Friday, May 19, 2017

In Pain (and tears) You Will Give Birth

Waiting for my dad at the Austin airport
 I've cried myself to sleep more than a handful of times in my 47 years of life, but I'd never cried myself awake until last week. It made me think of Eve. In the third chapter of Genesis, Eve receives the news of how the unleashing of sin into the world will affect her, as a woman, specifically: pain in childbirth.

But the pain doesn't end in childbirth, of course. Any mom will tell you that. Nearly every single day of raising a child involves pain of some sort, and it was the pain of impending and indefinite separation that woke me up with sobs that Thursday morning.

We had landed in Texas just two days prior, and spent the day before in Waco packing up all of Kory's belongings and moving him out of the house in which he spent the last two years of college. It was the beginning of an ending.

Boys' apartments...😉  Robert had bathroom duty.


 After it was all packed and loaded into the UHaul we decided to try and visit Magnolia Market one last time. It would be my first time to actually get into the bakery and store, since the last time I tried was on the Monday of Spring Break in Texas, and I'm pretty sure THE WHOLE STATE OF TEXAS (and possibly Oklahoma) was there waiting in a 2+ hour long line. This, however, was the Wednesday afternoon before graduation weekend in Waco, and the crowd was much smaller. We shopped in the market and even got some delicious gluten free cookies at the bakery.

 We took our Magnolia cookies to Common Grounds, because cookies need coffee, of course, and this is the place students get coffee, and study, and go on dates, and attend concerts. We've never visited Waco without making a stop at Common Grounds. (The owners live in a Fixer Upper, so we didn't think they'd mind the imported cookies.) I got a Common Grounds t-shirt for Mother's Day.


The caffeine and sugar fueled us to make the three-car/truck-caravan-trek to San Marcos that evening. The next morning (the morning of sobs), Robert and I went for a run, unloaded the truck into a storage unit, and picked up breakfast tacos and Starbucks all before 9am. An early start was made possible by my 5am tears and also felt necessary, because we would host a graduation party for Kory later that afternoon, and all of the grocery shopping and cooking still needed to happen. Those things ended up being a good distraction.

Robert got up around 6:30 after I'd had time to sit in my dad's recliner with my Bible and my tearful prayers, and asked me if I was okay. I had actually been pretty weepy for about two weeks leading up to all of this, though he didn't know that. I didn't know exactly how to explain. I don't know...just the anticipation of a more permanent goodbye, the prospect of no more long winter breaks, spring breaks, or summer breaks, the end of those precious, few, and truly wonderful college years, and the beginning of an independent "real" life in another state.

My mind was being flooded with images of the past, too. I thought of the yellow "hundred number chart" I laminated and the inflatable globe I purchased in the weeks leading up to our first year of homeschooling, the Saxon math books, all of the trips to the library, the museum, swimming lessons, Legos, BB guns, pocket knives, paper routes, and countless baseball games and picnic dinners at the ball park.
I've never played virtual Tetris, only real life Tetris.
How does a mother let go - even of a son who makes her very proud and is moving on to good and important things? I don't really know. The ache is still there. It makes me think of other moms who have lost children to angry rebellion or worse, death. I can't even fathom the pain of the mom of the freshman boy at the University of Texas (my alma mater) who was randomly stabbed and killed a couple of weeks ago on campus just a moment after hanging up from a phone conversation with her - updating her on the pick-up basketball game he had just played at the gym and his upcoming final exams. I had those same conversations with my college kid on a weekly basis, too. I can't imagine receiving the next phone call she got from a girl standing nearby whom the boy asked to call his mom back and say goodbye knowing he would not make it. I'm praying for her.

My goodness. On to happier moments...

The party was so much fun. Not only did Robert's parents make a cornhole game for us to play, they also made a life-sized Jenga game. Everyone took their turn.
It meant so much to us that Melinda (my youngest sis) and Brent came from Denver.

And Lois, too! She's seen us through every year of Kory's life and done more than her fair share of kidsitting.
So thankful she made this her first stop on her summer sabbatical.




Kory's girlfriend, Rebecca, drove from Waco to celebrate with us.

The over 40 crowd sat on the deck.

A Fossil messenger bag was our gift to the world's newest businessman.

The whole gang - thanks to Lois' self-timer.

