Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Beauty Lessons on the Playground

“It’s probably never going to heal fully normal,” the hand surgeon reported, trying to console me with, “But if somebody didn’t know I bet they wouldn’t even notice.”

I flashed my hand in the air before her. Saying nothing, I pointed at the wonky finger and we both erupted in laughter.

May 1. That’s when I incurred this “common athletic injury.”

For Sunday afternoon fun, my husband and I, along with our three girls, went to the school playground to play a family tether ball tournament. I was playing (and beating) my husband when I had an incredible follow through, hit the pole, and my hand went numb.

Sensation and movement returned and I went on with life, until it started to arch. Despite my own splinting efforts, it continued to worsen. A trip to the orthopedist revealed a 5th finger PIP joint ligament rupture and tendon tear, landing me in occupational therapy for a formed night splint, a spring-loaded day splint that looks like gym equipment for a mouse, and exercises so that I’d be able to tighten my fist without M&Ms falling through. A woman has to have priorities :)

It was all going splendid and I could make a fist with the best of ‘em….until it started to curve again.

I returned to the surgeon with hopes of a permanent fix. To hear this well-respected woman say that surgery might make my particular case worse was a win for the pocket book but not to my image of perfection.
And I was disappointed.

Tetherball, people. TETHERBALL! How does a grown woman permanently mess up her hand playing tetherball?!

I was on my way back to occupational therapy with this assignment on my mind when God smacked me upside the head with truth.

I want...

Finish reading on ModSquad here

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Monday, September 5, 2016

On Grieving & Dreaming Again

We’re discussing the restaurant’s waterfall when I see the tears begin to roll down her cheek. In Hannah’s hand is a tiny object I can’t quite identify.

“I just realized this is the same pin I gave grandpa in the hospital.”

Taking it into my hand, I fasten the tiny image of a resurrection cross onto her tank before pulling her in for a hug, my shirt absorbing the sudden leak from broken places.

Later Grace would run into someone from school who’d ask the leading question, “How was your summer?”

 “I didn’t know how to answer because good isn’t really right.”

And she’s spot on. It’s okay to abandon rote response and call a spade a spade. Our summer was marked by an abrupt goodbye and the death of dreams.

I was feeding Leo, my sister-in-law’s dog, when it struck me. Aside from his chomping the house was silent. In a family of big personalities this kind of quiet is rare to come by when we’re together in their home, but where the quiet was so too was Gary. Usually in bib overalls. Always with his coffee cup in hand and some kind of profound question. When he didn’t round the corner, I was leveled. “Leo’s eating and I’m crying,” I texted my man.

What we believed our summer held and the reality of our experience is markedly different. Painfully opposite. And, though we find refuge in the love of our tear-collecting God, some broken places will leave permanent emotional scars.

It’s not just the 10-year-old that didn’t know how to respond. I lost a bit of my voice with all of you, too. Sure, the newness of full time work combined with the necessary rest of my pinkie from my athletic tether ball injury competed against the optional brushing of computer keys. But, more than that, I had nothing. Tears and chocolate consumption often said what words couldn’t. It was a summer of sitting in God’s lap.

Much of the summer I felt paralyzed. Survival mode – figuring out our new equilibrium, being present to share in the grieving of four household members who process at different times, doing my ministry work well, remembering to do laundry - became a way of life. I just wanted to get through the day faithful to God and my family. The rest, if not life-giving, can and continues to be let go.

In making those choices we’ve had bountiful good times. Side splitting laughter and fun times with family and friends. “Good grief” has slowed us down, softened us, and revealed sweet authenticity we wouldn’t have otherwise tasted. The five of us are more intentional than we’ve ever been and within the messy layers of life we’ve discovered rich beauty.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that we’re living this. That in the midst of this valley we are able to put one foot in front the next. This God we cling to breathes life into dry bones and is doing precious things before our eyes, reminding us of greater joys yet to unfold.

And we’re energized by it. Waking with new hope. Tough days and tough moments, they will be real. But we are dreaming again.

