Evidently

Sounds of the Mighty Columbia

Sounds of the Columbia River this morning. Never gets old.

I’m doing the 100 Happy Days project over on Mireio. But I thought I’d post today’s Instagram video, because it’s just the best sound!

Happy Saturday!

Men Don’t Eat Marshmallows – They Build with Them

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I’m wiped out. But in the best way possible. I spent most of the day in ministry with the kids of our church. Sunday School, an after church event, and Youth Group. There are LOTS of photos of our day over on our Facebook page: but I wanted to post these photos of our after church project.

Our church likes to hold its Church Council meetings once a month on Sunday’s after the service. I’m not a fan. For so many reasons, but a big one being that our kids are left to their own devices while this meeting goes on. Parents who attend have to pop in and out to check on their children — which can be frustrating.  So, I decided I’d do something about that this month. We had so much fun today, I think I’ll keep doing something about it until our Church catches on that maybe council meetings might be something we do on another day.

Only a few kids stayed, but we had a quick Easter Egg hunt in our Sunday School classroom. In the eggs, I had hidden a puzzle (along with a wee bit of candy) explaining our project: to build towers as tall as we could with marshmallows and toothpicks.

So much fun. So much sticky fun! The meeting ended after about 40 minutes and my kids were still hard at work–we stayed as long as we could and when it was time to go, I asked Geo, “Are you done?” and he said, “Oh, Mom, I don’t think I’ll ever be finished!”

I gave a bag of mini marshmallows and a box of 250 toothpicks to each team. When we do it again, I’ll provide more toothpicks! Learning curve. :D But otherwise, we had so much fun.

My favorite line of the day came from the 9 year old in the room, on the “men” team. (His designation — We’re young men)  ”Men don’t eat marshmallows, they build with them.” And then 10 minutes later I caught him popping marshmallows on the sly. “These are the first three, I swear.” Ha!

So now you know.  In case you were wondering what men do with marshmallows.

None this has a bit to do with Jesus. But my son said something pretty amazing to me on the way to youth group tonight, he said, “You know mom, just  creating a safe space where kids can be together is sacred.”

Check out all our fun on Facebook, and do this very tired Youth Minister a favor: Like our page?! Thanks so much.

 

Youth Room: Finished!

Sometimes, I spin the Youth Minister plate… HARD! (And of course, that means poor IZ spins along with me.) After too many hours and nearly a year of work,  it’s official: we have a ping-pong table in the room and we’re painted. And now, I need to stop. Seriously, I’ve been saying it’s “done” for 2 weeks now and keep finding more things to do.

 

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This is our meeting room: where we share our highs and lows. Eventually, I want to get those chairs covered and add some squishy bean bags.

Looks like I might need to work on the blackboard a bit. You have to prime it with white chalk before using it: and I ran out so I faked it. But new chalk arrived today, so a little touch up is order. (plus, it’s not the best wall, but I’m hoping the lights IZ so graciously put up for us will help!)

 

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Yeah, totally stole this from Pinterest. The walls in the room are so wild. Apparently, at one point a good 20+ years ago someone wall-papered with newsprint!

The floor is a bit slippery and not level, so I taped down our rugs with bright orange Duck tape.

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This is the Game Room side. Our room can be divided by accordion doors, but we never do it. However, I thought it was a good idea to do each side a bit differently.

A huge shout-out to the lovely IZ for disassembling the ping pong table and putting it back together. We’re missing a net, but it’s a great table that someone gifted us!

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Also pilfered this idea from Pinterest. I used washi tape to make plus signs on the wall. Um. Work.   This is a little loft the kids love to sit in and I felt like it needed something “extra”.  Again, eventually I’d like new bean bags in grey. I’m planning on doing a “post it prayer” wall on the right hand wall. So, we’ll have a bit more color eventually!  I don’t think the ball game thing will stay.

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Another chalkboard wall and a bit of colorful Scripture for the room!

