Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Goodbye, Sweet Home

Home. It doesn’t matter where it is, I get sentimental. I get attached. Maybe it’s because when I go “home” to Soperton, I go to the home we moved into when I five.  I like that.   It’s a Spanish Colonial set in Georgia pines splattered with dogwoods, a few magnolias, and redbuds.  At the end of a long driveway off Dublin Road, I lived for what seems to a child, a lifetime.  There’s something marvelous about “familiar”.  When I return, I sleep in the same pink bedroom with a country view that has not changed except that the trunks of the trees have broadened and lengthened and the azalea bed below my windows has swelled to an enormous patch.  Returning is special.  My room has housed things from the Rub a Dub Baby to Bee Gee’s music to the placebo drugs I compounded in pharmacy school.  If I looked around long enough, I’d probably find all three.  I like that.  I remember where the best hide and seek places are {in my Daddy’s closet and in the den between the couch and the wall}, Christmas mornings that exceeded “merry and bright”, Dukes of Hazard fun on motorcycles, after dinner table conversations that brought security to a teenage heart, where I was tickled so intensely I thought I would die, beautiful bridal showers, wedding receptions and luncheons my Mom hosted, great (and not so great) practical jokes, where I used to could turn a cartwheel without losing a foot, mine and Blake’s conversations long after bedtime, countless dinner guests and a zillion more soul shaping, life making memories.  Home is a big deal.  Home is familiar.  I like that, too.

So for almost 18 years, Jeff and I have been on our way to “familiar”.  I have loved every stop.  But this last stop may have been my favorite.  All four of us were here.  And they were little here.

They fit in kitchen cabinets.

They fit in laundry baskets.

Traditions were started.

I have loved this stop but it’s coming to a end.  We are in our last days here in this house I never thought we’d leave.  I thought this was the last house.  Oh, it’s a great decision, a lateral move, an exciting time but my heart is tugged, no, yanked, regarding all these memories we’ve made here.  Our ceilings are a mere 10 feet high but the rooms are thousands of stories deep.  I have tried to write a lot of them down--- right here.

And I am so glad I have.  I don’t want to forget the goodness.

Birthday celebrations, snow days, coffees, dinner parties for all sorts of reasons and for no reason at all, books, popcorn and cheese, Uno matches, fires, school at home, Sabbath meals, Carrie, Evonne and now, Emily who have blessed us so, the neighbors, house church, books, Christmas mornings, so much special company sleeping in our guest room, S’more parties, watching squirrels, Thanksgivings, small group, Mom’s group, surprise parties, books, Nanna and Papa camps, rainy days, farm chores, and every ordinary day.

We have become a family here.  The kids are old enough to get that-- being a family.  Being the Sanders.  Brighton was only 21 months old when we moved in and Julia hadn’t even turned 4.   I know those years weren’t perfect when they were younger but they were so darn cute, it hardly mattered.

This house is hollow tonight.  It’s not home tonight.  Our sounds echo off these bare walls and floors. I can see too many boxes. I didn’t even have a spoon to stir our coffee earlier.  I am sitting by the last fire when I should be sleeping.  And the worst part... I have a lump in my throat.  Better stop there.  I can’t expend the energy.  Movers come in the morning.

I haven’t met the family who is moving in and maybe I won’t.  But I think of them a lot.  This place I love will be theirs to make home.  They will be the ones to sit in the den and stare at the canopy of trees with winding, overlapping limbs. {Oh, just wait until it snows! And when the spring blooms with every shade of green!}  They will be the one to sit by the REAL fire and enjoy the cozy warmth.  {Please don’t put gas logs in this fire place!}  They will be the ones serving meals in the kitchen or setting the dining room table for something special.  They will be the ones making it personal to them.  I think it will be a while before I can come to visit my neighbors.

So Family That is Moving Here, though I don’t plan on leaving anything behind, I’d put money on your finding a few random tiny Legos, a Polly Pocket shoe from long ago, our Golden Retriever’s blonde hair {impossible to eradicate}, a bobby pin from my ballerina’s bun, thread from her many sewing projects, a few nail holes we missed while puttying them.  I hope you love it here.  I hope it creeps into your heart and makes you want to cherish your family.  I pray it will be your best stop so far.... and maybe your last one. I hope it will be your favorite familiar.  I pray you will intently pursue making memories here..... and years later finding yourself wading through rooms stories deep. Very deep.

We will take our with us.  I promise.

I am on to make another home.  Another familiar.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

# 9

As I scanned Brighton's assignment sheet for Science yesterday, I saw we had something out of the ordinary due. Today.  Blocks of time were shaded in on the calendar in my head for most of the day so this threw me for a loop.  {This would not have happened if I had read the entire assignment sheet last week.  Our fault entirely.}  B's sweet teacher, Mrs. Johanson, gave us many choices and a few of those I just looked right over knowing he would NOT be ready for an oral report of any kind by 8:30 this morning.  I also knew I would not be performing any soil experiments in the next 5 hours.  So in my attempts of being less controlling~ or less suggestive~ and giving Brighton more choices, I set the paper down in front of him.  {#4 circled in red pen has nothing to do with my suggestive struggle!}  He studied it for a minute or two.  I left the room so I would keep my mouth shut.  I walked back in to check on his progress.  

"Mom, I think I want to do this one."  I looked down to see his little finger pointed on #9.  


#9.  If you can think of another activity you would like to do pertaining to soil, let me know.

"B, would you like "A" or "B"?"


Welcome to my world.

Love that boy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Welcome to Delaware {And the boy who took me there}

There’s a song that’s been on repeat in my head over the last several months~ “Welcome to Delaware” by the Nockels of Watermark. It’s an old one but I remember the comfort it brought me while waiting on children.  I don’t know but I feel the song was written from a painful spot that worked its way to submission and ultimately, contentment and trust in His creative, redeeming ways.

Just to get the jist,

“But You've let me see so much since I've known You
But I’m headed to where it seemed like nowhere
You told me You'd come
You told me You'd meet me here

You were here to say,
"Welcome to Delaware,
I know you've traveled far,
And it's a lot colder here than what you're used to,
And I know, that in the winter time,
things aren't what they used to be
So all you really have here now, is Me..." “

Delaware.  No man’s land.  Unfamiliar territory.  A big question mark.  A place you never thought you’d be.  A place you know nothing about.  But God is there.

Each of our lives are full of Delawares- some more painful, some unexpected, some just unfamiliar.  Our move to Texas, planting a church, infertility, adoptions- open and closed, a ministry like Tarrant NET, homeschooling.  It’s all normal life stuff, but definitely unfamiliar and that’s where my new Delaware comes in.  A boy.  Raising a normal nine year old boy through a normal boyhood.  But somehow this “normal” feels like a remote, thickly wooded area of Delaware, in that I can only see what’s right in front of me.  The misdirected energy, the constant pushing, the consistent testing..... I get stuck there and it veils the amazing view around me and the vision of what is and what could be.  Here is where I need to focus.  On the whole landscape.  Over many years.  10:30 am on a Monday morning?  Yesterday?  Not so much.  

I knew little boys pulled away from their mommas and I knew it was normal, healthy, and necessary but I had no idea how soon it would begin.  And we’ve been there a couple of years.  They don’t really know they are doing it but they sense changes and different needs within and they begin the slow process of pulling away...... towards dad.  It’s not leaving or even a disconnect from mom but a necessary part of becoming their own little man.  And we have to let them.  We have to.  Along with the heartache the tugging causes, what complicates it further is that Brighton is under my care most of the day, feeling the need to make his own decisions, to have a little control and to bristle, at times, to my instructions and training.   And I understand that because I still bristle.  What I don’t understand is how this works out in minute to minute parenting~ giving him some autonomy in the same moments he needs to finish a school assignment or in his desire for independence and my desire for him to complete a chore.  Yes, these are small choices, not life threatening situations, but here is where I am trying to see the landscape, the whole of the woods.  If he is learning to wind through the trees now while they are smaller, maybe when the situations loom large and are towering over him, he will know his way around and dodge some unnecessary heart ache.  Maybe.

I’ve said this before.  I can’t talk about Brighton without talking about Jeff.  Jeff takes Brighton any time he can-- running errands, the last half hour at this office, skeet shooting.  Whatever Jeff is doing that Brighton can be with him, Jeff invites him and Brighton’s answer is ALWAYS yes!  Nothing can compete with this.  And the best part?  They “get” each other.  Jeff grew up in “Delaware”.  He was a boy once, right?  Brighton needs to be “gotten”, especially by his Dad and Jeff is allowing so much time for this.  I am so grateful.

When I think of Brighton, words like potential, influence, charismatic, sensitive, persistence, people-loving, intuitive float around in my mind.  Then there is one word that I scribble across all of these because it affects every part of who he is.  “Strong-willed”.  And that’s not a bad word.  I used to think it was.  Now, it makes for some interesting parenting moments but just a few weeks ago, I had to ask myself, “Would I really rather him be weak-willed?”  Absolutely not.  Then why do I get tangled up with it so often?

I listen to podcasts when I walk and currently I am being discipled by whoever is talking about marriage or parenting on Focus on the Family.  (My scope is narrow right now.)  A couple of weeks ago, Cynthia Tobias spoke on “Practical Advice on Parenting Strong Willed Children” and it changed the way I saw Brighton- not to the point where I understand him fully or even know what to do with him all the time but it gave me insight into his thoughts and why he does some of the things he does.   The thing I keep thinking about she said is the child doesn’t necessarily want to control you.  He just needs to maintain a little bit of control over himself.  Can you relate to that?  I can and I think we all have a bit of that going on~ some more than others.  When a child tries to exercise that last little bit of control when we are yelling for them to get in the car (like running back in to get a drink or a different pair of shoes), it gets under our skin and in that moment, we can make it easier or we can turn it into an issue over being 2 minutes later leaving the driveway.  To keep it real, I fall into the latter way more than I want to admit.  The other thing she said was giving them ultimatums, like a do or die scenario, never goes well.  Sometimes a strong willed child would rather “die” than “do” for you.  I think you can imagine the scenarios-- {sitting at the table in front of the dinner plate ALL night or taking the zero at school}  Tear that page out of the parenting book.

By His grace, this trip to Delaware with B, will produce good stuff for our whole family.  It keeps me praying, keeps me dependent, and keeps Jeff and me in serious communication.  Doesn’t ALL of parenting?  The most comforting thing is that the Lord is really the tour guide on this journey through boyhood.  He may use Jeff and me but only He can lead Brighton through it in a way that will produce the fruit of a boy who loves Him, desires to obeys and lives to serve Him.  I can’t touch that.  But it has to be what I see, the entire landscape, in the moment of frustration, in the moment of “What do I do now?” , in the moment of his maintaining a little control for himself.  Faithfully, God comes and raises His own in creative and redemptive ways.  In Ephesians 3:20 kinds of ways.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”

I’m counting on that.

My goal is to embrace his strong will and encourage him live it out under the control of the Holy Spirit and for me to have the self control to sit back and watch God at work.
Immeasurably more.  According to His power.  Not by might.

So, watch out world when we finally make it out of Delaware.