Will this be cute in 10 years?

Thanksgiving 2015As the kids were growing up, when they’d do something slightly naughty or disrespectful we often asked ourselves, “Will this be cute in ten years?”

It wasn’t hard to guess. Emily was the assistant house mother for around 40 teenage girls. And there were a couple hundred teenagers at the boarding school. We could easily imagine our kid’s behavior in “teenage clothes” and realize that it wasn’t something we wanted to encourage.

And it has paid off. Big time.

Our kids are now 16, 13, and “almost 11.” And they are a blast.

Take our dinner conversations for example. Yesterday was my birthday. Our conversation ranged from:

  • Different forms of birth control – I shared my mother’s womb with a Dalkon shield so that tends to come up on my birthday
  • To a quote from the IT crowd – Moss’ “My ears are not a toilet!”
  • To lines from “The Banana Song – “Guac-amole, Gauc, Guac-a-mo-oh-oh-le”

Sure they’re human. But they are nice humans

In thinking about our dinner last night, I remembered that “Will this be cute in 10 years” question. Sure, our kids are human. Like the rest of us so they have good days and bad days. But I’m really glad we asked that question all those years ago. Because our kids are a delight.

And if you’re interested in that last song…here it is. You can’t un-hear it.

The difference of one week – Remembering Mom

A week ago at about this time, I got the call that my mother had died.

It was a shock.

Mom was human, so I knew she’d die at some point. We all do. (Well, except for Enoch.) And on March 28, Mom was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” So I knew that, barring a miraculous act from God, her death was sooner than we’d foreseen.

But it was still a shock.

There’s a lot to be thankful for:

  • Mom died peacefully, in her own bed, falling asleep–no struggling or pain.
  • My brother-in-law, an RN, was with her at the time–no “should I have done more” second guessing for the non-medical people in the family (like my sister and me).
  • She’d had a day full of conversations the day before. I wonder if she’d decided it was a day of goodbyes.
  • She’d even gotten to say an extra special goodbye to my dad before he went to work. She knew. And it was ok.

I’m so glad she won’t have to suffer the worst of ALS. She died while she still had some control of her muscles and her movement. And I’m so glad my family’s made the choices it has–self employment, distance learning, and home school– to be able to drop everything and drive down to be with family the moment we heard.

It still stinks. And people familiar with this side of grief tell me that it’s going to get worse after the service tomorrow. (I’ve counseled people through death, but this side is really different.)

Mostly humbling gratitude

What a week. Time is all wonky. I sit down to do something and all of a sudden two hours has gone but I have little to show for it. I feel like I’m not getting much accomplished but I’m exhausted by 6 p.m.

But I have to say, I’m mostly grateful. Mom is in a far better place. The last time I got to talk to her, she told me that she’d lived with so many fears, but now Jesus had taken those fears away. And I’m grateful that she wouldn’t put up with any of us feeling sad for the rest of our life or beating ourselves up for the things we didn’t say!

I’m grateful for a family that works well together. My wife and kids are a tremendous team. My sister and her husband have been a constant presence for Dad. My dad is pretty remarkable in his own right. Mom’s brother and sister-in-law are amazing (always have been). All the people our family’s adopted or interacted with are surrounding us. Even more, the Body of Christ, the followers of Jesus that were praying for her and my family are all around. (Our church in Waterville has been amazing even though we’re not physically there right now!)

And the widest circle of all, the people that don’t share my faith tradition or relationship with Jesus but care enough to express their support and gratitude.

In the midst of the sadness, it’s humbling for this kid from Maine.

How can we help?

For all who’ve asked “How can we help?” — we Pitmans are stubborn-as-mules do-it-myself Yankees. We have generations of practice not asking for help. We stink at it. So honestly, we don’t know. Prayer is always welcome. It’s doing more than you know.

But I know that doing something tangible (not that prayer isn’t), is comforting too. My friends over on Facebook are building a list of things. The constant refrain? Our families will need the help for months to come. (And apparently the most help involves food. I’m good with that!)

If you’d like, you can make a donation to your favorite charity. We give addresses for The ALS Association Northern New England Chapter, The ALS Center at Dartmouth, and Pathway Vineyard Church in Mom’s obituary.

I guess I’ll say, please don’t let our ignorance in knowing what we need stop you from trying. But please honor us, especially dad, if we say, “Thank you but please stop”! ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, we’d be honored if those of you who knew Mom would share a picture of mom or story or memory about her, even just a couple lines over at http://facebook.com/KathyStories. And if you’re unable to come to the service tomorrow at 1 p.m., we’re going to attempt to stream it over at http://marcpitman.com/kathycelebration.

Most importantly, please keep lifting Dad up in prayer. I can’t imagine losing your best friend of over 45 years.

What have you found helpful?

