15 March 2014

teen spirit

the obligatory birthday post for a most unassuming fellow. in case you haven't met our second born son, allow me to introduce: charles keats. 

he was born on the ides of march. ironically he is the most loyal of our bunch o' boys. 
and quick witted with a vocabulary that can get him into a wee bit of trouble on occasion

this year marks his entrance into official teenager-hood though he's been climbing the fence or trying for years now. he's an old soul. his flare for walking to the beat of his own drum inspires me. 

aside from the fact he's been a complete trooper when it's come to moving great distances, acclimating to new surroundings, taking one for the team over and over, he's an all around great boy. i'd want to be his friend even if he weren't my kid.

it's our family tradition to hold the 13th birthday in high esteem. a coming of age if you will. on this day, the celebrated chooses an adventure that is reflective of his interest and invites a few men to join along, men who have joined along in his journey to 13. our boy chose wisely. some men who have been with him since birth(or shortly thereafter) all the way up to one he just recently met, his sensational science teacher/soccer coach/cross country coach. 

as i think through the last 365 days, adding up the many changes, subtracting the friends he's left, adding in the ones he's reconnected with and met, dividing up all the hours in his day where he is away from home(so much more than i would like)and multiplying all the ways he has flourished as a future man, i come away with a stunning sum. 

god is faithful to hold this boy when i fail him. god is good to love this boy perfectly when i don't/can't. god is gracious to extend mercy when i am exacting. the one thing i know about this kid is that he is not an extension of his father or his mother-no child is really. he is indeed his own person. and that person is stunning. 

happiest of days to our newly minted teenager. you finally made it. it's official! 

and in case you lost count, i now share living quarters with two teenagers. two! lucky me.

yours ever so sincerely, 
gf xo

09 March 2014

Love and Basketball

"no one can perfectly love god unless he gives up his affection for perishable things...our free will is never so free as when it is a slave to god's will, just as it is never so servile as when it serves our own will." francis de sales

i called my sister from the road. i was barely out of her driveway, but knew i needed her to pray for me. it seemed that my little less than 24 hour getaway was going to cost me. 

you see when i called the mister to tell him i was on my way home, he said those words i have to come to learn are usually always loaded, "do you have a minute to talk?"

he proceeded to tell me that our darling 10 year old, the one who does the laundry every week for our family{save the 14 year old who insists on doing his own}tried to wash two, count them two sleeping bags-at the same time. want to guess what happened next? one word: toast. as in our washing machine is toast. burned. gone. wrecked.

it's not that i am tied to my 17 year old washing machine, the one we bought new when we bought our first house. i am sentimental, but i am also cheap. i don't like spending time or money on things that i shouldn't have to and this washing machine was supposed to last a few more years. operative word being supposed.

so here i was driving home, hung over, not from an alcoholic elixir, but from an emotional one. sister and i had stayed up into the wee hours of the morning talking about our shit, like anger and worthiness and love. and just like that i was being put to the test on all of mine.

fortunately i had a two hour buffer before meeting the boy who had slain my washing machine in the name of clean camping equipment. and i had my sister praying for me-and my potential volcano of burning hot anger that could level any community or tender shoot of a boy's soul. 

praise be. upon my arrival home, there was barely enough time to make a cup a coffee{remember i only had a few hours sleep} before we were out the door to his basketball game. by that time, i had gained that little nugget of goodness called perspective

my 3rd boy broke the washing machine. yes. but he did it trying to be helpful. he did it trying to be efficient. he did it because he was trying to serve me. he did it because he was trying to be independent. he did it because he felt comfortable with this gadget that he uses(or sometimes misuses)every monday/tuesday when he washing about 8 loads of laundry for our family.

my anger was gone. the clarity shown like that bright orb in the sky. i was able to see him and his motives and love him and not bowl him over with my need to vent. o, how often my frustration is taken out on my children. too often.

once we settled in on the bleachers, i watched as he played his best game ever. scoring two points. the most ever{this is his first try at basketball. the jury is still out if he'll really take to it}. and i wondered. what would have happened had i not had those two hours to pray and think? what if i had fallen into my old way of allowing my anger to spew onto my kid? would he have played as well? would he have been as confident on the basketball court? would he have had his head in the game? and hear me say, it's not about basketball. it's about life. basketball was just the example i was able to observe.

the day passed and no one mentioned the incident-that-happened-when-mom-was-away-for-19-hours. the mister was off with two of our boys, all day soccer tournaments. by the time 10 pm rolled around, and we were all under the same roof, the washing machine was the LAST thing i wanted to talk about. the mister sweetly kissed me good night and said, "hey, how about you and i go pick out a new washing machine tomorrow?" and another light went off. 

then it really dawned on me: nobody had brought up the incident. was this because i hadn't? how often does my anger spread like a wildfire? i fuss at a boy, who either later spews his anger on another brother or becomes the target for more ridicule. o, goodness. how have i been so dense to see how malicious my sin is? up until this morning, i had the notion that my anger was more like a "white knuckle it and pray til it goes away" kind of problem rather than a "pervasive and widespread" one. i always thought i would perhaps see the anger in my sons as fathers, but didn't see it as clearly in the here and now as they are still little sons. and towards their brothers. ah. ha. 

perhaps that's why i've had to scold the self righteous oldest boy or calm the tumultuous 10 year old, try to redirect the sometimes over reactionary 7 year old and soothe the 12 year old. gracious me. i am not too quick on the uptake, peeps.

this morning i snuggled in bed reading one of the 4 books i have going. the beginning de sales quote sparkled even more brightly. how often have i allowed perishable things override the eternal? how often has urgent robbed eternity? too often. and here's the thing. i am not even that captivated with perishable stuff. look at my house all filled with my secondhand finds. blood and chocolate strewn about like the pattern of a thrifted kilim rug. our once white walls now bear the fingerprints of our kids and others who frequent our little cottage-in-the-hood. geez. 

so my take away on this day, the first day of more daylight, how apropos: perspective can override anger-when you have two hours to think.

just trying to figure it out. 

as a follow up: in case you were wondering how we eventually addressed the broken washing machine with the boy. he accompanied his father to pick out a new one. seemed like a fitting punishment especially seeing how he'll be using it for a few more years-i hope!