10 Things I Love About Lee

It is the morning of my husband’s 46th birthday. I’ve now officially known him for half of his life. We’ve been married for most of that time – 20 years. I’m seriously blown away by how fast it all goes and how much more I love him each year.

In honor of Lee’s birthday I want to share ten things that I love about this man of mine. So here goes!

1. He knows how to roll with the punches.

I’m sure he was just as shocked as I was to end up in the ER on our honeymoon, but there we were anyway. Him sick as a dog, me too young to be worried in the waiting room. Turns out he was just having an allergic reaction to the aspirin I’d been pumping him full of to help with his fever he’d started running. I could hear him laughing with the doctor, though, and knew everything would be fine, and it was.

That’s just how he is. He makes the best of a bad situation and has a terrific laugh no matter what’s going on.

2. He gets the coffee ready every night.

Seriously, I can’t tel l you how happy this makes me, especially when I’m the one who gets up at 5:30 to let the darn cat in so that Lee can sleep in one day a week. I wake up, push the start button, and the coffee is ready! Life is good.

IMG_4014
Every day. Best. Man. Ever.

3. He encourages me to pursue my passions.

No one encourages me like Lee. My writing has always been just as important to him as it is to me. He always reads my stuff and always says it’s my ‘best ever’.

When we started having babies and I became obsessed with natural birth and breastfeeding he was completely on board, even when I was scary.

What’s important to me is important to Lee and that means a lot.

4. He gets me to lighten up.

I can be a little heavy, a little overly focused on the morose. It’s just part of who I am. It’s hard to be fixated on the sad side of life when you’ve got a partner who still thinks farting and then saying, “I stepped on a frog.” is funny.

Sometimes it’s completely maddening that Lee refuses to take life seriously but usually it’s just funny. Most of the time he’s not even trying to make me laugh but he’s such a goof I can’t help it. Like the time he had a colonoscopy and he came out and was saying the funniest stuff after the procedure. Stuff like, “How did we get here?” and “What time is it?” over and over in a confused child-like voice. The nurse and I were in tears.

And that’s just when he’s drugged. He’s even funnier with nothing in his system.

 

5. He’s taught me more about Jesus than anyone I know.

Lee gets excited about lots of things, but nothing more than the bible. I love asking him questions because he knows so much about scripture but also because he truly enjoys teaching others. Lee has taught me so much about the person of Christ and what a relationship with Him can look like.

Being married to Lee has also driven me to me knees in prayer and that’s helped me get to know Jesus all the better, too. So thanks for those annoying times, too, Lee. 🙂

6. He’s an awesome father.

From the moment he was handed our first child he’s been a great dad. In fact he didn’t think the nurses brought Kiley back to us quickly enough after they took her for a bath so he went to get her and wouldn’t leave the nurses station til they handed her over. That’ s my man. One of my favorite times is eaves dropping on a conversation between him and the kids when they don’t know I’m listening – so much laughing and goofiness, but also listening to what he has to say about things.

Lee had a challenging relationship with his dad and has put serious effort into having a different kind of exchange with his own children. I’m so impressed with the fact that our kids will talk to him about just about anything and that they go to sleep every night knowing how loved they are by him. That’s a big deal.

7. He’s never gotten into a car wreck.

I may or may not be guilty of squeezing the door handle while Lee is driving, or saying things like, “This is a minvan not a sports car.” when he takes turns at 45 miles an hour. However, I must say that he’s never, ever in all years of being together had a wreck.

So, there’s that.

8. He will give me whatever I want.

This is a power that I must not abuse, but really I have learned that my happiness is his goal in life. I didn’t know that for a long time. Early in our marriage. the part where you make lots of mistakes, not because you want to but because it’s inevitable, I had the wrong notion that his happiness was his goal.

Then one day we communicated with each other and cleared all of that up. I was shocked by his motivation. Turns out that he’s not a mind reader and needed to know exactly what I want/need in order to make me happy.

Who knew?

9. He is the trivia master.

Seriously. Ask him anything trivia related. I am not good at trivia and don’t always care about trivia but over the years I have come to truly appreciate his knowledge.

I wish with all my heart that I could share some of the trivia he has imparted to me but I can’t. I can’t remember any of it. Oh! Except that JJ Abram’s production company is Bad Robot. That’s it. Sorry, Lee.

10. He loves me unconditionally.

No matter what I’m going through, what craziness has taken hold of me, what new diet I’m sticking our family on, he loves me. Even if I can’t get out of my yoga pants, or have a giant zit on the end of my nose, this guy of mine loves me. He loves me when I accidentally send all of his clothes to Goodwill (but really, who stores their summer clothes in trash bags?) or mess up his iTunes. He has loved me through a lot and will always love me, no matter what. That feels pretty good to know.

