Sunday night concert

Age 4 is great fun. We have a blast (nearly) every day. We spent an hour playing various instruments and then received a personal concert of various tunes made up on the spot – on piano, ukulele and harmonica – clad in underwear.

Here’s just one piano composition that made me smile from ear to ear.

Posted: January 31st, 2016
Categories: Leah
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Tidings of Comfort and Joy

I’ve been enjoying small comforts of home and friendship these last few weeks. Sometimes the value of loved ones is forgotten, especially when so focused on internal struggles. I know that I haven’t been the best friend to many of my own this year, so I’m consciously making an effort to reconnect with those who love us regardless of our absence.

First off – here’s this year’s Christmas card! I know that I didn’t get it into everyone’s hands that I typically do; please accept my apologies if you didn’t receive a paper version. Pretty proud of my design of our instagram accounts.

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Spending a large amount of quality time with many of our closest friends and family members in the last month has been a source of healing and renewed strength. Truly, it began around Thanksgiving-time, when our friends and godson came to stay with us for several days. Time with them jump-started the season of gathering with loved ones.

THE HIGHLIGHTS:

Cookie baking and decorating with my BFF Rachel. We baked Christmas cookies once when we were in high school – in fact, we made a music video about it – and I don’t know why we’ve waited so long to do it again. Once inseparable, we now live two very independent lives, and we find that we miss each other too much too often. Time together is one of the best things in this life.

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Visiting downtown lights, Potbelly dinner and MORE cookie decorating with the Reynolds family was another favorite evening. I love this family – their friendship now extends into a second generation, and it’s wonderful to see our kids enjoy each other so well.

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Friends Thanksgiving/Christmas with our friends from college has been going strong for more than 10 years. While we don’t see them often, I look forward to this time of year to catch up and strengthen our friendships even though we live miles apart.

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The days leading up to Christmas were fabulously warm – 60 degrees and higher! Wes and I went to the park, played outside and even raked leaves. Crazy.

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We were offered complimentary seats to an Indiana Pacers game in the Varsity Club, including a buffet dinner with a front-row seat to the game! While there we ran into Tyson, and Wes just about exploded from excitement. To top it off, “Hickory” Boomer and Santa both came to visit.

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Christmas with family members is always busy, but I feel like the kids are getting old enough to grasp the season of giving and love. It’s been fun to watch my nieces and nephews love on each other, play with each other and anticipate seeing each other again. It wasn’t all about the presents, you know? And time with my sister is getting harder and harder to “schedule,” so I love hanging out and goofing off with her during times like these. It’s the best. I even got a chance to properly catch up with many of my cousins I haven’t seen in a while – we used to be so close, and I’ve often felt disconnected.

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The whole Shattuck clan                                  Dad and the boys play with circuits
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          Shattuck cousins  |   Wes & my grandpa exchange gifts      |        Sisters

Earlier this week, Sarah and Levon invited us to take Santa back to the North Pole via the Polar Bear Express Train. The boys were ecstatic about the train – more so than seeing Santa and Mrs. Claus! Sarah is one of the most thoughtful people I know, so generous. Levon and Wes are great playmates and it’s yet another reminder of how precious friendships are to me.

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There’s no photo evidence, but visited with several old friends who were in town (from Alaska!) and/or visiting my parents (to check out the new condo). There’s something especially comforting about friends who grew up with you. I regret that I wasn’t able to see life-long friend, Megan, who’s due to be a mom in January, as we had planned for earlier in the month, but I DID get to see her parents who were in town this week (almost as good), and I’ll go down to visit once baby girl arrives.

And one night, Steven made a pot of mussels for recently engaged friends Muhammad and Kylie. That’s like, the ultimate demonstration of affection. He’s perfected his recipe and loves hosting, so you might expect an invite sometime soon.

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Though it looks like we’ve been busy, we have had our fair share of staycation – LEGOs, trains, Octonauts and Mario for several days in a row. Steven badly hurt his back last week, so we have taken it easy overall this holiday season. The “forced” time inside and together has been a form of healing in itself. Lots of snuggles, pjs, baking and snacking over here in our new-old house. I’m pretty sure I’ve read 5 books this past month. It’s been fantastic.

