Monday, October 28, 2013

Back at It

Class photo from August 2013.
This year I have a 4th, 3rd, 1st grader & a preschooler. Phew. 
So, we're back at it after two beautiful weeks off.

Yep, I took two weeks off of schooling my kids in the middle of October. Why not? I'm a homeschooler, we started early, it's well within my right.

And I know you're jealous (of the two weeks off!)

But this morning we are back at it. I just printed off the kid's checklists and am about to wake them up.

Sometimes I think this homeschool choice will be the death of me--it's too much responsibility, too much work, too little personal freedom. There are days when I fight tooth and nail to get some child to finish their work.


There are other days.
Days where we laugh and sing and dance together.
Days where we all learn or accomplish something new.
Days where someone makes a breakthrough--whether in reading, spelling, math, focus, or obedience.
Days where everything comes together in a beautiful, harmonious way, maybe I even accomplish a household task.

I live for those days.

One of my favorite things is when one of the kids "gets it.' Like when Olivia can sound out and understand a new word or gets excited about doing math through playing store (on tap for today). Like when Katie spends extra time reading 'cause she loves the book or when she draws another picture because she loves art so much. Like when Josh struggles through a tough math concept all week--and then Gets It. These are the beautiful moments.

And I love who my kids are becoming. Of course, they are still kids and mess up often. But I love to hear about how they interact with peers and adults. I love how they ask questions (most of the time). I love the programs and classes that they are involved in this year and how they are growing because of them.

Because of the circumstances of our lives this year, school hasn't always been easy. But it is good. And that's what really matters.

We're studying the world and missions. Which of course includes a large map puzzle.
Which I quickly put away because it drives me nuts. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

15 years

Eric and Me at the top of the Gates of Paradise,
near Malealea in Lesotho, Africa
Since this day in 1998, there have been

a few tears,
two houses,
three cats (and one gerbil),
a lot of laughs,
some disagreements,
three kids in three years
a couple jobs,
a daughter from across the world.

Regardless of where we have been and where we are going, you have
held my heart. Wherever you are, I want to be. When you are gone, I miss you.

I love the sound of your exaggerated laughter when you are watching bad British comedy.
I love the compassion that is part of the way God made you.
I love the way that you know and hear my heart.

I'm so thankful God saw fit to put us together--that he saw that boy who liked a lot of different girls and a girl who was desperate to feel special. That he brought us together in Mexico. That we have been able to make our home in Him. That in Him we have been able to stay together and be stronger with each passing year.

I am a blessed woman.

Happy Anniversary, Eric.
I love you!

P.S. Here's my little gift to you. (It's all I could afford ;) )

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave (wave) is stringing us along
Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm gonna make this place your home

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Not everything is depressing

So, not everything is depressing in this life.

And I wanted to show you a precious gift I got this week.

My 92 year old grandfather met his newest granddaughter--in Utah.

This week, we've been in Utah visiting my parents while Eric attended a conference for work. (Don't worry--he hasn't skipped any sessions to hang out with us!) But for an extra treat, my last surviving grandparent came from Florida to be with us for a couple days.

We spent some time in the mountains. Obviously it was cold and bright and wonderful. 

Mali got her first taste of snow--and then insisted on eating it whenever she could. 

This is my mom, Kris, with my grandpa, Paul (my dad's dad) and Mali on his lap at the Aviary. 

The entire Keener family. 
Look, we tried to get an entire family picture but we couldn't get the timer to work, so Eric took this picture and then my brother took one so Eric is in one. But this is my family, from left to right, back row first: Leslie, my sis-in-law (with Olivia on her lap), my dad, Jim, my grandpa, Paul, my mom, Kris and my brother, Jay. In the front row is Katie, Me and Mali and Josh. There you have it.

 I was able to catch up with a life-long friend and watch out kids play together. Still remaining in this trip is a date night for me & Eric and meeting some new/old friends. 

These are the good moments, I just thought I would share some with you! 

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I've written this post about 20 times in my head. When I finally have a few minutes to sit at the computer and write them down, my brain is empty, can't put together a single, simple thought, but for this:

I'm worn.

Life has this incredibly insistent way of marching on, despite family trials or adjustments or work schedules or individual needs. It just keeps going. Every day I have to keep getting up, functioning, doing the things a mom, wife, writer, person does. Life feels relentless.

As I write this post, I am standing in my parent's kitchen in Utah. The front windows show me a view of my most favorite place in the world, The Wasatch Mountains. When I am away from them, I crave their silence, purity, brightness, and away-ness. The mountains fill me with a peace similar to the peace I hear about from friends who love the beach. I visit the mountains and breath the crisp mountain air and I am re-balanced. I can again open my eyes to see beauty and majesty.

My dad has a small cabin, a wonderful oasis of simplicity up one of the canyons near our house. Usually on the drive up the canyon, I love that moment when the dirty valley air is replaced by clean mountain air. It's the announcement of my arrival, that for a few hours I can put away the mutiny of demands of life and just be. To listen to the wind, to appreciate the log fire, to watch the birds, to stop at every interesting rock or animal print on the trail. There is a corner you turn when you rise up out of the valley and suddenly, brilliantly the world is bright. The colors are sharp and pronounced. In this fall season, the reds, oranges, and yellows blend with evergreen for the most magnificent quilt.

But on yesterday's drive up, I couldn't see the bright. Everything looked dull and gray. I kept looking out the window, trying to figure out why that could be, what's wrong with the day. As it turns out, the morning light was just filtering in a different way.

They gray-ness stuck with me. It seemed to reflect the way I feel about so many things. My life feels gray and drudging.

There are so many different moments in this life. Beautiful. Heart-wrenching. Encouraging. Exhausting.

Here are just a few:

  • Josh, Katie & Olivia are brilliant and fantastic learners and one of God's greatest gifts this year is that they are learning well. 
  • Attachment is hard, grueling, every-day work. There is something essential that breaks in a child who is traumatized. There is a lot of healing taking place, but this is a deep wound. 
  • I am editing my novel for submission to an agent or two. It's wonderful, hard, and very different work. 
  • Every day I am already exhausted by 9 a.m. Some days I don't even want to get out of bed.
  • Sometimes its a real struggle to keep going, to not quit or walk away.
  • I am blessed to have enough friends who love me through all these kinds of days, often without me even having to tell them what my day was. 

But at the end, I am still worn.

I'm going to end this with a song that I've heard a few times. Every time I try to sing the words, I choke on them. This song becomes a prayer for me, for Eric, for Mali, for the kids. For us as a family. I am frail and torn, broken and weak. Redemption will win, but still, until then, I'm worn.

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn

Cause I’m worn
--from "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North