Saturday, November 8, 2014

Living Life Together

In a recent conversation I was reminded that our girls are pretty awesome! It's encouraging to me to see how they've matured into their own right and become women young women that other people see and respect. Another woman made a comment in hopes that her girls could spend time with my girls, to perhaps allow them to have some effect on them. I think about raising my girls often and so I gave her my little bits of wisdom... so I thought I'd share with you.

Of note, the primary thing that we've done with the girls which was possibly unique (to our culture) is  basically what I would call living life together.  If we are involved in something like serving or visiting somewhere or helping somebody we bring our girls with us. Our girls are part of the family so they're part of what we're doing.  I know a lot of people who are in ministry whose ministry is separate from their children,… I don't quite know if I could've done that. I didn't do it and I and I never wanted to... In fact, I was confronted at one point by the fact that the kids were working with me in a ministry that I was doing as their presence was a potential distraction for someone else. So rather than find a sitter or some other resource for them I simply stopped participating in that ministry. Jake does things independently of us, and I will go to meetings by myself, but in those ways that it is possible, we serve together as a family.

Having a brother in prison, it would be very easy to keep the girls sheltered from that world, but we chose not to; they have been in maximum security settings right along with me. It would have been easy not to follow the Lord into short term missions, especially to third world countries, but we live in peace not fear, and so we have all gone. Living in a small town, it would be easy to shelter the kids from a lot of things. But, as I've mentioned in years past, we chose to intentionally visit the city of Portland so that they could learn such things as "how to cross a street" and "how to walk on a sidewalk" and "how not to be a rude jerk when you see someone different than yourself." We've gone to different churches, visited different types of people, and heard different stories - all the while living life together.

There's a passage in the Old Testament that I've kept in mind; I should probably just tattoo it on myself because I love it so much and I'm looking forward to a new tattoo:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."  Deuteronomy 6:4-99

I've always loved this passage because it is exactly how Jesus taught his disciples; he had them with him and did ministry with them, he taught them as they went and he shared with them as they went. He didn't just speak. In the living of life he taught them the way to live. It's a beautiful picture of the family!

(this passage is actually what prompted the idea for my tattoo on my wrist as a reminder not to concern myself with the things of this world but rather with pursuing the Lord -- Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26)

I'm a repetitive being, but as I look at my girls preparing for adulthood, I am really thankful that I was able to live life with them fully.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Haiti - Final Countdown!

The first half of our team leaves today, and Rachel and I leave in just seven short days! Time has just flown by yet we are truly feeling prepared and at peace to go :)

Thanks to the Lord for his incredible provision! At this time we are over half funded, and Rachel has a couple prepaid babysitting jobs to do when she is back. We were able to get our immunizations and anti-malaria prescriptions last weekend, thanks to a great local nurse who provides affordable missions travel vaccines at the Good News Clinic in Rockwood.


The team has a blog! I'm the blogger while we are in Jacmel, but there will be updates from the team heading to Carrefour as well, if you are curious: http://haitifall2014blog.wordpress.com

Ways to pray NOW:
Rachel is wrapping up drivers ed in the days to come. She has to take her finals early due to our trip, so please keep her in your prayers Wednesday and Thursday evening from 5-8pm. (her sister Emily will be doing the presentation portion of their final alone on Monday the 17th, and as long as that goes well, and Rachel passes her other finals, she will have passed drives ed!) Rachel also has classes to prepare to miss the week we are out, which  means the pressure really is on her!

I have found the Lord to be quite a teacher to me in these past weeks; learning much about dependence and trust in Him through car troubles and physical challenges. I am suffering from increased numbness in my right arm due to disc compression in my neck - it had been almost completely alleviated through massage/pt/chiro, but has returned with a vengeance. I saw a neurosurgeon and we are awaiting a new MRI to see what we are dealing with. I have confidence that this will not cause any issues in Haiti; it seems to be an issue primarily when sitting (at a desk or in my car) and in Haiti we will be doing everything but sit! You can pray that Providence (my insurance provider) will have mercy and grant me a second MRI this year! Other than that, I'm able to adjust myself as needed to keep the muscle spasms at bay, and I'm practicing the things I've learned through physical therapy. Work is going well and I believe everything will be just fine in my absence. At home, the rest of our family is prepared to take care of things (it does help to have three teenagers and a willing husband, along with a terrific extended family and friends!) My brother (Nick) is at peace about our trip (he is an inmate at CRCI) and we will be spending time with my mom Ellen this weekend (she turns 60 while we are gone!)

We have some last minute things to pickup and anti-malaria meds to take on Sunday, but otherwise, we are just readying our hearts and minds for the ways the Lord will use us specifically while we are in Haiti. May we be so available to His service home and away,

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Happy birthday Seventeen!

October 15 is the day that changed my name and made me mom. I woke up early this morning, remembering every detail... Walking from our apartment to the car, the fog that was so thick yet broke right up in a clean line at an intersection not far from the hospital, the roses out the window, how much better everything was when Shawna arrived... The pain and the stress, and finally, Rachel was born.
Seventeen now.

Christ follower. Oldest sister.




A senior in high school, majoring in fine art, with a love for children and animals (but not always the parents!) She turned me on to bbc, sixty seconds of science and the vlog brothers, and most recently, Sorted. 

Today is your day girl, let's eat some bratwurst, find a banana cake, and celebrate life! Happy birthday!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hard things

Time to talk about some hard things. Things like anger and bitterness... As I mentioned yesterday, I've had some experiences with people that have left me hesitant and unsure about other people, particularly women. 

I was only able to start making true, in real life, local friends after coming to grips with who God is, who I am, and what my life really is to be lived for. Only after I stopped chasing the approval of the world. 

Being hurt and wronged can make a person hard and unsure... I think that until I was able to release people I was looking to exact revenge somehow. 

Justice. 

That beautiful word. Justice. We use it all the time and usually we use it in contexts that it really does apply to. Things like human trafficking, and hunger, and persecution. 

Sometimes though, we use it out of anger against those that hurt us. And that's where I found myself for a long time. Harboring resentment and bitterness. Wanting things to be my way - my right way. 

Last night I was reading a book that I've been trying to read this year - it's a hard one. Written in 1728 by William Law, "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life" is an interesting and highly blunt perspective on how to live a holy life pursuing Christ. In reading it I found the topic for today... I believe he captures really beautifully the idea of the difference between desiring revenge and letting go of that desire... 

