Thursday, August 20, 2015

The August Algorithm: Surviving School When The Honeymoon Is Over

Sweet educators of the world, this post is not at ALL an indictment on you. We ADORE YOU! We appreciate you more than you'll ever know. We think you should be the best paid employees in the state/in the nation/in the world. This post is about my painfully, wretched brokenness in the midst of raising four babies. Please hear my heart.
*Clause Over*

We've been tardy, lost parts of our recess for disobedience (RIGHTFULLY SO), unintentionally overlooked assignments, failed a test, forgot to sign homework folders, cried over spilled milk, lost our ice cream money, accidentally had our tennis shoes thrown away, AND we've already had 3 fake sickness pleas.

We started school TWO WEEKS ago.

The honeymoon of the new school year is over. I felt it come up and out yesterday morning, while I had a sloth of a child laying next to the front door, (just minutes before it was time to leave) refusing to put shoes on because, I quote, "the person who invented shoes is the dumbest person in the world. Why can't I go barefoot forever?! Most of the people in this world do not own a pair of shoes. Why are you so mean and make me wear shoes?!" There is not enough coffee in the world to cover up this melt down. Of course my response was angelic and full of the spirit, "you have exactly two minutes to stand up, put some shoes on, find a new attitude and walk out that door like you love this day and everything about it. Including, but not limited to, the brand new shoes I JUST bought you with the deepest love from my heart! Otherwise, I'm locking you in a box til you're 16!"

Said child found shoes.

It really does puzzle me that this transition back into a reality we have known for YEARS, still has us all undone and verklempt. Very little has changed; wake up, get dressed (YES! With the clothes you laid out last night), brush your nasty-asty teeth (cause, EW!) come eat the hot breakfast your mother slaved over because she had mom guilt with all the organic-smoothie and short order breakfast recipes she saw floating around social media yesterday, put socks and shoes on, grab back-pack (lovingly packed by yours truly) and leave. But everyday so far, it's like we just stepped into a Nancy Drew Mystery and everyone needs prompting for the next step.

If you love me, don't visit me in the morning.

Yesterday, at approximately 3:30, I poured myself a glass of red wine (no snarky comments, older brothers!) because the after school shenanigans were about to commence. They make the morning routine laughable.


Why are we unraveling?! We have 166 more days of this routine to go. Where have I gone wrong?  I cried myself to sleep, burdened with the thoughts I KNOW every mother carries, "I'm screwing it all up! All they will remember about me is my anger and rage about completing their homework. All they will remember about me is that I am mean because I made them wear shoes. I'm scarring them forever. Dear God, give them childhood amnesia!!"


The weight. The pressures. The schedules. The work. The must-dos and the must-haves, almost crushed me last night. As the tears burned my eyes, I felt the spirit whisper, "GRACE! What you are missing is grace. Give them grace, Sara! Give YOURSELF grace, Sara!"

Aw. Grace.

A gift I've been unwrapping for a life time.  Each time I open it, I am undone with gratitude.

I've decided August should be national month of grace! Don't we all need a second helping of grace this month? Moms? Dads? Teachers? Principals? Wide eyed- freaked out, students? Professors?  Bus drivers? Superintendents? Coaches?......Really, EVERYONE! How would today be different if we all just stepped back, took a deep breath, re-evaluated the unnecessary and impossible standards we've set for ourselves and everyone else, and divvy out an extra helping of scandalous grace.

I need something scandalous to balance out the insane.
I need something unrelenting to balance out the massive list of rules and regulations.
I need something impenetrable to balance out the pressure.
I need something solid to balance out self. MYSELF.

Grace and grace alone, will carry me today, and all my days.
Grace and grace alone, will help lower my posture on bended knee, to the eye level of said child; (struggling not against the flesh and blood of shoe soles, but against her own soul) and tie that shoe one more time.
Grace and grace alone, will walk me through the valley of the shadow of homework death, and I will fear no spelling word list, cause You are with me.
Grace and grace alone, will allow me the freedom to dance in the murky, mornings of muck; coffee in hand OF COURSE!
Grace and grace alone, will tuck me in at night, wipe the wounded tears aside, and give me strength to do it all again....tomorrow.

Friends, give them grace! Give yourself grace! Grab that monster size ladle, and pour delicious grace all over one another. I promise, it makes a monster size difference.

Here's to grace!


Friday, August 7, 2015

Maybe We Were Meant To Limp: How To Address Brokenness

I'll never forget the day I dropped her. Her walking had slowed and each step had become significantly more difficult. Her brain was sending out so many mixed signals to her body, but her spirit refused to give up and be confined to a wheel chair.