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I cannot wait for the kids to get to use this on Sunday.  Space is everything, no? And considering we did this on such a shoe string budget, I think the room turned out!

And so that you have some idea of what it looked like before, here is a before photo (under the fold, because MEH)

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What Stays

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I have 5 of these boxes. They’ve been stacked up, tucked into the corner of a closet since I packed away my academic past 8 years ago.

It’s time to sort through them and decide what stays. The temptation to not even sort, but to load them into the car en masse and take them directly to Goodwill is overwhelming.

It’s not because I don’t want to look at it. I’ve reconciled my feelings about my past academic career. I guess you could say that my priorities have shifted. I’m less interested in theory these days and much more interested in practice.

I could read a book. Again. Yet another tome on whatever it is I’m working on (parenting, marriage, ministry…)  Or I can get down to the business of doing it. It’s inside thinking vs outside thinking. And while I can’t tell you the specifics about the next chapter of my life, because I’m still figuring that out–I’m pretty sure I know what it doesn’t entail: hoarding books in boxes.

So, I will sort, if a bit begrudgingly.  With a new rubric for what makes the cut and a willingness to be guided by something more than what you can find in a book.

 

Hello Spring

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by A.A. Milne

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
“Winter is dead.”

Getting There

At this very moment, our 17 year old is sitting his Physics final. This is the end of his second term at college and his spring break begins just as soon as he’s finished: having completed his Calculus final this morning.

Let me tell you, typing that paragraph is weird. We’ve been at this college thing now for six months and it still feels weird. And not just for me.

I took at a break from work yesterday and scooped up my college student for a quick trip to Starbucks. He loves going in the middle of his day, between classes: it’s a mental break. And it’s a chance for us to touch bases in a non-written form. (we’re on Instant Message a lot throughout the day.) At one point in the conversation he said, “I’m almost out the door. When I leave there’s no coming back to my childhood.”

He gets a little weepy at the idea, but then, so do I. It’s weird for all of us. I assured him, despite his skepticism now, that there would come a day soon where it wouldn’t be weird at all. Where he would be excited to visit and just as excited to return to his own life at school. “You can always come home, Geo– but trust me, something changes when you go off to college. You stop wanting to be at home all the time.”

It’s not just about his absence. I think we’re both feeling out how our relationship is changing. He isn’t ready and I’m not ready to stop being his “smother”… but, I’m letting go of the oversight more and more each day. And more and more, he’s solving things for himself and letting me in on the solution.

I think we’re on target. It feels like we’re exactly where we should be. We’re just a little sad that we’re at this point. And it’s my job, my last act of intense mothering, to point the way to a new relationship with my son, who is almost an adult.

He is not convinced that this moment will come. But we all know better, right? Besides, this is healthy. It’s a natural part of growing up. We want our children to leave the nest. Maybe not to go so far away; but we know they must leave, if they’re ever to truly live a life that belongs to them.

That being said, it’s utterly mind blowing for me to consider a life where he visits. It’s not only coming, it’s going to be OK. I recognize that it will feel weird at first to have him gone. And then we will grow used to the idea of our child living his own life. Just as we’ve grown used to seeing him less and less as he has moved into this new role of being a college student. I’m excited to see where his future takes him, even as I brush away tears at the thought.

I’m also beginning to recognize that the grief will eventually subside. That IZ and I, like our son, are beginning a new chapter of lives together. And, dare I admit, I’m looking forward to being alone, with my husband! We had a life together that predates this child of ours: and we’ll have a life together once he’s out of the house.

There is a new equilibrium coming. A space and time where our adult child is thriving in a world of his own.  It’s just a matter of getting there.

 

Mystery Solved

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I took our youth group to a David Meece concert last night. He was playing a free concert at the Liberty Theater at the same time as our usual meeting: so it seemed like a good swap. Most of my kids had no idea who he was/is: but then they all think the 1980′s is ancient history. Millennials, what are you going to do?

