Hello Again…

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I’ve been absent for a while. Since last fall it’s been mostly quite around here. I’ve missed it, writing, that is.

I was quiet because I couldn’t talk about the mundane blah, blah, blah stuff when I had so much going on in my head that was real and meaningful. But I didn’t know how to talk about that stuff, or I wasn’t ready to, so I didn’t talk about anything. It was too personal and raw. But I knew I would write about it one day. One day I would be ready.

So here we are again, 9 months later and I think I’m ready now.

So much exciting stuff has happened this (school) year. And I really want to get it down, and out of my head. It’s hard, though. So I’m going to take it a little at a time and see if I can make it make sense of it. Come with me if you wish, or don’t, it’s ok.

The Lord took me on a journey this year like none other. It was exciting, amazing, humbling, and REAL.

I have a story to tell. A story of how God redeemed my life, gave me hope and a purpose. A story of his faithfulness, mercy, and unrelenting love for me. How he gave me peace and joy and answers to hard questions in my life.

I have a story to tell, and I’m ready to tell it. A little at a time.

Living Wholeheartedly

Last week I talked about people who make us feel good by just being around them and I said I would like to be more like that kind of person. I keep thinking that those people must be very comfortable with themselves or they couldn’t give off the vibe they do.

Thinking along the lines of how to be a more approachable, comfortable, loving person myself, reminded me of a talk I heard a few years ago by Brene Brown on wholehearted living.

You can listen to it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability

This is Brene Brown’s definition of Wholehearted living:

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Oh, that sounds really nice!

I want to live wholeheartedly.

I long for this kind of life.

I desire to be this kind of parent.

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Wow, I want to grow up in that home, don’t you?

But how do you do that? Somehow I don’t think the answer is found on pinterest or in a list of 10 things you can do to increase the fulfillment in your life.

She says the answer starts with vulnerability.

So, In order to live life wholeheartedly, I not only have to accept my own imperfections but I also have to share them with others? Ouch.

That’s going to take come courage.

Do you dare?

I think I dare.

Kids Currency

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Number 4 is a sweet and loving little thing. She is kind and pretty, and funny, and sensitive too. She takes excellent care of herself and her things. She is friendly and outgoing and fun to be around. Of all the things she has to play with her favorite, and possibly only choice, is dress up. It used to be that she would dress up in play clothes, but now she has graduated to putting real outfits together in her closet. Every outfit is complete with belt, scarf, necklace and high heals (taken from my closet).

But her listening skills aren’t as fine tuned as her fashion sense.

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She is very fond of animals and enjoys getting to see the dog next door and take her out for little walks around the yard. However, she asks me a lot if she can go get the dog and I have spoken to her about the right timing and frequency of this outing. I told her she was not to go over without me.

This weekend we learned she has been going over to the neighbors when I have said no. Many days, many many rings led up to the neighbor opening the door and telling number 4 that she was sick and she couldn’t continue ringing the bell like this and she was going to have to talk to her mommy (me) about it.

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As I said #4 is sensitive, very sensitive. Without a word to the neighbor, she turned and ran home sobbing. By the time she reached me in the kitchen she couldn’t talk through the heaving sobs. I was trying to calm her down so I could understand if she was hurt, scared or what. As I held her and she began to relax, the sobs became further apart and I could begin to make out the situation. She was honest and clearly explained what had happened. She was so honest, I truly believe she had no idea why it was a bad idea to ring someone’s bell 30 times in a row (in case they didn’t hear you.)

The honesty and obvious remorse (now that she knew 30 was too many) was sweet. But she had disobeyed me by going over there in the first place and there had to be consequences for it.

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So I did what I had to do. I took away her fancy. All the necklaces, bracelets, belts and scarves. Into my closet.

When I told her I was taking these away from her for a few days she was devastated. Crying, kicking, screaming. That settled into, “what am I going to do?” “What will I wear?” “When can I have them back?”

It seems funny to me, I wouldn’t care less if someone took my belts and necklaces from me, but not this one. She loves her fancy! Fancy is her currency. I dare not tell the neighbor that this was the punishment given for such a crime. She just wouldn’t understand. But to number four this was the ultimate punishment and I knew it would make the impact I needed it to make.

And I believe it did.

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Number 4 is now fancy again and only goes over to the neighbors when I go with her. She still longs for her good old door-bell-ringing days, I know, but she loves her fancy more. And I love that about her.

