Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Excuse me, please.

I have this friend. In many ways, she is much like me, residing in a constant state of wrestling with the hard questions surrounding her faith, which unites us in this impeccable tension only the self tortured soul, destined to inquire regarding every single divine thing can fathom - not to stand in opposition to God, but to enter into true and honest Communion with Him. Only she is so much kinder. Because so often when we talk about how so and so could possibly do or say such and such, while we shake our heads and point our pious mental fingers in judgement, she gently reminds me about herself, "I've been there too. I thought...said...did....the same thing. I used to be in their shoes." And I recall my own experience. I have also. I've been there. Certain. Sure. Blasting the world with The Exclusive Truth I was so convinced I had a firm handle upon. Who gets in, who is left out, I was positive I understood. 

Until I didn't anymore. 


Until the questions just became too loud, the assuredness too quiet, the list hopeful exceptions for people I desperately wished entrance though they didn't fit the mold too long. 

To me, she is the finest example of what it means to remember from whence you've come. She reminds me to understand their point of view. No matter who they are. 
   
It's the kind of thing that makes me comfortable having my kids address their weakness, while allowing them to freely witness and express mine. 

The way I see it, there is no burying them, they will be with us until the end of our moments spent plodding this luxuriously privileged planet. We will labor to subdue our worst, to contain its effects on our beloveds. Try to hide and cover and squelch and reduce them as we may, the poorest, most base portions of ourselves serve to remind us of a glorious truth. We are all connected. To whatever extent in whatever context, we've all been there. Somewhere. If we are brave enough walk all the way into honesty, we've probably all been ashamed of the unthinkable we've actually mustered the audacity to think. We've likely all surprised ourselves in those moments when we've stared our darkest in the mirror. Most of us have probably startled our very own conscience with a terrible, tragic image that's popped into our mind we would like to think was scrubbed clean. 

To me, it's a wonderful, liberating reality of exquisite unity. We all need blessed pardon, love that covers a multitude. Because if we afford ourselves the grace and space to be real, the majority of us can freely admit, we've been there too. And that makes us a whole lot easier to be around. 

As far as I can tell, if I am able to be like my friend Jen and remember, that used to be/could be/ might be me...I can more generously pardon you as you graciously excuse me.

Monday, September 29, 2014

I suck. No, wait...I'm awesome!

No, really. I'm b-a-a-a-a-a-d. Until I'm oh so g-o-o-o-o-o-d.

Flint has been engaged in a series of tests that comprise a complete neuro psych evaluation. We've been coming and going and driving...and...driving...and...driving...(did I mention driving?) back and forth to and from downtown Colorado Springs so he can be quizzed all the day long in an attempt to help us understand the way the grey matter atop his head functions. 

He is being tested on IQ, academic skills, processing speed, language, attention, memory, learning, problem solving, visual processing, fine motor skills and social/emotional/behavioral skills. It should be a very telling set of results that will help us better understand how his mind processes information and what we can do to best serve him, especially with regard to his unique educational needs. 

And so...

It has started a conversation amongst the congregation that comprises the student body representation of Deutchland Academy. Because everyone knows. Flint struggles. A lot of time is spent working to assist him. Mom struggles. Dad struggles. We all struggle, struggle, struggle with the Ethiopian male child. 

But the thing is, Flint has his own personal set of outstanding strengths too. Stuff that sets him far apart, way out ahead of the crowd. Like his pleasant disposition. The boy is full of blessed sunshine down deep in his soul. Complain? He doesn't do it. Ever. Not at all. The child eats whatever heap of vegetable medley tis laid upon his plate, then he says, thank you. With a smile (!) For realsies. His heart? Made of pure, spun gold. It's a big one. Pumping all kinds of juicy gladness through that body of his. He has his challenges, yes. And they often take center stage because we just have to get the business done in a day. We're American, after all. Productivity is our highest achievement and ultimate goal. Let the fine numbers reflect our stellar work ethic...ahem. 

Anyhoo.

Aren't we all in the same boat as dear Flint? Knocking it out of the park, bringing the fans to their feet in certain areas and striking out to the boo of the crowd in others? Don't we all have places where our highlights glisten like golden honey dousing wholesome sweetness on every pure bit of goodness they touch? Aren't there moments where we shine like the star we know simply know we were born to become and we can't believe how fortunate we are just to be in the company of ourselves?  

Then, we go and wreck and damage and mar and ruin and clutter some precious thing up. We realize no matter how altruistic we'd like to pretend we are, we can't escape our own self interests to some small extent. We examine our motives and find them sorely wanting. We stare our selfishness in the face and we all at once understand, we are wretched, wretched souls in desperate need of forgiveness from nearly everyone we encounter. 

Because dear humans, do we not splatter our mire at the exact same moment we spread our sunshine? We're a mess like that. And when you think about it, it's kind of a beautiful thing. We are complex, multi faceted creatures in need of tender mercy and cleansing grace at the very second we are lifted high, just as much as when we are brought low. 

We're in this together. All of us in the same wonderful terrible boat. 

