Sacrifice: 5 tips for volunteering with kids

Tomorrow we embark on another service project with the kids and I just wanted to take a second to talk about why we do these things and how we use them to reinforce our commitment to serving others as a family.

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So, serving with kids. It is not for the faint of heart. I don’t mean that it is awful or bad or even a not fun experience. BUT, you have to set your expectations accordingly. If you think your kids are going to show up and be so thankful you’ve showed them how to serve others and forget themselves and their selfish desires for an afternoon, well, you’re gonna be pretty disappointed. I know I was.

But that’s okay. Because this is a skill that is developed over time. Self-sacrifice is not an instinctual skill.

The key is consistency. Keep serving. Keep working. Help them keep focusing on something other than themselves.

Here are five ways we make serving with kids a positive experience.

  1. Talk about who you are serving. Let them see how similar they are to the people they are out there helping. We serve two motels where many children live with their parents. It is so beneficial to our kids to talk and play with these kids so they can see that the people we are serving are the same as they are. People are people. And showing kids that those who need help aren’t some distant “other” and are people like them is really important.
  2. Prepare as a family. Serving isn’t just about taking kids down into the city and exposing them to the people who have needs that need to be met by others. We prepare as a family for our trip. We pray together for those we are serving, we pack bags with friends who we serve with, and we talk about the best ways to give others respect and dignity as we serve them.
  3. Let them know they are safe. We make sure our kids know they are safe in the areas we serve in AND that they are safe to ask us any questions they may have about the people and places we serve. Yes, sometimes their questions are not politically correct or easy to answer. Yes, sometimes it means telling them things about this world that are hard to admit. But, giving them a safe place to do so is incredibly important. We don’t shame them for their lack of understanding of certain social issues or for their politically incorrect way of asking the specifics of a situation. As long as they ask us privately (away from those we are serving) and with respect we encourage all discussion of the who, what, where, & why of serving.
  4. Give them a break. When we serve we are in town for 4+ hours at a time. That’s a big stretch for little kids. Our older girls (11 & 13) are able to handle it but the younger ones (8, 6, & 3) need breaks. LOTS of them. We pack snacks. We let them watch DVDs in the car at certain stops where logistics make it less than ideal for them to get out and serve. Bottom line, we have realistic expectations of them. We respect who they are and what they are capable of.
  5. Debrief. When we served on our family mission trip in Kentucky we learned that debriefing is an important part of service. Processing what you’ve seen, heard, and (let’s be honest) smelled is an important part of learning about what you’ve done and how you can do more in the future. Give them, and yourself, the chance to understand all you’ve been a part of and give the grace that is needed to process the experience.

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Doing these things help to make the experience better for everyone involved. Kids are still learning how to care for others. Some adults are, too. It’s not easy. Do I bristle every time  Trav (8) tells me how boring it is to serve meals to the homeless? YES. Every. Single. Time. But I keep exposing him to it. Keep exposing him to the needs of others. I encourage him to meet those needs with us and to pray for the men and women and children we serve. Is it perfect? No way. Do my children turn into mini Mother Theresa’s when serve? Nope. But their capacity for compassion grows. They see the needs of others and their ability to help be a part of meeting those needs. They are transported out of their narrow point of view and into a more global perspective for a few hours a month. Everyone grows. Everyone learns. Everyone finds themselves capable of more love than they knew possible.

 

Renewal.

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It’s been a long and stressful day for no particular reason. Just that mundane feeling of busyness that sits on your chest and keeps that deeply coveted breathe of calm out of reach.

Tonight after kids trickled off to bed (not until after 10 — whyyyyy??) I got a chance to sit in quiet and have a creative moment or two. I had found this large family Bible at a Catholic thrift store and snatched it up despite the fact that someone had rudely written its $4 price in black sharpie on the cover. I figured I would give it a little redo before putting it on our coffee table. I am by no means a painter but putting brush to canvas tonight felt like a good idea and I set about transforming this book. There was something so peaceful about sitting alone in the dimly lit kitchen working over this holy book that had sat in someone else’s home for years. It’s well preserved cover made me believe it was not an often used book and convicted me of how often my own Bible sits unopened beside my bed. It should have made me feel guilty or disappointed in myself. But with each stroke of paint on the cover I felt a renewing in my spirit and  a freedom from the expectations I had heaped upon my head.

