Saturday, February 28, 2015

 A decade of Jay




{He was standing on a small stool. Heaven help me - I am not ready for him to be this big yet. Objects in this picture are smaller than they appear. But not for long, I know. Not for long}


I gave him coffee on his tenth birthday.

He was up early and I was in that corner chair, the one that sees me through the rough days by being my morning foundation. There I spread out my Jesus Calling, my Bible, sometimes journal and dictionary. Next to the chair is my candle and phone with the music turned low.

He came down the stairs slowly and peeked out with a question. Because sometimes I might not be super welcoming when they start showing up before 6:45 am.

But he's ten today and there is nothing that could make him sleep later. 

I wink and go fill a red mug. Half coffee, half vanilla caramel cream. You only turn ten once.  We look at each other over our mugs in the dimly lit room.

Kid. If only you could feel the depth of my love for you. 

He pretty much has permanent red punch mustache. His hair is so long and thick. Too long. Last Tuesday night at karate his instructor said, "Jacob - don't look down. When you assume your position I want to be able to see your forehead. Wait. I'll never see your forehead. You need a haircut." And I totally giggled from my place on the sidelines.

I'm not fully awake as we enjoy silence together. Partial and broken up thoughts take turns running through my head.

I thought about a conversation we had initiated with the boys a few days earlier. It was about how much more important things become to you when you save up and buy them with your own money. How we tend to treasure that which we invest a part of ourselves into. When things are just given to us, when there is no struggle, when it's free, not worked for - well, we tend to just treat it a little differently.

My relationship with the boy in front of me was not/is not free.

Parenting him - sometimes it's like running a marathon.

In the dark.

On a narrow winding trail.

Made up primarily of legos.

Barefoot. 



But this last decade of my life - the one with him in it - it has been the decade that I have loved the most.

I see so many beautiful things in him. Oh, I do! Don't take the barefoot Lego analogy to mean it's all midnight mishaps with toys cutting my feet. Because sometimes I look into these eyes and I am speechless with the depth I see there.

No one can push my buttons like him. See, we push each others buttons, and we have from day one. We are both great works in progress. We are alot alike. And oh-so-much different. And we, in a sense, have paid for this relationship "with our own money". We cling to what we have because it has not been easily bought. It's precious. It's sacred. It's priceless. And it's forever.

God gave us this boy. The night before his birthday I had found all the photos of the red, squirming, screaming baby boy. And the tired looking mama. I looked close and examined the images. I remember not bonding immediately and feeling so helpless those first few months. But surely I must have miss-remembered. Because that sweet, soft, blond baby boy! He has my heart completely. It couldn't be as I vaguely remember.

But the confirmation came as I flipped through picture after picture. Yes. I held him and cared for him and stayed up countless nights meeting his needs while desperately wondering if the screaming would ever stop - and frankly if I would make it until it did.

And there he was as an obstinate 3 year old. That sparkle in his steel blue eyes firmly in place. Yep. My own money. 

5, 6, 7. This is when he mellowed out. And we laughed our way to tighter bonds and greater depths of understanding.

8 was hard. 9 brought tons of maturity.

10. Double digits seem so big. I am excited to see what this year will bring. He's still that mixture of little boy and young man.

He's the boy who wonders what will happen if he shoots his Nerf gun at the window and tries to negotiate everything.

He's the kid who will stand alone in a 4th grade classroom to champion  the idea of having children with special needs mainstreamed in the general ed classroom.

He's the kid with all the ideas and the compulsion to take All The Things apart.

He can bait his brothers to an epic fight, and stand up for them like a true hero.

He's our Jay. He's the one who makes our head spin.

He is creative, thoughtful, strong willed, and  he will change the world.

He jumps on the trampoline in his socks, when it is 30 degrees out.

He reads thick books by his bedside lamp long after I am already asleep.

He wrestles with perfectionism and hates to fail {hello mini me}.


He is physical and can nearly beat me in a circuit of burpees.

