In Pain (and tears) You Will Give Birth

Waiting for my dad at the Austin airport

I’ve cried myself to sleep more than a handful of times in my 47 years of life, but I’d never cried myself awake until last week. It made me think of Eve. In the third chapter of Genesis, Eve receives the news of how the unleashing of sin into the world will affect her, as a woman, specifically: pain in childbirth.

But the pain doesn’t end in childbirth, of course. Any mom will tell you that. Nearly every single day of raising a child involves pain of some sort, and it was the pain of impending and indefinite separation that woke me up with sobs that Thursday morning.

We had landed in Texas just two days prior, and spent the day before in Waco packing up all of Kory’s belongings and moving him out of the house in which he spent the last two years of college. It was the beginning of an ending.

 

Boys’ apartments…😉  Robert had bathroom duty.

 

 

After it was all packed and loaded into the UHaul we decided to try and visit Magnolia Market one last time. It would be my first time to actually get into the bakery and store, since the last time I tried was on the Monday of Spring Break in Texas, and I’m pretty sure THE WHOLE STATE OF TEXAS (and possibly Oklahoma) was there waiting in a 2+ hour long line. This, however, was the Wednesday afternoon before graduation weekend in Waco, and the crowd was much smaller. We shopped in the market and even got some delicious gluten free cookies at the bakery.

We took our Magnolia cookies to Common Grounds, because cookies need coffee, of course, and this is the place students get coffee, and study, and go on dates, and attend concerts. We’ve never visited Waco without making a stop at Common Grounds. (The owners live in a Fixer Upper, so we didn’t think they’d mind the imported cookies.) I got a Common Grounds t-shirt for Mother’s Day.

The caffeine and sugar fueled us to make the three-car/truck-caravan-trek to San Marcos that evening. The next morning (the morning of sobs), Robert and I went for a run, unloaded the truck into a storage unit, and picked up breakfast tacos and Starbucks all before 9am. An early start was made possible by my 5am tears and also felt necessary, because we would host a graduation party for Kory later that afternoon, and all of the grocery shopping and cooking still needed to happen. Those things ended up being a good distraction.

Robert got up around 6:30 after I’d had time to sit in my dad’s recliner with my Bible and my tearful prayers, and asked me if I was okay. I had actually been pretty weepy for about two weeks leading up to all of this, though he didn’t know that. I didn’t know exactly how to explain. I don’t know…just the anticipation of a more permanent goodbye, the prospect of no more long winter breaks, spring breaks, or summer breaks, the end of those precious, few, and truly wonderful college years, and the beginning of an independent “real” life in another state.

My mind was being flooded with images of the past, too. I thought of the yellow “hundred number chart” I laminated and the inflatable globe I purchased in the weeks leading up to our first year of homeschooling, the Saxon math books, all of the trips to the library, the museum, swimming lessons, Legos, BB guns, pocket knives, paper routes, and countless baseball games and picnic dinners at the ball park.

I’ve never played virtual Tetris, only real life Tetris.

How does a mother let go – even of a son who makes her very proud and is moving on to good and important things? I don’t really know. The ache is still there. It makes me think of other moms who have lost children to angry rebellion or worse, death. I can’t even fathom the pain of the mom of the freshman boy at the University of Texas (my alma mater) who was randomly stabbed and killed a couple of weeks ago on campus just a moment after hanging up from a phone conversation with her – updating her on the pick-up basketball game he had just played at the gym and his upcoming final exams. I had those same conversations with my college kid on a weekly basis, too. I can’t imagine receiving the next phone call she got from a girl standing nearby whom the boy asked to call his mom back and say goodbye knowing he would not make it. I’m praying for her.

My goodness. On to happier moments…

The party was so much fun. Not only did Robert’s parents make a cornhole game for us to play, they also made a life-sized Jenga game. Everyone took their turn.

It meant so much to us that Melinda (my youngest sis) and Brent came from Denver.

 

And Lois, too! She’s seen us through every year of Kory’s life and done more than her fair share of kidsitting.
So thankful she made this her first stop on her summer sabbatical.

 

Kory’s girlfriend, Rebecca, drove from Waco to celebrate with us.

 

The over 40 crowd sat on the deck.

 

A Fossil messenger bag was our gift to the world’s newest businessman.

 

The whole gang – thanks to Lois’ self-timer.

 

A Dad and his daughters. Grandad was at every Baylor move in and out, even when
we gave him the option of staying home and catching up with us later.

Friday morning, we were back on the road to Waco. (That’s right, two round trips in three days.) Kory had one last physical therapy appointment in town, and wanted us to see where he’d been going and meet the staff. It was fun to meet Brandi, whom I called twice a week every week to pay for his appointments and also his physical therapist. It was a picnic lunch at the lake (party leftovers!) after that and then we checked into our hotel.

Saturday was graduation. Kory’s ceremony was at 2:30, so Robert and I took advantage of the morning by going for one last run around campus and getting one last Common Grounds coffee. Actually, he got iced tea and I got the Hotel California. (Seltzer, coconut milk, and lime)

It’s a beautiful campus, and I wish I had a few more pics to prove it!

 

This part of our running route dead ends at Common Grounds.
Baylor IS known for having the largest Starbucks on
a college campus – in its library.

 

We beat the graduation crowd only by about 2 minutes!
We had a very late breakfast at Cafe Cappuccino and indulged in their gigantic gluten free pancakes, and then it was time to go to the ceremony.
With chocolate chips, of course.

We, and many others, were there an hour early, but passed the time watching the graduates give shout-outs to their families on the big screen. Such a great idea! We managed to catch Kory giving his on our cameras and phones.

 

Baylor’s interim president gave a very meaningful and exhortative speech. He addressed the sexual assault accusations and incidents head on, adding that the exploitation of anyone is never to be a part of the Christian’s life. He reminded the graduates that Christians are to be neither complacent in the midst of injustice, nor live in selfish comfort and luxury when there is great need all around. He called them to give and to sacrifice. He asked them to consider the truth that they are accountable to God in this life and in the life to come, and he urged them to use all of their days following graduation to honor Him. Perfect.

Hugs from sis.

 

Melinda and Brent – the newlyweds!

 

No, I didn’t set out to find a green dress, but this one found me at Loft one day recently, so…
Checking out that diploma on the way to dinner.
It was about an hour long wait at Chuy’s – almost everyone’s favorite Mexican food place – but well worth it considering that every restaurant in town had crowds gathered outside. We sipped on iced tea and ate way too many chips with salsa while we waited.

Sunday morning was Mother’s Day, because why not compound the emotion of graduation with the day set aside to honor moms? Ugh. Who came up with this idea? I’d like to make a motion that we move Mother’s Day to July, or maybe just get rid of it altogether. I fought the tears from the first worship song of the morning at Kory’s church, and then completely lost the battle in the parking lot after Robert prayed for Kory and we hugged him goodbye. I’ve learned on a few different occasions that the Greek word for “weep” is “klaio” and connotes “uncontainable, audible grief.” So, weeping. Yeah, that is exactly what I was doing. I felt bad for not being able to control it for Kory’s sake.

But I’m so grateful that my grief is really a good kind of grief, the kind that indicates the love and the bonds of motherhood. The kind that grieves the loss of more time together and delights in remembering happy memories from years gone by. I’ll take that kind over the alternative any day. This is the pain that gives birth to life, and though I was resisting it, in my heart I know that this is the way it’s supposed to be. Childbirthing is just plain hard…but also good.

So, it was a long trip back to my dad’s house that afternoon, but a stop in Austin for a “family happy hour” at my sister’s house was a nice way to break up the trip. She put together a little buffet of beautiful and tasty snacks and cold, refreshing drinks. The girls chatted and laughed in the kitchen while the boys all watched the Spurs game on TV.
My sister inquired about the weekend. “Did you cry?” she asked.
Gulp.
There was no crying on Monday, though. Floating the Texas rivers is such a fun and nostalgic activity for me, but it doesn’t mix well with sadness or tears. I’ve been wanting to return to this childhood pastime for years, and Monday was our day. High 80’s, blue skies, lots of sunshine, and no place to go except into the water for the next two hours and straight to get ice cream afterwards.

We topped off the day with steaks on the grill, a lingering dinner on the deck, and fireflies lighting up our view of the wooded yard. Kory sent text messages to say he had arrived at Pine Cove (where he’s working only for the summer) and was about to embark on getting his CDL, so that he and his fellow counselor, Ja’Kory (true story), can drive a school bus full of Overflow campers (the two-weekers) around this summer.

Kory and Ja’Kory, the bus drivers. Surely this will end up in a camp skit someday soon.

