I posted on my facebook last night that I was mad enough at my children to spit nails.  I was frustrated by the lack of respect, the insanity of clutter all around my house, the general confusion as the end of the school year takes hold and summer descends.  I also wrote that I feel alone in this parenting gig.  It was of some comfort to hear that there are other parents, many not that younger than me, that feel the same.

I almost kicked myself for vocalizing that.  Then, I stopped.  Why should I be afraid or apologetic for admitting that sometimes I do not have a clue how to do this?  There are moments that I do not want to be climbed on, or my food eaten from my plate.  There are also times that I do not want to share my bath, my bed, or my emotions.  Sometimes I simply want to be left alone.  Even, as I write this, I have my oldest standing right next to my chair swiveling it back and forth… my youngest has come over to ask me to open his tiny muffin package, hurling a litany of questions as I open it. 

Do not get me wrong, I love, love, love my boys and I have a connection with them that transcends anything else I have ever experienced.    I did not and do not have that connection with my family.  My mother will tell me, “But you would not let any of us love you.  So I stopped trying.”  Ok.  I don’t understand the connection my boys and I have, but it is spiritual as well as tangible and it defies definition.  It is love, pure and simple.

That does not mean in the dark part of me that I do not struggle with being a mom.  This is incredibly hard heart work.  It is an all-consuming, up at dawn, never-ending roller coaster that most of the time I embrace wholly.  But…there are times.

My oldest current diagnosis sticks.  ADD, Bi-polar, and extremely gifted.  He is a high needs boy with energy and passion to spare.  He is much like his mama, I just don’t have the ADD or bi-polar.  I was high energy, passionate, stubborn, and independent….WAIT!  I still am.   My oldest is also highly intuitive, compassionate, giving, and perceptive.  He has been with me on my Seminary journey the whole time, and at 8 years can speak to the heart of some complicated issues.  He asks theological questions that have no easy answers, and he works them out for himself.  He is my emotional barometer.  If something is off, I can count on him to sense it, just as I do.  He simply does not have the vocabulary or experience to understand what is happening.  YET.

He is also a global thinker.  I remember the day before he started kindergarten.  I found him in the bathroom, sobbing over an episode of Bindy, the Jungle Girl.  The show demonstrated the plight of the whales and dolphins, and here was my son, sobbing because he could not solve the problem.  My heart broke.  I sat in bed that night and thanked the Creator for such a son, and sobbed for the hurt his heart experiences on a daily basis.  I can’t take it away from him.  I can advocate for him and with him, I cannot take it from him. HE has the gift of mercy, and sometimes that is weighty.

He also drives me up the wall quicker than any person I know.  Right now he is watching a show and his energy has him opening and shutting the tv cabinet door with his feet.  Mindlessly, open and close, open and close, as I hear it thump, thud, thump. AAAAAHHHH.  He does not know what he is doing, his body must move.  He does not connect that he is 3/4 my height and the full weight of him in complete motion mode is heavy and I cannot carry him anymore.  He does not realize that climbing on me won’t be an option much longer. 

He also does not realize the words that come out of his mouth are sometimes so hurtful I cannot look at him.  When I hear him yell at me that he wishes he were dead, to go and get a gun and kill him, it stabs in a place I can never articulate to him.  He may understand when he is a parent.  Now I have to choke down the many times that he screams that I hate him, and that he hopes he dies sooner rather than get older.  How do you respond to that….how do you join him?  The only solution I have in those out of control moments, are to hold him close, whisper in his ear, and rock him back and forth.  It is all I know how to do.  Sometimes I know it’s not enough, sometimes I feel like I fail him.  Sometimes I think he would be better off with a stronger and more capable mom.  NEVER do I wish he were not my son.  Re-read that last sentence.  Sometimes I struggle with who I am and who I can be for him, never that he is my son.  He has taught me more about humanity and grace than any person I know.  He is one of 2 living heroes I know…my youngest being the 2nd.

