Sunday, June 4, 2017

Journals of June Opening

I'm trying to keep this blog alive. I tell myself to just keep documenting, even if that means it's only disorganized thoughts and sporadic records of random events. April, May, and now June... it's all going by so quickly and I struggle to find the time to pause and remember. I've sat to write short journal-type entries this week, but they are nothing in comparison to what I'd like to record. Pictures help to call to mind the simple moments. Raw, understated, spontaneous moments are what compose most of life, and these are at the greatest risk becoming lost to me. I am reminded once again not to grumble at the mundane, but to actively look around for beauty, sweetness, humor, and the gift that is this life.

When I am old, I will cherish the many seaside walks at sunset I took with my kids.
If I have a failing mind one day, I hope this brings back memories of walking shoulder-to-shoulder with my teens. 

I want to remember stopping at odd places to gather flowers with Olivia.
These wild artichokes or giant thistles by the train stop were our latest.

I want to remember waking up and finding my boys doing the wonderfully odd things they do each day. Who thinks of reading in a rubber rowboat while the rest of the family still sleeps?
Andrew, that's who. 

Thursday, June 1

I sit hear near the end of another week, tapping the keys to form this first sentence and I'm frustrated by the blankness of my mind right now. It's so odd. There are many things I think of during the day that I'd love to write, if only I had the time. Sometimes I dialogue words into my head in the hopes of remembering them for transcription onto this screen at a later time. But then I sit here, like I am now, and it's all faded and gone.

I tell myself to try anyway, even though I know that blogs have fallen out of style for a reason. One of those reasons, I am sure, is that blogging can be work!

Oh, yes, work! That's where I can start. The kids' hard work this school year is paying off, and we are beginning to feel that sense of satisfaction and accomplishment as the year comes to a wrap. We didn't get a clean cut finish like we've had in the past. Last week Jacob and Andrew have finished 4th and 6th grades respectively, and I couldn't be happier for them. They've worked hard and completed a fantastic year, and they are ready and deserving of a break. Olivia completed her last class day today; we conference with her cohort teacher tomorrow, and she will take her finals next week. She has done amazingly. She has some concurrent credits under her belt, way more high school credits than usual for a sophomore, but still saved some time for youth group and service at church, and for entrepreneur club and areas of service. After finals, she plans on taking another CLEP exam and needs to take some math and English placement exams at our community college. This girl has incredible drive! Michael has a couple more weeks left before his science course is complete, but let me just say he has completed his best year yet. I am so proud of him. This dyslexic boy of mine has made incredible advancement this year. We have worked together for years-- blood, sweat, and tears kind of work-- and he is shocking us all with his accomplishments now. Yes, the very boy that struggled so much to learn to read and write recently tested beyond the high school level in some areas. He is an out-of-the-box thinker, intelligent, creative in peculiar ways... all strengths that are not measured by standardized tests. He keeps me wondering every single day about how he will use his life! I have no doubt it will be something interesting a unusual. Tomorrow, we will attend an awards ceremony. I'm not sure what he will be receiving, but he has been selected and we are going to find out. 'Course he couldn't care less about an award, but he's going for my sake.

Homeschool is work, let me just say. And transitioning into traditional school is another kind of work. So is preparing kids for life away from home and from our constant oversight. We are doing all these things at once.

The kids each have plans for work this summer as well. Olivia has been searching for work and has some good leads/opportunities that may result in a summer job. Michael is looking too, but at 14 it is a little harder to be formally considered. Most employers don't want to be bothered with work permits, or risk hiring an immature kid. Still, he is managing to pickup a few jobs here and there. He will be weight training (which is another kind of work) and learning to do sound at church, and has developed strategies for acquiring work in the coming years. Andrew went around the neighborhood on his unicycle with fliers advertising the work he can do. He found one lady who hired him to take in her three garbage bins for a total of $1.50 per week... which was kind of discouraging at first! Still, he is taking this job seriously and sees it as an opportunity to build his reputation. He and Jack want to set up a lemonade stand soon... and Jack plans to have a wagon full of succulents for sale. He artfully grows them in driftwood, rocks, and small containers. I buy them from him 'cause I like them, but also just to encourage him in his endeavors.

I want to remember these brother-friends and their boy-faces and projects. Someday these faces will have hair on them and their lives will be more complex, but I want to remember days like this: Side-by-side eating fresh strawberries in milk with brown sugar, and watching two spiders fight for life in a mason jar. May the remembrance of these happy, simple moments be like a happy balm to them when their faces are weathered and hairy, and when their lives are completely different!

I want to remember peaking into the sunroom and finding her "studying."
Truly, she is no slacker.

He was working on his last assignment of the year. I want to remember that he never worked at usual places.

This is exactly the kind of thing I tend to forget, but really want to remember...
Jacob's "store" in which he pulls out all of his junk and "treasures" to sell because he realizes his older brothers are making more money. I'm usually the only one to buy things. He stays behind his counter for hours, except to put up "Open" signs. I feel bad for him, so I buy more things.

We have this giant ball that was going to be thrown out. I want to remember the hours of fun and my boys' fearlessness. 

Friday, June 2

It frequently happens that I feel the need to somehow apologize to my neighborhood for the noise we create. Like now. My younger boys have a friend over for the night, and it's just amazing how much noise three boys can make in the pool. I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but I watch/listen in amazement every single time. Three boys make noise without even trying, like maybe 10 times more than if there were only two boys. The dynamics completely change when you go from two boys to three or more. If Michael goes out there, look out. (Look at the two pictures above and imagine more boys. Now add to that image lots of sound. Now multiply that sound beyond what is reasonable and necessary. Now multiply by 10 or 20, depending on the game.)

