From the BlogSubscribe Now

A Bitter Cold Day in January

Kissing Noah Goodbye, Audrey Imfeld, NILMDTS photographer.

It was sunny and gorgeous, like most days in Colorado, but it was January and a bitter cold front had brought in single digit temps overnight. Forecasters promised warmer days, but we wouldn’t see them for a while. The day had finally come for us to leave Children’s Hospital of Denver, a place our family had called home for an inordinate amount of time.

Months earlier when our son Noah was only 7 weeks old, we took him to an outpatient Neurology appointment, one that ended up turning into a 5.5 month hospital stay. Because we had been there so long, we accumulated some extra things, including gifts and well wishes from family, friends, and even strangers around the world.

My husband took a few bags out to the parking garage and the plan was for me to meet him out front after the car warmed up. An Arizona girl, I truly believe winter should be a destination, not a required season.

I bundled our son in a beautiful fisherman’s knit onesie and matching hat, and tiny soft blue Ugg’s sent from Australia, and then wrapped him in several blankets…my attempt to somehow stave off the cold. My husband is from South Dakota where it’s too cold to steal cars in the winter, so he came back up to the room to help with any loose items, leaving the car idling at the hospital entryway. The staff, nurses, and doctors on duty gave us final hugs as we made our way down the hall, grateful, yet wondering how we could finally be headed home.

I didn’t bother putting our then 7 month old son in his car seat as we headed across town. No. I held him tighter to my heart than a seatbelt ever could. We lived less than 5 miles from the hospital, and only had one stop before we got home…I knew nothing could hurt him.

We parked our car at the mortuary and made our way into the quiet lobby. A woman who knew we were coming met us there to receive Noah’s lifeless body. As we handed Noah over to her, my husband and I both collapsed in heaps on the ugly floral couches, grateful to the cushions for collecting tears and softening our guttural cries. We were going home, but Noah would not be coming with us.

To say I’m unconventional is an understatement. I’ve never been a fan of brands, labels, being boxed in, or being told what to do or how to do it. When our son was hospitalized for 5.5 months, I had to learn to live outside the box of traditional parenting. And when he died and the hospital told me his body would be put into the morgue and then transported to the crematorium by the mortuary’s staff, I said, “Ummm, no. My kids isn’t going to spend any time in a morgue. We’ll drop him off. Thanks.”

As you might imagine, no one had ever told the hospital such a thing. I mean, who walks out of a hospital with their dead person?

*This is a segment for a piece I’m submitting to a storytelling platform. I wanted to share it here with you first, because you’ve always been LOVE and SUPPORT like no others and putting this stuff out there gets scarier as I get closer to book proposal stage.

How To Own Your Sh*t: A Series

A friend is in the middle of a DIY remodel and posted after a long day of work, “Why is it so embarrassing to admit we don’t know how to do something?”

The question struck me because the word, “embarrassing,” is a curious thing. It got me wondering…

First of all, this person is crushing their first DIY! It takes bravery and tenacity to try something you’ve never done! This friend has consulted youtube, friends, neighbors, and hashed things out on their own, as well as gratefully accepting help here and there.

This friend’s schooling, training, and work experience to some extent have overlapping themes which gave them foresight to take on such a project, but in practice, this person has never refurbished anything on their own.

Can we just pause and talk about what a feat it is to simply TRY!? 

Whether we are cognizant of our fears when trying new things, or if we try things blindly, the action of trying should be recognized, for sure…even celebrated.

Take note: Before this I didn’t know how to do “X.” Here’s what I’d do next time, here’s what I’d do differently.

This is called learning…and some learning can’t solely be done by reading books, listening to lectures or sermons, or being told, “This is how you do ‘X.'”

Much of life is made up of experiential learning…hands on…as it unfolds.

For example, growing up, I had parents, but when it came time to become a parent, everything was new…it was all a first time experience. Yes, there are many things my Dad, especially, told me to do, “Because he said so.” And, sure I had babysat and all that in middle and high school, but those kids’ parents came home at night and I got paid to walk out the door and get a good night’s sleep. Parenting, in practice, is just that: practice.

The sooner we can admit this, we’re able to experience empathy for our parents, grace for ourselves, and know how to cut the cord and not take everything so personally with our own kids.

