This sweet boy starts at a new school today.

It’s my personal preference that this child never struggle again and I get only slightly frustrated and sad when I can’t make that happen.

You are a treasure, Zeke Magar Landers.

You got this.

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I read somewhere once to “pay attention to your tears.”

It’s a simple discipline that I do try and practice.

When the goose bumps come and the tears start to gather quietly.

I just take note.

Thus. Things that are making me cry these days:

1. I should of never opened that old photo box.

And this one is pretty easy to explain…

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2. During one of our parent-teacher conferences, one of the teachers said,

“One thing about Child X is that he has a really deep understanding of God’s love for him. And that produces some freedom for him.”

Ha. We get it.

We understood that it was a bit of a critique disguised as a compliment. It could of been said like, “He doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about following all the rules.”

We know this child. And we agree.

We all laughed.

I turned to Andy and said, “Well, I guess, if there is anything I want our kids to know. It’s that.”

We smiled.

And then on the way home, I cried.

I cried. Because that is actually so, so huge. This is so much bigger than behavior modification and control.

And for a family that gets so many things wrong, I really hope we get this one right.

God is crazy about you.

He is for you.

He loves you.

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3. I picked up Zeke from tutoring and was taking him to school. I looked at him in the rearview mirror and said, “Zeke. I’m really proud of you for working so hard on your reading. You are doing a really good job.”

And he said, “Thanks, Mom. You too.”

Um. Sweetest. Boy. Ever.

And I cried.

Not because my own reading proficiency is actually improving too, but because my son—my son who can’t even seem to get himself on the reading chart to be in the red zone— had read me.

He had read the emotions. He had read my body language. He was paying attention to the stress that I was feeling after the last round of parent-teacher conferences. He noticed how hard I was working. He was reading the dynamics. He was reading me.

He is mastering empathy.

And all of a sudden, that became an indicator of success far more important than how many words he can read in an minute.

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And at the very same time. This. I cried every time I read this today. Which was about 17 times.

“People who don’t give up on slow or challenged students will get the best seats in heaven. I don’t know a lot, but I know this to be true.



To me, teaching is a holy calling, especially with students less likely to succeed. It’s the gift not only of not giving up on people, but of even figuring out where to begin.



You start wherever you can. You see a great need, so you thread a needle, you tie a knot in your thread. You find one place in the cloth through which to take one stitch, one simple stitch, nothing fancy, just one that’s strong and true. The knot will anchor your thread. Once that’s done, you take one more stitch–teach someone the alphabet, no matter how long it takes, and then how to read Dr. Suess, and Charlotte’s Web, and A Wrinkle in Time, and then, while you’re at it, how to get a GED. Empathy is meaning.” (Lamott)

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4. Now. Don’t judge me. This one is a little weird.

You may of seen this video making the rounds. It’s of a couple who practiced and performed the dance from the movie, Dirty Dancing, at their wedding reception.

It’s so cute. So fun.

And I sobbed.

I have no idea why.

But I’m exploring it.

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So there you have it.

It has been an overwhelming week…which happens about once a month…and there are some big changes on the horizon…and I don’t love change….and it’s a crazy, busy time of year which always adds a bit of tension.

But regardless..I’m paying attention.

So when some of our favorite people invite us to tag along on their getaway from an auction item they bought.

You say “yes.”

And that we did…(thanks to the most amazing friend ever who took on the task of our 6 kiddos for a couple days.)

We went to Sonoma. And learned a bit about wine. And got to spend time with these fun folks.

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I don’t know anything about wine.

But I found this getaway to be just my speed.

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It afforded a lot of time to linger. To eat good food. To talk.

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It was really, super fun.

And really beautiful…

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I subjected everyone to incessant rounds of “the question game.”

They were incredibly good sports.

And I left a getaway..with other human beings…refreshed.

So that is something magnificent.

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We returned home and headed straight into a stressful week.

The note left for us said, “Thank you for the opportunity to get to hang with your amazing kids for a couple days.”

Um. I cried.

A getaway with no guilt.

This might of been a first.

And I’m just really thankful.

Scheduled a Family “Come to Jesus” Meeting tonight to revisit this again (for children and parents alike).

“Within the family and beyond, one of the wisest things we can teach and practice is the wisdom of holding back if we cannot say something positive.” (Wendy Mogel) ——

“You get your strengths together and make your weaknesses irrelevant.” (Peter Drucker)

(This was in relation to managing a business or company. But I think that it would be a really interesting principle applied to marriage, parenting, school etc.)
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“The one truth that would help us begin to solve our ethical and political problems [is] that we are all more or less wrong, that we are all at fault, all limited and obstructed by our mixed motives, our self-deception, our greed, our self-righteousness and our tendency to aggression and hypocrisy.” (Thomas Merton)


“…fierce and tender can co-exist. I’m trying to unlearn the idea that we have to choose.” (B. Brown)

School for a couple of our kiddos is a bit overwhelming.

Which makes it overwhelming for me.

So it’s been a hard couple weeks as we try and determine what’s best for each child and what’s best for the family as a whole. Sometimes it seems like those two things are different which is when it becomes a little tricky.

One day at a time. Looks like we will try our hand at juggling several different school campuses. I hate to have them separated, but in the end we are believing it to be best.

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Here’s my new coping mechanism when I get overwhelmed:

“I think we need to do some more testing on Child X.”

Me: “Hmm. I love him.”



“We need to call the doctor about Child Y.”

Me: “Hmm. I love him.”



“That was a horrible pass. Why did Child D do that?”

Me: “Hmm. I love him.”

“We need to come up with a new plan for Child Z’s reading deficiencies.”
Me. “Hmm. I love him.”

