Month: September 2015

The Back Roads

I was driving to work with a friend the other day. “If you turn here, you can take the back roads,” he said.

“Back roads?” I asked. “ I had no idea.”

I had already finished my coffee and also managed to squeeze in a walk, so I decided I could add a little adventure to my list of accomplishments that morning as I pulled into the turn lane.

“It’s a great shortcut. Take a right at the light but stay in the left lane because the right lane ends,” he said. “Okay, now go through the first stop sign and then you’ll take a left at the next one.”

Sure enough, he knew exactly where he was going. He knew which unmarked roads led to the other unmarked roads which led to our destination. It was peaceful. No traffic. One single stoplight. A paved trail ran parallel to the road, along the edge of a forest preserve, welcoming avid cyclists as they began their day. It was quiet. Purple, yellow and white dripping-with-dew wildflowers lined the road. Might I get all girly for a minute, it.was.just.beautiful.

“Whadcha think? Faster?” he asked, as we found a parking spot.

“Faster. Peaceful. Prettier. Quieter. It’s a winner,” I said.

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Since that day, I’ve been taking the back roads. Every morning, I look forward to inching my way through the construction traffic and making the initial turn onto the back roads. I feel like I’m on a secret route that only the locals know. Like I’ve been here long enough to be able to get from A to B without relying on Google Maps (because once you’ve been led astray by iPhone nav, you don’t make that same mistake twice).

Learning the back roads takes time. It means you’ve been around for a while. That you know the place well. The back roads aren’t usually well-traveled or well-known, but there is rich beauty there. The back roads add mystery and depth to communities filled with highways and byways used by people busily scurrying through their lives.

And the other day, I got to thinking. We all have friends, people in our lives, neighbors, workout partners, work friends, the family that always sits behind us at church on Sundays and what was their little boys name again? We know the bank tellers face, but for the life of us, can’t remember her name. And that family at gymnastics or soccer or school. We spend our days interacting with people on the highways and byways of our lives. We go fast and furious, and if you’re anything like me, the task at hand becomes the focus and the people become the afterthought.

However. It is my friends, MY PEOPLE, my village who I love the most and need the most. Who I’m completely honest and transparent and vulnerable with. Who see my tears of both joy and exhaustion. Who know my greatest triumphs and my greatest fears. Those friends know my back roads.

With those friends, I don’t just know about them and they don’t know about me, I know what makes them tick, what brings them joy. I’ve been around long enough to discover their less traveled and strikingly beautiful roads and they’ve found mine, weeds and wildflowers and all.

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I don’t know about your schedule, but I sometimes feel like I don’t have time to discover or invest in many more deeper friendships. And not because I don’t want more friends, but I have bills and a kiddo and work and a house and groceries and all of the things, after all.

But. But, but, but….the crazy, crazy thing, that I am reminded of each morning: Like some of the best ironies of life that just don’t always add up, is that in spite of our chaotic schedules and to-do lists, investing in people, and I mean really, really, really diving in and seeing and knowing people, much like taking the back roads, ends up getting us “there” faster in the end.

And here is my theory about why: Jesus always cares more about his people, his village, his kids, than he does about our to-do lists, our activities, our schedules, jobs or all of our things.

He wants us to love him and love each other. That’s it. I think He wants us to linger with people long enough to find their back roads and then travel them often, weeds and wildflowers and all.



Kindergarten Quips

FullSizeRender_1It’s been a day. Actually, it has been three days. Three full days of Kindergarten. And so far, we have mastered: the bus stop. It has been a little bit of an adjustment, actually, it hasn’t “has been” anything. We are still adjusting and getting used to the routine and the folders and the homework and all of the things. It still feels awkward and busy and like an uphill climb. But today especially has just been one of “those days.” And I realize it is Day 3. However.

Whoever invented common core math should have maybe TAUGHT THE PARENTS how do it first. Whatever I spent 18 years learning when it comes to math exists no more. New math vocab: some kind of malarkey that includes counters and cubes and I don’t know what. What happened to 1+1=2? Parents of littles, be warned, and perhaps start practicing now. I’m not even kidding you, I had to “phone a friend” to be sure we were doing KINDERGARTEN MATH correctly. Thank you common core math inventor for making a momma feel smart, smart, smart.

Speaking of homework, I’ve also realized that homework will for sure be one of the topics my child discusses with her future therapist. Maybe because it’s 7:24pm and we are just walking in the door because there has been school and work and a PTA meeting and curriculum night and we still have a million things to do. And because we haven’t had snack or bath or book or Bible or prayers or song and 8:00 is 36 minutes away. And maybe because I’m tired and she’s tired and COMMON CORE MATH, but homework turns me into a CRAZY PERSON. We will for sure need an intervention if either of us is going to survive the next 13 years.

Additionally. When I went to school, we had a lunch ticket and a lunch line, and when we didn’t like what they had on the menu, we brought our lunch. But for the most part, we went through the lunch line, got served the instant mashed potatoes with turkey and gravy, the canned green beans, an ice cream scoop of fruit cocktail, some white bread and a little carton of 2% milk, unless it was Friday, when we got chocolate.

Not at the “new kindergarten.” No lunch ticket. No lunch line. The children must bring their own lunch every day. And while I’d prefer to pack my daughter’s lunch most days, tonight, I’m tired. And I don’t want to make another PB&J. I want to give her a lunch ticket for the lunch line. So now that I think about it, back in the day, lunch lines were really for tired moms, I’m pretty sure.

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And another thing. Come to find out, the same is true at school as it is in life: There is an app for that. I have two new apps on my phone that I now check almost as regularly as Facebook and email and Instagram. Amazing. I get this little notification that tells me exactly when my child did something great or not so great, and it even has corresponding emojis. Kids don’t stand a chance these days. Not only do I know what my kiddo did, I know the exact time it happened, and I can text the teacher immediately. #raisingkidsinatechnologyworld

Teachers and administrators: I give you props. You have hard jobs. I can barely keep up with one student in KINDERGARTEN, I don’t know how you manage classrooms full of them. Praying people: Pray for me, and actually, pray for my child. We are both experiencing a “growth edge” with this homework business, and so far, I think she’s got a better handle on it than I do.

And finally. I’m sorry Mr. Common Core Inventor, unlike the man who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop, I’m not quite ready to shake your hand.