If My Life Were a Hallmark Movie

A few weeks ago I sent this text to a friend…

“If my life were a Hallmark movie, yesterday was day when the lead character learns the ropes of farm(ish) life from her dad. The montage would include her learning to drive a tractor. Red of course.  Pruning lilac, weigela and rose bushes. Dropping off loads of brush at the burn pile.  Wrestling a giant blackberry bush and losing. Giving the neighbors dog a bath. Said dog shaking off bath water in the kitchen. Laughing on the porch with her dad. Dad losing his balance and falling. Resetting dad’s dislocated pinky. Girl driving to town to grab dinner for the family and randomly running into her love interest where they banter and grab a quick drink.”

You read that right. I RESET MY DAD’S PINKY! FINGER. It was no longer parallel to his hand. It was perpendicular. And turning purple by the second. So I channelled my inner Doc Martin and yanked that bad boy back into the socket. (Side note: It had happened to him once before a few years ago. But I didn’t know that)

This is a genuine snap shot of my new life (minus the love interest and the grabbing the drink and all) But hey, if my life were a Hallmark movie there would definitely be a love interest. How do I know? I have watched EVERY SINGLE ONE curled up on the couch with my mom. That’s how we roll on Saturday nights here at Green Pastures. That and SEC football. And bull riding. And baseball. Throw me in the briar patch.

Just to catch you up: Four months ago I moved back home to Tennessee to take care of my parents. Indefinitely.

Due to some health issues, they needed a little (or a lot of) extra help, depending on the day. So I volunteered. Why? Because I love them. Because I watched them take care of their parents. Because I’m a homebody at heart and loved the idea of being back with my family. Because the Bible tells us to honor our parents. And because, honestly, I really like them. A lot.

Every day has been different. Unpredictable. Unprecedented.

At least for me.

Everyday has been filled with laughter. Grace. Adjustments and apologies.

Growing up I dreamed of caring for and nurturing a family of my own. God in his kindness has answered my prayer. Just a little more creatively then expected. And I am loving it.

But I’m not going to lie. There have been some growing pains.

Going from a full-time career to a full-time caregiver was a huge mental shift. I’ve had to redefine productive. Often. Upright, medicated and well-fed are the new #squadgoals.

In so many ways, this new season is giving me repeated opportunities to live out what the Lord has been teaching me over a lifetime. He’s so sweet like that. In fact, I feel like I am taking a final exam. “Ok Les. We’ve been learning and studying and walking through some big concepts. It’s time to put it all together and see what stuck.” Some days I get an A. Some days, I get another chance. Like the day I flicked my dad in the forehead at the Walmart check out line. Whoops. Try again.

Anyway.

I miss you guys. And getting to catch up over coffee. But life looks very different these days.  SO I’m going to work harder at writing more faithfully. So we can stay connected. I wish I could fly to you and sit face to face and we could have long meaningful conversations.

But I just tiptoed past my parents bedroom and I think they are up.

Time to make some coffee!!

I would love to know what the Lord is teaching you this season… drop a line in the comment box if you feel like it. 

Love, Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives in My Head.

PS. This picture is from Engaging Father Christmas which is just one of the MANY Hallmark Christmas movies I can’t wait to see this season.

PPS. It it based on my friend Robin’s Christmas novella which you can check out here.

PPPS. She talks about what it was like for her book to become a movie in her book I like to call Ask for the Moon!!! but it’s really called “How my Book Became a Movie”. It is one of my favorite books because it fills me with hope. Not about writing or movies. But that God loves us, hears us and NOTHING is wasted in His Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

An open apology to my friends with kids.

Dear Friends, Family and Loved Ones with children,

Please accept this note as my formal apology if you have ever felt judged by me on your parenting skills. At any point in our friendship. Ever. Let me also apologize for any comments I have made to you or your child that felt hurtful, unhelpful or unkind. Especially those that might have come in the heat of battle. Or in that last moment of sanity. Or after the crappiest day possible. Please accept this heartfelt and humbled out apology. Forgive me, I had no idea.

Love, Love, Love,

Your childless friend who just fostered a teenager

 

 

Six months ago, I became a foster person to a wonderful freshman girl who I affectionately refer to as the FFK (Future foster kid) It’s a term I started using before fostering and it stuck.