It’s the birth of a new season for him…and in spite of the pain, I couldn’t be more happy.

Spring: “Filled & Fried”

“We were both so filled at Easter, and also kinda fried,” is what my friend Christina said the other day when we were catching up via text message. (Hopefully she doesn’t mind me quoting her.)

She is also a pastor’s wife, but you don’t have to have that role to feel that way. Everyone I talk to lately has been feeling the same…filled by the warm weather, the meaningful times of worship, the sweet fellowship, the fun activities, but also fried by the frenzied pace of it all.

Here’s a little glimpse into our spring – things that have passed and things upcoming. Warning: this is a long post (again), but I just needed to get it all down.

Weeks of Shakespeare rehearsals and then a weekend of performances – also known as the time of year I get to live out my secret ambition of being a hairstylist. Jessica’s hair was a bit of a dilemma, since she had to turn into a boy in the middle of the play (As You Like It) and then back into a girl.

Kayla did an excellent job in her smaller role, which she always has to balance with her track practices and meets. Lots of hurrying back and forth for both of us the last weeks of March.

Our church’s women’s retreat had been booked and on the calendar for a year, and then the Shakespeare play was booked for the same weekend. This meant I could only help with dress rehearsals and one performance on a Thursday night.  Friday, it was off to New Hampshire in the middle of a raging March 30-April 1 snowstorm!

Every time a woman arrived at the conference center, I was silently thanking the Lord for safe travel. It snowed for over 30 hours and left over 18 inches behind before it was all over, but in the end, all of these ladies made it, and we all had the best time being snowed in together.

 

With Sarah hosting games, this is Elisabeth and me – about to compete at charades.
Household chores the theme; “Dusting a lamp” was our acting assignment. 😩
Every Sunday after church we hosted a small group Bible study, except that it wasn’t very small. Some of you know that one of my favorite things to do is have people over for lunch after church. Hosting a small group at that time is really just a sneaky way for me to get to do this regularly.

We enjoyed discussions on the book of John, and then broke into smaller groups for prayer.

Abby and Maddie, two Mount Holyoke students, came home after the first service with me every week and helped prepare the meal. Kayla and I loved spending time in the kitchen with them chopping veggies and making multiple pots of coffee.

(We also did some informal scientific research during those weeks and came to the conclusion that more women than men enjoy hazelnut coffee, which led to changes in grocery purchases, and number of pots of regular vs. hazelnut since we had far more women in the group than men!)

I should have put these next photos right after the retreat photos, because less than 45 minutes after I arrived home from the women’s retreat in New Hampshire, Robert and I left for Indianapolis for The Gospel Coalition Conference. Unlike the scheduling of the Shakespeare play which we had no idea would fall on the same weekend, we were well aware of the back-to-back nature of these events. But the conference was going to be in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the list of speakers included all of our favorites and more. We couldn’t resist, and we’re so glad we made it happen.
Josh Moody is one of Robert’s good friends and a fellow pastor. He used to pastor in Connecticut, but is now at College
Church in Wheaton, IL. We had fun catching up over dinner one evening. Josh has written several books lately –
you should look him up at God Centered Life!

I’m just now realizing I didn’t get a picture of our whole group, as we had friends from Ohio join us, but Chris and Katie were with us for the whole conference – and beyond. (!) Both from Texas, newly married, Chris an Amherst College grad, and Katie a University of Texas grad, they are now on staff with Intervarsity on our local college campuses and a part of our church as well.

It was so fun to have them with us, but I think they got much more time with us than they bargained for, as our flights home were canceled mid-trip, and we were forced to take hotel vouchers in Detroit. It was quite an adventure, and I think I have finally learned that is it wise to take some toiletries and a change of clothes with me in a carry-on bag. I bought a $6 t-shirt at the airport to sleep in and Katie was kind enough to let me borrow some mascara the next morning. Thanks to Katie and that fateful morning, I am now in love with this mascara. Grounding us in Detroit was clearly God’s way of showing me His mascara will.

Then it was Holy Week and Easter. We had a wonderful Palm Sunday, 9pm worship services at Amherst College every night after that, a Passover Seder, a Crosswalk through town, a Good Friday service, and ended the week with an 82 degree Easter Sunday and fun lunch gathering at our house.
Grant is a senior at Amherst College and preached at one of the evening services.
(I’ve just turned off the “live” photo feature on my phone, since it gives me 2 second videos
rather than still photos.)

Friend and church member, Shannon, took photos of anyone who wanted them after each service. They all turned out so great!

 

Robert led the congregation in a song he wrote especially for Easter. Cindy accompanied on viola. So beautiful.

 

Coop was home for the long weekend.
More college kids home – friends old and new.

 

The warm weather meant we could be outside.

 

 

Texas, Iran, Massachusetts, Rwanda, Kenya, Mexico, and China – all represented around my table
Such a beautiful sight, a true gift, and a glimpse of heaven.
Some of the frenzy is by my own choosing, but peer pressure plays a part. The following Saturday I ran my first half marathon trail race with Betsy and her friend, Liz. The race was Betsy’s idea (definitely not mine!), and since she moved to Natick last year, I decided to join her as a way to spend some time catching up. This meant that during Holy Week and the week after Easter, I was having to up my running mileage quite a bit to prepare. You know…not much else going on those weeks, so why not? Sigh…
These things always sound like a great idea two months prior.
I’m pretty sure that running on an actual trail would have been highly recommended for training purposes, but the edge of the bike trail is the closest I got to the real thing. There were some rocks and roots, but no mud or hills. Oh well.

The route was a 6+ mile loop…or cloverleaf? It rained the whole day before as well as the last half hour of the race. We were freezing by the time it was over and all had blue lips when we met up at the finish line. I was the last of the three of us to finish at 2 hours 24 minutes – about 30 minutes slower than my last half marathon.

Kayla has been running and jumping a lot herself lately with spring track. She’s been doing the triple jump, the 100m, 200m, the 4×100, and the 4×400.

Several of her fans joined us at a recent meet, and she had fun racing some of her beloved kindergartners, first-graders, and toddlers.

Yep…breaking all of the blogging rules with the length of this, but here are a few more things we’ve done this spring…

A trip to the Boston Opera House with friends to see The King and I. So good!
Betsy’s son (and Pete’s!) Dustin was baptized last Sunday. He had to have a special, early
baptism due to his UMass Ultimate Frisbee team schedule.

After Dustin’s baptism, we hosted a graduate luncheon at our house – about 20 of them were able to join us, but as you can see there are so many more leaving us this year! This pic reflects only those in the second service.

 

 

 

Alena (and Lois) were over on Saturday night and Sunday helping prepare, host, and clean up.

 

Grant and Parker – we’ll be back in Indianapolis next month for Grant’s wedding!

This week included Kayla’s Challenge III Protocol Night. Along with the Challenge I class, we enjoyed an Italian dinner at a local restaurant and then headed to Amherst College for their Christian A cappella group’s spring concert.

 

Challenge I (Freshmen) and Challenge III (Juniors) classes together

 

I took my final exam in Theology III on Wednesday…

…and instead of blogging, I should be reading that top book and writing a 5 page paper on it, because it’s due next Wednesday at midnight, but we’ll be in Texas by then…

…and helping another graduate move out of his house in Waco. I am so happy and so sad all at the same time over this. Happy that he has had such an incredible experience and education at Baylor and sad that he’ll be entering the real world which will no longer include long holiday breaks and summer vacations during which he can come home for extended visits.

He was kind enough to take one last picture for me on his last day of class, and while I know he was
celebrating this day, I was truly grieving!
So…Wednesday we’ll move him out (and I will finally move IN to the Magnolia store and bakery for some shopping rather than stare at a hopelessly long line of Fixer Upper fans – hopefully!?), Thursday we’ll have a party, Friday we’ll head back to Waco, Saturday we’ll graduate, Sunday we’ll do church and lunch with him in Waco, and then say goodbye as he heads to Pine Cove Camp for the summer. He’ll move to Austin in August for his first “real world” job at Oracle.
Cooper won’t be able to join us in Texas for the graduation festivities due to his final exam schedule at Gordon, and this totally ruins my plan to have a family photo for the Christmas card this year. It also signals the end of a season – the full nest season – and it’s affecting me more than I thought it would. I’m so happy that my kiddos are growing and thriving in their individual lives and paths, but so sad that there will be so much less family time.
So…yes – filled by the recent joys and fellowship and experiences and hopes for the future, and fried, too – by the pace and the effort and the emotion of it all. I suppose I wouldn’t have it any other way, but am looking forward to some rest as well as some different adventures this summer. (It will be our 25th wedding anniversary in August!)
Back soon with graduation picks and maybe even some updates around this little space. June will mark 10 years of blogging (and nearly 800 posts) for me, and I’m looking forward to celebrating with a bit of a “fixer upper” of my own.
Happy Spring!

