Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dear son, Your mediocrity was way above average: a lesson about showing up.

You started your second season of basketball a few months ago at a time when most boys your age had been playing for 7 or 8 seasons. You were, by most standards, far from the most skilled player. But, because there are so many life lessons to be learned in playing a team sport, Dad and I were thrilled you wanted to play, and MIGHT have turned into raving lunatics at one or two games.

You finished up your season today. As I reflect on these months of practice after game after game after practice, I realize you have taught me so much through, by what the world might consider, your mediocre basketball skills.

It wasn't really about your "skills", after all.

It was way more about showing up.

It was even more about showing up with a good attitude.

Not once did I hear you complain about going to a game or practice. In fact, you showed up every time ready to work hard and encourage your fellow team mates. You knew you weren't the best player. You knew, skills wise, that most were superior. But, still, you looked forward to and approached each session with a zeal that made your Dad and I so proud.

Today, as I watched you play your heart out at your last game, "high-fiving" every team mate and hollering like crazy from the sidelines, it hit me like a basketball to the face that I want to be like you. Because, let's face it, I'm pretty mediocre myself. And, sadly, there are many times when I choose not to do something simply because I know there is probably someone else who does it better.

But, you taught me such an important lesson, son. Never once did I hear you say, "I really shouldn't even practice or participate in this game because I'm not the best player." Showing up, your actions spoke, was valuable and important.

I wonder what would happen if every minister, every student, every CPA, every doctor, every lawyer, every teacher, every father, every mother decided not to show up simply because they knew they weren't the best at what they did. There would be an awful lot of us not showing up, because if we are to be honest with ourselves, most of us aren't "the best" at what we do.

I'm so thankful you showed up, son. I'm even more thankful and proud over the attitude you showed up with. There are many who would have missed out. They would have missed out on a "high-five." They would have missed out on a, "Sweet play, dude!" And I would have missed out on an incredibly valuable lesson.

Tomorrow morning, I'm showing up to be your mom. I'm showing up to be a mom to your brother and sister. I'm showing up to be a wife to your Dad. I'm showing up to be a daughter of the King. I'm showing up to be a neighbor to my neighbors and a friend to my friends. I will laugh and love and work and play and give. Perhaps, by the world's standards, I won't be the best at what I do. But I can't be anything if I don't, at the very least, show up.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dear Mamas, Let Your Babies Suffer

When I was in the fifth grade, I was one of six girls in my class at school. I was not particularly "cool", a fact the other girls relished reminding me of often. It came to pass that one of those girls, Lynn, was having a birthday party. I was the only one who didn't get an invitation and they made sure I knew it.

The day Lynn handed out her invitations was a rainy one. This was, of course, back in the day when you still had recess outside, even if it was raining. Most of us huddled close to the school building in an effort to stay dry under the awning. It wasn't long before Lynn and her friends devised a mischievous plan, one that would provide them with some much needed entertainment.

"Erin, if you go out in the rain and sit in that big puddle and count to 10, you can come to my birthday party," Lynn informed me as the other girls laughed.

I'm not sure what I was thinking or why I did it, but I did. Ten humiliating seconds later, I was drenched, but, had an invitation in hand.

That night, I laid crying in my bed. My dad came into the room I shared with my sister and kneeled by my bed, as was his custom, to say nightly prayers with me. He saw the tears and gently asked what was wrong. I recounted the entire ordeal and he, in his wisdom, gave me two simple choices: Go to the party or not go. I would have to decide what was the right thing to do.

I didn't sleep much that night. I knew that, if I went, I'd be going for all the wrong reasons. If I didn't go, it somehow seemed like they had won.

In the end, I decided to go. I remember sitting at Chuck E. Cheese (actually, in my town is was "Showbiz Pizza") in the same booth with Lynn's mom and grandma because there was no room for me at Lynn's table. I remember having a lovely conversation with them and them commenting on what a nice girl I was. But, mostly, I remember wondering why on earth had I chosen to come.

Fast forward 25 years. I am now an adult with children of my own and the "Puddle Story" is often talked about as they maneuver through life and relationships and good kids and bad kids and kids you want to be friends with and kids to stay away from. We talk about how I, as a fifth grader, could have handled that situation so differently and what WOULD have been a better way, anyway?

But, for some reason, this week, something hit me like a ton of bricks. A part of this story that I had never thought about before. And it broke me. It broke me as I sat in my living room praying for my children and I ended up in a puddle again. But, this time, it was a puddle of my own tears as they pitter pattered on the old wood floor.