He writes "if religion only restrains the excesses of revenge, but let's the spirit still live within you in lesser instances, your religion may have made your life a little more outwardly decent, but not made you at all happier, or easier in yourself. But if you have once sacrificed all ideas of revenge, in obedience to God,  and are resolved to return good for evil at all times, that you may render yourself more like to God, and fitter for his mercy in the kingdom of love and glory; this is the height of virtue that will make you feel it's happiness."

Here we see again that if we let go of the things that trap us, and bind us, we are truly free to have a more full life - A life available to be used by God and to give him glory. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

This journey is my own

In this day and age, of Facebook and status updates and like, it can be difficult to find satisfaction in the audience of one. It's great actually, to be able to go anywhere in much of the country and know that I have a friend and we could get coffee or share a meal.

This way of living is something I least expected. In our early marriage with a working and college-bound husband, I spent all my time with the littles and virtually none with other people. I tried hard to be like other married with children Christian women I saw, but I couldn't do it. The girls, being a year apart each, didn't demand but really did need a lot more of my attention that I could share. And they didn't really enjoy children's classes and nurseries, probably due to the fact that since I didn't go out and didn't do things with other people they didn't know what to do with them either... But don't get me wrong, we were out; the girls and I spent many many hours walking and riding buses and traveling about the edges of Portland to get things done and to accomplish the things that needed to happen to run our household, we just didn't do that with other people. And I practiced attachment parenting, which had me using a stroller seldom and carrying the girls in packs or a sling frequently. Taking them with me places rather than leaving them behind.  Breast-feeding and cosleeping and really just a different form a parenting which didn't fit very well with the other women I met. There was a lot of baby-wise in those years...

I consider those early years to be pivotal in the reason why I struggle so much in living with an audience of one. Looking back, I did want to fit in. I couldn't put my family through the things that would've been required to help me fit in, but I really did want to. 

Thankfully, there were such things at that time as message boards online and lots and lots of books. So the girls and I did everything together and I made friends with a handful of people on the Internet. We chatted about our lives on a message board on the moms online network, encouraging one another, answering questions, praying for each other, and generally just being friends - without ever seeing one another face-to-face.  I don't even think that we had profile pictures when it first began... Maybe they can answer that question. This was way before Facebook, before MySpace...  these were the years of instant messenger, and you've got mail, and very simple flip cell phones, and dial-up internet - or maybe if you were super lucky you had the new DSL. We got DSL in 1999, what an amazing thing. 

This type of friendship helped me very much as I wasn't really even able to go to church due to the challenge of having some of the only kids that needed to stay in the cry room with their parents. 

So when we moved, and the girls and I made our way about this town where everything is slower and people aren't necessarily on a mission to get something done, I found I was able to start making friends. In real life.   

It was exhilarating, and it was something that I hadn't been able to experience since high school. Which is why, probably anyway, I initially had the maturity of a high school student. Fumbling about trying to make friends, trying to appease people, and generally not being myself. At the same time of course, being the mom to three girls and the wife of Jake, and spending time with my sister-in-law's who lived with us on and off, trying to help them mature and grow up to. 

At about 28, I pretty much crashed in every way imaginable. Not only was I blindsided by some crazy things in my life emotionally and mentally, but I was tired. It wouldn't let up!

Enter clinical depression which gave way to PTSD, and even though it was difficult I still tried to fake it with people for a little while longer. It was growing more difficult and my faith was sort of in a crisis. I was becoming very frustrated and upset at God, a theme that I had originally gone through 10 years prior, and of course not happy that I had to do it again. 

Thankfully I had all those friends that I've met online... Their friendship, wisdom, and prayer was critical in the next couple years as I struggled very deeply in my real world life.

But this was still via email and periodic phone calls, there was no social media networking website that would accommodate us. 

Enter the crash. There was a year in which the bottom dropped out and I was just completely devastated. Friendships betrayed me, my mind betrayed me, my body betrayed me and I was a wreck. 

I could no longer live anyway of my life appeasing those about me. I had to begin to live for an audience of one. I had to learn that my identity is in Christ, and I had to learn that I was created and I was planned and I was fashioned - that my temperament and personality and my strengths and weaknesses are all gifts from God to turn me into the woman he wants me to be. 

I'm thankful there was no Facebook. 

I'm thankful for a singer songwriter named Sara Groves who wrote the song which captures precisely the words that I keep repeating through this post...  this journey is my own. 

It's been an interesting journey, and I'm thankful I'm not done yet. And I'm thankful now to have Facebook, but only because I have a very well grounded concept of who I am. I'm thankful for friends in real life that have been there through it all and didn't abandon ship when I went off the deep end, and for friends online who I've been blessed by for 15 years - give or take. I can hop a plane and go anywhere in this country and enjoy a meal and conversation and come back home and share the pictures with everybody else on Facebook - and it's a wonderful thing! 

I still struggle with the competition among women, but honestly more because I don't see the value in it than because I want to be part of it. I want all women to find true freedom too! 

Freedom. This is the thing we are given, freedom. Not a freedom to be who we want to be or get what we want...  but freedom to live as the people we were created to be. Unique, with different likes and dislikes, with passions and talents that help us form part of the body of Christ - not a club - but a multi-faceted body with many members!

Now I live and I breathe for an audience of one.... this journey is my own.




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Parenting

So this is an opportunity for me to share all that I know about parenting.

Ready?

Okay here goes.... One day you have a baby, and you have no idea what to do.. and you just start to roll with it. You make decisions about things that you've never thought about before, and you do that on as much sleep as you can get. 

Repeat until the kids move out. 

So in all seriousness that's the gist of it, but I would add one note that I found to be the most beneficial thing our household....  parents, know your children. Learn their quirks and their temperament and their logic and their inquisitiveness. Learn what comforts them and what angers them ... Learn their likes and dislikes, their opinions, their friends, their shows, and their favorite food. Don't waste the very brief opportunity that you have with them young... Because when they're old, if you haven't taken the time, you won't be able to find it.

In the end you do just roll with it. Roll well!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Days

Last night I discovered I have my voice back. And before you get too confused, you have to know I'm not referring to my verbal voice. This is my sharing voice, the voice that prompts creativity and the written word and all kinds of fun like that. 

I've had no words since April, or, well .. a smattering here and a couple there but really no words at all... My mind has been rushing around while full and blank all at the same time. 

Instead of getting too frustrated about it, I rolled with it. I spent time reading a little, and spent time in silence, and I walked my dogs and I was home. 

