Sunday, November 24, 2013


I think I just went through a pretty major transition without really taking the time to notice and wonder in it.  And so, I'm paying for that now, just a bit.  I'm reflecting and processing a full year-and-a-half later.  There even might be a little bit of grieving involved.

Don't worry, I'm still completely outnumbered. That will never change.  You should have seen me in Winco last week.  I was the irritated mother of three boys who thought the grocery cart was a jungle gym or a platform for the X Games.  With teeth clinched I pushed the cart of food, "Really?  I thought these dreaded grocery days were behind us!" 

But, things have change, dramatically.  I've always known I would return to work after my brief "vacation" of the early-parenting-years.  In fact, I think I'm a better person when I am working.  The long days of naps and diapers and waiting anxiously for daddy's return didn't exactly feed my soul.  I need an outlet, so I poured myself into my writing. I also poured myself into my friends and into relationships.  I instigated and planned women's retreats for our church.  I was always inviting groups over to our house: bbq's and wine parties.  I found myself on countless committees.  It was actually a bit out of control, but I was getting a lot of friend time through all of this. 

Then I said yes to going back to work, part-time: teaching preschool, located at my older sons' school.  My youngest went to work with me.  No need for childcare.  The new creative outlet came a bit more abruptly than I had planned as I found myself finishing out the school year for the previous teacher, so I didn't have much time to process what this change would mean.  I knew I needed to achieve a balance, and so I let go of all my former commitments, but what really happened was a disappearance of my former-friend-life.  Yes, I was busy and meeting new people and families.  (And I have to say I love all these new relationships my job has brought me into.)  But I didn't fully notice the old friendships fading until after it happened.

It was at my book group a few weeks ago, that my mind wrapped itself fully around this revelation.   This is the one commitment from my former life that I refuse to give up: book group.  I need it.  This group is a lifeline to me.  They are a group of women that spiritually and intellectually challenge me.  They fashion me. They feed my need for thought, reflection, and friendship.  Together we go to places all around the world:  the Pacific Crest Trail,  Nigeria, frontier Wyoming, a women's prison, Russia...and as we travel through reading we expand our views and thoughts and experiences.  We are a support for each other in our current stories.  One of the women in the group marveled that so many of us met when we were all having our first babies and now most of us are all working again, our kids are in school, our daily routines have changed.  C asked me the other day, "What age do you want to chose to be when you are in heaven?"  I told him, "36. I  love what I am right now."  (Don't freak out, we don't get hung up on theology in this house.  By letting C control this conversation I stumbled upon a wonderful revelation.)

C said, "I haven't lived long enough to know yet what age I would pick."

Me, "That is very true."  Maybe when its all said and done I'll pick 70, or 65, or 99.  I have a lot more transitions and life stages to go, but for now I am very happy with the one I'm in.  I'm only a tad bit nostalgic for the days when making it to a friend's kitchen table to sip coffee and eat a muffin felt gloriously victorious: our kids screaming and fighting on the floor amongst the Sippy cups and plastic chew toys.

Perhaps there is no way to actually be cognizant of transitions when you are in them.  That could be the whole point of the word reflection, but I strive to be a person of noticings, and so I wish I'd noticed a bit more while I was in the whirlwind of changing from the early-years to the elementary years, that's all.  I do know I did it, and I do know it is over.

I think I'm almost done grieving some of the things I've lost from the former life, mainly relationships that have faded and evolved.  What I seem to be left with are some really deep connections that I see lasting a lifetime (relationships that go beyond diapers and potty-training), and a career that is extremely fulfilling and life-giving to me.  I also have three little men who are becoming more and more independent: which has always been my parenting goal.  And I am getting more time again with the man I started this all with, my husband.  One day there will be another huge transition and we will find ourselves back to where we started: just the two of us.  I could get almost giddy about this, but I won't because right now I'm 36 and the mother of three active, crazy, loving, smart, interesting boys who leave me exhausted and fulfilled all at the same time.  When I was 18, I was so unaware of the layers that life would bring.  Now I'm getting a small glimpse of what living means, and I continue to love the gift of life.  I am thankful.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Best Summer Ever

Let's not forget how good the summer of 2013 was!  I hope when my husband and I are old we remember this blissful period of play.  There were several reasons this summer tops our list, but the main is the age of our kids!  They are getting so independent and they have learned the art of playing together well. 

