Thursday, January 18, 2018

It Is All Bravery

I read the following quote by Bob Goff and it got me to thinking. It got under my skin. Frankly, it made me kind of angry.



You’re probably thinking, ‘Um, why does this bother you? It’s a nice quote about inclusivity.’ And it is. It’s a nice thought and a true thought. We’re all invited to the table. He IS sending us all in invitation.

My problem with this quote is that there is an assumption made that if you’re not living a loud public life of sacrifice, one that takes you to places unknown, exotic and scary, that you’re not at the party. That you’re saying ‘no’ to His invitation. That this author or anyone other than God knows what was in that invitation that He sends to each individual personally, frankly is kind of insulting. That’s quite an assumption to say that those who are at the fences or in the libraries are not already having their own party. Or that God did not send someone to the fences or to  libraries.

Let me speak plainly: we’re not all called to be Christian rock stars. We’re not all called to go to the ends of the earth, to dig wells so people in rural African villages have clean water, to adopt orphan children, to feed the homeless. We’re not all called to write books for the masses or speak from podiums so all the world can hear. Some of us are called by our Creator to stay home and nurture the people He has given us. To teach the ones He has entrusted to us about Living Water. Some of us are called to support in emotional, practical, and financial ways those He did call to adopt orphan children, dig wells in Africa, and feed the homeless. Some of us are called to iron our husband’s shirts so he can make the money to send with the missionaries He has called to go to foreign countries and preach the gospel.

Some of us are called to make friends with our literal neighbors. To cry with them during loss, to bring them actual food. To tell them when their dog got out. Some of us are called to go to work everyday and show our colleges who Christ is, because God loves the guy at the fire station, or at the next computer, or the guy running the saw on the job site just as much as he loves the people on the other side of the world. 

To assume that it is not an act of bravery to say yes to staying home, to being the support, the one who works and sends money, the one who prays, the one who ministers to their literal neighbors, the one who is not in the limelight but instead diligently working in the shadows is insulting.

A life well lived for God is not synonymous with a life lived loudly for God.  It seems our current popular Christian culture is trying to convince us that only grand gesture Christianity is true and honorable. But I submit that there is also so much that is honorable and noble in a quite Christianity, a quiet service. It is not either/or. Those who are quietly going about their work for the Lord are not lesser than those shining brightly out in front.

Doing the job God has given to you is bravery whether it’s making someone else’s life more beautiful, hugging every child that walks through your school’s door, making a warm meal for yout family and any friends they may bring with them, going to another country, digging wells, inviting dignitaries for dinner, or simply attending college classes while listening to His still small voice telling you what your next step is so you can be used by Him to further His kingdom. It is all right. It is all bravery if you are following His will for you. You are attending His party. You are at His table. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

TRUST

For the last many years I have had a word for the year. Some I chose, and some chose me. This year that word is 'trust', and it definitely chose me because frankly, I don’t want it.


As anyone who knows me will attest, I dislike change. Even other people’s change makes me twitchy. This last 18 months I’ve experienced more change than should be allowed and I’m a bit weary from it. And yet I know there is much more coming. It is the stage of life I’m in and it cannot be avoided no matter how much I might wish it so.


My job over the last 26, almost 27 years, has been to be the best wife and mother I could possible be. I stayed home with the kids. I cooked the meals. I washed the clothes. I kept the house. I homeschooled the kids. I taught at the co op. I drove the kids to all the things until they could drive themselves, and then I sat up to make sure they made it home okay. I listened and supported as my husband’s job ebbed and flowed.


I loved it. It is what I wanted to do. It made me happy. All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a wife and a mom. I was never ambitious. I know that is not very PC these days, but it’s the truth. I loved every minute. There were some hard bits, some really hard bits; I don’t want to sound too Pollyanna. Life can be rough. But even in those hard bits, I never felt like I should be doing something else.


So here I find myself after almost 27 years, in a weird place. I’ve written about it before, this In Between place. The kids are either off on their own or almost so. Dave is driving over an hour to work and back every day in traffic. The time has come for a change. A move.


We need to move closer to Dave’s job, but the kid’s lives are here. So sometime in the next year or so we will be moving, probably to the other side of DFW and this time, this move, will be without the kids. I can hardly wrap my head around that. Dave and I will be choosing a home based on what we need and want and not on how it will best fit the family. It feels so odd.


The girls may come with us on this move depending on where we end up and what they are doing at that time, but even if they do move with us it will only be for a little while. They are standing on the edge of the nest, wings outstretched. They will be jumping at any moment.


I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic but I just can’t seem to get my head around what I’m supposed to do now. My health is not such that I can jump back into a career. (I hate this fact. I hate this stupid autoimmune disorder that causes me chronic pain so much, but it is what it is and I don’t have the extra energy to spend fighting this reality. I have made peace with it and I try to live within its confines to the best of my ability.)


