Monday, February 28, 2011

Community - Hockey Moms

All three of my boys are now playing hockey. Middle Man and Little One's season ends this weekend. Middle Man is ready for a break but Little One LOVES hockey and asks almost every day, "How many more days until hockey?" Hockey Boy is on a more competitive hockey team this year. He has mid week practices and weekend tournaments. So we spend a lot of time at the rink. A LOT of time. And this is only the first year of competitive hockey. As the younger kids move up we will be spending even more time in big coats and warm boots lacing up skates and trying to stay warm.

One of the my favorite parts of hockey is the community we are building with the other families. We are in a small hockey program so this group of kids will always be playing with or against one another which means we will be seeing the same parents at the rink week after week, year after year. And as one mom said, it is like a big family complete with a crazy uncle or annoying aunt that always shows up for the family reunion. We will be hanging out in the lobbies and stands of hockey rinks for years to come. Hockey is not really a drop off sport until the kids are in middle school. Skates are really hard to tie and the rinks are not just around the corner so we end up hanging out at practices in case our kid gets hurt or because it is not worth driving home just to come back. This adds up to a lot of hours where the parents and siblings get to be together.

I make a horrible first impression. I know this about myself. I need a little grace when you first meet me but I will grow on you. Because I know this about myself, I have gotten a lot better about taking some time before I let my initial perception of a new person set in. Hockey has been a great place for me to practice this. We all come from various parts of our metro area and often it seems hockey is the only thing we have in common. But as I am getting to know these families better, I am finding that hockey may be the thread that binds us together, but together we are. We have become a community. A community that cares for one another. A community that looks out for each other. A community that shares carpool responsibilities and keeps an eye on each other's kids. A community that bands together when someone needs help outside the rink.

I have really felt this idea of community at the rink for a while, but it became even more real for me this weekend. It's a bit of a long story.

Hockey boy moved to forward this year. He had always played defense before so scoring goals was never really on his radar. He was more focused on making sure the other team did not score. But suddenly scoring goals became paramount. He wanted a goal. He watched all his other teammates score goals this season. Everyone but him. There was a point in the middle of the season when win or lose, he would cry and get upset after a game because he did not get a goal. We watched the movie Rudy and talked about how not everyone was meant to score, but he could work hard, he could be tenacious, he could do everything he could to help his team succeed. It took a few weeks but it finally sunk in. He stopped worrying about scoring and started focusing on helping his team win. In the movie version of his life, that would be when he would score a goal. But he still didn't score. The buzzer went off just as he was about to shoot on an open net. The goalies stopped his shot. He hit a post. He kept getting so close but the shots weren't going in. And then this weekend, in the semifinal game of the league championship, with 3 minutes left in the game, a pass went across the crease, Hockey Boy had to reach out for puck, he got his stick on it and put it in behind the goalies pads.

Hockey Boy scored. I jumped up and cheered. His Dad who was working the penalty box was cheering. But what really amazed me was all of our fans who were cheering and jumping and hugging me. You would have thought he had scored the game winning goal with how the crowd erupted but the game wasn't even close. They were all just so happy to see Hockey Boy score.
There were tears in my eyes, seeing my boy who had worked so, so hard finally get a goal. But I was not the only one with tears of joy. A lot of the moms were so thrilled for him that they also got a bit emotional. It meant the world to Hockey Boy and his proud parents, but it also meant the world to his teammates who kept congratulating him. I think it brought a lot of joy to his coaches and manager who made sure to get him the puck to keep. The win was nice, but the goal was amazing! And we got to share it with people who really understood and had been with him through the whole season.

It was an amazing moment to share with our hockey family. And it kept going the next day as moms who missed the game came up to talk about the goal and how happy they were for Hockey Boy.

These may not be the people I would have chosen to spend so much of my life with and that is why I am loving hockey. We have met some amazing people and our family's lives have been enriched by them.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow Day

Earlier this week Snow Watch 2011 began. Snow was predicted for late Wednesday night and would probably result in a snow day on Thursday for all the kids. Where we live, any snow on the ground shuts our town down. People from the midwest, my husband, like to make fun of us Pacific Northwest natives who don't drive in the snow. They mock us until they experience their first real snow storm and are tamed by the unique nature of snow here. Snow that melts and then refreezes, hills that get crowded by cars not made for snow, and commutes that take 4 hours to go 20 miles. Snow is serious business here. Well serious in the sense that we have snowmen to make, sledding to do, hot cocoa to drink and movies to watch.

