Wednesday, July 24, 2013

An Actual Update of Some Sort

I realize it has been a while since I posted. I also realize that this phenomenon occurs regularly; however, this time it was on purpose. Because I wanted to leave some breathing room, some thinking and praying room, after the words I wrote about Trayvon and our boys. And speaking of that post: your comments and emails have meant so much to me. Y'all are my people.


Remember how I told you that summer is crazy around here? Yup, still true. And Adam is working with a group of neighborhood boys this week, which means I'm holding down the fort at home with our own two: both of whom are currently sick with nasty colds.
In fact, Caden woke up with such a bad cough yesterday, after slight fevers and runny nose/cough for the last couple days, that we took him to the pediatrician to make sure there wasn't anything going on health-wise we needed to be concerned about. Anyways, he has an ear infection and some other junk, and is now on antibiotics. But the pediatrician also said that he can tell Caden will be needing more heart surgery soon (which we knew, I mean, we know. But it's still hard to hear). We were kind of hoping that wouldn't be for many more years, and that still might be the case. But we have to take Caden to cardiologist at the beginning of September to get his heart looked at again. I would appreciate prayers for peace for our own hearts, and that our pediatrician will be mistaken and that Caden will not need more heart surgery for many more years.

We are finishing up our summer with the usual whirlwind. And I'm starting to think, well this is just never going to stop eh? Because my polite Canadian side comes out when I get really exhausted from all the crazy without a break. That said, we are going to the beach next week! We are also taking a few boys from the neighborhood (and Zack of course), meaning I'm not sure how much of a vacation it counts as. Unless we force them to babysit, a distinct possibility.

Thanks for caring about us, and we would love it if you would pray for a good vacation, a good summer, and wisdom and faith and peace moving forward with Caden and in our ministry. Oh and thanks for sticking around, even when I dont write very often.

Oh, and a few things I've been reading and watching from around the internets.

Stories We Want to Hear (have you noticed how much I love DL Mayfield and everything she writes?)

We will rarely find love in the arms of justice but we will surely find justice in the arms of Love.
-From Every Bitter Thing is Sweet 

On Burnout from Carey Nieuwhof - 9 Warning Signs and 12 keys to getting it back

One Way We Discriminate - from my girl Shannan of Flower Patch Farmgirl. Love.
What do you do when you feel inferior to other parents? From Five Kids is a Lot of Kids
Ann Voskamp's - A Prayer for Sons

And this TED Talk from Ron Finley, a guerilla gardener in South LA. Watch it (warning, there's a few uses of profanity, so maybe not for small listening ears).

Friday, July 19, 2013

Until I Could Ignore it no Longer

Seven teenage boys sprawl across our living room, and they are mad. They sit with long brown legs stretched around Caden’s wooden blocks, fiddling with the Old Maid cards Jayci has strewn across the carpet. Meanwhile, I perch on the edge of the tub next to Jayci while she splashes, her milky skin covered in bubbles and her blonde hair laced with pink shampoo. I can hear the boy’s raised voices shouting over each other, they discuss Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman and the not-guilty verdict. I try to split my attention between their words and the story Jayci recounts for me of the dream she had of being born a princess, in a golden castle where nothing could ever go wrong. The boys say they are going to a march downtown this weekend, they think there might be riots. Everyone will wear hoodies they declare, and eat skittles.

The discussion still circles wildly around the verdict by the time I have tucked Jayci into bed, kissed her still-damp tendrils, and gently eased the barn door shut behind me. I sit cross-legged next to my boys, picking up crumbs from the carpet while trying to untangle their thread of conversation. No easy feat with the way they run roughshod over each other in loud eagerness to discuss the unfairness of it all, the racism, and the life they find themselves living every day. I look from face to face, following the contours of strong jaws and varying shades of chocolate skin. A lump forms in my throat. Because each and everyone one of them is intelligent, funny, talented, beautiful. Yes, beautiful. Just don’t tell them I said so.
I start to interject, trying to find ways to impart wisdom. But they don’t, or wont, hear me; so I close my mouth and listen. Because perhaps that’s all I can do right now. Demonstrate hospitality by opening my house and table to them, and creating a space where they are heard. Where injustice and anger can be felt, recognized, and acknowledged. They are mad, and they have a right to be. I acknowledge too my own otherness, the fact that I will never fully understand what life feels like lived through their deep brown eyes and chocolate skin. But I also acknowledge that I can choose to enter in with them. I can lock my arms with theirs and entwine our lives, living in solidarity even when it feels scary and risky. And that means admitting my own role, my own prejudices, my own snap-judgments and mis-pronouncements about the places others have been and the places they are going.

Their banter turns lighter and they begin their usual teasing over athletic ability and prowess (or lack thereof) with the ladies. I smile and try to keep from laughing, reminding them to keep things kind. Or at least not quite so mean. Finally, we put in the movie, pass around the sour patch kids (which I share reluctantly), and fight over the peanut butter m&ms. Tonight, we watch 42, and the irony and parallels aren’t lost on me. Together, we watch a man fight injustice, standing alone to inspire a race and a nation with extraordinary courage and talent. Tears brim in my eyes, and the boys tease me. But they squeeze my arm and rub my back lightly, so I’m hoping that means they love me anyways.

