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LOVE! Long, Lost, and Lasting

Since my kids are exploding up in age, attitude, and agendas, the adage that “time flies” seems true. I found myself at a skate-park last week- with temps in the low 30s and the winter sun low but shining, it felt balmy that day so we donned skates, scoots, and sweaters (for Camper) and went off. I stood still in my roller blades for a moment and did some reflecting on what we love as a family. We’ve been going to skate-parks for over 10 years!

Other passions have come and gone. Sometimes our whole family is swept up into the obsession of one person, other times we all share together. We are lucky and blessed and lack for nothing. Sometimes we’ve shared better than other times. Hopefully we’re giving more away, changing, growing and slowing down. Over time, we’ve held onto some of this stuff.

 

Loved for a LOOOOONNNG Time: 

  1. Castaway, Colorado, and Camping
  2. Skate parks (with siblings and in days of old, the Sollars kids joined often!)
  3. LEGO (Eli 2009-2013) Andi (briefly, 3 sets total), Oaks (LEGO ALL DAY)
  4. The Oscar Movie Showcase (2013- Present) and movies in general
  5. Wearing and sharing hand-me-downs
  6. Chiefs Games at the Pearces (2002- Present) and nachos for lunch every Sunday we’re not with Binny.
  7. Puzzles and Playing Games
  8. Skiing (1986 Linds, 2003 Drew, 2011 Eli and Andi, 2020 Oaks?)
  9. Making and sending Valentines (April Sustad instilled the love celebrating in me)
  10. Cloth Napkins and the Library

Loves LOST…Not So Much Anymore: 

  1. Running (no more marathons or half marathons for us)
  2. Rube Goldberg building
  3. Home school years and learning Latin (we still write on the white board a lot though)
  4. Trains, Barbies, Princesses, PawPatrol and our Arcade room
  5. Slime (Andi had quite the factory in her room last year)
  6. Rockets, movie making, American Ninja Warrior, domino tracks, and cool cars (Eli, Eli, Eli, Eli)
  7. Gymnastics classes (but Oaks still needs to learn a backflip…)
  8. Giant bowls of ice cream almost every night
  9. Our first home
  10. Eldon, Gladys, Orville, Jesse, and Pearl.

LASTING Loves…

  1. God
  2. Camper- He’s the best. He will always be our first dog. Maybe he’ll be our only?
  3. Cereal
  4. Intimacy
  5. Sharing questions
  6. Extended family
  7. Halloween and Christmas Parties
  8. Neighbors
  9. Eating outside
  10. Vacations

We’ve tried to embody and share with our kids that love looks like a lot of different things such as help, sacrifice, steadfastness, smiles, and surprises. We believe love is costly and a choice you make over and over. We think love lifts us up and pushes us out. We know love can be shared and never diminish. We know God IS Love and the love we receive from the periochoretic union of a mutually interdependent God-head overflows in a dance of love that invites us to define our lives by worthiness, inclusion, and a responsibility to share. God has given us room to rest and enough to give away.

Happy Valentine’s Day

 

A few other things we have loved and still do: Young Life, Nerf, salmon and sweet potato dinner, our new deck, Crossfit, scheduled chores and meals, school lunch on Wednesday, family dinners with the Bruces, Linds working at Drew’s office, READING, Royals baseball, Shop Til You Drop Day, craft beers, dry champagne, pumpkin patches, being Aunts, Uncles, and cousins, Bad Lip Readings, homemade cookies, scrapbooking, pictures on the fridge, our kitchen chalk board, bike rides to Hy-Vee, Coves Swim Team, Star Wars, Marvel movies, Jacob’s Well, 10 year old birthday books, Celebration at the Station, Poinsettias, Electronic Time (Wednesdays and the Weekends, like cereal), GG days, birthday affirmations, Plaza Lights and Winstead nights, the Line Creek path, Christmas with the Henkes in KC, trampolines, Advent, nighttime blessings, 12 years of bunk bed sibling shared rooms, Loose Park, Aldi, donuts, houseplants, and hard work.