Our family got along well this summer; despite having two full-time working parents, the girls seemed to thrive! They started finding ways to spend their time without us; visiting aunties and volunteering. 

Despite that, I felt an increasing level of mom guilt as summer wore on. I made sure to do all those things that I know are good, cooking with them and TV with them and reading them and talking to them and walking with them and yet… I still felt guilt. 

Just being brutally honest here. I don't believe in any way that is my job to make my daughters happy at every moment.  I also believe that they're doing quite well despite my failures and my feelings of guilt. 

Life in the balance. We are created with all kinds of things - skills and abilities, tasks and interests, likes and dislikes, roles and responsibilities... Sometimes two or more intersect in a way that is more like a collision. It's hard not to be bitter or frustrated or angry or upset; but if we trust that each season has a purpose and objective, and with the Lord as our king, we can do it. Here's to next summer and doing better and feeling less guilt. 

I still prefer fall!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Summer light fades...


I love fall.

I know its not officially fall yet, and certainly not here in the PNW - where we tend toward summers that extend into October - but, for me, waking up this weekend to cooler weather, knowing that the girls go back to school next week... I'm in fall mode.


Tedras Thai Peanut Chicken

Well that was a busy summer... I've learned a lot and now fall is almost here again!

I'm sharing a recipe today - a recipe from an amazing friend for an easy amazing dish!

Per Tedra:
Thai Peanut Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use crunchy)
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp curry powder

Combine above ingredients, marinate chicken in mixture for one hour. Grill Chicken.

(My Twist)

Cover bottom of a rimmed baking dish with chicken breast tenderloins - usually 2+ pounds (broiler pan works great.) Double all ingredients, spread over chicken, bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Turn chicken pieces and bake until the chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken and sauce with rice. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

*repost* Life... post trip 2009

Life is like a long term mission with short term trips that intersect the daily ...

(Acts 1:8; you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth)

Who I am?

Who are they?

Sarah was 18months old when we moved to Estacada, and we found a small local church to attend. The first Sunday my husband visited there was a mission presentation given by the team which and just returned from India. He left church that day with the thought that he, himself, would go. He didn’t know when, but he knew he would.

At the time, we had a stack of toddlers at home and missions trips were FAR from my mind. So far, in fact, that I don’t even remember their presentation! (I was probably hanging out with my toddlers in a classroom that day!)

The next spring, though, we prepared and sent jakes little sister out with the team. And the next year, Jake himself went. By that point Sarah was about 4, and we had moved out to Eagle Creek where we live  now. Jakes trip was very trying for me; I was frustrated and lonely and confused about so many things – I learned much about my dependence on Jake and how I had placed him above God in my life. Ultimately it was a very healing time in my life, and I probably wouldn’t have learned a thing if he hadn’t gone.

I was approached to consider going the following year and I was nervous, but excited, and mostly confident I was to go... We coordinated kids, schedules, and plans, and I was able to go that year (and the next) while Jake stayed home and our daughters spent time in the lives of other families!

The spiritual darkness that met me in India; seeing the poverty and hearing the words of those who have no hope, greatly impacted me and changed my whole perspective. First I recognized my abundance here at home and then I recognized that I want to be a world changer.

But I was stumped by the question “how can a mom be a world changer?” We typically think of “world changers” as those people who make it onto the television, or move overseas, or even just help their community rebuild after a disaster. Not so sure I am ever going to be one of those folks...

I took a step back and evaluated my role with my kids. By that time they were all solidly in Elementary School – we were involved in our local church and had done some things in the community with them to encourage their own ability to serve. I knew that I wanted them to have a broader perspective but I couldn’t imagine the way that God would teach it to them!

As we all prayed about the trip for 2009, Jake and I were confident that we were to go together (for the first time.) When we both applied for the team, we were asked to consider taking the kids also. To be perfectly honest, taking our kids was not something I had ever thought of. I was rather a bit shocked and I concluded, like Gideon, that God would have to do something pretty darn unique to let me know that he really wanted us all to go, because taking three little girls to India on a short term trip isn’t just something you do every day!

We prayed and began to prepare for our family to go. We had money to raise, passports to acquire, and arrangements to make. We were going as part of a team, so we trained with our team and I was very unsure about how the girls would really fit once we were on the road.

God is pretty amazing and gave us several clear signs that we were really supposed to go – We needed about $11,000 for our family to go – and it all came in (some at the eleventh hour) Our girls teachers were all very supportive and actually told them they would be praying for our family – a miracle in this day and age and a blessing to me as I think about it even now...

It all came together and we flew.

Our team was incredibly supportive, and our kids were amazing. The team carried the burden much better than I had ever imagined they could. I decided it would be best for me to strictly be mom on this trip, rather than taking on a team role – that is a decision that I am very glad I made. I was able to give of myself completely every day to the kids; an act of grace I still marvel at now, when I am spent but the day isn’t over yet...

I knew there were many people praying back home because, well, with three kids there are three different personalities, three different kinds of mischief each moment, three different picky tummys, three different possible disasters waiting to happen.... And yet, everything went incredibly smooth.

Looking back, I can recall some key things that were impressed upon our kids and family that have shaped my perspective as a mom to this day: One, the girls were able to see people they knew from home live out their faith in the field. They heard the testimony of the work of God in the lives of our teammates, heard the gospel presented, and saw our team work with the orphans and the strangers. They were included to do what only they could do best – being kids. They were encouraged to play and be friends, and that opened a lot of opportunities for us all!

Two, we were all reminded of the fact that God has a plan and he can work it out without any trouble at all. The gift of financial resourcing was not kept hidden from the kids – they both prayed with us for provision and saw it come through in miraculous ways. Our health and the opportunity we had to share the gospel also revealed the perfect plan God had for that trip at that time.

I spoke to Sarah today about the trip and asked her what she really remembers. Her response, of course had to do with kids and friends and food. But she also said, it makes me really think about how much I have. India is a VERY poor country and our kids saw firsthand how differently life is lived outside of  America. I think the ability to take the kids on a short term trip has impacted our long term mission in ways we won’t ever fully comprehend. They are your typical American kids, with an overabundance of stuff and the usual busy schedule. But every so often lessons we learned together in ministry in India come back in the way they behave, in the way they relate, and in the way they perceive the world at large.

