Heartbroken

I am heartbroken. I’m devastated.

It happened.

Just like I knew it one day would, but it happened way too early.

My boys asked the question we, as parents, thought would one day come. We had an answer all rehearsed, but “the talk” never goes exactly as planned, does it?

The older neighbor boy exposed my boys to some information that they were way too young to hear.

I guess I should be thankful that they came to us to verify the information.

Still, I’m saddened that we had to have the conversation at all.

Randall took Isaac home from church on Saturday night. I had Asher in the car with me. We put the boys in bed and Randall and I got in bed ourselves and Randall told me that he and Isaac had talked about Algebra in the car. Three days later, Randall confessed what they had really talked about.

Isaac asked Randall the question.

I heard Asher ask Isaac the same question all week long. They must have talked about it at one point before Isaac got The Talk from Randall. I was in another room every time so I didn’t feel the need to answer quite yet, but I heard Isaac ignore the question three or four different times this week alone.

And then it happened. The boys and I were on our way out the door last night. Randall was holding Asher in his arms, saying goodbye, when Asher blurted out:

Do you think Santa is real?

Can you hear my heart breaking?

I replied quickly that Santa absolutely is real. His name was Nicholas and a long time ago he secretly gave presents to needy kids. And we keep his spirit alive every Christmas by giving to people we love. I confessed that Randall and I were the ones who put the presents under the tree, but Santa is absolutely real and you can tell everyone you know that you still believe in Santa.  I do!

We also mentioned that it’s a secret you learn, and you don’t get to tell anyone else.

Randall confessed that when he and Isaac had the talk in the car on Saturday, he told Isaac, “Don’t tell Asher, or your mom.”

It was a short conversation.

Asher accepted the news and went on with his evening. I dropped the boys off at my parents house last night and went to volunteer with my 11th grade girls at church.

My parents said they were asking the boys about Santa and talking about the elves and the boys seemed pretty quiet about it all.

I talked to my girls at church about it. We went around the whole circle and each told our memory of the moment we found out that our parents were putting the presents under our trees and signing Santa’s name.  It’s a defining moment in every kid’s life.  You never forget the moment you learned the truth about Santa.

I honestly had to blink away some tears.

I was told years ago to pay attention to tears. Your emotions tell you what’s going on in your heart. I’m really trying to figure out the root of my devastation of this simple conversation I had to have with my boys.

I think it represents the loss of magic at Christmas. I think it’s the loss of childlike wonder at it all. I think that conversation last night means the loss of a huge piece of childhood. As I listened to my 11th graders tell their stories, the majority of the girls were in third grade when they found out for sure. Isaac is in second grade and Asher is only 5! I am so angry at our 5th grade neighbor friend! He stole my kids childhood!

I don’t know how to have Christmas anymore. I don’t know if I should leave some gifts unwrapped (because Santa doesn’t wrap his gifts). I don’t know how to talk about presents with my kids. I don’t know if we should not visit Santa this year. I don’t know how to do Christmas!

I know there are a lot of Christians out there who never emphasize Santa because they fear that their kids will lump Jesus in with all of the other fictional characters we talk about.

I guess there is still wonder and magic and mystery about Christmas. I guess I can emphasize the truth about the indescribable event that happened 2000 years ago that we celebrate every year. Maybe I should be sad that we’ve never looked at the virgin birth of a perfect son who was fully human and fully God with as much wonder as we look at a fictional, albeit jolly man in a fuzzy red suit.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Santa. I’m his biggest fan! But maybe our Christmases are just going to be different from now on but not for the worse.

But for old times sake.  Here’s Santa through the years:

I’m convinced he’s the real one.

Just last year my boys sat in Santa’s lap as he read their cards and wish lists together.

 

<tear>   <sigh>

 

All Season Long

Christmas season is officially upon us. We are less than a month away. My Christmas shopping is mostly done. Each year I seem to take on a huge DIY project. This year is no different, but hopefully will take less time.

