Regular in a High Octane World

high-octaine

“How was the basketball game?” I ask Jack – whose name probably needs to be aliased since he is getting old enough to be aware.

“Not good,” he answered.

“What?” I was surprised. He has so much fun running around, shooting for the hoop and hanging out with his friends. “You love basketball.”

“Yeah,” he said thoughtfully. “I just didn’t get to sit on the bench enough.”

Oh my word.

Apparently, he enjoys the experience a lot more than the competition. He’s never had much interest in intense (if you can call 3rd grade anything intense.)

This kid – he basically enjoys life. Things that distract from life-enjoyment can be frustrating to him. He likes to ponder and experience people/places/things. Slow and steady set his pace. The striving part of life is a give or take for him. Don’t get me wrong; he enjoys a challenge. But he’s a linger-er, happy to celebrate others achievements as well as his own.

His preferred basketball attire attests to this regular mentality. Most kids gravitate toward cool kicks, famous-logo’d shorts, socks and stuff. Not Jack. No, he prefers wearing a knit collared-shirt under his basketball jersey. Button-shorts are his gear of choice (he’ll wear sport shorts, usually hiked high) as are generic white tube socks from Target topped by his ittle black Converse school shoes.

He dresses himself.

It’s not like we don’t have the cool gear (I mean, he’s the third boy – and the last kid; so besides having plenty of hand-me-downs, we’d probably get him just about anything he’d like); he just doesn’t care. Maybe he does and he’s expressing his particular taste.

Or – maybe some of his regular has to do with his older brother – a 7th grader who is also content with steady. This one stays his own course – rarely compelled by what others are doing. He still has no cell phone. Whether you think a 7th grader needs a phone or not isn’t the issue – the fact is almost all do. But not this kid. [And it isn’t because he has on-top-of-things good parents being ever so careful too keep the evil social media/internet/snap-chat world at bay. Mmmm, not so much. Remember, laid-back is the operative word around here.]

He’s never asked for a phone, so we’ve never done much about it. And if/when we’ve asked if he’d like one, his reply has always been no. And truth be told, we’ve actually tried to push for one. Many aspects of our life would be easier if the kid had a phone. It’s very helpful for your teen to have a way to be reached. AND it can be a little annoying when his friends add you to their text thread since they have no way to add him. It’s true. Jon is on a 7th grade group text.

It’s just that the kid is fine with the way things are. He’s not chomping at the bit to be in the know even if it means he might be left out of some things.

So – Thank you kind coaches for putting up with us, for encouraging the little guy and pushing him onward and upward – as in up off the bench!

Thank you friends for meeting phone-less where he is. It would be easier for you to leave him out, but you creatively do your best to keep him in the loop.

In this high-octane world that might fool us into thinking that there’s only one lane heading north – the fast lane – we’re here to let you know that slow and steady is still around. And, quite frankly, it’s not that bad. It’s pretty nice.

It often teaches me a thing or two along the way – usually a reminder to take it slow myself to stay the course, to enjoy the scenery and to relish in relationship rather than be distracted by loads of high-octain opportunites.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

jack

fashion mogul – we set the standard over here :)

Something to Talk About

A Great Big World - Say Something Album artwork

A Great Big World – Say Something Album artwork

Walking by a hearse with a teenage daughter isn’t on my Top Ten list of things I’d like to do. Sitting next to a teenage daughter at the end of a row of her grieving friends, struggling with disbelief, in a sanctuary anchored by a simple casket – not on that list either. Especially when that casket holds the lifeless body of their friend.

That was yesterday [really, Tuesday].

So please bear with me as I briefly grapple. Because I’m sad. Sad for those kids. Sad for my daughter. Deeply, so deeply, grieved for the family. So very sad for her.

And I’m mad.

I’ve started and stopped this post over a dozen times. But I wanted to write because I feel like something needs to be said; but words are really hard to find.

Within the span of one-week two teenage kids in our neck of the woods (one in San Antonio, one in our neighborhood – my daughter’s friend) decided the world would be a better place without them. In San Antonio, it’s clear that bullying played a crucial role in a worn-out boy’s decision to part with life on this earth. My daughter’s friend’s decision is likely another story, though we don’t know much about the why in her case.

Her decision literally shocked everyone. Shock is an understatement. Her friend group is as encouraging and others-centered as any can be at their age. She has a very loving family, a committed community of faith, supportive teachers. What was she thinking? What lies stole her thoughts?

