The scenes from this past summer, as I view them in my memory vaults, all blur together. The hurried pace, the always-moving-to-the-next-thing cadence of it has left me with little room to breathe.
Enter Fall. Fall with its delightful back to school moments. Pumpkin spice lattes, chunky sweaters, boots, football and bouquets of sharpened pencils. I find myself falling into it with heart felt happiness. I welcome every mum, every painted pumpkin, every apple crisp, apple pie, apple cider, apple anything!
But I would be unfair and unjust to check off the summer of 2014 without any nod to its joys and its beauty. There were some remarkable moments after all. So here goes.
My Favorite Things From the Summer of 2014
1. Playing softball. I know, I know! I told you that I was scared to play (childhood trauma), that I had never played on a team before, that I couldn’t throw worth anything. But what I discovered over the course of playing nearly every Monday night is that there is truly something beautiful about the body of Christ. The women on my team were from several different churches, but there was this camaraderie and genuine support for one another that was so beautiful to me. I was the worst, but I was never treated as such. My teammates cheered me on, encouraged me and supported me all the way through. And my friends, victory is SWEET! We went undefeated the entire season, winning the championship!
2. Voxer. This is my favorite App ever. If you have never heard of it it, Voxer is like a walkie talkie that provides live messages, texts and photos. Several of my friends use Voxer and being able to “talk” with friends throughout the day has been so much fun. I find that setting aside time for a phone call is very difficult, because the demands of motherhood are constantly changing and often unexpected. Voxer makes it possible to talk when it is convenient, but it still can feel like we are carrying on a conversation. If you enjoy Voxing, let me know. Would love to Vox with you!
3. Running. Now don’t get me wrong. I still don’t like running. But I have learned to appreciate it which is a huge step up from abhorrence. It started with an early morning run while I was in my hometown in Pennsylvania. I didn’t really run so much as stumble up the hills, but the sights were beyond worth it. And then I ran again in Ohio and saw a gorgeous sunrise. Each time I run, I am “rewarded” in some way by a beautiful unexpected sight. But the thing that has helped me the most to be faithful in running is the accountability of friendship. I am planning to run a 5K on November 1st with one of my dearest friends at Twin Pines Camp. If you know me even a little, you know my passion for camping ministry and Twin Pines is one of my favorite spots on earth. This purpose in running is what keeps me moving forward. Also, my Voxing friends will leave me super long messages. I listen to their messages while I am running and this keeps me moving. I have also found that having fun running clothes is essential. I am more likely to run if I feel comfortable in what I am wearing.
4. Friendships. I was blessed to see so many friends who have walked through life with me at different times and different stages of my journey. Seeing them again and spending time with them was an incredible JOY!
5. Yellow. For some reason, yellow was my go to decorating color this summer. I think it all started with Ainsley’s birthday party when I wore a yellow sweater as my dress-like-Belle outfit. I organized the plans for a block party that our church hosted and lemonade and all things yellow became the theme. The Thursday before our Saturday event, I met with a few friends to make decorations and we decided to make a photo booth. I looked up some ideas on Pinterest and found this picture…
We all thought it looked amazing and one of my friends said that she had old doors that had been left in her attic when she moved into her home. On Saturday morning, her husband brought the doors over. THEY WERE YELLOW AND WHITE!!! I couldn’t believe it and as we decorated (after my husband and our good friend set them up- thank you Daves!), I was amazed. The photo booth couldn’t have been more perfect!
6. Firsts. We had so many firsts happen this summer! Ainsley started walking (and running!). Gibson learned to ride on a two wheeler and caught his first fish. I ran for 17 minutes straight (the longest I had ever run, ever!). Gibson went on his first roller coaster (and loved it!). Ethan went to basketball camp. Lindsay went to sign language camp. Ethan and Lindsay enjoyed animation camp. Dave started building a hammered dulcimer. We bought a kayak for our anniversary! Gibson learned to swim without his life jacket. It was kind of a momentous summer when I really think about it!
7. Books. We read a lot of books this summer. I started reading The Growly Books by Philip and Erin Ulrich to the kids and we have been enjoying it. I read so many books but a few of my favorites were Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga, Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray, Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs. They were not my favorites because they were easy, uplifting reads. Instead, they were emotionally challenging and a bit heartbreaking. It was good to end with Annie’s book, because it left me feeling ready to face the challenges of life once again! Lindsay read the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series and she and her friend started decorating a pair of pants with things they did this past summer. As a result, Lindsay’s summer synopsis is much cooler than mine!
