Teaching Our Littles About Racism & Intolerance

It’s probably the fear of late fees that usually keeps me from our public library, but lately I realized I needed reinforcement. If our president continues to tweet racist remarks, (yes telling people to go back where they came from is racist) then it’s my responsibility to teach my kids something extremely different. It always has been, but it’s glaringly obvious we don’t have any time to waste! I thought I was doing alright with my two oldest children, but I knew it was time to get my youngest involved, too.

So today we read:

Everyone was involved, my ten year old down to my 1 year old. He was very annoying and interrupted a lot, but we didn’t quit. My four and six year olds learned the words prejudice, racism, and intolerance. My eight and ten year olds had good discussion with their knowledge of people and we talked about their friends who look different than us. We also talked about our faith choices and how it never allows us to force our choices on others. We all brainstormed a way we could celebrate other cultures and religions and share what we learn with our friends! We are excited for what will come as we continue to learn and read more.

For personal/family reasons we are homeschooling this year. I was honest with my kiddos that we have to purposely look for others who are different than us to befriend. I know that sounds weird to others, but because they come from a background of having a diverse group of friends, they understood the importance. The book we read today encouraged us to find commonality with new friends and look for opportunities, if they invite us, to share in their differences and then invite them to share in ours.

With my littles, the message of acceptance seems so simple. Could it be this simple in real life, too? Are we the ones who have allowed our prejudice to make it so difficult? I think we all know the answer to that question.

However, with purpose, I pray my children will see life without the intolerance handed down to so many of us.

Give Me Your Song

I made the mistake of trying to play the wrong melody. For weeks I’ve tried to write but the words just clash with the message I want to share. The tunes have all been forced, alien, abrasive….

This morning I listened to my favorite pastor, Bryan Jarrett, give a message filled with grace. He used the story of how King David extended grace to his best friend’s crippled son, Mephibosheth. This man was also the grandson of King Saul, who did all he could to kill David. But Saul’s son, Jonathan, sacrificed his life for his best friend, David. Mephibosheth was offered a seat at David’s table, to have his inheritance restored, and to be part of his family. Not because he did anything to deserve it, but because of the grace his father’s sacrifice placed for him. He could have refused the King but why? Why would you refuse to sit at the King’s table? Why would you refuse restoration? He chose to accept the grace extended.

I chose to accept the grace extended to me, also. God knows these last few weeks how I’ve struggled in my own spirit, how I’ve failed in many of my roles, and how the words just stopped flowing. He extended the grace and I accepted. Why would I refuse such a sweet gift? It wasn’t offered because I deserved or earned it, the offer to let go and fall into grace was offered through the sacrifice that Jesus made for me.

After the message, we listened to music and I drank my coffee. This song “Testify” by the band Need To Breathe played and I wept.

As the words washed over me, it took me back to a year ago when we were struggling to put the pieces back together after my husband’s emergency heart surgery. This song was in my Tahoe as I drove to and from the hospital for weeks. It washed over me as I struggled to stay strong while my kids stayed with my sister, while I pumped for my six month old who wasn’t eating solid food and whom eventually had to stay with my sister, too. The song took me back to the tears of frustration for a trauma I had no thought of ever facing. There was just so much going on, complications and setbacks, frustration, but also I was filled with hope. It was an eternal hope being poured over me as family and friends prayed over us.

Today this song played and I heard the words clearly. I knew my Father was singing them for me. He began restoring us the minute my husband went into surgery, through his healing, through our new beginning in Alaska, and even today. Then He gave me words and my melody. But it’s a little different today, and that’s ok. To His ears, the melody rings true.

The floodgates opened and grace poured over me. Poured over all of my vanity. Poured out over my stubbornness. Poured over all the things that have kept me from reaching out to Him. Washed my heart thoroughly and put a new song in it.

Safe Spaces Aren’t for Snowflakes

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be presenting at one of the largest educator conferences in our country, #ISTE19.  I’ll be presenting a 45-minute, interactive lecture about Using Edtech to Promote Inclusion and Diversity in the Classroom.  And as I continue editing my slideshow and talking points, those poignant moments when kids were brave enough to bare their souls and share about the labels and context this world had already put on them, flood my mind.  When I get nervous and doubt that I’m the right person to be sharing this message, I have to remind myself that I’m doing this for them and others like them.  Doubts that a white, privileged middle class American woman could offer anything that would help anyone else understand, well that’s a hurdle in my mind. I’m glad for it though, it will keep me humble and away from a know-it-all attitude.

