Here.

Hey.

I’m Here.

Again.

It’s been a long while.

But I’m back. I’m here.

You may (or may not) have been wondering where I’ve been. Did I abandon my blog I began so many years ago? (2011!) Did I forget how to write? Do I have nothing more to say? HA! On the contrary… For starters, the last 2 months I have primarily been a bus driver. I take our 3 children to their 3 different schools every. single. day. Monday – Friday. My mornings and afternoons are consumed by the school drop off and pick up routine. As well as the after school activities routine of pick up and drop off to soccer, cross country and dance practices. I’m not complaining. Simply stating the facts of my life.

Here.

As I eventually make my way thru the labyrinth of streets in our community, to my daughters high school, I most often send her a text to let her know when I am waiting in the pick up line, saying ‘Here.’ Which could realistically translate into various texts: ‘I’m waiting for you. I’m in the pick up line. Come outside now. Are you ready to go home? I’m here to pick you up and take you home. This line is long and annoying. Come outside so we can leave. Please get me out of this line…’ But for our oldest, most of the time a simple message of ‘Here’ is well received and she makes her way rather quickly to the car and we make our way home. Stat.

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Here.

This is my life in this season. Here. Kids, I’m here for you. Husband, I’m here for you. Friends, I’m here for you. Church, I’m here for you. I love that I am able to be Here. I am so grateful to be Here. Here is where I want to be. Present. Available. Accessible. Here.

The best part of being Here is modeling my life after my relationship with God. He is here. He is always here. With me. With you. Present. Available. Accessible to all of us. Here.

Things can change in an instant. Losses emerge. Comfort uprooted. Unforseen circumstances. Uncontrollable changes.

But I can still remain here. And God is and always will be Here. Regardless. No take-backs. Always faithful. He will always, always send the text saying Here. Never late. Never leaving us without. Never forgetting us. He is Here. Every. Single. Time.

So. I’m here. And there is waaaaay more I need to share. I hope you will stick with me and jump back into the journey>>> Whether you are new here, or have been here before, jump on. Alongside us, via this vehicle of a blog on the internet. I can guarantee one thing, it will be never be boring.

Give me a shout if you’re Here! Big hug, Big kiss, Little hug, Little kiss ūüôā XO xo

In Him, Leslie

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Gorilla Parenting… (and our obsession with social media debates)

Last week, like so many others, I learned from social media most people are parenting experts… gorilla experts… or experts at parenting gorillas.

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My 6th grader learned about Harambe and the 3 year old boy who fell into his enclosure, during one of her classes. Her brilliant teacher used the situation as a teaching moment, to set off discussion and debate. They watched a video, dialogued and shared opinions, and analyzed different angles of the situation, as all thoughtful 6th graders do.

That afternoon, she came home and we began to discuss. I had also watched a brief video of Harambe with the toddler. Our discussion continued and I reminded my kids…¬†one version, one person, one angle never tells the whole story. Her main question was the thoughtful and reasonable question many have had – could Harambe have been tranquilized instead of killed? Was there a better way the situation could have been handled?

So. I gave my kids a few thoughtful ideas. A few of my briefly-perfect-parent / turned briefly-gorilla-expert opinions…

As a genuine disclaimer, I haven’t spent any time with gorillas at zoos, or in the wild recently… I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I do imagine, as many believe – gorillas display behavior, much like humans…¬†we can not be sure what they will do when they are agitated or people are yelling around them? OR if they are shot by a tranquilizer… there is no guarantee they might not react uncontrollably and possibly freak out!?

The tranquilizer could have agitated Harambe – and when I am agitated I usually lose my mind. I don’t have a lot of patience when people are yelling around me, and I don’t think I’d handle stress any better if I had a been shot with a tranquilizer.

I have parented 3 monkeys for 12 years…¬†When my kids are fighting they can lose their ability to act¬†rationally¬†within seconds. One minute they’ll be playing as best friends and the next minute, they lose their minds and start hitting one other.

