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It’s here; Mother’s Day 2020, and the lily has opened. I’ve been willing this bloom all week to hold out for today. I’m not sure it’s opened any further since yesterday, but I’m claiming that for Mother’s Day it’s bigger and better. In the midst of a pandemic, if a little imagination, or exaggeration helps us see the forest through the trees, or see a lily increase its bloom size by a minuscule amount, then hooray for us. That would be called a victory.

The sun is shining, my yard is blooming, and my favorite show is featuring Bobby Flay and my favorite breakfast.

I will see my kids with some spacial distancing later. I can enjoy this day.

I know moms whose day is not much different today than it was yesterday. That while I’m rejoicing in lilies and sunshine, they can’t see beyond a child tugging on her PJs, asking for breakfast, the potty, or protection from an aggressive sibling. She does her best to suppress guilt as the TV blares in the background, and in zombie mode pours breakfast into a bowl.

She needs extra prayers. She needs extra help, extraordinary strength, and words that propel her to the next step, the next day.

She needs to be reassured that cereal is ok. That TV isn’t the bad guy, and that being there is what her child needs.

That she is the Horton who hatches the egg.

OK… I did reposition the book for the photo shoot. It’s often underneath on the lower shelf.

When Bradley was born we received the book, “Horton Hatches the Egg.” (Jan…if you read this, it’s from you). It is my favorite Dr. Seuss book. I won’t go into how much I love Dr. Seuss, but I would be happy if someone like him appeared on my EHarmony matches. The book sits on my coffee table.

The most beautiful message of all are on these pages. It’s about love that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (even though it’s difficult to stop at verse 7). Love that leans in and perseveres. Love that requires sacrifice of self and pride.

The opening page says:

“Sighed Mayzie, a lazy bird hatching an egg: “I’m tired and I’m bored

And I’ve kinks in my leg

From sitting, just sitting here day after day.

It’s work! How I hate it!

I’d much rather play!

I’d take a vacation, fly off for a rest

If I could find someone to stay on my nest!

If I could find someone, I’d fly away-free…”

You can see where this is going.

Horton the elephant (a dude) is the someone who rescues Mayzie’s egg, when she decides to take a rest, and doesn’t return. I know I should save this for Father’s Day, but it doesn’t matter who you are, when it is you who commits to the nest.

The final pages end with Horton hatching an Elephant Bird. The crowd says:

“My goodness! My gracious!” they shouted. “MY WORD! It’s something brand new!” IT’S AN ELEPHANT-BIRD!!

And it should be, it should be, it SHOULD be like that!

Because Horton was faithful! He sat and he sat!

He meant what he said

And he said what he meant…”

…And they sent him home HAPPY, One hundred per cent!”… that’s how Seuss wrote that, not me (which is why I love him… oh, sorry, not getting into that).

So for that mom who doesn’t have a crowd, or a person, applauding and affirming all she is and all she does: YOU ARE ADMIRED. One day, you will be sent home happy…

ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

I saw a darling t-shirt advertised the other day. It said, “BLESSED MAMA.” These days I notice t-shirts like I smell steak on a grill. Since my motto is, “the redder, the better,” you can imagine how I can sniff out a t-shirt like a backyard BBQ. I see t-shirts walking down the street or sitting at a cafe table and I try to figure out if it’s sublimation or HTV. I analyze how far down from the neck it starts, how much shirt space is used, and what kind of material it is. My skills as private t-shirt investigator do need to improve so people don’t mistake me for staring at their chests, or breasts.

Everything I am has been influenced by my role as a mom. It’s been a privilege to navigate this life with two people who drove my decisions, and when decisions went sideways, knowing they needed me to be their compass gave me cause to redirect. It’s an awesome assignment that I chose to accept. What choices would I have made were it not for these two lives who depended on someone to nourish their body, spirit, and soul?