There were times in my career when I wish I was recording conversations about race and culture so I could share with those, like me, who had no clue that young students were developing poor esteems based on their melanin levels.  Once during a guided reading lesson, an eleven year old told me he was Mexican but he didn’t like how his neighbors called him Mexican.  He said it made him feel bad.  This led a conversation around the table about the labels these kids were carrying.  One boy shared he didn’t mind being called black or African American.  Those were nice labels. One boy said he just wanted to be called Abraham, his name.   We chuckled when he said that because it lightened the mood.  I listened.  Honestly, what did I have to offer? I was super green as a teacher in a diverse classroom, and it was my turn to learn from my students.  If others could just hear them, too, maybe they’d see how lethal words could be, how devastating the n-word is for children developing into young people.

Safe spaces aren’t for sissies or snowflakes.  Young people need to share and we need to listen.  It is the greatest professional development…greatest people development that our profession can offer.  We can call it a classroom community, but kids who feel secure and loved will open up and allow you into their lives in transforming ways…for all involved.  My students were excellent teachers.

Diversity in education isn’t just about skin color or ethnic background.  There is diversity in learning styles, teaching styles, preferred communication, and levels of voice to name a few.  That’s why I love edtech.  It reaches beyond the habitual hand-raisers.  It gives everyone an opportunity to shine and share. (My favorite teaching tools are Nearpod and Flocabulary!)  But to reach students, and for them to desire to give us their best, that safe space needs to be in place.  It’s not for sissies and snowflakes, it’s for young people using their voices, learning how to speak up, and feeling comfortable to dust off after failure and keep trying.

This may be old news for you, but if not, and you are wondering how to grow that safe space, I want to put forth some considerations for you:

  1.  What are the assumptions you have about people of color, people who have a different religion, or people with preferences you don’t understand?  Even when we don’t say a word, our assumptions speak volumes.
  2.  How comfortable do you feel being around people who are unlike you?  Do you avoid it at all costs or do you embrace moments where you are in the minority?
  3. Mellody Hobson, in her TED Talk, suggests us to not hide from what makes us uncomfortable but to tackle it head on so we can get “comfortable with being uncomfortable” as that is where growth and success take place.
  4. Lastly, are you open to talking about current events that are weighing heavily on your students, even when you don’t understand the reasons?  When we listen, I mean really listen, we will learn so much about our students.

From personal experience, growing up in white America, we are taught to be color blind, keep away from talking about race relations, and thank God that we live in a better time where everyone is treated equally with the same opportunities as anyone else.  But talking and learning from others who grew up with a different perspective of America, we have a lot to learn.

For minorities and marginalized people, the opportunities aren’t always as plentiful and more walls have to be climbed for victory.  For many, using their voice to fight inequality gets them labeled with all sorts of stereotypes, and it’s easy to grow weary in the process.  If we allow ourselves to own this reality of different perspectives, yes in this great land even, then it’s easier to see what our students need from us.  We can help them achieve what they need to for the success they are looking for.  When we care enough to see past our assumptions, and our minds grow too large to house the dangerous misconceptions about others, we will naturally want to form that safe space for our kids.  It’s not built from physical materials, it starts with the connections we allow ourselves to form when we can see a child for the beautiful being in front of us with God-given talents and abilities.  We will do anything for that child. We will give that child a clean slate on a daily basis.  We will teach our hearts out.  We will water his/her dreams by creating moments and opportunities that ignite curiosity!

We will build that safe space for them.

Minding My Mind

Today the local library put on a STEM Hour.  It began with a lecture/slideshow about the Apollo missions and history.  Turns out, that before they could send a person into space, one of their missions was just to send a machine to crash into the moon.  Purposely, this machine crashed into the moon, and only then did they began a lunar module designed to not crash on the moon.  Or you know, land safely. 😉

Are you with me when I ask, how many life lessons can we squish out of that, alone??? So many metaphors, and as an educator who thrives on social emotional learning, it’s just thrilling!