There is new paint on the walls in our home remodel.
Three backpacks sit by the door for 3 very excited girls to start school tomorrow with teachers Grace called “perfect matches.”
My man is gearing up to lead All Pro Dad once more.
I’m prepping choreography for another school musical, placed my first classroom volunteer date on the calendar, and anxiously await seeing new ideas I’m bringing to the church (hopefully) bless families.

The pulse of life beats strong thanks to that resurrection cross. :)

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Real Mom Confessions

They're baaaaaaack.

Maybe not every week because I'm going to have to adjust to this back-to-school schedule/working full time combo but they are here today and will be again. I would hate for you to miss out on your laughter at the expense of my kids and boy have their been some doozies lately.

1. "I've worn these underwear for two months."

This is what Ava reported in front of friends. Clearly she has no perception of time. She gets a fresh change of undergarments with every bath, I assure you.

2. "Mom, I was thinking we could go to that one place to eat. What is it called? I can't remember exactly. We haven't been there in a long time. Fu __ __ ruckers?

This unfortunate error happened in my office. In church! Insert me having a heart attack. "Oh my gosh, that is a swear word! Shut the door. Begin to pray." And that's how I handled that. Thankfully it was a quiet time and I don't think anyone else was around.

3. "Everyone will have their own room except mom and dad because they love each other. They kiss in the night."

WHAT IN THE WORLD?! Grace, Hannah, and Ava were talking about the new room being built and what this meant for them when Ava shared this with the teacher at back to school open house. Charlie just left the room.

Nesdahls out.

Have a great week, parents! No matter what happened, just keep swimming :) We got this!

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Get in the Game

“I felt like everyone got court side seating to a difficult game I didn’t feel prepared to play.”

I was sitting in my beautiful friend’s office describing life early last school year. It was there that I first uttered aloud to her that my father-in-law had cancer. Where I confessed fear of mothering strong, representing my family name well, and being a good witness to the inner faith that sustains me when that which meets the eye appears to be falling apart. It was there that she responded with the words of grace I would later claim for my 2016 verse of the year.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Phil 4:5

She let me cry and struggle, but she also spoke to my gifts as a mother and leader.

And that was what made this day’s visit fun.

I’d come in thanksgiving. We were on the front end of summer. The outlook for my father-in-law was encouraging. And, I’d just received the call to my dream position in my home congregation. Work that would intertwine my heart for promoting strong family and identity in Christ with my love of education.  She was a reference, and I couldn’t wait to say thank you and let her know that I was going to utilize all those gifts that she’d articulated to me to be the good in this new life high.

My girls helped me decorate this office to make it feel home - the result a precious mix of elementary classroom and fanciful class. Perfect for the birth through fifth grade families I serve and warm + inviting for all who enter.

My desk was moved, a large, framed photo of my girls was hung, and a few toys made their way in for the kids.

I thought I was done until the girls offered their two cents.

“Your window wall is boring and that’s the first thing people see when they come in, ya know.”

Target dollar spot string lights and a Hobby Lobby wall hang to the rescue.

For a window that looks out upon this.

Gary died the first day I sat in the chair overlooking the court and my words to my friend echoed loudly in my mind.

You need not be afraid of the game. I’m in it with you.

What do you say when life throws you off your A-game? How do you respond in the unknown?

From a holy conversation in one office to the sacred view in my own, I’m reminded to just get in the game. To always do my best and let go of the pressure to define moments won or lost.

God is near.

Peace, friends.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

We Broke And God Showed Up. In the Cross. In You

I put on bright, cheery clothes for an appointment I didn’t want to face.

I don’t know who I was trying to convince.


It’s bogus to think the Maker of the Universe can be manipulated by fashion.


It’s true I wished to appear confident, strong, and hopeful but outer attire cannot guise inner conscious.

I left the office with the sting of bad news and acute awareness that I can’t always be all the things I want to.

My father-in-law’s cancer was back.

