The Next Chapter

Our family's adventures in seminary, and other things I like to talk about...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

10 Parenting Thoughts

This is not a method or gimmick or an assertion that I am wise. I am not going to tell you that my kids are perfect. I feel compelled for whatever reason to share some thoughts, some lessons I have learned from my 18 year parenting journey. 1. You cannot save your child's soul. Live your faith and share it. Then just love them. 2. You cannot and should not try to change your child's personality. Celebrate their uniqueness and gifts. 3. Be consistent but don't exasperate. Keep the rules to a minimum, but enforce the ones you have. 4. Don't tolerate disrespect. 5. Praise often. 6. Give everyone responsibilities. 7. Admit your mistakes. 8. Spend lots of time together. 9. Err on the side of grace. Look at all the examples of God's love in the Bible. 10. Enjoy every second. It goes by fast!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Summer Reflections

It is summer annual blog post time. What a year! Again, as the school year unfolded, I was reminded that the seminary journey is not a sabbatical. It’s a battle—or rather a war. I can’t say I won all the battles, but we are going to win the war. This year was pivotal on the home front. It was the last year we will have all 5 kids permanently under our roof. Our big girl is headed to college in the fall. On top of that, our 16-year-old decided to head back to Texas a year ahead of us and board for her junior year of high school. The nice thing about this is that we will be close by for her senior year. And she will be able to do her last two years of high school in the same school. In light of these big changes, and the fact that we had the summer free, we embarked on a massive road trip. 35 days, 17 states, 8000 miles. I know, right? It was awesome. If any of you have a teenage daughter, you will be able to sympathize with me in the fact that I have 3. Family drama can be epic. But I’m here to tell you that when you remove yourself from all the distractions and stressors in life except for each other, a lot of bonding and healing can take place. We did grow stronger as a family. The kids learned some things about me that will forever change their understanding of why I am the way I am. There is a more peaceful and respectful mood around the house. I hope it lasts. There’s a legend in this sacred domain that it is swarming with angels. When you exit the gates, you grab an angel to protect you while you are gone. When you come back through the gates, you let your angel go. When we reentered the gates after our trip, I was gripped as we let go of our angels--all 7 of them. They did their job. We had no accidents, injuries, illnesses, or emergencies. Thank you, God! We are now down to 10 months of just an easy course load for Tim before our seminary journey is done. I think this will be our sabbatical year.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lessons from the Labyrinth

A theme I have been wrapping my head around for a while is simplicity. In particular, I have been attempting to apply this theme to my mind. I want to stop my constant multi-tasking, forward planning, backward thinking, and just learn to be in the moment. I knew I was making progress when I sat on the couch to have a conversation with my husband without grabbing my knitting.

The importance of being in the moment was brought to my attention at Spiritual Direction, a wonderful ancient Christian discipline offered both individually and in group settings here for our benefit. At the beautiful retreat center where the Spouses of the Seminary group session meets, there is a prayer labyrinth. We talked about the labyrinth and how traditionally it is to be walked barefooted. The idea is to get all the senses involved in the journey to the center. I decided that at our annual quiet day retreat, I would walk the labyrinth.

Lo and behold, the theme for Quiet Day was to live in the moment. My favorite quote from our excellent speaker was, “Life is in the now; don’t miss it.” After our first group session, I set out for the labyrinth. I paused to read the entrance plaque. As I was reading, someone headed in. This bugged me a little. I didn’t want to share this experience with anyone; now I would have to wait a while. When my fellow pilgrim was done, I quickly tossed off my shoes and headed in. Ouch! I was hoping for gravel, not mulch. I don’t have very tough feet. The journey was rough. About a third of the way in, someone else entered. At this point I realized that this is not a journey we should wish to do alone. I smiled at my new fellow pilgrim. I almost lost my balance. At last I had reached the center, grabbing my shoes on the final stretch. I praised my God, who was waiting there, taking the pain from my feet and the burden from my heart. “Where two or more are gathered, Christ is there.” He was with me the whole time, but the journey back into the world was much easier with shoes on my feet and gladness in my heart.

