Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Diaries Of The Depressed

I was so angry.
It wasn't one specific person who upset me, it was everyone.
It wasn't one specific incidence, it was every incident.
It wasn't a conversation that made me mad, it was every conversation that made me mad.

I was in bad place. All over the map emotionally, as we say around here. I couldn't resolve inside the chambers of my heart where the down spiral had come from, it just quickly engulfed me and held me under. My go to pick-me-ups had zero affect in helping me over the hump, and the bed was the only safe place I could go where I wasn't hurting someone in my family with my words, my glares, my criticism, my very presence.

Easter. Fail.

I mean, for goodness sake, it was Good Friday.. I was to be more pious, more aware, and more broken over my sin that put the Son of God on the cross. Instead, I was acting out like a toddler; embracing my flesh and selfishness and beginning to hammer down my tent stakes. I was going to camp here. I was justified in camping here. I was tired, weary, worn, hurting, and angry. A recipe for entitlement and camping in the valley of the self absorbed.

By Sunday morning, the anger began to show itself in the way of endless tears. Everything made me cry. I cried because I did not buy a single shred of new Easter clothing for the kids. I cried because I was tired of dressing up for people under the banner of 'dressing up for Jesus'. I didn't spend a penny on a single Easter treat because I was tired of every single holiday being twisted into an extraordinary moment where I had to attempt to out-do other moms, and pour excess all over my children in the name of an ugly, giant, bunny rabbit. I cried because of mom-guilt, mom-anxiety, mom-comparison.

I cried because I missed Kansas, I missed Virginia, I missed the Oasis, I missed GPC, I missed Chipotle, I missed Target,  I missed my family, I missed my friends, and as the layers of anger were peeled back, underneath all the tent staking was this familiar pang; I missed my mom. Desperately.

Ugh, it had happened again. I had been taken a fool by the masquerading of grief, disguised so often in restless, pointless, anger.

Why had I been so surprised? Why was I once again found unprepared and lacking so desperately in the self awareness department? I thought I knew myself.


This is grief my friends. The ebb and flow of the most unpredictable monster I've ever encountered.


As "Up From The Grave" was being sung as a victory tune my heart began to flounder like a funeral dirge. Words like grave, tomb, death, each echoed more loudly than the other in the hallways of my mind.


Then comes, "O death, where is your sting?


I can tell you where the sting is! It's been taking up residence in my heart for the passed 17 months and it is alive and well and potent.


Death does sting. It stings badly. It hurts.

"Because He Lives" oh please Lord, make it stop... I don't want to face tomorrow. I don't want to live. I want to lay in my bed and cry.


It was merely passing through this weekend. It didn't stay, I didn't camp for long, the tears purged the anger and we regrouped to tackle Monday.

Monday, this sweetest freedom and life awaited me, and it came in the form of GRACE.

"When we have said all we can of the abounding of sin in us- grace still more abounds in Jesus.  We cannot be so evil as he is good.  His power is a good match for our weakness. His riches are a good match for our poverty.  His mercy is a good match for our misery. We are vile in ourselves- but we are complete in him.  In ourselves we have cause to be abased- but in him we may rejoice. Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!"
~John Newton


Let those words wash over you. Read them over and over again. They are sweet, they are transforming.


Grief's kryptonite is grace.

The permission to feel, to explore, to momentarily camp, to ignore, to pass, to hibernate, to cocoon, to be weak, to be ordinary, to lose, to be a no one, and to fail.


Amazing grace.
Extraordinary grace.

Grief's death grip is lost on me by saturating myself in Someone else's clothing of grace.
Oh, what I owe Him.
Oh, what I can never repay.

"Oh, to see my name, written in His wounds for through His suffering I AM FREE!"


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love Shows Up

The scene was wretched. To come upon something so grotesque and appalling was almost more than they could handle physically and emotionally. They were offended at the sight. Annoyed, simply because they had to face this entire ordeal at all. Oh, if only they could have avoided it to begin with. If their path would have only taken them on a different road. They would have been happy to go an extra mile or even ten, if it would have spared them this rather uncomfortable moment.