A Dad and his daughters. Grandad was at every Baylor move in and out, even when
we gave him the option of staying home and catching up with us later.
Friday morning, we were back on the road to Waco. (That's right, two round trips in three days.) Kory had one last physical therapy appointment in town, and wanted us to see where he'd been going and meet the staff. It was fun to meet Brandi, whom I called twice a week every week to pay for his appointments and also his physical therapist. It was a picnic lunch at the lake (party leftovers!) after that and then we checked into our hotel.

Saturday was graduation. Kory's ceremony was at 2:30, so Robert and I took advantage of the morning by going for one last run around campus and getting one last Common Grounds coffee. Actually, he got iced tea and I got the Hotel California. (Seltzer, coconut milk, and lime)
It's a beautiful campus, and I wish I had a few more pics to prove it!

This part of our running route dead ends at Common Grounds.

Baylor IS known for having the largest Starbucks on
a college campus - in its library.

We beat the graduation crowd only by about 2 minutes!
We had a very late breakfast at Cafe Cappuccino and indulged in their gigantic gluten free pancakes, and then it was time to go to the ceremony.
With chocolate chips, of course.
We, and many others, were there an hour early, but passed the time watching the graduates give shout-outs to their families on the big screen. Such a great idea! We managed to catch Kory giving his on our cameras and phones.

Baylor's interim president gave a very meaningful and exhortative speech. He addressed the sexual assault accusations and incidents head on, adding that the exploitation of anyone is never to be a part of the Christian's life. He reminded the graduates that Christians are to be neither complacent in the midst of injustice, nor live in selfish comfort and luxury when there is great need all around. He called them to give and to sacrifice. He asked them to consider the truth that they are accountable to God in this life and in the life to come, and he urged them to use all of their days following graduation to honor Him. Perfect.
Hugs from sis.

Melinda and Brent - the newlyweds!

No, I didn't set out to find a green dress, but this one found me at Loft one day recently, so...
Checking out that diploma on the way to dinner.
It was about an hour long wait at Chuy's - almost everyone's favorite Mexican food place - but well worth it considering that every restaurant in town had crowds gathered outside. We sipped on iced tea and ate way too many chips with salsa while we waited.
Sunday morning was Mother's Day, because why not compound the emotion of graduation with the day set aside to honor moms? Ugh. Who came up with this idea? I'd like to make a motion that we move Mother's Day to July, or maybe just get rid of it altogether. I fought the tears from the first worship song of the morning at Kory's church, and then completely lost the battle in the parking lot after Robert prayed for Kory and we hugged him goodbye. I've learned on a few different occasions that the Greek word for "weep" is "klaio" and connotes "uncontainable, audible grief." So, weeping. Yeah, that is exactly what I was doing. I felt bad for not being able to control it for Kory's sake.

But I'm so grateful that my grief is really a good kind of grief, the kind that indicates the love and the bonds of motherhood. The kind that grieves the loss of more time together and delights in remembering happy memories from years gone by. I'll take that kind over the alternative any day. This is the pain that gives birth to life, and though I was resisting it, in my heart I know that this is the way it's supposed to be. Childbirthing is just plain hard...but also good.
So, it was a long trip back to my dad's house that afternoon, but a stop in Austin for a "family happy hour" at my sister's house was a nice way to break up the trip. She put together a little buffet of beautiful and tasty snacks and cold, refreshing drinks. The girls chatted and laughed in the kitchen while the boys all watched the Spurs game on TV. 

My sister inquired about the weekend. "Did you cry?" she asked. 

Gulp.

There was no crying on Monday, though. Floating the Texas rivers is such a fun and nostalgic activity for me, but it doesn't mix well with sadness or tears. I've been wanting to return to this childhood pastime for years, and Monday was our day. High 80's, blue skies, lots of sunshine, and no place to go except into the water for the next two hours and straight to get ice cream afterwards.

We topped off the day with steaks on the grill, a lingering dinner on the deck, and fireflies lighting up our view of the wooded yard. Kory sent text messages to say he had arrived at Pine Cove (where he's working only for the summer) and was about to embark on getting his CDL, so that he and his fellow counselor, Ja'Kory (true story), can drive a school bus full of Overflow campers (the two-weekers) around this summer.

Kory and Ja'Kory, the bus drivers. Surely this will end up in a camp skit someday soon.