This was the first summer we went to the family cabin, and I wasn't fearful that one of my children might drown.  Two of the three children are swimming well, and the 3rd is smart enough (and fearful enough) to always want his life jacket on.  I could truly relax. I could sit on the deck and look out onto the lake, as my oldest maneuvered his way into the rowboat for a morning of solitary fishing.  I laughed at my middle confidently working the kayak out into the middle of the lake and then getting mentally suck and needing me to come out and talk him through it and back to shore.

There were moments this summer when I was all alone, quiet in the house because all three boys were out and about: in the woods, playing basketball in the shop, racing the sprinklers through the garden, or giving themselves hippie mud treatments.

This was also the first summer my husband didn't work an extra, odd job, or work on a house project!  This was also glorious.  Summer was ours to fill.  We filled it with mid-week camping trips.  Did you know you can have an entire campground to yourself if you go on a Wednesday?  We went on spontaneous beach excursions!  Being a native Oregonian, I forget that the Oregon beach is actually warm and sunny and should be visited more often in August.  It is way cheaper than Hawaii and just as nice.

The last sign that we did summer well, is that we are all really ready for the next season and for school.  I mean, we all wish we had just a little more time, but deep down I know seasons are only good when they don't last forever and when you get a chance to miss them and wish them back.  A schedule will be good.  It is time for their brains to reengage and be pushed to the next level.  They are missing their school friends, and excited for new teachers.  There is something to be loved about September: the yellow school buses, school yard noise, cooler mornings, and fresh apple/pear crisp.  We are ready for fall.

Its all good.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Morning With The Quakers

Five years ago, my husband and I left a lot behind.  We left our home of 14 years.  In those 14 years we got married, finished graduate work, had two of our three children, established careers, and had been part of the Quaker church.

Five years ago we needed a change.  I'm not sure we knew this at the time, but in retrospect our move was a good thing.

Initially I still felt a connection to the Quakers we'd left behind.  I was working on a book project that kept me in contact with likeminded women, and my grandparents were still back in Newberg.  My grandparents had been deeply involved in the Friend's church their whole lives together, raised my mom that way, and had been instrumental in my decision to go to George Fox University.  I admired my grandmother.  She had been welcomed and trusted by this denomination.  She had served as an elder, something that never happens in most Evangelical Christian denominations.  My grandma was a woman who sought God in her life and knew the value of group discernment. (When I doubt my faith I often think of my grandmother.  Her faithfulness renews my belief in a loving God.)

I was not raised in the Quaker church, quite the opposite, but my mom still passed on some of the simple Quaker truths to me in her parenting.  When I left my childhood home for college, I found a group of believers who affirmed my giftings and nudges of the Holy Spirit.  My viewpoints were challenged, and I found myself digging deeper into my understandings of what it meant to be a Christ-follower.

My husband had been raised in the Quaker denomination and became my partner in this new way of looking at the world.

When we moved and left Newberg, I don't think we realized how much we would come to miss the Friend's church and the values it would teach to our children.

In the last five years we've continued to grow spiritually and in our worldview.  All our experiences and relationships have deepened our ideas of what it means to be the Light.  I regret none of them, nor do I regret or question our move.

But lately we've felt uninspired by church and church community.  Organized church makes us routinely uncomfortable and continues to look awkward and strange.  Maybe I'm seeing church more and more as an outsider, not sure. 

