How much can a heart hold?

Last week was a bright and shiny home school week. I reconnected

Let hope bloom and colors call us to Jesus.

Let hope bloom and colors call us to Jesus.

with well-intentioned ideals from the Gap Year dream stage and took Eli and Andi to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum on Wednesday morning. We looked at paintings of artists they are studying and knew what “Baroque” meant when we wandered. Thanks to their study of the timeline, we had appreciation for what 450B.C.E. Egypt looked like and how impressive that stone carving was for the ancient people. We walked and played in the chilly glass maze and met Drew for lunch at Winsteads. They bubbled over with how much they saw and the fun they had and we all ate too much milkshake.

 

At home, last week hosted symbiotic sibling playtime where they all listened to each other, engaged with problems solving and cooperation, as well as encouraged each other in worlds of imagination and simple play. Dreams coming true with magnets and a wide open carpet floor.

For the last 10 days however, I’ve been wrecked by news of hard things in the lives of good friends, family, and my city. I hurt and ache, pray and question. My heart is heavy and hope feels almost too big a burden after this many prayers, this many days.

Friends in chaos and pain. Family with uncertain news. A nation in transition and upheaval. And most recently, a tragedy of youth and potential lost in the death of Yordano Ventura of the Royals. Seriously, the heart, it hurts.

In the middle of all the darkness, confusion, sadness and noise, I’ve been hearing from God in good ways.

From Richard Rohr’s daily meditations:

On using our faith to follow Jesus’ example of elevating others, not an empire, he writes:

But when Scripture is read through the eyes of vulnerability—what we call the “preferential option for the poor” or the bias from the bottom—it will always be liberating and transformative….The bottom, or what Jesus calls “the poor in Spirit” (Matthew 5:3) in his opening address, is where we have no privilege to prove or protect but much to seek and become.    from 1/17/17

From a daily devotional book given to me as a Christmas present which reminds me of God’s action before my own awakening each morning, Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible Through the Year

The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Psalm 118:24

Living God, your knowledge of me is infinite while mine of you is tiny. The mysteries of your being and your ways are always beyond me. So in humility and reverence, help me to rest content as a follower of Jesus. Give m the loving trust to learn what you show me in your Word without going beyond those limits. Amen. 

When the pains of this world, shock, surprise, fear or uncertainty, bad news, wrongs allowed and rights thwarted, aches, pains, endings and deaths weigh on a human heart, it makes sense to depend deeply on Jesus and cling closely to good friends.

I’m thankful I have both and hold onto to hope.

My Marriage Musings (with expert advice included)

family1 Mops Speaking: Marriage as Connection and Contract      January 9th, 2017

This is the content with expanded details for my presentation at the Pleasant Valley MOPS group. It’s written as an oral presentation with complete sentences and shortened stories that got restated and lengthened respectively at the “live event”. Keep in mind, this was a 30 minute talk…there are 8 pages of content here. You’ve been warned.

 

I’m Lindsey and I’m 36. My marriage is 12 1/2 years old tomorrow.

When I was in seminary in 2006, my marriage was 1 1/2 years old and we introduced ourselves around the class. The two guys my age introduced themselves and said they were Nick/Matt and had been married for almost two wonderful years. I said, “I’m Lindsey and I’ve been married for almost two kind of hard years.” I was honest, but was I normal? 

I love being married and at times is a really hard thing.

Drew and I are  two oldest children who love to be in control. We have strong opinions and lots of leadership.

We were just getting marriage figured out when we learned we were pregnant. Then we were just settling into that, and got pregnant again. Finally, with some thought, waiting, and preparation, we had baby number three four years later. 

So we sit in the middle of beautiful blessings and we live together with grace, guts, grief, and good times. 

 

Marriage is holy and really hard. Marriage is sacred and screwed up. People who marry with good intentions and God’s name can’t always make it last.

Marriage is beautiful and brutal. When you’re intimate with someone, you give them all your trust, your whole self. Sometimes, the person on the other end of your held out heart, isn’t careful.

Marriage exposes, heals, encourages, harms, helps, and expands two individuals.

Marriage is one powerful way we experience God’s love for us and have the chance to give love to another.

I wonder as you’re sitting here today, do you have more hope or hurt in your marriage? More fun or frustration? Please know I come with no answers but some ideas encouragement.

But first, lets play a game. You have small sheets of paper around your table. Take a piece of paper….play IF, THEN

 

I have a few I’ve finished as tenants of what I return to in marriage:

  • If you are connected, then your marriage will last.
  • If marriage is covenant, then married life is a contract

These are more universal. For Drew and me specifically, we might say,

  • If Linds is controlling,THEN Drew gets defensive
  • If we never go on a date, THEN we will start to disconnect.
  • If we finish a conversation while our kids are around, THEN we get a gold medal.
  • If we are really connected, and I have recently showered, THEN the sex is extra great.
  • If we plan in advance, THEN we can get free childcare for a whole day date!

 

But back to the more universal ideas.

If connected, then marriage lasting and fun. If covenanted, then contracts are key.

As human beings and children of God, we are created in God’s image. And God is a communal image. Three people in one. Holy and perfect relationship. In the Trinity, God is in perfect relationship with God’s self- there is sacrificial, mutually beneficial love shared between the God head. Out of love within God’s own self, God shared love with us.

In the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2, God said six times it was good, one time it was excellent, and once that it was not good. 

