Archive by Author

Castaway Blessings Counted- Osborne Family Edition

IMG_8762To whom much is given, much is expected.

I tell my kids we are blessed to be a blessing. No where does this adage get lived out more expediently than on our summer assignments at Castaway.

I also tell my kids that EVERY time anyone does something for them or gives something to them, they are to say THANK YOU. So, Castaway, for all that you’ve given me, for what you did for us this summer, once again, we say thank you.

The blessings by bullet points: 

  • Quick service at Wendy’s on the way up. Seriously, a very smooth fast food experience in South Dakota. I made the determination right there to be grateful for it all – to appreciate the big and small. 
  • Easy and genuine connection between nanny Hannah and me, and more importantly, Hannah and my kids. She made a friendship with each of them and was selfless, attentive, patient, and gave caring help that allowed me to work and my kids to thrive. hannah and oaks
  • Andi and the Obstacle Course #1. She couldn’t find me or Eli at the end of the first O Course. It was late and dark and she was wandering alone when we passed each other on the sidewalk. I walked on past but she called out, “Mommy!” I didn’t recognize how tall she’s become and how dark the night was. She however, saw through the darkness and called out to me like only a kid can for a parent. How often do we wander in our darkness with God so close? Do we miss the arms of Ultimate Comfort if we don’t try hard enough to see the Light?  Will we call vulnerably enough in our fear for the One to stop and grab us close?
  • Andi and the Obstacle Course #2. Andi came back from the O Course week two and was over the moon excited. She cried out, “I love it here Mom! The high school and college kids are just all so nice. It’s like no where else.” Indeed, the calling of God’s kindness and Christ’s love emanates even in the goofiness of an obstacle course, settling on the developing confidence and tender spirit of my nine year old. 
  • Maddy Messenger is a student staffer I worked with last summer at Castaway. Last year she was curled in with anxiety and depression. This year she was set free with confidence and acceptance of God’s love for her. She had a willingness to serve and share she was incapable of last year. I’m reminded of  process and the patience required as we shepherd such young adults. They are not yet who they will be but are well on their way, and under the care of a very creative and present artist. 
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    summer staff girls

  • The camp director said twice I should be the camp director at Castaway next summer. My mouth dropped open. I feel humbled and hopeful. If anywhere, YES, HERE.
  • Eli prays eyes closed, palms up, hands open on his lap at dinner. He would go on to become very open to Jesus as a real presence in his own life- owning his faith for the first time in ways we’ve never seen.
  • Eli enjoys camper friends during the first week- good laughs, a secret handshake and even a letter from friend Maggie while we were still at camp.  At home a week after Castaway, Eli asked us what our dream home would be. In describing his own, he mentioned a big enough house and the associated land with dirt bike trails and trampolines, and then added, “And a Maggie. To keep me company because I can’t stand being lonely.” He might not marry her but he felt friendship and affirmation that gave him a taste for connection I hope he holds onto.
  • Andi rode the zip line with her new friends Liz and Lilly and told me, “We always pray for good landings Mom. At the top, I say a prayer and then I feel peace about going down.” Once again, I haven’t known Andi to invoke prayers on afternoon adventures before. The spirit of prayer without ceasing seeped into our kids. FullSizeRender
  • Georgia from the store came up to me with a story. She said Eli and Andi came by the store often. She told me it took her a few times to figure out whose kids they were and then when she asked, “Oh are you Lindsey’s kids?” they said, “Yes. She’s our mom and she’s really cool. She’s a great mom.” Unsolicited sweetness. Yes, please. Wow. Thank you Eli and Andi.
  • Oakley was tickled, played with, cuddled, carried, cheered on and held. He was loved by leaders, assigned team (what a gift to be loved by parents of other kids on camp!), summer staff, and work crew. Campers would seek him out in the sand and build a castle, bridge or river by the lake. From the sand, Oaks received such positive attention that he felt secure enough to try new things, hope for a future where he’ll find love, and truth that he has value and goodness just in who he is.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Castaway once again tells my kids they are precious, worthy, loved, and able to do hard good things with and for others. With so much love, they became their best selves- positive, brave, gregarious, friendly, thankful.
  • When the bus from Omaha arrived, it was a kingdom in 3rds. One third of the bus was urban kids of color, one third suburban small town white kids, and one third Capernaum campers (kids with disabilities of all different colors). There were leaders from different ages, stages, and diverse backgrounds. At the top, two women I led in Leadership II two years ago and admire and learn from even if I was their teacher.
  • When Drew came, he volunteered his time to serve. He served in the kitchen so we could host the whole summer staff for a banquet dinner. He gave sweat energy in the kitchen for hours and came out…grateful. What most impacted him that night was how much Castaway said “yes”. They said yes to special diet needs- a-plenty as well as picky high school appetites and simple extras as well. To have your needs met and then your desires fulfilled…could this be the extravagance of a good good God?
  • At the change over talent show for work crew and summer staff, Eli and Andi both preformed. Eli solved a Rubix cube on the balance Indo Board and let someone in the crowd solve the last move. I thank YL for teaching him how to share the energy and success with a crowd. Andi did a dance with two friends. They worked hard in practice for a week. Even more impressive than the gymnastic moves and coordinated and creative dance, was the fact that a threesome of 8-10year old girls could get along and encourage each other instead of attack and compare.IMG_8738