As yucky as 2015 seemed most of the time, there have been wonderful reminders of comfort and joy – especially these last few weeks. We’re ready for you, 2016.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with Wesley’s latest obsession: singing Christmas carols over and over and over again into his camera-voice recorder…

Posted: January 1st, 2016
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A Heart Like Hers

mary_jesusIt’s Christmastime, and Mary, mother of Jesus, is constantly on my mind. She pops into songs on the radio (even though I loathe “Mary, Did You Know?”), she adorns front yards and window displays of nativity scenes, and she even makes appearances in the YA book I’m currently reading (The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz) – even if it’s only because the narrator is obsessed with the Blessed Mother.

I find it intriguing that the meaning of the name Mary is “bitter,” yet so much warmth and purity is surrounded by that name. Her response to Gabriel shows a unique and humble spirit of willingness. Today, she is honored not only as the mother of Jesus, but also as his very first disciple.

This week I’m diving into Mary’s life. It’s fitting because of the time of year and because I can learn much from what we know about her. It’s my own form of advent, I guess. I’m not saying she was perfect. I know she wasn’t – she’s human. But I do think I can gain insight from her responses.

  • She quickly got over fear.
    Duh. An angel would scare anybody, but she listened intently to his message. I feel like I live every single day afraid of the unknown. I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on anything spoken to me.
  • She didn’t ask many questions.
    But she did ask one really good one – HOW?! And when the answer was “nothing is impossible with God,” she knew she didn’t have to keep questioning. No doubting or speculating.
  • She accepted his will and rejoiced.
    Understanding this was a miracle, and that SHE was chosen for it replaced any hesitations she might have had. I would surely jump to what will Joseph think? Will he believe I didn’t cheat on him?? She praised God and announced her servant-hood. And yet remained humble about it all. No boasting.

As much as I admire her willingness, the concept of Mary’s new motherhood has been a struggle for me. I was so on-edge and nervous during my pregnancy with Wes, and I never related to Mary on that level of “awe” and anticipation. Christmas seems to be a time when people announce pregnancies and family growth – or you find out someone is expecting by simply seeing or running into them. It’s been surprisingly hard on me. I have been on a roller coaster of emotions regarding our family size over the years. Right now it’s particularly low, and I find that I’m actually a tiny bit jealous of Mary’s round belly, and later, her cooing little baby.

It’s no secret that this year has been the pits. I explained to a friend a few months ago that I felt like every pillar of my “house” felt weak and unstable. Usually one or two can (and does) lean a bit, but the rest of the foundation is intact enough that the ground settles within time. For whatever reason, God has chosen to shake things up everywhere in 2015 and test my/our ability to duck and roll with punches.

Speaking of, what were Mary’s thoughts when she saw her firstborn son beaten by the people he came to save? Remember that scene in John 19 where Jesus, while hanging on the cross, introduces Mary to John as his “new mother?” What ran across her mind? Surely she knew it was the end of his life at that point. A couple years ago, Wes had an asthma attack during the Easter weekend, and it scared me to the core. I remember reflecting on Mary’s amazing ability to trust God in spite of the world crashing down around her.

This week and leading up to Christmas Day, I aim to have a heart like Mary’s. It’s tiring to be fearful and sad. I’m sick of worrying and doubting. I desire to be willing, trusting and humble. Full of awe.

My prayer is that I look past this year’s terrible distractions and instead “bring” Jesus into my world by expressing his character, power, forgiveness and grace. He’s the best thing we’ve got.

Posted: December 15th, 2015
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Decking the Halls

How we spent the evening of December 1.

I’ll preface by saying that I’m in the beginning stages of a sinus infection, groggy and loopy on medicine, and Wes is in a super talkative-to-the-point-of-disobedience mood. And Steven is craving pizza.

Drawing family portraits on paper placemats at the “pizza restaurant.”
Wes asks 356 questions during dinner.

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Putting on Christmas jammies in anticipation for season decorating around the house. (Don we now our gay apparel)
Mine from last year shrunk and are now too short in the legs. Wes asks another 15 questions.

