2 Years Time

When we moved in to this house

Our muscle movers.

Our muscle movers.

two years ago, it meant we had sold our half-duplex, moved out of the (half) house we had our three babies in, out of the house we wanted out of three years earlier, and out of a house we really loved and made our own.

I cried the night we turned in the keys. Sitting in those empty rooms where we had lived so much life, made me ache in a good, goodbying way.

Then we came here. And here is wonderful. It is good to love what we had and appreciate the gift of moving. Two years into transition, we are still in the space of vivid memories and palpable memory making.

When we moved two years ago, two things happened on nights 1 and 3. On night one, April 26th, 2014, we went room to room, and dreamed about what we would do in each room. In the basement, we measured the heights of our kids on the door frame.

Then, on night 3, we had a hole cut in the kitchen ceiling, above the kitchen table, because there was a bathtub leak in the master bath above.

Alas, the leak was fixed in moments but the scar in the drywall was deep and wide and open and a bummer. So we (Drew, bravely) patched it. And we waited and debated for 18 months about fixing the hole and patching the popcorn ceiling, or scraping the ceiling and getting it to flat.

When over a year later, we decided ultimately to go flat ceiling fix,  we found out there was asbestos in the ceiling so we had the popcorn professionally scraped and taken away.

Then, just 10 days ago, we had the whole ceiling drywall patched, repaired, healed and smoothed to flat by a dust vacuuming prince of smooth ceiling charm.

Then, just last week, Drew (mostly) and I (a little bit around the edges) hired ourselves to paint the smooth ceiling.IMG_6464

And before we painted, second coat, night two, we toured the house for the two year anniversary of moving here.

We remembered dances, games, Royals watch parties, Daddy eggs, Andi imagination stations, Oakley road riders, finding hidden things, reading tons of books, cuddles, night lights and getting things done. We remembered people and food and ways we laughed. We remember a lot of things that just happened and wanted to bring back somememories from two years ago because they are favorite things we’ve done in our house.

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Then we measured our kids and they jumped inches again. I love how much they love to gawk at each other’s growth.

Love it. Love it here. Love what will come.

A few other notable home happs:

  • A piece of fence fell down in heavy winds. IMG_6440
  • Andi turned 8 and we rearranged her room and had two parties!IMG_6449
  • Update on the hole- it’s been raining and despite our effort of covering the hole with a fire bowl bowl, it’s half full of rain water! Agh! Uncle Z suggests a siphon which is a grand idea but one I’m not enacting yet.IMG_6466

A Hole: Half Full or Half Empty

To the tune of “There’s a Hole”

There’s a hole in my backyard dear reader, dear reader. 

There’s a hole in my backyard, so deeply, a hole.

Who dug it, you’re asking, you’re asking, you’re asking, 

Who dug it, dear Lindsey, who dug it so deep? 

It’s Eli! and his friends, and buddies, and siblings, 

It’s Eli! and his friends, and with shovels and buckets!

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10 days ago Eli asked if he could dig a hole under our swing set. I was happy to say YES! Not able to fully gauge the scope, or should I say depth, of this request, I knew at least this was a good spot for a hole. Other areas, other times (ie: 1. Beside our deck when Oaks was a toddler and the 12 inch hole filled with water- not a good place! or 2. Right after the neighbors moved in under their deck without asking- not a good time or place!) were not good ideas but here, under the swing set, the grass grows high and waits for a whacking. There isn’t much else to do under there. Yes, Eli, go ahead and dig.IMG_6386

He wasted no time. Eli thinks about the hole at first waking and heads out for some digs before school.  He comes home and drops his backpack by the rakes in the garage and heads back out to the hole. His clothes are filthy, his shoes filled with dirt, and his soul singing.

There were a few days where the hole brought neighborhood havoc- hole leaders Eli, Will, and Drew wanted to charge fees for touching the hole ($.25 per day) or $1.00 for full hole membership. There was the scale conundrum where only those weighing 60 pounds could jump on the shovel in an attempt to dig deeper.

I intervened with what I thought was a great lecture about how greatness created should be greatness shared.

“Think of all those free apps you like playing on your phone.” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Wouldn’t that stink if you had to pay $.25 every time you wanted to play?”

“Yes.”

“Just like great games, created by someone who worked hard and made something cool,  we share the hole so everyone else gets to experience what cool thing we made.”

The scale was put away and no fees have been charged or collected. IMG_6383

The hole is a WIN!

