Savoring Summer? (or not so much)

So how’s summer going for you? Are you pining for fall when kids are back in a routine and life seems a little more predictable? Or maybe you want Jesus to come before Autumn so you don’t have to go back to work or chillier temps. This is a good time to check in. These are the dog days of summer, are they not?

 

The other day, my son was groggily prepping at o-dark-thirty for his summer golf caddy job. He pulled on his crisp, freshly laundered, brilliant white caddy jump suit. (A clean jumpsuit is an important part of a good golf caddy gig or perhaps a good caddy tip). I like to joke and call it his golf “romper” to which I typically get an eye roll or four.

At any rate, he’s all “rompered up” and is putting his shoes on when he suddenly forms a dazed look on his face and sneezes….blood. As on a new, white canvas here was a fresh expression of his allergies and a hot, dry weather week. 

But isn’t that how it is when you have a perfectly good plan? You have a good idea and then the old bloody-sneeze-on-the-romper just throws the plan right out. Things happen every day that just keep us from our own control…our own plan…our own control of the plan.

And these messy distractions are moments when I ask: where exactly is that Clorox stain stick again?

And so it is in life…amen? A perfectly good plan ruined by….life uncontrolled.

You are probably like me: you have your plans and you even have a Clorox stick handy. And I’m sure you have had a moment or two of really trying to soak in that sense of “summer” because remember that we longed for summer during the dreary midwinter days?? But really settling into a lazy summer afternoon or truly tuning technology out is proving to be more of a challenge than I imagined.

Let me tell you about what this feels like from my perspective:  peacefulness is bumpy for me.

Parker Palmer says:

The soul is like a wild animal–tough, resilient, resourceful, savvy, self-sufficient. It knows how to survive in hard places. But it is also shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush. (from “A Hidden Wholeness”)

Last summer we were selling my mom’s house after moving her to assisted living. We moved ourselves after 25+ showings and major upheaval. And the fall felt very “new” because we were living in a new part of town, figuring out new carpools, and just generally creating a new groove.  And this summer, I just hopped into a full-time job and pretended like being even busier while the kids were out of school was a fantastic idea.

But sometimes the newness and the upheaval are places in which we like to sit and soak. Have you ever felt that way? 

Let’s face it, peace seems more like the very obligatory, nutritious side dish at a Thanksgiving meal (brussel sprouts) or maybe being peaceful is kind of like the uber-responsible friend asking you if you’ve had your mammogram this year.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I’m trying to learn new patterns of life without crisis…clorox stain stick in hand.

So back to the blood-on-the-romper incident, we did our best once the stain stick was finally located to clean up the mess… to make it less intensely…well, bloody. We did what we could. Sometimes that’s what it’s like when you’re trying to make the best of a hard situation. You work that stain stick magic and you move on, hoping for the best.

And as I dropped him off at the golf course, I saw an older gentleman pulling his clubs out of his car heading to the course. I say to the golfer under my breath, “Look for the adorable ginger-haired caddy! He may have a murder scene for a jumper but I promise he’s a good guy!”

Here’s to the rest of summer. May it be your chance to recapture a sense of peace, laughter and a funny Clorox stain stick moment of your own.

Megan’s Take: Man, the notion of “peace” in the summer often feels more like boredom to my restless troops. I really do like “peace” when it means kids are getting along, playing nicely and walking around the house with a general skip in their step. But I do not like “peace” when it means lack of routine which is almost as hard on me as it is on my kids. 

This summer we don’t have a lot planned. That means I have some kids (well really one) waking up at 7:00 and some not showing the white of their eyes until 11:00. That can be peaceful, but it can also be a bit disconcerting. Should I buckle down and blow the whistle earlier to get them moving in an effort not to “waste” the day? Or, should I just let their biological clocks tick on their own accord and just while away the hours until breakfast turns into lunch? Honestly, if we don’t have anywhere to go I mostly choose the latter. I can get a lot more “done” that way.

In some ways it feels ironic or uncanny that “peacefulness” would feel bumpy. I guess that’s part of the challenge and the beauty of summer. It’s all of the above. I really do try to breathe in the change of pace, because I know when mid-August rolls around and I have four kids in three different schools and sports schedules and homework looming I will long for the bumpy peacefulness of these days.  So, a I sit here at 11:00 a.m. typing with two kids doing math sheets, one still in bed and one climbing a 14-er with a friend, I just have to inhale and exhale the gift of the variety of it all.  I have to confess however, I am about to go blow the trumpet in the ear of the sleeping one. It REALLY is time to get up and disturb the peace a bit.

Holly’s Take:

I had no expectations that this summer would be peaceful.  I feel like my romper already had some ketchup, some lipstick, some grease, some kool aid, and a few other unidentifiable stains on it, before I even put it on.  Starting tonight, we will have all five kids for a full month.  While I am looking forward to having them for an extended amount of time, I am feeling a bit apprehensive.  When all five are in full swing around here, my emotional exhaustion runs deep.  I feel like I am on constant high alert.  I feel like a parent to three of them and a camp counselor to two of them, except not nearly as fun.  I think I am just going to have to get comfortable with all the stains on my romper, because if I try to clean everything up and keep it tidy around here, I’m going to go a little nuts over the next month.   

The Pet Badgering Predicament — What Would You Do?

Every morning for the better part of the summer, my youngest little cherub wakes up (WELL before her sleepy brothers and sister) and asks the EXACT SAME QUESTION: 

“Do we have any plans today?” 

Immediately I know where this is headed. She wants to see if we can go to the pet store because she wants (and I quote), “An animal that has fur and legs and lives in a cage.”

Before I go on, I need to confess to the greater reading public that I am and have always been deathly afraid of rodents. Okay, I know they won’t actually kill me — unless of course, said rodent harbors the hantavirus — but I seriously dislike them. In fact, I’ve had nightmares over the years with rodents as the main antagonists. So, when my pint-sized daughter wakes before I deem humanly necessary in the lazy days of summer and badgers me straight out of the gates (when I’m still rubbing my eyes and sipping my coffee) for a gerbil or a hamster or a guinea pig or any other kind of RODENT, I don’t usually have the kindest response. 

We already have the cutest Yorkshire Terrier that’s practically like having a real live Beanie Baby as a pet. Isn’t that enough?

  Need i say more?!
Need i say more?!

And I seriously thought I was a shoo-in for “world’s best mom” when I said ‘yes’ to a fish. Unfortunately, the baby Beta Senait paid for with her own birthday money and housed in a little plastic bowl on her nightstand didn’t last long. RIP, Lily. 