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Eli told Drew he had a God moment one day when he saw a camper transform from angry and distant to soft and interested.
  • Andi and Eli learned to water ski! Got up the first time and didn’t want to get down.IMG_8726
  • Oaks climbed the rock wall for his first time. An exercise in risk and trust that pushed him to a new level- literally.
  • Being summer staff coordinator with Brad Pearce. We were a great team of intention and adventure. We had the gift of stewarding, mentoring, shepherding, vision casting, and leading a group of 41 college students. Jesus worked in and through their efforts to serve and their experience in a healthy community. I learned from Brad about YL staff stuff, a growth mindset, assuming positive intent and saying yes to something big and crazy. 20170719_201659
  • The sunsets. The indescribable sunsets. And yet, the best was saved for last. The beach party night week three was gold, pink, bright, orange, slow and so tangibly gorgeous it even showed in pictures.IMG_8763
  • Adam, Mary Kate and Cousin Wilson came to Castaway to be our friends, family and the camp medical assistance. They gave of their vacation to work and thanked us. The magic of Castaway and joining in God’s work is that even the sacrifices feel like gifts.IMG_8789
  • IMG_8801

With pure humility and for each blessing, I’m so so grateful. I got to live as a trillionaire for three wonderful weeks of sunsets and Spirit. Castaway you were wonderful once again.

Connection Trees Part II

IMG_8203

As humans we are created by and for connection. While connection and relationship occur across a broad range of human relationships, I explore the ramifications for marriage.

The tree in the picture for my marriage counseling meeting two is a connection tree. “CONNECTION” is written down the trunk. The roots of connection are two fold: TRUST and INTIMACY.

The TRUST sub-soil or trailing roots involve:

  1. commitment (a deliberate intention to another person)IMG_8201
  2. proximity (alignment of your life with another’s)
  3. engagement (an ongoing, care-taking of the togetherness)

The INTIMACY sub-soil or trailing roots involve:

  1. identity (understanding that you are loved so you can give love away to another)
  2. love (the paradigm, perspective, and plausibility through which we view the other)
  3. conflict (a dance that involves taking turns, lots of energy, and risk. Conflict happens because of the depth of intimacy and for it. To avoid conflict is to avoid intimacy. Disengagement deadens relationships over time.)

With strong roots and rich soil, with the unseen and intangible foundation of trust and intimacy,                                     a couple’s connection tree bears fruit.

Fruit is visible and tangible. Fruit are the habits and behaviors that show on the outside of a couple’s life together.

  • What do they do? (make a home, have sex, make conversation, grow their personalities as individuals and a couple, work jobs etc….)
  • How do they appear to others? (how do others describe their communication style? what does their house feel like to others?)
  • How does being married feel? (what emotions do they experience? what feelings occur most often? what does their silence together say?)

