A Variety of Things

Thing 1: I have three more weeks of Classical Conversations left and then the end-of-year banquet and then I'm officially done as the director.

Thing 2: I'm sort of in denial that I have to get up and go be the director again in just about 6.5 hours.

Thing 3: Despite the fact that we haven't even listed our house as being for sale yet I'm feeling a significant amount of anxiety over the fact that we haven't sold it yet.

Thing 4: Yes, I know how irrational Thing 3 is.

Thing 5: It's supposed to snow again today.

Thing 6: I only packed 5 of my 10 boxes for Monday.

Thing 7: This leaves me with 15 to pack for Tuesday. Tuesday is my longest day of the week so I don't think that's going to happen either.

Thing 8: I really like this photo:

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Thing 9: I'm hoping I can put in my vote for real hymnals at City Pres.

Thing 10: I may get voted down and I'm okay with that. It would just be nice is all.

Closet Heaven

Craig just posted pics of the five houses we put on the list of consideration this week in Oklahoma City. My vote really is for the last one because it’s Closet Heaven.

Small and few closets have always been my housing lot in life and, in addition to having a bedroom for every girl, there are closets ALL OVER THE HOUSE. I’m in love.

Anyway, check out our Oklahoma City housing options and cast your own vote.

Is it okay to want to feel safe at home?

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The song itself doesn’t start until halfway through the following clip, but if you have time, watch the whole thing. It’s definitely what I’ve been thinking about this week.

The issue of choosing a neighborhood based on perceived safety has been on my heart so much I wrote about it for WORLDMag.com today. Is safety a valid concern for a Christian family when seeking housing options? I’m struggling with it. What say you?

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As my family is preparing for our upcoming move this summer, we spent the better part of this spring break week checking out our new locale, getting a feel for the city, and looking at some housing possibilities. As our new situation coincides with helping to plant a church right in the heart of Oklahoma City, and my husband’s job will take him 30 minutes north of town half of the week and 30 minutes south the other half, it seemed ideal for us to find a house right in the middle.

We drove all over town armed with a list of addresses, a charged-up GPS, and a full tank of hope. Everything we found fell in one of two major categories: way out of our price range or way beyond our handyman capabilities (which are basically limited to paint and my dad’s phone number).

While there were several homes that fit our budget, they were either really tiny or really run down. By the end of Monday, we walked away with three possibilities-all within our price range-but all in what some might consider semi-scary neighborhoods.

Tuesday was a day filled with a fair amount of stress over that. I admit to feeling a lot of tension over whether or not this should be a concern for us. I admit to placing safety pretty high on my list of housing ideals. And I admit to not knowing if that’s really OK or not.

I’ve had Derek Webb’s song “Rich Young Ruler” stuck in my head all week and believe me, I’m thinking about it a lot. Here’s an excerpt:

Poverty is so hard to see
When it’s only on your TV

Or 20 miles across town

Where we’re all living so good

We moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood

Where he’s hungry and not feeling so good

From going through our trash

He says, “More than just your cash and coin

I want your time I want your voice

I want the things you just can’t give me.”

In the midst of wrestling with all of this, we received another housing lead from a friend. This house is still in the city, though at the very north edge of it. Of all the things on our “ideal” list, it has about 95 percent of them and was listed at the same price to the dollar that we are hoping to sell our home for in St. Louis. And the neighborhood feels safe (we drove past two different police cars parked in driveways, which was somewhat comforting to me).

I love the house, but I’m struggling to figure out if that’s OK. Is it any less godly to live in a place where you aren’t afraid to let your kids ride their bikes on your street? If you’re helping to plant a church somewhere downtown, is it acceptable to live 12 minutes north? Does God call people to the suburbs as well?

Like a Snowman in the Spring

Nevermind that we actually DID get snow this past Monday and had enough for my girls to make a snowman in the backyard. I know that it’s mid-March and that proper homemakers of America have officially taken down ALL of their winter decorations and probably even have some spring ones up.

I am not a proper homemaker of America.

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What’s this? It’s my front yard. See that little yard ornament there in front of the for-decoration-and-leaf-collecting-only bird bath? Need a closer look?

