Friday, August 10, 2012

Rights of Passage

This post is chock full of pictures...I keep thinking about the smile I know they'll bring to Grandma's face...and that I want to forever remember the sweetness that was Little Man's first season of T Ball. (smile)

These photos are from his last game, but during his first practice, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

It's felt like a right of passage. One of those things you do, that happens, that, at least, makes me feel like we've moved from one stage to another.

It was a great season. There was no score keeping. Whatever. I don't want to crush my kid, but learning to lose with a good attitude is important. Instead, everyone was a winner. Every time.

Somehow, Little Man didn't catch on to that concept. He knew there were trophies to be had at the end of the season.

And at the last game, for whatever reason, he just knew they'd only get their trophies if they won.

And so during the entire game he was shouting to his friends, "Come on y'all. We have just GOT to win this game!" And he'd pump his fists in excitement.

I've never seen him so determined to run fast.

I've never seen him pay such attention.

Seeing all those daddies out there with their boys was rich.

Little Man got the ball almost every time it was hit. His friend (above and to the right) was so focused on making sure Little Man didn't get the ball, that he (the friend) missed it nearly every time.

I have a bunch of shots just like this.

While you enjoy the ridiculous amount of photos that chronicle almost every minute of outfield time during his last game, let's talk about a few other Homeschooling...

Eek. It's here. Upon us. We begin Monday.

And I'm so torn. So mixed up. After last year - I felt numb at the thought of another year of homeschooling.

Last year started out great. And then we found out our Little Lamb was on the way. And the nausea set in. And though we were beside ourselves with excitement and gratitude, it was hard to do school. Everyday was a struggle. One foot in front of the other.

And we made it to Christmas. And the nausea continued. And mama was in the hospital. And it was crazy. I remember throwing up grits into the bag they'd come in in the hospital cafeteria one morning. And then I cried. Oh the nausea. The Engineer begged me to postpone starting back to school (because of days missed in the fall, we'd had to school right up to Christmas).

And then right after we started back to school, and we were in the midst of trying to finish everything on the house and getting ready to move, and at 17.5 weeks pregnant, we learned we'd lost our Little Lamb. And in the grief and the time pressure to finish the find a was sporadic. We finished our curriculum around the middle of June...we completed our legally required number of days. We are not "year round" schoolers. I like my summer.

But oh my. I felt like the biggest loser. Yes, we'd "done" everything, but it had been with me flying by the seat of my pants. I don't even remember grinding it all out. Little Man got the short end of the stick.

We finished the Sing, Spell, Read, & Write K-4 curriculum and I resorted to sending him in the other room to watch Leap Frog movies. It was survival.

Several weeks ago I laid my head on The Engineer's chest and I wept. I told him what a failure I felt I'd been. That of all the years to choose to homeschool the older two, last year is the one year I wish they'd been in school. And we prayed a lot about that decision. The chaos and stress of what took place in our home from December (when The Engineer found out he'd gotten the job) until the end of April when we pulled out of the was insane.

And I cried while I told him how sad I was that the children had seen me melt down in tears again and again. How hard it was to all cry many days. How I'd be mid-sentence and without thinking I'd reach down to feel my once growing belly, only to break down in tears all over again. How I'd wished the children were in school - spared from seeing their mother weep day in and day out. How they'd missed out on a "normal" school year. And would their pain and grief over our loss be as great if they'd not seen me ache as I did? Wouldn't they have healed faster?

And he cupped my face in his hands and I'll never be able to repeat it as tenderly and profoundly as he spoke it to me...he told me while the children may not have had a "normal" school year...while there was chaos and insanity...while the air compressor was kicking on at 2am while we finished projects...and while they watched us both weep and grieve...they saw life. Real life. First hand.

They saw God call us to something...and carry us through. They saw that life isn't always easy...pain free. That God does indeed give. And He takes. And He is good.

And as a family we grieved together. We learned that all we have is His. What do we have that He has not given? We learned that our Little Lamb always belonged to our heavenly Father. He or she was never "ours" to own.

We mourned our loss together. And by the grace of God, our children, and only because of God, got to see Him turn our hearts to Himself. They watched as we all ached and He comforted. They saw Him pour out His peace on our wounded and raw hearts, like a gentle balm.

By His grace, because His strength is made perfect in our weakness, they saw us turn to Jesus and be comforted.

We poured out our hearts as a family. We wiped one another's tears. We carried one another.

And it was awkward. And we sinned against one another. We had to apologize lots. There were days I tried to hide my tears. Kids are smart. Sister and Little Man would find me and they would comfort me.

You think you know what it's going to be like. You get this plan in your head. And you know God is sovereign, but you think, because what you want He says is good, that it's all going to work out. That you're going to get your way. And so when the joyful news came, that after a year and a half of pleading with the Lord for that baby that we were indeed expecting, we were banking on it. The first tri-mester was scary. It's hard to trust when you've lost (twice) before.

But we made it through that first trimester. And I thought we were in the clear.

And so we made plans. We definitely felt led to homeschool Sister. But as I prayed about it, I felt overwhelmed at the thought of schooling all three at home. Second grade, kindergarten and learning to read, a three year old, and a newborn. The Engineer and I both felt led to the same conclusion. The younger two needed to go to school.

Shortly after making that decision and talking it up to the children, we lost the baby. And I changed my mind. "Let's keep them home. We can't go on planning everything around the possibility that we might have another baby. We've got to live." And The Engineer heard me out. And he said, "no." He felt that I needed a break. A less stressful year.

I called the preschool we'd chosen on the last day of registration. I knew there'd be no way our children would get in. And we'd agreed if there wasn't a spot, that was the Lord's way of closing that door. I remember giggling to myself as I dialed to enroll them, "there's no way. The Engineer will see that I'm right on this one."