  • Impressively deep and wide and made completely by kids
  • Lots of kids have participated, played, and worked together and hung out for hours around the hole.
  • Eli loves an adventure and project and goes intensely into what he sets his mind to. This is one I encourage and enjoy watching wholeheartedly.
  • And my favorite part, the hole reminds me of my brother Scot who dug a hole when he was nine in our backyard in Colorado. Along the way he dug up three shoeboxes of bunnies we had buried after their stint of being our pet passed. I remember the bunnies and then I remember the bottom or the hole. It was deep and wide and cool in the shade of the giant pine tree it was under. I don’t remember all the hours Scot spent digging, I don’t think I helped much. But I do remember being proud of him. He had made something great, by himself. With muscle, grit, and determination and back then too, help from friends.

Now, I’m proud of my mom as well. She said YES to Scot when he thirsted for adventure that would make a mess. This is not always easy for me.

The hole is a PAIN!

  • Have I mentioned the dirt? Dirt in the shoes, on the carpet, in the entry way, on their clothes, in the kitchen, in pockets, caked on socks…
  • Where do we put the dirt that’s dug out?! I readied a spot along the fence and very quickly, it overflowed- completely covering my baby and barely there lilies. We rescued them…I think.
  • The dirt is all over the grass right around the swing set box. This grass is probably dead. We work so very hard to not have our grass die.
  • Eli wants a snack at a most inconvenient time now…not right after school as regularly scheduled and when Andi and Oaks have theirs, but later. Like 30 minutes into hole digging when he is covered in dirt, surrounded by other kids, and wanting it served hole-side.

But mostly the hole is just another reminder of how lucky we are to live here and call this home. Like the hole, our family in this house is: a bit messy, unstable in parts, crowded and loud, but deep and fun and open for hard work alone or with a crowd. IMG_6384IMG_6389

Come on over…bring a shovel.

And beware, if your kid reads the book Holes 3 times, the digging itch will probably take root.

 

 

On Schedules with Routine and “May I speak to someone else?”

I like a bit of organization and appreciate parameters. I know better where to go when there is a benchmark set before me.

A month ago, Drew started writing down to-dos with abandon and I had an idea for our Monday nights. The result is two-fold. There now hangs on the back of our basement door, a recycled sheet of school paper with my hand written scrawl forming two columns.

I’ve typed it up here for easier viewing. You don’t want to view the chaos that surrounds this taped up list on the back of that door!

Saturday Jobs

Monday Midrash

1st Saturday- Dust, Do allowance (pick up basement) 1st Monday- Money/Budget/Goals
2nd Saturday – Wipe cabinets, Beat Rugs, (wash kids beds) 2nd Monday – Something Spiritual
3rd Saturday – Turn Compost (wash our bed) 3rd Monday- Parenting
4th Saturday- File paperwork (deep clean kid rooms) 4th Monday- Marriage
Every Saturday: bathrooms, sweep, mop, vac, (clean out the van) Every Monday- No TV, follow up sex optional

*Kid work in italics.

We structured our Saturdays and Mondays for manifold reasons but mostly these two:

  1. We wanted to get some things done more regularly.
  2. Nights seem to go by quickly- kids to bed by 8:45 if we’re lucky and then, often we default to a device, more work, or a show instead of spending intentional time talking together.

This has been a good rhythm and helps us have something set to accomplish that keeps us moving.

Of course there’s more that needs to happen and weeks we have to boot the whole thing. The idea is teamwork and a structure that takes it off our minds.

The success of the schedule so far begs the question, “What else should be listed in routine?Kid showers? My work life?! Fingernail clipping? Iphone photo deletes?

The other big win for 2016 so far has been some negotiations. Talking to strangers about money, services or contracts is not high on my list of fun afternoon activities. Put it right behind changing bunk bed sheets, or getting a shot. Not comfortable!

However, our internet service fee increased and I was charged for some insurance on a rental car that I did not need. In both cases, I spoke to an associate on the phone who explained they could not remove the fees or adjust the bill.

In both cases, with trepidation and yet some gumption, I asked if there was someone else with whom I could speak. Both times, I was transferred to a manager and got my issues resolved.

The next person on the line had more power to make a change. I reciprocated the power given with my own power to thank, promise return service, and yes, I’ll give good feedback on our conversation if I’m surveyed.

Seems like perhaps the first answer isn’t always the end answer.

We say this a lot in Young Life as we ask kids to camp. At first, an adult leader asking you to go to a camp far away in the summer can be a NO.

“Is there someone else I could talk to?”, asks the timid or too-cool high school friend.

Yes, yes there is. Please speak to one with more power- your peer who went last summer.”

I want second opinions or another voice in most everything I do. I make quick decisions and then back pedal later in some decisions (external processor probs), so I understand coming back around to revisit something.

In a world that is whirling and threatens to accelerate our emotions, schedules, families and souls beyond our health, I think reminders, set routine and rhythms give life.

Second opinions, “under further review”, processing more, or pushing past the first hesitation, just might get us the action or answer we really want. 

