Saturday, April 11, 2015

My Last Blog

I used to blog about my life here.  Thought and action. Events and feelings all consuming and the fleeting.  But I feel these days I have lost my life. At least my ability to catch it in glimpses and waves. I have this desire to continue. If not here, in public, in some sort of journal.  A recollection of all that happens in a day.  This vapor life. 

One friend writes only a sentence as he shuts out his bedside light. I like that idea, too. Not for the whole world to see, but for me. Nothing long or profound but a chronicle just the same. A chronicle of MY life.  

But the problem now is that my life is seemingly no more than a melting pot of other's lives. My worries, fears, struggles, exhaustion, joys and laughter are none my own, but the carrying of relationships.  My chronicling these days would simply be a chronicling of the stories of others as they intertwine with me. Weigh on me and delight me. This fading of self is ok. This sense of privacy I feel toward the lives that intersect mine is healthy I think. Lonely but good.  These stories are beautiful and they will be told in their own beautiful time. I could ask permission I suppose, but I feel no need. 

Of my children now.  I began this blog when they had not their own words. Now they are their own beings - no more do I feel a freedom to tell of their woes and victories. These are their own. I do not know when it became such, but I know now very truly that I have no place to share my struggles concerning them, for they own the struggles as well.  

Of the men at the farm.  Abiding the law I cannot tell their stories, but as family I have felt I could.  Of late I feel they tell their own tale, and superior than I.  They will often ask for a particular photo to be posted to their Facebook or ask if we can text it to a specific friend. They own their digital world well for now. I need not manage it.  

Of the students. They flood in and out of “my life” - but to tell their story here is such a small and disjointed piece of their own woven tapestry - it feels unfair. Distorted. And the days jam pack full, too full, to pull out instances and scenarios. I am not skilled enough to give a clear picture of the deep complication and beauty of living in such a delicate home.  I wish I were. I wish I could give these clear pictures of each of the lives that so beautifully color mine. They color mine to the point now that without them, without their private stories, mine stands naked. 

And my husband. Perhaps I learned this quiet from him.  This “I have nothing that needs to be said,” feeling that runs deeper than any words.  

So, what I guess I am saying is, for now, this blog has run its course. I read a bit the other day about our growing narcism. How the internet feeds it. Perhaps it does. But perhaps when we take the internet along just far enough that we fall into the actual midst of a sea of lives - instead of just staring at the possiblity within ourselves  - and we let go - we find we can swim. 

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hope Saturday

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:54-57 

There is this photo - of us - and children - and students from all over playing a game of hay-bale tag during a quick stop during a spring break road trip. 

And it makes me smile.
Because I have photos like this from my childhood.
And from two years ago with students at Thanksgiving.
And the sun is shining.
It also rises.
Each and every day
For this we do not worry, and because of this we live.
And today we celebrated Good Friday. 
Each in our own ways.
With silent alone time, Bible studies, planting a garden, and a large Easter Egg hunt.
We celebrate a “day named wrong” - because, Lucy says, “How can it be GOOD if Jesus dies?”
And Jude knows. In his head still. Maybe only. “Because it was good for us.” “So that we live.”
And we do.
Tomorrow I wake on “Holy Saturday.”
My spiritual groundhogs day really.
This day where “It is finished” - forgiven, atoned.
But “not yet” arisen in new life. Complete.
Today there is still Al-Shabaab bringing tears to my home, 1/2 a world a way.
4 funerals this week. Others sick in bed. treatments. coughs. Exhaustion. 
Flowers and memories scattered - beautiful and broken
There are still arguments in my home - selfish desires raised like guns.
We all still aim. Take fire. In fear.  Of the unknown, unwanted.
Still self-protective.
Still in the dark.
"Most to be pitied if this hope is in vain"
But we know what tomorrow holds.
The Son also rises.
Sure as I can sleep tonight in calm knowing to be awoken in the morning, 
this is the sureness of the completion - celebrated today, tomorrow, and not yet.
And this is Easter.
We will all stand together again in that early hour - awaiting the sunshine 
Every age
Any nation
Nothing in common but the finishing that has come and the finishing awaited
And the hope this brings
And so on these Saturdays… this string of endless Saturdays
We jump together, laugh together, rejoice together
On unsure footing and seeming senseless wondering - almost caught
with gaps greater than we can bear but always a hand to pull us up
We wait together - knowing
The Son shall come
So perhaps more than Holy Saturday - 
it is Hope Saturday

every day

And if this joy is contained - amidst the curse... then how much greater the unimagined joy there after?
Where sin does not corrupt and thieves do not break in and steal.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

