Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Song Lyrics

After several hard weeks of being sick, endless cloudy days and generally feeling like a failure in every sphere of my life I found myself in a hot bubble bath with a glass of wine. I was crying and praying. (My mom's trifecta for problem solving: prayer, hot bath and wine.) And there were lyrics of a song that just stuck in my mind that I felt God was whispering to me. It wasn't a popular praise and worship song or a hymn. It was "Your Mess is Mine" by Vance Joy.

Hold on my darling.
This mess was yours.
Now your mess is mine. 
Your mess is mine. 

And what I felt Him speak to my hurting heart was that He loved me and all my mess. And to bring it to Him.
The inability to breathe and the low grade fever.
The frustration over my beautiful boy turned smart alec.
The sadness I can't shake off.
The heartbreak and pain brought on by trying to love others in hard places.

He wants all of that. And while it won't all go away isn't it great to know He wants all of it?

Now I am currently trying to handle my stress with exercise and better rest and some sunshine. And one of my totally cool power ballads I like to sweat to is "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis.

My heart's crippled by the vein I keep on closing
You cut me open and I 
Keep bleeding. Keep keep bleeding love. 

A long time ago I asked God to let me see with His eyes the way He sees people. I prayed to love like Him. I didn't really understand what that would look like. And how my heart for those on the edges would grow. But what I didn't understand was how much pain that love would allow in. So that every time I say yes to loving others, I also say yes to the hurt of empathizing, shouldering burdens, emotional attachment to kids who leave or who don't chose the best road, to the weight of problems I can't fix. Sometimes I want to badly to go back to the days before I asked for eyes to see and a heart to love, when I lived in my little garden home with a fenced in yard and where my job was just a means to buying my babies food, toys and the occasional smocked outfit. But when the Lord granted that naive request for a new heart He gave me an assignment. He gave me a neighborhood of the most amazing people and a job where the teaching is secondary to loving teenagers who sometimes find it really hard to love themselves. He asks me to stand for them and be a messenger of hope to those who find hopelessness hard to shake off and He asks me to love them well. That means putting one foot in front of the other down on the pavement and keep bleeding love. It also means bringing Him my mess. All the good days, terribly gone wrong days, the confused days, the funny days. All the messy wonderful days.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Greatest Compliment

Teachers love their students. You can scroll through the #armmewith on Instagram and see how passionate this group of people are about their students and their jobs.

Teachers love the hand raisers and the line leaders. We love the ones that make us laugh and the one who can be a bit unpredictable, the ones that keep us on our toes. Teachers love the kind ones and the ones who try really hard and the ones who don't have to try at all. Teachers love the ones who sit on the back row and the ones who doddle in all of the margins. We love the ones who talk all the time and the ones who barely speak. Teachers love the confident ones who know exactly who they are and we love the ones who are still figuring it out.

We know we aren't supposed to have favorites but sometimes we can't help it. There is always that one kid who makes us worry after hours. The one we take home in our hearts and in our prayers. The one that we may not be able to help. The one who takes extra energy. Really good teachers really love those ones.  The hungry ones. The angry ones. The ones who smell a little funky. The ones who have attitude. And it can be hard to do. And sometimes it hurts. And it can be heavy.

This week a kind-hearted aspiring administrator was assigned to shadow and learn from our principal. And what a week. She had a front row seat to our wonderful crazy as we are knee deep in high stakes test prep and heightened security measures. She threw herself right into the metal detectors, teacher complaints,late buses, bag checks, ACT boot camp, classroom visits, crisis managing, student consoling and or counseling, lunchroom food, substitute shortages, spring temperature dress code violations and all the things in between.

On her last afternoon with us she with us she gave us the absolute best compliment. As she was saying goodbye, she thanked us and said that she admired what we do here and said "You can tell the love is genuine and there is so much of it."  It was the best compliment my teacher heart has ever gotten.  Her sweet words this week served as a confirmation for me and the rest of our leadership team of the work God has assigned us to, that He sees us loving His people well, and He is with us while we do it.  What more could we ask?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The TEN Year Old

My Noah turned ten today! 

I can barely believe this to be true. It seems like only yesterday he was taking his first steps and reaching for me with his tiny hands. 

Noah had grown very independent these days. He still loves soccer and football. He still pretends and reads and asks lots of his wonderful questions. He has added Minecraft and hair gel to his repertoire. 

He has been gifted with many unique qualities, a special curiosity, intelligence and a smile that totally disarms me. 