  • Light- 1:4
  • Space to separate the waters and land 1:10
  • Plants and trees 1:12
  • Lights, stars, sun, and moon- 1:18
  • Sea creatures 1:21
  • Live stock and wild animals 1:25
  • People- excellent 1:31

And then after  seven Goods and VERY goods, God said, it is not good in Genesis 2:18. It is NOT GOOD for people to be alone. 

So woman was made, connection was forged, partnership created and nakedness celebrated. Genesis 2:25– “Now Adam and his wife were both naked, neither of them felt any shame.”

Perhaps the pain and the power of marriage comes in the ability to stay naked, and unashamed.

For Adam and Eve, for marriage in the garden, relationship is part of the image bearing. Connectedness is part of creation. Oneness is wholeness, unbroken connection where unity doesn’t destroy identity. It’s interdependence of two, not hierarchy of one above the other. Covenant fidelity, honor, sharing, and peace.

Because connected relationship is part of who we are, it makes sense that marriage is one of the most powerful places we experience a God-like connection.

Marriage is a decision to lay down your individuality, independence and agenda every day. Not completely but enough to be uncomfortable and frustrated. But ultimately, enough to be blessed because you’re giving yourself away to someone who holds you dear and is worthy of your service and care.

As I’ve officiated marriages over the past six years and met with couples for pre-marital counseling, we use the Bible and this small white book as texts. We use scripture and some science.

In, John Gottman’s book, 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work,  he approaches marriage with observation, evaluations, and  research. He studies couples in what he calls a love lab. He watches them interact, measures their stress levels, observes their eye contact and neck bulges. After listening, watching, and measuring- Gottman concludes: people who are happily married, like each other.

He says the one thing that makes marriage last is not good communication, clear gender roles, or the security of lots of money…instead, scientifically, it’s that couples actually really like each other. They enjoy each other’s company and advocate for each other’s dreams. They support each other and filter through the flack of stress over the years.

 “Happy marriages are based on deep friendships. By this I mean a mutual respect for an enjoyment of the other’s company. These couples tend to know each other intimately- they are well versed in each other’s likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes and dreams. They have an abiding regard for each other and express this fondness not just in a big way but in little ways day in and day out. Friendship fuels the flames of romance because it offers the best protection against feeling adversarial toward your spouse. Their positivity causes them to feel optimistic about each other and their marriage, to assume positive things about their lives together and to give each other the benefit of the doubt.” (Gottman 19-21)

Goal is emotional intelligence: to understand, honor, and respect each other

Connection is about caring. Friends care for and about each other. Marriage is the super friendship and care must be the dominate agenda.linds-and-drew

 

TABLE DISCUSSION ON FRIENDSHIP/CONNECTION

If your husband was that great in the beginning, it shouldn’t be that hard to nurture your original love and keep liking and enjoying him right? And yet, Gottman would say that over time, the blissful state of the beginning on a relationship starts to fade. Without work, care, and paying attention, negative sentiments take over the positive ones.

For Drew and me, because we are connected, we have some conveniences. Drew will unlock the door for me if I’m coming back from an early morning workout and it’s cold. If I’m headed upstairs first, I’ll set out his contact solution. For his birthday, I’ll make biscuits and gravy.  He makes my coffee sometimes even though he never drinks it. The other night we were listening to spotify while doing the dishes, TOGETHER, and after one song with way too much hard rock instrumental ended, I said, “Eh, that’s not my favorite song”- slightly exasperated. Drew exclaimed, “I KNEW you’d say that!”He wasn’t mad that I didn’t like his playlist. He laughed with love. I felt good being so known.

Its small, all these things are. But added together and in the moment, it means we know each other and express care in little ways.

The Bible also encourages believing the best about our spouses. I recently read a devotional by Richard Rohr. He was talking about love as open heartedness. He interpreted 1 Corinthians this way- 

“Love is patient, love is kind, Love is not jealous, Love is never boastful or conceited, Love is not rude, nor does it take offense. It takes no pleasure in other people’s’ faults. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure. Love does not come to an end.”

Rohr continues,

“It doesn’t help that our brains have evolved to hold onto negative thoughts (like Velcro) and let the positive thoughts slip off (like Teflon). To retain a positive experience, you have to intentionally hold onto it for at least fifteen seconds to allow it to imprint on your brain. You have to deliberately, consciously choose to love and not hate.”

Rohr says Spirituality is whatever it takes to keep your heart space open. That is daily, constant work because your ego and the events of life want to close it down.

Practice NOW: In your seat, by yourself, close your eyes. Think of one thing you love/appreciate about your spouse and hold that thought for 15 seconds on my go. Ready, NOW.

This is about noticing, holding onto, and appreciating the good in your husband. It’s about thinking before we speak, and asking “Is this comment helpful or hurtful?” If you tell someone else what you enjoy or appreciate about your husband, tell him too. If I really am FOR my husband, does he know it? Feel it?

SO, if we can believe happy and long lasting marriages are ones where the people in those marriages connect as friends. This requires constant care, attention and what I call contract negotiation.

When I had been married 5 years, my parents 34 year old marriage ended. They were loving Christian people and their undoing shocked me and many others. It’s been really rough. Luckily I was in seminary at the time and did a seminary project on mid-life marriage crisis. I found that gradual changes can dismantle a marriage if attention and effort is not given towards addressing them.