My parents had an opportunity to "save" me. They could have forbidden me from going to the party. They could have come up to the school and "had a talkin' to" with the principal or my teacher or, maybe even kicked some fifth grade girl butt. They could have called some parents. They could have written some letters.

But, they didn't. They let me suffer. They let me suffer at the hands of the "mean girls." They let me suffer through the worst birthday party EVER.

All the while, I am certain they were suffering more. I only know this because now that I'm a parent putting myself in their shoes, I can't imagine the guts it took to send me into the lion's den that was Lynn's birthday party.

As parents, do we not hurt when our children hurt? Do we not want to "save" them from the meanies of this world? When we hear that someone is messing with our kid is our first instinct not one of a "mama bear?" I think it was Beth Moore who said, "A mama is only as happy as her saddest child." I know this to be true.

Too often, I have fought my children's battles. I have stood up for them when they should have been learning to stand up for themselves. I have called another mom to basically tattle on their child when I should have been letting two kids on the playground figure things out like two kids on the playground.
I have not allowed my children to sit in the gut-wrenching, humiliating, horrible consequences of the puddle that they chose to sit in in the first place.

As I reflect on my "Puddle Story" that is still teaching me lessons after 25 years, I surely do not want to shield my babies from such life- changing, character building lessons that have the potential to change their life and build their character in ways that I can not.

So, especially to you mamas sending your babies to school knowing what you know about how nasty this world can be: Let your babies suffer. Cry with them and cry for them. Pray with them and pray for them. Talk about lessons you've learned over the years. Tell stories. Read stories- ones that have characters who make bad decisions and have to suffer the consequences, characters who encounter evil forces and evil people but overcome evil with good. (There are a lot of great ones in the Bible.)

But, mostly, let them learn. And, if in the process of learning, they get hurt, let them hurt. And, then, let them learn from their hurt.

Maybe, when they are 37, it will hit them that you let them suffer because you knew it was for their good. And they, also, will end up in a puddle of tears in the middle of their living room.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

An Update

Wow. I've not been so great at keeping this blog updated! Things have been busy, as most households with five people, a dog, and two lizards tend to be. Blogging is always in the back of my mind but I, obviously, rarely sit down and actually do it.

On a recent these three. Is Silas crossing his eyes? It just wouldn't be right if we got a normal pic with all three smiling normally.

Don't even ask. One day, this picture will come back to haunt them. I promise.

There is so much I wish I could write about right now. There are still changes in the works for our family, but we don't know yet what they will look like. We have been in a holding pattern for quite some time now and Jeff and I have grown weary of it. We have learned, however, to be proud of how far we've come. Thirteen years ago at the start of our marriage, there is no way we would have handled things as well as we are now. We have learned to not take things out on each other and to support the other when it's starting to get to them. We're certainly not perfect and often find ourselves asking the other for forgiveness. But, thanks be to God that we have come this far!

Why, yes, thank you for asking. Selah WAS Rapunzel this year. Doesn't her hair look so natural? (Thanks to Grandma for always making such amazing costumes for our kids!)

The kids are all well. Our little Selah is quite the star student. She has her first man teacher this year and adores him. Just this weekend, she wrote a four page story in perfect handwriting just for fun. She can often be found at the kitchen table or in her art room creating something out of sequins, feathers, buttons, and colors. I wish I was as creative and itched to create things like she does. But, I just don't seem to have that gift!

I adore this picture of two of my favorite boys!

Silas still melts our heart with his huge eyes and sweet disposition. He is kind and sensitive and a good friend to many. He is totally into archery and I love watching this boy in his talent. He began lessons over a year ago and is really quite gifted. He was very excited to learn there is an archery category in the olympics!

Sam and his super funky- cool new glasses. He looks more and more grown up to me.

I am having so much fun homeschooling Sam. Sam would not tell you that homeschooling is great- it's not really 'cool' to be homeschooled in the seventh grade. But, Jeff and I see him growing and maturing in so many ways and it's really neat to get to witness that first hand. He is a leader amongst the younger kids at our church, who all adore Sam. He has regular babysitting jobs in the neighborhood now, as he's become known as quite a responsible kid!

I got a haircut and I wish you could see in this pic- I got a purple streak in it! (That was my mid-life crisis thingie....I think.)

