Monday, May 30, 2016

The Dead End Path

I've noticed a correlation between my children's ages and the decline of blog posts. The older they get, the less I post. There are book reports and baseball games and track practice. Life is on the go and the posting is sporadic.

But there's another thing. I'd been working on a series which, maybe some day I will post. I was hoping to get to post it soon but life happened. It's no longer relevant. So, for now, the series will remain in draft form, dear to my heart but not available to my seven loyal readers--and the one lurker who thinks she knows the details of Matthew's adoption and leaves hateful comments even though she doesn't have a clue. 

Sometimes we're faced with a choice. It's a life altering, really enormous, gigantic choice. And we're standing at a crossroads looking down each way, unsure of what to do. One way is straight and we can see the end and it looks fine. It's comfortable. It's what we've always known. The other way is the path less taken and we cannot see the end but there's a promise that it's great. There are risks, to be sure, but we are continuously told that it will all turn out wonderfully in the end. We trust the people on the hill because they tell us they've been there before and everything looks great up ahead. There is an emotional toll. There may even be a financial toll. Still, we choose that path. We take the step. We walk boldly in the direction we chose. Because we have to know what's up there...

Sometimes, that path was a dead end. Someone had removed the sign long ago and we thought we were headed somewhere amazing. When we get to the dead end, we're pretty livid at all the walking we did, pretty annoyed that we climbed a hill to nowhere only to discover that there isn't even a view from here, pretty devastated, wishing we hadn't paid such high tolls. We examine ourselves. We ask why we went that way when the other option would have been infinitely better. But we remind ourselves that we never had a map. It was anyone's best guess. And we know that if we had gone the other way, we would never have known what was up that windy, steep hill and we always would have wondered.

And so we are angry. And we are sad. Because life didn't work out the way we thought it would. But at least we weren't left wondering.

Some day I may talk more about this winding path. Until then, wait on me. There's no need to ask others as this was, more or less, a personal and secret journey and others do not know.

See each choice you make is a kind of a loss
Each turn that you take
and each coin that you toss
You lose all the choices
you don't get to make
You wonder about 
all the turns you don't take
-If/Then

Saturday, May 21, 2016

#boymom v #momofboys

There is a difference between being a #boymom and being a #momofboys. Hear me out. If you have one, two, or even twelve sons, but you also have a daughter (or twelve) you are a mom of boy(s). You have them. You inherently understand the incessant obsession with battles and bugs and tree climbing. You know about that sweaty boy funk that settles in around third grade and never really leaves. At least, not until they make their acquaintance with a lady friend who won't come over if the gym socks are strewn about, stinking up the joint. You commiserate with every other mom of boys who has no idea how she's gonna feed them in a year. Or has already accepted a second job JUST so she can keep food in the refrigerator. If you have just one boy to love and raise, you get it.

You get the snuggles. You understand the quivering lip when he's struck out one too many times and he just needs a hug even though there's no crying in baseball. You know the privilege of raising these sweet little stink bombs.

But a boy mom is something different entirely.

A boy mom doesn't have daughters. Not even one. And it makes a difference. We wear our hashtag boymom label proudly because there is absolutely nothing to offset the testosterone that flings around our homes.

When my kids were itty bitty, my friend was in the thick of raising her four children. She has three boys and a girl. She knows weaponry and air soft. She knows video games and how to interpret grunts. She told me that the only thing that saved her sanity was having that girl. When she was plumb sick and tired of picking 32 towels up off the floor, that girl's towel was hung nicely on its rack. When she'd had a day and the boys came in barreling over one another and seeing who could fart the loudest, that girl sat down next to her on the couch and asked if she was alright. When everything smelled, that girl came down the hall wearing Cucumber Lime lotion from Bath and Body Works. She didn't love the girl any more than those boys. It's just that when she needed a break from the grease and the grime, she took the girl to the mall or they got a pedicure. Or both.

She is a #momofboy.

I am a #boymom. Strangely, no matter how often I clean my toilets, when I get down at their level for a good scrub, my nostrils are infiltrated by the festering smell of pee. I can't find it. Everything looks clean. But my house will, apparently forever, reek of urine. It's not that a "mom of boy" doesn't have this problem, but she's also got a teenage daughter burning a Sea Breeze candle in the other room or a little one squirting tests of perfume on her dainty wrist. THOSE SMELLS BALANCE THE PEE, Y'ALL.