My seminary research taught me that marriage is built on two levels: the covenant level and the contractual level.

The covenant says: We will be together. We are bound together with God.

Covenants are unbreakable, made for mutual benefit and characterized by making the other person just as important as oneself. Covenants are established and built to last. A covenant bond is not entered into lightly and is created by some intense ritual that makes a permanent imprint on both parties.

A covenant is a one time thing.

Contracts are renegotiable.

If the marriage covenant says, We ARE TOGETHER, Marriage as contract says: “This is how we will be together”

  • A set of plans and roles, behaviors and goals that create the shape of your life together.
  • Must be renegotiated and reviewed, reworked, and changed over time. Each contract holding member can make requests for review or rewrites.
  • Contract renegotiation happens with communication, commitment, compromise and compliments!

Reworking your marriage contract is necessary after major life events in the marriage or either peson involved.

  • One spouse  experiencing hardship, depression or pain?  RENEGOTIATE
  • One person starts to work, the other stops, anyone get a new job? Pay attention. RENEGOTIATE
  • You have a baby, another baby. One more?! RENEGOTIATE
  • Your kids are not babies but middle schoolers? RENEGOTIATE

You get married at one point and become a family. Husband and wife in COVENANT is a family. Kids join and change lots but cannot take complete control of your marriage. The best thing you can give your kids to take care of your connection and renegotiate your contract. Your kids leave, and you are left with your husband.

As Drew helped me prepare for this, he said, “A lot changed a few years ago when you got through to me and asked me to be nice to you.” I remember telling Drew in the middle of that hard fight, “I’m going to mess up, You’re going  to mess up. I’m going to be really emotional and throw some fits and say stuff in frustration I don’t mean, but give me a chance and know I’ll get out of it. Please just be nice to me. Love me. I want to love you.”

It was scary to ask so vulnerably but I’m glad I did.    

For Drew and I contractually, we agree that if we aren’t talking about it, something is or could be wrong.  If you can’t talk about it, it’s probably not good.

We review our contract on Monday nights during a time we call Monday Mid-rash. It’s about setting apart a night for finishing conversations, checking in and offering care. No TV. NO checking out. We assign a topic to each week. We talk about money, parenting, marriage and spirituality. We want to shine light, open the conversation, and pursue connection and care in every area.

10 years ago we renegotiated our Valentine’s day contract. We had three Valentine’s Days with varying levels of romance and disappointment. We decided we’d write each other a love letter and buy each other one pair of underwear.

We are getting better about asking each other for what we need and want. The less mystery the better. I don’t need to wonder what I’m getting for Valentine’s day or what Drew needs in the middle of this argument. We talk, expose, pay attention and move through

My encouragement to you is to be brave and  vulnerable. Don’t be mysterious. Tell him whats going on and change the contract.

One of my favorite song lines if from the Fray song….and it says, “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”

The Fray, “All at Once”

Maybe you want it maybe you need it,

Maybe it’s all you’re running from,

Perfection will not come. Sometimes

We’d never know what’s wrong without the pain

And all at once the crowd begins to sing,

Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same

Being married it hard but I believe, only a hard thing is really worth doing.

1 John 4:17 says, “God is love, And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.”

We don’t get married without enough love to last, but as we root our marriage in the love of God so much greater than ourselves, we can endure to love each other.

May the God who brought you together, sustain you on the journey with grace and love unfathomable.

 

 

Gap Year Journal Entry #2 We made it to the half-way mark!

Journal entry #2?! Two? Just two?!

I’ve been lapse and absent indeed. Thank you Blog, for waiting for me, allowing me to under perform without penalty.

The journey of homeschooling has taken over mind, schedule, free time, mental space, sanity, laziness, and routines. We are not who we used to be. I cannot write, sit, focus, commit or dink around as much. We are close, connected, together and ON! The gap gapes on some commitments I’d rather honor but gathers on other blessings I’d never trade.

Osborne Elementary or “The Gap Year” has given us the privilege of sitting around a table together three times a day. In an age where people say family dinners are rare, we are lucky to have family breakfasts, lunches, and dinners daily. The break from packing lunches to take to school is a nice one and the lunch we get to eat together at home, warm leftovers, consistent macaroni and cheese days, and lunch creations we craft together, are simply the method to the ministry- our talking and listening, retelling, planning, or questioning conversations. I cannot fully explain how much I love the lunch times.

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I also love/appreciate/exploit the help homeschooling affords me in my mom/home-owning life. I LOVE help. Help is what I wanted for Christmas. Help is how I feel loved. Help is how I’ve been able to parent.

img_7957Eli, Andi, and even Oaks are well conditioned to our Chore Chart and contribute on a daily, as needed, and weekly basis with their chores. Together, we’ve raked, organized, raked, cleaned out the van, raked, vacuumed the steps, raked, picked up toys, raked, and made meals.

One of my motivations for the Gap Year was to not be alone in the house as much, to connect and adventure together, and to increase their level of responsibility and team work. HELPing achieves all of these Gap Year Goals.

On the upside, we’ve settled into some routines and Eli and Andi have become a bit more self sufficient in their school work. Finding friends at our Classical Conversations community days that also attend our church was a huge bonus. I connected with a mom I can respect and admire and my kids were given friends they could appreciate, help, advocate for, and take down to the frozen pond one Friday morning.img_7860

We’ve treasured the travel time. We got to take a long Thanksgiving in Colorado and stayed two extra days- the perfect amount of time to see three great grandparents leisurely and one Young Life student staffer I met at Castaway!

