Becoming a Great Man…Happy Birthday, Nate

There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great. – G.K. Chesterton

 

15 years. (and in the following pic, his friend is doing thumbs down because it was just before we moved away.

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In so many ways, it seems that our Nate should be older. He carries himself as an older teen. He has a confidence and independence that is eager to be let loose…he is the first of our kids to pursue a job, completely on his own. And now I hear from his bosses how his work ethic is great and his attitude fantastic.

 

And yet, I turn around and can see that little boy so full of life. He has always felt things deeply.

 

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Now he is maturing before our eyes. The mischievous youngster who was always pulling pranks and coming up with new adventures is becoming the young man who is planning trips to Europe and college in New York.

 

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There are things about our Nate that have not changed, and that’s why the quote on the top is in bold…when you know Nate, you are impacted by being in relationship with him.

 

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He will challenge you. He will question why you think the way you do, or why you judge a person a certain way…and he will also know how to make you laugh and how to make you know you are loved. He is intentional and wise in his relationships.

 

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This boy, who always had the biggest laugh and the craziest stories, can read people better than most. He can tell if you are down, and he can tell when he is pushing buttons…sometimes just to continue pushing them. But he still has the biggest laugh, and he can completely delight in the antics of our cats or something silly on the internet.

 

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He loves life. He is all in. 

 

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Except when he is sleeping. Well, then he is all in to the sleeping and impossible to wake. He does everything with gusto.

 

He has plans, plans for making films and telling stories through them. He has places he wants to see, and he is learning the languages of those places so he can experience and see them to the best of his ability.

 

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15 years. The changes over the last few have been remarkable. He now is almost…maybe right at…as tall as his dad. He is lanky and strong and can stick his feet behind his head when he likes.

 

 

Nate is Nate. He is all these things combined to make this unique 15 year old who can bring delight and laughter and curiosity, and make you aware that life is grand and it is good to be alive.

 

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He has the possibility, and the ability to make those around him feel great. That is a special quality. I can’t wait to see how that character grows in the coming years. The awkwardness of the early teens is leaving, and the confidence and maturity of nearing adulthood is beginning to appear.

 

15 great years. More to come. More adventures. More mysteries. More making of movies and telling of stories. More laughter. More discovering what delights. More of life. Thankful that he will bring us all along for the ride.

 

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Happy Birthday, my Nate.

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It’s not wasted time…

I really don’t have time to sit and just read, to sit and doodle in my bullet journal. 


I don’t have time to read just for pleasure…even if I come across things like this from Madeleine L’Engle:

If I am to be constant in loving and honoring my mother I must not lose sight of ‘ousia’. It’s a good word; it’s my new word. Last summer my word was ‘ontology’: the word about being. This summer I need to go a step further, to ‘ousia’, the essence of being, to that which is really real….


…I learn slowly, and always the hard way. Trying to be what I am not, and cannot be, is not only arrogant, it is stupid…


And This…


“I’m much more use to family and friends when I’m not physically and spiritually depleted than when I spend my energies as though they were unlimited. They are not. The time at the typewriter (!) and the time at the brook refresh me and put me into a more workable perspective.”


I have been attempting to write this blog post for about two weeks. 
I think.

I’ve actually lost track of time a bit…the last few weeks have just been a flurry of activity. I had pictured homeschool life as one of tranquility, with morning lessons on the couch, possibly with a fire in the fireplace. Children blissfully passing our book around and reading allowed, to the rapt attention of their siblings.

Ok, maybe I never went quite that far. But I really did think that it would be a peaceful existence. There would be less demands than a “regular” school life. Last year we put our house on the market in December and moved in January. That was not conducive to peaceful schooling. This year, I am just deeply aware of the errands and the busyness. 

My homeschool life feels a bit more like holding on to the tail of the tiger and hoping he doesn’t catch me. It has been chaotic and unpredictable. One child is working 15+ hours a week, but he doesn’t drive. One child has twice weekly soccer practices, while another has as many or more hockey practices. I have physical therapy appointments at least twice a week trying to manage a new onslaught of headaches. Annoying. Then there are Tutorials and church and …. 

I caught a friend the other day as we walked in to Tutorial for our younger kids and gave her a hard time for not responding to a text. She confessed to just being overwhelmed. And we connected in that moment…we all are feeling it a bit.

Life is busy. 

I have a tendency to think…”next week, I’ll find the rhythm. Next week I will be more organized and more on top of things.” Before I know it, next week has come and gone and looked a lot like last week. 

Dishes take awhile to get cleaned, and the laundry will forever be my nemesis. 

The kids are helping more, and that is good.

But there is a feeling of inadequacy that sneaks in on me, and I have a feeling it sneaks in on a lot of us. We see the good our friends put out there…they look put together and cheerful, and the anxiety that is just under the surface for us begins to come more forward. Our failures that morning are more glaring.

So…my answer is to go and drink good coffee, listen to good music, and doodle in my bullet journal. Pretending it is all put together with a nice flourish? Nah…but the sanity that comes to me in these few hours a week bring a peace to my chaos. 

The above quote from L’Engle comes from her book The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, which is her final journey with her mom and their experience of Alzheimer’s / Dementia. This is one of my favorite books, part of the Crosswicks Journals. Find them and read them. 
Preferably over coffee and with time taken away from demanding things.

We have to find who we are called to be, and we have to find a way to be comfortable in our skins and in our callings. And right now my calling includes laundry and dirty dishes and driving all around town in unpredicatable schedules.  Right now my calling is being the daughter of a mother who no longer remembers, or even is able to use language. Right now my ousia is being that daughter from a distance, and that is difficult…but it is also being a mother myself, and that is surprisingly a blessing. 

It is a blessing when I protect that core of ousia. These coffee breaks are not frivolous. They are life-sustaining. They are moments my brain is allowed to work the way it did before homeschool…and it informs how I homeschool. These moments give the space to feel what it is to be the daughter of a mother who no longer remembers, and to value all the more the memories I hold dear. They allow the space to write about those memories, maybe in a protest for the memories Mom no longer can share. 

That is part of this. The pace of life is frantic, and that does not leave room for truly being, and for remembering. There is a discipline to remembering. There is a discipline to just being. And when we make space to read those who are living well, we read things like this:


“My memory of Mother, which is the fullest memory of anybody living, is only fragmentary. I would like to believe that the creator I call God still remembers all of my mother, knows and cares for the ousia of her, and is still teaching her, and helping her to grow into the self he created her to be, her integrated, whole, redeemed self.”


If you are feeling fragmented and frantic and out of sorts today, know this…so am I. So are a lot of us. So take a breath, and remember that we do not walk this life in some demand for perfection on our own skills. We walk this life in an experience of growing and knowing in the care of a Creator who knows who we are. He knows who he is forming us to be, and how it all works together. 

So relax. Be prepared, and live with the best ability…but in the freedom that God is involved in all of it. That we have a core of identity we operate from well. Be still and know…know who God is and know who you are in Him. Take a breath. Doodle a bullet journal. Read something that truly speaks to you and makes your brain come to life. 

Then go wash those dishes with a bit more twinkle in your eye and joy in spirit.  And maybe invite that friend out for coffee who seems the most overwhelmed…and remind them of all of this as well.  (And while we are all trying not to be perfectionists…note that I misspelled September in my glorious Bullet Journal above!)