We boy mom's got nothin'.

We've got baseball bags with stinky shirts wadded up in the bottom. We've got dirt and snips and snails and puppy dog tails. We've got BB guns and footballs and athletic cups lying in the middle of the floor. We've got time snowballing toward the day they will walk through the kitchen with armpit hair, mumbling a one word answer about how their day was while they grab all the food in the pantry on their way to their smelly man cave bedroom.

And we have all the joy of these sometimes mama boys, these tiny men who cling to us when they're sick or when their pride is wounded, these bed headed little wonders who look like Tasmanian devils while they're awake but angels while they sleep.

The truth is that we love these guys--irreparable pee smells and all--forever and for always. We feel pretty proud of the fact that God said, "You will parent only what you are not. I trust you with this. Good luck and Myspeed."

But since we don't get to balance all that testosterone with even a few, blessed drops of estrogen, can you let us have #boymom? We'll just be scrubbing mud out of the carpet (again) while we await your answer.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Love Languages

I've always been a sort of love language naysayer. It's not that I don't believe we have a way in which we prefer to give and receive love. It's just that I find it hard to believe there are only five. For example, I'm convinced that my love language is a good back rub. Sure, you might say this falls into the "Touch" category but I could really care less if someone is snuggling me or holding my hand. So, at the very least, these love languages have to have sub categories.

"What's your love language?"

"Touch. Sub category: Massage."

Another love language of mine--I totally have more than one--is chocolate.

All that said, I see elements of the whole love language phenomenon that are completely accurate and I try to give love the way I know my family needs to receive it.

I'm actually Acts of Service. Troy could buy me gifts, kiss me, spend time with me, and tell me he loves me until he's blue in the face but when that man gets down on the floor and scrubs it clean, my heart goes all a flutter.

I recently found an online quiz for kids. Matthew is technically too young but we did it anyway. The results were shocking to me. Troy and I would have bet the farm--if we had a farm to bet which we do not--that Garrett was Quality Time and Matthew was Touch. From the time he was a very little tyke, Garrett has just wanted to spend time with people. As much time as he possibly can. It's obnoxious because regardless of how much time you give that kid, he wants more. And, when he was little, Matthew may as well have climbed into my body because he simply couldn't get close enough to me to satisfy his need for physical touch.

I hadn't really thought about the fact that, as he's gotten older, Matthew's need to be held/snuggled/hugged constantly has waned. Garrett still wants to spend every waking moment with people and, when I tested them, Quality Time was high on his list. But, I was pretty surprised to see that...my boys were flipped.

Garrett's top love language was Touch. I suppose I should have seen it. He's nearly ten and still wants me to snuggle him every night. He'll still kiss both of his parents in public. He wants hugs. He'll reach over and take my hand and just hang onto it. He likes to be near people. Don't get me wrong, Quality Time is incredibly important to him and I think I need to do a better job of balancing both of these languages when I'm communicating love to him.

Matthew's love language came out as Quality Time. He's a different bird. Garrett's personality is a lot like mine and it's not terribly difficult for me to parent that--on most days. Matthew is the oil to my water. He's very different from me and I have to take a lot of steps back to figure out what works in parenting him. When I asked him to choose between the two choices in each scenario, he favored the Quality Time answer almost every time.

Initially, I was just doing it for fun, but I've decided that I can really use this new information--especially with Matthew. So, while I don't think the Five Love Languages are gospel truth or anything, they're definitely a tool to be used.

Especially when I need the floors cleaned.

Friday, May 6, 2016

(Ir)rational Fear

I had this dream that my family lived in New York City. We never left the apartment. Well, that's not entirely true. We left as long as wherever we needed to go was within walking distance. We lived like hermits. This was because I had an irrational fear that Matthew would make it onto the subway but the rest of us would not. My precious seven-year-old baby would be doomed to ride the subway alone for the rest of his life and we would never be reunited.

Never mind taxis. They never came in to play in this nighttime reverie. It was as though they'd never been invented. Or, at least, it was as though I couldn't afford to ride in one. Fact. And truth.

In this dream, I finally decided (after briefing the kids on exactly what to do if we got separated) to take them for an excursion. This was because I really wanted to walk around The Village and I really wanted a Magnolia cupcake.

