Sunday, March 31, 2019

Launching Young Men into the World (and other reasons why I keep tearing up in the car)

This week my youngest, Addison, turned 13.
Will, our middle son, will turn 16 in less than two months.
And two days ago, my oldest, Jack, turned 18.
13. 16. 18.

As a wise woman once said...."Holy Toledo."

They are getting so big, these boys of mine.
And therein, lies the rub....
The bigger they get, the less they are mine...
the more they are their own.

Earlier in the week, I was driving Jack to play practice,
and the tears began pouring down my cheeks.
Mostly because the space around me was quiet enough for
my subconscious thoughts to pierce through the chaos that is my mind.
Jack looked at me, surprised and said, "Mom, are you okay?"
With a crumpled face I looked at him and said, "I'm going to miss you, Jack."
He put a hand on my shoulder and said, "Mom, I am going to miss you, too.
And its okay. I will still visit you."

Jack will be going to college in 5 months.
I have said it out loud and now it is real.

My Aunt Mary had 7 boys.
She said that when they were very small
it was as if they were held in the center of her palm with fingers closed,
sheltered, protected, nestled in her care.
As they got older, her hand opened, fingers out, palm flat,
giving them a solid place to spring from, ready to fly.

Jack is ready to fly.

But deep in my soul, I have an urge to scrunch up my flat palm, squeeze it tight
and make Jack stay. Just a little bit longer.

This is the thing.
I have always thought my boys were the most beautiful boys in the world.
(As all moms the world over do.).
Getting to be these boys' mom has been my most life altering, heart wrenching and glorious work.

I can't imagine my day without the beauty, the joy, and strong presence of Jack.

But I despite my deep inclinations to hold Jack so close,
I am choosing to keep my palm flat...and steady.
Just like my parents did for me.
They let me go and discover the world on my own terms.
I had their love and strength and wisdom backing me,
but they let me fly and fall and fly again,
always believing that Jesus would guide me and hold me close.

I don't want to hold Jack back. I want him to soar.

He needs to be shaped and stretched.
He needs to form his own decisions and his own faith.
He needs follow his own path, discovering the world, both its beauty and it ugliness.

The ugliness part?
That is hard for me to reckon with.
But navigating the ugliness, in the world and in ourselves, that is what makes us grow.
It shows us our desperate need for Jesus. For love and mercy. For goodness and hope.
I know that Jack has to learn what we all have learned...
that when the darkness surrounds him,
when life is disappointing,
when he fails himself or others,
when he falls and has to get back up,
when he is tired and disillusioned and wanting to give up,
there is grace, unending abounding glorious grace, to be found. Enough for each day.
He can know that Jesus is there with forgiveness and strength to hemming him in on every side.

My prayer (HELP HIM, LORD) is that in the midst of this world's ugliness,
Jack finds himself to be a bringer of hope and beauty.
A conduit of laughter and wisdom.
A Jesus follower that shapes the world around him with love.

Because I believe the world needs a good dose of Jack.
God has crafted Jack's heart and mind in a unique way.
I see his care of others. His belief in himself and his friends.
I see the way that he is able to take a complex thought and break it down
so it is easily understood by those he is helping.
I see how his laughter and goodness build others up.
He has a way with words and can bring almost anyone around to see his side of things.
He is trustworthy and generous and loyal and crazy smart.

So. Here I am. I am realizing that in order for Jack to fly? I have to let go.

Loosing the strong ties that have bound me to Jack? That is where the tears come in.
I have been holding on tight. Super tight. Crazy Tight. Couldn't hold on any tighter.

Because his journey is absolutely not going to follow that path that I would make it follow if
I were the one calling the shots.

I know this because I am a control freak and I have tried to make my own journey follow
the path that I thought it should follow and it totally didn't, and hasn't. Not even this week.Which is completely frustrating and exhausting. Trying to control every minute detail of my life wipes me out.

So Jesus is once again using my kids to show me that I need to...


So I am going to.

I trust Jack. And I trust Jesus with Jack.

And I cannot wait to see

Saturday, February 9, 2019

i am not dead...just teaching middle school...and other big Aughtmon news

It has been about 5 months since my last post.
Being homeroom teacher for 25 6th graders has seemed to edge out my blogging time....
just a smidge.

But I wanted to make sure that you all know that I am still alive and kicking.
And that in this season of learning and growing and navigating a new teaching gig,
that the Aughtmon crew is in the midst of a ginormous transition.

In the way that Jesus does, He has us embarking on a new path.
After much prayer and pow-wowing with our church in these last few months,
Scott and our leadership team have determined that Pathway will be coming to end
in June.

After 14 years of loving and teaching and stretching and being together,
this season is coming to an end. Over the next 5 months, we will be
launching our church family into finding new church homes.

And now I am crying into my keyboard. Because we all love each other like crazy.
When Scott announced it to the church in December, we all had a good bawl together.
You can know that this group of people are THE BEST!
So we will be having a party to celebrate all that God has done in and through these folks
for our last gathering. I am sure there will be lots of tears mixed in with the joy.

As for our family, we are being launched into a new season of....
not quite knowing what is next.
It is funny how we can think that we know who we are and what we are and
where we are going and then realize how amazingly little we know about almost everything.

But here is what I do know. Jesus knows.
He knows our next steps and our straightest path.
He knows that I like to have a plan and I get a tad anxious with THE UNKNOWN.
He knows that want my boys to feel safe and loved during this shift.
He knows that I want Scott to feel supported and encouraged during this transition.

