Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend.

We made gingerbread cookies.

We got in the ocean.

We played Monopoly

We were brothers- in sand and in water,

Brothers on rocks, in high and low tides.

We hiked and explored.

We aimed and shot and climbed and laughed.

We watched calf-roping and were amazed.

We set up Christmas trees at church with our friends.

We were together and so happy to be. And it seems right before my eyes my boys grew- inside and out. Handsome and strong.  Silly and serious.  Playful and thoughtful. Peacemaking and antagonistic. And stunningly beautiful to my heart, stunningly fast, wonderously growing… big and little- moments of thanks overflowing.

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Peace

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…

This has been a week of the Spirit’s peace infusing my spirit.

My boys happily went to Costco with me on Friday night.  And I was happy to go too. We got berry smoothies first thing and even in the madness of Costco before Thanksgiving we had fun.  They helped each other wait patiently for turns in the sample lines and said “please” and “thank you” without my prompting.  They played various forms of tag, races, follow the leader all with only minimal scolding from me to “watch out for others!” They laughed- faces bursting with smiles.  They imagined… they made me laugh… they made me proud.

I remembered back- to the days when they must’ve been 4, 2 and infant and Chase and Finn would do full running volleyball sprawls in the aisles of Costco… Kade bouncing in the bjorn- toes pushing against the handle of the cart in front of us.  Finny’s shock of blonde hair, light blue shorts with dark blue edging, bulky diaper underneath, full speed down an empty aisle and then hitting the floor superman style.  Chase cheering him on and then joining in.  Me, laughing… until it was time to chime in with my “watch out for others!”

We had fun- and home in time to snuggle on the couch and watch Clone Wars.  Being together.  Having something to do- doing it together- making it fun.  Knowing we are blessed and loved.  Peaceful.

Saturday we set up for the church Thanksgiving party… After a beautiful morning run and a donut stop for the boys.  Boys playing flag tag in the crisp fall sunshine, Brian and I moving tables and chairs- talking, working, quiet.  No rush.  Airplanes overhead, boy laughter… Just us- setting up for the dinner.  It seemed good, sweet, right.  It’s what God has given us- this church, these people, this place, these things to do.  These things I do with my husband, my boys- gifts from God.    Gentle, coating, covering peace that I know is the Spirit.

 

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A Week In November

This week

Mulders had us over on Monday for our first dinner at their new place.  I needed some Mulder-time and it was as sweet as ever.

Tuesday my grandpa turned 93.  We had home-group. I made lasagne Monday so just had to put it in the oven and straighten up.  Made Grandma Kay’s “everything cookies” and they were as big a hit as always.

Wednesday morning, Finny lined up and walked into his classroom without looking for me, without a kiss, a “see you at snack and lunch!”  Wednesday afternoon, a mom called me to ask if Kade could look out for her son on the playground… knew she could ask me, ask Kade. Wednesday evening Chase caught the winning touch down pass for his team’s play-off game.

Thursday, I assigned parts for our Shakespeare production to my 6th graders. Dermot walked guys from the city around church property- checking in. And in the evening we went to the Pepperdine women’s volleyball game, after a pre-game cookout in the parking lot.

Friday, Veteran’s Day. Rain on the horizon,  Brian took boys and dog  for cocoa and dog time early.  Then home and book reports, kickball in the yard.  All together we went over the hill for woodchips for the property.  Laundry, dishes, Shakespeare- editing and boys.  Mayos in the evening, last minute hang out.  So nice to just talk, laugh, about nothing and everything.