Pulling out the Christmas tree.
Steven sets it up in the living room while I find Christmas music on Pandora (“Ugh, not ANOTHER Cold Play holiday song!”). Wes starts to complain that his jammies are too itchy and strips down to his underwear. “Why don’t you go put on some new jammies?” “NO, I don’t want to.”

Finding funny Christmas decor and accessories. (Tis the season to be jolly)
Steven throws Wes a pair of too-small elf slippers and Wes, nearly naked, strives with all his might to put them on his feet. He cries and asks for help. We try to explain that they won’t fit. I find a snowman hat and put it on my head.

Decorating the tree.
Wes helps me put up the lights and strings of beads. Steven battles the tree topper. Wes celebrates getting the slippers to fit his feet. Steven and I exchange glances that say how much we love our funny child without a single word. I find my favorite ornaments and start hanging them up. Wes drops and breaks our Union Jack ornament from Harrods that we purchased during our honeymoon in London.

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Cleaning up.
Wes asks a million questions about the delicacy of ornaments. We all sweep the floor. I sob internally and tell myself it’s no big deal and then tend to the dishes that have been sitting on the counter for two days. Steven puts all the boxes away.

Snacking on brownies. (Follow me in merry measure)
We’re all quiet for a few minutes. Snuggles on the couch.

Going to bed. (Fa la la la la la la la)
Wes, still in his underwear and elf slippers, refuses. I send him to Time Out. He apologizes a million times and says “I love you, Mama.” He says goodnight to the Christmas tree, which looks disheveled…and beautiful. We read a Christmas story together. I fix some tea, write this post and look forward to cozy flannel sheets and a book.

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I love this messy, unpredictable little family.

Posted: December 1st, 2015
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Lost & Found

IMG_17791Traveling solo is not a good idea for me.

You know the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day? On Saturday, I felt like you could have plastered my face on the front of its book cover. The day started off wellproductive, in fact. I successfully got both dogs and their stuff to the boarding location with Wes in tow, packed both him AND I, stopped the mail, took out the trash, straightened up the house and washed my hair, to boot.

Mom came to pick up Wes and then I was off to the airport to meet Steven in Atlanta. He was in Florida for a company retreat for a few days, and we had decided to make a fun trip out of his next speaking gigs because of last fall’s adventure in Spokane, WA. I had planned to go to the PRSA International Conference in Atlanta, and it turned out that Steven was asked to speak at the same conference. (I ended up not getting a reservation to officially attend sessions, but I enjoyed it anyway.)

It’s not like I haven’t traveled by myself before. It’s not like I’m disorganized. But somehow between boarding the plane from Indianapolis and entering the Atlanta public transportation train, Marta, I realized with a sinking feeling that I had left my driver’s license in my back pocket, and it was not there anymore. Or my coat pocket. Or wallet. Or ANYWHERE.

I quickly got off the train and re-entered the airport. Keep in mind this is the nation’s BUSIEST AIRPORT. I approached the Southwest ticket counter and told them I thought I left my ID on the airplane. They called the gate in which I arrived and didn’t get a response.

“That’s a good sign. Maybe it means the airplane is still there.”

They handed me a faux boarding pass that said “CUSTOMER NEEDS ASSISTANCE” and wished me luck getting through security.

At 7 p.m. on a Saturday night, the airport was pretty quiet. Thankfully there was hardly a line at security. After several minutes of explaining my situation, the security guards decided it would be funny to crack jokes that I didn’t understand because my mind was everywhere and flustered and my heart was racing. “Steven’s going to be so mad at me.”

They let me through, so I took off my shoes, scarf, jacket AGAIN and took out my laptop and toiletries bag to be scanned. I quickly gathered my things and set off so that I could try to catch the airplane before it took off again.

The lady at the ticket counter had told me to check with staff at a different gate because they couldn’t reach anyone via phone. Thankfully the staff at the other gate was kind and went to search the airplane on my behalf. They came back empty-handed. Strike 1.

During this whole ordeal, I had been texting Steven, who was boarding a plane in Florida to arrive in Atlanta a few hours later. He probably felt helpless trying to problem-solve from afar. I felt terrible making him feel so out of control. I felt out of control!

