24 November 2014

rough and rowdy ways

fatigue overcame me so i sat down to rest, but my mind wouldn't stop downloading information so i decided to look through some photos. my eyes stopped at these.

taken by a boy. of two girls who happen to have 10 boys between them. "lord have mercy on our rough and rowdy ways." 

these photos, a reminder from a few weeks ago when this dear friend came for a very quick visit because she knew i needed it.

she and i go way back. like before kids, before husbands, before stillborn babies and lay offs, before the death of a father and loads of moves. we have a history, but one that was begun and stands on one truth. 

i gave my camera to the 11 year old who got cheeky. then the 8 year old decided to photo bomb in the form of jumping out in front doing the splits. and high society ladies walked by looking at us and murmuring something under their breath. i am not quite sure what it was as i was literally crying with laughter. and it felt so good and so right. 

to be there in front of that display of mums laughing our hearts out. a suspended moment of bliss. forgetting all the worries of the moment to just laugh.

and as we did that rascally boy chronicled it all with the click of a camera. 

please tell me this is something that you do too. dropping everything. taking a break to laugh. especially now with thanksgiving on our heels.

laughter really does make the heart glad like good medicine. and when life feels daunting and unmanageable, good medicine helps. in the form of laughter. or a good cocktail. 

laughter has a way to break through.sometimes it sneaks up and surprises us like a boy who jumps in a photo at just the right moment.sometimes it's the reminder from a friend that you are worth dropping life for just to come.for a few hours. 

however it comes, may we always break for laughter. life is full and tragic and wonderful and messy and blissful. might as well laugh when you can. 


10 November 2014

this woman's work

last week i stood on a stage and gave the following talk before a room full of strangers and friends. this is my story. personal and honest. it's not meant to be a rubric or remedy. the topic of the talk was faith and work. this is about my work. 

let me tell you about what happened last week. on thursday my 13 year old jumped the fence after our dog jumped the fence. one made it over, the other did, but sustained a broken arm. the next day whilst i was driving this dear 13 year old to the doctor, i got a call from my oldest's son's school telling me he had fallen and needed medical attention. so my husband took two boys to see the orthopedic surgeon. and you know what? only one ended up needing surgery. that was halloween. a mess. and speaking of a mess.

i am nothing if not a mess. a fully flawed ridiculous unpredictable dormant volcano that could spew volcanic ash in the form of expletives at any moment or sit down cuddle up and read a loving bed time story. in other words, i am a mother. 

and as a mother, it's not like i planned to wake up one day and pull my oldest child out of one of the most desirable suburban schools in one of the best school districts in the area (which i did) only to move him and his brothers to one of the lesser desirable neighborhoods in the inner city (which i did). it's not like i decided that after nearly 10 years of homeschooling, the school the oldest would attend, was the one that just happens to be across the street from where we live and was once considered to be one of the most dangerous schools in america (which i did). that wasn't my plan. but that's what happened. even though i didn't plan it. i am not much of a planner really in fact...

as i was preparing for this talk, i sat in front of a white screen. for a like a long time. trying to think up what i had to share. i had so much swirling in my mind to share. to narrow it down seemed daunting and somewhat impossible, but as i was driving away from my childhood home with my darling 13 year old after tending to my terminally ill mother, i knew. 

i told him to look at the sunset in our rear window. and it came to me. one chapter of my life is setting. the one in which i am a daughter of a mother. 

i find myself in a surreal place right now. sandwiched in between taking care of the one who mothered me and taking care of those whom i mother. 

i remember when i was in college studying the women who were caring for their parents whilst caring for their own children. it seemed like that demographic was older. much older than 43. but here i am. driving in between tending to my dying mother and tending to my lively boys. and it's just well, weird.

i didn't choose to be somebody's daughter, but i chose to be somebody's mother. 

in my talk tonight i want to make two things clear. one, i think we need to change the definition of what, yes i said what, a mother is. i think we can all agree it is more that a woman in care of a child. it's more broad.

and here's why i say that. you see i have been mothered by someone, my friend jacqueline, who is younger than me, and she would love to hear me acknowledge that. and who does not have children of her own yet. being a mother isn't about hierarchy or birth plans. i've been taught about what makes a good mother by women who are without children in their care and may never "have" children. 