I might be living life in NYC working for Everlane. I’d wake up, have coffee while doing a devotional, ride my bike through the city to work. I’d stay until 5, get a drink with a friend, go to the Columbia University talk on “Why Curbside Recycling isn’t Working” (or in my ideal world, I’d present), get home in time to read a chapter in Anne Lamott’s latest book, practice for the part I’m hoping to get in the new Off Broadway rendition of Legally Blonde that has been opened up to people who have never acted before, then snuggle in my clean sheets (that do not include Winky hair), and dream of my upcoming trip to Paris.

That sounds incredible! But while today I can imagine making choices that would lead me to that life, I don’t think I could have imagined anything like that in my early thirties. At age 34 when I got married I don’t remember any aspirations. I assume I sought happiness, but outside of that, I had no tangible goals or ideals. I lived day to day with a survivor mentality and good work ethic and I plodded along, hoping someone would fall in love with me. I loved God, but for several years I had abandoned walking with him. My decisions were only influenced by what felt good and seemed right enough at the time.

Someone did fall in love with me. We got married and two years later we had Bridgey and two years after that, Bradley. Instantly what once felt right or good enough, wasn’t good enough. Decisions took on more weight and relevance and impacted our children and their well being. When I was pregnant most everyone who was pregnant read a book called “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” It gave explanation to euphoria, vomiting, pickles and ice cream, swelling, and everything in between during this 9 month metamorphosis. Everyone read it (or rather, referred to it) because our bodies are fundamentally the same and there is a predictability in the pregnancy experience. But there was no one book called, “What to Expect When You’re a Parent.” Instead, there are more books on parenting than there are stars in the sky. No two families are alike, so there are many theories, angles, philosophies, and strategies.

I took this new role seriously, but felt I was stumbling along like a blind person. I touched my way through, anticipating a final destination. I’d find my way out, filled with relief and joy, but then discovered there was another door to go through. Tap here, try this, test that, stumble, scrape, and crash. Then another door, and another, and another.

If I had imagined raising my kids on my own, you couldn’t have dragged me through that door. Yet when I was faced with it, unknowingly, Bridgette and Bradley pulled me through it. These two souls who I longed to foster into the best they could be, regardless of what door, house, or circumstance they faced, created in me courage and determination to transform me into the best I can be.

I’m a blessed mama. I love you two!

 

Side Note: My alter self isn’t opposed to that life in NYC. You never know. I could get that job at Everlane!

I wish I could say I got to enjoy this. I attempted having a fire again, hoping I’d figured out how to keep smoke from billowing into my house, but I hadn’t. I ended up pouring water onto it. But it sure looks pretty, doesn’t it!?

I know it’s a week late for this, but since my job isn’t a beat reporter, you can bet my current affairs will always be a day late, which is in keeping with me, because I’m always a dollar short! I’m enjoying the idea of an extra day off with our inclement weather, yet as it sits right now, the inclement weather has hit every area except Washington County. Just the idea of it is giving me a possible false sense of a few extra hours to play with, so play I will!

Playing for me is to write a blog post that’s been on my mind since last Sunday. The Super Bowl upset that I’m referring to has nothing to do with the outcome of the Patriots / Rams game on February 3rd. I had such a great time at my friends’ house eating good food, catching up, and enjoying a defensive game. While many people thought it was boring, I was engaged with anticipation of which defense was going to break down and allow the other team to score. Since Bradley plays defense, I appreciate that perspective of a game and I was thoroughly entertained.

But what did disappoint me was the halftime show. Adam Levine was fine. I wish he would smile because he’s so much cuter when he does. His gyrating distracted me. I enjoy his personality on The Voice, but I didn’t find the same sense of satisfaction in his Super Bowl performance as I do watching him banter with Blake Shelton about The Voice contestants.

The Super Bowl upset was this: the halftime show’s second performer. I’m going to expose my ignorance by admitting I don’t even know who he was. I know he’s a big deal because he performed at the Super Bowl. I’m out of the loop with pop culture. I’m not even going to look up who the performer was. I don’t care about tearing him down, and this post is about more than this performer.  My disappointment is in the people who are in a position of decision making. I was so frustrated that the second half time performer sang a song that required many of his phrases to be bleeped out. I don’t get it. I feel like sports is the one arena that should be sacred. That anyone should be able to take their child to a sporting event and trust that it’s family friendly, absent of anything that would require us to plug our kids’ ears or explain anything other than why the Patriots took so long to score and the significance of a young coach and quarterback getting to play in the Super Bowl.

