Guarantees

Last Friday my husband texted me to say he was feeling sick, needed to come home and go to bed. 

Cue elevated heart rate. 

Ok. Come on home. Symptoms? Sore throat, headache, fever. Ok. It could be strep. We’ve had strep go through the house in the past month. Or…it could be covid. Ok, not going to go there till I have to. 

By the next day his sore throat wasn’t very bad but he was passed out with a fever. Ok. In strep, sore throat usually gets worse, not better. I went ahead and canceled everyone’s weekend plans and we started treating it like possible Covid. 

And I felt like I was back on the river in my canoe, rapids ahead. Get ready. Adrenaline pumping. High alert. 

I wasn’t able to get him tested till Monday, results came back positive. I’m starting to paddle fast now. Ok, we need to get groceries in, call all the schools, email them the test results, let’s get this laundry caught up. House needs to be clean. 

We need to be ready. Cause, I’m probably going to get sick too. And what if my teenagers get sick too? And what if my kids get sick and need to go to the doctor? And I’m looking at my husband passed out in bed, the sickest I’ve ever seen him, and I’m wondering how I’m going to keep taking care of my family while I am equally sick? Big rapids ahead. Get ready. 

In the middle of all this, my parents called, said, we’ve already had covid, we’re not going to get it again this soon, come to my house so we can help. 

It didn’t take very long to realize this was definitely the best option. Then we went into a full-blown quick retreat. Everyone pack! Take out the trash, wash up those dishes, clean up this mess, we’re heading to Grandmas. And I felt this urgency. I had a headache coming on and all I could think was, I’m going to be in bed sick very soon and I need to get my kids settled first. 

So, we all packed up in a very short amount of time and headed out the door. 

And I never got sick. And none of my kids got sick. But my adrenaline is still pumping as I watch my husband, still not sure how his recovery is going to play out. 

And I want guarantees. I want to know with certainty that all my loved ones will remain healthy and happy and cared for. I want to know that I’ll pray for healing, and healing will happen. I want to know that instead of going through the rapids, I can just say, let’s skip this part of the river, and I’ll be magically transported to another peaceful section of water where no giant rocks loom right under the surface, ready to upset my boat. 

But here I am. No guarantees. My boat is tipping all over the place. Actually,  I think I’ve already jumped out of the boat and am dragging it. 

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

I guess I do have a guarantee, that God is going to use every single thing that happens in my life to shape me into the person he wants me to be. 

But, I am looking forward to some calm waters, coming soon I hope. 

Increase My Faith

We went camping as a family this last weekend. It was a lot of fun. Canoe camping. We drove into a National Park, put into a lake and then paddled over two hours before we got to a creek/small river. We took our canoes out and then had to carry our stuff up the bank, down the trail about the equivalent of a city block to our campsite. We got our tents up, a campfire going, cooked some supper. The kids were running around the woods having a lot of fun. Suddenly my daughter started crying and grabbed her chest. She ran over to me. Mom! My chest hurts! I need my inhaler! Ok. I got this. I went and got my ziploc bag full of all my emergency medicine that I always have with me on these trips. (Be prepared!) I pulled out her inhaler with her spacer, handed it to her, she went to press the button and something was wrong. The actual medicine tube had fallen out of the casing. There was no albuterol. Just the plastic casing. Crap. 

Ok. Take a deep breath. (Me, not the asthmatic kid.) I stood there, holding her in a hug while I rubbed her back. It’s ok. Let’s get you out of this woodsmoke and stop running around. We’ll find a nice quiet place to sit till you feel better. I could tell she was starting to panic. I was trying not to panic. We just stood there quietly for a while. I got a camp chair and moved it away from the smoke. Sat her down. My brain was racing. Ok. People had asthma long before inhalers came around. I took mental stock of what I had. I could pound on her back to help loosen things up? I remembered that in my medicine bag I had some essential oils. We could put some in boiling water and have her breath in the steam with a towel over her head. Ok. We can do this. I stopped and prayed out loud for her and she slowly calmed down. 

It was bedtime. The girls were all going to sleep in their own tent, but this had thrown my daughter off. She asked to sleep in my tent. Sure sweetie. Then it was a domino effect as the other girls decided that they weren’t brave enough to sleep solo if one of the sisters was missing. So then I had three extra kids in my tent. And an empty tent all set up. My husband abandoned ship and took one of the little boys and they went and shared the abandoned tent and I layed down, surrounded by little ones. 