Clover - One of my strengths is dancing.
One of my weaknesses is heights.
Meadow - One strength of mine is sharing. Another is sleeping. I also like running a lot. Reading is something I think I'm good at. Doing math I'm sort of good at. Mostly doing the correct thing. I'm good at getting ready to leave the house. Staying healthy is something easy. Coloring I like to do. writing is not a challenge much. One weakness is stealing. One more of mine is drawing. I'm also bad at communicating. I'm not so good at science. Another one is spelling. Coming up with things to do. One thing is lying I do a lot. Remembering what I don't do well. Those are some of my strengths and weaknesses. But there are many more of both.
Flint - My strengths are building and gazing out the window. Some of my weaknesses are spelling, reading, science. Some more of my strengths are forgetting, drawing, tracing, coloring, and lying. (He's not lying. The boy is skilled at lying.)
Jayla - I'm a great party planner. I love baking desserts. I can get my school work done in two hours. I am a responsible babysitter. I like organizing. I am good at using what I have to make what I need. I'm a horrible speller. I don't always get along with my siblings. I hate breakfast burritos, peas and pears. With my braces I'm supposed to brush my teeth three times a day, but I only brush two.
Tyden - One of my weaknesses is keeping  a positive attitude. One of my strengths is pokemon cards. Another one of my strengths is smiling. My weakness is food. I will eat a lot of it.
Onyx - One of my weaknesses can be that when I am around other people I get angry and hurt people. I also just do not like being around the other kids most of the time. (Um, introvert much?!)
One of my strengths is that I like to try new things and that when I do most of the time I like it. Another one of my strengths is I am good at reading comprehension, spelling and mostly I am organized.

Stryder - One of my weaknesses is refusing to do my school work and my jobs. But one of my strengths is making up ideas and doing dot to dots.
*********
Dude. These kids make me so proud. Getting a handle on their own positive and negative attributes so young. They will make some fine, well balanced adults! I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE some JOTSCMF! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Around the Homestead

**First, answers to a couple questions. 

El numero uno: What makes ME feel loved? I like them all! [The love languages, that is.] Except the gifts. Unless a gift is really useful and kitchen-ey. Those are my favorite. As far as the nibblets are concerned, I enjoy them hanging out with me and telling me about themselves. I try to ask lots of questions so I can really get to know what makes them tick. I like it when they come along side me and we talk as we (mostly I) work together. I also like playing games with them and reading books and we often have a lot of fun during school. Like yesterday when Jayla, unbeknownst to me, recorded my *awesome* rendition of Just Give Me a Reason and sent it to me via e mail. Listening to it later and hearing us all laugh reminded me of what a gift it is to so much spend time with them, even though school can regularly be frustrating. My love tank is filled by their presence. I like them near. 

Regarding The Calvous Man Of the House? Of course, my honey do list is long. Because he is a capable handyman and there is nothing hotter than a capable handyman. I do like it when he checks off those items one by one. So acts of service are big around here. But is that what makes me feel most loved? Probably not.

I need   T    I    M    E. 

Spent together. Chatting, laughing, doing nothing or something or whatever. That's probably my primary love language. But his words of affirmation go a long way too. As does a hug when he gets home from work. So, all in all I'm a high maintenance hillbilly who requires just about all the languages of love.

Just don't buy me lots of gifts. Not with our shared bank account, anyway.

Truthfully, my honey love language speaker is an EXcellENT listener who always gives me lots of room to verbally process and just be completely myself. And he remembers what I say. THAT speaks love to me in a big, big way.

El numero dos: Concerning the ideas for the pictures and writing prompts for the kids? Most of them just come to me while we're doing school or sometime throughout the day based on what we are learning or what's going on with the younger population. I'm definitely known for stopping everything to do a creative writing or drawing assignment.  
************************
Some poor phone photos of what happened down on the prairie over the summer --

Life of a wannabe homesteader is never a bore... 

Onyx mowing to make way for the lookout tower ~
Lookout tower in progress ~
The expanded garden ~
Our first butchering experience ~
The farmer and his wife doing the deed ~
Shooting mice in the hen house with a BB gun ~ 
The garden well under way ~
Almost complete: The tree house in the land of no trees ~
When bad bees swarm ~ (Noooooooooo!)
Reduce, reuse, recycle: Making a mobile chicken run out of an old trampoline ~
Novice beekeepers trying to hive the swarm ~
Cleaning out the stove pipe for a new year of wood burning ~
Bringing wood to the garage to prep for winter ~
Pulled oodles of green tomatoes due to an early, early September freeze ~ Boo!
New clothesline in the works - the old clothesline area is being turned into a dog run ~
The homesteader's Mercedes Benz ~ 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I feel loved when...

Recognizing the unique ways my kids register love spoken to their hearts can be tricky. For some of them, it's more obvious. They seek, request, demand attention in a very specific manner with the clear desire for a very specific outcome. Mom, can I teach you to play chess?  Um, let me think about that. Well, no. You may not. Find another method of communicating affection between you and I, mmmmkay baby? (I adore games. But chess. Really? I'm afraid it will snore me to death. Half my life is already gone, for the love of middle age (!) Can't Spend The Rest Playing Chess.) 

