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Friday, April 28, 2017

Our I Embraced the Role of "Adventure Mom"


I'm not exactly high maintenance, but I rarely leave the house without makeup and wear bright lipstick everyday.  I enjoy sparkly jewelry and high heels and think a bubble bath is the ultimate luxury.  I'm the last person you would think of as an adventurer.  But a flip switched when I became a mother and I innately wanted my children to value time outdoors and to be confident in their natural abilities.

Add to that, we live right near the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the space for (inexpensive) adventures is just so available.  My son was only two months old on his first trip to the mountains.  He has grown up being confident about tromping through streams, forging through trails and absorbing the sounds of nature.

During my single mom years, heading to the mountains was a saving grace for me with three children.  There is no cell service or wifi, no goofy cartoon noises and no one to be bothered with the rambunctious noises of three young children.  They could throw rocks in the river for hours and "hike" the walking trails on their own.  They gained a sense of accomplishment and freedom that we couldn't have found in the neighborhood.  I believe it was during these preschool and early elementary years where we adopted the general mentality that this is where we go to be together, to connect and to make memories.  It's where I established my free range parenting philosophy.

This is also the period in life when I went on my first road trip with three young children - that is an adventure unto itself!  But what really happened is that I adopted a "Can-do" attitude toward challenges and my children picked up the same attitude along the way.  Now, they just assume I'm up for just about any adventure.
My first trip to the mountains with my children
and Mr. Wonderful.  Look at the fairy wings!

We continue hiking as a family, even more exciting as we became blended because it is something we can all do together.  It's not easy finding an activity that kids ranging from first to twelfth grade like, but hiking worked for us.  We do it on weekends, holidays and vacations.  Whenever we can escape, we try to do so.  All of us go together, or we just take whoever is available.  We like to bring friends, too.  Some of my best bonding with my step daughters has been side-by-side, hiking in nature.

Hiking provides lots of one on time
for talking or just being together.
Soon, my oldest son will turn thirteen.  For his birthday, he wants to hike Mt LeConte as a right of passage.  So, we've been working our way up to the eleven-plus mile distance and terrain.

Clearly, my son didn't have any concern that I was capable of completing his dream.  In his mind, I'm already the "Adventure Mom" so it was natural to assume I would help him accomplish his goal  And so, I will.

How to do it?  Just embrace the role and look for it: Adventure is Out There!

The little guy was only five years old when he completed this five mile hike.

The waterfall was worth the whole 8+ mile hike, and we saw two bears.












Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Heart of Faith and the Real Possibility of Second Chances

Easter is a holiday that I enjoy celebrating, but it comes at such a somber price.  During this week leading up to joy, I read about the cost required for victory.  Forgiveness never is fair, is it?  We don't get to the resurrection without the dying, and that is the part that weighs heavily on my mind today.

There is hope found in the most dire of places - a cruel betrayal, torture, humiliation, agony, isolation and death.  The process of sacrifice marks our example for obedience, sacrifice, love, honor, forgiveness and new life.  Yes, new life: Life that is different, marked, etched and set apart from what if once was.  Death leaves its scars on all of us, but it doesn't mean we are forever bound in its grip.

New life.  This is what I claim on Easter Sunday - Resurrection Day.  My worst moments have birthed my best.  What I once was, I am no longer.  Hope for my future dark days (I know there will be some).  Trust in the One who overcomes.

I do not speak profoundly, or with anything new to say.  I simply know today more than ever that while it was kindness that brought me first to Christ, it was pain that saw my heart transformed.  As a child, I couldn't fathom the reality of the cross and it's trauma.  I had not reference for the hate and brutality.  Today, from new across the world I can see the climate of hate that permitted such mob mentality.  I hate the pain for Him all those years ago.  I hate the pain in our world today.  I hated the pain in my own life and dread the pain I will witness in the lives of those I love.  Yet the very pain that I avoid is what allowed new life to emerge in me.  It is the miraculous way that God works to bring something good from even what is the worst in our world.  The horrific pain of the cross was the road new life in Christ.  I wish there was another way, but I am not God.


This is why we have Easter traditions in our home.  We color eggs to remember God always brings new life.  We talk about the last days of Christ and what it must have felt like to be betrayed.  We gather with our church to remember and honor His sacrifice.  We celebrate the Victory on Sunday, knowing it is only a shadow of the celebration to come.

Easter is all about pain.  God didn't choose to eliminate the pain from our world.  He used it then and uses it today.  No matter what has happened to you or what you have done to yourself, the pain doesn't have to be the end of the story.  We are a people of second chances who choose to believe the best is yet to be, whether here on earth or in the hereafter.  Easter is the heart of faith for Christians, but it doesn't eliminate the struggle.  It takes that struggle and makes it worth something, and that is where second chances (or third, and more) take root and bloom.

What is Your Response to Easter?

Some Easter Traditions in Our Family

The Old Can Be New Again


Friday, April 7, 2017

Safe


"Safety is the state of being "safe" (from French sauf), the condition of being protected from harm or other non-desirable outcomes. Safety can also refer to the control of recognized hazards in order to achieve an acceptable level of risk."
(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety)

In this privileged life that I live, I often take my safety for granted.  When I see the conditions of many in war zones, refugee villages, I struggle to imagine what living in that way would mean.  I think of the details through the lens of motherhood and imagine the cumulative stress of trying to parent in that environment.

It's easy to develop a tunnel-vision in the way we view the world and see what we recognize.  My desire is to widen my world view and I do this by intentionally informing myself of the ways others live, their struggles, their joys.  To accept that my lifestyle is a minority in the world isn't condemning myself.  It spurs me to steward the privilege well.  Where I have been gifted, I am looking to give.  Surely I have not been given so much only to serve myself.

So these are some places where I choose to invest:

My Church.  It's the first place that I give and am committed to doing so for life. To make a lasting, personal impact, your church is the place to invest.

Mercy House Global.  As a former single mama, these overcomers inspire me! I feel so glad to purchase their products for gifts and love the t-shirts.

Preemptive Love.  I can't imagine living well in a war zone, but I will help where I can.

Compassion International.  One way that I involve my children is to let them choose a gift each Christmas.

Locally as needs arise.  There are immigrants who need basic living goods and jobs.  There are foster families who need last minute supplies.  There are students in our classrooms who need lunches and clothing.  There are some who need a drink or food.  There are laborers all around who need dignity, a smile, recognition.  When I see the need, I am prompted to give.  The key is to continue noticing the need.

When I am overwhelmed by the evil in our world, it is easy to feel paralyzed with insignificance.  What can I do?  How can I help?  Where can I make an impact?  But small actions truly can make an impact.  Sometimes I have to filter what I see in order balance the difficulties with hope.  But I don't want to be so consumed with my own comfortable life that I miss the benefits of joining to help others.  I want to be part of the solution...even if my contributions are small, they are significant.