Mouse or Mice

porch-chair

Spoiler alert: This one is mostly me rambling about little of nothing because it’s been almost two weeks since I posted and life is too busy for writing.

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I was backing down my driveway this morning when I caught sight of the flowers on my porch. Rats. They needed water, but would have to wait. I already used my margin vacuuming the grass trail through the kitchen left by somebody’s soccer shoes. Driving toward church I had an idea. Maybe Siri could help. I held down the button and spoke into my phone. “Schedule a reminder for 3:30pm.” Siri responded. “What would you like to remember?” I grinned and answered. “Water plants.” Done. How cool is that? I wonder what else Siri can do for me?

I’ve had similar conversations with the Holy Spirit. Help me remember. I’m willing to confess I’m prone to forgetting.

Sometimes I feel guilty about owning a smart phone, not because it’s an outlandish extravagance (which it is) but because I utilize such a minuscule amount of it’s actual potential. This, I’m sure, could also be said of the Spirit.

Lately I’ve been feeling especially scattered. My bible study neighbors confirmed what I suspected – this might be a symptom of my season of life. (It often accompanies being hot and bothered.) Alas, if this were the ONLY complicating factor in my particular season.

The back-to-school start up always feels like mental ping-pong. At church and at home both. It takes a while to get into the rhythm of everything back up and running. All those commitments we make in the summer come back to bite us when reality hits. Usually by mid-October it’s back to normal, although I’m looking ahead at the next few weeks and there’s no guarantee.

This week I did something I’ve never done before. I hired help. Cleaning help, from my sixteen-year-old niece. She’s a PSEO student with Wednesday afternoons free, and she loves to clean things. She loves to clean things. Did you hear that boys? I told her I’d give her three teenaged boys worth of allowance money to help me out. Worth every penny.

One boy in particular (who shall remain nameless) is always loosing his stuff. He blames me. Mom, you’re always moving my things. This morning he blamed Kira for his missing soccer jacket. She must have cleaned it. If you saw the boy’s room you’d catch both the irony and the sheer frustration of these particular accusations. Goodness.

My husband right now is in the kitchen setting mousetraps. Droppings under the sink this morning. Another complication we face each fall. The boys were just recollecting at the dinner table earlier this week about the times they’ve heard Mom raise her voice. Mouse-sightings was an instance they mentioned. (Which led to an English lesson on the difference between mouse and mice. And a comment from Jimmy about “mice” sounding just like “that thing that kills bees.” Hmmm.)

Anyway. It’s after 10:30, which is well past my bedtime. If Felipe knew I was still up he’d say, “Mom, you should be in bed.” And I’d gladly agree.

I’m thankful tonight. It’s been a good day. Two wins in soccer. Sunshine. Grant home from Des Moines playing Settlers with Felipe and Dad at the kitchen table. No school tomorrow. Mousetraps set (thanks to Kyle). Flowers watered (thanks to Siri). House clean (thanks to Kira).

God is good.

Goodnight.

Wrecked

roadtrip

“Mom, I’m wrecked” – is what Jimmy said as he limped his way up the stairs Friday morning. He’s always the first one up, an early riser this boy. But that morning he was done in, aches and pains from head to toe. Too much soccer, probably – not that it stops him. He loves the sport too much.

That same morning, not much later, my cell phone rang and it was Kyle. Wrecked, too. Out in Colorado with Grant and Kiana and Luke. The four had road-tripped out mid-week with plans to attend a concert and climb a mountain. NEEDTOBREATHE at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a bucket list dream coming true. Adult sons gave Dad birthday tickets, hoping of course he might also drive. Which he did, and yikes. Who knew.

The concert exceeded all expectations, the venue and the band both, breathtaking. We could have climbed a mountain right then and there. High on music and Jesus. And maybe they should have, except it was going on midnight, too dark for climbing, and turns out – for driving. Not five minutes away from Red Rocks just hitting the freeway and what they hit was an ELK. A whole herd crossing interstate 70, and Kyle driving, saw their shadows and slowed way down, but not in time.

