Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sunshine and Storm Clouds

I don't know about you, but for me yesterday was rough. In the path of that monster storm I didn't just see flattened homes, buildings, and (sob) schools. I saw coffins. A disproportionate number of them were small coffins. Those images, mental or actual, are too heavy for this old heart to carry around.

Plaza Ridge Elementary

This morning the results are just as bad. Worse, really. There are numbers to go with the images. Numbers that will go up as the hours grind on. And yet this morning my heavy heart has a bit of buoyancy. The anchor of tragedy has a counter-curse.


Yesterday the stories of kindness were happening. Immediate and constant kindness was poured out in a million ways. Today the stories begin to be told. I know we haven't even scratched the surface of what Okies did yesterday. That's just who they are.

Teachers laying down their very lives for their students. Administrators that prepared for this unthinkable so there was a safe place to go and their kids knew when and how to get there. How many did they save? Can we even begin to count them?

First responders from all over blanketing Moore, OK with their skills. Their unselfish presence - not just this time, but every time - pulled out the ones that could still be saved. The things they have seen are beyond horrific. They worked all night. And they Keep. Coming. Back.

The people of Joplin, MO in empathy and gratitude said very clearly, "Hold on. We are coming."

That speaks to me and pushes me to more kindness of my own. There is good happening.
Where tragedy is blackest kindness fights harder, does more, and stays longer.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Connecting Strings

There are thousands of them. All the little strings that connect us together, as a family, as friends, as individuals. Small gestures. Inside jokes. "Remember when...?"

The shared smile of remembered speed when Cole and I speak of roller coasters. The way I mess with Gerald as he's getting ready for bed. Asking my dad about the weather and my mom about her projects. Referring to my boss as "Mr. Rogers" - as in the cardigan wearing icon of our youth. Having Austin sit on my lap for stories, even though he's definitely too tall to see around anymore. Those things are glue.

Most of the time I don't even notice them. As natural as breathing, they just ARE. Sometimes I notice them in the past tense. Things I used to have, but are no more. The misspelled love notes in church. Gathering slobbery kisses from around the table before I left for work. They bound us together for a time.

Then they were gone. And that's okay! They were replaced by other gestures and shared experienced. Newer. Different. Better.

Today I saw one and I recognized it for what it was. So neat. So simple. It happened twice and I could almost touch the connection. Made my soul smile. We were running late and I drove Tyler to the bus stop. I wished him a good day as he left the car. He took a few steps, turned back, and waved. It made me grin as I waved back. I didn't think about it again until tonight when I dropped him off at youth group. He did it again and that time I really saw it. Eyes swimming, throat thick, I heard this beautiful child saying all those things that a pre-teen will not voice.

That little thing, that he probably didn't think about, was so very strong.

I need a picture of him waving to seal this in my memory. I'll stage one later. :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Hi, my name is Kendra and I'm a planner.

Seriously, sometimes the the planning for an event - the looking forward to it - is almost better than the event itself. So much so that I feel a little cheated when I just get to "show up" for the party. I know, I'm a freak.

We've had much to look forward to for this week. Tyler's first week a boy scout camp for one. Gerald dropped him off today ~sob~. Good thing it was him and not me. I would have DEFINITELY embarrassed him. Tyler was so looking forward to it, but also nervous about a few things. Like the night they spend away from camp - would he remember everything he needed? Dad to the rescue with a sticky note of the key things. Gerald and he had the camping gear all spread out Friday and yesterday in preparation for departure this morning. In the end, Gerald found it hard to leave him there too. He wanted to pitch a tent next to Tyler and stay. I wanted to bring him back home.

Me and the little boys are off to Michigan in the morning. A family reunion of sorts back to the amusement park of our youth now that (most) of our kids are big enough to ride too. Complete with matching t-shirts - we are so cheesy! I'm really looking forward to sharing it with Cole (my best ride rider), but it feels incomplete without the rest of my guys. So divided. Happy and sad all mixed up together.

Gerald, I believe, is looking forward to a few days without anyone telling him they are hungry for a snack or whining about their brothers. Then he's volunteering at scout camp for a couple days (whew, Daddy won't be too long in coming).

I know T is already having fun. Staying up too late, being a boy. I know we're going to have fun with extended family. I know Gerald will enjoy his alone time and his time at camp.

And yet, I feel. Incomplete. My family is apart for the first time/longest time since


Really. I'm fine, just pretend like half my heart isn't away from me this week!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Made Perfect

My thoughts are so unruly today. Skittering, like roaches when the light comes on. Fractured like sunshine on the water. Stinging like hornets.

Cole has struggled controlling anger at school and at home all year. The littlest issues ramp up fast and furious. After two years of adoring school he now hates it. Yesterday was the worst explosion yet. They have gradually escalated up to this point.