But what really got me thinking was that if it was based on my mind to help get people to the moon or in the air, or to Jefferson City, we’d all be in real trouble.  My mind does not comprehend physics or very much engineering at all.  Geometry gave me a sweat.  Then I started thinking about my two oldest children, ages 8 and 10, and I realized they are smarter than their 38 year old mom! Hahaha! If we were stranded and needed to get into space, I’m pretty sure they’d get us there more quickly than anything I could think up!

While I could be sad that I’m just not that smart, instead, I am amazed by the way their brains operate.  They have engineering brains like their Daddy, my husband.  And it’s amazing because it’s so very different than how my mind processes life.  On an even grander scale, I began to think about all the different kinds of minds that comprise our world, today.  People not only strong in physics, but those like me, who can read people and emotions very well.  People who are masters in communication.  Those of us who find words and their meanings as enthralling in nature, don’t always realize that not everyone thinks like us, either.  Communication break downs are so frustrating, but not all of us are as in touch with feelings and putting them into words.

To me this is so beautiful.  It’s a God-moment for me.  Nothing is accidental.  We all have areas of strengths. Oftentimes, we don’t appreciate our strengths, and we wish we were more like so-and-so whose artistic ability is other worldly, or we wish we were more connected spiritually like someone we know.  Honestly, I took a moment to just appreciate the innate, God-given gifts that were bestowed upon me, right there in that gym-cafeteria combo.  I realized how blessed I am, with my mind, with my abilities, and all the opportunities that come with my life.  And I was eternally grateful for those who are so unlike me, the inventors, mathematicians, and artists! We need all of us!

It also made me question even more why we’ve become a society who puts so much into standardized test data.  The data on those tests could never quantify the potential inside each child, but it has the power to intimidate them and leave them wondering if they will measure up…all based on a standard that does little to enrich our lives in any, real way.

Let’s have a mission to embrace our strengths and help others to see their own when they’ve been beat down.  Some people think our future is nothing to look forward to, but when I see life through my children’s eyes, I can’t wait to see what comes next!

What do you think your strengths are in life? How do you use them to make life better for others? I’d love to hear your story!

 

The Heart of a Teacher

Listening to Rod Stuart’s Forever Young today on the radio gave me all the feels.  It’s an old song, but it’s lyrics and the season of graduation, remind me of how I feel for all of the young people who have laughed, sat, cried, sang, and enjoyed the classroom experience with me at some point these last fifteen years.

There are educators in our world whose rewards come only after years, when a former student graduates and remembers the impact he/she had on his/her life. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with many amazing students with loving parents every year of my teaching life.  Becoming friends with parents and adult students has been one of the many gifts of my teaching career.

Nonetheless, for all of us who have given of ourselves in the gritty and challenging work of helping children grow into successful young people, watching our students graduate is thrilling!  It’s a reminder that our work is a legacy.  Reality says good or bad, we leave an imprint on our students’ lives, but I’m speaking up for those of us who pour our love into each child whom we’ve encountered.  There are students who have sat in our classrooms, or students we’ve mentored from other rooms, or students who remember that every time they saw us, we had a smile to share.  The community built within a school has so much potential to help grow and stretch that child into the person they dream to be.  As an educator who has witnessed this many times over, I tell you that it’s worth it all.

Educators will encounter disrespect from the very people they try to help the most. They will encounter admin who try to micromanage.  They will sit through professional development counter-intuitive to what is learned through working daily with children.  They will show up to work sick because it’s easier than making sub plans.  They will show up to work during the most traumatic of life events, and they will do it every year because that is how we are wired.  And while those are the hardest parts of teaching, there are so many amazing things, too: watching learning and behavior gaps shrink, building community/family within a class, loving each child through every storm they face while in our class, the thank you notes and drawings just for us, the growth, and watching new passions take off while learning—all these things far outweigh the negatives.  Watching our students successfully enter adulthood is a thrill we share.  Knowing we had a part, it just can’t be matched.

Teaching isn’t a work of fairy tales and is not for the faint of heart.  Summer breaks are as necessary and restorative as weekends. We give so much of ourselves because we know what it takes to help raise a child up.  We feel a lot of guilt for spending more time with other people’s children than our own.  But I tell you, this season of watching a student spread his or her wings is such a reward.  We do it all over and over again because our hearts’ purpose would choose nothing else.

And that’s our teachers’ hearts.  We love watching you walk across the stage to receive your diploma.  We love to see you enjoy your jobs and college experiences.  We love to be invited to your weddings and baby showers.  We love to be part of our students’ lives forever.  Even if you gave us a hard time, we choose to remember the best (exactly how you like to remember us even when we’ve made our own mistakes).

