The End of Things

I cried tonight.  I got an email from our kid’s school teacher.  She was thanking us for our gift and sharing that when she saw Eli and his best buddy getting their picture taken today, it hit her.  The kids won’t be there next year and she was really going to miss them and our family.

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We are leaving the school that we’ve loved, our community.  We are leaving the teachers, staff and families we’ve grown to love.  We are in the process of preparing to sell the house we’ve loved.

And all of it’s ending right before me at the same time.

Back in December we felt the Lord tugging on our hearts to ask him where the kids would attend school the following year.  As I picked out used uniforms from the tables in the lobby, excited to save money in the fall, I heard his voice,

“Ask me.  Ask me where they’re going to school next year.”

Me… [hands figuratively over ears], “LALALAALALALA” ignoring him the first time.  He prompted my heart again.

“Ask me where they’re going to school next year.”

“Ummmm, of course they are going HERE Lord, we LOVE it HERE.  Let’s be done talking about this.”

Then twice again I heard him prompt me.  And twice again I tried to ignore him.

Then on crisp January morning, Davin and I stepped onto a little field.

All of the sudden in the middle of the field, I felt sparkles, a pre-known-history and something electrifying all at the same time.  I’ve only felt a pre-known-history one other time in my life, and that was when Davin and I started dating.  Within a few weeks, I felt it.  We hadn’t been together but days, but future me had known and loved him all her life, and present me felt it and knew it.  I just couldn’t see it, because as humans, we are bound by time.  But it’s like God let my sprit in on a little glimpse of the past as though I was an old lady looking back on my life yet standing in the shoes of a twenty-something me.  I’m not sure of any other way to explain it.  And it was just the same while we were standing alone in this little field.

I looked at Davin and whispered,

“I think this could be IT.  The place.  I think this is where we are going to live.”

In my heart I thought, I think this is where we have lived, for many, many years.

We have looked at plenty of property over the years and had been looking at even more recently.  Davin has always wanted our family to grow up in the country, on some land.  It took me about eight years to ever warm to the idea of not having a suburb street to drive down at night and park my car in the garage with the streetlight warming us through the night.  I grew up in the suburbs, it’s all I’ve ever known or wanted.

The country has always seemed so remote and distant.  But not this place.

Not this field.

So, we took it to prayer.

The field isn’t even up for sale.  A guy owns it.  Our friends know him and he’s agreed to talk to us before he sells it to anyone else.  That was back in January.

It’s June.

We’ve been patiently waiting on him for over six months to contact us.  And he hasn’t.  Yet.

We’ve prayed.  We’ve written him a letter.  We’ve prayed.  We’ve stopped by and tired to get him to speak to us.  We’ve prayed again.

All without a response from him.  He won’t even take the time to speak to us.

Nothing.

But he’s not in charge.  God is.  And IF we truly belong there, then it will happen in God’s beautiful, triumphant, glorious and hallelujah timing.

Because he’s God, and nothing else, and he always gets the glory, because he is worthy of it all.  So we wait, mostly patiently, becuase God knows what is best and, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”  Proverbs 16:9.

In February, we finally decided to stop ignoring the Lords prompting and take to prayer where the kids should go to school the following year.  We felt like God said to trust him and try to put the kids in public school, specifically the one near the field, even though we did’t live there.  Which meant we had to decide NOT to re-enroll our kids in the school we love.  We called our district for a transfer approval in the beginning of March, here is how the conversation went:

District: Do you have any evidence that you are moving?  Maybe a realtor, paperwork, contract?”

Me: No, we have none of that.

District: Well, then we can’t approve your request.

Me: Ok.

The school our kids attend is so popular, we both have to race to our computers at 8pm on the set date and rush to fill out the forms for each of our kids.  Then there is a waitlist.

It’s an amazing school.

8pm came on a cloudy, Monday night.