With other kids, those who are more laid back and aren't all up in my grill all the day long, it can be tough to determine what it is precisely that translates I am loved for them.

But I want to learn. (Even if it involves rooks and pawns and knights and bishops and queens and kings...who I will undoubtedly come to know...) Because aside from chess oh, babes. I want you to know you are loved. Deep in your soul, where you find all that is you in the still and quiet of the darkest night, I pray you realize your worth and your value and your meaning to us, your parents and your family. That you feel in the depth of your being that if you did not walk this earth at this very moment, it would be a much worse place.

You are valuable beyond measure and because of that reality lived and breathed, you are capable of achieving enormous good. You just are. 

So tell me, what makes you feel loved?
Clover: I feel loved when mom says "I love you, Clover."
Meadow: I feel loved when my awesome mom gets me something.
Onyx: I feel loved when dad lets us drive the mower. 
Flint: I feel loved when dad helped me when I fell down.
Stryder: I feel loved when I help mom in the garden.
Jayla: I feel loved when mom and I go somewhere and we talk in the car.
Tyden: I feel loved when I talk to mom while she is cooking.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

25 things you may not know about me

I love reading these. They are in a magazine I like.
A total narcissistic exercise, but kind of fun nonetheless.
Trying to lighten the mood.
Here we go...

1. I am an enthusiastic gardener, but if I see a pretty weed I won't pull it.
2. In my alternate life, where I have no children, I am a cirque du soleil performer.
3. I can eat a whole watermelon by myself in a day.
4. When I was younger I was sure I would get my Ph.D and become a professional person.
5. I never thought I would marry a white guy. Hispanic!
6. The All Carbs All the Time diet would suit me just fine.
7. I despise being the center of attention.
8. I could not leave my house for weeks and not mind.
9. If the world were full of people like me, no organizations would exist.
10. In other words, I don't facilitate anything and prefer not to be in charge.
11. I like to turn every little thing into a competition, especially with my husband.
12. He still floats my boat even after 19 years together.
13. If I had a baby girl, I was going to name her Flower.
14. I used to be very religious.
15. If I come across a COEXIST bumper sticker, I might buy it for my mega van.
16. I try to maintain few vices so I am most fully engaged.
17. I gave up coffee on Dec. 27, 2013.
18. If there is not some "next big thing" to reach for, I go out of my mind.
19. That drives my white husband out of his mind.
20. I try to convince my daughter to have babies. Now. She resists.
21. It would insult me most if someone called me "shallow."
22. My next tattoo will be 2 swans representing faithful love.
23. Mary Lou Retton was my hero.
24. I can't stand to touch a wooden spoon.
25. I love heights but hate small spaces.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Melancholy

It's the relentless weighty blanket determined to shadow me throughout my days. My own personal cloud of dreary grey. Even when the sun is shining, it's the covering of grief over what was lost, over earnest desire that can never be fulfilled, of longing that must be forcibly quelled time and again because it has no reasonable place to land.

My mind rebels against the reality of what is. It schemes and plots and wants to force a way where none exists. I've always been tenacious. My tendencies work against me. Accepting is not my strength. Maybe one more try, just one last treatment, another few months, we could do this, it could work this time...

Only I know I can't. It won't.

Everywhere I look they are there. The announcements. Ones that would have been born the same time as mine. The swollen bellies. The strollers and carriers and plush blankets and tiny whimpers and supplies and miniature clothes I have no need to buy. The photos of pride and joy. The rejoicing. The jokes and complaints and warnings about raging hormones. 

It hurts to look. Anywhere. Everywhere. I want to stay home, offline where they can't reach me. Where my heart is insulated, protected from the ache produced with the simple swipe of a finger - another day, another elated announcement, they will meet their babies. Do they know how lucky they are? I want to tell them. I want to scream it. I want to curl up in a ball and wail.

I dream over and over at night that it was a mistake, they were wrong. It's still alive. It will be born! The physical remains still departing my body remind me. It's not alive. It won't be born. It is gone.

I've spent years in this vein. Focused. I think in terms of little ones. Always. All the time. I want nothing more on this physical earth. How do I change everything that I am, everything that I crave? For most people, this would be enough. More than enough. There is no category for people like me. My brain doesn't work the way I wish it would. I have to forcibly will it to change.

Life marches on and I do too. I am one of the fortunate ones. It could always be worse. There is so much worse happening to people every day. My heart shatters for those without. I can not imagine. I am so sorry. I have beautiful children. Many beautiful children. I love them so much. They are the beat of my heart. Staying home, raising kids, making a life within these walls is my passion, my delight, my devotion, my skill, my ability, my drive, my motivation, my ambition. I want only to do this. I was made for this job. I want to do it forever. I know it can't last, but I yearned to begin again, just one last time. I have gone to extreme measures for one last time. I would give nearly anything for one last time.  

I'm not usually prone to extended sadness. With great hope for light I anticipate normalcy resuming. But it will take time.

I'm going to allow myself the grace and hours and days and nights I need. There is no healthy way to skirt around. I must keep walking. Straight through. Thankful for all that I have. 