As 2017 came to a close with all these things swirling in my head, I kept hearing the word ‘trust’ in my spirit. And any time I hear the word ‘trust’ my mind immediately goes to the verse ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your path.’ Proverbs 3:5-6


It is like He is reminding me to trust Him. That just because my kids are no longer living in my home does not make me no longer a mom. Just a different kind of mom. My work is not finished, just changing. And the biggest thing He is whispering to my spirit is that change is not always bad. Sometime change can be good.


So here I sit, at the beginning of 2018, Trusting God, leaning not on my own understanding, acknowledging Him as the creator of my world and the lover of my soul, and TRUSTING that he will make straight this path into a strange and unknown future. 





Thursday, October 19, 2017

Parade of Crazy



I’m going to be honest with you, the last year has been nutty. I mean, crazy-nutty. It was just one big life altering event after another. I kept thinking, “Okay, after this life will get back to normal.” But then another thing would hit.

Many of these things were good things, but they were all stress inducing. We’re now about halfway through October and I am still sitting here staring at the walls. I’m not sad or depressed, I don’t want to alarm anyone, I’m just worn clean out. I feel like I could crawl in my bed with a good book and not come out until Christmas.

I was chatting with a friend about how exhausted I currently feel and how frustrating it is and she pointed out some of the things that have gone on in the last year. I started thinking about the parade of crazy the last year has been and somehow that made me feel a little better. I mean, all written down like that it IS a lot. (and these are just the highlights!)

People keep asking me what I’m going to do with my time now that I’m not homeschooling anymore and I have no answer for them. I mean, my current goal is to clear off all the homeschooling materials off the bookshelves before May, and maybe fold the basket of towels that's been sitting in front of them for who knows how long. That’s as much as I can plan right now.

But looking at the following list makes me feel like a little rest is okay, perhaps even called for.

I’m going to grab my book now, see y’all around Christmas.

The Parade Of Crazy

September – Baby of the family starts her senior year

October – First child gets married/moves out. Dave learns his job is changing/moving. It’s very ambiguous and scary. Will he even have a job next year??

November – host family Thanksgiving for 22

December - 2 major water leaks in bedroom part of house, Lots of holiday parties and festivities, whole family caught the coughing cold from the dark side.

January – Pipe burst in game room causing a giant water leak, I undergo a major abdominal surgery

February – Surgery recovery. I was drugged, it’s a blur.

March – Gunnar gets engaged, I host giant engagement party for 80-100

April – Senior stuff ratchets up (Show Tunes plays, Gala, Senior Honors nights). My dad gets sick, spends two weeks in the hospital, passes away, funeral. (I had help with my dad stuff with my mom and sister, but I was the legally responsible party for these events since I was the Power of Attorney)

May – Graduation of the baby, effectively ending my 21 year teaching career, host giant graduation party

June – Did we have June this year? I don’t even remember.

July – family vacation to Colorado where Dave ended up in the ER on his way home (I forced him to go practically against his will. Turns out he was having an ocular migraine)

August – Evelyn starts at new 4 year college, Annika starts college

September – wedding prep, Gunnar moves out

October – Gunnar and Kaytlin Get married. Dave starts new job as boss of huge branch, 1 hour away

I am really hoping that the next 12 month’s list consists of something like:

Lots of family get togethers
Holidays are celebrated
Tricia cleans off her bookshelves and folds basket of towels 


That’s it. That’s all I want on next year’s lists. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

We Are Houston

In a few days the disaster of Hurricane Harvey will be old news and the media will move on. Before they do I challenge you to watch closely what’s been happening down here in Tx.


Soon the media will go back to trying to convince you that all white people are racist, white supremacist, and all black people are criminals and thugs. They will have you believe that all Hispanics are illegal, and all Christians are hate-filled homophobes. Do not buy it. 




We may have differing opinions on things, even very important things, but when the waters rise we’re all in the same boat. I think I can say with some certainty that no one was asked for proof of citizenship or political affiliation before they were allowed in the rescue boat. I’m pretty sure that no one was denied access to a rescue chopper because they were black. Statistics would suggest that there were probably some members of the KKK rescued by black people. How awesome is that? That’s got to change your way of thinking. 



 I saw a video of a group of young black men pushing an older while lady’s car back up out of the flood waters, the caption stating something like “Young Black Men in Hoodies Coming to the Rescue.”



It is my belief that this is the norm. This is what happens every day on every street corner and in every grocery store and school and church. The media does not see it because they’re too busy filming the extremists. They would have us believe that the extreme hate-filled are everywhere and we should look with suspension at anyone who looks differently than we do or believes differently than we do. Do  not buy it.


My America, my every day, is young black men in hoodies coming to the rescue of the older white lady. My every day is a Hispanic man smiling and talking with two silly little black girl who’d been too long in the grocery cart, so their mom could check out. My every day is white men holding the door for a Hispanic family. This is so much the norm that you don’t even notice it. It’s just how we live.