No one was hurt, not even the animal, and that’s the good news. But the car was smashed beyond driving and towed away. Next day there’d be no 14er. Just a mountain of crazy trying to figure out PLAN B. And me wondering why my husband can’t seem to catch a break. Doesn’t he already have enough stress, and really is this what he needs??

They’re back home now (car still in Colorado), but safe and sound with stories to tell. How an “Uber Angel” drove them back up the mountain in the middle of the night, and Luke’s friend from camp was a holy rescue, driving them to civilization and rental car the next day. And Kyle tells me last night that if he’d known how it turned out he probably wouldn’t have done it. And yet in a strange kind of way it was a sweet adventure, a family story and a shared experience. Expensive, but good. You might even say being WRECKED was worth it.

We’re together this morning – my husband and me. He’s setting up shop in his home office, waiting for the insurance adjuster to call. And I’m catching up on the mess at home. Looking at laundry and dirty dishes, and able to smile. This wreck in my house is just a part of our story.

I don’t always like it. This life of wrecking. I’d like a house that’s clean and boys without injury and road-trips that stick with Plan A. But I’m not the one writing the story.

Truth is, that concert last Thursday was all about wrecking. It’s the exact kind of story those guys sing about. So I’ll end with this quote from a favorite.

Kyle, this one’s for you:

Yeah in this wasteland where I’m livin’
There is a crack in the door filled with light
And it’s all that I need to get by
Yeah in this wasteland where I’m livin’
There is a crack in the door filled with light
And it’s all that I need to shine
 

Oh if God is on my side
Yeah if God is on my side
Oh if God is on my side
Then who can be against me

*Wasteland by NEEDTOBREATHE

Cabin-et

cabin-et

I wasn’t so sure about the cabin at first. Seven years ago when all the Andersons decided to rent the little shack on Spectacle Lake, I was a skeptic. And with good reason. That first summer there was no electric and no plumbing; just an outhouse full of spiders and full of you-know-what. And that first summer, too, was fraught with disaster from the get-go. Every week it seemed there was a story to tell, and never good. Kyle pulled a hamstring trying to ski like a kid, a leg turned black from thigh to foot. The boat caught fire when the older cousins took friends out for a ride. Nils, who wasn’t so sure about lake adventures in the first place, caught a rope across the face while tubing; left for camp the next day, face swollen with second-degree burns and looking mighty tough. Nick and Grant learned the hard way about the rules of the lake when the DNR welcomed them with a big fat ticket. Paid by Grammy. And I would have been happy to turn in our boat license and cabin keys both by the end of that summer.

But here we are seven years later and my heart’s been a little achy all week at the thought of turning in keys. Our little green Cabin-et wasn’t such a bad place after all. Over the years we added a few improvements. Uncle Brian financed a portable toilet, a huge improvement over the old wooden box. Grammy came up with a kitchen counter and faux sink bucket, making it possible to feed the masses as only Grammy can. We turned on some lights and added a fridge, which never ceased to be full of pop. (Not to be confused with our patriarch, who is also Pop.) The dock and the boatlift morphed over time, a tribute to Uncle Trent’s talent for finding free stuff and rigging up ways to haul it cross-country and out to the lake.

This family’s morphed, too. Over the years we’ve added girlfriends, two sons, and a wife. Our 4th of July tables filled to overflowing, most years shirt-tale cousins and in-laws joining the party. A few favorite friends have been frequent guests – invitations doubling on days when heavy lifting needs to be done. The more the merrier, according to Grammy, and she never fails to have plenty of food on hand. So we all pack in tight around the sturdy picnic table built by Kyle that first summer; we stuff our faces and catch up on good conversation over strawberry pie.