Now she’s going all Law and Order on me and seriously might be the next Johnny Cochran. Let me tell you, when this girl gets a bee in her bonnet she is a tenacious little pit bull!!  Here are some of the arguments FOR said pet thrown my way:

(a) They don’t hurt anyone, (b) They seriously don’t DO anything, (c) I already have a name for it, (d) Fish really don’t last long, (e) They’re not dangerous, (f) You know I have dreams about getting pets, (g) I want to be like all my friends, they have pets…

But the REAL kicker is when she starts laying down actual Biblical principles for buying a rodent. Like (and again I quote):

Mom, do you know the golden rule? Treat animals the way you want to be treated. How would you like it if you were stuck in a cage in a pet store with no family to call your own? Don’t you want every pet to have a home? Don’t you care about them??!!!”

Oh my goodness gracious!  She seriously just pulled that card? Yes, people. Yes, she did. And the sad part is, I really don’t care. About people, yes. Rodents, no. I’m pretty sure God designed rodents to live on their own. They shouldn’t be in a pet store in the first place, for heaven’s sake. Who was the first moron who decided that a field mouse should be a pet. I think it’s called FIELD mouse for a reason. There is no verse in the Bible that says, “God puts the rodents in families.”

Tears run down her cheeks. It’s very sad…(ish). She claims she’s not sad, she’s “worse than sad.” Cue the violins.

So, here I sit — greatly disappointing my darling daughter. All she’s ever wanted is a gerbil and I am crushing her dream. Part of me wants to laugh. Okay, a bigger part of me actually HAS laughed. But another part of me wonders if I’m being unreasonable. 

Honestly, I really do wonder if she wants her “own” pet so badly because she has an insatiable need to be loved and needed and really would love to have control over even one hairy fraction of her life. With three older brothers and sisters and two hyper-engaged parents, she doesn’t have control over much. 

So, here’s the question I have for you all — Have your kids ever “badgered” you for something? Maybe a pet, maybe something else. What did you do? And, how did it turn out?

Hey! I’m teachable….I may not follow your advice, but I will listen and respect what you have to say. 

PS — The rodent’s name would be “Sparkles.” And, little known fact, “We should not judge rodents by what they look like on the outside. It’s really what’s on the inside that counts. And do you know what they look like on the inside? They look like us — only smaller. And different. ‘Cause everyone is different.”  (Yes, that really is another Senait quote. You can’t fault the girl for trying! #FirstAmendmentForever.)

Christina’s Take: 

I must apologize in advance for being unable to address this in any way but sarcasm: 

1 – I am sure Senait will assume all care and feeding and cleaning AND FINDING of Sparkles, the sweet little lovey. 

2 – I have no doubt that this little darling new member of the family will be perfectly behaved and never be nocturnal so as to frustrate Senait by sleeping all day and running on her wheel all night.  

3 – What do you call a hamster with a top hat? Abrahamster Lincoln

Now for the serious part. Having a child that is a persuader is a very real pressure on a parents’ decision-making! I must admit that one of mine is SUCH a seller of plans and ideas that I often give in and the other is, well, just more laid back and therefore often doesn’t get “the thing” as quickly as the other. I suppose admitting my weakness is a first step? But I also see that “influencing” ability as a wonderful later-in-life quality that may serve them well! Love having a peek into this conversation of yours. Senait just makes me smile. Good luck, mom & dad! 

Holly’s Take: 

Would this be an inappropriate place to share one of my all time favorite quotes . . . “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”?  I say give the girl a rodent.  If it doesn’t work out, she’ll never know if she left the cage open or if you left the cage open, right??????  Actually, I don’t have any rodents here and my kids have wanted one.  I keep finding the furthest present centered holiday – birthday or Christmas – and tell them, maybe they can put it on their list and by then, the desire for legos or make-up has trumped the rodent (or lizard).  

It’s funny that you mention badgering, though, because I just read a little parenting tip that arrived in my inbox on that very topic.  My oldest girl is insanely badgery lately.  The advice was to tell your child that you feel uncomfortable with it.  I feel like a real tool saying, “I’m feeling very uncomfortable with your persistent questioning,” as if I’m some professional parenter, but it has worked lately, believe it or not.  

In summary, I can’t wait to meet, “Sparkles.”

Honeymoon=Stake in the Ground

I have so much to catch up on around here.  I don’t like to ruffle the chronology of events, but there are some things that are strong on my heart right now. I will post pictures of the wedding as soon as I get them, but until then, I will just say that it was exactly how I pictured “my perfect wedding,” thanks to my team of selfless, party savvy, organizationally advanced, friends. Now, onto the honeymoon and beyond.    

The surprise location was Maui and I can safely say that it was probably the best consecutive seven days EVER!  It was the most perfect place and the most perfect balance of lazing around the pools, walking up and down the beach, amazing food, and a few little adventures thrown in the mix.  However, the best part of the honeymoon was having all of the world and its stresses stripped away, until it was just me and Tony and it was amazing.  Between having five kids and crazy lives lately, we have never spent any length of time with the two of us.  I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but I found out that I had married the most perfect man for me.  We simply enjoyed being in each other’s presence.  We laughed a million laughs.  We talked and we talked and we talked some more, but never about kids, schedules, jobs, etc. . .  Who even knows what we talked about for days and hours on end.  

The honeymoon felt like a stake in the ground.  I can now say, without a doubt, that at the core of our marriage, there is something beautiful and strong.

The first week home was like an extension of the honeymoon.  I forgot how wonderful and amazing it is to be married.  

But before you start wishing you still had this passionate love in your marriage, don’t worry . . .  the honeymoon did not go much beyond a week and a half.  By the end of the second week home . . . the hard that I had expected arrived.  It’s like everything that was stripped away during the honeymoon came creeping back into our lives and suffocated all the bliss that I so recently experienced.  It’s kinda like we are living in a house with one child who has lost three parents, two kids who have lost their dad, two kids who have endured the bouncing back and forth between two parents for as long as they can remember, one who is finding it harder to move forward than she thought, and one who is experiencing rejection due to the other not moving forward very quickly.  Oh wait – we are living in a house with all that mess.  When the seven of us are together, the kids seem to do fine, but I feel like Tony and I take on much of all this stress and instead of become a team, we begin to compete.  We become critical of each others parenting and we also become very quick to be offended (that is most definitely more me than Tony).  I wonder how long it will take to figure this out????? 

I must say, that in spite of some tough reality, I have a lot of hope.  First, I find it quite easy to find the time and space to pray, right now.  When you need Jesus, you make the time and I love that.  Second, that time has been so rich.    Yesterday I prayed for God to be my teacher through all of this.  I have DVD’s and podcasts and books all about step families, step parenting, back pain, parenting kids from trauma, etc. . . ., but during the day, I can’t find the time to dig into them and at the end of the day, the only thing I really want to do is get a few laughs in during a rerun of Modern Family, while receiving my treasured nightly foot rub.  