I’ve been a bit in a rough patch.  Out of sorts. Insecure. Grumpy. Self-centered. Blue. Irritable. Trying not to be. Praying still- patches of light, relief.  I read this:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  Butgrace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift…. speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:1-7, 15-16)

We who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.   (Hebrews 6:18-19)

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Fall

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Fall…

Santa Ana skies, quiet beach evenings, full days, sweet people, change and growth, work to be done, kindnesses shown, anticipation and routine.  The coolness of evenings with breaths of warm inland air dotting the days.  The fade of tans, the forehead holding homework, the eyes bright with wonder, bright with tired tears.  God’s loving provisions of peace and joy, of power and vision, of patience and work.  The moment by moment. And even in tiredness, in the whirlwindish fall, the Spirit’s grace to know the beauty of sitting by the fire, reading at bedtime, boys reports of their school day, my husband reaching to hold my hand.  Fall…

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Gathering Summer 2011

Having deemed myself “church historian” I’ve been wanting to put down some of the things that have happened this summer with our Malibu Gathering.

We had our first mission team spend an amazing week in Haiti.

Chase and Brian had a good evening of dinner and planning with the other guys on their Haiti team

We had a visit from Libby Little.

We laid sod.

We added a “big kids” tent.

Parents all began helping with Sunday school/ child care. And the ladies got together every Tuesday evening, talking, praying, and reading Roy Hession’s book on Esther.

We-or Brian- built speaker boxes and a podium. And we worked on the driveway to the “overflow parking.”

We got some hanging flower baskets, and  a fence for the “little guys” tent.

We had a “Learn to Surf Day” with Union Rescue Mission.

We cut down/pulled up a tree in preparation for a fall tent expansion.

We got a big screen tv.

After our August 21st Sunday we got 10 more chairs- bringing us up to around 120 chairs.

We heard teaching from BK, Renner, Scott, Lockwood.

Mulders bought a condo, redid much, and moved in, while Mayos, Holmes, and many students moved to new houses close by.

We enjoyed evening cookouts at the beach, after days of sunshine, the kiddos growing, savoring the chance to spend time together and deepen and strengthen new and old friendships. And we looked forward to all the travelers returning.

Sunday, August 21 took my breath away.  I knew that the fall, it’s routines and the return of students was coming.  I even knew that lots of college students were back already.  But I wasn’t expecting the explosion that Sunday seemed to be.  Suddenly Blake, Carter, Boogie, Ron and I were scrambling around to scrub off chairs that had been put up for the summer and Graham was trying to figure out where to have all the cars park. Beautiful smiles, glowing faces, happy happy greetings after summers away and around and new faces- already- shaking hands, learning names.  I stood for a minute unsure if was going to be able to keep it together.  Watching, listening. Unsure if it was great happiness or great panic that made my eyes fill with tears. What is this God has given us? It’s Him and His- so far beyond me and us… that’s all I need to know… what an amazing journey He is leading us on.

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Sweet Summertime

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Summer 2011 I’ve been neglecting my blog for the last month. I haven’t been neglecting summer though.  This has been a perfectly wonderful summer and I’m thankful for the grace from God to enjoy it thoroughly. What could be sweeter? … Continue reading

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My mom

Monday was my mom’s birthday.  If there’s someone who I should write about, especially on her birthday, it’s my mom.  But what I’ve found this week is that my mom is a difficult topic.  Not because there’s nothing to say but because there is so much to say.  Maybe for most every adult woman there is a depth of complexity in her view of her mom as the years go by.  I know there is for me.  And trying to put it into words, I am for sure going to fall short of who she is and what she means to me.  But I’ll still try.

My mom is courageous.  Mark Twain has the famous quote that “courage isn’t the absence of fear but the mastery of fear” (or something close to that).  When I think about my mom, courage is one of the best descriptions of her. Even as a kid I knew she did a number of things that took some serious gumption: going to Colombia with two little kids, taking on leadership roles even though shy, going again later to Kenya, things like that.  My mom didn’t let her fear stop her.  She went forward even though she was genuinely terrified.

My mom with Matt and I and Ebalia's family in Lomalinda

But now as an adult and a mom myself I understand more about the courage my mom lived.  She mothered with courage.  To be honest I think all mothers use a significant amount of courage every day, but my mom really did it well.  She disciplined us when we needed it.  She loved us always.  She didn’t rescue us but let us learn from our mistakes (she told me once that she prayed that I would get caught every time I did something wrong) and yet was there to help us pick up the pieces. As a mom she held firmly to standards that it seemed no one else was holding to and I understand better now how much courage that took. And when it was time, she let us go. Continuing to love us with grace and faith.