January moment - beautiful psycho

Col. 3:12-15
 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 

I'm enjoying another sick day. Chrissy requested photos of the kids before she heads off to New Zealand, and I couldn’t help but think how much I am blessed by day/in/day/out life with mine and the joy of the other two.  Yesterday, I was startled at how much Maysyn had grown up while I was somehow not watching.  I want to put them in a bottle just as they are. At least on paper…

Monday night, after too little sleep due to nighttime coughing fits, my kids were at each other’s throats.  Now that they have their own rooms I have found it all-too-easy to just send them each to their respective rooms. They begrudgingly spit a “sorry” at each other after about 5 minutes of solitude and then we move on to the next argument.  You know, I just like to stick with systems that fail… because they are WAY easier than finding a new way.  But after about 4 hours of bickering I finally dragged Lucy in to Jude and said, “Can you two please figure out what the issue is?  We need to come up with a new plan. FIGURE IT OUT!!”  

Jude gave Lu and I a blank stare and said, “I don’t know. I really have no idea.” He was really clueless

Lucy, however, with her giant overflowing eyes and shaking voice articulated while convulsing in sadness, “I just don’t think we should be brother and sister anymore! It just ISN’T working for us!”

Jude stunned at the illogical and un-implementable solution she just proposed.  He was just annoyed. She was apparently questioning her place in the world.

I stared in disbelief at how much she was sounding like me!

And how much he stared like his father.

But she wasn’t done.  She went on to describe in every generalizing speech she could about how he “ NEVER wanted to play with her, NEVER complimented her, and ALWAYS hurt her.”  She gave specific examples of how only ONE time in her whole life had he been kind to her, by purchasing her a stuffed bear even when he knew she couldn’t buy him anything.  She explained that she ALWAYS wanted to play board games but he NEVER wanted to play any - but Hobbit Monopoly - and - screamed, “I don’t even know How… WHAT IS THAT GAME ANYWAY??””  She shook as she poured out her hopelessness of ever being his friend and her very real feeling that she was trying her hardest and she wasn’t EVER going to be fun for him. He would never want to be with her. She was not his favorite and she was hurting.

And he just stared.

Last month, after a very disrespectful and disobedient public outing, I was shaming Lucy for her retched behavior (because like I said, I like to stick with systems that don’t work - because it is easy.) She, through frustrated tears said, “I can’t be PERFECT ALL - the - time.”  I quipped coldly that I did not expect her to be PERFECT, “I just don’t want you to be psycho!”  She buried her head in her hands and sobbing said, “Actually ———- THAT is very hard for me too!!!”

And I smiled.
Because it is.
NOT being psycho is really very hard for some of us.

And I used to despair in this.
But now, very slowly, I am beginning to see that it is good for the rest of you.

Poor Jude. He had no idea what to do with this honesty.  That his sister, who he truly loves, was hurting SO BAD and SO DEEPLY over what he thought were a few harsh words, an act of not sharing, and a simple shunning.  They were little sins with little consequences right?

But there she was - heart in hand.  Unafraid to say, “I am this fragile.”  Our behavior is dangerously bad for our souls.
Unable to NOT recognize it.

And that is a gift. A gift she gives her brother.
A picture of sin and humanity and the deep need of our souls.

And he gave her the gift of saying, once he realized the gravity of what they were actually doing to one another,

“Ok Lucy. How about we do this plan…”

And he unpacked who would be in authority over each day and space. When they would play with each other and how. He gave her logic. She gave him vision. and they gave each other grace.

And it will fail. But they are going to work through this. And be better for it.

Her psycho. His hardness.

They are a gift.
To each other.

To me ~ A mirror

A mirror at which I learn to smile

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Last glut of life

So next year I have I have decided to do a format of the “monthly moment” on my blog. I have decided I when I look back at life - I don’t want see just the glut of random photos and hap-hazard thoughts. Of COURSE the big days are worth remembering and photographing… but what I will forget are the saying of the kids, the moments of learning and sharing and growth. Those quotes, those breaths.  So that is the plan… one random moment a month.. with or without photo… that I never want to forget. But for now - here is the last month in a vomity kind of way. 'Cause December kinda does that... spews joy and beauty everywhere in a way that makes me think, "Should I clean this mess up or wallow in it?"

Awe... Christmas lights.  The perfect example of how Jarod and I's families differ.  Stafford can't find their lights and the Wilhlems have theirs labeled perfectly "warm/cool" white lights - with designated, reels, boxes, hooks, and arrangements - even when a two year old helps put them up.

The weather was confusing.

The guys have more friends than they can shake an ornament at. 
True elves.

And decorating elves.

And sheep farmers.

And tree farmers. And cutters.

They all came out of the woodwork for a little Sunday afternoon decorating - 
right in the middle of studying for finals. 
We must be doing something right. 

Ok. So I think I found my Christmas meal.
Ginger sesame chicken, glazed sweet potatoes, garlic green beans, rice (&bread), 
as well as Nutella cheesecake. EVERYONE was happy.
And let me tell you - that does NOT happen every day.