How fostering a teenager has changed my life.

 

  1. I am now constantly aware of the status of my leg hair. “Ooo, your legs feel like wana.” (Hawaiian for sea urchin)
  2. My eyebrows are analyzed on a daily basis. Never underestimate Kylie Jenner’s influence on the next generation.
  3.  I have laughed more in the last six months than I have in the past six years. And we are talking good laughs. Belly laughs. The soul cleansing kind. The kind that catch you off guard and make you smile every time you remember them. This kid is funny. Witty. Sharp. And she keeps you on your toes. Trust fall.
  4. I am learning to pick my battles. For example, not so long ago, my beloved FFK was sitting a few rows ahead of me at church. Shooting spitballs. Slightly mortified, I turned to the veteran foster mama sitting beside me and said, “What do I do?” She whispered back, “You choose you battles.” Now my gut reaction was spitballs in church? Heck yes that is a battle I am going to fight! But then I remembered this little girl isn’t my flesh and blood. I did not raise her. She came to me with ideas and notions and a way of life that I am not privy to. So in the big scheme of things, the  fact that she turns in her phone at night without a fuss,  faithfully cleans the bathroom without complaint and is kind, thoughtful and respectful in her interactions with me, are way more important. And as much it killed me to do so, I could let the spitballing slide. And I did. And not a few seconds later one of her friends regulated her behavior. Thank you Jesus.
  5. I am learning to extend way more grace to others. Before the FFK, there have been many times I have wondered why a parent would let their child _(fill in the blank)_. Sometimes I have commented on it. Other times I have just wondered in my head. After the spitballing incident of 2016 I realized that maybe parents are just picking their battles. Because no one wants to be the heavy all the time. And no child responds well to constant correction. And good night nurse there are so many things I want to correct. But I’m learning that picking battles, enjoying the moment and embracing them for who they are is what make shepherding so challenging and so rewarding all in the same breath.
  6. I am learning to care less about my couch. Right before the FFK arrived, I got a brand new sectional couch. It is blue. It is lovely. And it was not cheap. Within the first month of our time together, I heard myself on more than fifty occasions repeating phrases my mother said to me growing up (and possibly last Christmas). Don’t set your bowl directly on the sofa. Be careful. Hold your fork over your plate. Please don’t spill that on my sofa. Don’t use the pillow as a dinner tray. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera. I was making myself crazy. And it wasn’t very fun. So I realized I had a choice to make. A) We could  eat at the table. Nope.We have manners night. That is enough.  B) I could make her eat on the rug. Not fair. C) I could just not care. Nope. D) Continue what we are doing, stop obsessing and have her clean any spills she makes. Ding. Ding. Ding. Mind you, I have a 10 year warranty so anything crazy would be taken care of. But that wasn’t the point. So I learned to relax. And she learned to be careful. And how to clean a couch cushion. Properly.As well as how to get Mexican candy juice of the carpet. But that, I am learning, is part of the deal. Messy grace. Messy lives. Messy love.
  7. I am learning when to panic. And when to keep my cool. The FFK is one pretty steady cookie. She sees the glass half full, likes to keep things light and fun, and focuses on the sunny side of life. She is not one to sit around and talk about feelings. Ever. But one time she thought I had accidentally disabled her phone. Boom. Waterworks. I was shocked. I had not seen so much as a tear in our time together so far but the fear of losing her music, photos and Instagram streaks brought on huge tears, a trembling voice and hiccups. It was bad. And it was fixable. Thanks to Brene Brown I have learned to ask myself, “Do we have enough information to panic?” and then go from there. We made it through.
  8. I’m learning to live with an open hand and engaged heart. This 13 year old girl will hopefully be reunited with her mom. Very soon. Which is a wonderful thing.  But it is also bittersweet.

God bless you. To all the parents. Of all types. You amaze and inspire me. What you are doing is such a worthwhile use of your time. Keep the faith. Keep running your race.

Love, Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives in my Head

Since writing this post, the FFK has been reunited with her mom. Yay!! It was such a joy to be able to offer her a safe place to land while her mom worked through some things. I loved everything about the experience. Some people have asked if I will do it again. Heck yes! I’m planning on spending some quality time with the fam this summer in Tennessee. And then come fall, I’m up for another adventure.