As a mom, this entire journey (which isn’t over yet) has been quite an adventure. But it’s one that I  wouldn’t trade for anything. I realize that we can all be world changers – as it all begins at home.As for the future, who knows? The girls are getting older, and want to go back to India to see their friends and serve some more. Perhaps we will go again as a family. Or perhaps they will be drawn away from Estacada at some point as adults. But in the meantime, my ultimate goal as a mom is to impart who I am in Christ to my children; as I live and grow more Christ-like, my kids are watching and learning from my example and hopefully, learning themselves to live their life on purpose.

The great commission given by Christ to the Disciples speaks to us as women and moms just as powerfully as it did to the original listeners. Our “Jerusalem” begins in Our living room – we don’t even have to open the front door!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thirty Days

The month of June has thirty days... and June is the month of my birth, and roses!

Anyway. I've been silent and absent and learning a bit of.. well... you shall see.

1. my home is a space for little kids to jump on the bed
2. our bodies were not designed for desk work
3. counting calories is a way for this woman to gain weight
4. changing roles is very hard
5. practicing whitespace... 
6. stunning bits of clarity about the american faith tradition, which is so very different from my friends in India and Haiti

We are totally blessed in this new house. Every day I think of those that prayed and helped and I'm just amazed. What an extraordinary set of gifts we have been given! The open floor plan provides ample space for 30+ people to mingle, while the upstairs haven provides a place for children to laugh, run, jump and play!

The true reason for my silence and absence in the written and digital world rests on my physical body. I seem to be undergoing this thing called aging, and the exclusive toll thus far is to my right arm. Most specifically, my work has me at a desk for 8 hours a day, and so when I get home my shoulder and elbow are screaming in pain... leaving no room for any further use. They say its arthritis, pinched nerves,  and a bit of a problem with a rib. I say, cut it off! They assure me that would be a worse situation... so I have settled into a delightful routine of ice, rest, ibuprofen, and physical therapy. Can there be a worse situation for a reader and periodic writer?

I spent the month tracking my food and exercise, which I cannot do much of, due to the right arm issue mentioned above. Anyway, I'm humbled to admit that I gained weight while watching what I eat, and I'm now again rather done with that. Back to what I know, that which assisted in 85 pound weight loss... I must take an axe to the fast food, the restaurant, and the coffee shop. I must also ditch the soda. And... I must start making my healthy breakfasts and lunches each morning. Go Team black coffee and water. YAY!

Roles... routines... and everything in between! SO, in the house I'm adapting to the older teenager; we have three in high school in the fall. They are cooking for one another while I'm at work, and even cooking for me some evenings! The house isn't particularly kept as well as a homemaker would have it, but for a stack of teenage girls it is quite fine indeed! In the community I'm releasing some well worn shoes for none at all. I'm going to walk barefoot for a while as I see what lies ahead on this path. And at the office, I've officially given my desk away. My space of employ for 5.75 years, given to another. The tasks have been divided for the two of us and we set off at a run this past Monday. This change is the most scary for me.... It is difficult to allow someone else to do what you've done so  long... While working on new projects and growing in new ways. I'm still there, tucked in with a new view!

Whitespace... Here we dive into some things that are a little more personal and a little more about my faith. I picked up a book this past month and I didn't know what was in it. I'll be honest, I thought it was going to be a book about taking time to rest. Well. First let me say it was a very good book and I heartily recommend it: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening your soul to rest. I will say that in reading this book I was brought back to a stack of things in my life that I keep tucking back into the corners. They say appearances are deceiving, and I have to agree... Each of us puts on an appearance that we are comfortable sharing with the world, and over time, we can even begin to deceive ourselves. This deception of self most affects our relationship with God - who knows us most intimately... He knows the moments of our life that have caused us to wall off, to hide, to run, or to escape. He also knows the moments of our life which shape our understanding and beliefs about him.  I challenge you to consider cracking this book!

A final bit for today. Having done a bit of traveling outside of the USA, I often wonder at the beliefs and practices of the church. In both Haiti and India, spiritual warfare is understood and prayer for illumination and against the demonic is common. I initially considered the fact that, well, we go to this baptist church, and baptists are very low key in their faith practices.. but the more I read, the more I have the opportunity to stumble upon things that make me fall of my chair (if I'm sitting on one!) Here Goes:
It was Gerald Heard who said : "Newton banished God from nature, Darwin banished Him from life, and now Freud has banished Him from His last stronghold, the soul." I wish to introduce that, if for great numbers of our contemporaries the effect of Newton, Darwin, and Freud has been to banish the divine, it has even more emphatically been to banish the demonic. St  Paul's "Principalities and powers" - the "spirit forces of evil" whose malignant grip upon the souls called forth "a second Adam to the fight and to the rescue" - are now known, we are told, to have been mere apocalyptic imagination.
This may not cause you to aha quite as much as it caused me, when I read it in James Stewarts "A Faith to Proclaim" - but for me, it answered such a large question. Why is it that there is such a KEY difference between the peoples belief about spiritual warfare... ah... what the culture teaches the people! The influence of the church on peoples beliefs has diminished quite a lot in the American culture, when JS wrote this book it was still the church that did much teaching... and the church was all over the board in his opinion! But now, it is culture that teaches us, even though the church teaches us much... the culture sways stronger, so much that it is more common for us to fight for the truth of creation in light of evolution...  than it is for us to talk about the root of the issue

Thursday, May 29, 2014

the house that God built

The honeymoon phase is over… But the house is still amazing!

Sometimes we think, oh, surely… surely if I get this or if that happens… surely then I will be happy, we will be better, things will be lovely... but the truth is, we bring ourselves into every new and better thing!

Even in a new home, the issues we face are those we brought with us; off kilter schedules, differing opinions, unpleasant habits…

So, the true method is to greet each day with a new measure of grace. Grace for ourselves and for one another.


And be thankful for all of the places we are in, the new and the old, the challenging and the exciting. 

Truly grateful to live in the house that God built!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Oh mama where ya been?

This is what I'm into, what I'm up to, where I've been sort of update....

What I'm into… Well, our family has moved... The dream house is a dream and is no longer a dream.. it's reality!  It is a dream because honestly it is utterly amazing!

This is the house that God built. 

So what else is new? I am privileged to be able to take part in leadership training through my work and I'm excited because it will apply so well to many areas of my life, not just at work.

I'm dealing with some new physical challenges that are redirecting me from the computer... and dreaming of working someday with people. I am on a team that is developing a feasibility study for our area which will provide us some input for growth. If I have my way, I will spend my 50's and 60's running a community center and being a liaison between people and local resources, sharing Christ where I can!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

offering

Rain falls gently on the skylight as I ponder...