Highlight of all highlights, we have gotten to spend Laura and Henley’s maternity leave in close contact. If we wonder what Henley is doing or if June can play, we have been afforded immediate gratification for our wishes. Together, we hiked the trails, created Christmas cut out cookie masterpieces, and went to workouts. When Laura goes back to work January 3rd, our Gap Year world as we know it, will shake, tremble, and readjust. img_6899fullsizerender-3

There are high, highs in homeschooling, no doubt. Halfway through however, I have had some doubts, frustrations, freak outs and fits.

For 90 percent of the days, I was met with opposition and antagonism when I suggested or mandated school work. Often, even if it started well, there would be an Andi meltdown, an Eli marker flipping distraction, or a sibling rue that threw us off course at minimum, or me or them into a fit at maximum. I have felt overwhelmed, like I wasn’t doing anything well, and exhausted. I have been defeated and guilty when I yelled and flabbergasted when they just wouldn’t listen, respect, or obey. When the sign on the wall reads, “we will apologize and forgive”, it has good reason.

Besides my own shortcomings as teacher/mom or their bad behavior, I wonder at half way, if the Gap Year is hurting them in someways, instead of helping.img_7764

I haven’t been as disciplined or consistent as I thought we’d be. Consistency is good for kids and we’ve not had much. Perhaps the lack of structure adds to some of their opposition of the school work assignments.

The lack of social opportunities for Eli is hard sometimes. He wishes he had more friends and more opportunities to make them. As a maturing ten year old, he is kind, energetic, and creative. There are other social skills he needs to shore up and this year hasn’t allowed him very many chances to do so.

Andi only has Eli if she’s looking for a class rank. While she excels at cursive and drawing and is on or above grade level in reading, writing and math, she has an eye turned towards the other side of the table and cannot keep up with Eli’s mental math or constant chapter book consumption. In a room full of 23 other kids, she enjoyed reading groups, table time, and working with some fair competition. Here, if I’m spending too much time with Eli, she’s often stuck or sad. It’s hard enough to be the middle kid between brothers, now she has to sit in a one room school house with them too!

I’ve had to take them on all my errands. For the shopping season that is Thanksgiving and Christmas, we were bulky and whiny and ask-y and clumsy. I handled it better than I thought I would and I bought less- fewer and faster were the trips! However, with their allowance money in small purses, pockets and sandwich bags, they bought their own stuff often. Most of what they bought was gum, food, chocolate milk and candy. Other times they bought junky toys they don’t want now. Preciously however, they bought candy for Oaks too, and at their best, they generously and beautifully bought presents for each other and us parents at Christmas.

The Gap Year goal of sibling bonding is working, they play, read, invent, invite and work together. BUT, I miss my time with Oaks only and feel like he’s getting the shaft of attention in this year where many days are mostly Eli and Andi school focused.

Personally, less blogging, NO YOGA 🙁 and  probably too much TV at 9:30pm when all I have left is to want to be awake, but alone, and not doing anything.

It’s not perfect but it’s what I wanted, where we are, and we want to finish.

We are off school this week and done April 10th. I think we can make it. Plus, we have four more books in the Little House on the Prairie series and we are all in on those.

 

 

Oakley the Only

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As the last but not least, youngest but no longer a babe, and sweet son we cherish, Oakley Andrew fills an essential role in our family.

Oaks turned four last week. Four! Four is dangerously close to five which leads to way big stuff like six, seven, and eight, and is so separate from little kid stuff like two, or even three. I was in so much denial I asked Awesome Aunt Nat for 3T Christmas jammies. Unfortunately for me, and Nat who had to negotiate a return, Oakley’s leg length was 4T long before October. I simply hadn’t noticed due to summer shorts as his only style.

Now that I’m on board, mind set and heart happy even, I am writing the Oaks bday blog. 10 days late.

Oakley, as Osborne kid number three, not much is new for you. Daddy and I have been parents before, Eli and Andi have been siblings, and all our baby stuff was worn in well by the time you slept, sucked on, or sat in it.

However, you are the only you we get Oaks. And, you are prized and precious just the way you are, just because you’re you. img_0094

Here are some only Oakley things I celebrate and remember for you Oaks: 

  1. Planned on purpose. You’re the only baby Daddy and I decided to try for, waited for, and for whom we welcomed a positive pregnancy test without great surprise.
  2. I did not have a c-section with you after having one for both deliveries of Eli and Andi.
  3. You took to trains. You are our only kid who has enjoyed playing with trains. Thanks for introducing us to Thomas. Surely we would not have made it through parenting toddlers without that friendly tank engine?
  4. Life’s realities came fastest to you. Eli and Andi cared about you and loved you. Andi especially enjoys intentional time with you. However, since they are four and six years older, you got life handed to you a little faster. As a much younger kid than E or A, you got: candy, movies, Kidz Bop, tackles, Nerf guns, your own room, language( “What the heck in the world?” and “Boom! Heck! What?!” you say as a three year old.), and an 8:30pm bedtime.
  5. Closest to cousins. Oaks, you’re lucky to be only two years older than your closest cousin instead of the nine and seven years Eli and Andi spread between June. I’m grateful you’re loving all your little cousins (June, Wilson, Vienna, and Henley) now and know you’ll love being their littlest big cousin and friend. photo-2-13
  6. I enjoyed you all by yourself. I love that Eli and Andi were close in age and feel like life with both of them at once was my best parenting. However, I cherish and celebrate the solo shot I got at having you, later, on your own. I liked being older as a woman and more experienced as a mommy which meant I got to give you some of my best too. (**see number 4 for how I gave you not the best sometimes)
  7. Most intense medical history in our first decade of parenting. You went to the CMH ER for stitches on your ear in February 2014. Nothing worse than ear infections for Eli or Andi!photo-4

