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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.

 

Sledgehammers are AWESOME!

Here’s the deal: We moved to Nashville in August 2016 to an Airbnb we thought we’d be in for 3 months. Between August and Easter 2017 we searched for houses on-line and in person, even making offers on some, and were out-bid 3 or 4 times. One house we spent 1.5 hours with an HGTV designer remodeling the whole thing mentally for a potential show, and as we left the house our agent got a call that the sellers accepted an offer while we were standing in it! To say the least, it was getting discouraging! [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…]

Our Next Adventure

So, I’ve drafted a few versions of this. One is the detailed version that doesn’t leave out any specifics, emotions, or thorough history. Another is the elevator answer. And then there’s this one for sake of time and sanity and also so I stop procrastinating from the inevitable of purging and packing once again:

The Graveswolds are moving to Nashville this weekend!

Short answer: We don’t really know. We just know an undeniable door has been opened to us and we feel God leading us down that way for this new season. We’ve only been there twice before, and those trips for me, at least, were in May and June of this year. Nashville had been on my heart for about 10 years but I didn’t really know why…so, I just prayed for friends I knew there and for God’s love to be poured out there.

Anyway, we’ve been praying about what our family values as it relates to time, love, life, serving, and experiences. We knew we didn’t want to spend our lives in the car commuting kids to and fro because: life is short. And we really wanted to be involved in their schools and with their friends and their families. Our desire for a smaller radius of life for school, community, and service, and convenience to an airport for Jason were key. And accessibility to creativity and team collaboration was one of my big needs.

While we were in Nashville checking out the city the first week of June, friends encouraged us to apply at a wonderful school, K-12, which was a big leap for Jason and me since financially it wasn’t feasible. (***SOOOO many details leaving out for sake of time…) Then, after spending the rest of the month in Denver with family, they called to tell us they had spots for both kids and offered generous scholarships. Jason and I have been a bit verklempt ever since…humbled they would make room for our kids, so excited and grateful for the awesome experience available to them, and us as a family. So, we took that as a door flung open and are walking on through. We’ll rent an Airbnb for a few months while we get them rolling in their school routine and Jason and I will search the area for the right space for us to put down a few roots. I’m really excited because I’ve decided to relocate my non-profit down there, as well, so am looking forward to get back to 1/2 or 3/4 time work this fall.

 

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That’s the short version and the only one I have time to share at this moment! We are so excited and hope our journey and yours will continue to overlap in the future! Many thanks for the love and prayers and cheers and support over the last couple years while we wandered a bit.

I suppose I’ll need to brush up on my accent and , “Y’all!”

 

I’m the New HGTV Star

Okay, before you read further, I jest. I’m not the new HGTV star, but I have recently put on a new hat, a hard hat at that, and have kind of naturally slid into the role of General Contractor on a remodel. Blue prints are in my DNA and I think I might have a new itch…

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“Knock out that wall. Knock out that wall. And knock out that farging wall…” – name that movie?! First one to list the name of the movie in the comments, I’ll ship you a tape measure key chain.

Let me share more details…

So, as some of you know, we “ran away from home” what is now almost a year and a half ago. And by “ran away” I mean, we, the “Graveswolds” as we sometimes ridiculously refer to ourselves, decided that because Jason worked from home, and “home” is wherever the 4 of us are, it would be an awesome idea to sell most of our belongings, house included, and spend a season in “flexibility.” This time has included stays in Colorado, California, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, France, Hawaii, Australia, an overnight in Nebraska where I got to hear and meet the raw-thentic Glennon Doyle Melton, and an upcoming trip for me (the #loneviajera) for the first time ever to Nashville, TN, for some serious girlfriend time and a hunormous Bevy brainstorm with our new CEO (details on that later…). This doesn’t include all the trips Jason’s taken on his own for work, but it’s at least given us the opportunity as a family to tag along once in a while and be together.

Anyway, part of our time in SD has been to reconnect with old friends, apparently make great new ones, and hang out with Jason’s mom, who has been a widow now for 18 years, as she retires. Prior to her leaving for what will be most of this semester to be with one of Jason’s sisters and her family in a time of need, she invited me to meet her for coffee at Caribou, aka, my office.

She has been wanting to update some things in her home for several years, to make it less maintenance for when we all gather in the summer and as she travels more, but she worked full-time and has been on the go quite a bit as bonus grandma of the century, so hasn’t had time to do it. Having known me for 25 years now, and knowing I’m the daughter of a builder and LOVE remodeling and design, she asked me at the coffee shop if I’d go ahead and remodel her house while she was out of town. She told me she trusted me and to go for it!