So, yesterday, the very day I prayed that prayer, I made an unplanned trip to the pool, only so I didn’t have a mess to clean up at lunch.  My usual crowd was not there, which left me eating my lunch alone, until an acquaintance came up to talk to me.  We had gone to the same college, but don’t really know each other well.  She was one of those people who is not afraid to ask beyond the usual, “How is it going?”  and our conversation felt like a touch from the Holy Spirit.  I told her how I feel like nothing from here on out will ever be uncomplicated.   The simple life is gone, (unless I find myself kidless in Maui again).  She reminded me that God is walking with each of our kids individually and they will each have their own story of Jesus in their lives.  Pretty basic words, but I need these simple reminders to help me feel like life doesn’t have to be so complicated and heavy.  Freedom in Christ is so . . . well . . . .freeing.  And in addition to those words, she is going to try and put me into contact with a friend of hers who has walked my very road, but is many years past my wobbly state.  That would be a real plus in my life!

I know this is getting long, but I have to add one more story of how God is being very direct with me.  I randomly started reading through Joshua in the mornings.  This morning I laughed out loud about a verse.  God had JUST dried up the flooding Jordan River, so the Israelites could cross it.  The Israelites had JUST built a memorial to remember to remember how God miraculously led them. God had JUST brought down the walls of Jericho in a really cool way.  And then in Chapter 7, Joshua says, “If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!”  WHAT?????? How quickly Joshua forgot how mighty God is.  How quickly he wanted to be safe and plain, on the other side of the Jordan.  How quickly I forget the dripping bliss on our honeymoon.  How quickly I dismiss all that God has been a part of in bringing Tony and I through so much in the past year and a half.  

Now, I know I will write all this and within 10 seconds of Tony getting home, I’ll probably be annoyed by something ridiculous, because that is what I do sometimes. Nonetheless, I am leaning in to Jesus, praying for all our big and little people in this family, asking for a bigger portion of grace all around, and praying that Tony and I figure out how to live above all the stresses and circumstances and difficult emotions. 

Christina’s Take:

The part really strikes me is that after all the engagements and parties and weddings and honeymoons are over…you are still coming back to reality, to life. AND you see how Jesus and the freedom He offers is the key to finding your way through the craze-maze.

And I am always stunned at my short-term memory of the ways God is faithful, too! The people of the Old Testament, because they were forgetful, used Ebenezer’s, markers of gigantic moments when they saw the Lord bold and bright. They knew what I should know by now – that forgetting is part of the deal.  I think we write on this little piece of blog real estate for that reason. May this beautiful post of yours be a redemptive reminder on some random Tuesday when we’ve locked our keys in the car or forgotten a permission slip or something ludicrous and monotonous like that.

MOST OF ALL: I just love that you are loving marriage. So happy, happy, happy that you have that again. 

Megan’s Take:

Truth be told I more than a little relieved to hear you say that you and Tony had an awesome honeymoon and it solidified your love for each other!!  No “buyer’s remorse”  — that’s good! (Perhaps that’s the understatement of the year). I mean, I’ve always known that you all were in love and it would/will all work out okay in the end, but it’s just such sweet music to hear that you both are 100% in love and committed in spite of all the crazy (and very real) stressors.  

I’m guessing the memory of that honeymoon will serve as an Ebenezer to you in a way. I hope you look at those pictures of you splashing in the waterfall and watch the videos of the waves lapping and remember God’s goodness — even when chaos swirls around you at home.

I love how raw and real you are as you write. It ministers to us in our mundane and in our chaos too. And, FYI, we have a trampoline, a fenced backyard, and if all else fails, an Xbox, so you can feel free to drop any of those little hooligans off at ANY TIME so you can sneak away to reprise a bit of that romance. 🙂 Just sayin’……

 

Mom’s Wish is Siri’s Command

Ah Siri…how we love you, need you, hate you – all in one. You’ve heard about the guy that asks Siri (the IOS Iphone system) “Where can I hide a dead body?” and she answers, “What type of place are looking for? Reservoirs, mines, dumps or swamps?”

She’s a beast – capable of sending us to the right address, giving us the weather and disposing of the evidence. The perfect nerd for your wandering, wondering brain.

 

But Siri may have met her match – in my mom.

Guys, my mom needs Siri. But she also loves her! Mom cannot see well enough or remember well enough to dial a number on her own. Facebook and email remain unrealistic projects for her to tackle. But Siri is right in her wheelhouse. She and Siri have a thing going. She asks Siri everyday how she is doing and everyday Siri has a unique answer. She tells Siri to send text messages to her grandkids that are mostly bible verses and mostly sent VERY early in the morning (at least that’s what my son tells me). She asks Siri to play her voicemails and what channel the Kentucky Derby is on. But that’s not all, my friends. NO SIRRREEE, Siri.

 It's pretty common to see something like this on my phone. 
It’s pretty common to see something like this on my phone. 

Siri knows whether or not Cybil Shepard had twins, what animal Angora wool comes from, and the 2016 schedule for the Denver Broncos. She knows what day mom’s birthday falls on next year, where Quonset huts originated and that the Underground Weather App is really named after a historic group of revolutionaries.  I can tell you that the Siri on my phone has never had to work as hard as the Siri on her phone…because of the way her brain works, my mom’s brain, that is. Mom is always curious, always noodling, always churning about… something.

And clearly by now you can see that the things mom processes are boundless; trivial, earthshattering or mind-blowingly interesting. See, she develops habits with people…and IOS systems, it turns out. She isn’t calculating or manipulative – she is surviving. This is something she has learned to do through a challenging, difficult and interesting life path.

 Another common occurrence... 
Another common occurrence… 

The tables have turned swiftly in our mother/daughter relationship. She is dependent on me and so many others. She needs others for her quality of life. Through it all, she has fine-tuned the art of developing a rapport with friends that involves her cheering them on and them providing her with something (lunch, a ride to lunch, new warm socks, birthday presents for grandkids, or even a giggle).

She needs people and somehow they need her too. It’s soft goods verses hard goods (her intangible love, care, wit and wisdom and their tangible errand-running, advocating). It’s an interesting relationship. I asked her about it a month or so ago, about her new life, all the people in it. I asked her if she noticed that before her stroke she was rather introverted and now seems to be just the opposite. And she didn’t even skip a beat, replying that she was still totally an introvert and cherished time to herself….except for the fact that she needs so much help. So she keeps her friends and errand runners who are one and the same, very close by.

I realize as I type this that even if I’m sad sometimes about all that was and all that perhaps could have been. My mom certainly isn’t sad. She may be missing most of the function in her left leg and arm but she’s marching on with a troupe of lovely and willing companions – of which Siri just happens to be her newest.

So the next time you ask Siri to find a good Italian restaurant “near you” or if you find yourself asking who won the World Series in 1932, think of my sweet mama. She’d be tickled…and she’d want you to tell her SPECIFICALLY what wisdom flowed from Siri’s “brain.” 

