Thursday, September 04, 2014

Costco Inspired Thoughts About Kids Going Off to College

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Yesterday in line at Costco I saw a middle-aged women in her tennis outfit. Clearly an empty nester because she was buying tennis balls, toilet paper, and avocados. That's it. And I got really sad and thankful. Sad for that stage in life. Sad there was not a dozen apples in her cart that will vanish in days. Sad there there were no flat pretzels that her son likes. Sad that there was not a double flat of raspberries that will be consumed by tomorrow. Sad that there was not a ginormous honey dew rolling around in her cart because her kindergartener told her class that honey dew was her favorite food.

I am sure that woman has a great life and enjoys her freedom, her grocery bill, and her tennis. And I know there are GREAT parts to having grown kids. Like going to the bathroom without interruption and people gratefully rejoicing when you make them food of any kind. But I was looking at her cart situation and thinking "I am so glad that my kids are in school right now so I can fly through Costco, but I am so glad I get to go pick them up in a few minutes!"

You guys, this kindergarten business does not make me cry. But I cannot handle the thought of kids going off to college!!! Yesterday I helped one of my babysitters (who started as my "mommy's helper" when she was 9 years old) with her COLLEGE essays.


And I get teary-eyed thinking of her beautiful mother who will be kissing that sweet face goodbye next year. I know she is not dying or vanishing into the abyss never to return, but I just can't handle it. Last year we went to my high school's dance show and they did a senior dance where all the girls wore their college sweatshirts. Could not handle. Was crying on behalf of their parents.
I'm SO WEIRD.
And I am so thankful that I have at least 8 more years with Elijah at home, 12 with Lydia, and 46 with Jordis. She told me the other day she never wants to leave home and go to college. Yes, that's the same girl who once told me I was meaner than fireworks. She's never leaving home.

Parenting is hard. Some days are horrible. Some days are simply mundane. Some days are rewarding. Some days are amazing. Sometimes I feel like a total failure. Some days I feel like I could teach a parenting class. JK, never had that thought. I guess what I am trying to say is, I am thankful that I get to be a mom. The end.



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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Stealing from the Rich to Give to the Rich?

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On Mother's Day weekend I spoke at services at Crossroads Church in Fremont about "Lies Moms Believe." One of the lies I addressed is "I am ruining my children." Because we often think our kids will only pick up on our failures, weakness, parenting mistakes. Any bad choices they make in life are our fault. Will they learn anything good from us?



The truth is we can greatly influence our children but we cannot control them. We must do our best and surrender the results to God. They do see us and they are learning from us even though sometimes they act like we are invisible. We influence them every day, but we cannot control them.

Almost every night I pray with my kids that we would have generous hearts. That we would be generous with our time and money. And almost every night, sweet Jordis prays the same exact prayer. "Dear God (omits "thank you") for this wonderful world. Please help angels to surround our house. Double them both." Amen. She has admitted that she doesn't even know what this means. She has just picked up on it from someone else's prayer, twisted the words a bit, and then repeated it. For years. Only adds to it or spices it up when I ask her to. I long for the day when she prays to have a generous heart and an open hand with her stuff. Enter Mother's Day morning.

I spoke at two services Saturday night and then Sunday morning I woke up to Mother's Day blessings and confirmation of what I was teaching - we do influence our children. Jordis came to me with a Mother's Day gift. Twenty dollars of her very own money. (Grandma hid money eggs instead of candy on Easter so I thought that is where the money came from.)
"Mom, this is for you. It is from my give jar and I wanted to give it to you."
"Oh sweetheart, thank you so much. That is so generous of you. Maybe we can work together to figure out who we can give this to who really needs it. Thank you so much."
So sweet. So blessed. She is really getting this generosity. A little misguided to give it to her mom instead of someone really in need, but I'll take it. 
As I walked out the door I saw her in her room going through letters and pictures of our Compassion sponsored kids. Be still my soul. She does hear us and see us. We are influencing her to be generous and to care about others.

I then spoke at two more services on Sunday and had this new illustration to throw into my talk as we talk about how we influence our children. Thank you Jesus . . .
until I get home. And find out that she has given her brother 20 bucks. And then she brings out her wallet that is LOADED with cash. Many one dollar bills, some twenties, fives... $70 more dollars to be exact. Where is Jordis getting her money? Generous Jordis is really a criminal.