I’ve been making a habit of praying through the Anglican rosary as a way to still my thoughts and calm my mind in times when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Tonight the words that echoed through my mind as I painted,

All shall be well,

All shall be well,

And all manner of things shall be well.

It was a hope. And a promise. And a deeply heartfelt prayer.

Doing a renewing work is such a deceptively simple task. Whether the change is big or small it all starts with the first overwhelming step. Renewal lives on the other side of that step and we have the chance to take it daily.

I think that is why at the heart of all of my creative endeavors there is a theme of re-creation. I love making something new out of something discarded. There is such hope in that act of renewal. Perhaps it’s because I hope that I, too, can find that renewal daily in my own life. Tonight it was simply the renewal of this sacred book. Tomorrow, perhaps, the continued renewal of my heart and spirit and further progress on the journey to becoming the person I am meant to be. 

Nashville Day Three: All over the map

Vomit free on Day Three! Maybe it was a random stomach bug? Maybe it was just our awesome luck. Either way, no more pukey kids and for that we are thankful!

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Day Three took us to the top of the Dyer Observatory here in Nashville. This place is a perfect example of our favorite types of places to visit on a trip. It was 1) Free and 2) seemingly a secret from the rest of the world. We followed our Waze to a quiet wooded mountain top and found ourselves at what appeared to be a regular-ish house (save for the dome on top) with a car or two parked out front. I have a knack for finding “attractions” that you initially pull into and wonder if you’re actually allowed to be there. We once drove a few miles off our route to pull into an “American Girl doll clothing store” that was actually just a lady’s garage set up like a store with hundreds of outfits she had sewn herself. The observatory was one of those places. Also a note about these kinds of places: always always always embrace a sense of adventure and go. The people are amazing and they’re often so excited that another human being found their place that you get an amazing experience!

So, back to the Dyer Observatory. The woman working there today was seriously just the nicest. They don’t do “tours” or anything and she was basically in the middle of her office hours but she so graciously offered to give us a tour of the building and show us the telescope up close and personal. They have this amazing LED model of the 100 stars nearest to us that their Astronomer made for the observatory. It’s fun and interactive and was such an unexpected treat. The kids loved it!

After our tour, we headed into the woods to see the Star Chamber and Equinox Stones they have. I’m not gonna lie. The Star Chamber looked a little Blair Witch and opening the door to discover a hanging snake skin didn’t help matters but we pushed on and explored and it was really just super cool. My favorite part was trying to leave in the pitch dark and Trav charging the door in a panic to get out and leaving the rest of us behind in the dark with spiders, snake skins, and that pesky Blair Witch.

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We packed up after that and headed to pretty much the most opposite attraction you could find: The Opryland Resort.

We had tried to visit it the day before but when we saw that parking was $30 we decided paying that to visit a hotel lobby just wasn’t our idea of fun and moved on. But thanks to some friendly locals we discovered that if you park at the Opry Mills mall you can park for free dollars, as my kids are fond of saying, and explore the hotel until your heart’s content!

The hotel was amazing. We took the boat tour through the hotel and it was a fun little experience. Was it worth $50 for us to do it? I don’t know. But the kids liked it and it kept us in air conditioning and out of the heat for a while so it served its purpose. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a fun little diversion.

We spent the rest of our time there exploring the hotel and taking pics. It really is a beautiful place.

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Our final tourist destination was the Willie Nelson & Family General Store. Here’s the backstory on this stop. A few weeks ago at the end of a busy day Thomas was like, “hey what’s up with the Willie Nelson look today?” Y’all. NO. Here’s a tip gentleman of the universe: Never ever ever tell your wife she looks like Willie Nelson. Especially not at the end of the day when she’s been around a hundred people apparently dressed like Mr. Nelson. (And no, saying you mean “a SEXY Willie Nelson” and googling that search term does not make things better.)

So, yeah, we had to make a trip there so I could continue to bust Thomas about his slip up. I even bought a Willie shirt with his adorable face on it. I plan to wear it to bed every night. Sexy Willie Nelson, indeed.

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Day Three concluded with too much BBQ, a trusty roller bottle of tummy support oils, and sending Thomas and the kids off to a Haunted Hearse Tour of Nashville while I curled up with little kids and binge watched the Big Bang Theory. It was a good end to a good day.

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I don’t have a clue what we’ll do for our last day here tomorrow. We check out at 11 but I can’t pick Thomas up until 4 so I’m sure we will have fun killing time!