He is helping his daddy more and more with wood piles and snow shoveling. He is seeing the value in living beyond himself. He is struggling with doing things that are hard. And we are learning so much together.

Happy 10, Jay. My little fella in a wide world. Love you forever.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

 The mom adventure

You guys. This is crazy. This being a mom thing? What in the world.

I swear right when I think I have finally figured something out, I get a half sigh of relief out and before it's completely exhaled something comes up from behind, blindsides the bajeebees out of me and turns everything on it's ear.

It is not a trite saying or cliche - but my hearts cry - that this truly is the most rewarding mission I have been assigned. From great struggle comes great reward, right? Right.

So, this morning I was trying to handle three boys, who reallllly didn't want to get up (deep gratitude that ONE was being fully cooperative). I was kind of exhausting myself putting out fires right and left. I've just recovered from a fairly horrendous case of strep throat, and am trying to find the energy level I had previously established.

Jay asks me multiple times per day if I can home school him. While I am not anti-home school in any way (says the girl who was home schooled for 13 years) it is not where we feel God is leading at this time. I'm talking to him about finishing well with what we have started, I am explaining to him that his daddy and I are seeking God with every step we take in parenting him. I explain that we love him very much, care about his concerns, but that his "grass is always greener" mentality does not apply here. All that "really, really, really hard work" he has to do? - It would be at least that hard here. And the disdain he is feeling for me at the moment? - Would only multiply as I would be the one administering all of the really, really, really hard work.

I love this kid. And he doesn't get it. So that is frustrating me. If he could only see the sacrifices, the love, the investments we are making into his life! - How much we want him to succeed at the life God has laid before him. But he's 9 days shy of 10 years old. I think that means he has a special kind of filter that simply can not hear certain concepts.

You don't care.

You aren't listening. 

But I am! I do! CAN'T YOU SEE IT???!!

So, in that moment I am praying and grasping and sputtering. - And this thought finally lands, "You are reasoning with him like you would reason with yourself".

He.is.not.you. 

So, who is he? Where is he at? What unique things are forming this pre-teen in front of me. 

Pause. 

He tends to get fairly obsessed with things he is interested in, before moving onto the next thing. 

It was Batman when he was younger, and then Star wars, and now the Hobbit. 




I mean, I have to nod my head to that fact that this kid is devouring humongous books that I likely wouldn't have even glanced at when I was 9.  He has now finished this and has started the Lord of The Rings Trilogy. It's all three books in one volume. Sometime I will need to write a post about the librarian's response when I went to renew it and he thought I was reading it, then looked down in shock at Jay's lil' face when I said it was for him. It was a good time.

Oh - and his valentines and valentine mailbox, of course, had to parallel his obsession. 



So all of this. All of it rushes to my mind. This is not exactly my scene. I've never been into the fantasy genre. 

But he is. 

So we are in the van, he's in the passenger seat continuing to make his case for how horrible school is and how he never wants to go again. Ever. In his life. 

We have had many, many conversations concerning this. Dave and I have both talked to him, we've talked to his principal and teacher - and have been told time and again that he is doing fine. The work continues to challenge him as he moves up in grades. He is now in 4th grade and yeah - it's hard work. We strive to find that correct balance of stepping in and lightening his load when it is appropriate, and stepping back so that he can grow through struggle in a safe environment. 

He's stressing. That's hard for me. His freckles seem darker in the early morning frigid temps and deceitful sunshine. 

While I have not yet allowed him to watch the "real" Lord of the Rings or Hobbit movies, we did find a cartoon version that we watched as a family just yesterday. My minimal knowledge of these things has grown, in cartoonish proportions. 

Ok. So, I can't talk to him as if I am reasoning with myself. I'm reaching for words and common ground. Some kind of language that will sink in and take root. 

"I wish it were easier. Why is it so hard? I can't do it. Why do we have to do it?" - He carries on.

So I level with him, in a Hobbit-ish way. 