It's the birth of a new season for him...and in spite of the pain, I couldn't be more happy.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Spring: "Filled & Fried"

 "We were both so filled at Easter, and also kinda fried," is what my friend Christina said the other day when we were catching up via text message. (Hopefully she doesn't mind me quoting her.) She is also a pastor's wife, but you don't have to have that role to feel that way. Everyone I talk to lately has been feeling the same...filled by the warm weather, the meaningful times of worship, the sweet fellowship, the fun activities, but also fried by the frenzied pace of it all.

Here's a little glimpse into our spring - things that have passed and things upcoming. Warning: this is a long post (again), but I just needed to get it all down.
 Weeks of Shakespeare rehearsals and then a weekend of performances - also known as the time of year I get to live out my secret ambition of being a hairstylist. Jessica's hair was a bit of a dilemma, since she had to turn into a boy in the middle of the play (As You Like It) and then back into a girl.
Kayla did an excellent job in her smaller role, which she always has to balance with her track practices and meets. Lots of hurrying back and forth for both of us the last weeks of March.

 Our church's women's retreat had been booked and on the calendar for a year, and then the Shakespeare play was booked for the same weekend. This meant I could only help with dress rehearsals and one performance on a Thursday night.  Friday, it was off to New Hampshire in the middle of a raging March 30-April 1 snowstorm!
 Every time a woman arrived at the conference center, I was silently thanking the Lord for safe travel. It snowed for over 30 hours and left over 18 inches behind before it was all over, but in the end, all of these ladies made it, and we all had the best time being snowed in together.

With Sarah hosting games, this is Elisabeth and me - about to compete at charades.
Household chores the theme; "Dusting a lamp" was our acting assignment. 😩
Every Sunday after church we hosted a small group Bible study, except that it wasn't very small. Some of you know that one of my favorite things to do is have people over for lunch after church. Hosting a small group at that time is really just a sneaky way for me to get to do this regularly.
 We enjoyed discussions on the book of John, and then broke into smaller groups for prayer.
Abby and Maddie, two Mount Holyoke students, came home after the first service with me every week and helped prepare the meal. Kayla and I loved spending time in the kitchen with them chopping veggies and making multiple pots of coffee.

(We also did some informal scientific research during those weeks and came to the conclusion that more women than men enjoy hazelnut coffee, which led to changes in grocery purchases, and number of pots of regular vs. hazelnut since we had far more women in the group than men!)
I should have put these next photos right after the retreat photos, because less than 45 minutes after I arrived home from the women's retreat in New Hampshire, Robert and I left for Indianapolis for The Gospel Coalition Conference. Unlike the scheduling of the Shakespeare play which we had no idea would fall on the same weekend, we were well aware of the back-to-back nature of these events. But the conference was going to be in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the list of speakers included all of our favorites and more. We couldn't resist, and we're so glad we made it happen.
Josh Moody is one of Robert's good friends and a fellow pastor. He used to pastor in Connecticut, but is now at College
Church in Wheaton, IL. We had fun catching up over dinner one evening. Josh has written several books lately -
you should look him up at God Centered Life!
I'm just now realizing I didn't get a picture of our whole group, as we had friends from Ohio join us, but Chris and Katie were with us for the whole conference - and beyond. (!) Both from Texas, newly married, Chris an Amherst College grad, and Katie a University of Texas grad, they are now on staff with Intervarsity on our local college campuses and a part of our church as well.

It was so fun to have them with us, but I think they got much more time with us than they bargained for, as our flights home were canceled mid-trip, and we were forced to take hotel vouchers in Detroit. It was quite an adventure, and I think I have finally learned that is it wise to take some toiletries and a change of clothes with me in a carry-on bag. I bought a $6 t-shirt at the airport to sleep in and Katie was kind enough to let me borrow some mascara the next morning. Thanks to Katie and that fateful morning, I am now in love with this mascara. Grounding us in Detroit was clearly God's way of showing me His mascara will.
Then it was Holy Week and Easter. We had a wonderful Palm Sunday, 9pm worship services at Amherst College every night after that, a Passover Seder, a Crosswalk through town, a Good Friday service, and ended the week with an 82 degree Easter Sunday and fun lunch gathering at our house.
Grant is a senior at Amherst College and preached at one of the evening services.
(I've just turned off the "live" photo feature on my phone, since it gives me 2 second videos
rather than still photos.)
Friend and church member, Shannon, took photos of anyone who wanted them after each service. They all turned out so great!

