Friday, September 3, 2021

Hold on to your heart, Mama, another little bird has flown ...

This last week, my son, Will, and I loaded up a rental van with all of his wordly possessions and started the trek from Meridian, Idaho, to Azusa, California. 

Since Scott and my youngest son, Addison, weren't able to join the pilgrimage, we used every square inch of space for his mini-fridge that he bought off of his oldest brother, Jack, his keyboard, his guitar, his ukulele, and of course, his foam mattress pad. Because dorm room beds are notoriously uncomfortable and sleep is precious to teenage boys.

I say 'teenage boy' because Will is 18. But really he is a fully formed young man. 

My beautiful, funny, curly-headed, blue-eyed boy is grown. 

I have known this day has been coming all year long since I dropped Will off for the first day of his senior year of high school. There have been all the high point markers along the way. Senior retreat. Senior prank day. Senior pictures. Senior breakfast. And the culmination of all the great events - graduation.

I loved seeing him walk proudly down the aisle in his maroon cap and gown. Head held high.

And I loved hearing him sing Philip Philipp's Home with his senior class. 

The plucking of the guitar in that song reminds me of when Will holes up in his room creating and recording songs. 

And then when Will got his diploma and strutted back down the aisle, our entire family cheered like he had won the World Cup. In our eyes, he had. 

He had conquered his senior year. The craziest senior year of all with a world wide pandemic upending all normalcy. There was good reason to cheer.

But I haven't been able to write about any of it. 

Because every time I sat down to write, it has felt too big to wrangle. 

My brain refused to come up with quips and stories and memories that have charted Will's course. 

Maybe I thought if I didn't write about it, it would make it less true.

The inevitable was coming. Will was leaving.

The funny thing about kids leaving is that it just doesn't feel right.

When Jack, our oldest, left two years ago, it ripped my heart right out and left me raw.

It has been a slow mending of mixed heartache and joy watching him wend his way in the world.

I am inexplicably proud. I just really miss his face. Man, I love that guy.

And now here we are 2 years later, and Will is joining Jack at school.

Which is an amazing miracle of God's provision and grace. 

But still. There is that whole dumb thing about actually going away to college.

So dumb.

Because that means I won't get to see him every day. Or get to squeeze his hand. Or give him hugs. Or hear him laughing or yelling at his friends playing video games. Or listen to his latest song that he has composed. Or just sense that easy joy that Will brings into the room when he walks in. 

Man, I love that guy.

Will and I made the 14 hour drive in two days, stopping overnight in Vegas.

We had a full Welcome Weekend experience when we arrived in Southern California. Cheering students welcomed us with posters as we drove on campus. There was the President's Picnic. Eating with all the incoming freshman. Walking through the Azusa Gate. The next time he passes through the gate he will be a graduate. Candela. A candle lit celebration of light commissioning the students to be the light of the world. So many good things. 

But, sweet mercy, those thoughtful moments tend to put you on an emotional rollercoaster that leaves you dehydrated and laid out by the end of the weekend. 

It was so fun to get to see Will enjoying the experience. He let me go along for the ride. We ate together even when he was hanging out with his friends. We walked the campus together. I waited outside the building when he had his music audition and got the blow by blow with Scott listening over the phone, hearing how he had to perform one of his songs and sight read sheet music in front of 4 faculty members. The kid has guts. 

His kindness buffeted the coming blows. 

I think he sensed I was on the verge of some kind of maternal collapse.

Saturday night, the night before I would be leaving, was rough.

And by rough, I mean, all the tears that I had stored up Senior Year, decided they needed to get out before I met up with Will in the morning. I woke up all through out the night finding tears streaming down my face and dampening my pillow. I couldn't shake the sadness. 

Scripture says that weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. 

Helpful Hint: If you can't find the joy, cold washcloth compresses on your eyeballs can at least alleviate some of the puffiness. Don't even think about trying to wear contacts.

Sunday morning there was a school-wide chapel service. This is the last event before Azusa tells all the parents very kindly and very firmly, "You need to go home now and let your kids get on with it."

They end the chapel by handing out pieces of chalk. You are supposed to go outside and make a circle of chalk on the sidewalk, write your family members name in it, and then stand around the circle and pray for your student.

It is a compelling moment. But I knew that if Will and I circled up, I would most likely collapse weeping into the circle, cause a scene, and Will would be forced to abandon me in the auditorium plaza.

There is only so much that a mom can handle.

I texted Will from my hotel room, "Do you want to go to the service? Or just go to breakfast?"

He texted back, "Breakfast, just you and me."

Bless him.

When I texted Scott that we skipped service, he said,"I can't believe he just got there and you already encouraged him to skip chapel."

I texted back. "He's a pastor's kid. He has a couple extra services in his back pocket. He'll be fine."

Will and I went to IHOP. We ate pancakes and talked.

He filled me in on his first night of dorm life and meeting some of the guys on his hall. 

We talked about his upcoming classes and figuring out where they were on campus.

