dear younger me 4.

Sometimes I don’t even know how to prepare you for this life. I have enough words for several people but that might not be enough.  How to prepare you for a life that seems like it’s spinning out of control nearly all the time, when you are nicely ensconced in your teen years of just having fun and homework? How to tell you as you head off to high school or college that in the future people will storm schools with assault rifles and kill children by the tens? That you will stop watching the news because it makes you want to move your family to Nunavut and live on an ice floe there.  Except you hate fish.  That will never change.  How to tell you that the neatly ordered life you love will become a mosh pit of laundry and meal prep and fingerprints on window panes? And that you’ll mostly love it.  Except when you don’t, because your need for order in chaos will never change and so you’ll stay up nights vacuuming and organizing and putting the house back to rights after your children, who are human hurricanes, have destroyed it.  How to tell you that eventually you will have to stop living for yourself and lay it all down and that when you do, it won’t hurt like you think it will because you will be ready?  How to tell you, in these days of spending hours laying on your bed in your upstairs room devouring dry cereal and books, that a few minutes of uninterrupted time will become such a luxury that when you find it, you will suck the very marrow of it? How to tell you that your mornings will be taken up with hair and lunches and making breakfast that no one will eat and that you will find deep satisfaction in all of it?  That you will find yourself on a Sunday night, driving in your teenager’s new car to his school to pick up his forgotten homework after an afternoon spent in the frigid creek rescuing the bridge that washed away in last week’s flood and you will think to yourself that this has been the perfect day.  If you could insert yourself into NOW, you would probably hate it.  It it loud and chaotic and messy.  The phones you would love, but everything else?  Not so much.  You would walk around in a stupor reminding me that I swore I’d never make our kids eat oatmeal or fish and telling me I sound a lot like mom.  And then you would tell me that you’d rather be back with homework and Burger King after school and Showcase Cinemas on the weekends and that I can keep all this crazy to myself, thank you very much.  And I would smile and wish for a sec I could switch places and relive those sweet, easy days and then I would go back to unloading the dishwasher and telling Maggie to take another bite for the love of God and I would say, fine.  Out of all the places in all the times, there is nowhere I’d rather be than here with these people doing this work.  And that I have a meeting with the youth pastor of a local church this afternoon because these are crazy times and I need to at least explore getting strong young men and women in our public high schools so that our kids, who are hurting and confused, have someone to look up to and emulate.  That there is less proselytizing and more just loving people and entering in to hurt that is needed.  And that maybe, hopefully, that leads to the cross, as it should.   I would tell you that our work will become loving people and you will be confused, because you really only care about yourself right now, but there will be a day when you won’t and you will realize then that this family you have become obsessed with are the best thing, but they are only the inroad to a much bigger purpose: serving the world.  And because kids are who they are, they will bring the world to you and will drop it’s broken, nasty self on your front porch and you will take that world inside and clean it up and feed it something yummy with protein and you will get filled up right alongside.

Oh Megan, I can never prepare you for the life we are going to live and now, at 43, it’s just starting.  The kids are in school full time and you are hitting your stride.  Ok, sometimes you binge watch The Crown and shop online far too long, but mostly you are figuring it out. Making a total muddle of it somedays and nailing it on others.  That has not and will not ever change.  I can’t prepare you for this life because I had no idea, but it will be ours and it will be great.  I wish you would start now, noticing the lonely kid and going out of your way to love.  But you are embracing this hedonistic, self-focused stage of development and that’s ok, because it will add meat to your testimony.  So, carry on with your teenage years and know that it’s all going to be ok.  That this future life we will live will be messy and hard and practically perfect for us.  And that it will teach us Kingdom lessons that we desperately need to learn.  Can’t wait to share them with you.

this is me being real.

shoot.

There is a grainy cell phone video circling the web in which you see whimpering children huddled together in a corner of a classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the shooting last Wednesday.  There are whimpers as they wait.  Of course there are whimpers.  And then the swat team bursts in and tells them to put their hands in the air and they do.  And that sea of shaking hands wrecks me.

I have no answers.  I can’t explain what goes through a boy’s mind when he walks into a school of his peers and opens fire.  I can’t begin to imagine the agony of a family like the Hoyers, who waited and waited for word of their son, not hearing until 1 am that he had been killed, even as their hearts surely knew long before that he was gone.  The thought of mothers and fathers wrapping their arms around their babies who have been terrorized and will never be the same and the mamas and dads whose arms are empty…its all horrible and I can’t make sense of any of it.

I didn’t grow up around guns, but my kids have and my love did.  We have guns, emptied of ammo and locked in a safe in our basement.  They are taken out and cleaned, used for target practice and hunting.  Our kids have learned the language of gun safety since they were teeny.  They will teach it to their children, this right to bear arms for protection and hunting.  Someday one of my sons might walk into a gun shop and purchase his first handgun.  If so, I hope that he is put through the wringer.  That if he has ever had a mental illness, an arrest, any kind of brush with the law, any indication that he is even a smidge less than stable that the law will prevent him from getting his hands on a weapon.  We need this.  I’m not interested in a debate here, you can peddle that on any of about a million facebook posts right now.  I’m simply saying as a mother of children who have been raised to respect and care for guns, that there is no down side to making it harder for everyone to get their hands on a weapon.  If you are mentally healthy, you have nothing to worry about.  If you have a clean record with the police, you have nothing to worry about.  If you have never had a violent strike on your record, have never been accused of domestic violence, this won’t affect you.  If you have taken the necessary gun safety classes and have proven you know how to handle and store guns, you will be in the clear.

