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Three years ago we loaded up three trucks, and we moved to Kansas…..flat, it is…..humidity and windy days.

So, after three years of dragging our feet trying to stay in Colorado, we up and moved without checking into all that we should.  One area I neglected to research was the homeschooling law regarding allowing or not allowing home schoolers to play public school sports.  I had only homeschooled in Colorado, and I assumed it would be the same.  Oops!  It’s not.  Yeah, I’ve written about it before.  But, today, a challenging morning in the land of Oz, I was reminded of how when we tried to find a place for our third son to continue playing soccer, the phone would ring and the voice of the Caller ID would say what sounded like “Kansas, you suck!”

We laughed.  This was the one year I was homeschooling all six children….my youngest was just beginning her education with kindergarten while my oldest was finishing his time in our home school as it was his senior year.  We would be going about our school day when we would hear the phone ring followed by “Kansas, you suck”.  We all stopped, looked around at each other, and broke out in laughter.  And, then, she’d say it again and again and again…..because we let it ring since my husband wasn’t there to deal with the caller and all the stuff I didn’t want to deal with.  Yeah, I’m THAT person.  It was the Kansas Youth Soccer Organization calling because we had found a spot for our son on a club team in a nearby town.  On the Caller ID it read “KS YOUTH SOC”, but what we heard was, “Kansas, you suck!”  Over and over again, call after call after call….”Kansas, you suck!”

To say it echoed how we all felt at the time would be an understatement.  Leaving our home….the place we loved living was just plain hard.  Adjusting to the humidity in Kansas after living in and breathing the fresh Rocky Mountain air was also a bit hard to swallow.  But, we have worked to adjust and make the most of living wherever we may be.  However, I still have plenty of “Kansas, you suck” days.  This morning began as one such day….

When I took my 5th son to into one town for his orthodontist appointment and kindly asked how long the appointment would be, she told me 20 minutes.  Twenty minutes….it would be better for me and my other three children in tow to wait the twenty minutes rather than risk him having to wait for me to run the 537 errands I needed to run while in town.  We waited.  An hour and fifteen minutes later, he came out.  Kansas, you suck!

Already flustered now due to needing to get to another appointment in less than an hour in another town, I knew I’d have to abandon most of those errands.  But, I knew one errand I had to make…..one promise I had made….was to go to the bank so my two younger sons could cash their checks.  They had already waited and been put off several times, so this was one promise I needed to keep.  The library is right by the bank, so I sent one son into the library to pick up my interlibrary loan which came in over the weekend….probably the minute I walked out of the library door on Friday.  Of course, today is the one day the librarians must have me in person to retrieve a library loan because they want to confirm that all my information is still the same….address, phone number, etc.  Unfortunately, yes…..I still live in Kansas.  No time to park and run in, so no book for me today.  Kansas, you suck!

On the way to the next appointment, it seemed as though all people who received memos to get in my way came out to fulfill their duties all at the same time as I had people step out into traffic in front of me, people driving slowly in both lanes all around me, people in Kansas simply getting on my last, hungry nerve.  Kansas, you suck!

Now, I understand that all this stuff can happen in any state, any town, any place in the world.  But, today I’m living in Kansas.  Today it reminded me of the Caller ID which made me laugh about my current residence.  People say it’s great to live here, in Kansas, because you won’t find nicer people anywhere else.

Whatever.

While I try very hard to not sit and pine for Colorado, it’s no secret I can’t wait to go back some day.  In the mean time, we’re making the best of our time here….even when the wind blows (always)….even when Kansas sucks!

So, now that I got that out of my head and into writing, I can move on to having an attitude of gratitude….you know…..since Thanksgiving is this week and all.

What seems like a lifetime ago when I was entering pageants back in the day, I remember practicing interview questions.  One popular question circulating among the pageant girls was “If your house was on fire, what three things would you grab?”  So, we pageant contestants learned quickly that a “good” answer was to say, “My Bible, my pictures, and my dog.”….something like that.  The truth is…I never gave it much thought…I just answered what I heard other girls say….girls who seemed to know who they were and where they were going in life.

