A few weeks ago, we celebrated the release of A Girl and Her Warhorse here in Katy, and this past Sunday we celebrated in Austin. I feel like all I’ve been doing lately is talking about the book and the impending parties. So in the interest of throughly discussing the topic yet again, here is another post on the subject…well kind of.
It has been all-consuming and exhausting–the dates, the details, the describing of how this all developed. Being the center of attention is also not my idea of a fun evening. I think I enjoy writing because it doesn’t involve talking. 🙂 Writing gives me a chance to consider my words and process my thoughts without awkward conversational lulls…which terrify me about as much as sky-high overpasses. Needless to say, I was fatigued and nervous on the day of the first release party.
The event happened on the first official day of Christmas Break. The kids had half a day of school that morning, full of their own parties and celebrations. Any parent knows the craziness of the last week of school before the holidays. There are cookies to bake, teacher presents to buy and wrap, and some manner of party food to send to school. This year was my first experience juggling three dozen-filled cookie trays, three teachers’ favorite snacks, and three different party foods. I was frazzled and confused most of the week.
Because of my social-phobia regarding the book party, I knew that I needed to have some self-care leading up to the event in order to give myself the greatest chance of successfully being “on.” I had big plans to spend birthday money on a pedicure (because it could possibly be the most relaxing thing on earth, in my opinion), a manicure (because I didn’t want to be worrying about people staring at my “mom-hands” while signing books), and a fresh haircut (because it had been entirely too long.) Amidst all the craziness of the week, I found time at the last minute to do all three.
As I was getting my hair cut, I watched the stylist comb through the tangled mess that sits upon my head. As she lifted from the top a section of hair to cut, she stretched up, and up, and up so that my hair was fully extended towards the ceiling above me. I was a circus performer hanging from a yard of hair. It’s not everyday that I see my hair from this viewpoint. The length of my tresses, measured from the tip of my crown to my split-ends, was longer than my arms. When I saw my hair extended in this way, I noticed the dramatic shift in color after the first 3 or 4 inches protruding from my head. I never look at the top of my head so I had been unaware that my highlights had grown out to such an extent. It donned on me that while signing books, I would be showing EVERYONE the top of my head and my dark circle of roots.
I contemplated asking the stylist if she had time to address the issue right then and there. But I was out of birthday money, and I really didn’t want to give up my pedicure. The only other option was an at-home remedy in a box. On the way home, I stopped at Walgreen’s and picked up a kit that included a base color and separate highlights.
Any woman knows that this process of at-home color takes a little bit of planning. It’s illegal to slap the goo on if your hair has been freshly washed, (which the hairstylist had just done) and you can’t wash your hair for sometime afterwards. Like a woman trying to plan the conception and birth of her first child, I counted days on the calendar. I mapped out the best time for dirty hair amidst Christmas parties and programs…hoping to have decent hair by the book release.
The only time that seemed to work was to color my hair the morning of the release…very risky, but not outside the realm of possibility. However, when that morning arrived, I hadn’t seen my husband in forever, and he asked for my help to do some Christmas clothes shopping. I am a sucker for clothes shopping, even if it’s not for me. We spent the morning out and ended up scrambling to wrap teacher gifts in the car as we headed back to school to pick up the kids at noon. (Head still bearing an oily dirty ring of lifeless dark.)
As soon as we got home, I opened the box and set to work. The last time I colored my hair, it was a lot shorter. I soon realized that the one bottle of stinky gunk provided was spitting and sputtering far too early on in the process. I still had half of my hair to “generously apply” the product and loosely pile on my head. OH…NO… I couldn’t go to the corner store for more, I looked like I had dipped my head in an oil spill! To add further anxiety to the visions of horror swirling in my head, my daughter sat on the edge of the tub watching and commenting on my every move.
“I don’t know mom, I don’t think you have enough.”
“Mom, what happens if you only do half your hair, will it look mis-match?”
“Mom, will your hair be that color when you’re done? It looks kind of purple.”
After I sent her out of the room, I squeezed every last bit of “purple” onto my head and somehow manipulated most of my hair into the slimy mound on my head. (I have considered in hindsight that God in his mercy might have performed a 5 loaves/2 fishes kind of miracle with that mixture of chemicals.) Needless to say, it was covered. Then I had to wait.