Fact. And truth. I always want a Magnolia cupcake. I live my life with the constant underlying craving for them. Not to make light of actual addiction but I feel like this is what recovering addicts must feel like. I mean, they have it much, much worse, to be sure. But I am living with the constant notion that I just really need a Magnolia cupcake.

Anyway, the day was beautiful and Troy was at work (I don't know what kind of work he was doing in NYC but he was off doing it) and I took the boys to wander around Greenwich Village and eat cupcakes. I woke up nostalgic for the city and, also, craving a cupcake even more than normal.

This led me to wonder how many moms have this fear of losing their children in New York. How many of them lie awake at night worried that the next morning will be the day that little Brooklyn or Bronx or Hudson or Chelsea will get on the subway without her. Or, the reverse horror, that she will get on the subway and aforementioned New York theme named child will stand on the platform, blinking, as mommy rides away.

And then I remembered that I thought I lost Troy in a foreign country.

There we were, exhausted from flying from Salt Lake City to Tel Aviv. I had thrown up all day (or night) on the plane (it's hard to know when you're over international waters and the sun is up but it's midnight where you're from). I was at the very beginning of what would turn into the worst sinus infection I've ever had. We were taking a train and then a taxi to our hotel just off the crystal waters of the Mediterranean.

Troy was carrying 17 tons of canned chicken in an army bag.

Our tour guide had asked us to bring over a bunch of chicken for our group's lunches on account of chicken being $6000 dollars a can cheaper than it is in Israel. So, along with his luggage, Troy was toting an enormous amount of chicken on his back.

As the train pulled up, the kids and I hopped on. Troy began to toss luggage in to us. People piled in and suddenly, he was out of view. The doors closed and the train pulled away. My senses were overloaded. I still felt like vomit--both as something I needed to do as well as a general description of my countenance. I was so tired I felt like I'd been inserted into a cartoon where everything around me was happening in real time but I was, somehow, in slow motion. I had both children, one of which was only four, a heap of luggage (but, thankfully, not the 17 tons of chicken), and no husband.

Also, I don't speak Hebrew or Arabic.

Thankfully, most of them do speak English.

I had no idea if Troy had gotten on the train. I had no idea how long it would be before another train came along. I had no idea how I was getting both boys and all of our luggage off the train by myself at the appropriate stop before the doors closed and the train took off again.

I tried to logically form a plan. But I was exhausted. And also afraid that I was going to throw up on a whole bunch of people in a foreign country. Do I throw the kids off first or the luggage?

"Where's daddy?" the oldest asked.

I didn't have an answer.

When the train came to a stop, the doors opened and Troy stood waiting for me. He'd hopped into another car, hopped out with his chicken bag when the train stopped, and was standing there, my night in shining armor, telling me to hand him the luggage. I handed him bags and kids and we were all safely reunited. We worked together like a well oiled machine. Even if one of the major machine parts was disheveled and probably smelled like barf.

And so, perhaps my fear of losing Matthew on a subway isn't completely irrational. Although, likely, I would never be in New York City heaving around 17 tons of chicken.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Repairs

We just dropped $2700 on car repairs. Now, that was spread out over both vehicles and we'd been expecting it and needing to do it for some time. Actually, we'd set aside $3000 so we were pleasantly surprised to "save" 300 dollars.

Still, this whole crud load of money that exceeded my entire paycheck for my six week long term sub job has me thinking about simpler times. Covered wagons. Horseback. WALKING! If only the furthest I ever needed to be from home was only five miles away.

There's something to be said for hunkering down at the homestead.

Maybe I'll move to Avalon and just buy a golf cart.

Or an itty bitty island in Indonesia where all I need is a rowboat.

I feel that these options are at least worth considering. In the meantime, I'm going to start saving $2700 dollars so we have it for the next set of repairs.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sonrise Baptist Church

At church last week, my husband talked about how our "measurables" are down. You know, the way we check to see if "business" is thriving. Are we getting enough money to pay the bills? Are our seats filling up with bodies? We don't want bodies for the sake of numbers. We want them because they represent individuals growing in their knowledge of Christ. We don't want the people's money because the church wants to get rick quick. We want it so that we can pay our missionaries and put on Vacation Bible School in the summertime and purchase materials for Bible studies. We would also like to be able to run the air conditioner in the summer and I, for one, really enjoy the heater in the winter.

Numbers are down and God is calling people away from this valley in droves, but we will remain faithful. We will serve Him.