It has been nearly 2 weeks since the death of Harambe and in my mind, one¬†question is still ringing — Why did¬†this story cause such national outrage and reaction? As with many questions, there are deeper questions to be answered…

Does your Cincinnati Zoo membership still have value¬†…? ¬†

And then there are the “What if?” questions… these cause the cycle of debate to go around and around…

What if… The parents were hoping their kid fell into the gorilla enclosure for attention. That’s sick, but okay. The parents need to talk to Jesus about that and find attention in healthier ways…

What if… The boy died or been seriously injured at the hands of Harambe? The zoo likely would have put Harambe to sleep.

What if… The zoo shot¬†Harambe out to simply¬†avoid being sued by the little boys parents?

What if…¬†The zoo has had it out for Harambe and they were just waiting for their opportunity to take him out. Yep. That’s probably it.

What if… The zoo WANTED to kill one of their animals, which attracts VISITORS to their ZOO in order to see and make MONEY. Yes. This makes sense to me.

What if… Many are upset because¬†they¬†loathe zoos to begin with?¬†They are not my favoirite spot to drag my kids to either, but my kids love animals. So as a loving parent, I buy the obligatory-yearly zoo membership.

Or. What if… the outcome would have been¬†a Daniel in the Lions den turned ‘Toddler in the Gorilla enclosure’ miracle. That would have been amazing!

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But these “What Ifs” don’t change anything. They keep us¬†in the cycle of social media debate – myself included!

While it is a wonderful and marvelous world where we can share opinions and feelings on everything from gorillas, to parenting, to boycotting zoos and boycotting parents… accidents happen everyday. Decisions we make everyday as perfect parents and perfect gorilla experts affect those around us. We have to live with these decisions.

The ideal outcome would have been all lives saved. This goes back to the VALUE of LIFE ~ Human vs Animal life… The debate is now which LIFE has more value?¬†#silverbacklivesmatter #toddlerlivesmatter…¬† the¬†debate is now over these two and which life matters more. All life is valuable. Although it is sad Harambe was killed in this situation, a national debate was not needed. There are many other lives needing our protection and our attention, and many other unjust situations occurring right now across our nation, we could be spending time fighting for.

So while some are crying “Justice for Harambe!” or “Justice for better parenting!”, we are distracted by the debate. Let me know when your child falls into a gorilla pit because you weren’t watching or they were being curious. Let me know how that goes while you “wait and see” what might happen. Hopefully ALL lives are spared. Until then – peace out. Let’s let Jack Hannah -and the other zoo experts can handle the “little kids falling into Gorilla enclosure situations”.

Yes. RIP Harambe. Also. RIP our opinions… our inability to control… RIP our social media cycles of debate and distraction. There is a real world¬†in¬†need of our undivided¬†attention.¬†

 

 

The Ghost of Christmas Past

It happened. AGAIN. The Ghost of Christmas Past came back to haunt me. AGAIN. Stress… turned into¬†Sickness… turned into Frustration… turned into Anger… turned into Despair. They were all present, wrapped up¬†in the middle of my living room on Christmas day…¬†Uninvited, by the way. But they were settled in my heart, locked in to my thoughts and exposed in my actions. Sure. I told myself — (hashtag) ###ChooseJOY. Yea, right. It doesn’t work like that. I’d had the wind knocked out of me and #Joy was nowhere to be found… or chosen. I was so pissed. Another holiday ruined. The Ghost of Christmas past haunting me again. I could not #wish for my holidays to be merry and bright, more than I could hope for santas’ fat ass to come down our chimney.¬†I try and ###ChooseJOY¬†every year. And every year seems like something f*cks it all up. Sorry. Not sorry. These were my real. raw. transparent. truthful feelings. #Exposed.