We have ratings on movies and we sensor our books. The drinking age and ability to buy cigarettes in Oregon is 21. We separate state and church so extremely that we’re not allowed  to use the word Christmas in any portion of our holiday celebrations at school. Yet the Super Bowl that received 98,000,000 views smacks us with a performance that uses lyrics that are so offensive they have to be bleeped out. I’m sorry for the people who were present at the Super Bowl and forced to hear the lyrics.

We put laws and policies into place, in an effort to protect our kids, but where is our heart for our kids? Where is our sacrifice for them? There is a theory called PAC – Perceived Adult Consent. This theory was discussed as part of the Discovery Program class that I was privileged to participate in as part of my school’s strategy to help our students. PAC makes so much sense to me. It means that consent is perceived by students (or youth) when adults observe a behavior that has been deemed unacceptable, and look the other way instead of confronting it. PAC subtly gives our youth the message that even though we say something is not okay and even though we say something is important, we are not going to go the extra mile to enforce it. What they might experience is that we care, but we don’t care that much. Or they might just think we’re authoritarian, like rules, and don’t care at all.

I’ve seen PAC happen a million times, every day. It happens in our community, within families, on social media, at school: everywhere.

I understand that addressing issues takes time and energy that we don’t always have. I understand it’s easier to make our kids’ bed than it is to teach them, and it’s easier to pretend we didn’t hear the name they called us, than deal with a consequence we have to enforce. But what gets me is that people ask:

What is happening to our youth?

What is happening to the fabric of our culture?

Why are our kids so depressed, anxious, and volatile?

Why are our kids so disrespectful?

Why are our kids facing more mental and social issues than ever before?

I feel like the answer lies with us. We are what’s wrong. Who looked the other way when it was decided to use this performer at the biggest sporting event in our country? Was there a discussion? Was there an argument? Did someone advocate for our kids and consider the message this performer infuses into our culture? It is one thing for someone to access this performer on the Internet or at a concert. But we were subjected to this performance.

Don’t we all really just want to feel good? We are daily bombarded with things that don’t feel good and are out of our control. When it is in our control, why don’t we embrace that opportunity? Like Ellen does (yea, Cheerios!), or Jeep does?

Jeep opted not to spend the money on a Super Bowl ad they’ve spent in the past and instead post their ad on the Internet. Their ad was created with the same level of quality that we would expect from a Super Bowl ad, and it was beautiful. The ad makes one feel good!

Why wouldn’t the producers of the Super Bowl reach for that goal? Thank you, Jeep for knowing we want to feel good. I can think of many performers who make us feel good and don’t require bleeping. Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, to name a few. There are many more. I think Gladys Knight’s National Anthem made us all feel good!

At this time there is so much effort in both time, money, and mental strategy to understand what is happening to our kids. Educators attend symposiums in an effort to decipher emotional, social, behavioral, and mental health. Counselors spend entire days sorting through emotions so they can get students to a place where they can focus and learn. New methods for managing our students are introduced. We ask: Where are things going wrong? What can we do for them? What system can we put into place to meet their needs? More money is required within education than ever before for resources and providers. And we are paying the price.

To me, all of our efforts seem fruitless if we don’t identify the root cause, which I believe is this:

There is a lot of Perceived Adult Consent that takes place in the lives of our youth every day.

Our expectations of our kids and each other are low. We look the other way when we see courtesy abandoned. Our kids don’t think it’s important, and why would they? Our politicians hurl insults at each other and we cheer them on. We retaliate on social media with snarky replies to and at each other. And we condone profanity and obscene lyrics in a public display.