I don’t know if there is a profession quite like our’s with such a sweet reward.  So, I am truly grateful to know and remember that God has put me into position to have touched hundreds of lives since 2004.

Congrats to all of our graduates past and present!  We want to see you achieve all you hope for in life!  We hope to have impacted your life, but never doubt that your impact on our lives is just as real.

Clinging to God in the Transitions

This morning is full of doubts.  My Facebook page reminds me of all the things I’m missing out on since I’ve left the classroom this past February.  I miss my students, my colleagues, and the community I loved.  Questioning my choices even though I know we made the best decision for our family.  A desperation to throw away what I’ve been learning here.  Just in a mess of chaos, wondering if the decision we made was right?

Those thoughts are followed by all the answers to those questions, all the pros, and the begging of my heart to just try it out for a year.  The mind tells me, are you sure you are not focused on your ego? My ego has a lot to do with it.  I’m nothing if not honest.

One of my former, adult students posted this on her Facebook page last night and it really made me think:

I also saw this and it made me think:

 

Pretty sure God is even better at tracking my interests and heart than Siri!

Seek out God with all of my heart, praying for the peace only He can give in the process.  He will make a way as He always has done.  Cherish this time as I won’t get it back. 

Transitions are awkward times as there seem to be arrows pointing down any and every direction while the mind continuously wonders if going back would be the best path, even while knowing it isn’t possible.  There’s an amount of fear going into the unknown.  I am blessed to have my faith to lean on and do not know how others would do it any other way.

Taking stock of all my blessings: my faith, my family, my friends, opportunities coming my way, and the ability to still speak into the lives of others.  Even as I write them out, I wonder how I could  still have so much doubt while walking this path?

So I’m asking, Lord, give me the strength to follow You and Your path and not the path I’d carve out for myself out of fear.

Friend, if you are also finding yourself in the midst of transition, and wondering how you will make it to the next step, I know there is One we can lean on.  If you don’t know Him, I’d be happy to make introductions.

Peace.

Helping Moms Helps Babies

What’s faith without action? Why be pro-life if you think only politicians can fight abortion? Why care about an unborn baby if the only thing you can tell its scared, pregnant mom is to keep her legs closed and take responsibility for herself? If we don’t care about the moms, how can we truly say we care about the babies?

Would banning abortions in all fifty states keep abortions from happening? While it would definitely save millions of lives, abortions are a symptom of a greater sin problem.  As long as there are hurting and lost mothers, sexually abused women, men who are not willing to help take responsibility, an unwilling church presence of help in every community, and a clear picture that a future for a woman will not be lost if she chooses life, even then, abortions will still happen.  Even while Christ was walking this earth, abortions were taking place.  Aborting babies is not a modern problem.  The history of abortion is barbaric and a system to keep oppressed people down.  But it is celebrated today as a viable option of a woman taking responsibility of an unwanted pregnancy.  Today the church culture cries out to end abortion, but in its unwillingness to stand beside pre-abortive mothers, the cries are only heard as one more example of a moralistic, evangelical power agenda led by the greatest of hypocrites.

If we, who love God and are bold enough to claim a pro-life stance, are not willing to help the moms who find themselves thinking abortion is their only option, this claim we have is false representation.  

Is it easier to hold a sign screaming “End Abortions” or “Murderer” than to pray with a nervous, overwhelmed mother? Which action is more helpful for the moms?

Is it easier to donate to the political campaigns who use a pro-life platform to draw in votes or give a portion of your wage to a life-affirming pregnancy agency? Which action helps the moms?

Is it easier to clap and applaud the strictest abortion laws from your phone screen or begin the fostering process? Which action helps the moms?

Helping moms helps babies.  It may not end abortion, but it will save countless lives, and more importantly, countless souls.  It will save lives despite legislation and despite the stronghold of sin that permeates our world until Christ comes back.

Being pro-life means welcoming the post-abortive mother because her life matters too.

 

If we want to end abortion, we must begin with our hearts. Laws can’t legislate these matters. But the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ can always accomplish what is deemed impossible by man.