I’m always doing my best to slow down and take in every moment of the Christmas Season. I want to savor every moment of joy with my family, every second of magic and wonder surrounded by twinkling lights and glorious scents.

Christmas has always been filled with magic for me. Magic isn’t the right word. Not hocus pocus illusions, but wonder and awe and…

I think our speaker this weekend at church gave me the word for it.  It’s indescribable.

Ben mentioned that the word we translate as “indescribable” was used only once in the Bible.  It’s in 2 Corinthians 9 that Paul gives thanks for the indescribable gift of grace which comes through Jesus.

When the God of the universe became human… there just aren’t words to describe that event.

Why God chose to send his Son to die, so that we could live… the whole act is just… indescribable.

That’s Christmas for me.  I can tell you about the warmth I feel in the glow of twinkling lights.  I can tell you about the joy I experience when I see the delight in my boys’ faces.  I can tell you about the contentment I receive when I’m surrounded by family and friends in a number of get togethers that will happen in the next month.

But the whole of the Christmas Season; the magic of it all, is just indescribable.

So Ben reminded us to soak it up.  Chew our food, savor each moment, and enjoy it.

Christmas is busy.  Things have to get done.  Houses need to be cleaned and decorated, gifts need to be bought, wrapped, and given.  For me, savoring the moment means I’m going to view my favorite things about this season through the lens of the indescribable gift of Jesus.

When I’m decorating my tree with my boys this afternoon, I’m going to thank God for the gift that they are to me.  I’m going to remember how Mary, Jesus’ own mother, sat back, took in the moments she shared with her baby boy, and cherished them in her heart forever.

When I’m thoroughly enjoying baking Christmas cookies in my kitchen, I’m going to slow down and savor the moments.  I’m going to thank God for his provision.  Not only does he give me my daily bread, but sugar and butter as well.

As I shop for, wrap, and exchange gifts this year I’m going to remember the gifts that were given to a little boy that would foreshadow the reason he came to this earth.  And the ultimate gift that was given to me because of his life, death, and resurrection.

I am dearly loved.  And so are you.  And I’m going to bask in the light of that thought all season long.

 

These Boys

Isaac came home from school yesterday and for some reason, he looked like he had aged 6 years.

I am so in love with these boys.  We’re definitely in a new phase of life.  They are both in school and my time with them is so short.  I get these boys when they are tired, hungry, and needing to get rid of a whole lot of pent up energy, but time is passing too quickly for me to dwell on the negatives anymore.

These boys are sweet, smart, full of energy and they each hold my heart.

In a season of gratitude, I am so thankful for my two boys.

 

uh… I think I just picked a dried booger off of the key board…

 

sigh…

 

What was I saying?  Gratitude!  Yes, Thank you God for my sweet, rambunctious boys.  May my time with them be well spent before they’re old and gone.

 

 

 

But…

Yes, I’m still tired.  Asher came home from school yesterday shouting a new word he had learned from our neighbor boys.  Ugh.

Yes, my boys wear me out and drive me crazy.

But… Isaac and Asher,

I will never tire of hearing the sound of your laughter.

I will never tire of playing with you.

I will never tire of your honest questions.

I will never tire of your beautiful creations

Or your wonder at life and the world around you.

I will never tire of your voice

Or your smile.

I will never tire of the way your cheek feels in my hand.

I will never tire of your endless imaginations.

I will never tire of holding you close

Or tucking you in every single night.

I will never tire of looking into your bright blue eyes.

I will never tire of watching you succeed.

I love to see the pride it brings you.

I will never tire of seeing how you love each other

And your dog.

I will never tire of reading to you

Or hearing your stories.

I will never tire of holding your hand.

I will never tire of exploring with you.

I’ll love you forever, my two boys.

 

 

Tired

Last week at church, we were told that it’s okay to be honest and raw in our prayers to God.  We were asked to take time and write down one of those honest prayers.