As I lay there in the dark my heart was pounding and I found myself fighting off fear. Yes, my asthmatic child seemed to be doing better. But what if her asthma got worse? I imagined us jumping into a canoe in the middle of the night, paddling for hours, and then driving trying to find a hospital for her. My other daughter said her head was hurting and she had a runny nose. What if it was Covid? What if she suddenly got really sick in the middle of the night, and here we are, out in the middle of nowhere??

And I found myself casting out a desperate prayer, God how do I stop living in so much fear? And he answered me. I lay there and God showed me image after image in my head of how I view Him. My warped understanding of Him. My default worldview that has me thinking of God as someone distant who constantly disapproves of me. I come to him as a slave to a harsh master, crying for mercy, but not sure about getting it. And then he brought to my mind a dream that he had given me back when I was nineteen years old. In college. I didn’t even know what a prophetic dream was back then. I just knew that the dream had been different. I told my roommate, I think God was trying to tell me something in a dream. And after I told her about the dream she said, Yes! God was definitely telling you something! I wrote the dream down. But, I still remember it vividly. 

I won’t go into all the details of the dream. But it was essentially, God loving me as a groom loves his bride. And I thought how different, how much stronger my faith would be, if I could fully grasp how loved I was by God. How my prayers would seem different. Asking for help from your lover is so different from asking for help from a Master. I know that if I asked my husband for something, he would want to do it for me. Just because he loved me. And he would take pleasure in giving it to me. 

We read the story last night of Jesus with his disciples out on a boat in a storm. And the disciples were all freaked out and Jesus stops the storm with his words. And then in Mark 4: 40-41, 

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”  They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Do you still have no faith? And then they ask, Who is this? And that seems to be really key to not being afraid. Having a true understanding of who our God is and having faith that he will stay true to his character. Religion and law teach us that God is someone that we are constantly trying to appease by being good, following the rules. Relationship with God is different. It’s understanding that he First Loved Us and then he Made A Way for us to be reconciled to him because of his Great Love for us. 

I feel like I have been on a lifelong journey to move from the position of viewing God through Law to the position of viewing God through Grace. I’m not there yet. But, I feel a lot more like I know how to pray. I know better what needs to change. God, let me understand you better as a God of Love. Let me walk in a fuller understanding of your Grace. Increase my faith. 

Fat Fridays: The Inconvenience of Getting Hot and Sweaty

Ok, all you exercise people. How do you work around the Hot and Sweaty part of exercise during a regular work day? I am finding the whole Hot and Sweaty question a bit of a stumbling block for exercise. 

First of all, it’s August. That is our State’s hottest, muggiest month of the year. It’s just kind of miserable. That means that any time you exert yourself, even for a walk down the block, you are going to get hot and sweaty. No avoiding it. 

Then, you have days like today where I get up and can’t figure out what to put on. I have to take a child to a doctor appointment in the middle of the day. Before I go to the doctor I have to drive children to school (and yesterday I made the mistake of thinking, no one will see me, I’ll just wear this ratty camisole shirt when I go to drop off the kids, and then my preschooler flipped out and I ended up having to walk him in instead of dropping him off, so yeah, I have to dress for drop off), I have to do laundry and mop some floors, but then, in the middle of that I have to go to the doctor’s appointment. And then this morning, I was just tired of wearing shorts and tshirts and so I put on a summer dress and sandals. Not exercise clothes. But very nice for going to appointments and school drop offs. And then I think, maybe I just won’t exercise today because I don’t feel like getting hot and sweaty. And I feel all fresh and pretty in my dress. And who wants to ruin that? 

This is a real hurdle! 

And my trainer is going to text me today when she notices that I haven’t completed my workout and she’ll say something like, So, how’s it looking for getting your workout in today? And I’ll have to say, sorry I couldn’t do it. I put on a dress this morning and I don’t want to get hot and sweaty. 

Arrgh. 

What’s going to end up happening is I’m going to have to finish taking all my kids to their various schools and then I will have to come home, change my clothes, exercise, take a shower, and then put the same clothes I started off with, back on. Not convenient. But I don’t know how else to do it. 

Exercise is not convenient. This is my take away. 

But, it’s worth it. 

Covid and the New School Year

I just read an article on SLATE titled, “I Have No Idea What I’m OK Letting My Kids Do During Covid Anymore” by Allison Benedikt. I was nodding and smiling the whole time I read it, cause yep, I’m in the same place. 