I'd really like for everyone to take a half hour out of their day to watch this video. If you live somewhere else--somewhere less mission fieldy--please lift our church up in prayer. Please remember that there are many Christians faithfully serving the triune God in the middle of Utah and pray for us. If you used to worship with us but have moved away, please pray for your former church. If you have never considered church on Sunday morning, please come and join us. We are a family of believers who desperately want to share our faith and our Savior with you. If you already worship with us, consider attending more regularly, becoming a member, and/or partnering with us in ministry. We are called not just to attend church, but to serve.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Church Is Not a Number

We work in a mission field. We knew that when we took the job. It's the reason that, when originally asked where we'd consider moving, we listed all the states surrounding this one. Utah was the black hole we never considered. Mission fields are hard. Domestic mission fields get the added bonus of people forgetting it's a mission at all.

It's incredibly difficult to grow a church here. Especially difficult if you stick to the truth of the Word of God. If you don't water down your theology, if you call sin by its name, and if your church isn't located in the hippest or richest part of town, church growth is slow and challenging.

Our ministry is eight and half years old. In those years, we have watched as amazing, godly family after amazing, godly family has been called away from this mission field. Leadership. Sunday school teachers. Ministry team members. Board members. If we could round them all up from their new homes in southern Utah, northern Utah, Washington, Oregon, Texas and the like, and put them back together under our roof, our church would be thriving--numerically. They, coupled with our newer families, would create a dynamic that would be an encouragement to both our community and my heart, alike.

The concern, though, is that when families leave for employment or retirement or health issues, they need to be replaced by another family. If another family doesn't join the church in their place, the numbers decrease and this becomes a great burden over time. Refer back to how difficult it is to grow a church in Utah.

Last summer, our attendance was up. Our giving was up. I was swimming through personal grief and the encouragement I received at church was incredible. And then a few families moved. Our numbers are down. It is not about a number. I know that. But eventually, decisions have to be made. Tough choices. How to balance the budget. What ministries to do away with if you don't have the manpower to run them.

We have enough regular attenders that if they all came on the same Sunday, our church would be full--or, at least, more full. So I've started to pray that our "regular attenders" would be convicted to get out of bed. Perhaps they'll put on clothes and drive to church and come and worship with us. "Lord, let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as we see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25). Lord, bring our regular attenders and bring new faces, that we might impact this community, this valley, this mission field, for your kingdom."

This morning was the same as many Sundays since the fall. I had great joy in looking out and seeing the familiar faces that I love. But I missed those who have gone and I missed those who have not yet come. I looked out over the congregation as I sang with the worship team. A curious thing happened. If I opened my eyes, all I saw were the empty chairs. The empty chairs felt like wind and waves. I saw ministries cut and needs not being met for lack of volunteers. Panic began to rise. Anxiety gripped my chest. If I closed my eyes and focused on worship, I felt the presence of the Lord and everything else faded away.

Matthew 14:25-31
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 

But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

My Lord does not need me. He does not need my husband. He graciously allows us to be used. When I am afraid that somehow God doesn't see our need, He asks me why I have such little faith. We will offer ourselves as living sacrifices. We will not be conformed. We will endeavor to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12). We long to reach this land with the gospel of Christ. We desire filled seats because it means that more are walking in the ways of the Lord with weekly conviction. But we know that where two or three are gathered together in His name, He is there in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). We will continue to be a church that preaches the truth whether there are 500 people or 5 people.

To the amazing and godly men and women who were called out of this valley and into other ministries, we miss you more than we can adequately express. To the regular attenders and members of our church, we love you and your faithful service. Thank you for your partnership with us.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Take a Look. It's in a Book!

Awhile back, I bought a book for Garrett. It's over 400 pages long but it seemed like something he'd enjoy. He's always been at least a year above reading grade level and I was getting tired of his reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid over and over and over. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem at all with him reading the wimpy kid series, it's just that I'd like him to branch out and read something else instead of reading the same book 72 times. I'm a hypocrite. I've read The Awakening and To Kill a Mockingbird more than once twice I can count.

He read the first page and put it away.

Months later he read the first page again and put it away.

Last week I informed him that I wanted him to read it. I knew it wasn't too hard. I really thought he'd like it. If he read fifty pages and hated it, he didn't have to finish it. But I didn't tell him that.

