Reflections on Being Thirteen in Minnesota and Uganda

You know this blog is about the relationships, experiences and practices God uses to form us, right?  Well, today I’m putting up a guest post from our daughter, Maggie.  Most of you remember she worked in Northern Uganda this summer, doing an internship for her Masters in Public Health.  Her experiences with the poor, and particularly with women, have formed in her, a heart for justice – the justice I believe is in God’s heart too.   I’m sharing this as a little background before I post an update on the ways you have made a difference, joining in her work there.

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When I was 13 years old and growing up in Eden Prairie Minnesota, my most pressing concerns included: getting the braces off my teeth as soon as humanly possible, convincing my mother to allow me to wear a two-piece bathing suit (or get my cartilage pierced – I varied my advocacy agenda to better my odds), and counting down the days until I would finally get my first period. I was in a big hurry to grow up and these experiences seemed like pivotal pieces of my maturation strategy.

As each of these events came to pass, I felt more like a young woman (with the exception of the cartilage piercing incident, which resulted in massive infection and a disappointing trip back to Claire’s to have the earring removed by a “professional”). I vividly remember grinning ear to ear on the day I first got my period – I felt I had arrived. The smile quickly faded as I realized that I was home alone that day. Without the first idea of how to use a tampon applicator I was forced to spend those glorious first few hours of womanhood wearing a maxi pad that felt like the size of a diaper.

That feeling of helplessness was rare for me; I had plenty of adults in my life offering loving guidance throughout my formative years. Like many American teenagers, as the years passed, I learned how to drive, got an after-school job at Caribou Coffee, opened my first checking account and applied for college.

Most of my life has been typically American and very privileged. I was continuously encouraged with the Disney-esque message that I could be whatever I wanted to be and achieve whatever I set my mind to. Fortunately for me, my family and community had the resources that made those messages true. I traveled internationally on my own, learned to change my own flat tires and graduated from a 4-year university. At 22, I had a diploma, a passport full of stamps and limitless ambitions.

My sense of independence has led me to a few atypical opportunities that have reformed my worldview. Currently, I am writing these reflections as I sit in Northern Uganda. Here I work with a school of girls, many of whom are “child mothers,” girls who became pregnant at a very young age for various reasons. Their experiences differ vastly from my own adolescence. At 13, they are not thinking about ear piercings or bikinis. They certainly never looked forward to their first period. They likely dreaded it.

My students live in a region that is trying to heal after a 25-year civil war that was characterized by widespread rebel activity, the use of child soldiers and the abduction of young girls to be used as sex slaves. The geographic landscape is verdant but the outlook for Ugandan girls is bleak. They don’t look forward to their first period because they cannot afford underwear. Or soap, or pads, or school fees.

Nobody is telling these young women that they can be whatever they want to be.

Their vulnerabilities are palpable, and often preyed upon. Parents marry their daughters off at a young age to shed their financial responsibility. Men offer school fees, or soap, or towels, to young girls with the expectation that they will receive sex in return. Independence is a foreign concept to many of my students – the world they have grown up in does not provide them with choices.

Poverty happens to them. Marriage happens to them. Sex happens to them.

These ladies are survivors of unimaginable circumstances. They study for high school exams with babies swaddled on their backs. They are incredibly strong. I am not here to do anything for these girls, but rather to facilitate their learning and growth. I want to see them strategize and hack their own solutions to the daily health, hygiene and education challenges they face in their communities.

Not everyone is handed a Disney dream, but we are all born with the inherent power and potential to reform the circumstances we face. I dream of the day when these ladies will go out into the world, like I did, armed with a diploma, a passport full of stamps and limitless ambitions.

What to do When You Want to Flip off the Other Guy

I was stuck in a single lane of traffic, late for a meeting, with a car in front of me from Rhode Island and a driver who couldn’t decide which way she wanted to turn (bless her heart).  AAARRRRGGHHH!  I found myself, once again bemoaning the fact that Christians don’t seem to have acceptable hand gestures for situations like this.

My road rage was just one of the times recently that I’ve noticed an increase in irritability, and impatience.  My “one word” for this year is “choose life”, but recently I started to notice a pattern of “not life” and needed to address it.