Noah is the answer to the prayers of my heart since I was probably his age and knew I wanted to be a mother to a son. And now the pair of us are moving into a new stage. Our  struggles these days  can’t be easily fixed by cuddling in the rocking chair with a story. He needs me less in that sense as he is trying to figure things out on his own. And I try desperately to both take a step back and hang  on to him so tightly. 

His desire to do things his own way and the slight stubborn edge he carries will be good things. They will. And in a way I prayed for them. It is how he is equipped to go into the world, the way his personality was designed. He is only testing them out. 

God has big amazing plans for our special kid that He knit together in such a unique way. I do look forward to seeing them unfold. I am thankful for all the many memories we have built in this decade. And I know we have so many more to make. But tonight as I was tucking in my new ten year old I was heavy hearted and a bit sad. I felt like I was saying goodbye to a part of our lives. 

But God quickly showed me two things. One was the request ,”Momma you’ll tuck me in right?” And two was the stuffed animals being arranged just so and that big disarming smile aimed at my heart. He will still need and want Adam and I along his path. And he does still love and desire our affection. It just looks different. 

So happiest of birthdays my Noah Boy! Your Dad and I are so proud of you! We love you and we pray that you know that our love is unconditional and yet pales to the love your Heavenly Father has for you! Forgive us as we grow along with you, we are not perfect and we want what is best for you. The three of us just might disagree about what that looks like in the coming years. We take great delight in who you are. And who you will be. 

Dear Father, 
Thank you for the privilege of being Noah’s parents. We thank you for the trust in us to guide and protect and love this special kid. We thank you for his unique personality and the way you knit him together. How amazing to have front row seats to watch it all unfold. We pray that we would seek Your guidance and wisdom as we parent him in this next stage. That I would allow him more independence where I can and give him more grace when he needs it. I pray that he would know the fierce love You have for him and that he would walk with You always. I pray that you will help me to not hold on too tight but yet tight enough. Thank you for Noah. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The New Seven Year Old

A few days ago Miller man celebrated his seventh birthday. It seems like my counting or the dates or something must be off. There is just no way he is really seven.
This year he finished up his second round of Kindergarten with Mrs. Sullivan. I was so pleased and surprised by the way he persevered. He grew so much. Our choice for him was confirmed again and again, 

This year we surely saw more and more of his personality pop out. He definitely knows what he likes and what he doesn't! He is full of humor and sunshine. And his stubborn streak will one day serve him well. 

 He LOVES playing basketball and through practice and observation he has gotten himself a sweet little shot.
 Thankfully for his mama he still give a fierce hug and great snuggles. His giggle and smile light up the room.
This year Miller has really grown in his awareness of Jesus and God. He asks wonderful questions and says the sweetest prayers. It was been sweet to watch his love for the Lord grow. 

There were so many times this year when I made an assumption about Miller and how he would react to things to be proven wrong by his choices and actions. Evidence that he is growing braver and more and more his own little person. It makes me pause and appreciate every little hand hold and lap sit. As I know our days for those are numbered.

My dearest Miller,
Oh how I love you! Your daddy and I are so blessed to be your parents. You bring life to our family that sweetens and excites it. You have a passion that I look forward to watching as you grow. I sometimes wish I could pour a little confidence into you. My hope for you this year is for you to find a friendship that will bring you joy and sharpen your spirit. That the curiosity you feel about God will cause you to seek Him more. Ask more questions. Find more answers. We adore you buddy and look forward to another year of watching you become you more and more!
Love you so much,

Dear Father, 
You gave me and Adam a precious gift by choosing us to be Miller's parents. His spirit is both sweet and wild. He daily surprises me and daily he lifts my spirits by his joy, laugh, smile and silly personality. It isn't unknown to you that my heart is hurting watching these two boys grow older and bigger. And I thank you for the gift of Miller's affectionate nature. I pray he keeps it. As Miller gets older and his personality more distinctive I pray that he will be able to make some new friends this year. That you will bring to him a buddy who will grow along side him. I pray you continue to stir his heart towards you. That he will continue to ask about you and declare his love for you. I thank you that he is ultimately yours. That you are always available and perfect for Miller. Give Adam and I the wisdom to do what is best for Miller and to lead him closer to you. 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Blog Reborn

It has been such a long time. I thought maybe the blog had died. So many reasons...being busy, boys growing bigger and bigger, not knowing how to tell the story of our neighborhood and home without making our part in it sound too self appreciative.

But then I decided I missed it too much. I missed recording thoughts and prayers about the things God teaches me though motherhood. And now living in The Green House and running The Green House Library, He is showing me much that I would also like to record and revisit.

