Those who love well

A great many things have been mulling around in my mind and heart the past week and a half. Life is so full of change and change is so full of pain and pain is so full of possibility. As our life changes greatly and we anticipate new things, I am still in the ‘change is full of pain’ part but in my heart I know I will get to the next place. As I’ve observed people’s words and attitudes for the past few days, one common thread has become so clear to me. The thread of pain.

One friend, not an intimate friend but one I’ve known quite a while, responded instantly to my text message Thursday that said basically this “I am wondering if you aren’t too busy today and are possibly able to come over and help me. I am overwhelmed with laundry and dishes and pain.” She was in her car right away, brought lunch, cleaned my disastrous kitchen, folded load after load of laundry and exuded peace and compassion the whole time she was here. Her pain? The one that comes to mind immediately is her time spent in Africa working among AIDS victims, she will never be the same.

Another young man who when I first met him he struck me as unusual in the best sense. He talked so fondly of his family. He was so delightful to chat with, so comfortable with our family, asked thoughtful questions and played amazingly with our kids. He seemed out of the ordinary to me and I was blessed by it. His pain (that I had no idea about until today)? His father died a couple years ago, leaving I think 5 kids behind.

Last week, when I missed a meeting I’d looked forward to for weeks, after all the kids were in bed I heard knocking on my door. I’d cried the better part of the day and was still in the previous nights’ pajamas. Two women who’d been at the meeting met me at the door, came in to sit on my couch and love me. One held my head to her shoulder as I sobbed for a long time. The other calmed down my confused and upset children. They both extended the arms of Jesus to me in the most physical, tangible way. They had no expectations, they stayed until almost midnight knowing Chris was working super late and I would be alone. Their pain? Lots of things-wounds from people, from loss and from deep struggles in their marriages.

Another whole family has showed great empathy and understanding and care to us. Their daughter cried on my couch with me this week too, another in her kindness and hugs made me cry at church. Their pain? Having to walk through something similar to us several years ago among other things as well.

Last Sunday, lots of people had no words for me, wouldn’t talk with me, walked right by even after making eye contact. But some people did. The ones who did, almost universally, were the ones who have been softened and molded by the presence of great pain. I have consistently watched myself change as year after year it seems, there is a different struggle, a different thing that makes my heart ache. It is through my hurt that God softens my heart to others and is able to better extend love through me. Sometimes I’d like to say, that’s enough-I don’t want any more. But the honest truth is I love what God does in my heartbreak. He doesn’t waste an ounce of it. He lets it touch the lives of other people in ways beyond my understanding. He always brings about good in the midst of what I can only see as bad. He meets me and calms my heart.

That I love. That I want more of. In my pain I want to continue to become one who loves well and can share His love in the most tangible ways.

-Karissa

Words from a dear friend

“Nothing touches our lives but what God allows and He can only give us good gifts.  God alone is good and as Dr. Luke penned in his gospel, when recounting Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s prayer, (as we now label it)…’which of you when your son asks you for a fish gives him a snake instead…if you then, being evil give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven bestow good gifts on you, for God alone is good.’  This is my personal paraphrase of course, but it drives to this point and question: Can God give us a snake?  If we close our eyes, during any given circumstance we face and extend our hands to touch it and feel it hoping, (often seemingly against hope), that He’s handed us a fish…when its cold and scalely, until we open our eyes (especially the eyes of our hearts) to see it is indeed a fish, we might think and believe it to be a snake.”

This has been a blessing to me and I thought I would share it with all of you.  The Father is good always.  Thank you my dear friend.

-Chris

Sink baths

“Don’t climb out!” (shrieking and giggles) “No, come back I’m trying to give you a bath” (more giggles) “Kyler, don’t touch it, it’s mine”

I’m listening to this commotion from Rylee’s room as I am holding her in my lap while she sobs for her Daddy. One of his shirts ended up in her laundry basket and while she was putting her clothes away, she pulled it out and started crying-I asked what was wrong she said with tears streaming down her face-“When I picked up Daddy’s shirt, it made me think of him and I wished he was here with me.” Wow, I was amazed that our emotional bent begins at this early age. From the sound of her quivering voice you’d have thought her Dad was gone forever. It made me cry, we wiped each other’s tears and hugged some more.

Back to the ruckus in the bathroom, I thought I’d better check it out, this is what I found:

Baseball and no-bake cookies

I’m not sure if chocolate no bake cookies (3 of them) can count for a good breakfast…they are made with mostly oatmeal (and butter, sugar, peanut butter and chocolate and more sugar). But that’s how my day began. Emotional eating is a big struggle for me and today I lost the battle before it even started. In case you’ve never indulged in this great delicacy, here is the recipe-you won’t be disappointed (and this coming from one who truly doesn’t even like chocolate):

Chocolate No Bake Cookies

* 2 cups white sugar
* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1/2 cup butter
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
* 3 cups oats

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, cocoa, milk and margarine. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, peanut butter and oats. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Allow cookies to cool for at least 1 hour. Store in an airtight container.

Our morning improved with my off the cuff large scale grocery list project. I have started shopping almost exclusively from the weekly sale ads, only buying things on sale and planning my meals around the bargains. So I thought I would have the kids look at the circulars, covered the table with butcher paper, gave them lots of pens and asked them to draw me a grocery list. My only requirement was that they choose nourishing things, no junk. They had no trouble sticking to it and had loads of fun, they drew the first letter of their items next to it, in case I had trouble deciphering what the item was. This occupied them for almost an hour and a half and spurned all kinds of great conversation about food, letters, money/budget, etc. Here are my little list makers:

Not sure what Kyler listed but he was eager to “cut cut” as he told me and quickly chopped his section of the list into pieces. The older two carefully cut out each item and made me a nice pile so I could carry it easily to the store…and you better believe I will. Rylee told someone later in the day “I ordered dog treats for Maggie on Mama’s list today”. After all they went through to make it, I won’t disappoint when Friday shopping rolls around.

