What if I stumble, what if I fall?

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These two young ladies are the most precious gifts I’ve ever received.  I am watching them grow up so fast.  Like many parents, I share the weight of not feeling like I am “doing enough” to ensure they grow up to be independent, functional adults (haha!).

Well, we are embarking on a new adventure August 1st.  They are going to begin public school at home (online).  I am both excited and terrified at the same time.  This decision has been very difficult for me.  They have had a GREAT and supportive experience and wonderful, LOVING teachers at their local elementary school.  Simultaneous to this, I have felt a strong urge, push, desire- whatever you would call it– to teach them– to be more directly involved in their learning.   Simultaneous to this, my job situation radically changed (nice way of putting it) to allow me more hours in the day to invest into them.

My background is in education, and I have often missed the classroom upon visiting the girls at their school.  I chose to go the K-12 virtual learning experience- the school is called TNVA (TN virtual academy).  I hope this will make for a more seamless experience in the the curriculum, and a way to still be involved in public school.  This is especially important if it all goes bad and I send them back to their “brick & mortar” school! Which leads me to my next point…

What if I stumble, what if I fall?  What if I make fools of us all?  Some have questioned my decision.  It’s even hard for me to explain why I feel the urge to do it.  I feel guilt for them not being back at their school this year, but I feel similar guilt in not following this urge.

What I do know:  I love to teach and facilitate activities for kids.  I teach tinkergarten at a local park and work with the kids at church.  Why would I not want to be more involved in the daily learning experience for my girls?  I look forward to see how our relationship will grow in this next year.

Yes, I am looking forward to a slower paced morning (though they will start virtual classes at 8); I am looking forward to doing our own PE at the park, riding bikes, or going on hikes; I am looking forward to teaching them piano or guitar; I am looking forward to letting them have breaks to play with the dog, or the hamsters, or the parakeets.  I am looking forward to working daily on life skills– learning about money, helping around the house, cooking class or whatever 🙂

I am worried that we will all get sick of each other.  I am worried that I will feel like I need a break.  I am worried that they will have a hard time comprehending that this is SCHOOl and they have to do it.

Nothing is final, and I am committing to this for one year.  I am hoping that it is a year which will shape all of our futures for the positive!  I welcome any and all encouragement as we start on this journey.

Songwriters Daniel Joseph and Toby McKeehan best sum up my feelings at this time:

What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?

 

Cheetos, Yes please? or No, thank you!

4193gJNQLvLMy oldest daughter hates Cheetos.  Specifically, she hates the smell of Cheetos.  She is convinced that she has a Cheeto allergy.  What makes this difficult is that my younger daughter LOVES Cheetos.

Recently the younger found a bag cheetos where we were, and dared to go into the presence of the older whilst eating them.  I heard the older say (disgustedly) ” You came near me with Cheetos!”

As if.  How dare she?

I get so tired of this exchange and I tell my daughter, “you will encounter Cheetos in this life, and if you can’t handle it, you need to remove yourself from the Cheetos.”

And then I realized, I have done the same.  When things don’t go to my liking, I often complain… feel put out, disgusted… “why is this happening in my realm– how dare this happen to me?”  I’ve pounded and pounded at an issue trying to bring change, when hindsight has often told me- “YOU are the one that didn’t like it, why didn’t you walk away– remove yourself from the situation?”

Friends, there will be Cheetos that we encounter; things that in and of themselves aren’t inherently wrong or bad.  But the question I have decided I need to ask myself now is, “Do I expect this environment or circumstance to change to suit my liking, or do I need to be the one to change my environment or circumstance?”

Happy Snacking!

Smart Vulnerability

We were running some errands in town the other day, and I noticed some beautiful thistles.  I stopped the car and jumped out, waded through some weeds and took pictures.  Thistles can grow anywhere, and some consider them a nuisance, but they are also known for having healing and cleansing properties for the liver, heart, and skin.  Of course, there is some wisdom to be found in the thistle as well…

Growing up, I was more inward, shy, and guarded than I am now.  I never wanted anyone to see past the perfect exterior I presented lest they discover some blemishes.

Over time, I realized that pride was the source of my protective wall.  Having children greatly impacted not only my pride but also my ability to keep everything perfect, clean, and in order.  I began to embrace the messy.   Vulnerability was where it was at, right?  How could I be in real relationships with people if I never let them truly know me?  I found myself letting more people in, and the stress levels in my life caused me to often gush or dump everything on the nearest person who would listen.

