Thursday, May 31, 2012

The End Of Another Year

We are coming to the end of another school year. Only four more days left and two of them are minimum days and one of those has me at the school all morning for a kindergarten potluck picnic. This year I remembered that the end of the year is busy and the calendar is filled with end of the year parties and presentations, last times and last days. I remembered but it doesn't make the whirlwind any less exhausting or any less of a hit to my work schedule.

Today I volunteered at my last kindergarten table time. I have finally graduated which means that in just a few days I will no longer have a kindergartner in my home. The boys are growing up. And yet my baby is still my baby. His teacher may say he is ready for first grade, I may be excited about him going to first grade with its full day schedule, but I am not sure my baby's mommy's heart is ready for him to be a real big boy.

But before that we have the cleaning out of the desk which sends papers and projects home to my counter top. We have popsicle Friday and last after school play dates of the year before everyone runs off in different directions for camps and vacations. We have emails being exchanged about teacher placement and paperwork needed for next year.

Soon though it will all end. The back packs will be cleaned out. The lunch boxes will be put away for the summer. The alarm will be turned off and summer will begin.

Endless days with no schedule. Freedom to swim in the morning and read in the afternoon. Time to build an entire lego Dragonvale village on my living room floor. Video games being played with so much enthusiasm and glee that I have to close my door to block out the noisy joy. Evening trips to Baskin Robbins and quiet mornings with a cup of coffee in my pjs while the kids watch another episode of Mythbusters.

And then day 2 of summer will arrive and the countdown to the first day of school will begin.

Ahhh.... I love summer.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Where Were You?

I opened my Bible today and read this:
This is what the LORD says -
  your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: 
I am the LORD,
who has made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself...  (Isaiah 44:24)
God ever reminding me that He is God and I am not.

One of my favorite children's songs is by Justin Roberts called "Where Were You." It is taken from Job 38 - 42 when God responds to Job's cries for help. I tried to find a video of Justin singing the song on YouTube but couldn't but you can see a church worship band/choir perform it here.
Where were you, when I laid the earth's foundations and where were you...
I need to be reminded, often, that I wasn't there. I wasn't there when God made all things, when he stretched out the heavens and spread out the earth. I am a creation. I was made by a creator.

There is a design, a plan, a story being told. But I may not have all the details. And I may not ever get all the back story, all the explanations I seek.

I remember when I was studying prayer to teach at Bible study I spent time considering where complaining fit into prayer. I wrote about it here. I shared what I had discovered in the story of Job.

Job, a man so faithful that God allowed Satan to test him, had every reason to complain before God. And he did. Chapter 10 of Job is full of his complaints.
I loathe my life; I will give free utterance to my complaint.
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul...
Does it seem good to you to oppress,
to despise the work of your hands
and favor the designs of the wicked?...
Your hands fashioned and made me;
and now you have destroyed me altogether.
Why did you bring me out of the womb?...

Packer and Nystrom write, "Is this the same Job that God described to Satan as "my servant, ... a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil" (Job 1:8). Yes, but this is Job distraught by grief and human pain, goaded to despair by his well meaning friends, speaking his words of complaint to the safest possible source: God."
And then...

Job cried out to God asking for answers. Read Job 38 - 42 when you have a minute. It is powerful stuff. It is God's answer to Job. My favorite part is when God asks, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations?" Those four chapters remind me every time I read them that God is God. He is the creator and I am His creation. But it also shows me that God listens to His children's complaints and hears us.
"Those who have read the end of Job's book will know that God did indeed meet with Job as Job had invited him to do. But explanations are lacking even then; God does not need to explain. Still, he responded to Job's complaing - and Job was content." (Packer & Nystrom)
Some days I need to be reminded. I wasn't there. But I'm here now. I am part of the story.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Going to Battle

There is a battle brewing in my town. Actually the battle has been brewing for almost a decade, we are about to enter an all out war. I am angry. I am scared. I am sad. I am hurt.

The causes of the war are muddled from retelling. People point fingers at the other side saying "that thing you did" caused this which is met with a "we did that because you did this" from an earlier offense.

The two sides are trying to mediate. It feels like we are giving too much. They feel like it has taken too long to get what they legally deserve.

But all I can see is that my children's neighborhood public school, the one we love so much that we knew when we were moving back to the Bay Area we could only go back there, the one we worked so hard to find a house in its boundaries, the one we call ours, may not be ours much longer. A charter school in our town may be given our school site. (There are four schools being considered. With promises to build the displaced school a new school with a bond yet to be passed. But the very real possibility will be drastic redistricting and putting the displaced schools into the other school sites, many of which are overcrowded.)

