Renovations

After six years of steady persuasion, my husband finally agreed to begin the process of finishing our basement. The exposed wood frame and orange insulation now has possibilities to become a finished living space for us to enjoy. We recently had a contractor come to our home so he could give us an estimate on the project. As we engaged in small talk about our families, he shared that he had three young children, and then looked and my husband and I with envy and said, “It must be awesome to have kids who are all grown up and on their own–you don’t have to worry about them anymore.”

My husband and I immediately looked at each other with the same look in our eyes–the one that silently said, “This guy has no clue.”

I’m sure when we were younger, we also lived in that delusional state that one day we would experience parental freedom. But we now know all too well that worrying about your kids doesn’t terminate when they turn 18. In fact, I would argue that it is quite the opposite. When they’re five, a kiss and a Batman Band-Aid can stop the tears. A 12-year-old heartbreak could be quickly mended with a trip to the pet store to cuddle with cute puppies. But as adults, our children’s hurts and disappointments aren’t as easily repaired. Some leave a scar on their heart rather than on their knee. Others bear consequences that are lasting. Parental worry and concern never ends–it merely goes through renovation–just like our basement.

As parents of young adults, we can no longer step in to fix what breaks or send them to their room when they don’t listen. Instead, we need to be there for them–no matter what. They need to know that we believe in them, even when they might not believe in themselves. We need to remember that they, like us, are going through renovations of their own; they’re learning how to navigate life with their own rudder and not their parents’.

Being the parent of adult children has given me a better perspective of the love God has for us; how he wants so desperately to fix it for us, to tell us exactly what we need to do to make things right, to steer us in the right direction. But then it wouldn’t be our choice–it would be one made for us. We all need to make those discoveries on our own–then we can look back and see that God was right there with us through it all–cheering for us, crying with us, and loving us like crazy.

So as we get ready to renovate our basement, we are also in the thick of renovating our life as parents. It’ll take time, it will surely be messy at times, but the end result will undoubtedly be beautiful and worth it.–CKbuilding_wallpaper1924

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Work, Play, Soar

Now that my kids are all off on their own grown-up adventures, there are not a lot of things that stir me to rush home after work (though my dog and cat would like to think they hold that status). However, at this time of the year, the lake behind our house becomes a playground for bald eagles. And I find myself rushing to get home so I can capture a glimpse of their beauty.

As soon as I turn the corner into our neighborhood, I can see them out on the edge of the ice that opens up to the parts of the lake that have melted. Sometimes there is one lone predator–watching the open water and patiently waiting until the perfect time to swoop in for a fresh sushi snack. Other times, there are groups of eagles–I’ve spotted up to 10 in one day–working together to hunt and prey. It’s amusing to watch them seriously hunt for a time, then take off for a little playful airtime flight and fight. For hours they perch, eat, and play. Then a bit of sadness sweeps over me as they take off and soar to another location, and I need to head indoors–back to reality.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard a lot of stories of stress. Work, school, relationships, and big life decisions. The “mom” in me wants to swoop in to save the day and make the struggle go away. But then I remember that these types of days are only a piece of the whole picture. If we can throw our doubt to the wind and trust in a bigger story than what we see in front of us, we will look back and see what the bigger plan was all along.

I think there are some important things we can learn from my eagle observations this week:

  • Work With Purpose: The eagles on the lake are diligent and patient–they never give up when all seems at a loss. They do work–they wait–and when the time is right, they reap the reward of success and enjoy the fruits of their labor (fresh sushi). Like eagles, we need to be diligent and patient–we need to work with purpose, knowing that success will come if we persevere.
  • Take Time to Play: When in a group, it doesn’t take long before the eagles pick at each other, wrestle around, and then do some pretty impressive acrobatics in the air. I know they may be doing a bit of fighting, but to the optimistic observer, it looks like they’re having a pretty good time playing with each other. In our busy, stress-filled lives, we can’t forget to have fun with the people we love. Taking time to play, laugh, and build relationships is just as important–sometimes more important–than the job at hand.
  • Then Soar: It’s said that when a storm is coming, birds take shelter to get out of harm’s way. The eagle, however, flies above the clouds to avoid the storm. In life, it’s so easy to let the little things bring us down. We hide and wait for trouble to pass–hoping that we’ve avoided it all together. But I would rather be like the eagle–soaring high above the storms and rising above it, rather than letting it bring me down.