8. Love. In early August, we had the privilege of celebrating my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. It was a special time for our family and I am so grateful for the legacy that has been given to my children. What a joyous occasion!
9. Family. We traveled a great deal together this summer and made lots of memories. We never planned to have a family of 6, yet I wouldn’t change it for the world! I love my sweet family so dearly. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the summer!
Upon further consideration, our summer 2014 was pretty fabulous. I am so thankful for this time to reflect and to remember how very thankful I am for every season in life and the opportunity to walk through it with such wonderful people.
And now Fall? Bring it on!!!
You would think that hearing the words “advanced maternal age” when I was pregnant with your sister would have clued me in to the reality that I am getting older. But it still doesn’t seem possible that you are old enough to be in middle school!
Maybe I should have been prepared when I discovered that I would never be able to pick you up again. Or when you tried on heels and you were taller than me. Or the day we discovered that we could share shoes.
It definitely should have sunk in when you started wearing lip gloss, when you begged for a purse, and when you talked about your “crushes”.
Ah, Linds, I am in denial! It doesn’t seem possible!
But then I watch you pick out all of your school supplies. I see your excitement at orientation. I observe your Daddy teaching you how to use your locker combination.
And it hits me hard. You are going to middle school, but more than that, you are READY to go to middle school.
My sweet girlie~ I am so proud of you! It hasn’t been an easy ride getting to this point. From the very beginning of your school days, I knew you would be marching to the beat of your own drum.
You have always been independent (which is another way of saying stubborn!) and as a result, we have had a tendency to clash. But as I reflect on the past 11 years that have gone by in the blink of an eye, I see two things that have happened.
1. You are maturing beautifully. You still have this tendency to overreact to things, to respond vehemently out of your emotions, but you are quick to acknowledge your faults and to seek reconciliation. This is beautiful. You still struggle with filters and saying whatever you are thinking. But I see growth in this as well. You are pausing more. You stop yourself at the “but” when you begin to say, “I shouldn’t be saying this, but…”. You are starting to accept correction from your parents without turning it into the worst case scenario. Thanks for that by the way!
2. I’m maturing too. It has taken me a long time to move from trying to control you to understanding that my job is to celebrate you. Correct? Yes. Challenge? Of course! But somewhere in the midst of all of the correcting and the challenging, I forgot that I am supposed to celebrate you. That I am to be your biggest fan, your strongest supporter, your cheerleader. I finally found my pom poms and I am using them well. This has really changed everything for us, hasn’t it? I hope you can feel it- this genuine admiration I have for you. I still cringe sometimes, Lu, because I want the very best for you. But I am learning to shed the Mama bear skin and simply be your friend and your confidante. You see, a mama has to grow up into herself just as much as her children need to move from babies to adults.
Thanks for walking hand in hand with me on this journey, my Lindsay girl!
Now here we are! You are in middle school and there is so much I want to tell you! You asked me if I was nervous on that first day. I was. I was in 7th grade though and your aunties were in 9th and 11th, paving the way for me to walk comfortably forward. I don’t know what it is like to be the firstborn, to be the one who blazes the trails for the siblings. I do know that you are doing a remarkably fine job! (On a side note- I watched your brothers get on their bus an hour after you walked to school with your Daddy and I was struck by how confident they were. I attribute much of this to you. You have walked every step of your schooling journey with confidence and your brothers are free to walk in those footsteps because you have been brave. Thank you for that!).
But I was nervous, because everything was so new. Would I make it to class on time? Would I be able to figure out my locker combination? What if my friends abandoned me and nobody liked me? What if I couldn’t find a class?
I remember what I wore that first day of 7th grade. Grandma made me a lovely pink floral skirt with matching blouse. There was lace trim around the hem of the skirt and it was a truly lovely outfit. Except. I was a tomboy and I hated pink and I detested skirts. But I wore it because I loved my Mama and I wanted to honor her. But I felt so out of place on that first day. I wanted to hide under all of the desks. Instead, I sat at the back of the classes, trying to keep a low profile.