He read page one. And two and three and on and on and on.

He reads 30 minutes a day for school. Usually he asks me after 10 or 11 or 12 minutes just how long it's been. Then again at the 17 minute mark. Again at 26 minutes. He's a good reader and he loves being read to. He just never really much liked independent reading. Unless, like I said, it was a book about Greg Heffley and his wimpy antics. One day last week, he asked if he could keep reading after I told him his 30 minutes were up.

Monday he had a 102.8 temperature when he woke up and he had to stay home from school. I was working so his dad stayed with him and worked from home. When I got back in the afternoon, I discovered that he'd been reading for a major portion of the day.

Last night, at 9:52 (well past bedtime), I went into the boys' room. I'm obsessive compulsive about checking on my kids to make sure they're breathing. This started when they were two minutes old and hasn't stopped. It's a problem because, well, when they go off to college or get their own place or get married, I am not going to have nightly access to their breathing habits. I don't know what I'll do. I'm looking in to a support group.

I bent down to check Matthew. He sighed loudly. Then I reached up to the top bunk. Garrett was heaped up under his blanket and I couldn't figure out where his head even was. Assuming he was asleep and buried under his blanket, I hoisted myself onto Matthew's bed so that I could better investigate whether Garrett was, indeed, still alive. I lifted it and discovered my nine year old, that book, and a flashlight.

"Garrett! It's 10:00 at night. You are not supposed to be reading. You're supposed to be sleeping!"

He looked at me like I was a moron. "But, Mom, I want to read. They just got sucked into a storybook! Please can I keep reading?"

"No. You may not. It's time to sleep."

I went down and told my husband that our boy's late night reading disobedience was maybe our greatest parenting win. I made him put the book away for the night but I couldn't be more proud of the fact that I found him ignoring his bed time.

He's reading the first book in the series. There are more. And I'm a happy mama. Bonus: he was still breathing.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Adoption Related Grief

I wanted a second child. I wanted more kids and, as a result of having both a good childhood friend and a cousin who were adopted, I had very positive experiences with adoption. Troy and I had talked about adopting before we were ever married. It was always something we thought we'd do. That said, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

We needed a home study. Check. We needed to choose an agency or a facilitator. Check. They gave us a list of things to do. Check. Then we waited. Check. We found out a month before Matthew was born that we'd been chosen. It was hardly enough time to learn all there is to know about adoption and adoption related issues. He was placed with us at birth so I naively assumed that we wouldn't struggle with some of the things we've encountered.

I've chosen not to share much about Matthew's family on the Internet because I want to be sensitive to them and, of course, to him. I've chosen not to share most of the adoption related issues that we deal with because I want to protect my son's privacy. But I do want to share what happened last night for two reasons. The first is because I want you to know that, while we have it really good, the struggle is real. The second is because parents approach adoption in a myriad of ways. What works for my family might not work for yours and that's okay. We need to be free to parent the way we feel is best. That being said, I firmly believe that there's only one wrong way to do this thing and that way is to silence your child's voice and to squash his feelings.

If you believe that they're never thinking about what they've lost, you're wrong. If you disallow them to share their feelings about their grief, you're wrong.

We fought for Matthew. It was a drawn out legal battle that pitted his father's wishes against his mother's. In the end, all four parents agreed that our home was the place for him. Looking back, that custody battle was the easy part. The hard part is navigating Matthew's grief. It comes in waves--as grief does. It's inconsistent and we go months at a time without mention of his sorrow. But when he's communicating his sadness, it breaks every heart in our home. And it should.

The reason Matthew shares his grief is because we've worked very hard to create an environment where he feels like he's allowed to. He knows we won't judge him. We won't get mad at him. He won't wound my mama heart by saying that he wishes he could be with them. He knows that sharing is safe.

It was easy when he was little. We told him his story and he knew he was adopted and that was that. We shared pictures with him. We told him what we knew about his first family. We talked about how so many people love him and that makes him very special. As he's gotten older, we've encouraged him to share his feelings with us, in his timing, when he wants to. No feeling is off limits. No question is off limits.

I believe that all adoptees grieve. It may never be overt. It may be relatively unknown. We all grieve and process things in different ways and I don't believe that adoption is any different. But I firmly believe that, in some way, what is lost is mourned*. For Matthew, at this stage of his life, his grief has manifested in a very precise way.