Tuesday, September 09, 2014

10 Pieces of Advice

Inspired by Thomas Jefferson's 10 pieces of advice written for his grandson, as a writing prompt the kids wrote advice they would offer their loved ones.

Jefferson's:
1) Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
2) Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3) Never spend your money before you have it.
4) Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
5) Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
6) We never repent of having eaten too little.
7) Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8) How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
9) Take things always by their smooth handle.
10) When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred.


Jayla's:
1) Don't eat more food just because you can.
2) Nothing anyone says to you can hurt you unless you let it.
3) If you like what you look like you look perfect.
4) Don't get a tattoo unless it means something special to you.
5) Spend your time doing what you enjoy, not what will make you look cool.
6) Save your money to get something you will use and you really want.
7) Keep your areas clean. It will help you look more organized.
8) Cut your nails so you look pretty, not gross. Plus, you have to look at them all day so they should be nice.
9) Get up, don't spend your life in bed or on a couch. You'll never accomplish anything.
10) Your family are the most important thing in your life. Keep them close.


Meadow's:
1) Think before you speak.
2) Help others when they are in need.
3) Don't buy tings that you don't need.
4) Eat healthy foods.
5) Don't listen to what a bully says.
6) Try your best not to spread germs.
7) When there is a problem try and find a way to help.
8) Don't cheat even when it is tempting.
9) Don't be a sore winner or loser.
10) Congratulate those who win.
 Altogether try to be a nice person. 


Tyden's:
1) Don't do things without thinking.
2) Don't get into trouble.
3) Do as your are told.
4) Make right choices.
5) Do well in school.
6) Listen to your parents.
7) Don't wait to do things you can do now.
8) Don't do too many electronics.
9) Don't do dumb things.
10) Keep your things in good condition.


Stryder's: 
1) You should think before you talk.
2) Travel, don't stay inside.
3) Do as you are told.
4) Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
5) Buy what you need, not what you don't need.
6) If you make a mistake, try to fix it.
7) Do your job fully and completely.
8) You should study to get smart.
9) Try to live a happy life.
10) Make people happy, not sad.  


Clover's (as dictated to mom):
1) Make a small house instead of a big house because then you can save your money for other things that are more important.
2) Have less animals than more so you can give to others.
3) Be nice to people and don't be rude.
4) Treat others how you want to be treated.
5) Only buy the things you need, not the things you don't need.
6) Have less boys so there is less shouting and mess.
7) Treat animals nicely.
8) On birthdays, give presents.
9) If someone's ship is falling apart when they are in the sea and you have a better ship, help them. Don't just leave them there!
10) Go outside! Don't sit inside all day and play the iPad! Live a happy childhood! 


Onyx's: 
1) Do what is asked of you.
2) Pay attention when someone is trying to teach you something.
3) Do not procrastinate.
4) Do not borrow money if you can not pay it back.
5) Do not take advantage of someone's hospitality.
6) If someone does something good to you, do something good to them.
7) If you borrow something give it back in better condition than it was given.
8) Even if someone is bad to you, be good to them.
9) Eat what is given to you.
10) Enjoy things while they last.


Flint's: 
1) Do not eat too much candy.
2) Don't become a robber.
3) Do your school quickly.
4) Pay attention.
5) Do your best.
6) Sound out the words you can not read.
7) Treat others how you want to be treated.
8) Don't watch t.v. all the time.
9) Clean up the mess when you're done.
10) Don't get in a stranger's car. 

Mom's:
1) Kindness is never the wrong choice. 
2) Work to love people as they are rather than try to change them.
3) Find what your hands like to do and do it heartily.
4) Enjoy nature.
5) Say, "thank you" daily.
6) Compliment others sincerely and regularly, it will keep you in the habit of seeing the best in people.
7) As much as possible, focus on positive aspects more than negative. 
8) Be gentle on yourself but honest about your mistakes.
9) Realize there will always be something with which you must contend.
10) Find joy in all the corners of your life. 
Life's extraordinary beauty mainly resides in the ordinary pockets of a regular day.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Dear Baby,

It's times like this I wish I knew more about heaven, that my faith was stronger, more resolute and resolved and certain - less burdened with questions - more satisfied with answers that would serve to satiate the gaping hole of longing that has settled deep within my soul.

You were my hope, my yearning, my future, my craving, my most beloved and treasured and welcomed and wanted and earnestly desired, gift, my sweet baby.

We lost you at 10 weeks to the very day.

Since we couldn't conceive you the natural way, we went to extraordinary, great lengths on your behalf. Because of this my pregnancy was heavily monitored, which means I got to see your tiny heart gloriously flickering three times. 3 times! At 6 weeks, 8 weeks, and 9 weeks. Elation. Uncontainable jubilee. Joy unspeakable.

I thought of you always, when I would lie down at night, when I awoke during it, first thing when I opened my eyes, all day long. As I would do my daily routine you were forever on my mind. I would hang laundry on the clothesline and think of your small things one day warming in the sun. When I ran errands, I could imagine you along with me. As I prepared food, I considered what I would make for you. During school with the kids I thought of you arriving during our Spring Break. As I slept I dreamt of you.