i consider a woman who seeks to leave the world better than she found it by remarkably and altruistically looking out for her fellow man and woman, a mother. that's broad i realize, but so is the job of motherhood. broad. not 9-5. there is no retirement package with a gold watch either. are you following me?

and the second thing i want you to know is i didn't become a mother because i didn't have anything better going on. it was not a last resort. it was a first resort. 

i approached motherhood, or rather it approached me long before i had my first child.

like most vocations, it was something i knew from early on, i am talking like 4 years old, that this was what i wanted as a career. to be a career mother. it was what occupied me so it became my occupation if you will. 

my story of motherhood is a little like a drunk fest. sometimes i feel like i woke up with four kids without any recollection of how they arrived (sorry, honey). and i feel hung over. a lot. i sometimes still feel like that 18 year old teenager waiting for the parents to come home. only they never do cause i am the parent. 

i think it is because i felt so much of the weight and joy of mothering even way back when i was working in the nursery at church, babysitting and teaching school. children have always held my gaze and my passion. other's children first, eventually my own. 

i have to say after living almost 16 years with children i feel no better at being a mother no better prepared for what is to come.

as a family, we hike. and motherhood is akin to a hike. adventurous and beautiful, but it can be horrible and daunting. and much like a tricky hike, once you reach what you assume to be the summit, you are shown that this is just a base camp. so you arm yourself with an extra tank of oxygen and continue the sojourn. 

when two of my boys decided they wanted to jump off the trail of homeschooling for a more traditional public school experience, i breathed deeply and went with it. and on those trails, one to high school, one to middle school, i saw a lot. much like a naturalist, i captured conversations and samples of family dynamics of their classmates. 

it continues to prove to be one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. being called "mother" by children who have painful relationships with their own mothers. watching my oldest son thrive in a school where he is challenged academically yes, but where he is challenge in even more beautiful and redemptive ways. ways i think he may be completely unaware of. like being a minority, having friends who are in pursuit of academic excellence like he, but who may be of a different race, socio economic background, living in homes with different family dynamics. 

i remember introducing some of his cross country team mates to pumpkin muffins. after they got over the initial shock of eating a food that was orange, but not neon orange, they asked me to bring this homemade goodness to each and every cross country meet.

i remember stifling laughter when another of his classmates asked, "why is there grass on my chicken?" he was referring to the rosemary we had sprinkled on his chicken leg before we set it on the grill. 

motherhood has schooled me. still does everyday. what i have learned is motherhood isn't about shaming-myself or my children. it's about instilling. it's about knowing what you want and knowing how to ask for it from yourself and your children. 

motherhood isn't about protecting as much as it's about equipping. motherhood isn't about always having the right answer. there is courage and wisdom in saying, "i don't know."

being a mother isn't as much about reaping as it is about sowing. it isn't about saving the day as much as it is just showing up.

it's not about hiding behind an embankment that can become our children. it's not about hiding at all. it's about being known. and being known can be terrifying. motherhood is like an excavation-digging to find treasure. to see good.

but here's the thing. some days, like a lot of days my thoughts on becoming a mother are less "hallelujah" and more "shit! what was i thinking?"

there is a tension i straddle between the lord's prayer of "thy kingdom come, thy will be done" and the promise, "it is finished". living in my neighborhood, being in my oldest son's school, i am reminded of how hard life can be and knowing how the story ends helps me metabolize hard stuff. i know that in the end the good guy wins. and that is my comfort as i raise men to leave this crazy world better than they found it. 

and the way i do that is by teaching them to root for the underdog cause guess what we are all the underdog and the one whom my boys and i follow was once an underdog. 

so i scramble around with my brood of boys, seeking justice which means i have to get up off my sofa and go out into the world. i aim to love mercy. so we leave our four walls and go out into the world to kick up some community. and my heart is to walk humbly with our god by stirring the stick in the proverbial camp fire. to light a torch for those who are apt to adopt a stranger as their mother and call her out at tailgating event. or maybe that that just happens to me. and boy and i fortunate to have that happen. i know that. just like i knew nearly 40 years ago that i wanted to be a mother, anybody's mother.

god used motherhood to make me a living witness of his goodness. especially when i find myself caring for a dying mother and boys with broken bones. 

this is my story-
and i'm sticking to it,
xo gf

28 October 2014


a few nights ago i had a dream. i was walking around my neighborhood,running errands, doing the mundane only i was completely naked. like not a stitch of clothing. on my body. at first i was shocked when i realized it, but then something changed inside and i felt empowered, emboldened. it felt necessary,not naughty. it felt purposeful,not perverted. 