But they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”–Isaiah 40:31

Work hard, play hard, and soar–soar high. Oh yeah…and make sure you always have something in your life that always draws you back to home.–CK

                                eagles 4Photo courtesy of my dear friend, Becky.
Check out her awesome photography at
http://www.coloradobornimages.com

Time Passages

This has been a milestone year for my husband and I–we both turned 50 on our respective birthdays–officially kickin’ it for a half a century. In August, I celebrated quietly with one of my daughters and took a road trip to Lake Powell to meet up with family and friends. I didn’t have a break down over my age or freak out over the numerous solicitations in the mail from AARP. I did think a lot about the blessed life I had lived for 50 years and what I wanted to accomplish in the next 50 years. Then, to celebrate for myself, I listed 50 things I wanted to accomplish in my 50th year. Stuff like this: going to a new stadium (check!), reconnecting with at least one childhood friend (check!), tour a vineyard (to-do!), and play the piano again (to-do!).

My husband just celebrated his big 5-0 this past weekend. He would have gladly breezed past this milestone without any pomp and circumstance but I wasn’t about to let him get off so easy. Instead I surprised him with a party filled with friends at his favorite tap house. I had friends from near and far send him cards and notes that were filled with photos and memories from the past. A good time was had by all and I even managed to keep everything a secret, up until 20 minutes before the party started (those bank alerts that your wife just spent over $200 at Qdoba will get you busted every time).

As my husband and I chatted and reflected over the weekend, we realized we’ve been together now for over half of our lives. Pretty amazing for two people who some would say, barely knew each other, when they announced they were going to get hitched. And while we’ve had our share of struggles, arguments, hardships, and heartbreaks, they pale in comparison to the adventures, joys, celebrations, and love that we have shared together. At the end of the day, we can still say, without a doubt, that we still kinda like each other–a lot. Together, we came to the conclusion that we’re pretty excited about what the next 50 years will bring our way.

And the best part of all? We get to live that adventure–together.

CK

                                                   Who knew back then???                                                                                   Baby photos

That they would live a great love story ❤

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More Than a Queen Bee

I recently returned from a fantastic week at a State Leadership Conference with some of my student council leaders. This was the first time any of them had ever experienced this type of conference so it was fun to see the lights turn on to new ideas and the connections made and relationships formed with other students who, on Day One, were complete strangers. Each day was filled with ways to connect with others and leadership nuggets that they could take back to their home schools and implement this fall.

During one of the general sessions, Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabees (and for those of you who don’t know–this book was the basis for the movie “Mean Girls!”), spoke to these young leaders about stereotypes. Her passion for helping students and educators weave through the social challenges of adolescence is contagious. While she covered a lot of the typical stereotypes I see walk the halls every day at school, I was struck a bit by what was missed after something my daughter said to me the week prior.

Since my youngest is currently doing a summer internship in Texas and was unable to come home for the summer, I made the trip south to visit her for a week. In addition to her internship, she is also taking a physiology class that has a pretty grueling syllabus. Stressing about the demands of the class, she received an email for a study session another student had set up and I encouraged her to go. Her response saddened me–she said, “I never go to the student-led study groups. They never take me seriously.”

Whoa. So often we focus on the kids who fit into the typical stereotypes or who are bullied and teased because of their race, weight, or because they are quiet and reserved. At least, these are the stereotypes that were covered at the conference and honestly, are the ones I hear about in any type of training on bullying. But what about those kids/young adults who are dismissed because of how they look or what they are involved in? The pretty blonde cheerleader is stereotyped as the typical mean or ditzy girl–who isn’t smart and obviously doesn’t excel academically. Same thing goes for the huge linebacker–who tears up the opponent on the field but obviously never tears it up academically because there’s no way a guy can be athletically gifted AND smart.