For those of you who might not be well versed in “ancient history” — David was really big in the late 80′s as a contemporary Christian artist. Huge, in fact. His music is all over the place and even if you don’t know his name, if you’ve been in a contemporary worship service in the past 30 years, there’s a good chance you’ve sung some of it.

His music wasn’t really my thing in the late 80′s but I knew who he was. In 1979, I had no clue. I was in 4th grade and Contemporary Christian Music wasn’t even on my radar. I was busy trying to make my board straight hair curl and reading every book I could get my hands on.

In fourth grade, our entire class began music lessons. We were all blessed with this tiny plastic “pre-recorder”, the name of which completely escapes me. Apparently easy to learn (though, horrible to play!) these starter instruments functioned to weed out the musically inclined from the not so gifted: in hopes of stacking the 5th grade band deck! Oh to be a chosen 5th grader!  So, as a class, we began music lessons that became part of our school routine: with the knowledge that we’d soon be performing our newly found “skills” at the  annual Christmas Concert.

I practiced.  I was THAT kid. But sometime during the fall, I also found time to write an original song about the sadness of war, teach it to my friends, and convince my music teacher to let us perform at big event in December.

I told you, I was THAT kid.

The night of the concert came, we were awesome. No really, we were. One of my bestie’s cooler older brothers told us so! We sang our little hearts out, played our little plastic instruments (nope, still can’t remember what it’s called), and looked on with envy at the 5th graders, who had REAL instruments that night.

Skip forward about 15 years or so. I’m in a mall at Christmas time and an instrumental version of the song I wrote starts to play.  I hum along for a few minutes until the realization hits me. Wait a minute.

I wrote that song.

Wait a minute: no I didn’t.

Turns out, my nine year old self was a plagiarist. Who knows if the song being pumped through store’s loud speakers had any lyrics, but there was no disputing the musical bit. The verse structure was exactly what I’d written all those years ago!

Now, I have NO idea if the people who populated my nine year old world had any idea that I lifted a Christmas carol but I highly doubt it. I can’t imagine them letting me get away with it! I wasn’t the popular kid who always got a pass and I didn’t have adults in my life who would have found it “charming.”  I actually think they believed, as I did, that I’d created something completely original.

The years would pass without my ever knowing. It’s hard to track down a song with only a melody. I never heard it again and I had no idea who the original composer was. So, this musical influence remained a mystery, and I forgot all about it. Until last night.

As David started to play, “One Small Child”, I began to smile. I know that song, I wrote it!  I leaned over to IZ and whispered, “Remind me to tell you a story about this song.”

I didn’t lift the song wholesale: my lyrics (what I remember of them) were different. But it’s clear to me, that at some point in my childhood, I had to have heard his song (which he wrote in 1966) at least once. Enough for it to stick, but not enough that I would recognize having heard it before.  Though, for the life of me, I have no idea when that happened.

Which should lead us into a conversation about the mystery of memory.  But today, I’m going to be content with solving this mystery: It was David Meece’s song I stole in 1979.

One conundrum a day, right?

 

Until the Next Time She Asks

All these posts with no picture. Tsk tsk. 

 

Hands down, the highlight of my week (which has been very good! Lots of sunshine, lots of walks with IZ on the river front) was holding our neighbor’s two week old baby.

We’d dropped by, because we saw the proud new daddy working the yard and we wanted to give them a tree. (An aside, our neighbors have built a tiny farm in their back-yard. And I bought a pear tree 18 months ago on a whim *read:SALE* and then never found a place for it. Someone needed to put that tree in the ground and I was hoping it would be them!)

Baby G was born on the 25th of February, and we’d been keeping our distance because new parents deserve to not be inundated. But the whole street is excited. We keep asking each other, “Have you seen him, yet?” “No, no, giving them space.”

There have been other babies born in the neighborhood, but he’s our first on the block. With all of us either retired or with kids with one foot out the door: we needed a baby influx! And with all of us retired or with kids with one foot out the door, this baby is going to be surrounded with love and a bevy of extra “aunts and uncles”.

