A well-rested life is possible!Nov 01, 2021
A big congrats to our very own Jami Amerine on the release of her new book, Rest, Girl: A Journey from Exhausted and Stressed to Entirely Blessed.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28
The store clerk ran screaming, “Stop! Shoplifter! Shoplifter!”
I stopped, hoping to lend assistance, although I don’t know what kind. My eyes darted about the parking lot in search of a thief. A huge man, decked out in cowboy garb, grabbed my arm. Shocked and in utter disbelief, I winced as the dime-store, wannabe cattleman tightened his grip on my upper arm, nearly lifting me off my feet.
He was enormous, at least six foot five. His belly bulged over a hideous, dictionary-sized belt buckle I am certain he did not earn in a rodeo. The sun reflected off the gaudy keeper of his pants, blinding me. In dazed confusion, I pushed back at the wall of a man and yelped, “Take your hands off me!” He spat stale tobacco chaw and barked, “You’re going back inside to pay for that apple juice, missy!”
It took me entirely too long to recognize I was the shoplifter.
As the brute dragged me across the parking lot, the rail-thin, pimple-faced clerk in a polyester smock dialed his phone. “I gotta call into the poe-leese, hold her! I gotta call the owner!”
Through tear-filled eyes, I read the branding on the clerk’s smock: Skinny’s.
Drenched in humiliation, I would now have to explain to the police and my husband’s wealthy uncle, the owner of all the Skinny’s convenience stores in the great state of Texas, I wasn’t really shoplifting. I was just exhausted.
With three little ones at home impatiently waiting for apple juice and nausea chasing me from my latest surprise pregnancy, I had neither slept nor kept any food down in a month of Sundays. I should also note, all my pregnancies were a surprise. I am still surprised. I have a master’s degree in human development, but Catholicism somehow trumped my comprehension of where babies come from. The only time I have not been surprised by the inception of motherhood was when we adopted our two youngest sons.
That I saw coming.
And while I hate to divulge too much and make my original batch of children question their arrival on the planet, I never got pregnant on purpose.
The first time was a shock. The second time I believed I had a parasite from a recent trip to Venezuela. In all fairness, I was kind of right. Not that John is a parasite. But pregnancy does lend itself to the symbiotic life cycle. The third time I rationalized early menopause at the ripe old age of twenty-seven. And the fourth time I just sat on the floor and wept as my husband, Justin, stood over me waving a calendar and yelling, “There are no hearts! NO HEARTS!”
The hearts would have been indicative of conceptual possibilities on a “rhythm method” birth-control calendar we’d been encouraged to use in lieu of other forms of birth control not approved by the Catholic church. I would also like to add the rhythm method is still a form of controlling birth.
Unless you are the Amerines.
With calendar recording, or not recording; my teaching job at the university; a kindergartener; a hearing-disabled three-year-old; a disgruntled, non sleeping two-year-old; and a side hustle managing my husband’s and my house-building business, paying for apple juice seemed to have slipped my mind.
Things that did not slip my mind were the heavy burden of “have-tos.” Those I had memorized. I knew I would now have to go to confession and explain my apple juice heist. Granted, I didn’t really shoplift apple juice. But at that point in my life, every mistake, malady, or misfortune fell under the law of how badly I stank at the Christian walk.
Furthermore, I was drenched in the belief that God was trying to teach me something. And my lanta, He seemed like a mean and nasty teacher. As I drove home from Skinny’s with paid-for apple juice in the seat next to me, I sobbed and begged the ruthless God of my head, a ruthless beast born of my beliefs, for mercy. That was immediately followed by the rote, out-loud formation of prayer-like words that chastised my existence.
“I should be more aware. I am such a ditz! I know I’m just awful! There are so many suffering humans. People that really must steal apple juice! I am ungrateful. I am disgusting. I am fat, lazy, and a horrible housekeeper. I know you are embarrassed by me. I don’t know how I will ever pull it together! Also, I read the first three chapters of Harry Potter, which I know is the work of the devil.”
It’s not really, but I was young and religiously bound by fabricated works and unattainable standards.
I hiccup-sobbed my orthodox finale: “I am so sorry. Please, please. . .don’t punish me. Amen.” Then I performed the sign of the cross over myself seven times just to be safe.
Back at the ranch—literally, we lived on a ranch—I found a disheveled, exasperated Justin lying on the floor with too many children climbing on him, begging for apple juice. I slammed about the kitchen, still blubbering, and filled three sippy cups with once-stolen juice. Justin pried humans off himself, passed out the nectar, and then sheepishly inquired, “Rough trip?”
I filled clever, spill-proof snack cups with loopy cereal or fish-shaped snack crackers, I don’t remember which. As I desperately tried to attach the tops to the snack cups, I flung snot and tears. I barely explained what had happened. Halfway through, out of sheer defeatist hunger, I popped three crackers in my mouth.
Five minutes later, I left Justin’s consolation to throw up again.
Like sands through the hourglass, so were the days of my life.
A life that, many days, I wish I could do over. In my late forties, I’d like to think that I might have kicked the vigilante who nabbed me in the parking lot in the knee or otherwise. Then, to make my writing a bit more fragrant, perhaps I would have embraced the ensuing police chase. Like something out of "The Dukes of Hazzard," I can see myself blazing over medians and whipping around other minivans in a reckless blaze of criminal apple juice acquisition and rebellious derision for the law.
Ah yes, the law.
Here is where I do not break the law as it is written, but instead I do not break the law for the Christ of my head is now the Jesus of my heart. It would be many years before I truly broke free. And while I sound tougher than I really am, my escape was more a gift than a tactical fugitive getaway.
We hope you had a good laugh. Head over to your favorite retailer to pick up a copy of Rest, Girl, today!
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