Wednesday, July 31

Eleven, baby!

Oh yes, oh yes - another summer birthday is upon us. Number eleven. 

I don't even know what to think about that.

Samantha is no longer a little girl, but rather an emerging adult. It's so strange to transition from raising a child to raising someone who will be driving in less than 5 years, for the love of pete. There are many parts of her that are still youthful and there are parts that are more mature. And I love both moments, but miss the times when our only concerns were teaching her to share or how to recognize letters and numbers.

That seems many moons ago.

Since she's our first, every stage feels new. There isn't a single season of life without reasons for concern, and if I dwell on those, I will be awfully busy worrying. (I may have learned this the hard way.) What helps is talking with other mamas about the concerns and not bottling them in. Once they are out, I try to keep them out.

God's got it anyway.

And when you push aside your own fears about your kids, you have plenty of room for reasons to celebrate. So that's what we'll do. This girl's got great attributes busting out all over, and I love seeing the new sides of her. Sam is a constant creator -- just yesterday she drew a portrait and wrote a song. She's willing to try new things. She's rarely shy and loves making new friends. Her attitude is always sunny-side-up, and she sees possibilities everywhere.

If you back her into a corner, she will fight. This might be one reason we have struggles at times, but I am confident she'll stand up for herself and others when the need is there.

Sam always wants to do the right thing and hates to disappoint. A kind word goes a million miles with her ... so here's one from me and Dad: Eleven looks great on you, girl. Keep smiling. You are going places! XOXOXO

Friday, July 19

Something better

Here I was, my head craned toward the ceiling in The Girlie’s room, steadying my hand so the turquoise paint spread evenly on the wall. It was my escape. Before I started, Samantha was working on math sheets downstairs (no escape from “school” in summer here..) and had a difficult time focusing. 

And she was getting upset. Truth was, she was tired. Hungry. Hot. Bothered.

But, this reaction has also happened frequently in better conditions. Luckily, on this evening, Dad was there to have a conversation about it.

So back to painting. While I was concentrating on straight lines, I was also eavesdropping on “said conversation” next door. The focus issue with math was a bigger issue, really. Lack of confidence. Comparison traps. Feeling inadequate. Feeling “less than.” Wanting to fit in, be one of the smartest, be recognized for her talents. 

And so it really begins – little parts of childhood and innocence and confidence are slipping away and being replaced with the junk most of us assume as teens and perpetuate as adults.

As I watch my kids sprout another few inches and grow in maturity, I am concerned about who they will become. I’m not satisfied with the explanation “well, teens just do that…” or “hey, girls go through those stages.” That may be true 90 percent of the time – and I have said these phrases a lot myself – but it feels something like “settling” to me. Like it gives license to act a certain way, flirt with trouble, get away with more, think less of ourselves.

I wonder if there’s a higher ground here. Do things have to be how they’ve always been? How they are for the 90%? 

Or can we have more?

I think of so many things I want my kids to hope for and to experience.

How different our world would be if we really loved ourselves. If we could erase insecurities. If we could trust that all will be well.

How different would life be if we remembered that today won’t be tomorrow. Our problems now are not always permanent.

How would we treat each other if we believed God loves all of us with equal fervor and depth – so deep, in fact, that this love overshadows all the ridiculous decisions we make, the unfortunate ones, even the painful ones.

What if we stopped saying “I should” and started saying “I did”?

What if the least were first? 

What if we taught our kids that it’s more important to be kind than right, to have less so that someone else might have more?

What would it be like to see someone else’s viewpoint and not be critical first … to believe in possibilities and not hampered by what we think is impossible?

What if we didn’t view the purpose of life as getting the most out of it for our own enjoyment, but as a chance to give the most of ourselves as an act of thanksgiving to the One who made us so fiercely unique?

And what if being fiercely unique was a good thing, and not strange. If we stopped trying to fit in and started trying to stand out?

If that world exists, sign me up.