But, yes, now that I have a little dog who thinks he is people….yes, that dog answer was a good answer.  I’m still not sure what I would grab in case of a fire (other than the dog and the children), but I do now know what I would like to save on my computer hard drive the next time it crashes.  Yes, the next time.  This time, thankfully, my husband restored all my files to their former glory (after a couple hundred dollars and several hours).  They are there….or so he says they are.  I have yet to explore all my stuff…..I’m trusting they are there.  But, when it was unknown whether or not my files would be salvageable, all I really wanted was the Numbers file where I have all our business books saved and had finally updated just days before the crash, my boys’ high school grades and transcripts on Word, any and all photos which I had not previously accidentally deleted, and my sister’s final email to me.  That’s all I wanted….everything else could be easily started over.

So, now that I have these safely and securely nestled in my new hard drive, I can sleep soundly.  Or can I?  At any time, my computer can crash again.  I know now that I must make sure it is properly backed up so I won’t have to redo all the numbers on the business books again….so that I won’t have to try to remember accurately all the grades for everyone….so that my children can have photos of themselves to see one day and share with their offspring.

But, it’s that one email….that last email from my sister that is somehow more important to me than anything else.  And, for now, it’s there.  I can’t seem to bring myself to delete it.  But, next time my computer crashes, I may not be so lucky.  I may not be able to open my mail and know that there is one email from her, even if it’s not recent….even if it is dated 05/20/08,….it’s there, and I like having it there.  But, just in case it does disappear some day because of a computer crash or whatever….just in case, I want you kids to be able to read it some day. I know you older boys remember her.  I know you remember how she came to visit and spent time and laughed with you and loved on you.  But, little Jeanae….you never met her.  And, Joseph, you only met her once when you were 7 months old.  Both of you (and probably Jacob) only remember her from the stories I tell you.  So I want to copy her final email to me here to make sure you all know what an amazing person your Aunt Linda was, and so that her own words are never lost or forgotten.  It is evident what an amazing human being she was in this final email she sent. She asked for prayer for God’s will to be done.  John’s grandma and dad both lived for years after she sent this email which she named “Calling All Angels” in the subject line.  And she suddenly died eleven days later.  God’s will was done.

Hi . . .

Please take some time today to pray for John, his
grandma and his dad.  

Long story short, John’s grandma is not doing well. 
She insisted upon having surgery which the doctors do
not think she will survive.  This will happen today at
5:00 North Carolina time.

Meanwhile, the health of John’s dad is not good
either.  He has doctor’s orders not to travel.  So he
won’t be able to go to his mom.

I know Melba (John’s grandma) has always had a
fondness for angels; that’s what she always called
everyone . . . “Sweet Angel.”  You are my angels.  So
if you could find some time today to pray, we would
appreciate it.  Just pray that God’s will be done.

Call me weird if you want to . . . I don’t care.  But
I like the song on the following link/site.  I don’t
know what it means, but I feel a cleansing when I
listen to it.

Pray for us, we’ll pray for you.

Love,

Linda

http://www.andiesisle.com/Calling_All_Angels.html

(You may need to copy and paste to the URL thingy.)

Well-Read

As I was listening to my little girl read the other day and listening to her heart being stretched a little more as tears filled her eyes clouding her vision; I smiled a little inside because I know that even though some of the books take her emotions on a ride she’d rather not take, reading is a gift she will always treasure.

I did not grow up reading.  Yes, I learned to read.  I learned to read at the age of three, and I can still remember sitting in the cabinet of an antique washstand reading my “Sally Book” while my older siblings were getting ready for school.  I read that book over and over and over again (I kinda wish I still had that book….I’m sure my mom saved it for me, but….)  Sadly, that’s the only book I remember reading on purpose for fun.