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Thankfully, Christmas morning was lovely. Coffee and waffles, warmth and cuddles. Although¬†I blew¬†my nose most of the way thru the kids opening their gifts, it was wonderful. I took a few pictures, capturing moments of¬†#happiness.¬†We skyped with family far away, blowing kisses at the screen and sharing digital hugs. As we cleaned up from ‘Christmas’, and the mountains of kleenex I had made, the walls began to close in again and I had a feeling the Ghost of Christmas past might make a visit. #Seriously, can I make it thru one Christmas without some kind of a meltdown?! Yet¬†that is exactly what I needed. An honest with God, good old fashion meltdown. The Ghost of Christmas past drove me to my knees and to prayer. I was at my own end and in the most vulnerable place I could be. #blessed.¬†That last hashtag was #sarcasm.¬†sorry, couldn’t help myself.¬†#Truth.

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#Seriously. Enough with the hashtags. On with the story. After dinner, I unraveled. I went into my room… and bawled like a baby. I wept thru my emotions and laid my feelings¬†out before Him. God spoke gently to my soul. There was no guilt or shame for my ridiculous actions. No ‘I-told-you-so’, ‘get over yo-sorry-self’ or judgement of my reasons for unravelling. He is a good good Father, full of kindness, mercy and patience for His daughter.

He whispered one word. Grace. 

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In a moment with tears spilled out, with honesty of heart, with one word, He spoke Grace over me. Grace over my feelings, Grace over my thoughts, Grace over my actions. Grace over my family. Grace over our Christmas.

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The Ghost was gone because Grace took its place. Our Christmas was redeemed. We enjoyed the rest of the evening and a renewing hike the next day. We can honestly say we had a MERRY CHRISTMAS. Gifts are being enjoyed, memories are being treasured, and the kids are loving fighting over their new bean bag chairs.

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Before the brawl broke out…

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Selah enjoying popping bubbles, mostly

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thanks for reading friends ūüôā I know I’m not the only one who has been visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. So fess up and feel free to share your stories. If you need Grace, there is an overflow awaiting you… God is always giving His gifts, even after the holidays ūüôā The end, for now… I’d love to hear from you!

In Him, Leslie

Feel free to comment, share and follow our blog!

Homeschooling 101

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School field trip to Astoria, OR! I’m such an awesome Homeschool Mom!

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School on the deck… with the chickens…

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Salem LOVES science! Project caterpillar —> butterfly

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Playing UNO ~ and learning math with her dolls ūüôā

For the past year, I have been a Homeschool Mom –or HM, when I don’t feel like typing out the entire word– to our 3 amazing kids. This may sound cliche, but it has truly been a journey. We have homeschooled thru their 5th grade, 2nd grade and preK years… I think… At least I think they’ve graduated to 6th, 3rd and Kinder. I think they’ve learned all they need to know as 5th grade, 2nd grade and preschoolers. I think they’ll remember all I taught them. I think they’ll do well in school this year. I think they’ll graduate high school… eventually, right?

Reflecting on a year of a homeschool, it has been the best year and the most difficult¬†year for our family. Our homeschool experience this year was shaped by the challenging and beautiful, mountain and valley, and joy-filled and tear-filled moments, simultaneously. If there is one piece of homeschooling wisdom I can share with you from my experience a HM this¬†year, which absolutely encapsulates my feelings beautifully… it is this…..

My favorite part of homeschooling is the home part. My least favorite part is the school part.

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Kids teaching each other and their animals ūüôā

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Our table – always full of school books and food.

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Reading time ūüôā

A year ago we moved from Ohio to Oregon. Before we moved, we made the decision to homeschool,¬†mostly¬†based on the fact that we’re crazy. Also, the timing of our move, our unknown housing situation and limited school options contributed to our decision. But I was willing and ready for this school adventure. Friends in Ohio encouraged us in our first homeschool endeavor. They gave me books, websites, helpful suggestions. Still. I had so much anxiety and apprehension.

