Monday, July 11, 2016

just show up.

I see you enter, frazzled and under slept, primped & tucked & ironed just-so. I see you with tired eyes and Kylie’d-lips and horrible-beautiful scarred, flawless skin. I see you in moments of weakness when the little shoes won’t come off fast enough or the shirts wont fit over growing heads well enough or the words of reprimand make you feel like you are not enough. I see you.

I see you sit in that seat, on that bench, on that exam table. Nervous. Confident. Excited. Exhausted. Afflicted. I see you flinch. And fiddle. And worry. And wonder. I see your hands wring, your hair curl, your eyes squint in anxious anticipation of what that little person will become; what you will become. I see you cherish those words in one moment and want to hide away with the dust bunnies in the next. That little human you have and hold. That little human you long for. That little human you delivered, adopted, embraced; that little human you LOVE. The one who has grown and is gone from the short reach of your fingertips. I see you.

I see you grow, too. From the young woman with mismatched shoe-laces to the independent young professional with wrinkled pants; mom doesn’t iron those anymore. The path you walk in life takes you for a visit to Anxiety Lake and brushes along the Shores of Love. And soon enough, I get to see you grow up. And those mismatched shoe laces become mis-matched socks on your own little human. Or mis-matched expectations between what your heart is wanting & what life is delivering. I see you.

The truth is that you and I, we get to walk together. And when we split ways—you driving to your home & me driving to mine—your story doesn’t leave me. As I tuck my kids in bed and kiss their soft foreheads and melt into their sweaty palms and heavy breath, I know you are trying your best to do the same. I’ll think about you when I climb the stairs to find crackers spilled out and laundry unfolded and crayons on the wall; my life looks like this too, you know. So when you tell me that you are tired or exhausted or overwhelmed or hurting or longing or breaking, I get it. I hear you.

I’m not sure we’d be friends in real life. You seem to like comics & Harry Potter & furry four-legged creatures. I shy away from all those things & prefer a pet-less life full of all things non-science-fiction (except The Martian, I’ll read that one again). But I still hear you. And my internal non-professional dialogue is nodding yes and hi-fiving and side-hugging and coffee-drinking  and five-o’clock-cheering with you on the days that are hard and good and trying and devastating.

Last week you told me your husband was unfaithful. And you cried because you miscarried your fourth baby. And your favorite childhood dog was put down. Last week you weighed more than you ever had. And ate too many cupcakes. And last week you lost 15 pounds. You got a sunburn…again. Last week you drank enough water every day and took your medications like you were supposed to and stopped taking your medications altogether. You gave your baby formula because you couldn’t keep up; you breastfed your two-year-old for the very last time.

I want you to know, mama, that when you come in my office to sit on the chair and the bench and the exam table, that I see you. And that when you bare it all and spill your heart and let the emotion bleed out, that I hear you. And on the days that you are frazzled or discouraged or celebrating or sinking, I want you to remember that you showed up.


And that is really worth something.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Goals 2016: Entertainment

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A dear friend of mine moved to Manhattan with her sweet family over a year ago. It was a surprise move for onlookers. A few months ago she wrote a blog post about new places & embracing the challenge of change that comes with a move.

In case you were wondering, we didn’t move to Manhattan. Just a small, dusty town where three rivers meet in Washington. We are surrounded by farm land. The thai restaurant boasts the same aged d├ęcor that it did in 1992. The thrift stores are second-rate. The school buses are first class. But whether Manhattan or our small corner of the world, people are people.

I’m slowly realizing that although we don’t have tour books written about our new hometown & that most Saturday’s I’m scratching my head (or pulling my hair out) trying to entertain my kids, this is home. This is life for us, dust bunnies & tumbleweeds & painted sunsets. I will have to put on my big-girl pants and accept invitations to coffee dates even when I’d rather stay home in my pajamas. We will have to walk the fine line of establishing family boundaries to stay within & purposely swerve outside our paint lines to meet new people. We will have to let our kids stay up past their bedtime, feed them Mac & Cheese for the third time in one month (it’s a real treat around here), & let them wear grass-stained pants to bed because time with community is more important than a ridged bedtime schedule. I will have to say YES more often than it feels comfortable. Not only in this next year or two while we settle, but forever. Yes to new friends. Yes to scary life changes. Yes to new experiences. Yes to my husband when I’d rather spend my time locked in a closet with only myself as company. Yes to my kids when I don’t feel like the energy is there. Yes to LIFE.

Guard your spare moments. They are live uncut diamonds. Discard them & their value will never be known. Improve them & they will become the brightest gems in a useful life. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

New home. New town. New jobs. We are surrounded by uncut diamonds. And it doesn’t seem to be the how I spend the moments that matters, but how I treat the moments that I remember.

