Last Post

August 2019 Family

(Family photo taken by Kiana. I love this crew.)

This is likely my last Boy Mom post. Five years I’ve been telling these stories, here. Stories of adoption, faith and family. Stories of five boys, now young men. And me, their mom. I started as Mommy Boy, a name Luke gave me when he was young. I loved this little nickname, and the significance of it. I love being the mom of boys.

I’m not done writing, nor parenting either, I suppose. Just moving. Again. Ironic. First packing our house of twenty-three years into the Big Blue Box. Now packing up posts from a season of life, and taking them with me to a new domain. A new website with a bit more space and organization. I’ll tell you more about that later, but for today, a last post. As Boy Mom.

Sunday morning, this past weekend, I grappled hard, over being a mom. First alone, in the townhouse basement, in private prayer. Then riding shotgun, silent, the twenty-five minutes with my husband to church. Name-tag in place, greeting families at the Resource Center. Heading to service. All the while grappling. Over being a mom.

Two married, three in college. An “empty-ish nest” season, whatever that means. This weekend it meant everyone home for a cousin’s wedding, sleeping over, brunch at Grammy’s, my current home. This growing family. And Maisy. Growing, too, taking her very first steps.

So. Sunday morning, I’m talking to God, grappling hard, and asking the question. Is there a way to do this well? This new season, and I’m realizing quickly, if I’m to keep pace with all this growing, I’ll need to do it, too. The growing.

My role here is changing. The Dad’s role, too, but different. They’ll still need Dad for help with finances, home repair. How to put in a sump pump. Dad will always be the best boat driver. Always, probably, be a decent-enough partner for a round of golf.

But what about Mom? (This is me grappling, not whining. There’s a big difference, and you’ll need to catch my tone.) I am, at the core of my being, by spiritual gift, occupation, and parenting, too—a teacher. Some moms work wonders in the kitchen. Like Grammy. This, I now see, is an exceptional gift, because it lasts through the ages. Like golf. But a teacher?

Of course, there are the grandkids. Little bodies ripe for story time, and learning ABC’s. Nature walks. Field trips. And I can hardly wait. But still. I’m not just Nana. I’ll still be Mom.

A few years ago, when Grant was in high school, we’d go together, before the sun came up, to Morning Prayer. A half dozen or so teens, fresh from mission trips, enough residual passion to make it out of bed at 5AM on weekday mornings, to go church. To pray. A miracle of sorts. And I remember this well. Walking circles with teens, barely awake, whispering prayers out loud. It was there in that sleepy circle it hit me. Gripped me. This prayer over boys and life and all the other things besides. God, I trust you. These four words, etched deep in my spirit, carving their path, making me—me. A whole season of parenting teens, saying yes to adoption. Hinged on this prayer, I must have prayed it a thousand times. “God, I trust you.”

“God, I trust you.” And Sunday morning it hits me again. At church. The Other Pastor Randy preaching, talking about Paul. Paul, the converted persecutor of followers of Jesus, transformed, turned missionary, 5AM zeal and then some. My friend, Randy, talks about Paul, and the lightbulb goes on. Two things, he says, are true. True about Paul, and they’ve been true for me, too. Even though, just lately, I’d forgotten, somehow.

Two things:
Paul, single-minded in his devotion to Jesus.
And Paul, living his fearless life.

Two things, true about Paul, and two things, I can say without boasting, true of me, for a season, too. I’d read a story in a magazine, not long ago, about a mom. A tragic, awful, story. But this mom knew Jesus, and she was fearless, and she reminded me. Of a former ME. I said this to Angie, sitting in dock chairs Thursday morning, out at the lake. “I used to be that kind of fearless.”

For a season. Not me by nature. By nature I’m scared as they come. No, not me at all, but Him. And because of Him, I was fearless. A whole season of parenting boys, and this one prayer never failed. “God, I trust you.”

And so. Sunday morning, I’m talking to God, grappling hard, and asking the question. Is there a way to do this well? This, being Mom to young adults, this new season. And it’s not the answer I expected. Not the answer I would have come to on my own. But it’s the answer HE gave me, and—It. Is. Perfect.

Perfect. This prayer that never fails, and I can be Fearless for a new season, because of THIS. God, I trust you. I do.

Falling In Love

Camp Sham

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9

I fell in love with Jesus at Bible Camp when I was twelve.

I knew Him already. As long as I could remember. A little girl, singing in choirs, sitting next to my Daddy’s pinching fingers in a wooden church pew. He’d lost most of four fingers on his right hand in a factory press, making what was left perfect for getting a pigtailed toddler to quiet down for Pastor’s sermon. Not that he was unkind. My daddy or the pastor. Dad was a gentle man, and quiet, with the nicest blue eyes. My earliest recollection of the robed preacher who stood before us on Sunday mornings, was that he must look a little like God.

I knew what Jesus looked like. His picture hung in a Sunday School classroom, eyes sparkling, hugging children. Today we’d talk about how the artist must not have done his homework, didn’t take into account where those kids grew up, or Jesus either. Skin tones and sparkling eyes all the wrong colors. An unfortunate miss. And yet, what sticks with me is the love.

We were Lutheran. Baptized as infants, confirmed as teens. Vacation Bible school on folding chairs in a cool church basement every summer in between. We’d drink Kool-Aid out of Dixie cups, and watch filmstrips featuring woodland creatures retelling the parables of Jesus. Earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. I memorized liturgy and hymns on Sunday mornings, singing with gusto. My mom likes to tell the story about Amy Paulson standing next to me in Children’s Choir, fingers in her ears, looking at me when the song concluded, “You’z mixed me all up!”