Looking back, I wish that I could tell my 12 year old self to be confident in who I was, to know that clothes do not define a person. But I would learn that lesson over the next several years. My friends did not abandon me. In fact, I still have the blessing of their friendship in my life and I am so grateful for that. And I didn’t have to worry about making it to class on time. I figured it out. The locker combination? Well, you have already discovered how easy that is, right? And I only messed up once in finding classes. I had “Industrial Arts” on my schedule and when I asked a classmate where to go, she heard “Mr. Artz” and took me to a math class instead. That was slightly embarrassing, but I learned two things. I should trust my own instincts (when she started taking me in the opposite direction of where I thought I should go, I should have listened to myself!) But the other thing I learned is that it really isn’t that big of a deal. We don’t truly learn things in life without making mistakes. The mistakes made in safe places are the ones that give us courage. And courage, my sweet one, will take you far in life!
It does not surprise me in the least that you are already struggling with organization. You are my daughter after all. I wish that I could give you tips and tricks that would solve all of the issues (and we WILL keep working on those things!). But can I tell you something, darling? God made you the way He did for a very special reason. He made you creative. He made you crazy imaginative. This is beautiful. So will your locker forever be messy? Probably. Should you work on that? Absolutely! But… please don’t ever feel like your inability to stay organized is a weakness that you have to overcome at all costs. Organization is helpful and beneficial for success. But you don’t have to lose WHO YOU ARE in order to live up to someone else’s standards. Work at it, but please enjoy the ride too. Perfection is not the goal here. Only growth and experience and living life to the full. Got that? Okay, good!
Now about friendships… I am so happy for the way God has already gone before you, putting you in the same school as your best friend, arranging for a sweet group of girls to be on your “team”, allowing you to be next to another pastor’s daughter and in most of the same classes with her. But friendship doesn’t just happen, Lindsay Lu. It must be worked at, cultivated, sought after. I read this quote the other day…
…friendship can be depicted as two people standing side by side looking at the same object and being stirred and entranced by it together… The paradox is that friendship cannot be merely about itself. It must be about something else, something that both friends are committed to and passionate about besides one another.
~Tim Keller in “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
Reading this made me think of you. Middle school is a unique opportunity to pursue friendships. You are no longer the little girl who cried in art class, ya know? You get to be who you want to be. But the way to pursue friendships is not in trying to get people to like you. This never works. Instead, you have this opportunity to get to know what others like. And when you have shared interests or passions, you get to pursue them with each other.
As I look back at my enduring friendships from my Jr. High and Sr. High years, our common interest was marching band. All of my besties were in band with me and so we spent every weekend in the Fall together, going to football games, practicing, spending study halls in the band room. What drew us even closer was the friends who were also a part of youth group. We have countless memories with one another.
Don’t forget to enjoy this time, Lu Lu! You have so many new opportunities that lie before you. Go and seize them. But as you do, remember that trusting God with all of your plans is the only true way to succeed. In our inadequacies, Christ is sufficient.
I am so proud of you, daughter of mine! You have stepped into middle school with the same independence, the same courage that has carried you through the past 11 years of your life. But God has given you maturity, humility, wisdom and grace. You said to me the other day that you can see God changing your heart. I want you to know that I can see it too.
I love you. To the moon and back, to infinity and beyond, forever and always.
“You are always on your computer!” he said in the early morning light.
His words irritated me, because they lacked truth. We had just returned from a week and a half vacation the night before. My computer had not been a companion on our trip.
But his next words ripped me apart.
“You never do anything with us!”
These words lacked truth as well. Our vacation was specifically planned with our kid’s interests in mind. There had been swimming and fishing, boating and hiking, having fun with old friends and making new ones. Our last day was spent at an amusement park that we love. He hadn’t stopped smiling the entire day.
And now we were home and I had planned out the whole summer, filling it with things that I knew he would enjoy.
So, why did his words hurt me? They hurt because being a mom is my highest priority(second only to my relationship with Jesus and their Daddy!). I work hard at it and I strive to be the best mom I can be.
His words hit a nerve, because even if he was technically wrong, the fact that he would even think these thoughts, broke my heart. And if I am being completely honest, they injured my pride. I prefer the perception that I am a fun mom, the kind who makes memories with my kids. The truth is, I want them to look back on their childhood with fondness.
And so, while his words lacked truth, they stopped me in my tracks. And they have stopped me in my tracks all summer long.
This is the strong effect that words have on me. My children are not the only ones who seem to have this power over me. Whenever I have given any kind of priority to anyone in my life, I have inevitably opened myself up to hurt. When I am hurt, I have a tendency to back away even when I am fully convinced that the other person is wrong.
I shut down. I stop doing the thing they questioned or at the very least put it on the back burner.
This summer, I discovered a shocking truth about myself. I am a slave to perceptions.