So on Sunday we did something very daring, daring because visiting a new church where you know no one is really quite scary...even if you've grown up in a church.  We drove to Eugene with our three boys, forgetting to prep them about Open Worship/Quaker silence.

We pulled into the sparsely filled parking lot and I instantly felt we had made a mistake, "We are totally going to stick out."

My husband laughed, "Well, you did wear bright pink."  Nice.

We walked on.  We were kindly greeted at the door and several people gave reassuring smiles.  The pastor came up to us and told us he'd love to speak more to us after the service.  I asked if there was anything for the children during church, nope.  This could get interesting.

There was nothing especially good-looking about this group, and there was plenty of white hair present.  But the contrast to our regular Sunday place of worship was strangely comforting and welcomed.

An older man took pity on us and brought each of our boys a clipboard, paper, and markers.  They were elated.

The singing was simple.  The overhead was never in sync.  But there was a calm, and that calm and spaciousness in worship made it impossible for me to sing any of the songs without tearing up.  So I just listened and looked.  I heard C's sweet voice singing the unfamiliar tunes, tunes he didn't know, but tunes I knew from memory.  His desire to sing and contribute also touched me.  Our oldest clapped after each song and was actively listening to those sharing their prayer requests and struggles.  We had two extended times of quiet and it was in these spaces that my soul was fed.  In a strange way, my hope in God's love was restored in those moments of stillness, and when the pastor stood and really meant what he asked, "Are all hearts clear?"  I felt that I was a welcomed member of this group of God-seekers.

My little family of men left our morning with the Quakers strangely refreshed.  I told my husband of my experience and he said he felt the same way.  When I asked C what he thought he said, "I loved it!"  Did he sense the same things we had?  I guess Sunday was a God-sighting for me.  I felt the Spirit of God in a nostalgic way, a way in which reminded me of my 20's and greatly reminded me of my grandma.

My grandma died this last March at 99-years-old. One can't get too upset when a loved-one lives to be 99.  She was more than ready, and we were too, but I still miss her.  I still miss sitting next to her during Quaker worship and seeing her slowly rise to my left, hand shaking a bit as she felt God urging her to speak to the collective.  I guess she was a bigger part of my understanding of God than I've let myself comprehend.  Probably because it would be just too much for my emotions to handle.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Middle Childhood: Loving It

Apparently ages 6-11 is considered middle childhood, and I must say I am a fan.  I still have one tiny toe left in the preschool years with A who is 4, but he's a fun four...or maybe I'm finally a fun mom of a things are fairly up at this household.

Actually, I think I've done a good job of being present in each stage and loving and appreciating what family means in each developmental moment.  However, I do feel like I emerged from a cave a few years ago when no one still needed naps, diapers, meltdowns etc.

Yesterday was one of those perfect middle childhood days.  We all woke happy.  We piled into the minivan and took my oldest to piano.  My younger two played with the piano teacher's grandkids in the backyard while I sipped coffee and visited with their mother.  Then we were off for the berry field.  The sun was out, so were all the mountains.  My boys can now recognize the Three Sisters, Jefferson, and Mt. Hood.  They always check on Mary's Peak, and they ask questions as we drive like, "Which way is Kansas?"  I point and ask, "Is that East or West?"  They answer, "East!"  Then they discuss how long it will take to drive to New York, how long to fly, how long on a train etc.  I love this growing awareness of the world around them.  I take them on back roads from one little rural town to the next.  I point out whose farm we are passing, and then a cheer goes up when I say, "There are grandpa's fields!" I point out Willard's farm.  Silent awe.  (Willard is the coolest guy they know because he's 99 and was a farmer and worked hard his whole life.  I love that that equals cool to my boys.)

