Yet Another Letter From Inside My Brain

Twice I have written letters from inside my brain. You can read those letters here… “Girl Teen in my brain” and “Spaz in my brain“.  Today  I have a new letter…

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Dear Mrs. Iles,

I know this is going to surprise you; I am a junior high boy living in your brain.  “What?” you must be asking.  “What does that mean?”

You raised two boys and spent a lot of time with them during the homeschool years.  As you tried to relate to them, I grew to be a part of who you are.  I am the part of you that thinks fart jokes are funny and really enjoy fire.  remember that time at Starbucks a guy did a lean and fart and you texted your son to tell him…that was my work.

It’s true.  You can pretend to be a grown up if you want, but really I exist and I love things most middle aged women don’t.  The best part is that I like to laugh at inappropriate times.  I know you hate this, but it just makes me laugh more knowing you are uncomfortable when I show up.

I’m the one you argue with when you see someone in public that is different or dressed strangely; I want to judge and make loud comments.  I know you usually win these battles and I’m kept silent, but you know I’m still there and this is a struggle for you.

These are the areas I often win.  I’m the one that snorts at You Tube Videos that your sons send you.  I help you find humor in the things they find funny (like coconuts in a book about Captain Cook and Charlie Bates in Oliver Twist – that was for the boys).  I’m the one that gets you hooked on video games occasionally; there was that year we played World of Warcraft together (so glorious) and got you the high score in the family on SSX Tricky.  I am the one that loves Superhero movies, Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings (you have a dog named Bilbo, you’re welcome).

We will continue to work together.  I know we battle, but it’s almost always fun.  See you on the roller-coaster of life.

The Teen Boy in Your Brain

a.k.a. Etienne (French for Steve and your grandfather’s name)

My Own Elderly Hunger Games

My friend pointed out to me that I have offered to all my parents (my mom, my estranged dad and his wife, my mother in law) that when they get old, they can stay with me if they like. She wanted to know what I would do if they ALL took me up on it. This made me think of some funny scenarios.

I would basically have a Elderly Hunger Games on my hands. I will be a responsible daughter and take care of family, but it’s not my problem if they don’t get along. They may attack each other for dominance in the space or just a bit of peace and quiet.  I’d fill a cornucopia with walkers and canes so they could battle it out.

I also pictured Elderly Brady Bunch. I’d get some bunk beds in there and a little night light. They could stay up late talking about their aches and pains. We could get a live in nurse that would be like our Alice.  I’d pay to watch that TV.

I could have the Elderly Scooby Gang. I’d have them take care of my dog and give them little mysteries to solve every morning to keep them busy. I could hire a dude to drive them all around in a van. Maybe they could find their missing social security (or marbles).

What shows do you imagine happening with this motley crew?

Going to a New Church

Well, some of you read a previous blog where I wrote about a transition our church went through and how I handled choosing what church to belong to. The hubs and I are finding ourselves in a new transition time.

A big part of our previous decision to stay at the church we were at, was our son was so plugged in at the High School Group. The youth ministry is just so impressive there and his youth pastor, one of the best. The hubs and I also agree the importance of keeping the family together at the same church until the boys become adults…that time has come. Our youngest is leaving in a few months to go off on his next big adventure (college in Wisconsin) which leaves the hubs and I empty-nesters.

Another reason we stayed is we felt we owed the leadership of our church to give the merging churches a healthy effort. We trusted the decision our elders made (and still do). I can honestly say the new church is thriving. The sermons are great and I’ve never loved the music more (I’m always dancing and singing along now). But, and this is about my walk and who I am, it isn’t the right fit for me right now.

What I have come to realize over the past few months is that I am not really a mega-church/multi-campus person. It’s the same reason I don’t like going to Disney (even with friends); the large size and milling crowds overwhelm me and I crave intimacy.  I often feel lonely.  I know this sounds strange coming from this uber-extrovert, but it’s how I function. Like Disney, the mega-church is loved by many and for good reasons. However, at this point in my life, I just crave intimacy more on Sunday morning than anything else.

I have prayed LONG and hard about God releasing me to go seeking in other churches. I have prayed this in the past, always getting a “NO”, but now I feel a freedom to go.

I will miss Westgate Southhills and especially all the amazing people we know and love there.  This was not an easy decision and there are many layers to it all.  A lot of discussion and prayer went into this and it was not a decision made lightly.  If you ask, I will just tell you I needed something smaller and more intimate.  I know that sounds simplified, it might be, but anything else is gossip and my own issues being worked out.

My priority right now is to finish strong at Westgate.  I have a couple months left committed to my youth group (and to my son who leaves in June).  I want to continue to give 100% and leave on a good note.  I hope I will always be welcome on the Southhills campus and be remembered fondly.  I pray they thrive even more and continue to positively impact their neighborhood.

If you are a praying sort, pray for the hubs and I and our new adventure.

The Microscope I Live Under

I was talking with a good friend recently and she pointed out that I often talk about how I want to be known for being different than others at how I do things. For example, when I talk about my homeschool years I often say, “But we weren’t your typical homeschooling family.”