Matthew's grief is currently camped out in a place of desperately wanting both worlds and knowing that, for now, he cannot exist in them simultaneously. His dream come true would be for all four of his parents and all of his siblings to live together under one roof. As an adult, he is absolutely free to share as much of his birth family's world as he wants to. But, for now, we live in three different states. His idea of a shared home where we all live happily ever after is never going to happen.

Last night, he and I drove home from our church. He began telling me about a creature that he wanted God to make. As we talked, it became obvious that this "creature" was pretty much just a human baby. I pointed this out and he began to tell me that he really wants to be a big brother. He is a big brother because his birth mom has a little girl who is younger than him. He began talking about her. One thing led to another and soon we were smack in the middle of big grief.

I listened. I let him say what he wanted to say. "I know if I lived with them I wouldn't be able to live with you and that's what I hate!" he cried. When we got home, I let him punch a pillow and I held him tightly while he sobbed. Then I asked him if there was anything else I could do to help him. "I want Garrett!" he wailed. It was barely intelligible.

"What?" I asked.

"He wants his brother," Troy said.

"I want Garrett! I want Garrett!" he cried over and over. Garrett was in the shower. He begged us to let him sleep in Garrett's bed. Now, Garrett is a great big brother but he absolutely hates to share his bed with Matthew. This is because Matthew has historically been a tosser, turner, kicker. Troy went into the bathroom and explained to Garrett that Matthew was dealing with sadness. The big brother acquiesced to the little brother's request. Matthew immediately calmed down and, minutes later, fell asleep next to his brother--his non-biological brother--the only one who could make it better.

Why? I don't know. I don't know why Matthew needed Garrett last night. Apparently, the one who longs to be a big brother so badly, needed his. This is where he is sometimes. Grieving over the parents and siblings he doesn't get to live with, knowing he would grieve over us if the situation was anything else.

So I share this to say that I might not always care if my child is a genius or a sports star or the President of the United States. I might not even care if he pulls straight E's on his report card. These are the real issues we sometimes deal with and it breaks our hearts. We want to make it better and we can't fix it. Because adoption related issues are real. And understand me when I reiterate that WE HAVE IT EASY.

I also share it because I've seen more than one parent silence their child when it comes to adoption issues. I've seen more than one parent quiet the grief**. I want to know my child. I want to know what he's feeling even if it's sadness. I want to hold a pillow and give him permission to punch it. I want him to know that he's safe here, in this space, to feel it all. And I want other adoptive parents to give their children the same right.


*Please feel free to correct me IF you are an adoptee and this is not your experience.

** And, given the nature of Matthew's grief, I'd wager that every child in a divorced family feels the same way. We need to stop making kids feel like they have to choose a side.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Time In a Bottle

When I first started blogging, I always wondered why some of my most favorite bloggers seemed to be going really strong, writing every day, cracking me up with their hilarious stories of toddler mayhem and baby poop and kindergarten capers, and then, suddenly, poof, they disappeared never to be heard from again.

I totally get it now.

Our kids, the ones that provide endless blogging fodder, grow up. Mine are only nine and seven and, still, it seems like I have less and less to write about. Or, at the least, less and less time to do it.

Garrett is at that really awkward in between stage of not a little kid, not a teenager. I noticed this, in particular, on Easter Sunday. We gathered with friends and, at one point, Matthew was outside playing with a toddler and Garrett was sitting at the table, trying to fit in. I remember that feeling so well. I was the oldest of my all my cousins, the first born grandchild on both sides. I can remember my brother and my toddler cousins running around, playing, and laughing. I felt too old for them. And too young to be at the table.

I saw that in my son.

How is he suddenly too old to be playing with the toddlers?

This is why blogging slows.

Because there are no longer stories of poop being found in weird places. There are no longer ridiculous airplane capers or road trip mishaps due, solely, to the fact that tiny people are involved. Instead, we're watching them grow up at an alarming and avalanche like pace. We're running them in forty-five different directions for that practice or this activity or that club or this appointment.

I used to think the long days of babyhood and toddler time would never end. It's not that I wanted them to, it's just that it certainly did feel exhausting. "Just another hour until naptime..." I would think. And then, suddenly, they were both in school all day and our life revolved around spelling tests and math concepts and baseball practice and church activities.

