Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Pastor's Kid

A few weeks ago I did my first "children's talk" in my church placement. LG saw the mic in my hand and freaked out. She clung to Paul the whole time screaming and Paul sat there as I tried to beg him with my eyes to take her out. He didn't see the begging. I had to press on, luckily I have ignored a tantrum or two in the past year. It was rough but this is exactly why I am starting to do things a few months before I have to, I needed time to get Lilia adjusted to the idea of mommy working at church and the routine during church. We are getting there the second children's talk went much better.

After her four alarm fit, someone came up to me and said, "Well she is a pastor's kid." I don't think they meant any harm but it stung. Pastor's kids don't always have the best reputation. I have only heard that word pairing used with a negative connotation. I have thought about that a lot over the past two weeks or so. I talked about it a bit and apparently there is a positive connotation to those words too, I just have never heard it. I am going through what I suppose could be called growing pains as I grow into my call and begin to take on the identity of "pastor". For LG to be a pastor's kid I have to be a pastor. I am slowly getting there. I am adjusting to what all this new title means and brings with it. That means I have a pastor's kid. It means I live essentially in a fish bowl where every word, action and deed is interpreted. Sometimes with out intention they are hurtful. Sometimes I fall short and sometimes I wish I could just act like any other person. The reality is this is the time to get used to the title and the new more public life. I am not sure I am ready but I am here.

Today I am grateful for LG, pastor's kid fits and all. I am grateful for this time to grow into what it means to have the title pastor.
May you be blessed by the words of another today.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ten Years from Now

Paul, LG and I were cruising in the mom bomb as we so affectionately call it. Something came up and it had happened ten years ago. I asked Paul, "Ten years ago did you think you would be married to me, have a daughter and living in the 'ville while I trained to be a preacher." He laughed and said I was pretty sure I would marry you and that's about it. This seemingly random conversation that filled the space between the gas station and home of course got me thinking. If someone told me ten years ago that I would someday be training to be a pastor I would have laughed at them, maybe even a hardy belly laugh bringing tears to my eyes. I could have given a list of reasons why I would never be a pastor. That really though is when the journey started because I was also just going back to school to finish my BA. If you told me I would live in KY I would have laughed even harder maybe fallen over. Ten years ago I had very little clue where I would be today.

I dreamed for a long time that at this point in my life I would be married with three kids, own a home on a huge piece of property, a fancy car and have a powerhouse job in NYC media. Maybe even a helicopter to commute in, if I went really crazy dreaming. Those were my life goals by 30, which has come and gone. My goals now are completely different. I have to wonder will they be laughable in ten years? Maybe not and maybe so. I am no longer dreaming with childlike imagination, it's a more grown up imagination that has faced reality. Although there is still a whole lot of imagination that happens inside this big 'ole head of mine.

So our next conversation naturally was about ten years from now. What will be surprised about, what do we expect? Well we agreed that there will probably be more children in the mom bomb. We have no idea where we will be living or what our jobs will be. We live in a state of transition for at least another two years. I still have dreams they look different now, a great education for LG, time spend living in Uganda getting my hands dirty, writing that isn't self published, maybe a PhD, a brother or sister or two for LG, family vacations. The dream that is the equivalent of the helicopter one above would be getting to go around talking to women about a new vision of what it means to be a Christian family, but I would have to write the book first. Or how about living off the grid eating all natural and organic foods? Maybe living in community? I have always dreamed of living on a farm. I am up in the air about home ownership these days, as I slowly learn to value material things less and less I feel like owning a home would make me want more and more. I hope in ten years I have found the balance of my materialism and my desire to live simply.

Who knows what we will laugh about in ten years or what it is we aren't expecting?

Today I am grateful for all that has happened in the last ten years and all that is to come.
May you be blessed in your next ten years. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Parenting as Spiritual Practice

I am taking a class on monasticism and I am learning so much about practices. As I was reading the other day I was becoming somewhat overwhelmed with some of the ideas that were speaking to me. How could I, the mom, the student, the wife, the chef, the housekeeper, the errand runner make my life more spacious? This on top of feeling like I am being buried alive by toys every ten seconds. Other times it feels like my own stuff is going to tumble down and take out a toe or two, clean dishes on the right of the sink, dirty on the left both piles desperately crying for my attention as I try to balance homework and potty training. Sometimes it is just all too much. Too much stuff, to many things on my to do list, not enough time, not enough energy, not enough sleep, not enough quiet. If I sit and think about it long enough my head might actually spin.

Then this moment happened, my life doesn't have to be governed by to do lists. Enter in cynical voice, but you have to keep things some what clean. So as these two fought in my head, I started to begin to think about some spiritual practices I have learned over the years. For example praying as you make dinner for your family, for the workers who brought the food to your table and so on. Then I thought about just being present with LG. What if instead of just handing her things to keep her out of my hair while I am trying to do the dishes or fold the laundry or read a book for school, what if I put it all down and fully engaged with her.