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Yep. That’s my snowman in the spring. I also had a doormat out front with Christmas trees on it that, as of ten minutes ago, is now in the trash because when you leave a decorative doormat out for four months that should only have been out for, say, two weeks, you have problems.

Here are my excuses: 1) we rarely ever go through the front door and my whole life can be summed up by the mantra “out of sight, out of mind.” 2) I don’t know what to do with him – do I pack him away with the Christmas stuff? Do I toss him in with the stuff headed to Oklahoma in three days for a temporary vacation in my parents’ garage? He’s a man without a country, Frank.

I am this snowman in the spring. I need to pack, but what? I’m in that very uncomfortable spot of needing to clear out some excess so we can get our house ready to show, but also we still live here and need to until late July. And we’re still homeschooling and kid-shuttling and all the other stuff that makes up the sum of our St. Louis lives.

I’m really kind of a mess. I don’t know if my mind is in St. Louis with all the present realities we’ve got going on or if it’s in Oklahoma City with all the uncertainties that lie ahead.

So here I stay – kind of noticeably out of place, like a snowman in the spring. If I’m not careful I’m going to melt.

Processing Moving with Kids

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So I started tell you about our big new change here. And then Craig filled in the major detail here. And then I came back and told you how he told me here.

Today I tell you how we told the girls here at WORLDMag.com.

For the record, this weekend was pivotal in her life, but we still have a rocky road ahead. We’re preparing for it.

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The last time we made a major state-to-state move our oldest child was just 6 and our youngest 18 months. When we told the girls we were moving back then, there was some sadness from the 6-year-old, but it was short-lived and easily compensated. The others didn’t really care so long as we packed their special blankets and toys.

Fast-forward six years: My husband, Craig, has just accepted a new position as head of school at Veritas Classical Academy in Oklahoma City. While our girls had known for several weeks that the move was a strong possibility, the official offer came one week ago today.

As we were eating dinner that night, Craig asked each girl for her honest thoughts about the opportunity, as we would give serious weight to their thoughts on the matter. One by one the girls started telling us about all the things they love about life in St. Louis and the people they would miss. One by one they all said that while they were sad to move and leave their friends, they were a little excited about the change and the possibility of having their own rooms.

All of them were excited, that is, except one: Our second-born definitely was not OK with the change, and she said so in so many words.

After dinner, Craig and I talked about his last-minute plan to fly to Oklahoma City one more time to meet with the board. We had one frequent-flier plane ticket for him to use, but I looked at him and said he should think about taking Chloe with him. We both realized that some daddy/daughter time was what she needed, but because we didn’t have a second free ticket lying around, this meant driving the 16-hour round-trip so she could go with him.

The next day, after teaching all day and coaching baseball practice that afternoon, Craig came home, ate dinner, packed up, and headed off to Oklahoma City in the pouring rain with our 10-year-old daughter who desperately needed a dose of stability and security.

From the time they left home until the time they returned, 44 hours passed. And somewhere in that span of 44 hours of open road, one-to-one discussions, and burgers and shakes at Kaiser’s in downtown OKC, a switch flipped in her mind and in her heart. On the way home she told her father, “You know, I’m still sad about leaving St. Louis, but I’m more open to the idea of moving now.”

That was exactly the point. I know she will continue to struggle through the process of our transition, maybe more acutely than any of the rest of us. But I hope she knows in her core that we understand and will walk her through it every step of the way.

Megamind

Picture 5 Megamind : Incredibly handsome, criminal genius, and master of all villainy.

I took my two youngest girls to see this movie in the theater a little while ago and walked out thinking two main things: 1) there are definitely some interesting themes worth discussing and 2) it’s kind of a Despicable Me wannabe.

We were recently sent a copy of Megamind on DVD and have watched it multiple times since then and while my first thought is still in place, my second thought no longer is.

It’s true there’s a similarity in the two in that the guys who were “bad” were really “good” but the storylines are significantly different and I get that now.

First things first: there’s a reason it is rated PG. There are a fair amount of words used that we don’t consider appropriate for common usage in our family, but our girls have a clear understanding of that and these words haven’t become part of their vocabulary.