During grade school, I can only remember attempting to read one book.  I think it was fourth grade when we were assigned a book report.  I walked into our little parochial school library, looked at the books, and had no idea how to choose a book for a book report.  Clearly, there was no “beginning” of the books.  The shelves circled around the four walls of the library with some shelves in the middle.  How is someone like me….someone who must go in order…. supposed to choose a book when a) I had no interest in anything, and b) unless I can grab the first book in line, I don’t know where to start.  I can remember being quite the “go-in-order” type of person even back then, but I couldn’t grab the first book on the left side of the top shelf and call it good because there was no beginning left side.  So, how I randomly picked a biography about Knute Rockne….an orange-covered book on a bottom shelf….in the middle of a bookcase against the wall is a mystery to me.  What I do remember is attempting to read it.  With absolutely no interest in the book or subject matter, I remember thinking maybe if I read the first word on every line, it would be “good enough”.  That didn’t seem to help with knowing what the book was about.  So, I tried some other ways to get through it quickly.  In the end, I must have read something, but not sure what because I as I remember it he was a baseball player.  A Google search today informs me that he was not a baseball player, but a football player and coach.  That must have been some book report.  Wonder if I got an “A”?

All that to say I am so glad my children have not only read more than one book, but the wealth of knowledge and imagination they have learned and experienced with books is more than I ever imagined for them.  I am not naive enough to believe they read everything I assigned to them.  There have been times when I’ve given books to boys to read, and I know they didn’t read them.  Other times, they came to me with excitement telling me all about their latest book.  Or, they would come to me in tears as they were moved by the overwhelming sadness or heaviness of their assigned book.  I love how a well-written book can transport them to times, places and adventures that they would otherwise know nothing about.  But, I do believe that because of homeschooling, they have read more than they may have otherwise.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure plenty of public schooled children read and read well.  But, I didn’t read while I was growing up.  I missed out on so much; and without homeschooling them, I am pretty certain I most likely would not have been as keen on them reading.   And, I am now discovering with my college boys that all that reading has paid off.  For instance, my Johnathan is currently taking a required Art History class.  Not only does he know all the material well from the plethora of reading while growing up, but he loves it!  He would be flying through that class if the professor didn’t grade on spelling.  Yes, that evil dyslexic spelling curse always rears its ugly head.  At least he knows, understands and enjoys the history material.

Even though I never read for myself, somehow (even before choosing to homeschool) reading has always been my favorite pastime with my children.  From Dr. Seuss to C.S. Lewis I have loved reading aloud to all of them.  Some of my most fond memories with them are rocking and reading to babies, lying next to them in bed individually reading stories at nap time, and reading aloud as they all gathered around the living room to listen to our latest adventure.

I still read aloud with the three I have at home, but mostly with my little girl.  She is just now able to read chapter books on her own.  Because she’s the youngest, I can now afford the time and get to listen to her read longer than I ever could with the boys.   Last week my daughter finished reading about the Vietnam War.  Not only did she and I both learn a great deal, but we both now have more compassion and understanding for veterans, their families, and for our country.  I lived through the end of the Vietnam War (even though at the time I had no idea it was the end or how long the war had been going on or what it was about or anything really).  All I knew was that one day my siblings and I all had one new student attending our classes in our little school.  Each child was from Vietnam as their families had fled to America.  That’s all I knew….that, and that if you went to their house and they offered you (a 3rd grader) coffee, you should drink it so you didn’t offend them.  Obviously I knew nothing about what they had been through or what the Americans fighting over there were going through.

Yesterday, she was reading a more light-hearted book of her choice, Amelia Bedelia Goes Wild, but it still took her imagination on an adventure and her emotions from laughter to tears….from excitement to anguish. Today she is reading about how Harriet Tubman helped free slaves using the underground railroad.  Every day is a new adventure just waiting for her….for all of them…..for me…..for anyone who reads.  It really is true what Dr. Seuss wrote in I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Birthday, Thanksgiving, Birthday, Christmas, New Years….that’s the order of our next planned celebrations in the upcoming weeks.  I’d rather have time to plan and give each event as much attention and thought as needed.  As it is, every year is a push to get through one event and quickly move on to the next.  I’m certainly not complaining.  We have much to celebrate and lots of life to live.  It’s all good.

But, the next birthday….my oldest’s 21st birthday…..is just days away.  While I’m not concerned about feeling the guilt I sometimes feel with the younger ones when they wish they were having a big party with lots of kids and lots of presents, my heart is aching a bit for my oldest son as I know he has his own wishes, desires and feelings.