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Somberly, I headed back to the Marta train and arrived at the hotel. While in the ridiculously long check-in line, my heart raced again as I began to dread what I knew happened…I LEFT MY LAPTOP AND TOLIETRIES AT SECURITY. Strike 2.

I called my parents in a blubbery mess because Steven was unavailable – flying. I just had to vent. This is so unlike me! What the heck is wrong?! How on Earth could I be this careless?! For a hot minute, I considered going back to the airport again, but stayed put. I needed to check into the room and cry. Lost and Found was closed for the next two days, so I filed a claim online. That was all I could do until Monday morning (which led to an 1.5 hour phone call). Strike 3.

Steven arrived an hour or so later, and I collapsed into him. Poor guy. I was a hot mess. He calmed me down and we decided to make the best of it. Everything I had lost was replaceable.
1) Driver’s license needs to be replaced anyway with our new address.
2) My Chromebook wasn’t that expensive, and it’s password protected. It’s easy to spot, though – lot of stickers on the top – so it probably can be retrieved.
3) I can buy contact lens solution and a case and a toothbrush and everything else needed for the next couple days.
4) Make up? Oh well. I can survive without it.

I love Steven. He’s so level-headed. And he invited me to join him because, well, I bring the fun and interesting to his life. :)

And we DID have fun. Following his morning speaking engagements each day, we went to the World of Coca-Cola Museum and tried flavors from around the world. We walked around various parks and streets, even though it was cold and rainy. We rode the downtown ferris wheel. We checked out CNN World Headquarters. We tried some local eating spots. We visited the world’s largest aquarium, which was likely the highlight of the trip. Touring the place made me miss Wes something terrible. He loves sea life and ocean creatures, and I could hear little kids shouting at something unique and cool and knew he’d be right there with them.

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I’m now sitting in the airport, ready for our journey home. I successfully collected my laptop and bag of “stuff” from Lost and Found this morning, and my umpteenth romp through security was rather uneventful. They’ve seen it all, these airport staff. And everyone has been so nice – I mean everyone. Atlanta, you’re good.

My driver’s license is still lost, but whatevs. I’ll spend my lunch break at the BMV tomorrow, and heck – it makes for a good story.

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Posted: November 10th, 2015
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Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love

After Steven left early for a morning meeting, Wes ventured upstairs and hung around the bathroom as I was getting ready.

(Looking in the mirror) “Mama, why is it blue under my tongue?”
“Oh, that’s called a vein. See them in my hands? They move blood to the rest of your body.”
“To help me work and play and move my hands?”
“Yep.”

You can always tell when he’s thinking hard about something, putting two-and-two together. After a couple minutes, deep in thought, he went on.
“Can I listen to your heart?” (I bent down to his level.) “I hear it!”
“Did you know that your heart pumps bloods to your arms and legs?”
“Yep, through those blue ‘vines’?”
“Uh huh – veins.”
“And that’s where Jesus lives, too, right?”

Last week was a rough one for Wes’ discipline and obedience. But “being like Jesus” seems to strike a chord with him, and lately he’s felt guilt and shame – and sin.

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At bedtime earlier this week, he mentioned it again. I guess he’s really struggling at school with his friends.
“I don’t know why, but at school I act crazy. It’s really, really hard.”
“Why is it hard to follow directions?”
“Maybe my friends? And when I do bad things, God will punish me and take me to heaven.”
“Well, if you disobey, yes, you will be punished, but you are always forgiven. God loves and forgives you. That’s not how you go to heaven.”

It’s been a little over a month since the death of one of our friends. Wes has been asking many questions about heaven since then, and that night was no different. It’s still a bit scary to him, and he’s afraid that we’ll be separated.

“Mama, I don’t want your body to stop working.” (How we addressed death.)
“Oh, honey. I hope that I’ll have many years with you before that happens. But when it does, we can be together again in heaven.”
“There’s lots of rooms there. I want a nice room in heaven.”
“Me, too! Maybe we can share a room with you and me and Daddy.”

