Monday, June 05, 2023

High Impact


He's a high impact human... he was the little redhead that changed our world forever. He's not perfect, but he's incredibly good. He loves so completely. He always strives hard to do what is right and worthy. He's unafraid of admonishment. He sees and he does. He is as tender as a newborn fawn and as tough as a Jaguar. He is filled with hope but is strong enough to fear. He wanted to put on running shoes and gallop from the moment he was born and he's still at a full gallop. He hasn't stopped changing the world around him for the better since his arrival. He understands what few others understand about loving and caring for/about a brother who isn't like all the rest. He is reliable. He is trustworthy. Anyone is lucky to have him on their side. He's one of the best men I know in this world. All his brothers follow his lead, and they are great because they do. He creates joy from nothing and everything. He is humble and knows where his strength comes from. He is quick to recognize if has done something poorly, to admit it and not wallow in it, but learn from it and do it better the next go around. He never forgets anything; his mind has a steel trap door and once he knows something it never leaves that amazing brain. He's a walking history book. If he could permanently live outside he would. People are innocent until proven guilty, but he won't tolerate mistreatment of himself or others. He can grow tiny plants from minute seeds and he can cut down mighty trees with an ax. I will never stop learning and growing because this human is in my life. 

He made a boat and floated his stuffed animals across Bismarck Lake.

Sunday, June 04, 2023

We change

 We change. We all change with time, through the experiences of life, because of lessons learned, in joy and in heartache, and we change because of the people in our lives. 

On Saturday 20 + volunteers from Urban Hope Church came to help our neighborhood prepare for the predicted flooding again this year. These people stopped by our place last year when I was knee deep in mud laying down sandbags and asked if they could help us. They came the following week and helped us and countless neighbors to reinforce our properties against the water, place sandbags, move rocks and even build our very first gabion walls! This year they helped again to get our neighbors ready for what may come. We placed more sandbags and built rock barriers and gabion walls. It was intense work and everyone worked with happy hearts. We were all filthy and exhausted when we were done, but we accomplished more than I had thought possible. It was such a delight to me to work alongside these precious people who gave of themselves so fully. People need people. Thank you to each and every one of you for the way you have blessed this little community and encouraged us by standing alongside us and giving so much of yourselves to help through this difficult season. 

At the end of this day, I spent a lot of time reflecting on how these things change us. For me, knowing that we are not alone, knowing the unconditional love of others expressed through concrete (in this case, quite literally concrete :-) actions, and finding the profound joy of working hand in hand with others is building into me strength and courage that does not come from inside me. In this past year, especially, through the various struggles and heartache, I have come to know in a very honest way, the goodness of the One who has created it all. I have started to SEE and though my sight is not unlike that of a newborn baby, I know that until this borrowed breath is no longer mine, I will continue to see (and perhaps one day actually understand the) beauty in people who reflect it in the unexpected places, who shine the brightest through the sweat, dirt and tears. The journey is still very much in progress for me, but I am grateful for the time I'm given to be a part of it. 

Today, we had a visit from two people who have become family to us. It was never in our plan to meet them three years ago, but I believe we were Providentially placed on the path to find each other. Our plans for a family backpacking trip never included a helicopter rescue and the subsequent culmination of a beautiful friendship, but alas, it would appear that life is so much bigger (and ultimately better) than we plan. We most often don't understand in the moments of pain, trauma, fear... but sometimes, in life, especially with the passing of time, we can see all that is incredible and miraculous, that which is born from these events, these moments of struggle and even horror in our lives. Seeing "Jacob" and "Sadie" today was nothing short of a miracle to me. I wanted to laugh and cry all at once. I wanted to shout and dance! There are these moments in life which I cannot fully understand, but I ponder them and hold them deep in my heart as a reminder that there is much to hope for, and even more to be thankful for. 

Tonight, my heart is full. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

One Fine Day

Perseus tumbled rapidly down the hill, rolling past weeds, stumps, pottery shards and the rest of us. We were galloping down my hill after hoofing it up in a mere 23 minutes. Lochlan moaned all the way up because he could, but once we got to the top, we just sat and took it all in. Even Lochlan was mesmerized. The beauty in that place takes your breath away, and not just from the steep climb to get there. :-) 

Lochlan carried Perseus, his bad piggies (round) stuffed toy all the way up, and I believe it was for the express purpose of tossing it on our way down to watch it roll past us. His mission was a success! He had to pick up and re-toss it only once and it still managed to beat us to the bottom, even though we galloped all the way down! 