Megan’s Take: This post puts the BIGGEST smile on my face!! That BB is cracking me up.  I love that she has this new companion. Perhaps she and Senait can throw down and see who can “out-Siri” each other. Senait can spend serious amounts of time asking Siri how she’s doing (or in my case “he” — I changed the voice). My personal limit on “questions asked” is THREE. My brain simply cannot handle answering more than three things about “how long it will take” to do just about anything.  But, Siri?  She’s non-plussed.  The only real flaw she has is trouble understanding foreign accents.  Kelel — poor dear.  I checked his iPod’s search history the other day (’cause I’m Mom and I can check whenever I want much to my kids’ chagrin) and I saw phrases like, “kissing posters” and “hot puppies” —- um, WHAT?!  I dove in and confronted the source. Kelel was super taken-aback, “No, Mom — I was looking for pictures of CUTE PUPPIES.” Ah. Right. Idioms are also lost on him. Have you checked your Mom’s search history? Maybe TMI, eh?? She is a grown woman after all….More power to her!

Holly’s Take: I’m gonna take a take on Megan’s Take first.  I might try handing Siri to my kids after the 100th question.  Siri may soon become one of my peeps, too!  Now for the real take.  I have seen how BB develops rapport with those around her.  One thing she held onto from her pre-stroke life was her charm . . . her genuine charm.  I have seen her rapport even with my 8 year old, son.  They kinda have a “thing.”  He visited her in the hospital a couple of times, before she began to regain her color, her vision of any sort, and her Barbara-ness.  He always had an uncommon comfort level with her and a special tenderness that goes both ways. To this day, if they see each other in the halls of church, they hug an unusually long, sweet, hug. 

I wish that Siri had a for reals emotional side to her, because I’m sure if she did, she would be the one tickled to hear from BB, with her question ranging from the daily weather report to the most obscure.  

What ‘Pitch Perfect’ Can Teach the Church

I recently re-watched “Pitch Perfect” — a movie that single-handedly resurrected the lure and popularity of acapella music.  (Haven’t seen the sequel yet so, no spoiler alerts please!) Yes, it’s PG-13. Yes, it’s a little unsavory, but at the end of the day, this movie is hilarious and touching and, dare I say, “aca-awesome”!

And, may I suggest, there just might be some insight and encouragement tucked away in this film for we, the church? Stick with me…

The premise is simple: 

Becca (Anna Kendrick) arrives as a freshman at Barden University. Her father happens to be a professor there so she has the opportunity to receive a tuition-free education. It’s fairly obvious from the beginning that Becca has no interest in going to college. Her real dream is to go to L.A. and produce music. Classic father/daughter disagreement ensues. He doesn’t “get her,” she is “unwilling to try.”

Professor dad cuts Becca a deal. She must let her guard down and join at least one activity. After one year of giving it the “old college try,” if she is still miserable he will allow her to quit college and help her get to L.A. Deal!

Becca sarcastically grumbles her way through the campus activities fair. Each group seems more nerdy than the first. The all-female acapella group brings on the hard sell, but Becca’s not having it. Claims she “doesn’t sing.” Of course, one thing leads to another and yada, yada, yada, she’s discovered after one of the “Bellas” hears her singing in the shower. Becca auditions with the classic “Cups” song and boom — she’s initiated into the “Barden Bellas.”

She’s found her group. Or has she?  

Several issues arise with this rag-tag group of misfits that drive the plot to its final (and ultimately happy) destination. Not to mention, they BLOW UP the message of the movie by drafting off the cult classic, “The Breakfast Club.” I always appreciate the old “movie within a movie” trick. Genius. 

I could go on, but I’ll get to the point. After watching this movie, I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between the lessons the girls learn in the film and the lessons we (and by “we” I mean ALL of us in the body of Christ) could learn as the church:

Belonging — Aren’t we all looking for a place to belong? A place that truly accepts us for who we are? The world is full of homogenous, affinity-based groups. Of course we will all gravitate towards people who share the same interests as us, but Jesus didn’t come only for the ones who look, smell, and sound just like us. He came for ALL. It grieves me to think the church might be seen by some as just another option in a world-wide activity fair — a super nerdy one at that. Another place among many where you could choose to spend your precious and all-too limited time, but may feel a little irrelevant to your current needs. In my opinion, church should be the ONE place everyone feels accepted. Grace and unconditional love is always relevant. 

How can we open our eyes and our hearts to help everyone feel like the “church” is someplace they truly belong? (Because that IS Jesus’ ultimate invitation — we belong with Him.)

Innovation — The Barden Bellas are a serious snooze act as they perform the same dated songs over and over. They become the butt of the commentators jokes. Perky, blonde senior, Audrey, has deemed herself the leader of the group. She barfed all over the stage in the previous year’s competition and she wants to prove herself to the world. She is controlling and unwilling to entertain new ideas. She would rather die on the hill of tradition than mix up a known quantity. Sometimes the church feels like that to me.  I’ve been a Christian since I could hold a crayon and there are times when I feel like the whole thing is just on auto-pilot. I sense there are individuals in the mix who carry an energy for “more” but sometimes the big group feels — stayed. 

I’m hungry for bold, new, innovative ideas. I want church to be a place where we can take risks, where we can try and fail and try again in an effort to see where the movement of God really is. I remember an entire PR campaign in our church in regards to MAYBE, POSSIBLY putting a drum set up at all services near the pulpit. There were serious snickers among the congregation as the promo video played. I remember people whispering, “Is this a real issue”?  Apparently it was. 

How can we create a space that welcomes and encourages bold new ideas?  Yes, Christ is still at the center, but I think even He would want to mix it up every now and again. Maybe even take “church” outside the walls of the church. Just a thought.

Vulnerability — The girls go through competition season spending nearly every waking moment together, rehearsing and performing and it isn’t until the very end that they realize the don’t even REALLY know each other.  The major breakthrough comes when Becca decides to let down her guard and humbly approach the team to ask if they’ll let her back in the group after a pretty good fight. She vulnerably shares a piece of herself, the floodgates open and everyone begins to share their stories with each other. I recently read an interview with author, Soojung Jo, author of “Ghost of Sangju” in which she was asked what she learned from writing her gritty new memoir.

She says, “The bland version of my memoir was okay, people liked it well enough, but the real version was amazing and people have responded so deeply to it. Likewise, the bland, pleasing version of myself is okay, but the real version is so much better. Does this mean I’m capable of being this true in real life? No, but at least I know it’s possible. It’s aspirational.” 

How can we create a culture of real vulnerability in the church? When we offer the real, stripped-down, sinner-in-need-of-a-Savior version of ourselves, well now, that’ll preach! And inspire and break down walls — you get the picture.

What do you think?  How do you view “the church?” Do you feel like the body of Christ is a place you “belong” or do you find yourself looking for belonging elsewhere?** 

** you can see we here at WIP don’t all agree 100% across the board. love it — these kinds of discussions inspire and challenge and, hopefully, pull us closer to Jesus as the ultimate guide. 

