Friday, April 25, 2014

friday night

:: it's friday night and i am feeling lazy and unmotivated. i feel like ditching dinner obligations and reading a book for the rest of the evening. alas, my life does not currently allow such luxuries.

:: dan and i are talking seriously about enrolling will in the local charter school this fall. he will be in 5th grade and it will be a big step for all of us! we feel like the time is right... but we will see. i'm excited for the possibilities. 

:: i'm running my 2nd half-marathon on sunday, with one of my best local friends / distance-running partner. she is moving to anchorage at the end of may, which is sad for me, but not all bad, because i'm planning to go out in a year or so and run a race with her there (simultaneously realizing my dream of seeing alaska.)

:: the last two books i bought on kindle (one being francine rivers' latest, and the other was highly recommended to me, called sober mercies) did not download because..... our credit card number was hacked last week, which i forgot about, and attempted to buy them using the cancelled number. oops.

:: in another oops, i referred to dan's boss, katheen kane, today as "kathleen kelly". if that sounds vaguely familiar, you're right, IT IS. because that was meg ryan's character in you've got mail. nice, huh? i'm awesome like that. 

:: well dinner is done and i need to go call the kids inside. they are currently behind the garage with dan, strapping leftover dynamite to random objects and blowing them up. (yes, somehow dan has "leftover dynamite" in the garage. i have no idea. don't even ask. 

:: happy weekend! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

worship and dishes: a winning combo

Tonight we had our first spring dinner outside on the back porch... I made risotto (a perennial family fave) and sautéed mushrooms ... and leftover roasted brussels sprouts. It was lovely to sit outside in the fresh almost-spring air and listen to the kids' chatter and Dan's laugh and watch our crazy happy dog chasing birds in the yard. I love just being with my little fam.

After dinner, I offered to clean up and Dan offered to take the kids out in the woods for awhile to give me a quiet house. I love Hillsong Live's pandora station -- it always seems to "speak" to me, exactly when and where I need it. 

Tonight these lyrics echoed around my heart as I scrubbed pans and loaded dishes:

Everlasting:
Your light will shine when all else fades

Never ending:
Your glory goes beyond all fame

And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise

From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

~~

SO. GOOD.

I love good lyrics paired with good melodies. As I have little to no talent in either of those area, I really appreciate it when someone else can pair the two and the result is that my very soul can rise and respond in kind:

Praise the Lord, my soul, 
and forget not all his benefits... 
who forgives all your sins, 
who redeems your life from the pit and 
crowns you with love and compassion...

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love...
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him...

(pieces of Psalm 103)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

on underprivileged kids and education

earlier today i finished reading a book called "found" by micha boyett. (loved it.)

browsing for her blog led me to another blog (emerging mama) who, in one of her recent posts, quoted max lucado in his book, "outlive your life":

"in the game of life, many of us who cross home plate do so because we were born on third base. others aren't even on a team."

i've been thinking about that truth all day, and it's weighing heavily on me.

my kids have the benefits of loving parents, good nutrition, education with (what basically amounts to) a private tutor (*pats self on back* ;)) solid routine, normal bedtimes, fresh air and exercise every single day... along with a million other little perks that, all combined, will help them trot down that little white line from third base to home plate.

 so. many. others. don't have ANY of this.

they don't have loving parents. don't have a decent breakfast (or any breakfast) before showing up to an over-crowded / under-equipped classroom with an exhausted teacher who is just trying his best; in a tough part of the city, where politics matter more than kids' future lives. it's depressing and disheartening and infuriating. i want to believe that every kid in america has a fair chance, a fighting chance to be bigger than the crappy hand they were dealt at birth. i want to think that no matter what your circumstances, you can rise above it and be bigger.

i follow an instagram account called "humansofny" and a couple days ago they quoted a fourth grade teacher from harlem who said, "Many of [the kids i teach] just don't have a culture of expectation at home, and it's hard work to lift yourself out of an underprivileged situation. I actually just finished going to a trombone recital for a former student of mine. I used to coach him in hockey on weekends. He'd practice with me from 4am-6am. Then he'd go to practice trombone from 8 to 10. He did all this just so he could get into a good high school. That's what it takes, really. Hard to do without a culture of expectation."