We talked a little more about the wonderful things in heaven, his preschool struggles, and we decided that he could rely on “Jesus in his heart” to be a good example at school: be loving, kind and generous. Listen and obey. We prayed for strength, courage and for our friends’ family, who is coping with their recent loss.

Watching Wes think deeply about his actions and the reason to live has given me pause for thought, too. It pains me to witness his understanding of our world, and it softens my heart to witness his desire to follow Jesus’ example.

As The Jesus Storybook Bible describes it, I am grateful for God’s “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” (And for his wisdom on how to respond, teach and demonstrate this love to an empathetic and impressionable four-year-old boy.)

Posted: November 6th, 2015
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Halloween: the last 10 years

Steven and I have been together since October 2004 – we joked that we’d start officially dating if the Red Sox won the World Series. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! :)

I went as Johnny Damon to one of our multiple Halloween parties that year. I don’t remember what Steven went as, and sadly, we don’t have ANY photos of that first “date.” I got to thinking about it this morning and realized that we DO have plenty of other photos from past Halloween costumes, however.

2004:
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The only Halloween photo from that first year together. I’m pretty sure I wore my cool leopard pants to go along with my face paint, and Steven went as a Pizza Delivery Guy because he just got off work doing just that. He smelled horrible while working at Pizza King. And then he started delivering flowers.

2005:
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Senior friends dressed as Harry Potter characters. No one could figure out who I was because I kept changing my outfit and hair color throughout the night. Duh, Tonks!

2006-2008:
I don’t know what we did for Halloween post-college. Likely rebelled against the idea of Halloween parties because we were so hipster-professional, you know.

2009:
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The dating, soon-to-be-engaged Reynolds pair went in with us to become Team Zissou from The Life Aquatic.

2010:
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Cut Man from Mega Man and Werewolf Marilyn Monroe. Uh huh.

2011:
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Wesley’s existence made Halloween change into adorable. Because we were so heavily involved in the Irvington Halloween Festival, I had to have several costumes for Wes – a frog and a lil’ slugger.

2012:
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Wendy, Captain Hook and Peter Pan – easiest costumes ever.

2013:
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Prepping for our friends’ annual “Reforween” party (Reformation Day + Halloween) as Finn, Jake and Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time.

2014:
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Wes decided early on that he wanted to be an elephant construction worker for Halloween. Ok, then. Let’s make it happen! “Chucky cheet!”

2015:
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Because of last year’s amazing costume idea, I asked Wes in September what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween. Immediate answer, “an icicle.” Really?! Ok… so we went to Target to find some frosty-looking things to make up his costume, and everything was branded as the Frozen movie, which he despises.

“UGH! I HATE FROZEN! I DON’T WANT TO BE AN ICICLE ANYMORE.” (Sees Mario costume) “Oh, Mama! And Daddy can be Luigi!”

(It’s yet to be determined if he will.) Happy safe and fun Halloween, everyone!

More photos from our first trip to Indianapolis Zoo Boo with my family can be found here.

Posted: October 30th, 2015
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First Fire of Autumn

IMG_2129Wes and I have some good conversations on our daily commutes. This morning we remarked on the vibrant colors of changing fall leaves.

“Which color that you see is your favorite?”
“Oh, Mama, I love the red leaves.”
“Me, too. The way the sun shines on them, it looks kinda like–”
“FIRE!”
“That’s just what I was going to say!”
“I know, Mama.”

(And YES, he DOES tack on “Mama” to nearly everything he says to me. It’s like he likes the way it sounds, or maybe it’s a way to reiterate his points. I don’t know, really, but it’s pretty great.)

Usually I dislike this time of year because the season changes quickly in a long, drawn-out winter. Subconsciously I’ve associated fallen leaves with deadness and lifelessness, and it spoils my chance to embrace the beauty and coziness of October. Easily affected by sunlight and season changes, I know it begins with my moodiness.

I’ve felt pretty dead inside most of this calendar year. I’ve experienced death in various forms: the death of my grandma in January, friends recovering from miscarriage, and the recent death of a friend in September – the combination of which left me shaking and unstable. I didn’t realize how much I had been exponentially mourning these losses. During this time, I felt that I had also said goodbye to unrealistic hopes and dreams. And, in a way, saying goodbye to our first home in a flurry and whirlwind didn’t easily close a door that I had wanted to shut gently behind us.