I would venture to say that all students–actually, all people–have been the victim of stereotypes that were completely unjustified. So the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” holds true. When we open the book and begin to read, we uncover the true story. Same thing with people–because everyone’s story is bigger than what you see as you pass them in the hallway at school. The thing is, we all face battles and we all have a deep desire to be accepted and loved. Even the queen bees and wannabees.

 

Choose to Celebrate

Life’s milestones are worth celebrating and there has been plenty of that to go around the last few weeks. Babies being born, weddings to attend, graduations from kindergarten to high school to law school–each of these life events are filled with emotions–everything from excitement to fear, relief to panic, joy to a bit of sorrow. These emotions are experienced not only by those directly impacted by these milestone moments, they also tend to tug at those who are on the outside looking in. It causes us to reflect on our past and contemplate our future. It stirs us to wonder about our own journey and where it is taking us.

On Saturday I had the privilege of giving a diploma to a high school student. As I sat among all of the graduates, I was in awe. Some students I’ve known since they were in preschool and I’m so proud of the young men and women they’ve become. Others I watched as they struggled to get to graduation day–life’s circumstances weren’t always in their favor, and walking across that stage to receive their diploma had to hold a little “extra” sweetness for them knowing that they defied the odds. Stepping off the stage for each graduate signified the end of one leg in their journey and the beginning of a new path they are about to blaze.

As I gazed into the audience, I saw the tears of a mom for whom this moment was bittersweet–her youngest of three receiving his diploma that day. In the fall, he would be off to another state for college–I personally know both the joy and pain she was experiencing that day. I watched a dad snap dozens of photos as his son was wheeled out across stage, imagining that this milestone was one his parents may have thought at one time would never be experienced. As parents, the journey also changes and the significance of the porch light becomes even greater as children begin to pave their own way.

Then the hats are tossed in the air, the parties are attended, and everyone wakes up wondering, “What’s next?”

It’s unfortunate that we tend to only celebrate the milestone day. Sure–those significant days are filled with food, gifts, and way too much cake–and our diets and pocketbooks would suffer if we indulged like that on a daily basis.  But the reality is, every day is a milestone; every day is worth celebrating. On both the good days and the challenging ones; lessons are learned, victories are achieved, obstacles are conquered. Don’t let a day go by letting fear or animosity win the day. Make a choice to celebrate, because every day is a gift and great things are always just around the corner.

CK

victories

A New Kind of Mother’s Day

It seems fitting to write my first post on Mother’s Day–because so much of what I want to express through this blog is about family and yes, motherhood.

Today, Mother’s Day is a bit different for me. First of all, it hasn’t been about enjoying a beautiful spring day planting new flowers to brighten up the yard. It’s Mother’s Day in Colorado, which means “blink” and it will snow–literally. Everything that bloomed last week is now covered in a glistening blanket of white. And it may be a bit dreary today, but the sun will be out tomorrow and all of this wet, wet snow will hopefully turn our surroundings into a deep shade of bright green. To everything there is a season….

And this is a new season for me. For the first time since becoming a mom, I didn’t have any of my kids close by. Instead, I enjoyed the day getting phone calls from each of them, sweet Instagram and Facebook posts, and even a pretty humorous Snapchat. Even though my kids are spread out in different parts of the country, the wonderful world of technology keeps us connected. But today still seemed a bit different; like the weather. It’s a new season in life. I don’t feel any less like a “mom,” but gone are the days of crayon covered cards and paper plate hats to proudly wear to church because it was made especially for me. Yes, it’s a new season, but one that I love just as much as any other season of motherhood.

Because for me, Mother’s Day isn’t about getting doted on or getting flowers and gifts. I’ve already received the greatest gifts I could ever receive in a lifetime–the ones who call me “mom.”

I posted a photo of my kids today with this caption, “You are my best adventure, my most rewarding investment, and the greatest love I’ve ever known. I’m so grateful to be your mom.” They are the true reason that Mother’s Day is awesome–they are the reason I can celebrate. They are my greatest gift.

Today might be a different kind of Mother’s Day, but I cherish it just the same. My kids have been and will continue to be my best adventure–and no matter what the season, I intend to enjoy the ride.

CK