Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Simple Wonderment

Cooler temperatures and rain swept in last evening, replacing hot and dry Santa Ana winds. It seems appropriate with the holidays just around the corner. I guess it's time to "winterize" and cozy up. I won't complain!

Just two more days and schools will be out for a week, and we couldn't be more pleased. We've been impatient for change. Michael and I drove up to L.A. the last two weekends - I spent time with Olivia while he caught up with friends. Let me just say that driving through Southern California cities in weekend traffic with a student driver is one of the most terrifying things ever. I'm not sure if my heart is stronger or weaker after about 10 hours of pretending I wasn't near death. But I do what I gotta do for my kids, and now Michael has built up more driving experience and I've provided a way for him to build and maintain some good friendships. 

I came across these pictures a few days ago as I waited on Michael in the car, sorting through images in a dark community college parking lot. Several weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon, Michael called from the bottom of the stairs saying we should go see the sunset. We both grabbed our cameras and arrived just as the sun was slipping below the horizon. It was a bit too late for the particular sights we hoped to see and pictures we hoped to take, but I'll take any time chasing beauty with my kids. Truly, it thrills me to no end.

He turned and gave me permission to take his picture, and I went and messed it up. So here's a dark silhouette of my tall guy.

He had a long day of school today - 12 hrs. since he left home this morning. I arrived a couple minutes early at the train stop, and in the dark I could see him step off the train with his vintage camera strapped around his neck. We share a common interest in photography, only his is so much more interesting than mine. While I only use a regular old DSLR, he has begun collecting and experimenting with vintage film cameras. It's cool to hear him describe the things he is learning, and so fun to see him immerse himself into a world of vintage-style images. He tells me about things like WW2 Russian lenses, artistic development processes, photojournalism laws, and the repurposing of antique film. He is learning things I've never even dreamed of learning and I find it fascinating to see how intuitive the science behind photography is to him. 

Anyway, since I had a moment to post a few pictures and a few words, I did. I typically feel like I should have more insightful things to write when I come to this space, but I've missed effortless posting of simple pleasures in life. I've recently taken some time to look back over the years of my blog journals; it has been interesting to see how my themes and purposes in writing have changed. It somewhat struck me that I no longer have a carefree ease of finding beauty AND writing about it.

So this post is for the simple purpose of celebrating and remembering the wonderment of my people and the blessings all around. Cheers to that!


Monday, October 28, 2019

This Guy...

Homecoming, freshman year

If a boy feels awkward posing for pictures, I've learned to just let him move.
The results are, well, far more dynamic!

At long last, no more braces!

It was so fun to have Olivia home for the occasion.

It's a mom's prerogative to hug her son,
and a boy's milestone to grow right up passed her.

He's so funny, this Andrew guy! Being a little nervous, he was certain the dance floor was not his thing. We all knew differently, though! He can't hold back in the kitchen... and couldn't hold back at homecoming! He had a great night with his friends. In fact, he is absolutely loving high school.

(Size 13!)


Monday, October 21, 2019

When life keeps moving on...

I'm dipping into the archive of summer pictures again. I'm thankful for the way pictures take me back and all the good feelings of days gone by return once more. These moments of waiting to get into the state beach still feel fresh: faces looking at me through the sun roof, toes in the window, and my girl by my side. This spot is an August end-of-summer must, and we stay till the sun goes down.

This was Olivia's last day out on the waves before packing up for a new chapter of life. 

She gets the best beach hair...

Andrew on the long board


Andrew's final summer before high school, a new chapter for him/us as well.

Our skin tones always tell the story of a good time...
And we laugh at the unfortunate tan lines.

The sun setting on the summer...
...and on life chapters.

"Summer 2019" written on the dewy windshield. 

Count the number of summers you have left with your kids, and then number your days. 
Be alert and aware: I promise you won't regret it.


Olivia came home last week for the first time since we dropped her off at school in August. Last night we met up with a couple of her friends on the journey back to school, and then she was off once more. Flying, really. "Thriving" might be even more appropriate.

I've wanted to write a few things about her transition to college, but the task seemed too great each time I sat down with a moment or two to collect my thoughts. The array of my emotion was more than I've had the energy to convey in type on a public post.