We question her. She just had the money. She just got it. She didn't take it. She won't reveal her sources. Meanwhile the whole family is now involved in this money scam and none of us can control our laughter. Elijah, Lydia, me, Shiloh. Cannot stop laughing at the five-year-old thief who will not come clean and yet has money for days. Did you get into Dad's wallet? Did you get into Mom's purse? Did you take it from Grammy's purse when you were at the office with her? She. Won't. Budge. She didn't take it from anywhere or anyone. She just had it.

We go to Grammy and Grandpa's later in the day and finally coerce a confession out of her. And when I say coerce . . . I mean, comedy. My brothers and sister-in-law as my witnesses, Jordis is a piece of work. And she was working us. "If I tell you, you have to give me five dollars." Whaaaaat? At one point my brother Cameron (who is trying to contain his laughter during this whole debacle) says to me "You're not winning." Then we all crack up. She finally whispers in my ear "Your purse."

She got it from my purse. Before you go thinking I'm all money bags, you must understand I had recently gone to the bank and got cash and a bunch of ones because we just started giving the kids allowance. And I needed a bunch of change for when I sold Totally Desperate Mom after the Mother's Day services. And my five-year-old took advantage of me and my temporary cash situation. And there went my illustration. And there went Jordis's allowance. We took all the money from her and she did not receive her one-dollar allowance that week. And she will never steal money again. We hope.

The moral of the story? I don't even know. Good luck in parenting?
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

God is Good, But Sometimes Life Still Sucks

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Suffering sucks. Just this week I've heard this from dear friends . . .

My dad is suddenly really sick. Sclerosis of the liver and huge tumor there.

Our baby is not going to make it.

My husband was unfaithful. We are in the process of the divorce. 

Awful. Heart-wrenching. Painful. Tragic. Last week I was asked to speak on the topic of grief. Because I know it. Because I have been there. Many of you know my story of loss and grief. Because of my journey, my heart is tender for those who are suffering. So let me just pre-party with you on this topic before I share at Mothers Together because it is weighing on my heart. And this is my self-therapy.



Many of you know grief personally. You are looking back on it. You are walking into it. You are right in the middle of it. And if that's you, I just want to validate the suckiness of it all. The pain of it all. The emotional pain where your heart just hurts so bad you want to crawl into a hole. The physical pain where you have cried so much it physically hurts and you feel like your throat is going to pulse into your brain -- or something totally funky like that because that hardcore crying pain is hard to articulate. It just sucks.

Yes, God is at work. Yes, somehow God is in control and we are not. Yes, God will bring good out of all things for those who love him and are called according to His purposes. Yes, what Satan has intended for evil, God has meant for good. Yes, God walks with us in our suffering. He hasn't caused it, but some how he steps right down into it. Yes, in our weakest, most desperate times . . . God speaks clearly. Or maybe we are just ready to listen. But some of us were really trying to listen before the pain, so what is up? Yes, God loves us. Yes, God has not forgotten us. Yes, we can trust him and do not need to fear. These things are awesome and true. I know this firsthand. They sustained my broken heart. They brought peace to my suffering. But my circumstances still sucked. 

And all those truths about God don't mean you should be skipping through suffering.  Because even with all these truths in your head, the pain is still there. The loss of marriage, the loss of a parent, the loss of a pregnancy, the loss of a baby, the loss of your health, the loss of a child to addiction, infertility . . .

I don't know where you are at as you read this, but if you are suffering loss right now I want to oddly encourage you with this:

Your situation sucks. Let yourself be sad. Let yourself grieve. Cling to Who and what you know, but let yourself cry out to God and grieve. And let people bring you meals for the rest of your life.


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Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Paleo Faileo: A Gluten and Sugar Free Experiment

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I am married to a man who turns into a different person with a sip of caffeine or a bite of sugar. He goes from reserved to ummm. . . CRAZY. Crazy in a good way, of course. Just ask any of the young adults who were in our life group and witnessed the transformation.