(Let's be honest. Scott is doing almost all the supporting and encouraging right now.
Because that is who he is! I am mostly eating a lot of chocolate.)

You may be thinking, "Sue, aren't you freaking out?"

I have a Ph.D. in Freak-out-ology.

But with these past two years of my transition to teaching,
working as an project editor instead of a writer,
moving from our beloved home of 11 years to a tiny house,
moving from the tiny house to a city 40 minutes away from family and friend,
and getting ready to send Jack off to college this fall...
I am thinking....I am tired of freaking out.

So I am moving towards a place of faith. Of believing what I can't see.
Of reaching out to my people in my dark moments and asking for prayer
when I can't sleep or have heart palpitations or get lost in worrisome thoughts.
Of leaning into Scott and his love for me while we wrestle with next steps.
Of encouraging my boys to know that if we trust Jesus, He will make our paths straight.

Jesus always does.
He always brings light and clarity and hope.
(Usually way later than I am hoping for...I tend to get impatient.)

So I wanted you all in on the journey with me. Because, you are my people, too.
In these last 10 years of blogging (10 YEARS, YOU GUYS!!!)
your words of  encouragement,
the sense of solidarity your sisterhood (and brotherhood...come on, I know you guys read, too)
has lent me,
and companionship you have offered me on this crazy life journey...
have been both monumental and instrumental in my own life.


So I will keep you posted about what is coming next.
As soon as Jesus tells me....

Saturday, September 8, 2018

you are my density....or my destiny

Yesterday was one of those days where I had Jen Hatmaker's phrase come to mind,
"Fix it, Jesus, fix it."

I sat at my desk after my last class pondering how the class had gone down.
Thinking about my lesson. My approach. My ability to challenge young minds.
My classroom management skillz. Skillz with a z because z stands for zero.

Then my mind shifted to my house that I was headed home to.
The one that looks like the Wreck of the Hesperus.
This ship is featured in a maritime poem in where said ship was obliterated.
That would be my living room.
I have this weird thing where if my house is a wreck..I feel like a wreck.

And then I thought about how I am pretty sure that
2/3 of my boys did not pack their lunch and had eaten air or dollar cup o' noodles
from the snack bar, which is sure to petrify their insides with monosodium glutamate.

Then my super positive train of thought led me to think about
the pile of grading on my desk,
the devotions I am editing over the weekend,
the week-long field trip I am prepping for in 2 weeks,
the retreat I am speaking at in 3 weeks, and
the fact that Scott and I haven't gone a real date in...I actually can't remember how long.

Then the thought popped into my mind that Jack will be leaving for college in less than a year.
That thought alone lays me out flat. Oh..and that he needs tennis shoes. There's that.

(I am not kidding, people, this is exactly how my mind works. PRAY HEAVY.)

Then I think,
Am I doing what am I am supposed to be doing right now? 
Is there something that I am missing? 
Is there some way that I can sew up all the jagged edges of my soul
and make this piecemeal life of mine have some semblance of order? 
Am I missing out on my destiny and that is why life feels so wild?

(And by destiny, I clearly mean, a life without issues, tragedy, stress, and cup o' noodles?)

The word "destiny" always reminds me of George McFly in Back to the Future approaching
his future wife and saying, "You are my density."

Maybe in this destiny (or density) is in question. Because I feel undone.

So. Then we come back to the clearly needed prayer of  "Fix it, Jesus, fix it."

And as I was doing all this thinking (worrying, kvetching, sulking, stressing out) yesterday,
I was struck by the thought (HOLY SPIRIT, IS THAT YOU?)
that Jesus may not be that concerned about altering my circumstances.
Of course, there are moments in time when yes, absolutely,
in order to bring hope or healing or change that
He shifts the earth on its axis to change the course of my life
(marriage, motherhood, speaking in public, teaching middle school, anyone?)

But mostly, in the ordinary every day scheme of things?

He is using my circumstances to shape my soul.
Those rough uneven edges of my life are whittling away all pretenses and pride.
I am in desperate need of a Savior...and it shows.

The pressure of work and home and church and parenting are squeezing me.
What is coming out? Apparently some anger, discontentment, and a hearty helping of sarcasm.
I get snarky when life feels tight and overwhelming.

And the people that surround me? Jesus has them there to show me who I am.
I see my life mirrored in their eyes.
Am I loving? Am I forgiving? Am I gentle with my words? Am I ushering in hope and peace?
I don't know.
What are my people saying? How are they feeling around me? 
Is Jesus spilling out of me when life is cracking open my heart?
Maybe. Sometimes. Possibly not yesterday.

These pressures and hard places and impossible challenges...this life that I am living...
Jesus doesn't want to "fix it."

He is
With love and hope and prodding and prying and some uncomfortable situations.
He is allowing this world and all of its imperfectness to rub against my hopes and dreams
and reveal my destiny.

My destiny is not about what I am doing.
It is about who I am becoming.
And WHOSE I am becoming.

A little more each day...we are Him.
From glory to glory.
(Or from Wreck of the Hesperus to Wreck of the means the same thing.)
Our character is revealed more in our failures than our successes.
Our hearts are re-shaped during trials and struggles.

His glory at work in you and real life...right now.
And if we let Him...He will use every single thing in our lives,
the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the difficult and the joyful,
to pour out His life through ours.
A collaborative destiny.

And that is a beautiful destiny to be a part of, don't you think?