The other day I saw a post that seemed so ridiculous I laughed out loud, TO MYSELF! I didn’t post it and call her an idiot. I later shared it with a friend and we had a good laugh. But we chuckled at her style. We didn’t devalue this person by slamming her publicly.

Even at that, as a Christian with a desire to esteem people and not devalue them, whether in public or privately, I had to check myself. I understand the temptations. But if we want to make a difference for our youth and each other, we have to overcome temptations. We have to sacrifice time and our own entertainment. We have to be uncomfortable. For some it might mean working harder at being our better selves. For me, it’s seeking to be the new creature that I am in Christ Jesus, which is easy to do when I talk with him and read his words of encouragement.

If our kids are our tomorrow; we are their today.

I know our world isn’t perfect. Jesus told us that we would have trouble in this world, and to take heart, because he came to overcome the world. But his love for children is great.

He said in Matthew 18: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Jesus invited a little child to stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Our responsibility for children is monumental.

Upstairs in the bridal suite being Mom of the Bride while my friends were downstairs performing like an orchestra, executing every detail with precision.

Writing has taken a back seat to Bridgette’s wedding. I can’t believe that it’s already been a week since she and Cody were married and a month since I’ve been dumpster diving for seasonal greenery.

I sit at my desk this Saturday morning, revelling that I can actually sit at my computer and put some thoughts down. Wedding recovery surrounds me. There are boxes of items to return to friends, thank you gifts to distribute, a table full of Craigslist wedding decor that I’m sure will be snatched up because ours were so good, and a house still decorated in Christmas. Sugar plumbs of wedding memories dance in my head.

The last few months were consumed with wedding and Christmas. I tried to sort the two out, giving priority to Christmas, while doing preliminary wedding prep. Once Christmas was over, every spare minute was spent on executing wedding details. This project was like every other project. I didn’t consider how I would do it, I just moved in the right direction and asked God to bless it.

And that he did. One by one friends contacted me to ask what they could do. I try not to ask for help unless I’m desperate. That’s not because I’m shy or try to be a martyr, but managing a home requires constant upkeep, so I reserve tapping into my friends for situations like my water tank or refrigerator leaking, which they did in the last couple of months. As the wedding date approached and big ideas for the perfect wedding formed, I began to see that this “hot water tank was leaking”, and as friends asked what they could do, I accepted their offers and a miraculous team formed, one in which I almost didn’t have control. They went beyond what I asked and anticipated what I needed and we gave Bridgette and Cody “the best 24 hours of their lives.”

For me, this team gave me the gift on that day to be Mother of the Bride.  And unencumbered with executing the details, I got to enjoy “happy”.

We moms and grandmothers stood on one side of the room to be escorted to our seats. I was the last in line and having a hard time composing myself. “It’s a Wonderful World” serenaded us and was begging me to react. I stood waiting for my cue to meet my son, but turned to the wall to hide the contortions my face made as I willed myself to resist the poorly timed emotions. One guest and I made contact a couple of times, our eyes connecting, which comforted me but was also like that moment when you’re trying to hold it together until you see someone who knows and understands, and you lose it. As I inched closer to my place in line, on the other side of the room Bradley mouthed, “You can do this, mom.” He was right. The last thing I wanted was to make a spectacle of myself (or mess up my makeup).

I don’t completely understand the emotions I had. They were just there. We’ve had so many layers and components in our lives that seemed to all converge in this culminating moment. Experiences are different when they come from a foundation that is formed out of unity. Preparing for the wedding without a partner was difficult and Bridgette and I had intense moments of disagreement. I wanted Bridgette to have a wedding that reflected her personality, beauty and wholeness, regardless of the turns and complexities we’ve experienced. I’d worked hard so that nothing would get in the way of that, and I realized that everything for which I’d dared to hope was unfolding before my eyes.