So, happy birthday, my love! May you always know that you are loved beyond words even though I am inept at conveying that. You are my bright spot, Lee Shepherd.

IMG_3135
Last summer in Diagon Alley. He even got me to ride a roller coaster!

 

When You Think You’re a Pro

Have you ever have one of those moments where you think, ‘I’ve got this figured out.’ Maybe you even pat yourself on the back, congratulating yourself for being so smart.

Isn’t that the worst move ever?

I did that this year with homeschooling. I thought I was a pro. I thought that because I’ve been doing it for so long that I had found the perfect formula and that I could coast through with my younger two.

IMG_3489

Ha! What a silly woman I am.

This kid, my 6th grader, my boy doesn’t fit my formula. I started hearing the dreaded words, ‘I hate school.’ on an extremely regular basis. Daily, often multiple times.

Then there were tears, from both of us, and I knew that something had to change.

The biggest reason that I homeschool is that I want my offspring to love learning, to have a passion for finding out stuff. I never want school to be something that they just want to check off and move on from. I want them to be life long learners and to embrace the awesome stuff int his world.

This kid, though. He’s tough. He learns differently because of dyslexia and dysgraphia and we’re always having to look at things from a different angle. My formula wasn’t working with him so I’ve had to rethink, restructure, and reorder what I think of education.

Again.

I don’t know how it is in other families but around here it is not a one size fits all. Each of my children learns in a slightly different way. Relationship is more important to me than report cards, but I have to remind myself of that every now and then. Honing in on each of the kids’ God-given talents, helping them find their passion and purpose is the goal of our homeschooling life, not mastering standardized tests.

In a culture driven by success it feels really, really weird to not be outcome oriented when it comes to our daily lives.

Confession: I had this moment of feeling really mad that he’s not able to learn in the sit down, get your work done and move on kind of way. I made the mistake (again) of thinking that if I  just taught him to work harder it would come. I was really close to giving out lines, thanks to my 4th grade teacher whose favorite punishment was lines that were actually freaking paragraphs. That’s when I knew we needed to do something very different.

This kid of mine, he needs projects, he needs a goal, he needs to feel that there’s purpose behind his energy.

I can remember feeling like school was a huge waste of time, that there was nothing meaningful in what I was doing. It seemed that it was all busy work. Not many teachers ever took the time to tell me that learning about the world helps us figure out where we fit. that learning about history teaches us about our future.

No one ever conveyed to me that  understanding happens in stages, not during a one hour class.

So why do I expect my kid to learn everything I want him to in a way that’s convenient for me?

This homeschooling life, for me, is all about learning that things don’t always look the way I think they will, that learning is not as straightforward as simply taking in information. This homeschooling life is fluid, full of wonder and excitement and a fair dose of frustration, and that is learning.

Homeschool life won’t look like the list you make in August, neat and tidy with perfect checkmarks to show you’ve done you’re work. Instead that list will be scribbled on, crossed out, erased and re-written. And that’s okay because life isn’t about getting it done neat and tidy.

Life, when it’s happening, can feel messy and maddening and you never realize the lesson you’re in until you look back and say, “Oh, look at what I learned!”

Homeschooling is the same. You and your kids won’t realize how much you’ve learned until you look back. So when you’re in the middle of it don’t be afraid to change course if it’s not working, especially if it’s just fear of what it looks like from the outside that’s holding you back.

Homeschooling life isn’t about what it looks like on the outside; it’s about what’s happening inside. The inside of our kids hearts and minds is always more important than the checklist.

A pro remembers that.

We’re All Just People

We went to our favorite mediterranean restaurant here in Lexington a couple of weeks ago, my girls and me. It’s called Sahara. Their falafels are magnificent. They’re plump with a perfect crust and just right on the insdie. They are amazing. They serve this garlic sauce that is perfection. I love it. I’ve never had anything there that I don’t like.

It’s a little place but has more seating than you would think possible. The kitchen is open and you can watch the men grill the food. It sounds like a song when they call things back and forth to one another in their guttural language, whatever it is. I think certain things about men from the part of the world that they come from, but here in this restaurant I feel like it’s different. We’re just people eating good food, smiling at each other over the grill and between bites.

We got there at 11 hoping to beat the lunch hour rush, but it didn’t work.  There was still a line out the door. I am not lying about how good these falafels are, people. We were just standing there at the door, knowing that there was not enough room for us to go in but also feeling kind of stupid because we weren’t inside. We pretended to be looking at the menu, and I guess that we kind of were, but it felt weird to not be in the door. Like I said, though, there was no room.