WHAT KIND OF AWESOME MOTHER-IN-LAW DOES THAT?! 

MINE!

(NAH, nah, NAH, NAH, nah!) (Just joking…)

So, I called a local contractor in January to see if he had some time to do a few minor structural things…because, I knock out and rearrange walls in my head all the time when I walk into spaces. It must be in my genetic makeup…Anyway, we emailed back and forth, crunched some numbers, and he lined up a few sub-contractors for some of the jobs, but I told him I also had a few subs I had learned about in town and would be contacting them for references and price comparisons.

Can I just tell you, I’m KIND OF having a blast!!!!

I now know a great tile guy, an incredible taper, sheetrocker, painter, hard working contractors and carpenters and gas-line guys. As the daughter of a builder, I watched and observed the process over the years. Our dad would take us to his job sites once in a while and it would be fascinating to see a home, resort, neighborhood, or commercial property go from ground break to foundation to plumbing to lumber and electrical to sheetrock to finishes, etc, etc. I loved my dad’s big pale green drafting board and the rolls of old blue prints stacked in the corner. My sisters and I grew up sketching floor plans and flipping through Architectural Digest and appreciating the beautiful design and construction of landmarks, rather than necessarily paying attention to where or what we were visiting.

I loved, then, watching my mom walk in and choose finishes and design elements, then see all of it come together. Decorating and staging was one of my mom’s favorite jobs, so seeing a place my dad had built eventually transform into a home, either for us or for sale, was simply part of my upbringing. As I look back at memories of my childhood I can trace my lifeline according to which house we lived in, in which city or state, and by the decor. Much of it traveled with us, like my mom’s blue and white china, my antique sleigh bed, and the old hutch that was my parents first piece of furniture. But one reason this season of travel and uprooting was an easy idea for me was that, no matter where we lived and which things made it to the next house or not, my family was always there.

Anyway, I’m waxing nostalgic and what I meant for this post was to share a bit of show and tell of the process of what I’ve been up to over the last 2 months. The job should wrap up in the next month, fingers crossed, but this is kind of why I haven’t been faithful to my other love, writing, as of recent…

(*Disclaimer: I have moved around 30x and have become quite efficient at purging and packing up rooms, and, as a result, didn’t take pictures BEFORE, before, where the house looked all pretty the way my MIL usually has it decorated. I had already packed up breakables and artwork from the wall, but you can get the gist of it…)

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My MIL LOVES the ocean/water/sunlight like no other woman I’ve ever known, so the vision behind the transformation you will see is to bring in as much light space as possible. Watch the walls and ceiling progress…

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Life at Nana’s has been fun for these two. Living on a lake? Yes, please!

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See the cold air return on that wall to the left. Well, that’s the place I thought it would be perfect to smash through and make the new entrance to the hallway/bathroom/bedroom area, rather than through the kitchen where it was previously.

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A little tough to tell because I had emptied the fridge already and the doors are open, but there is a doorway to the right of the fridge, as well as a short wall behind it. My vision was to eliminate the soffits in the kitchen to create ceiling height/space. Also, the fireplace had a wood burning insert in it that hadn’t been used for almost 20 years, so the vision was to convert it to gas and modernize the brick facade.

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Graveswold family dog pile heap of exhaustion and the night we moved down the lake to a friend’s cabin.

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One of my favorite things on a job site! Evidence of sweat and hard work!

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I asked my MIL what her dream was for her space. Her DREAM, dream kind of included a whole new roof. BUT, instead we created light and height and space by cutting in a second skylight, removing soffits and that small wall behind the fridge, and opening up the space between kitchen and great room. (Prouty Construction, South Dakota)

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Jason was savvy selling even the cabinets to someone else in town who was able to use them. New to you!

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You can see on the far left of the photo where we created a new hallway.

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Where you see the two new sheets of drywall is where there was once the back of a closet and a doorway to the hall. Also, yep, under the ladder which was where the former apartment sized dishwasher was, we replaced sub-flooring.

Be sure to tune in again…there’s more progress to see!

If You Could Do ANYTHING…

ANYTHING at all, to make a lasting contribution to the world, regardless of experience or finances,

WHAT WOULD IT BE?

This simple question has generated some beautiful responses from people lately as I’ve asked old friends, new acquaintances, and total strangers, the words you just read.