The extended dry spell (and resulting sunshine) and surprising warmth over the last couple weeks has helped tremendously. It’s like the fog cleared some of the haze away. I’ve spent more quality time with loved ones and friends, which does wonders to my soul.

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Picking up a friend for an evening play date of leaf piles, bonfires and s’mores with fellow neighbor kids.

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And October brings many chances to celebrate LIFE. Our Godson, Lucian, was a long-awaited answer to prayer on October 13, 2014. It’s hard to believe he’s here – let alone 1 year old. Last week, my grandpa turned 89, and on his birthday my sister witnessed a few of his good, hearty laughs that we used to hear much more as kids than we do now. And this week, we celebrate my wonderful mom and my vivacious 3-year-old nephew, Josiah.

IMG_2059On a lighter note, Steven and I were featured in an Indianapolis Star article on divided households in preparation for this season’s Colts vs Patriots game. It was great fun to be light-hearted, and we received a wealth of fun support and (mostly loving) teasing from family to people we haven’t heard from in years.

Twice in the last few weeks I have heard people use the same analogy about their desire for a “burning bush” from God – a clear directive. Maybe the fire we saw in those red leaves today were shining for me. When God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush, he said (paraphrased):  I have seen the misery of my people, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come to rescue them.

Those red leaves were beautiful. And the sky was so blue against them. How could I have not seen such October beauty before? Also – it’s so good to have the Good Guy on your side, isn’t it?

Posted: October 19th, 2015
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Healthy Mourning

candleI’m not sure how to write this post. I’ve attempted it several times and given up. I started with a letter format, and then I thought about creating lists and self-help guidance, and I kept getting it out all wrong.

I’ve been grieving. I’m mourning for a friend who buried a spouse, and it’s affecting me in ways I didn’t anticipate. I mourn for my friend who is now head the household and a single parent to a toddler. I know they are well supported by an amazing community and a small hometown full of family and friends, but my heart aches deeply for these sweet people who deserve the whole world.

I feel the need to protect the goodness from seeping out of my friend. A friend who is the first to volunteer, to give back, to organize – it’s not fair.

And then my thoughts instantly shift into feelings of guilt. I feel guilty for thinking that my friend needs overwhelming support, perhaps making the subconscious assumption that my friend cannot deal with grief – that the strength isn’t there. I mean, I know support is appreciated and likely needed from time to time, but we’re talking about one of the strongest and selfless people I know.

I feel guilty for “stealing the thunder;” like, the grief belongs to my friend and not to me, really. I shouldn’t blunder along and unintentionally make my own sorrow my friend’s problem, too.

Because of these feelings of guilt, I tried to overcome my grief by layering other thoughts on top of it, but it didn’t work so well. I couldn’t concentrate at work and found myself more irritable at Steven and Wes. I knew it was because I wasn’t properly addressing the grief nagging at me.

Everyone says you need to face it head-on, so remember the post about love languages? It came in handy again. I realized that acts of service was not only one of my love languages, but I knew it was also very strong on my friend’s list. Finding tangible ways to move this grief into something productive seemed to work. Wes wanted in on the action, because, well, he’s my little helper, and acts of service is one of HIS love languages, too. We worked together to make small things (like household chores and playing with our friend’s dogs) into big pieces of love.

And to top it off, our church sermon series called, “One Another,” concluded this weekend. Sunday’s scripture in particular moved me. “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” – 1 Peter 4:10. Though not a “love language,” I do think I have the gift of empathy. And yes, that’s a way that I love others. I love my friend, and my feelings of grief aren’t bad – they’re real, raw and full of empathy. Of which moves me into acts of service.

What I think many people forget is that, yes, life goes on, but support is still needed. At my office, I found several tips for friends of families living with Alzheimer’s disease surprisingly helpful and applicable. Though meant for a completely different audience, the tips resonated with me as a friend who desperately wants to be supportive. (And you know I have to work a list into a post somehow!)