Anyway, I thought that perhaps some of this food sensitivity business may have been passed down to our children (one child in particular) and may be contributing to . . . how do you say . . .  mood swings. And we all know that sugar has no real benefits (outside of pure, temporary, emotional DELIGHT!) and that gluten simply serves to make you look a touch on the pregnant side. So while our family does not have any known sensitivities, allergies or issues with food (other than sugar addiction) I thought it might benefit the entire family to enter in to a few weeks of gluten-free and sugar-free eating. I was wrong.

Here's a recap of what went down:

Day 1: We will reduce and ease them in on this day. Oatmeal with chocolate chips for breakfast. I tell the kids what we are going to do. Paleo-ish eating. (But not cutting out all grain or dairy.) Together. As a family. And mommy will make delicious gluten and (refined) sugar-free meals. Does 5-year-old Jordis even know what gluten is? No. But how does she react? Lays on floor and screams "I'm gonna die!" I make delicious brussel sprouts with bacon for dinner from my friend Danielle Walker's cookbook Against All Grain. I love them. I am alone.

I make trip tip. They love that. Shiloh eats mint chocolate chip ice cream after dinner. Oops. Says he didn't realize he was a part of the experiment. I spend $4000 and my sweet precious time making gluten free bread. Homemade bread. It's a big deal. At least my dog thinks so because she jumped up to the counter and ate it when I was out of the room. And yes. I did cut off the dog side of the bread and ate the rest.

Day 2: Lydia goes to breakfast with dad. She has pancakes and hot chocolate. Umm..."Shiloh, remember we are trying to be gluten free and sugar free this week?" "You know I take the kids to breakfast every week. What else can she eat while out to breakfast?" Huh, I dunno. Eggs and bacon? Omelette? Oatmeal? Plain yogurt with fruit? Meanwhile, on the eat-breakfast-at-home-front Jordis refuses to eat the oatmeal I make because there is no brown sugar. SHE DOES NOT LIKE HONEY. So she eats a pear for breakfast. Elijah stays home "sick" from school and I later catch him downing a packet of hot chocolate in his room. Solid.

I put a slab of bacon in Jordis's snack for school. Totally normal. I'm sure she wasn't the only TK kid throwing down bacon at snack time. And since it's day two, I make real deal chocolate chip cookies  because they don't have gluten or refined sugar . . . until I throw in some dark chocolate chips. So they are just smidge sugary. And fattening. Because I don't want to be legalistic. And we have to survive and junk.

For dinner I make broccolini. I ask shiloh to stop at store and grab a roasted chicken. Thankfully, he remembers the chicken when he picks up a box of Cream of Wheat and Malt'-O Meal.

Day 3: Took Jordis to Whole Foods. She refuses to try the gluten free pretzels that taste like they are slathered in butter and are so good. But she is loyal to the Trader Joe's pretzels so she will not budge.


Day 4: Lydia resists Starbursts from from a friend. Elijah goes to a friend's house after school and has chocolate milk. Cuz he forgot. Of course he did. Shiloh is still with us... in moderation: He's had a cheeseburger (with no bun!), ginger ale, and Taco Bell. Today. I am averaging two read deal chocolate chip cookies a day. We are crushing this.


Day 5:
Breakfast: Chicken sausages for breakfast and "flat" eggs. Only Elijah and Shiloh will eat the sausage.
Lunch is quesadillas with gluten-free, corn tortillas. The same tortillas that have accompanied our soft taco dinners. The same tortillas that were in Elijah's lunch. Seriously people, these are the softest bestest gluten-free corn tortillas ever. Until they're not gluten free. Shiloh looks at the packaging and says, "Hey honey. You know these have gluten in them right?" Dang it. No wonder they were so good. Winning.

Lydia goes to a movie with her friend so I pack her pretzels and fruit snacks. And dropped off gluten- free Mac and cheese for her to eat for lunch at her friend's house because that's convenient and normal.
-----
And that's all for the play-by-play folks. Suffice it to say we ate far worse on our gluten-gree, sugar free TEN DAYS then we normally do. To compensate for our deficiencies I gave the kids juice. Like every day. Normally juice is a treat for them. We had gluten-free pizza three times. Normally we have pizza maybe once a month. (But if you are wondering, Z Pizza had the best gluten-free pizza.) Shiloh says, "I am allergic to being gluten free." And I had so many gluten-free chocolate chip cookies because I stashed them in the freezer and loved on them every day. Because I am a good friend to those cookies. And now I want them.

