Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Adventuretime

It's 5:30 a.m., and I've been waiting for the past hour for my son to text me from Turkey. (That's a sentence I never thought I'd write.) It seems that despite my best efforts to prepare him for his European adventure, I dropped the ball on activating his debit card for international travel. So, now I'm sitting in this quiet room, starting at my black iPhone screen, and imagining him destitute and hungry on his travels.

{Text me, Seth.}

This trip has been well over a year in the making. When Seth first heard about it during his seventh grade year, he asked if he could go. As luck would have it, that trip filled up with eighth graders, which gave us a year to prepare. Seth has worked hard in that year to save enough money to pay for half of his way, and between his job at Tim's office and the help of his generous grandparents, he did so.

So, on Monday we took him to the airport to head off on a European adventure that both his dad and I envy. First stop: Istanbul, Turkey. Then on to Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. He was ready for his trip. Calm, cool, and collected...quite the opposite from his mother. It was incredible to watch him say his goodbyes and leave for this journey with such steady nerves and confidence.

His small group of 11 students and three chaperones will be gone 16 days. In that time, I can only imagine what sights he will see, what foods he will try, what people he will meet, and what experiences he will brave. And I can only wait eagerly to hear all about his adventures upon his return. And oh, how I cannot wait!

* I did solve the debit card difficulty, and Seth has been using it today at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, so all is well.



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hello Summer! Goodbye School!

Today is a significant day in the lives of the Tucker boys. Reed finishes fifth grade, completing his elementary years, and Seth finishes eighth grade, completing middle school. It feels like a substantial milestone for both of them, with a new experience waiting for each of them in the fall.

Reed has enjoyed a tremendous school year, excelling in his classwork, and he has been busy (and kept me busy) with his extracurriculars. He crossed over from Cub Scout to Boy Scout, which was a big accomplishment. He began playing percussion in the fifth grade band. And he continues to pursue both soccer and tennis.

Seth enjoyed his final middle school year, just as he had the two prior. We're so deeply thankful that these years have been filled with the incredible teachers of CAK Middle. Seth continues to play trumpet in the band, both marching and concert bands. He also began his first job this year, working two afternoons a week at Tim's company.

Aside from all of these accomplishments, both boys hit growth spurts this year and challenged me to keep them in uniform pants that were long enough. Seth, in fact, passed me up in height, and he is coming very close to passing up his dad. He already passed him in shoe size!

As we clean out our desks and lockers today and look forward to lazy days and adventures this summer, we give thanks for the school year we've completed and each of those teachers who have encouraged, instructed, and guided our boys. We've been blessed, and we are grateful.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Moving On

For the past 10 months we've been trying to sell our house. We've already moved on to our next home, so it has been sitting vacant, waiting on the next family who will give life to it. To be honest, these months of limbo have been incredibly difficult. It's felt like being without a country. That's not home any longer, but neither is this one.

So, finally, thankfully, we've sold our house. And we closed on it today...and it's hard. Yes, we are so happy that it has sold and we can finally move on and put down roots in this house. We can begin the work of making this house our home. But we called the house on Eagle Creek Lane home for 10 years. That's a long time. That's a lot of life.

Today I went by the house to say my final farewell. I walked through the empty rooms, took in the nuances of each room where we made our mark (in one, it looked like stains of baby food on the ceiling; in another, it was the indentation of Reed's head on the wall. Ouch!). I stood in the laundry room and absorbed the measuring stick drawn on the doorframe, marking the boys' height from year to year. Soon, a new family would cover these milestones with a coat of fresh paint.

We came to this home when Reed was only 12 weeks old. It is, of course, the only house he remembers. And it was a good house, an excellent home. We lived a good life here and loved each other well here. We are thankful for its shelter, its comforts, and the frame it provided for 10 years of our story.

When I walked into the closing, I was filled with emotion. It felt like I was turning over a treasure to someone unlikely to appreciate its worth. Then, something precious happened. A gift, really, to my heart. The new family walked in...parents followed by two lovely little girls.

I felt a shift in my spirit, and I smiled, thinking of this house that had seen so much "boy" over the past 10 years...sword fights and light saber duels, Legos and trains, knights and dragons...begin blessed with a taste of "girl." Tea parties and Barbies, dollhouses and dress up. It was a good home for raising boys. It will be a good home for raising girls.

So, I release that house with a word of thanks and a blessing to the new family. May you experience the same life and love within its walls that we did. And may we always remember this life and love as clearly as I will recall that measuring stick on the laundry room door.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Savoring the Stories

(This year, my church is reading chronologically through the Bible. We have an accompanying blog, which I write on from time to time. The following blog is my most recent entry posted there.)

Only one chapter today in our daily reading! A light day…hooray!

(Read Luke 10. Pause. Sit dumbfounded. Attempt to close my Bible. Reopen. Reread Luke 10. Pause. Sit dumbfounded…)

Wow, how many sermons and teachings based on this one chapter have I heard? Sending out the seventy-two. Demons submitting to them. The Good Samaritan. And the infamous Mary and Martha conflict. I confess that until this moment I didn’t realize they were all nestled into Luke 10. And I wonder, how many times have I rushed through Scripture without pondering the stories unfolding before me? Without considering the people who are involved? Without really listening to the voice of Jesus as he speaks?

These are not tall tales or fairy tales, but true tales of people who walked with Jesus, learned from him, and interacted with him. Consider the seventy-two. Jesus chooses them from the disciples following him and appoints them to go before him and prepare the way. He doesn’t send them blindly on their way, but he equips them for their mission. Then, they return to him, filled with joy, marveling at the effectiveness of their ministry: “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (v. 17).

