Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Folks, we have a SEVEN-YEAR-OLD!

Its' true.  As of yesterday, we have a seven-year-old.  And I'm not quite sure how it happened.  In some ways the grey hairs I'm starting to get and the memory bank that seems to diminish daily, are great indicators that I've lived a lot of life- plenty enough to fill seven years.  But in other ways, it seems that I blinked and he went from being tucked safely in my arms to waving goodbye to me in front of his "big school".
I dunno, but so far, I LOVE seven.  KJ is at an age where he's big.  But not too big.  Just Perfect. 

My biggest boy, KJ-

The Lord knew I needed to ease into this parenting-gig, so He gave me you first.  You've always been an absolute JOY to parent. (Ok, so, maybe ALWAYS is a bit of an exaggeration, but not by far.)  By adding you to my life, the Lord gave me some of the first glimpses that it was possible to divide your heart and yet give it fully.  He has shown me that He gives good gifts.  He has reminded me how great it is to have children who honor you and bring you pride, as is His desire for all of us as His children.  You are amazing.  And I'm both honored and proud to be your Momma.

You've changed and learned so much this year, I'm not sure I can even sum it up.  Academically, you are brilliant - I'm your mom, I get to say that :).  You read way above your grade level, you are mastering math and you have retained so many facts about science and social studies.  I love that when you get in the car with me you love to do the car trivia question cards that I got a garage sale.  Together we are learning facts about different states and famous U.S. people.  You love to teach others, too, and I often find you sharing your knowledge with your brothers and sister.  We continue to work on how to share in an encouraging way, and I've seen you come so far in that area this year.

Recently you told me that your "class" that you teach in your room did move with us to the new house.  I hadn't heard about "Kribagayle" and friends in a while so I wasn't sure.  You teach them

while you fall asleep some nights and sometimes in the car.  Your daddy and I can sometimes hear you whispering your lessons to them.  So, apparently, even your sleep-avoiding-tactics involve helping others.  You are also very quick-witted.  I love that you are getting old enough to joke with us and "get-it" when we are giving you a hard time.

Its great to me your wit and imagination are alive and well, because sometimes you seem to take life so seriously.  Your top priority is safety for your friends and family members, as you remind us of the rules and plan out best strategies for rule following.    You read labels, safety warnings, and inspect areas for hazards like fire ants.  You ask lots of questions and actually remind me sometimes about being careful.  Like for your birthday when you told us "I'm not sure where I'll stand at the park, but it will be somewhere that I can remind my friends to let an adult help them if they can't reach".  Luckily, we ended up having your party at a different playground, without so many hazards.  And you were able to enjoy yourself without standing guard. 

Don't get me wrong, you LOVE to have fun.   You and Cbug would chase each other and scream and laugh at high volumes all day if you could and wrestling privaleges are pretty much your favorite thing EVER.  You love to zoom around on two wheel with your new bike riding skills AND on your new birthday-present-scooter.  I love that in these areas you are more fearless than cautious.  And that it seems to have brought great confidence to you.  We take every opportunity we can to head over to "the cul-de-sac" to ride.  Even there, when you are having a blast, you take time to encourage your brother (who is just learning to ride) and check on your sister and baby brother.  Seriously, what would I do without you.

You've had some tough lessons this year about disappointment at school.  Some things haven't gone the way you really hoped.  But I've been so proud of the way you've handled even that, often adapting to situations that weren't your first choice.  I'm really amazed at your adaptability, but also been praying that adapting wouldn't be confused in your mind with just blending-in.  Because you, KJ, are a stand-out kid.  You are going to lead others by the example you set, by the high standards you set for yourself and others, and by the way you encourage and support and teach your friends.

And that, KJ, is my prayer for you this year.  As you put this first year of "big school" under your belt, as you apply some of the tough lessons you've had to learn, and as you continue to bring so much joy-
May you stand-out in the crowd. 
May you lead others on a narrow path. 
May you continue to look for ways to teach others and encourage many. 
To bring the LORD great glory.
And in all things, may you be one who, like your name means, is fully devoted to God. 

I love you so much.  My heart could just explode thinking about the blessing you are to our family.  You are, indeed, my VERY favorite seven-year-old!

Happy 7th Birthday!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Red, White and Blue

We are wearing Red, White and Blue today!