Then he asked me, "Mom, have you even cried at all?"

I told him, "Last night was hard. I cried a lot. But Will, I don't want to cry with you. I am so excited for you. This is such an awesome time for you!"


Then we got back into the car and Will asked me if I wanted to listen to some of his songs on the way back to campus.

He had DJed for us our entire trip down. 

He put on my favorite song of his. It was quite possibly my undoing.

As we crossed the street before turning onto campus, the floodgates opened, and I started to ugly cry.

This was it. That heart-wrenching moment that all moms experience when they realize that they have worked themselves right out of their favorite job: momming. Loving on those people that you birthed and seeing them through to adulthood. 

Will patted my shoulder saying, "You're okay. You're okay. But can you drive? Because you are blinking SO MUCH."

We pulled up behind his dorm and he hopped out. I put my head on his shoulder and cried into his neck.

It doesn't seem that long ago that he was that tiny boy who cried into my neck.

I told him that I was proud of him.  That I knew he would do great. And that I loved him.

He squeezed me and said, "I love you, too, Mom."

And then he turned and walked into his dorm. Into his new life. 

I thought that maybe saying good-bye to my second boy wouldn't be as hard.

Maybe my heart would have grown more used to the wrench of loosing my life from that of the beautiful boys that I love.

Nope. Not at all.

It was just as gross as the first time.

Addison, our youngest, senses this and is already worried.

But here is the thing.

When I asked Will earlier in the weekend what his favorite thing about his time at school was so far, he thought for a moment and then said, "The freedom."

There it is.

Will is ready to soar. I could see it in his face. I could hear it in his voice.

I am thankful that I got to hold him close for so many years. I will neither confirm or deny that I want to yank him right back into the nest. I may or may not be requiring some tissue right now as I write. (I'm not crying. You're crying.)

But Will is ready to find his way into the world. 

And this is a good thing. Because the world needs more of Will in it. His light. His joy. His kindness. His loyalty towards those he loves. His love of small children and all animals. His songs. His quick wit and boundless creativity.  And his thoughtful way of looking at life.

I am praying that Will senses the great, immense love of Jesus buoying him as he takes flight. 

That Will leans into His goodness and grace when struggles abound and that he finds His comfort and hope when he faces heartache. And that he is filled with a sense of purpose and creativity as Jesus leads him on this new journey. 

Go with Jesus, Will...and don't forget to text your mom. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Warning to Farmers, Toddlers, and Hipsters: You Might Not Want to Wear Overalls On Your First Flight after COVID...just sayin

This past week my youngest, Addison, and I got to fly to Colorado to be with my mom 

while my dad flew to Washington D.C. for a speaking engagement. 

It was our first plane trip since COVID hit last year. 

We were ready. We had our backpacks. Our snacks. And our masks. 

As we were leaving the ticketing counter with our boarding passes, 

a young lady approached us and and said,

"Hi, I overheard you are going to Denver. Do you mind if I walk with you? 

This is my first flight since I was 13."

I said, "We don't mind at all. How old are you now?"

"18. I'm a little nervous. I heard Denver is a huge airport."

Addie walked in front of us as we chatted.

"You don't have anything to worry about. 

Even though it is big, they have really good signs. You will get where you need to go."

She asked,"And people can answer my questions?"

"Yes. They will be super helpful."

As we went through the security line, I told her, "Security might be a little different since the last time you went through. They have a machine that scans your body now."


"Yep. You just hold your hands up in the air. It scans you and you are free to go."

"I don't mind. I'm glad they are doing things to make sure people stay safe."

"Me, too."

Addie stepped through the scanner.

I followed him. 

But as I exited, the TSA agent said, "Maam, I'm going to pat you down."

Addie was standing in front of me. The girl walking with us had come through the scanner 

and was standing behind me at this point. 

"Oh. Okay."

I was wearing overalls and a t-shirt. Maybe the metal buttons had triggered something. 

Maybe they were too baggy. Who knows. 

She proceeded to tell me with a smile, "I am going to have to pat down your chest. 

Do you want to go to a private area?"

I really didn't. That made it weird. 

Whatever patting down was going to take place, was going to take place in view of the public as far as I was concerned. 

"Nope. I'm fine here."

She then proceeded to pat down my sides and my back. Totally fine.

Addie and the girl were watching as I was searched.

But then things took a turn.

She stood and faced me, eye-to-eye.

She began a full-frontal pat-down.

The thoroughness with which the TSA agent patted

down the upper region of my body caught me off-guard.

This was no simple frisking. There as a point where I thought,

"I'm pretty sure you went over that area before. Calm down, sister."

I laughed nervously and said, "Wow! You're really going for it."

She also laughed nervously but then we both went silent in the awkwardness of the moment.

Addie told me later that it was at this point that he turned away.

"Mom, you shouldn't have talked. Just be quiet when you are getting patted down."

"Dude. I wasn't trying to talk. I was caught off-guard. That was a whole lot of patting."

The young girl behind me was also silent during the entire exhange.