(Here, on the handout, you can draw leaves on the upper branches and write: communication, friendship, parenting, sex, time together, having fun, shared interests, emotions, listening,  etc…)

Fruit comes the way fruit does

  • With seasons and stages (parenting and child rearing fruit)
  • With flavor and appearance (bright and shiny mostly but with bruises and rotten ones in every bushel)
  • With show (an image on the outside that reflects, or can betray for a moment, the actual health)

Fruit grows up and out of the roots of trust and intimacy. If there is a problem with the fruit, it’s probably a manifestation of a root issue. Under the surface, the roots feed what shows on the outside. Fruit problems that are simply fruit problems, like a wife’s dislike of a beard he’s growing, will resolve on their own. Fruit problems that reveal root issues, like a partner no longer asking questions about the other’s day, isn’t just a listening issue- it’s an abandonment trust problem.

The invitation is care about the roots and not so much about the fruit. It can be easier to talk about “His personality this…” or “Her feelings that…” or “We can’t communicate right now…” or “What will people think if we…” without tracing the lifeblood of the argument down to its root cause.

When trust is broken because there is a lack of commitment, a disengagement, or a misalignment…hearts hurt. People trail away.

If intimacy is shattered because one person refuses to accept the love and value of their own identity, breaks their love paradigm for seeing the other, or refuses to give love away anymore…marriages hemorrhage.

Broken people enter into bonds of marriage that are not supposed to be broken. It seems impossible and inhumane. However, to enter into a sacred and deliberate, sacrificial and mutually beneficial relationship with another, is actually the most human and Godly thing we can do.

If God designed it, God will sustain it.

IMG_0054

Our Jamaican honeymoon in July 2004

When I sat in the bridal room on July 10th, 2004, I shook. I had just realized I didn’t love Drew enough right then to last a whole life together. The love I felt I had to offer that day felt tiny, immature, and naive. Then I remembered and had someone read to me, 1 John 4:16-17  which says, We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.”

God is the creator and sustainer of relationships and love. If Drew and I could rely on and live in God, God would grow our love for each other to be more perfect. We, 12 years in, do indeed see the progress and God’s faithfulness.

The Bible begins and ends with trees. The last trees are alongside a river flowing down from God’s throne seen in a vision, On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit,with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. No longer will there be a curse upon anything.” Revelation 22:2-4 

The promise and the ever present pull of God is toward these life trees. Trees that bear fruit to provide abundance and medicine for healing. Curses lifted, life restored.

Blessings on the planting of your connection tree Haley and Walker.

For married friends, lets take care, pay attention, tend and nurture, dig up and burn away dead pieces, and bear fruit for the good of the world.

Connection Trees

I’m in a pre-marital counseling season this Spring. I never take for granted the privilege to hear from a couple at the precipice of their forever which is really, a continuation of their connection and a jaunt on a long journey.

My second IMG_8202meeting is titled, “Connection at the Core”. We talk about trees.

We start by talking about Genesis 1 and 2. I briefly explain God’s creation story is one of invitation, relationship and participation. As the story unfolds in chapter one, God looks and says, “” six times. Finally, in Genesis 1:26-27, God (three in one) says, “WE will create people in OUR image”.  The seventh “It is good.” is actually a “It is VERY good” and refers to this Image-bearing human set in the garden.

During the creation account in Genesis 2, God looks over everything created and proclaims once,”It is not good.” God looks at the one human and says, “It is not good for people to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) So out of triune relationship, out of self-giving, mutually beneficial, loving relationship within God’s self, God gifts humans with relationship.

The essence of God is perfect relationship. As people, made in God’s image, we are at most basic, and yet fully realized, made for relationship.

Genesis 2:24-25 affirms the original human relationship was one with beautiful freedom and vulnerability. People were naked and unashamed. With God and each other, they were invited into provision, trust, freedom and abundance.

God’s first command was “Eat! Eat freely! Enjoy!” (Genesis 2:16)  with one caution. “Eat everywhere EXCEPT from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:17)

God is offering all they need and the boundary in which to enjoy it best. In one metaphor, God is like parents who gives their kid a hammock and say, “Lay! Enjoy! Play all over our grassy lawn and strong trees. Please, just don’t hang your hammock in the middle of the street.” There are guidelines and recommended uses for all the things we use to live.

