Category Archives: growing up

The Best Messiest Decade

I am 36 today and it feels huge. True to my nature, my “milestone” year doesn’t fit with tradition of the “big ones” like 21 or 40 or 50. As I go through the highlight reel of  just my 30’s, I realize I’ve made questionable/hard decisions that have yielded extraordinary new chances to live better for a lifetime. I give 100% credit to God who keeps redeeming and rebuilding me. In the words of one of my favorite bloggers, I never have my shit together, but somehow it doesn’t matter because it’s in the messes I make for myself that God does his best work.

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20160812_200526Straight out of the gate at 30 years old, I had cosmetic surgery. I don’t regret the surgery, but I do question if I’d make the same decision today. I never saw my decision as a symptom of a deeper mental health issue until I found myself in anorexia recovery four years later. Now, I am in a season of learning to love my body as is. I am connected with my physical self, and I finally understand and appreciate all the work my body does to take care of me even when I mistreat it. Optional surgery was a life-altering decision; I live with the result every day, remembering how far I have come from the inner-unrest of my past and appreciating the different perspective I have today.

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At 31 I had an affair and subsequently experienced a marital rough patch. I don’t want to relive 20160825_183327those years, and I pray my marriage doesn’t experience anything of the like again; however, if it weren’t for the two years that threatened to destroy my marriage, my husband and I wouldn’t be what we are today–grateful, humble, and in love. It was a lot of work to fix what was wrong; it’s still work to keep it strong. Nearly 15 years together, 12 of those married, my husband and I are are more in love today than ever, yet experience has taught me I cannot take love for granted. Love doesn’t just happen. We make the choice every single day, in the bustling mix of kids, work, commitments, projects, and appointments, to look each other in the eye; to wrap our arms around each other; to say I love you; to say us first, then the rest; to acknowledge I see you and hear you and you matter; to say I’m sorry; to say thank you.

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The timing of my newly strengthened marriage couldn’t have been better because the two years following that season were tumultuous for my health. At 33 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which exacerbated the full blown eating disorder I was living with but wouldn’t be treated until I was 34. Physically and mentally, I was very ill and in danger of dying.

Even so, I ignored my body and became a Taekwondo student that season. My intention behind the menevergiveupdecision was to do something fun and bonding with my children, especially my daughter. (Shortly after I joined, I had to take a three-month medical leave to enter anorexia rehabilitation.) Little did I know the Taekwondo studio would become my training ground for perfectionism recovery and a supplemental space where God continues to show me what my body and mind can do as is. Technique-wise, you won’t find me winning competitions and awing crowds in demonstrations. I am clunky and slow and often mis-torqued in movement; however, I am the strongest and most mentally resilient than I ever have been.

My daughter and I are T-minus six months away from our earning black belts together.  Mission almost accomplished!

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portland-and-meAt 34 I entered anorexia recovery, which continues today. This has been my biggest challenge (after motherhood, of course) I’ve ever faced. I depended on anorexia for over 13 years to help me maintain the illusion that I had my life all together, but it nearly killed me. You won’t hear me use the words “I’ve overcome my eating disorder” because while I am better and don’t need the disease, the eating disorder voice is always quietly hanging out in my head. Complacency is dangerous.

With my recovery came a passion for mental health and suicide prevention advocacy. True to God’s nature he’s taken my fears and experience and rebuilt them as a platform to lift up others who find themselves struggling in mental illness.

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My dad and my daughter.

Shortly after my 35th birthday I asked my dad to go to counseling with me, which we did earlier this year. You cannot heal in the present without visiting your past. Part of anorexia recovery meant taking my dad’s hand and walking together through some painful memories from my childhood.  It was eight intense weeks of raw honesty and emotion that yielded understanding, forgiveness, and fresh space for us to grow in relationship going forward.  I know my dad loves me and he’s got my back even if we don’t agree on things. I feel confident and valued knowing my dad has my back, which is imperative as I continue to learn and express who I am without the crutch of perfection. A girl always needs her dad. <3

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My 30’s so far have been my best messiest decade. It’s the decade where God is carving away my self-made facade to reveal who I really am as He crafted me. With both discomfort and gratitude I appreciate the process, yet I am still learning how to rejoice in the results. So, happy birthday to me! And happy birthday to you if we share this day or even this season. May your fresh new year be blessed with something beautifully unexpected.