Anyhow, back to my story… we’re talking to Dad in the yard when Mom appears at the door, “Do you want to come inside and meet the baby?”

Um? Don’t have to ask me twice. I mentally told myself, “Stay calm, walk, walk.”  I left IZ in the dust. See ya!

Let me tell you people. He’s gorgeous. I mean it. I know, I know, all babies are. But I’m completely unbiased, as this little guy is not related to me in any fashion. GORGEOUS. He’s just hanging out in his bassinet making all these adorable 2 week old baby faces. IZ and I stood over him, talking with Mom, getting the scoop on who this new little person is. And then she asked, “Do you want to hold him?”

Seriously?

Here’s the thing friends, I never ask. NEVER.  I had one of those babies who could be passed around to strangers with ease. But when he got home, he would wail for hours. It overwhelmed his little senses and all the emotion he was bottling up from being passed around would just explode out of him. Our pediatrician’s recommendation was to limit the passing. She said, “You hold him, let other people talk to him while you do.”

So, from experience, I don’t ask to hold babies. Because there is nothing worse than being asked and then having to say “No.” It’s horrible; and while you’d think people would handle the “no” with grace: some don’t. Some feel entitled and tell you so. Some yell at you and make a scene and call you names. For me, it was my first lesson in parenting: you put your kid’s needs in front of other people’s desires. But that doesn’t mean it was an enjoyable lesson!

I washed up and held this new treasure. IZ stood behind me and we just cuddled with this precious new life. I felt my breath catch: and I realized I hadn’t held a baby this tiny since Geo.  For a few moments we could see the future.

When I handed him back to his mother I said thank you. She probably has no idea what a gift it was to hold her newly born son. But it was: one I am treasuring and holding and keeping safe. Until the next time she asks.

 

It Speaks for Itself

So.

A few years back, an email appeared in my in-box. I wearily looked at the sender and knew, “well, this won’t be good.” But I could not have imagined what was inside.

To say it was the most hurtful thing I’d ever read: well… that would have been true at the time. Since then, I’ve read worse — directed at me. But at that moment, it was devastating.

Reading it, my whole body shook: as if I was holding a real letter. No paper, just words on a screen and a violent physical reaction from me.

Never let anyone tell you words can’t hurt you. I’ll take sticks and stones.

And here’s the thing: I’ve written difficult letters. But never when I was angry: always trying to state the hard facts as FACTS. Not, “You’re a miserable person” — but “I can’t continue to be in this relationship.”

The end result is the same, I suppose. But I want to believe, actually I do believe that we all must speak our own truth: in love. Even if that love means letting go because it makes you safe and sane and human again.

But what arrived in my in-box that day wasn’t love. It wasn’t truth. It wasn’t even human. What it was? I’m not sure. I’ve sat with it for ages and I still can’t begin to tell you where to begin.

And it was eventually followed up (a year later) by an “apology”… that was really just more of the same. Only this time, it got worse. Somehow, all the bile that was sent my direction was now my fault, too. That and so much more.

And this is why you never say, “It can’t get any worse.” *smile*

*–*–*–*–*–*–*–*–*–*–*–*–*–*–*–*–

Today was an amazing day. Day two of 60 degree weather so of course IZ and I found time to walk along the river and at some point on our walk this letter came up in conversation. IZ asked, “Are you going to publish it?”

I’ve been sorely tempted. At first to rebut it point by point. Then, because it would be therapeutic to put it to bed. Blogging has always been my way of working it out. Now, because some things should see the light of day: if only as a cautionary tale.

However, the timing has never seemed right. I’m not sure when that will be. But I have a hunch it will have something to do with finally letting go of figuring it out and letting the letter speak for itself.

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

“Miss Wende? Can I sing you a song?”