Well, my kids are a little older now, life doesn’t feel as chaotic, and I have learned a lesson from being overly vulnerable.  Now I find the thistle inspires me to a middle ground.  You can take in its beauty, but don’t try to pick it.  Ouch!  Be beautiful, bloom anywhere you can… show yourself for who you are; but simultaneously be smart and protect yourself.

The wisdom of Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.”  Even Jesus said, “Don’t give something that is holy to dogs. They will only turn and hurt you. And don’t throw your pearls to pigs. They will only step on them.” (Matthew 7:6)

If the thistle never bloomed and remained closed up and prickly, it would never live life, and others would not be blessed by its beauty.

If it opened into bloom with no thorns for protection it would be quickly eaten, its time cut short.

Somewhere in this scenario is a “both/and.”  I want to share myself with those around me, but a little self-preservation may prolong my life and my purpose. 🙂

“Open not your heart to every person. But only to Him who is wise, discreet, and reverant. Desire to be familiar only with God and his angels.” –Thomas a Kempis

Who Needs You, Baby?

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I can remember sitting in a psychology class my freshman year of college and learning about Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.  I was so struck that humans needed food clothing shelter (of course) and then- BELONGING (really?).  It seemed like such a high and lofty abstract need compared to the others.  Maybe my INTJ personality, or extreme introversion –indeed even social anxiety–  caused me to shudder at the thought.  “Belonging… that’s for needy people.”  

I guess this thought came from my naiveté and also the fact I had been raised within a family that gave me a very healthy sense of belonging- so much so I didn’t recognize the need.  (Thanks parents!)

But wow– do we humans need it.  For some, in extreme cases, the need for belonging can actually become stronger than the need for basic safety- such as a child clinging to an abusive adult.

I noticed a drawing done by my 6 year old recently:

IMG_0585-1Wow… what an expression of a basic need.  It broke my heart.  “Who are THEY?”  “Do THEY know what they are missing?!”  “Why wouldn’t THEY want to play with such a precious girl?”

We have all been there.  To feel a PART of something, to be loved, admired, understood and heard brings life, meaning, purpose.  To feel alone, unloved, not respected, misunderstood or ignored brings death, meaninglessness, aimlessness.

My girls (ages 6 & 8) have lots of commentary about being left out.  I tell them the same thing I tell myself.  “You be the one to reach out.  You be the one to include.  The best way to have a friend is to be one.”

If there is one need I have discovered in almost everyone I talk with, this is it.  Belonging.  My own sense of belonging has been quite shaken since January 2018.  Who knew it would be so important… just above food, clothing, and shelter, right?

Friends, I am finding my way again; and the good news is, “Whether we live or die, we belong to God.”  (Romans 14:8)

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Good Things are Going to Happen

I am in a new and completely foreign season of life. Or maybe you could call it death.  I began doing ministry as a “job” when I was only 20 years old in 1995.    And now for the first time in 20 years I am not doing that.

In all my newfound freedom, I was out in my yard “dead heading” my coreopsis (see pic below).  I noticed that right here all in one spot, you have flowers in full bloom, others- brown and ready to fall to the ground, and still others which are budding and about to open up.

I started cutting the brown heads with  pair of tiny pruning scissors, thinking I could move faster.  I accidentally cut off some of the “good ones” as well.  I felt bad about this and decided to go back to old school style, pulling the heads off with my hand.  It was actually faster and more accurate than the scissors.

As I pulled off the old, I said to myself “pruning is important, but in the wrong hands or in our haste, we can remove something we shouldn’t, before its time.”  And I realized that’s how I felt.  Someone or something pulled me up and removed me and I wasn’t ready yet.   I felt anger, betrayal, sadness.

But as I continued to work ,I was gently reminded that regardless of what I had experienced, the gardener is the true pruner, removing only what i necessary, and for the benefit of the whole plant.  Instead of being angry and feeling “cut off”  healing began to come as I realized that maybe this was indeed a time for me to submit, to fall into the hands of the gardener, to be allowed to fall to the ground… to die… to rest.

The benefit of this whole plant does not DEPEND on me.  I am one of many.  There are others all around me in full bloom.  There are those coming behind me who are ready to burst onto the scene.  But for me for now, I fall to the ground.  I lie fallow.  I wait.  Because this is not the end.  There is a new time coming for me, but without this season of death, I will never experience the new life that springs forth.

“Science has found that nothing disappears without a trace.  Nature does not know extinction.  All it knows is transformation.”  –Wernher von Braun

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24 I tell you the truth, a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die to make many seeds. But if it never dies, it remains only a single seed. 25 Those who love their lives will lose them, but those who hate their lives in this world will keep true life forever.”  -John 12:24-25 NCV