This is holy week. Today I pour out my alabaster jar and worship the risen Christ, not a dead god but a risen Lord.

Many hours, many days, many years... it has taken a lifetime thus far to reach today.

Our business here is to live right on, to be presently here where we are, fully attending to the things before us while always in prayer and worship. This is a tough thing, this living, uncommon and awkward. We prefer action and activity over it. We prefer to believe we have a lot of say in how things go... And so our living ebbs and flows..

Well, my living ebbs and flows. You may be a saint. 

But today, today... I will take a moment today to pause. Maybe a good long moment...

Pause to truly give honor to the one who gave me this life... this living before me.

I was asked last night what my life was like before Christ. "dead" I said. I have no other words than that all encompassing word.

And so I think about this living. This love, this grace, this wonder. This hope, this joy, this peace.

And I think too, of my pride, my selfish ambition, my lack of humility... so many words to describe my entangling sins flash before my eyes when I pause to celebrate.

They shout UNWORTHY...

They prick at my living and weaken my faith...

I know whom I have believed in... and he is able...

So I breathe deeper, draw quieter... Releasing all of me into the hands of my redeemer....
and weeping, pour my offering at his feet. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Easter, Christ, and the Cross

This is a post about love.

I have been inhaling some new-to-me books I bought which were written by James Stewart. His simple and clear language is a delight to me as I process through this season.

Easter is around the corner, and the blood of christ has been on my mind.  The blood shed by a king so loving that he shed it for me...  The nails and the sweat and the blood... each step saying, this I do out of love for you.. but do you love me?

I confess that many times I do not love Christ as I ought. I go about my days, bumbling and busy as I always appear, and I fail to pause. I fail to recognize the simple sweet reality that I am his.

Not this year. This year I have been mesmerized by this Jesus. Jesus, who in his very nature God, did not let equality with God to be his goal, but rather put on the flesh of a simple human... taking our form, walking in our world, being like us. Jesus, who brings life from death. Jesus, who loves us when we know not, cares when we cannot, and persists when we dare not.

This Jesus speaks to me. He says, come to me. Walk my way. Trust in me. He says, I know your world, your ways, your options...but my ways and my world are so much more... Don't fall for the trap that this is all there is, that there is no hope, that there is no future. Walk with me and I will take you farther than you can begin to fathom.

This Jesus. He drew a handful of men from the wildest of groups... giving us a first look at the church, with a tax collector working alongside fishermen alongside the rest... He didn't collect them from the proper realm; no, that would have been too easy, too much like the rest. He took those that couldn't see themselves and called them by name.

Just as he does to us.

Just as he did Paul - who says so many times that the love of Christ compelled him... Once Saul, once an adamant pharisee;  now Paul, willing to do anything to teach, to encourage, to share...

The love of Christ compels me.

As we draw close to Easter, let us not forget that it was love that paved the way to the cross.

Friday, March 28, 2014

you make known to me the path of life

I'm working on a small project that is due in early May. I'm meditating on psalm 16... Beginning with "Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge." and ending with "at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore."

I will be looking at perspectives and crafting a bit of my story...

In the movie "Life of a King," Cuba Gooding Jr plays an ex-con who turns his life around by learning the game of chess....

In my life, I play a woman whose life was turned around by grace and mercy...
Stay Tuned!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

untitled

Let us remain true to our commitments even when the world rocks around us.
Let us not fall to the left or the right but stay on the path which leads to life.
Let us drop our stones
Let us fix our eyes
Let us strike the match and shine the light.

I am so thankful culture is not God.
God is so much bigger, so much more powerful, so much more loving.
Culture is the little boat tossed about on the waves.
Christian Culture?
Yes, all culture.
There is one truth, one hope, one life, one way.
It crosses all culture, all people, all demographic.
Let us not forget this.

Let us hold on to the truth which we know.
Let us drop those things which entangle us
Let us run this race with perseverance
Let us fix our eyes...

It really is this simple.
It may feel like the hardest thing to do
To stay out of the crowd
To stay on the path
To persist when your friends are fading

~~~~~~~~~
When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
~~~~~~~~~~
 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.
~~~~~~~~~~ 

Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.” The man asked, “What in particular?”
Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.”
The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?”
“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”
That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.
~~~~~~~~~~
Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”
“Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’”
He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”
Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”
Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.
But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”
Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
“If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seventeen

So, today marks the 17th wedding anniversary of the king and I. Practicing my creative!
Even though seventeen years seems long, it doesn't at all seem long...puzzling...
Various wild and wonderful events have shaped us..
Experiences!
Now here we are, staring down the empty nest - in five short years they could all fly!
Things between us are pretty consistent - unlike those rough and tumble years
Experience has brought wisdom and a dose of maturity.
Encouraging and challenging one another to soar with Christ,
New things may come, but we know how to take them together.

Don't let this little poem fool you. The king and I have had a wild and crazy adventure getting here. In fact, Rashi, a jewish commentator on the Torah - seems to describe our years of marriage:
"From the time of creation, relationships between spouses have at times been adversarial. In Genesis 2:18, God calls woman an ezer kenegdo, a "helper against him." The great commentator Rashi takes the term literally to make a wonderful point: "If he [Adam] is worthy, [she will be] a help [ezer]. If he is not worthy [she will be] against him [kenegdo] for strife." This Jewish study also described man and woman facing each other with arms raised holding an arch between them, giving a beautiful picture of equal responsibility.
Yet, here, on this day... it seems as though we have learned a lot more than we anticipated, and we are a lot more stable than we should be. We still grumble and bumble... we are still human (and there are still daughters in the home)

Here's to the next seventeen!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Maturing

Me and my quirks...

So, Sunday marked the 21st year of my intentional decision to follow hard after Christ.

Yesterday also marked a revelation... I've hit my spring lonely spell...

I ready Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry over the weekend and realized that I long for the days of old, where a community would work and visit and live, all together... Surely there were a lot of missing pieces, there was no facebook, no twitter, no text message to keep them all connected. But they didn't feel that lack.. And when they were lonely, well, they would go on a walk to the neighbors and visit. It was enough for most to provide them encouragement to continue.

This isn't the days of old, but rather the 21st century.. and, considering what I just read in Real Simple "It sometimes feels as if the world is turning into one big meta-experience," I gather that I'm not the only one who might be feeling lonely.