Frederick Buechner reminds me, “Whatever else they may be, the people in the Bible are real human beings,…and it is not the world of the Sunday School tract that they move through but a Dostyevskian world of darkness and light commingled, where suffering is sometimes redemptive and sometimes turns the heart to stone” (The Clown in the Belfry, p. 41). Hmmmm. Sounds a lot like the world that I am moving through. You?

Jesus’ instructions to the seventy-two establish this truth: “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you…But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you’ ” (v. 8-9). Sometimes people will welcome the light; other times, they will reject it.

He then lovingly shepherds them through the experience of both acceptance and rejection: “Whoever listens to you, listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me” (v. 16). Success wasn’t theirs to claim, and rejection wasn’t theirs to own. It was all about Jesus. It is still all about Jesus.

We are still chosen and called for a purpose. We are still equipped and empowered by Christ within us to move through this world and speak into the lives of others. And we are still wholly dependent on him for our successes and safe in him when we face rejection.

And that’s found in just the first 17 verses of Luke 10. There are 24 more verses to consider.

A light day? Maybe not.

(Pause.)

Hooray!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dear Students,

Recently I discovered a wonderful blog with some beautifully-written prose and poetry: littlebootsliturgies.blogspot.com. This poem was especially timely as I am in the midst of my first semester of teaching in many years, and it expresses so powerfully the truth I yearn to communicate to the high school senoirs sitting in my class. Read, enjoy, and visit Becca's blog for more of her stunning writing.

Dear Students,

My dream for you
has very little to do with grades
or test scores.

Alone, they are nothing.
They are marks on a page
that filter into systems
where marks on a page
define too much.

For the eternity I have seen
is vast and wild,
and percentages could no more capture
what I have seen in you
than a formula of space miles
could capture the glory of a million fire suns
spinning blue and gold
in that cold, far silence
where the angels dance.

My fear for you
has little to do with those raw things
people your age tend to think aloud.

On the contrary, I am thankful that you are defiant
of convention for convention's sake,
of a flat, white, faux-Jesus,
of insufficient answers,
of a life without passion
and adventure.

I am thankful because these things tell me
you have not let the drowsy drone of earth
quell your newborn scream.

You are unsatisfied, child,
as you should be
with these clay-bound earth-breaths.
Be so always.

My only grievances are these:
you do not realize how beautiful you are,
or how powerful,
or how loved.

You have given up too soon
on yourself.

You have allowed sixteen years of
flat, red marks on flat, white pages
to name you;
and you ask me to nod while you toss out words
and scratch at equations,
absently,
half-heartedly.

This I will not do.
For I have heard your true name
whispered by the great Lion,
the One Who spoke worlds into being.

He showed me
the manner of royalty you are,
men and women created for greatness.

I will expect nothing less.

~ Becca, Little Boots Liturgies

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hearing the Music

Last night Tim posed the question, "How do I express my individuality?" He's part of a men's group, trudging through a fairly hefty workbook, and sometimes questions like this will bump into a dead end in his brain. He'll turn the question to me, hoping my response will kick start his own. (It often does.)

As I reasoned through the various things that I believe express my individuality, I realized that it would be easier to answer the reverse question, "How do I suppress my individuality?" This moment was an epiphany for me. Mostly because it has not always been true.

I spent a lot of my youth (as most youth do) wanting desperately to fit in. Then, somewhere in college, that shifted to a quest to discover who I was. Finally, out of nearly two decades of marriage and a dozen years of parenting, I have been stripped of pretense (most of it) so that the real me is exposed. (Who has the energy to maintain pretense in the midst of marriage and parenting?!)

As an observer of my own children, I realize that they ARE. They are who they are, and they always have been. Seth entered this world with a laid-back posture, kind demeanor, quiet soul, merciful spirit, and keen intelligence. Reed arrived with an energy and spirit, wit and creativity, spunk and sass very different than his brother. And as they have grown, these traits have continued.

It's my delight to nurture and protect these traits in them...this individuality...and to build them up when others want to tear them down (be like us, look like us, act like us...). It's fascinating to think of someday launching two adults who know who they are, whose they are, and what they have to offer this world.

As for me, I no longer apologize for my spunk and sass (wonder where Reed gets it), I cherish my creative bent, and I am grateful for those God has sent who cherish me and don't want to change me.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nesting

Two weeks ago we moved from our home of ten years to a new house. Actually, it's an old house but new to us.

On the day of the move, I found myself lying on the floor of Reed's empty bed room crying. Not great heaving sobs, but quiet, heavy tears of remembrance. I laid on the dusty carpet and remembered painting the ocean mural that surrounded me, the giant red squid at my head. I saw the echos of bunk beds holding two chatty brothers night after night after night. I remembered middle-of-the-night calls, "Mom...can you come lay down with me?" All beautiful memories, all lived within these walls.

In this house, I rocked a baby, nursed a baby, and grew a baby into a boy. In this house, I loved a boy, snuggled a boy, and saw him turn into a teen. In this house, I expected a baby, prepared for a baby, and lost a baby. In this house, I loved with a whole heart, laughed with abandon, and cried with no shame.

It was a good house. And I am grateful.

Now, I'm nesting. Displaying photographs. Hanging art. Shelving books. All of those things that make a house a home for me. The creaks of this house are different. The nighttime shadows a little creepy. The scent of the rooms unfamiliar. And my spirit tells me, "Give it time..."

Sit in your favorite chair and enjoy the new view...

Snuggle beside Reed in his new bedroom...

Listen to the boys practicing their piano...

Watch the cat exploring every nook and cranny...

Take the dog out to run in the big backyard...

In time, these things will become routine, and the shadows will seem friendly and the smells will be intoxicating and the creaks will be endearing. Give it time...