And you should see how people’s faces light up at the question! As if for once they are given the chance to dream and think and believe and aspire outside their day to day.

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I’ve spent a lot of time looking at my feet, watching every step. Last year I hung out a car window and did not watch the ground but looked up to the tree tops in search of koalas. This picture came to mind when I wrote this post because of the limitless possibilities of the potential answers to the question, “If you could do ANYTHING…” Plus, the fresh air felt amazing!

The question of “What if?” has limitless outcomes and asking ourselves “What if?” whether, “What if I take a risk?” or “What if I never take the risk?” or any variance of the question, can at least re-shift our focus if we’ve been spinning our wheels in the same space for a while, or believe we’re at a dead end.

Some friends and I are using the information from the interviews and responses we are gathering to dream collectively about something we are launching soon and it’s all just kind of surreal and exciting and kind of scary all at once.

And I’m lovin’ it!

We would love to hear your heart and contribution to our research by sharing your answer in the comments? So, here it is again:

If you could do ANYTHING…ANYTHING at all, to make a lasting contribution to the world, regardless of experience or finances, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!

Saturday Shenanigans

Raise your hand if you’ve enjoyed laughing along with Ryan’s shenanigans over the past 5 years.

  • Like when he used to pee behind the couch every morning…Or when his “marking” behavior moved up to his bedroom carpet, instead (mister, the hardwood was easier to clean up!)
  • Or when I’d find teeth marks in the stick of butter or hunk of cheese…
  • Or his fun with markers…
  • And stuff he has said…

Em was the first child and likely suffered from temporary bouts of having a helicopter mother, all organized, play-group, clean your hands, take your vitamins, don’t touch that icky thing, don’t watch TV, mom. Having gone through what we did with Noah, Ryan’s life has been a bit different. Like, more FREE to explore and wonder and be curious and get dirty and eat food off the floor (and eat veggies – another post…) and sometimes adhere to bedtime, like a childhood.

Thankfully with Em, the last 9 years have looked more like that last sentence you just read.

These last 5 years I wouldn’t trade for the world. The good, bad, and ugly. It’s part of parenting. Actually, it’s part of life and I’m learning to walk through it and embrace it, breathe it in and savor it, and let things roll off the back that aren’t meant to stick.

Here are a few entries from Instagram I’ve recorded over the years, all organized neatly for your viewing pleasure, as well as a few things he’s said lately. Mostly I’m posting these so you can feel awesome about your parenting, since I’m clearly just winging it:

This, just the other day: Ryan has been using the potty since he was two, but recently we are trying to really nail down the manners that go along with this accomplishment, like putting the seat down quietly, flushing the toilet, and IMMEDIATELY washing hands. I noticed the seat was up in the bathroom while he was in the family room playing, so I said, “Ry, would you like to finish up using your potty manners?” He ran into the bathroom, lowered the lid and flushed, and ran back to the battle he had set up between carnivore and herbivore dinos. As he was running he said, “I don’t need to wash my hands because I didn’t even have to use them.” I said, “Buddy, please go back in there and wash your hands.” He said, “Mom! I used my elbows, so my hands are totally clean!” “Ryan Everett, you didn’t use your elbows…if you had, you would have peed in your face…now go wash your hands, mister…”

And this…this happened, too: We had finished eating out and Ryan asked to take the rest of his ice cream in the car with him. We all got buckled and strapped in. As I was backing out of the parking lot, someone, who will remain unnamed, tooted, as families do in the comfort of being together. Ryan said, “Thanks a lot, so and so! Now my ice cream tastes like poop!” 

#nowords #nonap #nokidding #nofilter #lifewithatoddler #shipmypants #tryingnottolaughinfrontofhim #holyschnikeys #heisstillcutewithmarkeralloverhisface #happybirthdaytome

#nowords #nonap #nokidding #nofilter #lifewithatoddler #shipmypants #tryingnottolaughinfrontofhim #holyschnikeys #heisstillcutewithmarkeralloverhisface #happybirthdaytome

He thinks the disguise will cover up for the suspicious behavior...

He thinks the disguise will cover up for the suspicious behavior…

"Mom, this is not my favorite bath...it's not my favorite temperature."#highmaintenance #justtakeabathmister#bathingisaluxury #surewishihadtimeforit

“Mom, this is not my favorite bath…it’s not my favorite temperature.”#highmaintenance #justtakeabathmister#bathingisaluxury #surewishihadtimeforit

This is what happens when mom falls asleep tucking kid in for nap time. #bettersetoutthemousetraps #raisingboys #mylittlelover #justgimmemycheese

This is what happens when mom falls asleep tucking kid in for nap time. #bettersetoutthemousetraps #raisingboys #mylittlelover #justgimmemycheese

We looked for the toaster for an hour. I honestly thought I had lost my mind. How do toasters just disappear? Well, sometimes toddlers hide toasters under Christmas trees, obviously.