Nashville Day Two: Maybe we should have quit while we were ahead?

Oh, Day Two. You had to make it difficult didn’t you?

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So maybe I didn’t check to see if the observatory was open on Mondays and we just headed there. That one is my fault. It’s the risk of that whole spontaneity thing I was talking about yesterday. But we found a quaint (albeit slightly boring) Agricultural Museum to visit. There were lots of opportunities for cool pics though so that’s always a win!

We also took a brief tour of Nashville thrift stores and scored an awesome and appropriately creepy Madonna & Child porcelain bust to add to my collection.

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The real trouble came later on when one of the kids got what seems to be a stomach bug. But, hey, at least they waited until we got to a restaurant to throw up. And now I don’t have to worry about checking “Clean up my kid’s puke from all over the bathroom stall of a Tex-Mex restaurant” off my bucket list. Hooray for that. (In related news, the restaurant did not have a spray bottle of disinfectant to give me to clean up the massive vomit storm and suggested I just wipe it up  with a towel. And THAT, my friends, is why you always hover over a public toilet seat! ?)

The above mentioned bathroom adventure meant that we needed to pay a visit to the in-hotel laundry. Which was fine except someone left a package of kids menu crayons in a pocket and, well, now ALLLLL of our clothes have been adorned in a crayoned Ombré effect. Ahhhh, adventures.

Tomorrow we head out to the Adventure science museum and The Dyer Observatory (assuming no one else falls victim to the mystery puking virus) and our bar is set pretty low for a successful Day Three…

Nashville Family Travel: Day One

You know what makes a road trip with 5 kids a piece of cake? Pack your car the night before, wake up at the crack of dawn,  get everyone loaded up and let them sleep the whole way!

At least I think that sounds like a good way to do it. I’ll let you know how it works if we ever pull that off.  We pack at about 2 am, sleep later than we mean to, load the car in a rush, and hit the road with a slew of restless kids. But, hey, we made it right?

Nashville really is just a shot hop from Atlanta so our road trip wasn’t a bad one at all. Four short hours (that’s really only THREE complete viewings of Frozen. Hooray.)  and we were in Music City!

Here’s how we do trips. We figure out where we are going and get a general sense of what we could do while there. We find out all of the places Anthony Bourdain says to eat, add those to the list, and hit the road. A little bit of planning  and a LOT of spontaneity makes for so much fun.

Today we stumbled upon the Nashville Biscuit House where the kids got pancakes bigger than their heads and we had some seriously good burgers. We headed out to the Parthenon and explored Centennial Park.

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On our way to see the Opryland Hotel we got a bit distracted by the super cool Madame Tussaud’s that we stumbled upon. There was lots of eye rolling and complaining when we told the kids we were heading into a wax museum but by the end they declared it the best museum visit in the history of museums. Clearly, we are a cultured group.

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We grabbed dinner after at The Aquarium restaurant afterwards.  Yeah, it’s touristy and not exactly a super culturally rich experience but our kids called us rock star parents for a whole two hours before we were demoted to worst parents ever for making them share a pull out couch. It was a glorious two hours!

Tomorrow we adventure to the Star Chamber, The Hermitage, and whatever else we find along the way…

Matilda’s Under the Pines

 

You’ve heard me say it a million times, but our family’s favorite way to spend a warm Summer evening is packing up snacks, juice boxes, patchwork blankets, and wine and heading out to Matilda’s Under the Pines. It’s taken us a little while to get back into our favorite Summer tradition but we got the chance tonight to spend the evening at Matilda’s and, as usual, it is a night that didn’t disappoint.

I cherish nights like this. I love to watch my barefoot kids run in the grass until the sun sinks low in the sky.  I savor and tuck deep into my heart the memories of kissing their sweaty heads and sending them off to play in the field while the robust sounds of Bluegrass and Jazz hang heavily in the warm Summer air.

“Live in the sunshine…Drink in the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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We made edible slime. Because our house wasn’t messy enough already.

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It seemed like a good idea. Mostly because I was feeling insecure about not being a “cool” mom anymore. I think I used to be more fun. Actually, I’m 100% certain I used to be more fun. So, we went off on a quest for fun. Don’t worry. I was smart about it. I picked a day when we’d been busy running errands and I was exhausted. I made sure Thomas would be working late. These things are guaranteed to make a mom more fun, right? Right.