Also writing here is an outlet. It is good for my weary soul, reminding me of all the ways He blesses me, guides me and molds me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Nine Year Old

I read a blog post floating around Facebook awhile back called something like "A Letter to my Son at Half Time".  The premise of the post was that nine is the age where it is half over. This parenting gig, the years of your influence, time under your roof. And the mom in the post wrote a moving letter that I honestly couldn't read after the first paragraph. I don't really even know what she said. HALF OVER PEOPLE.

I panic a little bit. But then as I am trying not to cry and cling obsessively to my boys and never let them grow up I remember I moved in with my parents for two years of grad school after college and I still call them right after Adam with news of any kind of importance. You know like Noah having his first headache or Miller reading all his sight words or a sale at the grocery store. The big stuff. And truth be told if I could climb up in their bed right now and snuggle in between them, I would. So deep breaths. IT WILL BE OKAY.

But this is a hard birthday. And so will each one after it. Because it is true,  Noah is getting older and growing bigger and smarter and taller and wiser. And our time is growing ever more important and precious.  He asks BIG questions. And he formulates big ideas about who he is and who God is and who people are around him. He makes actual letter grades in school now and he dreams about his future. And I can't remember the last time he needed to hold my hand.

Three memories from this year that sum up my precious nine year old...

One is his baptism this fall. I walked him upstairs to the room where he was meeting his Children's Minister and I was so nervous for him, He doesn't swim. He is literally terrified of going under water. But he simply turned to me and said "Bye Mom!".  Basically assuring me I've got this. And he only showed his commitment to his choice and not his fear. I wish I could obey like that.

Two was a parent teacher conference with his third grade teacher. After showing me all of his amazing test scores all that confirmed to me he is way smarter than his momma, she simply said "He is kind to everyone." And that is the biggest blessing and compliment and thing I am most proud of. We ask a lot of him at home in our neighborhood and really we don't give him enough grace when it comes to making relationships with our neighborhood kids. To hear that kindness is easily and readily associated with Noah in relation to ALL of  his classmates... well I was humbled. I hope people can say the same of me.

Three was a simple jump at a birthday party. Noah has always been a bit timid. He will hang back, hesitate from trying something until he is sure he can or could master it. But a few months back at a ninja warrior obstacle course themed birthday party he jumped off a five foot platform into a pit of foam squares. Didn't hesitate a second. I had tears in my eyes. I want him to be brave. Life is hard and he will need to be brave. And perhaps my worry and/or coddling has held him back from some adventures. I am so glad he is growing into some courage.

So here is to you my Noah Boy on your ninth birthday...

I love you so much. I love your quirks and your humor and your little scar by your mouth. I love the way you fall asleep reading and scheming and the stores/museums you make in your closet. I love the brown spot in your blue eyes. I love the way your excitement spills over into your flapping hands. I love the one million questions you ask. I love your faith in Jesus. I love that math is your favorite. I love the way you are growing in strength and in bravery. I love that you are kind. I love that deep down you want your little brother to share your room. I love your creative mind. I love that the whole world is yours for the taking. That you could pick anything to be or do and find success. I simply love you. All of you. For always. No matter what.

Dear Father, 
Thank you Lord for the gift and the responsibility of being Noah's parent. Thank you for the special spirit you gave him. Help Adam and I to be the light along the path you have set him on. Lord we are so imperfect and we make many mistakes. Help us not to be a hindrance to him and his love for you. I pray protection over him and for daily help to better understand him and love him in the way he needs to be loved in order to understand better your love for us all. Amen. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Things I Don't Want to Forget From the Spring

Or a massive photo dump from the past few months :)
                                   My Baby Love, Jeremiah turned one! Precious little thing!
                                  Love these sweet pictures of my baby sister and her boys.
                                                           Cake is good. Real good.

                                    Celebrating their current youngest, Baby Girl coming this fall :)
                                                                Love him the most.
 We celebrated Easter in the Brown House Community with the Easter Thing. It was a little drizzly but the Red House porch provided a shelter for a yummy meal and fellowship.

 We missed our normal after Easter Service pictures on the Quad. So this is literally the only Easter picture I have with my kids.

The day before we had family over for an Easter Meal and Egg Hunt. I always love this tradition!
                                                                         Two little ones.
 Pretty Lillie! 
 Papa is a good sport. 

 Lillie enjoyed flying on the tie swing. 
                                           We loved our bunny ears Jenn brought us.
                                     We always love a good visit with Nana and Puddin!