My every day is sitting at the car wash with several people who all look different than me, watching CNN while we wait and knowing by their conversation they’re about as far from me politically as one can get, and yet we smile at each other and pass the time talking about our children and the weather.



My America is Houston. My America is the stereotyped ‘southern good ol’ boys’ rescuing a group of ‘black thugs’ and watching them hug and thank each other and smile and cry together. My America is a giant black man wading out into the water like the current didn’t even touch him, to rescue two smaller white men who were clinging to a street sign. My America is every color and ethnicity and political affiliation and gender and sexual orientation working together to rescue the elderly from a flooded nursing home. 



The media would have you believe that Charlottesville is the norm. Charlottesville is not the norm. Houston is. So when life goes back to normal and the talking heads once again show photos of hate and division, do not buy it. We are Houston. Turn off the TV and go outside. Hold the door open for the Hispanic lady behind you and smile. That’s the real America. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The In Between


Sometimes life moves from one phase to another so seamlessly that you don’t even notice the change. You go from the being the house with babies and toddlers to the house with school age kids before you even know it. Then suddenly you look around and realize that Little Tykes, Lego, and Playskool have been replaced by Apple, textbooks, and stinky sneakers. 


So often you only notice the passage of stages once they’re gone. The firsts are always noted; first tooth, first day of school, first sleepover, first time driving a car, first date… You don’t, however, notice the lasts. Eventually you start to think, when was the last time you cut up someone’s meat? Picked up one of your children? Gave them a bath? Washed their laundry? These lasts were not marked. They were not properly mourned. One day you picked up that last child, that last baby of the family, for the last time. Seems like that should have been noteworthy. But it was not. It slipped by unnoticed.

Then there are times the delineation from one phase to another is so stark that it’s jarring. How is it that that child who just yesterday was lining up his matchbox cars all in a row is now a husband? How can it be that that child who used to stick his pencils in the flame of the candle every time you left the room is now a firefighter? The kid you were afraid to let drive your car is now paid a lot of money by a city municipality to drive their million dollar firetrucks? How is it that the baby who would give you pouty lip and watery eyes every time you left her in the church nursery is now off to college without a backward glance, taking care of her own business and handling her own life? How is it that the baby of the family, the one you watched like a hawk to keep safe, that child you spent hours in the ER with over the span of her life praying as she fought off yet another anaphylactic reaction, is now applying to nursing school because she wants to be the nurse in the ER instead of the patient? These things are startling.


In 26 years my children have gone from helpless little cherubs to competent adults. I, however, remain the same; a little wiser hopefully, and a littler rounder to be sure, but overall the same. The passage of these 26 years did not have such a stark a change on me. I am still the same mom who worries when they’re not home. I’m still the mom who becomes enraged when someone slights one of her babies. I don’t even care if they’re all technically adults now. I will fight you.  I’m the same mom who wants to make sure they’re taking their vitamins, eating a healthy diet, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, not working too hard, and going to church. The difference now is that those things are no longer my job.


So what is my job now? I’m not really sure. My kids used to jokingly call me Motherboard after the character in the show CyberChase who is described as ‘the relaxed and benevolent ruler of Cyberspace who lives in Cyberspace Control Central’ That was me. I was the (mostly, I hope) benevolent ruler of my control central. The center of the house. The knower of what’s for dinner, all the phone numbers, dates on the calendar, whose turn it is to feed the dogs, and when they last had a tetanus shot.


I know the next phase of life will be fun. Different, but fun. Empty nesters. Dave and I will have the ability to flit about from here to there without an act of congress to set it all up. I won’t have to hold everyone’s schedules in my brain, just mine and Dave’s. I assume at some point there will be grandchildren. I can’t wait for this. I’m going to ROCK the grandma thing. I had to teach and train and discipline my own kids. It’ll be my kid’s and their spouse’s job to do the hard bits of parenting. Grandma just gets to play and read the books and make the cookies. I’m going to love that.


But we’re not there yet. Now we’re in the In Between. Not quite at the foot loose and fancy free daysof the empty nesters. Not at the eat ice cream and read books with the grandbabies phase. I’m not sure I like the In Between phase. It’s incongruent. Happy but sad. Exciting but scary. You don’t really have any say anymore. You have zero control. The stakes are much higher when they make mistakes, but you can’t do it for them. You want them to go and make their way in the world, but also not leave the nest. You want them to go serve the Lord, but not too far away please and thank you. The job in this In Between phase seems to be that of a cheerleader. You cheer and encourage when your team is winning, and you cheer and encourage and silently beseech God on behalf of your team, when they’re losing. Either way, your job is only to cheer. 