We looked for the toaster for an hour. I honestly thought I had lost my mind. How do toasters just disappear? Well, sometimes toddlers hide toasters under Christmas trees, obviously. #wheredoyoukeepyourtoaster

 

There was a season when I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go to the bathroom, shower, or even blink while Ryan was little. I was thankful for things like nap time, bed time, carseats, pack-n-plays…even the presence of another human being at some point during the day…because holding your bladder for 8 hours after having 3 children is nearly impossible. Don’t get me wrong, he’s incredible when he’s awake…that’s when I get to discover his personality…it’s just that sometimes I need to pee, and with peace of mind that the house isn’t imploding. Whoever invented the toddler jumpseat in public restrooms was a freaking genius. Bless you, inventor!

Or, huge preschooler in a toddler jumpseat. BUT MAMA HAD TO GOOOOOOOO! The buzz on this IG feed was, "Who on earth put the sanitary receptacle next to the kid seat?"

Or, huge preschooler in a toddler jumpseat. BUT MAMA HAD TO GOOOOOOOO! The buzz on this IG feed was, “Who on earth put the sanitary receptacle next to the kid seat?” #mamahadtogo #bigkidinalittleseat #raisingryan #geniusinvention #ahhhhhhh #sometimesIjustgotothegrocerystoretogopottyinpeace

What happened when mama fell asleep tucking the kid in for his nap...that he clearly didn't take.

What happened when mama fell asleep tucking the kid in for his nap…that he clearly didn’t take. #everythingisbetterwithbutter #especiallybutter #evidence #upperandlowerbites #ormaybeitwasjason

He made this face for a long season...glad the stuff my grandpa used to say about your face "staying like that" didn't come true...

He made this face for a long season…glad the stuff my grandpa used to say about your face “staying like that” didn’t come true… #neverratonyourfriendsandalwayskeepyourmouthshut

I’m really sad, actually, because I can’t remember a ton of the stuff this kid used to say. I try so hard to live right here and now and savor these moments, but today I wanted to look back a little and laugh.

Hope your weekend is full of wonder and laughter and stuff you can tell your kids when they are older, as leverage…wink, wink.

 

The Stories Behind the Buzz

Today I shaved my head. Let me rephrase that, first I put it into two high pig tails and let Emily and her best friend, Sunny the daughter of one of my dear friends, cut them off to donate. But the reason for the cut wasn’t to donate. Then we had a bit of fun, because when you cut two pig tails off, well, you get a really bad mullet…almost Pat Benatar, but not as rockin’. After the pseudo mullet-mohawk phase, the beautiful Bina, our babysitter and Em’s big sister from another mother, stepped in with the 1″ clip and cleaned it up around the sides so we could see what a sorta-pixie would look like. From there I let all three of the girls have their turn at trimming here and there, just cuz, why not? And finally, I went to town with the 1/8″ clip and loved every minute of it.

I sent this "before" to Jason who is in Taiwan right now for his job with World Vision. He fully supported my choice. Come to find out, he's always had a crush on Sinead O'Connor, so now I know why he was so supportive... ;)

I sent this “before” to Jason who is in Taiwan right now for his job with World Vision. He fully supported my choice. Come to find out, he’s always had a crush on Sinead O’Connor, so now I know why he was so supportive… 😉

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Here are the hair bandits after the first cuts.

Super bad rat tail, mullet type situation...post pig tail chopping.

Super bad rat tail, mullet type situation…post pig tail chopping.

 

Here we cleaned it up so I could be just like the beautiful bella Bina!

Here we cleaned it up so I could be just like the beautiful bella Bina!

T-shirt brought to you by "Chosen and Dearly Loved" a ministry for special needs.

T-shirt brought to you by “Chosen and Dearly Loved” a ministry for special needs.

 

It took me 20 minutes from shower, dry, brush teeth, do make-up, and get dressed this morning. Don't even think about telling my dad how his three daughters should have done this at age 13...it would have saved him hours of waiting and we would have been places on time. All that time I used to spend on my hair I'll now spend in prayer. A visual reminder to pray...

