On 18 And Letting Go

I was fortunate enough to spend an afternoon not too long ago with two eighteen year olds.  One whom I birthed and the other her sweet friend.  They are about to embark on an adventure.  A new chapter.  Far from home.  Like on the other side of the United States far.  This Mama's heart has not  encountered most of what it is feeling these days.  One minute I am completely confident in the Lord's leading in her life and the next I question everything, and I do mean every decision I have ever made in this parenting journey.  How is that possible?  Such is parenting I'm told.  And then let's not get started on the preparation necessary to have one of your children on the other side of the country.
We're having a taste of that currently as Thing 2 was gifted an opportunity to travel to Bali for a global youth conference with the 4-14 window ministry.  Go ahead, re read that last sentence.  I sure needed a moment when I read the text that invited her.  There may have been a gasp and holding of my chest.  God is just so good.  And not simply because she was able to travel across the International date line and view His creation of breath taking beaches but because He gave this to her.  Alone.  There was a plan and He knew she would be invited before we did.  And He knows what she will learn and the connections she will forge and exactly how the Holy Spirit will speak to her and convict her and level her in ways only He can.  That my friends is powerful.  For this Mama that is confirmation in all the ways.

For now though back to Thing 1.  Like I said, her and a friend and myself took a field trip to visit the Reign Ministries offices and a Kairos class here in Minnesota.  Both girls applied to the Kairos school in Seattle and we all wanted a glimpse of what that might look like.  Thankfully their senior high assistant at church was a former Reign staffer and gave us the grand tour.  If I'm honest I was completely unsure of what to expect.  Maybe I didn't even have expectations.  I was giddy to be in the car with Thing 1, listening to her conversations and laughing at music choices and talking about coffee drinking issues.  First world problems for sure.  As is common among teenagers the topic turned to weightier subjects, tattoos.  See, Thing 1's friend was scheduled for her very first tattoo and I was curious as to what and why and all those Mama questions.  She boldly answered me and when she did I was floored.

Let me explain.  Said friend wanted an elephant tattoo.  Simple in and of itself but when she went on to explain her choice that is when I had a moment of enlightenment, at the least expected time.  Elephants are the largest land mammal you see.  They travel in packs, families, if you will, and when one of them falls ill they mustn't be allowed to lay down.  If they do they will not be able to stand on their own again.  That is when two other members of the herd will come along side them, enabling them to stand.  All this made sense to me, seemed logical enough.  But when the young lady in my back seat went on to make the comparison to the Christian community my eyes may have become a bit teary.  What a beautiful portrait of how the Christian community should live, holding one another up when we can't do it alone.  Amen sister!  That's exactly it.  And then I said a silent prayer that my Thing 1 has a friend who exemplifies this model.  They will go on to live some life together.  Have new experiences.  Explore a new city.  Live in a community of believers, surrounded by those that don't believe.  And then, like the elephants, they will be able to hold each other up.  An action that will speak to those around them.  A light shining together, to be stronger and better and to heal.

So I learned a lesson from two eighteen year olds.  Really though it was yet another confirmation that this is all right and good and exactly how it should be.  His plan unfolding and this little carpool chat was simply a God kiss.  A reminder that they are His before they are mine.  That this up and coming generation is going to be world changing and kingdom warriors.

And yet the learning didn't stop there.  Once on campus and in the classroom I witnessed those same two young women sit and listen, soaking in the lecture.  When break time came they were approached by students.  This is where I would have found a corner to hide in, maybe snuck away for an extended bathroom break, but no.  Those two stood confidently, met new people, listened and laughed, welcomed in with open arms.  As I stood back and watched this unfold I breathed a small sigh of relief and gratitude.  They're going to be alright and this Mama is realizing it is time to release her baby into the world.  Which is just as it should be.  

For Thing 3 on Her 15th Birthday

Today is the day that the third daughter entered our world.  Her pregnancy was challenging.  It could have been the other two littles, Thing 1 just turning three and Thing 2 not yet a two year old.  That is a possibility.  I ballooned with her, swollen everywhere and enduring the AZ summer heat.  She was cozy inside and prolonged her birth an entire week.  I walked the labor and delivery floor pleading with her, begging her to ready herself.  For the love.  We were so very ready for this third girlie we had been waiting for, the one we called Gilly-Bean from the beginning.  And then she arrived and our world has never been the same.  Maybe it's her dimpled smile, her strawberry blonde hair and those deep brown eyes, maybe her fair skinned limbs.  All I know is it was love at first sight.  