It was my day to care for Mama. We had been watching some Hallmark movies and crying over hot dogs and soda. She needed to use the restroom. A very complicated and tedious process. She had a gait belt and needed 100% assistance along the way. We would stand directly behind her, (so close her neck could feel our breath), hold tight to the gait belt around her hips, and steer her down the long hall, around the bedroom door and into the bathroom. We had finished using the bathroom and were back in the living room, two feet away from her couch. However, when her eyes saw her couch, her brain sent the signal to the rest of her body to sit. And she sat. I was trying to keep her standing, "Mama, don't sit yet, we aren't there yet. Just a couple more steps. You've got this." As she continued to sit into the seat of thin air, she panicked, "Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry!" she said, so flustered and disappointed with herself. "It's ok Mama, it's ok Mama" I whispered into her ear, as I eased her down to the ground. Once we were both safely to the ground, there was nothing left to do but make her as comfortable as possible. I grabbed a pillow, propped up her head and snuggled close until Daddy could come home and help me lift her from the ground. We laid on the floor together laughing about the predicament we found ourselves in. I knew she was embarrassed and confused, because every couple of minutes she would look over at me with this mischievous look in her eyes and say, "Why are we laying on the floor?!" I would circle back through my answer and we'd laugh all over again.

Here, this incredibly strong woman, who carried me in her very womb, bore me, raised me, led me, fed me, bathed me, taught me, protected me, guided me, held me, shielded me, and disciplined me, now lay completely helpless on the floor.


The older I get, the more intentional I am to surround myself and my family with people who invite us into their naked-Noah messiness. People who pull back the curtains and robes of every day moments, and allow us to gently tread in broken places without the mocking laughter of the sons. Let me tell you why. Lean in close friend. Closer.  Let me tell you something. After 28 years of following my Jesus, sojourning through this world that is NOT my home, carrying heavy and impossible burdens along side of my fellow brothers and sister; I've reached the most freeing and life giving conclusion in my dance with the Divine. Sweet Jesus lover, maybe just maybe, we were meant to limp. All of us. Each and every one of us.

Hear me.

I have heard the stories, read the books, loved the souls, listened to the sermons, lived the sacraments, and wrote the words to know a thousand times over; WE ARE ALL LIMPING!!

You can hide it, buy it, bury it, burn it, turn it, spin it, ignore it, forget it, and dress it up with a bible verse. You can call it contemporary, traditional, self-realization, independence or rebellion. You can legalize it, promote it, publish it, record it, and make look it eloquent, holy and honorable. You can rename it, rebrand it, repackage it, and recommit it a million times, but I know better now. WE ARE ALL LIMPING!

And excuse me for a moment, but I cannot think of a more appropriate posture for this side of glory. I cannot think of a more welcoming realization than, "I'm limping, you're limping, can we limp together?!" This could be the motto of my entire marriage. We can better love, minister and mold disciples when we can first admit we are limping.

I can disarm any heated situation with my spouse and my children when I lead with, "Can I show you my messy?!" "Can I show you where I went wrong?!" "Can I show you how my brokenness has contributed to your pain?!"  When we are willing to own our junk, name the wounds that make us limp, (and consequently have made others limp) God does the most incredible miracle!

I've watched Him, season after season, story after story, day after day, sickness after sickness, fall after fall, failure after failure.... He takes the willing limper and He makes her leap! He takes the most wounded, broken, and battle weary soul and lifts her up to leaping. Most of the time, the leaping does not always look like what the world tells you it looks like; financial freedom, complete healing, prosperity, happiness, redeemed marriage, reconciled child, comfortable living, endless resources, full churches, job promotions, and the elimination of suffering and struggle altogether. No, no, the leaping that Jesus offers comes in the most mysterious way.

All those hours, all those steps, all those trips to the bathroom with Mama limping by my side, forced me to walk slow enough to find her. In those years of shuffling, I exchanged more meaty conversation with my mom than ever before. My love for her deepened. My respect and admiration grew as her body broke. God chose to not heal my limping Mama on THIS side of glory, but He did allow her limping to lead us to a rich well of relationship.  

Fellow limpers, I believe our Savior desires to use our limping to draw us to the everlasting well of relationship with Him. He desires to use our limping to slow us down in order that we might FIND HIM, KNOW HIM, SEE HIM, and DEPEND ON HIM like never before.

We are all limping.
All of us.
The more we expose our brokenness, the more willing we are to lead with a limp, the clearer we will be able to see His body broken for us, and the promise of an eternity of leaping.

Here's to you dear limper!