There are moments that haunt me.  When in quiet moments of bedtime conversation, my oldest will look at me and ask if it’s ok if he does not survive past 16?  Uh…what?  “Is it ok, mom, if God calls me home before I turn 16?  Are you ok with that?  You know where I am going.”  UH!!!! NO!   No!  I am not ok with losing my son anytime, anywhere, by any method.  NO!!! You may not go anywhere, let me keep you here, with me.  The biblical story of Abraham and Isaac takes on new meaning in that light.  Surely a loving and merciful Creator would never ask me to give up my son!?  Surely I would be spared the pain and horror of that…SURELY.

Well, ask Mary how she felt to give up her Son.  I guess that puts a different spin on the issue.  DANG!!!!  So, I hold him, cuddle him, give him everything I can in hopes that it is enough. 

Sometimes, though, I am tired.  Sometimes I do not want a high needs child, almost smarter than me at age 8.  Sometimes the hurt at watching him is close enough to the surface that I cannot let him see the tears that escape before I have my mask firmly in place.  Anger seeps through in the middle of the night and I rail silently in my head, grappling for a solution.  Times when my 2 children are arguing so loudly and my oldest slugs the other in the stomach…yes–to hurt him–i see red.  There are also times when my youngest is trying to appease his older brother, doing anything in his power to make his big brother happy…to get him to stop screaming at him, hitting him, kicking him in the back.  These are moments when I have to stop….not to react, to breathe.  I watched one of those the other night as my youngest handed sticker after sticker to his brother…it was his brand new sticker book given to him by his grandma.  I wanted to yell, to scream at my oldest that he had no right to put his little brother, MY son, in this position.  I didn’t.  I shook my head and walked down the hall, knowing I had to let them work it out…keeping one ear open for blood-curdling screams

They come too, sometimes.  The screams.  When my oldest is in the bath and he sees a bug…a bug that incites such fear that he is literally inconsolable for the next 1/2 hour to an hour.  I shake my head, wondering how this is happening to a kid who lives, eats, and breathes insects, science, and anything animal related.  How can seeing this live be so traumatic?  I still don’t know, but then we have 2 screaming because the youngest is now terrified that his brother is screaming bloody murder.  WHAT~~~?

What do you do in that moment?  How do you keep your cool?  Often I do not know.  I know this may have been more heavy than normal, cut me a bit of slack….it is on my mind and heart often.  In the midst of tons of people, I often feel alone, carrying a heavy and dark secret.  The fact is, I hope with all I can that I do ok by him, by both of them.  I pray I will improve as I age, that I will parent with grace and love, and not an iron fist.  I commit them to God each day, believing that the best will come.  Sometimes, though, I am simply tired. 

I must go, the peace that once reigned has been shattered as one has jumped full force onto the back of the other….Super mom to the rescue–one more time.

CALGON!!!??? Take me away????



The Final Countdown!

The Final Countdown!.

The Final Countdown!

Anyone else have the trombones and synthesizer music from the Final Countdown in their head?  Thank you Europe for that instant reference!ClickHandler.ashx?

The final weeks come down the pike as I prep to cross the stage as a graduate.  I have seen the ceremony many times in person, have dreamt it countless times in my sleep, anticipating what the day will look like.  What I don’t know is what to feel.  I look forward with great excitement to that day.  I am also a bit overwhelmed.  Whoa.  No guaranteed safety net, no ready community backing me no matter what I do….the mistakes- when I make them are mine and mine alone.  Somehow we graduates think we are to have it all figured out…the MASTER plan revealed and suddenly we are launched into the world and expected to have our act together.

One my classmates, who is also graduating, mentioned that they were feeling the same way.  A certain pressure to have it figured out, the education gained, the training complete.  My gut tells me that we will never be done learning and honing the skills.  My gut also tells me that what we all need are not more pastors trained to say the right thing, we need people who are willing to crawl into the muck and gunk and crap with us. 

