Tuesday, May 20, 2014

when life happens, at least get pictures

Hello! We interrupt this regularly scheduled 
blog to bring you this:
Prom 2014

My kind-of-might-as-well-be daughter
We are blessed to have her.
So is he.
and this: 

                and this:

and this, too:

because we have to celebrate those graduating peoples. 
Also, graduating people have to move home
so they can afford to look for a job. And all
their stuff conglomerates in the dining room
because their bedroom may still be in use by our
wonderful exchange student. Such is life.

These things happened as well:
Church with lovely MOPS ladies who (I think)
enjoyed my talk
school with 100 fantastic, smart high school
students I got to talk to for hours!

Discipleship conference where I learned how to do
what I do. Better.

Yes, this has all happened just in May, so no, there is no regular blog post today. And in fact, it was supposed to be yesterday, and it wasn't then either. That's how crazy it's been around these here parts. So--here is the photodocumentary of two weeks in the life of this author. I did not include pics of the wedding anniversary and the birthday because, well, we haven't had time to celebrate those yet. Even though they, too, happened this week.

and this yet to come in a few days
But--life has settled again into semi-normal rhythms. Hey, the laundry and dishes are done, so sanity cannot be far behind. Normal programming will return next week. Thanks for understanding!

And now, it's nap time.

Monday, May 12, 2014

dreams, diplomas, and shenanigans

Our family celebrated a first yesterday. Child #2 graduated from college—our first college grad. 

In a blindingly short time, child #3 will pack up and begin her college years. 

I have enjoyed having a kid at college a ten-minute drive away, and it is completely not cool that Child #3 is not being as cooperative. Not cool—but it is right.

Yesterday we watched that raven-haired toddler with the adorable curls and the insatiable need to take things apart stand tall and accept her diploma—a paper validating her need to explore, take apart ideas, and put together her own worldview. 

There have been bumps, bridges, tears, and peals of laughter on the journey of this young woman becoming a force to be reckoned with. I can't think of one thing I would add to make the person I saw cross the stage better. Time, experience, and God will do their work in refining her. But at this moment, there are not many a-few-days-shy-of-twenty-two-year-old women like her. At least, that's my personal belief.

So on the day after your college graduation, Thing 2 (aka Shenanigan girl), here is what your mother wishes for you:

  • I want for you a joy in being independent and loving the life you create with God. Maybe Prince Charming will walk in, and maybe he won't. Either way, make a life you love. Look forward to what you can do, not backward to what you didn't get.

  • I want for you a simple life that knows it isn't the things but the experience. It will be so difficult, especially if you join the suburban-house-with-kids merry-go-round, to keep that focus. Resist the urge to be like everyone else and have all that they have and do all they do. They do not have it all.

  • I want for you a recognition every day that time is fast and people grow up or disappear from your life. Don't be so busy you forget that. Don't watch kids grow up or parents get old or friends move away while you're concentrating on cleaning a house or forwarding a career. There is always time for people.

  • I want for you the joy of being a mom. Plus, I want to get my revenge for all the kitchen cooking “projects” and grocery store meltdowns. But if that doesn't happen, I want the joy of throwing yourself into the lives of other children who need someone like you. The willingness to forget caution and toss unconditional love at someone who hasn't experienced it. You'll get hurt. All lovers do. Just do it anyway.

  • I want for you a quiet faith that there is One who loves you beyond what even I can do, and He has your life and your heart in his hand. I want this bedrock to be your refuge no matter what life throws at you. I want it to be your launching pad to venture out into the scary world and do whatever it is He calls you to do. I want it to be your first thought on waking and your last thought on going to sleep. Jesus loves me. This I know. With that, you can do anything.

Not bad for a kid who still, technically, does not have a high school diploma.

Monday, May 5, 2014

the big band theory

There was really no choice. The car pulled up next to use as we waited for the bus in San Francisco. The stereo was blaring big band music. And I love big band music. We danced. Middle Child and I. On the sidewalk, at the bus stop, in the middle of the city. I believe a few people raised eyebrows, but then again, this was San Francisco. Possibly no one even noticed.

I've seen the pretty pictures with the encouragement to “dance like no one is looking.” It's easy to say. I never find it so easy to do. It is not in my nature to stand out in public. If there are people looking, I don't want them looking at me unless I am behind a podium or on a stage. But letting go and freestyling it in public? Sooo not me.

The Streets of San Francisco.
a whole new meaning
I get braver when I'm with my kids. Being in a city where no one will ever see me again doesn't hurt, either. For a couple minutes, we had a glorious time dancing and not caring who was looking.

Tomorrow is my sister's birthday. She would have been have been 63 this year. I know—I am not old enough to have a sister who would be 63. Keep telling me that. One of the advantages about being the youngest of seven. I have nephews almost as old as I am. But Marilyn isn't 63 tomorrow, because she died just short of her 25th birthday. Why is this relevant? 

Because she would have danced.

Marilyn spent twenty of her 25 years in a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy. I never knew her any other way. Every time my sister went out in public she drew attention. She probably didn't want to either, but in those days, wheelchairs in public were not commonplace. 

Maybe that's why she grew into the kind of person who didn't seem to care what people thought. She had to either cringe at the attention or smile at it. Being the wise woman she was, she chose the latter.

