Category Archives: Family

Pausing

This morning I’m pausing to say thank you.   I wonder how many times I’ve driven past sunsets I didn’t watch or sat in the car looking my phone and ignored the gifts He gives just because I didn’t take the time to pay attention.

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Vacation has a way of making me slow down to look around.   This photo certainly displays the beauty of what God created.   Look at those colors.

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My kids make me slow down.   My daughter picked these on a walk around our neighboorhood from a bush in an empty lot.  Sweet.

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Difficulties can slow me down.  Sometimes in a good way.

One of my former co-workers walked into my office yesterday and handed me this note and a donation.    It made me think about the fact that our lives entertwine with others.  I haven’t seen her in a long time.  And yet, when she heard about the arson at our church this week she acted and gave encouragement and grace.      Made me cry.  It also made me want to pause and touch other people in their pain.   Made me grateful.

How about you?   What causes you to pause and notice?   What makes you grateful?

 

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Filed under Faith, Family, Travel

Whatcha lookin’ at?

I have a character flaw.  Well, I have lots actually but I have one that I have accepted.   I don’t excercise unless I have a deadline staring me down. 

I understand that excercise is good for me.  In fact, two massive studies were released this week which indicate that excercise can even prevent cancer. (Read here).    I know I feel better, look better, have more energy and properly inspire my kids when I’m modeling good excercise habits.  

You’d think that would be enough to get me moving.   But no.   Only thing that works is to sign up for some crazy event and then blog about it.    It’s the fear of total humiliation that gets me out of bed and off the couch.  

Maybe the health benefits are what make me actually sign up for the crazy event knowing it’ll force my hand.   Or my feet. 

Whatever.  I signed up this year to do the Portland to Coast. I’ve done it a couple times before. (Read here).  But this time we decided to pair the team down to 8 people which means we are all doing three turns and we don’t stop to sleep.   Crazy. 

Worst part it’s in three months and I didn’t move at all in the last six months.  

So tonight to officially kick off training my eldest and I went for a brisk mile and a half walk. I’m lying. It was slow. We took photos.


California Lilac.  I have these in my yard as well.   They grow. Fast.  The ten year old likes to pull s branch back and let go. It rains purple fluff. 


This is why I love living in the Pacific Northwest.  Those big beautiful trees. 


How fun is this?!  Go Clark County Rotaty.  I may have to go donate some copies of books I want my neighbors to read.  


Anyone know what this is named?   We want one in our yard. So cheerful. 


Prickly weed. 

We also saw a wild naked two year old running down the street.  We paused at a safe distance to make sure his parents noticed he was outside naked before we continued on.  

My point here is that on our walk we saw beauty and ugly and crazy and fun.  We got to choose what we focused on.    Some people only focus on the weeds.   They lose a lot on the walk. 

And perhaps this summer I’ll try focusing on the benefits of training rather than just thinking about avoiding embarrassment.   How about you?  Whatcha lookin’ at? 

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Filed under Faith, Family, Running

T-shirt Preaching

My daughter is listening. 

We spend a lot of time at home and at church and in conversations in the car talking about Jesus.   We also talk about Star Wars and the Seahawks and Beanie Babies and track and why socks disappear in the laundry.   But Jesus typically shows up in conversation daily.  We talk about how He loves us.   About how He wants us to love Him. We talk about how our job in this world is to shine and love and pray and care.  To be present in people’s pain.  We talk about how it is not our job to post a list of rules.   We talk about how shame and guilt are not our job or our burden.   That God is big enough to worry about other people’s junk. That loving Jesus and loving others is enough.  We talk a lot.
So I should not be shocked that my daughter is growing into a lovely human being who loves Jesus.   I am overwhelmed with gratitude that she’s learning about grace and love.   But last night I had a bit of a panic attack.

Last night my ten year old informed me that she was going to tell her friends at school about Jesus.  I gulped.  She discussed the options open for evangelism in fourth grade.  Her ideas included handing out notes, invitations to VBS, starting conversations and t-shirts.   And she decided that today she would start by wearing a t-shirt with a bible verse on it.   The back has an amazing promise.


So why am I scared?  Because she had decided to share her faith with friends?   I should be happy.   But I’m confessing to you that I’m scared. I’m worried she’ll get it wrong and the other kids will feel she’s too preachy.   I’m scared that she’ll be overheard by a teacher and told to shush.   I’m scared that I’m going to get an email or a text or a Facebook message from another parent telling us to keep our nosy religious opinions to ourselves.  I’m scared that some kid is going to laugh and bully and bruise my fledgling missionary.  I’m scared that she’ll carry the stigma of a goody two shoes and somewhere in high school we’ll be sitting with her crying because she doesn’t have a date to prom because in fourth grade she decided to be brave and tell people that Jesus loves them.   