So yesterday, I kept waiting for it to snow. I wanted to know we were going to have a snow day today so I wouldn't have to make lunches and we could put off homework for another day. "Maybe tomorrow" is often my refrain. I am not by nature a do-er. But as a mom, I have to help my kids learn good work habits and help teach them responsibility. It goes against my nature, as do most things that are actually good for me. Healthy foods never taste as good as peanut butter cups. I love to stay up late even though my body needs sleep. People magazine is my reading material of choice for an airplane ride though it is when I spend time in God's word that I feel fed, refreshed and whole.

That is one of the reasons I do love having a Bible reading plan that tells me what to read every day. While I like to put things off, I am also a list checker and people pleaser. I have trouble resting if there is something on my to do list, which is why I try to avoid putting things on my list. But each day, I know what I have to read, and I know I will feel a twinge of guilt until I get it done. Maybe not the best way to get myself reading the Bible, but effective. And once I am there, reading God's words, He meets me there.

I was wanting the snow to come yesterday after school so I could plan on a snow day, so I could cut things off my to do list. But it waited. This morning we woke up to a wonderful treat of a snow day AND we are all ready for school tomorrow as well. So now I am off. I have some serious snow business to attend to.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Community - Buy In

I have been thinking the last few weeks about community and all that it means. In my life we are a part of a number of different communities; our neighborhood, the boys' schools, our church, the boys' hockey teams, and our various friendship circles. For a lot of people these are just things they do, the people they know. But for us, these activities, these places, these people make up our communities. I have been trying to figure out the difference, the reason some people can just show up and others feel a need to contribute. The reason people are so quick to change churches, friends, activities.

I think it all starts with buy in, with a sense of willingness to commit to the group. We move a lot so we don't have time to wait around to feel a part of any community. If we did, we would be packing up the moving truck just as we were starting to feel a sense of community. Because we move a lot we are quick to step in and commit to our schools, our church, our library - library cards are one of our first items checked off the moving to do list. We jump in and start volunteering and supporting our new communities. I make friends quickly, for myself and my boys, and make sure to show up.

I think it helps that we have always been able to choose where we moved, the neighborhood we would live in and the church we would attend. When we moved to the Bay Area a few years ago, my husband and I went on a trip to visit the area before we made our final decision to accept a new job or not. Our first stop was at the ice rink that hockey boy would learn to play hockey. He loved hockey and we wanted to make sure that the facilities were going to meet our needs. We also were able to afford to live in an amazing neighborhood with wonderful schools. And God put the perfect church in our path through our preschool search. We found Kirk House preschool first and when we went to visit it we discovered Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. God's leading us there was such an act of grace for us. But every step of the way was a choice we got to make. We got to choose our school, our church, our neighborhood. And we were thrilled with it all. There were ups and downs, a lot of ups and downs. But it was our community and were invested in it. We bought in to Bay Area life.

When we got to come home I was so thrilled to be coming back to somewhere where we already had community built in. We already had a preschool. We already had our house, our neighbors. We already had a church and friends. We were able to plug right back into our communities.

But now we are facing some challenges at the places we love. Our church stopped having a Saturday evening service while we were away which has been a challenge with the boys' hockey schedules. We had chosen the church partly because of the various service times. We love Saturday night services and prefer that worship time. And now it is gone. Our church is a huge part of our lives. We love the people, the pastors, the sense of community we have there. But as our hockey schedule becomes more demanding and we visit churches with more flexibility we start to wonder. Are we at the right place for our family? I believe we are. We love our church. We are tied to our church by so many beautiful threads. My boys were loved in the nursery as babies. Many of my dearest friends I know because of our church. I love getting to be a part of sharing God's word with the women at our church. These threads bind us close, even when we are far away at a hockey tournament.