It appears as if, somewhere deep inside, pressures to measure-up duped this sweet girl into believing the importance of reaching an elusive mark. And it was too much. We’ll never know exactly which lie won, because we can’t ask her. And no one knew she needed to be asked. She was so busy encouraging everyone else, making those around her smile – it was easy to assume her tank was filled to overflowing.

But in a place only she knew, her tank was not full. And, she will be so very missed.

We can’t bring these kids back. But I hope that the bad-messaging which held them hostage can be countered by truth, so that those who are left behind can find some footing.

Mis-messaging hardwires itself into a kids’ thoughts. Tween/teens can easily buy into a flawed message that they’re stupid, fat, ugly, a loser – so many non-truths – even when their homes and real-friends promote messaging that is completely counter to those thoughts. The world around these kids (with its pressures, social media, anonymity-based platforms, …)  can pack plenty of punch to make a fit kid feel fat and a smart kid feel stupid. It can make almost anyone feel completely alone while sitting in a crowd.

Pressures have always existed and will absolutely continue to exist. It could be bullying. It could be the vice-grip that dupes kids (us) into believing that they (we) have to achieve/to be/to do in order to be okay. Measuring lines involving all-things Pre-AP/AP or 4.0 or 30+ACT or 2400 SAT or Varsity or Starting A-Team or the right date/right group, … fill in the blank are nothing short of ruthless. Because the minute a mark is within reach, it moves and begs for more attaining.

So – why not talk about it. I think talking is important.

  • Talk about how hard life is – we don’t have to pretend like it isn’t; we don’t need to sugarcoat it. Let’s ask questions – where do you feel pressure? Where do you see friends struggling? Are you struggling? Am I pressuring you? – It’s okay, let’s figure it out.
  • Talk about seeing the unseen – help them keep their eyes open to see beyond themselves, to see the lonely, to see the sad – to see the good when someone can’t see it themselves.
  • Encourage compassion – to consider how someone else feels when…
  • Talk about how there is more to life than a moment
  • Talk about how their/our self-worth isn’t determined by a score or a grade or a party invitation. Throw in some perspective – from our own lives (you know, how looking back it wasn’t such a big deal that most of Saturday nights were spent with Julie & her Love Boat crew) and from theirs – because perspective is always available. It tends to bring with it some needed oxygen.
  • Talk about how comparing accomplishments (test grades, scores, tryouts, …) whether in person or via texts might carry with it some major underlying, potentially harmful, messaging.
  • Talk about what’s on the other side of actions. Most kids have little to no clue as to the consequences that their actions (which easily seem trite in the moment) can have on someone. So talk about it.

“It’s interesting,” my friend B said when we were trying to make some sense of it all. “I just had a conversation on Friday with one of my kids.”

“There was some talk that had gone on within a group at school,” she shared. “None of it was intentionally rude or mean – but it certainly could have landed that way on one of the kids who has been hurt in the past. I talked with my teen about how sometimes we need to purposefully put ourselves in someone else’s shoes – to be aware of the way that remarks/invites/not-being-invited can be taken – to consider the person on the other side.”

It’s hard during adolescence to go that far. Everything in their world screams for them to see everything as it relates to them.

“It was really good,” she continued. “Once we talked about how words can so easily be misconstrued, he was actually quick to get it. And he was so open to being more aware and considerate. Just thinking about it seemed to lighten his overall load. Listen – if a teen boy can get there, we all have hope.”

I’m not naive enough to think that talking will solve this problem, but maybe its a start.

And, maybe while talking, we can get to the place where truth is spoken. The truth that we all – at the core of our being – desire to be known, to be loved and to belong.

What I’d give for these kids to have heard the Truth that they are all of those things.

Thanks for walking the (tear-stained) road with me.

-Kay

[more to the story:

I asked my oldest daughter to read this – just to be sure my own emotion didn’t make it un-readable or so many things. Her reply: “Yes – on the knowing you’re loved part especially. Sometimes I can catch myself watching a romantic movie and thinking – oh if only a cute boy can love me that way, then everything would be okay. Then I remember how loved I am by the Lord who sacrificed a lot in order to be sure I know. And I want my thoughts anchored on God rather than all the other stuff around me. He isn’t shifting ground like everything else seems to be.”

As usual – I yield the floor to wisdom from a shot-gun passenger. I really love the car and conversation it promotes :) ]

Eyes on 2016

My road – the one paved with good intentions – never ceases to be plagued by detours. And detours can be distracting. Distracting and deflating. Mostly due to focus issues that can arise while on life’s little detours. Because detours can tempt our focus to settle on all that hasn’t gotten done, rather than seeing all good comes with side-roads.