Oaks, it’s because of you we are doing the Gap Year. I loved my days home with you but wanted Eli and Andi to have the same chance to enjoy you as I did. I wanted you to get to know them really well, to play with, fight with, and learn with them.

Oaks, it’s because of you we get to laugh, slow down, be amazed and enjoy the little things through your eyes in a way we would miss if you didn’t share so well with us.

As you grow up, we will celebrate your uniqueness and affirm your connection to a life bigger than yourself. You are blessed Oaks,img_0637 to be a blessing. You have strength and sweetness, words and great ideas, humor and energy that can make a difference if you’re kind, intentional, grounded in Christ, and brave. I believe you can do big and hard things, and I promise to watch, process, and help as I can.

“It’s a good thing we have Oaks.” Amen. For sure.

Gap Year Journal Entry #1

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​​We are almost a month into our intrepid “Gap Year”, our intriguing home school experiment. We have been through a massive transition and feel unequal parts melancholy, bewildered, blessed, grateful, frustrated, and overjoyed.   (underlined words are vocab words for weeks 1-3)
In summary, we went this way because I felt it would be better for them and for me to have a year where they were home more than away and did school differently for a short season. Working from home with only Oaks left me feeling unfulfilled and almost sad as an extrovert and highly motivated worker. I thought, “This isn’t what I want vocationally or as a mom.” I made a change for me. 
I also looked at Oaks and thought, “He deserves the sibling connection E and A have.” I looked at Eli and Andi and thought, “If I have more working energy to give, I’d love to give it to you.” I wanted them to have more freedom to play, learn, explore and adventure and had the luxury to make a change so they could. I made a change for them.
To report in brief, we are achieving the dream. We have plenty of moments where it feels good, right, amazing and fun. And plenty of moments when the dream costs us all greatly. It’s really, really hard and really, really good, and even when it’s hard, its good.
Here’s how it’s been going in detail.
These are real life notes on my phone, written in the middle of a mess, or a bit of magic, and scribbled down at the end of my rope, I mean- night. 

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Home school is hard today because

  • Andi gets frustrated and flops, and because Eli is so easily distracted by ANYthing.
  • Oakley won’t play alone today and keeps bugging the kids intentionally or asking me to play with him in the middle of the my lesson to Eli. I want to say yes to Oaks but cannot.
  • Eli cried when he got the consequence of me taking his water bottle away- which he took apart three times, refilled and tossed in the air as a massive distraction throughout the day.
  • I am doing more work than they are. They barely put any effort with a good attitude. Instead they whine or distract themselves and don’t get it done. I return repeatedly to help or sit all the way through it. I thought they’d work more independently.
  • Really hard because I can’t believe Andi throws attitude at me every day

  • Really hard because Eli can’t sit still and focus, speaks rudely to me and gives up easily on surprising stuff.

  • Hard because as siblings, they are fighting and using harsh tones. They are playing practical jokes and being dishonest when saying, “Mom is calling you Oaks” just to get him out of their way.

But wait, home school is great today because…

  • Eli asked Oakley to build a cool magnet car with him “Just like we did yesterday… That was fun. “
  • We got to go to a sunflower field with 4 young life girls.
  • They read alone in the ENOs and then lay in them and listen to me read Little House on the Prairie. They beg for more.
  • Christine came for lunch and we ate together on the deck outside.
  • Daddy got to come home for lunch with us.
  • I love hearing them pray for meals with gratitude and enthusiasm.
  • We talked about John the Baptist and what it would mean to carry a message people didn’t want to hear…We want to stand and say, “Black Lives Matter” today.
  • Andi is asking for breaks to play with her toys alone in her room. Her imagination and creativity gets air time today.
  • We are not in a hurry to go anywhere and take our time getting into the school day because they all three found their own imagination outlet around the house from 8:30-9:45am
  • Andi asks Oakley to play the cat game again
  • Oakley gets to watch and play with them all day and they with him- they are getting to know each other as good, good friends
  • I don’t feel lonely during the day
  • A weekend has never felt so delicious- I couldn’t wait for weekend number one and it was a wonderful one- Labor Day weekend with projects, people, Worlds of Fun and actually staying in town.
  • They cooked tacos on their own and were proud to tell  neighbor friend Will and our dinner guest.
  • Great because they played outside throwing mud balls after listening to me read aloud for 30 mins and still wanting more. They were active, together, outside and creative. I felt like i was living little house on the prairie- reclaiming simplicity
  • We went to Colorado on a Tuesday afternoon and saw Aunt Nat and Uncle John, Grandpa, Maama, Grammy and Granddad and Great Grandma! Plus we got to see the new Buchan house and visit with Bill, Tamara and Molly up on their mountain.
  • I love them being here all day and feel a peace about it even in the Terrible Times 

Our community and classes, tutors and friends at Shawnee Classical Conversations is encouraging and helpful. GG is offering support and help, tennis lessons and GG mornings so I can keep up with my Young Life job and even go to the staff retreat next week. Drew is cheering me on and working hard at home after long work days at work.  IMG_7396

What we have to do is intimidating at times. What we get to do is tremendous. We are blessed and bound together.