Principal with school mascotAnd I could explain the injustice of it all. The fact that we are not an underperforming school. No we are an exceptional school and not just because of our test scores. We have an amazing community of families that come together to volunteer in the classrooms and in special programs, to coach sports teams and girl scouts, to care for the families in need of school supplies, babysitting, or even meals for months when one of our own has a medical crisis. I could talk about feeling bullied by rich parents with endless streams of money to continue lawsuits against our district in the best interest of their own students.

But they could also explain the injustice they have experienced. Their neighborhood school being closed a decade ago. The district not supporting their charter. The years they have been on a temporary site, living in portables. At least I hope they can explain it. I hope they truly believe this taking of a public school is really what is best.

I have a friend there. A dear friend. A sister in Christ. And yet, it is hard for me. We had never talked about it before the draft of the mediated agreement came out earlier this month. We had talked about our kids and our schools and our lives. We had supported each other in their school choice, though we live in the same school boundaries.

But now my friend's choice may take away my kid's school. How do I deal with this?

I am committed to my friendship. But it may be hard at times. And I imagine that if one day we decide to meet up at the neighborhood school, like we often do now so our kids can play, and it no longer being our school but theirs it will sting for a bit. But we will move on. We always do.

I know it is just a building. Oh, but it is so much more.

This is a bigger issue than a building. There are some real moral questions here.

The good of the many or the good of the few? The good of the few matters too but which few.

The law as written or the law as intended?

The law or what is right?

Does money rule the world?

When do we stand up and fight?

It's just a building and at the end of the day all of the students will have a school to call home. They just may not recognize many of their peers. Or they may keep their school but at what cost? What will happen to our town through this?

And what about the Christians, the faith communities? How do we respond? How will my friend and I deal with this? For me community is tantamount. That is why I want to keep my school in tact. It is also why I will not let this fight tear apart my friendship with my dear friend. It is why we will walk through this together even as the war gets uglier.

The kids will learn lessons from the adults as we walk down this road. They will learn something. The question is what?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Perspective

I did it once before and it was harder than I imagined, this five minute Friday thing. I am going to do it again, mostly because I love the word that was chosen this week - perspective.

So here are the rules according to the Gypsy Mama, the host of this link up:
"On Fridays over here a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited. Real."


Perspective. I love this word because it changes my life.

Whenever I get stressed out, I try to remember. I try to look at those around me who would beg to have my little trial because what they are facing is so much harder.

Whenever I wish I had more. Whenever I look around at my tiny two bedroom condo filled with five people, four of which are boys, I remember those wished desperately that they could have a home of their own, a roof over their heads, a safe neighborhood like mine, mortgage payments that do not cause panic each month.

Whenever I am frustrated with my child, with my husband, with my God. I remember being at the funeral of my friend's daughter, taken in an instant from this world. I remember my mentor who got the dreaded phone call that her husband had a heart attack while running and that he would never be coming home. I remember all that God has done for me in my life, all the blessings and all the growth, all the people He gave me to walk with me along the way.

Whenever I am too tired. I think of my friend who has to get a blood transfusion today or my son's friend who is living in isolation after a bone marrow transplant or my friend, the mom of this boy, who has spent countless nights at the hospital struggling to sleep overcome with worry and decisions and beeping noises that disrupt.

Perspective reminds me that life could be better. It could be worse. It reminds me that I am where I am that what I am facing before me is mine to face. And it reminds me that God is walking with me just as he always has.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review - Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron

Last month I saw this tweet:
1st 20 bloggers to promise they'll review Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale get free signed copy!  
Now I don't have a lot of followers and I really don't consider myself a blogger even though I have a blog but I had seen such great things recommendations that I thought why not say yes. So I replied: 
 @FindingFruit @iancron I have very few followers at my blog but love to read and think and hear new ideas so if you still need reviewers I'm happy to help
I didn't think much about it but then a few days later I got a request for my address and then a few more days after that the book showed up in the mail. So I started reading it. I took it with me to swim lessons. I opened it while my boys were playing video games. I sat out on our new patio furniture in the evenings and savored it. 

Here's the thing about "Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale," it is a spiritual pilgrimage for the reader dressed up in the fictional story of Chase Falson, a pastor amidst a crisis of faith, and I liked that. I enjoyed having a story to enter into while learning so much about Francis of Assisi; his life, his teachings, and his impact on the Christianity. I kept wishing I had a highlighter or pencil with me so I could take notes in the margins but I was too caught up in the story of Chase Falson and the merry band of priests and players he meets on his journey to stop and go get one. 