I grabbed my sheet of paper and held onto it for a minute.  I started to write something down, and then abandoned it.

I thought about it all night.  What would my honest prayer be?  God is the only person in heaven or earth that I know I can truly trust.  What would I have to say to him that he doesn’t already know?

Then Sunday rolled around.  I fought with my kids all morning.  I’ve come to the conclusion that most of our biggest struggles come with the kids are tired, sick or hungry.  I saw one of those big struggles coming on and quickly went to make lunch.  I set lunch on the table and Isaac and I had it out. Randall walked in the house just in time to hear me crying to Isaac, “I don’t know how to be your mother!”  I didn’t stop there.  I kept talking, surely scarring my kid for life.  Asking out loud if it would be okay to stop being his mother.  To stop doing his chores and cleaning his clothes and making his food.  If he gets to choose not to obey as a son should, could I choose not to obey as his mother?  I answered the question.  It’s just not an option for me.  I wish it were not an option for him to treat me as he does.

I tell you this, so that you will feel like a better parent.  Surely, you’re not as bad as me.  But I also want to tell you my honest heart so that if any of you have felt like this before, you know you’re not alone.  I want to know I’m not alone in this world!  Please tell me someone else has felt this way.

I sat down after lunch (avoiding Randall’s eyes at all costs) and got on my computer.  I typed this up:

 

I’m tired.

I’m tired of cleaning up after ungrateful kids.

I’m tired of making decisions for other people.

I’m tired of yelling.

I’m tired of screaming.

I’m tired of no one listening to me.

I’m tired of not knowing how to parent my child.

I’m tired of discipline.

I’m tired of rewards.

I’m tired of holding back four letter words.

I’m tired of filtering.

I’m tired of constant loud bursts of gas exploding out of mouths and other orifices at all hours of the day and night.

I’m tired of boys.

I’m tired of tears.

I’m tired of whines.

I’m tired of being mom.

I’m tired of the headaches.

I’m tired of the early mornings and early bedtimes.

I’m tired of homework.

I’m tired of synchronizing calendars.

I’m tired of my seat getting kicked in the car.

I’m tired of the interruptions.

I’m tired of stepping on legos.

I’m tired of sticky walls and sticky floors.

I’m tired of smelling urine when I walk near a bathroom because someone has found a way to pee in crevices that cannot be reached.

I’m tired of scraping toothpaste off the mirror.

I’m tired of forcing my kids to apologize or to say please and thank you.

I’m tired of hearing my son tell me he doesn’t love me.

I’m tired of suppressing the feeling that I don’t like him much either.

I’m just… tired.

 

I put the computer down and went on with my day.  Randall and I actually had a very nice (and greatly needed) date that night.  We left before dinner and spent the whole evening together.  It was lovely. I didn’t even realize at the time that the ranting above was my honest prayer.  But God answered it. He does that a lot; answers my prayer before I even knew I had prayed it.

The rest of the week went by and it was a good week.  Not all flowers and roses.  No rainbows or unicorns.  But a good week.  My boys and I made some memories.  I got more hugs in one week from my oldest boy than I have in months combined.  I wonder if he’s afraid that if he doesn’t hug me, I’ll quit on him…

Or maybe God’s working on his little heart, and mine.

Wonders of His Love

I had horrible homework habits as a student.  I told myself I worked better under pressure and always saved my homework until the last minute.  The fact is, I only worked under pressure, so I have no idea how well I would have done if I would have given myself more time to complete each assignment.

I’ve tried to start my kids off from the beginning with good study habits.  They have way more homework than I ever remember having (I don’t think I had any homework until 3rd or 4th grade), but we already have a routine.  The boys come home and have a snack and waste time for a while, and then it’s straight to the table for homework, followed by at least 15 minutes of reading (also required by their teachers) before they can play with friends.