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Summer Summary

When the sun was shining in 2016, we were soaking it up.

Our Osborne 2016 summer highlights include:

  1. Celebrating James’ birthday and America at the Celebration at the Station Memorial Day weekend
  2. Having the Bruce’s come live with us. Mornings with June x Cousin time + Adult shared life = Joy IMG_7279
  3. World’s Of Fun Season Passes and fun days at Worlds and Oceans- even an anniversary afternoon for Drew and Linds at Oceans- almost Jamaica, but not quite. IMG_6691
  4. Swimming on the Coves Swim Team for the third year with Oaks joining the team as a Little Croc. All three kids made huge strokes towards personal successes and new strengths, plus had so much fun with their swimming neighborhood friends.IMG_6382IMG_6644
  5. Colorado 4th of July with a Henke Family reunion and street fireworks with Daddy in front of Nat and Johns. IMG_6934 (1)
  6. Bearing rings and flowers and a marriage license for Michelle and Alex Mead as we celebrated their wedding July 9th and will forever be their friends and fans. IMG_6990 (1)
  7. Going to Young Life camp at Castaway with my Park Hill and Park Hill South friends for a week of amazing fun and and depth. We made major memories and moments for God to call deep into the lives of ladies with love. IMG_6712 (1)
  8. Going to Young Life camp at Castaway on assignment as a Summer Staff Coordinator Session 3. I was privileged to lead, listen to, walk with, and learn from the strong and sweet college students who brought their brokenness and their bravery to set themselves up to serve, share, and change. I loved my friend Alex the Castananny but not nearly as well as she loved my kids. I was challenged and cheered on by good leadership and friends, new and old,  full of integrity. IMG_7213IMG_7142 (1)IMG_7162
  9. Turning 36 and splitting my life loyalties. I have now officially lived HALF my life in Colorado and HALF in Missouri. And of course, many a summer month in Minnesota. Also, Drew turned 35,  Eli turned 10, and Drew and I turned 12 years old in our life together. IMG_7182
  10. Ending the summer Osborne style with the ever-epic Z and C End of Summer Cookout, and then a trip to the Lake of the Ozarks with GG, Pops, and special attendees Mary Kate and Walking Wilson. IMG_7297

Now its all over and school is in session and our school session is at home.

With summer behind and our gap year now rolling, we lift our eyes to the sunlight and anticipate adventure.

Moving Beds

I cannot sleep because my kids are sleeping in new beds. All three.

We went from bunks plus toddler bed, snug and stuck together in Eli’s room, to no toddler bed, one full size bed for the 10-year-boy now all alone in his own room, and the bunked set in Oakley’s space. We moved Oakley into his room here in a tiny crib as a 7 month old, and tonight he just went to sleep on a bottom bunk with no rail and no extra loving needed?! 

And Sister Soo, sweet Andi. The little lady likes a permanent slumber party.  Her first stop out of a crib was the bottom bunk, under Eli. Andi was four when we snuggled Oakley in his crib in our old house next to them. She slept happy between brothers. When we moved, she got an awesome room and a big, old bed for her small self. In 2013, our first year here, Andi slept in her bed for a few nights. We walked between three rooms saying blessings and giving one last drink. After a month of sleeping alone in her own room, she went back to what she’s always and only known: being bunked with a brother. 

After two years of dressing and playing in her room and sleeping in Eli’s, we invited another family to live with us for three months. Eli welcomed Oaks and the toddler bed into his room when June moved in to sleep in Oakley’s room.

James, Laura and June moved in this summer while they looked for, found, and renovated a house they now sleep, shower, and eat in just three, literally three, doors down from my bunked beds here. Life was crowded with loud early mornings and restless dinners, mosquito bites, grilled salmon, shared kid care, late night shows or games, help, fun, and bliss more than burden.

When it was time for the Bruce’s to pack up and walk to their new house, we walked around the topic of where Andi would sleep. Eli was vocal about wanting his own room to be his own room. I loved hearing what he wanted and why and had a lot of fun getting it ready for him today. He is 10 and free of climbing into a lofted bed. May you never worry about your head and that circulating fan blade again, buddy. IMG_6610IMG_6611

Andi had options. She was welcome to bunk up brother-wise once again, it would just be with Oakley and she’d need to move up; the top bunk was open now. Or, she could sleep all cozy and all alone in that room she really does like so much in a bed we fixed up fancy with a clip-on light today.

She chose brother bunk bed and I’m fine with it, happy really. I had quite a day thinking of moving them and then going through all the work of setting up beds, cleaning up rooms, and finding more pillows. Emotion, plus work across three flights of stairs, is a big day.

There is something about having them together that makes me swoon. The mess of the first night this summer where no one would go to sleep and everyone cried or yelled or got up and out of their beds in that triple sibling room, makes me think they can adjust to anything and get good at it. Eli, Andi, and Oakley are my favorites and having them all in one place led to special nights all summer.