There is a challenge I am facing as I find myself here...  Can I allow the world to carry on without me, and settle into the small, limited, private world of our town... or will I always be like the 3 year old who must stay the life of the party until way past her bedtime and then cranky and tired, throw a fit?

Learning.

So, 21 years is quite a long time, and in the natural world, 21 is considered a full fledged adult.

As I process this spring lonely, I am drawn to the word, to the life of David, who, for all of his activity and foolishness and sin, was a man after Gods heart.. David, whose very nature was a bit rash and excitable (sounds familiar) yet longed for the courts of the Lord (also sounds familiar) who knew the solitude of shepherding (solitude of long walks with my dog) as well as the noise and violence of battle (the noise and violence of my youth in the city)

And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriahs wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died.... Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own  house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, "What is this thing you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food?" He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again, I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."
(Second Samuel Twelve)
And so, I leave you with a thought. May we pursue Christ with fullness, in repentance, with our joy and sorrow, with our lonely and our busy, much like David. Fully living, in crisis or in health...

Monday, March 3, 2014

Brave

Being sprayed by a skunk is not something on my wish list. Asia, my lab shepherd mix, seems to be a magnet for skunks, as she has been sprayed twice this winter. As I stared down at her this evening, frustrated and alone, I knew I had no choice but to act. My options limited, I prepared to handle my 70# dog on my own. I shooed her off the porch in frustration, hoping she would just stay in the yard, but I think her already sad heart was broken, and she darted into the dark.

Asia is a pure black dog, and didn't come when I called. There is an acre of dark here, and so I presumed she was just hiding from me... I sped to the store to get my chemistry gear, the best ingredients you can buy to combat skunk.

Meanwhile, at my neighbors house... Asia appeared out of the dark, and I was gone.

I returned, not knowing what had transpired. I setup my plan for caring for her outside, and called and called... finally walking around in the dark with my flashlight and the leash. She had to be out there somewhere as the whole neighborhood was barking.

My neighbor came outside, "I have your dog!"

Relief.

I sped toward her, assuming she would be in the garage, but no, she was in her house! My neighbor smelled her, saw that I was gone, and immediately took her into her house and bathed her. This mountain which I was preparing to face had already been stood down.

*********

So what does bravery look like? I have to say it looks a lot like my neighbor tonight. My neighbor acted courageously against an obstacle that wasn't even hers to face. I want to say I am brave, but most often I'm the woman frustrated at the situation...

Bravery isn't something we hear much of these days, except in random sound bites and stolen bits off the web. But its something I believe we are called to, something we can be, no matter the circumstance.

In fact, as I was driving back from the store, I felt pretty brave. I was upset but I didn't sit down and cry, I was angry but didn't just give up. I chose to tackle the situation...

So I suppose bravery can even come from the frustrated but acting right anyway.

What a difference in the heart, though. My neighbor, without a thought, had bravery in her heart...

*********

I don't have an answer for growing in bravery, except this. There is a passage in the bible, the book of Hebrews, which describes a race. I believe we are in a race, to some degree, each of us. I've heard life described as a marathon, which to me sounds like a pretty accurate description! In this passage, we are reminded to fix our eyes NOT on the situation, and NOT on the people around us, but on the goal, the prize. The goal and prize of the christian life is christ-like-ness...  Becoming in our heart and character more and more like Christ, so when we finish our race, we join him at the finish line.

*********

Meanwhile, tonight in my neighborhood, I am preparing a prize for my awesome neighbor, because she met a goal that she wasn't even anticipating!  And I hope I  learn from her example as I continue on in my marathon, and continue to grow in bravery...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

That which sustains

Dr. Martin Luther King, in a very moving recording titled a knock at midnight, discusses his source of strength in the midst of intense persecution...
(watch the video, he is much better at preaching than I!)

Persecution.. Pain.. Heartache.. Sorrow.. Loss.. Love.. Joy.. Freedom.

All elements of every human life. And yet, we are encouraged and expected to press on, live life fully, as unaffected by these elements as we can so that we endure to the end.... And then we die... 

I suppose that is the basic idea. I know that when I was not yet a christian that was my idea. I really didn't know the purpose or the logic of living with trauma and heartache other than getting through day by day acting unscathed...

And then I became a christian, and my thoughts changed to live life fully so that I could give glory to God, share my hope with others, and spend eternity with Jesus. But still, the concept of pressing on unscathed was in the back of my mind... since my thoughts didn't change about my situation, now was I to pretend I wasn't hurting, or wounded, or angry?

In the book Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber, there is a passage which was a fresh reminder to me of the challenges we face...
So if Gods first move is to give us our identity, then the devils first move is to throw that identity into question. Identity is like a lip of a spool of thread, which, when pulled, can unwind the whole thing.
This brings me back to Dr. King - That which sustains... Gods promises that he will be with us to the end of the age... Never alone.

Back to the truth of scripture, that God is a keep about you, with you in the midst. That you are HIS, and that since he calls you by name, he will not leave you. Christs triumph over death on the cross which provides us with the ability to face even death with hope. 

There is a sunday school song on my mind now, a silly little kids song with some amazing depth of theology: I have a river of life flowing out of me... makes the lame to walk and the blind to see... opens prison doors sets the captives free... I've got a river of life flowing out of me...
We have to live like we believe this. This is what sustains. Not physical strength, nor money, nor power, nor any other human thing. Our identity in Christ and the truth of his resurrection power.

When we live like this, we will find joy and hope in each day, no matter the circumstance.

(thanks to Dr Paul Metzger for presenting this theme at the PDX Justice Conference 2014, and to Nadia Bolz-Weber for writing such a profound book)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Raising Money for our Dream Home!

This is completely an advertisement.
I sorted out a pile of my books to start the process of purging and packing - and came across a pile that I will be giving to our local used bookstore. BUT.

Before I do that, I thought I would offer them to you, my dear readers.

They are almost all in excellent condition, with many of the cookbooks unread! Everything below is available for a minimum donation of $1 each.  I will gladly send photos! I can ship and I can take a check, paypal, or you can use our gofundme to support this endeavor (gofundme minimum is $5) This is easier than half.com!