i was recounting my dream to the mister. i asked what he thought it meant. he laughed thinking back to the weekend when our youngest had traipsed around our 5 acres of land in the country completely naked. he swam in the pond and reveled in the obscurity of being out in the woods. but my husband's interpretation of my dream didn't seem to fit. my dream seemed more metaphorical than literal. it felt more like necessary vulnerability than daredevil antics so i tabled it til i went to see about my mother.  

in many ways i feel like my mother went missing about 8 years ago. right after our youngest was born. and in many ways when she checked out, i forgot that once we had a tender and sweet kinship. she went missing and took many of my fondest and most tender memories with her. she's a hard one this mother of mine. stoic, yet loyal. fierce, yet loving. unwavering, yet generous. far from sentimental.

today i read to her. i opened several cards that were sent from my friends, strangers to her, telling my mother she was being cared for from afar. the vulnerability was too much for my weak minded mother. she changed the subject. 

i thought to when she came to sit in my hospital room when the doctor told me i had cancer. she asked the doctor if it was her fault, because she smoked. i thought of when she came to help me mother my first born and my second and my third. somewhere around the 4th she threw in the towel and our relationship changed. i guess she saw that i was in capable hands. my own. and she sort of stopped coming around. the only time i saw her was when i drove to her. and that cut hard. a deep wedge that i will never understand.

today i asked her what she thought of dying. if there was anything she wanted to say, any unresolved feelings or stories she needed to get off her chest. i know my mother's childhood was not sweet or gentle but i only know this by subtle hints. she hasn't let any of her kids in on much of the details. and in some ways she seems like a stranger to me. so we sat on my sister's sofa. and she gently asked if there was anything i had left to say. and just like that i opened up. like a storm cloud. but with gratitude. 

i thanked her for doing better than her parents. for protecting her children the best she could. i thanked her for all of the drives she made up to see me when i was in college. all of the care packages she sent. for taking me to europe and on family vacations. for always giving us her best, the best she could. giving us the most comfortable bed in the house when we came to visit. having cupboards stocked with food and never letting our dirty laundry hit the floor before throwing them in the washing machine.even now i can think of a hundred more things to add to the list.

it is clear to me, and i told her, that she did the very best she could. i told her even when she was not nice, but harsh and i had to politely, yet firmly tell her that she was not allowed to speak to me that way, that i know she was doing her best. and as i spoke she wept. and i wept. and i knew that she needed to be let off the hook.

as she slept most of the day, i read a book on (ironically) parenting. it soothed me and reminded me that we as parents are not the saviors of our children. parenting is more mundane than anything as grandiose. it's more about stewardship than saving the day. it's more about the grunt work than the frills. it's more about being faithful in the little things than grand gestures. it's more about sowing than reaping.

i left my mother and drove back into town under an ominous cloud. literally. i dodged the wind and made my way into the thrift store. boys needed stuff, and i their mother was the person for the job.

it hit me like a ton of bricks. two hours earlier i had been helping my mother find her way to the bathroom, and tucking her into bed and trying my best to sleep in the same bed with her. i had spent a mere 24 hours mothering my own diminishing disease riddled mother. now i was back in my adopted hometown mothering my boys by way of finding them the necessary accoutrements for their halloween costumes. what a weird dichotomy.

i left the thrift store empty handed and continued my way across town.upon my arrival, i was met with a tepid welcome. the boys were distracted with a guy named wallace and his dog gromit. i didn't take it personally. i poured a glass of wine and decided to shower whilst the mister tended to dinner. 

in the shower,it hit me. that same feeling that has been sneaking up from behind for the passed few weeks. a confusing, "i want my mother to be out of pain, but i want my mother". even now i cannot explain the confusion. it's not the wine. believe me. it's not the wine. i wept in the shower and thought of the vulnerability in seeing my mom's naked body today as i helped the nurse dress her after her bath. i don't think i have seen her naked since i was a little girl, and she and i took baths together every night. how did i not think of that til now? 

i finished up my shower, dressed and joined my 5 boys at the supper table. the mood was heavy. i looked at those eyes, my own eyes red rimmed. and i decided to charge in. no holds barred. no stone unturned. no story off limits. and my boys know. we live honestly and in light of the goodness of the creator who recklessly throws open the door and calls us all his and never picks favorites and always shows up and understands that our frailty is what keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. lest we do, we may forget that we too still need a little more time to find our footing. but never throws in the towel.

dear ones, i deeply and humbly thank you for all your care, well wishes, prayers, cards, chocolates and meals as we continue to live in this sad place of watching my mother metaphorically pack her bags for home.