 

 

 

Women and Men in Leadership and Conversation: my YL write up.

IMG_2832This is a post I wrote for the Young Life Midwest Women’s Leadership Network Blog. The journey of crafting words and researching story, asking for input and editing for softer language, ended up like it will read below. I was grateful for the chance to write but most of all, am hoping it will be read and used for necessary growth and change.

 

 Women and Men Around the Young Life Leadership Table:

Ingredients for healthy meetings and a helpful perspective on working with the other gender. 

February 25, 2016

I was fortunate to  attend the Women’s Leadership Network gathering during YL75. After sampling fancy and fabulous cold cracker spreads, we gathered in a semi-circle to hear from mission leaders. All three leaders affirmed the idea that men and women, working together, most fully represent the fullness of God in kingdom work.

Although women have not always been affirmed in leadership in Young Life’s past, we are very thankful for the major steps forward in this journey made by men and women towards health and equality. Because some women still have a steep hill to climb towards equality of opportunity in our mission, we will press on with hope.

On my own, in one blog, I cannot write to encapsulate a comprehensive history, or sum up experiences, beautiful or broken, in our mission or Christian ministry on the whole. So, I’ll slice out a sliver of the pie that’s been in my eye this past year: sometimes strong, capable, creative, and intelligent women staff encounter tension and challenge with their male supervisors.

Here are some ideas on what to avoid, and the essentials to include, in posture, philosophy and personal interactions in the working relationship.

Women staff, in your relationships with male supervisors:   

  • Acknowledge your primary identity is an image-bearing beloved child of God. You are the treasured child of a king with a beloved identity (Ephesians 1:3-6) and a royal authority (Romans 8:16&17), just the same as the guy across the table.
  • Do your own work to embrace your identity and voice. A supervisor who might be frustrating you is most likely not purposefully against you, but unaware. He or she might not know you feel overlooked or undervalued. Be your own best advocate, in a gracious way.

  • Possess your possessions. Use your own abilities and do not enable patriarchy by waiting for a man’s approval or invitation if the position or power is already in your hands.

  • Speak freely- with confidence, honesty and respect.

  • Believe in your ideas, remember the confidence of your calling, and take risks.

  • Keep healthy relationships with girlfriends. Pursue healing of deeper issues in your past that have not been brought to light or redeemed, and do the hard work of healing, forgiving, and growing outside of any staff obligation or meeting.

  • Say NO and mean it. Say YES and mean that too.

  • Appreciate the effort your supervisor is taking to lead you in the way he or she knows how and be honest and upfront when you feel there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

  • Talk directly to your boss before bringing in other staff peers or higher ups.

  • Respond well to female leadership and encourage the respect of all women leaders at any levels of ministry in Young Life. As women, let’s build each other up!

  • Be bold and brave. You’re blessed to be a blessing.

 

Male supervisors, in your working relationships with female staff, I recommend…

  • Acknowledge and stay aware of your inherent male privilege – the reality that you don’t have to think about being male, and that society gives men concessions not often given to women. Realize you come to the meeting with a power you didn’t necessary grasp for, but were given. Realize you’re not coming with a history of peers who were refused seats at the table, and that this inherently impacts the dynamic of the table, even though both you and the woman sitting across from you may wish it were not that way.

  • Become familiar with the reality of your lens for seeing the world through your gender, culture and circumstances. Each of us has one and we serve each other well when we try to understand the other.

  • With awareness of how your previous prejudices or embedded biases (which we all have) come into play in interactions with women, work towards a healthy head and heart.

  • Employ accountability and self-check-ins to ensure you’re walking mindfully into meetings with a woman,  acknowledging her identity as one made in God’s own image, unconditionally loved, and wholly called. Prepare to embrace her as a capable co-worker, an educated and equipped co-minister, and move to employ the full spectrum of her gifts and talents.

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With a mindful perspective of one’s self and the person across the table, a working relationship is set up for success. Here are a few more considerations I’d like to mention.

  •  Listen well. Hear her whole ideas. Ask clarifying or follow up questions, agree, disagree, challenge and listen more.
  • Call out her gifts and strengths. An experienced staff friend of mine said he sees a lot of “women who have great competence

  • but lack confidence.” When he observes a woman excelling, he is sure to call it out so she can hear and build confidence. When a woman will not self-promote, she can benefit from champions raising her up.

  • See women as a way to expand the limits of your ministry. Different gifts that fill the gaps or widen the reach of what a man can accomplish alone, open up the door for women to fully live out their gifts, and more importantly, for the Kingdom to grow.

  • Ask for the woman’s perspective and listen to what she offers. Assure her you want to hear what she thinks, that you affirm her position, that her ideas are valid and you want/need her to verbalize what she knows, thinks, wonders, is angry about, cannot stand, will always stick up for, and wants.

