Sunday, May 14, 2017

Legacy

It's been too long again. Sigh. I miss this space, to tell you the truth. But that's a different story for a different day. It's Mother's Day. It's a time to shower our mothers with love. When I say the word mother, I don't necessarily mean the woman who gave birth to you. She may be a woman who stepped in when your own mother could not or would not fulfill her role.

As pleased as I am to have this special day in honor of mothers, I know that it also comes packed with sorrow for many. Not all of us had mothers in our lives who blessed. Some of us have lost our mothers. Some of us desperately want to be mothers and are unable.

This year I wrote a poem in honor of my mother. It was an opportunity to sit, remember, and reflect. It's small and insignificant on its own, but it packs some powerful memories for me. I suggest you give it a go yourself. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and reflect.

Legacy

A voice most precious
Passes through my dreams.
And I recall
Kisses,
Corrections,
and Caresses.
The honeysuckle scent of White Shoulders.
A sweet soprano vibrato.
Mother
Your hands which once grasped mine
Grasp the Savior's now.
But Love lives forever,
Your legacy lives on
In my children's azure eyes, happy voices
Carefree smiles, and my own
Mother's heart.
Blessings through the generations.
Mom's burial place at Langley Cemetery.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

nativity

You can take the girl out of Kansas, but you can't take Kansas out of the girl...

I have been privileged to have lived in a lot of places. Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, and Florida have all been my home at one time or another. Each and every place holds special memories, but out of them all, there is one place that claims my heart--Kansas.
A Kansas sunset from the back of Dad's Silverado
I was born in this state and spent my childhood here. As I grew up, the roots of my home state grew down and firmly fixed me in place. Even as I moved around, Kansas remained in my heart.

I've returned, albeit briefly. I'm here for a few days, and then it will be time to fly south again, this time with Dad and his camper. But for two days, I can soak in some Kansas vibes.
This morning's tea was drunk in this spot. 

I arrived late in the afternoon in Wichita. Looking from my bird's eye view in the sky, I noticed the capricious winding of the small river (Smoky Hill), the massive center pivot irrigation lines, and the plateaus that jutted up out of the flat expanse of the prairie. And I noticed how sparsely populated the area was. There is still room to breathe in this space.

We landed and immediately headed north to my hometown of Lindsborg, Kansas. As we drove, the sun sank into the horizon and the weather grew colder.

This morning, the weather felt like 11 degrees as we drove to the coffee shop. It was still dark. Arriving first, I sipped on my tea as I watched shop keepers and farmers arrive for their morning cup and conversation. Then we were off again.

This time we turned the truck west, to Langley Cemetery and my mother's burial spot. As we drove, it began to ice over. The truck was warm, but outside was not. It was cold, icy, and mournful. To avoid the slippery K4 highway, we turned off early and drove down dirt roads past my grandparent's old farm. No one lives there at present, so we took the opportunity to drive up the long drive to see the old place.
The railroad went this way. 

Grandma and Grandpa's drive used to be bisected by the railroad tracks. They have long since disappeared, but I can remember a time when my young legs would carry me as fast as they could whenever I would hear the whistle of the train. I knew it was coming down the line, and I would run to watch the monster engine roar past. It was always a special treat to have the conductor wave from his caboose at the end.

The family home, no longer occupied
The tracks are just a memory now, but I saw hints of them as we drove up the lonely drive. They live on in my memory, though.

We didn't spend much time there; technically it is private property, but I just wanted to peek at it one more time. The barn was still standing. We didn't drive down to it, but I remember going down there to see Barney the Bull out in the fields. My sister and I spent hours chasing the feral barn cats. If, by some chance, we were able to catch one, our reward was to be rudely scratched by them. It didn't dissuade us at all. My arms were full of scratches!

Not far from the home is the cemetery. It's small but peaceful. I love it there. The ice was still falling as I got out of the truck and walked around.
New signage! 
It was very cold and very windy. We didn't stay long. I captured a few photos and then we left.



It's good to be back. It feels good to feel cold. It's wonderful to see my father. He has more silver in his hair than the last time I saw him. He wears it well.

I love this state. It feels like home to me. I suspect it always will. But it will be good to get back to my family. I miss them. And warmth!



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Decisions, Decisions!

Every day we are accosted with hundreds of decisions to make—


Can I hit the snooze bar one more time?
Do I wear the jeans or yoga pants?
Should I eat the salad or the burger for lunch?
Should I tackle the garden or tackle the laundry?
Do I take a break, or should I try to accomplish one more task?