As if the zoo weren’t enough yesterday, we were invited to attend a Mariner’s game with dinner included for free tonight. We decided to make a go of it although both a tad anxious with all the kids in tow. It went off without a hitch and we even won a big prize from the event’s organizer, pretty fun. Caleb asked around the 4th inning, “Mama, is Daddy ever gonna get out there and play tonight?”. I laughed and said no but one inning later he asked again “Is Daddy really not gonna play at all?”.  (note the huge crowd at the game)

Round 2-out with four

It took a couple weeks to gear myself up for trekking out again with my brood of four. But we handled to zoo today very well. More open spaces to run is what made it so much easier.

Berries? I have no idea what these berries below are but before I knew it Rylee was eating one-she won’t do that again-they stained the whole sleeve of her shirt as she quickly spit it out.

Group hug with Caleb and Rylee and our friends Thomas and Aidan-no one cried, amazing!

Are you tired of this face yet? I’m not-this is trademark Kyler…

Mental note for next time-don’t let Rylee wear light khaki pants to the zoo to climb trees in-they will never be the same…

Cousin fun

Rylee had the great privilege of feeding her baby cousin a bottle today while we watched him for a bit.

Holding hands…

Papa doing a ‘weight test’ with the babies-Isaac won!

Sleeping Isaac in his cousin’s arms.

Rylee and Isaac laying on the couch together, he slept there for a half an hour!

This is for you Steph-isn’t he cute?

Nourishing

I love hearing big words out of little mouths…

Rylee (on the way home from an egg run to the grocery store): “Mom, look McDonald’s is still open.”

Me: “Yes, they are open all night long.”

Rylee: “When do the people sleep? Do they eat there?”

Me: “Different people work different times, and yes they get free food when they work.”

Rylee: “We don’t eat there much because it’s not nourishing.”

Me: “That’s right, it would make us sick to eat there every day.”

Rylee: “You make lots of nourishing things for me. Your mom must have taught you about nourishing. She taught you all the things that nourish me. You know lots about nourishing.”

Me: “I try to, that’s my job. Yes, Nana taught me lots of good things. She taught me lots about nourishing.”

Sweet little girl. Glad to be the one who nourishes her heart and body.

Some sanity measures

For my mommy friends that read this, here are some things that are helping me or some new ideas I am trying or today at school (how’s that for random):

The PEGS chore chart, I’ve wanted it for 2 years. I would print out charts a week or two then not do it for a month or two or 6. I desperately wanted to find a reusable system to lay out clearly our expectations jobs for each family member. I read the book cover to cover twice before implementing it and today has been a great start. I was feeling like my parenting was really negative-focused and needed some help getting out of the rut.

I have been SO bored with lunches around here and felt like they were lacking a lot. After reading a post on MckMama’s blog, I thought I’d try branching out from mac’n’cheese and carrots or pb&j with apple slices. She feeds her kids tiny portions of lots of ‘good options’. So above is my first try at that, and yes my kids ate every leaf of spinach dipped in a bit of ranch. I will keep expanding the lunch horizon! This worked great, I’m probably the only one who doesn’t do this, but oh well-better late than never.

We do ‘table time’ every morning as part of ‘school’. This was our game today, writing big letters on construction paper, cutting them into three big strips then mixing up the pieces and putting the letters back together again. Meanwhile, Kyler and his puzzle:

He is eager to share!

Heard for the first time

Recent quotes from Kyler

“Happy Birdday Daddy” (on Daddy’s birthday…thanks for teaching him that Caleb)

“Yeah…Kenna” (on the way to the going away party for our fav baby-sitter)

“Hi Rat Man” (when the Pest Control guy came by to check on the traps under the house)

“Monker Moose: (his favorite monster truck from the show we saw at the fair pictured below)

“hot rod” (the name for any cool car)

“hot gog” (see picture below for interpretation)

We don’t keep score…

 

Here are the Sharks going through their pre-game warm-ups.
Here are the Sharks going through their pre-game warm-ups.

…but we are undefeated (1-0-1).  And if it weren’t for some heroic goal tending by the opposiing five year old, we would have two straight victories.  This year Rylee joined a soccer team for the first time.  She is having and blast and if you ask her what her favorite part about soccer is she will say “having my daddy as my coach.”  This of course is music to my ears.  

 

I did not sign up to be the coach, but when we got the email back to us letting us know that no one had volunteered, I decided to step up and coach.  It has been a great joy actually over these last two weeks.  We have one practice a week and then a game on Saturday.  Teaching five year olds how to play soccer is super fun.  

Some of you know that I had surgery recently…nothing exciting, just a simple laproscopic hernia repair.  I was laid flat for a few days and then severely hampered for about a week.  I am doing much better now thank you.  However, Rylee’s first soccer game was three days after the surgery.  I knew that I could not miss that game, so I decided to pop a couple percocet and see what would happen.  What I hoped would not happen would me passing out from pain or drug overdose.  As it turned out, our team went on to a 6-0 victory…but we don’t keep score.  

Action Shot!

It has been a blast, but of course the best part of the deal is I get to have an on the field view of my sweet five year old daughter having fun and gaining confidence playing soccer, a game I have always loved.  Here is a picture of Rylee in action!

Go Sharks!

-Chris