Thursday, February 16, 2017

Love

After-school smooch.

This past week has me reflecting on the love in my life. Last Friday, marked 21 years dating for Matt and me. Our love has been central to my life for more than half of it now. Like he said, it's the source of so many wonderful things--memories, friendships, and especially our kids.

On Monday evening, I helped our kids put together their Valentines for their school friends. They were silly and sweet as they discussed "crushes" (Lauren's is Mace, Evan's is Ruby, and Tobin prefers to keep his a secret) and then picked out which store-bought card would be best for each friend. They came home on Tuesday, with smiles and bags filled with treats and notes. Tobin had a particularly special note from a long-time friend, who thanked him for being his best friend and drew him a comic book character. I'm thankful my kids' time away from me each day is filled with the love of friendship.

Tonight, I went out with a group of neighbors to celebrate two of their birthdays. I felt grateful for the companionship and the opportunity to hear what's going in our increasingly lives. Our favorite spot was closed in honor of the nation-wide protest A Day Without Immigrants. We happily found a different place to go. I felt really moved that a small, local restaurant would give up a day of business to honor immigrants in our community. Once again, I encountered love.

When I got home, I checked my email to read messages from the kids' school with plans for teachers and parents to welcome back the nearly one-third of immigrant students who stayed home today. Our message will be simple: we love you, we missed you, and welcome back. Teachers are ready and willing to help kids in their class process the meaning of today. Earlier this evening, we talked with our kids about what it felt like to miss their friends, why they weren't at school, and why we love them and our country.

Next week, I will focus on a harder love as I mark four years from my cancer diagnosis. I feel deep gratitude to be where I am. I love my life. I also remember that in the wake of my diagnosis and the disorientation I felt, I knew one thing: I am loved.

There's a lot of fear these days, but my hope is that I can keep love in front of me--always first. I've read these verses from the Bible for as long as I can remember, but they are especially poignant at this moment in time:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7

Thursday, February 09, 2017

21

As I've tried to think and live more deliberately over the last few years, I've been abundantly cognizant of where my center for gratitude lies most of the time. I've written about Allison more during this 12:34 project than anyone else, and I texted her the other day "It's 12:34, and you're the first person I think of. Like most days, tbh."

Tomorrow marks 21 years to the day since Allison and I started dating. Our friendship, relationship, and partnership is the blessing for which I am most grateful, in part because it has been the foundation of so many others--parenthood especially.

So today, I'm thankful for a windy day trip to the beach in 1996, and the excitement of beginning a road trip that still hasn't stopped.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Community

I’ve been feeling grateful for the community in my life. Really, I’m part of various communities that I envision as circles, sometimes separate and sometimes overlapping.

The fundamental one is my family that includes several circles: the nuclear family I was born into, my extended family, my in-laws, and the nuclear family Matt and I created. They interact and overlap and are connected through shared experiences and unconditional love. My life naturally prioritizes my nuclear family as Matt are sharing the labor of love that is parenting. It helps me to think of part of that work as building community. I want my kids to know they’re part of a community that supports and loves them and is preparing them for, one day, going out into the world to be part of their own network of communities that make up grown-up life.

Our church is a newer community for us. Finding community in a local congregation has always proven a bit complicated. We’ve been involved in a number of churches over the years in Durham, since leaving a congregation in Charlotte that we were deeply involved in. Over the last year and a half, we’ve been part of a church where we’ve met some really wonderful folks, who’ve reached out to love and teach our kids in kind, thoughtful way. I’m thankful for the promise of this community.

Friends represent other circles of community. Matt and I are lucky to have so many in common, since our circle of friends in college. We also made some great friends right after college, in those days when we were working and then I was in law school, before any of us had kids. Many of those friends live far away now, but there’s a group of them we vacation with almost every summer--along with our many children--and we always have the best time.

Closer to home, one of the most meaningful communities we have right now is our kids’ school. Over the last couple years, as Lauren started school, I’ve had more time to be part of this community. It’s pretty awesome to walk into a building and truly feel that I’m somewhere, where my kids are loved and appreciated. And it’s not just my kids, of course. My work as a volunteer has helped me understand more deeply how everyone in the building works to make sure every kid--regardless of ability, race/ethnicity, or language--thrives. That is a constant work in progress, but I’m thankful and honored to be part of this effort.

My closest community is my neighborhood. Since moving here two and half years ago, we’ve made some great friends, who happen to live across and just down the street. It’s wonderful to feel like we’re raising kids together, enjoying friendships and backyard football along the way.

I think I’ve been so mindful of and grateful for my communities, because the news these days has me thinking a lot about shared values. At times, it’s hard to believe that there’s more that unites than divides us. But that has been the story of my life: I would be nothing apart from my connections, grounded in loving kindness, to so many people, past and present. And the only way I know how to live my life is by seeking and building community, even when it’s hard and scary.