If you are still reading and desire to know where to begin to help stand with moms who need support to choose life, here’s as few things to get started:

Get involved in a 40 Days for Life Campaign.  It was through two campaigns I personally got involved in that helped me see pre- and post-abortive moms as humans, people to love, and people who need support…not as murderers or monsters.  This organization has helped bankrupt many abortion facilities and help women find a supportive environment to raise their children.

Find a local life-affirming pregnancy center or even a children’s home in your community to donate women, baby, or children’s items or give monetary donations.  They will even show  you how to serve local moms and children if that is in your heart.

Pray.  Pray always that eyes will be opened. Pray that a desperate mom chooses life and a future even though faith in that would be a major miracle in her life. Pray for your own heart that you will be able to love a woman even if you are not able to fathom why abortion could even be considered.  They Holy Spirit can soften our hearts for the work that we are convicted to do to help others.

Forgiveness matters.  Because we believe so strongly in life but have allowed the government, Planned Parenthood, or other agencies to address abortion matters, we have failed to really help women see that life is a more beautiful choice.  We have grown hard in our hearts, complacent, and used only our votes to fight back. But as a Believer in Christ, I know abortion is a spiritual battle that cannot only be fought by  politicians.  God is trying to prepare us for this battle, and if we want to be His warriors for life, we must realize how we have harmed women by our self-righteousness and lack of presence or compassion, before we can win in this war.

Strict abortion laws will save lives temporarily, but the Supreme Court will eventually strike them down as they have already done in the past.  If we want to save babies, let us all help give their moms a fighting chance.

 

Mr. Ratburn is Welcome in My Home: So Are You

Today, I saw that Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, is gay! In fact, he’s marrying a another male-whatever-he-is. Should I boycott and block all PBS shows? You know I love Jesus and I want to be a good Christian!  Seems like when Jesus people can’t fathom someone or something in our country, we must immediately purge them. (Much easier to deal with issues/people that way.)

However, if I allow my kids to watch this show, or others like it, I could be called a liberal. I could be accused of watering down the Truth.  I could be helping homosexuals go to hell!

The struggle is real for many.

Honestly, I’m not going to boycott the Arthur cartoon on PBS.  I’m not going to condemn it.  And I’m not going to try and rewrite Scripture. You can call me a liberal or blasphemer.  That’s your prerogative and so is boycotting Arthur, for that matter.

The truth is, I’m going to let my kids watch it if they want.  I’m going to answer their questions about homosexuality (like I already have been doing). Most importantly, I’m going to teach them not to use degrading language regarding gay people.  I’m going to make sure they are not preoccupied with someone else’s sexuality but are busy learning about all sorts of things.  I’m going to guide them in entertaining the thoughts that even if it’s a lifestyle we do not understand, what we can understand is that we love people who are gay.  We love people who we’ve always known as gay.  We love people who have since come out as gay, and we are not going to condemn anyone.

Unfortunately I’ve already done all of the hurtful things: used ugly language, boycotted, gotten angry, and judged.  I’ve lashed out on people who have lived a battle I’ll never face. In fact, I’ve spewed hate from my Jesus-loving-mouth regarding gay people.

Fortunately, I’ve decided that since Jesus did not spew hate or boycott gay people, and He’s the greatest example of love, I’m going to be more like Him.  I don’t have to water down or rewrite Scripture to fit my beliefs because it’s already all there.  On Judgement Day, I don’t want to be accountable for how much hate I put out in the world in the time He gave me.  I want to be accountable for loving God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  I want to be accountable for loving my neighbor as I have loved myself.

If I tried to “protect my kids from homosexuality” I’m fighting a losing battle.  I love people who are gay.  I don’t want to protect my kids from them.  I used to do that, but it’s a lost cause.  This world has so many things that I can’t “protect them from” as much as I’d love to at times.

In fact, I want to prepare them for real life. They are going to grow up and probably have gay friends.  They might be gay even though their Dad and I love Jesus.  However, I know people who are gay and love Jesus as much, or more, than me, and that gives me peace.  That’s not an easy road for parents, but we don’t have to choose hate, ever.  This may be counter-church-culture, but He doesn’t expect us to hate our gay kids. He does expect us to love them, unconditionally, as challenging as that already is for all of us parents!

Boycotting and protecting children from issues has its place, I’m sure.   Through my own sin and mistakes, which have humbled me, I’d rather my kids be loving and accepting instead of degrading and angry.   

Too many times, we Christians think we need to exert our judgement and control on everything that goes against The Bible with a complete lack of grace, humility, mercy, and love which also goes against The Bible.