The last four years have forced me to look academically at faith and theology and to try to find an answer for something that does not have a concrete answer.  The faith that I encounter does not have rational thought, but to NOT believe in something larger than me is IRRATIONAL!  To explain from an academic or scientific manner–would be like trying to put a rational explanation to the emotions that erupt when my child embraces me.  How can I put a definition to sunsets, wind, the sound of water rushing over the rocks?  The last four years also made me examine every reaction, my personality, my mental status, and my faith.  What a road!  For those that think the Seminary gig is a piece of easy pie, the opposite is true. 

It is a journey of self exploration and pruning that is necessary to be present with others on their journey.  It was the hardest 4 years I have traveled.  In less than a month I will put this piece of my story away and reflect on its impact.  Ah, the stories I can tell, the conversations and revelations….

I have at this time let go of becoming a Reverend in a congregational setting.  It is not my place to Administrate and lead an already established church.  My place is with the people in the streets, the homes, those of us that embrace being the least, the lost, and the lonely.  The biggest lesson I have learned came not from any books, although they have taught me volumes (PUN INTENDED).  I learned more from being present with other people…I learned that their story and my story weave together, creating a tapestry of wonder that is the GREATEST story ever told.  It means that no matter the situation or what brings us together, that I am encountering a brother or sister of humanity, created by the ONE who does not claim judgment and wrath or hatred.  Each time I speak with a person, whether we like each other or not, I am speaking with a beloved human being….created as such and deserving reverence as a beloved creation.  That is right, each person….no matter what they have done is deserving of the same reverence and wonder that I can contemplate.  Now, I have never seen an ocean…I yearn to do so before I die…. I can only imagine what seeing an expanse of water and wonder might be like.  When I think of that and then I think of each person as a precious human being, of more worth and wonder than the ocean.  Well, the thought is simply too AWESOME for my mind to comprehend.

I will have more thoughts on this whole precious human aspect, because it is a topic with which I wrestle more than I would like to admit.  I would like to say that within the next 4 weeks I will have it figured out as the capstone to my Seminary education.  I won’t.  So, as I said to my classmate. “We’ll never know it all. We pray for grace and to receive grace humbly. ”

What say you?


SHALOM! cahl.

Let’s Get Physical

Let’s Get Physical.

Let’s Get Physical

Let’s Get Physical.

Let’s Get Physical

Let's Get Physical.

Let’s Get Physical

I have been thinking about this topic for quite some time.  I received my undergrad training as a Speech Communication and Theatre Studies and English Ed major from SDSU in Brookings, SD.  What may sound less marketable in terms of trained skills has taught me more about human beings and interaction than anything I have ever learned from concrete learning.  One of the  that has most fascinated me is that of non-verbal communication.  We say so much without ever uttering a word….it is amazing.  I continue to watch people, their interactions, the messages they send to one another when they are the most unaware.  In short, people fascinate me.

This week has been a hard week for me.  A good friend has suffered some loss and oddly enough two others that are wonderful friends of mine have also lost family members.  In the span of 3 days, 3 losses for dear friends.  I feel their pain, and although I have not lost a family member in about 10 years….the last was my favorite uncle…and i miss him.–the connection and relationship that I have with these 3 people means that I hurt for them.  I cannot understand the emotions as yet, I will someday soon, but caring for them and their families…I can only imagine their journey. 

So, what does that mean in the great NON-verbal communication conversation…well.  My week has been a jumble and yesterday I took some time to myself to just BE.  You know, the hole up in your own space and talk to no one…maybe read a book, not really think about anyone kind of time?  The kind where you are so tired, you have no idea what to do, but so tired that sleep simply won’t come?  I know you know the kind.  I took some of that time yesterday.  It was cold, felt like bleak December in the Dakotas and I hunkered down with my heavy comforter, 80’s streamed music and my dog….an extremely noisy Pug, whom I love to pieces.