Today was KJ's birthday and birthdays are a big deal around these parts.  I have a few thing to say to him/about him.  And I can't wait to share about his paper airplane bash in the park.

But I really feel like I would be remiss to gloss over the real significance of today.
KJ, of course was thrilled that school was canceled on his birthday.  But even on a day filled with celebration, we definitely made sure our kiddos knew the significance of today.

We've had the great privalege of welcoming back from deployments some we love deeply.  I remember the first time my brother came home from overseas.  Even knowing that he was on his way, and even knowing the minimal risk he was facing for his return flight, I was on pins and needles until I knew he had safely landed on American soil.  And oh the tears when the texts starting rolling in that he was home.  My baby brother, my hero brother, was home.

With those homecomings in mind, our family is especially grateful to the families who did not celebrate a homecoming. The sacrifice you made while you waited at home, and the ultimate sacrifice you continue to make as you grieve, is one we can't even fathom. Thank you for what your loved one has done for our country. And thank you for the way you supported them then and honor them now.

Thank you just doesn't seem like enough to say.
But we mean it so very sincerely.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

He gave her back her son...

I don't know if anyone is following along with me on the "read through the Gospels plan" anymore.  I haven't spent much time talking about it here.  I'm still in there, but a few weeks behind.  My sweet, honest, mentor Suzy J told me early on in the process..."you know, the Gospels will still be there in 2014".  It was super freeing.  And ya'll know that I must value her input IMMENSELY if it gave me freedom from my spreadsheet. Just what I needed to press on.

Regardless of where you are (or aren't) on the "plan" to study through the Gospels, find a way to start the journey of learning more about the Lord through His word.  In this life, there are so many heart-aches.  There is so much pain, so much uncertaintly, so much disapointment.  Everyday. 

Yet in the Gospels I find rest. 

Notice I didn't say I find answers.  I'll be real with ya- I don't.  Not for my human questions.  In fact, sometimes I find more questions.  But I do find a place to dwell, a place to put my hope, a place to REST.  I find truth, I find certainty, I find hope. 

Hope in stories like this one.
One of the only miracles I can think of that Jesus completely sought out.  No one approached him.  No one asked him.  No one pleaded.  He just saw.

Luke Chapter 7
11-15 Not long after that, Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman’s only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, “Young man, I tell you: Get up.” The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother.

This doesn't answer why difficult things happen.  It doesn't tell me why everything was taken from her.  It doesn't tell me whether she even knew who He was.

It just tells me that at the height of his ministry, when his work breathlessly moved in a long series of phrases like "and then He..." and "Not long after that...",
He stopped. 
When he was moving from miracle to miracle, message to sermon to anguished prayer-
He saw her, a woman who had lost everyone.
His heart broke.  He had great compassion. 

And he gave her back her son.

Before she could even ask.
And in that, friends, there is hope.
In that, there is rest.

This story, a very true story, floods me with a million questions about its current-day application, but also leaves me with this certainty:

He sees.
He has compassion.
He will redeem.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Mothers' Day

About a week ago, a sweet friend was asking my kiddos about "Mother's Day"
seemed like a pretty straightforward, easy to answer question to me:
"Hey, what DO we celebrate on Mother's Day?"
But apparently I overestimated the transparency of the holiday's title.
Lou, from the backseat, confidently said-

today was Mother's Day
And I guess someone clued them in because

I felt celebrated.
I received breakfast in bed.
and many (handmade) gifts.

My children posed for pictures because I asked them to.
I got to eat at a restaurant that wasn't chosen for the children's menu.
I got to plan the family activity for the evening.

Today, I walked down the hall at church and grinned from ear to ear
when I saw my sweet baby(est) boy
clutching a flower for me.

I was selected to be part of a Pirate Club
and ran around on the playground
with my children calling me
"Mommy Matey"

Today was fantastic.

But today
I also
dropped half a jar of baby food sweet potatoes
all over my self.
but Today
The amazing breakfast in bed KJ had been planning all week
turned out to be
one very small muffin.

But today
 I endured a temper tantrum like never before
just because I actually took the flower clutched in the sweet baby's outstretched hand.
Apparently "here" is his word for LOOK at this.  Not take this. 
I didn't know.
but Today
When I went to pick up one of my kids from Sunday School
the teacher informed me that he/she
had already let them know that his/her mom
was ALWAYS last to arrive.

and also, when I asked my children to rest quietly in the car
on our way home from a busy day.
Someone asked me "Are we even allowed to breathe?"