Pictured here: skate parks, scooters, Colorado, bravery and coordination

Pictured here: Love of Colorado, trampolines and princesses

Pictured here: love of the chalkboard, Jacob’s well , Coves, Castaway, Vacations, and neighbors

Pictured here: extended family and KC Christmas with Henkes 2009

Oakley’s first Chiefs outfit and Andi’s brief love of baby dolls

Pictured here: Oaks’ current Chiefs gear, cereal, donuts, houseplants

Pictured here: extended family, giant amounts of ice cream, Winsteads and Plaza Lights nights,

Pictured here: vacations, neighbors (we ran into our neighbors IN FLORIDA), swimming, and shopping

Pictured here: love of Star Wars….

 

One-Liners- for back to school and off to work

Summer is over. Fragmented into wonderfully unique and easily enjoyed segments of three to four weeks, we were home and away. Especially awesome, we celebrated new cousins (Emry Osborne and Crosby Sears) and Eli’s 13th birthday!

June (4 weeks)- Coves Swim team and Jacob’s Well Enneagram Class. Linds=8! Drew 5! Kids= fast!

July (3 weeks)– Castaway- Family fun and working hard with humble hard workers to share good news.

July (1 week)- Florida- 14 family members, 5 beaches, 1 amazing back yard pool.

August (2 weeks)– Kansas City- reconnecting with friends and family, getting ready for school.

Because of

where we went*, what I’ve read**, who I’m with*** and how we’re growing****

this summer I’ve learned: 

  • I lift a lot of weight but the most powerful thing I hold is people.
  • New is hard. But not forever.
  • Sibling rivalry is loud, jarring, and often thwarts game playing enjoyment.
  • Resilience is what we deeply want kids to possess but hope they hardly have to use.
  • Our house and yard are lovely…gifts… a privilege. And yet, if I could be picky- I wish our trees would stop falling down and that we could find a flat spot for a trampoline.
  • Be curious- not judgmental. 
  • We hope our kids are: kind, equal, hopeful, and pleasant this year
  • It can be hard to hold both the demands of a job and the needs of a family at the same time.
  • I’m not better than you, you’re not better than me.
  • Putting stickers on my water bottle feels like a gateway to getting a tattoo. I won’t get one…putting a Baby Groot sticker on my water bottle has me experiencing enough angst.
  • To empty oneself is undesirable but might truly lead to freedom. (Philippians 2)
  • When belovedness is fully realized, if we can get secure in God’s favor for us,  the overflow is love to share.
  • I strongly recommend… putting “HUG” into the search box in your Google photos. Just do it.

*We went to the Ethnic Enrichment Festival in KC last weekend in addition to the travels above

**Just finished Becoming by Michelle Obama 

***I’m with Drew, I’m with friends and coaches at Crossfit Northland, I’m with Young Life staff around the states 

***** Eli is smiling in 7th grade so far, Andi is braving and enjoying 6th grade, and Oakley is energized by 1st grade.

Picking a Partner in Paradise

Drew and I just got back from our 15 year anniversary trip to the Excellence Resort in Punta Cana. I’m too sad to do much else so I’ll write…

On July 10th, 2004 we said, “Yes, I will, and I choose you…” in Arvada, Colorado.

On July 10th, 2009, we said, “Yes, again. I still will. I choose you…” in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

On July 10th, 2014, we said, “Oh for sure Yes. It’s been a challenging season as we’ve moved, changed jobs and had another baby but I still will. I choose you in all of this…” in St. Joseph, Michigan.

On May 10th, 2019, (in honor of July 10th), we said, “YES! We’re different but better so we will. I choose you over all others for each day and always…” in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

The beauty of the resort, the pleasant and professional staff, the amenities for our affections (tennis courts, ping pong tables, the gym, the bikes) the spa, the in suite bath, the high ceiling, the top shelf drinks, the “Top Chef” food, the pool with the waterfall, the padded beach “chairs”, the shade, the sun, the pillow I got to pick from a “pillow menu”, the flowers, the sand, the waves for watching and playing, the snacks, the people with their smiles, the Spanish, the really, really relaxing, and most of all the seven days of together….surpassed our desires and expectations.