Why I Became a Foster Person

About six years ago I was lying in bed at my new apartment. I was all snuggled up under the covers, the last box unpacked and everything in it’s place. And a thought popped into my head.

If I’m still single in five years…I should look into fostering.

And then I drifted off to sleep.

Time passed.

I met people who told me that the system is horrible. That it is broken and they send kids back to terrible situations. “Don’t do it,” people said. “It will break your heart.”

And I thought, “Ok. Maybe I won’t.”

More time passed. And I was invited to help out with Camp Agape, a weekend camp for kids whose parents are incarcerated. My first year there I was blown away. I was in a cabin with little girls ranging from five to fifteen. And as the weekend progressed and the walls came down, the stories that these little girls shared…broke my heart.

But I realized something.

There was a common thread woven through their stories.

No matter what their parents had done to them, these little girls wanted their parents. The just wanted them whole.

I should really foster.

Now by this time, God had already changed the trajectory of my current life. I was studying for the Praxis and headed back to school to become a teacher.

And in a surprising plot twist, I got hired to teach on the OTHER SIDE of the island. This was not what I had signed up for when I agreed to change jobs. Because when I felt the call to teach, I knew I wanted to be invested in the community. I wanted to see my students outside of school and be able to build relationships with their families. So a job on the Westside, meant moving to the Westside.

I’m already giving up my life at the church. Do I really have to give up my life in Kihei?

I’ll be honest. This whole process has been very baffling to me. Because in a million years, I never imagined I would become a foster person. (I hate using the word parent because these kids have parents. I’m their person. For a season.) It was never on my list of things to do. Ever. But I knew in my heart that the Lord wanted me to keep moving forward with it. One step of obedience at a time.

So I did.

And as I began my first year teaching on the Westside, I realized how much space I had in my life. For another person. I could easily foster a high school girl. The middle school where I teach is right down the road from the high school.

So I made a little petition of the Lord. If you want me to foster, will you find me an affordable two bedroom in Lahaina? The words affordable and Lahaina don’t really go together.

He did.

I moved October of last year. And started the training to become a “Resource Care Giver” which is the states new way of saying foster person.

The training.

It’s not complicated. It’s just hard. On the heart.

Because the reality is, there are children who are trapped in terrible situations. Because the adults in their lives make selfish choices born out of their own brokenness.

And the foster care system is designed to give those kids a safe place while their parents heal. That is the big vision.

It doesn’t always work that way.

But it can.

So last May I completed the training. And got my certificate.

And in the Lord’s amazing timing, two weeks after my ACL surgery, just when I could start driving again…

I got the call. To become someone’s person. And offer a safe place to a very vibrant and intelligent 13 year old while her mom gets some things figured out.

Next week, it’ll have been three months. And it has been a blast.

Not always easy but so very worth it.

I’ll tell you more about that later.

 

Love, Love, Love

The Girl Who Lives In My Head

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plot Twist

Yesterday morning my dad had a heart attack. He hadn’t been feeling right so he stopped by the walk-in clinic before work. Turns out the stints he had put in 13 years ago were clogged to brim so the doctor performed emergency surgery. Today, he is stable and happy as a clam sitting in his hospital room, visiting with the nurses and playing sudoku on his iPad. I flew in from Maui to keep him company and spend time with my mom.

circa 2010

 

The scary part is that on Tuesday he will be having a triple bypass surgery. They will crack his chest and fix his heart. After all the medical drama’s I’ve seen, I really don’t like the idea of my dad being the person on the table. But I know God is good and his timing is perfect.

circa 2010

My dad is such an amazing man. He loves God with every fiber of his being.  And loves people just as much. Just  minutes ago, a new nurse came on shift and introduced herself. They started chatting and somehow she mentioned her knee was hurting, He told her a story about how years ago God had healed his knee and he would love to pray for hers. She interrupted him and said while she would love for him to pray for her, would he please pray her husband instead. “He’s had a really hard year and is about to have back surgery.” My dad then took her hand and prayed the sweetest, most heartfelt prayer over both she and her husband. After the amen, she looked at my dad with big tears in her eyes and said, “We all need prayers like that”. And that’s my dad. I’m sure he’ll pray for the entire staff by the time all is said and done.

circa 1980

The doctors say he’s gonna be just fine. He has an 8 week vacation ahead of him after surgery. With no driving. Or lifting. And lot’s of resting. Which is not his favorite activity. But as we say in our house. Farthing’s are flexible. I’m sure he’ll adjust.