Last summer the cabin became our refuge. Those anxious days of trying to figure out how to live as family, and Felipe and Jimmy loved the lake. Almost weekly we’d escape the tension of regular life and drive the thirty minutes for a breath of fresh air. Those boys spent hours behind that boat, spinning circles and catching big air, Dad more than willing to pay for yet another tank of gas. And me hoping they didn’t need a spotter, that hammock under the pine trees calling my name. I thought it often – how this cabin I once scorned had become awfully dear.

You might say it’s Taite’s fault for ending our era on Spectacle Lake. Turns out Kyle and I aren’t the only ones with lake dreams. Taite, who started college last week, spent her summer scouring real-estate ads, and now the Trent-sons have a house for sale and are drawing up plans for their new place by the water.

It was bound to happen. This summer, we’d all admit, things weren’t the same. Anderson cousins growing up and spreading out. California, Florida, Colorado, and Iowa. And the little green cabin was getting a little bit lonely. Mostly grown-ups trying to rally teens for weekend outings, kids with jobs and busy schedules. And by mid-summer the writing was on the wall. The Cabin-et era had come to an end. Rats.

The older you are the less you like it. Grammy hinted at this as we were leaving last weekend. The end of an era can mean new beginnings when you’re 20-something and just starting out. But it’s more of a bummer for those left behind. The ache in my chest as we drove away was as much for the grandparents as any of us.

But then this, the next morning. An Anderson group text, sent out by Grammy. Thinking of all of you today. The beginning of a new season… school and jobs… thankful and just want you to know I love you… and I want to share this verse. 2 Corinthians 12:9. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Yes, His grace is sufficient. Always, for each era. Sometimes that grace comes with spiders and an outhouse, and it just takes you a while to realize it’s there.

Retelling

Besties

I was walking with my friend earlier this week. Michelle is my BFF from college days, my everything buddy for many years. Bridesmaids in weddings, preschool playgroups, kids as classmates, trips to the cabin, a mountain vacation – we’ve been there and done that, and more. She was even my boss for a season. And in spite of the fact that we live in suburbs touching each other, it had been over a YEAR since we’d been together. Until finally a couple of weeks ago it struck me just how wrong it is, excuses aside, to let life consume your friendships. So I sent her a text. A walk and coffee? And she replied… ten days ‘til she’d be back in the state from making the rounds getting college kids settled in schools all over the map, and then YES. For sure. Let’s do it.

And she was true to her word. Just hours after arriving back on Minnesota soil, and before all of her people caught wind she was home, we snuck away for a long walk and coffee, and much catching up.

A year. Do you know how much life has gone down in a year? We walked fast and talked faster about kids and husbands and jobs and the like. And then I used a phrase I’ve repeated often when describing our season of family life. We went into adoption thinking we’d be sharing our family experience, but then realized it wasn’t so much sharing as sacrifice.

As soon as I said it, it hit me hard. One of those moments when God gets your attention and you hear His Spirit loud and clear, and He’s asking a question. ARE YOU SURE?

And I wasn’t. It used to be true, for the first many months. It felt like leaving everything dear on the holy altar and whoever it was our family used to be was bled out clean. Poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service – is how Paul put it in one of his letters (only he was glad and rejoiced.)*

But what was true then is not true anymore.

It wasn’t true last Sunday. Sitting at church with a boy wedged between us who used to grumble and scowl about worship. But lately he’s singing. Even lifting his hands. And then this Sunday I’m sitting beside him, and the offering basket goes by. He watches his dad take out his wallet and I see the boy doing the same.

We thought we’d be sharing our family experience, but…

 But I guess we’re doing it after all.

It was my husband who said it earlier this summer, when I was still fretting over video games. The best way to lead these boys to be holy is by showing them what holy looks like in us.

I say this humbly. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself through this process, it’s that I’m not all that compliant when it comes to the altar, and this miracle is surely God’s not mine. We thought we’d be sharing our family experience. And this feels like redemption.

So a year goes by and I’m telling my Bestie the whole long story, and I guess that’s the good thing about catching up fast. You say it out loud and all of a sudden you’re blown away by how far you’ve come.

*Philippians 2:17