Today was
and they did everything they could
to make it mine.

Little do they know
I thank the Lord
I get to be theirs.


I suppose the rules of motherhood would say I shouldn't have a favorite gift
but this pretty much sealed the deal for Lou.

let me get you closer
Yep, that'll do the trick :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

For their teachers

Yesterday, KJ went to school looking mighty smashing in his pink button down shirt and tie.  He insisted that he wanted to wear them because pink was his teacher's favorite color.  I proudly clutched his hand, walked him to the door of the school, and just knew that every teacher/parent/staff-member that saw him was swooning at his adorableness.  What a great mom he has!

Today, I was humbled.

Today, to show his appreciation, he took her this beauty.

To be honest, I was horrified.  I even wrote a note to his teacher that explained why in the world I let him bring her a weed, which surely is worse than coal at Christmas.  It was a carefully crafted explanation intended to dispel any notion she might have that our family believed her to be weed worthy. 

In my note I went on to explain that when KJ found this "plant" in our backyard yesterday he came running inside nearly breathless.  He declared this plant to be the PERFECT example of what they had been learning, of what SHE had taught him.  It had every single part of the plant, including visible roots.  He knew what all of the parts were called, what their purposes were, and why they were important to the life of the plant.  At school he had drawn pictures, studied diagrams, even created a book about the parts of plants.  AND NOW, in his mind, he had a perfect one in REAL LIFE.  One that his teacher absolutely must see.

As KJ got out of the van at school proudly clutching his weed, um cough plant- he moved it from one hand to the other as he adjusted his back pack and got ready to head inside to deliver his treasure.  As I watched the other children filing past with bouquets of purchased flowers or roses carefully clipped from their own gardens, I couldn't help but feel that I was setting him up for disappointment. I just knew that any minute it was going to click- he was going to see theirs and then see his.  And realize, his treasure was a weed.

"Hey Buddy," I called out, "I think your plant is SUPER awesome.  I'm so proud of you for knowing so much about it.  And I'm sure Mrs D will, too.  But, um, you might just want to make sure she knows that you chose it because you could see all of its parts so well.  Maybe you could just explain a little bit about why it is so special when you give it to her".

As he began to fall in with the flow of kids he called back
"Nah, she'll know it when she sees it"

And as he walked away from the van, I knew I had been wrong.  The explanation note was completely unnecessary.  The pep talk I gave him- completely unnecessary.  The need to protect him when his idea doesn't look just like his friends- completely unnecessary.

She did that. 
She created in him a new knowledge.
She created in him an excitement to show her how he was applying it.
She gave him a confidence in his gift.
She was the one who was going to
"Know it when she saw it"

And it wasn't the first time that a teacher has done this for a child.  Or the last.
Teachers everywhere see much, and know more than we give them credit for.
When kids bring you treasures that look an awful lot like rubbish, you see and you know the value.
When they learn something new, and a new door opens to them, it may be something a million children before them have learned.  But you see their joy.  And you know.
When children dont quite keep up, but won't ask for help- you see.  And you know.
When our treasures spend each day in your class not making friends.  You see.  And you know.
When there are kids who no one asks about.  Who no one ever seems present for.  You see.  And you know.
More times than we may ever notice.  You see it- and you know it.

So, Teachers.  From the mom of the kid who brought a weed to show you how much you are appreciated.  From the mom of the kid that carried that weed with great pride because of all you have taught him.  Thank you.  A million times, thank you.

Thank you for all of the ways that you know what goes unexplained.  You see.  And you know.
And this week, during teacher appreciation week, I hope you've had at least one parent say to you
I see.  And I know.
All that you do.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Teammates

They can morph into the same pretend world without ever discussing it.
They laugh at each other's jokes, without ever saying a word.
The bunkbeds they share are their most prized possession.
They think it is hilarious that people think they are twins.
They attempt to pulverize each other on a regular basis.
They can't wait to go to the same school.
They prefer to pee at the same time.
They ask to dress alike.
They encourage.
They argue.
They love
Each other.

They are
Super Soccer Speedy Cheetahs
for a season.
But they will be