A new round of treatment offered a new round of optimism for all of us. Options offered comfort and living and dreaming resumed until fourteen days ago when an admit for what we thought would be a simple, treatable infection turned into a whirlwind nightmare. As we continued to wait, beg, pray for the medication to take hold his breathing continued to decline. Each of us was blessed time with him where he spoke gift affirming words into our hearts and could return description of the treasures we see in him. With joined hands we sung hymns and shared family prayer around the bed side, Gary included from under his mask.

And then we had to say goodbye.

Our hearts fractured. A tired haze set in. Tears – unending tears – fell.

The theology of the cross means The Lord will never be a made-to-order Santa nor has He left us when prayers as we have spoken them aren’t answered. Our good God’s work redeems (even when tough to see) in our weakness and, ultimately, makes our “goodbye” a “so long” because He claims victory over death with the promise of heaven.

It also means the strong, confident hunger is the antithesis of the hope I claim.

And, despite having experienced the death of my own father and years of longing for a child I am maybe getting that for the first time.

I let a friend see me in my robe and tear-stained eyes as she graciously handed me Oh My Cupcakes because I don’t eat well under stress but she knows there are certain things I cannot deny. Coffee, chocolate, and warm bread has been hand-delivered to me. Meals have been prepared. A friend showed up at the hospital and held my daughter when I didn’t have enough hands to cup the faces of my girls. Another said, “I’m coming tomorrow to be with all the kids” in a moment of need I didn’t anticipate and loaded my overflowing dishes into the dishwasher while she was at it. Flowers. Books to discuss heaven with my girls. A prayer rock. Texts. Emails. Phone calls. Space to absorb my sometimes ugly words. The list goes on. Shoulders to absorb the tears.

In my weakness He is strong.

In admitting to all the things I am not the face of Christ has been vibrantly seen.

Yesterday I bought a new little black dress for a funeral I wish wasn’t. And I won’t try to be confident and strong. I will, however, be hopeful because God’s healing and saving plan will kiss our tears and you, as the body of Christ, will bless us through.

Thank you.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

What Are You Going to Do Now That Your Baby is Going to Kindergarten?

This is the question that people started asking a year ago.

“Just keep being me.”

Ava starts kindergarten this fall and that means the complexions of my days is sure to change but I had no intentions. Maybe I would write during day hours rather than when the sun had set. Maybe volunteering in three rooms would mean more time at the school. Maybe I’d find a part time gig, although that felt less likely.

I’ve never been one do to do something just to do it.

I’ve also never bought into the stay-at-home versus working mom debate.

Words I live by and believe in.

Needless to say, I didn’t expect full-time to enter my vocabulary but that is exactly what has happened.

When the Director of Faith Formation position opened at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church my husband was called to be on the task force committee. I looked at him and said, “You’d be good at it, but I’d be great at the job.”

My author work with teens has taught me the value of investing in family relationships early so that students feel comfortable talking to their parents as bigger issues arise. Recognizing that critical window, I designed the Intergenerational dance line curriculum, creating a fun, low stress environment for mothers and fathers to draw out their elementary aged child's personal thoughts through creatively designed directed conversation. In this space I frequently give you family faith formation activity ideas. My PTA leadership means experience with budgets, and working with volunteers, and awareness of successful educational strategies. Together, it melds perfectly into the Director of Faith Formation - seeking to help families of birth through fifth grade live out the baptismal promise - in the church I have always loved, with an incredible staff, and my own children across the span of the program.

Charlie supported me from the get-go and removed himself from the task force to ensure fairness in the process. We called a family meeting to make sure the kids were on board because it would mean change.

I was called by Our Savior’s. 

Tomorrow marks day one of a new journey. One I know to be a natural extension of who I am. The heart of this work has always mattered to me and to bring it into the OSL walls feels a gift, but as I look at our own precious girls, and see them celebrate God in the good times and actively seek Him in some of the current places that most hurt, my passion intensifies.  

They’ve made me a pottery piece and helped me pick out a few things to decorate the office. I’m dorkishly excited about the planner. And, I’m pretty sure if there is an award for most elementary classroom looking office I will win.

Here’s to a new ministry.

A new season.

The next “yes” to God.

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