The other day when the boys got home from school I told them to grab a snack and get started on their homework while I took a quick shower.  As soon as I got upstairs, I heard them outside in the backyard.  I opened my bathroom window to yell at them to get to their homework, but a warm breeze hit me.

I looked down to see that the breeze was rattling my Ash tree.  Dozens of yellow leaves danced toward the ground.  Isaac was chasing each leaf, trying to catch them all in a cup in his hands.  They proved too fast and capricious for his small cup.

Asher grabbed a handful of leaves tossed them in the air and managed to catch a couple of his own.

I’m so glad that my boys still notice the allure of creation.

Oh, it just brought a smile to my face and a peace in my heart.

Depending on how the wind blows, we usually have a couple of days a week, where homework takes hours and the boys whine and complain the whole time.  This day, was not one of those days.  We decided to head to the deck and read outside and finish our homework there.  This was our view.

Oh, the difference a view can make!

I dread the coming months, when the leaves are long raked away and our bare trees open up a new scenery of a bright yellow and green building and a chain link fence.  When it’s too cold to expend all our energy outside, and the homework tears start rolling again…

But that’s in the future.  This is now.  And now, I’m going to enjoy the view.

 

God, may these boys, may I never lose the sense of wonder at the beauty of your creation.  May we never put a list of chores above noticing what you are doing around us.  Keep our eyes open and our souls in tune with your spirit.  Thank you for giving us this amazing world.  May we hold on to these moments in the sun when the dark clouds roll in and the colorful leaves are long gone and we’re left with little but a chill in the air.  May we find new beauty in pine trees and twinkling lights. Remind me then that the table is not a mandatory tool for homework. That a change of scenery can flip a mood. May we remember that each new season will come in it’s time, and never forget to enjoy the wonders of your love.

Pumpkin Patch Outtakes

Our annual trip to the pumpkin patch last week was great, as always.  We love Rombach’s and it was an exceptionally beautiful, crisp, fall day.

But it was bright.  Not optimal for photos.  We got to the farm around 5pm and the sun was just starting it’s decent in a cloudless sky.

We got a lot of pictures like this one.

The harsh light made for lots of squints and dark shadows.

 

A professional photographer would know how to adjust her camera to compensate.  I, however, have no technical knowledge of my camera, and have very little photo editing skills (or resources).

The other challenge we came across was my subjects.

They are boys.

Need I say more?

They’re hams.

They’re fast.

And there’s two of them.

No.  Yes.

 

Yes. No.

No.  No.

Um… Is this as good as we get?

 

 

Either way, they’re mine.  And I LOVE them!

And (despite the poor lighting) this is an improvement from last year.

A Gift

Just a year ago, two boys (and their mom) moved in at the end of our street.  We met them one day as the boys and I headed to the court to practice riding Isaac’s bike without training wheels.  The boys at the end of the street were already pros at two wheelers and doing circles around us as we practiced balancing.  Within a week or two, Isaac was able to ride his bike with the other boys and they soon became friends.

We quickly crossed the boundaries of typical wave-when-you’re-at-the-mailbox neighbors, to neighborhood friends.  Now on any given afternoon, the youngest neighbor boy will barge into our house and immediately ask for candy (which I willingly give him (just one) because the more they eat, the less we have just sitting around the house).  During mealtimes, we have to lock our door, lest the boys walk in and choose to wait until we’re finished eating, thus distracting my boys from ever finishing their dinner.

What I love about the neighbor boys is that they are always outside.  They love to play and explore and run around.  That’s just what my kids need: opportunities to get rid of their endless source of energy.  My boys spent a lot of time this summer down at the court, exploring the woods beyond and making up games and just having fun.

Last Friday, my boys gave Randall and me a gift.  In a surprising change of events, Isaac was in a good mood when he hopped off the school bus Friday afternoon.  He ran inside and ate a snack and asked us to come see what he’d been doing the last few weeks.

