Monday, April 13, 2015

#nofilter




I had to look at this picture three times before I could see the joy in it.  First, I saw my stomach.  Then, my weird posture and the odd cut of my swimsuit.  And then, finally, I saw my smile.  Bella had just body surfed in California, after a little persuasion. She was bold and she was brave and she did it. The first one of my girls to try it. But, she had been caught off guard by that last wave.  You know the one that sweeps over you just as you are coming up for air.  If you’ve swam in the ocean, you’ve been caught by that one before. So, I ran to her to help her up and give her a big hug.  I was so proud of her!  That was such a fun moment.  All that laughing and coughing and making sure she was okay, squeezing her tight and congratulating her on her awesome ride.  And I was so grateful to look up and see that Loren had picked that moment to pick up the camera and take pictures.  I’m usually the picture-taker in our family.  And as a result, I’m not usually in a lot of pictures. But he had picked up the camera and was snapping away, capturing this precious moment. 

Later, as I looked through the pictures of the day I came upon this one.  And I’m sure if you had been looking at me as I looked at the camera, you would have seen my face shift from eyes bright with joy, to eyes clouded with uncertainty.  Eyebrows knitted together in my telltale dissatisfied look. I may have even made an audible, “ugh…” sound before quickly moving on.  I wanted to erase it. That’s the beauty of digital cameras, right? Instead, I went back and looked at it again.  I noticed still other imperfections, and yet, I was drawn to that momma with her arms wide.  Oh her arms…the sagging.  “Ugh…”  Later, I looked at it again, trying to decide, finally, if I would erase it.  This time, when I looked at it, my smile took center stage.  I remembered with absolute clarity what a great moment it was.  I remembered the feeling of gathering her close to me and squealing, “You did it! Good job, Bella!” as she laughed and sputtered.

So I kept it. Why should I allow this great memory to be tainted by thoughts of how I look in this one second, and if I look like that all the time, to everyone?  The truth is that my body is giving itself over to age.  That doesn’t mean I’ve taken it lying down.  On the contrary, I feel stronger than I ever have.  I work out at a crossfit gym…which means that I run and lift weights and do real pull ups and double unders and lots of other crazy things.  My aging body can do all of those things.  But, little by little, gravity is still winning.  It’s not my friend.  Never has been, actually. Things are not where they used to be. And lines have started to appear. I ache more than I used to. And honestly, I’m just not willing to do what it would take to make my body look a lot different than it does right now.  I’m not sure if that makes me lazy or confident, and I’m not really sure I care.  What I do care about is seeing a picture and being able to recall a sweet memory, not because I can’t see all of my little flaws – but because, even though I see them, I know they don’t really matter. 

This body does what I need it to do.  I’m grateful for health and for the strength to do the things I want to do and I don’t want to take that for granted, even though I am sure that I do on most days. But here are some of the much deeper truths about me. Things you might also see if you look closely at this picture. I am my children’s biggest fan. I laugh and I make memories.  I love well and I am loved.

I love well.  I am loved.  

And those things are worth a second glance.
 




 



And her second attempt at body surfing was even better than the first. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Gift of THAT kid


I wonder if you saw the article going around facebook and featured by the Huffington Post about THAT kid.  I am grateful for this compassionate teacher and for how she spoke about grace and seeing beyond behavior.  I am grateful for the way she sees and loves these kids in her classroom.  I have close friends and family who are, in one way or another, mothers of THAT kid.  I am one, too.  We need to hear these truths.  But, here’s one truth that we need to hear even more deeply.  One that I hope will settle into the core of who we are, wrap itself tight around our doubt and not let go. One that I hope we can speak into THAT kid’s life.  Over and over.
THAT kid is a gift.  He was created by God.  And while he may teach other kids and parents about grace, he was also created by the one who IS grace. 
And while part of her story might be broken and wounded, it is also beauty and grace and HER story.  She has a story that is not outside the realm of God’s redemption. 
While he may find a way to excel at school, or at relationships, or at life in general…even if he doesn’t, those things are not what make him valuable.  Value was endowed from the moment he was conceived…no…even before, as scripture says that God had already dreamed us up before the foundations of the earth. God says he is valuable.  And it is so.
THAT kid has her own part to play in the story of God.  She isn’t just here to teach us a lesson.  Aren’t we self-centered, sometimes?  She is here because God said it should be so.  She is a gift from the Creator.  And he saw what he had made and said, “It is very good.” She will be offered His gift of grace.  And that grace redeems and transforms.  She may not have the easiest road, but she will not be alone.
That kid can impact his world for Christ.  His understanding of redemption can light up dark places.  He can share Jesus in meaningful ways, not in spite of his difficulties, but because of them. 
So, if you are a mother of THAT kid, weary and worn by all that you do and hope for, and struggling just to hear what God says about it all, listen to these words from Him today and believe.  They were written for THAT kid, and they were written for you.