She is five. It’s right before Sunday School is to begin. Due to a flood on the east side of the building, our classroom is engulfed in mildew– I’m frantically moving us up two flights of stairs for the duration. Who knows when we’ll be back in our classroom? God does. And he’s not clued me in, so I’m bracing for the long haul. Pencils? Check. Markers? Check. Paper? Check!

So, I’m a little distracted when she asks, but I have enough clarity to say, “Yes. Just as soon as I get back. I need to run and tell someone something before class begins. But when I get back you can sing me your song.”

And when I get back, she does just that. Our temporary classroom is an old chapel, so she stands in front of the altar and belts out the first verse and chorus of “Let it Go.” Her soft blond hair is coiled into tiny little buns on either side of her head: looking every bit Elsa, singing her heart out. I can tell she’s been practicing. She knows all the words and she’s nailed that little pause before, “The cold never bothered me anyway.”

“Miss Wende? Can I sing that song in front of everyone?” I’m busy keeping 14 kids ages 5-17 focused, so I’m a little distracted. I’ve grown accustomed to the pandemonium. I thrive in it, like wild things thrive in bogs.

“What do you mean? In front of the adults downstairs?”  She vigorously nods her head. My brain quickly reviews the lyrics and then agrees, “Yes. I’ll get you a mic after church. You can sing during coffee time.”  And then we’re off and running. Today, we’re “blinging out” our temporary classroom. Home should feel like home, right?

I’m busy with the older kid table: because their posters need more supervision. The most inappropriate things the little kids tend to draw are superheroes. “No, no batman at church.” I’m certain the Dark Knight wouldn’t want to be hanging in a converted chapel now Sunday School classroom anyhow.

A tug on my sweater: “Miss Wende? My sister says me singing that song is embarrassing. Is it embarrassing?”

Siblings! Why, oh, why must they deflate each other? Most of my class is made up of siblings. And I watch it every week: one rises, soaring into the air like colorful balloons: aloft with some accomplishment. And then a sibling grabs a foot: the proverbial Jacob tugging at a heel. Back to the ground you must go.  Half of my sermons are on God’s love. The other half, a stealthy attempt to encourage the bonds between brothers and sisters: convinced if that’s the only mark I make, then I’ve lived into my call.

“Sweets, the real question is, are YOU embarrassed to sing that song?” Again with the vigorous shaking of the head. “Then, there’s your answer. Here’s the thing: when you’re a performer, or any kind of artist, there will be critics. There will be people who tell you that your art isn’t good enough or it’s embarrassing. That happens. But if making your art makes you happy, then don’t listen to those other voices. Just be yourself. OK?” She seems content with that.

“She’s singing that song in front of the whole church?” A voice from the older table –another of her siblings.

“Yes. And I expect all of you to sit in the pews and encourage her. Applaud her efforts when she’s done.”

“I thought we only applauded when the performance was a good one?” Says her older sister. Sigh. Clearly, I need to work on the message.

“It will be a good performance.”

And when church ends and the adults are milling with coffee I grab a mic: give it a quick test and hand it to this brave five year old for her moment in the sun.

And I beam through the whole thing, because she is soaring. She’s got a death grip on her mic, but she is fierce and brave and everything we want little girls her age to be. Her father sits in a pew with is cell phone poised to capture the moment. Her peers and siblings are also in the pews. Perhaps the message is getting through after all.

When she reaches the line, “I don’t care what they’re going to say” she shoots me a look and begins to smile. We share this secret: we can be artists and it doesn’t matter what the world thinks. The cold never bothered us anyway.

When she is finished, I retrieve her mic. She’s not sure what to do with it. And I give her the biggest hug. “You were awesome! Good job!” There is applause from the pews and from the adults with their coffee. They had grown quiet, to take in this little wonder with a microphone and a message.

A few minutes later, one last tug, “Miss Wende?” I bend down so that we’re eye to eye, “Did I really do a good job?”

“Yes, sweetheart. You were amazing.”

 

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