 

Knee Mercies & The Gift of Nurturing

Remember this post? The one where I talked about how much that Lamentations verse keeps coming to mind? How I pray a version of it each morning? How I discovered that “mercy” here means “womb”, or “cherishing the fetus”? How the Lord is using it to remind me of His love for me, of how much He cherishes His daughter?

Well, as I sat in Providence Hospital in Waco, TX last Monday afternoon, I sort of forgot all of that. They had said it would only be about an hour long surgery. Maybe an hour and a half. So, as one hour turned into two hours and I nervously walked down the hall to check the surgery status screen to discover that my oldest son was still in the operating room, I thought that God might have forgotten me. I thought He may have also forgotten Kory and the protection and healing we’d begged Him for in the last days and weeks.

But as I walked back toward Kory’s room to wait some more, I passed the nurses station. The dry erase board behind the counter caught my eye. There was the verse. Written right there for me to discover in a moment of fear.

Subtle and gentle, but loud and clear.

 Not too long after that, the nurse came to get my dad and me to meet with the doctor and talk about how the surgery went. She led us to a waiting room filled with other people and asked us to wait for the doctor there. About five minutes later she returned and told us we needed to follow her, as the surgeon had requested a private conference room for the surgery update.

Now, I knew it was just knee surgery and that nearly everyone I know has had this surgery. (Even Robert had the surgery just two months after we were married due to jumping out of our apartment complex dumpster after I accidentally threw away our marriage license and other important documents, but that’s another story.) But something about the request for a private conference room had me jumping to all sorts of tragic conclusions, and I forgot the promise, and God’s mercy, and even the very recent – as in 20 minutes prior – dry erase board reminder.

Well, I forgot only momentarily, I suppose. I was eventually able to remember and entrust myself and my son to a merciful God, but it took effort. It took obedience. It required a Spirit sustained surrender. I also had to tell myself that even if it was bad news, it wouldn’t be evidence of a lack of God’s mercy, but that His mercy would be with me all the more in those moments and tomorrow morning and every morning thereafter.

Myles and Tyler were still around for spring break and came by to check in on Kory.
Close friends and great guys.

We had a two hour drive to San Marcos post surgery. Poor kid.

We also thanked the Lord for Grandad’s recliner. Kory spent the week right there.
I’m sure it all sounds very dramatic. After all, it was only a surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus. It’s a pretty routine procedure these days, but fear was still this mom’s first emotion. And as you can see, Kory is just fine. He’s pretty stiff and sore these days, and he’s still hobbling around on crutches much to his great frustration, but he’s doing really well. In fact, in just a few months he’ll be doing better than ever and possibly even able to hit the basketball court again, not to mention running those beloved bases.
I thank God for this great mercy on top of the mercy of speaking to me so clearly in the hospital that day. He is truly faithful.
We stayed at my dad’s house near Austin, and we had visitors!
Jack (taking the pic) and Kelly (Miss Riggs!) came and brought their beloved Mr. Darcy who cheered
up the patient with his licks and snuggles. I think this was Kory’s first trip outside a few days post-surgery.
(And is my hair really getting that gray? My goodness…)

 You know what else I thanked the Lord for quite a bit during those 10 days in Texas? Besides 80 degree weather, bluebonnets along my morning runs, Tex-Mex, BBQ, and Bluebell Ice Cream, that is?

I thanked Him over and over for the privilege of being able to care for my son. I’ve said it many times before, and I’ve heard other moms express the same exact sentiment. It’s so heart-wrenching when your kids are sick or in pain, but it’s so wonderful to be able to give them the extra nurturing they need on those days. It looks a little different when they are big kids and just this close to being truly independent, but not too much different.

They still need prayer, words of encouragement, help putting on their really tight-fitting Nike socks 😊 , favorite meals delivered to the recliner, and bowls of ice cream with a side of gluten free cookies.

Kory must have thanked me a thousand times throughout the week, but it was truly my delight and privilege. This kid graduates from college in less than two months. He’s moving to Austin, getting his own apartment, and going to work for a big multinational computer technology company (Oracle) like a real grown-up. I may never get that one-on-one opportunity again.

(Did I mention that he also has the sweetest girlfriend ever? Yeah…that too.)

Those ten days with him were a gift.

I did miss some nurturing opportunities by being away that long though.  Look what happened last Saturday…

 Kayla is a fully licensed driver now, and I missed her big day. I suppose Robert missed most of her day as well, since she dropped him off at home immediately and went to babysit for several hours in the next town over before driving herself back for Shakespeare play practice for the rest of the afternoon. As relieved as I am that she can take herself to all of her babysitting, sports, social, and academic activities (and I can have many hours of my life back), I’ll miss the car time and conversations it oftentimes allowed. She still gets tucked in most nights, though.

Cooper arrived in Texas to spend his spring break with Kory at Baylor. Little did any of us know at the time, it would also involve being Kory’s chauffeur and post-surgery-week-two-helper. It started out pretty well with chips and queso while we waited for our table at the Grist Mill with Grandad…

Kory’s first real outing nearly a week after surgery.

 …and wasn’t even too bad once we got to Waco, though our trip to Magnolia while Kory went to his first class on Monday morning was disappointing. It was only an hour long class, and there was no way were getting in to the store in that amount of time with the winding lines out front. Seems like a few other (thousands of) people had Waco, TX on their spring break bucket list.

So, we picked Kory up on campus, went to the grocery store for a bit of stocking up for the week, and then Coop and I drove to Dallas, so that I could catch my flight back to Boston.

Seems like things were a bit rocky in the chauffeuring department after I left…

And poor Coop had to continue in service to his family when he got back to Boston yesterday, since one of my suitcases stayed in Cincinnati on Monday…
Ha! I got a Snapchat soon after of Cooper with sunglasses on, his Converse high tops propped on his duffle bag, and my long lost suitcase nearby as he waited on the curb for the Thrifty shuttle to take him to his car.
I’m not sure he was quite as grateful for the gift of nurturing he got for spring break, but that’s okay. He did enjoy some pick-up Baylor basketball, gluten free chocolate chip pancakes from Cafe Cappuccino, and lots of Taco Cabana, so we’re calling it a vacation anyway.
I got a text message from a friend and fellow pastor’s wife yesterday. (She’s also the music minister at their church.) She and her husband spent last week planning the Saturday funeral of a long time and dear church staff member. She was telling me about the incredible opportunity funerals are to worship and testify to the hope we have in Christ, and sent me the list of hymns they sang – most of which she would also like sung at her funeral.
Great Is Thy Faithfulness was first on the list, and as I re-read the lyrics this morning, they seemed the perfect way to close this post about God’s mercy in my life and the opportunity I had to identify with His love for His children in caring for my own last week.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hand has provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hand has provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, and ten thousand beside!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hand has provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Big Kids Back To School

It’s been so fun seeing all of the back to school photos on Facebook lately.  We used to be able to take back-to-school photos, too. Here’s one from about 5 years ago. Chocolate waffles, bacon, and new school supplies greeted my homeschoolers that day. Always a fun morning and a fresh start.
I’ve only got one left at home to take photos of, and here she is the morning before her first day back to Classical Conversations. Kayla’s a Junior this year…
…but it seems like yesterday that she read her first chapter book all on her own. Ten years.  It’s been ten years since she read Dingoes at Dinnertime all by herself.  Today she’s preparing to lead tomorrow’s Challenge III class in a 45 minute discussion on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. A lot happens in ten years, and I’m impressed with this young lady’s discipline and diligence.
Here’s Kayla’s course list:
Advanced Mathematics/Pre-Calc
Chemistry
American History
Latin: Caesar & Cicero readings
Spanish II
Philosophy: Consequences of Ideas
Shakespeare & Poetry
Your Facebook photos really made me want to have back-to-school photos of all my kids, so I sent the two away at college a text message begging and pleading them to please send a photo of themselves on their campuses on the first days of school. I may have promised a cookie care package.  Here’s the first one I got:

Kory works in the athletic department at Baylor, and he loves it. His good friend, fellow student, and athletic department colleague, Paul (also a dedicated Gluten Free Krums reader 😉 ), took this photo. (Thank you, Paul!)  He’s sporting his work and game day uniform here, and I know he can hardly wait for football season to begin. He watches the games from the press box, so that might have something to do with it.  