It’s only been a week, and though we were preparing for Mom’s death, I don’t think we were quite ready. Not sure if you ever are.

What have you found helpful in dealing with grief? And for getting through those moments when it catches you unaware?

Not gonna hack my wife’s blog, but I will brag

Allume Conference 2012Apparently if I hack my wife’s blog with this post, I could win an iPad.

I’m all for a challenge. And I know this is in good fun. But I have no more interest in “hacking” into her blog than I have of her hacking into any of my blogs.

But I am excited about how God is using Allume in her life. It’s been wonderful to see her come alive in a renewed way as she’s prepared for Allume. I’m loving watching her continue to define herself and to trust that she already has discovered her voice. And that it’s a good voice.

Whether it is her wonderful 31 Day of Christmas Planning or her 5 Minute Friday experiments, or her post about making Roman shades for our room, she’s a gifted writer with a lot to offer the world.

Growing together

I married well. When we got married 17 years ago, we did it to minister together. Her explorations on her blog are helping us revisit the conversation of working together. I love the idea of us blogging together! (We’ve already played at that with the “he said, she said” experiments.)

It’s even more thrilling to think of us sharing the stage. In writing and in speaking, Emily helps people grow and become more of who they truly are.

She’s had it all along

We recently came across some writing she did for the family over a decade ago. Her writing makes our family richer. She was a great writer then too. But I love how getting ready to go to Allume seems to have renewed her confidence.

And it’s fun to be the one at home hearing about all the cool experiences he’s having!

Check out HopeCaptive

Her blog is definitely worth putting into your blog reader. It’s currently at http://hopecaptive.blogspot.com.

Incarnation and…Doctor Who?

My daughter made a connection between the soul/body connection of Scripture and Doctor Who's 2 hearts!

The other day, my seven year-old daughter was asking me about death. She talked about the idea of our body decaying but our soul living on.

In an effort to stave off Gnosticism, I told her that though popular Biblically, we don’t believe in a soul/body split. I told her I didn’t know exactly what happened at death but I do know that we are not “spirit beings having a human experience.”

I told her about Genesis. That the way the ancient Hebrews tried to explain this mystery was God forming clay and then breathing His breath into it. The material without the spirit isn’t a living person. Neither is the spirit without the material.

We are both spirit and body. Inseparable.

She looked at me as though asome of this was making sense. To show she was getting it, she asked:

I get it. It’s like Doctor Who’s two hearts, right?

Um. Yeah. Something like that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

One year ago today…

Celebrating God's goodness, Dt 14 styleToday the Pitman family is celebrating God’s goodness in our lives.

You see, after the political campaign, we decided it was a great time for me to be self-employed. I had a couple books to finish writing. I was going out to Seattle to record a couple fundraising training DVDs. And there was an online community that was getting started. All three things looked profitable in the near term.

Seemed like a good idea at the time. Five months later, neither book had been picked up by a publisher, neither DVD had been produced (despite both being filmed), and the online community was helping people but not generating any revenue.

Things weren’t going exactly as we’d planned. But we still really believed that God was calling us to this journey of self-employment. So I’d fallen into a pattern of trying to promote FundraisingCoach.com and looking for a major gifts job.

Talk about split vision! “How is your fundraising training plan for this year? Oh, you’re alset? Ok…could I apply for that a job you have open?” I never did that but I probably came across that way! I was trying to provide for my family but it was not exactly inspiring confidence in clients!

You have a year

As I remember it, on this day last year my wife and I had another teary, stressed out conversation about our life. At the conclusion, she said, “You have a year to make this work.”

What a gift! You see, she didn’t say it in the tone of, “You idiot, you have one year to get your act together!” She was giving me permission to focus 100% on Fundraising Coach. Trusting that that would provide for our family.

What a year it’s been

The books still aren’t published, the online community isn’t producing income, and only one of the fundraising training DVDs has been produced. But this year has been amazing:

  • But I’ve been able to speak all over the country and even internationally.
  • I’ve gotten a lot smarter about running a business. (I use contracts now. Hadn’t even done that before!)
  • My wife and I have started blogging about being a traveling spouse and staying married. (She’s an excellent writer. And we make a great team, if I do say so myself!)
  • I’ve received some great honors.

As my wife said recently, “This is our life now!” And it is.

So today we celebrate

We’ve worked our tails of as a family. Last week, when we were asking the kids what they’d be grateful for, our 9 year old said she thanks God that I’ve taken all the risks I have since the Peter Mills campaign because we get to do what we are doing.

And today, we’re taking a cue from Deuteronomy 14:22-26 and celebrating God’s goodness in our lives. Today is filled with family, a new Wii game we can all enjoy (Super Mario Kart), steak and garlic mash potatoes, and reveling in God.

What about you? How do you celebrate?

Update: For my wife’s take on this year, check out her post We Did It.