14 October 2014

left behind

hey you. i've been ignoring you. on purpose. i've been thinking of all kinds of way to break up. to plead the fifth. to forget. to be too busy to remind myself of your existence. the truth is, well, the truth is i've come down with a big case of the scaredy cats and haven't had an ounce of will to buck up. i don't think i ever will. so i put on my crush eddie who sings, "just breathe" and here goes. i write to say...

yesterday, it hit me. we were fresh from the sandy shore where i purchased from my very favorite bookstore a blank journal in hopes of converting it to the day timer calendar of my dreams (after a short, but exhausting search which left me wanting). as i jotted the dates and blocks of days that added to a year, it hit me. it's very likely this year will bring the loss of my mother and the thought even now as i sit makes me well, sad. let's just say sad cause i wouldn't want to lean towards the dramatic like "life changing" or "shattering" so i'm sticking with sad-for right now. 

for the past month i've been sitting on a keg of a blogpost. my mother has stage 4 inoperable incurable lung cancer. she's 77. she's smoked a long time. but here's the thing, dear loved ones. when someone you knows tells you her mother has lung cancer, please don't let the first words you utter be, "does she smoke" like many of those who i've shared my troubling family news with have responded.

here's why. we all deserve to die-but grace, praise the lord, grace usurps that tormenting truth and allows us to relish, like a float down a lazy river, the love and courtesy of a saviour who says, "there is a better way-me." so yeah. don't start with the "i told you so" when someone tells you their mother is dying. it's just poor form. 

so here we are. me wrestling wild ass monkeys (aka my children). them winning. mostly cause i am older and slower and not as smart or energetic and let's not forget distracted whilst a couple hours away my mom is living with broke down lungs. it's all so surreal. and sickening. 

my sister takes her to an appointment and phones me to process the news. i drive over to see my mom on the days when my boys are in their one day a week tutorial for a visit with a doctor or take her to lunch or be shunned cause she really can't be bothered with me being all weepy all over the place. 

geez. could somebody make an app for that? the "schedule a break down app"? in between the taking the dogs out and driving the cross country team?

i was cleaning out one of the two cabinets i have in my kitchen (first world problems) when the littlest bemoaned his homemade biscotti was too hot (first, first world problems). and like a voice over the intercom, i heard my voice say, "honey, i am sorry. i burned the biscotti. i am having a hard time thinking of nana dying."

and like kids and life do, we just move on. down the road. to carpool and family vacation and supermarket outings. but in the corner of my mind, i think of the burying of the only person in my life who still worries when i drive alone or with my boys. who is that "call me when you get there" voice. the only person who can make me want to bang my head against the wall, but whose approval i think i still secretly and sickening wish i had (it'll never happen. just when she got used to my homeschooling and became an all "down with public school" zealot, i put two of my boys in public school so in her defense i am pretty maddening myself.)

so here we are. you, me and cancer. not my cancer (been there done that) or that of my Mister or my boys (thank god). but cancer that is taking away the only grandmother my boys have ever known. the one who always had a hot meal, their favorite food group-macaroni and cheese-from the box,like they like it-waiting for them when they arrived from an arduous journey be it from maryland or nashville. and i am sad. so let me just sit in that for a while. or for a long while. or probably forever because death or the thought of it kind of sucks. not for those who are dying necessarily, but for those who are left behind. 

that's it. so if you see me out and about and i look distracted or my kid shows up without his homework (or having studied for his art history quiz) or i forget about a meeting, just know. it's cause i'm sad. that's it. 