"Jay. 

This is your battle. This is your battle! Is it tough? Yes. Your life is not going to some day reach a point where the battles just stop. Until your life is done. It's like there's this dragon. Called sin. And of course SOMEDAY it is slayed once and for all. But for now? Battle after battle. 

This is yours  - right now. And you can do this. You can totally do this."

I am not even kidding, that this kid transforms beside me. His head whips up and - wonder of wonders - he is listening. 

He is hearing. 

I am literally rambling on, knowing full well I may be making zero sense, asking Tolken's pardon in it all - and here he is, LISTENING.

"So, yeah. It's battle after battle. Of the five armies. And stuff. 

But you can do it. Dude. You've got this. And in the event that you find yourself in over your head, you know that God's got this. He's going to let you use your head and the courage he has given you, but when you find yourself at the end of it all, you know he's right there. Right there, Buddy."

My eyes are darting form the snowy road to his ice blue eyes. And he's completely relaxing.

"You're only a little fella in a wide world, after all."

I mean, aren't we all?




Sunday, February 15, 2015

 {February} 10 on the 10th

This is what 10 on 10 is all about: taking a photo every hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of each month, documenting a day in your life and finding beauty among the ordinary moments.




My day started at 5:45. And I put my running shoes on immediately. Because I had to work hard to trick my mind into being ready to jump into this day.






And indeed, it was a crazy morning. All boys seemed to wake up grumpy. Working on maintaining my joy was work. Many Deep Breaths... 

Somehow we made it out the door in time. After school drop off, I met my trainer at the track. And did my first real cardio work out since... maybe spring? Early summer? Ugghhh. At one point I thought she was going to have to scrape me off the track.




I didn't die. But this is the moment when I realized that the weird feeling in my head and stomach after my work out wasn't all just the fact that I hadn't done cardio in several months. But alas, through the crazy - I had forgotten breakfast. 

Oops. My life......





So, this.

It helped.




Then after picking up Kai - this.




And prepping valentines with the baby.




Noe and Jay are participating in some after school activities on Tuesday afternoons, so daddy and K get some "solo time" while they waited for pick up.  Those smiles!!




They all arrived home a little after 5. Jay's karate is at 6, so I didn't get to see much of him. Also, he was pretty unhappy with me most of the day. If you can't tell. 





Winding down our day with some cuddles










Tuesday, February 10, 2015

 364 days of 33

Today is the last day that I will ever be 33. And honestly there is so much that happened the year I was 33, that I don't want to forget.


Was this my favorite year? No. No it wasn't, thankyouverymuch. 

Very likely more than any other day-before-my-birthday I feel older. Logically, I am indeed, "older than I've ever been", right?  :)


I hang around a university campus a lot, due to my wild crush on the janitor (I've always been slightly stalker-ish. He doesn't seem to mind). And I swear they let those kids in younger and younger... See, I even SOUND like your grandma.

But here's the thing. While I acknowledge the multiplying gray hairs, the changing metabolism, the babies who call themselves college freshmen (Don't even get me started about kindergartners, AKA infants, they let into the elementary school), while I am realistic about time moving forward, I am for sure not grieving it.



Most significant lessons learned this year:


1) This quote by Lewis ~




So those days when I try to "fix" everything that is making me uncomfortable/inconvenienced/unhappy - and nothing seems to be working? Just taking a moment to say "Ok. Where I live, there's a lot of stuff that's broken. It's temporary." That is huge. That makes a difference in my heart.


And believe me, I am a fixer. I want to fix it and make it better and make it right. That's not bad! I am working in cooperation with a REDEEMING God, so it's from Him. And yet, I am not God. And he is using my present challenging circumstances to bring himself glory and prepare me for eternity with Him.



2)  "In quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15


Some years, on January 1st, I have a word or phrase I like to identity as my "word for the year". One year it was "Reckless" as I felt a conviction to love extravagantly, with no thought for my own gain. Once it was brave. At the beginning of 2015 I couldn't get "quiet" out of my heart as I contemplated what my word for the year would be. 