Marilyn did all kinds of things no one thought she could. Graduated high school. Got baptized in a swimming pool. Lived ten years longer than they told her she would. But one thing she definitely never did was dance. I am guessing my sister would have loved to dance.

Child #1, who already knows
how to do this well.
Dance like no one's looking. It's a nice idea. But it jut seems like no matter how well we play the “I'm not listening” game, we know someone is listening. And looking. And talking. And thinking we're out of our minds. No matter how much I don't want to, I care too much about that.

It may be dancing. It may be writing. It may be parenting, or painting, or preaching. Whatever it is, it is hard to do it without fear of someone's critical eye. 

Not without consideration--considering others' ideas and opinions is good. I said FEAR. And that's not.

So what I'm thinking is, maybe next time I'll think of Marilyn. Who never danced in her whole life. Who would have. She would have, and she would have relished the chance. Maybe I'll think about how blessed I am to have two legs, or whatever it is I need to do whatever it is I'm afraid of. And I'll dance for her. Because she would have liked that.

What is public opinion keeping you from doing? Who is your inspiration for dancing?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Saving Mr. Jesus (is that sacrilege?)

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall.
Yes, Robert Frost knew where it was at.

For Easter, we got Child #2 the movie Saving Mr. Banks. She is a big Disney fan. This is the child who would wear a ball gown gardening if she could find a fairy godmother to launder it later. (Note: I am not a fairy godmother.) So, this movie + her = yes.

We watched it this week for the first time. If you haven't seen it, I have two things to say to you. 1—Why the heck not? What is wrong with you? And 2—Go. Get your Amazon or Netflix account signed in and watch it. Now.

Story synopsis: P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, refuses to sell movie rights to Walt Disney on account of his tendency to turn stories into overly optimistic, animated saccharine. That's her stated reasoning, at least. Really, however, her refusal stems from the childhood trauma of losing an affectionate father to alcoholism and tuberculosis. It colors how she views everything, even—especially—optimism and imagination. Learning to free her father allows her, in the end, to free her story as well. Roll credits.

Young P.L. Travers could not control her father's actions. No matter how hard she tried to be good enough, he made his own drastically bad choices whose consequences reverberated for decades. In reply, she carefully controlled all aspects of her life from then on. Nothing would get in. No one would alter her equilibrium. She would always be practically perfect in every way, but nothing else ever quite was.

She maintained control of Mary Poppins not because she didn't want it to become a Disney movie but because she didn't know how to let go. Of anything.

I've done that. A result of my possibly-stubborn-perfectionist personality but also my background, I suppose. There are a lot of control issues attendant on a kid who lost both parents at 17—one to death and one to alcohol. You kind of start to draw the walls close. You want to know, with certainty, what is and is not going to remain inside your suffocating safe world.

I'm going to take a wild guess and suppose there are more than two of us who have ever done this sort of thing.

It's also what I'm increasingly realizing we do in our evangelical world.

We evangelicals are the kid who's seen too much too soon of what the world can do, and we have the control issues to prove it. We're a whole subculture of P.L. Traverses running around, and should I remind you of something? No one likes her much in the beginning.

We draw the walls close. We decide who's in our world and who's out. And sometimes, we have solid biblical reasoning behind some of those lines. But way too often? The lines are drawn by fear, not faith.

We spend way too much time deciding who's up to our practically perfect standards and far too little time freeing Mr. Banks. And ourselves.

Guilty as charged.

We're afraid. So darn afraid. So stupidly, erroneously, un-Godlike, afraid. Something might get in to make us uncomfortable and uncertain. Like P.L. Travers, we've seen the dangerous results of free will, and control suits us better. It's safer. It's sunnier. It's . . . unbiblical. Oops.

Hey, anyone remember where that free will thing we're trying to improve upon came from?

God turned his people free to learn, in their faltering, mistake-ridden, yes, sin-infested way how to love Him well. He offered to do whatever was necessary to help them love Him well. Then He did it. And it was the sacrifice, not the safety, that finally drew our hearts to His.

I told our lead pastor yesterday I was having a crisis of evangelicalism. It's not a crisis of faith, but maybe a crisis of the faithful? One thing I learned at the writing conference I attended recently was that I am called to remain where I am—firmly in the evangelical world. But no longer as an order-obeying enlistee. As a revolutionary. Funny, that's what the “What type of person are you” quiz I took the other day said I was anyway. (Although that might just be because I said I'd like to vacation in Paris.) Might as well embrace it.

And what say we juts stop using these things?
My risk, in line with being part of that fantastic group RiskRejection (do go read their inspiring posts! After you finish mine), is to willingly live with uncertainty. To embrace the not knowing. To peek through some of those walls and love, really love, people outside them--not to bring them inside my walls but to expand my small world. And to accept that the world I belong to might not like that.

I heard someone the other day say that, “As long as another person is in agreement with me on the non-negotiables, we can be in Christian fellowship.” OK, I can understand that. It's just that I suspect my list of non-negotiables is much shorter than yours. And I'm not as sure as you are that your rules are drawn from Scripture as they are from a fear that once you open those floodgates, there's no way to control what may come through.

That is so gloriously true. There isn't. Amen. There isn't.