Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I Moved!

This is a bittersweet day. After five + years, I am saying goodbye to this blog and starting fresh at my new updated website. To read my new blog, Limitless, please visit

See you there!

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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Nathan's Painful Day

Nathan gave me permission to use his "pain" as blogging material today, so maybe his willingness to be open and vulnerable will be rewarded with a slew of sympathy.

After a flawless first week of middle school, Nathan had his first bad day--one that ended with telling me, "I have stress." Here is a brief recap of events:
He left his P.E. clothes in Core class and had to run back to get them during lunch.
He accidentally kicked his lunch bag, causing his spoon to puncture his yogurt, which then exploded all over the inside of his lunch bag. We can be thankful that A) After three days of paper bags, we decided to go with an insulated one, which contained the mess very well. B) He had already eaten half his sandwich.
He lugged his heavy math book for the entire day, only to learn that it was meant to be kept at home.
His science teacher gave each kid a string of beads to use for a homework experiment and his string broke right after school. All but one bead rolled into the street and under the feet of other students. The one bead that he managed to retrieve worked for the assignment but wasn't nearly as cool.
He has to dress out for P.E. for the first time tomorrow and he is dreading it, along with the entire 6th-grade class.

For an 11-year-old, "I have stress" is no exaggeration." But he has responded with his typical resilience and humor:
When his yogurt exploded, he decided to forget the second half of his sandwich and go right for the desert before that got messed up too.
Instead of using the broken bead string as an excuse to skip his science homework, he managed with the remaining bead.
He sang what he knew of the song "You had a Bad Day."
He found an annoying song on the Internet to "comfort" himself with, knowing that in the end it would just make both of us laugh.

He assured me, "But I still like my school."
He attempted to use this as a valid excuse to go out and buy a toy or video game. (Nice try.)

In the process, he had his "pain," as he calls it, acknowledged and is working on moving forward, hoping tomorrow will be better even with the changing for P.E. issue. So today was a reminder that some days just plain stink. We can work at turning them around, but if that doesn't work, at least we can start over tomorrow.

His homework just fell between my bed and the wall. As Nathan put it, "Talk about a bad day!"


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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Different Experience

Yesterday, I dropped Nate off for his first day of middle school. I don't know who was more nervous, me or him. Okay, let's stop pretending; I know exactly who was more nervous. Me. While I'm sure he had his share of butterflies as he faced the idea of walking on to a campus ten times the size of the one he attended in Reno and 1,000 times the size of the homeschool environment that we enjoyed for 3/4 of last year, my experience-induced fears had me tossing in my bed in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. The possibility of him eating lunch alone, being picked on, feeling lost, or having a mean teacher triggered a recap of every horrible moment of my junior high career. Once again, I second-guessed my decision to put him in public school after so many years in a Christian school where all the teachers and students knew and loved one another, and several months of enjoying the safety and flexibility of homeschooling. But God repeatedly brought to mind these facts:

1) Nathan was eager to try public school. He couldn't wait to make new friends, be in a classroom again, and participate in activities like band and after school sports. One thing that homeschooling revealed was that Nathan is more suited to a classroom environment where he has someone other than Mom correcting his work and other kids to "compete" with academically. Did I want to hold him back from that?
2) I needed him to be in school. As much as I enjoyed homeschooling, I also needed my days back to pursue more work so I could earn a more steady income.
3) Five years in Christian school gave him a great foundation for entering the real would where not everyone believes the same things he does. I obviously made it through 12 years of public school with my faith in tact.
4) Just because I didn't enjoy junior high didn't mean he would have a bad experience. Nathan is a) a boy, b) more confident than I was at his age, c) much less weird than I was at his age, d) doesn't have a limitation to make him a target. Who was I to put my experiences on him and assume he would have a bad time? I also had some great experiences in public school. Why not focus on those and assume he'll learn to overlook the bad and enjoy the good?
5) It was time to trust God with my child and let him grow up, knowing homeschooling would still be there if we needed to go back to it.

So I waved goodbye to him, thanking God that my 11-year-old felt so excited and confident, knowing that alone would make a huge difference. Several hours later, I picked up a happy boy who reported every detail of a day that he called, "So fun."

I'm sure he'll have days that aren't so fun, but I also know God will equip us both when that happens.

Thank you, God, for watching over our kids even when we can't, and for creating them as individuals with the potential to have far different experiences than their parents had--different in great, exciting ways.