Thing 3 this past year has been full of new.  High school.  A decision to spend your summer serving in a foreign country.  That choice by far has been the bravest I have seen you step into, next to following Jesus. You answered a calling.  Chose obedience.  Even when you didn't know another soul that would be adventuring with you.  Sometimes that is exactly what following Jesus looks like.  Crazy.  Unknown.  Full of promise.  I am so proud of you.  Proud of the woman you are becoming.  The calling you are stepping into.  Your zeal for all things food related.  An exactness that is unmatched.  A commitment to your studies and yet a whimsy that I hope never fades.  Ever.   At a moment's notice you have the ability to make me laugh.  Whether dancing, acting or performing some monologue.  Say to commercials.  My current favorite.  You have a generous spirit that is unbridled.  Sometimes I don't even know how to respond to it.  I'm not sure empathy is the right word but the concept of giving it all away is surely not lost on you.  Yes and yes.  Keep it up.  And still you get lost in a book.  Spending hours escaping into other's words.  Every now and then when you turn your head a certain way or engage your Dad in a serious conversation I catch a glimpse of the future you.  Still my daughter yet grown up.  Adult-like. I'd be lying if I said it doesn't make my heart skip a beat.  I am so very honored to have been chosen to walk with you into woman hood.  I thank God I am your Mama and I pray this fifteenth year is better than the last and more than you could hope for.  I pray that everyday you are able to see God's hand in the big and small.  He is everywhere.  Before. Behind.  In the midst of.  Keeping you hemmed in and always present.  Listen.  Love.  Never stop chasing after what makes your heart jump and dream big.  I love you Thing 3.  
Happy, happy birthday!


Things I've Learned While Running

Hello!  Oh wait, you don't remember me, let me introduce myself.  Leanna here, the author of this blog.  You know the one you last read two months ago.  There's really no sense in apologizing.  Or even trying to explain my absence here.  Please know I intend to catch up on life the last few months.  Eventually.  I know I've said it before but I really will there's just no telling when.  January and February's photos may be posted in October.  Spring break at Christmas time.  No rhyme or reason.  This morning though, I felt the pull to write and put something up here.  And considering the length of time that has passed since we shared space I thought it worthy of a reintroduction.  

For those of you that don't know after my almost two year hiatus from the running scene training has commenced once again.  For the last ten weeks or so the miles have been logged.  That means long weekend runs where I have had time to solve the world's problems, write blogs in my head and recall a million little items for my to do list.  Lately the mileage has increased significantly and I'd be lying if I said it was easy.  Truth is it challenges and tests me in the most unpredictable ways.  Mentally significantly more than physically.  I know all the professionals and their literature say so and until about mile three on any length of run I don't feel like I win that battle.  It takes me just about that long to get over myself, the labored breathing, concentrating on my form, is my shirt sitting right, the iPod rubbing against my skin, my headband is falling, etc.  You get me?  Or maybe not, I am just a tad particular and when I'm running is really no exception.  On my last two longer-ish runs I thought about all that I've learned.  All those aha moments, mostly related to running, training and all that encompasses.  So to ease myself back into the blogosphere it seemed only natural to share my revelations with you all.  Here goes.

* You can do it, even when your body tells you to STOP, you probably have at least another couple miles in you

* Getting started really is the hardest, unless you are running up hill into the wind at around mile 9.5, then that's pretty difficult too.  Just sayin.  

* There is no such thing as instant results.  Really. It takes time, miles logged and a certain amount of crazy.  (at least for me)

* If you run, regardless of the length of your run, the time of your run, how often you run, I consider   you a runner.  That title is not reserved for the elite, the professional or long distance people.  Anytime you lace up those shoes, or leave them off and hit the pavement, trails, mountains, dirt roads you are a runner.  I kind of feel like it might be necessary to pause here for dramatic effect and insert a "I am runner hear me roar", anyone else feeling that?  No, ok.  I'll move on.

* I absolutely love the informal runners community.  No dues or fees.  If you're running and you pass another runner smile.  Wave.  Throw the peace sign.  It is encouraging.  And if they're out there too chances are they get it.  

* I am totally and completely motivated when passersby cheer me on.  I mean the race adrenaline I thought was given.  That gets me too.  All the people with their hands held out for high fives, the signs, the cowbell.  The other day though I was just starting out on my run and was having the mental talk I have with myself every single time at the beginning of a long run.  When I looked ahead this kind man in a big ol' pick up truck waved and smiled.  I think I ran my fastest mile after that.  The kindness of strangers.  

* Finishing a race, 5K or half marathon, the distance does not matter, always brings me to tears.  Watching other racers finish causes me to cry too.  There is something innately moving about crossing a finish line.  And so metaphorical on a vastly larger scale.  