The movie plays while rain splashes loudly from the gutters, and occasional lightning flashes through the blinds. Like the pattering drops and rumbling thunder, I hear the words rushing to my heart and pounding in my ears:

There was a great unfairness at the heart of what I loved, and I ignored it until I could ignore it no longer.


And with every heartbeat I sense it anew: my prayer that this mess might be the impetus for a new beginning, the very moment when the injustice can be ignored no longer. When I can send any of these boys to the store in any neighborhood and know they will be met with grace. With joy and hospitality and love. No matter what they are wearing, or what color their skin.

Even on stormy nights like tonight, when anger swirls and thunder rumbles deep and threatening, I can – I must – believe in the power of light and love to fight a growing persistent darkness. I must believe that the God who breathes life into the driest of bones, can ignite the passion and scandalous grace of an entire nation. Such that my friends with white skin, the ones who live in the nicest neighborhoods, the ones who carry guns, the ones who write on the neighborhood watch page, “YBM riding his bike down the street,” might no longer see a young black male riding his bike as a threat, but an invitation. An invitation into a story, into a life, an invitation to know not just a "YBM" but Ashton and Zack and Jerell and Dedric and Jahvier and Sabo. Young men with names and lives and baby sisters on the way. Who make mistakes; who write curse words on facebook; who buy socks patterned with marijuana leaves and then throw them in the trash when I ask what message they send. Who get suspended for fighting, and play peek-a-boo with Caden. Who sip the imaginary tea Jayci serves in tiny pink teacups, and quit the basketball team to join again the next morning; who sing loudly and tease often. Who are poets and artists. Athletes. Friends. Sons. Brothers. Heroes.
The movie draws to a close and we send the boys home. Adam drives a few, and the rest run through the rain. One pulls his hood up over his head to keep his dread-locks dry, and I watch until I see him safely pull his door closed behind him. I peek in on Caden and Jayci, watching their breathing and pressing my lips to their cream-colored foreheads before hugging Zack an extra-tight good night and climbing into bed next to Adam. We lay quietly together, Adam’s breathing quickly evens and I know he sleeps soundly. But I tangle myself in the sheets with tossing and turning. My heart remains troubled. Because I know these boys look at the news, staring into the eyes of Trayvon, and see themselves reflected. I worry for their safety, and for the anger I sense building in their hearts. More than anything, I want them to know the freedom found in Jesus. I long to impart to them the truth that they can shake off the shackles of poverty and racism, and rise above on wings of hope. But I also long for them to know that they are heard. That they are angry, and that’s ok. And when they are ready to listen, I will remind them that their anger does not define them. I will remind them to rise and grow into the men they are already becoming. I will assure them that we recognize and echo their cry for justice, and that we will keep marching and fighting alongside them until the day when that justice becomes reality.

-------------
I have been listening since this whole story began. Wanting to speak, but unsure what to say. So I’ve remained silent for fear my words and contribution would be inadequate for such a deep and profoundly important fight. So I've kept myself from writing, hoping someday my words might be more fitting, more compelling. Someday my platform will grow, or perhaps God will give me exactly the right sentence to ignite His people. But I'm deciding tonight to write anyways. Just as our boys will walk to the store and wear hoodies and live their lives anyways, despite feeling angry and inadequate and hearing again and again they are not enough. So in a rare show of courage, I clasp hands with them and enter into the messy together. I implore each and every one of you to pray for grace and hope to triumph over fear and prejudice. And then to do something to make it happen.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Day I Tried to be a Pinterest Mom

This past week, Adam has been working from about 7am-7pm everyday (for my dad's company, at Americasmart). And, y'all, I am tired.

When Monday rolled around, and I faced family day with just me and my children, I thought maybe I needed a PLAN. Because at least when all the other kiddos are running around, my children are entertained and busy, even if their day is not "structured" in any sense of the word.

I decided that surely somehow I could make myself organized, and peppy, and happy to play with and do crafts with my children all day long. Also, I could certainly feed them creatively/properly, right? So I hopped on Pinterest, and found some craft ideas, and made a LIST of what I was going to do with the kids all day. Hello, planning my day, I'm not sure we've met before.

So here's what our day looked like:

We woke up and I made pancakes for the kids, with pictures . . .

Ok fine, I reheated some of the leftover pancakes that Adam's parents made the kiddos for pancake breakfast Sunday morning. But still.

Then Jayci and I read Bible stories and had a dance party to some Gospel music while Caden took his morning nap. Not even kidding about this one. 

Then we went to the craft store to gather supplies for all our fun creations. After chasing Caden around the store and putting back all the approximately 168 items he pulled off the shelves, we finally made it out of there alive. And I didn't even stop at the drive-through for a diet coke or lunch on the way home.

Lunch was a picnic: peanut butter sandwiches with fruit AND vegetables. It looked exactly like this.