Jay is not only exceptionally bright, hard working, self-disciplined, kind, optimistic and handsome; but he was also born with an abundance of wisdom, compassion, and a helping spirit.  He’s the first person to step in to help anybody, anywhere, anytime…..at home, work, or on campus.  Everyone on campus who knows him knows he is the guy to ask for help with physics….or chemistry….or calculus….or statics….or differential equations…..or….pretty much anything.  While he is a paid tutor in the SAS Department, he will often help students during his lunch time, during his own study time….any time they ask.  He will assist them, and he never leaves them feeling as though they have burdened him.  He would never tell them he needs to study or he has no time.  He stops, he listens, he helps.  It is who he is.

But, he is also the first guy left out of the social circle.  Is it because he was homeschooled…and therefore he is socially inept?  No.  I really don’t believe that is it.  And, he certainly is socially capable.  In my heart I believe it is because he is “so nice”, and society does not know how to include “nice” in social circles….at least not within his age range.  Nice doesn’t get included or invited when his group of friends gather to celebrate each other’s 21st birthdays.  Nice doesn’t get invited for an evening of hanging out.  Nice is reserved for the academic setting.

As his whole group of friends have been systematically planning and throwing surprise birthday parties for each individual as their birthdays arrive, Jay has neither been invited nor included or even thought of for his birthday.  But, rather than feeling sorry for himself, he, being the eternal optimist, publicly invited everyone to join him for bowling on Friday night to help him celebrate on the eve of his 21st birthday.  When I first saw his Facebook post, my heart skipped a beat as I instantly felt the pain for him if nobody shows up.  What if nobody goes to celebrate with him?  What if his 21st birthday celebration he planned for himself is him, alone in a bowling alley?  My heartstrings tightened as I held my breath and routinely stalked his Facebook page throughout the day to see if one person, any one person said they would go.

Nobody.

Three “likes” and a “I wish I could be there” was the response as of about an hour ago.  Who knows?  Someone may surprise him.  Someone may decide it’s okay to spend a little time with the nice guy who is always giving to them.  I hope so.  All any parent wants for their children is for them to be happy, healthy, accepted, valued, and never lonely.

Jay will enjoy his birthday whether someone shows up to celebrate with him or not.  His character will shine through no matter how the evening turns out.  And, we (his family) will be here to celebrate with him and shower him with love on his birthday (even if his gift may or may not arrive on time) and every day we are honored to share with him.

It’s almost Bug Man Time again.  I can feel it in my bones the way some people sense when a storm is coming.  I don’t really keep track of the Bug Man’s schedule on the calendar.  But, I know it’s coming….almost like it’s a sixth sense I have.  And this time I think I’ll be ready-ish.  I mean I’m going to be more ready than in previous months.  Why?  Two reasons.

One.  We are finally preparing the basement for carpet, which means first we have to have the trim installed.  So, while the entire basement isn’t perfect and completely clutter-free, at least the stuff is moved into the middle of the rooms so trim can be installed.  Thus, the bug man will be able to spray around every single wall….for the first time ever.  While this isn’t my ultimate goal for the basement, I at least feel like I’ll be getting my money’s worth with this next bug spraying visit.  Bring on the bug man to the basement.  Yes!

And, the upstairs?  Yes, this brings me to the second reason why I feel better about the bug man’s impending visit.  The upstairs living area is by no means perfect either…it never will be.  Perfect isn’t my goal, but for the first time in forever I think I’ve found a system that is working for me.  It’s not rocket science, and it’s nothing new that I haven’t heard or read before.  But, for some reason, the checklist I found at http://www.simplykierste.com called “A Clean Home Every Day” seems to mesh with my personality/behavior type.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I didn’t find the list, jump in, and start doing everything on the list immediately turning my home into a clean, organized, and lavishly decorated home overnight.  Not even close.  No.  First I saw the link to the list on a Facebook post.  After clicking the link, I thought about it for a few days.  Then I searched to find it again.  I think I printed it out twice before I remembered to get it from the printer before someone else threw it away.  Then I set it on my nightstand for a few weeks.  It’s not that I was trying to learn to clean my home by osmosis, but I think I had to process and think about it for a good couple of weeks or so before I went back to the page on the computer to read what others thought.