He just told me his schedule on the phone yesterday:
MWF 10am-12pm: Business Law and World History
T/Th 11am-3pm: Project Management, American Literature, and Social Dance (<—Fox Trot was last week!)
Fridays 2:30-5:15: Human Resources, Talent Acquisition & Staffing
He’s a college Senior this year, but I’m pretty sure we took these kindergarten and first grade photos just a few short weeks ago.
Cooper was not as quick to get me his back-to-school photo, so I sent him Kory’s as a challenge reminder.  Cooper thought Kory’s photo was lame: “He doesn’t even have a backpack on!” And then this appeared via text:
Coop started at Gordon College this year. He could have started last year, but decided to take a gap year after graduating high school. He spent about 8 months in Palm Springs, California living with my brother and his family, working maintenance crew and then outdoor service at Rancho La Quinta Golf Club. He dug a lot of trenches, trimmed a lot of hedges and edges, parked a lot of Porches, and made a lot of big tips. I think he was ready to hit the books again after all of that, but it was a good year and great learning experience for him.
Our week of preparation to leave for college began with this purchase…
…because this one wasn’t gonna do the job. (A little bulky for a dorm room, too.) It was great for learning to type and write papers many years ago, though, and Coop is the fastest typist in our family.
Kayla got to help move Coop into his dorm. It’s a triple (three guys) and it’s tiny! It’s redeeming feature is the suite style bathroom – sort of.  Six young men have to share that bathroom. I can tell you that it already smelled like a boys’ dorm by nightfall. Girls live in the dorm, too, but on separate floors. We went to one of those floors. It smelled like flowers. 
Girls’ dorm floors: flowers.  
Boys’ dorm floors: stinky socks. 
Some things never change.

The Lord provided for a lot of really special things to happen throughout the course of the weekend. For one, we ran into these old friends of Cooper’s at the local Target: Isaac and Lauren. We know them from youth camp and the leadership program, Quest. It was such a nice surprise and really fun to catch up with them.

We also met up with another friend of ours. Rachel was a former church member when she was a student at UMass. She saw that Cooper was going to Gordon and sent me a message saying she and her husband live just a few minutes from campus and would love to be of any help to Cooper while he is at Gordon. When I asked her what town they were in, she said Beverly. I messaged her back saying I just happened to be at the Target in Beverly.  She said: “Me too!”  We met up front at the Starbucks for a mini-reunion.  (Target + Starbucks. Was there ever a better duo?) Cooper got to re-meet her and receive more encouragement and lots of offers of help, food, and laundry facilities.
Two more things: We enjoyed meeting Coop’s roommates and their families – one from Austin, TX and one from Nashville, TN. Upon chatting with the Austin, TX mom, I learned that her son, Sam, had been homeschooled through high school. I told her that Cooper had also been homeschooled. Always fun to meet others who have been on that journey, as the kids tend to keep it on the down-low. 
I told Cooper that Sam had been homeschooled, and when Cooper asked him about it, Mikey, the other roommate was in the room.  Mikey overheard their conversation about being homeschooled and then “confessed” to having been homeschooled himself. All three roommates homeschooled their entire lives.  Pretty cool.  (Mikey may have even been wearing his homeschool co-op t-shirt at the time. Ha!)
THEN I check Facebook and noticed that my friend, Sara, from my college days at UT Austin commented on a photo and told me to tell Cooper to be on the lookout for a guy named Sam from Austin, that she and her family are family friends of his and co-small-group leaders at their church. I couldn’t believe it, and could hardly wait to tell her that Sam had already been spotted on campus – in the bed just across the room from Coop! They both play guitar and love basketball. Small world. Good Father. 

Gordon did such a nice job of including parents in the first two days of orientation and then sending us off with a special worship service. It also felt a little mean of them to have us all worship together, drape our kiddos in special Gordon scarves, and then send us out of the chapel to say goodbye for the semester. It made for quite a mix of emotions, but I suppose I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

He was nervous, but also excited to finally do the college thing. There have been lots of texts and calls about book buying, adding and dropping courses, and how the first week of classes went. So far, he has over-studied and been able to answer lots of questions in class. Here’s his schedule:

MWF: History (Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome), Accounting, and New Testament
T/Th: Discovery (or Gordon College 101 for all freshmen and transfers)

He’s planning to major in business and minor in music, so he’ll also take a non-credit classical guitar lesson in order to prepare to audition for the music school. They only have classical music options at Gordon, but Coop is eager for the challenge. (He just released his first single on iTunes! I’ll post information when it is fully available. Super-talented musician, this kid.)

So, no more wooden blocks and Playmobil guys to re-enact the Fall of Constantinople at our house.  It’s all books and computers, calculators and work-studies, group projects and presentations for my crew now. I do miss the old days, but I have to say I’m really enjoying watching these new academic and life adventures they are on. I’ve loved being their teacher, and I love that they’ll still indulge me with back to school photos and stories even though they are such big kids now.

Cookie care packages on the way. 🙂

Will Chip Gaines be Next? (or Leadership is Lonely)

Robert and I had lunch together at our picnic table one day this week. Poor guy has been sick for over a week and has had laryngitis for six days now, so it was good to sit in the sunshine for a while, eating and chatting, which was a bit one sided, since he literally can’t speak. Well, he can whisper, but even that is labored.

I was feeling so heavy hearted, because right before we walked outside I had read that Baylor’s president resigned. This was only a couple of days after I read that Baylor’s athletic director resigned. Two good men. Two men of integrity. One of whom I have known personally for about 15 years.  The other I have met in person and had a very special and meaningful conversation with.

“Chip Gaines will be next,” I said, and the man without a voice choked out a laugh.

“No, I’m serious. I mean, as long as we’re creating an atmosphere where upstanding men who love their university, and their town, and their jobs, and their God and have accomplished SO MUCH GOOD feel that they must resign, then surely Chip will be the next to go down. It only makes sense. And then at my funeral, you can tell everyone that I died of a broken heart, because that will be the final straw.”

It may sound dramatic, but my true sentiments have not been far off. My heart is truly broken.

I think Robert whispered something about Jesus being worthy of life and worship beyond the Baylor scandal, and that He is sovereign over this whole thing anyway, but it honestly wasn’t helping in that particular moment.

Apologies if you have no idea who I’m talking about, but I can’t get this thing off my mind, and writing somehow helps remedy that. I would tell you to Google it, but I can tell you for certain that THAT will not give you an accurate account. I’ve even put off writing for a few days, because I know that “A tranquil heart gives life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones” (Proverbs 14:30) Believe me when I tell you that this passionate ISTJ has to use that verse often to pray and talk herself down.

Back in March this happened:

What I didn’t mention in that Facebook post was that after the Vice President asked Kory what the Baylor administration could do better going forward and how students could be best reached with important information about protecting themselves and reporting incidents of sexual assault safely, Kory didn’t answer right away.
Because he too has experienced the sting of criticism in the face of faithful leadership, Kory felt compelled to thank the man for his leadership on Baylor’s campus. He told him how much he loves his school and how much the atmosphere on campus has caused him to grow as a student, a leader, a man, and above all, a Christian. He credited much of that to this man and to Baylor’s president, Judge Ken Starr.
Can you guess what happened next? 
Those of you who have been in a similar situation might know exactly what happened next. Those of you who have been blamed for things you weren’t directly involved in with no recourse. Those who’ve had your sincere efforts to lead people to growth and betterment rejected or mocked. Those who have had to make difficult decisions that outsiders would simply never understand, but which you could not defend or explain in order to protect others. Those of you who don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Those of you who serve faithfully, unnoticed and unappreciated because you love your Lord.
The man wept.
That’s right. Tears streaming down his face. 
Probably tears of a release from stress for at least a few moments. Tears of gratitude. Tears of relief that at least one student acknowledged the difficulty of the job and appreciated it.
Do I believe some terrible things happened to young women at Baylor? Yes. Do I think justice should be done? Yes. Do I think similar and worse things have happened on other campuses? Oh, I KNOW they have. I’ve talked to the women myself. Do I think that many women put themselves at risk in romantic relationships? Absolutely. MUCH of the time in fact. (Again, I’ve spoken with them and heard the stories. They initiated things. They went to guys’ apartments/dorm rooms/homes and took their clothes off, at times even when the guys could take them or leave them.) Am I blaming the women? Yes. Am I blaming the men? Yes. Do I think that even until the last possible moment the woman should be able to have her “no” honored? Yes. Have I watched the “Tea Consent” video? Yes. (I love it!) Do I think it’s stupid for women to go alone, at night, to a guy’s apartment, have a few drinks, and take her clothes off? Yes. Do I think the guy is still responsible if she does? Yes. Do I think some women lie? Yes. Do I think some men are violent, abusive, and narcissistic? Yes. Do I think leaders, coaches, bosses are sometimes at a loss and make mistakes that further harm the victims? Yes.
Would I enjoy trying to sort through all of these things as an administrator on the campus of a Christian University who happens to be winning a lot of football games and has a president who vigorously investigated a former president for sexual misconduct? No.
(Do I know that some of you reading this despise him and think him “one of the monumental sleazeballs of our era”? Yes. But I happen to like him. I wrote about meeting him here.)
Do I think Baylor is the perfect target for a scandal and media smear campaign? Yes.