Entertainment is a funny word. I’m not even sure why slapped that title on this category. The truth is that we, in this illustrious modernized iphone-ized world have “entertainment” in the common sense of the word, at our fingertips all the time. We don’t line up at the theater dressed in Sunday-best to see new hits. We (in our family) don’t often turn over large portions of our budget to local concerts or venues. Maybe it is because we feel entertained enough by what we surround ourselves with.

But am I treating those moments with reverence? Am I making memories from them? What am I telling myself when I spend an hour pre-REM scrolling my Instagram feed?  Am I feeding my eyes or feeding my soul? And maybe most important of all, am I spending my soul well?

For as much as my brain needs a shut-off switch at night, my soul needs an equally desperate fire.

The average human gets around twenty five thousand days on this Earth, and most of us in the USA will get a few more. That’s it. This life is a breath. Heaven is coming fast, and we live in the thin space where fairht and obedience have relevance. We have this one life to offer; there is no second chance, no Plan B for the good news. We get one shot at living to expand the Kingdom, fighting for fustice. We’ll stand before Jesus once, and none of our luxuries will accompany us. We’ll have one moment to say, “This is how I lived”. (Jen Hatmaker, “7”)

(Real life update: I've totally failed in this department. Alone is my comfort zone & safety net. And although I've made satisfying progress at home in spending my moments well (most days--I'm still a real person), I am still idling in the service & love & outreach & friendship categories. The good news is that we are only halfway through the year. I know myself too well.)





Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Goals 2016: Travel

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Our 3 year old refused the Captain Wings. He’d been on a plane before. It was no big thing to him. Both he & his sister sat satisfactorily, munching on the strategically packed snacks that would both keep them occupied & help relive the pressure in their ears from take-off. They traveled beautifully, aside from the brief meltdown over a dropped toy or a dead battery. (Also, thank God for iPad’s).

I was a lucky enough to get my Captain’s Wings when I was little. And I got them over & over & over again. My family traveled. A LOT. Belgium. Mexico. England. Paris. Victoria. New York. Alaska. Minnesota. San Francisco. Austin. Maui. I knew I was lucky; my grades held up despite my missing school & my parents viewed my absences for travel as the school of Cultural Reality (we also had an awesomely supportive School District). I think they were right on so many levels. So far I’ve had a new passport for every decade of life.

But what we didn’t do enough of was exploration. We chose to travel far instead of getting to know our own home. We live in Washington State—climate & topography are possibly more variable here than any other state. We even have a rainforest. But for all the miles I’ve banked on the plane or train or car, I haven’t banked nearly enough at the campsite or the National Park or the Bed & Breakfast.

Our kids, right now, don’t know the difference. The elephant at the zoo is just as exciting as an elephant on an African safari. The new friend made at the park two blocks away is equally awesome as the nontraditional nature schooled kid in Maine. Captain Wings are no different than a sticker from the dentist office.

Their cultural inquiries are at an all-time high & the concern about their differences are at a life-time low.

I want them to learn. I want them to know that we are privileged, not because God reached down & blessed their little lives with a fairy wand, but because we happen to work hard & live with a certain zip code at a specific latitude. I want them to realize that the fact that they can recognize letters & sign a few words is more than half the population in this world. And I want them to know, we want them to know, that they are fiercely loved by a God who has bigger, dirtier, bolder plans for them than airbrushed family photos & Pinterest-worthy homes with picket-fences.

And more than telling them about the privilege of their latitude & warm bath at night, we want to show them. We want to show them the National Parks to incite an excitement for soil microbes & sunsets. We want them to see the Wonders of the World so they’ll know, without a doubt, that the Nightly News cannot tell stories big enough to deny this wonder-full world. We want them to feel the tears of the mom who cannot feed her baby (& guide them in supporting her), the splinters in the broken floor boards of the orphanage, & the pulse of a beating heart that  holds so much different & yet so much of the same. We want them to travel because the World exists, an oyster whose beauty is waiting to be seen.

Even if they don’t want the Captain’s Wings.

·      As much as our budget allows, show our kids the World. Because it exists to be seen. And cultures exists to learn from. And to be raised in a bubble of the Nightly News about Brangelina & Kanye, with streak free windows & proverbial heated tile floors is to miss out on the humanity that Jesus came to save.
·      Travel near. Travel far. To the firestation, the salmon hatchery; to San Francisco & San Paulo. This won’t happen in 2016. But foster the curiosity, the culture, the ceaseless learning that their curious minds are waiting for.
·      Learn. Be open to culture, to new. Be respectful of culture, of old.
·      Respect our internal rhythm, our personal preferences; if we find that our kids love their own beds or our zero-based budget doesn’t allow for travel, swallow it & take a trip through books instead.
·      Realize that travel doesn’t always mean away—in all its forms there are so many facets we fail to explore: travel through time with history, through creation with trips to the Pet Store or the River shore, through exploration at the Children’s Museum or Farmers Market. Realize that for as much as travel is a physical act, it should also be one that sparks an intellectual one: learning.



Friday, June 24, 2016

Goals 2016: Education

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In tenth grade, a new girl showed up. Growing up in a smaller community, to see a new person either meant they had just moved to town or they were one of those people.

Turns out, she was one of them.

She’d spent the first 16 years of her life learning at home. Her skin glowed. She conversed easily. She was beautiful. And she was in AP Geometry & AP Biology & probably AP Teenagehood. She was homeschooled.

We only had one class together. And I’m sorry to admit that I didn’t get to know her. She was the first normal homeschooled peer that I’d met. She didn’t have frizzy or permed hair. She wasn’t socially awkward. She didn’t wear clothes from 1993 or long skirts. She was, well…normal.

Our kids aren’t grade school aged yet. I’m holding my breath for two more years. From what I’ve heard, school systems & their own red tape have changed a bit from the days of Fourth Grade Knighting Ceremonies & recess time that lasted almost two hours. I’m not sure if kids still knit at recess (oh…you didn’t do that?). Or play with POGS. Or exchange trading cards. I’m not sure if they learn about volcanoes & watch Gilligan’s Island during the Earth unit & build dioramas of volcanic islands & explode soda bottles with Alka-Seltzer and Mountain Dew.

I want my kids to be able to do those things. I want them to be able to be kids.

Someone much more motherly, much wiser, with so many more kids than me told me once that homeschooling is a calling. I’ve never EVER considered it my calling. But now, at the crux of preschool enrollment, at the bend of what seems to be the road to childhood, we need to make a choice for our family.

The reality is that we have time. Thankfully, we have time. The decision for enrollment is a solid year away. We still have a full year of preschool left, for heaven’s sake.

At this time, I’m both fearful and hopeful of what that year might hold.

Right now, we are the people who just moved to town. We now just need to decide if we want to belong to the other group, too.

·      Be prayerful about what lessons we teach our children.
·      Consider the harder road—the one that will yield the most & the best & the most culturally aware children who love the Lord.  Realize that the harder road looks different for everyone.
·      Make learning a priority, but commit to following their curiosity. Use goals as a suggestion instead of a structure.
·      Be structured. Be spontaneous.

Goals 2016: Education

Goals 2016: education photo PicTapGo-Image_zpsq1s6mygn.jpg

In tenth grade, a new girl showed up. Growing up in a smaller community, to see a new person either meant they had just moved to town or they were one of those people.

Turns out, she was one of them.

She’d spent the first 16 years of her life learning at home. Her skin glowed. She conversed easily. She was beautiful. And she was in AP Geometry & AP Biology & probably AP Teenagehood. She was homeschooled.

We only had one class together. And I’m sorry to admit that I didn’t get to know her. She was the first normal homeschooled peer that I’d met. She didn’t have frizzy or permed hair. She wasn’t socially awkward. She didn’t wear clothes from 1993 or long skirts. She was, well…normal.

Our kids aren’t grade school aged yet. I’m holding my breath for two more years. From what I’ve heard, school systems & their own red tape have changed a bit from the days of Fourth Grade Knighting Ceremonies & recess time that lasted almost two hours. I’m not sure if kids still knit at recess (oh…you didn’t do that?). Or play with POGS. Or exchange trading cards. I’m not sure if they learn about volcanoes & watch Gilligan’s Island during the Earth unit & build dioramas of volcanic islands & explode soda bottles with Alka-Seltzer and Mountain Dew.

I want my kids to be able to do those things. I want them to be able to be kids.

Someone much more motherly, much wiser, with so many more kids than me told me once that homeschooling is a calling. I’ve never EVER considered it my calling. But now, at the crux of preschool enrollment, at the bend of what seems to be the road to childhood, we need to make a choice for our family.

The reality is that we have time. Thankfully, we have time. The decision for enrollment is a solid year away. We still have a full year of preschool left, for heaven’s sake.

At this time, I’m both fearful and hopeful of what that year might hold.

Right now, we are the people who just moved to town. We now just need to decide if we want to belong to the other group, too.

·      Be prayerful about what lessons we teach our children.
·      Consider the harder road—the one that will yield the most & the best & the most culturally aware children who love the Lord.  Realize that the harder road looks different for everyone.
·      Make learning a priority, but commit to following their curiosity. Use goals as a suggestion instead of a structure.
·      Be structured.
Be spontaneous.

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