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
 
Amen, and amen.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Overwhelmed


The enormity of parenting isn’t something to be minimized.  We shouldn’t even try…even if it makes us feel less anxious for a little while.  It just is what it is.  Daunting and challenging and well…overwhelming…only I can’t really use that word anymore because my husband and I had a discussion the other day in which he asserted that being overwhelmed is an emotional response and probably means we are trying to rely on our own strength and not the Lord’s.  Yes, these are the discussions we sometimes get to have over a rare quiet lunch together.   These are also the discussions that make me give him the side eye while I finish up my cobb salad, mentally pulling my mind off the crazy train that thinks my husband is calling me an emotional woman who has no substance.   

Here’s the thing about that.  I know I have spent a lot of time over the years describing myself as overwhelmed.  Because I am.  A lot.  And there isn’t any mother on the planet that would deny me that adjective.  We mothers are good at letting each other feel what we feel. But my husband isn’t another mother.  He is a sensitive, strong, analytical man.  All things I appreciate in different ways. The fact is, I need his critical thinking skills sometimes, in the moments when I am all emotion. (I have those thinking skills too, but I am generally more of a Big Feelings kind of gal...which HE tends to need in the moments when his brain can't process the emotion coming out of the three little girls in our house.)  Sometimes I need him to challenge what has sometimes become second nature to me.   It doesn’t mean that I am not secretly annoyed by that about half of the time…at least at first. At first, my thinking is always, “Why can’t my husband just think I am perfect and not ask deeper questions?”  I’m not alone here, am I?  Don’t most of us think that at first?  But, it isn’t long (Well, it’s not long anymore.  It used to be long.  Really long.  Kind of ridiculously long, in fact.) before I unclench and start to listen to this man, who I know loves me.  Who wants me to know Jesus more deeply.  He doesn't deserve the side eye...most of the time. 


So, I decided to examine my words a little more closely.  To look at what is behind those feelings and how it lines up with scripture.  And I think he was right. Overwhelmed IS an emotional response.  It feels like fear and inadequacy and burden all rolled up into one. And it IS a response to my trying to handle everything on my own.  Or feeling responsible for every choice my kids make.  Or believing that it is totally up to ME to make sure their lives turn out well.  It may be a fact that I am busy. It may be a fact that I am responsible for a lot.  It may be a fact that the job of parenting is a difficult one full of complexities.  But I do not have to be overwhelmed.  Even as I write that, I am not entirely sure that I can believe it. It feels like it's just a part of mothering.

And therein lies the challenge.  Because as mothers, I think we are sold a lie.  We are told in various subtle and not so subtle ways that we SHOULD be overwhelmed and anxious.  That it is a mother’s instinct.  That it is, in fact, almost necessary in order to be a good mother.  And we applaud and agree and welcome each other to the club when we worry and fret over our kids. 


But we can do better for each other.  We can do better for our kids. 

I’m still not exactly sure what it looks like to let go of those feelings.  Obviously, more prayer, more scripture, more open hands and believing that God is working all things for good…those things help.  But exploring this feeling of being overwhelmed also forces me to admit some lack of trust.  It’s why I hold on so tightly…why I feel the need to control as much as I can.  And, it’s why I feel overwhelmed.  And so I know that a big part of what I need is to confess.  To ask forgiveness.  To repent.  And I need to do this in my community of mothers.  We need to do this together. We need to learn together how to respond to each other in this place.  I’m not exactly sure what it looks like to gently call each other up from the muck and mire of distrust.  But I think it’s important.  I think we need it.  Because how would my life look different, and the lives of my kids, if I approached the chaos and heart ache and busy never ending to-do's from a place of rest and trust?  From a soul that knows she is only called to do what the Lord asks and that he is responsible for the rest. 