We have tried everything we know to try. We are calling in the professional cavalry. He needs tools to get this in hand and we are, obviously, not able to give him those tools. He won't get to speak with the school counselor until tomorrow and we'll find someone for the summer very soon. Worry is scratching away at my concentration. What will today hold for him? Helplessness is picking at me incessantly.

I love him more than life. This hurts a mother's heart so bad. How do I make sure he hears the message that this situation is not okay, but he is okay? That God made him exactly as he is ON PURPOSE and that good will come out of this struggle?

We have church friends who are expecting a baby with abnormalities. We met to pray over them and the baby. After that meeting God put the word PERFECT on my heart real strong. I looked it up in my exhaustive concordance that night because other than the word itself I didn't see the point of this prompting. I didn't know what scripture said about perfect/perfection. I read the entries, but still didn't hear a relevant message in them. Then I looked at the concordance closer. Two words jumped out at me. Repeated over and over.


Then the message was clear to me.

God made each of us just right.

Exactly as intended.

NO mistakes.

Complete with thorns for each of our bodies, things to struggle against and struggle for.

We are made perfect.

I have cried so many tears since 3:30 yesterday when we got the call. My eyes ache.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lost it

Yeah. What Cole looks like. That was me yesterday. The other two look like they are holding back grins. I certainly didn't give off that vibe while I was YELLING and acting like an idiot toward these three beauties.

Each day over Spring Break this week I have given them a task to complete together. On Monday they did it. On Tuesday they didn't get very far because it was very windy and part of the task was outside. I gave them a pass and said they could finish on Wednesday. Yesterday they did not finish the task from Tuesday and they didn't even remember Wednesday's assignment,. And they left stuff all over the floor of the family room again.On the way home after baseball practice and dinner I told them that I expected them to finish the tasks I had given them before they went to bed.

We got home. Then the complaints started.

And I lost it.

Even as I was in the middle of completely overreacting I knew it was going to cost me. It's not like this is my first rodeo. It goes like this: 1) Children do something that disappoints 2)I express my disapproval with conviction 3) Children feel guilt. Often they weep. 4) I feel like a turd and deal with reciprocal guilt for days.

So today's task? To forgive Mom. I'm sure this one they have already completed. Their hearts are so open and pure toward me. I am so undeserving.

Why is it hardest to extend (and receive) forgiveness to yourself?

Monday, March 7, 2011

So what do I do NOW?

For three years I have been a part of the Children's Worship program at Littleton. At some nebulous point I went from team member to team leader. It became "mine" simply because I was willing. My boys needed a place to belong and be excited about coming to church. So I stepped up. It evolved over time, changing with each new "Children's" Minister we had. It didn't suit all children and it didn't suit all parents, but it was the very best we could make it. It served a small/short congregation of 60 each week. We had a strong, dedicated team. It used all my skills. By the end I thought it was excellent.

Three years, to the day.

It's not mine anymore. We hired a Children's Minister and quite suddenly I am relieved of all my duties. As is appropriate, she is building her program as she wants it. I believe she will do a good job, even though it is different than what I would do.

So what am I supposed to do now? When the thing you were doing, the thing you felt called to do is no longer needed, what do you do next? How do you re-find purpose? I am a do-er by nature and abruptly I find myself with nothing to do. Lord, I am listening. What am I to do next?

Those kids that always acted up and gave me trouble?

I miss them. A lot.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Long Time Coming

When my baby brother (six years younger than me) was in college, he went on a spring break mission trip to Honduras. He never talked about it to me in detail, but it changed him. Both he and his girlfriend came back with a heart for children in impoverished nations. God gave them a signpost.

They were just kids themselves, not out of college, but they already had a clear view where their lives were going. They were following God's signpost. Toward international adoption.

Fast forward about decade. They have two great sons already. Their life is busy. But their life is not yet complete. They are missing a daughter they have never met. In fact, she hasn't even been born yet. Her birth mom isn't even pregnant. They thought she was coming from Haiti, but an adoption policy change made them ineligible after the mountain of paperwork was done. Over a full year from the time they started. After all the t's had been crossed and the i's dotted Haiti said "NO". What a harsh word.

But baby brother and sister-in-law were not to be deterred, just re-directed. Ethiopia it is. And Ethiopia will give them a happy ending. It's been a year and a half since Haiti said "no", but now they are so very, very close. She is a little small, but so happy. She better get used to smiling and waving at the camera. Aunt Kendra has a camera, and she knows how to use it! :)

Right now they are on the plane for the first of two trips. This trip makes it official, next trip she can come home. Even as I write and pray, they are in motion. If you ask them about their motivation to adopt their reasoning will be something along the lines of, "How could we NOT?"

They are changing the world.

With her one little life.

Because they have been blessed beyond measure and they know it.

If you think you haven't been blessed beyond measure, think again. When you see the signpost God sets before you, follow it. When you are called, answer. When you are questioned by those who do not understand, answer as my brother would:

"How could we NOT?"