Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lost in Transition

Today marks the first time in almost 8 years that I have not had a child at home with me.  I watched my “baby” walk into school this morning, close to her big brother (who, by the way, did not think it was “cool” to have to walk his sister to her Kindergarten classroom). 

I just unloaded the dishwasher in record time.  I have music on pretty loud; there is no one here to complain about my song selection.  I know there are moms reading this that have babies napping, haven’t even gotten a shower yet today, or are thinking being able to unload the dishwasher without hearing “mom, mom, mom” sounds great.  I don’t mean to sound unappreciative.  Let me just say this is a VERY foreign feeling. 

I spent my morning though, and many days leading up to today, wondering what it is about this whole school starting process that causes my heart to move from my chest into my throat.  I think it’s the idea of transition.  Transition means, movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change: the transition from adolescence to adulthood (  I am in the working movement of change.  I’m transitioning to the part of motherhood of having preschoolers to having school-aged children.  I’m transitioning to the next stage of motherhood.  The strange part is that this part arrives the way you rip off a Band-Aid.  One day my kids are here…All.  Day.  Long.  The next they are spending the better part of their day at school.  It’s sort of a shock.

I don’t deal well with transition—I never have.  It’s not so much the change, it’s the process of getting to the change—the transition.  It must be the unknown of it all.  I spent years with kids at home.  Picking up toys and stale Cheerios, folding small clothes, washing sippy cups, etc. defined my days.   Now I’m at a new stage in mommyhood.  I’m going to volunteer in two classrooms this school year, help with homework, offer advice about friendships, and be there for my kids in more of an emotional role.  Things have changed.  I may even do something crazy like toss out the sippy cups altogether!

Sydney told John and me that she was a “little bit nervous” about school.  I finally admitted to her this morning that I was a little nervous too.  She seemed to feel comforted by this.  I promised her I would bring Thurman to pick up this afternoon and told her that he and the cat would miss her today.  She really liked hearing that.

Friends have told me that this is just the beginning of a new chapter, and I agree with them.  I will return to work (when John reads this, you’ll hear his sigh of relief).  But, for this day I’m here.  I know Sydney is in good hands, her teacher is phenomenal!  It’s never easy though to move away from the familiar, especially when it comes in an adorable, almost 5 year-old body.

I may spend more than today trying to find my way through this transition.  Today I’m feeling my way through a dark room.  My hands are outstretched, fumbling around for recognizable objects.  I feel out of sorts, like I’m lost, but I will find my way. 

More than lost though, I feel grateful.  I feel so grateful that I was able to be home and pick up toys and stale Cheerios.  My kids still need me; it’s just in a different capacity.  And, no matter what…I’m still me.  I’m still at the place that God has called me to be.  

For nothing is impossible with God.  Luke 1:37

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cultivate Your Soul

Yesterday the kids and I spent the afternoon with friends at Snead’s Farm near Massaponax.  What a GREAT time!  It just isn’t possible to choose one part that was my favorite.  There was an overall theme of really happy kids and relaxed mommies.  Kids LOVE being on a farm.

When a group of young kids is taken out to a farm where they can run free, funny things come out of their mouths and they do great stuff.  They are unbound, uninhibited and ready to have some serious fun.  What do they do and say?  Well, allow me to touch on some highlights (yes, I took a few notes…these were just too good not to jot down).

Unlimited fun at a farm includes things like chasing chickens, giggling, while the farm dog attempts to “herd” them all.  Sydney told the other girls “Come on!  Run like the wind!”  The boys worked until their fingernails had a crust of dark mud under them; leveraging large rocks up from the thick, wet dirt to create their own waterfall (they were successful).  I heard them walking through parts of the creek and laughing as the mud at the bottom squelched and made “tooting” sounds.  “Dude did you hear that?” was asked more than once while large smiles spread across their faces and laughter filled the air.  After one of the older boys tripped over a rock in the creek, I heard my friend’s young daughter ask “You OK, dude?”  There are rope swings hanging from trees.  Who doesn’t enjoy swinging as the summer air blows across your face?   One friend’s daughter yelled “YAHOO, this is the best day ever!”as she zoomed downhill, through the trees on the zipline. 

It’s not just the funny things they say though; it’s the imagination that gets growing on a farm.  They imagine foxes and wolves in the nearby woods; poisonous water snakes in the creek.  Quicksand is responsible for taking a missing flip flop. A horse’s nose feels as “soft as a blanket.”  Alligators must live near the bottom of the zipline.

Our picnic area sat abandoned underneath a big shade tree…there was just too much to see and do and explore to sit down and eat lunch.  Never once did any one of them ask to go home or check what time it was.  They were barefooted, shirtless, dirty, and happy.  They were truly free.