I had been in my closet, laying on the floor for the past hour.  Praying/whining/in anguish/thinking over what we felt God had put on our hearts.  We really felt like God said to pursue this field, put the kids in public school and be a light to our surrounding community.  To step out in faith that our kids would influence their un-churched friends and not the other way around.  To trust them with teachers who might tell them things that aren’t actually true.  Friends who don’t all know the Ten Commandments nor follow them.  To leave the beautiful, perfect safety net of their Christian school.

IT was HARD.  It felt like in the movie Indiana Jones when he takes the step of faith.

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I am not kidding.

We didn’t enroll them and we didn’t know where they were going to attend school.  The minutes passed, 8:03… 8:04… I kept checking my watch from the floor.  Our kids would have definitely lost their spots by now…  the feeling sunk in that we were trusting this thing that we thought God was speaking to us.  Davin was much more confident.  He was not on the floor of our closet.  He came in and pulled me off the ground and said it was like Abraham trusting God when he was about to sacrifice his son, and God provided the ram.  We had to take a step of faith, and that God would bless that.

The very next day after we chose NOT to re-enroll the kids, we got a call from the school district that the little field is in.  The cheerful woman on the phone was happy to tell me that our district HAD approved our request, and that we only needed to bring in the completed paperwork to finish it.  Our kids were enrolled in the public school near the little field.

It was less than 24 hours of wondering where our kids would go to school and we got that call.

It was pretty amazing.  Especially the timing of it all.  That was back in March.  We’ve heard nothing regarding the field since then.  We’ve looked at other properties.  Some that cost less and have more land and trees and are in better locations.  But none of them have felt right.

Now we are preparing our beautiful home to sell.  We are packing boxes and giving things away because we are planning on selling and hoping to move into a rental as close as we can get to the field.

The flesh part of me feels like this could literally be the dumbest thing we’ve ever done.

But my sprit answers with “or it could end up being the awesomest.”

Either way, when God calls us to do something we feel like he calling us to do, we have to do it.  Otherwise life is just boring.  I don’t like boring.  I’d rather go on the crazy, blindfold journey with Jesus, than walk the boring suburb sidewalk.  It’s not that he would ever leave me, I’d just be on the sidewalk, kinda bored and he’d be like, “Well, I had this cool adventure planned, and lots of it was a surprise, but you didn’t want to trust me, and that’s alright, so here we are, staring at rollie pollies, but those are cool too, I sure love you.  Do you want to roll one up again and watch it unfold?”

And I’d be like, “NO!  I did this when I was seven, and it was fun back then, but I’m a grown up now and I’m ready for a real BIG adventure!!  I want to go 4-wheeling in the dirt and get muddy and see the water splash around.  I want to run from the alligator and hide under the leaves of the tree with you until the rain passes.  It’s okay if I scrape my knee or get dirty, we’ll be together and I want to go with you wherever you’d take me.”

We could stay in our safe and beautiful home.  With no risk.  We could keep the kids safe and protected from some of the world in Christian school, less risk.

But we feel him calling us on an adventure.  At least we THINK we do, but there is a great risk.

And he didn’t give us the map.  Just asked us if we wanted to come.

He is calling us to dream.  To try and buy the field we are so drawn to, and then try to build a house we’d love our family to grow up in.  To have a garden, a small orchard of fruit trees and maybe even a few dogs to run around the place.

It all sounds so great in my imagination.  And when I’m in prayer or talking with Davin, it doesn’t sound crazy, not at all.

But when I see that we’re selling our gorgeous house that already has a garden, fruit trees, swimming pool and an upstairs patio… well.  When I think about leaving the school we love and not seeing the teachers, staff family and friends everyday… well.  When I consider that the guy that owns the field won’t even give us the time of day… well.  When I think about spending a rainy Christmas in a small rental in who-knows-where… well.

It all makes me want to cry.  To mourn the loss of the school we’ve loved.  To think our kids won’t see those friends, the teachers, staff and families.  I won’t see the beautiful, bright and cheerful school secretary who’s made me cry more than once from her sweet acts of kindness and Christ’s love well… it just makes me sad, and I just want to cry.