 

circa 2014

It’s just short of a miracle the way that everything worked out for me to come home. I love being with my family and there is no way I want to be half way across the ocean while one of them is hurting. And thankfully, I could be there this time. I’m taking the first shift and then heading out to Rome. My sister will be doing the heavy lifting (literally and figuratively) the rest of this summer. Keep her in your prayers.

So that’s whats going on in my little world. If it comes to mind, say a little prayer that everything goes well. I’m not ready to say goodbye to him quite yet.

 

Love, Love, Love

The Girl Who Lives in My Head

 

New England

Dreams Do Come True. 

Not too long ago I got this in the mail.

special delivery

 With this inside.

presents!!!

And this.

James Bible Study

Love this Lady!!

 To say it made my year, would be an understatement.

Here’s the story of how it all unfolded.

When I first met Alyssa’s future husband Jeff, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. Granted, at the time of our meeting, the poor guy was on display, surrounded by people trying to figure out if he was good enough for Alyssa. Turns out he was. So around the time she said goodbye to Maui and moved back home, they fell in love. And I was super stoked because I had been rooting for him.

 

 

Then this happened.

 

Anyway. The next time I saw this guy it was at their wedding and he was already famous and I was super intimidated.

 

He had just become BFF with Beth Moore. And for those of you who don’t know me, Beth Moore is kind of my jam. I can drop a relevant Beth quote in almost any conversation. Because her bible studies have had a profound impact on my life. And God uses people to shape me.

 

Beth Moore Pic

Here’s me at First Baptist in Houston for a Siesta Scripture Memory Weekend. And the closest I’ve ever gotten to Wanda Beth. (I’m in the middle left) I was way to nervous to try to meet her. Plus we all know I would just freeze anyway.

Now, if you remember, I get nervous around celebrities and Jeff had just hit celebrity status. So, my way of handling my nerves was to tell him, “I’m not quite sure we can ever truly be friends because deep down I will always wonder if I’m just using you to get to Beth Moore.” (Insert cute shrug)

 Well, Jefferson is a class act and a perfect match for Alyssa.

 And now that they live in Maui,  I’m getting to know Jeff on a whole ‘nother level.(Insert fajitas comment here) And it is such a blessing. The character that Jeff demonstrates reminds me of David. He’s got such a teachable heart, humble spirit and just a tenderness about him in the way that he loves Lys. And don’t get me started on how much he loves Kins.

Right before they moved back Alyssa sent me a text that Jeff had surprise for me that was going to rock my world. My immediate response was “Did he pack Beth Moore in his suitcase???”

Well Beth Moore didn’t quite make it to Maui, yet. (Fingers crossed) But her assistant did send me a package in the mail.

And when I texted Alyssa thank you. She informed me it was all Jeff. Having Alyssa back on Maui is a dream come true. Having her with her amazing husband and sweet family is icing on the cake.

So I texted him back.

text

Love , Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives in My Head.

PS This is actually my favorite video of his. I like how courageous and raw it is. Probably because of this

 

If My Life Had Gone as Planned.

When I moved back, it felt like everybody and their brother got married.

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And it was awesome. We had lots of fun.

Cardboard Sledding

And then, they all started popping out the babies. And that was pretty sweet.

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But then apparently, babies change things.

My social life as I knew it changed.

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So I stretched my wings and met some new people.

4th

And that’s when I met these crazy girls.

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And they changed my life for the better.

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We went on long drives in Blanche.

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And got our craft on.

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And laughed.

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A lot.

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And became dear friends. Who walked through all kinds of seasons together.

It was wonderful.

And then…

They hung around another year.

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And our friendship went even deeper.

We talked about God. Our hopes and dreams for the future.

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We went on crazy adventures. Talked about life, love and boys.

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And then Alyssa moved away.

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And fell in love with this guy.

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So of course, we went to the wedding.

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And had a ball. Catching up, laughing and dancing the night away.

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And now she and her sweetheart just moved back to Maui!! And brought a little extra something to the party.