We are in the South. Our schools are not requiring masks, and our governor just made a rule that parents can opt-out of any mask mandates. The Superintendent of our school district made an announcement that our schools can’t offer virtual options when we have absences due to Covid. In a high school meeting we were informed that absences are a big problem and we need to have signed notes any time our kids are absent and make it a big priority to have as few absences as possible. Ok. Great message when you also don’t want kids to come to school if they have any symptoms at all. Our homeschooling co-op has a rule that if ANYONE in the family is sick, don’t come. Which is a pain in the butt when you have a big family, but it’s very effective at keeping any possibility of germs from showing up. But, public schools do not have that policy. 

So, my kids went to school the first week. Day three, one child came home and was not feeling well. By evening she had a fever. She ended up having strep throat and then three days later also came down with symptoms of the hand foot and mouth virus. Both of those are pretty common childhood illnesses that get passed around all the time. But, I want to point out something. Last school year my kids went to public school and wore masks. We did not get sick. The entire year. It was bizarre. No strep. No colds. No stomach bugs. And no covid. 

I talked to the nurse practitioner who saw my sick kids (cause yes, the strep and other virus both spread to all the other little kids). I asked her what she thought about masks at school and the idea that kids DO need to be exposed to childhood viruses so they can build their immune system. She hemmed and hawed. Wouldn’t commit to any stance (which is understandable, it’s a highly charged subject). 

I had one child who did not get sick. It was time to send kids to school, everyone from the elementary school was staying home except her. She had no symptoms. According to public school policy, I should send her to school. But, she COULD get sick. It was very possible that I would send her to school and then by the afternoon she could have a fever. What do you do? So, I gave her a mask and told her to wear it. No, it doesn’t block everything, but it does block some.  Hopefully it would make her less contagious. Well, when I picked her up at the end of the day, she was not wearing her mask. Said it was hot. Got annoying. Fortunately, she did not end up getting sick, but my thoughts of maybe sending my kids to school with masks kind of fell flat. Without it being a rule and someone enforcing it, there is no way they are going to keep them on. I also was talking to a therapist who works at the school and she said the kids who were showing up with masks were getting teased about it. 

I think the general attitude in our state is that Covid is a virus. It’s unavoidable. Like colds and the flu. Vaccines are available, but like flu shots, are going to be very limited in what they can do in the longterm, simply because covid is a constantly mutating virus. And so, we are going about the business of doing normal life with Covid. And it’s messy. No one knows what the rules are. No one knows who to listen to. The hospitals are filling up. When my father got sick with Covid, he ended up getting transferred to an out-of-state hospital. 

And us parents are standing on the sidelines, scratching our heads, hoping that we are making the right choices for our kids. But not sure. 

Fat Fridays: Trying Not to Capsize

A couple weeks ago we were on a river canoe trip. My canoe had me in the back, my seventeen year old daughter in the front and a seven and eight year old in the middle. It was the last day of the trip. We were tired. We did not want our canoe to tip over like it had the day before. We were on high alert. We were going through some rapids and despite our best efforts we hit a big rock and got stuck. The canoe started to tip over, one side getting centimeters from the water that was threatening to pour in and capsize us. My seventeen year old and I both threw ourselves to one side to try and counterbalance the boat while we made efforts to push off the rock. We were both yelling instructions to each other, pulse racing as we fought the river. Suddenly the two little girls in the middle started yelling frantically. LOOK! LOOK!!! Thinking that there was some other disaster happening to the boat I craned my neck around, trying to see what was wrong. They were both pointing at a bald eagle that was flying low overhead, very close to us. Everything froze for a second while we stared at the eagle, watching it fly gracefully through the air. Then we got sucked right back into our emergency. I don’t have time to look at a bird! I’m trying to save the boat!!

Ok. So, I feel like this story is an analogy of how my diet is going. My life and trying to get NINE kids settled into FIVE different schools with all the BACK TO SCHOOL fuss that happens for each school, my parents being sick, trying to bounce back from a vacation, get my house in order after a long summer of not having my house in order, and still dealing with the daily stuff of doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, dishwashing, and laundry…All that is me in a canoe trying not to capsize. Diet and exercise are the bald eagle flying over. 

I am trying to exercise every day. I’m having my one homeschooler join me as part of his PE. But today my trainer has me doing a 45 minute hill workout. And I’m not sure how that’s going to happen as I have a sick child that has to go to the doctor this morning and in the afternoon I’m supervising a family visit for my foster child. It might have to wait till tomorrow. 

