Friday, October 31, 2014

All Saints

Candles on the graveyard
Photo Credit: Flickr 

While you are celebrating the ghosts and goblins and gore,

or the princesses, ninjas, and superheroes,

or the harvest, 

I’ll spend the Eve of All Saints Day remembering my loved ones who have passed from this earth. So many have left me before I started blogging. I haven’t honored them in written word, but I think about them constantly.

The following are posts from the past remembering my friends who have left too soon. I If I can just share a little about them with you, you’ll also know how special they are. 

I will pray this weekend for their families and for families all around me who are missing loved ones of their own.

*Many of you have asked about my aunt. My strong willed Tante is hanging on, God bless her. Each day is a little tougher, but I am so happy my cousins are there to shower love on her.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Learning About My Daughter Through Poetry

Last week, parents were invited to a poetry reading by 7th graders at my daughter’s school. Before the presentation, Annika asked me to check over her work for spelling errors.
I was mesmerized. Who knew Annika could express herself in this way? (Well, I guess her language arts teacher did.) We didn’t do much poetry when homeschooling. I never even thought about it as a way of expression for my kids.

One poem stood out to me first because of the feeling it evoked, but then because of the humor. I shared it with my Facebook friends and I think they liked it as much as I did. If you haven’t read it yet, you decide:

We may need to review the "words instead of fists" rule.

The day of the reading, I sat in the back of the classroom and listened to twenty-five 12 year-olds share their hearts. Some poems were funny. Some meaningful Haikus. A few read were touched with pain - more hurt than any pre-teen should experience. All of them stood at the front of the room and experienced true vulnerability for 60 seconds. 

I’ve never appreciated poetry. My experience consists of only what was required in high school and college Lit. But after listening to how these kids poured emotion on the page, I wish I would have taken it more seriously a long time ago. 

Theater kid.

I’ve learned a lot about Annika just by reading through her short assignment. I hope fellow parents are able to glean a bit more into their own children's psyche by peeking into the words streaming from their souls.

These are a few more of my daughter’s poems which helped me learn a tad more about her:

life is a puzzle
you’re a piece in mine
i’m a piece in yours
the puzzle is always changing
always growing
when you don’t need something anymore
the puzzle changes
when you grow up and change
the puzzle grows
this puzzle is impossible
because it is still growing
still changing
and life is impossible
because the puzzle is


i stand there 
time is frozen
that’s all it is
me and the light
the old wood creaks
under my feet
the light is shining 
in my eyes
sweat trickling 
down my face
time to go where
few have ever gone


it feels weird in my hands
how if you push your fingertip onto
the surface slowly
it will crunch like snow
then surround your in a cloud like softness
you can rip it into little pieces so when the birds drop by
they will choke on those
weird little pieces
and the fibers that collect in your lap
you throw them up in the air and you tilt your head up and close your eyes and it just covers your face and you just want more and more
and then you spend a hour
trying to collect the pieces 
and fibers
and the choked bird corpses
and you wish you never took that styrofoam out in the first place

How are you with poetry? Do you appreciate other’s words or do you have a knack for it, yourself? 

I think I’ll pay a little more attention to poetry and its meanings. My experience reading Shel Silverstein can only get me so far in higher educated conversation.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Emotion That's Taken Me Over: Talking About Feelings With Teens

Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!

How many of us grew up hearing this from our parents? Or - 

You have no reason to be angry.
Get over it.
Buck up!

I heard it. I admit, I also started the first years of mothering the same way. Thank God for therapy, if even for different reasons. There I learned the importance of listening and validating.

My kids are cry-ers. They take after their mother. The first time they heard, “No!” tears welled up and it was all over from there. That also may have been the first time I said these two dreaded words myself. 

Stop crying!

Who knows what was going through their toddler brains when the wailing started. I know how I felt. Uncomfortable. I wanted the crying to stop because it affected me. 

Years later, as tweens and teens, tears come for a variety of reasons. My first instinct is always - Stop crying.

But if I catch myself and I silently validate my own discomfort for a moment, I respond in a much more nurturing manner. 

I’m sorry you’re crying. Do you want to talk about it?


I understand you’re upset. Why don’t you take some time in your room and when you’re ready to talk, we will.

or (and this usually happens when there is a mother/daughter disagreement)

I need a time out. When I’m ready and when you’re ready, we can talk about this more.

Granted, this seems “Pollyanna”ish, especially from someone with a temper like mine. But I’ve learned if I can acknowledge their emotions rather than tell them not to experience their emotions, opening up to discussion becomes way easier. 

When sharing feelings after an emotional breakdown becomes the norm, then sharing feelings before the breakdown happens becomes a natural opener to conversation.

Last Friday, just a little north of where we used to live, Jaylen Fryberg brought a gun to school. He shot 3 girls, 2 of his cousins, and himself. All kids said to be his friends. Jaylen and one girl are dead. Reports circulating say he was a happy-go-lucky kid. He was 14.

My kids are happy-go-lucky kids. My oldest daughter is 14. Neither of my daughters has had a breakup yet because they haven't had boyfriends yet. They've been upset about other things. Things that seem devastating at the time they are happening. I hope and pray every dang day the girls knows they can come to their parents instead of doing something drastic.