We then head into the Pharmacy for birthday gifts.  B had brought his wallet which is full of his earnings over the last few months:  ten dollars.  We don't pay real good at our house. :)

After picking out a birthday present, he looked for something special for himself.  At first he was sure he wanted the retractable pirate sword and practiced some convincing death scenes in the toy section.  I continued my shopping as the boys looked over possible purchases.  Then B rounds the corner with the look of pure love in his eyes: he's cuddling a small stuffed kitten, "This is what I want!"  I couldn't have been happier. I  love that there is still a little boy in him that wants a stuffed toy.  All the sweetness in him came spilling out in that moment, and I loved him for it.

"I think that is a perfect choice!"

We headed home and he pondered what would become his new friend's name.  He settled on Douglas.

Later that night we headed to a summer party at a local farm:  movie night on the lawn complete with cotton candy and popcorn.  The kids ran barefoot with their friends through the tall grasses that surrounded our outdoor theatre.  Dusk came, and we all settled into our sleeping bags and lawn chairs.  Wreck-It Ralph played.  B laughed at all the jokes.

These are the memories I want my children to carry with them of this period called Middle Childhood.  I know these are the ones I will never forget.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On-Line Learning: We're In Trouble

Back in 1995 when I entered the glorious world of college, there was no Internet.  There was no Amazon for book deals.  No one read anything electronically.  We all ordered huge stacks of dusty books from the library, making the library the hub of social connection.  No cell phones.  No e-mail.  I used my pocket calendar to keep track of all my deadlines and important social events.  I have no regrets. 

I remember when the Internet was unveiled.  I didn't really even get it.  We all got Foxmail accounts and we'd all go into the basement of the GFU library and chat with each other...yep, with all the other 20 people who happened to be sitting down in that windowless haven.  You'd send something witty to the guy sitting in the far corner and you'd look up to see his shoulder shake with laughter and wait for his comeback.  He'd push send and then stop and look up to see you read it with your own eyes.  A few users had Internet access in their rooms; we all thought they were weird for spending so much time in their rooms on their computers.  What an isolating concept.

Well, I'm back on campus...or not really.  For my current career, I'm required to pursued some collegiate professional development.  So, I'm taking an on-line class.  I was very excited to do this because I didn't want to be bothered with driving to class every week.  It fits with my busy-adult-life.  And I'd say I am learning content.  But when I compare it with my traditional undergrad experience, it really isn't the same and should not be viewed as such.

I find myself not asking my professor any clarifying questions, even though there are plenty I could ask.  I'm not even sure how many of us are in the class.  We were all supposed to introduce ourselves at the beginning, and after reading about five intros I lost interest.  They all started blending together and seeming a bit meaningless...I mean, I'm not actually going to be in relationship with these virtual classmates.  (FYI:  We take timed tests on-line.  Each time I take the test I find mistakes in the questions and there are usually a few multiple choice questions that have at least two possible answers, but I never bring this to my professor's attention because what does it really matter. We don't have a real working relationship.)

We read PowerPoint lectures on-line.  We take part in required class discussions.  Each week we are supposed to respond to our professor's question and then we have to make one comment off of someone's original post.  After week three I have found these responses fairly uninspiring.  Each person basically rewords a paragraph in our book just enough so they won't be accused of plagiarism.  I finally decided to shake things up a bit and make the most out of the class.  I put my soul into a discussion question.  My husband finally piped up, "Are you writing a blog post?"

"Ha!  Basically.  I'm just trying to write something interesting that others might enjoy."  Don't worry, I got the required regurgitated information in there.

No one has responded to my post, probably because it ended up being 10 paragraphs long and not a simple paragraph they could skim and write a thoughtless response comment .  And they probably all find this Rebekah Schneiter who's profile pictures is a yellow smile, really annoying and over-the-top.  I'd probably find myself annoying too.

I just got done reading a memoir called, "The Year of Learning Dangerously," which is about a mom who decides to homeschool her daughter without a real concrete plan, and finally ends up contracting her child's education out between a math tutor, French tutor, and on-line school.  She writes about the on-line experience in glowing terms and how connected her daughter feels chatting with all her virtual classmates.  I have to admit I wanted to gage a bit.