The thing is, some aspects of my life are choices that often end up under the microscope. What is even odder, is that I like to point out how we did it differently, but really we aren’t that different, we just might be different than the stereotype.

Homeschoolers as a group are often put under a microscope. People see it as different and they think it’s a statement of some kind on the school system. There is sometimes a belief the homeschoolers think they are better than people who go to school.  For us it was just a choice we made for our family.  It was about my son who acted up in preschool and I needed to be his guide a bit longer (and then I fell in love with homeschooling – so we did it until college).

As a homeschooler we were actually very typical. We did all our classes at home (except music and sports). We sometimes took days off to go to the beach. We read a lot and my kids had a lot of free time to explore things they loved to do on their own (like drums – 2-3 hours a day). The boys graduated at 15, which is also not unusual in the homeschool world. They dress normally (mostly), they have friends, they adjusted beautifully to college. That’s it.  Most of the negative stereotypes are a myth or based on “that one family”.  We actually are the typical homeschooling family.

Christians are often put under the microscope as well. People see us as judgmental and all about moral codes, and that we care most about how everyone around us is behaving. We are seen as people who think they are better than everyone else.

Oddly enough, most of the Christians I know humbly admit to their flawed lives.  I’m certainly no peach 100% of the time.  They try to love everyone based on the rule to love your neighbor as yourself.  The fellow Christians I know work with teens (even the troubled ones), the homeless (even the ones doing drugs), serve in prisons bringing music and compassion…Again most of the negative stereotypes you run into are those handful of people that are just too extreme, and most of the Christians I know would say those people aren’t getting it.  I like to think I’m redefining Christianity for more positive stereotypes, but the truth is, I’m not alone.  Most of the Christians I know are amazing, serving, humble people.

So, yes, I like to think I’m doing it differently.  I like to think I have a cool and social homeschool family and that when people hear I’m a Christian they will understand that is why I love them so much.  But really, I’m just like a lot of my friends who made the same choices in their lives to teach their kids at home and love Jesus.

Good News/Bad News

OK, the bad news first. I had planned on starting a Video-blog project, but my videographer and I have busy lives and can’t seem to match up. It’s been 3 months and it’s obviously a no-go. Sorry. Maybe I’ll try again at another time.

The good news is I’m now committing to get back on track with my once a week posts. I will see you this mid-week.

Who the F are you in a group?

On Valentine’s Day, the hubs and I decided to go out to lunch. I know, married people aren’t stupid enough to try to get into a restaurant on that day. That said, we went early, 11:30am, to one of our favorite burger places (St. John’s on Lawrence Expwy in Sunnyvale). We decided to sit on the patio, because apparently in California it’s 75 degrees in February.

We were the first ones out there, but soon other couples came out to sit.  It was a beautiful sunny day and it was lovely and quiet…until Sigma Pi showed up.  Soon a group of about 25-30 guys from Sigma Pi fraternity were sitting out there with us.  The conversation got loud and was mostly about hangovers, Swedish girls and bursting in F-bombs.  All I could think was that if I was a hiring manager at any company, I would be very hesitant, from this point on, to hire anyone from Sigma Pi.

I know it seems hard for a group of young guys to be aware of the people around them, but it’s not just young men; I’ve seen groups of women get into a discussion about labor and delivery in public and be clueless of the impact they might be having on the restaurant around them…afterbirth and Crème brûlée just does not mix.  What happens when we get into groups?

I am probably guilty of this.  Sometimes we get together with friends and we get loud.  We think our fun is more important than the individuals around us.  Mob mentality is so powerful.  We find ourselves behaving in ways we would never behave in alone.  We are no longer ourselves.

I started to have compassion for the one Sigma Pi  guy who was trying to settle his friends.  I ended up giving him my extra chip bags and he was very nice about it.  So ask yourself, are you the one ignoring the world and enjoying your moment with your friends or are you aware of the people around you?  I can’t say I have always chosen wisely on this, but I think I’m going to be thinking about it from now on.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I guess I kind of fell off the face of the earth after a year of weekly blogs. I am going through so much right now I feel like my brain is stretched too tight and the leisurely thinking just doesn’t have any room. I do plan on getting back on track; I just need to re-center myself.

At home I am watching my boys grow up. Both my boys are now college dudes. My youngest, being a homeschooler, had to ask during orientation what a GPA is. Sorry son, I probably should have explained that one. I guess it doesn’t matter though since his is now a 4.0 (same as his brother).

Because the boys were both settled, I got a job. I went from teaching the boys, lunches with friends, mentoring teens and getting chores done…to work full time, rarely seeing my friends or kids, still mentoring teens (when I can), and still trying to get chores done. This might be my biggest struggle. Time has changed everything. I go to bed like an old lady at 9pm, just so I can get up in time to do what I need to do.

At church, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, everything has changed (except that I still get to see some of the same amazing people). I am still adjusting.

I do have a new project that will be coming in the next few months that might excite you all. It involves my thoughts, video and my young friend who loves to edit video…I will be making an announcement about this soon.

So hang in there. I am not gone, just adjusting. I love you all for being such wonderfully loyal blog readers.