You enveloped the whole of my heart.

I wanted you so, so, so very much.

Though they say it's silly, there's nothing I could have done differently, I can't help but feel as if I've let you down. Did I lift too much? Not take it easy enough? Should I have eaten better, slept longer, exercised more? Less? Because baby, I would do anything for you. Anything. Anything. Anything.

I'm sorry I couldn't carry you. I'm sorry I lost you. I'm sorry my body let you go. If I could have, by sheer will kept you alive, I would have. I would have. I would have. Please, know that, ok?

Now, I sit and wonder how it's possible to miss someone you've never met with every fiber of your being. All of my self, every part of me that lives and moves and breathes aches for you, wishes for your presence, mourns your magnificent loss. My eyes swell with grief. The sorrow folds in on me. It presents itself a cavern I am unable to lift my eyes beyond.

You still never leave my mind. Not when I go to sleep, not when I awake, not when I dream. It's always of you, you, you.

I know time will heal and the jagged edges of pain will mercifully soften. For that I am glad. I can not imagine keeping on this way.

Even when it does, even when I am able to smile and laugh and find a measure of glee again, even when I move on, I hope you know I will never, ever forget you. You were my momentary miracle, my wonder and awe and most sincere gratitude.

I waited for you for years.

I love you with every ounce my mother's heart.

You are my precious little one.

I truly hope to see you one day...when all the wrongs are made right and the only tears will burn hot, exuberant, glad, triumphant. Then, my joy will know no bounds.

Until then, take good care.

Goodbye, sweet baby.

Love always,
Your mommy









Monday, August 11, 2014

Flintcidents

You know, incidents involving Flint.

They number themselves greater than the stars in the sky.

Oh, I kid. There's not that many. But almost.

That boy is two handfuls and a box of chocolates.

On my good days, I maintain a healthy sense of perspective about it all. I am a blend of gracious and strong. I keep things light and offer up my most compassionate heart as a gift to his very soul. I remember his past, his wounding, his pain and his loss and his grief and his far less than fair shake that began when he was but a tiny little tyke. I recall that he is just a boy, a child, that repetition and correction are a way of life for a parent. I see him and smile in the way that make my eyes crinkle with hearty gladness. I look at him and well up with tenderness, love. A gentle giant, my boy, An African Prince.

If I were to decide to trust you, dear friends, with my fragile innermost self and lay bare my honest soul before you I would have to confess: Those days don't happen often. Not as often as I would like. Not as often as they should.

In my less than glimmering moments, I just want rest from the relentless labor of parenting a child that challenges me to the depth of my core nearly every single day of our lives together. I long for ease and respite. I yearn for change, relief.  I don't like the mother I've become, who I've allowed the stress and strain Extreme Parenting to make me. I can't believe the voice that rises out up out of me, booming, thundering, scary I'm sure. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and all at once fathom the palpability of the anger in the room. I shudder at my own thoughts, harsh and unkind. Bitterness and resentment bubble beneath the surface. Straining, I push them down again and again. Grief over the loss of life as I once knew it with the babes I gave birth to washes over me. I romanticize the years where things were simpler and parenthood resided firmly in the category labeled Fulfilling Joy. I reminisce over the days before multiple Flintcidents every 24 hours stretched me thin.

I doubt the wisdom of this placement with me. I fear a different person, woman, mother would be better equipped, more aptly suited for this role. I mourn for the perpetuation of his troubled lot, being placed in my care.

I wonder where the person I used to be has gone? The one with abounding compassion that would take every penny she could scrounge and save to throw caution to the wind and fly halfway across the world to bring two children she had never once met and knew next to nothing about into her family to make them her own. Was she ever real or was she only imagined in my mind, based on a lofty ideal of "orphan care" that had no bearing in real, actual life where the draining work of raising hurt children is involved?

I cannot be sure. It's all muddled together now.

All I know for certain is that I have given up waiting for normal to recommence, which I actually think is a kind of natural progression and a good thing. It's a continuous effort, but the loss of expectation helps me ward off crushing disappointment. There is a constant reawakening in progress to the acknowledgement that I, as a grown woman made these choices to step directly into the realm of Adoptive Parenting, come what may.

I took an extraordinary leap of faith that led me to Ethiopia, and this boy.

I will continue to summon the strength to give my all on his behalf, to honor my commitment and provide him what is due.

No matter how many Flintcidents come my way.

* Full neuro psych eval is scheduled. Stumbled upon it serendipitously through a friend. It was also recommended by our former counselor. Maybe it will give further insight that will help me understand how to better parent the boy.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

"What kind of God do they serve?"

I remember it well.

The time I was sitting at the kitchen table in the home of a friend, stuffed to the gills with some of the finest authentic Indian cuisine you could ever imagine the pleasure of feasting upon, when the woman sitting beside me said something casually that struck me so deeply it left an indelible mark. The kind where your brain forms a new pathway to accommodate a revelation entirely novel to you, where your mind is pierced with a foreign concept that suddenly presents itself common knowledge and your perception irrevocably shifts.