Like my friend says, I’m more of a “jet fuel drinker” than a “candle-lighter”.  I realized that in a summer of activity I had abandoned some of the spiritual practices that feed my soul.  I naturally resist the slower more contemplative disciplines of life with Jesus, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

“We stop, whether by choice or through circumstance, so that we can be alert and attentive and receptive to what God is doing in and for us, in and for others, on the way. We wait for our souls to catch up with our bodies.” Eugene Peterson The Jesus Way

I started by returning to a practice at the end of each day that is helpful.  It means stopping.  Lighting a candle.  And taking 5-10 minutes to prayerfully reflect over my day.

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The clear bottle with the glitter is a little visual aid.  When you shake it up it takes 5-7 minutes for all the “stuff” to settle.  A reminder of all that gets stirred up inside me that needs to be settled in God.  Ruth Hayley Barton writes:

Long ago, a wise spiritual director said to me, “Ruth, you are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need is to sit still long enough so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.” This was an invitation to “be still and know” beyond my addiction to noise, words, people, and performance-oriented activity.

The card you see in the picture is a guide that reads like this:

Silence and Centering

When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.        (Psalm 4:4)

Review the day with gratitude and questions:

  • When did I sense the activity of God in my life?  What were the most life-giving moments?
  • Where did I see the grace and activity of God?
  • Were there times I felt my heart was out of alignment with God’s?
  • Were there moments when I lived out of fear, anger, or bitterness?
  • Were there things or people I avoided?

Concluding prayer: Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions…Create in my a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, & grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. (Ps. 51)

The book is a gratitude journal where I list the gifts of God I’ve noticed during the day.

This is not a natural rhythm for me!  STOPPING and paying attention to the work of God in and through me can feel like I’m an extroverted toddler being punished with a time out .  Even though I have the choice, it’s a discipline, but one that has huge rewards as I see God gently re-calibrating my soul and guiding me back in sync with Him.

The more I pay attention in this short time of reflection, the more I find I’m recognizing grace moments in the everyday stuff of life.  And when stuck behind a confused out-of-state driver I’m able to say with more sincerity “Bless her heart”. :)

What spiritual practices are hard for you?  Which ones are helpful?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

When You’re on the Receiving End of a “Crucial Conversation”

I wrote Monday about the most impactful message we heard when we went to Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit this summer.    I came home from the summit inspired, informed, and motivated to apply all of the things.

However I wasn’t expecting for anyone to apply anythings to, well… ME!  Within 24 hours of our return, not one, but two different friends individually decided they needed to have a “crucial conversation” with me.

Actually one of my friends hadn’t even heard the talk at Willow.

Ironic timing?  Or God?  Whatever... In both cases I had been insensitive with these friends.

Actually, that’s too mild.  I had been completely clueless to the impact of my words and actions. Thankfully they were brave enough to say “Um, this is hard, but I care about you, and our friendship is important to me, and there was this time recently…

Both. Individually.  Did I mention this was TWO separate conversations?

And then I received THIS text and thought “NOOOOOOOO!!!” A girl can only take so much!

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Fortunately, it was NOT more correction, but still, I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic.

I listened intently to the advice given by Grenny on how to initiate crucial conversations.   But what about when you’re on the receiving end of one?

CLEARLY I’m no expert in this area, but just a fellow stumbler trying to learn.  Here are some things I’m trying to do when I’m on the receiving end of a conversation where someone has told me something hard to hear:

  • Affirm – both my care for the other and their courage in coming directly to me.
  • Question for better understanding.  I want to make really sure I’m hearing what they’re saying – and all 100% of it.
  • Ask forgiveness when appropriate.

One more thing… I often forget in these “Holy buckets this is HARD!” conversations, The Holy Spirit is present and available, just waiting for our “911”.

Romans 8:26 says, “God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.”

The LC translation: It’s gonna be ok.  You’re not alone and this won’t kill you.

What would you say are some good things to remember when you’re on the receiving end of a “crucial conversation”?  What has your experience been?

 

 

How to Have a Crucial Conversation

Recently we met for dinner with a young couple we love whose marriage is in crisis.

Another friend’s teenage son entered rehab.

Two had to fire employees.

One needs to break up with her boyfriend.

AAAAARRRGGGHHH!  For the love of world peace!

In each of these situations a crucial conversation (or series of them) was called for.  Conversations where emotions ran high.  Sometimes there was a difference of opinion.   Perhaps there was hard truth that needed to be clearly, but gently communicated.