Being on a farm got me thinking too about all the work involved.  There must be hours of preparation just to get the fields ready for the crops.  Before the harvest is brought in, before the seeds begin to grow; there is preparation.  It seems the more work that goes in to the cultivation process (the preparation) the greater return.  As parents we spend a lot of time “cultivating” the character, the spirit, of our children.  But, what about ourselves?

I know in my heart that I need to spend time cultivating.  My cultivating is time learning about and listening to God.  When I do, my heart is opened wider.  What grows from that is a stronger faith, a healthier outlook on life and a more meaningful relationship.  I can’t expect to get a “good return” if I don’t spend time in preparation.

This isn’t a new outlook, but perhaps one that has deeper meaning to me now that I connected it to my own walk.  The cool part to me is all I have to do is open up…God is more than willing to help me do the work.

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Psalm 37:3 (NASB)

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Goodbye to the Old

Yesterday I saw something awesome.  I watched over 50 people go forward with spontaneous baptism during the first service at Lifepoint.  132 were baptized between two services!  You may be reading that statement and wondering what that means.  It means that Lifepoint had a handful of scheduled baptisms yesterday, but then Pastor Daniel called forward anyone that wanted to be baptized.  These weren’t little babies dressed in white gowns.  These were adults, young and old, that made a decision to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new.  Each of these individuals made a personal decision and then exercised it in a public way. 

As babies, or young children, the decision to be baptized is made by our parents or family members.  It’s a wonderfully meaningful tradition.  I have photos of both Elliot and Sydney at their baptisms in the Lutheran Church with John’s parents looking on.  But as an adult, a decision is made to follow what you believe in your heart out of your own free will.  Baptism then becomes a testimony; a way of identifying as a Christian. 

One of the people I watched is a teenager that babysits for us.  My heart leaped as I watched her.  What an awesome example she is to my kids.  Being a teenager is never easy, especially a teenager rooted in faith.  As adults our faith is judged by other adults; imagine what it’s like as a teenager.  As I watched this girl, who I love, show in a public way the direction she is choosing for her life, I cried tears of joy for her.  She is brave, honest, and is someone to look up to. 

I thought of a great song that sums up how I feel when I think of yesterday.  It’s called Control by JJ Heller.  I’m posting a link to the video, but here is a piece of the lyrics.
I'm letting go of the illusion
I'm letting go of the confusion
I can't carry it another step
I close my eyes and take a breath
I'm letting go, letting go

Part of faith to me is letting go.  Letting go of what I want, what I think I need, and what I think I need to be.  Letting go of the illusion and the confusion, as the song says.  We all try to hide parts of ourselves, but when we go forward in faith we get to let go of so much that drags us down.  The people I watched yesterday let go.  I’m sure today they feel freer and lighter. 

I’m filled with gratefulness.  Yesterday wrote on my heart in a deep and meaningful way, as I am sure it did with so many in that auditorium. 

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.  Acts 22:16

Thank you for reading.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Plans I Have for You

Fun time with friends
As you know, I was born and raised (mostly) in Columbus, Ohio.  But, at the age of 15 my dad announced to our family that he had been chosen for a transfer to Louisville, Kentucky.  I felt devastated by this news.  My world, as I knew it, was about to be completely transformed.   We moved to Oldham County, specifically to a town called La Grange, which is about 25 miles west of Louisville.  Only 3 hours from Columbus was a different world. 

We visited La Grange in the early summer to see homes and visit the local schools.  I brought with me a big adolescent attitude problem.  My parents found a beautiful home for our family.  The high school offered new opportunities, yet I clung to my sulking.  I got to meet the athletic director who informed us that there wasn’t a field hockey team (I actually remember uttering under my breath, “I’m not surprised.”), but he said I could try out for the volleyball team.  In his office, he showed me a photo of his daughter who was my age.  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t impressed.  My parents encouraged me to look on the bright side…"see this as an opportunity to broaden your horizons,” they said.  I was content with the horizons I had, or so I thought.

Moving day arrived. No amount of pouting was getting me out of this situation.  I cried.  I begged.  I lost the fight…we loaded into the car.  I had no idea what would meet me later that day. 

We arrived at a hotel for the evening, as the moving truck wouldn’t arrive until the next morning.  Soon a knock came at the hotel door.  It was the athletic director and his daughter.  Deep in my selfish pity party I probably missed the phone call that invited these guests.  Lisa Peterson was sweet and southern.  She had pretty hair and wore lipstick.  She insisted on taking me to the county fair and wouldn’t take no for an answer. 