I’m trying to eat healthy and modest portions, but a lot of my meals have been on the run with not enough time to stop at the store to get my healthy snacks etc. 

I am anticipating probably two more weeks before life starts settling into our FALL ROUTINE. But right now, I’m just trying to keep this canoe from tipping over. 

Urgent Prayer Need

My parents have covid. My dad has the covid pneumonia and has been put into a Covid Unit. My mom is not as sick and is recuperating at home. 

I need to write. My emotions are hitting all four points of the compass and I think several parts of my brain have just shut down temporarily. 

Please pray for our family. 

Right now I need to be in three different places at once and the levels of priority are slight and nuanced and so there is no clear path to figure out where I should be. At this very minute in time, my oldest son is staying with his grandmother to take care of her. My father is holding steady. And so I am doing what is in front of me. Unpacking after vacation. Getting kids ready for school which starts in a week. Buying groceries, school supplies, school clothes. One foot in front of the other. Texting a million people. Talking to nurses. Checking in with everybody often. 

I’m clinging hard to Jesus. Clinging to his promises. I know my father is saved and whenever his life ends here on earth, he will be with Jesus in eternity. I know that God knows we’re not ready for that to happen yet. I know that my Mom is in God’s hands. But I hate seeing her suffer. I know that sickness is not a punishment, just part of living in this fallen world. But I also know God can heal. I know that God is good. I know that I am loved and not alone. But my adrenaline is pumping hard and I feel like it’s me versus Covid as I try to make everything better for my parents. Long to make everything better. 

I need wisdom. The doctors need wisdom. My whole family needs wisdom. And Peace. Please pray that we can keep our eyes focused on Jesus as we navigate this horrible time. 

Fat Fridays: Me and the St Croix River

So, today is more of a story, but I feel like it works for Fat Fridays because this story would never have happened if I had not started a weightloss/exercise journey and got the confidence to try more strenuous activities.

I just got back from a three day river canoe trip. Woohoo! A three day river canoe trip with all my children (minus the oldest two), several nieces and nephews and assorted aunts and uncles, and our dog. Double woohoo. 

Will I ever take small children on a river canoe trip again? No.

Will I ever take my dog on a river canoe trip again?  Also No. 

Am I still glad I went? Definitely!

We did a twenty mile stretch on the St Croix River in Maine. It’s on the border with Canada which made for the interesting situation where you can only get out of the river on one side. Look! There’s Canada! Don’t touch! 

We had five canoes. One wooden, four aluminum. My husband made homemade paddles for all the kids ahead of time. We had a total of six tents while camping. We were a good size group. 

So, I looked up the St Croix River on the internet a day or two before we left and I found this description that said the St Croix had class 1 and 2 rapids and was a perfect river for beginners. “Light-hearted rapids that make the trip fun and enjoyable!” Yeah. Ok. I can say with all honesty, that I spent three days in high-adrenaline mode, heart racing, with the feeling that I was fighting for my life and the lives of my children almost the entire time. Which is kind of silly. As I pointed out to my children, in an effort to sooth them, the water itself was not that scary. If we had come to the river to swim or tube it would not have been intimidating. Even in the very worst rapids, I was able to get out of the canoe and stand in the water as I wrestled our boat off of large rocks. It just feels scary when you’re in a narrow boat and it feels like you’re going to tip over at any moment. 

We did tip over. All of our boats. Except one. Yay Uncle Mike and Auntie Asanuo! (And on the last day I put my two youngest in their boat in an effort to save them from any more trauma.) We had one boat severely crippled on the second day, so we had to distribute it’s load to all the other boats. Another boat sprung a bad leak at the end of the second day. But we were able to patch it. The younger kids did NOT enjoy tipping over. To put it mildly. (Pro-tip, from about eight years old and up the kids did fine. We had one seven year old do great and another, not great, younger than that, it was a bit much.) (But they all rallied at the end and claimed that they enjoyed themselves…Mostly.) 

We camped two nights. The first night was idyllic. We had a great site all to ourselves. The camp cooks made an amazing gourmet tinfoil dinner. My husband got to show his nephew a bit about fishing. I took lots of pictures and felt very content with life. 

The second night we showed up at four in the afternoon to the campsite. We had just had a long traumatic day. Everyone was wet and shivering. We had two kids wrapped in emergency blankets. Two crippled boats. Moral was low. There were two campsites, but a guided tour group had got there first and they had spread out into both campsites. My husband went and asked if there was any way we could squeeze into one side, as we had cold children, crippled boats etc. The tour guides said no. We could go across to the Canada side (illegal) or we could go another four miles to the next campsite. I was not thinking happy thoughts at that moment. 