04 September 2014

eyes to see

i am writing to you from my kitchen. i am writing to you on the heels of an early morning bible study where a mom, one of my own heart, followed me to my car with tears in her eyes to tell me that i'm a good mom. i couldn't accept her words. i had to deflect. i write to you with trembling hands perhaps from too much caffeine or perhaps because i feel so compelled that what i have to say is sacred truth that i feel unworthy to deliver the text. or perhaps due to both. i write to you as a broken, flawed, hopelessly selfish daughter of a brilliant, trustworthy, perfect creator. wondering how can the perfect creator fashion such broken vessels.

here is what i've been stewing on since the wee hours of the morning when i read my soul sister's blog post about her wee boy. what if we as parents, friends, daughters, members of society in general missed the mark? what if we see things so skewed that we don't really see at all? as i type now, my heart is crying, "lord, give me eyes to see."

the impetus for this tangent began when i read this, a friend's boy kicked and hit his teacher. at first blush most of us would feel what my friend did, shock. without knowing this child and his start in this world, you may judge the mom and say, "get your child under control". but what you would miss is that this child's tenacious lashing out is what actually quite literally saved his life once upon a time. 

you see this boy was born in china, with a cleft palate. his deformity so great in the eyes of his biological mother and father, that he was left on the side of the road. to die. alone. let that sink in. 

my precious friend adopted this baby who was left to die. his strength and will, that same tenacity my friend parents albeit with much grace and admitting frustration, is what the creator had for him. built into him so that this boy would survive when he was abandoned as a baby. what the evil one meant for ill, the creator used for good. and 4 years later that same tenacity and will is what is getting his mother called into meetings to discuss possible behavior plans. 

here's the thing. i am not condoning this child's hitting. and certainly his mother is not, but what if we as a society stepped back from all this behavior modifying and thought with our god-given higher order thinking skills. instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, how about we think about the baby and how the baby is more important. 

i think about in my own home. i have a stoic, argumentative child who sees things in black and white. there is no margin for error. and he gets on my ever loving nerves. this morning i thought about his personality and how much i would like to change it. but then i wondered, what if what i perceive as his weaknesses are really his strengths? what if i am so busy trying to fashion him into what society says is happy, successful and promising that i miss the opportunity to enjoy him for who he was made to be? 

now let me remind you that 1) i know we are inherently flawed 2) i am not condoning letting people get away with being jerks. 

i guess what i am trying to convey is, instead of walking around judging and prescribing quick fix remedies that will make us all nice and safe, why don't we calm the heck down. take a minute to think and enjoy and question. are what we perceive as weaknesses maybe really strengths and what we perceive as strengths maybe weaknesses?

i give the example of another one of my children. he's warm, helpful, always gets paid loads of compliments by the way he interacts with little children and adults alike. his personality is sunny.  he's the one who notices when i get a new outfit. forget about half full, his glass is always overflowing regardless of the situation. he is a model kid at home and abroad. my friends always are shocked when they ask, "which of your children are you most concerned about" and i give his name. on the outside, he's damn near perfect. which makes me wonder, what is going on in his deep dark parts? will all this catch up with him? and what was once seen as his strengths be his demise?

today as i go about my day, i am setting an intention. to not be so quick to scold. instead of crying, "dear god, change them." to cry out, "dear god, give me eyes to see." 

"to see what?" you might ask. to see truth. to see beauty. to see the boy who walks in the door at the end of the day with a surly attitude as a boy who needs, nay, deserves my love lavished on him as much as the boy who runs back in to give me a hug before he sets off for the day. 

and i hope that you too will have eyes to see all of the love and beauty and brokenness and possibility in those with whom you surround yourselves. the friends and the foe, the neighbors and the co-workers. the children and the parents. if we all could just have eyes to see, wonder how much would be revealed and how much good would we see and how much change would come?

yours in word and deed,
xo gf

21 August 2014

losing and keeping

i began my 11th year of homeschooling 9 days ago. 7 days in, i lost my shit. my class roster read 2, but those 2 are filled to the brim with wiliness. like it's a spiritual gifting or something. you can only hear such things as, "let's play chiropractor" a few times when you should be hearing nothing before that metaphorical kettle boils over. and boy, mine did. it was bad. we had tears (mostly mine). we had slammed doors (only mine). and we had hair pulling (see a pattern?) and then i decided. "i'm done."

the next day the boys woke like sprites completely unfazed by the previous day's antics. but not me. i was worn weary wondering how the hee-haw i was supposed to get through the next 172 days with these raconteurs. but i've been taught to set an intention through the practice of yoga so that's what i did. for that day i set an intention to remember that this process of do-it-yourself educating is a slow and often arduous trail that takes you off the paved roads and sometimes into the brambles. and boy, were we feeling the stickers. so after 7 hard days, i cried uncle. and we blew off school. and went to the pool. 