Or maybe we make it exist, in our small pocket of the planet. We might be fighting an uphill battle - an army of a few against a bazillion, but it's probably a fight well worth the effort, right?

Oh, to remember this often.

On a related note ... wanted to pass along this great blog series that encourages us to see the world from other people’s perspectives. So, so wonderful to find this gem.

Happy weekend!

Monday, July 8

A few favorites

Raise your hand if you're tired from the 5-day weekend.

'Cause I am. In a good way, of course, but definitely wiped and happy to have a "normal" Monday. But really, is anything normal in the summer?

Scenes from the weekend:

Feeling extremely grateful to generous friends who shared their blessings and company for some Fourth Fun this year. And speaking of being grateful, I recently came across a few articles on thankfulness again - reminding me of this post and also that I need to take inventory of all the great things in my world. God has given me many great days.

So, in that spirit, loving all of this right now:

Football. Peyton just started a football camp this week. Something about the Little Man playing ball just makes me happy. I probably won't be saying that when he starts tackle in fourth grade, but for now, it's good. He also started running a little bit. I knew I'd eventually get one of them to try.

Projects. Peyton got a new room for his birthday, so Samantha will get the same. Given the fact that she L.O.V.E.S. to be creative, this will be more of a joint-venture. But I like having something that powers both of our artistic sides on the docket. Of course, I am fully aware that this may not go as planned. Stay tuned ...

Mumford tickets. They are in hand for the Milwaukee show in September. So very excited. I'm not much of a cook, I don't have the patience for crafts, and you won't see me winning any athletic competitions. But I am always good for a mini-adventure, and trekking to see Mumford on one of the busiest weeks of the year - first week of school - is going to fit the bill. Just call me when you have somewhere you want to go, OK?

This quote. "Life isn't about having it all. You take what you got, enjoy it, and push to see where you can take it," says a guy who lost both legs and a hip joint in this month's edition of Runner's World. Did I mention that he is the Paratriathlete of the Year? I need to look past my perceived limitations more often. I need to take what I have and make every inch of that count. That is living.

And this quote. "Determined to make things go your way, you forget that I am in charge of your life. The only remedy is to switch your focus from the problem to My Presence. Stop all your striving, and watch to see what I will do." from Jesus Calling. I quote this little gem of a book a lot because I think it was written just for me. I really suck at "not striving" but I believe God has been pushing one little word around my head a lot these days: Wait. Hardest thing for me to do, but I won't ignore it any longer. Especially since there have been a handful of times where waiting has worked big-time in my favor. Wait. Let Me give it a go. Believe My outcomes are better than anything you can engineer yourself. 'Cause it's true.  

What are you loving these days?

PS - A very happy birthday today to my mom, our dear Nana! XO!

Monday, July 1

Number nine

Little Man turned 9 yesterday. We celebrated with a small sea of boys, a couple of gals, and at least 100 Nerf bullets. It was one of the best weather days all year here, a nod to this great kid's spirit, I think.

I rarely stress over Peyton. Not to say I haven't before, but his easy nature makes it hard to remember what was worth stressing about in the first place. Underneath his cool exterior is a young man who longs for no one to hurt, thrives on imagination, and just wants a hug. Even though he's older now, I still find myself grabbing his hand when we are in public -- not because he needs to be steered in a certain direction, but because that's how we show we care.

And he says the craziest things sometimes. Seriously. If my memory wasn't so terrible, I could share an entire book of Peytonisms here. Then again, they might not make much sense. Peyton has a knack for saying just the right thing at just the right time, and it's usually an observation an adult might make or a snarky one-liner. Which just cracks us all up.

Peyton's curiosity reminds me that life is about asking questions and seeking answers. He'd rather read an encyclopedia than fiction. Like all of us, he's already learning that some answers don't make sense. While it saddens me sometimes to watch innocence dissolve, it also makes me excited to watch him turn into a young man. Full of promise, growing into who he was made to be.

I think 9 will be awesome, don't you?