John and I often repeat something our friend Nancy Beach once said: “Leadership is a series of hard conversations.”  I think that might as well be “LIFE is a series of hard conversations.”

In August we took a large group from our church to the annual Leadership Summit at Willow Creek.  The most pertinent talk for many of us was called “Crucial Conversations” by Joseph Grenny.

He said, any time you find yourself stuck, there are crucial conversations you’re not having, or not having well.

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Conflict.  We either talk it out or we act it out.  The problem is we think we have to choose between telling the truth or keeping a friend  Consequently instead of talking, our emotion often comes out sideways in our actions.

The Bible is full of crucial conversations (think Nathan talking to David about his affair with Bathsheba for one).  Crucial conversations like these, according to Grenny can be a path, not a pit.

One of the most important things Grenny talks about in these crucial conversations is starting with the heart.

Grenny says there are two tasks you must do in the first 30 seconds of a crucial conversation.  If you do them, there is a great chance (97% according to Grenny’s research) that you will be heard. Not agreed with necessarily, but heard.

The two tasks he identifies are:

1.  Care about the goals of the other (almost as much as they do.)

2.  Help the other to know you respect them and care about them as a person.

And here was the key quote for me:

“It’s the INTENT, not the CONTENT of crucial conversations that can cause people to be defensive.  We need to create a safe place with commitment to them.”

So I’m thinking that taking some time to pray and examine our heart before we have a crucial conversation is an important step.

Think of someone with whom you need to have a crucial conversation.  Maybe there’s something standing between you.  Or a change needs to happen.  The air needs to be cleared. Truth needs to be told.

Close your eyes and take a minute to think of that person.  Their life.  Their hopes and dreams. Pray for them.  Pray for yourself and for your words to be life-giving… to be, as Grenny says, “a path and not a pit.”

Together we can do this!

What’s been your experience with having hard conversations?  What have you learned?

A Little Reassurance for Everyday Intimidation

What’s “that thing” for you?  The thing that intimidates you?  The thing that is hard to face…that threatens to undo you?  It might be embarrassing to admit.

Maybe it’s speaking in front of crowds… Driving in city traffic?  Facing your boss on Monday morning?  Or facing your mother?

For me, it’s technology.  Cursed technology.

I’m in the process (and it’s a looooong process) of trying to make this blog and ministry platform better.  Hopefully you’ll notice some positive changes over the next few months, but the first steps I’ve had to take have involved a boatload of technological instructions that have been, shall we say…spiritually formative (read: MADDENING AND SCARES THE PANTS OFF ME).  It has felt like 2 steps backwards when I’m trying to go forward (can you relate?)

I swear I picture a huge curtain like in the Wizard of Oz and gleeful little imps behind it working a control panel with levers and switches designed to send me hurtling into the abyss.images

Anyway, all that to say that some of you were kind to share or tweet about this post from last week, but if people clicked to read there was…a big fat NOTHING.  Sorry!

Others of you missed this post because I was unable to transfer subscribers til yesterday.

BUT, here’s the great thing (and where YOU come in).

What I experienced in this intimidating process is exactly what I hope you experience when you show up at this blog site.  

I was reminded, and I want to remind you:

  • You are not alone.  People are willing to help if you’re humble enough to ask.  I had some amazing saints come alongside me, taking time out from their busy days to encourage, reassure, and slay the dragons that were keeping me at bay.  I pray you feel that way about this blog too.  We are here for each other.
  • Everyone is doing their best.  When we expect that of ourselves and each other we’re much more likely to extend grace. Nobody (ok very few people) set out to make your life miserable.
  •  This “thing” (whatever it is) will not kill you.  The world is NOT coming to an end (unless Jesus shows up, in which case I’m confident He will abolish technology when He establishes heaven on earth).   I keep hitting technological bumps that are humiliating, but I’m telling myself if I live to fight another day, it’s a win.  Mistakes have consequences but they’re not fatal.
  • Your identity is not dependent on what you accomplish.  We are ALL beloved riffraff with a God who will never leave us and brothers and sisters with us, looking together for glimpses of His grace in the everyday stuff of life.

We need the dual perspective that this may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but we do, and God’s purposes will prevail.

The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Romans 8:35 MSG

So whatever you are facing today that is daunting, know that you’re not alone.  Breathe deep.  Lean hard.  God’s love holds.