"When kids trust parents, they'll put parents in selfies"
~ Dr. Spock (maybe)

I’m not so naive to think my teenagers will include Edd and me in all matters at all times. Every one of us has kept secrets from our parents. If my girls ever feel they’re at the point where there is no way out of the situation they’re in, I don’t want the reason to be “I didn’t feel like I could talk to my mom or dad.”

I don’t know anything about Jaylen’s life. I do know there are a lot of kids out there holding a lot of emotion inside because they feel they don’t have a choice. Lately, it seems suicide and killing others has become a viable option. This must stop.

Are your kids able to come to you with their problems? 
Is the temptation to tell them to “shut up and buck up” strong? 
What can we do to encourage affirmation of vulnerability in the younger generations?

Free to Be You and Me is one of my all-time favorite books. This song from the book and record (yes, I said "record" as in "vinyl") are close to my heart. Can we live these lyrics?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Our Church is Messed Up

kaleo covenant

Are you looking for a place to worship? You may want to stay away from our church. 

We’re a mess.

We have unwed mothers, divorced men, and non-American citizens.

We have depressed folks, physically disabled folks, and folks with problems so deep you’ll never hear the end of them.

We have believers in God, non-believers-in-God-but-curious, and those who don’t know what to believe.

We have married couples who are sickeningly happy, married couples in turmoil and married couples who look like they are sickeningly happy but are really in turmoil.

Some of us think the Bible is a book and some of us think the Bible is a smart-phone app.

Some of us have money. More of us don't. 

We have recovering alcoholics, recovering drug-addicts, and recovering divas.

We are Republicans. We are Democrats. We are Libertarians. We are Other.

We are pro-life. We are pro-choice.

We are heterosexual. We are homosexual. 

We never start on time.

We are an up, down, sideways, crazy, confused, disoriented, discombobulated, group of misfits who can really only agree on two things:

We are a mess.
We love Jesus. 
(Okay, that second one is mainly the believers talking. But the not-sure-yet folks get it.)

We who come together know there are suffering people in our communities and in our world. Because Jesus came to first teach us a servant’s nature and then to die for us, we know we’ve been called to go into the world and act like servants as best we can.

Sometimes we get it right.
Sometimes we screw it up, because, well...we’re a mess.

If you live in Portland, 
if you are looking for a place to hang out with broken people,
if you are searching, 
if you are a mess,
come hang out with us.

kaleo covenant

If you are looking for people just like you, 
or folks who come in a pretty package,
or have high expectations,
you will be happier somewhere else.

This is a love letter to my church - the people of Kaleo.

If you worship, tell me where. What do you love most about your church?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Do You Live in the Moment or Do You Live in Next Week?

Business Calendar & Schedule

Our family calendar is full. With 2 teens in the house, some activity is always going on. My own father became frustrated after I repeatedly turned down dinner invitations.

Ah, you never have time for your parents, he sighed.

Dad, I have the time. I just need to book it. Don’t you remember what it’s like to have teenagers in the house?

He doesn’t. 

We have obligations. I’m never living in the moment. My brain is already thinking about next Wednesday.

A few posts ago I wrote about juggling too many plates, knowing when to let the plates drop and warning against making people our plates. Specifically, I began to think of worshiping in church as an obligation, one causing me to act resentful. A response caught my eye and I’d like to share it with you.

My friend and fellow church-goer, Carter, is 20 years sober. After he read the post, he commented:

Well, when I first started reading this I thought it was going to be about's what I think of when I see the word "plate". Then I realized it was about juggling something I know nothing about. One of the nice things about being a retired chronic drug addict is that I'm not burdened by the nonsensical intellectual thought patterns of a healthy brain. In other words, I don't get to over-think service. 

There are a few key phrases that have been drilled into my brain, like "keep it simple stupid" and "if you want to keep something you have to give it away" or "if you want to get different results take different actions". And for someone like me who has to "live one day at a time", I've become okay with relating to God as a "conscious part of my every day thought". Which brings me back full-circle to the food concept, "You can't stay full on yesterday's hamburger" is another reminder that this is a one day at a time adventure. 

These things that are discussed in the context of obligations are more like nourishment to me and I love to eat! I feel nourished when I am of service. I feel fulfilled when I think of God as my subsidence. I feel blessed to even have quality problems in areas were at one point I had no areas at all. Sometimes my gloating and doting of and to my blessings is annoying to others who don't understand that more times than I could've lost it all I did lose it all. In this next phase of my life I am living in a fairytale and I'm happy to be the toad.

Well, shut my mouth.

Compared to most, my life has been relatively easy. I often get caught up in the “poor me, I’m so busy” mode, I selfishly forget there are others who absolutely live day by day. 

Some because they don’t have a choice. 

Some, because like Carter, they know what hell is and they’ll spend each morning thanking God for another sunrise.

I need friends like Carter to remind me how lucky I am. And if I feel my day is too packed and busy? I’ll thank God for the opportunity to be a light for Him and work in some time for rest.

I can plan to live in the moment, can’t I? 

Ugh. This may be harder than I thought.

What about you? Are you booked solid or do you keep your days open for whatever adventure comes your way?