And so I sit down to write and all I can think about is how short my time is with them. I remember their itty bitty feet and their chubby baby hands. I think of how fast it all goes and I realize that I have nothing in particular to say. Time is flying and I cannot catch it in a bottle, much less pin it to paper.

Friday, March 25, 2016

I Am the Reason

The cross.

I'm not going to lie. Sometimes, I forget about its magnitude. We can't exist in a place of deep sorrow for too terribly long. We can't dwell on the disaster and the beauty of the cross because it's too painful to confront the ugliness of our sin. 

I remember every Sunday when I look at it. But it's stunning and beautiful and reminds me of the hope I have, every day, in Christ.

Occasionally, I think of the horror. The cowardly arrest in a peaceful garden under the cloak of darkness. The unjust beating, the mocking. The mistrial. I think about the crowd calling for his death. The nails piercing his innocent hands. The blood flowing down. The final breath. The cry, "It is finished."

I'm angry at all the guilty parties who did such a horrible thing.

And then I see myself making the arrest. I betray Him with a kiss. I'm there, swinging the whip. I'm calling out insults. I slam the nail into His hand. I'm too far gone to even understand what I'm doing.

He says, "Father, forgive her. She knows not what she does."

I don't. 

And I do.

I sin without thinking about it. Nothing planned. Nothing premeditated. But, also, I sin on purpose. Because it's easier to lie. Or because there is twisted comfort in pride. Because I'll do anything to have people like me. 

I am the reason He is on the cross today.

The reality of that truth is crushing.

And I thank God for the victory of Sunday.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Six Weeks, Done

"Wemember when I told you that even if you sent me to my desk and made me put my head down, I was still going to be willy nice and help you out?" he asked, staring at me from behind his chocolate eyes.

"Yes, I remember," I said, trying not to smile.

"That was willy nice of me wasn't it?

"Yes, sir," I said. "It was very nice of you."

I said goodbye to my kindergartners today after six weeks with them. I'll be back on Monday in a different classroom--it's what I do--but today I bid this particular bunch adieu. I'm grateful for this job that allows me spurts of full time employment. There are things I hate about it, to be sure.

And things I love.

I love kindergartners.

I love their sweet faces, their ah-ha moments, their sometimes hilarious answers to things. I love being able to help shape them just a little bit. I love when they throw their arms around me and call me their best friend teacher. (Whatever that means.)

At this job, I loved being able to go see my own kids at lunch every day. I loved knowing that they were in the same building as me, just down around a corner or two. I loved seeing their faces when they walked past the classroom I was in.

No one ever says, "I want to be a substitute teacher when I grow up." It's not something one really aspires to. I usually don't even admit to it, but instead tell people I'm a stay-at-home mom. That makes it sound more like I'm choosing not to work outside the home and less like I have an $80,000 dollar education and nothing to show for it.

The thing is this. I'm not always a good sub. I have moments of not being the best I can be, of being frustrated, of wanting to tell them that I can think of a really good place for them to shove their math paper. But I try really hard to be a decent substitute teacher, to leave a room better than I found it, to return a class to their rightful owner mostly unscathed. And I think I do ok.

If you're the CEO of a major corporation--do it to the best of your ability. If you're just a filler teacher with an expensive theatre degree and no teaching license--fill that position to the best of your ability. And, in the end, you might get a bag full of candy and a thank you note from a parent telling you that you were fabulous.

And it might make your day.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Revival

Hello. It's me, Lori. I used to blog here.

Now I take care of kindergartners all day and then shuttle my own children to their activities and help them with homework and try to dig my way out of never ending piles of laundry. There's no time for writing anymore.

Which is really sad.

But, also, because it used to be my children who provided me with endless writing material. Now they're older and, while still hilarious, they don't do things like leave blobs of poop on gas station floors or adorably mispronounce words.

Sigh. I miss my babies.

But I love the guys they're becoming. Today, our church held a day of prayer. I was there for two hours and, for the second hour, the boys joined me. The three of us were joined by an older couple and we all prayed together. Both of my boys joined in and prayed for things and it was amazing. My heart swelled up to a great big epic size because, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 John 1:4)

I recently read a quote by Andy Stanley that says, "Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God might not be something you do but someone you raise." You guys. I'm pretty sure this revolutionized my entire life. I've always wanted to do something major. It's a restlessness inside of me. But then, think of all the men and women who are who they are because their parents raised them right.