You may have noticed that my posts have been few and far between in the past few months. I have told you that I am busy with all the summer stuff and this was true. But even more true is that I have balked at this hurtful perception from my son. And I have been determined to change his mind. As a result, my time on the computer has been few and far between.
As summer comes to an end for our family, it is a natural time to reflect. Thinking about this particular scenario that seems like it might have happened in another lifetime, I am left unsettled. Did I really allow my 9 year old’s perception keep me from being faithful to this calling I have on my life? This calling to write, to share what God is teaching me, to encourage others through the Word of God? Really?
I have talked often about being brave as it is my one word for 2014. But I have learned something new this summer. Being brave for me is not simply walking in the path that God has laid out for me (although that continues to be my prayer and also my joy!). Being brave is not simply overcoming fears (although playing softball this summer and pushing myself to RUN has been a beautiful testimony to God’s grace in my life). Being brave is not just about trying new things (even though I am so thankful for every new first!).
Being brave means letting go of trying to manage other’s perceptions of me and truly trusting God with those things.
I can’t make my son see my heart for him, because he is a sinner too. He has selfishness in him and it is not my job appeal to that selfishness in order to convince him that I really am a great mom! (do you see how this could drive me crazy?!!). Instead, I need to challenge his faulty perceptions and I need to lead him to the throne of grace.
I can’t change other’s low opinions of me by being better or fighting against their perceptions. If my perceptions are tinged by sin, if I need to be changed by my great God, isn’t it likely that others are affected in the same way? That perhaps their treatment of me is born from the same place? Can I trust God to work in their lives, just as I pray that He would work in mine? Instead of internally fighting, I need to accept that others will not always see me in the way I would want them to see me. And I need to lay these things at the throne of grace.
It is time to walk in bravery, to throw off perceptions and not be ruled by them. It is time to be brave!
It started several years ago. Every time we would sing Horatio Spafford’s hymn, It is Well, I would cry. It was the last verse that moved me every time…
And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul!
My desire for this day to come, to see Jesus, was impacted by my Daddy who was slowly drifting away from us. Dementia had started to creep in and the man with whom I would have the best conversations morphed into a man who could only talk about the weather.
And so, I began to feel it deeply in my heart- Lord, haste the day! Make my Daddy’s faith sight!
I didn’t want to lose him, but the discovery that I already had left me weepy every time we sang It is Well. But I found something surprising to be true; it WAS well with my soul. Even in the midst of a breaking heart, I was reminded that my Daddy had loved Jesus well and had faithfully demonstrated with his life what it meant to walk with God. His greatest desire? Give me Jesus.
A year ago today, my prayer was answered. My Daddy’s faith was made sight!
At the funeral a few days later, I wore my It is Well necklace. My sister played the hymn on piano as the prelude and then the congregation sang it. And I sobbed. I sobbed with the ache of missing my Daddy. And I sobbed with the joy that I could only imagine he was experiencing.
Even so, it is well with my soul!
I was determined to celebrate my Daddy today. I had an Amish made sticky bun with coffee for breakfast. I decided to use one of his sermons as my Sunday school lesson. I taught from his hand written notes on God’s promises, God’s presence and God’s preeminence (my Daddy loved alliteration and 3 points!). And then I entered our church sanctuary to worship with our church family only to discover that one of the songs that we would be singing was It is Well. Of course.
This time, it was my husband’s strong tenor that I echoed, but I could hear my Daddy singing in my heart. He loved to sing (and call-echo songs were always a favorite! Nobody would sing “Unto thee, O Lord” like my Daddy!).
I silently sobbed my way through the last verse as usual. The ache is still present, but oh, the joy! The joy of knowing that my Daddy is walking with Jesus! That he is fully restored to health! That he has heard well done, my good and faithful servant!
Oh, how I want to tell him all that happened today! I want to tell him about how I loved teaching his lesson while looking at the waterfall picture that hangs on the wall in my husband’s office (the picture that we gave to him as a thank you for officiating our wedding). I want to tell him about the piece of shoo-fly pie I ate yesterday and how I took the kids to pick peaches. I want to tell him that he would be so proud of his son-in-law who faithfully preaches the Word of God. I want to tell him that I watched the 49ers win today and that they no longer play at Candlestick. I want to tell him that I ran (mostly!) for 2.5 miles today. I want to tell him that we ate baked oatmeal for dinner and fresh peaches.
I want to tell him that he is still a daily part of my life. His wisdom, his prayers, his faithfulness, his legacy are having a lasting impression.
But mostly? I want to tell him that it is well with my soul.