Look, I’m no poster child for the Relaxed Mother’s of America.  Is that a thing?  Maybe we should make it a thing!  But I want to learn to let God be God in my children’s lives.  To do what he has called me to do in the lives of my children, (which, by the way, isn’t to be perfect) and then to trust him with what he does.  I mean really trust Him.  Not just say I do. Even if things are not how I had hoped or planned.

Oh dear…just admitting that things might not be how I hope or plan is making me feel overwhelmed again.  Lord, help me.  Help us all. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Adoption is a beautiful thing.


Adoption is a beautiful thing.  The stories we tell are happy ones.  Stories of loving children we couldn’t make ourselves.  Stories of giving a child a home they wouldn’t have otherwise.  But there are other stories, too.  Stories that our children have to work to reconcile in their minds.  Stories of inexplicably missing a person they never really knew.  Stories of feeling abandoned, even though they have been in our home from the very beginning.  And in the midst of their grief, I must decide how to manage my own.

This week, grief came knocking at the door.  As is nearly always the case, my first instinct is to lock the door tight.  To be quiet and withdrawn so that she will go away.  Or to be loud and excited in order to scare her away.  Because she is an exhausting companion, leaving me weary and anxious and wrung out. And she gets in my head, making me think that she will always feel big and scary and louder than anything else.   

She was insistent this week, though, and so I opened the door.  And as I sat with her, weeping for all that is broken in our beautiful  stories, I began to feel the familiar feelings of despair.  How will I ever fix this brokenness? How will I manage it so that it doesn’t hurt so badly?  So that my child doesn’t hurt so badly?  And, at once, I knew that I couldn’t be alone with her.

So I invited my people over.  My tribe, as my friend would say.  “Please pray,” I texted.  Again and again they responded, “we are praying.”   Grief didn’t leave, but she got quiet.  She gave me some space to breathe, to remember in the dark what I have learned in the light.  That Jesus Christ is our only answer.  That my own capacity to fix brokenness is so small, so short-sighted.  But He is bigger and he sees the big picture. That his strength is perfected in my weakness.   That brokenness can lead me to him. Can lead my child to him.

It looks like grief may be here to stay for a while.  But I’m not scared of her today.  Instead, we have decided to welcome her in.  To embrace her ability to bring us to the feet of Jesus.    To thank her for the reminder that this world is not our home.

Some days are harder than others.  And grief can feel like an unwanted guest that we need to shut  out. She is insistent, though, and I’m convinced these days that her presence is for our good.  She doesn’t have to be the loudest voice at the table, though.  It turns out, if you welcome her, and if you introduce her to your tribe, she gets quieter.  She takes her rightful place as a bit player in this drama.  And her presence beckons you to look center stage, as the King of All Joy takes his place in your story.

Adoption is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Favorites

These are some of my favorite pictures so far this spring:

 This is just a small taste of how BIG her personality is.  :)


Our doggies.  They love each other and this is how they sleep these days.   

 GOOOOOOOAL!!!!!! If only I'd have gotten a picture of her face afterwards.  Priceless...


Leadership Day at school.  Bella and 2 of her friends after giving us a very informative presentation on the endangered Gray Wolf.  Don't they look grown up?  And...ahem...doesn't someone look a little...TALL. 

 Hopie on Leadership Day after giving a very informative presentation on Figurative Language.  I learned a lot.  She's also looking very grown up these days.  We're wearing the same shoes and rapidly approaching the same height.  Any tips on slowing this train down??? 

Ava and Noah...her bestie.  They matched on Easter and it was too cute! These two are gonna take the world by storm! 


What a gift to be at the adoption finalization hearing for these dear friends!  I balled my eyes out, of course...cause that's what you do at an adoption finalization. Welcome to your forever family, Ariana!  

We are enjoying the warmer weather, fun family time, and time with good friends.  Next up...a trip to Texas for Ava and I and the count down to the last days of schools.  Yipee! I LOVE this time of year!