It took me 20 minutes from shower, dry, brush teeth, do make-up, and get dressed this morning. Don’t even think about telling my dad how his three daughters should have done this at age 13…it would have saved him hours of waiting and we would have been places on time. All that time I used to spend on my hair I’ll now spend in prayer. A visual reminder to pray…

For me it was a choice for empathy. For everyone I know who loses their hair because of caustic chemicals coursing through their veins, it’s an inconvenient and scary side effect on top of a disease on top of pain and discomfort and emotion and hope and bravery and courage and wonder if it will work.

Today on Facebook I posted that 4 of my friends are on chemo, but shortly thereafter, realized I was wrong and the number is 6, as I miscalculated. And those are my friends. Then there are my friends whose spouses are sick, whether with cancer or undiagnosed ailments and endless pain, unexplained, yet more real than ever.

And then let’s talk about our sweet friend’s whose daughter has to have her foot amputated or my friend whose daughter just had to be taken to Juvie or the friend whose husband just had his body crushed by a car in a bike accident or my friend whose son’s heart is broken and irreparable and so they wait and my friend whose son has 100’s of seizures each day or my friend whose son’s disability is ramping up because of puberty and he’s getting too strong for her and our dear friends whose son has been sick for over 5 months, in pain, every day, and my sweet new friend whose daughter has a terminal illness.

Then there is my Dad who misses our Mom every. single. day. Her picture is everywhere I look as we stay at what was their house, and my guts hurt for his guts, and for his heart…but that doesn’t even include the pain he has daily because he needs a new knee and his best friend isn’t here to hold his hand through it. And for my beautiful Mother-in-Love who has been brave and strong for 17 years a widow on a journey not meant to tread alone. And my friend who is a young widow as of December.

And I don’t care how “acceptable” a death is at a latter age, the company of orphaned daughters and sons I have met on this journey grows regularly and there isn’t a day that goes by that we wouldn’t each love another hour with our parent…just one more question, please tell me one more story…but they are buried along with a portion of our hearts.

And the news the other night aired the total fire destruction of an apartment of someone my family loves and prays for regularly.

And all the single parents and broken homes and busted up hearts and heart-wrenching addictions. The parents who are waiting and longing to adopt.

But that doesn’t include the bereaved parents who have joined the community of late, a community I’ve been part of for over 8 years now, like my sweet friend who is figuring out life with her family minus their heart-daughter after 6 beautiful years. And the friends who have welcomed a new life into theirs after the loss of their sweet handsome boy.

ALL THIS, and we haven’t even turned on the news to see and be aware of all that transpires worldwide…

On any given day, we all carry things in our hearts, some we share, others we hide and hold closely, all of them chisel at the walls we try to erect around our tender hearts because life is hard and maybe protecting seems like the safe and right thing to do.

But, on any given day, none of these things are meant to be faced alone. No, I am not going to have a port put in my chest and take chemo to show empathy to my friends who have cancer, but maybe we should? Maybe empathy is entering into the stories of others with both feet? Maybe we would be more tender with our enemies if we both were in the same hospital with our ill children, just down the hall, just trying to love well, realizing we have something in common?

I tell you what…Jesus wasn’t just a historical figure written about in a history book that lies dusty on a shelf somewhere. God was in LOVE with ALL of us and came here to show us how to love well, which included loving everyone, even the crustiest among us. He ate dinner with those “society” called down and outers, but the thing is, they looked a lot like me, and you, and that guy, and that lady over there. Each of us has a story and we all have hard things. If we don’t start living empathy, choosing it, getting uncomfortable and walking through hard things with one another, then those of us who call ourselves “Christians” are using His name in vain. Jesus came doing the opposite of the way of the world…He came loving selflessly, He spit in dirt and made mud and smeared it on a guy’s eye to heal him, He told us if we wanted to find our lives, we needed to lose them…He didn’t just ask us to believe, He asked us to follow Him….

John 1:9-14 in the Message says this:

“The Life-Light was the real thing:
    Every person entering Life
    he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.
*But whoever did want him,
    who believed he was who he claimed
    and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
    their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
    not blood-begotten,
    not flesh-begotten,
    not sex-begotten.

14 The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.”

*my emphasis added

I’ve ever only wanted to be who God created me to be. The months of Noah’s life gave me a glimpse. The weeks leading up to my Mom’s death opened the door a lot wider. Shaving my head in solidarity for friends and anyone and everyone going through hard things, well, let’s just say, I’ve never felt more free to be my true self, my child-of-God self, my most imperfect, messed up, forgiven and loved-self. And, I’ve never felt so free or more full of God’s purpose and beauty.