  • Never use her as a babysitter or nanny.

  • Be her boss, not her best friend, counselor, or pastor.

  • Advocate for her with the leaders and committee in the area. Empower her to use her very valid authority and gifts to their fullest.

 

Women, you are capable and strong. You do not need to doubt yourself or the leadership gifts God has given you.

Men, you are capable and strong. You have the privilege of leading well out of your strengths, for the furthering of a kingdom team.

With humility, and some experience, with hope and faith that ensures the culmination of what we cannot yet see, I submit myself and our mission to growing and changing, as well as celebrating, as we work together in unity.

Out of the Mouths of Teens

YL_9251_Logo_PrimaryAlt_03As a Young Life leader at my local high school, I have the great privilege of walking with teenagers through the throes of high school adventures, mishaps, friendships, questions, stresses, and decisions. I love the energy, the ideas, the emotions, and the journey of my girls.

During our YL small group Bible study this season, we’ve been doing a teen girls video series by Jen Hatmaker called, “Brave Girl.” The study is excellent and done dynamically, with humor, scripture, and explanation. Jen and team share what God says about young women and their identity, relationships, and calling. Just last week, the topic was “Parents” and what God says about life in families.

Seven girls sat in a circle and shared stories, exasperations, admonitions, and realities about life as a teenager at home. After asking what they loved about their family, I asked how they would describe the role of a parent. Their responses were not given blithely. They shared from places of appreciation as well as frustration. With the girls in the developmental stage of adolescence, with the task of individuation at hand, and because they feel strong feelings and take great risks, I appreciated our conversation and wanted to share the wisdom.

In their own words, they said a perfect parent would:

  • Protect us
  • Rearrange their schedule to show up in my life at my stuff
  • Make time for their kids
  • Give us our independence
  • Let me learn my own lessons
  • Make me feel wanted, not like I’m a burden.
  • Balance the roles of mom and friend and always keep the mom part most important.
  • Let me be open and honest with you, but don’t push me to be when I don’t want to open up.
  • Be brave enough to ask how I’m really doing and be prepared and willing to hear what I say
  • Not live vicariously through me.
  • Mention a problem once and then let it go. Trust me to handle it if I say I’m going to.

Can you sense the tension for boundaries and freedoms, for love and letting go?

Eurologo

I pushed a bit further and asked how they could show their parents their maturity and play their role as an ideal kid.

 

Once again, they said, “As kids, we will”:

  • Admit when I’ve messed up
  • Listen to you
  • Be responsible for what I’ve been given
  • Tell you how I feel
  • Ask you questions instead of telling you what to do.
  • Change and do what I need to when I say I will  handle things
  • Try to use your “I” statements to open up…”I think”, “I feel”, “I want”, “I need”
  • Use a tool for cooling down to make conversations more productive

I had to bite my mom tongue at times to keep from rationalizing the parental point of view. I also affirmed their ideas as valid because I really did often fully appreciate their perspective.

Eli asked me if he could be considered a “pre-teen” the other day. He’s over 9 1/2 but still I said, “Not yet.” I suppose I wanted him to have some more kid years to enjoy almost as much as I admit I need the time to study this list and get ready for what it will take to parent a pre, full, and post teenage kid.

I’m counting on grace…giving it away and grasping for it myself.

 

2016 Oscar Showcase Summary

Four years and counting.

For the past four Februarys, Drew and I have spent two Saturdays in movie seats. Taking in screens of fantasy, story telling, truth portraying, agenda pushing, artistic awe-ing, talent showcasing, heartbreaking, mind changing, soul searching, question asking, and/or emotion engaging films, is one of our favorite couple traditions. We like good movies and long days together. It all fits.

We had great company this year and ran into acquaintances as usual during breaks. We bonded as lanyard wearing, popcorn toting fans “watching the best back to back.” Seems they took their tagline from the Royals past two years! It’s a great season in KC.

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Of the past four years, this year’s films do not stand out as most excellent of all time. There were a lot of ties for almost every ranking. I liked a lot of them third. I did finally rank them ,with angst and little expertise, in this order:

*This is how much I personally appreciated the movies, not what I thought should win Oscar statues necessarily.

*I give you one simple reason for my placement of each film.

1. Spotlight- I liked it best for its portrayal of the power of hard work, genuine empathy, and well written stories to change lives on scales small and large. 

2. Bridge of Spies – The message here was to do the right thing, even if its for the “wrong” person. I appreciated the layers and tension. I appreciated seeing strength to stand up for reasoning that there is always another side,  and a person on that side who should be considered at least, and respected and honored most times. Good Old-Fashioned Spy

3. Room-  I couldn’t get this movie out of my head. However, a hard movie to watch is most often worth watching.  Here the unsettledness in my soul moved me to appreciate how strong one can be when reality requires unfathomable strength. The film shows how brave moms are and the balance between telling kids enough truth to shape their world, but doing a whole lot of hiding what’s too hard for a little soul. She overcame loneliness and fear in ways I have never imagined one could. 