Because it’s hard.

It’s hard to leave the stuff I love.

It’s hard to give up so much of what I love on the hope that God has something else in mind even though so much of it is unclear.

So here I sit.  Finally processing all that’s gone on over the past six months, making decisions based on faith.  And I feel reminiscent of the past.  All the past we’ve had in this house.  Two of my babies came home from the hospital here.  This house was their first beginning.  I had three kids two and under here, day-in, day-out.  I remember crying, laughing and feeling exhausted.  Now the twins have lost teeth and look like young kids, not toddlers.  The baby is about to turn one.  Life just keeps going on and on, and my grounding points are being pulled up from under me.

To wrap it up:

  1. We have pulled the kids out of an amazing Christian school, and enrolled them into a public school.
  2. We are preparing to sell the house we love, get rid of things we love and pack up and move into a much smaller rental for an unknown amount of time.
  3. We have yet to hear ANYTHING from the guy that owns the field.

It felt good to cry.  To sit and look at all the memories we’ve had in this house.  To mourn the loss of all the lovely I am leaving and saying goodbye to.

On the hope of a new adventure.

 

childhood

Maybe it’s because I’m feeling maternal and pregnant and all, but I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting which has led me to reflect a decent amount on my own childhood. I’ve discovered that while no one has a perfect childhood, mine was actually pretty good. Sure, I got my feelings hurt, my brother and I occasionally yelled at each other, some of my friends were scared to come over to my house because my mom was so strict that if I was grounded at home, she would follow me around at church (the only outing I was permitted to attend), telling other people not to speak to me because I was grounded… yes, those days also contained a small amount of embarrassment, but overall it was not a bad experience.

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9th grade glory

My mom let us play non-violent videogames, eat Dorito’s (full of msg) drink soda and run around the neighborhood unattended. We were allowed to climb high trees, catch frogs and shoot bb guns. She only made me wear a dress on Christmas, Easter and if we were flying. We always had a family dinner at home each night, even IF it WAS beef stroganoff (so gross! at the time), but often it was something yummy like chicken tacos or breakfast for dinner. I still LOVE breakfast for dinner, I keep trying to get Davin on board, he thinks it’s lazy (pshhaa, it’s amazing). As kids, my dad had an air horn he’d blow off that we could hear almost a mile away. We were supposto come home when the streetlights came on, but in the summer, when the sun stayed up late, we’d listen for the dinner air horn. Can you imagine if your neighbor blew off an air horn each night around dinner time? Ha! Despite what I’d think today, I genuinely believe our neighbors appreciated it, because then all their kids came home too.  I think I’m going to need an airhorn in a few years.

We used to have a homemade go-kart. It was wooden with tires and real breaks. The steering was a rope, and the engine was all us kids giving it a good push until whatever lucky kid was in the drivers seat soared down the hill we lived on. We always had a lookout to make sure no cars were coming, we’d wave them on and then shout to BREAK if we saw anyone coming around the corner. No one ever got run over.

When I think back to my childhood, I realize how lucky I was. My parents didn’t yell all the time like the kids parents a few doors down. Our dad was nice and smiled, and played games with us. My mom let us have GIANT sleepovers and make messes and eat all the food. I always had a special birthday party with my friends and felt important.

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For my 10th birthday I requested a Huckleberry Finn themed birthday party in the fields. We got to have a mud fight at the end. #bestbirthdayever #Englishmajorinthemaking
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My 12th birthday was a formal dress up birthday party. That is PINK satin with lace… yes it is.

I did have to memorize boring spelling words each week, and I was miserable at cursive. And I once got locked out of the house after school.  I told both my parents in all seriousness that I knew what it was like to be homeless and not well cared for.  Clearly they were entertained and took my picture.