As a Lindsey List, it looked like this:

1 Man Drew, I love you, I enjoyed you. Thanks for doing everything WITH me for seven days. I had fun and felt loved. 

2 Lobster Tails Drew ordered one which was delicious. Then Dionicio, our waiter friend, said, “Would you like another?” Yes. Yes please. 

3 Mother’s Day Cards I got to open in a garden from the three kids I missed so much. 

4 Novels I read Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Fly Away by K. Hannah, Artemis, and The Lost for Words Bookshop.

5 showers, jets, saunas, and pools that made up the hydrotherapy hour. Bucket shower and ice rinse also included.

6 times of tennis. So fun.

7 days and nights of sun, connection, being away, being together, and being very much in love.

8 times we got tumbled in the waves. So sandy. So fun. 

9 quality conversations in reflection, hope, encouragement, or intention.

10 mojitos 

11 people back in KC who helped and held up. Eli, Andi, Oakley, June, Henley, James, Laura, Maama, GG, Pops, and Emma. 

12 (times 12) Smiles and kindnesses shared by the Excellence staff. We were so grateful to get to know a few and cherished each humble heart. 

13 coffee drinks we sipped together in the mornings. French Press at Magna. An americano for Linds, latte for Drew from Aroma. Nespresso shots in our suite. Poured with care at Kitchen Table. 

14 Spanish Words we could say with proficiency. Oh shoot- wanted so badly to say much more to carry on in conversation. Oh, and for sure, 14 times Drew was mistook for a Latino or Italiano! 

15 moments unmentionable. 

The be able to afford such an experience is a gift.

While extravagant, we find it essential. We go away as a way to find each other, care for our connection, remember all we like about each other, mark the moments of change and growth, and deeply enjoy without distractions that sometimes divide or discourage.

We are a team, best friends, and partners.

We use harsh words, say no too quickly, overstep, second guess, forget, judge, and blow up.

We repair, forgive, let go, build up, believe in, support, share, dream, risk, care, love, hold, and say yes.

We don’t have it figured out but have energy to keep trying.

We count on our community and dig deep in our faith.

We give each other grace, know each other well, and say everything out loud.

We toast to the second phase of parenting and to the memories of our beginning moments as a family.

We think marriage is something you have to pick up, take care of, and work at every day.

Last week however, it didn’t feel like work at all. I love you Drew Osborne.

 

 

Looking Back and Back Handspringing Forward

I’m big for summing up the year in a photo book, long list, or a New Year’s date with Drew. This year we did a white board approach and included 12 things from everyIMG_1469body. Camper excluded. To name a few in case you don’t want to study the individual and squishy lists:

Linds:

  1. Crossfit- re-certified, won a competition, and quit coaching
  2. Went from being a homeschooling mom to a home alone mom
  3. Took Andi and Eli skiing solo at Loveland

Drew:

  1. Ruptured Achilles
  2. Took a Sabbatical including a Northwest Michigan vacation
  3. Had fun with SKC and Patrick Mahomes

Eli:

  1. First Boy Scout Camping trip at Bartle
  2. Did a lot of fishing at our pond and started diving
  3. Started middle school after finishing a second year of homeschool

Andi:

  1. Had an Amazing Race 10th birthday party
  2. Went to the Lion King musical
  3. Completed Memory Master for Classical Conversations and her goal of learning a back handspring on the ground

Oakley:

  1. Learned to read, ride a bike, and swim
  2. Enjoyed his new cousins Remi, Quinn, and Simon
  3. Loved building over 10 Lego sets

Through it all, we enjoyed each other, made new friends, gave thanks (or at least tried to) in hard circumstances, traveled to Colorado, Castaway, and Michigan, couldn’t believe the tragedies that happened in the world, worked for change were we could, learned about: mental health, the concretization of the ideal, decision fatigue, patience, influence, persuasion, crucial conversations, servant leadership, and held on tight to hope.