I have been diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome. Before you ask, no, I don't randomly yell out obscenities, but I suppose I now have an excuse in case I DO. Some of you who know me know I have struggled with face and neck tics for years. For some reason (possible because of stress) they became really bad this year. I went to several doctors and was given a few different prescriptions which did not work and had severe side effects. I am now on a gluten-free (mostly Paleo) diet again, taking large amounts of fish oil and probiotics, and eating very little sugar. Physically, I feel great. The tics continue, but are a bit more manageable and I am hopeful they will subside even more as I continue to eat well and exercise regularly.

Jeff and his first motorcycle. He MIGHT have almost crashed his first time out of the garage.

Jeff bought a motorcycle and got his license to drive it. I am so happy and excited for him, as this is something he has talked about for years. I haven't ridden with him yet, but will once he's more experienced and comfortable with it. He looks pretty hot riding that thing and I can hardly wait to ride with him! I might even get my license, who knows.......

So, there you have it. A long, boring update. If you read to the end.....bless you. Thanks for caring about and loving our family. We are so blessed by the many dear friends we've made over the years.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My husband is the man.

Jeff planned a romantic picnic for my birthday- put together a beautiful meal with a gorgeous bottle of wine. We farmed the kids out (thank you, dear friends who took our children) and with the anticipation of a beautiful day in the mountains in our new (to us) truck with brand new tires....... We hit a snag. And, so, instead, Jeff and I had the privilege of experiencing our first time hitch hiking. It was not the day we had planned but we have never been so thankful for the kindness of strangers- namely, an extremely kind
military man named Casey.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A post for Amanda- the beginning of greatness

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A New, Previously Attempted (but failed), Experiment

(I have a lot of pictures of the top of Sam's head. Apparently, it's very uncool to have your mom take your picture.)
Sam turned twelve over the summer- 12! He continues to impress Jeff and I with his deep thinking and the way he mentors the younger kids. He's not perfect, by any means, but when he is disrespectful or lashes out, he almost always recognizes it and apologizes.

We have decided to to try our hand at homeschooling again- with Sam only. He is entering seventh grade and, pretty much everyone I know had horrible seventh grade experiences. We are not trying to shelter him. In fact, I hope that by homeschooling we will be able to expose him to experiences that will open his eyes to this hurting world. I hope we will be able to inspire him to think outside of his sweet little middle school self and that he will recognize his need and the world's need for Jesus.

I am excited and scared and cautiously optimistic. My prayer journal is filled with words like, "Lord, have mercy." "Lord, give me wisdom." "Lord, have patience."

2012 has been filled with a lot of changes for our family. For a while now, Jeff and I have felt strongly there would be more changes. I can not write about them yet (just to torture you), but I can assure you that I am not pregnant and we are all healthy (except for Jeff who recently dislocated his shoulder and is seeing an orthopedist soon.)

For those of you who read this and are the prayer type, I do want you to know that we covet your prayers right now. Thank you for caring about our family. There are days when everything seems to be going awry but I read a sweet comment and it somehow makes everything all better. (This is not a subtle guilt trip to get you to write a sweet comment. Well, maybe it is. Subconsciously. Although, I guess now it's conscience. Oh dearest. I'm a quack,)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hot White Mama

As I was tucking Selah in the other night I told her she was, "My beautiful Vietnamese princess." Without missing a beat she responded, "And you're my hot white mama." Typically, I try and discourage my children from describing people as hot, unless, I always say, you are describing your husband or wife. But, it was just so darn funny I didn't get after her.
The hot white mama and the beautiful Vietnamese princess are off to China on Friday- yes, China!! One of my best friends in the whole world happens to live there. That would be my sister, Amanda. (That was a trick. You can't actually see her blog unless you are really special.) And one of Selah's best friends in the whole world happens to live there, also. That would be her cousin, Delaney.
Thanks, those of you who continue to harass me about posting more often. (That was not a trick and you should totally read my friend, Brandi's, blog. She is hilarious. Speaking of fun blogs to read, you should also read my friend, Chelsey's, blog.)  This summer has been busy with things like swimming and camping and church activities and parties and plans for homeschooling a certain amazing kid who is 12 TODAY (I'll post more about that later- the turning 12 and the homeschooling).
In the meantime, consider following me on twitter. I will be posting regular updates regarding our trip there and would love it if you followed along!
Oh, and, simply because I can hardly stand to write anything without at least mentioning my incredible husband, here is a gratuitous picture:

Isn't he cute in his new(er) glasses? Even if he does refuse to actually smile for pictures.