Mostly I read complaints and criticisms toward the list.  Most commenters knocked the list and the author without even trying it for themselves.  They were positive that it was an impossible list which could never be achieved.  At this point, I actually looked at the list for the first time.  The creator of the check list has it broken into three categories:  Everyday Tasks, Weekly Tasks, Monthly Tasks, and My List (to personalize).  I can’t quite imagine it right now, but if I can make it all the way through her checklist to the My List section, I think I will have finally figured this thing out.  I’ll be able to make my own list.

I really don’t think I was motivated to give it a try because others were so sure it was a set up for failure; but for some reason, after reading through it I thought, ‘I can do this…..not all of it today….but, I can do this…..eventually.’  So, I’ve been working at it slowly (I mean very, very, very slowly), but that’s why I think it might work for me.  I’m not trying to overdo and stress myself out.  I’m not trying to be Superman.  I’m simply being consistent with the daily goals (in order) and staying focused.  It helped muchly that my computer died, and I couldn’t fall into getting distracted on the internet for a few days.  But that didn’t happen until I was nearing the end of mastering the fifth listed task in the Everyday category….”open mail and file”……one of my least favorite tasks of all time.  In the past, I would conquer the mail pile and then stand back to stare at my empty desk with pride for as long as it stayed empty.  I would do nothing to keep it cleared.  The mail would continue to pour in daily, and I would eventually stop looking at the desk because the pride always turned to shame as the piles grew and grew and grew.

But, not this time.  This time I allowed myself as much time as I needed to deal with every piece of paper on my desk….from junk mail, to bills, to accounting work for our business….I dealt with it.  For a time, the mail continued to pile up on my almost cleared desk as I got stuck working on the past five months of accounting that I had let slide.  But, I didn’t stop.  I plowed through those books….knowing that when I had reconciled the books up to the current month, I could then get back to the business of dealing with the mail every single day.  And, I have managed to do that.  Nevermind the fact that my computer crashed a few days later, and it’s still unknown if my work was backed up.  I’m not thrilled that I may have to do all that work again.  But, at least I know I can manage the mail while I do it.

Some of the tasks have been easy for me to achieve because I already do them.  For instance, “make beds”.  Check.  Done.  That’s already done every day, so on day one of this new system, I was already feeling like an overachiever as I moved to the second to-do item:  “wipe down bathrooms”.  Okay.  I do that, but I haven’t been as consistent with all the bathrooms.  So I spent a few days making that a habit with all the bathrooms.  Then I moved on to “sweep after each meal”.  Easy.  My boys already do that for me.  Done.

And then came, “wipe kitchen counters after each meal”.  You would think this would be a habit already….especially since my main goal for the year was to keep my ginormous kitchen island cleaned off. But.  This one took a few weeks.  It’s too easy to get back to school after lunch without wiping down every counter.  It’s too easy to leave the counter and rush to the next scheduled event.  It’s too easy to leave the dishes until morning.  So, I worked for a few weeks until I felt I had this mastered enough to move on to the next task…even though I often wake up to dishes on the counters.  Dishes on the counters comes with the territory of teenagers who stay up later than dear old mom.  At least they are home late at night eating bowls of cereal where they are safe and sound.  I can live with it.

So, I moved on to “put away dishes/run dishwasher”.  Done.  The dishwasher is always running at our house.  I’ve heard of people who run their dishwasher once a day, once every two days or even once a week.  Here, the dishwasher running is like breathing….it’s constant.  So, I moved on to the next task, which was “open mail and file”, followed by “go through school papers and file”.  Since we homeschool, I translated this to “grade school every night” (I had been slacking since I only have three homeschoolers this year).  This took a day or two of remembering to grade at night.  It sure makes the morning run more smoothly, too.