By the time I was a fourth-grader, my legalistic tendencies had started taking some of the joy out of the singing. My public-school teacher was a guitar-playing Christian, and a man, and I loved him. He told us regularly he prayed for us. Taught us gospel tunes and folk ditties, accompanied by his oh-so-cool strings. And then one day Mr. Gilson introduced us innocent scholars to the unthinkable. Rock-and-Roll. Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog. GASP. I know. I’ll never forget. Fighting tears and trying not to think about how my Christian hero was singing the devil’s music. A couple of years later, Miss Amy Paulson, still outspoken, labeled me a Puritan, referencing my religious convictions.

And so the summer after the sixth grade when Mom signed me up to go to Lake Beauty Bible Camp with my Covenant friends—I already knew all about Jesus. I’d been a truly devoted follower from the womb, seemed like. But at camp, I fell in love.

Years later I would attend a Baptist college, and a handful of Evangelical churches. I’d be re-baptized in a lake in Illinois. And eventually I’d work on a church staff, teaching baptism classes myself. Time and again I’d be called on to give account of my own faith story. My Salvation Testimony. And I’d tell it this way. The summer I was twelve, I fell in love. No altar call. No sinner’s prayer. But something significant in the heart of a girl who knew and loved Jesus.

I’ve walked in this love all these years. As a teen, defending my faith in spite of a wee bit of persecution. As a young mom, leading my littles to trust in Jesus. With my husband, pursuing lives devoted to Christ. And then, in my 30’s—a transformation. Something happened. A lifetime of striving replaced by the most breathtaking grace. Which seemed like a mystery, after so many years of loving Him.

I’m in my fifties now, with adult children, learning to love and be loved in another season. This summer, speaking to kids at a Bible camp. Like coming full circle. Sharing my story. “I loved everything about camp that summer. I loved the people and the singing and the games and the crafts and the swimming and the smell of the pine trees. But mostly I loved Jesus.”

I was twelve years old when I fell in love…

Home: New Chapter

Lake Day

We did it. Last week. Twenty-three years of Orchid Street miscellany packed into a Big Blue Box and stored away. Childhood memories of five boys preserved in Rubbermaid tubs—and imaginations. One boy, once the youngest, now middle, sends a text from Colorado: I honestly can’t even think of a bad memory I had in that house…

And I text back: NO bad memories??!  Because, really. Let’s be honest.

Of course, I can probably relate. Forgetting the pain and remembering the joy—like childbirth, right? LOL. (Have you ever listened in on a group of women telling delivery room stories? Just saying.)

I drove past it yesterday. Our Orchid Street house. There was pink on the porch. A doll buggy, I think. Which made the whole thing seem rather final.

A few minutes later I sat in Cheryl’s three-season doing Bible study with once-neighbor-friends. Laurie and Sandy, Jean and Sharon. Barb, my former across-the-street neighbor, and realtor’s wife. Each of these gals twenty-plus years in the neighborhood, and ten-plus summers sharing stories of family and faith at Cheryl’s house. Jamie and Julie were there, too, brand new to all of it. Delightful women. And I can’t help thinking of the friendship ditty. Make new friends, and keep the old ones…  

I have no intentions of NOT keeping them, and I said as much. The first Monday evening of each month set aside for dinner with the gals, and I won’t be missing out. Laurie and I have a walk scheduled for the week after next, a run at the lakes as soon as Cheryl gets back from vacation.

Maybe I’m in denial, or maybe it’s just that everything seems so RIGHT. Moving in with my in-laws for the next several months while we build our place. Friday morning, last, I drove home from where I’d been speaking at camp while my family wrapped up the final details of the move without me. They’d been sending texts, sentimental, with sad-face emojis. Enough to get my stomach knotted for the drive back home. Home. And that, of course, was the conundrum. Was I going home?

By day’s end Kyle and I had our bed set up downstairs at his parents’ house, a matching chest of drawers, clothes neatly organized in our first ever walk-in closet. Both of us weary, me from hanging out with Trailblazers all week, and him from doing the heavy lifting. Our dog Maple, my father-in-law’s new best friend, curled up on the floor with a sigh. I’d been home for a total of six hours, and I could already say, it was.

Next day we left midmorning to head over to Brian’s to see the boys in their new space. Felipe’s apartment is still under construction. New bathroom finished except for installing a mirror. Kitchenette in need of food and flooring. Kyle tackled jack-hammering the old tile to make way for new faux-wood, while I took the boys and Sidney to Costco and Aldi for some power-shopping. Later I loaded up laundry for washing at Grammy’s, a washer and dryer still TBD at Brian’s, a good excuse for me to Mom these guys a little longer. Jimmy—who’s temporarily apartmenting until the start of college soccer in just a couple of weeks—let me lay on his new double bed, exceedingly more comfortable than the twin currently packed in the storage box. He thanked me for the grocery splurge, told me he loves me. Which of course, is exactly what I needed.

This weekend they’ll all be HOME, driving up from Iowa, flying in from Colorado. Here for a cousin’s wedding. Grammy has a storage room so big and so neat, it fits a double bed and a twin, with room to spare. We’ll be spread out, but together. Gathering around a table at Acapulco, a Twins game, a day at the lake. Green Lake, where Kyle and I have been spending our evenings, moving woodchips, mowing weeds, cutting logs for a firepit circle. A circle for family at our future home.