Thursday, October 24, 2013


I have this insatiable desire to see the end of something before it has even begun. At the beginning of a crisis I crane my neck to see over or around or strain my eyes to see through. I need to see the end. I need to see that there is an end, I suppose. 

I guess it gives me a sense of control, this knowledge of what I'm up against, like I can lick it if I just know the breadth of what it is. Researching every possible solution and scenario makes me feel prepared, knowledgeable, empowered.

What a crock.

The real power, the real peace, for that's really what I'm looking for in my thirst for understanding, comes only with surrender. Lying awake at night reviewing every possible outcome only serves to fuel anxiety. Almighty Google, with its pictures and links and definitions and rabbit trails only muddies the waters further. 

Clarity, peace, and rest come with surrender. 

I am not in control. There is a peace that goes beyond any understanding I could every hope to have when I simply share my worries with the One who is. 

So, goodnight, Google and Facebook and Blogger.

Hello, Jesus...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Peanut Butter Swim

Sitting next to my husband, I squirmed in my seat as he told us that trust is one of the most important aspects of relationship. "When trust is low, everything in the relationship is harder. It's like swimming through peanut butter," he said. 

It was Saturday night church and, due to some snot-nosed kids, Shawn and I were treating it like date night while our oldest stayed home with the sickies. 

Shawn was squirming, too. We weren't uncomfortable with the trust level in our relationship. It has always been good and high. But, we both recognized that we have failed our kids in this area. We have said we'd do things that we've not done and trust is low.

We are swimming through peanut butter and it is all our fault.

Sometimes, it is simply because we hate to disappoint, so we say, "Yes," underestimating the time constraints we're already under. "Sure, Zak, we'll make muffins, tomorrow." But tomorrow brings an unexpected doctor's appointment and another child throwing up and all the laundry that goes with that. Our intentions are good, but good intentions with zero follow-through don't hold water with a disappointed six-year-old. 

I wish I could stop there. I wish that it all boiled down to over-commitment. And, with Shawn, that is the biggest issue. But with me, it mostly comes down to selfishness. I tell a kid I'll do something with or for them and then I get a better offer. I get involved in phone conversation or want to finish this chapter or veg out on Facebook. Whatever I want to do too often comes first. 

I'm pretty good with the big things. If I promise a zoo trip or the park, we'll go. But if I say I'll wade through a kid's recent one hundred drawings of jellyfish to choose my favorite, odds are good, something more pressing will come along. And it's sucking the life out of our family.

So now we're working hard to empty the pool of peanut butter and build trust. We're trying to say what we mean and mean what we say. It's tough, but that boils down to saying no upfront a lot more and dealing with the resultant disappointment (and often attitude), initially, instead of getting their hopes up and leading them on. It also means that I have to disentangle myself from whatever interests me, and take a teen to Target or put down the computer and read the promised book, instead. 

We didn't get into this mess overnight and it will take a long time to rebuild the trust levels in this family, but after just a few weeks, we are already seeing progress. I'm noticing less checking and re-checking from one of the younger ones who used to repeatedly ask, "Are we still going to ________?" And, when something was needed to be rescheduled last week, there was so much less drama associated with it, as well. 

Slowly, the peanut butter is thinning. And that is grace.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Husband, My Hero

He endures disapproving looks from those that think they understand the situation, their judgment hot on his neck on hard days. And then there are the favors people assume he has time for because "he doesn't have anything else to do." He knows no one else on the same journey and has watched friendships falter as common ground slipped away. 

And still he perseveres. 

Just over two years ago, his business tanked and I went back to work. That's the sanitized version we tell people, anyway. The truth is that I was spent. I had reached a point as a homeschooling mom where I was sliding into quicksand and could not reach the surface. I was failing. I couldn't breathe. I grabbed ahold of the opportunity to return to work like a drowning man wraps his whole body around a life preserver and I did not look back for an entire year. 

He rescued me by staying home and we both know it.

He spends his days wiping dirty bottoms and dripping noses, answering endless questions, refereeing countless fights, running load after load of laundry. He shuffles kids to doctor appointments, to therapy, to youth group, to practices, and to homeschool co-op. He unlocks the mysteries of quadratic equations and helps solve for mass while setting the timer for the next toddler potty session. He teaches long division and listens to yet another Bob book while filling the crock pot with what will be dinner.

It is a thankless job.

The days are punctuated by series of crises, one of which invariably involves painting with poop by someone of the youngest set. Sometimes the crisis requires the removal of a toilet to dislodge whatever toy was most recently flushed when someone forgot to shut the door behind them. Lately, it's been unexpected trips to the pediatrician who really should initiate a buy-10-visits-get-1-free-card like I'm always telling him. 

Groundhog day times infinity.

It's hard to remember amidst all that seems like daily chaos, that it matters. That what he is doing is more important than most. He is shaping lives. He is instilling vision and purpose. He is painting Jesus on their hearts and showing them how to love well. He is teaching them to resolve conflict. He is modeling work ethic, integrity, kindness, redemption, forgiveness, patience, and perseverance. And he is doing it while embracing people in our crappy neighborhood and teaching our kids about diversity. He is teaching them, by his very presence that people, that they, matter more than stuff.

The intangible is so difficult to see in the middle of the grind.

Work beckons. His part-time job must constantly be put in its place. Boundaries must stay firm. He has chosen family first, on purpose. These lives will only be here, under this roof, for such a short time. These minds will only be malleable, for just a moment. He knows, one day, they won't want Dad around, but for now, the young ones follow him from room to room and it is a gift, not to be taken lightly. I'm sure that the desire to find his fulfillment, his identity in the work of his hands or in the amount on his paycheck must be overwhelming at times, yet he never complains and rarely comments. 

The temptation to choose differently is great.

He let me dump it all in his lap that first year. I had no responsibility other than going to work. I did not cook a meal and I honestly don't remember even changing a diaper. As I emerged from the fog the second year, my contribution looked very much like criticism of everything he did, which, obviously was unhelpful to the situation. He seemed to have everything under control and I was feeling left out. We were in the process of adopting Bo and we were all feeling a bit undone. Then Bo came home and it was just chaos and too much for one person to handle alone. So we balanced the scales a bit and I reduced work hours and he added some work hours and we're figuring it out. Together. 

He let me find my way back.

When we first married, he left a job that he loved for one that he hated because it had better benefits, benefits that we needed. I knew then that he would do anything for this family. I was not wrong. He was then, and he continues to be, my hero. 

He loves us well.