I know that they may grow up and make a crapload of bad choices. But I sure don't want it to be because I was lame at parenting. If they make horrible decisions, I want them to have no choice but to say, "I don't know why I did that. My parents raised me to be better than that."

Today, my son prayed for revival. His words. He asked God for a revival. My nine-year-old recognizes stagnancy and inactivity and wants the absolute opposite.

In 1927, Baylus McKinney wrote a hymn. Its chorus:

Lord, send a revival,
Lord, send a revival,
Lord, send a revival,
and let it begin in me

This is my prayer as I raise these guys. Let the love of Christ bubble in me and through me and out of me in such a way that revival would begin here. In such a way that I would continue to teach my children to walk in truth. In such a way that my greatest contribution to the kingdom of God might be someone I raise.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Men in Heels

I own two pairs of heels. That's what happens when you marry someone who is one half inch taller than you are. Heels are the first thing to go. Today, I decided to wear one of my pairs of heels to church. 

My boys are obsessed with walking around in my heels. I have no earthly idea why. They think it's fun. It might be kind of like my childhood obsession with crutches. I didn't actually want to break my leg, I just thought crutches were splendid fun.

So, this morning, I had my heels sitting out and when I went to put them on, they were missing. I found my oldest son, the one who is nine and half years old, standing at the counter, brushing his teeth like this.

Ignore the plunger in the bathtub. You don't want to know.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Fame, Fortune and Phlegm

I know my life seems incredibly glam. Part time substitute teacher of usually little, teensy people who sometime's take their pants off by day, pastor's wife by...also day. It's the kind of life with a lot of fanfare and paparazzi. Tabloids write about me and gossip columns talk about my height and weight. It's a really enviable life. I'm working on my memoir now.

But, in the event that you think I'm some untouchable celebrity who never has to use the restroom and wakes up airbrushed (I know I certainly give off such a vibe), let me put your ridiculous perceptions to rest. You see, I'm in the middle of a six week stint with kindergartners. Those little germ buckets have already given me strep and now, just a week after finishing the antibiotic for that, I've got the beginnings of what is sure to be an epic cold.

My colds always start with obnoxious nasal drip down the back of my throat that prevents adequate sleep for no less than three nights. I used to try to just swallow the garbage down while I attempted sleep but this proved useless. So then I started getting up every two minutes to loudly hack up whatever crap I could and then spit it, teenage boy style, into the sink. Finally, I got the attractive idea to keep a cup next to my bed. I'd just reach for the cup every time I needed to dispense of my thick, phlegm infused saliva. In the morning, I wash the cup out and, hopefully, my sleep the night before was slightly less interrupted. It's worked well and I'm still married.

But only because he said, "'Til death do us part." He forgot to add in the clause that keeping a spit cup next to one's head would also be grounds for divorce.

So, last night, I propped myself up on THREE pillows and tried to settle in for the night. Next to me, a child's green Veggie Tales cup waited for what was sure to be a wild night. A half hour later, it had collected quite a volume of nasal drip because honestly, I'm awfully attractive and not at all disgusting. I was exhausted and groggy. I hacked up an unhealthy amount of phlegm and then set the cup back on my night stand.

Or did I?

Suddenly, I heard a plop.

I quickly switched on my lamp. There stood my cup, upside down, inside my purse, which I happen to keep right in front of my nightstand. I picked up the cup and sighed loudly when I surveyed it's emptiness. I walked briskly to the bathroom and flipped on the light. I pulled items from my purse.

Checkbook. Covered in a long string of (thankfully) clear phlegm.

Chapstick. Covered.

Glasses case. Covered.

No less than six pens. All slimed.

And a pool of spit was collected at the bottom.

"Uggggg!" I moaned. This never would have happened if I was using my theatre degree for actual theatre instead of for pretending that I'm a kindergarten teacher. Because if I wasn't pretending to be a kindergarten teacher, I wouldn't be subjected to these super germs being carried around on the grubby hands of (albeit adorable) little people.

Ten minutes later I'd managed to clean out my purse and wash my items free of fluid. It was a disgusting job but someone had to do it. (And, really, who on earth else would have washed MY spit out of MY purse?)

So, you see, being a pastor's wife and substitute teacher is not all the fame and fortune and paparazzi and glamour that it looks like on the outside. Sometimes, it's an upside down phlegm cup in a purse.