In conclusion, the quasi paleo thing does not work for our family at this time. We do better in moderation both mentally and physically. However, if we were dealing with autoimmune disease, illness, allergies, stomach aches, etc. . . .we would listen to PINK and we would try, try, try. Again. Because I love that song and I do believe that this kind of eating is better for you. And it can really help to manage illness. READ Danielle's story. And buy her cookbook even if you are Paleo Faileo like us. Because there are great recipes in there.

If a picture could sum up our journey . . . 
And please note: my floors just look clean and unscratched. They are not, so step off. Have a nice day.
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

This Parenting Thing is No Joke and Sometimes I Feel Like Quitting

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I am so thankful our marriage counselor warned me about what was to come with my son. During one of our sessions he said something like "Up until about age 10, your kids think you are a god and goddess. And after, they pull away and are way more into their friends."


As I have watched my sweet Elijah pull away over the last year or so those words echo in my head and I am able to cry and think this is normal? all at the same time. And I also start to understand why empty nesters get dogs and then totally obsess over them. It's like we were created for that deep connection with another human being - where we are the caretaker, the nurturer, the provider, the teacher, the love giver. And in turn, they give us unconditional love and teach us more than our brains can handle. And when the parent/child thing doesn't work out so neatly anymore, we get a dog.

And yet, I know this is just the beginning of the emotional hard stuff of parenting so many older moms "encouraged" me with when mine were all in carseats and diapers. "You think this is hard, just wait 'til they get older. Little people, little problems." or "What you are doing is physically tiring, but what's ahead is emotionally tiring." I get what they were saying and yet I would argue that 270 days of potty training a strong-willed child and dealing with a son who ate a live toad is physically and emotionally exhausting.

I guess what I am trying to say, is parenting is always hard and I am having a mid-life parenting crisis. Major parenting growing pains right now happening up in here. If you are in the same boat right now then maybe you will feel more normal hearing me spill my guts. And if nobody can relate to my this, please let me know so I can seek the professional help that I need.

Historically, I have not really been an anxious person. But now, I may have turned the corner. And I have to fight it. I have thoughts of "we should have just homeschooled him and never let him watch tv/movies and never let him out of the house to protect him from all the bad stuff and bad influences (besides our own sinful selves) in the world!" Is it too late for that? He loves the song "Ceiling Can't Hold Us" and doesn't care about the bad words that are even the clean version of the song. I used to think he could be a pastor with his sweet heart for the Lord. Now I am questioning if we have done enough to influence him spiritually. I have thoughts that he might be a drug addict considering how obviously addicted to sugar and video games he is and what a hard time he has controlling his temper and managing his emotions when he does't get his way. Right now we regulate his sugar intake and screen time - but will that backfire on us? As the reigns get loosened will he choose to self regulate? And am I loosing the reigns enough and in the right areas because that is so important - we raise them to release them, right? We teach them to make good choices and hope when they grow up they will make good choices. And yet, sometimes along the way, they need to fail and make bad choices and learn and grow from them. And we should not rescue them all the time. But he's my baby and I don't want to see him hurt or in jail or on drugs.

Because in a year-and-a-half he will be in junior high. And he will walk to school with friends and some friends will have phones with internet access. And you know what the internet has on it? A lot of bad stuff. And why do my kids fight so much? What am I doing wrong? And also, I cannot keep up with the laundry and dishes and cooking and field trips and forms and reading logs and yard duty. And I am I the worse mom ever? And somedays (like this past Sunday) I just want to quit. THIS PARENTING THING IS NO JOKE.  Are you with me?