<3 Peace and love.

Dear Peanut

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My boy: lover of sports, SpongeBob Squarepants, Oregon Ducks, quesadillas, math, friendship, family, and the occasional princess movie–especially if there is a really cool bad guy.

Dear Peanut,

I know I am biased because I am your mother, but I have to say you are one amazing kiddo. You move around so much playing sports, playing with friends, riding your bike, and pestering your little sister that I don’t often get to stop and reflect on who you are and who I see you becoming to be.

When I think about you on this very special day, the first words I think of are happy, energetic, hands-on, quick, smart, and bright. You are caring and sensitive–which is sometimes hard to see because you are always on the move, but in your quieter moments, the soft and aware side of your heart shines. It is so beautiful, Peanut.

You have a sharp and inquisitive mind–always keep a wondering and seeking mind, Sean. You trend toward math and science (though you claim to “hate” math); I love how you ask a million questions about how the world operates and throw impossible math questions to Dad and me, like “What’s 1,567,654 divided by 75,000, 563 times the square root of 56?”  You are so gracious when we simply answer, “Probably some sort of decimal number.”  I think you are fascinated that with math you can pour out a string a of numbers in any sort of equation, and with a proper solving process, get a legitimate answer. You are keenly aware that numbers never end–infinite possibilities are intriguing and fun to chase.

You are a great big brother and confidently hold your status as older and Bigbrotherwiser. Though you are a bit impatient (that isn’t your fault, you get that from me), you enjoy teaching, leading, and loving your sister. You get annoyed when Haley hangs around too much, yet you miss her when she is gone. You claim to hate playing and/or watching anything with princesses, yet you oblige her wishes when you desire time with Haley. You fight and compete with each other to the point where  sometimes I wonder if you actually like each other, yet you two always amaze (and perplex me) when you find the space of acceptance and peace with one another.  She loves being around you because in her eyes, you are the coolest, safest, and most fun kid to hang around. I pray you two always remain close to one another.

This week, I became aware that you are moving into an age (8 years old today!) where you begin to decide who you want to be. You opened up to your dad the other day that you are being bullied on the baseball field. It broke our hearts and, of course, we wanted to oblige your request to skip camp practice to avoid the pain. Yet, our greater desire is to teach you how to be your best in the face of pain–because that is how you grow stronger and wiser and how you develop compassion for others who struggle.

You and I had the most wonderful conversation in the hallway–me in my pajamas and you bare down to your undershorts. With tears streaming down your face I told you to look at me–“Baseball is your passion. These guys who taunt you are trying to chase you away from what you love. If you don’t go today, those guys win. Mission accomplished for them. What’s our top rule in Taekwondo? Always believe in yourself. You go out on that field and show them you can’t be chased away–you’re there to play ball. When they are too busy poking fun at you, you are on the ball field getting better at your craft. Believe in yourself and don’t worry about these other guys. We are never to give up… if you don’t go today, you give up. And you aren’t a quitter–you are competitive and you want to win. You can’t win if you stay home today.”

“But I am only one person and there are like 10 of them. It’s really hard.”

“You’re darn straight it’s hard! And scary!” I told you the story of David and Goliath. Tiny little David stood up to a giant and knocked him down with nothing but a single stone square between the eyes. “With God you get superhuman power. It’s already inside of you; you have the power within you stand strong, even when you are scared, against one giant, 10 bullies, an army of 1000 men. Say a prayer when you step on to the field, God is standing at the plate with you.” This story stopped your tears and put a smile on your face. You decided to go to baseball camp that day. And you rocked it!

20140531_131534You’re 8 years old today, and I love being your mom. What I always hold the closest to my heart is somehow in your swirl of daily movement and activity, you manage to find random and countless moments to tell me that you love me. Please know how much that means to me; a mother can never hear that too many times from her kidlets.

Happy birthday, Peanut!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You were six today

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I woke up and you were six years old today. Thinking back to the day you were born, I knew I was getting a gift, but I could never have imagined exactly how special you would be.

You are sweet and sassy and smart– clever with your words and emotions according to your audience and your need for expression.

You are intellectual, imaginative, and inquisitive–indulgent in your desires to learn; reading, writing, and reflecting back upon what you need to know.

You have an artist’s spirit– creative and spiritual and intuitive. Singing and dancing, creating and writing–through music and paint (and lots of glitter), pencil and paper you discover and express and wonder about life and all the lovely (and not so lovely) things it has to offer.