Guess isn't real.  It doesn't even compare.  Something huge is lost in this style of learning.  Maybe you don't know what is lost if you've never experienced the real deal.  Or maybe I just went to an incredible college..that could be it.  :)

I connected with most all of my professors. I felt like I mattered and that they had a real interest in my success.  I got to know my classmates and cared about what they shared in class.  I didn't agree with a lot of what I encountered when I first entered college, but this was part of the process of growing and changing.  These were real relationships and because they were real and mattered their opinions mattered and I listened, evaluated, assessed my own beliefs and changed mine when I realized my ideas weren't really true or relevant to who I was becoming.

None of this would have happened on-line.

Oh its been convenient during this stage of life, but the whole movement toward on-line-learning makes me sad.  I'm glad my boys sit in classrooms with other kids and learn in relationship.  I hope that one day they move out of my house and into a dorm, and that they have to set their alarms and walk to an actual classroom.  These things are fairly essential in my opinion.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Motherhood and Grace

The longer that I'm a mother the more I realize that I need grace, grace from my kids and from others...and from God.  I'm far from perfect.  I blunder along for sure.  I need encouragement and community.  I need honesty with close friends and lots and lots of laughter.

This mothering job seems too much at times, as I realize the lasting imprint I leave on my three sons.  What will they remember of me?  Will grace wash away those flub-up-moments?

I think Nancy B. Kenney's latest anthology is titled appropriately, Miracles and Moments of Grace. Inspiring Stories from Moms.

With Mother's Day approaching it could be that perfect gift to another mother.  The book is filled with short stories that really do bring encouragement, that you are not alone, not the only one feeling or thinking that about motherhood.  It is not just perspectives from new moms, but covers a wide spectrum of motherhood.  Some of the stories are quite heavy dealing with miscarriages and life-altering accidents, and then others are quite light and chapter entitled, "The Dirty Days of Summer," is more humorous, but still deals with me learning how to hold my own plans loosely as I journey through motherhood.

It is a group of lessons I'm proud to be included in.

Monday, April 8, 2013

My Spiritual Mentor

It only took me until my grandmother was 99 and gone to realize that she has been my spiritual mentor all these years.  Funny how the passing of someone makes you stop and reflect and realize truth.

My mother asked me to speak at her memorial.  I could have shared numerous memories and stories, some very funny and some more sad.  Some of our interactions were good, and actually some of our interactions were a bit bad.  (I regret the times I got mad at her, but we always made up.) I loved her very much, and should say I still love her since that continues on even after a person dies.

In my college years I began to realize how alike we were.  I think if we had both taken a personality test together we would have come out the same...or pretty close.  We actually have a lot in common, even marrying men with the same temperaments.  We share many of the same talents and hobbies, and both of us thrived during our college experiences.  We both love writing, reading, and learning new things.  We both have/had the same passion for travel and for connecting with friends and maintaining relationships. We also both were and are really good at speaking a bit too bluntly and sometimes saying things we regret.

During the memorial, a film of her life was made.  My cousin who was sitting next to me leaned over and said, "You look a lot like her."  That only brought forth more tears.  (I'm not sure if we look that alike, but our faces have a similar shape.)

The other way that we are alike is in how we connect to God: through our writing.  I have a whole chest full of journals:  letters and prayers to God and so did she.  We both tear up easily when we talk about the moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

So instead of sharing memories at her memorial, I shared her spiritual significance to me personally.  She was a woman who was always looking for the movement of the Holy Spirit and how she could be involved in that movement.  Who could she help, hug, encourage, speak to, serve, spend time with, etc.  She was always focused on the question, "What now?"