  • Educate yourself.
    Learn about its effects and how to respond.
  • Stay in touch.
    A card, a call or a visit means a lot and shows you care.
  • Be patient.
    Adjusting is an ongoing process and each person reacts differently.
  • Offer a shoulder to lean on.
    Simply offering your support and friendship is helpful.
  • Offer assistance to help the family tackle its to-do list.
    Prepare a meal, run an errand or provide a ride.
  • Engage family members in activities.
    Invite them to go on a walk or participate in other activities.
  • Offer family members a reprieve.
    Spend time with dependents so family members can go out alone or visit with friends.
  • Be flexible.
    Don’t get frustrated if your offer for support is not accepted immediately. The family may need time to assess its needs.

It’s important for me to mourn in a healthy way – a balance of respect, empathy and encouragement. If you know of a friend or family member who has recently (or not so recently) endured a tragic experience, please reach out to them. He or she may need a reminder that you’re thinking of them, and it may also help you.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:18

Posted: October 13th, 2015
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Love Languages

I recently completed an online profile to determine my love languages, according to Gary Chapman’s bestselling book/series. It’s no wonder I am filled with such joy on weekends with my boys.

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My number 1 Love Language (9 out of possible 12) is Quality Time. I feel closest to my loved ones over coffee or ice cream, window shopping, exploring the city or enjoying the outdoors.

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Sunday football snuggles, then an outdoor bounce house break. And playing chess on Monument Circle. (Whoa, backlit!)

Our recent overnight trip to Louisville was a blast. Steven was scheduled to speak to the Louisville chapter of professional fundraisers on the Tuesday after Labor Day, so we decided to make a quick trip out of it, visiting friends in the area, checking out the Louisville Slugger Museum (so cool, by the way! go tour the baseball bat factory!) and wandering around downtown. Though it was a fast trip, spending the time together was rejuvenating to me.

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Swing park on the water! And checking out how bats are made.

Wes is a chatty child, and I appreciate seeing and hearing the world from his point of view. My love for him grows deeper the older he gets and the more he expresses himself to us. Some of the best quality time is right before bed. Tonight’s bedtime stories (he gets to choose 2-3 each evening) included, “The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash,” “If You Give a Dog a Donut” and the “Jesus Storybook Bible,” which he has requested every night since we started reading it weeks ago. Perhaps it’s the sweet way in which its written, but he seems to begin to understand the concept of grace and forgiveness. We love our time together before saying goodnight to the day; Wes and I have a special moment of reading, chatting and praying, and then Steven takes over with some top secret dad-son rituals that I will never understand. Mostly giggles.

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I was a little surprised at how high (8) Acts of Service ranked on my list! But, come to think of it, this is the backbone of my relationship with Steven. Domestic love, I guess, but it DOES speak volumes to us both. We might even take it for granted, which is likely why I’m surprised at its high level.

It’s easy to brag about Steven in this way: he cooks, does laundry & dishes, declutters, fixes things around the house, runs errands, fills up my gas tank, the list goes on…all without a peep. He knows that I’m a dreadful hostess when company visits, and he instantly jumps into the role – because he’s that good. (And because he knows Quality Time is my #1.) Dependability equals deep love in this house. I also suspect Acts of Service is Steven’s #1 or 2.

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First Family Portrait by Wes on the back of a Louisville restaurant menu

First Family Portrait by Wes on the back of a Louisville restaurant menu

The next 3 Love Languages are just about equal: Physical Touch (5), Words of Affirmation (5) and Receiving Gifts (3). The great thing about these three is that not only do I have a husband to encourage me, I also have a 4-year-old son with a big heart whose love language(s) are Words of Affirmation followed closely by Physical Touch AND Receiving Gifts, and because of that, he gives and gives and gives in those areas.

I’m starting a rock collection of recent “gifts” that Wes has found on the school playground. Lately he picks 3 – a big, medium and small one – and keeps them in his pocket all day until he is home to “give presents.” Big for Daddy, of course. Sometimes I get the middle one, but usually the smallest. Whatever.

Except for the days when he forgets to take them out of his pocket. (Maybe that’s why our washing machine stopped working last week?)

 

Posted: September 20th, 2015
Categories: Leah
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