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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