In marriage, God’s caution is not for the restriction of enjoyment, but for the fullest of healthy relationship.

God says, “Let me keep the knowledge of what is good and not good. Let me decide ultimately what is best. You, humans, eat from the tree of life. Be together, enjoy the world. Do life. Depend on me for the decisions of what is good and evil. Come to me to find knowledge. Don’t take it for yourself.

Knowledge, full life, real health, was supposed to be found in dependence, and interdependence. Through relationship with God and right relationships with each other, people could KNOW and were deeply and fully okay with being known.

When the created people break the rule, they supersede God’s caution, and they purport, “We can know for ourselves.” They seek knowledge outside of relationship. They put their hammocks in the street.

The fallout is devastating. Instead of vulnerability and intimacy, there is hiding and shame. Instead of peace and harmony, there is defensiveness and blaming. Instead of freedom and health, there is hard work and heartache. Forgoing provision, the people shrink along in scarcity.

Next post- how we tie this all back to marriage in the 21st century.

tree pic

 

 

 

Recently Overheard Around Here

Beep. Beep. Beep. 

It was 6:35 and I was up on a Friday morning. I was sorting laundry in our bedroom before I started the two-story journey I would walk over eight times that day from bedrooms to basement laundry.

I moved two pieces of clothing and was stopped by a sudden need/desire: COFFEE.

I contemplated stopping mid-task to go downstairs and make the coffee, then coming back up to finish. As soon as I had courageously resolved to continue folding, forgoing coffee for another 10 minutes (15 if you count the extra five minutes I’d spend waiting while it brewed), I heard that sweet beep.

Three beeps. Three generous beeps. The coffee was made, ready, and waiting for me.

Downstairs, Drew had made the coffee for me, not even aware I was now awake. He loves me. He really loves me. Without enjoying a drop of coffee himself, ever, Drew has taken to making it for me. Not every day but increasingly more often. And often, just in the nick of time.

Thank you Drew.

Am I wrong Mom? 

Oaks came streaming through the garage, trailed by two little friends- aged five and four. They were all yelling.

Oaks: “I’m not wrong!”

Alex: “You are wrong. He is dead.”

Ben: “No he’s not. He’s a baby. You’re wrong, he’s a baby.”

Oaks: “He’s alive. Jesus is alive right Mom? Am I wrong?”

I look at the three boys. Where did this conversation start? What was the first comment? How were they all invested but all in disagreement?

I tried to enter in immediately, but thoughtfully.

” Guys, let’s not point out when our friends are wrong. Lets celebrate each other’s ideas. Oaks you’re not wrong. Jesus is alive. He’s not dead. Alex, Jesus did die, you’re not wrong, he was dead. Ben, you’re not wrong. Jesus was  a baby.”

Ben: “And now he’s a ghost. A whispy big one.”

Oaks: “God is the biggest. He is in-con-struct-ible.”

There were more. Lots more comments in a short amount of sweet time. Little boys and big questions, thoughts, and ideas. As they grow up, I can only hope they keep wondering, keep discussing, and do less finger pointing and more other-appreciating, despite differences.

Let’s do this again next year. 

IMG_8128

A roller blade and scooter ride down the Line Creek Trail with friend Michelle today

IMG_8115

Skiing Copper Mountain with Grandpa

IMG_8112

Traditions! Valentine’s Day dinner and cake with Mom.

Currently, the Gap Year is a sweet, shiny, success. We are loving being home, being together, leaving town, skiing on weekdays, laying low on sick days, creating something from scratch, and learning together. What we battled in the beginning is refined and days are smoother, trust deeper, and enjoyment higher. Eli was most adamant a few weeks ago that we should do it again next year. Just one more year? The last year before Oaks goes to school.

We are thinking, weighing, and praying. April is decision time.

 

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.

img_7817

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

fullsizerender-7

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

14324681_10153900632687688_1299563341079070027_o14352368_10153900640757688_4162198471878249119_o14324163_10153900641632688_4769266993148320226_o
​​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. 

IMG_7416

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.

 FullSizeRender (6)

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.