He just laid there. Naked. No movement, no words, no groaning. Different parts of the layers of skin were exposed, and blood and pus poured forth everywhere. Surely, he was dead. If they had known him, if they been audacious enough to stoop to this man's social network and put a name to his face; they would now not recognize him because of the beatings. He was unrecognizable.

And so, because it was messy, complicated, gross, uncomfortable, and had a hint of scandal; the Priest and the Levite crossed on the other side of the road.

He just needed to get to Jericho. He wasn't expecting to encounter drama along his path today. He too came upon the rather startling scene.  He had always heard it said that no one could prepare you for seeing a dead body. What welled up in him as his eyes beheld this broken, torn apart man, overcame him, and he jumped down from his animal. There was an urgency to resuscitate this man to life. As he got closer, the blood began to be absorbed by his rope sandals, the depth and number of the wounds became clearer, and he knew in his core, scandal was written all over this situation. Yet, there was an urgency to bind this man's wounds, to pour oil and wine into the bleeding, pus filled places and clean them out with his very hands. It was messy, complicated, gross, and uncomfortable. But what this man from Samaria felt was compassion. And compassion cannot help but move you to enter into someone's pain and junk. Compassion keeps you there despite your own agenda, fear, status symbol, position, opinion, politically leaning, vocation, location, and tolerance.


When I think back over the last few years in my life, this is the theme that stands out in the dark of night; LOVE SHOWS UP!

When hospice calls and tells you "it's time"......

Love shows up, takes your children for days, cleans your house, buys you groceries, visits you while you hold vigil around your mother's bed, makes you meals, (ENDLESS meals) and often says nothing.

Love flies in from all over the world, drives in from all over the world, texts you at all hours of the night just to say, "you aren't alone". Love calls and weeps on your voicemail, helps you pick out a dress to wear to bury your mother in, orders boxes of wine for you and sends them from Seattle, sends flowers, sends cards, and brings more ham than one can imagine. Love does the hard, uncomfortable, and vulnerable thing. Love stands in a line for hours just to hug your neck. Love comes and whispers in your mom's ear on her death bed, "goodbye, I hope you have wonderful neighbors that meet you there!" Love sacrifices and holds your kids during your mother's memorial service; lets them cry and wipes their tears. Love lets you practice her eulogy over and over again, while you choke on your tears and start over.

Even when the service ends, love has no time frame.

Love has no rules, no conditions, no ultimatums, no formulas, no reservations, and no guilt. Love at its very finest is messy, gross, complicated, and scandalous.

So very, very scandalous.

He who knew no sin became sin..

On a cross, on our behalf; He became an adulterer, a murderer, a rapist, a pedophile, a drunk, a liar, a cheater, a druggy, a prostitute, a thief, a worrier, an addict, an abuser, and a dictator. He became cruelty, hatred, disobedience, impurity, law breaker, truth stealer, joy crusher, and life killer.

SCANDALOUS, at its finest.

For the first time in their relationship, He was offended at the sight of His Son. Broken and torn that they had to face this entire ordeal separated. Without a doubt they could avoid it. He could release legion upon legion of angels to intervene, but He felt compassion, and compassion moved Him to enter into our pain and junk. Compassion kept Him from pulling His Son off that cross and back into the throne room.

The scene was wretched. To watch His only Son on that cross was so grotesque and so appalling it was almost more than eternity could bare. Blood and pus poured forth every where, it was messy, complicated, and gross, but the High Priest did not walk around us on the other side of the road.

At just the right moment in history, and in a way the world had never seen....


Go and do likewise!

HAPPY EASTER, my precious friends!!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Love The Common Core Curriculum

Sometimes I am exhausted by the fighting.
Sometimes I am embarrassed by the fighting.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the ignorance, pride, and anger people have spewed all over one another in the name of  "doing what's best for the children and their education".

After attending a christian school for 13 years, homeschooling my own children for 5 years, and now wrapping up our second year in public school; may I be so bold to tell you where I think you should send your child to be educated? To the YOU School! The YOU Academy! The YOU P.S. 529! The YOU Christian School! The YOU homeschool. The YOU Brick and Mortar School. The Y.O.U. (get off your buns and don't be a lazy parent) School.   