There was a spot for both of them. Case closed.

So now I'm meeting with all these homeschool mamas. And they are all really sweet. Super nice. And they ask how many children we have. And I tell them three. And there's an ache in my heart - 'cause I want to say, "but it's supposed to be four." And I want to launch into why I'm only homeschooling our oldest and not all three. But usually, unless they ask why, I hold it in my heart. And I smile.

And life goes on. More friends have babies. More friends announce they are expecting. And I'm still so self-righteous. I look at certain circumstances and my heart cries, "why does she get to have a baby and I don't?" I'm so totally the prodigal's brother. I stayed home. Did what was right. And here comes my brother - partied hard, blew his inheritance. Did it ALL wrong. And he gets the party. I want the party. Where's the justice?" It's ugly bitter in my heart.

And then the Holy Spirit pricks my hard heart and reminds me what I know is truth. That God is good. And that He has a wonderful plan for each of those babies' lives. That He is weaving a beautiful tapestry.

And there it is, He pours out His peace and it is a balm to my heart. And it is humbling to be forgiven for such lofty thoughts of myself and my self-imposed worthiness.

And so all of that brings me full circle. Here we are at the crux of the matter. It's time to start back. And I was feeling so overwhelmed. Not up to it. I prayed about our decision to homeschool Sister. Perhaps I'd misunderstood. No, no, I had not misunderstood. This, this is what He has called us to.

And so I prayed and told the Lord that I couldn't do it. I don't have the strength. And then the bomb went off.

Duh. I'm not supposed to tackle this in my own strength. I think He's got us right where He wants us. I simply cannot do this on my own. Just. Can't.

I've spent this week, thanks to my sweet MIL, alone, preparing for our year. I will be learning right alongside Sister.

And I will be begging Him to sustain us. To carry us. To equip us. 'Cause I do not have my junk together.

* This was his last hit - he was on third - and he was eager to run home. As the other player approached the T, our own Little Man was preparing for his run...

he did jumping jacks...

and then he dropped to the ground for push-ups... (and at this point, I was laughing so hard at his sheer preciousness I could barely take pictures)

And then he ran...


And crossed home plate. WOOP WOOP!!!!!! Way to go Little Man!!!*

And so here we are. The Engineer's shirts need ironing. It's been three months. He's been wearing the same fishing shirts - 'cause they don't need ironing. The guys at work thought he was super into deep sea fishing. Ha. Or not.

The Engineer and I missed small group last night - it was on marriage - know why we missed? We were in an argument. For real. Oh the irony.

The house is a mess and there's dog hair everywhere - and I've been home alone all week. Could've tackled it, but didn't.

We slept on our mattress pad with a blanket for three nights. 'Cause I never took the sheets from the dryer and made the bed.

Life. It's life. And it's good and hard and rich.


  1. I know being so open and raw has got to be hard, you when you share your heart like this, it resonates with so many other women. You are a great mother, from what I can tell from your blog. And you're right, God is good. Life isn't easy, but it's totally worth it.

  2. We don't know each other and I've only commented a handful of times. I'm thankful for your blog because it is real and it is true. And it is life. I will continue to pray for your sweet family as you transition into the school year.

    Love the pictures of your little man. T-ball is so much fun.

    And btw-We've slept on our mattress pad and bare pillows for the last week too. And I have no excuse, except life is happening and I haven't washed up the sheets.

  3. Little Man is cute, CUTE! Great pictures.

    I will be praying for you as you and Sister start a new school year. I hope the year far exceeds your expectations.

    Y'all have had A LOT happen in the past 6 months. I wish for you a season of rest and I really hope the younger 2 being in school will alleviate some pressure/ stress.

    Preschool has been the biggest blessing to me.

  4. Ah, we start our first season of t-ball in a few short weeks. The stages pass long before I am ready...

  5. Little man is just precious. (for the record, I agree with you about the score keeping...)

    We'll be praying for you as you start this school year.

  6. Your photos and words bring such heart and vibrancy. You tribute your family well, dear friend. So well.

  7. Jenn, every time you post I find myself thinking, "I wish we were sitting in Cracker Barrel sharing our hearts over breakfast." I loved the morning we were able to do that.

    I've been learning SO MUCH lately about the sufferings that God allows us to endure and the prayers that go unanswered. Ultimately, what He is showing me is that His grace carries a gospel theme, our life-stories are gospel stories -- the gospel is, after all, the best story every told and He loves to tell it over and over and over in our lives. We suffer but He is always redeeming our suffering for His glory. His redemption of our sufferings comes in abundant ways, in ways far beyond what we can ask or imagine, and in mysterious ways we don't always understand.

    Our story is God's pursuit of our hearts, no matter the answers to our prayers, and our posture of need is where we receive strength. Letting your children partake in this is one of the best ways I can think of to point them to Christ.

    Seriously, call me when you're headed back toward the-city-we're-from sometime and maybe we can do breakfast again. Hugs.

  8. I can't even tell you how much I needed to hear these words from a friend. Promise you are not the only one out there mucking through some days, trying to do life and grace well in front of the kids, but grieving all the while. God is so good, and I am holding on to that promise with you! Thanks for
    being real!

  9. Love you know I do! :) And yes...Our Great God walks this path with you, and HE is leading! HE is glorified. What a Wonderful Blessing!!

    Much Love,
    Camille XO

  10. loved all the pictures of little man-we miss him in ss!! but loved even more you sharing your heart. like many said, your openness resonants with many and the Lord uses you to encourage us. know it will be another year of learning, trusting and growing in dependence on God. much love to you!