We assessed our situation and knew we could not go farther. One of our group walked downriver to see if there was a place in the woods we could just make do with. We sat there and waited as we figured out what to do. In the meantime, the group from the guided tour spoke up and told their guides that they should make room for us and group peer pressure won the day. The guides came back and said they would move over and give us a campsite. We said we would greatly appreciate it. When we got into camp, we hung up a line for wet clothes right at the edge of camp and created a privacy screen and then attempted to keep our kids a little more quiet and kept to ourselves. The guides did come over several times and offered assistance with anything we needed, so it turned out ok. But it was awkward. That night I retreated to bed at seven and left my husband to wrangle kids. Which he did admirably. 

The last day was short and only had a couple rapids that we all, with our new skills, went through with very little problems. 

Accolades. I can’t finish this without handing out some awards. 

The dog gets DOG OF THE YEAR award. Every day he got back into the canoe. He didn’t try to run away. He didn’t fight us. He just got back in. Even though he knew what was coming. He didn’t panic while he was in the boat, except to stand up every time we got into rapids. Which you really can’t blame him. I’m sure it was just survival instinct kicking in. The knowledge that he needed to be ready to abandon ship at any moment. So yeah, I’ve got the best dog ever. 

My teens get TEENS OF THE YEAR award. My seventeen year old proved to be a very competent paddler and we made a great team. She stayed calm, jumped into the river multiple times with me as we freed our canoe. I was super impressed. My fifteen year old did great and she was willing to get into the canoe with the twelve and thirteen year old boys (ok, I bribed her, but still, she was willing to be bribed). The teen/preteen boat had very little skill and hit almost every rock in the river and capsized quite a few times. BUT!! They stayed cheerful and had fun with it the whole time! YAY preteens/teenagers!!! 

My little kids get BEST KIDS EVER award for loving us and forgiving us for getting them wet and cold. And they did their best to have fun and stay positive. YAY KIDS!!

All of my inlaws get the BEST INLAWS EVER award. We had some rough spots and it could have got ugly. But everyone stayed calm, there was no complaining. Everyone did their part cheerfully and went above and beyond what was necessary and we all ended up with a great trip. YAY INLAWS!!

And of course my husband gets HUSBAND OF THE YEAR award. Cause he made it all happen. And he’s just awesome anyway. 

And me? I came away with a giant dose of confidence. Yeah. I’m pretty sure I can do anything. 🙂

“Ravished”

Several years ago my older kids learned a dance to a song called “Ravished” by Jesse Cline and Ashleigh Brison.  It’s from the album “Breathe Ultimate Call”. I love this song. Every time I hear it I cry. I remember watching my children worship as they performed this song and it was like a foreshadowing of heaven. Watching your children worship Jesus is the ultimate goal for parenthood. 

Now, as I interact with my adult children and other people in the same age range, fresh, just starting out into the world, I feel like this song says everything that I want them to know. 

These are the words from the Bridge: 

Bridge 1

Whеn I was broken

When I was wounded

Like a hero, You saved the day

Your love has rescued me

But now that I’m made new

I found new life in You

And I’m never going back

Oh, You have my heart

You have my heart

And I found it all in You

And I’m sitting here crying because I want everyone to know this. Jesus is the answer. That’s it. There is no other way to get through this life. There aren’t any shortcuts. There aren’t any other paths that lead in the same direction. Jesus. That’s it. Accepted on his terms. He is Lord. He is Savior. Give your life to him. Surrender completely. It’s the only way to have happiness in this life. The only way to peace. The only way to Joy. How do you make it through this crazy thing called life? Jesus. How do you survive anxiety and depression? Jesus. How do you figure out what to do with your life? Follow Jesus, he’ll show you. How do you fix the brokenness in your life? Jesus. How do you become the best version of you possible? Jesus. 

I don’t know how to convince people of this except to say, Look. Here is my life. Here is how I’m getting through. Jesus. Everything I do, He is the only way that I’m doing it. And I would never do it a different way. I have found everything I need in him. 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

And my heart sings, “I found it all in you.” And I want everyone to have this same peace and confidence. Jesus. He is the answer. 