this kid would practice hockey from 4-6am. (side note: huge props to this great teacher who coached him at these ungodly hours!) that means getting up basically in the middle of the night. when you maybe didn't get to bed till really late. and then afterward, playing trombone for two hours, maybe fighting sleep ... all because you have a bigger goal.

that is, no joke, hard work. "it is hard work to lift yourself out of an underprivileged situation." and really, how many kids are up for that work? and not only up for that hard work, but up for fighting against all the norms and social mores and lack of expectation, that they can and will make anything of themselves? (I'm pretty sure i would not have been.) how is this in any way fair, or right?

sometimes i feel like i'm scrabbling about, getting so mad at the injustice and unfairness and if that was my kid... and i just wind up feeling helpless and frustrated (not to mention less than useful in my current situation.)

yesterday morning our pastor talked about that verse in revelation, where it says that, one day, God will make all the wrongs right. all the injustices will be fixed. all the infuriating unfairnesses of life will be made right. because God is fair and just, and although i hope that somehow i will be able to do my part to make the hard work of overcoming a raw deal in life easier for some of these children, at the end of the day, i fix my eyes on this: i don't know how God will ultimately make things right for all these children, but i believe he will.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday evening

It's a quiet Sunday evening and Dan has said his goodbyes for the week a few hours earlier. The kids are sad and restless and irritable, so we head over to our neighborhood lake for a bit to regroup and enjoy the nearly 70° weather. They immediately disperse and I sit at a nearby picnic table, reading.

It is breezy and cool as the sun sinks lower towards the hills. The kids' urgent chattering soothes all our frazzled heads and makes my heart swell. You can hear peepers all around us, and I watch as birds glide on updrafts over the lake.

I've always found peace outdoors. When life and its myriad of distractions get the best of me, I can always find a clear head and calm spirit when I get outside. And the lyrics from my current favorite Hillsong that I've been humming all day resound around my heart and deeply anchor my soul.

"There is no one else for me: none but Jesus.
Crucified to set me free; now I live to bring him praise."

I know I've got a long week ahead so I soak up the peace and the sounds of a quiet evening by the lake, and think how very grateful I am for all of it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

changes

i've changed things up a bit on the blog. many times when i feel like writing, i think i really should stop and update everyone on my life instead (who exactly the "everyone" is remains to be seen...) and then the actual bits i wanted to write never make their way onto the screen... like many small, precious things, they get lost in the shuffle of the "big picture".

so. this is my way of repurposing. of slowing down. of recording the small moments. of remembering a few of the many thoughts, prayers, and full-hearted emotions that so much make up the fabric of these years of my life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Moving on...

Today I am working on cleaning out our mudroom cubbies. All the kids' winter stuff is getting phased out and packed away for another kiddo in another winter.

As I moved about making piles, to wash, to give away, to store, I began to fold up Olivia's little back snow pants --  and I felt that little twisting mama-heart pang.

I had purchased a pair of sturdy little black snow pants for Will during a freakishly big snowstorm in St. Louis, six years ago. He proudly wore them, and the boots and the parka that arrived that week, all week long, out in the snow. Over the years, three more siblings got a full winters' use out of them and they are still in great shape (because really, how hard are four-year-olds on snow gear?!) ...so now it is time to pass them on. And really, I am happy to do so. I love getting rid of stuff and have no desire to keep things around that won't be used.

But they are so cute. So small. I can picture each of my babies standing tall in the little black bibs, excited to venture outside, excited to be a bit more independent. All four of my babies have worn these. It makes me sigh deep, and swallow a lump in my throat.

To be honest, I rarely miss the old days. I love each stage of parenting and cherish each phase of life for the treasure it is. I would not turn back the clock, not would I hurry time onward. I am content with each unfolding day and the fullness it brings.

Yet somehow the little black snow pants have got to me today.

I pray I will be "worthy of the calling I have received", parenting each of my children for the beautiful persons they are, treasuring their individuality and their uniqueness.

And at the end of the day, I will permit myself to be a little sad for the babies who are growing and changing, who won't ever wear this pair of little black snow pants again. Yet I know, so soon, this feeling will also pass, and I will again be looking forward to each day... loving each for it's own merit.

There is so much ahead yet to be loved and so much in today to love.

And a little pair of black snow pants will see the light of another dusky winter afternoon, not in our yard, but in another's. And the world will turn on its axis, bringing about another round of seasons... and life will go on.

It's all so beautiful, isn't it?