In retrospect I realize that an overarching emotion was “happy”; happiness that we had achieved everything we both wanted. Happy is not an emotion I experience regularly, and I’m so good with that. Jesus’ life on earth has assured me that HAPPY isn’t the goal in life. Internal (and eternal) joy is a solid sentiment I carry with me that is difficult to explain. Joy is satisfying and allows me peace and comfort when I go to bed at night. HAPPY is a wonderful gift I received and it seems fitting that it surfaced to the top and exploded on Bridgette and Cody’s wedding day.

All night long, happiness was everywhere: In the message that was delivered (Go BEAVS! – see breakdown of that message below), in friends and family who came, in the beauty of the venue, in the sacrifices that people made, in toasts that celebrated and reflected on the relationships people share with Bridgette and Cody.

It was pure joy to experience that kind of happiness, and I owe that to God who blesses me with friends who walk this life with me in various ways. They were there before, during, and after (many cleaning up until the end and still the day after). They know the sorrows and frustrations I experience, and they know my joy. That makes me very happy.

Below is the breakdown of the message Bridgette and Cody were given in the ceremony by Cody’s spiritual mentor, Barry. 

Go BEAVS

B – Be there for each other

E – Encourage each other

A – Always put God first

V – Valentine’s Day every day

S – Share life with each other

And finally, a few people have asked me who did my hair and makeup, where did I get my dress, how did I do this thing or that thing. I’m happy to share!

Subscribe to my blog and I’ll give you all the info you want. I now feel very equipped in executing a wedding!

I’ll share two things with you now:

I bought my dress on line from Anthropologie’s wedding line. It was $80 on sale. I did my hair and makeup. I had help from a best friend who was my shadow that day. She ensured the bobby pins were in securely and that kind of stuff. But I want to give credit to a YouTube / blog that I follow for my hair and make-up tips. I wrote a post about her last year when I searched Messy Buns. The blog is called The Small Things Blog. Kate is the author, a darling young mom and half my age. I should probably be watching a blog for 50 years +, but I like Kate best.

This is a harder post to read than some others. Under my tab “Hard Stuff” I wonder if I have the courage to write about the hard things. I’m learning. I always hope I can write a message of encouragement. It’s a skill I’m working on. To be able to right the miracle of my story as I share the victory. But there is no victory without a fight. Some may not want to read about the fight. Most details I don’t share, but there’s got to be some that I share to reveal the story. My hope is that I improve and both you and I learn in this process. 

I haven’t been able to write for a couple of weeks. It’s been non stop for me with work and my personal life. May and June in the life of a high school is all consuming. In addition to end of school year wrap up, which also means gear up for the next year because dates, monies, staff, etc have to be determined for the upcoming year, it means graduation too, which is the big event. Additionally our school is revamping its curriculum as well as our physical building, and I’ve had my own graduations in my personal life, including a life changing event. My daughter just became engaged with a wonderful young man who I am happy to inherit. All good things, but all require both physical and emotional efforts, which means writing, yard work, and any other extracurricular activities get put aside (is it extracurricular when one isn’t in school, and is yard work extracurricular?). At the same time, it provides lots of material, and challenges my writing skills as I navigate how to express these personal experiences.

I’m praising God because in the last few weeks I’ve felt him turning minutes into hours like he increased five loaves and two fish.

Today is Father’s Day. I don’t have a father to celebrate, now or in the past. Last night I picked up some half and half from the grocery store. At the check out stand the cashier asked, “Got your Father’s Day plans all set up?” I answered, “Yep!”

I knew the guy didn’t want to hear, “Oh no. I wasn’t raised by my dad, plus he died a long time ago anyway.” Nor did he want to hear that I wasn’t celebrating my children’s dad. I too don’t like the sound of that. The poor guy was just handing me change and making small conversation. I enjoy talking to just about anyone, fortunately for him I was in deep in thought, as was evidenced by the parking job I discovered when I returned to my car: right down the middle was the parking space line. Not skewed on one side or the other, but smack dab down the center of my car. The cashier’s assumption dug into my soul for a few moments. As I walked away I reconciled in my mind the lie I had just insinuated and I worked through another event where my experience isn’t what is the norm for most people, at least not for most people with whom I come in contact.