Andi 10 year pic Eli fishing IMG_0554 (1) IMG_0937

Goals for 2019 include: 

-keeping the bed dry all night, reading 12 books, learning a standing back flip, becoming more still and mindful, and getting straight As. You’ll have to guess who’s working on what. What’s your aim for 2019? IMG_1469

Family- a fragile privilege

Family Hugs

Family Hugs

IMG_0562Maybe it’s because I’ve watched so many movies. Or because I’ve done Young Life work with kids and families for over 15 years. Perhaps it’s because my sister-in-law is a movie star (go watch A Godwink Christmas on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries right now!). Could be that the families on movie screens (I’m talking about the broken, raw, complicated ones like Goodwill Hunting, The Fighter, Black Swan, The Kids are Alright, Frozen, Manchester by the Sea and all the others featuring orphans, divorce, abuse, poverty, and more), and the heart break of some YL kids, show me the privilege it is to be me, in my family.

I have a husband who is my favorite everything and who finds me to be his as well. We have three kids who are healthy, strong, fun, and fearless (mostly).

My siblings are my best friends and my sisters and brothers in law are friend status with family benefits on every tree branch- Sustad or Osborne.

I live two doors down from my sister! We do life together all the time.

My sister in law is on TV! And movies!

I get to play four generation board games with my grandparents and my children when we travel OFTEN to Colorado.

My adult cousins and I have dear times together presently and the best childhood shared stories.

My Kansas City aunt and uncle and now cousins, were rocks for the early Missouri years here and are good friends now.

I was raised in love and with vacations, boundaries, big emotions and lots of honesty. I get to cherish the memories and pass on the good stuff.

I joined a family of strength, stability, generosity, love and geographic proximity. I love the Osbornes and very literally could not have done life and work the last 15 years without them.

It just hit me before Thanksgiving, that my family is another bit of privilege I carry in my blessed life. Those bullets just above form a long list and don’t tell the half of it. I didn’t get too mention clothes, make-up, jewelry and gorgeous smiley niece Remi!- all gifts from my sister Nat who I get to fly to see this weekend.

I am awed. Thankful. I want to steward the privilege well. I must recognize the responsibility to use the blessing to be a blessing.

Along with appreciation and blessing, my invitation is to step into areas of imperfection, struggle, mess and discomfort that are also a part of my family. We have suffered loss, divorce, manipulation, sarcasm, rejection, abuse, anger, outbursts, bad habits, mental illness, and contempt. Relationships between some are strained and bruised, perhaps beyond repair. I think however, the call is to recognize the good and enter into the bad, taking on some ugly.

If I have to endure some awkward, uncomfortable, messy, even painful family experiences, I trust I will make it through and be stronger. Our obedience to family allegiance will forge through some of the mess.

We don’t get to say where we are born and who we get. I’m glad I got my people and relish the privilege of being a Sustad/Osborne at this time of year  especially.

The privilege of being with our family, wrought with blessing and struggle, can be a fragile one…see part 2.

 

IMG_1630

Oakley's God-family

Oakley’s God-family

Snuggle buddies

Snuggle buddies

head smush IMG_0114 IMG_6934 (1) IMG_6579

They Went on a Wednesday: A Thank You Note

Today is the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL across Kansas City. The Osborne three joined the masses. Recent graduates of the unofficial Osborne-Elementary -home school- gap year- adventure, Eli, Andi and Oakley went to 6th grade, 5th grade, and kindergarten today.

I’m not crying. Today I’m celebrating, indulging, and remembering. Maybe tomorrow I’ll cry. Today has been too carefully planned and filled up.

6:15- Eli awoke and showered.

6:20- We have breakfast (cereal- it’s a Wednesday) just us and E

6:50- Eli left on the bus for middle school. Andi woke up to wish him a good day. Super sweet move by the sister. (Agh…they’ve done SOOO much life together these two…this split between schedules and buildings feels severe)IMG_0854

7:20- Drew woke Oaks up and he found his new favorite clothes and the light up shoes to complete the look (What if they come untied? He’ll never keep them on all day right? He NEVER wears shoes. Can he run fast in those? Is there gym today?)

7:45- Breakfast conversations with Oaks about how he doesn’t remember where his class is and he remembers the bench in the lunch room looks much longer than the bench here at home he’s sitting on.

IMG_8837

8:10- Out to the bus stop. We have a great neighborhood party at the bus stop. Cute puppies play, very cute kids connect with excited energy.