What have you learned from raising your kids? When has it been hard to let them try something new?   

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Week of Unwashed Delight

This is Nathan the day my friend Anne and I dropped him and his buddy Brennan off at camp:
Note the clean hair and clothes, bright eyes, and fresh-off-the-strip wrist band.

Flash forward one week to pick-up day:
Hair not so clean, mixed prints, (he was also wearing his splashy-printed swim trunks) including a shirt that I'm sure I spotted him in the previous day, sleep-deprived eyes, and a wrist band that had half the letters rubbed off. But, honestly, I can't remember the last time I saw Nate so happy to be exhausted by fun and new experiences. During his week apart from Mom, he . . .

Went stand-up paddle boarding for the first time
Tried out a surf board (I'm still trying to figure out the logic behind renting surf boards at a mountain lake, but he felt cool so who cares?)
Ate Hume Lake's famous milk shakes
Stayed up late playing foosball and pool
Played outdoor games at night without Mom hovering
Skipped showers
Made new friends
Attempted the ropes course and braved the giant swing
Wore the same socks more than once (He proudly confessed this.)

Gained some independence just in time to start middle school

And a long list of other things, some of which I probably don't know about yet

While he didn't give a full-blown testimony, I know from what he did share that God spoke to his heart during his week at camp as well, which was a huge answer to prayer. What a gift after his Boardwalk disappointment and all the turmoil of the past year.

So, what did Mom do while her youngest was running around with a bunch of unwashed middle schoolers in equally as unwashed Rec T-shirts? Remember that post about the cozy cabin without Internet access or cell service? I spent one glorious week there with two dear friends, basking in the benefits of unplugging. We were just close enough to the camp to spot our boys occasionally and wave hello without getting in their way. While Nate rode paddle boards and climbed on ropes, I . . .

Also tried one of Hume Lake's famous milk shakes (Yum!)
Did a lot of journaling
Spent extra time with God
Sat on the deck and just stared up at the treetops for a few minutes
Finished one book and started another
Rowed in circles with Anne and Rebecca (Don't ask.)
Watched two Doris Day movies (I had never seen one all the way through.)
Heard six wonderful talks by Stuart and Jill Briscoe
Determined after a long discussion about heaven, that Eve must be in the Witness Protection Program
Took walks around beautiful Hume Lake
Learned a new card game
Resisted the temptation to stalk our boys

I felt like I got two camps for the price of one, one for Nate and another for me--a much-needed week of peace, refreshments, and time with deeply-missed friends.

Thank you, Lord, for such a sweet end of summer get away. I pray that Nate will savor the memories for a lifetime, and that I will carry the benefits of breaking from technology into my ordinary life. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Week of Primitive Living

As you read this post, I am spending a week with my friends Anne and Rebecca at this darling cabin. Nathan and Anne’s son are at camp, swimming, riding around in canoes, and possibly braving the ropes course. 

I am braving a different kind of adventure—a week without Internet access or cell service. When Anne told me that we wouldn’t have either, I must say I was thrilled. As much as I love modern conveniences like phones and computers, lately I have felt the pressure to stay chained to them from morning 'til night. The opportunity to unplug felt like a gift from God, so I decided to go for it full-on and leave my laptop at home, too. I do plan to write, but with pen and paper. (Remember those?) I also plan to read books, spend time with God, see what He has to teach me through some speakers that we get to hear from in the evenings, and just enjoy being with my friends. I can’t wait to share what God does through this week of simple and a bit primitive enjoyment.

Would you like to share in my challenge? How about unplugging from devices for a day or even half a day? When I get home, you can share how God used the time to refresh your spirit, help you connect with your family, or be productive in a different way.

May God show you amazing things this week, no matter what you are doing!    

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Wednesday, August 07, 2013


“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life” Psalm 143:8. (NIV)

"Oh, no!” My sister Kristy laughed. “A bird flew into the house!” 

It was one of the swallows that had been nesting on Mom and Dad’s roof—the birds that sound so sweet and happy until we get too close and they dive-bomb us. 

I made it to the dining area just as the swallow circled the light fixture. Mom opened the front door and started coaxing the bird toward the door with a swishing hand towel. 