What has become part of their daily speech, however, are some of Megamind’s hilarious phrasings and pronunciations. Mel-ON-choly has become a permanent family word as has spee-I-der. Funny, funny.

Some of the themes we’ve explored as a family at different times have been around the idea of good vs. evil. The movie pulls out a nature vs. nurture idea. Megamind, as a baby hurtling toward earth in his space pod, ends up being raised in a prison and thus becomes a criminal while Metro Man, as a baby, ends up in the lap of luxury and inevitably becomes the hero. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that while Megamind has a strong pull to be the villain, his good nature wins in the end because that’s who he really is. Metro Man who really is a good guy just gets tired of it and chooses to walk away to follow a different career path – one he’s not good at at all, but one he loves. Really an interesting idea there in that if we are given gifts and abilities to do something, but no longer have the passion it takes to fullfill said calling, are we still responsible to do so?

When Megamind “eliminates” the good guy because that’s what he’s supposed to do, he realizes how empty his life has become without a hero to try to fight all the time. He discovers he has no purpose in life.

Then there’s the whole aspect in which Megamind attempts to create a new hero out of complete loser by injecting some of Metro Man’s DNA into him. The “hero” becomes strong and has amazing new abilities, but he’s never been infused with a proper motive to be good, so he becomes the antithesis of it.

There really are some fascinating discussion points in this movie – some that will go right over a child’s head, but that would make for a great discussion with older kids or even adults who aren’t afraid of an animated movie every now and then.

So my honest impression of this movie is this: you really need to watch it more than once to appreciate it for what it is. Consider pulling someone else in to watch it with you so you can hash out all the ethical angles of the story in the end. I think you might be pleasantly surprised by what you come up with.

On Doing that Thing I Never Wanted to Do

Three years ago I was attending a local homeschooling conference with two of my friends. We walked by a booth called Classical Conversations. They had never had a booth at our local conference before and nobody knew anything about them. I had heard about them from a friend’s blog so had a very limited understanding – enough to make me go over to the booth, drag my two friends with me, and learn more.

As we stood there falling in love with the program I heard myself say to my two friends, “I really want this program to come to St. Louis, but I DO NOT WANT TO DIRECT IT! Please make sure I don’t sign up to direct it!”

My friends didn’t want to direct it either and, as it turned out, nobody in St. Louis did. So we went home thinking we just wouldn’t be able to participate. Over the next week we talked about it more and more. We decided we’d just do the program on our own, the three of us and not be an “official” group. Then a few more families wanted to join us. I realized that if we were going to grow we needed to become an official part of the organization and so…I signed up to direct it.

I do not have a director’s personality. I don’t enjoy hosting meetings where I have to “sell” the program to a prospective family. I was not willing to pull my evenings out of the family calendar for the sake of the program. And yet our campus grew. And grew. And grew. The first year we had 11 enrolled kids. Last year we had 54 enrolled kids and watched another campus form on the other side of town. This year we have 68 which is 4 above capacity and saw another campus spin off of ours to start their own.

The first year every single time I stood in front of the group to welcome them all to CC, which I did/do every week, I was a terrified mess. Somewhere inside of me I still am, but I don’t show it nearly as much. I still don’t think that the up-front leadership gig is my best fit and I am relieved every time the opening meeting is over and the kids are on their way to classes, but I’m amazed at the amount of growth that has taken place at our campus, both in the community itself as well as personally.

Now it’s time to hand the baton over to someone else. One of my friends who was with me at our first visit to the booth and who also DID NOT WANT TO DIRECT, is taking the reins from me next year and I’m confident that this new thing for her is the right move for our program and for her. She doesn’t know this yet, but she’s already a better director than I ever was. Great things are in store for this group.

It is a little hard to let it go, but it is less so knowing I’m leaving it in very capable and caring hands. Indeed, this new venture that we started together three years ago is heading in a great direction and will continue to do so without me.

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Just Call Me Dr. Spooky

This is part two of the story of Something Different, Something Big.

So. I was right, right? Here’s more to the story.

The email arrived on Friday, February 4. I’m trying to remember what happened that evening. I believe it involved a lot of driving kids from one place to another and then picking them up again. I remember being exhausted that night and I remember we all went to bed pretty early.