It's the type of thing you don't easily forget.


With a matronly tsk, tsk, tsk, that let me know some profound thing was to follow, she simply said it was such a shame. What the Christian missionaries were doing in India. Working so hard to convert people from their beloved, historic religion to make them followers of Christ.


The woman was the mother in law of my friend, a devout, committed, lovely, hospitable, warm, compassionate and kind Hindu grandmother living in India, visiting the U.S.


I already held great respect and admiration for her, so when she made her claim, I had to give it credence - to try to see it from her point of view where the religion she loved and adamantly adhered to was under attack by evangelizing Christians in an attempt to save them from themselves. I could understand her grievance and figured if handed a different set of circumstances in life, over which I had no control, where I were in her exact shoes, I would likely maintain her precise position. I realized how much we actually had in common, she and I. We were both lovers of our faith, our deity, our method of worship.


We were both exclusiveists who believed our religion was The Right and Only One.


We were both, to an undeniable extent, a product of our environment.


*******

In the last couple days I saw a question raised regarding the horrifically mournful conflict taking place in Iraq where Christians are being executed in droves.

"What kind of God do these people serve? Who would have them annihilate an entire group of people, including women and children?"


And I can't help but think of this:


1 Samuel 15:3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys."

And this: 


Numbers 23:15-18 Have you allowed all the women to live?" he asked them. They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.
And this:

Deuteronomy 2:32-34 When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz, the Lord our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed them—men, women and children. We left no survivors. 

And lots of other examples. 

Then I wonder, if my husband or sons were Soldiers in God's Army would they have done this very thing, if commanded by The Lord? If so, would they believe themselves right and honorable and righteous and valiant? Would they see their commitment to the slaughtering of another sect of people an act of true and noble service while they gave thanks to God for the victory?  

Yes, they probably would. 

It would be the God of the Bible that told them to do so. 

He is the kind of God who would do that.

God granted entitlement is a complicated concept intricately bound by the perspective of the Deity one calls "Lord."  

One God's victorious obliteration of a nation is another God's devastating loss. 

Then the tables turn.

Lord help us all. It's a mess down here. Pretty sure we can't figure this out on our own.



Finally, finally, I *think* everyone here is on the mend. Meadow and Flint caught it too. 
Now, let the summer fun begin! ;)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Nothing Important

Nothing will make a woman feel older than the 20 something year old guy who works for Samsung telling her that her almost-13-year-old daughter could probably help her figure out her brand new-to-her-but-already-outdated galaxy S4 smart phone. True story.

Um, Young Samsung Sir? FYI: My dear pubescent daughter owns an awesomely user friendly Apple iTouch. Did I mention it was APPLE? And that it's easy to use? Oh yes, it seems I did...
***********
The Virus from Scheol descended upon our family mid June and has.not.left.us.since. 

High fevers, terrible, dry hacking coughs, body aches, nausea for some, extreme fatigue, loss of sanity for the mother.....all the usual symptoms. 

With its incredibly long and gnarly incubation period, they have fallen like sickly little flies. Like flies falling one, two, three weeks apart, stretching out the length of our entire summer. Just when I think the last of them has stumbled as prey for the predator, another succumbs to its wily ways. 

Meadow, Flint and I are the last hold outs. Those cramped quarters orphanage years did an immune system good. It obviously prepared them nicely for their cramped American quarters. 

Don't ask me how I'm doing it. If you did, I would have to tell you I am drinking my body weight in glasses of water doused with a generous splash of ACV every day, that I gulp garlic by the spoonful, swallow zinc like there's no tomorrow and rub essential oils all over my parts all the day long to hold the germy gremlins at bay. Then, after all my bragging about my Superior Immune Boosting Techniques, I would fall ill. I know Murphy. His law is not to be trusted, my friends. 

All this illness has had us cancelling this and opting out of that to avoid spreading our sweet love all over everyone. It's been such a bummer on our summer. 

This is usually the time of year we are out and about socializing the awkward, savage hopelessly nerdy, uncivilized home schooled children (!) If they are not able to learn how to appropriately interact with other human beings during the summer then WHEN? I ask you. 

It's a legitimate concern.

Lord knows, once the school year starts, the doors shut tight and all Lessons in Conduct with People end. For nine long, under-socialized months. Come next May after being closed in all winter, I wouldn't be surprised if they need rabies shots along with their etiquette classes. 

But maybe they will most likely have figured out my phone with their endless hours of confinement. Which is a really good thing because I'm clearly too old to do it...
Every day the greens are brought in for dinner that night! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

3 words

I know. Yesterday's blog post title was lame-o. Seriously, the hardest part about blogging is thinking of a stupid title for each entry! Though I seem to manage. To come up with something stupid. 

The stuff written wasn't so much about being feminine. Not really. It was more about what I see as our continued need for feminism. Even from the personal vantage point of my small town, raising a slew of children, keeping a happy home, joyfully interdependent with a supportive man, life. It was spurred by the "I don't need feminism because...." campaign floating around Internet Land, then a facebook discussion about Rachel Held Evan's subsequent blog post where she lays out, in no uncertain terms with a plethora of statistics from a variety of angles, that in fact we do still need feminism. Our sisters who are suffering at the hands of others, of men, who are we kidding? They do. Need. It. And in the subtle ways objectification and marginalization enters our lives, we need it too. Our daughters, they still need it.