Randy successfully aged Jarod a decade in one year. Seriously.
"Happy 43rd birthday honey."

See all that coffee floating around? 
That makes for a good company party.

These lovely smiles helped too! 
So blessed to have these ladies in our lives.

And this guy.
With that hat.
Makes my Christmas.

And Katie made our son's.
I hate nerf guns.

Here are the 4 additions to the Bethesda family.

And the founder got into the British flour game.

Lucy got a lamb leash for Christmas.

The Grinch Play... it was a bit much - but these kids pulled it off so WELL.

And in case we didn't have a three ring circus going on... the children have taken up loom weaving.
In fact they are home sick - weaving right now in the living room.
... taking a break from their poker game.
That's how we do the month of Christmas - before a week in the mountains.
I'm sure I will have a moment to share from there :).

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I’m a slow processor in the body of a woman always in a hurry.  And today I have the stomach flu. This thanksgiving day. This day to process every gift given us, on all those other days when I am too hurried to notice. And I sit and listen to my sweet husband struggling to make six pies while the youngest runs around licking batteries and the boy begs, “Can’t we please make a whole pie of maraschino cherries? - are you SURE it would cost $35.00?” 
And I laugh.  I laugh that tomorrow I will be well and their shenanigans and his habits will somehow annoy me, while today I long to be a part of it all. I laugh at the footsteps I hear upstairs and doors banging downstairs… of people in my house - once strangers and foreigners… now friends who I do life with - if I take the time.  And my family - out-laws - in -laws - mother- father- men-of-my-heart, from a distance and those who somehow find their way into my living room every-single-day of the week. Who last week I was bemoaning the simple reality that time spreads too thin to reach them all on one holiday… and now today - I see no one. Quarantined for a mere instant - one little day - because He knows I am a slow processor.  Today I miss their faces - the hubbub… because it takes me all day to sit here and mull over how wonderful this gift of my life really is.

This is where you say, “SHUT UP!”  anytime I begin to complain about anything from here on out…. ok?? 
Thank you.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Scripture notes:
48 give thanks - most have to do with His “unfailing love”
6 - thankful
30 - thanksgiving - I love how in the Old Testament this was often someone’s whole vocation :)
I never knew Colossians was such a thankful book.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

In no particular order:

I am thankful for Jay and his baby lamb! Her name may or may not be "Easter Dinner"

This guy learned to drive... and we didn't even DIE!!

our chickens may not be the smartest (i.e. - laying their eggs anywhere - including a tool box inside a shop) but we DO have fresh eggs.

Umm... I just think they are amazing... authentic... and amazing

and they make huge messes and tons of great projects... never boring.

like I said. Never boring.

I may never have HAD brothers... but I watched brothers my whole life.

And these police men makes John's day - every year :)

And our students teach about their cultures to the kids at Washington...

And my dad is moving into the 21st century... kind of excited - kinda sad.

I am thankful for these children and that sunset - and that we didn't get towed...

I am thankful for her. INSIDE and OUT.  
The Doctors can find NOTHING wrong with her.
That's always been my problem too...

I'm thankful for this grandpa and the 3 others who pour into our kids lives - every day

I think mostly I am thankful that I am too sick to try carbonated olives.

I am thankful for the unique experience that my son and I have of sharing a best friend. 
30 years later...


This is my life. Could it get any better? I think not.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"celebration season"

One of our first students, Marina, told me the second year she lived here that from Halloween until New Year's day was "celebration season" - that the whole of these 2 months were a run together of happy events.  As a child, the weeks from Halloween until New Years seem as long as the endless summers on the other end of the year. Now... they are a run together.  But in our house they are a run together of beautiful.  Why not celebrate for an entire 2 months of the year? Why not carve out a giant section of the year to be intentionally creative, hilarious, thankful, generous and gracious?  I cannot for the life of me think of a reason to not "celebrate" for the rest of 2014.

So - the rest of FHSU starts "celebrations" at Octoberfest... and apparently this newspaper clipping shows a sobriety test being given in our drive way.  I think we slept through that.  And we probably miss the 100s of others given there while we carry on with life...

Like tonight's celebration of the beginning of "celebration season"

Or our "goodbye" celebration to Grace, Daniel, and Noah... :(

Or maybe we were busy watching the backyard fungus grow...

or on a field trip...

Or maybe we were trying on a wig...

Or doing some crafts while we pass a month of illness

Or maybe we were on a pumpkin patch/corn maze/haunted house road trip

Or... carving a pumpkin

Or costuming...
it's what we do best...
well... it's what Grandma Joan does BEST
We just do a lot of it :)

Ahhh.... 703 Fort.
So much to celebrate here...

And just a little reminder to me: 

Don't Blink.