Once, way back in our Texas youth ministry days, we took teenagers on a retreat which included a ropes course component. It was a faith-building and team building exercise, but one kid refused to participate.  Way too cool to climb up a telephone pole or walk a tightrope or jump for a trapeze or zip line to the next element, he sat on the ground and watched his peers try and do scary and seemingly impossible things.
But he didn’t only sit and observe. He mocked. He laughed. He ridiculed the other teens when they expressed fear, slipped and fell, dangled from their harnesses, etc.
The youth pastor (a.k.a. Robert) said something like this: “Must be a nice view from the cheap seats.”
But I get it. The captain goes down with the ship. It happened on their watch. Having authority implies accountability.
Kory interviewed Ian McCaw for a Leadership Night at Baylor. If anyone has modeled humble
 leadership and encouraged Kory’s love for leadership aside from Robert, it’s Ian.
I just think we ought to have a little more respect for those risking responsibility and stop scoffing at things we really don’t know a whole lot about. Can we humble ourselves for a few moments and consider what it is like to be in those shoes?
I just hope none of the thousands of Magnolia employees ever do anything wrong in their own homes or interpersonal relationships and that Chip misses the email about it, because he’s busy trying to lead a business and family. But you know what? That might happen. And the headlines might fly. And the columnists might rake him and his sweet family over the coals. And no one will really get down to brass tack truth, because we’d rather believe the lies. And the good and funny and beneficial things he’s done might be forgotten in the blink of an eye. And then, if I survive this week, I really might die of a broken heart.

Too Much To Bear In The BEST Of Ways

This is Owen. He started school today like millions of other kids, but I can’t believe it. There is so much I need to get done today, but I’m completely distracted by the fact that this kid started SCHOOL today. KINDERGARTEN. At the same school where his mom teaches. I got to see his new lunchbox yesterday at church.  Robert had a FaceTime prayer with him this morning before he headed out for the day.  For the last couple of months my conversations with people at church have included the random, out-of-the-blue question “Did you know that Owen is starting KINDERGARTEN this fall?”  I haven’t been able to help it. Some of them politely indulge my incredulity.  Others are as incredulously happy as I am.
You see, his parents were UMass students just yesterday, it seems. They used to babysit our little ones.  His dad even made a trip to the ER with our kids once. They eventually got engaged and married.  Together they did more babysitting of the little Krum kiddos. (They even took them camping once.  And once was enough.)
Then they had their own kiddo…

 And after that they had another one. And then somehow mine got old enough to babysit for THEIR children…

I really don’t know how all of this happened.

I may be more overwhelmed and sentimental about Owen going to Kindergarten than I have been about the growing-up-and-going-places that is happening in my own home.  It’s a weird feeling and I love it.

So yeah, one of the Krum kids whom Owen’s parents used to babysit is now a JUNIOR IN COLLEGE. (Which means that he is now OLDER than Owen’s parents were when we first met them.) First semester in the new, beautiful Baylor Business School. My dad and I, along with help from my sis and niece, got him all moved into a house off campus which he shares with two roommates. (A house nicer and bigger than mine, I might add. Cabinets, and counter space, and bathrooms, oh my!)

 I was certainly not eager to leave him after our days of shopping and unpacking and eating out, but there were no tears.  He’s doing so well, surrounded by great friends, professors, becoming a real leader on campus, and serving God and others in many ways. I couldn’t be happier for him.  I couldn’t be more proud.  But I’m praying like crazy for a year of really tough classes and lots of leadership responsibilities.

 And now it’s this kid’s turn…

This pic was taken at church yesterday when the pastor called him up front to properly send him out.  Cooper has been a part of the church since it began 16 years ago. (He didn’t really have any choice in the matter, I guess.) He was 2 years old when we came to start it. (You know, those years when Owen’s parents were his age.) Now he’s 18, a high school graduate, and on his way to what I truly believe will be an incredible year of growth and adventure in southern California. I don’t know if I’ve ever prayed for anyone more than I have for this kid, and that will continue as he leaves home and steps into a fresh, new independence. It’s time, and I’m really excited for him.
He even performed all of his own original music and lyrics in a special concert last night along with two friends he regularly “jams” with. There was a nice-sized crowd, and there may have been a few tears over this.  I knew he was creative, and I hear him playing guitar in his room every day, but it was a joy to see it all come together, and watch him pull off something he’s passionate about.

I teach all day tomorrow, (Owen’s dad will bring me a microscope to borrow for my classroom soon and for the third year in a row) and then Coop and I leave for the airport around 4am on Wednesday. We land in Palm Springs around 5pm. I return on a red-eye early next Tuesday morning.

I’ll have two young men out of the house.

My little baby 15-year-old girl will be an only child, sort of.

It will be Owen’s second week of Kindergarten.

I didn’t really grow up “in community.” We weren’t really a part of a church.  My parents didn’t have a close network of friends. So this whole “life together” concept was new to me when we began this marriage and ministry thing 25 or so years ago.

I’ve learned that there can be many heartaches and disappointments when you live in close community with people. It’s no different in the community of the church. (And those often feel more difficult to recover from.) But long term friendships, the stages of life on display, weddings, meals together, babies being born, kids going off to college, and OWEN GOING TO KINDERGARTEN are just the BEST.

It’s too much to take in, and I thank God for that today.

Costume Changes, Venue Changes, & Celebrations

 Here’s an attempt to recap the last four weeks of life.  Lots of photos here and not much reflection.  I’m writing from Texas, though, so although the days here have also been full, much is removed from the full plate called Life in Massachusetts.  Being 2000 miles away gives a little space to think and thank the Lord for an overflowing life. Time to write it all down, too ~ or at least to get it in the archives via photos.  If you actually read all of this, I’ll know you love me. And I’m repeating myself, I know.

On October 17 we took a field trip to Boston.  It may have been the largest group I’ve ever been on a field trip there with, but it also happened to be the group with the most cooperation and fun. Thanks CC friends!

On October 18 my friend Rachel and I took these ladies to a teen girls conference called Simply Beautiful.  It was a wonderful day of worship, Bible study, hearing “stories” from lots of different young women, and even sessions on fashion/modesty and healthy, homespun skin and body care tips.

 We drove straight from the conference to a dinner gathering of old friends from near and far.  It was a part of our church’s 15 year anniversary celebration weekend, and it was so wonderful to see everyone.

Robert and the guys ~ every one of them is a husband and father now.
The girls and me ~ all amazing 30-somethings, 40-somethings now ~ and ALL of whom I knew as college students

 The next morning we all worshipped together.  John and Cindy began with a song we used to sing “back in the day.”  I was in tears right away, and they lasted pretty consistently throughout the entire service. John was a transfer student who helped start the church from day one.

 When we moved to Massachusetts to plant Meryhouse, Kayla did not yet exist!  This next photo contains another photo of us a year and a half into life and ministry in Massachusetts.

Not really circa 1850.  More like March of 2000. Kory was 5, Cooper was 3, and Kayla was 8 months old.
We all went to visit Robert in the UMass Student Center where our church was doing a Spring Break send off for students.

 Lois did such a beautiful job playing for the service, but she could hardly make it through her own tears.  She joined with us only about a year into the plant, and has only grown more beautiful and in grace and skill and faithfulness with each passing year.

 Matt M. preached for us that day.  He had been a member of our church while a student and football player at Amherst College several years back, and since graduation has continued to serve our church with fundraising and alumni support.  We missed having his wife Janet and their new baby with us.  We have such fond memories of their time at Mercyhouse and of celebrating their marriage here.

It was great to have Greg with us that week!  He also led a directed prayer time in the service.