You have a heart for the Lord, a flowering relationship with Jesus, a trusting instinct for the Holy Spirit. You have sincere prayers, thoughtful insight to our loved ones lost, and a child-like understanding of God’s love I wish I had.

You are an observer, soaking in the thoughts and actions happening around you. (A ruminator like your mother.) Thinking, learning, contemplating, and threading life into the depths of your spirit, letting it simmer and rest until parts of it bubble up–ready for exploration and explanation.

You are bold and outspoken when you need to be–expressing injustice, advocacy, and love (oh, how much you love to love!), for the sake of others’ hearts.

Like any young girl, you desire to be older and more mature–taking pride in the moments you handle things on your own; acknowledging and indulging your growing independence.

Yet, you  are six years old. My heart swells because you still seek mommy. You desire the comfort and snuggles that comes with crawling into my lap; peace of mind that you are loved and adored; validation of who you are when I tell you my favorite things about you are your heart and your mind.

You’re my little girl, my Haleybugger–my love bug–my gift whom I love and honor and admire. Happy birthday to you!

 

Lunar Calling

Sleepy child cannot sleep;
Fit and fever keeps slumber at bay.

Tears stream down sweet, pallid cheeks;
he calls for mommy seeking peace.

Covers to chin, tucked warm and nestled;SleepingSean
Mama’s touch invites gentle comfort.

Tender fingers across his brow, low humming lullaby fills the dark;
Sleep summoned Mama’s way.

Maternal nostalgia of newborn nights seeps through clear memory;
Precious peanut seven years past.

Lunar calling fills Mama’s heart;
A mother’s work is welcome relief.

A shining star upon angst of darkness is Mama’s love upon troubled needs.

Sickness abates and lullaby fades;
Sleep arrives, dreams begin to play…

The coolest thing about parenting

The coolest thing about parenting is when my kids shock me in revealing how awesome they are. I don’t mean this in a braggy “my kid is awesome-er than other kids” kind of way. I mean it as in “Whoa, I had no idea you could do that.”

I don’t know how it happens that I don’t notice when she (or my son) advances in learning or skill development. Last night while working with my daughter on her homework, (yes, my kindergartner has homework… and kind of a lot of it), one of the assignments was to read a book and find five “heart” words–a, see, for, I, and, the, in, can– and write them in her workbook.

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Haley reading My Dentist is not a Monster.

Typically when my daughter reads for school, she reads her reading-group worksheets, which consist of basic word/letter sounds and simple two-to-three word sentences.

When we read books together, I read to her. Only last night, when she picked out her book for her assignment she asked, “Mom? Can I read the book to you this time?”

Of course I said yes, thinking it would be a long, tedious session of helping her sound out every word outside of the basic heart words she already knows.

Um. She read the entire book to me… with minimal help! I was shocked and amazed! I kept looking at my husband  and silently mouthing, “Our daughter can read!” I was so delighted, and she was proud. Oh she was so proud, and her bright, little face was so excited in response to my praise. 😀

Rewind a bit back to Monday, I took Haley to her first art lesson. Haley loves art. When she’s bored, I can usually say, go draw or paint something and she will, for about an hour.  Then she gets frustrated. Angry-frustrated. She struggles to match the image in her head on the paper with her paint or crayons.

Typically I try to calm her angst with the suggestion to take a break (it works for me when I can’t seem to get the words right when I’m writing). She refuses every time, declaring with angry tears, “No! I want to make it right!”

I don’t know how to teach her; I am no help in these times of frustration for Hales. I’m not exactly a visual artist myself, which is strange considering my mother is an amazing artist.

So, we’ve invested in a few art lessons with a local art teacher, who I just adore. Imagine my shock and amazement when I picked her and  she was putting her initials on the bottom of her first “official” painting:

HaleyHorse

That’s a pretty good looking horse for a five-year old artist!

I’ve always known my girl has an artist’s soul, but I hadn’t realized the extent of her skills yet. Of course she’s going to get better with time, but I’m so excited to see what she already embodies.

I am incredibly grateful for teachers. As a mom I can teach my daughter a whole lot about life, but I can’t always harness her unique skills in a way that makes her feel successful. Teachers can. These little headline moments I experience with both my kids are so precious to me, and I love the shock value they punch into my day.