That is a question I find myself asking daily, and now when I ask that (a simple act of surrender really) I will see her face smiling at me, such a sweet face it was.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The World Needs More Middle Children

I was warned to never have three children, how horrible I was to even consider doing such a thing...creating a middle child!  Well, I thankfully ignored the cautions and had my three-kid-family.  I've decided what the world needs more of is middle children.  My experience has led me to believe in middle children.  They are the negotiators, they have high intra and interpersonal skills, they communicate between all members of the family, they are sensitive and intuitive.  Of course, this is not based on any hard science, just observations of my own middle son.  (Of course my best friend growing up was a middle child and I happen to think she is rather fantastic.)

I would like to share some of the conversations I've had lately with Mr. C.

1.  "Mom, we just spent our whole time outside making Jesus crafts!"

"What do you mean, C?"

C holds up an acorn filled with dirt and grass, "See, all our crafts had to do with earth and life!"

2.  Listening to a new song on the radio, "Mom turn that down.  Do you hear how sad that is?  He loved her, but now she's with someone else.  I don't think that is very nice of her, but he is calling her baby, so that's not very nice either."

3.  "Mom, I really hope to marry a good girl.  I just hope she doesn't do drugs."

4.  "I want to marry a girl like you who is smart and beautiful.  I think I want to marry a girl who goes to college."  (Yes, please!)

5.  "I'd vote for a woman President."

6.  "C, how was school today?"

"Great!  Except N sad that girls were stupid, and I don't think that's very nice because Mrs. Hawkins is a girl and I think it might make her feel bad."

"C, how was school today?"

"Great.  I always love school."

7.  "Mom, why did God make me such a good snuggler?"

This list goes on.  I love my little verbal processor, and in a house full of boys I treasure it!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Growing Up

I've felt out of the cave of the early years of parenting for a while now, and I must say it is quite glorious!  I don't need a daily nap.  I feel like I get good time to myself, since my boys play pretty well together, and I haven't purchased diapers for over a year. Everyone is able to communicate in English what they need and want, and we are out of the temper tantrum stage.  (No one does the stop-drop-and-roll in grocerry stores.)  I'm counting this as a parenting victory, but it is also a sign of growing up.

The other day I realized that it had been months, maybe a year, since we had a little boy climb into our bed, snuggle down, and fall asleep for some good, early-morning-snuggle.  Those early mornings were anticipated and dreaded.  I never slept very good after one, two, or three little boys tumble in, but there was also something special about it.  Sadly, I forgot to be attentive to its end.  And truthfully although it caused me to be a bit nastalgic, I'm OK with it being over.

My oldest turns eight tomorrow.  Last night after his bath I placed a towell around his shoulder,s like we've been doing since his birth, and he made a request he hadn't made for some time now, "Can you carry me like a baby?"  Perhaps he senses that this request will soon be impossible.  He's much heavier and longer now, but I scooped him up in my arms, kissed his cheeks, and said, "I'm carrying you like a baby!"  We laughed.  It was our moment.

I think that I can officially state that the "short years" are over.  I wonder if my writing friend, Jen Rouse, feels the same.  She has a blog called The Short Years.  Does she feel like she needs to start another blog for the next stage?  The Middle Years?  The Crazy Years?  The Kid Years?  The Years When Our Kids Still Like Us?  That seems to be the years we are in.  We all like each other.  C announced with pure joy, "I really like A. He's fun to play with."  This pleases Dad and Mom much.  The older boys didn't always view A as an equal play partner, but now that he's a boy, he's in!  B even stated, "Yeah A even comes up with good ideas when we are playing."  Love it.

The Schneiter Boys seem to be right in the perfect middle of development.  They still play imaginary games, still play with trucks outside, but they also ride bikes, create forts, go on frog hunts, watch soccer with daddy, are learning to play the piano, are on sport teams, know how to swim, can make their own snacks, plan their own birthday parties, research toy purchases and save up....and find no interest in the opposite sex!  Love this part.  I'm hoping they are late bloomers and wake up to the beauty of girls later than earlier.  I have a feeling when this hits, Mom and Dad won't be so cool anymore, and we will be entering a new phase: The Give-Me-Space-Stage.  I'm not ready for that one yet.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Risky Parenting

The story of Abraham, and his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac on a pile of stones for God, is one that any parent should be totally uncomfortable with.   Frankly, I just would never have gone that far.  However, lately in my parenting journey God has continued to bring this Old Testament story to my mind.  He’s been calling me to hold up my parenting to this example that is in scriptures for us.  Am I holding my children loosely?  Am I authentic in my spiritual journey with them? Am I trusting God enough to leave my children in his hands?