For the record, I think you should be immediately suspicious of any activity where step one is “Melt 3 cups of gummy bears.” I’ve met melted gummy bears. Those things end up all over EVERYTHING. I was unwilling to throw in the towel though. So onward we went.

Here’s how to make edible slime:

  1. Give up on any hope of your home ever being clean again. Your kitchen is probably already a mess because you did just cook dinner. Embrace that. Soon you will have melted gummy bears literally on every surface of your kitchen.
  2. Send 3 cups of innocent gummy bears to their molten lava doom. They don’t deserve this. But, heck, neither do you. You guys are all in this together.
  3. Melt them and melt them and melt them until they look like one big rainbow flavored soup.
  4. Give every kid their own bowl and spoons. You really want to maximize the amount of dishes you need to do afterward.
  5. Disperse the gummy bear goop into their bowls. It will likely get into their hair at this point. Keep going.
  6. Have them add equal parts cornstarch (non-GMO of course!) and powdered sugar.
  7. Feel really really stupid for forking over the extra 39 cents for non-GMO cornstarch when you realize the remaining ingredients are basically sugar and food coloring.
  8. Stir.
  9. Pick a band-aid out of the slime & keep stirring.
  10. Let them use their hands. Also their faces. Heck, even the toddler might put her toes in hers. I’m not judging.
  11. Sample your delicious sticky sugar. Wrap it up in plastic wrap to save for tomorrow but remember that the sugar ants will likely eat it all up for the sun rises.
  12. Crash on the couch. Decide that being a cool mom might be overrated.

Edible slime, my friends. That’s all there is to it!

 

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V and slime

Summer Lovings

This summer has been a really beautiful one so far. I feel so thankful for the long days that wind to a close with kids playing and screaming outside with neighborhood friends and afternoons spent at the pool getting brown (the kids – not me. #redheadproblems) and splashing in the water. I feel like we are in a really special season of life and some days I want to just marinate in the sepia toned goodness of it all.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s exhausting, too. Toddler tantrums and teenage angst collide into me some afternoons and those days can be hard. I grump and whine about it on Facebook and commiserate with friends in similar stages of life. I will never be one to pretend this life of ours is perfect or easy or without its challenges. But it is good. Oh, so good.

Sometimes I think back on the days before I was someone’s mom and reflect on what I thought motherhood would feel like. I assumed I would be making lunches and washing clothes and helping with homework but none of my estimations of motherhood ever included the amazing camaraderie that I would experience with other moms. In my short sightedness I tend to think this is due to the digital age and our ability to connect with moms on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I read funny tweets from other moms and think how lucky I am to be a mom in these days where we can share our experiences so easily. And I am. And sharing is easy now, that is true.

But, the more I read and reflect and think about this sacred experience the more I realize that this role of motherhood has always been one that connects women. A shared experience of beauty and exhaustion and love and frustration. A beautiful journey of wholeness and incompleteness all at once. Some of my richest experiences have to do with being a mom. Not just with my children, but through bonding with other moms who are a part of this ocean of feeling that comes with being the guardian of the hearts of their children.

On days when I just cannot even last one more second with the level of craziness in my house, when I am exhausted from all these sweet beloved hands pulling and grabbing me, and the unending chaos that is a homeschoolers home at 5:00 on a Thursday afternoon I am blessed to know that a call, text, or FB post will result in multiple offers of wine delivery, hugs, or rescue. I have sent children to play at a neighbor friend’s house, had wine deliveries, and dinner offered to us on days when motherhood just seemed to be too much. Likewise we have shared our home with neighborhood refugees whose mother’s needed a moment to themselves. It is a give and take. A community of understanding. One I am blessed to be included in.

Modern day parenthood is not without its challenges. But it is not without its beauty either. I am thankful for these days and moments and summers full of chaos, craziness, and so much happiness. Thank you to all the moms, both past and present, who have made this journey of mine possible. I owe much of my enjoyment of these sweet summer days to your willingness to share the burden of motherhood with me. And those super important deliveries of wine at 3:00 on a weekday afternoon!

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Motherhood. Mothers. And the song that cannot be stopped.

So, Mother’s Day. Blah, blah, blah. It’s never been my favorite.

To me, it feels a little like the holiday equivalent of finally listening to your mother when she’s screamed at you for the millionth time to clean up your room. You only pay attention when it gets super obvious and you’re afraid she’ll get mad if you don’t.