8:18- The bus pulls up. Oaks says and I quote, “I’m going to get on the bus and I don’t know what will happen. I get to get on the bus.” Then Benjamin touched his arm and they walked together, backpacks facing parents, faces facing the new year.IMG_0862IMG_0855

8:25- Drew and I toast 12 years of parenting, and the third and final round of kindergarten send offs, on our new deck and new deck furniture.

10:15- I get a mani/pedi with birthday money and sit in the salon with three moms doing the same first day of school move I’ve chosen- self care!

12:30- Camper and I go around the walk and pray for the kids where and how they are at school.

1:30- I have a phone call about the vision and logistics of my new job.

3:00pm- Now Eli will be home any moment. Andi and Oakley will arrive around 4:00. Hopefully the bus quickens.

I am grateful.

Thank you Eli, Andi, and Oakley for all the ways you’ve been for each other and for our family mission*.

Thank you Andi, Oaks, and Eli for swinging together on the swing set last night and being sweet to each other this morning.

Thank you Oakley, Eli and Andi, for being brave today. For going back to school, and into it for the first time, having had two years outside of what your friends have been doing. You truly are brave and bold and I’m proud of you.

Thank you Park Hill Schools for working hard to be inclusive, prepared, high tech, benevolent, safe, and strategic in offering education to our kids.

Thank you my extended family for caring about our kids as they have gone through this and many other changes and transitions. Your thoughts, prayers, and Snaps were soul boosts today.

Thank you Classical Conversations of Shawnee for the last two years which are present in my passing thoughts and memories often these days. Thank you for the strong connections in their heads of dates, names, and sentence diagrams. The people and learning we received leaves a meaningful mark for which we are better- more connected as a family and deeper thinkers.

Thank you Castaway for the summers we spend on mission, in beauty, and encountering Jesus at His closest.

Thank you Drew for dating me, marrying me, having kids with me, and saying yes to some crazy (and good!) ideas I get. As one comes to an end, I look back with awe at how much your support, hard work, slow processing, great perspective, and willingness to enter in has made me stronger and helped me get here.

Thank you Here for the chance to walk into newness with faith, hope, and open hands. We look to be amazed, and want to bring help and hope.

Thank you Camper for keeping me company. Leash up, let’s go get the kids!

 

*We recently penned family values by asking, “Who are the Osbornes?/What are we about?” and collectively said:

  • We play games together
  • We are a drug free family
  • We believe the best about each other- we know we have each other on our team/side
  • “Just go to bed”- is what we often say, which really means, we value good sleep in our family
  • We have good gifts from God and our job is to take care of them and share them
  • We are blessed to be blessings
  • We do things to be safe, strong, smart and spiritual with good self control.

Child- Like

IMG_8384 IMG_8374 IMG_8386

There are adages about “child-like things”- faith, enthusiasm, or directness.

You can see by these pictures in the post that there is a bravery, a lack of concern for slimy-creepiness that kids possess. A zest for experiencing the fullness of what’s offered that can lead them to leap!- into holding Precious (Oaks’ buddy there) or Bumblebee (the one who kept his head up). *     **

e, because a team was losing their cohesiveness, and right before talking humans through conflict management, Jesus grabs a child and figuratively (maybe literally too) holds her up.

 “ And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

It was about a month ago that I was sitting on the floor of the deck after hanging laundry that Oaks came out with a book. He backed himself up and plopped himself down in my lap. Oakley pushed deeper into the crevices of my hips and knees, nestled his head back carefully to my chest, and grabbed one arm to place my hand on top of his leg. Not only on my lap, but inside my grasp- Oaks asked for the book.

I thought right then of “child-like faith.” (Which Jesus doesn’t expressly command but people say…)

Child-like faith assumes an open lap,  unconditional, ready and willing, yes-saying Love. Children believe adults will love them, welcome them, accept them, meet their needs and be strong enough for their push backs.

Being child-like means expecting people will love you. Kids believe they are worthy of climbing into the lap of one who loves them, into the arms of one always open for an embrace.