Once we landed in Oregon, new friends cheered me on – telling me lies, “You’ll¬†be¬†a great¬†HM! You CAN do this! Give yourself grace, you just moved ACROSS THE FLIPPIN’ COUNTRY!” I felt better when they would give me these pep talks. For a few minutes at least.

It was super stressful moving and homeschooling. I gained 20 lbs — 5 lbs before we moved, stressing over selling our house in Ohio, 5 lbs living with our parents¬†and moving again into our rental, aaaand 10 lbs homeschooling.¬†

IT’S BEEN GREAT!!!¬†

Still. I remained encouraged knowing I had great friends near me, and across the country in Ohio, and across the world in India who were also homeschooling….. aaaaand I had a little moto I would tell myself to laugh thru day sometimes….. “Homeschooling, Unschooling, We¬†don’t know what the heck we’re¬†doing.”

As challenging as homeschooling was for ME¬†– the HM, the kids did a fantastic job!! They did their best with the tools they had, and amidst the transition they were walking thru with the stress of moving to a new state, new friends, new church… leaving behind their old house, old friends, old church. And I could not be more proud of them. So, this year we may not have learned everything we needed to know, but there is one thing I know for certain…..

The kids are going —> B A C K TO S C H O O L !!! <— 09.08.15

Have you homeschooled? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear from you! Please share and follow our journey! In Him, Leslie ūüôā

One more thing… {How we barely avoided a serious car accident}

Warning: This post is emotionally charged. Read at your own risk.

This evening we¬†witnessed the worst¬†car wreck I have ever seen in my 38 years of life. The kids and I were on way home down “TV Highway” – a road we travel multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. As we were heading home, I noticed a truck with a trailer a few cars ahead of us. It was swerving¬†in and out of our lane for a minute, and then swerved left, into the turn lane. The kids and I watched as the truck stayed in the turn lane for a minute. I could not shake the feeling this truck was going to be a huge hazard on the road, and thought to myself, “This truck is crazy. Maybe the driver is having an emergency and he really needs to¬†turn (brilliant idea for swerving¬†into a turn lane, right?) Maybe he’s just a dumb ass. Maybe he wasn’t paying attention for a second and forgot *he needed to get into the turn lane…” (btw-not sure *he was he, but assuming he was, and calling him a *he for this stories sake) These are the thoughts running thru my mind for a few seconds, only to realize NO. *He’s just crazy.

He begins to swerve right, out of the turn lane and back into our lane, cutting off the 2 cars ahead of us, which were the only 2 cars between us. I’m slowing down more, thinking – I need to call 911 and report this driver – But I can’t call while I’m driving – it’s illegal!! Within 30 seconds – I’m telling the kids – “This is why we always pay attention when we’re driving. This is why we don’t drink and drive. He must be on drugs or something… Something is really wrong with this guy… What a dumb ass. He is such a crazy driver.” Within the next 30 seconds – as I’m giving my wonderful driving advice to our 11, 8 and 5 year olds – He swerves into the right¬†lane, driving full speed (about 40-45mph),¬†crashing into several cars stopped at the red light at 185th, a major intersection along TV Highway, on his way to crashing into the Chevron gas station, finally halting¬†his path of destruction. The sights and sounds of the crash were surreal.¬†Our eyes glued to the catastrophe merely 2 cars ahead of us… we were in shock.

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I am crying out “Jesus Jesus, *Let no one be hurt!” The kids were crying as they witnessed the whole thing right before their young eyes. I’m calling on the name of Jesus and speaking in tongues praying over the whole scene. I pull over and wait. I felt like I should wait for a minute. Thoughts swirling – I’m praying – I get out of my car and ask the 2 cars ahead of us (barely missed by the rampant truck driver) “Do you know if everyone is okay?” They thought so by what they could see. People are swarming around the scene. A few moments later, the first cop arrives. I wait for a few more minutes, wondering should I stay and try to pray for the people? How can I do that? Can I leave my kids in the car and jump onto the scene of the accident? Should I hang around to give a witness statement? …..A few more moments pass, and as multiple police and fire units respond, I decide it’s probably best to move out of the way.