If we’re lucky, we’ll have Castaway as a chance to smoosh them all back together next summer.

For now, I’ll just go look at them one more time, in two different places, and try to get to sleep myself.

 

 

Little Kids, Big Questions

The title is ironic. I think my kids are still little but in all reality, Eli is 3 days into being 10 years old and Andi is not far behind. They are mid to upper elementary school age. Even Oakley, at three, is bigger than little. I mean, June, our live in cousin, is “little” at age 1, and so cute and smart too!!! Waking up with June in our house is a gift. but I digress. My kids are big but in the scope of aging humanity, with medical miracles and God’s grace, they should live many more decades.

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So assuming they are all actually still little, I’m reeling from and relishing the conversations we’ve had this summer.

Conversation #1: The Sex Talk

It was early June when Andi found a condom in our bedroom- she plays in small places…I guess her imaginary world was under our bed that day. When she asked me what it was, I said, “It has to do with sex. Do you want to know more about it or just know it’s for sex?” She said she definitely wanted to know more so I told her she had to find Eli and I would find Dad. Oaks came too and we had “the talk”, a bit spontaneous and completely open with Eli and Andi. We were all five in Andi’s room; Oaks played in his own world on the floor.

We talked about the purpose (for connection and creation) and the mechanics (they had anatomical questions). We talked about the ways it can go wrong and how absolutely great but private and intimate it is. They had questions about frequency and were a little surprised to know we have decided for sure on no more babies. Yes, the small package that started the whole conversation, is stopping the sibling expansion.

I said that day, and in the next month to my high school campaigner girls (not planned), that I love to talk about sex. When I talk about sex I love to say:

  • Sex is good, precious and powerful. So good, precious and powerful, it’s worth protecting and saving. 
  • Sex is healthy and good to talk about with the right people. Don’t hide your questions or feel like you can’t ask them.
  • Sex is part of who we are and works with what God wants us to do as people who love, know and follow God.
  • Sex is best with one person who really loves you, and always will.

Conversation #2: What is the meaning of life?

One night with Drew at bedtime and the next day with me at lunch, early July, Eli posed the question, “What is the point of life?” Like I said, little kid, big questions!

I asked it right back and they had ready answers.

Eli said, “I think its to have fun, make friends and do work.”

Andi said, “To love and be loved. To have water, family, food, home, and clothing…so you can really live.”

I feel like I should have an answer for them too. Do I say,  “It’s to live as a child of God and ambassador for Christ, making God’s kingdom real on earth with reconciliation and love?”.

Or, simply, “It’s to live loved so you can go love“.

Or, “Life is about relationships. To know and be known, love and be loved. Life is about living in relationship with God for full life on earth.”

It’s fun to think about and I hope they keep asking.

Conversation #3 Birthday Attention 

Eli turned 10 on July 17th and we marked the moment. I hosted a Decade of Parenting Party to toast with my friends about our 10 years of lessons and laughter in parenting. We shared what we learned, how we messed, up and what our kids have done to change our worlds. Then we listened to my friends, who have young 20 year old kids, share about how to make it through the next decade. What was shared that night is worth it’s own post!

Then we had an Epic Eli bday party on Saturday the 16th. With a few friends and some of Eli’s adult friends, had lunch, played Nerf Capture the flag, and went to Oceans and Worlds of Fun.

I had 10 people write craft a page and made a book celebrating Eli’s life so far and cheering him on for the days and years ahead.

On Sunday, Eli went to church in the morning and the end of the season swim banquet at the end of the day with a family party in the middle. He was grateful and said so all throughout the celebrations. Here’s the conversation part.

Me: “Eli, did they know it was your birthday at church? Did anyone say anything?”

E: “Nah. No one knew. No one said anything.”

Me: “Did that bother you? Did you want them to?”

E: “No. It’s fine.”

Me: “Really? I love people knowing its my birthday!”

E: “Yea. I just don’t really like the attention of people who don’t know me very well being paid my way. “

Indeed- Eli meant not to disparage the relationships he has at church. He was simply stating reality. His birthday is about relationships, the knowing and being known, the celebrating and having fun, should be with people who are invested in his life. The obligatory “Happy Birthday” from stranger or acquaintance wasn’t necessary to expand or deepen his weekend. He was humble and honest and I think, very mature. That 10-year-oldness fits him.

So, with fear and awe, gratitude and joy, I can only hope these big conversations keep happening with my little people. 

 

 

Gap Year

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For over two years, I’ve been toying with, mulling over, wondering about, dreaming towards, wishing we could, forgetting about for awhile, discussing with close friends, praying privately around, and researching the possibility of what I’m calling, “A Gap Year”. Also known as, “A Sibling Year“, also known as, “Home School Year”.

Sunday, as a family, with varying levels of excitement (from very angrily anti, to eagerness tinged with trepidation), and with faith, trust and hope in each other and the God that holds everything together, we committed formally to the Gap Year reality.

Next school year, August 2016- May 2017, Eli and Andi will not return to Line Creek Elementary but will stay home with Oaks and me for home school through the Classical Conversations (CC) curriculum and our part in a local CC community. We will accomplish all the necessary educational requirements for them to stay on track and re-enter as 5th grader and 4th grader for the 2017-2018 school year.