4. The Big Short- Complicated and detailed in actual content, this movie was entertaining to watch and engaging from its beginning to its raw finish- what a crappy victory for the victors. What I didn’t anticipate was how much of my adult life would be on the screen and how luckily, we came through unscathed, young and naive to boot. 

5. Brooklyn- She is beautiful and quietly determined to feel all of her feelings, letting pain direct her towards figuring out who she could be. We talked afterwards about how malleable love can be, which is a complicated and continuing conversation. 

6. Mad Max: Fury Road- While my first reaction was one of bewilderment of how this movie made the Best Picture list, I grew to appreciate it. To watch it is exhausting sure, but it’s perfect as a movie in most ways: amazing scenes, tons of action, great looking actors and actresses, and an adventure to find connection and identity- struggles we drive ourselves around in sand still today. 

7. The Martian-  Simply put, the book is way better. 

8. The Revenant- Simply put, it was too much, for too long, with amazing scenes great for a Planet Earth episode, Drew says, but not enough story to draw me into the dragged out drama. I could hardly even believe in the father son relationship on which the whole journey rests. However, I did appreciate once again, the illustration of how often we misunderstand and abuse those who are different than us. There is even a sign that points out a truth with irony so potent it took me to Jesus’ “King of the Jews” sign on the cross, and all the other violence wrought on good people who threaten someone else’s agenda. 

The themes through most films seemed to me to be:

  • survival
  • who you are and how you cope when you’re alone in a struggle
  • a journey that changes not only where you exist but who you are

The major question posed sounded to me like:

  • What will you choose to do inside your circumstances? 

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The other great movies, once again ranked, I saw this season rounded out a really fun winter:

  1. Creed
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  3. The Intern
  4. Straight Outta Compton
  5. Amy

I like to tell my kids to use their power- their power to say yes, or to say no. Power to make a choice or make a different one. Power to try again and power to help and heal. I appreciate each of these movie characters harnessing their power and the whole film industry for putting great stories in beautiful and artistic packaging.

Until next year…

 

 

Throwing Up and Growing Up

“Comparison is the thief of joy”…absolutely. I agree. But what about comparison when there is no joy?

My comparison in question is the sheer number of public place pukes that I have mopped up compared to other moms in their first decade of parenting.  Over the past 10 years, my poor kids have thrown up in public a pretty serious amount of times.

Public DOES NOT equal the our van/child car seats which, as locations unto themselves, have endured more than five “events”.

Public DOES NOT equal the basement of my in-laws house, the closet of the VRBO mountain home we had over Christmas in 2013, or our home…bunk bed, kitchen floor, couch, or crib.

By public I mean,

  • the carpeted elevator lobby of my grandparents posh retirement home
  • the upper deck of Coors Field during a Father’s Day Rockies game
  • the 2nd grade classroom coat rack right next to the trash can,

and just yesterday,

  • the small arcade section of our local Walmart.
  • Plus, I think I’m leaving one out. 

Don’t other families have kids who get to toilets for throwing up more often than mine? But again, why despair and compare?

I’m really writing today to acknowledge that a major shift has occurred in my relationship with Eli. He has grown out of just care-demanding-dependence and into a maturity that allows him to work for his own survival (watch him serve himself cereal on a Wednesday morning!), thriving (so much reading!), and just recently, in major ways, as a co-collaborator with me in trying times.

There was a rough night two weeks ago when Drew was out of town, Andi was at a sleepover, and  my boys and I  had a night to ourselves. Through a random course of events, with details too many to mention, my doubled Chipotle burrito bowl went into the shopping bags of a tight-lipped but kind patron three people behind me in line.

Slipping right off my tray and onto the floor, table, and their stuff (shoe boxes, a backpack, and ugh…two pairs of athletic shorts), my dinner and decorum were lost.

Eli steadied our shaky ship. He and Oakley sat at the table and ate their food, the food that Eli had carried smoothly on a tray to the table. As they sat, I slid the guacamole off the shoe box, wiped salsa off the shorts, and apologetically handed the soggy receipt to the forgiving family. Eli was strong, stable, and unwavered by the raucous. He calmly ate, interacted with Oakley and asked very few questions. He held his head high and helped me make it through.

Then yesterday, I had all three kids at Walmart in the 6:00 PM hour. I don’t do that, like ever, and don’t encourage it either.

We shopped for essentials and lolly-gagged through toys and that clearance aisle. Christmas scented candles for $2?! A small Star Wars saber for $1?! And, “Oh Mom, a kitten cuddles calendar for $.50!!!!”