* Shoes really do matter.  And all the runners said "Amen".  

* At the completion of your run you will not regret it.  Ever.  Even when I've injured myself I have never thought that I shouldn't have ran.  

* Our bodies are amazing.  Truly.  I am fascinated with the way my muscles work together, how form can affect my speed, my gait, the pain I feel after.  The way my brain sends the message to my body parts to move in such a specific manner.  Think about it for a moment.  

*  Proper fueling is key both pre-run and after.  Hydration.  Healthy food.  Protein.  Carbs.  You get the idea.

* Talking to those that have gone before you and are more experienced is priceless.  They've made the newby mistakes.  Dealt with injuries.  Battled the mental aspects of training.  In other words they have wisdom.  

* Don't over think it.  As they say, "it's not rocket science".  And it certainly isn't.  Don't misunderstand me there is a fair amount of "thinking" that is necessary.  What I'm saying is let's not go to the extreme.  Maybe another saying would be, "keep it simple stupid".  Yes and yes.  

* Running for me is a release, when I allow it to be.  When my mind wanders or I get lost in the music streaming through my head phones I return from the miles lighter.  

For the finale, let me say that I think most of the above bullet points could be metaphors for life.  Just maybe?  Preparation, learning from those that have gone before you, proper fueling (this one on so many levels), mental battles.  Catch my drift?  I am by no means a running aficionado.  I am, however, one who runs, and apparently has thoughts related to said activity.  Some of which are applicable to life everyday.  Or maybe not.  Either way, this was my re-entry post.  Take it for what it's worth.  Let's not complicate matters.  

A List of Loves

True, Valentine's Day, or Love Day, as referred to in this house of mine, was over two weeks ago and since then there has been a birthday and such.  Regardless I am going to post about some things, people and otherwise that I currently love, have loved or want to love.  Writer's prerogative here people.  Or something like that. 
I love birthdays.  Day, week, heck, month long parties of delectable food and cake.  Birthday cake for the win.  Everyday.
I love that my people know this about me and don't question it any longer.  Once Thing 1's birthday has been celebrated I began my countdown.  I'm just a big kid when it comes to this. 
I love words. 
I love when the six of us share our hearts on paper.  And I love watching everyone's reaction as they read what was written about them.
I love mail.  Snail mail.  Cards.  Letters.  Packages.  I store all the cards and presies addressed to me around my birthday and open them all after cake and ice cream.  There really is no other way if you ask me. 
I love Face time.  My parents were able to sing happy birthday to me in real time, and watch me blow out my candles.  Technology may have it's downside but for this I do love it. 
I love that Husband Jared knows what I love.  Exploring new places.  Eating new food.  Feeling adventurous in our own city. And he likes to do those things with me. 
I love being around the table.  Mine.  Other people's.  No matter.
I love the conversations that take place when least expected.  Late night, early morning, in the car, through text. 
I love learning.  About other people.  Other cultures.  Religions.  Places.  Politics. 
I love that when I listen to too much talk radio he knows.  He quietly listens and nods his head until my rant is over and then we move on. 
I love that they all know I need my coffee FIRST in the morning.
I love that they know I am not a night owl.  As in I don't like to drive at night and I probably, might not, remember what we talked about if it was after 6pm.  Ok, maybe later if planned.  But maybe not. 
I love that when he comes downstairs in the winter time he starts a fire for me.  Meaning he turns the switch on, but hey it's the thought that counts, right? 
I love that my Things watch my face during sad parts of movies, waiting for my tears to fall, sometimes they hand me the tissues before I even start.
I love all our inside jokes and memories we share. 
I love hearing stories told by my Things.  So uniquely different in their recollection. 
I love coffee.  Oh, wait, I think I already mentioned that. 
I love that my girl Things help me with shoe choices when I can't decide which ones to wear.
I love that my boy Thing is sweet and tender but will still take me out on the pitch. 
I love new books and the smell of old books.  Weird, I know. 
I love watching him think.

I love when the Things are all together.   
I love being a wife.
I love being a mama. 
I love the six of us.
I love because I was first loved. 

Here and There

Farewell January.  I have come to the realization that all along I mis-categorize the month that begins every year.  There are great expectations and high hopes and now in almost my thirty seventh year I feel as though January is for resting.  Restoring.  Taking a few deep breaths and if necessary catching up on everything from sleep to reading to cleaning and family time.  Sure, the Christmas season is filled with family but this year for us the season was full of busy.  Concerts and chores, traditions to be kept, traveling and performing.  So January has become the month to catch our breath.  Now of course there was the annual dreaming and goal setting and reflecting.  Only this time it was slower and the month consumed me.  But in a good way.  Are you feeling me? Well I felt January and it did not let me down.