Then I looked down the list to the next task:  entire house pick up.  Okay.  This is gonna take a while.  Yep.  I’ll be on this task for quite some time.  This will be the true test for me as to if this is a do-able list or not.  If anything,  the first seven tasks should be second nature to me by the time the entire house is picked up.

I better get busy.  I’ve got some picking up to do.  After I can check off that task, I’m thinking it might be smooth sailing toward making my own list….and checking it twice (’cause that’s what we OCD people do).

I think people who can start a fire with real wood in a wood burning fireplace and keep it burning are AMAZING!  I am not one of those people.  Building a successful fire on purpose seems to be nothing short of a miracle!

I spent the better part of my morning trying to get a fire going in the fireplace because Freaking Cold season began on Tuesday.   As I was working on building a fire this morning, I was remembering my childhood fireplace.  We had an ugly but functional fireplace.  I remember it burning, and I remember the chore some poor soul (usually one of my brothers) had of dumping the ashes into the alley.  Not sure why the alley, but I never questioned these things.  I guess that was the best place.  The ashes seem to be another dilemma I need to figure out.  But, since I am unable to keep a fire burning, I’m almost confident dumping them anywhere in the forest surrounding my home is probably safe.  I don’t think I could even start an accidental fire at this point.

Maybe my mom should have let me join girl scouts.  When I asked, back in the day, her only response was, “Oh, we don’t want to get involved in that.”  Always sensing how hard things were financially for my parents, I never asked twice.  Often, I never asked once.  I just assumed we couldn’t afford it.  I remember my older brothers doing scouts.  But, I was near the end in birth order….and I know she was tired.  There was no time for girl scouts….or anything other than keeping us fed, clothed and sheltered.  So, when my kids have asked to do scouts, I took my mom’s approach.  Actually, that’s not true.  My oldest did the first year of scouts, but I was dripping with babies at the time; and I hated going out when it was cold to all those meetings with nursing babies and morning sickness….so we quit going.  Turns out scouts would have been good for my kiddos….and auto mechanics.  Learning to build a fire rubbing two sticks together would be utterly impressive.  I would settle for being able to start and keep a fire burning with one of those fancy lighters, a lot of paper and wood.  And, where does the auto mechanics thing come into play?  I figure while I’m thinking of skills I wish I had taught my kids, I’d mention that because on Tuesday (the exact same day Freaking Cold arrived), my third son’s car engine died.  Had he taken an auto mechanics class, we wouldn’t have heard how he didn’t know the little oil light meant the car needed oil and service.  We wouldn’t have learned the hard way that he didn’t know engines could burn up and cars would not run without oil.  Well….now he knows….

But, back to my childhood fireplace.  Even my dad (who was not the most handy man around) could start a fire.  But, maybe that’s because he learned it in the army.  Speaking of that….I thought about writing on Veteran’s Day, but my computer’s hard drive decided to crash the day before my son’s engine was killed.  It’s been a long week….

Anywho….my point is.  What is my point?

Oh, yes, my point is that learning to build a fire is good.  I would venture to say it is magical.  It’s a mystery to me.  Much like raising teenagers into adults.

After finally getting a small flame going this morning, I blew on the flame/wood/ashes because I had seen my oldest son do that to get a fire going in the past.  Fires need air, right?  I blew the flame out. I am not kidding.  As I sat there frustrated and disheartened that all my time was wasting and I still had no fire….no heat, I decided to blow again…much harder this time.  Viola!  Fire!  Magic!  Yay!

Satisfied with my achievement, I left the fire to keep my commitment on the treadmill.  Twenty-five minutes later (yes…a mere 25 minutes…don’t judge) I emerged from the exercise room to see a dark, cold fireplace.  FAN-tastic!