Oaks had said back in the toys that his tummy hurt. I checked in shortly after to see how serious it was and it didn’t seem dire. Still, I was trying to move us out of there. I had 24 items in the 20 item check out line and was hustling. They all three asked to go look at the arcade 10 feet away and I allowed it. 

After check out, I went to the arcade to round them up. Eli and Andi had three discoveries to explain and Oaks, ignoring my request to get in the cart, climbed into the Mickey Mouse car ride. As I approached to get him out, he threw up all over the seat of the car, and then onto the floor.

I had nothing. Except regret about all that clearance aisle shopping.

I grabbed a produce bag sitting in my purse (randomly) and tried to wipe Oaks off with the thin plastic. Not working.  I told Eli to please go ask a worker for help. I left it as open-ended as that.

Eli came running back in seconds with a giant roll of paper towels. When I asked him later what he asked he said, “I went to aisle 6 and said, ‘My brother threw up in the arcade and we don’t really have anything good to clean it up with.’ and she handed me the towels.”

I was able to seat Oakley in the cart and mop up the mess. Andi and Eli diverted their eyes and kept their freak out emotions completely in check. Their calm helped poor Oakley endure. Almost done with the wiping, I asked Eli and Andi to head to customer service and let them know they needed to come clean/sanitize.

They were back in 30 seconds and had secured that maintenance would come and clean more thoroughly. Once again, Eli had calmly and honestly explained the situation.  I hope the maintenance man was pleasantly surprised when he came to see all the chunks were already cleaned up. I left towels covering the fall out area so no other kids would ride the tainted ride.

Eli returned the towels to aisle six and we left. At the car, I stripped Oaks out of his clothes, covered him in my sweat shirt and headed home to a really late dinner. During which, Oaks with his head on my lap on the bench, threw up again, five minutes into the meal.

All of this to say, I’m appreciating how steady, headstrong, calm, and capable Eli is being these days. He might not appreciate how many opportunities his burrito spilling, Walmart sick-kid toting, Mom is giving him, but since we are living it, I might as well mark it with gratitude, a little bit of awe, and a “I see you Eli and cheer you Buddy.”

If you’ve read all of this and are still hungry or interested in being my friend, you too are a strong person.

 

 

African Wisdom for Ash Wednesday

 

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One of the sessions Drew and I attended at YL75 was on the African Leadership Tree…a method of developing people as leaders through one on one mentoring, life sharing, and cohesive mission. The deliberate and passionate stories, diverse among country and gender, encouraged us as we realized just how big the world is how easily God’s work happens in humbly brave vessels.

They shared “isms” and essentials that direct their mission day to day and year to year. They gave non-negotiables and palpable tenets to take home and contextualize. I said to my friend right next to me, “I want my family to be formed by these ideas.” So, in efforts to remember and begin, the list of YL Africa’s intentions:

In YL Africa, WE:

  • Listen- To God. To the Spirit. To each other

  • Sing– Every chance we get.

  • Dance- Every time the music plays. We are bodies, not just spirit.

  • Pray- Cannot live without this.

  • Walk- Everywhere. Everything we believe must walk.

  • Laugh- This is power. This is life.

  • Go- Wherever the Spirit calls and leads.

  • Stay- Even when it’s dark and dangerous

  • Love-  God. Enemies. Neighbors. Brothers and sisters. Selves.

  • Obey- God. Spirit. Leaders God places in our lives.

  • Give- The nature of God. Greatest weapon against poverty: generosity.

  • Celebrate- Thank God and others every chance we get.

  • Welcome- Kids. Each other. Strangers. Aliens. Sinners. The Spirit

Furthermore, part of their DNA was described in these ways:

  • “Haraka Haraka Haina Baraka”– “The slow way is the fast way”.   No shortcuts in the Spiritual life, friendships, planting/reaping, discipleship. We value the power of time over efficiency. Only time deepens relationships with God, kids and others. We believe that efficiency does not always equal excellence.
  • Pamoja Pamoja” – “Together Together”. We are committed to unity and empowerment across every line- tribal, country, gender, class, language. We are a ministry of reconciliation.

  • Mangoes not tomatoes- Tomatoes grow easy and fast but we have to plant them every year. Mangoes take a few years to produce but then they produce fruit year after year on their own for over a hundred years. We choose to grow leaders the mango way- leaders to last, multiply, and transform.

  • Bend and not Break- Life is hard and unpredictable in Africa. Like the tree in the storm we need to be able to bend but not break. Flexibility is a high value.

Today is Ash Wednesday and time to experience a Lenten space for Jesus to enter.

My desire, this year same as most, is to empty, let go of, and lay bare what is empty, broken, hurried, frantic, without lasting meaning, and fleshy.