But really? Because       Brave,  Reckless        Quiet.     - Well, that seems a little anticlimactic, no? 

No. It doesn't They DO build on one another. And I am so grateful for the guidance that has led me to this understanding. I am getting stronger in alot of ways this year. And I am finding a true strength in quietness. Quieting my heart, quieting my fears, yes, even quieting my mouth. :)  By no means am I shrinking down from bravery and boldness. It's a different kind of quiet. Study the word quiet, and study what The Word has to say about it. It is one very courageous characteristic to attain to. 


3)  You can't worry and worship at the same time.  


Kind of piggy backing on number two, it is in the quieting of my heart and the quieting of my fears when I truly experience pure worship. And that pure worship -  it is like the most refreshing cup of cool water I have ever experienced. Do you know why? I was created to worship. Therefore, I WILL worship. But what will I worship? Oh how it grieves my heart for lost time when I realize how often I have inadvertently worshiped my worries.... That's a miserable place to be.  


I am worrier. I have that down pretty good. So, knowing that worry and worship can not co-exist forces me to choose.  



4)  My kids are kids. They are not adults. They do not have the ability to process/function/respond like an adult. They need grace.  


I don't think I have to really expound on that one much. ;)  



5)  I am not on earth to feel good. I am not here to set goals that would result in my success, security, exaltation, or ....comfort.  


I will be learning this when I am 34. And 35, 36, 37...... 105. But it is starting to really sink in and take root. 



 6)  Grace is so multifaceted that it can never be fathomed or explained in simple terms. And it is everything. It is just everything.  


I have been grappling with the definition of grace for years. One day a few weeks ago something finally fell into place in my mind. It may sound really silly to some - but it was my moment of understanding that grace is way bigger than I can humanly "define" it.  I was standing at my kitchen window.  


"Hmmm. Grace. Grace, grace, grace. Favor? Goodwill? Unmerited, no doubt.  Grace. Instructs us? Is for all. Brings salvation. Can not be earned. Hmmm." 


How can one "thing" be all that?? And so.much.more.


Because it is. Because God. 


So as I peer out my window I see this beautiful stack of wood out by our outdoor wood burner. I mean this thing has been stacked by a perfectionist (who I sometimes stalk..). It's downright pretty. Over the top of it is a tarp. The tarp reaches from one side to the other and drapes over the top. It is enough to protect our wood pile from the elements, but does not cover the front and back. I watch the wind pull on that tarp. 

And in my peripheral vision I catch the flickering flame of my black cherry candle. It's been burning for some time, causing a large pooling of wax at the base of the wick. So there's that heart nudging in this moment that says, "Grace... is not like that tarp covering the wood pile. It would be like if you brought a huge ol' burnt candle out there and held it upside down above the wood pile."  


So I'm having this vision of copious amounts of hot wax cascading down this wood pile. It doesn't just cover. It layers. it drapes. It covers. It fills in the cracks. It clings. It coats. 


And so it is with grace.  Maybe wood piles, tarps, and wax don't speak to you -  ;) after all, it was "my moment", I am a very visual learner/visionary. But I think you can at least track with me here that this grace thing is a dynamic and significant gift. One we can't quite wrap our human minds around. But wrestling with this gift does help us to become more and more grateful for it.  



So, I am recording these things to come back to. I'm grateful for every day, every week, every month that shaped me this year. The milestones, the growing, the building, the sweet togetherness, the friendships grown, the beauty  


AND


the kidney stones, the surgery, the battles and the frustrations. While every single thing was not God's perfect will (I will.not.believe that kidney stones were ever a part of the world that God said "it is very good" about) ;),  just like He is - just like His character -  he has used/is using every single circumstance in my life. And I am grateful! 




Adios 33.  *clink* (Quick, go get your favorite drink!) You were a great building block.