See.  Scared.  And also disgusted with myself.  Those Bible verses about how if we deny Christ to people he won’t claim us with the Father are running through my head.  And the verses about rejoicing if people hate you or ridicule you are not providing any comfort.   Truly a proud, conflicted, scared, disgusted mess.

That was last night.   This morning my kiddo put on her shirt.  


And the Bible story Mark 9:23-24  Ran through my head.   You know the story? The desperate dad takes his child to Jesus.   And Jesus tells him his son can get help if only the dad will believe.  

23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe,[a] all things are possible to him who believes.”

24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

That mirrors my soul.

You see my Jesus gets that I’m a mess.   He understands I can’t do it alone.  And He accepts my pitiful prayer of “I believe….help me with my unbelief.”   Both in one sentence.

So today I choose to plant my feet with my kiddo.   I choose to hold on the promises in the Bible.   And I cling desperately to Jesus who is the only reason it will work.   And He is patient with me and helps even when what I need help with is being His friend.   That’s what grace looks like.    

I really never heard of anyone growing in their faith because of a t-shirt.   But today I did.   My daughter is teaching. 

How about you?  Do you struggle with this too?   

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Running behind 

I signed up for another race – mostly because I want to eat and not lose any of the momentum from finishing the triathlon and partly because the next race in October is with very dear friends and its to run over the Astoria Bridge so it involves a weekend away with my spouse.

Finishing the triathlon is not a sentance that my jr. high self would have envisioned – proof that jr. high, while generally miserable, is thankfully not the sum total of existance.  My eldest is going into fourth grade so we have two years left to pour in quality while she is still sane. And then according to my wise mother the goal in middle school is to just get them through it. 

The next race is a 10K.   I ran one several years ago.   I came in dead last.   I’d prefer not to be last again.   Near the end of the crowd is okay. Last, not so much.    I had a hard time this week getting into the gym during the day.   The Scramble for the Kids is on Monday and so this last week was full of a myriad of details.   As a result, two of my excercise attempts happened late evening after the three year old went to bed.    Couple days ago the nine year old wanted to know if she could come along.      I paused.   Sometimes I run because I need a break.   And last time she ran with me it involved more of me dragging her than actual running.  But the jr. high kid in me wants my daughter’s jr. high experience to include fewer painful PE moments than mine had.   Plus the fact that she wants to run with me is a a great honor.   So I said sure.

She did great.  We ran 2 miles in 25 minutes and were still friends when we came back home.

The almost 4th grader asked if we could run again tonight.  I said 

after dinner and after I read bedtime books to the little one  (Make Way for Ducklings, This is Not my Hat and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore for those of you curious).   

We headed out with iPod blaring so we could both hear and I was wearing a light backpack so we could bring home treats.  I asked my spouse if a run still counts if it is to the store for ice cream. He said yes. Points for the husband!

  
We paused at the corner because the sunset was gorgeous.  The nine year old had extra energy tonight because she smoked me. I had to push to keep up.     We had another mid run pause to pick up pints of ice cream  (Peanut Butter Cup, Heath Toffee and cookie dough…go big!).   Ran home with ice cream bumping off my back 

  
This two miles we dropped 4 1/2 minutes off our time.  Seriously should add ice cream to every run. Actually I think the fact that I was chasing her down the whole time pushed us both to speed up. 

  
She talked me through all the post run stretches and then we sat on the couch and ate bowls of ice cream and then I dove back into golf details.  And now the house is quiet, the girls are asleep and I’m grateful for today – for reading and laundry and errands and nap time and quiet moments with my spouse. And for the run. I’m grateful. 

  Our pastor says that parenting is not for wimps.  And so we run.  And eat ice cream.  

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Filed under Books, Family, Food, Running

Priceless Porcelain

photoI spent Sunday afternoon at a bridal shower for my beautiful cousin.   She’s marrying my kind of man.   Big burly guy with a full beard who cooks and brews his own beer and has a gentle spirit.   Good choice.    The bridal shower was a full formal English tea.  My lovely aunt pulled out all her fancy dishes and her even fancier recipes.  We were surrounded by Devonshire cream, peanut butter truffles, chicken salad tarts, cucumber sandwiches and strawberry soup.   Earl Grey and Mango Passion and Peppermint Teas.   Rolled butter and jam and heart-shaped scones.    It was all beautiful.

I brought my daughters along even though I think technically they weren’t invited.  My aunt is the kind

photo 1where people who show up uninvited get a warm welcome.   She hauled a familiar child’s table and chairs downstairs and unpacked a beautiful tiny tea set.    I gulped a little.  The table, chairs and tea set all belonged to my cousin, Annie.   She currently has her tea parties in heaven.   Treasures from ones we’ve lost should be treated with care.

And my two-year old is….well….she’s two.

My aunt looked directly at the little miss and said “I know you’ll be fine, you know how to  be gentle”.   She looked at me and said “I won’t take it with me”.

Ah yes.  That lesson again.   People matter more than things.   Our treasures are in heaven.