Holly’s Take:

I love Pitch Perfect and I love how “cool” Becca finds her place with a bunch of nerds.  Good, bad or indifferent, I think for the 20’s and 30’s age group, (and 40’s and 50’s for that matter) a lot of church groups are just that – a bunch of nerds.  I really love all those nerds, though.  I agree with you on churches doing their best to make people feel like they belong and I’m on board with vulnerability as the best policy, but I think being innovative as a church gets tricky.  You probably can’t make church as cool as the mainstream culture.  The harder you try, the more foolish it looks, (in my humble opinion).  Obviously, you want church to be relevant, not boring, not lame (like I’m sure that word itself is these days).  Jesus is certainly none of those things.  But how does the church continue to be innovative, while staying true to what it really has to offer?

Christina’s Take:

I love this movie franchise. Women of all sorts come together to make something beautiful! Is it an easy process where full agreement always happens? – negative, ghost rider. But that’s the way truly legit groups know they’re working through important stuff in a healthy way; there is freedom to express while the group maintains purity of vision. That’s how I view church on its best day. And if I believe I am part of the body, I don’t stand around wondering if I feel cozy with a sense of belonging. Instead, I look for places to bring my little but unique contribution.

For the record, I’ve seen Pitch Perfect 5 times and I never saw the Breakfast Club references in the movie – that makes me an “aca-awful” movie critic, I suppose! I gotta run – I have a sudden urge to grab my red solo cups and do “the cup song” with my 10 year old.

Holly is Getting Married! A Different Kind of Leaving and Cleaving

Over the past few years, Holly has blessed us all with her words and musings about things that unite us all as human beings — love and loss, despair and hope. Somehow she can get us to laugh and cry all in one paragraph. Reading her story helps us process a bit of our own. She has been to the depths of despair and lived to tell about it. Something about that ministers to all of us. If she can live and love again, perhaps we can (will) too — when the time comes. Because, one way or another, it will come. 

Well, this real, authentic, funny, relatable, fallible, beautiful girl — she GETS MARRIED tomorrow!  What?!  Praise God. This “beauty for ashes” moment truly takes our breath away. But, if Holly has taught us anything, it’s that every moment in life — the good and the hard — comes with its own set of feelings to process. And so, as Holly’s writing partners, we wanted to take a minute to process a bit from our point of view — perhaps those of you who love her too can relate….

Christina’s Take:

I would like to talk for a minute about anticipating Holly and Tony’s marriage. It seems to me like leaving and cleaving is an important part of getting married. But Holly has already gotten married once. This is a different kind of leaving and cleaving. She is leaving the land of being a single mother and a widow and transitioning into a new role. There will still be aspects of both single motherhood and being a widow that affect her life every day even after she’s married.

But I think I feel the change. I feel it in our friendship. These are good changes, but changes nonetheless. She no longer needs us like she used to. Of course, she needs us and we need her — that will never change. But the dynamic of having a widow or a single mom in our midst is shifting; she and Tony are becoming one. And so, naturally, the places in her life where we filled in the gaps are shifting, changing, ebbing. It’s like she and Spencer, Leah, and Macie are leaving parts of her routine and her community and cleaving together with Tony and his children. It’s necessary but, for us anyway, bittersweet. 

So we know friendships change for every different reason in the world. This change is such a beautiful one – I’m so happy to know Tony, but happier still knowing Tony and Holly together and seeing that newness. So my wish for all of us living into change is that we would really be present with one another.  Matthew 6:34 utters the question; which of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? and it also lends advice; let tomorrow be anxious for itself. 

Speaking of tomorrow – I am unbelievably excited to celebrate!! We’ll celebrate beauty coming out of the ashes & cut some serious rug! I’ve already got my dancing shoes on.

Megan’s Take:

I remember walking into the small waiting room the day that Dave died. The hollow look of panic behind Holly’s eyes, the guttural sounds of deepest grief coming from a place no one ever wants to visit. Those images will be with me forever. But so will another one… I will always remember how Holly’s community of people rallied. It was like some sort of primal supernatural spirit took over. Men and women came out of the woodwork to really take care of this woman and her sweet children. Emails, phone calls and texts flew back and forth coordinating everything from weekly cleaning visits, daily meals, nightly sleepovers, playdates for the kids, financial help — you name it, someone jumped in to help however they could. It was a most beautiful manifestation of “the church” in action. I imagine God looked down and said, “Yes! This. You all are catching a glimpse of heaven on earth.” True, authentic relationship grew out of the messy and the beautiful, the hard and the holy. Our community “cleaved” to Holly in profound ways and, if I may be so bold, she responded in kind. 

As Christina said, it’s time for her to “leave and cleave” to her new family. She must start a new attachment process. I remember meeting Tony for the first time. I was excited, but the Mama Bear in me came out for sure. I wanted to be friendly (I think I was!), but I also wanted him to know he was stepping into sacred territory. This was “our girl” and no one was going to mess with her on our watch. In fact, I’m pretty sure I said something like, “Tony, it’s SO great to meet you! But I need you to know, if you hurt her I will break your knee caps.” (Tony can verify the exact wording, but I’m pretty sure he got the message.)

Well, suffice it to say, Tony has met and exceeded all expectations. He loves her deeply and would do anything for her. We are grateful for that. But their new life together comes with change for us as well. We no longer need to guard and protect her like we used to. Tony is her protector now. Of course our friendship will stand the test of time, but he is the one she will go to in those most profound moments. As it should be. 

So tomorrow, as a community of people who love and adore you both, we release you to each other.

Holly and Tony, may your hearts grow and mold into the shape God has crafted especially for you. We bless you on your new leg of the amazing race!  Just don’t be surprised if you find us tagging on a bit along the way. 🙂 

Ode to the School Year; Saying Good Riddance and What's Next

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Dear Mr. School Year…Buh-bye,

Can we please get through the end of you, already? SHEEEEEEEEEEEESH.

and to You, Miss Summer…Hold your horses.

I have it on good authority that I’m not alone in this sentiment Please quietly whisper “amen” if you agree.

Because…

We are done. Cooked. Crispy.

I haven’t looked at a Friday folder since Spring Break. We’re throwing every tail end of every box of crackers and withered grape cluster in lunches. We’re offering buttermilk in place of milk in cereal that they’re pouring themselves. We’re shuffling our way through the dog hair toward the car every morning. The kids are signing their own permission slips. They’re telling their teachers we can’t drive for the last-minute field trip (and didn’t even need to ask us first…they just knew). We’re piecing together parts of uniforms with tattered hems and holes – barely even modest at this point. Mom and dad are half-heartedly AT BEST asking how to help with homework or final exam fact drilling. We’re tired of Ground-Hogs’-Day-ing it through the same drive, the same alarm clock, the same same same of the weekday grind.