I'm struggling right now, but I am pressing on. Because my husband gives me good pep talks when I am melting down. And I am praying like crazy throughout the day that God would give me strength and wisdom and HELP! And I turn to Him to calm my anxious heart with His truth. Like this verse. Clinging to it.
"Give your attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matthew 6:34 (The Message)
This morning the hard thing that came up was when Elijah and I were about to leave for his 10-year "well" doctor visit . . . he threw up. Another day in the motherhood, my friends.
I CAN DO THIS!
YOU CAN DO THIS MY TOTALLY DESPERATE MOM FRIENDS! 
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hagen Family Worst Photos of 2013

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It's that time of year. The time where we celebrated "God With us" where Jesus came to the earth for our ugly. Our spiritual ugly.
It's also that time of year. Where you celebrate my family's ugly. Our physical ugly. Because let's face it, with the right lighting and makeup (or lake thereof), we can all look pretty special. 
May your self-esteem be boosted by our reality. 
Also, this tradition is hard to keep up so lower your expectations this year, would ya? As Shiloh put it, "There are only so many angles you can get of your wrinkles. You need to come up with something else." So perhaps my New Year's Resolution will be to "come up with something else." But until then...
Merry Christmas.

This year I will throw myself under the bus first. . .

Bathroom selfies. They are all the rage. Except maybe in better lighting. And with a toilet in the background.

You might look cute after a workout. But I don't.

It's like my right eye bag is winking at you.

Not sure where to start with this one. So just focus on my daughter's hair clip.

The 80s called and they want my pink back. However, my wrinkles are allowed to remain in 2013.
What do you do when you are on vacation and have a four-hour wait at the ER because your five year-old fell off the bed and gashed her head on a paper shredder? Charades. It's what we do. And we look good doing it. Or maybe we don't whatever.

Ummm...that's not me?

Now for the boys.
Dumb and dumber. And Mr. T. Kind of.
 

Shiloh kind of looks like Banshee the cat does right before he throws up. Please don't throw up on our neighbor's baby.
Creepy Shiloh, creepy.



Maybe I am not the only one who looks bad after a workout.
Tough guy...ish.

Those floods. That hair. Straight up BALLER.

Elijah has nailed the "I just woke up look."

Shiloh has also perfected the "I just woke up look." So proud of my boys.

The girls are still going strong with some solid worst photos.
Prepare yourself for a nightmare on this one. Very clown reminiscent.


Lydia has really nailed the emo look and we are so proud. 

Kids are so cute when they are sleeping. With a monkey around their neck and hands in the air like they just don't care.

If noes could speak, then well . . .

Jordis's solid self-makeover complete with stunning red lipstick and untamed hair.
The Coffee Bean. Like a drug. I get it, Jordis. I really do.
Finger painting. Also, very therapeutic.

Jordis is still working on her best rock star pose.

These kids are always clean and ready to pose for the camera.
For real, I think my family is incapable of taking normal photos. Incapable. And Jordis's has exceeded her limit on eye rolls. She will not have any left when she is a teenager.

From my tame and normal family to yours - Merry Christmas!

To walk down worst memory lane . . . 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.


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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

What I learned From Fasting and Paul Walker's Death

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Long overdue update . . .

I survived 7 days without some of my worldly comforts, distractions, addictions. And I learned a few things. And I spent more time with God. I had more empty space - time for prayer and contemplation. I probably got an extra hour of sleep each night. And of course, when you are not really looking at your phone much, you realized that probably 90% of the teen/adult population is smart-phone addicted. There is very little room for empty space in this world. Space to think. Space to be bored. Space to not have screens in our faces. Standing in line. While our kids buckle in. Walking across the street. At the restaurant before, during after, after the food gets served. Constant stimulation. Constant distraction.

While giving up sugar and caffeine was probably the hardest thing this week, the biggest change I will make has come out of fasting from all of the phone-related stuff. I don't want to be constantly looking at my phone. I don't want my kids to see me checking my email multiple times in the day or using empty space to look at the phone to check instagram. I am not trying to build an Amish community, but I want to show my children that smart phones don't need to dominate our lives. Our children watch and learn from us. And I want them to learn to engage with people. And to be okay with downtime. I want them to be able to wait in a line without entertainment. I want them to feel free to be present. Sure, I cannot control their future love affair with their phones, but I'll do my best to set a healthy example of phone life. And they will know that they are more important than my social media mojo or my emails. Moving on. . .
Here's my overview of my week of fasting:

1. Social media. I probably missed this the least. It was the easiest to give up. It actually brings freedom. Nevertheless, I checked it way too much prior to this fast. For fun, for habit, to fill a few minutes of empty space. My post-fast plan is to check it after the kids go to bed. Maybe once when they are in school. If I post during the day, the goal is to not be actually going on there and checking others's posts, checking feedback, etc. Just post it and walk away. Just walk away.