All the time I’ve spent doing my hair as I’ve been growing it out to “feel” pretty and sexy and fancy, well, with 1/8″ hair, I’ll have a bit more time to live intentionally. And that’s what the shave is about for me…a reminder to live a life of empathy, because we are all here, living hard stories.

And if anything, I know I’ll get ready faster than you tomorrow morning 😉

(More on John in another post…)

Some Pictures from Down Under

I just put the WordPress app on my phone so am testing it out to see if it works. It probably would have been beneficial to have done this prior to our trip to New Zealand and Australia but we kind of had a lot going on 😉 Now I know…

*this is a test to see if this thing works…

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Lessons from Traveling – The Graveswolds

Well, it seems this is becoming real, this year of freedom, this “Year of Jubilee.” When Jason learned his department at work had been eliminated way back when in January, after the shock wore off, we prayed and talked quite a bit about what God was showing us, what this “open door” meant. The four of us sat around our kitchen table and grieved and dreamed all at once, what was “supposed to be” and all the possibilities or options ahead of us.

Some scoffed, “We would ALL like to travel, but we need to work and pay the bills…”

Some wondered, “What about school for your kids?”

Some questioned, “Where will you live once you sell your house? Will you have a home base?”

Some thought we were crazy, “I hate traveling! I can’t imagine NOT having my bed to come home to every night!”

All of these are valid sentiments. Jason will be working as we travel. The income from his job will pay the bills. Our bills just won’t include a mortgage for a while, that’s all. We’ve been homeschooling this year so will continue with this no matter where we are. Because his job is one he does from home, “home” will be where we are. Man, I love my bed. A lot. And that one, along with our creature comforts of home like a kitchen, will be the tough one. But this is really happening. We are selling about half our stuff and then storing some things for our return, whenever that is.

Sure, traveling is fun! I love it with a passion…always have. But part of traveling that makes traveling doable is the return home. Like when you ski all day and take the boots off, returning home after a trip, even if the trip was epic, is nostalgic and comfortable and familiar. I LOVE cleaning my house before a trip so that when we return it says, “Welcome Home!”

I’m a girl who does well with routine and structure. So, with this year ahead of unknown and adventure, I’m praying about what my personal “routine and structure” will look like. You see, in life there will always be things, distractions, stuff that comes up, and even if it’s all good, it can throw us for a loop and get us off our wagons. Some wagons we should have bailed years ago. Others are getting us where we need to go. So, with this in mind, Jesus, food, rest, and exercise are my wagon, the “routine and structure” I’ll take with me, no matter where I go. Thing is, the food will change from place to place and for a girl with Crohn’s and major food sensitivities, I’ll need to seek out healthy choices and not let myself think, “Oh, I’m on vacation, so it’s all good…” I won’t be on vacation. I’ll just be living away from home for a year-ish. There is a difference. And the rest, well, if you’ve ever slept in a bed other than your own, or wrestle with a first night’s sleep away, this will be something I have to be intentional about, getting to bed early in our shared hotel room, or maybe even sneaking naps with the kids. As far as exercise goes, we practiced this lifestyle last month when we traveled to California and Arizona for 3 weeks for work and my Mom’s celebration of life. The first week at the hotel was awesome for working out because there was a gym and Em and Ry could swim while I lifted. The second week we were at a friend’s house and I got in one hour of yoga. The third week I drank wine every night…so, you can see where I’ll need to get my exercise routine into a routine.

The thing that remained steady throughout our travels was Jesus. I figured He would, but I don’t want to take that for granted, either.

Something I learned from those 3 weeks is that even though we traveled with Jason, he was working and busy. He did take some time off here and there, but he will need to schedule in family time, and we’ll need to find babysitters once a week wherever we are so we can go on a date. Jason also realizes that I need some alone time throughout the week and when he works straight through, I get a little cranky…I’ll need to work on my crankiness and he’ll need to work with me for an hour here and there.

I realize these are first world problems. I’m not complaining. The routine part was what I wanted to share mostly, because even if you don’t travel, things will always come up, there will always be SOMETHING to justify either slacking in your healthy routine or lifestyle choices, and I just wanted to encourage you that as you “love your neighbor as your love yourself” to remember that loving yourself means building healthy habits. I know I’ll need all the encouragement I can get!