I love a book that tells a story of an individual traveling through life while also teaching me something new about the world, about belief and God and my role in it all. This book does that. It doesn't matter if you are Catholic or Protestant. Believer or not. This book will take you along on Chase Falson's pilgrimage through Italy and let you peer through his experience. 

I walked away from this book wondering what would happen if I lived like St. Francis, who lived as Jesus lived? What would happen if I looked at my life through the lens of Jesus' life. Not the church. Not religion. Not even getting all caught up in the theology of the Epistles or the politics of religion. But instead tried to walk through life the way Jesus did. 

And that is the power of books, and this book - getting the reader to think about life, faith, God. 

So while I did receive the book for free in exchange for a review, which I am now writing here, the best review I can give it is to say that this is a book that I want to pass along to so many different people in my life. I want to give it to the pastors I know who are not struggling with what church means in this post modern age. I want to give it to my friends who are so caught up in proving their worth to God and to those around them that I worry they may some day experience a crisis of faith like Chase Falson does. I want to give it to my friends who are thinking about faith and doubt and church and God. I want to keep it for myself to read again when I start to get caught up and need a pilgrimage but cannot fly off to Italy because I have school pick up at 2:20. 

You can find the book at Ian Morgan Cron's website 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The F Bomb

Mother's Day can be a challenge for me.  Time and distance have helped. Along with a sweet husband who takes my sons on all boy adventures on Mother's Day - no girls allowed. This year they went to a baseball game. It is so quiet here and I am loving it. But my boys are never far from my mind. So in honor of Mother's Day here is a sweet moment from this past week. 

Last week my boys had a minimum day at school which means I get to pick up the older boys before lunch. I took them home along with Little One and his sweet kindergarten friend for lunch. While they were eating I was working on some dinner prep listening to their conversation. 

It started innocently enough, a little potty talk among boys. But then I heard it. 


It wasn't shouted just spoken like any other word except I had never heard that word in my house before and never out of one of my sweet angel's mouths. 

"(Name withheld), what did you say?" I asked hoping maybe I had misheard him. Maybe he said duck or truck or luck or any other member of the -uck family. (The first graders at his school had the -uck family for spelling words that week. The parents trying to help their kids find -uck words without figuring out this one was quite the conversation on Facebook.) 

"F@&*," he said plainly. No embellishment, no denial. 

Now here's the thing you have to know about our family rules. Whenever "bad" words have come up in the past, we talk about how words cannot be bad or good. They are just a compilation of letters. It is how we use them that matters. Was it kind or mean? Hurtful or encouraging? 

My boys know this. When the youngest tells me Hockey Boy used the s word (stupid) we talk about how that is a mean word to say to someone. When the sh word is occasionally thrown around their bedroom we talk about how it is unkind to tell someone to shut up and that you can ask nicely for them to be quiet.

But this is the first big word that has come up and you can't get much bigger than the F bomb. Not only that but it was said in front of a kindergartner that is not mine. 

So ______, who shall not be named, was sent to time out. After he left, I made a comment about how that word was not appropriate for kids to use. Both my other boys piped up that they had heard it before and knew it was a bad word and then we went on with lunch as if nothing had happened leaving me to wonder what else they know but haven't mentioned.

After a few minutes I went to talk to my son. 

"Where did you learn that word?" I asked.

"School," he said. 

"Is it okay to say that word at school?" I asked though I knew the answer already. 

"No," he said but then added sincerely frustrated, "I don't know what it means."

"Well we can talk about that but not in front of Little One and his friend. They're kindergartners. If you want to know what a word means or you hear something and you don't know if it is okay to use the word come ask me. We can talk about it. But not in front of the little guys," I explained. He seemed satisfied that he would soon learn the magical definition of the word. 

We went swimming after lunch, to the library after we dropped of Little One's friend, we played video games, and then ate dinner. It was after dinner when I pulled out my iPhone and the Merriam-Webster dictionary app I had downloaded to help Hockey Boy with his vocabulary homework and looked up the word and showed it to the offender.
F&$* - \'fek\
transitive verb
1. usually obscene: copulate
2. usually vulgar: mess 3 - used with with
I pointed out the words obscene and vulgar. We talked about how if you hear a word you don't know you can always look it up in the dictionary, especially if you are not sure it is appropriate. If it says obscene or vulgar - don't use it. At least not now. Someday I know my boys will try out some colorful language. I did. (Actually if we are being honest, this is one of my favorite words. It has so many uses. But I learned along the way to adjust my language for time, place, and audience.) 