And these ladies used to BABYSIT Cooper ~ and the rest of my kids, too. So wonderful
to have Rachel and Virginia back for a visit after their years at UMass!
All staff and elders were thanked ~ and I got flowers!
Then it was time for Free Rides ~ which is an outreach our church has now been doing for 16 years.  It is always held on Halloween weekend, and provides a Free Ride to anyone who calls our number from 10pm to 2am. This is the weekend with the most “incidents” in our college town.  I have NEVER helped with this outreach at all until this year. (Small children, early bedtime, escaping chaos, etc…) I am awful at coming up with costumes, and I don’t really like Halloween at all, so no one in my family ever has a costume until about an hour before we need to ~ or not at all.  This year was really no different except that in the hour or two before we had to be at a party and Free Rides, I got an idea, walked to Good Will (all vehicles were in use), and put this costume together. Really. A quick trip to Target for some electrical tape was the only other shopping required.
You have to be a Taylor Swift fan and be familiar with this video to truly appreciate this.  
“Rapper Taylor” ~ Shake it Off

 Kayla, on the other hard, ALWAYS has great costume ideas, so she outfitted her friend Jayden and herself, and we all went to Free Rides to work the 9pm-12:30am shift.  Actually, these girls were troopers and made it through the second shift as well which lasted until about 3am.  They were “runners” ~ relaying the “riders'” pick-up information from the switchboard team to the dispatch team that night.

 We’ve had a friend staying with us for the last few weeks.  Kevin (middle) is working on starting a ministry and non-profit organization in the Dominican Republic community our church has been working with for the last two years.  He and Pedro were connected by Robert due to their mutual concern for the country, and they are a powerhouse duo to be sure.  Kevin will soon move to the DR and begin work on a soap-making factory that will enable the women especially to make an income and provide a sustainable industry for the benefit of their community.

And can I just tell you that I thought my pastor was looking especially handsome that Sunday?

A handsome man in a button down shirt and coat, preaching God’s Word with power and humility.
He gives me flowers and foot rubs, too. Wow.

 Because of the youthfulness of our church, a hospital visit is most often a joyful occasion…

Got to visit Liz and Ellie!  Aren’t they so beautiful?  Would you believe Liz was the first to respond to an email
I sent out the next day regarding help with a women’s retreat coming up?  Yep ~ Mama of two now, barely home
 from the hospital and and still eagerly desiring to minister to the women of our church.  Only by grace.

 The next celebration and costume change was for Lois’s 40th birthday.  We’d been planning it for about two months.  A 1970’s style bash, we knew that forgoing a costume was not going to be an option. I ordered my wig a week before, and a friend (thanks, Sarah!) let us borrow a brown cape. A re-purposed tan sheet and another trip to Good Will for a white long-sleeved top was all that was left to do a couple of hours before the party. Whew.

 A running  costume was needed about 12 hours later for a half-marahon with my friend Betsy. (How did all of these events converge in the course of a weekend?) Due to exhaustion, I had no intention of staying with my speedy friend, but God sustained us up the first seven miles of HILLS (no kidding) and allowed us some of our fastest times ever.  It was a beautiful day, and I’m so thankful for Betsy’s friendship these last 15 years. She’s one of the very first people I met after moving here and she even happened to be a neighbor then and now.

Two days later had Robert and I back in Boston and me on a plane to Texas to celebrate my dad’s retirement from Resistol-Stetson Hats, or HatCo as it is now called. On Wednesday night my sisters and I found ourselves in sea of cowboy hats as my dad was honored for his 43 years with the company. He was referred to as a “legend”, a gentleman, and best all-around dancer. Talk about a costume change.  I even wore boots.  I’ve never really been brave enough to pull off a cowboy hat, though.
Curtis inherited my dad’s sales territory.  He has been working alongside and serving my dad for over 20 years.
A silver engraved belt buckle and this signed photo collage were his gifts.

 Lots of layers and Baylor Bear gear was the next required costume change.  Even though we had returned from Dallas just 24 hours prior, my dad and I packed up and headed back up there (really, nearby Ft. Worth) for Kory’s baseball game against TCU. It takes us about four hours one-way, partly because my dad likes to stop at every Starbucks along I-35 which is just fine by me.

 It was 40 degrees and the wind was whipping. I thought I was back in Massachusetts at a spring ball game with the heaps of blankets, layers of clothing, and gloves we were wearing. My dad skipped a couple of innings so that he could warm up in the car for a while.

Super short stop out there!
They played great and won the game 5-0.  It was SO wonderful to see Kory play, and I especially loved hearing all of the joking and laughing between the guys on the team. Sophomore year has been stressful in more ways than one for this kid, and I pray that baseball continues to lift his spirits and relieve some of the stress.

I head back to Massachusetts today looking forward to more celebrations ~ especially those of the holiday season and two of my siblings coming to celebrate Christmas with us. The weeks of costumes and celebrations and different cities have caused my soul to feel pretty weary, but my heart to feel so full ~ and those really are different things according to my seminary reading for the week. My soul/person/body is exhausted by people and places and parties, but my heart/spirit are full and alive because of the goodness and kindness of the Lord in all of those things.

I know many of you must feel the same way about the pace of life right now.  I’m asking the Lord to help me (and you) to trust Him in the midst of the chaos and even trust Him to embrace it with a smile. My introverted self wants to frown, complain about, and hide away, avoiding all of this activity.  Jesus in me sustains and empowers and gives joy.

Hope to see you soon and with more reflection and less focus on my crazy calendar, but the historian in me can’t let so many family and church happenings go undocumented!

There’s Really No Time To Blog, But…

 …here’s a few things that have been happening and are about to. A Holy Spirit prompt and a little time taken from Women’s Boot Camp last night to celebrate the engagement of Becky ~ 2nd from the left.  We had a sparkling cider toast.  Then we got down to business ~ The Doctrine of the Trinity. That’s right.

 We returned from Cape Cod on Sunday evening and hit the ground running.  Before that though, we enjoyed a whole day in our pajamas in front of the TV at a friend’s home there on the Cape.  It was rainy and the perfect day to do nothing but sit in front of the TV.  We watched the UT game (during which I attempted to study) and then the Baylor game, which was the wildest, craziest, most amazing come-back of a game I have ever seen. (And I know FOR SURE that I have NEVER watched that much football in one day.)

Kory sent us a picture form where he was sitting.  The final score was 61-58, and it was really just unbelievable.  And you know, I don’t really care about football that much, but this whole winning season makes me so happy ~ for Kory, who gets to be a student there during a super-exciting time, and for our friends the McCaws, who are seeing the fruit of 11 years of hard work in recruiting coaches and players of character and even Christlikeness which draws attention to the Christian University and hopefully to Christ on some level.
But that Baylor-TCU game was an experience.  Felt like I needed to sleep for about 12 hours afterward.
I enjoyed another long run along Cape Cod Canal this time ~ so beautiful!
And we went to Provincetown, which is the very tip of the Cape.  It is sort of a strange place to visit, has an odd feel, and a bit of a strange mix of people, but the view of the entire Cape from there is a must-see and we also enjoyed some of the shops and cafes. (Care must be taken, though, in browsing.  Some places are R-rated.)

 We climbed the Pilgrim Monument Tower to see it.  116 steps to the top.

In this pic you can see both the tip and the curve of the Cape back toward the rest of the state.

That’s all for now.  I’m overwhelmed by the weekend’s activities:

  • An all-day field trip to Boston with 30 homeschoolers tomorrow
  • An all-day teen girls’ conference on Saturday with Kayla and a few moms and friends
  • A Saturday evening church gathering at a local restaurant to kick off the 15 year anniversary weekend celebration
  • A combined worship service and catered lunch afterward with lots of folks from out of town here to celebrate 15 years with us.
  • A haircut (very important ~ ha!)

All good stuff, but my mid-term exam (due Monday by midnight) and the research paper rough draft (due next weekend) and the need to prep to speak at a weekend retreat next weekend have me totally overwhelmed.  I could hardly focus to pray or read my Bible this morning and I kinda feel like running away.

Actually, I am about to run away ~ all the way down the street to Barnes and Noble.  Going to open up my class notes and start studying and organizing them.  Hoping to get at least a couple of hours in.  Cooper and Kayla are going with me.  We all have work to do in order to have a day off for a field trip tomorrow, and, and, and…

Trying to meditation this:

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.
Psalm 94:19

Also ~ I so much want to write about our 15 years here as a church, and the church planting adventure we’ve been on for that long, so maybe it will just be a bit delayed ~ like maybe until we’re 16 or 17 years old ~ who knows?!

Okay ~ bye for now!

Pray for me?