I am sure many Christians would find our family's parenting methods risky.  We do not do family devotions.  We do own a children’s Bible, but let our kids choose to read from it just like any other children’s book in our collection.  We do not regularly pray before each meal or even at bedtime.  We let our oldest chose to not attend Awanas this last year.  We go to a church and we are grateful for our church community, but there are Sundays when we choose to enjoy pancakes and a slow, leisurely morning because our weeks have been full of chaos and rush.   

They also know that really bad things happen in our world.  We were open with them right from the start of their grandma’s cancer diagnosis.  There was a lot of genuine, fervent prayer spoken by three young boys during all her treatments.  They know that war happens, and that there are always negative consequences in war even if the end seems justified.  We don’t avoid topics of death.  We often tell our kids that we aren’t happy with social injustice; that it is not right and that we are uncomfortable with the fact that God does not appear to stop it.  We talk about our responsibility to be Jesus here and now, to be the light, to be the heroes.

Our best spiritual conversations seem to happen late at night or when we are driving.  One such talk happened when B announced from the back seat, “I want to get baptized.” 

We hadn’t talked about this, been pushing this, or been doing any intentional education about the obedience of baptism.  Actually, my husband and I both have Quaker backgrounds and don’t view the practice of baptism necessary in a Christian’s journey.  But I was curious and I want to honor my son’s personal understanding of a God who loves him and wants to be in relationship with him. 

“Really?  Why?”

“I love Jesus and I want other people to know and I want more of Jesus.”

I smiled. “Well, those are good reasons, except you know you don’t get more of Jesus when you get baptized,” I told him. I loved his desire to feel and know Jesus more…that is what excited me the most from this conversation. “You have all the Jesus you need.  But when we do things that help us know God more like pray, or read our Bible, there is joy felt in that. When we listen to how he’s moving us and are obedient, it might make us feel closer to him.”

“Yeah, but I don’t want to do it at church.  I want to do it at our river, and I want to invite people and eat hot dogs.”  Then he listed those he wanted to invite.  I almost wanted to cry.  Over half his list included friends who probably have never even heard the word baptism. 

It was kind of a proud mommy moment, a God-sighting.  This desire to be baptized really felt right, authentic.  It was about B.  It wasn’t about my husband and me looking good to the other Christian parents at our church.  This was an organic movement of the Holy Spirit in my son.  I felt as though God had smiled down on me and said, “Thank you for letting me move and speak to your son.  Thank you for trusting me.  Thank you for holding him loosely.”

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Woodland Creatures and Crystal Marbles

My boys are good at play, and if this is truly the work of children, then my children are very hard workers.  Recently, I have noticed an intensity and increase to their play.  Thankfully, they play fairly well together even though we do have the third-wheel-dynamic in our family.  Both his father and I feel routinely sorry for him as he marches from the room of play into the room we’ve escaped to, “They are not letting me play with them,” his lower lip protrudes, “I want to play with them.”  And it is true, the other two are extremely close and A does get excluded a lot.

Our oldest two play like twins: no one gives instructions, they both know their roles.  They’ve created all sorts of memorable characters over the 6 and ½ years of their brotherhood, but my favorite will always be Skater Bug and Lotion.  (Naked and Butt were a bit annoying.)   Currently they have perfected a fairly jazzy dance routine called the “Dummy Dance.”  I think it could outpace gangmen style if only this mommy would embrace You Tube.