Once he understood the word was obscene, we still had to figure out what it meant. So we clicked on the word copulate. I don't want to define it here since it might attract some weird search engine results, but let's just say it is how we make babies. Which is how I explained the formal definition to the older boys who were both now interested in this conversation. Since neither of them is old enough to make babies, they probably shouldn't be using a word about adult things I told them. 

And that was the end of it. I think he really just wanted to know what the word meant and why all the fuss, especially since we don't have "bad" words in our house. And honestly, the actual definition of the word is not mean or unkind. But it is vulgar and so now my boys know not to use vulgar words. 

At least in front of me or their teachers or girls. 

But honestly, I would much rather have my child drop the occasional F bomb out of frustration than use words that demean and belittle people but are deemed appropriate by the vocabulary police. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I am so easily distracted by the day to day. I have plans for my morning, plans to write which feeds my soul. But I find myself instead retweeting interesting articles or funny lines. I find myself scouring airline websites looking for the best prices and dates for our summer trip to the lake. I find myself writing blog posts about being easily distracted.

And then there are days when I am distracted by the world. By the email that comes in first thing in the morning with news that my kids lives might be disrupted by a school move. By a possible slight from a friend that I now sit and dissect. By world news that disappoints. By events that demand my attention even though they were never on my radar before.

I am tired of being distracted. I am tired of being worried about things I cannot change or may never happen anyway. I am tired of losing focus on what is important to me and replacing it with what is important to the world, to my friends, to those around me.

I need to remember that I have lived long enough, know myself well enough, understand God's place in my life and His word enough, to not let the world tell me what to do, what to think, what to believe. I am tired of debating and defending. I am tired of being swayed by the whims and energies of others.

It's not their fault. It's mine.

I let myself be distracted. I let my mind wander where it doesn't need to go.

But I am tired. So tired.

And when I get tired I often make rash decisions, radical statements, and distracted choices.

As I was walking out of Starbucks today, I made a decision. I am not going to be distracted by the world. I am not going to get involved in fights I can't win or are not my fight to have. I am not going to hold on to community at all costs nor am I going to burn bridges.

I am going to get back to what God put before me to do. Not anyone else. But what God put before ME.

That is after I send out this blog post and then post it on Twitter and Facebook.

Praying I don't get distracted in the process.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Real

Yesterday my friend tweeted this:
Well I do have writer's block, or more likely I have exhaustion block and the idea of getting a jump start with Five Minute Fridays seemed like a good idea. I have read my friend write some great posts with the prompts Community, Together, Gift, Loud.

Just a word to get you started and then you only have to write for five minutes.

Gypsy Mama set the rules. "On Fridays over here a group of people who love to go all out buck wild for the fun of the written word gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes. Unscripted. Unedited."

Seemed like a good idea for this morning until I saw the word, the prompt.


And then I sat there, for more than five minutes, considering that word.


I can't write about that.

But if I was to write here is the mess I would make of this word.



It sucks sometimes. Being real, letting other people be real, just sucks. It hurts at times. And it requires me to look beyond myself sometimes. It asks me to be honest with myself and to see the world honestly. Not as what I want it to be but what it is.

Real requires me admitting that the world is at times dark and harsh. It reminds me that my hope lies in the eternal but that the here and now are dark shades, lightened only by the glimpses of the goodness God did create in the beauty of nature and the sweetness of His children.

Real also means that when I hear the question, "Are you okay?" I answer it with the real that is now. Not with platitudes. Not with a yes built on pithy logic that of course I am okay because comparatively I am okay.


Five Minutes. Unedited.


This might have been more fun if I hadn't been scared of the word.

There is always next Friday.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Feelings Hurt

Feelings hurt. And I don't like to hurt.

I don't like to have trouble breathing or feel a very real ache in my chest.

It would be easier to avoid these pains altogether.

Easier but not better.

At least that is what I hope, what I pray for, as I open myself up more and more to being truly connected to the people around me. As I let tears fall when sitting with a friend instead of changing the subject. As I try to find words to speak about the rejection I felt instead of just moving along through the evening with my husband. As I face the failure of shouting at my kids and losing my cool instead of justifying my frustration and anger as a result of their "bad" behavior.

I hope that this whole feeling thing is really better. Because the being stoic thing is easier. It hurts less.  But it ends up with me alone in a room full of people.

And I don't think that is what God intends. Not when he made us in pairs - not when he brought my man  into my life. Not when he gave me three boys that need me. Not when he gave me friends who I had requested in lonely prayers in new homes.

I don't like being overwhelmed by feelings. I don't like crying until my body aches. I don't like listening to the other side knowing I am partly to blame, that there is no easy answer.

I hold to the hope though that what is easier is not better.