I love that my aunt holds things loosely and people tightly.   It’s the right priority.

photo 4The little girls were, in fact, gentle.   I’m sure the vote of confidence from my aunt went a long way.  I should remember this.  I tend to rise to the standard that I’m treated.   If  I assume they’ll be gentle than it’s significantly more likely they’ll be gentle.   The girls toasted each other.  They toasted the bride.   They ate all the sugar cubes.    photo 3

After the tea, the youngest daughter hauled presents up to the bride.   My eldest daughter learned how to make a rehearsal practice bridal bouquet.   We told her this was an important life skill.    Used significantly more often than algebra.   Don’t tell her I said that.   Don’t tell my math teacher friends that either.   Algebra is important.

photo 5After everyone went home my sister and I stayed to help with the dishes.    My aunt sent me a text today expressing great thanks for the help serving the tea and doing the dishes.    It was seriously my pleasure.  Standing in the kitchen yesterday with my sister and my aunt I thought about our weddings and bridal showers and graduation parties.    My aunt helped at them all.  It frequently required planet tickets to do so.    This post is officially my return thank you.   Thank you for the many parties and recipes and dishes.   Thank you for the life lessons and the love.   Thank you for sharing your daughter’s tea set with my daughters.   Thank you for letting us love on your daughter.

Moms and daughters.  Aunts and nieces.

It was priceless.

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A purple miracle

The eldest child is in 2nd grade. She reads crazy fast. She writes that way too. It’s messy. She is a loyal and brave and funny person. This makes her a great friend but It also means that her report cards and daily behavior chart at school typically mention the need to slow down and not talk to her neighbors. Mine said the same thing in 2nd grade.

The class management program at her school is a clip chart. Kids start out every morning at green. They clip up or down based on their behavior. The warm side of the rainbow is not good. Yellow. Orange. And then the dreaded parent contact red. The cool side of the rainbow is good. Clip up to blue. Pink and the oh so good kid purple… Role model. People like my daughter and I hang out at green a lot. Sometimes visit yellow. When we really strive we hit blue or pink. Purple not so much. Way too many ways to wiggle and giggle to get up to purple.

I seriously still get in trouble. A friend loves to tell about the time I got scolded at by a in home scrapbooking party lady. I still bought the obligatory friend is having a party item. This is one of the main reasons I like being self employed. No behavior clip charts.

So Thursday the 2nd grader had a rough day. Spent most of the day in the scary Orange clip area. She said she was so relieved when at the last minute she clipped up and was able to report only a yellow. Whew!

Our morning conversation on Friday went like this.

So is today going to be a good day?

Yup. But Mom….purple is impossible. I never have made purple.

Ah yes but don’t forget nothing is impossible with God!

Okay I’ll pray! God help me make purple!

And I thought….well it would take a miracle.

I always tremble a bit when I tell kids to pray. I understand that sometimes God answers yes. But I worry about fragile faith when God answers no or wait. I really shouldn’t worry. God is the one who told us to have faith like a child.

Check out the 2nd graders clip report for Friday.

We cheered!! God is so good. Purple miracle.

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Nigh and Naught

Mornings at our house have a pattern.   On good days, when I don’t hit the snooze button, the pattern includes time to think.  Snooze button days not so much.   Part of my morning includes standing in the bathroom holding my daughter’s towel and waiting for her to rinse the conditioner out of her hair.   I help her get dressed, we talk about the day and I brush her hair into its familiar double ponytail.  There won’t be very many more years that she’ll let me do this so I treasure the time.    Many days while I hold her towel, I read her daily Bible verse while I stand there and wait.      Today’s verse gave me pause.

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In my coffee deprived mind the words rattled around and came up with this meaning  “God is naught.  No where.  Hard to find”.     I shook my head, hugged my kiddo’s bright orange towel closer and looked again.     Nigh.   I had associated Nigh with No, Night, Never, Nope, Nada.    Nigh does not mean Naught.   Whew.

Strange that nigh and naught are so different.   In the midst of a trial I sometimes feel like they are the same.  But feelings are not truth.  Reality starts with clear definitions.  Nigh is near and God is good.  All the time.     When I start with proper definitions I see clearly.

Last night we took our kids to the school playground around the corner.   The big sister rode her bike and ran and jumped and generally caused a ruckus.    The little sister went down the slide all by herself.  She grinned like she was big stuff.     We put the little sister back in the stroller and went for a walk on the track.     Little sister became concerned.   Asked for “sister?”.   She became worried.   Yelled for “sister!”.     She didn’t know that the one she was calling for was close by – circling, coming up fast and wouldn’t dream of leaving her.     When the bicycle went zooming past the baby settled back in for a content ride.

the girls

And that’s what I reminded myself this morning.   When I am broken-hearted and worried I don’t need to panic.    I can call out His name because He is Nigh.  Next to.   Near.

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