Wednesday, January 28

Life in pictures: What we're learning

I waver between playing photographer and forgetting to take photos altogether. Lately, I've been forgetting. I hope it's because I'm attempting to live more in the moment than trying to capture them. 

Still, I love how pictures can capture precisely how we are feeling at any one time. Funny, too, that photos can be manipulated to show a feeling that isn't really there. We've all captured beautiful shots that make our kids look like angels when moments before (and after) they were engaged in a mighty tantrum. 

So here are a slew of really bad photos that hopefully show life as it really is for us right now:

Life means playing hard. We've been spending weekends watching Peyton nurture his basketball skills, and as he gets older, the game gets more aggressive. In fact, we're often on him to step up his own level of play. Parallel to life? Sometimes you have to play hard. Your legs hurt, you are out of breath, you want to stop for water, someone is always trying to take the ball from you. That's OK. Keep playing, defending, and hustling. And when it gets too rough, pass the ball to a friend.

Carve out time. Six years - that's all we have left to nurture and care for this girl before she is managing herself in the World. I guess that sounds like a long time - some days it might. But it's really not since we've already been raising her for double that time. Scott just said yesterday, "Can you believe she's already been through 2/3 of her 18 years with us?" Not that we expect she will be out of our life at 18 ... it's just that we expect she'll be officially carving out her own life at that point, leaning on us for support and comfort - not depending on us. Our influence will be different. And our influence now is more critical than ever.

So we've been giving her life experiences to take with her, and will continue to focus more and more on that in the coming six years.

Rest assured those experiences also include learning to do her own laundry, dishes, and scoop kitty litter.

Celebrate big. Last Friday, we had the honor of celebrating two dear friends who turned 40. The first event included a feast for the ages, for which I brought copious amounts of bacon-covered delecacies. I know that is incredibly surprising. I smelled like bacon the rest of the night. Life lesson? It's OK to smell like bacon all night long, because bacon means love. Bacon means I am celebrating big.

So does this:

We overcome hard things. A year ago this week, Peyton was super sick. Hollow-eyed, desperately thirsty all the time, eating like a machine, his skinny little body trying hard to use the sugar in his food to give him fuel. But his pancreas wasn't churning out regular amounts of insulin to unlock that sugar from the food. And today, it's likely not working at all. He is a Type 1 diabetic who doesn't like to be a T1D, but is powering through like a champ. We wanted to celebrate this year milestone with all of you, but he was more comfortable with just the four of us paying any sort of attention to his condition.

So we ate ribs and drank lemonade.

We watched a friend play his basketball game, then ventured to Knuckleheads in the Dells to blow off some steam. Turns out, that was more fun for Sam than for Peyton. Something in him shut down. Maybe it was low blood sugar. Maybe it was the focus of the day. Maybe it was just being a 10-year-old boy. We didn't push it, just let him keep a low profile while Sam killed it at all the arcade games. Life parallel? Disappointments abound sometimes. It's OK to take the space to process them.

Other good things:

A few weeks ago, I heard this message at church that helped me remember that God wants us to delight in Him first. Since then, I have been pouring my energy into doing just that. One things that helps during the workday is Gungor Radio and Bethel Music Radio constantly streaming on my Pandora. Heavenly.

(For the record, Hipster Cocktail Party Radio is also keeping a smile on my face this winter.)

Do yourself a favor, and add this blog to your weekend routine. A quiet place and some of the most inspiring stories happening in the world. God still moves mountains.

Shauna Niequist has a new book coming out in March: Savor. It's a devotional ... with recipes ... I really can't imagine anything better.

Sam and I splurged on a couple of cookies at Manna Bakery in Madison (off Sherman Ave). Best, buttery sugar cookies ever. So I leave you with this:

Proof that love is all you need.

Tuesday, January 13

Being uncomfortable - where it's at

So I've been thinking.

I've read a great many blog posts in the past two weeks that have the "new year - new you" flair. Many are great posts where the authors have vowed to be more accepting of themselves, to believe that enough is truly enough. They are savoring small moments and helping time stand still more by slowing down. They have resolved to stop punishing themselves, comparing themselves, being anything other than themselves.

I love all of this.

And I'd be tempted to make many of the same resolutions. Except I can't. If I am honest with myself, I have tended toward these types of resolutions for several years now with the ultimate goal of seeking greater comfort for myself. They are good resolutions, but need to be grounded in the right reasons.

Usually I want life to be easier because it feels hard. It feels that way because I am running around in craziness, all wrapped up in things I shouldn't be. So of course it seems hard. And of course, I want to step back, slow down, and make better choices.

But my "step back and slow down" is usually code for "hide in your bubble until all the ugliness goes away."

It often doesn't go away. Because really, I haven't changed anything. Really, I am all about the challenges ending so I can "enjoy" life. Once a storm passes, though, I am still rooted in the same place.

Everything is the same - just more comfortable than it was before.

Well, here we go. Real change means being uncomfortable for a time. So it's time to get uncomfortable.

Like completing a 10-day cleanse that forced me to get rid of my most favorite foods in the world. Uncomfortable.

Like seeing a therapist. Uncomfortable.

Like being on Day 10 of kicking my wine-a-night habit for the longest time ever since 2011. Uncomfortable.

Like planning a couple of mission trips for 2015 that include going somewhere new and different and facing a lot of unknowns. Uncomfortable.

Thirteen days into the new year and I already venturing out of my bubble. But I am doing it because I believe God works in insane ways when you are uncomfortable. He breaks down barriers and hauls away the garbage and makes room for something beautiful to happen in a place that was cluttered with layers of comfort. And I am ready for that kind of insane.

Care to step out with me?

Wednesday, January 7

Sunsets and ice cream

Sunday was the culmination of two solids weeks of indulgence, celebrations, family, friends, and way too much time in the house.

By 3 pm that day, the kids were squirrel-ier than ever and dreading going back to school the next day. After separating them from picking at each other for the umpteenth time, I declared enough and said "We're going for a drive."

"Where are we going?"

"I don't know, let's see where the road takes us."

<Insert skepticism and a smidge of whining.>

"It will probably take us toward ice cream."


And we were off.

I headed where I usually do when I want to escape - toward downtown. Where I feel like I've ditched the 'burbs and malls and chain restaurants and the same-old for moments of inspiration.

I happened to drive right into the sunset on Lake Monona.

Sam starting shooting pictures like she was paparazzi and Peyton ask a hundred questions about the ice on the lake. It was too cold for any of us to venture out of the warm car, but I wanted to. I really wanted to run toward that sun. To stop it in its tracks long enough to bask in it. I wanted it to stay and warm the car window, the houses across the street, the kids sledding at the park next door (new find!)

But it kept it's long, steady slide behind the lake and disappeared - just like that.

And that's how moments are. They slip through our fingers quickly, even the tough ones. I know that's hard to imagine - some stages of life feel like forever. I'm in the middle of a hard season that seems to be playing out in a running loop. But I've been there before. I know I will look back in a few short years, and appreciate all that is coming out of these days. They will feel like no time at all.

Our adventure did include ice cream and a slow drive home. And no arguing. On the way, Sam said, "It went so fast." I think she was thinking about winter break, but probably also about the day, the drive, and the sunset.

It did. It does. 

Watch all the sunsets you can this year, staying long and appreciating each second.