*************
After hearing about the tragic, far too early loss of a truly extraordinary woman who was my age and adopted a whole slew of children, many with special needs a few weeks ago, I began thinking about the remarkable legacy she left behind and how many lives she touched.

It made me stop and really consider, what exactly am I trying to accomplish with my time on this earth? I can't be sure how long it will be so am I earnestly working toward the end I hope to accomplish?

I asked the kids to each come up with 3 words they would like to be known by.

Here were their responses:
Jayla - kind, patient and hard working
Stryder - glad, thankful and happy
Onyx - courageous, adventurous and loyal
Meadow - smart, strong and interesting
Clover - likeable, friendly, playful
Tyden - hungry (?), energetic, grateful
Flint - playful, thankful (couldn't think of another)

Oh, and Bob's initial answer: Lover Of Tisha.

Then I made him get serious.

Bob's official answer: supportive, wise, fun

I've spent no small shortage of time over the years wishing I were something...else. Gentler, calmer, more docile and gracious and warm and merciful. Less aggressive. Less assertive. Less vocal and controversial and contrary.

But with time and age (and hopefully wisdom!) I have begun to appreciate the particular characteristics that make me uniquely me. I am comprised of qualities that come to me naturally, easily. I am learning to work with them, to enhance them, to allow them to be used to mold me into the best version of myself I can be, rather than someone else with an entirely different set of traits.

And what I noticed about the words the rest of my family chose is that they are words that each of them already are.

Gosh.

I have to take a beat.

And let my heart swell up glad.

They want to be known by others in a way they already are.

I       love        that.

Because it means they are confident in the very things that make them them. 

My husband is definitely all his words. In spades. 

I put a lot of time into thinking about my words and I'm sure they would have been different words 10 years ago and they will be different words a decade from now.

Here they are:

Brave

Reflective

Impactful

When it's all over if I am given the gift of time to look back, I don't want to wish I had been more brave, more willing to take a risk and speak up and be bold and courageous and use my voice and my actions and take chances and learn things the hard way if need be. I don't want to cower in fear or apprehension or be paralyzingly concerned with other's perception of me. I want to be free.

I want to have been thoughtful about what I am doing and why I am doing it and what I am saying and why I am saying it, even if it is prone to fluidity and fluctuation and progress. I would like to know where my passions lie and for what reason they reside where they do and understand them as they naturally evolve with new information and thought.

Like most people, I hope to make a difference. Through word and deed, that my time here won't be wasted. That it will have been lived with intentionality and purpose and even the smallest impact in my tiny sphere of influence.

Those are my 3 words.

Today, that's what I would say...
The beekeeper. Oh. My. Love. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

To be feminine.

Out this past weekend (hallelujah!) with my only squeeze after spending the week cooped up with sick children, I walked from the restroom in the back of the restaurant to the front door where my saucy enchilada awaited me so we could leave following our decadent meal sans the 12 and under population that inhabit Deutschland.

The frosting on my cake laughed as we strolled outside. "That guy in the restaurant turned a full 180 to check you out," the butter-er of my bread said. "He did not!" I replied, honestly oblivious.

"Oh, yes he did," urged my Suga daddy.

"Well, how old was he?"

"I don't know, older."

"Oh." (Uttered the vain, crestfallen woman that is me.) "Then it doesn't count."

Fast forward to the next day when the whole brood downed orange Dayquil and headed out to cash in coupons for free barbeque food (Thank you, Pikes Peak Library District!).

Different place, same scene.

The woman has to empty the pea sized bladder before leaving the dining establishment.

The man waits up front for her.

[Insert] The crumb snatchers run amuck outside waiting for the man and the woman.

Man, turning his back to the restaurant and his face toward the woman: "How old do you think the guy behind me is?"

Woman: "Um, I dunno. Maybe 30 or so."

Man: "He was totally diggin' your treats as you walked by."

Man: "He's younger than you. It counts. Boom!"

Woman: {Blushes with a wave of delight.} Yeah! Maybe I still got a little bit of it after all. Which, at the ripe old age of nearly 40 means something!

Which is, as it turns out, such a sad, terrible shame.

Because I, as a woman, have to continually fight the urge to buy the lie propagated by society that my physical appearance is the equivalent of the measure of my worth.

I must resist temptation to feel that when I can no longer turn the head of a man, I have lost a piece of myself that held any significant value.

My self is not confined to my aging body bound by eventual deterioration with the stroke of the clock.

I am so much more than that. I am my mind, my heart, my intellect, my will and my compassion and my determination and my drive and my fiery passion and my connections with other human beings. I am the love I give and the nurture I share and the joy I express and the justice I crave and the ever evolving thoughts I rouse.

My body, my wonderful, dutiful, flawed gift of a vessel, is only a servant - ushering the more imperative parts of me through this world.