“Whoa!” exclaimed a man walking up. “Is this the place to be or what?”

We told him that it was and commented it was unusually busy this early in the day. He told us he was from far away, an hour, and he was hoping it would be good. I noticed he was dressed really well – pressed trousers, a bow tie, tweed newsboy hat, and nice leather shoes with no scuffs. I wondered if he was a lawyer. I don’t know why, but that’s what I wondered. He told us he traveled for work and I wanted to ask why but decided that was outside of the scope of acceptable questions when talking with a stranger. After a few minutes of friendly conversation we made our way inside.

It was still crowded though, and we had to stand close together. We all agreed that the tantalizing smells would make it hard to narrow our choices down. While the girls and I tried to figure out what we’d order our conservation with the stranger stopped, but I kept him in the back of my mind. I do that even with people I don’t know, keep them in the back of my mind.

Sometimes I talk too much, and I know that. I’m a curious person and conversation comes easily for me. I like to find out about people and where they’re from and what they think about things. In our culture, though, it’s not always polite to ask the questions that I want to know the answers to. This guy, he piqued my curiosity, plus he was alone.

“Should I invite him to sit with us?” I asked Kiley and Laurel. We were at a table for four, so we had room for one more. These girls of mine are teenagers, and introverts to boot, so their eyes about fell out of their heads. I think one of them mumbled something about me being so weird, but I don’t try to clarify that stuff anymore.

It’s just that I know what it is to be lonely and I don’t want anyone to feel that way. I guess that’s the good that comes out of any suffering. If you’re a decent person you don’t want anyone to suffer, or at least not suffer alone.

I didn’t ask him over, though. Not because they talked me out of it, just because I lost the momentum. Next time, though, I’ll invite the stranger to sit and share a meal with us, though, no matter how weird my kids think it is. I think it’s important to invite people into our lives be it for 30 minutes or 30 years. Relationship, camaraderie with other humans, is what gets us through. I know for me it is.

Think about it: God sent his Son to be with us so that we would understand relationship with Him. God sacrificed everything so that we cold have relationship with Him –  so shouldn’t we do anything to have relationship with each other? Shake a hand, share a meal, connect to one another in real life.

After all, we’re all just people.

Happy March!

It’s March  and I can officially feel spring around the corner! We may still have gray days, and here in central Kentucky we may even have some snow headed our way, but being able to say ‘ it’s March!’  just feels right. Part of that is probably because my precious hubby’s birthday is this month he has brainwashed me for years saying, “March is the best month” constantly.  Like, in my sleep.

This month on the blog I’ll be exploring giving. Giving in the traditional sense in giving to our families, our church and  our communities. Also, though, I think about giving up, giving in, giving away, and giving more. There are so many ways that our lives are full of giving.

FullSizeRender

What does it mean to give? In a society that puts a lot of emphasis on getting I find it really hard to keep it simple. Television, magazines, the internet is chock full of images that make me want more instead of less. Heck, I can barely drop stuff off at Goodwill without coming home with more.  I will say there are a lot of blogs out there on living with less that I really love and that inspire me to thin out my belongings.

I’m working on giving away the things that I don’t need. Two weeks ago I walked into my boys’ room and thought, “I cannot deal with this anymore.” I go in there twice a week and clean it with them. It’s just too much stuff for them to take care of. So we put everything that wasn’t a Lego in bins and put it all in the basement. They’re finding it much easier to care for the room, now. (I know, Dad, there are still Legos everywhere.  🙂 We’re baby stepping.)

Normally I have no problem giving stuff away. I like the rule that if I bring a new thing into the house something must go out. Occasionally it’s hard for me to let go of things, though, and later this week I’ll share more about that.

I also thinking about giving in, which is not the same as giving up. Giving up means walking away from something,  while giving in means accepting your situation and altering course. I’ve been working on that one, giving in. It does me no good to lament where I am because this is where I am.

 

In March, in the season of Lent, I also think about all that has been given for me. The sacrifices my parents have made (hello 6 extra people and 2 extra dogs, oh and don’t forget the cat) to allow us to start over. In the middle of this (crazy) election year I think of all that was given for my right to vote. Of course I think about Jesus and all that he gave for me, for you, for the world.  All that makes me want to give more, and I’m exploring some ways to do that.

IMG_2914

Much to think about when it comes to giving. I’m curious – what comes to mind when you think of giving? Where does the theme of giving seem to be focused in your life right now?