Because I value play and imagination over all other character traits, my house is often in complete chaos.  There was a time when I dreamed for my boys to reach the early elementary years, surely there wouldn’t be so many toys scattered throughout the kitchen, living room, and bedrooms.  But this has never come to fruition.  My couches hardly ever wear their cushions.  Currently they are the frames for the woodland animal burrow that is in the TV room.  But really I’d rather them be this than sit idly waiting for some grown-up to take the time to sit on them and have a mannerly conversation in our put-together surroundings.  Plus, woodland creates are so very cute and cuddly, don’t you think?

This morning I was suspicious when I caught the boys sneaking all of my Tupperware into their woodland setting.  But I just smiled and reassured them that it would be OK.  When I entered their world I found they had sorted all their marbles, labeled the tubs with permanent markers, and were bringing a little sci-fi into their talking-animal-setting.  Somehow these marbles were secret crystals that would enable mole, chipmunk, and rabbit to acquire essential powers. 

There are breaks in their play.  Someone gets hurt, someone gets frustrated, someone feels left out.….OK, so it is always A, the youngest.  But even the oldest two need to come back to reality from time to time.  This is when they write.  Our piano room is covered in white computer paper and crayons where they compose their stories and create their character posters.  They come to me and ask, “How do you spell endangered?  Do you like my new creature?  His name is Vyzzy; he’s so cute.”

My permissible parenting has certainly been a contributing factor to their active imaginations, but there is something else driving this latest uptick…something I hate to admit to be true.  It is something I’ve ranted and raged against.  Something I have rolled my eyes over…something I have fought.  But like so many of my soapboxes:  Costco, mini-vans, blogging…I give myself full permission to change my mind, come to a compromise.  Curious?  It is the Wii.  I am so glad we put it off and made it special.  I think a 2nd grade boy is the perfect age for it, and I am glad that when they “finally” got theirs it really was a Christmas present to remember, but it hasn’t been the worst-decision-of-our-lives.  In fact, it has mostly been a good thing.

It motivates them to clean their rooms, put away their laundry, help me take out the garbage, finish their homework….it always gives me space and time to write, read, and take a nap.  It has allowed Hans and I to sleep in!  And we like playing with them.  I’m still sticking by my belief in moderation, but I need to admit that there appears to be a direct correlation in their increased desire to conduct imaginary play and all those Skylander levels they’ve conquered.  Did I really just say that?  Yes, yes I did.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Top Ten Reasons I've Been NOT Writing

10.  It is the winter, and I find the winter uninspiring.

9.  I'm no longer in those early years of parenting...when my only outlet and adult conversation was with myself and my blog comments.

8.  Also, those young years are really hilarious.  I'm finding elementary years to not be quite as chaotic, and in need of a laugh for stress relief.

7.  I've gone back to work, part-time.  My creative energies are finding venues with my preschoolers and the teacher in me is soaring feels so good.

6.  I'm wanting privacy. I think all this social-networking has made my world feel very small, and I seem to be wanting more space just for myself without others crowding in.

5.  I'm finding myself being pushed into new writing venues.  And I want the time to pursue those.

4.  There are now five computer users in the house and still only one computer. 

3.  My best time to write is in the afternoon, but if I choose to sit and write it means my youngest is going to stare at the TV for hours with no interaction while his mommy gets lots of think-time.  Guilt!

2.  I'm waiting...I've written a rough draft, and I'm waiting to hear back from some 2nd and 3rd readers.  I find that in my writing process I like to take STOP time...stop time is when I put my work away, and I don't look at it for a time.  Shorter pieces mean shorter stop time; longer works can take months of ignoring.

1.  I'm asking a lot of questions, in my head.  I'm doing a lot of processing.  I'm doing a lot of listening.  I'm collecting. 

Basically I have writer's block and these are my excuses.  If I wanted to write I would make the time, create the space, embrace the habit.  Writing for me is an essential spiritual discipline.  So there is a part of me that is distracted and restless and found wanting.