I set the timer and waited for the least amount of time suggested in the directions. “Resistant gray” had nothing to fear. I had no time for that battle.
As I waited, my youthful onlooker returned. She watched as I rinsed over the tub with plastic gloves on. She commented again on the indigo hue of the water until it finally ran clear. I wrapped my hair in an old towel and returned to the directions. “Blow hair dry. THEN apply highlights. Rinse AGAIN. THEN style” (emphasis added). “Holy crud, I’m going to be here forever?!?!”
I started frantically drying as my husband entered the bathroom to get ready. If he’s getting ready, it’s almost time to leave. He looked at my hair as it flew back and forth over my face like It from The Adam’s Family, yelling over the hairdryer, “Looks good.” Sweet man…it was kind of purple.
I finished and quickly brushed through all the tangles and worked to get all the strands in their appropriate spot. He asked, “So, are you almost done?”
New set of gloves. New mixture–a light blue paste. Believe me, I heard from the mini-commentator many questions as I strategically placed ice-blue streaks over my purple hair. But what could I do? I was committed now. It was time to go and I still had to shower, rinse the blue, apply make-up, and feel like I was in confident control of my social phobia. There was no time for a Plan B.
Again, I waited the minimum amount of time suggested on the paper directions and 30 minutes later, ran out of the house, make-up bag in one hand trying to insert earrings with the other. I have never ever in all my years applied makeup in the car. It was another offering of God’s grace that I didn’t poke my eye out.
We were 5 minutes away and I finally settled into my seat, putting the bag away, clasping my necklace underneath my subtly purple hair and releasing a huge sigh. My husband said a prayer for me and I lowered my head to center and focus and find the calm.
That’s when I noticed the light blue paste on my special-book-party-dress.
In moments of panic, one doesn’t necessarily think through their actions…LICK.
Yes, I licked the toxic bleaching dye off my dress. When the bitterness and slight burn hit, I thought, “God, You are crazy…and I think I have gone slightly crazy.”
I entered the party late, shaking from adrenaline and perhaps a little from chemical poisoning, lacking confidence with my purple hair, and feeling messy and disheveled in my stained dress. Oh, how I needed Him in that moment.
He continues to remind me through frantic situations and bitter tastes that I lack control. And in my flimsy flailing and fast-paced failings, my out-of-control life is covered by His grace and authority. Even as I function through weak trust in His plan and His concern for me, He loves, provides, and turns me back to Him.
I am thankful that the evening in Katy ended as a successful event. Those who gathered had a fun night with friends and I was privileged to share a little bit of my story with them. I didn’t experience any awkward lulls in conversation and my tastebuds recovered enough to enjoy my cheese and wine. I am also thankful that the Austin release party contained far less drama.
My prayer is that each and everyday it takes less and less to draw me to Him, that it takes less blue highlights to highlight His radiant love for me. I continue to uncover how I put my trust in things other than Him–like trusting an hour of pampering and vibrant hair to strengthen me in uncomfortable social settings. Reading that sentence back to myself out loud makes me realize how silly it actually is. It was His presence and love that got me through the night, because there was no way for me to mistakenly owe it to a frazzled state and purple hair.
My best friend pointed me to Chapter 2 of A Girl and Her Warhorse and in particular to some Psalms that I quoted. Nothing like hearing your own words come back to teach you something…and what timing.
I share those words again, mainly for my own growth:
“The demolition of idols is a fundamental part of the battle. It’s crucial to being saved and allowing the true Savior to rescue and redeem. When that relationship with Jesus is restored, the closeness, security, and intimacy with Him is overwhelming and rewarding. There is nothing like it. His “steadfast love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3). Better than life! It’s superior to a husband, to children—finer than even life itself. He is enough— more than enough. Your “soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food” (Psalm 63:5). Even without the husband, the children, the warhorses upon which we’ve come to expect and rely, He is truly gratifying. He’s absolute to the point of feeling potbellied with Him—filled to the brim, overflowing. It is worth all the pain of allowing God to trample the horse, potentially getting caught under its slumped body, in order to be held in the arms of an authentic, devoted, and substantial Savior.
Read Psalm 146 found below:
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!”
I am thankful that He reigns with authority over me, that He removes idolatry and supplies open eyes to my blindness. I can trust Him and sing praises to my God while I have my being…and my purple hair.