we stayed basking in the vacant waters through two swim breaks and two sunscreen applications. and then we packed up and came home to read and rest for the rest of the day. 

the mood was lighter and sweeter and more gentle which is the tone i'm trying to strike with this business of raising men specifically schooling them.

so after a 24 hour break and a change in prospective, we began afresh. we each agreed where we were wrong. we each took the blame. we each accepted forgiveness. and just like that we launched back into those testy waters of school. at home. 

but yesterday as i swam with my beloved boys, the silly stress of unreachable expectations washed away. i let the chlorinated water clear away much of my shit. you know the shit i thought i had lost the day before. after 7 days of maddening cat herding? yep. nothing like a jump in calm waters to calm me. and them. 

so here i am. sitting before you with laptop in lap hoping that you'll continue to point me to the true north which is not the land of santa and other fairy tales and other unreasonable expectations. it's a place where truth hangs out and little boys are enjoyed and disciplined and loved and laughed with and encouraged and held accountable. 

and speaking of second chances and being held accountable, i am reminded of how many millioneth chances are reigned down on me and how i stand in awe of all that ridiculous grace from my Mister, my boys and my creator. so let's just keep on lavishing grace shall we? play nice. laugh more. and try to keep our shit together shall we?
no, the irony of our read aloud is not lost on this girl

yours in truth and much weakness,
xo gf

14 August 2014

are we there yet?

for some reason, and i don't know from where i got my information, but for some reason, i thought once upon a time that parenting was hardest in the beginning climbed to its height of difficulty when the child was around 5 and then became remarkably and uneventfully well, easy. i've only been at it for 15 years, but based on my personal experience and that of my friends with older kids, it.only.gets.more.challenging. 

yesterday we were trying to finish up supper for a family walk. as we tidied the dishes and swept the floor, one of our boys argued. not over the task of sweeping, but over a dispute that he and i had had hours prior over, well, i honestly cannot remember what. but he was what we in the south like to term "stewing" and what i mean by this is this boy who i adore cannot stand being w-r-o-n-g. and he cannot stand being called out. and when i do call him out, it turns into a back and forth like something from a courtroom. "what is your evidence?" "how can you prove probable cause?" "did you see the defendant lay down that towel and then leave the scene?" 

y'all. it's akin to that darling stage in a child's development when everything is "why?" only this go around the kid has a larger vocabulary, an arsenal of excuses and doesn't require snacks or naps to refuel their energies. 

i've been thinking a lot about how we never really leave a stage of parenthood, it just sort of changes. parenting to me feels like i'm that little kid starting out on a road trip with my parents. my small legs dangling over the seat. i can't see past the front seat, and i keep asking, "are we there yet?" o, sure. i should be all "enjoy the ride, look out the window. enjoy the adventure." but, really. all i want to know is "when are we freakin' going to get 'there' cause i'm feeling carsick? " wherever there is.  

i have decided to keep a tally of how often i get interrupted whilst using the loo. every.single.time. i go to the bathroom, i hear, "hhheeeeeeyyyyy, mom?" and guess what? my kids are too old for this. the youngest is 8 for crying out loud. it got me to wondering how much of life repeats itself.

for instance, the other day i was standing in the kitchen. the 13 year old walked over to me and hugged me. hard. and you know what? it was the best thing i have ever felt in my life. in fact i told him that his affection is the only gift he ever has to give me. for the rest of his life. he rolled his eyes as he shot a glance in his father's direction. "riiiiight." but i meant it. wholeheartedly. a hug from your toddler is precious. an unsolicited hug from your teenager is epic. a choice action. a reminder that in all of this screwed up parenting game, you still are in the game. at least. 

sleepless nights still come though you are no longer up feeding a wailing infant. you are feeding your fears of whether or not this whole thing will work out. 

fighting over independence? yup. only the littles who want to "do it by myself" are now 15 year olds who think they no longer need you for, well, anything. 

getting them to eat well, stay safe. none of that changes as your children get older. it just gets bigger. as does your love. they can do more so you expect more. and sometimes that leads to more frustration when they don't do the things you know they can do (and have told them to do like a million times). and then you remember they are just a kid after all. and you remember that handy and effective tool called grace. the grace that is extended to you over and over. and with all your might, you wrench that out to use on your kid. and boy, is that the best thing.

i remember gazing at my newborn with a love that felt otherworldly. yesterday as my 13 year old walked out the door, i felt that love. a hundred times stronger. only instead of it being one sided, it came back when he said, "i need you to be my mom." 