So I did I put it all down and when Paul got home from work we ate dinner and went to the splash park. I took towels with me and my keys, no phone no bag no junk, just a towel and a cover up for LG. I spent two hours just being fully present with her and Paul and honestly it's a bit like meditating at first. There was this sense of Paul has an eye on her time to make a mental to do list. I had to keep reminding myself to be present there with them not looking ahead in my mind. There I found the holy and remembered what a precious gift these moments are. My child who is ever growing and learning and exploring is so happy to have me by her side for the journey. When I slow down and take time for the holy in everyday tasks, I don't miss any of the joy parenthood brings.

Maybe the answer then is just finding God exactly where you are with all the tasks and piles of crap you have to deal with. Well at least for those of us who won't be going to live at the monastery anytime soon. I started last week reminding myself to be grateful for LG. When she is frustrating me I remember the moments of near tears while out running errands and being surrounded by pregnant women. I stop take a breathe and remember she is not my burden, she is my beautiful and precious gift from God. It really puts things into perspective for me. I wonder if we all stopped and did this every time our child(ren) get frustrating if it would revolutionize parenting? It's really hard not to get lost in that frustration!

I think that I am on the path to finding the holy moments in parenting and today if you are a parent or caretaker I invite you to join me on the journey.  I never expected a class on monasticism to teach me about parenting as spiritual practice but is has and I am grateful.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I was sitting in class recently listening to people talk about love as an expression of gratitude, with in the bounds of faith, and gratitude for God's love. As we talked about our experiences of God's love it occurred to me that in my personal experience, having our daughter was the moment that stood out. Actually it was a series of moments, but from the time I knew she was growing inside me I was so grateful for her. When she was born, when she hit milestones and currently as she approaches her third! birthday. I noticed though in that moment that recently in all my frustration I had forgotten to be grateful. So I wanted to take a minute and say even though if you have spoken to me recently you know I am at my wits end with how our family life is going these days, I need to say I am grateful for LG. I am so grateful for her vibrant and healthy little self. I am trying to remember that in moments of sheer frustration and there are many like trying to put clothes on a kid who just wants to be naked. May I never forget to be grateful for her beautiful life.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Heat Wave?

Things you don't expect to hear on the forecast, "Cooling to 100 on Sunday." We are in our second week of 100+ temperatures with no real end in site, cooling off seems to be 99. There is a small chance of the upper 80s next week which will probably feel like snow weather. I am super grateful for air conditioning. Also this heat wave has really helped us make progress in potty training. LG hasn't had a pee pee accident in days. Staying in the house or just outside the door in the baby pool has helped us get on track with potty training. Now if I could just convince her it is better to poop in the potty then in her undies we might be able to call this game.

Days like Today are Rough

Today was the 4th of July. I used to love days like today, an extra day off of work, fireworks, usually spending the day poolside and eating some sort of grilled delights. It's how I grew up, it is how I have probably spent nearly every July 4th in my life at a cook out with a pool surrounded by people. I moved away from my life long community where these kind of invitations were the norm almost a year ago and what I have noticed is that I really miss my home, my people on days like today.

It's days like today I realize that this thing called faith and listening to God's call have turned my world upside down. In reality it started a few years ago when I started questioning my own patriotism in light of faith. I don't want to get into that all here, it's just really hard to say we are all God's children and then say yay us!

Moving here has taken me away from nearly everything I know, granted I am getting to know lots of knew things but all that newness gets exhausting, sometimes you need something that is just comfortable. Paul no longer has holidays off so today felt like just another day, not one set apart for celebrating anything. With the temperature hovering between 99-105 yet again it is too hot to really enjoy spending the day outside with out being in a pool. I was totally bummed this morning as I thought of the day ahead and how we have spent this day as a family in the past, with friends and family. I got to thinking maybe it's what I make of it. So I made kool aid, which is a treat for LG. I took out the bigger baby pool and invited some of LG's friends to our "front porch" for a morning swim. We have an ample supply of ice pops that came in handy. I rummaged around the kitchen and found supplies for black bean burgers and intended upon making a quinoa and sun-dried tomato salad. Paul came home from work with left over pizza, not typical food for the fourth but it was less work.

I hope at the end of the day that LG is making great memories even if they are different from mine. I long for the hot summer days filled with pools and grills, beaches and boats... cool summer nights under the stars with a little fire and friends or walking on the moon lit beach. I really just don't know how to "do" summer in my new context. We did see fireworks twice in two days and bonus tonight's display involved air conditioning. I have a community here, we are just all students and not a one of us has a pool and it's just too darn hot to sit out on the communal patio for more than ten minutes.

I guess I am grateful for air conditioning and living in a place where clean water is so abundant that I can fill the baby pool each morning and empty each night laden with guilt because I have held in my arms a child with out enough water just to drink and I get to use water for play. We are blessed, in spite of all this desolation.