Back to School 14.0 (And Back From Texas, Too)

Starting our 14th year of homeschooling today. I can hardly believe my baby girl is in high school this year.  Wasn’t she just beginning kindergarten?  Wasn’t she just 3 years old and taking ballet class and afternoon naps and losing teeth?
And completing her first “chapter book” ever?  Oh, those were such milestones and proud moments! But today she begins algebra I (she actually started this summer), and American Literature (The Scarlet Letter is first up!), and Spanish I and philosophy and economics and more.  She’s taking a break from CC this year, but will likely return in the coming years.  I just felt that God was leading us to be at home together this year doing our own thing, and am praying that He uses the year to pour into her an abundance of grace, confidence, strength, and wisdom. (Not that she doesn’t already posses these things!)
And Mr. Cooper is a SENIOR!  Here is is with his monstrosity of an American History textbook. He began the Challenge III level of Classical Conversations last week and has been hitting the books for hours on end ever since. Shakespeare, poetry, philosophy, pre-calculus, chemistry, and Spanish are all on agenda for this year ~ and LOTS of rhetorical assignments like debate, speech, memorizing lines of Shakespeare, etc.
But it seems like yesterday that he was just learning to type on a very old desktop computer. He’s still the fastest typist in this family for sure! 
The cuteness.  Oh my.
I’m hitting the books this year, too.  My first seminary course began last week, and I really enjoyed the lectures and readings.  Fascinating stuff ~ philosophy, philosophers, the nature of reality, arguments for the existence of God, existentialism, noumena, phenomena, Tertullian, Athanasius, Luther, Calvin, Barth.  I’m overwhelmed by the amount of information, but I love learning it ~ I think.  My first quiz grade has me a bit discouraged, but this is a new week, and I’m hoping to get the hang of things soon. Prayers are appreciated.

Thankfully, my class did not begin until last Monday, which meant I had plenty of time to travel to Texas with Kory and take care of all sorts of things there along with him and my dad.

First on the agenda was buying a car.  Kory was blessed by a gift from his grandparents that enabled this purchase, and we are so thankful. (Thanks Grammie and Paw-Paw!) It was probably the easiest, smoothest transaction in car-buying history! I put out a plea on Facebook, a friend from high school, who happens to live near my dad, responded (Thank you, Lee Ellen!), we took it for a test drive the day after arriving in Texas, everyone had the correct paperwork, they signed over the title, Kory wrote a painful check that was well within our budget, and we drove away. Initially, I did the driving, since it is a manual transmission, but Kory practiced over the next two days and took to it like a pro.

I feared the transaction at the county tax office the next day would be stressful with long waits and trips to various offices, but it wasn’t.  We waited about 3 minutes, and walked out with Texas plates and registration in under 20 minutes.  Amazing. (Acquiring insurance was done over the phone at 9pm ~ inexpensive and unbelievably simple. Wow.)

It was so wonderful that all of this happened so smoothly, because it was Friday, and Kory needed to be at school on Sunday afternoon to begin his week of training for LEAD mentoring.  EVERYTHING had to happen by Friday, and it did!  This also meant that Saturday could be spent washing, vacuuming, Windexing, and Armour All-ing the car.  It cleaned up beautifully! (Have I told you how much I adore washing cars, vacuuming cars, and Windexing and Armour-All-ing cars?  Heaven!)

 Friday afternoon and evening were spent in Austin at the Domain, which is sort of an up-scale outdoor shopping mall.  After spending two hours in the Apple store watching/helping my dad purchase a new iPad (Kory went to the movie with a Baylor friend) and case, and SD card attachment, and wireless printer (whew!), we enjoyed some iced tea and GF carrot cake cupcake from the Steeping Room (yum!) and outdoor seating for the high-fashion show that this mall tends to naturally provide.  We were definitely underdressed.

 And then it was dinner out at Chez Zee with my sister and her family.  Fun times catching up, and frozen yogurt afterwards, of course! Speaking of growing up too fast, my nieces and nephews are all in high school now, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about their interests and classes ~ cross country and color guard flag team for the girls, and history and film for my nephew.  They are an awesome and talented bunch. (P.S. DON’T go and see “The Conjuring,” okay?  Take it from the experts here. I stay FAR away from stuff like that, but I’m passing along this PSA from three teens who KNOW.)

 Sunday morning had us leaving for Waco, TX and Kory’s return to Baylor.  My dad helped us gather up his things which had been in storage in his very hot attic. It’s a good thing that Kory got a car, because my dad down-sized from a Suburban to a Foreruner and it would not hold all of Kory’s Rubbermaid containers.

He’s in a single this year and loving having the room to himself.  I think he needs curtains.  What do you think? Only kidding.  Pretty sure he’s not concerned about window treatments, though I have to say, he has his own ideas about design and room decorating. He’s especially excited about his new futon.  Living the life…

 One BIG trip to Target during one HUGE thunderstorm (thankful we were safe inside!), and he was all settled in, and it was time to say goodbye.  I suppose it was slightly easier this time, especially knowing what good hands he’s in and how much he adores his school, leadership program (he’s a mentor this year), friends, classes, and professors. I’ve probably said it a zillion times, but Baylor is truly a special place.  Kory even had a much-anticipated meeting last week with Baylor’s Athletic Director, Ian McCaw, who happens to be a friend of ours from Amherst years ago.  Kory has been on Cloud Nine ever since.  He just soaked up the wisdom and example of godly leadership that Ian possesses.  We could not be more grateful for that life-changing influence in Kory’s life. They both love the topic of “leadership”  ~ godly leadership especially ~ and had such a meaningful conversation about it.  I’m pretty sure Kory even asked him why he went after Art Briles to coach football. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for all of that.

(Send your kids there!  You won’t be disappointed! REALLY.)

(Okay, I’ll stop.)

Allen Hall Year Two

 The best part of the ride home was meeting this sweet lady for dinner.  (My dad had to endure our speed-talking about kids, and church, and homeschooling, and private schooling, and more.) It was spur of the moment and scheduled around our late departure from Baylor, a river rafting trip for her family, and CC preparations for her, but we made it work.  Yvette and I have been friends since college, and it has been such a joy to stay in touch through the years and watch each other’s kids grow up.  She is an amazing mom and a gifted teacher.  I wish we lived closer, but for now we’ll grab whatever moments we can.

 Back in San Marcos, I was able to get started on my seminary course with the luxury of sitting in bed in a room by myself, listening to lectures, and reading, and taking notes for hours.  If only that were real life…

Oh, and we also made a lot of progress on a painting project.

 I talked my dad into getting started on painting his deck table, which is something he’s been wanting done for at least three years.  He has many, many projects on his list, but this was one I could actually help with (well, this and setting up the wireless printer), so we dove in.

We hauled the heavy furniture out to the driveway, and started scrubbing each piece with a steel brush.  We followed that up with steel wool.  Next came washing with soap and water, rinsing, and leaving out to dry overnight. Although, in south Texas, it only takes a few minutes for a soaking wet towel to dry ( I know this because we also went swimming), so the table probably dried as soon as we finished, but we couldn’t tell, because it was dark by that time.

 The next day, we started painting, and by the time I left last Wednesday, the table and two of the four chairs had their first coat of paint.  It was so satisfying to make so much progress, and my dad was super-motivated to finish it up himself.

Well, that’s the long update.  Now, I’m WAY overdue to be off the computer and setting up Kayla’s Spanish CD-Rom curriculum as well as her online stock market game. After that, it’s over to the dance studio to register her for Hip-Hop class.
Don’t even ask me if I’ve watched today’s theology lecture.
Happy Back-to School!

Everyone’s Home

It seems like we have been scattered near and far this year, but today and for the rest of the summer everyone is at home, and it feels good. It’s not that I minded “the scattering.” Everyone in the Krum family had wonderful and necessary experiences off on their own, but it’s nice to be back under the same roof and have a bit of concentrated time at home.
Cooper had an incredible time in South Africa…
Leaving Boston with his Quest Team
Working in rural classrooms
Homework help in the afternoons

And not only these things, but a safari, a trip to an AIDS Hospice, spending time with missionaries, exploring Durban and swimming in the Indian Ocean.  He shared his testimony at least twice before different groups and got to play basketball with local kids. He did NOT like the hours of travel, but has been longing to be back there ever since he got home.  He loved it!  (And upon being asked if he knew Justin Beiber ~ since they’re both living in the U.S., of course, ~ he may or may not have led some South African kids to believe that he WAS JB himself.)

While Coop was in South Africa, I took a bit of a mental-health-escape-the-brutal-New-England-winter trip to Texas.  I also needed to work on several talks I was to give at upcoming women’s retreats, and that’s difficult for me to do with all of the tasks and needs at home.  When I arrived at my dad’s house, these sweet Valentine’s Day treats greeted me on my bed. Wonderful surprise from my sister, Melinda, and I enjoyed all of them thoroughly.