 

 These are the fresh faces of my kids over 5 years ago on the 1st day of school. 180 days after this pic I can assure you none of us looked this put-together.  #jesustakethewheel
These are the fresh faces of my kids over 5 years ago on the 1st day of school. 180 days after this pic I can assure you none of us looked this put-together.  #jesustakethewheel

Let’s clink a glass to just barely eeking our way through the 2014-2015 school year, shall we? We’ve. Almost. Done. It. We’re close to the end.

But wait. Isn’t this really just the beginning?

…Of 80-plus days of free time? It’s like the school grind just gets swapped for the summer grind. Do you feel me?

10 weeks of:

* Do we swim? *Should we hike? * Where is sunscreen the cheapest? * Is (insert instrument or institution here) camp too expensive this year? * How do I manipulate my kids to read more (chick-fil-a coupons and shot-glass sized free Frosty’s aren’t cutting it anymore) * What if I have the nerve to work this summer? * What in the world will they do to pass the time if I’m not “managing” it for them? *

Yep, 80ish days of that.

Are you ready for that, friends?

So we’re at a crossroads, would you agree?

Say goodbye to the school year (HALLELUJAH) and say hello to the summer (JESUS I SURRENDER).

Clearly this was one of the pinnacles of our summer. while jack holds her “ears,” Audrey’s look says “mom, you’ve run out of ideas for the summer and it’s only June 2nd.”

So maybe it’s time for a shift in perspective.

If we’re between one thing and another – both with their own sets of challenges – maybe we could

BE FREE.

What if freedom from “the list” for the day released us from obligation? What if the checklist took a hiatus for all things unshackled?

Could I be free? Could I enjoy the quiet? Could I wave the white flag of surrender and actually treasure this new season?

Here’s my theory:

If I rid myself of the shoulds and oughts of “a busy summer”…..I win.

When my to-do list goes from action to presence, I’ll claim victory when the school year begins again. Really sitting in the “NOW” of time with my Bible in my lap and a kiddo to catch-up with nearby…now that has potential to be pretty sweet.

And I’m hoping for some strategic perspective from my dad. He’s been in heaven for over a year now and I keep asking myself questions that could be perspective-shifters like:

What would my dad have done differently in his life if he knew he were dying? Would he have made sure to finish the to-do list hastily scrawled on the inside of his checkbook? Would he have worked out again for the 7th time this week? Would he still be hand-watering the brown grass, weeding the petunia bed to perfection? Would he drive farther to get the on-sale-more groceries? 

Or would he have had another glass of wine? Would he have perched himself on the deck looking at the mountains a little longer? Would he have gone to bed later, preferring to visit longer after dinner? Would he have changed his pattern? Or was he too afraid to live outside of the pattern?

…and I’m asking myself these same questions. 

caught my parents enjoying themselves at my cousin dan’s wedding a few years ago. This is what i call the “wait for it, I’m about to make you laugh with my sarcasm” smile. summers need more moments like this.

So I sit here contemplating freedom. True freedom feels like a risk to me. A challenge to let go. But it’s risk worth taking as summer commences…

Maybe truly living means examining life half-lived. I’m thinking of taking stock, and taking the plunge into the NOW of this life right here. 

After trying and failing to describe this to my friend Dale, she gave me a poem about “Presence” that seemed to SAY the THING I am FEELING:

“May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.”

-John O’Donohue in To Bless the Space Between Us

I’m in for whatever that looks like. You? What’s your plan this summer?

Holly’s Take:

So funny, because it’s so true!  I hate to complain one more time, but just a couple weeks ago, my kids’ school announced that school is ending a week early!!!!  I can’t stop having a bad and bitter attitude about this.  It’s not supposed to be summer break yet!  Today is their LAST full day of school until after Labor Day!!  We can’t be in state compliance!!!  OK – I’ve got to stop and reread the second half.  I’ve got to just think about being present . . . in the midst of planning the wedding, getting married, blending families, tennis lessons, gymnastics, swimming lessons.  Wait! I’m getting carried away again.  This summer is looking way too long and way to nuts, but to aim for just being present . . . I think I can do that.  At least, once in a while. 

Megan’s Take:

Oh my, lands! I am seriously laughing out loud and shedding a tear all at the same time. Changes in seasons ALWAYS send me into a bit of a tailspin. Just ask my husband, he’d contribute a hearty “AMEN.” To be honest, I kind of “play along” when other moms say the “can’t wait for summer!” Yeah, me too. (???) I can’t WAIT for my sweet little cherubs to be around each one another 24/7 — their constant bickering is like music to my ears. Somehow it feels easier to live (you might read “hide”) behind the busyness of the school year because I can manage busy. There’s always one more thing to do or another event to head off to…. But summer?  So much freedom kind of overwhelms me. And what about spare time to write and exercise? But I agree with you — if I can shift my perspective and look at the freedom of summer as something to be cherished and absorbed, well, there may just be a little light in this tunnel after all. (I especially like the part about “another glass of wine” and “long visits after dinner.” Yep. I’m in for that!!)

A Letter to Birthmothers on Mother’s Day

On a day like Mother’s Day I can’t help but think of all the women who have birthed a child, yet no longer longer hold them in their arms.  Perhaps this is most likely and because at least two of those children live in our home. Though they did not grow in my womb, they now call me “mom.”

This is a complicated letter to write because motherhood is such a personal journey. We may or may not be able to pick you birth moms out of a crowd, but I know you are here, or at least you were at one point. Your physical body may have long since left this earth, but either way you remain with us because there is a piece of you in the children that live in our homes.

Of course, I don’t know all the reasons you are not currently parenting your children. I’m guessing there are as many reasons as there are mothers — each one different and beautiful and complicated and tragic its own way. I’m not sure if you lie awake at night wondering what’s become of the babies you once held close, but if you do, I’m here to tell you those babies occupy space in our hearts, too.  It still astonishes me that God created a world where we could be in this together in some way.

I need you to know that I, for one, do not take your proper place for granted. Admittedly, I can’t pretend to know exactly how you feel. I have not endured the anguish of relinquishing my birth children into another’s care, but in some small way my heart is connected to yours.  Your flesh has now become part of my heart. We are forever connected. On paper you and I may be quite different, but in fundamental ways we are the same.  We are two beautifully flawed individuals trying to do the best that we can for the ones we love. Sometimes that means holding them close and sometimes that means letting them go.

 Meeting Kelel and Senait's birth mother was one of the most profound days of my life.   Due to HIV and extreme poverty, they no longer reside in her loving arms...
Meeting Kelel and Senait’s birth mother was one of the most profound days of my life.   Due to HIV and extreme poverty, they no longer reside in her loving arms…

Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday around our house as I’m guessing it is in yours. Layers of emotions often mix into a melting pot of confusion as adopted children wonder where their loyalty should lie on such an occasion.  Sometimes they want to share memories or perceived fantasies of you to the exclusion of me and other times they want to keep the memory of you buried so deep inside it won’t see the light of day.  Even if the feeling seems buried, however, it will come out — maybe in respectful, sophisticated ways and maybe not — but, rest assured, it will surface one way or another. And when it does, I channel every ounce of God’s love that I can possibly hold because the waves of emotion often overwhelm the lot of us.