How did this animal, one who cannot speak, communicate in any human terms what she is thinking, refuse to leave my side?  Now, she follows pretty closely as my shadow, but yesterday she simply would not leave me alone.   I tried many times in the middle of the afternoon to use my computer and do some writing, she would not let me.  She sat, staring at me, with her huge brown eyes…she then would use her paw to scrape “please” at my hand, and look at me again and sigh.  I talked to her…just like I would another person….I swear she understood what I was saying.  Her eyes would blink, sometimes she would snort a response, then lean against me.  Other times when I sat simply staring off into space while trying to think of the next best Words With Friends option, she would climb up on my chest and sit on my stomach…wagging her tail in my face.  If I was not paying attention, then she circled to sit on my stomach and stare straight into my face.  GOOBER!

Does she know the week has been full of stuff?  I think so.  Funny thing, that communication.  What does that mean in a human sense?

One phenomena I have studied is that of human touch and physical presence.  In infants, an inadequate amount of human touch and interaction causes a Failure to Thrive.  Babies can stop growing and can pass away from lack of human exposure.  Touch and closeness is so important…and I think we forget it.  My boys are constantly egging each other on and looking for reasons to beat on one another.  I have discovered a) that is a boy thing, and b) it is their way of engaging with one another in a physical sense that does not make them look wimpy.  Go figure.  Never a day goes by that I do not physically touch them in a positive way…whether it is a rumple of the hair, a tweak of the nose, hugs, zerberts on the cheek….whatever it is that communicates that I love them and am willing to bump into their presence often.

I wonder though, sometimes when I reach out and hug them, who needs it more?  Am I hugging them because I know they need it or is my need greater in that moment?  Do I even admit that need.  Often we don’t.  I thought of it as I sat with my dog…am I absently petting her fur because it feels good to her, ( it does) or is there an emotional need that I am satisfying ?  Do I need to hug my dog?  Yes, and she knows it.

Think of it…at the end of the day what is the mood we are in if we have not physically interacted with a person in a positive and affirming way.  I am not talking sex here, I am referring to a handshake, hug, arm about the shoulders, a playful push or something else.  How do we feel?  We often feel grouchy, irritable, angry, and more tired than we would normally and most of the time we have no clue why.  Bingo!  That is part of the reason.  We can fail to thrive as well.

Thrive though, looks different as we age than it does when we are infants.  Babies stop eating, growing, neglect to communicate, they can pass away quietly.  As we age, we isolate, draw boundaries, exact judgment, remain aloof…replace.  Half the time, I contend, we have no idea what we are doing or why we are doing it.  Many hide behind something else–a computer screen, being busy, a career, children, the past, the past, the past.  Wow, do we hide. 

Wow, do I hide.  As I write this, I am in my husband’s classroom, having subbed for him all day, prepping my mind to travel to a prayer service.  What I really want to do is sit down and bawl for all those that have lost this week and the void in their lives.  I want to reach out in the midst of that and cry that I am scared that may happen for me in the future, my parents are no spring chickens anymore.  Most people will read that and claim that I am being overdramatic…..but when you care about others their pain is your pain….we bear it together.  I listened to my sons last night pray for one of the families who have lost this week.  It broke my heart as they prayed that God would be with one member specifically when they feel bad.  How honest, how real.  How revealing.  I shared that with the person last night, they were grateful for the words…I was humbled by my sons’ lesson.

Would that I could be that honest.  Would that I could articulate how painful it is for me to watch others hurt and to know in a sense I am letting go of people and places as well.  I know that makes little sense to many who may read this… but when the time comes to let go of expectations that we place on ourselves and others….loss and grief and mourning happen.  It also coincides with graduating from Seminary in 35 days!  The loss of something familiar ( no matter how destructive or positive) brings a change…and a reaction to that change.  More to come in the days on that topic

Now, I am rambling, and many will have tuned out by now.  Summarize?  Keep in touch with people…love on them, please.  I really think 90% of the crud out there would be eliminated if we would venture out of our safe places and meet people where they are…not matter how sticky and gross it may appear.  We old peeps need those affirmations as much, if not more than the little ones. 

Mkay, I think I am done.  I better close and get myself looking halfway decent for the evening.  May this find you enveloped in safe and peaceful comfort…knowing Shalom to your soul.


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