and when i am invited into the 15 year old's inner circle, a circle of one, i am grateful. he shows me what he's working on, thinking about and i cautiously tread because i never know when he's going to become incensed with me. and showing him any kind of affection is akin to court room, "permission to approach the bench" kind of exchange. never one to show his anger. i read an excerpt from a paper he once wrote, "i rarely become anger". what? is this kid really mine?

o, but he is. and so are his 3 little wild ass brothers. we have a somewhat long history with one another. a tiring history. and speaking of tiring. parenting older kids, with all the running around, staying up late helping them understand a math concept, shuttling around to this place and that-is just exhausting. so take cheer, dear young parents. you have time. so rest now.


12 August 2014

woo with flowers. keep with service.

damn it. i hate a cliché. like really hate. and i had so planned, so very much planned to get through this day without a blog post. i know what you're thinking, "o, you're still writing?" yeah, yeah. i'm a big ole slacker when it comes to doing things that do not involve keeping my little world turning(aka driving carpool and keeping kids alive and educated). but there i was driving down gallatin (beck's que onda guero

was written after he drove down that colorful road-okay maybe not, but that's my story, and i'm writing so). and it hit me.

and i knew i had to write this down for all you to read and for my boys to never read and for Mister to maybe read. 
holding on for dear life

today marks 19 years of wedded-what-the-hell-are-we-doing. o, and bliss. nothing but bliss, bless our young, little hearts that fateful hot-as-heck august afternoon in a college chapel without a/c. and here we are still digging one another and still well, together. now, that my darlings is a miracle. and i dare say had i married any of those rascals who wooed me once upon a time, this story would not have a happily ever after. i would be divorced because well, i have a way with men. a way of driving them crazy. and not in the catwoman kind of way, but in the 1-800-imgettingtheheehawoutofhere kind of way. because? you ask. because i am a bit of a challenge. in the truest sense of the word. 
case in point. who wouldn't want to be married to that scowl?

so this morning by dawns early light when the oldest got up to leave for his lengthy 5 minute walk to school, the Mister gave me my anniversary gift. now let me stop right here to explain to all you doe-eyed younguns who have been married for less than 10 minutes, this gift was the best gift.like ever. 

was it jewelry? no. flowers? no. i'll cut to the chase cause i don't even have time to filter through all the possibilities. and since the traditional gift for such a monumental occasion is a bronze chess set(eye roll), suffice it to say, that would not have bode well with me. for my 15 year old, yes, but it's not his anniversary. 

so now you're so wondering what did this man of steel give to his beloved bride on the morning of their 19 wedded anniversary. yeah? yeah? 

nothing. nada. zilch. because, he gave me himself which is all this girl could ever possibly ask for. um. well. yes. kind of. 

the man who knows me o so well gave me nothing because he knew what i really wanted was a day off. plain and simple. and o, so satisfying.

yes, sir. it was a slam dunk. the Mister stayed home from his work to do my work. he drove the middle schooler to school (which he does every day, but still!). he spent hours schooling the two littlest on their memory work, map writing, biome studying, latin conjugating, peter pan reading, math assessment giving. and i sat in bed sipping my coffee in my jammies til nearly 11am! not fancy coffee either. just coffee that i made as i listened to him help with their recitations. and show the boys a short video on charlemagne-who by the way from what i heard for the 2.3 minutes i left my room, was not such a bad guy. it was a decadent day. a treat. 
fighting off scurvy and starvation with a rousing watch of charlemagne and popcorn

and i sat back, i thought about all those "older couples" with their saggy selves who once said things to me like, "marriage changes the older you become." and i stamped my foot and said to them, "it sounds like you're settling." but they weren't, and we aren't. unless you consider settling, settling down and taking life a little less seriously. (and i am settling down a lot since i started taking some cool new supplements-wink wink).

but, lest you think we've always been THIS fabulous and always known how to give and accept gifts graciously, i'll remind you of a time i wrote about. the time that my poor, young, unassuming husband gave me dish covers on our first married christmas. the ones i said we needed, but who wants to get what they need on christmas? (i do. now. 19 years later.) when i spent the day crying in the bathroom cause i may have been prone to drama-once upon a time. but since then we have learned that sometimes the best gifts are acts of service. and the Mister excels at this. kindly, graciously and ever so patiently. he even admitted as he went out the door to drive carpool to triathlon practice, "i loved today." and my very tired boys, said, "when are yoooou coming back, mom?" cause let's just say, the Mister is a little more rigorous than girl friday-who allows popsicles BEFORE math is finished and allows snacks BEFORE lunch. 