Here we are facing February and it's claim to the coldest, harshest, worst winter month.  That's it's rap and I won't dispute the reputation.   For one, I am writing this post at my desk that faces two windows and the snow is flying.  Literally.  Sideways.  It started this morning noisy, icy shards knocking on the windows and now there is a quietness to it all.  I'm sure there is a life metaphor in there somewhere.  February is off to a lovely start though.  The weather aside, my baby girl celebrated her eighteenth year.  Valentine's day is just around the corner.  Followed by my birthday and then just like that the month is over.  And we are that much closer to Spring.  And all the Minnesotans said Amen. 

I was planning on a list of a post but I've since decided to save that for my birthday post.  Writing in numbered succession all that I have learned the past year is eye opening for me.  And  often as I am mid sentence the lesson learned will take shape without me even being privy to the aha moment.  Go figure.  Which now has caused me to reflect on a topic in the midst of studying, learning, meditating on and journaling about.  The current sermon series at our church is themed around the tongue being a weapon for both good and evil.  (my own words)  Our first week back, (after Christmas break), I walked away with thinking of my tongue as a fire starting tool, exciting pyromania whenever I opened my mouth.  A negative connotation at the very least.  One of my favorite Bible passages is a verse in which our words are compared to honey.  As there is also scripture in which the tongue is compared to a sword.  Truth lies in both perceptions.  The tongue is a tool that can be implemented for both the sweet and the unsavory, depending on the motivation with which one wields the weapon.

All this to say I've been contemplating, digging deeper.  Then this last week was titled "grumbling and complaining".  Ahem.  My gut was telling me to duck and run.  Husband Jared held my hand and I stayed, thankfully.    Here's where the risk surfaces.  I didn't consider myself a complainer much.  Not that I never thought I complained, because I did, I mean I do.  The whole act seems engrained in our human nature dating all the way back to the Israelites.  And we know what happened to all but two of them.  No Promised Land.  They were given milk and honey, manna, water, quail and yet they wandered in the wilderness for forty years unable to see the forest through the trees.  Pardon the pun.  I know the story.  God would give them what they asked for and not two minutes later they would be grumbling and asking for more.  For different.  For this or that.  Some voiced their complaints audibly, maybe others in their hearts.  I learned Sunday that the Greek definition of the word "disputing" as stated in Philippians 2:14, means to complain in your mind and heart.  Ouch. 

Here's where I'm at with  this.  I voice my complaints, my disdain, what have you but there is plenty that never leaves my mind or heart.  The intellectual "moaning and groaning"  that I have seemed to think doesn't matter or count as sinful.  I won't compare myself to the Israelites but really I am no different.  Right?  The biggest obstacle I see here brings me to the risk.  While I know that complaining, grumbling whether to others or myself, is sin, I tend to believe that we need to air those icky thoughts as well.  I mean along with the good and positive.  Maybe it's in the reworking, how we present them, the heart behind those words and the audience with which we are dealing with.  Bring them before the Lord first and foremost?   Our closest circle of people?  A spouse?  A blank page?  I suppose too that the grumbling and complaining differs from authenticity.

 Work with me here.  I am a flawed human trying to flesh this out, a masterpiece in progress.  When asked if everything is alright or how I'm doing I am prone to the "all is well" response.  Rote if you will, but simple, to the point and devoid of the opportunity for questions or inquiries.  But there is nothing real about that knee jerk reaction.  I don't need to hide behind falsities but I also must beware of lacking joy in all circumstances.  Not the pretty pink puffy happy emotion but the guttural joy that comes from knowing that the Lord is in charge.  I may be left here on earth to be working like it depends on me but I must remember to pray like it depends on Him.  Thank you Mark Batterson for that nugget of wisdom.  Applicable to my disputing heart and the besetting sin that lies within.  In order to risk being genuine with all areas of my life I must be willing to be human.  To accept grace.  To voice the fear that hides underneath the intellectual moaning and groaning battling for space in my heart and mind.  Am I making any sense here?  Most likely not.  And that's ok.  My journal is scribbled with these mixed up thoughts. 

So I sat through a few sermons regarding our tongue.  The way it could be used for wrong doing.  In addition to hearing all the good it can accomplish.  I felt convicted about griping whether done publicly or privately.  I also feel convicted about authentic living.  Sharing my story, and baring my true self.  Is there a discrepancy here?  I think not.  Complaining and grumbling is much different than sharing emotions, feelings, circumstances.  Much different than entering into life with others.  There is a manner, a method, if you will, that a poet frames his words.  Maybe we, I mean I, should aim to be more poet than griper.  Weaving my heart through carefully chosen words.  Not ones that masque my true self or given circumstances in which I find myself.  But words that reflect my soul.  The joy that lies within and the desire to leave behind the grumbling, disputing and complaining in order to be the honey in place of the fire starter.  