As it turns out, it looked more like a piece of bread folded in half, with orange slices and reheated green beans on divided Christmas plates. Of which my children each ate approximately 2 bites of the peanut butter sandwich. Oh and Caden chewed up all the orange pieces, and then spit them back out. As per usual.

After lunch, we made our craft, which were these "time-out bottles." It seemed appropriate based on the number of time-outs my children have been receiving lately. The bottles actually turned out fairly well, and the kids (shockingly) enjoyed doing them.

Here's the finished product:
And the good news is that they only take about eight hours to settle, so my kids will be having some really long time-outs. Word.

(Not sure why they take hours instead of minutes to settle, yall know I'm a rule-follower so I followed those directions to a T). 

After that, there were naps and picking up Zack, and then we went to our friends' house for dinner. Because she offered to cook us dinner. And I just could. not. fathom. cooking ANYTHING, let alone something healthy and Pinterest-worthy, what with all the playing and reading and crafting and feeding of the children I'd been doing all day.

All this to say, hats off to the Pinterest-mommas out there. You pull off impressive feats of loving and giving to your children daily, and for that you deserve a big round of applause, a weekend at a spa. Or at least a glass of wine. Fo' shizzle. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Caden's Room

Originally, Jayci and Caden shared a room. However, the amount of sleep that everyone received under this arrangement was minimal, to say the least. So, we converted a little room at the back of the house (next to Zack's room, that way he can just up with him every time he wakes up at 3am. Ha) to Caden's very own little space to sleep and play and create and live. We have some finishing touches to work on still, but at least it finally suits my colorful, beautiful boy!
Colorful room with pull-down map, globe, yellow lockers and DIY touches
Globe and crate - Thrifted
Stool - Target
Lockers - hand-me-downs from a friend that we spray painted a happy yellow.
Red dresser- Christine's Creations in Woodstock, GA (love this place, seriously.
Pull-down map - Gritty City Goods on Etsy
Pull-down map from Etsy
DIY Radio Flyer wagon bookshelf for baby's room
Adam also made this shelf for the room from an old wagon we found at a flea market. He wrote about it right here if you want to know how he did it, cause y'all already know I have no idea.
DIY Radio Flyer wagon bookshelf
This was an old map we found, and had one of our boys from the neighborhood create this art on it, which I love obviously. And then I mounted it on a piece of Plywood and had Adam screw it into the wall with drywall anchors, because I'm fancy like that.
DIY art from map - follow your heart - mounted on plywood
 Globe, thrifted crate as bookshelf, and yellow lockers
Love this verse, especially thinking about my sweet boy and his heart and that Jesus made no mistakes in making him who he is. From PrintandbeMerry's Etsy Shop
Meaningful nursery art
Caden's bedroom - maps, yellow locker and thrifted/DIY details
Feed basket from Target
This is art I created at the Lovely workshop - it was perfect because it's a picture by Elizabeth Messina of a map with a heart of flowers on top. Of course, I covered over it with wax and then painted on top, so you can hardly see that anymore -- oops. 
art from Elizabeth Messina and Becca Stanley
He wanted to pose for you in his "petty" (pretty) new room. 
This mobile will eventually hang above his crib. I sewed it with the help of my sweet friend Erica, and then lost it. If anyone sees it while they're at my house, let me know.
Mobile - Cloud with colorful heart "raindrops"
Globe, crate, and yellow lockers
The best part of the room? The cute little boy who lives there, obviously.

*Linking up to Liz Marie and

Monday, July 8, 2013

Some Links, and our last week of camp

I already wrote this post and accidentally deleted it once. This is trifling. You'd think I'd learn my lesson and stop typing my posts directly into blogger - rookie lazy mistake.

Let's try this again.

I wish I could explain how elated I am to be sleeping in my own bed and home from camp again. I suppose I'm getting old and turning into even more of a homebody, because spending 4 (or more) weeks at camp would never have caused me such a back-ache in the past. My children, however, dont' seem as happy to be home. Neither of them will sleep (I got up at least eight times last night with one or the other. Not that I'm complaining. Ok actually I am complaining, cause I am flat tired). Also, Caden has asked me at least four times this morning if we can go to camp. 
We finished out camp last week with teen girls' week, which is historically not my favorite week of camp (that's teen boy week remember?). But it was a good week and I didn't have to bring any of my girls home for fighting this year, so I'm counting it as a win.

Jayci decided to act like a teen girl also this week and climb all the way to the top of the fifty foot rock wall. Geez, if she could just slow down with all the growing up already. At least she performed the feat in her adorable dress, with the helmet cocked over one eye cause it was maybe a little too big for her. 

Now that we're home and (ha) house-guest-free for a minute, I can only hope things might become more regular around here (ha again). But for now, a few things you should read from around the internets the last few weeks.

Rain Down Revival - from Beth Moore



Abby Norman for Elora Nicole with A Mom with a Dream

Read this, seriously y'all - Carry On: Why I Stayed. 

I've also been reading my way through these articles by DL Mayfield. Yes please.

 These last three are courtesy of Sharonda, one of the few campers I would trust with my baby camera.

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