Whether we set out an extra vase of flowers for you this year will be for our children to decide. I usually offer this gesture, but more often than not I hear the response, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about it…”

Either way, however, your spirit will be here because I am committed to you. Whether the children want to “go there” or not, I’m committed to honoring your memory in my prayers and in my heart.  And I know, without a shadow of the doubt there is a place in their hearts reserved only for you. As their adoptive mother, this creates a tension in my heart as well. We often engage in the delicate dance of wondering just how much of our hearts we can share with each other.  We are “all in” and yet — the reality of you often determines the level of intimacy in any given moment.

It is an honor to mother your babies.  It is not always easy, but it is very good. Granted, they are no longer babies, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the memory of them remains that way in your thoughts. What would you want to know about them if we had the chance to talk?   I can tell you they are growing and thriving and succeeding and faltering. They are beautifully human just like us, in need of grace and a Savior. And many days they are the ones showing unmerited grace to me.

Every day I continue to get to know them just as they continue to get to know me. This journey of parenting children that were not mine first is one that has radically changed my life, one that I hold closer to my heart than just about any other —  and for that I am forever grateful.

So much of you lives in these children. You may be gone, but you are not forgotten. May God continue to heal and mend our tender, broken, resilient, redeemed hearts.

 Day 1.... July 2011
Day 1…. July 2011

About 12 ” shorter and 50 pounds lighter…Not me — him!

 Last summer... 
Last summer… 

 Pretty much yesterday... 
Pretty much yesterday… 

Christina’s Take: 

This feels melancholy to me – and I think it’s because I am often melancholy about Mother’s Day – my filter laid on this affects how I read it, perhaps?

Because say what you will about Mother’s Day being a marketing executives dream, it is a day in which every child must…encounter…make sense of…what it means to have a mother and/or be a mother. 

I love what Anne Lamott says about moms:

“The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat.”

This chain of mothering has saved my life and I’m certain it has saved the lives of my children on more than one occasion.

And I can’t help but think it has something to do with what you write, Megan, about adoption. We are all one big motley group of kids trying to figure it all out. And my hope is that we work on doing it together more often than apart.

Beautiful post from such a lovely mother!

Holly’s Take:

First of all, I can’t believe how little Senait and Kelel look in those first pictures of you all together!  WOW.  Second, you are a thinker.  You have looked at Mother’s Day from everybody’s angle –  birth mothers, yours, and Senait and Kelel’s.  I seriously appreciate that about you.  You help me to remember that there are different angles and other thoughts, other than, “Are my kids old enough to make me breakfast in bed, yet, on Mother’s Day?  I really should take it a step or 10 further and consider more of the possible complexities surrounding this day.  Beautiful tribute.  

My Faltering Heart and Macie

 

My first “writing in pencil” blog, started as an adoption blog, but when sifting through blogs over the past two and a half years, I can count on one set of bunny ears, how many times I have written about adoption.  Obviously, there have been other situations in my life that have filled this space, but I have found that everything else is easier to write about than Macie.  

It’s tricky writing about her.  I am incapable of writing to sound lovely, when all is not lovely.  Yet, she will likely read this someday, so I never want to sacrifice her heart, in an effort to be transparent and vulnerable, myself.  To this end, I have not written about her, until now.  And really, I think this will be more about my heart, than about Macie.  So, Holy Spirit, please come . . . as I write.  

Macie has been home for three very complicated years, as if her life before coming to the Aldridge family, wasn’t complicated enough.  She is a survivor.  She is a testament of God’s grace.  She is hilarious.  She is full of life.  She is imaginative.  She is absolutely beautiful.  She is made in the image of God.  She is precious. And last, but not least, the girl can dance!   If only these truths that would come to me when my heart and her heart are totally out of sync, which is more often, than not.  

 This was one of our First connecting moments in Ethiopia.
This was one of our First connecting moments in Ethiopia.
 Macie's First Summer Here.  She has changed so much!
Macie’s First Summer Here.  She has changed so much!

The verse that has been lighting up in my brain the past couple days is: I John 4:19  “We love because he first loved us.”  I have always thought of that verse as an instruction that we should love others, because, after all, God loved us first.  But I’m rethinking my interpretation.  I wonder if it simply means, what it says.  That we have the ability to love, only because God loved us first.  What if Macie can’t quite love, until she feels loved.  

Regretfully and sadly, I feel like I love Macie more, when she is obedient and kind.  Maybe you are saying, well, that makes sense, but it is different with my biological kids.  What this ugly pattern has translated to, is me desperately trying to get Macie to behave, so that I feel like I love her more.  There are countless times and even weeks,  that I feel like I could not love a person more, but my love for her changes like shifting shadows.  What I know, that I know, that I know, is that something is not right here . . . with MY heart.  

My priority has been to get her good.  I don’t want her teachers to have problems with her. I don’t want her friends to have problems with her.  I don’t want her siblings to have problems with her. and I, personally, don’t want to have problems with her. I want the best for her.  I so so so so do.  So . . . I will MAKE HER GOOD IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO!  Except, it doesn’t work.  

I come from some seriously great parents with some grade A parenting skills.  My sister and I are products of Love and Logic and my three kids are products of Love and Logic, but this form of parenting, as much as I want it to work with Macie, is almost exactly opposite of what I now know she needs.  I desperately wish that just more solid and consistent Love and Logic techniques would be the key.  I can do that.  I can enforce consequences, consistently, with a dose of love.  I can!  I do!  But it doesn’t even remotely touch the heart of Macie.  In fact, I can tell you with no hesitation that the stronger the consequence, natural, derived or whatever, the worse the mingling of our hearts becomes.  Again, what I know, that I know, that I know, is that consequences mean very little to her, especially in the long run.  Her need for control far, far, far outweighs that she will miss Disney on Ice or privilege of owning a goldfish, if she misbehaves. Typing that last sentence draws so much into focus.  Good Golly!!!!!  Of course, missing Disney on Ice is no big deal or being deprived of watching a goldfish circle in a bowl means nothing when comparing it to holding onto, what she probably perceives, as survival.   

“We love, because he first loved us.”  Love and Logic tactics sound easier than loving and connecting, in the moments where I am offended by Macie’s need for constant attention, whether through disruptive behavior or extreme clinginess.  But I’m learning, people.  I wish I had a guarantee, that if I take the time to love her well, to refuse to be offended by her layers of hurt, to connect with her when my patience is depleted, that it will pay off.  I hope that by making connecting more important than consequences, that I won’t be made the fool.  Where do I get the idea that love, connecting, and refusing to take offense will harm me?  Will harm her?  Will make me appear weak?  Will be ineffective?  Letting go of my parenting ways is so much harder than I thought it would be.  Why am I so attached to it?  There is even a little corner of me that gives attention to the lie that my parents will be disappointed with this new style, .  But, what is keeping me going, is that it is working!!!!!!!!!!  