Whether or not you have chosen the christian school institution, a homeschooling institution, or a public school institution, YOU are the common denominator (high five for the correct usage of a mathie term). And when you are intentional (there's that word again) about becoming the Common in the Common Core, the war over institutional education is over.

Are there questionable and frustrating things in the common core curriculum? Yes there are, I've read them and helped my children learn them.
Are there questionable and frustrating things in the Abeka curriculum, the Sonlight Curriculum, the Horizon curriculum, and other homeschool curriculums?  Yes there are, I learned under them and taught them.
Are there morally bankrupt things happening in public schools? Yes there are, I've seen them and now I fight along side my children to give them the tools to navigate the waters.
Are there morally bankrupt things happening in christian schools? Yes there are, I've seen them and participated in them first hand.
Are there morally bankrupt things happening in homeschools? Yes there are, I've seen them and witnessed first hand the consequences.

No one is exempt. No one institution has it all together. That is why it is imperative for YOU be the common CORE in your child's life and your child's education. If you have predetermined that your formula for education will produce unscathed, unwounded, perfectly protected and victorious soldiers, you are living a lie. Until we rise up and take a hold of our never ending influence in our children's lives, we will continue to dump the responsibility on the type of educational institution we have selected, and wash our hands clean like Pontius Pilot.

Some public, private, and christian school curriculums want to teach my children concepts and ideas that are contrary to our spiritual convictions and understandings. I am not intimated, fearful, or anxious at all because by the grace of God, we have established a safe place for our kids to come and ask those questions. Our dinner table conversation, more often than not, is addressing real life issues that our kids are facing everyday like; sexing (the act of sex), divorce, evolution, homosexuality, legalism, stealing, cheating, racism, slavery, dating, adultery, teen pregnancy, and whole hell of a lot of other things. We are bound and determined to be the COMMON in the common core of our children's lives. Do not mess with this Mama Bear or Papa Bear, when it comes to our cubs, we will take you down Charlie Brown. 

But oh my goodness, the sweetness, the honesty, the ownership, the purpose, the validity, the JOY we find in our children, and being their common core is something that no educational system can steal from us.

You want your child to be the recipient of top notch education? Stop complaining about the tuition you pay for christian/private school, stop complaining about the woes of common core, and stop complaining about your long days as a victim to the homeschooling schedule, and man up. YOU SIGNED UP FOR THIS!

You know how in a marriage you are the only one that can complain about your mother and when your spouse does it, it's offensive. Of course, it is the same way about the educational choices we make on behalf of our children. I thank the Lord that He has allowed us to taste each type of educational system in an up close and personal way, because the above paragraph comes from a place of experience.  My (Sara's) parents almost went broke sending us to a christian school.  Mark and I have sobbed our eyes out and thrown books across the table because we were so frustrated with common core curriculum, and I (Sara) have almost jumped off of a building after spending days and weeks of uninterrupted time with my wee piglets.

We have been there.
We have actually walked those roads.
But I am tired of the divisive and painful way people have sworn allegiance to a concrete way of educating their children, instead of swearing allegiance to being their child's common core, their common denominator, and their one true north. 

Imagine a world where people laid down their weapons about the type of education our children received, and everyone fought for the type of CHILDREN we were raising, influencing, loving, and growing. Fear, anger, pride, arrogance, and worthless spewing are removed when we all start fighting for the actual hearts and minds of our children, not just in the public square, but in the private spaces of our homes and our lives.

My children, their hearts, their minds, their experiences fall under the "totally passionate about" category in my life. Can you tell? :) And the longer I love them the more passionate I become about spreading the good news that children are worth the battle. Their hearts, their minds, their experiences should be enough of a common ground for all parents (even those with different institutional leanings) to stand upon, and together we should fight against all the pain that will inevitably plague our children regardless of the banner under which they get an education.