This is what I learned from the plaque: Labyrinths can be found in ancient Crete, Egypt, Etruscia, and inscribed on Neolithic tombs. They have been called divine imprints, “the epitome of sacred geometry, a call to the center, a worship structure where the eternal beloved waits to be encountered.” A pilgrimage. “The ability to be united with God begins with the awakening of the soul to the desire for the sacred, and of creating time and space for conversation with God.” “When you leave the center, your journey back is one of preparation for carrying Christ with you into the world.”

Monday, September 05, 2011

Don't Blink

After completing our first year of seminary and all the unforeseen challenges that came with it, we were so excited to embark on a week-long vacation. We visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina for the first time. It was every bit as wonderful as everyone said it would be. Our beach house was just over the dunes from some cool and active surf. I did a lot of beach combing and collected some beautiful shells. This vacation had a special significance in the life our family because it was our penultimate summer vacation before our oldest daughter enters adulthood and heads off to college. Ironically, our beach house was named, "Just Blink." That is about all we have done, and now our first born is nearly an adult. I have always said that having a baby boy as my girls were entering into the teenage years was the best thing I could have done to help me cope with it all. Someone still lets me know how much I am needed and adored. I am savoring every minute of the short time I have with him as a baby and toddler. I just blinked and now he is a preschooler. I wish I didn't blink so much when the girls were younger. Children are such a blessing and a gift. Don't blink!

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

A year In...

Hello, hello! Apparently I am on the annual plan for blog entries. A dear friend and clergy spouse warned me that as we embark on this journey, I should prepare for "the darks". Being the optimist I am, I smiled and went on my merry way, convinced that this adventure (a three year program to prepare Tim for ordination in the Episcopal church) would be nothing but roses. Of course, she was right. One of the best things I have done here for my soul is go to Spiritual Direction. It is just like a discipleship group--either one-on-one or in a larger group. Sometimes I just need to talk to someone, knowing the conversation will remain confidential. More often, we will contemplate a Psalm. Always, the Holy Spirit will guide as I peel off my unhealthy thoughts and rest in God's peace and proper perspective. What I have learned from the psalms is that happiness is not a state we should always expect to be in. Sometimes the psalmist is dancing for joy; sometimes he is weeping. That is life. That said, life is very good. Our family is happy and healthy here. Our oldest will be in college before we head back to Texas. These are precious moments. We are learning so much as we are all being formed for the ministry Tim is embarking on. And we have been humbled and blessed by all of our friend, family, and even strangers who have supported us on this journey.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

4 Generations

Hello old friends!

I can't believe it has been over a year since my last post. I've been busy... I can't wait to share about our new adventure, but before I get to that, enjoy this shot of Emmett with his great grandpa, Emmett, dad, and Granny.

We took time out of our big move to stop by a little mountain town in NC so the two Emmetts could meet. Great Grandpa Emmett is going strong at 93.7. We had a great time relaxing, playing badminton, and catching fireflies.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Earth Baby

America, for all its strengths, can be a bit behind the times. At our small school, word traveled fast that baby Emmett had been born. We had not advertised the fact that we were planning to have him at home with a midwife, possibly in water. I wanted to play it by ear on the water birth, so I didn’t rent the expensive birthing pool. My midwife assured me that my oversized bathtub would work just fine. Of course, word traveled just as fast that “he was born in the bathtub!” Some of the younger kids were confused and asked if I knew he was going to be born when I got in.

I’m enjoying the Shopaholic series. I’m currently reading Shopaholic and Baby. I love the part where she finds out about a celebrity holistic doctor who does water birth with lotus leaves and Thai massage. The point is, in London I would be hip.

It seemed the natural progression that I should consider cloth diapers. So I found this fab website that has all kinds of natural, organic products. They even have cloth swim diapers, which I know will start saving me money almost immediately. As far as the diapers, let’s just say they aren’t cheap. They are cute and kind to the environment. Honestly, I am NOT turning into a shopaholic. If worst comes to worst, I can always sell stuff on ebay. Happy Earth Day!