Self-awareness and the Busy

Monday I wrote about “crazy busy” and questions we might ask ourselves.

I’m fortunate.  I happen to be in a season of life where I have plenty of margin and discretionary time because my kids are grown and I don’t have the financial pressures some people have. However, I do see how I need to pay attention to busyness in two areas.

1.  Pace /Presence. Although I’m not over-committed, I’m a “do-er” a “list-maker”, a person with a lot going on, so I recognize I may prioritize tasks over people.  My posture can convey that I’m too busy to be “present”, to just chat, to show up spur of the moment.  I’m a hurrier and I may scurry on to the next task without taking the time I should with each person.  I need to embrace the discipline of slowing my pace sometimes.

2. Patience with Priorities. Although I affirm the importance of others being able to say “no” and disappoint people, I can bristle when it inconveniences…well, ME!  I need to be more supportive of my friends trying to bring some sanity to the chaos of their lives and recognize I’m not always going to be one of their priorities.

Can you relate to this?  Are you tempted to equate busyness with importance?  To prioritize tasks over people?  Or to advocate for boundaries only when they don’t inconvenience you?  Tell me I’m not the only one!

5 Questions to Ask When You’re “CRAZY Busy”

“We’ve just been so CRAZY busy!”

I have a friend whose emails contain this phrase along with profuse apologies about her perpetual stress level almost every single time she writes me.

Sometimes I want to shout at the computer “Well STOP DOING so much!”

Brene Brown says exhaustion is the new status symbol. If we don’t feel overwhelmed we must not be doing something important.  Are you buying into that?

I want to tell my crazy busy friend about my sister-in-law who realized that they had had so many people visiting their lake cabin over the past few years that none of their family was actually able to enjoy it.  They were always hosting someone else, so she called a moratorium for this one summer.  A time out.  To that I say “Bravo!”  It can be done.

But I also realize how hard it must be to think of disappointing friends who don’t have lake homes and who look forward to visiting every year.  Boundaries are not without their downside.  They take courage and resolve.

As I’ve been thinking about my friend and my sister-in-law, 5 Questions have come to mind that might be helpful to ask ourselves when we’re “CRAZY Busy”:

1.  How does this level of busyness affect the state of my soul? Really.  Am I at my best at these rpm’s?  How much does my busyness feed my false self – the part of me that needs to be validated by my achievements?

2.  Is this just a season (temporary), or is it an on-going pattern of over-extending myself?

3.  Why have I said “yes” to each of these commitments?  Which have I said “yes” to out of fear or a need to prove something?  Examine your commitments one by one.

4.  Do I have choices where I may have been making excuses? (Ex.: I have to work on the sr. high school party because I did it when our other child was a sr.)

5.  Who are the right people to disappoint?

I’d really love to just sit down and have a conversation with you about this over a DQ Blizzard because I’d like to hear your thoughts too.

What do you think?  Is there one person you feel like you need to be willing to disappoint in order to have a healthier rhythm of life?

Need a little more encouragement?  You are not a victim.  You own your choices. Learn from Bob Goff who tries to quit something every Thursday.photo-157

 

 

Hospitality: Ideas For those Who are Hospi-phobic and Those Who are Fearless Too

It’s One Word Friday!

Like I wrote recently, part of “Choose Life” means choosing to exercise our gifts.

And you’ve got ‘em!  You’re talented and capable and you’re gamers.

Hospitality seems to be one of mine, (although it’s easy to see how others are doing it so much better).  Some of you may have this gift too.  I hope you’ll add your ideas in the comments.

For others the thought of guests ringing your doorbell makes you want to hide under your bed.

Whether hospitality is one of your gifts or not, it’s a reflection of God’s welcoming heart that we’re all called to live out.  I hope this post will give you some resources and encouragement!

4 Suggestions if you’re new to opening your home:

1.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Potlucks take the pressure off and this is about community not performance.  Everyone has a recipe they’d like to try or time to pick up a bottle of wine.  Before or during the evening, people feel good when they’re asked to help.

2.  If you have an extra fridge/freezer, or a little extra room, keep some some basics there so you can pull them out in a pinch.  (Twice this year I’ve had people who said they’d bring a dessert forget, so out came the homemade brownies I had in the freezer) And pick up a bag of ice every time  you get gas.  You ALWAYS need ice.photo 2-4

3.  Do everything you can ahead of time.  I will set our dining room table even a day or two ahead (I know this may not work if you have tinies at home, but…).  This also gives me the freedom and space to be a little more creative with a theme if I want.