As I think about my own life I consider the advice I so often bestow on my girls. Pursue an education. Even if you yearn to be a stay at home mom and raise your babies all the day long, take advantage of your ample opportunity for educational advancement, so that you are able to earn a living, if need be.

Funny thing, I don't even have to mention it to my boys. They seem to inherently know they must forge a path toward economic independence and provision for themselves.

Then, I remember the Bikini Express drive through coffee shop perched on the Colorado Prairie in the middle of the winter housing young women in blizzardy weather wearing tiny swimsuits to serve warm beverages to men with wives and daughters at home.

And I think about the way I've been told in conservative Christendom that it's my responsibility not to provoke lust in a man, but to dress with regard to my brothers in Christ, as to not prove myself a stumbling block, which includes wearing yoga pants. Even if I plan to do yoga...

And I recall all those countless movies I watch with my children. How 50, 60, 70, 80% of them pair a man 15-20 years a woman's senior as her spouse or love interest, and no one bats an eye. Nor do they ever call him a cougar. It is accepted as natural.

The double standards run deep, they run rampant. They are pervasive and entrenched and difficult to weed through.

And I think, as far as we've come, we still do need feminism. Lord help us. We just do.

Proudly displaying the crinkles! And look at that cute boy!! 

Monday, July 07, 2014

I love Jesus. But what about God?

It's my children's fault.

When I began their elementary educational career, like a good Christian homeschooling wheat grinding woman who was convinced denim overall jumpers weren't just for toddlers anymore, I read the Bible to my wide eyed loyal subjects. Less than bedazzled by their previous memorize-verses-out-of-context Awana experience, I figured we should read it as it stands. The whole shebang. Beginning to end. Year after year. Not just bits and pieces and sections here and there to prove a pastor's premeditated point, but all of it.

Far more fascinating than I gave it credit for being, I found the Bible a hum dinger of an emotional roller coaster. I met God in places I never imagined seeing The Almighty Him. Lord, is that you? Stoning Achan's entire family for a crime it seems only he committed thousands of years before it became legal in the state of Colorado?

There were so many examples throughout the Old Testament that were startling to my perception that God is love, God is light, God is mercy and God is compassion and God is grace. Some people paid so dearly for the slightest sins or even for the transgressions of others, while others tended to get away with far greater offences. To me, there didn't seem to be any clear cut, predictable rhyme or reason for why God behaved situation by situation as he did. It looked like He just did. 

The Egyptions kept me up at night. As in, literally awake, trying to figure it out, wishing I could better understand.

My mental gymnastics went something like this:

If it was Pharaoh alone Moses besought to free the Israelites from bondage, and it was Pharaoh's decision to make, and God ultimately hardened Pharaoh's heart anyway, why were all the Egyptians made to suffer when the angel of death came to their doors on that woeful Passover night?

What if some of them were basically kind hearted, decent, good people, trying to live their lives and wishing their leader would simply relent?

Was it really necessary for all their firstborns to die?

But wait, Tisha the Bible says no one is really a good person, right? We are all born dead in trespass and sin, right? 

By that logic, those Egyptians couldn't have been that good anyway.

But by the same token, the Israelites couldn't have been that good either!

They certainly showed that during their wilderness wandering years.

Why were their babes spared?

I guess it's good to be God's chosen people.

And what about me?

I'm really bad.

But wait, is it my fault? Or Eve's.

Or maybe Adam's.

He ate the fruit too.

I hope I don't ever lead my husband down a path that ruins everything for all humankind.

Poor Eve.

She had a lot of weight on her shoulders, eh?

Remember when Herod killed all the baby boys how cruel it seemed?

God did the same thing though. 

Then, when the red sea folded in on the Egyptian soldiers, many of those mamas who had just lost children undoubtedly lost husbands and sons.

What a rough day for them.

On my meanest PMS, I-gave-up-sugar-and-caffeine-which-includes-chocolate-all-at-once-day I couldn't imagine being able to do something like that.

I must be nicer than God.

Wait a sec, that's impossible.

I'm not even that nice.

But still.

I couldn't kill a bunch of people.
 
Most definitely not a bunch of kids. 

God's ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts.

You can say that again.

Love you, Lord.

Would you mind giving my husband a raise? I'd like to take the fam to Disneyland and praise you for my magnanimous blessings while I shake Cinderella's hand.....
_________________

Even now, I hear so many people say, "I just want to follow Jesus." And I'm in the same boat. I too want to follow Jesus. He is cool and radical and interesting and counter cultural and pretty bad ass.

But I also want to love God.

I really do.

For who He is.

With eyes wide open to His complex, multifaceted, perhaps beyond comprehension, widely variegated reality.

And a full awareness that I'm not going to be able to figure Him all the way out and there's no way I want to downplay Him into tidy apologetics driven sound bites that make Him easier to digest so He won't scare people away.

He's pretty bad ass too.

Dude. 

I've always been drawn to Him. 

I'm just glad I'm not an Egyptian.




Waiting for the fireworks. I suppose these are our I'm glad we're not Egyptians faces??? 
Who knows...

Blog Archive