My dad and I attempted to surprise Kory at one of his Baylor Club Baseball games. Not knowing the exact times, we arrived at the last “at bat” ~ sigh. I hated missing the actual game, but really enjoyed taking Kory out to eat and for a stock-up-on-Nutella-and-cereal-Target-run.  The hard part was saying goodbye again after just a few short hours.
Love the shadow of my dad’s cowboy hat in this pic!
Speaking of cowboy hats, I got to help my dad catch up on a bit of his work which always does my heart good.  We unpacked lots of hats, unwrapped lots of shirts, and exchanged lots plastic hangers for metal ones.  I learned that not only does he go through this meticulous process with each new line of western wear, but he also takes all of those shirts to be “pressed” at the dry cleaner’s.  They arrive already “pressed” and carefully wrapped in plastic, but he insists that a trip to the cleaner’s improves their appearance and makes them more appealing to customers. After his 43 years in the business, I decided not not question this expensive practice.  Bittersweet that he has decided to retire at the end of June.  What a valued and successful salesman he has been.  He’s currently on what we’ve been calling “The Cowboy Rides Away” tour of central and south Texas ~ a final sales call to all of his long-time customers.
From plastic ones to metal ones and THEN to the cleaner’s.

  It happened to be my sister’s birthday while I was in town, so my dad and I got to celebrate with her and the family at P.F. Chang’s ~ one of everyone’s favorite gluten-free-accommodating restaurants!

And then I spent days in the house or out on my dad’s deck doing this…
Studying and writing and creating Powerpoint presentations…
…and soaking up the endless DAYS of sunshine and warmth!
(This was a pic I texted to Robert and Kayla.  Kinda mean since they were buried in knee-deep snow at the time.)

My last hurrah was a trip to the Gristmill with my dad and these two favorite people ~ Jack and Kelly.  We enjoyed dinner outside, the sunset  over the river, and talking about Jack’s new iPhone!

Then, a couple of weeks later, and nearly against my will, I went to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  Robert had to go to Santo Domingo with some men from church to scout and plan the next projects for our church’s upcoming mission trip, and felt it would be a good idea for me to meet him afterward for a few days of vacation in the resort area of the country.  He worked on me for months, and I kept telling him no and giving him a long list of reasons why it was impossible for me to get away.  He gently brought it up again and again and finally just booked my tickets.  I’m glad he did.
My collection of coral and shells. The white sand beach was only feet from our hotel room.
Breakfast was our favorite meal of the day.
The “Dominican Breakfast” ~ fried cheese, mashed plantains, eggs, fruit platters…

One story I keep telling to help convey they complete luxury we found ourselves in the lap of is this: After sleeping in (about 8am for us – ha!), we would pull ourselves out of our Westin “Heavenly Bed” and go out for about a 4 mile run.  Upon returning to the resort and as we approached the open-air lobby, a hotel attendant would come out to greet us with a smile. In his hands he was holding a silver platter with two ice-cold water bottles and rolled up, white, wash cloths for our parched throats and red, sweaty faces. We were stunned and had to laugh about how “this never happens at home!”

After the refreshing homecoming, we might take a quick dip in the pool just feet away from our room’s patio, take our time getting dressed, and then eat a late, leisurely breakfast.  After this, we would walk a few yards to the beach, get comfortable on reclining lounge chairs under an umbrella overlooking clear blue waters and read books!  I finished an entire book in two days which is totally unheard of in my current life situation! Our only breaks from this strenuous activity were to take a dip in the refreshing Caribbean surf or walk to the poolside bar to order some sort of refreshing, icy drink ~ in case we missed the waiter on the beach, that is.
Oh my ~ I have never experienced anything like this, and it was so, so wonderful. I don’t think I have ever been that rested or relaxed in my entire life. This trip was made possible because, not only did my husband keep gently insisting that I go, he also contacted a few folks who support our us, our church, and ministry here in MA, and asked them if they would help provide this vacation for us. They eagerly agreed and gave generously to this dream of a vacation. We couldn’t have done it without their gifts.  We were and are truly blessed.
Selfies on our patio after dinner
Gorgeous open-air lobby. We lounged in here one day reading books due to my extreme sunburn ~
my one regret from the trip. Note to self: the Dominican Republic is WAY closer to the equator than Massachusetts. Sigh…
Then ~ just a couple of weeks ago, Cooper and I flew to Texas to pick up Kory from his first year at Baylor.
Waiting at the gate selfies.  We had a bit of a delay.
Seems like I was just here moving him in, and now it was time to pack up and leave!
Got to walk on campus a lot, eat in the dining hall, and give Coop a taste of college life!
Cooper even had an official campus tour.
And we indulged in a couple of last trips to Common Grounds.

After finishing up in Waco, we spent a few days in Austin and San Marcos with my dad.  I also managed to meet my Uncle and grandmother for a delicious Texas BBQ lunch. It was so nice to see her up and at ’em after suffering a heart attack a few weeks before.  She looks like she’s ready for a trip to the Caribbean, too, huh?

My uncle Chuck sent me back home with large amounts of BBQ brisket, sausage, pork ribs, potato salad, baked beans, and cole slaw.  Pretty sure we never had to cook a meal for the rest of the week.
My dad and boys enjoying the BBQ

We were in Texas for Mother’s Day and so spent the afternoon and evening with my sister’s family playing Top Golf (so fun!) and eating an incredible Paleo ~ tenderloin, mashed cauliflower, salad, asparagus and more ~ meal. Wow.

A driving range complete with air conditioning, couches, and full food and drink table service ~ wow!

It was my first-ever experience playing golf or going to a driving range.
Pretty sure that’s a set-up for future disappointment.
We were invited to eat dinner at one of Kory’s best Baylor friend’s houses.  Julia and her family so graciously hosted us in their beautiful home for a delicious meal. It was wonderful to get to know them, and I was thankful all over again for the incredible experience Kory had as a freshman in college.
Last meal in Texas with my boys ~ the Gristmill, of course.
So nice after spending the day cleaning out my dad’s garage and making trips to Good Will ~
and all the while missing our flight back to MA. How did I get the dates wrong???

If you are still reading, I know you must really love me.  Thanks for indulging me again in the archiving of my life ~ and in my inconsistency at that.

Less than 24 hours after the boys and I returned from Texas, Robert and Kayla left on a mission trip back to the Dominican Republic with our church. Kayla began showing interest in the trip months ago, and because she felt that the Lord was nudging her to go, she did!

About half of the 23-member team as they left from the church two weeks ago.
The whole group outside of the community in which they served ~ Las Malvinas.
The trip included a community clean-up, planting trees, English classes for kids, Vacation Bible School type stories and activities, too, and jewelry-making for the women of the community. It was a challenging trip for all as far as the intensity of the schedule, the living conditions, the lack of sleep, and food concerns, but Kayla really loved it.  She knew she would be stretched, which is part of why she knew she was supposed to go ~ to confront some of her greatest fears. She was stretched and she did grow. One of her challenges was cutting herself pretty badly on a piece of sheet metal.  She probably should have had stitches, but the two medical professionals in the group ~ Hayley and Izckra got her cleaned, bandaged, and butterflied, and her cut is looking better and better. The hardest part was keeping it from getting wet at all by the contaminated water which not even the locals drink.
She loved all of the kids and they loved her AND her hair!  She was greatly impacted
by the poverty and family situations.

Kayla and Robert in the Colonial District of Santo Domingo
on their last night in the country!

They arrived home on Friday morning, and have been catching up on sleep and home-cooked meals ever since.

She slept about three hours after getting home and eating breakfast on Friday morning.
The red-eye flight did her in!

And now we’re all home together and the days are full of job-hunting for the poor college student, lots of lawn-mowing jobs for the middle child, Memorial Day cookouts, spring cleaning, weddings, birthdays, dinners on the grill, and catching up on everyone’s scattered adventures.  I know this summer is going to FLY by like they always do, so I’m hoping to enjoy the moments of togetherness more than ever, because in no time at all we’ll all probably be scattered more permanently.  Only four more years of high school schooling in this house, and by then we’ll have a college graduate.  This nest could potentially be completely empty in under 8 years and that is a weird, but exciting thought, because I love watching the adventures the Lord has us on together and individually scattered, but it’s wonderful to have everyone home for now.

I watched the first of my friends and peers dance with her son at his wedding on Sunday afternoon. It really hit home. The time is short, but so good.

Thanks for reading. I really hope to be here more often this summer and in the year to come. Lots of reading and learning and growing and changing going on here in my heart and mind and I can’t wait to share.  I hope you are well and that your summer is off to a wonderful beginning!
With much love from the very inconsistent blogger ~ Melanie