To The Eldest Thing

This morning when I woke I felt keenly aware of the significance of this day.  My eldest daughter is turning eighteen.  Eighteen years ago I was in a hospital room waiting for her arrival; Profoundly unaware of just how much my world was about to change.  Her entrance into our lives set me on a trajectory that could only have been orchestrated by our Father in heaven and for that I am beyond grateful.  With that, here are a few words for the birthday girl, or should I say, woman.  

You my sweet girl are my sunshine.  And this last year I have watched you bloom as you've pressed into the Word, leaned not on your own understanding but His and trusted in ways I am not sure that I would have.  Boldly you have stepped out in faith even when you didn't want to.  That has been nothing short of pure joy to witness.  

It is a strange place to be as a parent, bittersweet has never rang more true for me.  I remember fondly the days of you being a little.  Your curly hair bouncing as you ran circles around me.  Those big hazel eyes boring holes into my heart as you asked for another book, one more song or just a little more time.  Days when your stubbornness got the better of both of us.  The time your door was taken off it's hinges because "privacy is a privilege".  Watching you make new friends and try to make sense of changes.  Leading your team as goal keeper or striker on the pitch and being able to walk away knowing it was just a game.  Listening to you giggle with friends late into the night, make movies with your babysitters and siblings.  And always sharing the truth and matter of fact-ness with  anyone who doubted.  Now,  I am able to watch you revealing your heart to your peers, offering your story to the world and preparing to step into all that He has created you to be.  Forging friendships and developing your belief system and values as you enter adulthood.  This is pure joy and a gift I do not ever want to take for granted.  I am grateful to be your Mama.  
Always have been and always will be.  

So, bittersweet is this season.  More sweet than bitter for sure.  (Big Head Todd lyrics there)  I pray that this year of eighteen is full to overflowing with continual refilling from the Holy Spirit.  I pray that as you learn more of how Christ sees you that you become more; That your purpose and gifting is made clear to you.  I pray that you always know that you are loved, that you know you can always come home and that you will make mistakes.  We all do.  And that is why there is grace.  I pray that not only will our relationship deepen as mother and daughter but will continue as friend and confidant as you navigate adulthood.  I pray for your future.  For your heart.  For your soul.  I love you Thing One and you will always be my sunshine.  

Wrapping Up California

The eve of Thing 1's birthday has arrived and with it I feel an aching need to tidy things up here on the blog and prepare for February.  I have a few random photos and thoughts I'd like to share from our California trip.  You are free to exit this page now if you're not interested.  If you are, or if your family, by all means keep reading.  

My "little" brother and his lovely wife, Corynn.

We visited Stone Brewery on one of our days in California and spent the afternoon taking in the gorgeous scenery, enjoying their craft brew and even taking a tour of the brewery.  Lest I forget, we also dined, under the pergola, on some fine food.  It was an adult afternoon so their littles were home with my bigs having way too much fun! We joined them for dinner at home, s'mores and games around the table.  It was a good day. 

Stuck - Hansons

One of about ten attempts to take a decent selfie of the two of us, 
I love my brother.

My two cousins, who are newly of age had never before been on a brewery tour.  Husband Jared insisted we tour together and I do think the boys enjoyed their educational field trip.  

Can you even stand this?  I can't.  Thing 4 entertained those girlies with his piano playing and his funny faces.  Those smiles are priceless.  

Thing 1 and this girlie had bubble time.  If only I would have captured her squeals.  Every single time that Thing 1 would put the wand to her mouth Olivia would start clapping and laughing.  A good belly laugh.  

Then we moved onto S'mores.  Or just graham crackers for Olivia.  
I jumped at any opportunity to snuggle with her. 

Gianna was mesmerized by the fire, and maybe the marshmallows! 

Thing 3 and Aunt Tree might had some fun too! 

There are so many pictures to share and even more memories, these were highlights, and with that I'd like to say thank you to these two for making the trip possible. I'm not sure how they feel about this picture but it was taken while we were all gathered around the fire pit, making s'mores and laughing and I do believe it says so much about them both.  By the way, totally digging the headband Nani!  

Poppi and Nani.  

One more post from 2014 regarding a few traditions and such and then on with 2015.  
Wowsa!  Stay tuned.