These kids are new to us and we’re new to them. Their DNA has never existed on earth prior to this time and space and as a parent, there’s no manual with specific instructions or coding, other than: love ’em, feed ’em, and train them up. I mean, preschool isn’t even a requirement to do life on earth. Back up 1000 years and $500 jogging strollers, BPA-free bottles, carseats, safety locks, screen time limits, vaccinations, ACT tutors, prom after parties, and Wednesday night youth group weren’t even things. Running water and electricity aren’t even requirements.

And somehow, miraculously, humankind has perpetuated. Generation after generation has continued to live and learn, and personally, I believe every generation is doing it better than the one before them. At least, that should be the hope of every generation: not that they do it the same way we did, because, by God, we had our sh*t together, but that they graciously take note that we were doing the best we knew how with what resources we had, and they have permission to tweak, alter, and even radically overhaul the way they want to do life in the future.

This is the miraculous gift of critical thinking. This is owning our sh*t. This is taking responsibility for ourselves and not projecting onto others what we think they should and should not do, and how, or casting blame like they did back in the Garden.

We are all trying to figure it out as we go. And admitting we’ve done things wrong, or don’t know how to do something, though I don’t know if I’d use the word, “embarrassing,” is hard to swallow. Our pride and love and protection, and our declaration to do some things the same as our parents did with us and others the opposite, drive us to either draw a line in the sand and not budge, or to trust the process, and the One who breathed life into us, and our kids, in the first place.

This is sometimes excruciating as a parent who wants to protect our kids from pain and the stupid ass mistakes we made when we were younger.

So, we tell them, “Don’t do such and such.” But they do it anyway. You did it anyway. I did it anyway.

So, what if we make mistakes and do it wrong along the way? 

The fear that’s swelled over the last two to three generations in America’s Christianity has almost snuffed out the actual gospel, the Good News of God’s extravagant love and whole reason for creating of it in the first place: Love. Love. Love.

When we’re stuck in shame or embarrassment because we don’t know how to do something, don’t have the answer, or are genuinely, “wrong,” instead of staying there, being reminded of the power of our beliefs is key.

-Being wrong isn’t bad…believing being wrong makes us “bad” is destructive.
-Not knowing how to do something isn’t bad.
-Making mistakes isn’t bad…but believing making mistakes somehow usurps our God-designed worth, or someone else’s, is loathing and judgment.

 

Admitting we don’t know something, or admitting and owning we were wrong and want to do it differently next time is called learning. And when it’s received and extended between people, because it was first extended to us, is called grace. And there’s ample of that to go around if we give it a try.

 

31 Sure Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Kids

free photo: pixabay user/sasint

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone to counseling.

If you didn’t raise your hand, it’s not because your parents were perfect or that you actually have your schtuff together. You either didn’t raise your hand because: you’re lying; you didn’t hear the question; you were raised with strict religious, intellectual, or spiritual shaming messages that counseling is for the weak or faithless; or, it’s just that your parents probably didn’t believe in counseling because their parents didn’t believe in counseling because their parents didn’t believe in counseling, so, like a helluvalotta other things, they passed that belief onto you.

It’s not our faults. It’s theirs. It’s always “theirs.”

But every generation has the opportunity to write its own story…every generation, collectively and on individual scale, is responsible to make peace with the past and create a healthier today and tomorrow.

And if you’re a parent, one day, when your kids encounter conflict, especially if they’re off to college and possibly for the first time hear they’re actually designed with “critical-thinking,” all their problems will be because of you.

That’s right. It’ll be your fault…you’ll be the “them,” and that kind of sucks. But it doesn’t have to be all that bad!

So, how does one generation screw up the next? When are we going to start owning our schtuff long enough to see our part in the mess? And what can we do to deal with and let go of our schtuff in a healthy and timely fashion as not to project our sludge into the future generations but cheer them on to explore and do it differently and better than us?