This is when I realized the similarities of building a successful fire and growing teenagers into capable adults.  Both need the proper foundation.  Both need appropriate fuel.  Both need consistent attention.  As a parent, I cannot simply teach children character building once and then hope they muddle through the challenges, trials, temptations, and hardships in this broken world without constantly attending to their hearts.  Even if I think the foundation I’ve given them is strong, it’s not enough for me to simply hope that what I have taught them is enough or hope they will always make the best decisions.  The fact is, even when it appears that my work is done…that the fire is burning brightly, I can’t leave their hearts unattended and never return to attend to them.  The same is true when they reach the age or stage where they think they have it all figured out.  I can let go a little at a time, but consistent communication, living by example and prayer is what will help keep their character growing strong.  It’s not a lot of fun to keep building and rebuilding, but it is necessary.  Frankly, it is exhausting.  But in the end, I know I’ll be glad I persevered…..offering love and support even when it doesn’t appear to be appreciated….even when my efforts seem to be futile.

I never know when that next attempt, that next word or action will be the one needed to keep the spark going so the fire can burn brightly and keep our home warm…..or if it will be exactly what one of my children may need at a given moment to help them grow closer to becoming the person God created them to be….keeping our hearts warm.  So, I’ll do my best to keep the home fires burning.

No Regrets

Birthday season is in full swing at our house with child number five turning 12 today!  And, while I’m totally focused on making his day special with favorite foods, no school, a Lego/Spiderman/Muppet cake, etc…., my mind is also partly elsewhere.

11:05:14 Joseph is 12

Last night was my third son’s final high school soccer game.  After the game, he was a bit emotional….not because they lost, but “because it’s over….and it was fun.”  As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end”.  And, so it has.  High school soccer is over for him.  It was a short ride as he was only able to play his freshman year and senior year due to circumstances out of his control.  This is not the end of soccer for him, but it is the end of this team…this season….this reason why he chose to attend public school.  He had fun.  He played hard.  He always gave his best.  He left his heart on the field every single game and practice.  And, he has no regrets.

11:4:14 Jordan last soccer game

I snapped this picture after a short visit with him on the field after the game.  This would be the last picture of him as a high school soccer player on the field.  The emotion in his face said it all as he walked toward me with tears in his eyes.  What I noticed as I watched him and listened was that before my eyes he has grown into a young man.  Gone is the baby fat which filled his cheeks back when he first began playing soccer at the age of three.  In the blink of an eye, he is now grown; and after all those years of playing and practicing soccer, he stood before me with a chiseled face and strained neck muscles as he tried to hold the emotion in.

As a parent, all I ever want to do for all of them is fix the hurt, so I tell him the cliche saying: “Don’t be sad that it’s over; be be happy that it happened”.  But, the look he gave me after that told me he already knows all that.  It’s just an ache he has to experience as he moves on to the next season of his life.  He’d rather not, at times.  I think he’d rather get to play soccer 24/7…..forever.  There’s nothing quite like getting to be a kid and just play to your heart’s content.

Instead, life moves on.  He now has many life choices before him….choices that will impact the next season, and the rest of his life.  Where to go to college?  Will he have the opportunity to play soccer in college?  How to pay for college?  What major to declare?

But, mixed with the need to make all those major decisions is completing his final year of high school.  With soccer now over, his time after school will feel foreign until he is able to shift his mindset and focus.  What will remain the same for him (for the time being) is continuing to earn high grades with classes, cultivating solid friendships, and navigating the ever-present high school drama which is there whether you involve yourself or not.  This, the immature drama, is not something he had ever experienced as a home schooler.  As far as I’m concerned, my kids have not missed anything socially necessary by missing out on this silly drama.  He never knew one could “wear the wrong shoes” before.  He never knew it mattered if  you “wore a shirt more than once”.  He never considered it would be a problem to speak with anyone he meets.  He now knows that speaking with a girl should be cleared with her current boyfriend before uttering words.  He had only heard about drug use on T.V. before high school.  Now, he has seen the damage drugs can do to peers in ways he never expected.  These are some of the silly drama situations he has and will continue to tread through.

My prayer, as I send portions of my heart out into the world when all my big boys drive off to live their lives every morning, is first, and foremost, that they come home safely.  Secondly, I pray that they all remember the values and character formation we have worked so hard to teach them.  With God, a stable foundation, and strong sense of identity; I believe they can all handle all the situations they face with courage, dignity and assurance.  Remember who you are, boys.  Hold your heads high, walk tall and confident with your values and faith intact.  If you can do this, you can emerge from each season with no regrets.

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