That night, at the fair, I remember watching the Miss Oldham County Pageant.  I remember eating traditional southern food.  I remember being lead around by Lisa for the evening in a whirlwind of “y’all this is Kristin, she just moved here.”  We weaved in and out of groups of people and event tents.  Questions, handshakes, and hugs from people I had never met.  By the end of the evening I had friends and had caught the eye of a soon-to-be senior boy.  At 15 that’s what you call a good night.

Sophomore English Class

At that time I had no idea how living in Kentucky would impact me.  For years after that I still didn’t understand.  Fear kept me from embracing the idea of a new place.  I had grown complacent in my life in Ohio.  There were bigger plans for me though.

It was through living in La Grange that I attended a little Methodist Church regularly.  I was involved in the youth group.  I didn’t just meet new friends…this was the place where I met God.  Our youth Pastor, Don, was awesome.  He was so encouraging and caring.  A foundation was built then that I still rely on to this day. 

There are all kinds of things that happen in our lives that we don’t understand, that we may never understand.  I am brought back time and time again to this verse. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

God knew exactly what He was doing in my life and in my heart when He put me in Oldham County.  I prospered greatly by being placed there.  I cherish my memories of living there.  My Facebook friends list contains those friends that touched my life and helped change my heart. 

Where has He placed you to prosper your life?  What great plans are in your life?  Can you trust that it's for a bigger purpose, a greater plan?

As I was looking through old photos for this post, I came across a bookmark.  On the back it says "from Karen."  This is how it reads:

"This Day Is Mine"
Yesterday is beyond my reach.  I cannot, by wishing or ignoring alter a single moment.
Tomorrow is not yet within my grasp.  Only God knows what the future holds.  And He is trustworthy of my trust.
But today is mine.  And today, with God's help, I know I can succeed.

Thank you Karen, Lisa, Heather, Leanne, Sean, Melissa, Jill and so many others. 

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Farmville Experience

There may be some of you that read that title and thought to yourself, “Oh I need to go check on my farm.”  This post isn’t about a game.  It’s about a town called Farmville, how it came to be that a city-girl from Columbus, Ohio ended up living in a town nicknamed Farm-Vegas, and a valuable lesson I learned in the process.

In 1999 John and I were dating when he successfully completed his graduate degree.  What followed the inception of that coveted degree was an intensive job hunt.  It appeared no area of the country was off limits.  John was submitting resumes to neighboring universities but also to places as far away as Colorado.  This search made me uneasy.  I was in my junior year at OSU.  I knew this relationship was unmatched, but I also knew I may not be prepared to move away. 

He went on many interviews.  There were trips to the airport to see him off, wish him luck, and then welcome him home again.  Then, in early August, he interviewed at a small college called Longwood.  Guess what?  It‘s in Farmville, Virginia.  This was his job offer.  This was exciting.  This was not in Columbus, Ohio.

Sitting on the front steps of my parents’ home one evening in the late spring John and I had a conversation about moving and his acceptance of this job.  He wanted me to finish the 3 quarters of school I had left and join him in Virginia.  I recall telling him that I was uncertain only because we would be in a new place with no one but each other.  He then told me he looked at that as an opportunity to learn how to depend on each other in ways that we may not get the chance to if we stayed in Columbus where things and people were familiar to us…and he wanted the chance for us to learn to depend on each other.

It was through that statement that this city-girl decided to call a place like Farmville “home.”

I have to say when I moved to Virginia I experienced homesickness like I had never experienced homesickness before.  Everything was different.  It was truly an experience.  People had southern accents.  There were deer in our yard!  Once a black bear ran past us on campus, and I kid you not…one night a mountain lion was in our back yard!  Places like the “Old Country Buffet” were popular.  The grocery store sold pickled pig’s feet and the gas station had boiled peanuts!  The day I saw those pig’s toes staring back at me in the meat department of the local grocery store, I left my half-full cart and practically ran out.  I sat in my car and cried wondering what in the world I was doing 500 miles away from all things familiar. 

As I wiped away tears, I remembered that conversation.  I remembered that John wanted a chance for us to depend on each other.  I didn’t learn to do that on that day, but I started to. My gosh!  Practically 11 years after that day I am still learning how to lean into John…to be vulnerable to him and depend on him.

Lately though I’ve been thinking more and more about how to lean into John and there is a parallel there.  I’m also learning to lean into my faith even more.  I’m learning how to press into God for the reassurance I need, to calm my restless spirit, and to give me strength on the days when I really need it…to be vulnerable to Him and depend on Him.

The years we spent in Farmville I grew.  We had good friends there and we became best friends to each other.  I feel more secure about who I am now than in those first years away from home.  That security has come from more than leaning on a strong husband.  The lesson learned is that no matter how many miles away from things familiar I am, no matter the peculiar cuisine; I am always just a prayer away from something can truly depend on.   

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

Thanks for reading.