Over the last couple of weeks, several of the things I had great intentions to get done didn’t. I had great intentions to finish posting on hydrating for the holidays. I wanted to share about the joys/freedom of:

Pop-up-invites. I lived out the beauty of relative-spontaneity when I invited a group of gals with whom I regularly meet to pop by for “coffee & tiny bites” (I wanted to be sure to set the menu bar low). But I had no idea of how low it would go until I realized the morning before they were coming over (by the way, everyone invited said yes – I think the spontaneity worked for them, too) that I couldn’t show up to my own house in time to open the door for them!

But my absence and inability to get it all together didn’t matter. They’re my friends. I left a side door for them to come in – which they did. One started the coffee. Another grabbed a loaf of sweet bread, cut it and set it out on a nice plate that she found. Yet another tidied up the shoes and sundries that had been left out in our own mad-dash to school. It was such a sweet reminder that people never care what is served or how its presented, they simply love to be invited and to be together.

and dialing down stress by:

Using Cash. In this day and age, when it’s super easy to click-to-pay via credit card or even by phone – employing cash can really dial down the stress by up-ing awareness of what we have and don’t have to spend. It helps the holiday pressures and the New Year aftermath.

But, neatly completing my silly-little-series-road wasn’t traveled. We left town for Christmas in Arizona – with my entire family (10 adults, 15 grandkids) – as soon as all the kids’ breaks began, so detours won out over my great intentions.

I tried to get all my shopping done. That didn’t happen either. The coolest thing: my younger boys didn’t really notice. They might have noticed if we’d stayed in town, but the gifts they could have opened, but didn’t, took a major back-seat to what has been the apparent resounding theme of this year’s holiday – relationship/others.

I also tried to get my Christmas card done. Which I did, in part. It’s printed. But as is my M.O., the card has yet to be sent. (See Also: three of five birth announcements, Christmas cards 2013, 2012, 2009, …) My hair-brained idea of a TBT card – to which my kids eye-rolled, but bought in – has yet to meet a stamp:

Christmas Card 2015

I wanted to, but still haven’t, called my sweet friend Missy to be sure that she didn’t mind her child being a part of our card. (In fact, I owe her a few return-phone-calls!) I wanted to, but still haven’t, complied all of our addresses into one place so I can easily address the cards. I wanted to, but still haven’t put them in the mail – even though I took them to Arizona to mail from there.

I pretty much did NOTHING the entire time we were gone. At least nothing according to ticking things off a list.

I did get to do A LOT of relationship. And really, what can be better – even if/when the relationship stuff can bring with it sticky.

I may not have made it very far down my road paved with good intentions, but I put some miles on a few detours. And, I got to experience/enjoy what I hope will be a theme for 2016 – OTHERS. Not in some comparing or keeping up sort of way, but hopefully in a compassion-driven way – baby stepping down roads that are worth traveling, taking every relationship-oriented detour along the way.

Thanks for walking it with me.

-Kay

Christmas Card 2015 back2

Card-back blurb printed so tiny that even those with 20-20 vision need readers to see it (eek!) – maybe I’ll mail the cards for Valentine’s Day, or Easter, or … next year?

TBT – Throwback Thursday – setting the bar low for pics of Christmas cards past/present and easing pressures on Christmas cards future (even though 12/25 is a Friday – oops!) This memory-pic makes us laugh… and inspires.

We smile at the fun experiences (rarely extravagant) that we’ve shared together through the years. We’re reminded that we don’t walk the road alone, that friends (like Henry in lacrosse shirt) make good/bad times better. And we remember to welcome strangers into the mix – even when the stranger invites himself. (We’re still not sure why the Six Flags security guard felt compelled to join our family pic.) Here’s hoping that even with who’s-that-glances, we’ll chalk it up to business as usual.

Wishing you wonderful Christmas blessings as we celebrate THE GIFT that makes it all possible.

#hydratefortheholidays Water Station 1: Others

Well – the holiday marathon has certainly begun. And I hope that our little hydration effort has been a help.

If nothing else, thanks for humoring me.

It has helped me on many fronts – even yesterday when a whole line of cars started honking as a stoplight turned from red to green. Rather than be frustrated, I was reminded to go beyond that unnecessary-rudeness (no one in the long line could move due to the lined cars on the other side of the light) to consider the people behind the steering wheels of those honking cars. And I hoped that whatever was making their day crummy enough to indignantly blast their horns would get better. Traffic stress got dialed down.