Still, thinking about mothers makes me think about women in general which feels especially important in this current social climate. Guess what most mothers would love instead of a card on Mother’s Day? They’d like more than 6 weeks of maternity leave. Better post-partum support. For you to keep your opinions about breast-feeding to yourself. Those are great places to start. They’d like not to worry about their daughters getting date raped. They’d like for society to stop telling their sons that the only way to “be a man” is to pound his chest and haze underclassman at frat parties. They’d like to be able to sleep at night without worrying about the world they are sending their kids into.

But, since we are supposed to celebrate mothers on this one day of the year (so we can go back to ignoring these things that matter to them the other 364 days) I will play along. Because, the thing is, I’ve known some spectacular mothers. I’ve known mothers who have walked with their child through a mental health crisis and looked those ugly days right in the eye and you know what they did next? They kept on going and carrying the load of their children’s pain. I’ve known moms who poured their heart and soul into loving a tiny baby only to have that child snatched from their arms through sickness or injury. And these moms did the most amazing thing ever: THEY LIVED.

Moms are women, after all, and women possess a strength that is to be admired and, sometimes, feared.

My journey as a mom has been less dramatic. I have loved fiercely. I have feared the unknown. I have walked the halls with a sick child and had my heart break when my child experienced the cruelness of this world. I have endured the pain of losing three babies before I could feel my body swell with the fullness of their lives. And because my own mother has passed on to me that beautiful strength and glory that all women possess in their bones I became stronger from it. I grew more determined to protect and love and change this world through the force of my love for my children.

When I was a little girl my parents bought me a cat. A cat I had wanted for my entire life. You know, approximately 6 whole years. So, when we moved to a new house they picked the most beautiful cat to give me. A perfectly lovely dark black Persian cat named Midnight. And here was the deal. If I wanted to keep Midnight I had to take care of her. I had to keep her safe and protect her and love her and never let anything happen to her. So I did.

One night right after we moved in we discovered that the train tracks out front had a train that passed by around bedtime each night. Is there anything more exciting than a train when you’re 6 years old? I certainly thought there wasn’t. And if 6-year-olds love trains so much how much more would a cat love to see it? (You see where this is going, right?) The next night was a warm summer night and right before I went to bed I brought Midnight outside with me to watch the train pass. I stood on the front porch of our house shirtless  in my pink pajama pants and waited. As it so happens, cats are not big fans of trains. Midnight reacted exactly like every adult in the world would predict she would. She tried to climb out of my arms and get away from the loud whistle of the train. But Midnight was my responsibility. And I would not let go. And so I stood bare-chested on the front porch as my beautiful Persian cat clawed me bloody until the train passed by. I never once released my grip. I was scratched and bleeding and delivered that cat right into the panicked hands of my parents. Now 31 years later I realize that motherhood is the emotional equivalent of that night.

Motherhood, I really believe, is about sacrifice. It is about loving enough to endure the painful moments that are necessary to protect others. It is about holding on even when it hurts. Even when you can’t endure the wounds that the one you love inflicts on you. Even when you know it would be easier to give up.

My kids are young. The toddler years are exhausting thanks to innumerable tantrums. The elementary ages can be frustrating with their constant questioning of the who/what/when/why of the world. The early teen years are maddening as boundaries are pushed and lines crossed. But I know the fight is just beginning for me. Motherhood is all about endurance. And the stakes begin to get really high the bigger the consequences get for behaviors.

I have known so many moms who have loved when it hurt. Who have set boundaries and consequences with a stern face even when it drove them to weep in the quiet corner of their room. Because motherhood is about love. And love is not always about the easy choices.

So, today I celebrate mothers. My mother. My grand-mothers. My friends who are mothers, who wanted to be mothers, who love and miss their own mothers. I celebrate the perfectly imperfect state of motherhood. I celebrate its complexity. It’s silliness. It’s middle of the night throw up duties. It’s quiet moments of snuggling on the sofa and reading the same book for the hundredth time.

Being a mother is the best thing that ever happened to me. It taught me who I am. It taught me what I love. It taught me how far the breadth of my love could grow. And so, to my children, I say thank you. Not for the presents and super secret dance you’ve choreographed (oh, yes, I know about that! Mothers know everything!) but for being patient with me as I discover what it means to love you with the full strength of a mother’s heart. And for your continued love as I imperfectly navigate this privilege of being the guardian of your love.