2. The Internet. A real time suck for sure. It starts with one click. And then the next thing you know you have a lot of useless information in your head. I am going to try not to click on non-essential websites during the day. (And by essential I mean school ones, a recipe, etc.) And limit my time at night.

3. Caffeine. I longed for a glass of iced tea come 3 o'clock. I missed my morning shake with cacao powder. The biggest surprise on this one was that I didn't ever get a withdrawal headache and I didn't sleep better at night. I am a light sleeper so I sleep with earplugs every night. Rumor is that eliminating caffeine and screen time before bed will help with sleep. I didn't find this to be true. However, I have other extenuating circumstances that affect my sleep. 1. Two cats that bug. And lay on top of me. And then I throw them off. And then they come back. And then one of them sometimes purrs in my face early in the morning. 2. Elijah was sick for part of the week. Then he finished being sick, Jordis got sick. When my kids are sick, I don't sleep very well. I wake up and take their temperatures and mom business like that. Conclusion: maybe if I farm out my cats and my kids I would realize the sleeping benefits of eliminating caffeine?

4. Sugar. Sugar is the devil. And also an angel. Like angel food cake, cupcakes, cup of hot chocolate, chocolate brownies from scratch (made those last night). See? I missed sugar. How does one get born without a sweet tooth? Can I be a born again without a sweet tooth? They say if you go long enough without sugar, you don't crave it anymore. I don't believe that, but maybe it's true. I stopped drinking brown cola in junior high for some strange reason - I think it was something my dance teacher said.  I don't think I have had one since. Instead, I  would drink 7-up or Sprite but only on tap from restaurants. I stopped that 10 years ago or so. No soda of any kind in at least 10 years. I have no desire for soda whatsoever. Maybe sugar is like that. But PROBABLY NOT! I am still figuring out what to do with this sugar crush I have. I think I am going to have every other day off sugar though or something. Pathetic, I know. But I need to just exercise some discipline.

5. Television. I missed it. I missed the UCLA football game. I missed watching a show with my husband before bed. I enjoy the "not thinking" part about television. They don't call it mindless entertainment for nuthin'.

6. Scramble Free. I really like this game. And I think it helps to prevent Altzheimer's. A good mental challenge and respite from my everyday tasks. Like rescuing children from building burnings and walking old ladies across the street. But I don't really play it all that much so I think I'm okay in this department.

7. Email. Most emails are not urgent. Not necessary to be checking with phone and dealing with emails all the time. However, I did think it was more helpful to set aside some time in the day to go through emails rather than waiting 'til the evening when my brain starts to go dead and then I don't deal with them. And then things fall through the crack. But again, the key with "checking email" is to keep it to checking email and not getting sidetracked into the world wide web.

I didn't know how to sum up this post. So it has been sitting in my queue for weeks. But now I do. Unfortunately, it is because an old friend of mine Paul Walker recently died in a car crash.
(Paul visting me on the set of The New Lassie at Universal Studios.

I have not spoken to him in years, but there was a time in my life in high school when he was a close friend. And we had a short-lived (2 weeks?) romance and even told my Lassie mom Dee Wallace that "I would never love again" after he broke things off. But that's another (funny) story.
(Although posing awkwardly as if this was for a prom, this picture was taken at a mutual friend's wedding.)

Anyway, my heart has really been aching and praying a lot these last few days for Paul's family and close friends. Paul's family and those close mutual friends were like a family to me during a pivotal time in my life. We all hung out so much together. Paul and his friends were like brothers, their parents like parents to me when I was away from my family because of my acting stuff. I am hurting for them. I could go on and on about the great memories and wonderful community from that time in my life and maybe someday I will, but for now I'll end with this . . .

Life is short. 
How are you spending your time?
Do you know you were created for a purpose? 
That purpose (summed up in Matthew 22:34-40) is to love God with everything you have. And everything you are. 
And to love others deeply with the love God has given you.
Get to know God. 
What matters in life? Do that. 

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