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Fake Homeless (and very annoyed) pre-teen Bek. I can just see myself saying, “HowCouldYou!”

I still print to this day. I refuse to leave my pen stuck to my paper and make hideous curls with my letters. My brother and I have almost the exact same handwriting. Occasionally, I’ll see something he’s written, and I’ll have to examine it more closely to see who’s handwriting it really is. It’s usually some sticky note with directions or a label on it, either way, it reminds me how much we can be like our family without even trying.

My brother is four years younger than I am. Most of my memories are of us playing and going places together.

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On vacation in Hawaii, an extra fancy dinner.

We got along fairly well for a brother and sister.  He’s pretty mellow, so it made it easy. I feel like siblings are a gift. I know at the time they can drive you nuts, but the experience is worth it. I remember my brother getting his monster truck stuck in my hair, booby-trapping my room so I couldn’t come out my door in the morning and “accidentally” chucking a spicy chicken wing INTO my eye. But all in all, totally worth the hassle of a sibling.

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I buried my brother in sand at Lake Tahoe. I asked him to make an “I’m scared” face. At least that’s how I remember the story… Nailed it.

We made up so many games as kids. We used to play this game called, fishing, where one of us would get a bunch of toys and put them at on the bottom level of the house. Then the other kid would sit upstairs in the loft with the fishing pole we had made out of a yardstick and some rope and we’d fish for toys. The other kid would tie on a special toy to catch. We would get so excited by whatever toy we caught! How that game never got old I don’t know. I feel like we used to play it for hours.

Once, in 7th grade my parents arranged for us to visit the State Capitol and meet some person of political influence.  My mom dressed me, as you can see below… a giant straw hat and a Flags of the Universe sweater.  Thank goodness she let me dress myself the rest of my life.

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I’m pretty sure that outfit would have given me street cred’ around the White House.

My brother obviously took this event to heart and treated it with great reverence and respect.  I think that face was in protest of my outfit.  Thanks Aaron!

Another game we used to play, much more dangerous was, Burrito! Burrito! I still can’t believe our parents even let us play it. We’d put one kid on my brothers bed, on the middle of the comforter, then we’d FILL the thing with pillows, stuffed animals, whatever soft items we could find. Then we’d wrap them up, and SHOVE them off the bed yelling, “BURRITO! BURRITO!”. Then they’d hit the ground on their face with a thump and all the soft stuff around them. No one ever got hurt in that game either, which is surprising because my brother had a captains bed and that thing was high. We also used to climb to the top of our closets and drop toys on each other when we walked in, pretending to be ambushed by surprise. Amazing. One time we rigged another booby-trap (we were obsessed with booby-traps) to chuck a ketchup hot dog onto the sad kid who walked into our backyard after we’d called them into the back. I’m not saying we were nice to everyone. I once put a kid into a decent headlock and punched him in the head. Right on the top of his head. I did not know how to fight, just that if someone messed with my little brother, I was going to try my darnedest to kick his butt if he didn’t knock it off after being sufficiently warned. For the record, he ran off crying, and we were in the same grade, so I’d call that a success.

My dad used to make me mow the lawn with our electric mower.  I always thought how sorry they’d feel if I actually mowed over the cord and electrocuted myself to death, but I never did.  Here’s my best friend Luke and I having a go at the back yard.  He was a good buddy.  I think I must have Tom Sawyer’d him into helping me;-)

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Headband? Check. Retainer? Check. High waisted floral shorts? Double Check!

Tonight, I drove to Taco Bell for my own family. We’ve actually never had it for dinner in our house because it’s technically not that healthy and the idea would normally stress me out but I’m pregnant and if the pregnant lady wants two bean burritos, the pregnant lady gets two bean burritos and then some for the kids. Guess who loves Taco Bell? All of my kids. We are related. Davin was even a sport and had some, even though his Taco Bell dinner table memories take him to a different, say smaller room in the house;-) As I was driving, I reflected back on how many times I’d driven to Taco Bell with my mom in our Toyota Tercel Hatchback to get some dinner. Since we weren’t exactly the richest family on the block, my dad being a minister and all, Taco Bell was a treat! We’d feel so special getting to pick two things on the 59 cent menu. Those were the days.