But the happy faces and loud, happy noise is wonderfully relaxing to me right now at the end of a long week. The evening is as it should be.

So Michael's award today was for "outstanding communicator." I'm not entirely sure what he did this year to warrant the award, but I sat there next to him with tears in my eyes during the lengthy school ceremony. My tears, though, were because of the hilarious things he kept whispering to me. I almost snorted through my nose trying not to laugh. His humor can be absolutely brilliant or insanely immature. Eventually I had to separate the boys because we were all getting out of hand. Life isn't boring for me, and being a mom to boys has been an adventure.

Like last Friday, Andrew was walking home from his $1.50 garbage bin "job" and noticed a snake under a bush. Not being sure if it was a rattle snake or not, he ran home for Michael. When I heard about this as they ran out the door, I considered saying "no." After all, is a rattle snake bite really worth it? Then I remembered how I need to trust them to make their own decisions. I knew they would be cautious; they've got good a head on their shoulders. And if not, I know how to get to the nearest ER quickly and I formulated the plan in my head!

A few minutes later they came home with this (not a rattler):

They are not allowed to bring snakes in the house, but clearly that didn't stop anyone. I'm no better; I don't help enforce rules when I grab my camera and take pictures.

I really do hate snakes. But I like my boys. I like that they aren't sissy boys, I like that they experiment ("Let's see how he swims..."), and how they find entertainment away from screens. Isn't this becoming a rarity in boys nowadays? Plus, there are much worse things to fear and fight against in life than snakes, and I'm all for allowing my kids to grow in courage.

That means I have to grow in courage as their mom. Yeah, I know the dangers out there in the real world are plentiful, but living according to fear is a far greater danger. Fear is the opposite of freedom, whether that relates to peer pressure, or trying new things and chasing dreams, or doing what's right in the eyes of God when it costs. Courage is needed to live freely. So often my freedom is hindered by fear of offending, fear of failure, fear of getting hurt or embarrassed, fear of being misunderstood, or fear of what others might think. How often I withhold true love because of fear!

Furthermore, if I fear everything that could happen to my kids, and imposed that fear on my kids, I'd surely fail to prepare them for life. Fear stifles, and it leads to a wasted life.

I'm not sure this makes sense to anyone else right now, and maybe you just want to judge me for being a reckless parent. I'm OK with that. For me, there is a whole discourse shaping in my heart on the subject of fear. It's a much bigger subject than I can grasp yet, but I think the implications will be awesome.

When I choose to live in fear (and it is a choice), I am essentially saying that God is not big enough to be trusted. I want to know freedom; I want to come to a place of trusting in my great, big, trustworthy, all-powerful, loving, and good God.

I am beginning to see some of the ways fear has dictated my life. Christ died so that I would have freedom in it's truest sense. Why is it, then, that I revert back to living in fear? If I have died to my self, and if Christ raised me to LIFE in him and sets me FREE from bondage to sin, why would I go back to living as a slave to fear? It makes no sense, and it need not be!

As I learn and grow, I want to expose to my kids ways in which fear is bondage to a lie about God. HE is bigger. HE is trustworthy. He calls us to a fuller, freer life! How great is that?!

(Also, courage and stupidity are not the same. Being stupid in the name of fearlessness is not what I'm talking about here! We need to teach wisdom, too!)

Sunday, June 4

Our water bill is out of control, and the city complains of our water usage. They don't realize that in the summer we run a recreational pool and youth program. They should compare our water usage to the city public pool instead of our elderly and working professional neighbors; they should take into consideration how many people sleep under our roof (or outside on our property, as the case may be), and how much laundry, showers, and dish-washing all these people and activities produce. I think we'd fare a bit better that way.

Sunday afternoon now, and our pool deck is soaked. Wet towels and swim suits lay everywhere. This is a huge amount of wasted water for which our wrists will be slapped by the city. I'm sure our energy bill will be high as well because of the jacuzzi. The grocery store, however, has never complained about our food bill! 

The way I see it, though, is that these bills are investments. I'm not expecting the city to understand that investing in people and relationships is worth a pretty penny. I'm pretty sure we'll never regret putting our money there. Making our home a place where our kids want to be is important to us. In fact, we want our home to be where their friends want to be and place where we can welcome strangers with ease. I am consciously working to prepare such an environment and to improve my skill and readiness. Let me just say it doesn't come naturally to me, but it does come with commitment and with practice!

Anyway, I am happy again today with all the noise and the wasting of resources. I'm thankful that my husband feels the same way.

Right now, Jack and Andrew are playing street hockey with a friend (and likely some neighbors). They will be back to swim, no doubt. Michael is with a friend this afternoon; they are kayaking and fishing out in the ocean. I am actively not thinking about all the shark sightings and attack reported this spring. Olivia clocked in some more driving hours and instruction, and is now reading in the living room. 

I am thankful for a rich time at church today, thankful for learning more deeply of God's love for me. I was reminded again of his desire to save, to open the eyes of the spiritually blind, and to create new hearts that live fully for him. He is holy and fully just, sovereign and perfect in all his ways, and yet he desires relationship with us, knowing us before time began, and provides a way of salvation through the suffering, death, and resurrection of his Son. What love! And what hope we have as we go before his throne to appeal for mercy on the lives of our loved ones!

A picture, when there was no time to be taking pictures, to remember Olivia's last day of class as a sophomore...


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