But along with pre-race hydration, marathoners also have water stations along the way. So, welcome to #hydratefortheholidays water stations: practical, hands on ways to grab a drink and lighten our mental loads. (I’m a geek – I know. The kids remind me often :)

Water Station 1: Others

hyrdate water station - others

We’ve said before that eyes off self and on others (as in loving others) just might be the secret-sauce to life. During the holidays – actually everyday – there are ways to see and to serve others in lots of practical, hydrating ways. Here are a few:

1. Serving simply to serve – in a way where the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.

Over the last few years, in a wonderful effort to promote community service, we might have allowed serving to be about others – but about us too. It’s hard to keep it 100% about others when kids are required to track community service, when applications ask questions like: philanthropic efforts, or when social media begs for the pics of mission-serving locally and around the globe. NONE of which is bad in and of itself.

But just for kicks, sprinkle all that good (which whether we make it about ourselves or not – serving is good) with a few silent serving-simply-to-serve efforts. They’re everywhere. We have plenty around our home and daily life. I seem to say it all the time: “Just put their dish in the sink and don’t announce it!” Or when driving by someone in need: “Buy the guy a burger and don’t tell a soul – not even me. Use your own money.” In as much as serving helps someone else – it ALWAYS makes us feel good. But maybe even better when done silently. (Thoughts?)

That said, keep posting pics – because it’s not about that. Those pics actually help some of us know about new ways to serve and act as reminders/inspiration to serve. Maybe just add some silent service to the mix – simply for little extra hydration.

2. Love the ones your with – even when they might be driving mad.

In a full house, you don’t have to travel far to have someone firing up the ire – especially in those lovely teen years. The act of considering OTHERS interests ahead of your own has lots of practical opportunities at hand.

I’m convinced if we can serve those closest to us we can serve anyone – especially when fair has left the building and when stress levels are high. With exams on deck, the emotions are high. So it has been a challenge to consider OTHERS in a positive way, to give a grumpy sibling (or spouse – that would be me) the benefit of the doubt – especially when our focus fights to be anchored on ourselves.

Baby steps.

And, with all those tiny little baby steps (like giving a brother a break because he doesn’t feel good, or he’s stressed over an assignment or … fill in the blank) comes a greater sensitivity to others in our life who also might need a break.

I watched a child walk out of the door this morning armed with little sacks of home-made cookies to give her teachers. She added an extra for a friend who has alienated herself from others through doses of rude here and there (which can either be popular-cool or social suicide at their age.) It was hard for the cookie-girl to be nice to someone who’s been harsh. But the kid fought to find compassion. She’s had a lot of practice (not all of it pretty – some of the compassion has been given to her) at home.

And, regardless the outcome, a lightness in being accompanied those cookie sacks. She literally had a bounce in her step.

The power of OTHERS-centeredness was a work.

3. Consideration of OTHERS can help our own shaky ground become firm.

Sometimes I wake up in the wee hours of the morning. My heart feels heavy. And I wonder if all is well – mostly with my kids. Thoughts tend to gravitate toward the roads we’re traveling that feel unstable. I want to fix things that I can’t fix. Because as kids get older, as relationships get complicated, when situations are out of our control – it’s can be hard to find firm footing.

This morning it happened at 2:36 a.m.

But rather than let the thoughts race, I’ve learned to pray and to remember God’s character and His promises. Wrangling thoughts off myself always helps.

I begin to tick through my list of friends who are traveling particularly tough roads. And I can’t help but wonder if the Lord nudged me to wake up so I could pray.

Lord God, please go before sweet Samantha. Wrap her in the warmth of your love. Please heal her. Stop the growth of the tumors and make them disappear – which I know is a bold ask, but you say to ask. Thank you for that. Please keep the pain at bay. And please protect the hearts of her parents, John & Lauren. And her sister Katie. Guide their eyes so that they see beyond the suffering. Thank you for the laughter that has filled their house in the midst of such incomprehensible yuck.

Then I pray for more friends: Jen, Scott & Linc; Greg, Tracey & Jackson; Jeannie & Doug; Connie & John, Heather …. The list continues as I ask the Lord to remind me who needs prayer. I remember to pray for my family. I pray for my kids, for Jon, for my folks, for …. and so it goes. Unaware, thoughts anchored above, I drift back to sleep with a much lighter heart.

Trust me, I’m not some holy-roller. I’m just grabbing for the life-line like everyone else. But I have noticed over the last few years, that force-landing my thoughts on others through compassion (even/maybe especially in prayer) hydrates and helps me continue down our own road.

There’s something about getting our eyes off of ourselves and onto thoughtful/loving consideration of others that literally pumps oxygen into life – even at 2:36 a.m. CST.

See Also: THIS –

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay