Sunday, May 13, 2018

On Momming...


The house is dark and quiet, as everyone is in bed except me...well, and Dexter, our dog.  With Mother’s Day arriving at the stroke of midnight, the profile pictures on Facebook are all migrating to mom pictures and it’s churning up my thoughts on being a mom.

I had no idea how to be a mom.  I remember making a little journal to keep track of Isaac’s feedings, pees, and poops, and I messed it all up by day 2 and thought he would likely be dead or dehydrated come morning.  Although I’ve spent so very many days with these boys, I have trouble vividly recalling a single day’s events from those early years.  The older moms said it a million times if they said it once...it will go SO fast...but you can’t really feel the quickness until you sit in the quiet, with the 17, almost 13, and newly 10 year olds all up in their beds.

And so, here I sit, wondering if we have said all of the things and played enough board games and knowing that we haven’t done it all right and we’ve taught them to limp in some ways and praying that the grace that sustains us will also sustain them.

I know very little for sure, but I know a few things.  We haven’t always fed them whole grains and enough fruits and vegetables.  We’ve let them have too much soda and more screen time than is healthy.  We’ve placed too much emphasis on the wrong kind of success at times.  We cuss in front of them and let them watch movies my mama still wouldn’t like....

...and just about the time I start to think that we have completely screwed them up, I think of the grace and love that have come right alongside of all of those things. I hope we’ve shown them how to love and how to extend grace.  And yet...I hope they show more grace and love to their own families than we’ve ever thought about showing.  I hope they spend their very lives discovering the limits of grace and love.  I hope God takes them to places nearby and far far away to make his name great. I hope we’ve shown them that they can do anything and go anywhere but that they can also stay right in the very spot they are in and that God’s name can be made great in both of those places and everywhere in between.

I had absolutely no idea how to be a mom.  Who DOES really know how to be a mom? And yet, here we are, nearly 18 years later, and I’m doing it.  It’s not much different from any of the other relationships we find ourselves in...love fiercely and selflessly and admit when you screw up, and you are well on your way.

So, I’m sorry, Isaac, that I messed up your pee and poop journal, and I’m sorry, Ezra and Simon, that I didn’t even bother to make a pee and poop journal for the two of you.  I hope I’ve managed to make up for it in some way.  I can’t wait to see how God uses you three to love his world, and, in fact, he already is, and it’s a joy to watch!  I’m the absolute luckiest to be your mama.  You make me cuss and laugh every.single.day.  Love, Mom

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Weight...

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Perhaps you thought you were clicking on a weight loss themed blog post or maybe an update in my journey to #justshowup.  My apologies if you feel misled.  Rather, this blog post, having brewed and percolated in my mind and heart for months, is a partial chronicle...for you wouldn't want to know the full chronicle...of our family's journey through the world of sports.

More than once in the last 13 years, I've found myself sitting in a lawn chair or in the bleachers getting completely caught up in the sporting event in front of me.  I've had things go through my brain such as "if he doesn't catch that ball, so and so will think less of him, so I DO so hope he catches that ball" or, at other times, "if he doesn't make the goal when they pass it to him, so and so will think less of me as a mom, so he BETTER make that goal".  These thoughts have ranged from mild, during games or matches or races when they were six years old and still looking so adorable, to quite deep, during games when hundreds of folks are watching and feel entitled to give their opinion of MY boy, whether to the people sitting nearby, to the town as a whole, or to my boy himself, when they see him in public.

Without fail, when we return home and begin the debriefing, I remember who I am and who my boy is and what that event was and I realize the absurdity of my thoughts.  If I can just remove myself from the situation enough to clear my head, I will realize every time the fault in my thinking.

For it occurs to me in quiet moments of reflection that maybe we place a weight on these games which they were never intended to carry.  Is it possible that we have elevated the importance of the goal or the catch or the bunt or the fast lap to a level where it was never meant to be?  Am I allowing myself to slip...or jump, at times...into the trap that tells me my child's value and identity are wrapped up in his number of rebounds?

So, where does that leave us?  Shall we quit all of the teams?  Of course not.  Some of the greatest lessons in life are learned on the field, in the pool, on the court, or what have you.  Even greater lessons are learned at our kitchen table or in Mr. Wood's study, as we debrief and talk about what we could have done differently or better.  Conceivably, the greatest lessons are learned in failure and disappointment, in unfair treatment...whether real or perceived...because it is there when we are often the most honest, the most open to the learning.

No, quitting the teams is not the answer.  The answer lies in realizing the lightness of the games.  They are not heavy.  They do not weigh us down.  These boys in our home...they are who they are with the games, and they will be who they are without the games.  They are Isaac...his daddy's right hand man, Ezra...fearless leader, and Simon...passionate and loyal one.  Should all of the games and races and matches disappear tomorrow, they will remain Isaac...his daddy's right hand man, Ezra...fearless leader, and Simon...passionate and loyal one.

Mr. Wood and I have been entrusted with these three.  Most days, I barely get the kitchen sink wiped off and the permission slips signed, but  I do so long to be found faithful in all of the ways, not the least of which being teaching them the lightness of the events and the profound weight of their character.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Things that are Important



At our house, we put important things on the insides of cabinets with washi tape...do you do that?  On this particular cabinet, you will find Mr. Wood's recipe for Long Island Iced Tea (very important) and this recipe for Hot Cocoa Mix (also very important) that we start making in October and keep making all fall and winter.  We keep it in a canister with a scoop and folks can make themselves a cup of hot cocoa any time they please.  It's maybe a 1/4 or 1/3 cup scoop and that goes with a regular-sized mug of very hot water, or you can adjust your amount to taste.  We also keep a container of those little tiny pellet-like marshmallows nearby because they make me happy.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Cheerleading

I'm not speaking about the skirt wearing, cheer yelling, ponytail sporting (it makes me smile to think of how the style of the ponytail changes from era to era) girls whom I love, although I would be happy to write a cheery little blog about them.  I'm speaking of being a cheerleader for the folks in our lives.

I want to cheerlead, every time and every place.  I want people to know I'm on their side, cheering for them.  I want them to count on me to be singing their praises, both when they are down and out and when they have victories.

When my people "get it right" in their families, I want them to hear me say "I knew you would".  When shit hits the fan in their families, I want to be the one saying, "Keep pressing on.  You'll see the fruit someday.  Let's go get coffee."

When one of my posse hates her job, I want her to hear me say "I'm praying for wisdom.  I know you can see this through, but if you feel you should leave, I'm cheering for your new job".  When my girl is slaying her job, I want to send her a starbucks card to celebrate!!!

When folks are loving on people and worshipping the Father and living in community, whether in the place I'm at or somewhere else, I want to SEE those great things happening and say "I LOVE what you're doing."  When life is hard and community is messy, I want to be there, cheering "keep pressing on.  You're doing a good work.  God has you right where he wants you."

Mr. Wood and I were talking about this very thing the other night, as there have been occasions for us when folks in our lives did the opposite, telling us "that's enough of that little stuff you're doing....now come do what we think you should do" or "why would you do that, it's headed nowhere".  Frankly, even if I AM headed nowhere, I want my people to cheer me on as I go. Hahahahah.

Cheerleading...it's so important.   The opposite of cheerleading...it's so hurtful.  I want to always and forever be one of the ones cheering.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

On Letting Go...


The big boy leaves for Europe tomorrow...without us.  It's a strange feeling, this letting go.  I remember the first time I felt it.  He was 3 years old, and Bill's Bus came to our Plum Street house to pick him up for preschool.  I wrote in his baby book (yeah..he's the only one of our kids who has one of these) that day that I was worried he would get drunk and high and have sex all on the preschool bus on Day 1.  Of course, that worry was unfounded, but it was my first taste of letting go.  Up until that point, I was the major influence and authority figure in his day, and that was about to change.

And here we are, 13 years later, and he's flying across the world for nine days.  He will have such a great time.  It will be yet another reminder to him that this world is SO much bigger than our little part of it.  I WANT him to go.  I'm so excited for him.  And yet... this mama heart and stomach is feeling a little bit of angst, if I'm honest.  What if something happens?  What if we aren't there to help him?  What if...  Honestly, those what ifs are not unfounded.  Things happen.  Most likely, everything will run like clockwork, and, a couple of weeks from now, we will be looking at his pictures and hearing his stories.  Realistically, the what ifs may come true, though.  Something might happen.  He might need our help and not have it.  The really amazing thing about the hope we have in the Father is that we will all be alright either way.  Our hope is not in everything going ok or in our ability, as parents, to be there when he needs us.  Our hope is in the fact that someone loves this boy WAY more than we do, and HE is able and present, both when I am present and when I am not.

And so, we send him off.  We buy the outlet adapter and we pack the extra memory cards for the camera and we tell him that we can't wait to see his pictures and hear his stories.  We do this because we know no other way to love, to allow growth, to parent...

I'm reminded of this blog post I wrote in July 2006 when the roles were reversed.  It is no less true today:

We’re en route to Haiti as I write. We left Marshall at 10:30 this morning. My heart was heavy, yet hopeful, as I left two of God’s most precious gifts in Marshall. The heaviness came from knowing I will miss them—their smiles, hugs, kisses, orneriness—and they will miss me—my hugs, kisses, my lap, my touch in the middle of the night. The hopefulness came from knowing they will become more like Jesus and I will, too. This is so much more than a mission trip to Haiti for me. It is a statement TO the self in me that is still left MADE BY the Jesus in me that I hope is growing daily. The Jesus in me is saying that I choose to live fearlessly. Nothing is worth more to me than bringing glory to my Father. My comfort, my peace, my safety, and my agenda have no value to me. They have been crucified. Even the comfort and safety of my boys is not more important than walking daily right beside my Savior. I have felt uneasy about going to Haiti from the very first mention of it, and yet, I feel no uneasiness at all because I know my Father and I trust Him. Who else loves me like He does? Who else knows me like He does? Who else loves my boys like He does? I rest in the shelter of His wings. I lay my boys in the shelter of His wings. There is no safer place.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

On Education, Getting Off Track and the Next Right Thing...

We've had one of those "headline" weeks here in our neck of the woods...you know, the weeks where I'm checking the news sites every half hour to see what has developed and Mr. Wood has no idea what is happening until I fill him in at dinner.  Those weeks are kind of thrilling for me, in a sense, which makes me wonder what kind of person I am...that someone else's heartache becomes excitement for me.  Well, that's a blog post for another time, I suppose.

So, anyways, the headlines here involve school employees (not in our town, but close by) allegedly doing illegal things with their connections as school employees.  A school official was quoted in an interview saying something to the effect of..it's about the kids, we just hope they are learning (my paraphrase).  This part of this particular interview is what struck me, and it sent me on a thought path that really has nothing to do with the week's headlines, but here it is...how does a person forget that school is about kids learning and growing?  I'm certainly not above forgetting this, and I could list times when I've forgotten my purpose and calling due to a misguided line of thought on my part...that I need to prove myself, be the best, rise to the top, get my way, or what have you.  So, I'm not coming at this from a position of perfection, but rather from a position of asking the question, "what can I put in place in myself to protect me from going there, from forgetting that school is about kids learning and growing and becoming?"

Because, this:

*I don't want to ever think that my career is more important than the kids in my posse learning and growing in the best possible way for each of them.

*I don't want to ever think that treating children with disrespect and unkindness for the purpose of making me feel "in charge" and powerful is ok.

*I don't want to ever think that I can cheat the system to make me or my kids (my own or in my classroom) look good to others and not in some way damage myself and the kids in my care.

*I don't want to ever think that appearing to have it all together while lying to myself and others about who I am is more important than being real and honest and full to the brim of integrity.

*I don't want to ever think that there is only one path (that looks mysteriously like my own path) for kids to be successful.

*I don't want to ever think that I can be the kind of person I wouldn't want my own kids becoming.

*I don't want to ever think that being an educator means I can do whatever I want and not deeply care for and invest in the lives entrusted to me.

So, how do we keep from getting off track?  Just like in every area of my life, I think the best chance I have is choosing to do the next right thing every single moment.  If my littles aren't seeing an example of giving, kindness, integrity, honesty, love, and excellence in me, then I need to stop and re-evaluate.  Education...educating...modeling how to live in the best way...if that's not what I'm doing, then I really should go be a barista at Starbucks (which, might I add, IS on my bucket list).

Friday, February 26, 2016

love, kindness, grace...

...three things sorely lacking in so many facebook posts or discussions regarding political leaders or aspiring political leaders.

For those of us who claim to know Jesus as our Savior and Lord, these things must be present in our posts and discussions.  Who would want to be part of a family of believers who speak so cruelly and hatefully about people simply because they disagree with them?  I'm not sure if I want to be in relationship with folks who speak this way about other humans.  In fact, when you speak this way, I start to think I might prefer hanging out with the very folks you are speaking of over you.

President Obama is someone's husband, father, best friend, golfing buddy, college roommate...just like you and I are.  Simply because you disagree with his politics, should you classify him as evil or vile or wicked or stupid or an idiot (all things I have heard in discussion or on posts from Christ-followers in reference to Obama and other politicians just in the last week)?  Have you ever disagreed with your college roommate or your uncle or aunt about something?  Did you then go on to describe him or her as evil?  I hope not!  We can disagree without being hateful or rude or unkind.  You are better than this.  Christ calls...yes, compels...us to be better than this.

Do you disagree with policies, attitudes, beliefs, and decisions?  Press on in your disagreement.  Have intelligent, productive discussions about it.  Post insightful thoughts that help others see truth.  But, for the sake of all that is good and holy, stop being mean.

And one more thing, just because I follow Christ, don't assume that I hate President Obama and that I'm a staunch Republican...ask me what I think instead.  And then, when we find out that we disagree on some things, we can both treat each other with love, kindness, and grace.