I’d like to give up complaining this year.

Can I make it a discipline that makes me rely on strength outside myself and calls me to rid of dark and fill with light?

Perhaps the African words of listening, laughing, dancing, staying, loving, obeying, and celebrating will call me out of complaints.

Anything on the list call out to you?

With all the world around me, sitting in my small place, I say,

Blessings on you in this season and take a walk.

More info on Young Life Africa here 

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New Year, New Words

signsign 2Despite being a blog about words, I promise not to use too many.

I like words because they express meaning, make a statement, can be memorized, remembered, written in calligraphy or bubble letters,  and communicate reality. Of course not only words express reality- so do our feelings, relationships, trips to loud waterfalls, quiet beaches, or majestic mountains, the whispers of the Holy Spirit, and the unforgiving weight of gravity, among so much else.

I guess what I want to affirm is that I have a great relationship with words, really enjoy them and prefer them to numbers. Give me words in a book, on a list, in a crossword puzzle, or a fortune cookie. I’ll take the words, leave the cookie.

Every now and then, we need some new words, lest our sentences sound stale (like a fortune cookie).

How about these this year? If not new to you, then props to you…your word bank is affluent.

words

Affable- characterized by ease and  friendliness , pleasantly easy to approach and to talk to; friendly; cordial; warmly polite

 

Serendipitous- occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Magnanimous– upright, benevolent, considerate, forgiving, fair and generous

Implicit Bias  – an implicit bias is a mindset held somewhat subconsciously or thoughts implied, but not expressly stated.

My friend Hilary told me about a discussion she led high school kids through regarding race, justice, and equality just before Christmas break. She used a tool called the implicit bias quiz from the MTV Look Different campaign.  Their definitions:

  • Racial bias is a form of discrimination, often unconscious, that results in the different and unequal treatment of racial groups.Screenshot (49)
  • Gender bias is a form of discrimination that results in the unfair treatment or stereotyping of men and women because of their sex or gender.  These attitudes are based on the beliefs that women and men should act, dress or behave in particular ways.  Gender bias is mostly targeted at women but can negatively affect men as well.

The goal is awareness of what we hold deep inside and a movement to heal ourselves of the harm we did or could, cause.

 

The project offers a quiz  that tests your implicit bias and supplies, not judgement but proactive work in dealing with your result.

I took the quiz today and am signed up for a bias cleanse. (Conincidentally, the Crossfit Northland Clean Eating Challenge began this week…cleansing all around..mind and body!)

Constructive tension- I reread MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail today. The letter is brilliant and oozes humility and hope from a man and for a cause where hope or humility would have been hard, if not impossible, for me to conjure up.  On constructive tension he says,

I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettere

d realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

Indeed, tension makes us move. Movement is better than stagnation, ignorance, or inaction when justice is within reach. Constructive, non-violent tension can open up conversations, force the deeply held but perhaps flawed beliefs to be spoken, debated, discarded and forgiven.

Last words…

– Appreciation Rampage. I heard this at yoga and it’s just what it sounds like. Inside your head or aloud, say one thing you’re grateful for… then another…then another…

-Okimafire– (oak-i-mma-fire) a cool mist humidifier.

This is the word you need if you’re putting Oakley to bed these days. Please tuck him in and turn on his okimafire before you leave the room.

 

Let’s go…and as we go, share our words for hope, healing, help, and higher consciouness.

Enough said.

 

Some Mom Moments: I said YES so WE…

…Held a Home Amazing Race and went on a Mommy/Daughter Date!

I hold it as a hallmark of my parenting, or at least my best intentions, to say Yes as often as possible. I want to be a “Yes-Saying Mom” to allow my kids freedom to express and employ their own ideas, to allow them to risk and enjoy, and to let go of my own control. Last week, because I said yes, we had some marked some major moments.

Some back stories:

Drew and I have loved watching CBS’s The Amazing Race with it’s whirlwind races around the world and complicated drama on the two-some teams. We love seeing the world and appreciate the edits that offer humor concise story telling. After watching 15 or so seasons together, Drew and I decided last fall, to let our kids in on our amusement. They loved it…even Oaks. They appreciated the challenges, the beauty and awe of the places they traveled on screen, and the nuances of the game as it was played between teams.

After we watched three shows, Eli’s self spilled out.  Mid-episode, he said, “We should do our own family Amazing Race.”

This is quintessential Eli. He does not just consume or view life, he enacts it. He likes to make his own bands, sledding jumps, snow boarding practice hills, Rube Goldberg’s, arcades, restaurants, and even has one CD. (It features Drew on lead vocals and finds its way to be played when random adults guests are popping in.)