Friday, May 26, 2017

The Baby Graduates



I hardly know where to start with this post. So many things are all wrapped up in Annika graduating high school. On the surface, it’s just a child graduating, a milestone to be sure. She was my child who loved school. Okay, not the academic part, she did fine there, but she loved the social aspect. She loved our homeschool co op. She loved her friends there and was a part of everything she could possibly be. If they’d had a cheerleading squad she’d have been on it. She has been at this co op from the beginning, starting at Kindergarten. She knew all the teachers, moms, and had many, many friends. 

It was fun watching her go through high school. It was a very joy filled experience for her. 









 The graduation ceremony was last Saturday. Her twin cousins also graduated with her. They also were in this co op for most of their schooling years. These three were a force to be reckoned with. 





The ceremony was nice. It was the co op’s largest graduating class yet at 40. These kids are pretty amazing and oh so smart. The amount of scholarship money awarded to the kids on this stage would blow your mind. (*Brag alert! My nephews are at the top of that list!!!). But they are also a very talented class! There are singers, musicians, actresses, dancers, world class athletes, and the list goes on. 


After the graduation there is a reception where the students get to set up a table. This was Annika’s. She said she wanted a pink, sparkly table cloth so I found the pinkest sparkliest table cloth in existence. 






This table is so her. It represented her biggest joys in from high school. She loves to sing and has been on the worship team in her youth group all of high school. 





She works as a lifeguard at a nearby Baptist camp in the summers along with many of her friends. 



But mostly, she’s all about relationships. She loves her friends fiercely. 








After the reception we moved the party to our house. We had one giant bash for all three kids. There was ping pong, lots and lots and lots of food, my sister-in-law’s famous pies, and great fellowship. One of my favorite things to do at these grad parties is to have a time of prayer and blessing for the graduates. 



This is such a special time as their parents, grandparents, youth leaders, teachers, and friends all pray over the graduates. It’s a wonderful time and I think it is a lasting memory for these kids, it helps them remember how much they were poured into. How much they are loved. How much they’ve been taught. How much they have to offer this world because of the rich heritage they were given in their growing up years. It is a reminder to, as my husband likes to say, ‘use your powers for good.’ These kids have such power. They have the power to go out and change the world. They have the power to spread joy and light. They have the power to outwardly represent Christ. They have all the knowledge, tools, and support they need. They’ve been abundantly blessed, now it’s time for them to go out and be a blessing. 





These three have grown up together. They’ve been at the same co op, they’ve been in the same youth group at church, they’ve been in the same town all their lives and now they’re going their separate ways. It’s going to be an odd year next year. I hate endings but I guess sometimes you have to have endings so you can have new beginnings. 



These three are going to soar. They’re going to do great and amazing things. I am so excited to see where life leads them. I have been so very blessed to be called mom and auntie by these graduates. 

I am very happy to report that while life is changing around here in that I am now retired from homeschooling (My feelings on that will take another post altogether.) my girly is not going away. Because we live in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area there are several really good nursing schools within driving distance so she is able to continue living at home while she attends nursing school (her older sister is also doing college from home). 


This has a lot of benefits, not the least of which is money. We are trying to get these kids through college with as little debt burden on them as possible.  Living at home is a good way to do that. Also I think God is just being merciful to me and allowing the process of my kids flying from the nest to be more gradual. They’re college students so I don’t really ‘parent’ them anymore, though I’m here if I’m needed, but I do get to see them regularly and I am grateful for that. 



This girl, y’all. She kept me on my toes. She has always been so full of life. She never does anything half way. She was the child I had to constantly watch because her zest for life, her curiosity, and her undying friendliness got her into a lot of trouble. I can’t count how many times she climbed up on things just to see what was up there, or walked up to complete strangers and struck up a conversation. She would run pell-mell right into trouble and do it smiling and happy. That was the thing with young Annika, she was not a naughty child, she was just so happy to be alive and wanted to experience everything life had to offer. She was also unwaveringly optimistic. She just couldn’t believe there were really bad people, or that anything bad could happen if she say, hung her scooter from a tree with ropes and tried to hang upside from the handlebars while it was swinging… She lived on the bright side of life and was always so shocked with things did not go her sunshiny way. 



While these attributes gave me grey hair and made me despair of her even surviving childhood, they are going to serve her well in life. She wants to be an ER nurse and I’m telling you right now, if you are in the ER and this little bit of sunshine walks into your room, you’re going to get better simply by the force of her happy will. She will have it no other way. 


Being Annika’s mom for these last 18 years, as well as her teacher, has been my joy. She made me a better person. I would prefer not to release her out into the world and keep her for my own self. I’d like to go back in time and start over (maybe this time I’d figure out a way to keep her from playing in the neighbors bird bath every dang day). But life does not allow do-overs no matter how much we might wish it so. 


You’re going to go far, my last little bird. Just don’t forget where the nest is!