 

It hasn’t changed her behavior, YET, but it is changing my heart.  I don’t really want to work this hard forever, but I can keep at this, because I am seeing more and more of Macie’s hurt, her tenderness and her preciousness.  And most importantly, I have left every altercation – even the biggest – FEELING like I love her to pieces.  (Don’t think for one minute that I am not worried that I just jinxed all of this work over the last 3 weeks by writing that last sentence).  

Induldge me, if you will with an example.  Sunday night, Macie ran to the piano, (after a series of small little altercations already) when I told Leah it was her time for practicing.  When I told Macie it was Leah’s turn first, she slammed the fall board of the piano down as hard as she possibly could. My blood was instantly at 5000 degrees.  My piano admittedly is probably the only earthly possession that I treasure way too much.  It was close to bedtime and what I wanted to do was send her to bed and tell her that I’m done teaching her piano FOREVER and that she may not touch the piano for the next six years.  These were literally the consequences going through my mind.  I thought, I can’t do it right this time.  I’m too mad!!!!!   But I gave it a try.  I had her place her hand onto mine, look into my eyes and speak with respect, which took no less than at least 10 minutes.  And before I knew it, we were talking, she was sharing her little heart, and my eyes were teary with compassion for her and our altercation ended with giggles and hugs and I’m not making this up.   Together, we came up with a plan for what happens if she treats the piano that way again. (That goes against the natural fibers of my soul, BTW).   She had some control in this plan, which she needs.  So, the point is, I didn’t go to bed that night, feeling distant and frustrated with Macie.  I went to bed loving her.  This may not sound like a miracle to you, but three weeks ago, I would have enforced a consequence that filled the “natural consequences” bill and just been plain tired with her behavior.  I may have even complained about her to someone, only hoping she wasn’t within earshot, but not even making sure.  Shameful, I know.   

After attending the Empowered to Connect conference three weeks ago from today, I have now ordered three DVD’s from their website and am ready to walk more confidently down this new path.  I seriously wonder how much this Empowered to Connect mumbo jumbo is actually a trick to change the hearts of parents, not change the behavior of kids from hard places.  Either way, I’ll take it.  Just look at this beauty. 

 Taken Just Yesterday after a successful hair detangling and braiding session.  That's no small task, people!   
Taken Just Yesterday after a successful hair detangling and braiding session.  That’s no small task, people!  

 

   Megan’s Take:  Dang!  My heart resonates with SO MUCH in this post — the beautiful and the hard. What I have learned (admittedly the hard way many times) is that parenting kids that come from hard places is less about “changing the kid” and more about changing me.  I cannot be lazy (or at least I shouldn’t).  It does a huge disservice to all of us when I try to control the situation and operate from sheer emotion and offense.  While parenting to connect takes so much more “work” and intentionality, the ultimate result/outcome is INFINITESIMALLY better and helps us all reset more quickly the next time. Because there is always a next time.  I am so proud of you for doing this — especially when the last two years of parenting have been by yourself!  That takes some serious resolve and grace, my friend.  I am also inspired by your reminder about Empowered to Connect.  Those resources are amazing and we never really “out grow” them.  The minute we think we have this parenting thing “in the bag” (for any of our kids) is the minute we need to shed that myth and ask God to equip us with new energy, creativity and desire for connection.  We will all be better for it.  We are all complicated creatures and being a parent keeps me tethered to humility — that is for sure!

Christina:

 I have not adopted a child. And I have not been to the Empoyered to Connect conferencey-deal. But I learned so much from this post! I really think the concept of taking the long-way-round to REALLY connect with people has gigantic potential to change the world. And so much of what I have learned in parenting is more about my own heart junk than about my kids’ heart junk. This is a beautifully real-time genuine peek into your heart and Macie’s. So honored to read and be personally sharpened by it. 

Worth A Read?

The Invention of Wings By Sue Monk Kidd

 

BACKSTORY

Not long ago I found a new way to read books (I claimed my sons’ kindle as my own after finding it at the bottom of his closet…under a bucket of shoes. #crazymaking)  I am now a library-card-carrying kindle reader. This way I have a slim little book with me at all times so I don’t miss an opportunity to read – I’m talking to you, thrice weekly soccer practices). I checked this particular book out from the library having heard an interview on NPR. I’ve also read previous books of hers like The Secret Life of Bees, The Mermaid Chair and When the Heart Waits.

Set in the early 1800’s, deep-south, this is a rich novel about true freedom set in a time period of brutal slavery and oppression of women. This is a little bit like The Help with its themes of hope in the midst of impossibility. I fell in love with Sarah Grimké, the 19th-century abolitionist and women’s rights pioneer, that Kidd depicts in this gritty novel. She’s complicated about many things except her desire to live life based on the Truth in her heart.

FAVE QUOTE

“Goods and chattel. The words from the leather book came into my head. We were like the gold leaf mirror and the horse saddle. Not full-fledge people. I didn’t believe this, never had believed it a day of my life, but if you listen to white folks long enough, some sad, beat-down part of you starts to wonder. All that pride about what we were worth left me then. For the first time, I felt the hurt and the same of just being who I was. After a while, I went down to the cellar. When mauma saw my raw eyes, she said, ‘Ain’t nobody can write down in a book what you worth.’”

BOTTOM LINE

This book awakens in me the desire to become a warrior for any under-helped, overlooked, on-the-fringe people I see. I am re-emboldened to make sure my daughter never underestimates the power of a woman’s heart to change the world.

#WIPSAYS

A MUST READ!  

Have you read it? Did you quit reading it in the middle of the first chapter? We’d love to hear from you!

Holly’s Take:

Christina’s never steered me wrong in the books she has suggested.  I have a stack of books on my bedside table, that are part of my New Year’s resolutions.  So far, I have read portions of each book, but have finished exactly zero of the seven books sitting there.  However, I have followed the journey of a few, on “My 600 Pound Life,” in case you think I just sleep my life away.”  Not impressed?  I didn’t think so.  I’m truly desperate to read, but I don’t.  However, this book will be added to my stack and I WILL accomplish my New Year’s resolution. I absolutely love books that awaken or renew new desires and if Christina says it will, my bets are that it will!   

Megan’s Take: 

That’s funny, Holly!  I’m fairly certain I have the exact same stack of books on my nightstand. I literally have SIXTEEN mean-to-read, wanna-finish books of every variety with book marks shoved in pages. I love Christina’s description of this book and the way she paces her review.  It really does make me want to read it!  I actually just checked it out of the library, along with some other, shall we say, “less sophisticated” books.  I wasn’t sure if I would crack the cover, but this review and Christina’s “bottom line” will hopefully push me over the edge!  Even just writing this, I now have some accountability, so hopefully I can answer the final question.  Maybe someday you’ll “hear from me!” 🙂