I've often said I've enjoyed every stage of parenting my kids. There never was an age or stage that I disliked or longed to pass by quickly. (True, potty training was a task I didn't love, but I stilled loved the toddler years so very, very much!) But now there is a parenting stage I very much dislike. I've discovered the hardest, absolute least favorite part of parenting is moving my child out. I know how necessary this is, of course, but - oh wow - the process hurts!

I've personally prepared for the transition for over a year as best I could. In fact, I've been very intentional about gradually preparing both myself and Olivia for the move to independence during all of her high school years. Those years were for practicing and training, for heart work and practical preparations to take place. All summer long, I consciously disciplined myself to love her well by entering into her joy rather than nurturing and feeding my sadness. I counted blessing and treasured final days.

No preparation can fully prepare, however. No mental and emotional foresight can fully anticipate an experience never lived out before. The final weekend before her departure was the worst! All the regrets, all the incomplete conversations, all the questions regarding the thoroughness of my mothering and mentorship... they all came as a wrecking flood. In recent weeks, however, I have been comforted with the knowledge that a completion of work was never required of me. In fact, it is God alone who carries the full weight of that role: "He who began a good work in [her] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6)

As mothers, we know that love will cost us dearly. Olivia's arrival into the world enlightened me to the fact that motherhood renders our heart exceptionally and irreversibly vulnerable. C.S. Lewis said, "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken." 

As other mothers who sweetly came alongside me attested, there is an undeniable sorrow that surrounds the closing of this chapter of motherhood. We do rejoice (and let me be clear that there was and is plenty of cheer!), but the reality of a child's departure produces a certain ache. While I have not denied the passage of emotion, I consciously recognized that what we grieve is the result of immense blessing. Though it is painfully true that a chapter of our lives has forever closed - something has truly ended - we can rejoice that we lived it! We smile at the good! Jon and I have dwelt on all the gifts God has granted us: a daughter that walks with her Savior; a mature, responsible, and driven young woman; relationship that not only remained in tact through the teen years, but is poised for great friendship entering adulthood; and a new place of study where she will develop professional skills, form life-long, God-honoring friendships, and mature in her faith. These (and more) are the very things we hoped and prayed for her whole life long. How could there not be gladness, though her daily presence is thoroughly missed?

Each of the boys independently gifted her a little something to help her settle into dorm life: a coffee maker, a California poster, and a jar of Nutella. We held an early morning circle of prayer in our driveway as a family, and once more that evening when the parent-student day concluded. These are the heavy, wonderful moments of open-handed gratefulness and trust in God.

Not being a homesick kind of girl, Olivia is absolutely thriving! On so many levels, she was ready for this! She quickly made friends, connected at church, expanded her circle by joining a Bible study at another university, and participates in various groups/opportunities. And, she is excelling academically. 

People regularly ask me how it is living in an all-boy house now. Well, I no longer have a feminine counterpart to look at with a bewildered or humored look, depending on what the male activity evokes. I no longer have a daughter around to help pick outfits or to talk about things that would only interests a girl (though we don't always allow for distance to impede us). I've lost a female perspective in a whole host of discussions, and someone to simply converse with in the kitchen. And if, for instance, I get a hair cut or change up home decor, absolutely no one notices any more.

But overall it's still just the same family, and the atmosphere is generally unchanged. I have new opportunities, however, and I want to figure out how to be the best boy-mom possible. There are topics of conversation to tackle that may have been a little more inhibited in mixed company. Periods and tampons, for example, was a hilariously honest topic that came up on the way to the beach. Girls and relationships come up as well.

In truth, I have a crew of guys that need to be trained up for manhood. It's a task I feel ill-equipped to do, but I'm not going at it alone. I think about this duty frequently, even lose sleep as I wrestle through in prayer. I'm certain I don't know all the steps to take, all the conversations to have, or all the opportunities to present, but I'm taking it on in earnest. And for each son, I pray for God's guidance, protection, and calling; I pray they would grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

So with each of my children, at home or not, the goal is always to love well. That requires conscious thought on how attitudes and expressions of love must always be changing if they are to be constructive and God-honoring as seasons of life change. Quality of love doesn't lessen, it only matures.


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