4.  Keep it in perspective.  I do this by making of point of stopping to pray for the people who will be coming to my home.  This is about THEM – making them feel welcome and valued.  I also matted and framed this great free printable I got from Myquillyn at the Nesting Placephoto-166

Hospi-phobics are you feeling a little better?  Deep breaths.  

Veterans, want some more ideas?

In the summer we do a lot more entertaining because our backyard becomes a huge additional “room”.  One of the best investments we made years ago, was to buy a “carport” tent on sale at Home Depot (I think) for about $90 and some 6 ft tables from Costco (also on sale).  We use them constantly in the summer.  Investing in some matching tablecloths also pays off over the years.

** Caveat!  If what you have is a 500 square foot apartment, USE IT! Fill it up with people and good conversation and laughter.  Reflecting the welcoming heart of God isn’t about size.  For us using our yard and investing in some reusable pieces has just been helpful.

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I often do a Tex-mex theme.  I bought some red bandanas super cheap (I think they come in packs at Walmart) to use as napkins.  If you want a cheaper alternative to tablecloths, get some of the stuff they wrap trees with to use as burlap table runners.  Mason jars are fun for glasses.  If you are smart, you can find pie tins at garage sales to use for plates (but I’m not that smart. Or committed)

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We went to dinner at some friends’ house abut a month ago and she gave me this great idea.  She got these marinated meats to grill from Trader Joes, and put out all the fixings for Tacos or whatever.  This is great for a potluck too cuz everyone can bring a different topping.

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And then there’s this new salad recipe I’ve been making over and over this summer.photo-135

  • 1 can black beans (14 ounces), rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels (I USED FRESH CORN OFF THE COB)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (half a palmful)
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco (eyeball it) (I OMITTED)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil (eyeball it)
  • Salt and pepper
  • I HAD SOME CHERRY TOMATOES SO I HALVED THEM AND ADDED

The original recipe had this option (but I really like fresh corn): Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Let stand for at least 15 minutes for the corn to fully defrost and the flavors to combine, then toss and serve. The corn will also place a quick-chill on this easy side-salad as it defrosts – no need to refrigerate!  Serves 4

We have a great family recipe for homemade guacamole, but an easier alternative is to buy some at the store and “doctor it” with some fresh cilantro and avocados.

And lastly… an ice cream dessert.  Think about it… You don’t want to waste food!  There won’t be any left, but if there is, an ice cream dessert won’t spoil.  Just put it back in the freezer!
Oreo Sundae Dessert
Crust: 1 pkg (35) oreos, crushed.
1/2 stick butter melted.
Mix and pat in greased 9×13 pan  (can reserve 1 cup crumbs for topping if you want)
Filling: 1/2 gallon ice cream (i used java chip)
Topping: 
melt 3 squares unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c. butter
2 t. vanilla
4 well-beaten egg yolks
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
Beat 4 egg whites beaten stiff.  Fold into chocolate mixture and pour over ice cream. Freeze :)

Now it’s your turn!  If you’re a veteran at hospitality, what works for you?  If not, what overwhelms you?

 

How to Make a Difference Today

I’ve been a little “off” lately.  A bit of a cranky pants.  And as I examined why, the thing that I noticed was that I’ve really been neglecting the soul rhythm of time in God’s Word.  So this morning I started on a new Bible reading plan, breathing in Genesis 1.

And two things clicked together – God’s words for me, and words for others

First, when I read… I read, pray, & meditate (RPM).  Actually it’s not usually in that order, but RPM is catchy :).

I read the passage and meditate on it.  And what I mean by meditate is that I try to pay attention to verses God quickens my spirit to, and specifically I ask “What does this passage teach me about God and about myself?”

Then I pray the passage into my life.

Here’s what I breathed in from Genesis 1:

  • God is powerful.
  • His Word is powerful. It makes a difference.
  • Words are powerful.
  • God’s words call out life and beauty.
  • I am made in HIs image.

So…then I pray about reflecting God’s image.  How can I call out life and beauty today?

Second, I received the Best. Note. Ever. from our daughter, Katy.  It was another reminder to me of the power of our words to call forth life and beauty in others.