Three cheers to the common core curriculum!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Tale of Two Sisters

I had to revert to my Lamaze breathing when I walked into her room. The day before, we had cleaned her room, and now this; a room worked over with giblets of craft projects, glue stuck in the carpet, dresser drawers wide open, multiple water glasses on her night stand even though only one night had passed, her entire stuffed animal collection taking up residence in her unmade bed, dirty clothes stuffed under her bed and the teeny tiniest objects known to man (i.e seashells, Barbie dolls shoes, sticks collected as Fairy wands, tissue paper shreds used as Fairy's blanket in her card board house displayed with on the book shelf) EVERY.WHERE the eye could behold.

" JU-LI-AAAAAA!!!!!"

Her adorably sweet face, with her adorably sweet new hair do, peered around the bedroom door and smiled at me as I was about to launch into one of my perfected, "we cannot live like this!!!" speeches, when a lump formed in my throat as my mind flashed back to a year ago. This time last year, Julia's face was often filled with sadness, confusion, stubbornness, and a pain she would not let me enter in to. But as she stood there with this rascally-naughty, smile on her face, I knew that her sadness and confusion had been replaced with this calm, steady, glow. 

I get completely overwhelmed when I think about how our Julia has grown in this last year. I almost cannot compose these words because the tears pour so quickly. More so than ever, I am learning that we are not the sum total of our decisions and experiences, but we are all a story in the making. My Julia is not just a messy dresser, but she is this incredibly creative and thoughtful heart that is exploring a great big world, swimming in new ideas, and expressing her thoughts and feelings by using her craft.. She is using her scissors to cut away fear and insecurity in her life. Glue, to hold the pieces together that don't always fit just right. Fairy dust, to wipe away painful memories that sometimes haunt her. Markers, to light up sometimes a very dark world. Hole punches, to be precise about her work. And paper, well it's her stage. I am the least "crafty" person you know, but the more I am allowed to peer into my precious daughter's world, the more I am learning to let her heart fly in that completely "perfect" room of hers and not waste my encounters with her on meaningless speeches. 

*A big shout out to the two people in my life who tend to be more "messy dresser" type people, who talked me off the ledge and assured me Julia would be a high functioning adult someday. They even volunteered to raise her for me! :) *

I had to revert to my Lamaze breathing, she had asked me the same five questions in five different ways in under five minutes, and by the end of the conversation we were both crying. All I have had to say to people regarding Katie this year is, "She is in the fifth grade!" I get sympathetic nods from people, pats on the back, hugs, and "hang in theres" from complete strangers. Every girl who has been through the fifth grade, and every set of parents who has seen a girl through the fifth grade, knows the purgatory we are in. The one and only time I told my mother I hated her was when I was in the fifth grade. She immediately broke down and started crying, and for the first time I saw my mom as a human being. 

If I could wrap Katie in bubble wrap for the next 3 years and just hold her in my lap, I would. Katie and I are so similar that we often clash-boom-bang. I am harder on Katie than I am on the other kids. I know that about myself and I am striving to make changes in that area.

Katie's perfect bedroom and perfect dresser are her craft...She is trying to wade her way through these intense emotions and hormones, and having a place for everything settles her nerves. Having a plan for everything, with back up plans that have back up plans, keep her grounded and calm. She has lists, and journals, and more lists, and diaries, and books, and notebooks, and planners, and more lists. And all those things are clues into her precious soul. Her organized piles and her bed made with precision, allows the world to make more sense in her head.  But Katie is not the sum total of her tidy dresser, she is this incredibly stunning story that is being written chapter by chapter. The more I am allowed to peer into my precious daughter's world, the more I am learning to let her heart fly in that completely perfect room of hers and not waste my encounters with her on critiques. 

*A big shout out to the many people in my life who tend to be "tidy dresser" people that have talked me off the ledge and assured me I will survive her lists!* 

I know that without a doubt, while God stood in the baby manufacturing plant, He giggled when He assigned me these two polar opposite sisters. Oh ya'll! I could just buckle at the knees when I think about the way I feel about these girls. They are my deepest pride and most abundant source of joy. When people tell you that kids are the ones that actually raise their parents, nothing could be more spot on.

So here is to all the different types of dresser people in this world! 
You are not the sum total of your dresser presentation, you are a story in the making.