What made it worse was that after the ultra-invasive pat down, 

the lovely TSA agent and I had to stand and wait, still face-to-face, 

while she tested the residue from her pat down on a strip of paper in a machine.

Just to make sure that I hadn't nestled a bomb or detonator in my pockets 

or in the nooks and crannies of my undergarments.

I hadn't. I promise.

Finally, she gave me the all clear. 

Looking back I feel like she should have been more direct with her pat-down warning, 

offering not a private room for the pat down, but a full-blown explanation like:

"Look. Whatever you thought a pat-down was before, this isn't it.

This is going to be weird. 

When I say, I am going to pat you down. I mean I am going to PAT YOU DOWN. 

More than you have ever been patted before. 

You will feel awkward. I will feel awkward.

 All the people in line around you will also feel awkward. 

But we are doing this to keep our country safe. So let's get it over with."

Then maybe I wouldn't have humiliated myself and my son and some random girl

by calling attention to the extreme vigor with which I was being patted down. 

Hindsight is 20/20.

It is safe to say that I will never see the young girl who walked the security line with us again.

She was off like a shot as soon as she could be. 

I get it. I told her she had nothing to worry about. Apparently, I lied.

No one wanted to see what went down in that security line. Me included.

Needless to say, I did not wear my overalls on the flight back home yesterday.

Lesson learned, TSA. 

Overalls are out. High-waisted jeans and fitted t-shirts are in.

All that to say, whenever your first flight after covid takes place, folks, go with God.

You're going to need Him.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

I'm Tired, People, but I'm Working it Out

There's this new blogging trend where you only blog twice year. 

It's been linked to autoimmune disease. 

Okay. That's not a thing.

But after tons of testing, weeping, and gnashing of teeth, 

I found out last August that I have Hashimotos' Autoimmune Thyroid disease.

And I have blogged 2 1/2 times since then. 

Remember when I was teaching and couldn't get up off the couch after getting home?

Well, my body was forming an uprising against me 

and decided that if I thought living off of coffee and adrenaline for two years was a good idea, 

that it would show me different.

So, I basically exploded my body with stress. Have you guys tried it?

It's not the best. 

I am currently working to atone for the crimes I perpetrated against my body and mental well-being.

I am taking a plethora of supplements - since my body doesn't want to hold on to nutrients -

as well as getting a shot of B12 once a week, because, come on, who doesn't love shots?

I have a pill box the size of a purse and have officially been declared "90 on the inside"

by friends and family.

I asked my son, Addison, the other day, "Remember when I didn't lay on the couch?"

He looked like he wanted to answer yes, but I have raised him to be a truth-teller.

He just patted my shoulder and walked away.

But not that everything is all bad. I have an out now when I make dumb mistakes. 

I found out that your thyroid has cell receptors on EVERY cell in your body.

So it affects my sleep, my neck, my brain, my eyes, my joints, 

and I am pretty sure my elbows are giving me pushback at this point. 

So when anything goes wrong, I am just blaming my thyroid.

The other day, my son Jack was home visiting from college and we were running errands.

I made a wrong turn on a one-way street. We both thought we were going to die.

That was all thyroid, folks. 

Jack decided he would rather drive with Scott after that. 

We had Will's graduation party two weeks ago. Family came in town to stay. 

It was the highlight of our year so far. We had a party. We laughed. We cried.

We lived it up.

It's only taken me 13 days to recover and get up off of the couch.

That's all you, thyroid.

When I named the blog 12 years ago, 

I was a young sleep-deprived mom just trying to survive the day...I was a tired supergirl.

Now as I duke it out with my thyroid, 

I am a middle-aged mom teetering on the brink of an empty nest...

I would say I am more of a super tired girl. 

But that girl...she is still in there.

She is trying to fight her way out. She still wants to laugh and play and do great things for Jesus.

She just feels like maybe she has been hit with a bear tranquillizer 

that has taken her down the last year or 4. 

And her doing great things for Jesus looks a lot like trying not to lay down during virtual church on Sunday now.

It's all about baby steps, folks.

So this month, I am embarking on a new healing journey with my medical team (naturopath, endocrinologist, and the receptionist who has a full-time job logging my appointments).

It starts with an elimination diet that seems especially cruel as it eliminates caffeine and chocolate.

I just started to get teary-eyed at the mention of that. 

I literally ate 3 chocolate almond clusters yesterday in preparation for the fact that I won't be eating dark chocolate for an entire month. See the great logic there?

But I am actually excited in a tired sort of way.

And I have decided I need to stay connected during this journey. 

Because not eating chocolate goes against all my love languages (gifts of chocolate, quality time with chocolate, acts of service of people brings me chocolate, etc.)

So I will be posting updates least two more times this year.

Are you tired, too?

Let's encourage each other on this journey.

I'm asking Jesus to take the wheel. 

Or even better, I will be asking Him to map out the entire journey ahead 

as I will be taking a lie down in the back seat.

Why don't you join me?