Most of the time we make these decisions without hesitation. Daily decisions are ingrained in our daily grind, and reflexively we decide, move on, and forget as we conquer the next task on our perpetual list of to-dos.


Except on some days, the decision is much more significant, a weighty stone in our thoughts that we turn over, linger over, and breathe upon to polish up the possibilities and ponder the potential. These are the decisions that we remember, accompanied as they are with the gravitas of the implications of our decision. They are Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” and they flavor our lives and even the lives of the people with whom we surround ourselves. They change us.


Lately I’ve been pondering one of those decisions I made a long time ago. Twenty years ago at this very moment, I was carrying my first child. My husband and I had prayed for this child, and we were so excited to meet him. One evening, while standing at our kitchen sink washing dishes, I casually threw over my shoulder to my husband the words, “I’ve been thinking about homeschooling.” I didn’t realize it at the time—well, perhaps I actually did, but I couldn’t fully accept it.  I had already decided. I wanted to homeschool, and now I was asking the partner of my heart to bless that decision.


Pause


In the silence of the few seconds while my husband digested my words, I feared. I worried that he would immediately shut me down, citing fears over socialization, fears over academics, fears over our loss of income. Fears over my hubris that I thought I could actually do it. That I could accomplish something that requires such special training.


Pause


Except he didn’t. He looked at me in love. Yes, I had surprised him, and he had justifiable concerns, some of which he did enumerate. But he also said that he trusted me, and that together we would learn about this lifestyle called homeschooling and make a decision together.
And in that moment, I was reminded again about why I loved him so much. I had surprised him, but I hadn’t angered him. And he hadn’t dismissed me.


I began to read about homeschooling, and when our son was born in the summer, we embarked upon a homeschooling lifestyle. Throughout those years I continued to make decisions, some big and some little, that taken together have shaped our family and crafted our children, as well as my husband and me. I have learned over and over (because I am a slow learner!) that I can’t do it all and do it all well. I have learned to let some things go in order to hone in areas that are more critical. I have seen my children come into their own and develop their own passions free of the strictures of a traditional education. And I’ve made more mistakes than I care to admit along the way.


My children are closer to the end of their educational journey in our home. My oldest is now happily ensconced at Stetson University as an Honors Student and Lawson Scholar studying the nuances of literature and philosophy. My middle child is bridging his homeschooling experiences as he explores dual enrollment at St. Johns River State College. He loves participating in the Rotaract Club and has a 4.0 GPA currently. My youngest is the only one still being fully homeschooled. A true Bohemian at heart, she embraces life through her art and her service to the wolves at Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary.


I have no regrets. I have scars from the experience that I will carry with me to my grave. Most often these have arisen out of my own stubbornness, but my mistakes have also been a part of what has shaped our family, and I wouldn’t undo them. Grace has covered us all, and I am so happy to reflect back on our time as a homeschooling family with fond memories. It is not a lifestyle that everyone can or should embrace, but for our family it has been a source of continued blessing.


Would my own children choose a homeschooling lifestyle? Maybe. Maybe not. Whatever path they choose, I will choose to support and love them. We are all on a journey in this life. My journey happened to be a bit unconventional, and that has made all the difference!












Sunday, January 1, 2017

Still

It's a new year, and I begin again. 2017 beckons. 2016 is put away, along with all its joys and disappointments, pleasures and pains.



At this time of year, our church begins its annual fast. For many in the church, that means a Daniel Fast. I have participated in these in prior years, but this year I am feeling pulled in a different direction.

My life is incredibly busy. Homeschooling, tutoring, and working a part-time job sometimes threaten to overwhelm me. I am instead going to carve out daily time for reflection and meditation. Fifteen minutes of every day, I will disconnect from the world to be still, and wait, and listen.

Psalm Forty-Six, verse ten states "Be still, and know that I am God." Stillness, the quality of being still, is not something I do easily. If I sit down for even thirty seconds, I am looking for something to do with my hands. And even if I do sit, my mind whirls with worldly worries. Stillness is elusive.

Yet, it is precisely what I need. For without being still, God's voice cannot reach me. I become deaf and blind as I spin about my tiny sphere. I starve from my hyperactivity.

Fifteen minutes is my aim. Fifteen minutes where I sit in stillness and contemplate Him Who created grass and mountain, sun shine and dew drop. Such a pathetically small amount of time, and yet I worry I will fail even in this modest goal.

And so I forge ahead, full of hope for a new year, newly inspired by resting in Him. And being still.