Food:
Once a Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg c1992
Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor Anne Byrn c2001
Weeknight Wonders Ellie Krieger c2013
BHG 365 Comfort Foods c2014
Fix it and Forget it New Cookbook Phyllis Good c2013
Soup Night Maggie Stuckey c2013
225 Best Pressure Cooker Recipes Cinda Chavich c2013
The Artisan Bread Machine Judith Fertig c2011
Mug Cakes Leslie Bilderback c2013
Betty Crockers Kids Cook! c1999
BHG New Junior Cookbook c2004
American Girls - Kirsten's Cook Book, Samantha's Cook Book, Addy's Cook Book c1994

Other:
What not to wear for every occasion Woodall & Constantine c2003
The Kids' Nature Book Susan Milord c1989
People in History Fiona Macdonald c2001
Harry - three book set Gene Zion
Amelia Hits the Road & Amelia Writes Again - Marisa Moss c1996
Samantha An American Girl - books 1,3,4,5,6 (and book 4 Happy Birthday Kirsten)
Madeline - Ludwig Bemelmans (four books)
Jungle Book, The (Unabridged Classics)The Mysterious Benedict Society books 1-3
Redwall Brian Jacques c1986
Seven Jen Hatmaker c2012
How to Study the Bible for yourself - Tim Lahaye c2006
Doctrine Driscoll & Breshears c2010
The Wind in the Willows - Sterling Publishing
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Sterling Publishing
The Jungle Book - Sterling Publishing

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

calling this home


I was determined to leave this place!

In fact, I was so determined, I drove around all of my favorite neighborhoods in Portland pretending I could live in one. I reviewed rentals, apartments, and houses, very discouraged but convinced that the right one was out there. I was battling demons left and right, between a too small house with a passel of teens, real or imagined walls about me in community, and an inability to provide the simplest of things to my husband - a car which would allow him to drive to and from work...

However, in the course of human events, some things are outside our control. Spaces and places grow upon us, like moss, and we can't shake them. Friendships fasten to our marrow and the very thought of losing them sends us out in a daze.

I'm a city girl. With a city heart. And yet, this small, not even quaint town has stolen my breath.

There are big city lights in my dreams and travels, but here I have dark back country roads and quiet farms to greet me. I have river and wood, dogs and friends, all to greet me day by day.

Lets not forget the fog. My companion in the winter, the clackamas river fog...

A number of years ago I had a debate regarding acceptance versus resignation. It is so easy to resign. So much more difficult to accept.

I'm afraid I will have to be content with the small catechism for my liturgy. I have to continue to kick the doors and climb the walls as long as I must to press on as the woman I was created to be. I'm afraid visiting dear friends on a good Sunday will have to provide me with the oxygen my lungs need when the limits are hit.

I've fallen in love with a barn. Its the silliest thing, a house in the shape of a barn on a lot the size of a shoe, and I'm in love. I'm in love with the idea of a neighborhood to greet each day, a river to wander with the dogs, and a home of my very own to share with all who enter in...

You are welcome, one and all. For a moment, an evening, or a limitless adventure. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

On Raising Girls



Early in my momma journey my mind went totally panicky. There I was, raising GIRLS! 

Girls.

Even the doctor’s office was apprehensive; they did three ultrasounds on my last girl, just to be sure. The very reality of three girls led many people to say things like “oh, wow. Just wait until they are teenagers.”  

Yes, three girls. 

Not only that, but they are incredibly close in age. In fact, right now they are 16, 15, and 13. 9. I added the point nine to be very clear about how close they are in age. Said another way, Rachel and Sarah are 2-1/2 years apart. With Emily in the middle!

Early on I knew that I had everything stacking against us. People are afraid of teenagers, teenage girls particularly, and since I am neither afraid of teenagers nor afraid of teenage girls I decided to give it a fighting chance. That and it has taken me a long time to grow up, so maybe I was feeling a little like a teenager myself at the beginning. 

Let’s tear this up a bit. I was nineteen when I became pregnant with Rachel. I had spent my teenage years on the sofas and in the care of friends, rather than family. I knew few people who were married, few of my friends had a set of parents at home, and I wasn’t married either. As far as girls go, I was much closer to boy; my first THREE closest friends in my life were boys, I got along better with boys than girls, and I preferred hard work to ease. I had done my hair the same way since 7th grade, wore little makeup, and hated shopping. I was, practically, the LAST person in the world equipped to raise girls. 

And yet, I love it. I love these girls, who they are becoming, and who I have become.  I even know how to put makeup on now!

So, to encourage those would be could be mommas out there, those that are desperate for some sort of encouragement with their passel, or some humor, or something to argue about, here it is. Here is everything I know about raising these girls. 

My first stop when pregnant, after I decided I could do this thing and told my fiancĂ©, was buy a book. Not just any book, this was the late 90’s and I needed to know what to expect! And then I wasn’t convinced so I bought another book, of an unremarkable title, but I did like it better. 

More stable, and full of caffeine from my lovely gig at a coffee shop, I went on through the pregnancy uneventful day after uneventful day, until I was just about ready to settle into the momma role when I dumped several coffees on a group of business people and their laptops. I survived, I think their laptops did too, but from that day I stuck to simpler things like vacuuming. 

And then, Rachel was born. And I realized that those books, well, they didn’t help me much with this BABY! So I did what any normal mom would do, I cried. There were more books to my rescue, and thankfully the internet in its antique form. How desperately I needed those moms online forums! How critical AIM was to my survival!

I quickly became a follower of attachment parenting. It made the most sense to me, then and still now, and while I wasn’t a 100% die hard follower, I did embrace a number of things which I think helped us get to where we are today. 

I found the encouragement I needed to breastfeed my girls, each as long as they were able. Sarah was the longest, as she was also my youngest… If I tell you I nursed her two years I would be lying; same with five. It was somewhere in there though, just to be honest. Rachel holds the record for briefest time due to becoming pregnant with Emily and some archaic medical advice. She survived her loss with no hard feelings, and is quite fine to this day! 

I loved wearing my girls. I had a sling, a front pack, and a backpack – I think I only used all three at the same time once! You see, I didn’t have a driver’s license until I was 25. Yes, I really learned to drive with three car-seats in the car!  Since I wasn’t the sort to sit about at home waiting for my husband to take me places, we did a lot of walking and taking the bus. Strollers were incredibly inconvenient and difficult to haul about. I have amazing memories of those years, and I really miss it. The sling was a staple for me until Sarah was four, at which time even using it to keep her on my hip became a bit much. 

We also co-slept, at times for comfort and at times for my sanity. By the time the three were born, there wasn’t an extra drop of sleep in the house unless it was attached to a baby. I will never forget the days of trying to get them to take a nap – Sarah was probably 2, and they all shared a room. I remember lying across their bedroom door flat on the floor just begging for five minutes!