Here are 31 Sure Fire Ways to Screw Up Your Kids, in no particular order:

  1. Know everything and make sure your kids believe you’re the authority on all the things.
  2. Shut down questions with, “Because I said so, that’s why…end of discussion.”
  3. Forget you were once a kid, of all the ages your kids are and will be one day.
  4. Believe you have nothing to learn from a kid, or anyone else, for that matter.
  5. Multi-task time with your kids with something you have to check off your to-do list.
  6. Never let your kids see you sad or disappointed or anything other than happy happy joy joy.
  7. Forget that you are figuring it out, too…all of it.
  8. Demand immediate submission and obedience. 
  9. Believe, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” is something kids need to memorize, but not something you have to live out in front of them.
  10. Do things because that’s just how you’ve always done them.
  11. Overcompensate for the lack of whatever thing you think your childhood was missing.
  12. Tell your kids HOW to believe and WHAT to believe in, and DEFINE what their faith should look like.
  13. Let your fear of death and eternity be your filter for everything.
  14. NEVER model authenticity or vulnerability…get yourself together, dude!
  15. Never tell them you are sorry, by God, you’re the freaking parent! Parent up, YO!
  16. Diet or “cleanse,” constantly exercise, own a scale and use it often, and pinch your muffin top in the mirror in front of them, but tell them they are beautiful.
  17. Tell them never to talk to strangers, and model the part where you don’t make eye contact with one.
  18. Demand perfection in every area, especially: manners, appearance, grades, performance, hygiene, human interactions.
  19. Use God as your scapegoat by cherry picking scriptures and whatever your pastor said, to back the way you’ve chosen to “discipline.”
  20. Abolish all empathy from your parenting game.
  21. Model intolerance, first for yourself, then especially for “others.”
  22. Live offended…of everything and everyone, especially when your kids think differently than you.
  23. Teach them to believe the worst about people.
  24. Use blanket statements, stereotypes, and generalizations when talking about people.
  25. Drive like you own the road and tell those people in the other cars just what you think of them, out loud.
  26. Make them eat their veggies, but you don’t have to since you did your time as a kid.
  27. Have people over only when your house is clean.
  28. Project onto your kids what you assume they are feeling, thinking, experiencing.
  29. Forget that the back of your phone and computer are today’s “Cat’s in the Cradle.”
  30. Tell them they have to pick a “real major” in college because you know it’ll financially help them in the long run, even if you hate your life, but have a padded bank account.
  31. When they come home from their first year of college and tell you they learned their family of origin is dysfunctional, tell them, “Hey, I put the ‘fun’ in dysfunctional.” And then change the subject and discount what they’re saying as stupid, 18-year old rebellious teenage stuff…cuz, what could they know, right?!

 

And this list could go on…

We’re all figuring it out. The point of every generation is to not only teach the next, but to learn from them, too…not hold on for dear life to the lessons of those who have gone before them. Our great greats and greats and grandparents and parents did a lot of things right, and they also had some things wrong, big and small. Same with us. And same with the next. It’s not rebellious to do it differently when hate or ignorance isn’t sustainable.

Let’s posture ourselves for learning and see what happens.

 

When Did We Give Up Our Ability to Think Critically?

Preschool

I can still hear his voice in my head. Science says our cells and muscles carry memories, maybe that’s what it is? Either way, my dad and I had a good relationship and even became friends near the end of his life.

But I can still hear him saying,

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

“Because I’m the dad, that’s why.”

“End of discussion.”

“Period.” [Read more…]

“I Love Her More…”

free photo courtesy: pixabay user/emrahozaras

free photo courtesy: pixabay user/emrahozaras

 

I can’t sleep.

I’m not sure if it’s the hormone expressions of a 46 year old woman, the fact that I had to use the bathroom, a text from a friend in the middle of the night asking for prayer, or the fact that my 7 year old son has been sleeping with me for the last week and periodically throughout the night I get a heel in my side or an elbow to the face. We call him a sleeping octopus.

Either way, I just had one of those “Love You Forever,” moments and so now I have been awake since 3:54am.

Parenting isn’t easy.

[Read more…]

Sex Ed: 101

ME: “Sweetheart, do you have five minutes?”

Him: “I always have five minutes for you.”