I was never drawn towards the home school idea because of dissatisfaction with the public school education we receive. In fact we are beyond blessed to live in one of the top school districts in the state and have had great teachers in each class for the past four years.  One of Drew’s biggest questions or hesitations has been, “Why do we need to change something going well?” Drew doesn’t like changes and is slow to process big ones. I’m thankful he’s walking with me in this, listening, and agreeing despite the parts of himself that cry out, “What?! Why? Now?”

We are NOT going Gap Year because anything is broken, or because someone else is doing it, or because anyone else suggested it. Nope, instead, this has been an idea, an urge, a desire, a pull that I have had felt and engaged all on my own as I trust God is speaking to me and moving me on kingdom purposes for the time, place, and people God has me in and around.

I feel it is the right thing for us right now.

In and through the Gap Year, I want to:

  • Develop a depth of relationship between parents, siblings, and learning.
  • Be with my kids.
  • Know my kids deeply and establish a deep trust in each other.
  • Deepen roots of love and identity
  • Bond them as siblings. I want to give Oakley what Eli and Andi experienced their first 5 years of life- daily life with each other.Castaway 2011 018
  • Have family be the most formational force in their life for a year. I want to shape, mold, inspire, get to know and encourage them more intentionally.
  • Dump a ton of facts, knowledge, and data into their malleable brains- taking advantage of the capability now and building a foundation for everything they’ll need later.
  • Secure their identity as children of God and coheirs with Christ
  • Expand their understanding of God and God’s kingdom purposes in the world- I want to make their world bigger, not create a small Christian bubble world, but engage God’s work, experience how Jesus loves people, and serve together in some cool ways. (Play games with nursing home residents? Deliver Valentines to lonely and left out people?)
  • I want them to become more fully who they are and expand their personality and gifts.
  • Have an adventure, a challenge
  • Engage this choice for the benefit of my kids and because of the flexibility of my part time job. I have extra capacity for my capabilities in the current scope of my job. I want to give what extra I have to my kids.
  • To go to Colorado and Chicago to be with our extended family more often for longer periods of time.3 line up

It’s scary and exciting and asks a lot of us because it changes everything we’ve gotten used to. I have a list of things that could go wrong. However, the list of what I hope for and feel we could accomplish together, is a stronger one.

As we walk this out, I’m sure I’ll update and share stories. Or perhaps, blog writing goes off the list of things I can accomplish- a gap in my writing?

When we talked about it with our kids Sunday morning, I told them I wanted to extend an invitation for relationship, education and adventure. I told them they could feel anything they wanted about it (nervous, excited, mad, ready, angry, so-so, pumped etc…). We agreed we all need faith, trust, hope, and teamwork to make it happen.

It’s on. I can’t fully believe it and simultaneously believe it’s about time.

Have you ever known?

I’m privileged to get to write an e-newsletter for the ParentUP campaign here in Kansas City that works to inform and assist families in helping kids avoid underage drinking. The campaign also encourages responsible use of alcohol among adults.

The statistics for how many younger kids drink are sobering. (Punny?) The risks to their current health and future success are high. Here’s a smattering of what I’ve written in the ParentUP newsletters:

  • Every day in the United States, more than 4,750 kids under age 16 have their first full drink of alcohol.
  • Underage drinking accounts for 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the United States.
  • Youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse in their lifetimes than those who begin drinking at age 21 years or later.
  • A teenager’s brain is still developing the important pre-frontal cortex functions of decision making, planning, appropriate social behaviors, and complicated cognitive functions in learning, memory, and organization. The affects of alcohol arrest or stifle the development of these important areas.

  • Kids who drink in their teen years have a higher tendency towards poor scholastic success, depression, and emotional disorders.

 

What I’ve never written about, is responsible use among adults.

While writing the latest edition of the ParentUP letter, I was clicking through websites of foundations with data and research on everything alcohol use and abuse. I realized I’ve never done much research into what qualifies as a healthy amount of alcohol drinking for adults. Of course, there are familial, religious, or health reasons to drink NO alcohol at all. If however, one wants to drink occasionally and responsibly, what do doctors and researchers say about how much and how often?

I didn’t know but was interested in to learn.

Rethinking Drinking and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says:

  • Low risk drinking levels - On any single day: Men, no more than 4 drinks on any day. Women, no more than 3 drinks on any day. Per week: Men, no more than 14 drinks per week. Women no more than 7 drinks per week.

And a drink is defined as: 0.6fl oz or 14 grams of pure alcohol which is usually found in,

5 fl oz of table wine - about 12% alcohol                 12 fl oz of regular beer - about 5% alcohol

12 fl oz of regular beer (5% alcohol)

8-9 fl oz of malt liquor (7% alcohol)

5 fl oz of table wine (12% alcohol)
2-3 fl oz of cordial, liqueur, or aperitif  (24% alcohol)
1.5 fl oz of brandy or cognac (a single jigger or shot) (40% alcohol)

1.5 fl oz shot of  80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol)
They explain the difference between women and men as a typical difference in weight and the female body’s natural water content.  As alcohol is dispersed pound for pound in body water, women have less water content usually than men.
It helps me to have a scale, barometer, or instruction. To have a mindfulness of what goes in, how often, when, and why.
For one who writes to instruct or share, and is paid to teach and train, it is essential to educate and live out in my behaviors , what I profess with my speech.
I desire health, wholeness, and honorable celebrating. So,
CHEERS!
to mindfulness, life giving limits, gratitude, respect, health and wholeness.