Our public school district enacted boundary changes while we were gone and our elementary school was changed. We had never been to the other school but part of our decision for moving to our neighborhood was the strong elementary school. I still like the boys' school but we are starting to find that it may not be meeting the needs of our boys any longer. We are in the process of trying to figure out a good solution but I am starting to wonder if the school can meet the boys' needs. And with deeper budget cuts just around the corner it makes me even less confident.

I am finding that in some of our communities that sense of buy in is lessening. I think part of this is because of the changes that happened. We made choices that worked for our family and also upheld our higher family priorities, our commitment to being a part of God's family through a committed relationship with one church, our desire to be salt and light in the world, and our desire to give our kids the best education possible so they will be able to use the gifts and talents God has given them to change the world for Him. I am finding that our family priorities are not necessarily working in our current communities. But because we have bought in to our communities, because we feel a sense of commitment to our communities we are trying really hard to find a way to make it all work.

It is the buy in, the commitment, that is holding us to our communities. I am thankful for that commitment. I am thankful we are tied to our communities even when it is hard to make it all work. Because for me, community is one of the great joys and challenges of life on earth.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Yes??? And yet...

I want to say yes. I really do. I am passionate about the project. I have definite ideas. It seems like the perfect fit and yet....

And yet I hear a small voice in my head saying no.

I try again. I push a little harder to make it happen. I convince myself that I have to be involved. I have to help lead and make sure things are done "right" and yet....

There's that voice again, a little louder this time saying no.

I try again. I hear yes in so many things around me. So many of my conversations are saying yes. So many of my thoughts are saying yes. So many things are pointing to yes.

I say yes and yet....

The voice grows louder. "Get out" I hear clearly in my head. The same words my husband says to me later that night. "Get out" and yet...

No more and yets. No more trying to make it work. It is not working no matter how much it seems like the perfect fit, no matter how much I want it to work, no matter how important I think it is.

It is so hard to walk away but somewhere deep inside I know I should. I want to fix it even if I can't be participate. I want to find my replacement, talk it through, polish it up before I walk away. But the voice says, "get out" not "wrap it up." I need to let it go, let it be God's work not mine. I need to stay focused on my place and my work.

Meaningful distractions are still distractions. They still pull me away from the work I am supposed to be doing. The work God made me to do.

I don't want to get distracted by the good. I don't want to miss out on the work God has for me.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


So last weekend after the girls left to go home, I stayed one extra night at the beach house. I have been wanting to get away for a little alone time for a while and it worked out that the rental had a rent two nights get a third night free deal going on that weekend. I had really been looking forward to a weekend with the girls but as an introvert, yes I know that is hard to believe but actually true, I was really looking forward to a night to myself at the end.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed being with these women over the weekend. I had thought that at some point I would be ready for them to leave but I really was not. I wanted them to stay, I wanted to continue to enjoy their company. I was having a great time and hated to see them go home. But they did. They drove off around 7pm and I stayed behind.

In an empty house.

All by myself.


I was surprised by the funny butterfly feeling I got in my stomach as they drove away. I was not scared to be alone. I was simply not sure what to do with myself, all by myself. I have not spent a night away from my boys or all alone in years. I did not have any great plans for the evening. A little leftover pizza, some cake and junk food, watching a little tv and maybe reading my book. Nothing exciting. This was not a spiritual retreat or a cleanse. This was not me trying to figure something out or taking the time to work on a project. This was just me spending an extra night alone to rest and maybe recuperate a little after a long but great weekend with friends.

I was doing what I would do at home on a Sunday evening. I talked on the phone with my husband for a bit, I surfed channels until I found House Hunters International, I read a little bit in my book, I stayed up later than I planned. The only difference was that the next morning nothing but my own body woke me up. The first noise I heard was not any one of my little boys' voices. My boys were not there. I was alone.

And for some reason, the fact that I stayed alone, by myself, at the beach felt like a huge accomplishment. I thought about packing up a few times in the evening. I missed my family. I felt guilty that my husband had to work from home and deal with our Monday morning schedule all alone. I didn't really need a night alone. I already had so much fun I didn't need to stay an extra night. I didn't deserve to stay an extra night.

But I didn't give in to the many voices in my head because for some reason I knew it was important that I stay. I don't know why it was important. I just know that it was.

I stayed behind.

In an empty house.

By myself. Alone.

I can't wait to do it again!