Not having an earthly father who looked after me has been pivotal in who I am, which would be true for every person, because our fathers are pivotal in who we are. It’s why divorce is so devastating, particularly if the parents aren’t able to come together in parenting their children. God’s design places a role for both a father and a mother to raise up our children, united in one vision. When God’s design is broken, the pieces are being picked up in an effort to make things look something like whole again. If the divorced family can make a good effort, then I believe redemption in what has been broken is possible. Without that united effort, the only hope is another father, our heavenly father, who steps in for us.

Not having my own father and navigating a victorious life in the face of a broken family has caused me to seek my heavenly father, far more than I would had I been blessed with both a father and a husband. Not having an earthly father on whom I could depend has been the norm for me. My own father left my mother when I was very young. When I was about 13 I was reunited with him (I’ll save that detail for now) for a short time. The scenario didn’t work out so I returned to my foster home with a foster mom and dad. At my young age, I assumed my foster dad would be my dad. Our relationship was not altogether solid, but I accepted it for what it was. He seemed good enough. I’ll take him! Ultimately I discovered that he didn’t consider me to be his daughter several years into adulthood. I’d written a letter explaining my frustration in how they treated me when my biological mom had returned to my life and I felt a duty to care for her. I never heard from him or my foster mom again.

Those missing pieces (a mom and a dad) in my life caused me to cruise through life, not in the sense that I was enjoying the ride, but in the sense that I had no direction. I wasn’t pointed anywhere, except when I was eighteen and it was time to leave. That’s not to say I hadn’t had discipline or that God hadn’t been guiding me all along. I’d had lots of discipline (or punishments) in various forms. And God did guide me. I discovered Jesus’ love for me at age 13 (just before I’d been reunited with my dad) and I had a constant nagging sense (which I believe was God’s Holy Spirit) in everything I did. Some people might misinterpret that sense as being guilt. I did feel guilt when I wasn’t honoring God’s word that I had discovered to be truth. But no one guilted me into becoming a Christian. I was the first to discover Jesus while living in my foster home. God spoke directly to me, and it was between him and me.

As I cruised with no destination in mind, I stopped at ports and explored, storms crashed around me, and icebergs stopped me short. My exploring took me places I wish I would have avoided, which lead me to some of the icebergs.  As I’ve raised my kids I’ve had to learn to balance my desire to spare them their hurts and allow them freedom to make valuable mistakes. Not having a partner in this parenting effort, God’s word has been a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my parenting path. Among counselors, friends, and the many books I have read, I’ve relied on God’s word to give me guidance to direct my children. I want them to have a sense of direction in the hopes they are spared the unnecessary mistakes that cause pain and detours. God provided a roadmap; I believe that’s what God has called Fathers to do for their children, as He has done for us.

I have friends who have said or indicated that I should “live a little,” as if I’m denying myself of all life has to offer. I’ve lived plenty of what life has to offer and I’ve lost a lot. The message I’d like to offer is,

“Life is too short to get off track.”

Why not instead live according to the instructions from our heavenly father? There is no confusion about right or wrong or good or bad. His influence is true and pure. Even when I deviate from His instruction, I am certain of His love. I don’t have to earn it, I don’t deserve it. I simply return to Him and ask Him again to forgive me and to guide me in His loving presence once again.

At 58, I am not seeking an earthly father or husband that I look to with admiration. Yet I consider these things a bonus that others enjoy. I know this to be true from the envy I feel when I see it. Then I find myself feeling its absence. I am fortunate that the relationship that I’ve acquired with God through the detours and storms have yielded an intimacy that is reliant on Him. I trust and depend on His promises. I feel Him on the most ordinary days when I’m with my friends or gardening, especially with my children, and also in their absence. But what a blessing to have the benefit of an earthly father. They are a treasure beyond any measure. I hope that on this Father’s Day you know the joy of a father in your life, whether he’s your father, or the father of your children, and you thank your heavenly father for him.

Thank you heavenly father for lemons and lemonade.

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