She has allowed my brother and I to be our own people and she loves us for who we are, even when  different than herself.  When I dated someone I shouldn’t have, when I was barely coping with life; when I let my boys pee outside, when I didn’t call as often as I should, or when I called too much; when I am completely self-absorbed, when I am trying too hard to please others;  when we make last minute changes to plans and when we ask for help; in all these things my mom has guided me with few words but lots of active help and unconditional love.   And again, the thing that makes all these things so courageous is that I know they weren’t easy for my mom, even though she made them seem easy.  They weren’t her natural tendency.  Naturally, she was terrified and worried and wanted to tighten her grip and control.  But she didn’t.  She doesn’t.  And she is able to continue to be both mom and friend, finding a way to show undying and unconditional love and yet let us go and do in our own way.

my mom with my second son, Finn back in 2004, I think

My mom told me recently that she and my dad want to come out this fall and stay with us for a bit, largely to help with the boys while we get the school year off to a start.  I was talking to her on my phone as picked up some burgers at a drive-thru.  I started crying right there as I handed the man my money.  She offered before I could ask.  She wants to come and just cook and clean for me.  Read to my boys and help pack lunches and pick boys up from school. She won’t criticize my bad housekeeping.  She won’t tell me all the ways I could do things better.  She will listen.  She will work.  She will love. My mom just keeps on loving me and loving those I love most.  And it overwhelms me.

My mom has shown me what courage looks like personified. Sometimes it is big and bold and obvious, but most of the time it is quiet and consistent and full of love. This is the courage of my mom.

My mom and my youngest son, Kade, this last winter

The source of my mom’s courage, though, is the aspect of her that I admire most: her faith.  My mom has a faith in God that is not abstract but is daily, strong, practical, real.

My mom actually lives according to what she believes.  The more I go through life, the more I realize that most of us “believe” lots of things that don’t change how we live.  We nod and smile, sometimes enthusiastically even, and then go on living in our patterns of fear and insecurity and selfishness. We talk about how “hard” things are, and use that as an excuse not to change, or do the hard thing. My mom isn’t like that. I have watched my mom’s life actually, noticably, significantly change based on what she learns and knows about God and His love for her and His desires for her life.  She actually acts on what God’s word says.

She loves unconditionally.  She doesn’t point out all my weaknesses.   My mom is humble.  She wants to learn. She is willing to try new things.  And then as things go, she does learn more and grow in new ways.

She practices what she preaches.  She finds joy in helping others, in encouraging others. She doesn’t need credit but is happy to go unnoticed.  She goes out of her comfort zone to show kindness, to build relationships.  My mom forgives. She doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.

My mom prays. She seeks God in her own life and in the life of others. I have no doubt that my life has been significantly impacted and altered by my mom’s prayers.

My mom has actually lived trusting God when she could see no way.  She has over and over again obeyed God when it hurt, when it flew in the face of all her human heart wanted to do, and felt should be happening.

My mom is consistent but not merely religious.  She is obedient but not legalistic.  She lives with integrity but is not judgmental.  She genuinely loves and trusts God.  And as a result she loves and encourages whoever crosses her path.

And as I’ve gotten older and continue to seek God and try to emulate my mom, I have a new and continual sense of how much courage and how much faith my mom has.  It’s hard to express a mother’s heart, and then even more to express a mother’s heart for her mother’s heart.  But I do know that God gave me an unthinkably precious gift in the mother He gave me.  Happy Birthday, Mom.  Thanks for all of this and so much more. I love you so much.

My mom and I this last Christmas here in Malibu

Here are links to her incredibly good blogs that show a little of what I’ve described:

http://grandmaslettersfromafrica.blogspot.com/

http://spiritualmemoirs101.blogspot.com/

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