Like so many times in my life, a single simple poetic phrase says everything I labor for hours to convey. Happy Mother’s Day, friends. May we all recognize the sacred duty we have been blessed with and accept the grace that we are given when we don’t always do it perfectly. And may we all give our children the world in the best way we know how and continue our song even in the midst of our tears.

I Ask My Mother To Sing

She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.

I’ve never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the grass.

But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more,

Both women have begun to cry.
But neither stops her song. 

 

On bending, breaking, and the importance of rest.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I’ve mentioned before that there has been a quiet whisper in my life lately. One about change. And welcoming the future. And being open to plans I don’t have for my own self. This whisper has rolled over me in waves until it has become a roar too loud to ignore. A whisper, still, but the loudest kind. The kind only God can make happen. A well-timed message at church about the value of emotional and spiritual health, a drawing nearer and nearer to God by digging out the deepest corners of my insides, and then this quote. Oh, Lewis, how do you always say what my heart is already learning and make it so obvious what I have been avoiding? It’s like shining a mirror into the darkest parts inside and gently revealing what is lurking there.

For 37 (okay, almost 38) years I have been building my own house. I have the blueprints from my Creator, but I’ve been the one overseeing the building. The one with veto power. The one reprioritizing things. The one sinking the whole project from the start. I really am the bossiest home builder ever.

The last few years have been difficult. So difficult. I’ve had to face a mountain of anxiety, uncertainty, and upheaval. Things that others have seen and things that have been known only in the depths of my heart. It has, as Lewis so perfectly described it, hurt abominably. This “living house” as Lewis calls it, the one God is building here with me, is so different from the house I planned to have that it is unrecognizable. It has places I didn’t want to know. It has structures that have reached impossibly high and terrifyingly deep.

I’ve asked God in midnight pleadings why He hasn’t given me the living house I asked for. Why hasn’t He given me one like my neighbor? Why is mine not completed yet? Why must I endure constant construction? And now I know. Because the house I would build for myself would be fit only for my current needs. My immediate circumstances. Because, though I am loathe to admit it, I am an impossibly short-sighted creature. I am bogged down in the now. But, oh how I love that my living house is being built by the Creator of all things. The One who knows what is now and what is yet to come. Because He knows the storms ahead He is working to build a shelter that will survive. Because He knows the breadth of my life He is working to build a shelter than can hold all the love and community that I am blessed to be surrounded by.

I never realized how much building can feel like breaking. I wonder, does the tiny acorn feel the fracture and shattering so deeply when it sprouts? Does the grapevine feel the pain of each new shoot in the Spring? I imagine that this breaking and opening and growing is just a universal pain that we all feel and that if we are truly lucky it never ceases. Lord, let me see these moments as opportunity and not as tragedy. Let me see the house You are building for me and embrace the process.

Part of this journey means embracing a Sabbath for our family and making it a holy and important day around our home. Taking a moment to focus and center and be intentional in our life is something I so often feel is lacking. Growth and change is hard. And constant busyness and the hectic nature of modern life makes it even harder. So we will rest. I’m going to warn you, this will not be an easy process for me. If you know me in real life you will probably understand how hard it is for me not to make this into an event. My first instinct is to create a “Loving Family Sabbath” event on Facebook and invite all of our friends and neighbors to break bread and “rest” with them. I really am an expert at missing the point of these things! Thankfully, I have Thomas to balance me out and bring me back to reality. So, no Facebook events. No Evites. Just our little Friday night family ritual. We’ve practiced this on and off over the years and, like many things we start around here, it didn’t always stick. It’s too easy to get busy and schedule something “just this once.” Years ago we practiced this with the kids. Every Friday we made Challah bread and lit candles and practiced a real Shabbat. Four years later it is still something the kids remember as one of their favorite family traditions.  And I cannot for the life of me remember why we stopped. I am certain we meant to continue it. But, life happened. And the resting moments fell through the cracks. And so this Friday we will begin again. I’m not promising we will never miss a Sabbath. But I am saying it will be a priority. A Sabbath from work and from things we have to do.  A Sabbath to remember. And to keep holy.

This house of my soul has so much further to go before it is completed. But I am finally able to see growth amidst the demolition. There is an embrace of the process that I am coming around to. My soul has thirsted so long for the life giving water that allows it to grow and the drought is waning and seeds of new life are beginning to make their way to the surface. Painful sometimes, yes, but beautiful, too. And true beauty, I am learning, is about renewal and growth and learning to trust the One who creates all things.

 

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