“What are we going to do about Child B’s poor decision this afternoon?
Me: “Hmm. I love him.”

“When are we going to tell Child E about the new schedule?
Me: “Hmm. I love him.”

It’s not necessarily super efficient. And it might occasionally drive my husband crazy. But it does help calm my spirit and center me to the ultimate goal as their Mom.

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This happened too when my sweet sister tried to encourage me….

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Little glimpses of what I’ve been reading and listening to and pondering.

I’ve learned that I only can stomach exercise if I am learning something at the same time.

So no music for me. I get bored and start worrying about everything that needs to be done.

So I’ve started listening to audiobooks and podcasts.

That seems to work much better for me.

“If you want to make a difference, the next time you see someone being cruel to another human being, take it personally. Take it personally because it is personal.” (Mavis Leno)

…”hope inspires the good to reveal itself.” This is almost all I ever need to remember. Gravity and sadness yank us down, and hope gives us a nudge to help one another get back up or sit with the fallen on the ground, in the abyss, in solidarity.” (Lamott)

And gosh, I wish we used this “metric” more often…



“Vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” (Brene Brown)

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I am loving this. It made me equally heavy and hopeful for a couple of my kids in particular. Believing this to be so true..



“There is a group of people who have succeeded not in spite of their difficulty but because of it. —-

The question of what any of us would wish on our children is the wrong question. The right question is whether we as a society need people who have emerged from some kind of trauma. And the answer is that we plainly do.” (Malcolm Gladwell)

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And these are just a couple glimpses into our living room from the last couple days…

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After a catch-up call with Amanda this morning, I am reminded of the power of a “normalizing” friendship. One that affirms that you are not defective or alone in your experiences. #thankful

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A friend sat on my couch today and after I asked a question, she said, “I have two versions to answer that question. One is the answer I give to Christian friends. And then the other one.”



My response, “Well, I definitely do not want the Christian-friend version.”



Let it be known. It’s true for anyone that sits on my couch. Just FYI.

Me: “How did 16 pigs-in-a-blanket disappear in the last 5 minutes?? “

Kora: “You had six kids.”



She speaks truth.

2.5 hours later.

Point-slope equations. I hate you.

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First of all.

This.

“The biggest potential for helping us overcome shame is this: We are “those people.” The truth is…we are the others.

Most of us are one paycheck, one divorce, one drug-addicted kid, one mental health illness, one sexual assault, one drinking binge, one night of unprotected sex, or one affair away from being “those people”–the ones we don’t trust, the ones we pity, the ones we don’t let our kids play with, the ones bad things happen to, the ones we don’t want living next door.” (Brene Brown)

Yes. That.

That’s all.

Everyone is invited over for coffee at tomorrow so we can chat about it.

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And COAL IS BACK!

Yah. For Coal Boxes!


This year, the lump of coal is actually hand-made soap! So it’s a way fun gift.


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For everyone on your nice list, I would definitely consider a coal box.

Each box helps get a charcoal-efficient stove to a family in need in Haiti.

Pretty much the best gift ever.

Teachers, friends, pastors, children, spouses, coaches…everyone who is nice deserves this lump of coal

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We are taking pre-orders now.

Go.


…without keeping things updated here too.

So here we go.

1. This sweet boy had his last football game. He’s just cute.

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2. Kids had a day off on Friday. The only agreed upon activity was a round of 4 on 4 at the gym.

I will always be able to remember who was on the losing team just by looking at this picture.

They are only slightly competitive…

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3. This sweet friend of mine had a birthday this week. And as I thought about her it was another tribute to an unlikely friendship.

Sometimes they just work.

In fact, most of my really good friends are a bit “unlikely.”

I like that.

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4. And this was documented. Well, because his shirt has buttons….

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5. This was a while ago…but it’s fun. I think they are being reminded not to pout… 🙂

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1. If you are one of those amazing people who has supported The Adventure Project along the way. You should check this out. And you should be very, very proud of the impact you are making around the world. And I just want to say “thank you.” Like from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

Some exciting stuff coming up there.

2. The Refresh Conference for foster and adoptive parents (or those interested). In Seattle. Feb. 28-March 1.
I’ll be there. And you really should too. I, for one, want to hear your story. Face to face if we haven’t had that chance before. So let’s do that.   

The OCC team led by Michelle and Andrew do the most amazing job with these conferences. You will feel truly cared for. Believe me.

So make preparations now. OK? OK.

I’m not doing awesome at keeping this blog up.

I’m not ready to give it up entirely. I feel like there will be times where I use it/need it more often.

However, I am a Facebook and instagram machine at this stage. I find I have the thought capacity for those updates much more consistently than I do a full blog. And it makes my parents happy to be able to keep up with us.

So, if you want to stay connected that way during my low blog season, that would be amazing. Friend me on Facebook or find me on instagram (jodylanders6).

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Let’s see if I can get us somewhat caught up here….

Flashback to this summer. I want summer back.

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A couple of those “steadying” forces in my life. Neely and chocolate.

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Andy and I had a date night recently where I walked a fine line between biker chick and pastor’s wife with my outfit…

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And there is a moment each and every time I sit in the bleachers or stands where I think, “I am going to be sad when someday we wake up and we don’t have a game to watch.”

Can’t say we aren’t cherishing this super fun season of our lives…

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My morning runs have consisted of some Brene Brown on the iPod. So now my feet and my head hurt all day.

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It’s really too bad no one had any fun this season…

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Quincy’s team did suffer an agonizing defeat in the Championship game during the second sudden death.

That’s my catcher there.

I might of been laughing.

And I love baseball.
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And as if we all couldn’t use this reminder every now and then.

I love him.
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