The swallow chirped and flitted in every direction except toward the door. We clapped our hands, stomped our feet, whistled, waved our arms toward the door shouting, “Go on, shoo,” as a chorus of birds called to him from outside, but the swallow kept flying in circles. He perched on a ceiling fan blade then on a window sill. I could almost hear the poor thing’s frantic thoughts: How did I get here? And now I can’t escape. Help!

After a while, we all stood back in defeat, knowing all we could do was wait and pray he didn’t start pooping on the furniture. 

He took another airial lap. My mind started reviewed the many times I had felt like that bird—stuck, flying in frantic circles, crying, “How did I get here? Help!” Some of the traps I flew into on my own; other times I followed the lead of someone I thought I could trust only to have him leave me stranded in the cave. Overtaken by shock and fear, I couldn’t see the open door leading out, even as friends called from the outside, “This way! We’re out here! It’s okay!” This might sound silly, but I honestly felt that bird’s pain. 

Lord, show him the way out.

The swallowed quieted and rested above the living room window, probably tired out from trying so hard.

A few minutes later, my prayer was answered. Dad opened an escape route via the garage door, which included fewer obstacles, and the bird swooped right out to freedom, reminding me that God never leaves us stuck forever. How many times had I, like that bird, found the way out as soon as I stopped screaming and flapping in circles and gave up trying so hard?

I’m sure there will be more days when I feel like that frightened, trapped swallow, but remembering his ordeal and the many that God has loved me out of gives me hope. In each one I will have friends calling to me from the outside and praying, “Lord, please show her the way out,” and a Father to open the path to escape just in time.

Lord, thank you for being with me even in my most frantic moments. Thank you for never leaving your children completely helpless, and for always providing a way out.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Getting Used to Disappointment

Last week, I wrote about allowing my son to have adventures. The day that I posted, he was getting ready for a trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with the junior high group, which he is brand new to. He was so excited! As nervous as I was about the possibility of him getting lost, ending up on a much-scarier-than-expected ride, or not having a friend to hang out with, I was proud of him for wanting to go even though he didn't know anyone. He couldn't wait to ride his first big roller coaster and I couldn't wait to hear about how much fun he had. I had a feeling that this week's post would include a story about his day; I just didn't expect that story to be about learning to handle disappointment.

I should have known that something was wrong when we pulled into the parking lot and didn't see a group of kids and parents. We assumed they were in the room where junior high group meets, but when we walked in, we only found two girls waiting. Their mom walked in a few minutes after we did, looking confused.

"Where is everyone?" She pulled out her phone to call one of the other moms.

Ten minutes and three phone calls later, we found out that the trip had been canceled. Apparently it had been announced the night before at a meeting that Nate hadn't started attending yet and the other family missed, and on a parent e-mail that I had signed up for but never started receiving for some reason. We walked back to the car in shock.

I probably don't need to say that Nathan was deeply disappointed. He didn't burst into tears and have a fit over it, but the dejection was written all over his sweet face. He had been looking forward to the trip all week. I was devastated for him. But in all the sadness, I marveled over how maturely Nathan handled the let down. He moped around for a while, (Who wouldn't? My parents and wanted to mope, too.) told me repeatedly how sad he was, and declared Thursday a bad day, but he refused to get mad at those in charge, to the point of standing up for them when we expressed frustration. When his cousins came over to cheer him up, he had a good time with them.

Later in the day, a thought hit me, and I couldn't decide whether to feel good or sad about it: Nathan's reaction reminded me that he is a kid who has learned to handle disappointment because he has experienced a lot of it recently. Without spilling all the details, he has endured more loss, unwanted change, sadness, and disappointment than an 11-year-old should know about. He knows from experience that the most exciting plans can fall through at the last minute, that life doesn't always go our way, and that people let us down. As much as I wanted to weep over the knowledge that he learned so much of this by seeing it first-hand, it reminded me of the growth that comes from living through devastating days that we thought would end our world but didn't. At the same time, I prayed that he hadn't grown too used to disappointment, so much so that he would start to expect it.

I don't want him to think like I do sometimes, going around with a I'm really excited, so when is the whole thing going to fall apart? outlook on life.

Since his more-mature-than-some-adults response, I have been praying that God will reward it with a better-than-he-could-imagine surprise or experience--something to remind him that while life does include disappointments, it is also full of wonderful things.  

How well do you handle disappointment? How has experience shaped how you respond to it, or what you expect out of life?    

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