  You’re taught to ‘do it right.’  Instead of the real messy you meeting God, you try to recreate yourself by becoming spiritual.”

You see the real relationship change started when I realized that I could come and talk to Jesus, just as I was.  Like the famous hymn says, “Come ye weary, heavy-laden, Lost and ruined by the fall.  If you tarry till your better, you will never come at all.”  But let’s not just rely on the words of learned theological book writers.  I like when I see biblical hard hitters keeping it real.  It comforts me to see a great cloud of witnesses immortalized in the holy scripture who ride on the struggle bus and have glaring personality flaws.

Look at Jonah.  Jonah was called to preach a message of repentance to the people of Ninevah- the sworn enemies of Isreal.  He didn’t want to.  He fled across the sea.  And God followed him.  After a short stint inside the belly of a large fish Jonah repents and goes to Ninevah.  But hear what he has to say after his message of repentance is received and the people of Ninevah DO repent.

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.  But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.  And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country?  That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.  Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”  And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?”      Jonah 3:10-4:4

It was all good when God was offering compassion to Jonah, but when He gave it to his enemies, this Jonah did not like.  It made him so mad that he asked God to kill him.  Jonah was so wrapped up in his rightness that death felt better than believing that God had a better angle.  So God smote him right then and there right?  Clearly Jonah was blaspheming away.  No.  The story of Jonah is a story of mercy.  God wanted to share His heart with Jonah and would not relent until Jonah saw that God was compassionate.  I hope that the story of Jonah draws you in and shows you that even in your sin, God is working to draw us closer to Him, to reveal His glory in us.  That our God is for us, and not against us.  To the ones who belong to Him, He doesn’t throw in the towel.  He pursues us.  We are safe to throw all of our feelings onto Him.  To pray prayers of anger, to admit our sins.  Phillip Yancey says in his book “Disappointment With God”:

One bold message in the Book of Job is that you can say anything to God.  Throw at him your grief, your anger, your doubt, your bitterness, your betrayal, your disappointment- he can absorb them all.  As often as not, spiritual giants of the bible are shown contending with God.  They prefer to go away limping, like Jacob, rather than to shut God out.  In this respect, the Bible prefigures a tenet of modern psychology;  you can’t really deny your feelings or make them disappear, so you might as well express them.  God can deal with every human response save one.  he cannot abide the response I fall back on instinctively; an attempt to ignore him or treat him as though he does not exist.  That response never once occurred to Job.

Job is another person who chose to engage with God rather than to shut down.  He threw at God all of his questions, his doubts.  God answered Job in a whirlwind and Job came away with a deepened respect, an awe for the Lord.  When we choose to tango with God, He reveals to us His character and we come away closer to Him.

I don’t know if you picked up on this vibe at all through my more recent blogs, but I really didn’t want to move to California.  I prayed that God would let me stay in Virginia.  A snafu in Nick’s orders was a direct message that He could keep me in Norfolk, but that we were being called to California.  I praised God for about a minute and a half until I moved here, got unexpectedly pregnant with my fourth baby and very shortly after, started experiencing debilitating morning sickness.  One day I lost it.  Crying in my bedroom I told him “I’m SO MAD that you made me come to California!  I hate it here.  I don’t know why you did this to me.  It sucks.”  That same day I was invited to attend a bible study.  He heard my cry and I, well, got all kinds of veh-clempt as I listened to the words of this song:

The power that raised Him from the grave
Now works in us to powerfully save.
He frees our hearts to live His grace;
Go tell of His goodness.

God’s mercy is humbling.  But it’s also humbling when it comes in the form of discipline.  I would never have thought that I would be thankful that the Lord brought me into circumstances where I would lose a cherished friendship or experience loneliness or endure the physical weakness that this pregnancy has bourn.  These circumstances revealed sin in my life, sin I would have never seen if I hadn’t opened all of myself to Jesus.  Jerry Bridges says in his book “Respectable Sins” (by the way- read this.)

Remember also that our God is a forgiving God.  Even our anger toward Him, which I consider a grievous sin, was paid for by Christ in His death on the cross.  So if you have anger in your heart toward God, I invite you- no, I urge you- to come to Him in repentance and experience the cleansing power of the Christ’s blood, shed on the cross for you.

Confidently I can confide in Jesus.  Why?  I rest in Jesus, His perfect record imputed to me.  What love that a just God would plan to include us in His kingdom, we a sinful people, can draw near to him by faith and repentance.  We can’t forget that while His grace saved us from our former lives, it still works to change our hearts now.  Jesus said blessed are the poor in spirit, the ones who know their need of Him.

This hymn basically is saying everything I said here.  Plus, apparently, Cracker Barrel produced a worship album, so that’s worth noting.

“Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not forfeit, everything to God in prayer.”

*PS You can’t even know how many times my pregnant brain typed “Johan” instead of Jonah.  So I’m sorry for any typos that didn’t make it through the stern and persistent cloud of pregnancy fog over my brain.