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As our communications guru friend reminds us, “Words Matter!”

Katy’s note was a tangible example of someone reflecting the image of God – making a difference with her words.

This practice of note writing has been a powerful one for me.

Years ago I felt prompted to write a mentor from college who I had been out of touch with.  I thanked him for his influence in my life, growing me to be a leader more like Jesus.  He wrote back that my note had come at the lowest day of his life, where personal challenges had tempted him to believe maybe nothing he had done in ministry had really mattered.   That little note I wrote at that exact time made a difference.  God used it, and God can use your words too.

I try to reflect each morning on different people, conversations, experiences…Is there something I’ve noticed, or some conversation where someone else was affirmed and I haven’t told them?  And I’m reminded of this sign at the airport:

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Here are a few of thingsI’m learning:

  • Emails are ok, but there’s something special about receiving a “real” card with someone’s personal penmanship that you can save.
  • Being super specific is the key to a life-giving note.  There’s a huge difference between “I really appreciate you.” and “The way you welcomed me with a hug and a smile the other day made me feel so loved. It was such a reminder of God’s care for me.”
  • What’s not turned to praise is turned to pride.  We’re all in this together.  We’re dependent on God and His gifts to us through those around us.  Let’s encourage each other!

What is YOUR experience with words of encouragement?  What would you add to what I’ve learned?  Share in the comments!

 

 

 

What to do when School Starts

As I write this it’s almost Labor day, and I’ve been thinking a lot about you Moms with kids of every age starting back to school – thinking about transitions and All Of The Feelings.

It’s the end of August and I’m “up north”.  This is my view.

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Don’t hate me, but I can breathe deep and enjoy this lake air (and the mocha John just brought me, thank you very much) without being interrupted by an 8 year old who wants to play UNO. or a 12 year old who wants me to take them on a jet-ski, or a toddler who can’t find his Thomas the Tank pez dispenser (and all the drama that comes with).

I love this season of life and the freedom it gives me, don’t get me wrong.  But this – this time of transition from Summer to Fall is also a time of grieving for me.  I miss the back-to-school shopping and the exciting beginning of all of the THINGS for the new year.  I miss “bouquets of newly-sharpened pencils”, the season of hands-on parenting with all the family traditions and night time prayers and snuggled up in jammies story reading.  I miss our first day of school chicken pot pie dinner, and I miss the annual measuring of our girls.

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Moms I know you.  I’ve been you.  Most of you are a little schizophrenic at this point.  You tackled summer with gusto, doing the strawberry picking and the zoo visits and fishing pole baiting memory-making, but you’re just so over summer now.  You’re ready to take a break from your role as Camp Director of all the Fun Outings in the Universe.

You’re thrilled about taking the FIRST DAY pictures, making the special FIRST DAY breakfast, and walking the kids to the bus stop.

But then??  Then, you’re all about running inside, collapsing back against the door of your house and exhaling with a “Praise Jesus I’ve made it through another summer without inflicting bodily harm on my kids (bless their hearts)!”  There may even be a little Hallelujah-Chorus-humming going on (don’t deny it).

That’s good!  You’re doing great.  You really are.  And you should celebrate!

I get it.  I’ve been there.  But can I make a little suggestion?  A tweak to your celebration?

Sometime today when the kids are out the door to pre-school or high school or college, (or their job because the empty nest may be a myth), take a minute in the stillness after the “get ‘em out the door storm” and look around you.  Even walk through your quiet house. Look for signs of growth in your kids and in your family.  And thank God.  

Maybe it’s a picture of one of your kids learning to horseback ride on a family vacation, or the first chapter book your grade-schooler read this summer, or a Scripture verse you memorized.  Take time to mark the moment.

In our hurry up culture we may FB post it or Instagram or Tweet a moment, but I wonder how often we truly sit in an experience with thanksgiving.

You’ve been faithful to show up and nurture your tribe of yahoos all summer and they’ve grown.  So have you.

God has been faithful to show up and equip you and grow the whole lot of you.

Well done!

“He who began a good work in you (and your kids) will be faithful to complete it” through every season.

So maybe a little “Yay God!” party at the dinner table?  Perhaps ask each person to share a way that they feel they’ve grown this summer.

Are your kids back in school?  How are you feeling during this season?  What do you do to mark the transition?