what a fantastic 19 years it's been. this man is a saint. and i am one lucky sinner. 

xo in wedded bliss, 

18 July 2014

calm in the storm

i'm slurping my favorite iced coffee bought for me by one of my favorite boys. he took me out on a date. and proceeded to pinch the fire out of me when i told the cashier that we were on our first date. "that is a definite no no on a real date, boy." he winced when i reminded him, "and if you ask a girl out, make sure you have enough cash to cover the bill" (as i pulled out a fiver to cover our tab). 

across town the mister waits as our first born takes(and passes)his driver's permit test. i cheer him on, "mama's little DD!" he rolls his eyes. 

these boys are growing up at such a rapid pace. i have given up trying to keep up. 

3 extra boys find their way into our yard for a rousing game of soccer. as they kick the ball, i scour the news. the news that the mister tries to keep me abreast of over our dinner table. but i can not always hear him above the voices of boys laughing and arguing. i read a plane has fallen out of the sky carrying with it almost 300 souls. i think back to a few weeks ago when four of my favorite souls soared in a plane above their uncle's farm. i cannot imagine losing them. 

a timer on my phone reminds me of my intention to practice fixed hour prayers. i stop to pray for a friend who's in the hospital enjoying her second baby. i am reminded of a conversation i had with my boys as we prayed for her delivery. as we were praying for her, my boys remembered, "didn't she have a miscarriage once or was it twice?" it was so tender of them to know this as we have found ourselves praying for her sweet family in their highs and lows. isn't that the goodness of living life together? knowing one another when we are in our sunday's finest as well as sweat pants and unkempt hair?

i look over and see red lipstick on the littlest's cheek. what a fury our lives feel right now. moving so quickly, but i feel like the calm in the storm. and how is that possible? perhaps because i know the calm to my storm. 

i recently heard myself say to a friend who was bemoaning his singleness, he observed, "i don't know what's wrong. i'm following all the rules." i added, "we follow the Leader, not the rules." and my heart breaks for him. a man in want of a wife. jane austen so eloquently wrote, "it's a truth universally known that a man in pursuit of a great fortune must be in want of a wife." 

i see my blog feed and i realize that reading all of those perfect mommy mormom blogs are just a big fat waste of my time(and not good for my mind, body or spirit)so i make a big girl decision to stop reading them. time better spent doing something to make the real world a better place.

then my mind and thoughts swirl as i think about my father retiring from a company he built over 40 years ago. but as i remind him, "your grandsons see you in their skyline". his company help build the most famous of nashville buildings, the AT&T building aka the batman building. and every sunrise and every sunset, they see him. 

it begins to rain and my house is full of boys(some who are mine some who are not) it swells with sounds and smells that you can only imagine. the dogs are inconsolable. i need a nap. but life keeps happening. and i keep slurping my coffee drink purchased (sort of)by a boy who asked his mom out on a date(sort of).

that's all i know for now. i'll keep you posted on what's next...


01 July 2014

community does

there it stands. so stately and intimidating. the davidson county courthouse. even as i drove over, i was a little shaky. this is where justice is served and often where {i think of} bad guys are sentenced for their wrong doings. but not today. not in this case.

today friends mandy and eric threw open the doors and allowed all who wished to witness this auspicious moment in their lives, the adoption of their daughter. it was breathtaking. i am forever changed. 

and as i stood around those hallowed halls, laughing with friends, chatting, listening, i began to think. this is what community does. community...

waits in the wings til your name is called.

rocks and entertains chatty and sometimes fussy babies who are missing nap times.

rushes down to feed the meter.

gets shushed over and over again because they are carrying on too loudly for the other court rooms to actually carry on their proceedings.

weeps at the sight of your friends accepting the charge as parents.

and excitedly allows this to interrupt their previously scheduled whatevers.

because, well. it is worth it. showing up. to life and all it's highs and lows. this high will carry all of us for a good, long while.

congratulations, precious ones. and thank you for allowing all of us to see clearly this picture of how we are all lovingly sought after and adopted into God's family. sought and adopted.

see good,
xo gf