A Time for Quiet

We are on vacation right now. Taking part in a family reunion. Back to the stomping grounds of my husband’s youth. It’s a place that feels like home. Lakes, fields, forests. Small towns. Vast northern skies. It’s been almost twenty-two years since our honeymoon when my husband first brought me to Maine. And since then we’ve made regular pilgrimages. I am very familiar with the over-eleven-hundred-mile drive. 

For me, it’s a place where I can get steeped in nature. Forget about city traffic, polution, people everywhere you turn. It’s a place where you just sit and stare at the water. Watch for loons. See an eagle every once in a while. Laugh at the ducks. Take long walks down dirt roads. 

It’s a place where I can slow down my heartbeat. Slow down my frantic thoughts. Slow down the rhythm of our family. Life simplifies to the lowest common denominator. Play, eat, sleep. 

This morning I sat on the porch, watching my kids swim, painting my toenails. After a long time, I finished. Beautiful! I did it! (This is an accomplishment for me to not get nail polish all over the place.) Then my four year old wanted to sit with me and he stepped on my foot. Back to square one. But it’s ok. I’ve got time to fix it. Nothing else is pressing in. 

The kids are reconnecting with cousins. Aunts and Uncles catching up on each other’s news. We break bread together. Pictures are taken. 

I think about the fact that years ago, a family this spread out would never have seen each other again. The distance too far, the cost too high. Now we can jump in our cars, book airline tickets. Set a date. Here we all are. What an amazing time we live in. 

I have hopes for my time here. I hope I can disconnect from the world that is full of human drama and stress. Connect with an older world. The one that is tied to the changing of the seasons, the moving of the sun across the sky. The activity of the clouds, will it rain or not? Tune my ears into the sound of the wind in the trees, the calls of the birds. Smell the damp forest floor. Feel the rain misting on my face. 

I am thankful. Thankful for my husband’s family that has claimed me as one of their own. Thankful for the heritage of this place that we can pass down to our children. Thankful that God provided a way for us to get here. Thankful for rest. 

This is me and my husband, after our wedding, about to get in the car and drive cross-country to Maine for the first time. I had no idea that this was going to become a major theme in our lives. But, I’m really glad that’s the way it’s turned out. 

It’s a Place Worth Fighting For

I went jogging in my neighborhood this morning. I looped around and went over some sections of the road twice. I finished running and started walking towards my house. An elderly woman came rushing as fast as she was able, out of her house. She had a big grin and was holding a cold bottle of water. She called out, I’ve been watching you! And handed me the bottle of water. I’m Karen! And then she turned to go back to her house. 

The other day I was jogging/walking and I had hit my walking stretch and another lady called to me from her porch, wanting to know if I got out at a regular time every day, wondering if I wanted to join her on her morning walks. She also wanted to know if I needed a drink of water. 🙂

This morning, as I was running down a familiar road, I realized that I had a nodding acquaintance with almost all of these neighbors. My kids had played with a lot of their kids. I passed another lady out running and we waved at each other. We met last summer when a different neighbor held a block party. Her kids bring their dog to come greet my dog pretty regularly. 

Our next door neighbor has a little girl who is best friends with my foster daughter. That friendship, and their willingness to have my daughter over to play regularly, has been a life-saving thing for us. 

I ran into another neighbor at the grocery store last week. I testified at the trial of the murder of his son. He came up to tell me how the family was doing now that the trial is over. 

One of our elderly, very civic minded couples that live in our neighborhood has started a text chat with as many neighbors as they can add. I think we have forty people on the chat right now, and they are always looking for more people who want to join. They talk about the monthly neighborhood meetings, a community garden that we have down at the park, congratulations to the new parents on the birth of their child, does anyone know who this stray dog belongs to? (pictures attached!) 

Neighborhoods are great things. Our neighborhood has had a rough year. Lots of gun violence, deaths, craziness in our high school. At times I have had the thought, we should just move. This is ridiculous. We talk about it. Where would we want to live? (Definitely the country!) Wouldn’t a small rural school be better? But so far, every time I think about moving, I have a check. No. Not now. This isn’t the right time. 

And I think we don’t give enough thought to what we would be giving up. We have lived in this community for almost seventeen years now. And it’s taken us a long time to establish all these connections. But they’ve been established. They are here. This is our neighborhood. This is our community. And it’s a good community. Lots of good people. 

And I guess this is part of the  answer to the question a lot of people think, but don’t come right out and ask..Why do I live here? Why haven’t I moved? Because it’s home. It’s a good home. And it’s worth staying and fighting for the changes needed to make it a safer and better place.