She asked me the other day if it was OK that she liked to be fancy. I told her it was more than ok, it was the way God made her and that is perfect.

Fancy on #4!

Why it’s a big deal we went to camp the second time

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I LOVED camp when I was a kid. It was the highlight of my year – every year. From the time I was 9-years-old I paid my own way to Sandy Creek Bible Camp. And as soon as I was old enough I went to work there. My camp years ended only after I graduated from college.

So, let me say it again, I LOVE CAMP. And when I say that, I mean: I have a deep, deep feeling of affection for this place called camp not just a “yeah, camp is a lot of fun, woo hoo!” kind of thing. It’s much deeper than that.

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When I think back to where this deep feeling for camp came from, it is two fold. First, I loved the quiet time in nature with God. I really enjoyed the beautiful surroundings while I read my Bible and prayed. Years later when I was going through the hardest years of my life emotionally I would go to parks near where I lived and sit and journal. It mimicked the place I felt the most secure and peaceful as a child – camp. It was beautiful, serene and it felt safe.

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The second reason I have a deep affection for camp is the people. There, I was surrounded with kids that were following Jesus in the same way I was. For me it was refreshing having Jesus be a word that, when spoken, didn’t make people cringe, walk away, or ignore you for days. It was a place where I could be me and not be “persecuted” for it. I didn’t have to hide my relationship with God there. It was not only OK to believe in Jesus but it was cool. Imagine that! Having come from a home where we were not able to freely and openly discuss our belief in God, camp was a haven, a second family for me. It was a warm, welcoming, comfortable and embracing space with people who loved me for all that I was.

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I know camp isn’t that for most people. Take my husband, he respects my love for camp, but he doesn’t share the same affection for it I do. When I approached him for the first time with going to camp two years ago he agreed to go. I knew he was doing it for me and I appreciated it very much. He even got into some of the pre-camp activities like building the family boat for the wacky boat race. He was fully on board and I was really excited to share this experience with my family.

Our week at camp was very, very hot and uncomfortable, but went well for the most part until the last night.

That’s when the good times ended.

During the canoe races my husband volunteered to be in the “man of war” canoe race. All the brave men were doing it. And we don’t run from friendly competition in this family – we run TO it. It’s how we were made. There weren’t many rules for this race, just get your boat out and back with all your oars and men first. There were 4 men per team and 3 or 4 teams, I can’t remember. It was a real manly-mans race. And it got crazy.

I can’t remember if they won or not, it was all a bit of a blur. As the teams wrestled to get their boat to shore the top of my husband’s pinky finger was pinched off between an oar and a rung on their boat. It was a mad rush to find the piece of finger and get him to the hospital. A lot of blood, a lot of running.

I was scared, and I was crushed. After I got over the fear that he was never going to have the tip of his finger again I resolved myself to a life without camp. Right there in the emergency room I was devastated that I was never going to go to family camp again. How selfish of me.

I just assumed he was NEVER going to go back there. And who could blame him.

After the two surgeries that it took to re-build his finger we were finely able to joke about it between ourselves and good friends. But every time we joked there was a part of me that was so very sad that we weren’t going to go back.

I waited a year and a half and then mustered the nerve to just ask if he would be willing to go to camp again by chance.

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He said yes! Without much reservation he said YES.

Before he had the chance to really think about what he had just agreed to I ran to the computer and registered us.

I know he did it for me. And I love him for it. What a gift. My husband is very thoughtful in general. He buys little things for me that he knows I like. He brings chocolate chip cookies home for me when there are some left over from a meeting he attended, he runs across airports to get my favorite Chicago popcorn on his layover, he reminds me to take my vitamins, he brings desert home for me when he has a work dinner at a nice restaurant and I sat home eating mac and cheese with the kids, he turns my shower on for me so it can heat up, he puts the toothpaste on my side when he is done with it and I haven’t used it yet, he starts the teapot for me to make tea. He is always doing thoughtful things.

Me, I sit in hospital sulking that I won’t be going back to camp while he lays there with his finger ripped off wondering if he will ever have a fingertip again.

And only a year and a half later he quickly agrees to go back again, for me.

Thank you, dear, I love you! Thank you for doing this for me because you know I love it. You are very good to me.

So we went again this summer. It was a blast, and thankfully, we returned with all our fingers and toes intact!