Randall and I gladly grabbed a few balls and headed to the court.  We played a little tennis up at the subdivision clubhouse, then made a few shots in the basketball hoop.  Then Isaac asked us to come see the places he’d found within the woods.  The older neighbor boy found two little clearings within the trees and they decided they would call them “clubhouses.”

Isaac took us to see the biggest clubhouse first.  It was a clearing just big enough for a couple of broken chairs and a few boards to sit on.  Randall said that’d be the place the boys would go to drink in their teen years.  Randall even told Isaac that one day he’d want to take a girl back here and makeout.  I reminded Randall that Isaac had no idea what the term “makeout” means and he didn’t need to know.  Isaac was fine with that.  He was too distracted showing us the passages in and out of the small wooded area.

I’m not ready to think about the future.  In Isaac’s mind, this place is an imaginary mansion.  He kept calling it the “mansion clubhouse.”  You don’t drink and makeout in a mansion (shhh… don’t tell me what you do in your mansion).  In Isaac’s mansion, you sit on your throne and relax after a hard day of work.

Asher gave us a tour of the other clubhouse. It was much smaller, in a separate group of trees but had an emergency exit.  I loved hearing all about the things my boys have been imagining.  It made my heart smile.

Lastly, they brought us to a small vine, hanging off of a tree, where they could swing.  Asher seriously started humming the theme to Indiana Jones.

 

 

 

When I let my boys into my world a little bit, something happens in our family.  A bond is made and we all understand each other better.  When my boys help me cook dinner, or when I tell them all about the book I’ve just read, we connect on a level that brings us all closer together.  When my boys ask to hear about the stories I’m reading, or ask to be a part of my daily routine, I am overjoyed.

It was a gift, the boys gave us, to invite us into their little world.  But I bet it is a gift when I ask them to show me what excites them, just the same.  It’s something I never want us to grow out of, that’s for sure.

 

 

Isaac and Asher, please never stop including Mom and Dad in your adventures.  Let us always in on the joy that you find.  We love it!

Seasons

I’ve always had a hard time determining what my favorite season is.  It seems that as each new season turns, I welcome the change.  I dream of winter and the holidays and the family and comfort food that it brings,

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but when spring comes around, I am so ready for new life and flower buds and awakening trees.

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Everyone loves summer, right?  We get to play out in the sun and go on vacations and swim.

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But fall really must be my favorite.  It brings with it cooler weather (usually) and beautiful colors in the trees.  I absolutely love jacket weather, crunchy leaves, and pumpkins.

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Every new season brings the joy of change for me.  I don’t like monotony.  Though I know the benefits of it, I am not one for routine.

 

Asher started full day kindergarten today.

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He was so visibly excited and had no sign of apprehension.

So, now I find myself in a new season of life.  And I am full of possibilities… and apprehension, myself.

I was reminded to “run with endurance the race God has set before me” this morning when I read Hebrews 12.  But what if you don’t know which race you’re running?

People ask me what I’m going to do now that both boys are in school and I shrug and say, “We’ll see!”  God has given me some talents and passions and I want to spend my free time using those, but what will come of it?!  I don’t know yet.

I guess the verse says to run the race that has been set before you, not sprint to the finish line.  Maybe we don’t have to know which race we’re running, quite yet.  Maybe, in obedience, we just set one foot in front of the other.

I teach a class at my church and actually talk about the blessing it can be when God doesn’t reveal his big picture to us at the beginning.  If Paul had known what he’d encounter on the race God set before him, he may never have started.  Ship wreck, imprisonment, stoning, running for your life all to spread the news that Jesus really is who he said he was.  Even if God had just said, “Paul, you’re going to spread my story throughout the known world through a bunch of soldiers and other gentiles,” it may have been too much for him to handle the first day.

Today is my first day.  It’s new, it’s a change, it’s good and exciting.  But today, I’m going to write one word at a time.  Take one breath at a time.  Say one prayer at a time.  And tomorrow, I’ll do the same.

What will come of it?

We’ll see.