It is so neat to see Lochlan finding joy, even as we push him and encourage him through the difficult things (hiking up). When we tell him we're going for a hike, he grabs his shoes with a smile on his face, even grabs a shirt (what?!) and gets to the car without any prompting. He might moan a fair bit on the way up, but once we reach our destination he's all in. He sat in my lap at the top and watched our mountain with the storm clouds rolling in. This place may try to kill us on occasion, but it is good for our hearts and our souls. The mountains are full of life and ever-changing, life giving to so much/many, sometimes under the strain of fire and/or flooding, sometimes barraged by violent storms, but ever remaining; a constant reminder to us of our place in this world. 

Kelton woke me up at 4:50 this morning: "Mama, please come watch the sunrise with me." I desperately wanted to stay curled up underneath the warm covers, but some moments in life will not be found again. So, I put on a jacket, hat, gloves, grabbed a fuzzy blanket and we hunkered down with a cup of tea into our hammock chairs and waited for the sunrise, while listening to Enya. Kelton reached over and grabbed my hand as the sun peaked over the hills and said, "Mama, I will remember this always." Me too, little buddy. Always. 

Monday, May 15, 2023

Fat Cheeks

I always wanted four boys and when Bethany, Krista and I would play our silly teenage "what if" games, 4 was always in the list of things I hoped to have some day. I had a lot of dreams and a good many of those dreams either never came to fruition or did come to fruition and then were obliterated later. However, my dream of having 4 boys not only came true, but far surpassed anything I could have imagined. 

I had all these ideas about how I wanted to guide my kids one day when I had them and raise them to be men. What I didn't realize is how much those boys that I hoped for and dreamed about would teach me. Endless... the flow of ideas, considerations, understanding that comes from each of them. They are open books and the things that flow from their hearts change the people around them for the better.

As Mother's Day was celebrated yesterday, I couldn't help but reflect on the fact that while we were celebrating the women who have mothered us, or were being celebrated as a mother, the celebration inside my heart was largely in thankfulness for the humans I get to learn from, the ones who made me a mom. These humans teach me every day about love, truth, hope, but they also show endurance, perseverance, strength, courage and vulnerability in all the right ways. They have a strength built from kindness, and hope built through trial and hardship, a wisdom forged from fire, but perhaps more importantly a humility that has been created by succeeding and thriving through the darkest storm(s). 

And they make me laugh all the time. Kelton saw a brand new Dodge dually pickup. It was a flashy red and I could see him eyeing it. He looked at me and said, "You know Mom, I really like that truck. I mean, it's just super nice. But... I don't think I'd want it because it has those fat cheeks." 😂 This little brother who plays the role of older brother... he is the older brother to his older brother and he does it incredibly well. He loves Lochlan fiercely, guides him, corrects him, challenges him, encourages him and is infinitely patient with him. He has a tough job because there are times when being a little larger could come in handy, especially in this role. 

Declan is constantly engineering complicated creations from wood, styrofoam, plastic, cardboard and even flour. He has an incredible mind for utilizing what he has at hand to build amazing things. He appreciates the smallest gestures of kindness in others and sees the best in people (except for maybe Kelton, whom he tends to annoy and pester in dutiful fashion as the older but not oldest brother). If you need love or reassurance as a human, he's your guy. You will feel better about all of life if you spend a little quality time with this amazing man. 

Lochlan is essentially a 5 year old trapped in a 10 year old body. We have seen a tremendous amount of development in him these past couple of months. Take all the 5 year old naughties and you've got this boy. He's a stinker, has a funny sense of humor, a devilish twinkle in his eye and a knack for finding everything mischievous that he can imagine to do. He knows all of our special buttons and loves to push them, hovering in the background quietly waiting to see our reactions to whatever stinky activity he's recently completed and then giggling when we do indeed react as he had hoped. He's a snuggle bunny and will never pass up an opportunity to climb into our bed, wiggling underneath the covers, placing his freezing cold toes against us and wrapping himself around us. Pretty much adorable. I love seeing the growth in him and though each new season brings with it new challenges, they're worth facing as we watch him morph and develop. 

Madigan is such a man. He has been building robots for his brothers out of scrap wood. They're quite incredible! He also transformed a wooden boat shelf into a fully functioning boat for his stuffed animals (who responsibly wear life vests in their boating activities). He is a fabulous giver of gifts, always taking time to build gifts that reflect his knowledge of the person. He leads this band of bros with enthusiasm and sometimes a little too much authority. :-) He likes order and quite naturally helps to manage the intrinsically chaotic environment of 6 people living in a one bedroom house. He's a force of nature with a kindness that runs to his core. He loves people without expectation and without condition. He forgives easily and completely. He works hard with little complaint and wakes up late every morning. He loves to look at the stars and go on dates. I adore him to pieces. 

So, my four boys, thank you for being you. These days I treasure and hold in my heart.