I bet the little kid came to Jesus just like Oaks to my lap, “Of course I can walk into a crowd of amped up adults…that guy loves me, he’ll have me.”IMG_8042


Andi dances. She always has, and only for one semester in a studio. Andi’s debut was a Christmas Day dance in my sister Natalie’s basement. She was almost three and she had moves, but mostly she had the freedom to dance what she felt no matter who was watching or what they thought.

We do family dance parties and they’re magical for sure, disco balls and all. But Andi dancing for the couch of three watching? Andi dancing alone, willingly, without sunglasses or a costume, with self choreographed moves…at age ten? That,  I happen to find astounding. She did it Friday night to a four minute song while Drew, Oaks, and I encouraged and watched in awe. Creative, free, and expressive she moved. We oohed and cheered. Being child-like is being free to express what you love to do or make- boldly and proudly.   (IMG_0181-ANIMATIONClick on the picture of Andi and she’ll dance!)


It was Friday she danced after Thursday when she swam. Eli and Andi’s swim careers have always been childlike. Being childlike is wearing a one piece, swim cap, goggle lines and participation ribbons all night. They just want to be where their friends are, back at the blankets in-between swims, playing games, coloring with markers, and appreciating the attention of coaches who know their names and advocate for their personal bests.

When you don’t care what people think of you, when you don’t care what you look like, what do you gain?

Jesus says, “The kingdom.”

A place where there is love, there is freedom, and there is enough.


Kids ask for big things and expect to get them. Jesus also invites this- He is the one who gives more than anything we might think to ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

It’s not hard for my kids to ask, “Can we can print 10 copies of coloring sheets? Open a new jar of peanut butter because it’s smoother to spread? or Run water for playing with the hose for 30 minutes?” They don’t think about how ink runs out, or water costs money, or multiple jars of open peanut butter is cabinet clutter. They think about maximizing the moment, serving the whims of their friends and utilizing resources that seem to be sitting there.  Why do I (all adults?) seem so bent on worrying about when things might run out? Childlike is fully enjoying the gift of whats available without worry. IMG_0366


Eli has been at Boy Scout camp (Bartle in Osceola, MO)  for six days and will stay another three. We miss him but he’s thriving. Being childlike is putting on the full uniform and carrying a backpack holding  anything you might need for the adventure.

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Eli left in full “Class-A” dress- its green and brown and button up- an outfit that matches him to others on the same journey. Clothes that say, “We are all in this together. From any house or home life, a Scout is a Scout. Who cares what you “regularly” wear.” When he added the hat they gave him before he left and strapped on the pack, we knew he was fully embracing the risk, the separation from family, and the freedom of the trip. His tent mate is a kind boy named Matthew and they’ve thrown sand around in a game of bags and their dirty clothes into the same stinky mesh laundry bag.

Being childlike is being brave enough to grow up, secure in who you are and who you’re with. 

What I saw in Eli on Sunday was a kid, surely, but a growing up one. He was going on a hike with a friend, and no adults. He was showing us around places he’s conquered we knew nothing about. Eli was kind and respectful but playful and competitive too.


Jesus is correct, kids get the kingdom. When you are a kid, you are free to play. Play involves imagination and big messes. Play means the world is out there with a place for you to create in it. Kids look for others to see their stuff, cheer them on, know their tears and pains, and pick them up. Kids are vulnerable without trying to be- they must cry out.

I love my kids and want to be more like them. I want to go back to when I didn’t know and didn’t care what I looked like or who might not like or accept me. I want to walk and talk, write and sing (loooooong shot!), without fear.

If the kingdom is a place of love, acceptance, enough, security and joy, I know there are kids there and I have work to do to get in. Jesus, help me be childlike. 

*Since I’ve sat down to pen this post, two of the occasions about which I’ve intended to write have been happening- three books read to a snuggled-in boy on my lap and 30 minutes of uninterrupted water play with our backyard hose.

** Those snakes, Precious and Bumblebee, are a part of the ecology center at Bartle. I never expected Eli or Oaks to be so curious or brave as to hold a snake. Wow…they were tough. Andi’s engagement and interest never surprises me with the animal kingdom. She is a lover of all God’s creatures- fuzzy or scaly. 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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    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

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    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
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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

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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.

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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.

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