Moving past those formative years (for all of us) I also did some things that I was chastised about, or that I complained about then, but now know that they were a gift. The girl’s shared one bedroom until Rachel was 9; and they have shared off and on since (as a matter of fact, they share a room now.) Much can be said about their generation… but one thing can be said that I know is true, all teenagers everywhere act like we encourage them to. To be both fair and clear, the girls didn’t share a room so I could teach them to be kind to one another, which is good because it hasn’t worked! They do share a room, and did so then, because we have never had four bedrooms, and because we have always had a houseguest of one sort or another – usually a family member or close friend in need of a home.  This is something I hope we were able to instill in them, an overall loving and compassionate heart. Depth of character is worth far more than being ultra kind to your sister every day, all the time (which I think will work itself out anyway!) 

I wasn’t involved in women’s stuff, children’s stuff, or anything that we weren’t part of together. I did try a number of times, when the girls were tiny. But in the end, between my incredible insecurities and their absolute loathing of all things “care” – we spent a lot of time as a single little hurricane of girl. This cost me dearly, as friends couldn’t understand, as I couldn’t understand, as the church couldn’t understand, as family couldn’t understand. But, as is so often said, in hindsight, it was good.

Have I overlooked anything? 

Hmm.  Well, not that I can remember!

So, here we are with a house full of teenage girls, with teenage hormones and all the chaos that brings. Here is my advice, taken directly from our day to day life, and not proven to work as my oldest has yet to move out.

Rule One – know your children. I was incredibly blessed to get to know each one as a unique person, as they are uniquely different. They respond, react, and behave very different from one another.  If I tried to parent them identically I would be completely undone. 

Rule Two – sleep. Oh yes, being tired is the common cause for their psychotic episodes - see rule one for help identifying other triggers. Encourage them to sleep when they seem to need it. Naps are cheap. And take them yourself, as often as you are able. A clean house isn’t worth your exhaustion. 

Rule Three – Keep a hidden stash of chocolate. Lots of it. Chocolate, surprisingly, works as well as sleep. Dole it out like you give treats to pets. Pop it into their lunchbox, surprise them with brownies. Brownie mix works great as a Christmas gift! As a perk, if you share with them, they share with you. 

Rule Four – DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY. I was privileged to have a couple teenage girls in our home when these three were tiny. Their impact was so helpful! They were crazed, and crazy, and none of it could possibly be my fault! I realized, hey – wait a minute – ALL teenagers can be like this, and it is often just directed at whomever (or whatever) is in view. So don’t take things too personally. They don’t hate you, even when they say it. This will pass, and the less personally you take it, the faster and better it will be. 

Rule Five – keep being the parent. I’ve learned to say bummer a lot. I don’t bother with the word no very often; it is an overused and actually inaccurate word. Usually they know a “no” when it is before them. They may ask some hilarious question, or demand something ridiculous… They will try; they would be fools not to. Shoot, I still try, and yes, I guess I’m still foolish! 

Rule Six – let them own their mistakes and pain. Oh, did one fail today, on a test perhaps, or in character? I will be really blunt and tell you that pointing their weakness out as anything other than being human will get you nowhere. They know when they have screwed up, and your dissection of it will create a bigger rift than necessary today. There will surely be a day to talk about it, and you may have to talk consequences right away, but don’t dissect in the moment. For the love of God, please hear my words. Teenagers, especially those about 13-16, are very attune to your words. And many already think they are one step shy of being a horrible rotten failure. That is all part of being a teenager.  This is another area where I use the word bummer a lot. Usually it goes something like, oh, how did you do on that test today? … Oh, you failed? Bummer, it must suck to have to retake it. Or maybe… Is there anything you need from me that you haven’t told me? Tutoring? No? Okay then. I hope it works out better for you next time! Let me know if you need anything from me. Be a truth giver, not a critic. 

Rule Seven – keep talking. This looks contrary to what I just said, but here me out. The only way you will have a next time to talk with your kids is if you talk with them all the time. If you don’t take the time with them, they won’t take the time with you. (Sound familiar to any other relationships?) Talk life, love, faith, hope, college, dreams, boys, sex, drugs, alcohol, gardens, seeds, pets, plants, friends, enemies, tv, music, games, books, anime, YouTube, food, cooking, parties, clothing… the list is long and could be longer.  Be yourself, be authentic, be real, and keep talking.  

Rule Eight – teach them to fly. By being real and authentic, you are showing them what life is. Practice your faith, rather than just exercising it. Do your best to love your spouse and work on that relationship to the best of your ability. Give generously, if you are a giver. Love freely, if you are a lover. Dance, sing, cry, smile… do all of these things and more with your whole self. 

Rule Nine – let them go. Give them room to fly on their own. My house is full of my girl’s art, our kitchen is easily shared, and my time is generally theirs. Rachel goes to an awesome school in another district; she really wanted to go so we worked together to make it happen. Emily has spoken often of her desire to be a doctor, and so we have been praying and seeking and she just made the decision to join the military. Sarah is sunshine, and just this year I happened upon a cool college program that sounded like a fit for her; it was so fun to share that with her and dream together! We started dreaming when they were each in the sixth grade, and it has been a fun adventure!

Rule Ten – make them do their own laundry. Oh mom, I know you are not really too busy to do it for them, but DON’T. They can do quite fine at 9 years old, and you are helping them prepare for LIFE. Trust me. Who cares if they shrink their favorite shirt because THEY forgot to take it out of the dryer? Who cares if they turn their undies pink? Contrary to all of your friends (and theirs!) it really isn’t a reflection of who you are and how you manage a house. Bummer is really helpful with laundry.. and you can un-shrink a wool sweater (just do it as a surprise, it makes things fun!) Did I mention it’s good for them, and for you?

Remnants…. There are things that can’t fit so nicely so I will just tack them here. Silly things, like prepare ahead of time to always have extra deodorant, feminine products, makeup, shampoo, and razors. Keep a small kit for yourself tucked away, because you may discover a desperate need at an awkward moment.  Stay young and keep light. Laugh. Dance. Sing. Teach them to drive, it is quite fun! Budget together. Pray together. Shop together. Gift together. Travel together. Eat together. Mourn together. 

Above all, love them as best you can, and know that they are being shaped into the women this world needs. Women of faith, of character, of hope.