You will possibly have to fill out more paperwork, take another class and repeat it every few years, pay a bit more and put yourself under scrutiny, but there are 17 families in Florida who will tell you it is a small price to pay and they’ve footed the lion’s share of the bill with the blood of their children.  Please don’t insult them by supposing that having a few more hoops to jump through to get your hands on a weapon is any kind of imposition because they will spend the rest of their lives tithing their tears to a government that has refused to more carefully vet prospective gun owners.

If we have any response to this new tragedy, let it be this: that if our leaders find the balls to put stricter gun regulations before congress, we keep our mouths shut, even when we suspect it’ll cause us some small inconvenience.  That we not tantrum when they ask us to pay more, attend classes or even if they reject our application altogether.  If we have any response to this let it err to the side of grace and respect for the lives that have been lost already and the lives that will surely be lost if we continue on this reckless path.  If we have any response to this latest school shooting, may it be to never forget the names: Alyssa, Scott, Martin, Nicholas, Aaron, Jaime, Chris, Luke, Cara, Gina, Joaqiun, Alaina, Meadow, Helena, Alex, Carmen, Peter.

If we have any response to this latest school shooting let it be to thank our teachers, who didn’t sign on for this job with their lives but who are daily laying them down to protect the precious children in their classrooms.  Who walk into school each day and mentally remind themselves of the action plan put in place should there ever be an active shooter in the school.  Let it be to pray for this nation that is so broken in this world that is falling to pieces.  And for our schools, which have become battlegrounds.  For the love of all that is holy, if we have any response to this latest school shooting, let it be on our knees, claiming this promise: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

dear younger me.3

I remember you in high school, wearing your short skirts and checking him out in Mr. Schrotenboer’s tenth grade algebra class.  He was adorable, you knew it, he didn’t, which made him even more adorable.  Your first date he will wear white girbaud jeans and a shy grin and you will melt.  You will stand at the door after he drops you off, wearing a stupid grin and whispering to yourself that you are gonna marry that boy someday.  You know almost nothing of romance or sex or how marriage even works but you are so sure he is the one.  Can I let you in on a little secret?  He is the one.  You will grow up and you will marry that boy and you will live happily ever after.  Except when you don’t.  Because there will be seasons when you wonder if it was a terrible mistake and you should have dated around more, held out for something better.  Lies.  He is something better, only you won’t always feel that way.

The shine is still on the penny in high school.  You’re playing at life without really having to live.  You imagine that you’ll both look the same, feel the same, act the same forever.  That this exciting thing that makes your skin vibrate will always do so and that the sight of him will always make you breathless.  Some days it will.  But there will come seasons when you only glance at him when he walks in the door, crying toddler hanging from your leg while you nurse the baby and stir the supper.  You will glance and nothing more.  There will come a season when you are so consumed by kids or anxiety or depression or work or or or that you will glance and nothing more.  You will look at pictures of the two of you in high school and you will long for those days of first kisses and stolen touch even as you lie in bed and ask him take his time but please don’t kiss you because you have an abscess on your gum and you don’t want him to burst your puss sack.  And had you said that to him in those first years of marriage he might have run for the hills, but twenty two years in he has seen you at your worst and has adored you there too.  He has watched you give birth four times and has born the brunt of your moodiness.  Nothing can faze this man.

Younger me, enjoy every cherry blossom-filled second of early dating because it is the sweetest, but know this: the rest is sweeter.  There will come a day when you honestly can’t remember a time you weren’t a pair.  You will roll over in the morning and look at your love and even though the years haven’t all been kind to either of you, you would make the same choice again.  And you do.  Every day of your marriage will be a re-choosing.  You will wake up, stumble into your bathroom, see the toothpaste on his sink and his whiskers on the counter and you will choose him again.  When he gives you the dreamiest earrings you’ve ever seen on Mother’s Day and his eyes are soft and liquid, you will choose him.  When he hold teeny babies in his strong arms and his eyes swim, you will choose him.  And when he hurts you deeply and you can hardly breathe for it, you will choose him.  Someday you will stand before Reverend John Guest, his English accent reverberating through the church, and you will promise to keep choosing this man for the rest of your life.  And even during those years when your children’s needs consume you both, you will know that choosing him is the best way to love them.  That they need to walk in on you making out in the kitchen sometimes.  That their security is wrapped up in finding you snuggling in bed on a Saturday morning and that they learn vital lessons about making it work when they hear you disagree and still respect and love one another.

Girl, you are making decisions now that will reverberate though the rest of your life.  This is a terrifying part of growing up: this adulting when you’re really just a baby, but he is one decision that is rock solid.  Together you will be rocked by six kids and two dogs and a keloid scar named Steve.   You will tear the house apart weekly, looking for a white blanket named black.  You will meet up in your closet and he will hold you while you cry bitter tears about one thing or another.  And you will hold those strong shoulders when he mourns his mom or the first time his son asks him about sex.  Your home will be sacred ground and a battlefield and a safe haven, all wrapped up and you will throw open your doors and welcome people in because what you’ve been given is grace upon grace, all heaped up and running over and you have only to look at the two of you to know it.   Young Megan, you know nothing now of sex and romance and marriage, but you will learn.

this is me being real.