Robert led the congregation in a song he wrote especially for Easter. Cindy accompanied on viola. So beautiful.

Coop was home for the long weekend.

More college kids home - friends old and new.

The warm weather meant we could be outside.


Texas, Iran, Massachusetts, Rwanda, Kenya, Mexico, and China - all represented around my table
Such a beautiful sight, a true gift, and a glimpse of heaven.
Some of the frenzy is by my own choosing, but peer pressure plays a part. The following Saturday I ran my first half marathon trail race with Betsy and her friend, Liz. The race was Betsy's idea (definitely not mine!), and since she moved to Natick last year, I decided to join her as a way to spend some time catching up. This meant that during Holy Week and the week after Easter, I was having to up my running mileage quite a bit to prepare. You know...not much else going on those weeks, so why not? Sigh...

These things always sound like a great idea two months prior.
I'm pretty sure that running on an actual trail would have been highly recommended for training purposes, but the edge of the bike trail is the closest I got to the real thing. There were some rocks and roots, but no mud or hills. Oh well.
The route was a 6+ mile loop...or cloverleaf? It rained the whole day before as well as the last half hour of the race. We were freezing by the time it was over and all had blue lips when we met up at the finish line. I was the last of the three of us to finish at 2 hours 24 minutes - about 30 minutes slower than my last half marathon.
 Kayla has been running and jumping a lot herself lately with spring track. She's been doing the triple jump, the 100m, 200m, the 4x100, and the 4x400.
 Several of her fans joined us at a recent meet, and she had fun racing some of her beloved kindergartners, first-graders, and toddlers.
 Yep...breaking all of the blogging rules with the length of this, but here are a few more things we've done this spring...
A trip to the Boston Opera House with friends to see The King and I. So good!

Betsy's son (and Pete's!) Dustin was baptized last Sunday. He had to have a special, early
baptism due to his UMass Ultimate Frisbee team schedule.
 After Dustin's baptism, we hosted a graduate luncheon at our house - about 20 of them were able to join us, but as you can see there are so many more leaving us this year! This pic reflects only those in the second service.



Alena (and Lois) were over on Saturday night and Sunday helping prepare, host, and clean up.

Grant and Parker - we'll be back in Indianapolis next month for Grant's wedding!

 This week included Kayla's Challenge III Protocol Night. Along with the Challenge I class, we enjoyed an Italian dinner at a local restaurant and then headed to Amherst College for their Christian A cappella group's spring concert.

Challenge I (Freshmen) and Challenge III (Juniors) classes together

I took my final exam in Theology III on Wednesday...
 ...and instead of blogging, I should be reading that top book and writing a 5 page paper on it, because it's due next Wednesday at midnight, but we'll be in Texas by then...
 ...and helping another graduate move out of his house in Waco. I am so happy and so sad all at the same time over this. Happy that he has had such an incredible experience and education at Baylor and sad that he'll be entering the real world which will no longer include long holiday breaks and summer vacations during which he can come home for extended visits.
He was kind enough to take one last picture for me on his last day of class, and while I know he was
celebrating this day, I was truly grieving!

So...Wednesday we'll move him out (and I will finally move IN to the Magnolia store and bakery for some shopping rather than stare at a hopelessly long line of Fixer Upper fans - hopefully!?), Thursday we'll have a party, Friday we'll head back to Waco, Saturday we'll graduate, Sunday we'll do church and lunch with him in Waco, and then say goodbye as he heads to Pine Cove Camp for the summer. He'll move to Austin in August for his first "real world" job at Oracle.

Cooper won't be able to join us in Texas for the graduation festivities due to his final exam schedule at Gordon, and this totally ruins my plan to have a family photo for the Christmas card this year. It also signals the end of a season - the full nest season - and it's affecting me more than I thought it would. I'm so happy that my kiddos are growing and thriving in their individual lives and paths, but so sad that there will be so much less family time.

So...yes - filled by the recent joys and fellowship and experiences and hopes for the future, and fried, too - by the pace and the effort and the emotion of it all. I suppose I wouldn't have it any other way, but am looking forward to some rest as well as some different adventures this summer. (It will be our 25th wedding anniversary in August!)

Back soon with graduation picks and maybe even some updates around this little space. June will mark 10 years of blogging (and nearly 800 posts) for me, and I'm looking forward to celebrating with a bit of a "fixer upper" of my own.

Happy Spring!