We tend to be legalistic and fearful, shutting down people who need Jesus the most, when we ourselves came willingly to a God who gave us the choice to accept or reject Him.

Who or what is more likely to damage our children? Mr. Ratburn, a fictional character? Or could it be the behaviors we teach that instill fear, superiority, or judgement over people who are unlike us? The answer to this question reveals so much!

Losing Those We Love

Today marks three days of a dark cloud of grief sitting on me.  It’s not something to be shaken off, it can only be felt to it’s entirety until the light takes over again.  I know the light will take over again.  I have faith that God is walking this road with me.  He knows the pain of losing, and He knows suffering.  He knows the reasons I’m feeling pain.  I can hide nothing from Him, nor do I want to. I thank Him for the wonderful family and friends He’s blessed my life with, even if that means that I have to suffer the pain of losing them.

Writing is so cathartic for me.  I’ve picked up the phone to reach out to friends and family, but have only made one call to my Mom.  Perhaps it’s that I’m far away from so many whom I’ve always relied on the most that has made this grief so much more intense.

Benny and Me

My most unlikely friend from college.  He was known on our campus by his handlebar mustache!  He was an elementary ed student like me, but he worked full time at his family’s shop/station so it took him even longer to graduate, but he did finish!  He decided to pursue a degree after an incredible back injury almost took away his livelihood. He fought hard to gain his life back and decided to pursue something he’d always wanted to.  That’s how we met.  In Dr. Fridley’s Foundations of Education class.  We had some foundation classes together that included science courses and a educational drama class.  I graduated ahead of him as I was a traditional student.  But we were fast friends and we stayed friends after both of our graduations.  I can still hear him trying to school me on some fact of life, “But Mel, look here….”  or laughing when something that seemed so far-fetched to me was actually true, “Mel, I told ya….”  Once he even almost convinced me he was cooking up oppossum in his slow-cooker.

He was there for me in many ways.  So many ways in my young, adult life that trying to pen them all down right now feels overwhelming.  But more than anything, we laughed so much.  We laughed at ourselves.  We laughed at stupidity in life.  And sometimes we had really serious conversations.  We talked about God, love, relationships, family, and music.  I saw small-town life through his eyes.  I learned to appreciate a meal of catfish and the best nachos in his presence.  We went camping and fishing and explored the flooded damn on the Red River.  He always had a cold Coke and candy bar when I’d pull up to his family’s station.  I ate dinner with his family several times.  I’m pretty sure they thought it was bizarre that we were such good friends but not dating.  I’m pretty sure they thought my Missouri/Yankee ways were bizarre, too, but they accepted me and our friendship.  My heart hurts for them so much, right now.

Our friendship changed over the years as I married and moved away.  Of course we didn’t see each other as often and the last few years were mostly just phone calls to update each other on life.  But he was there when I brought my first-born home and I was there when he married the love of his life.  Time had passed, but it didn’t damage our friendship.

The last time we really talked was at the beginning of his cancer diagnosis.  He assured me he was fine and that I didn’t need to come.  Of course, I should have gone.  We played phone tag this year a bit before my family moved to Alaska, and of course I should have gone to see him before we left.  But I do know the last few years of his life were filled with the love he’d always hoped to have.  He was happy.  He was faithful to Christ.  I know that in Heaven I will see him again.  I hope my Dad recognizes him and gives him a hug for me until I’m there, too!

Dad

It will be my Dad’s second birthday since he passed in January 2018.  Missing him is so much different than I could ever understand it would be.  There are times I’ve forgotten he’s gone and want to call him up to share something or get his advice before the sadness reminds me that is not possible anymore.  Missing him comes in waves that sometimes I’m not expecting.  Sometimes I wish my kids could have known him more.  I get angry over the brokenness of our family and wish things hadn’t gotten so ugly at the end of his life, things I cannot change in my own power.  I can’t even watch baseball or football games without feeling sadness that he is not here watching them, too.  I just miss him.

My Dad was not my biological father.  I constantly think about that, how he chose to love me as his own.  To love and miss a dad as much as I do is a gift because I know he really loved me.  He wasn’t perfect, but none of us parents are, right? But he showed up in my life from the beginning.  Though my parents’ relationship ended in divorce, he did not divorce us.  That is real love.  I think of Dad every day.  While I wish there were things that could have been better for our family, I am so privileged to have had him as a father.  He is part of me; the part that won’t quit, the part who enjoys a good game, the part who laughs at myself, and the part who encourages my kids they can do things they want.  My Dad believed in me, I never doubted that for a second.