I digress. All this to say, I love to say Yes but sometimes, because Eli wants to actually create so many real life situations, I sometimes have to say No. “No we cannot build a salmon ladder for Ninja Warrior practice in our back yard…. “etc..

However, I wanted to say yes to this family/neighborhood Amazing Race request.

And I did so on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last week. I spent a day and a half writing clues, collecting items for the challenges, painting a check-in mat, and stuffing 40 envelopes with Route Info, Detours, and Road Blocks. We assembled teams with neighbors and some of their sleepover friends and had ourselves a little COVES Amazing Race 2016.

I was thankful my friend Taylor was wiling to enter the fray having very little idea what she signed up for when coming over that day. Turns out, she’s a strict but fair judge and a quick distributor of clues.

The four teams wore matching t-shirts (Drew and I have tons of the same clothes!) and completed nine tasks including: completing two mixed up puzzles, unscrambling block letters to spell the next destination (“fridge”), eating “gross” foods (cashews, pumpkin seeds, deer jerky, or pickles), climbing the tree to grab a bandana, sorting two shuffled decks and putting them in suit and number order OR creating a marble run track (that was the detour!), memorizing a quote by MLK Jr. (“Our lives will end when we stop caring about the things that matter.”) and scoring an air hockey goal against Goalie William.

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Andi and Sydney- first place winners!

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Team “#Speedy” reading their clue…ready to memorize.

The rules were simple. Read the whole clue. Work together always. Don’t give up. First team back to the mat wins. IMG_6057 IMG_6063 IMG_6066 IMG_6076

They pushed through puzzle confusion, playing card overwhelmedness, and memory-blocked memorization.

They were patient with and encouraging towards their partners.

Each kid impressed me at some point with an overcoming of a fear, a tenacity towards a task, or a patience with their peer. They all had fun.

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Background: Mallory and Lydia sorting decks. Front: Kiley and Kaitlyn on the other half of the detour, building a marble track.

  • You can do more than you think you can if you’re put to a tough task
  • It’s worth sticking it out even when it seems hard or impossible
  • Helping another person through something is a victory
  • When you’re competing, you try harder, faster and with your whole self (instead of sometimes giving up and walking away when you’re on your own)
  • Scavenger hunts are always fun.
  • Being on a team is a good thing. We need each other in life.

I was exhausted Monday night but will do it again…probably in the summer..and at the kids’ requests, with more of the neighborhood in play.

By Friday, I had revived my mom mojo and was ready for another YES.

Backstory. Andi has been wanting to go ice skating all winter. And, Andi did not want to attend the showing of Charlottes’s Web at school because Charlotte’s death moves her to tears and she wasn’t in the mood for a PTA sponosored sob.

When I asked Andi if, instead of going to the movie night at school which Eli was excited to do, she’d like to do something with Daddy, she said, “I want to do something with YOU Mom.” I was surprised- it’s usually Drew who gets picked for the fun extra stuff. Alas, I was a definite YES for this invite from Andi-girl.

She caught me checking on ice skating hours on my phone so I went forward with the ice skating idea- shucking off the scares of a 20 degree evening, 20 miles of driving and $20 of costs. It was worth it to see the light in her eyes, the enthusiasm in her gait, and the audible excitement in her speech all day. She felt it was going to be so great to be just us girls. I did too.

We went skating, shopping and to Starbucks. She did a great job skating and was undaunted by the falls or the falling temperature. She spun and smiled and took special care to stop and ask me, mid-loop, “What was something you did with Oakley today Mom?” It was a shot straight to the heart of this mom who LOVES thoughtful questions. Andi one-upped herself later in loving me, when she asked if the radio could be turned off so we could “just talk” while we drove. This girl!

After skating, we shopped for loud leggings (she really wants pants with cupcakes, cats, or dogs on them) with no success, and then went to the Plaza Starbucks for hot chocolate and whatever else she wanted, which ended up being a blueberry muffin and a chocolate chunk brownie. IMG_6092IMG_6096IMG_6087

The night was magical. And because I said YES to Andi, I learned a lot about how we are together.

I realized most of the context of my mothering of her exists in instructions, requests, demands or questions. I think I mostly tell her what to do instead of simply slowing down, stopping everything, and playing with or listening to her. Or, when I do slow down and lean in, I’m also still half invested in cooking a dinner, or often interrupted by a brother, a text message, or a trip to the bathroom.

When we were out together, I had nothing to do but be with Andi. It was amazingly apparent we need more of these times.

We were glad to come home, giggling and tired, and learn the boys had a good night at the movie too.

I don’t get it right all the time and surely give my kids a fair share of struggle with me as their mom, but I think the race on Monday and the date on Friday will be memories we all share that tell the bigger truth: we are a family who does love, adventures, invitations, and yeses pretty well most of the time.