My husband and I both work from home. During the week, he and I tag team the morning routine of kids, food, and hygiene moderation. Then, he usually drives them to school, a 30 minute round trip event, while I get in a quick workout. (Bonus: If I’m the one driving the kids to school, I love the 5 minutes on our local classical channel where the soothing voice of Garrison Keillor tells us word-nerdy things on The Writer’s Almanac.)

Anyway, either way, after we’re both back home before 8 o’clock even rolls around, Jason makes himself a little breakfast while I finish my squats and then we have a 5-minute stand up meeting to start the day. [Read more…]

“How Do You Like Nashville?”

People ask me how I like Nashville. Here’s the scoop: I’m not sold yet.

I haven’t been here enough to know. We moved here last August to a 2-bedroom Airb*nb we planned to stay in until the first of November of 2016. During that 3 month time the plan was to get the kids settled into a school rhythm and then I’d work with our realtor to find a house to live in more permanently. Our things have been in storage at my dad’s house for 2.5 years now since I ran away from home after my mom died we sold our house in Colorado. [Read more…]

Growing Up With Bobby and Bebe: A Series

Agree to Disagree

2015-01-04 13.30.53-1

When my parents moved to Colorado 6 years ago, they drove in from Phoenix and walked in my front door into the kitchen where I was standing at the sink. I heard in my heart (when God tells me something, it’s something smarter than I could have thought of…), “They are here for the rest of their lives and your job is simply to love them, not try to change them.”

I think I literally glanced up at the ceiling trying to get eye contact with God, as well as position my ear better to hear the response to my rebuttal, “Even my Dad?!”   [Read more…]

When Life Throws Us Curve Balls

1978

1978 was a good year…my Dad, watching over me as I take a swing. (How awesome is that International Scout in the background?!)

Sometimes being brave means taking a swing at it, even with our eyes closed. We may or may not hit a home run, or even hit the ball, but either way we can look back and know we tried, know we rose above our fears, know we gave it our all.

And then what happens the next time life throws a curve ball? Well, this time we pay attention a bit having learned a few things from the last time, we open our eyes, ground our feet, and realize, “Hey…it’s still a curve ball, life has thrown many of these, but we are still here, stronger than before…and look at that…our Father always has our back, is watching over us, and sees this WHOLE THING from a different perspective.”

I love this picture of me and my dad, taken by my mom when I was a kid in Ohio in 1978. It’s a visual reminder of something that can never be taken away from me: faith. The scariest and most tragic things, or incredibly unbelievable beautiful things, can be behind us, ahead of us, or coming at us from every direction, but faith is a deep down peace that has no explanation and it isn’t contingent upon circumstance…it’s a trust that defies surroundings, and a hope for what is grace and what is truth and what is good. All the dangers, threats, fears, and terrifying things in this world can never, ever remove our faith. Faith simply remains.

And when faith is coupled with love, there is no measurement to its impact.  

Every day has potential curve balls. Will we live in fear of the “what if’s?” of the unknown, or will we live by faith, like superhuman, superpower, cape-wearing, faith, in a God who sees the bigger picture?

This Thanksgiving I want to say “Thank you” to EVERYBODY! This is a really hard, beautiful life, and allowing everyone else glimpses of your stories inspires bravery. I’m blown away by the stories I encounter everyday! Your bravery makes me want to be more brave. Our stories matter, every single one of them. Not stories of perfection, but stories meant to be lived, and in order for that to happen, we must show up, each day, breathe deep, and press on. I’m so messy, I don’t do this well most days…heck, you saw the picture…I swing with my eyes closed…so I’m writing this to myself, too. Some days will be excruciating, others exhilarating, most days somewhere in between…but every day we are still here on this earth I suppose means it’s a day meant to be lived and shared with one another. Thank YOU for living out your bravery on any given day…every time you choose to live by faith, you shine more and more of God’s light into this dark world, exposing the Enemy’s lies for what they are…and that’s the biggest brave there is!

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 

Ways to Survive the Cold this Winter

It’s not me…it’s you, actually.

No. Really. It’s you, and we just can’t be friends…at least not until next spring.

As awesome as I know you probably are, lingering to talk in the parking lot at school or work or church or the gym or wherever, lingering to talk outdoors just isn’t going to happen…at least not until next spring…and by “spring” I mean late spring, like early June, realistically. [Read more…]