I will make a birthday cake for him tomorrow.  His presence in my life was such a gift.  Thank You, Lord. 

 

Hope in Christ

Losing the people we love is inevitable.  Two of my closest friends also lost their dads within months of my loss.  Being in my late thirties means that I’ve started to experience loss more regularly.  I hate it.  It’s really starting to weigh on me.   It also leaves me thinking of my own mortality.  Does anyone else feel a moment’s paralysis when they think of their own mortality?  I have to hand it over to my Creator, who already knows the number of my days because we have to live every moment we have.  Living in every moment looks different for us, but finding a connection to my own family is my main goal at this point in my life.  Growing in my faith, being the wife my husband needs and the mommy my kids want to be with, these are all the things that drive me.

Feelings of loss come with the love we have for others. We must face both to fully live. The family and friends we lose truly remain in us when we think of them.  I look forward to the day when I can meet my Baby in Heaven, hug my grandparents’ necks, my Dad’s, Benny’s, and other sweet friends and family members who have left for Heaven with a piece of my heart in theirs.  The truth is that we are blessed to feel such loss because it comes with the love, that has, and will continue to enrich our lives.

Thank You, Lord.  Thank You for the time with loved ones here on earth.  Thank You for Your comfort when I don’t have the words in my lost moments of grief.  Thank You for the promise of Heaven and the end of suffering here on earth.  One day I will meet You, but until then, thank You for the strength You give when I don’t have it within myself.  

Amen.

Alaskan Adventures Part 1: the Adventures of Reality, Doh!

We haven’t learned how to spray Bear Mace, but we have seen our first moose on the road! We haven’t hiked up a mountain nor seen the Aurora Borealis, but we have driven up part of a mountain and looked out and down on the world above! We haven’t found our new home in Anchorage, but we are learning to be grateful for the three-bedroom two-bathroom duplex complete with neighborhood friend, while we House-Hunt!

The first two weeks in Alaska have taught us the difficult kind of adventures that come with relocating, but it’s also shown us the beauty of God’s Amazing Grace through the kindness of new friends.

It wasn’t chance, it was a miracle to meet my only Alaskan Facebook friend the first day we were here at an Olive Garden! She and her husband knew it was us when they counted our kids! At first, they thought it couldn’t be us because they only counted four, but when they saw me carrying the baby, my friend turned and asked, “Melody, is that you?!” Yes, yes it is me! She treated me to a coffee date that weekend and gave me the Eagle River rundown!

No car? No problem! Three families, during the first weekend we were here, after a homemade meal of chicken cordon-bleu, made arrangements so we could drive a vehicle large enough to carry our whole family. They didn’t pool together for a rental, they sacrificed one of their own vehicles to make sure we could get around without paying a week and a half of rental fees! Who does that for near-strangers????? Alaskans who love Jesus, that’s who!

Dinner date: ✅ Babysitter: ✅

Yes, we went out to dinner with friends and our kids were in the care of amazing sitters. All in one week of being here!

And this last week, we’ve been dealing with a nasty stomach bug and our youngest three have paid an awful price. I threw a pity-party for my sleep-deprived self and learned how much mercy my husband has for his wife. After angry words of frustration were exchanged, instead of holding on to outrage, he encouraged me to sleep. About five minutes later, we were working as a team to fight the battle of vomit and diarrhea, apologies exchanged and relief that we could, indeed, count on each other in the sh!+storm of life!

When it felt, in the moment, like it was all too much to deal with, especially without our washer and dryer, I reached out to a friend who’d moved to China with her family. She reassured me my feelings were all normal, that things would look up soon, and that this adventure business is hard work.

We have our own vehicles now, but instead of driving to nature trails, they take us to the laundromat and Wal-Mart for more cleaning supplies. It’s only frustrating until we realize that we could be living in a world without these two places and then where would we be?!?!

It was too cloudy last weekend to star gaze and see the amazing Northern Lights, but today we have 13 hours and five minutes of sunlight. The snow is melting, the weather is unusually warm for this time of year, and we are all still here, together.

And yes, it’s been an Adventure!