We drive home the back way. I talk thru what just happened with the kids – “This is why we have to pay attention all around us. We might be a great driver, but we have to watch out for other crazy drivers. We don’t know when another crazy driver might be right behind us.”

Suddenly the reality of the situation sinks in. The depth of what ‘could have happened’ is revealed in my spirit. We had just been at the store. If we had we left ONE minute earlier… We don’t know where we would’ve been on TV Highway in relation to the crazy truck driver. The kids were over-done by the time we left the store, so we were rushing out. But… If we had not stopped for that one more thing – we were about to check out… and “WAIT! I forgot something!” Chocolate – Momma’s got to have her chocolate!

We never know when the one more thing could be the thing that keeps us from being involved in a serious accident. The Holy Spirit guides us in all wisdom and leads us¬†in the paths of¬†chocolate… But seriously. He leads us. We need Him, wherever we are on the road, and wherever we are on this journey we call LIFE!!! We need to be attentive. Wherever we are on the road, whether we are in the direct path of a crazy driver or not. I’m not a perfect driver, but I try to drive with awareness of all that is going on around me. On the way home, I’m reminding the kids what a great driver I am and I’m sure they were taking notes… “Mommy’s never been in a wreck that was her fault. I’ve only been in three car accidents and none were my fault. And once I hydroplaned across a 4 lane highway miraculously avoiding hitting any other cars. One wreck happened when another car ran thru a 4-way stop sign and sideswiped us, another time I was rear ended while stopped at a red light, and another time I¬†was sideswiped while driving thru a neighborhood, by a truck who was being chased by the police!” Thankfully, I was not injured in any of the¬†car accidents or hydroplane incident. So Thankful.

The reality settled deeper into my spirit. Pay attention to everything. I don’t know why all this happened, but I do know God is in control. And He says – Pay attention to the ‘one more thing’. But what about the things we can not see? The Lord spoke to my heart and reminded me,¬†He is our rear guard, our protection from what we can not see and when we can not see. The cars who were in the path of the crazy driver most likely¬†did not see him coming, unless they were looking into their rear view mirror right at that moment. They did not have a chance to respond, and even if they had, there was nowhere to go. They were locked in. There was no escape route¬†for those cars. I don’t know why all this shit happened?!? But I DO trust God and I know He is¬†in control.¬†Things could have been much worse, from what we saw unfold before our eyes.

In spite of terrible car accidents, in spite of crazy drivers and whatever or whoever may try to pummel you from behind. In spite of everything evil in this world, He will make right the wrongs in this world. He holds all things together. In times grief He will be our comfort. He will bring forth mercy. There will be justice.

I am¬†grateful. I am grateful for life. For my family. For stopping for the ‘One more thing’… which happened to be chocolate. Hug your kids a little tighter tonight. Hug your spouse a little longer tonight, or yourself if you’re single. Hug somebody, appropriately of course!!!

And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE — DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE OR DO DRUGS AND DRIVE OR TEXT AND DRIVE — in fact, don’t do any of those things even while not driving, except the texting, in moderation of course. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!

I don’t know if the crazy driver was on drugs, drunk or driving while asleep at the wheel. What I do know is he was not supposed to be behind the wheel. He should not have been operating a vehicle… with a trailer for pete’s sake… and I pray he will be prevented from¬†operating a vehicle ever again!

Thankful for the ‘one more thing’ tonight and grieving for the families involved in this car accident we witnessed.¬†*As I was writing this post, I read the update (posted in the link above) to find out there was one death and several injuries at the hand of this accident. My heart is breaking and my prayers go out to the families involved. I’m also praying for the crazy driver.

Join the HWR blog journey -click the “Follow” button- and feel free to share your thoughts and stories. I’d love to hear from you!

In Him, Leslie