And as I reflect, I think about my own parenting and just how much I worry that I’m getting it wrong. And, I probably am in some ways, but hopefully I’m getting it MOSTLY right. I know my kids are still little, and easily forgive me, but if I think about my imperfect, perfect childhood, and that even in the messed up stuff how God was still there, and took care of me – then I can trust that very same God to parent and take care of my kids too.

We never did an organized family bible study growing up. Christmas was mostly about presents, I had to wait till I was ten to get baptized because my parents wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing. I remember my mom was so mad at me over it, she thought I should wait till I was older, but dad gave me the go and my best friend, Luke and I got baptized on the same day. I remember it vividly because I totally peed in the pool. I never said I was a responsible ten year old, just ten and very nervous… apparently.

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Davin’s only question after he read this, “Who had to get baptized AFTER you?” Hopefully no one. But I’m sure someone did.

You’re welcome internet for that little gem.

I knew what I was doing with the whole baptism idea, I already was serving in my church as the official overhead song mover during worship;-) And I definitely knew who Jesus was because I saw him in my house growing up in my parents. I was raised in church but my mom and dad were the exact same people they were on Sunday that they were on any other day of the week. My parents never pretended anything. That’s how I knew christianity could be real. It was never some performance. My parents trusted God enough to trust us to him, and not pretend to be perfect. I remember if my dad ever messed up somehow, he’d come in and apologize to us, saying, it wasn’t right for him to get upset or whatever and he’d ask myself or my brother and I for forgiveness. I always respected that about my dad, he was the real deal, not perfect, but kinda perfect in my eyes. If I think about it, my parents seemed like they were just themselves, not attempting to be the most-pinterest-ee-blog-ee-facebook-ee best parents on the block. They were just dad and mom and didn’t seem too stressed about getting everything perfect.

When I actually sat down and wrote out my goals as a mother, I was a little surprised they weren’t more spiritual. I guess I expected them to sound more serious and fancy, like “teach the children about God in all the little moments by pointing out that God made the sun to warm our hands annnnd our hearts;-)” Instead we just go on family bike rides and I’ll point to the field full of evening chirping birds and say, “this is my favorite spot, because I like to hear all the birds.” At night we tuck them in, and we say prayers, taking turns sharing our favorite moments of the day and thanking God.  When they get scared or feel sick, we pray together, but it’s not a constant bible study all up in here. It’s more like Taco Bell for dinner and Eli and Davin kicking the ball in the house while the girls play dress up. It even includes like threats, “if you get out of bed one more time to go potty, you’re going to loose your favorite blanket!” – stern voice!

Here were my goals when I quick wrote them out:

-To be the mom who encourages her kids dreams, to fully become who God destined them to be, not who I think they should be. (Even if it’s a career in Motocross!)
-To provide a safe, loving peaceful memory-making environment that when my children reflect back on, they have fond memories of home.
-Create memories and traditions, especially outdoors (hiking, beaches, day trips in the woods – we live in a cool place, so this is totally possible.)

Basically I want the home that when my kids come visit from college or life, they come through the door, smell the yummy food in the kitchen and all the peaceful, hilarious and fun memories come back to them from their childhood. That when they lay down on the couch waiting for dinner to be done (because they are so tired from studying in school or riding motocross;), they remember that they are loved, important and valuable in our family and always will be. I want our home to be the number one place where our kids feel encouraged with truth and supported with love (and apparently delicious food). Where they feel safe enough to be honest with their struggles and come to us with questions about life, knowing we will love them no matter what they say, who they are or what they have done.

I guess those are HUGE goals, but I felt that way when I would go home, so maybe it’s possible my kids will feel the same.