And then I remember waking up at 4:30 the next morning because one of our wretched beloved cats had recently begun a pee protest in our bedroom. I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure it was Ricky’s way of telling us, “I HATE THAT DOG ALREADY AND YOU NEED TO KNOW IT. WATCH ME AS I PEE ALL OVER YOUR FLOOR!”

Ricky wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box, though, and he always outted himself by scratching the carpet as though he would be able to cover his deed. His scratching woke me up at 4:30 and I woke up in a crazy white hot rage. I don’t think I realized exactly what time it was or that my action of yelling at him at the top of my lungs might wake up the other five members of my family. I do remember thinking, “I’m going to find that blasted cat and I’m going to kill him. I’m actually going to wring his neck and kill him.” I started chasing this cat around my house at 4:30 in the morning.

As I ran down the stairs I was startled to see Craig was already down there. I thought he was still in bed ignoring my threats to undo the only other male member of our household.

Keep in mind, I was not actually coherent at this point. I was just exhausted and livid. He looked up at me wondering what in the heck I was doing tearing down the stairs after a CAT at 4:30 in the morning. I looked at him without asking why he was up and calmly said, “I’m going to kill Ricky and then I’m going back to bed.”

I proceeded with my hunt, but Ricky had gone somewhere only bad cats can go and I couldn’t find him. I conceded my defeat and sat down on one of the living room chairs for a moment. Craig asked me if I was awake. I gave him one of my best, “What are you, nuts?” looks and said I really wasn’t and was going back to sleep. He said, “Well, I’m not really good at this, but you are never up this early in the morning, so I’m taking this as a sign I have something to tell you.”

Keeping in mind it’s still 4:30ish in the morning, I’m barely awake, save for a desperate plea to avenge justice on one very bad cat and all I can think of when I hear this coming from Craig is, “Oh no, this can’t be good. There’s no way this is good.” My gracious response was something like, “I guess you need me to clear a spot at the table then, huh?”

He gave me grace and didn’t say anything as I stumbled into the dining room and shoved the latest visible proof of life from one side of the table to the other and sat down. He sat down. He pushed the email in front of me. I began to read. I began to cry. I said, “I know I’ve been saying I thought something would change and we would find out in February, but that didn’t mean I really WANTED it to!”

Truly I’m a piece of work.

He’d already begun a pros and cons list and asked me to add to it. I did the best I could at what was quickly approaching 5 in the morning. He asked me what I thought. I said I wasn’t sure what I thought but I think we both already knew how this was going to go down.

God had been preparing me for this since November. I knew the second I read that email that this was the change I had been expecting. What I didn’t know was how emotionally wrenching the weeks to follow would become as we walked through the process of determining if this was, indeed, the direction we were to go in.

To be continued…

 

Something Different, Something Big

Last November I started having this sense that something was going to change for us. Something different. Something big. I didn’t exactly know what that something was, but something told me it was going to happen and we would find out in February.

Does that sound as weird to you as it did to Craig and the handful of people I actually confessed it to at the time? I know. It sounds crazy.

I was having dinner with a group of friends one night in mid-November and someone asked about my role with Classical Conversations for the next year. I slipped and said, “Well, if we’re still here next year…” my voice tapered off. Why in the world did I say that out loud? I had absolutely nothing to base that on other than a “feeling” and I’m not usually one to act on feelings in that way. I was shocked I said that and talked my way out of it pretty fast.

But it sort of became the family joke. Whenever we would talk about a future decision, I would throw out, “Just wait until February and then we’ll know whether to do that or not.” We had different friends over one Saturday afternoon in January and they asked us about our future. Craig joked that I was convinced our lives were going to change in February and then he looked at me grinning. I turned 1,000 shades of red and laughed it off.

I was convinced but I didn’t know why.

Craig turned 40 on February 5. He entered into a 40-day period of intense seeking and reflecting on what God would have for the next 40 years of life should God so grant that for him. This 40-day period came to an end on his birthday. The night before he received an email from a friend of ours. It was an email that would begin the change I’d been waiting for since November. It was the email that would usher in this new phase of our lives.

To be continued…

Part 2 of Something Different, Something Big