(Sorry Kins, I know it’s not the most flattering shot)

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Risa stayed on Maui a little longer.  And our friendship went even deeper. We had a blast. Late night laundry chats. Laying in my bed eating ice cream. Talking about everything under the sun.

(I also got to know this amazing lady)

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And then in a fairytale, Risa met a boy at Young Life camp. And they fell in love. He popped the question. The stars magically aligned and Alyssa and I got the privilege to help her pick out her dress.

(Ring the Bell, Baby)

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So of course, we went to the wedding.

here comes the bride

Here’s the handsome man who swept her off her feet.

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And now, they have a little bun in the oven.

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And I can’t wait to meet him!!!

This is just a snapshot of a few of the amazing women that God has brought into my life. And I adore them all.

Sometimes when we are in a season of life that we wish was different, we can overlook what is right in front of us. I’m so thankful that my life has not gone according to plan. I would have missed out on so many amazing relationships and adventures. I would not trade anything for the the friendships God has given me. If I were married with kiddo’s I would not have been able to invest in these women with the faithfulness, depth and drop everything mentality that being single allowed me to do. I try very hard to not take it for granted. Because it won’t always be this way.

So, the question of the day.

Is there anyone or anything in your life that you are overlooking because you want things to be different? Are there people you could be investing in or things you could be doing because of the way God has designed this season of life? What is keeping you from going for it?

Why I treat celebrities like cats

Okay. In my funny little life I have had the opportunity to meet some slightly famous people.  And to be honest, it has not gone well. To say I get starstruck is an understatement. I get stupid. I once saw our governor at the Maui Mall and froze like a statue.

I have never been breezy. More bumbly with a hint of overeager awkward. SO I have learned to treat celebrities like cats. Meaning, I ignore them and if by chance they decide to come to me at one of our random social encounters, I will be cautiously friendly yet slightly aloof. This does not come natural to me. In the personality scheme of things, I’m a dog. Super friendly, curious and lovable. I’d like to think I’m a yellow lab but I might actually be more of a Cocker-Spaniel.

Tonight I got to celebrate Easter with some dear friends. And because one of them might be a little famous, they invited another slightly famous person and his new wife to eat with us. I’ll be honest. When they walked in the door my heart sank a little. I don’t like these encounters. They make my insecure junior high self come out so I took a deep breath and treated them like cats. It’s harder to ignore people in a crowd of thirteen but I managed it. Until we sat down to eat. And my dear friend sat me next to her, which meant I ended up by this couple. And I thought great. This will not be fun. Awkward Leslie, here she comes.

But you know what? It didn’t happen. Because this guy and his new wife were actually very charming. Down to earth. Honest. Funny. Real. They made me laugh and they got my jokes. I have a tendency to think in song lyrics and movie quotes. And this girl picked up what I was putting down.They were people of substance.  And dinner was easy. Afterwards, I had a lovely chat with this new bride about Young Life, marriage and women in ministry. She is a dynamo with places to go. I love their story and of how they met. And how he knew right away that she was the one and how she begged to differ. And he kept praying and she fell in love. It gave me hope.

So as I walked down the driveway after exiting the party, I wrote a little note to my junior high self.

Dear Junior High Self,

In your life you will meet all kinds of people. Some will make you feel funny, smart and occasionally even beautiful. Find those people and spend time with them. Cultivate those relationships. Even if they aren’t the coolest or most popular people at the party. Because they are fun. They make you laugh. They get you and you make them laugh. Those are your people. They are your tribe.

Other times you will meet people who make you feel small, awkward and occasionally insignificant. Be kind to them but don’t stay long at their table. You will know when you meet them because you will walk away feeling less than and wondering why you don’t measure up. It’s ok. They just aren’t your peeps. Don’t give in to the desire to impress them so that one day they might see that you were actually really cool at your old school. It’s not worth the effort. And it rarely pays off.

Brush off the encounter and go hang out in the treehouse with the kids who speak your language and dance to the same rhythm as you. Because you are fun. And funny. And pretty freaking fantastic. Enjoy who you are. Don’t waste precious time and energy on not your people. Because you have a tribe. And they are worthy

Love, Love, Love

Your Future Self

PS Tonight I learned what a longsnapper is.

One time I played sardines with Bethany Hamilton. This is actually the photo we took.
One time I played sardines with Bethany Hamilton. This is actually the photo we took.