Monday, October 31, 2011

the bird again

Yesterday I was telling friends this story.  I was a bit embarrassed telling it, but of course they didn't make me feel that way. They know me.

I'd been disturbed at times over the weekend.  Caused to question.  I was trying to get back to center.  Recalling the hymn "God is Love" and the bird looking right at me, singing out with no abandon helped me do that.  But I was still feeling waffle-y.  And I didn't like it.

That's when my friend pulled out a tiny silver bird charm.
"Oh, well then this must be for you" she offered after hearing the tale, and placed it in my hand.  "What?"
"I just found this in the parking lot.  I felt compelled to pick it up though I had no idea how I'd figure out who it belongs to.  Now I know - it belongs to you."

Some people don't need stuff like this.  I know that.  And they are especially blessed.  Me?  I guess I'm like Thomas. I need them.  He is so very good to give them to me, when I least expect it.  When I need it most.
Hear it in the laughing wind
That whispers through a tree,
Listen to its echo
In a robin rhapsody;
Glorious word, all nature's ringing,
Have you heard the song they're singing?
God is love! O praise Him, God is love.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

pondering trust

Our kids are learning to trust us.  As they are growing up (the oldest will be a teenager in a couple of weeks), I value this reality more and more.

They trust us.

And that is ultimately far more important than whether or not we can trust them.

Strange statement?  Consider with me...

They are kids.  We know this.  We trust them to be just that:  kids.  They will do childish things.  They will learn from mistakes.  Some lessons will be harder than others.  This is what it means to grow up.

But we are parents.  We are adults.  We grew up already.  We should be trustworthy.  They have to - need to - know that they can trust us.  Trust us not to lose our cool.  Trust us to tell the truth.  Trust us to accept the truth even when it's hard to hear.  Trust us to respond with patience and kindness and all that stuff the Bible says about Love (yep, that applies to parents, too).  Trust us to admit when we screw up.  Trust us to value them more than our own image.  Trust us to consistently put their best, first.  Trust us to make wise, careful decisions on their behalf.  Trust us to never shame them or embarrass them.  Trust us to be strong when they are weak.

Who would fear that?

Discipline, training, consequences - yes, yes, yes.  All of that, yes, of course!  Kids need (and I believe, want) to know that they are not in charge.  But never shame. Never a break in relationship.  Never a doubt that we love them unconditionally.

Never a breach of trust.

Today a teacher assumed my daughter was crying about something that happened because, as she put it, "She knew you were going to find out about it and she didn't want you to know."  Huh?  No!  She'd told me all about it before the teacher had a chance to.  She was crying because the situation had upset her more than the teacher initially realized.  We'd come to her room to talk it out; we were able to solve the problem together and my daughter came away with a couple of good lessons.  But this idea that she "didn't want me to know" was completely foreign to her.  "Mom, why would she think that?"  She was baffled.  For the teacher to naturally assume that, was sad.

I remember the day my son said "dammit" in school.  I didn't have to hear it from a principal or a teacher or even his brother (who is in the same grade).  He told me as soon as he walked out the door.  Shoulders slumped down, he heaved a big sigh as he walked toward me. "What's up, bud?"  "I said the D-word and the teacher heard it."  "Really?  How'd that go?"  He shook his head, "Not good..."

And the time my other son waited till all his siblings were out of the room before he closed the door, crawled up in my lap, and wept till his whole body shook.  He needed help.  He'd tried to deal with a situation himself and it wasn't working.  He didn't know what else to do.  He was hurting...

As a mom, I may screw up a million different ways.  I'm sure I do.  Some will say I've been too lenient here, others that I've been too controlling there.  Both may be right, I don't know.  But if I maintain their trust - this precious, priceless thing - I'll count myself the victor.

They each have a path to walk, a path I will not be able to control - but oh how I want to be able to walk it with them, together trusting Our Father who longs for us to run to Him.  Unafraid.  Sure of His response, confident of His Love.

Where else would we go but into the arms of our Maker?  We can trust Him.  He loves us.... dammit! (wink)

pondering a hearty AMEN!

Today I saw it. I saw hope in real live flesh. I saw a young woman tell a room full of us that we didn't have to be worried about her. That her little brother's death by drug overdose had not robbed her of her faith. That she felt for the first time that she knows what real faith even is. That she'd been walking around with her fists clenched but that now her hands are open.  That she wants to run up to people and take them by the shoulders and say, "Do you know?  God loves us! God is good!"  She was literally electrified with Holy-Spirit-energy as she exclaimed, "My big question was, is my brother in heaven?  And I know a lot of you were worried about me because of that... well, I'm here to tell you what has been revealed to me is that there is NO WAY the brother I love isn't at this very moment with the God I love. No way."

I couldn't help it - before I could stop myself a hearty "Amen!!!" escaped my lips.  I did at least manage to keep myself in the chair.  Barely.

That's it.  That's why what we believe about hell matters.  Clenched fists.  Open hands.  God is good.  God loves us.  Electrifying Holy-Spirit energy.  HOPE.

That's it.  All over her face.  Amen!

I don't know that she'd say her "doctrine" has changed.  Right now she doesn't care about doctrine.  She needs her God.  And He's got her.

He's got me, too.  He's got me when I agree and yell "amen".  He's got me when I disagree and quietly weep.   He's got me when my hands are high in worship and He's got me when my brow is furrowed with confusion.

He's got me.

And He hasn't lost me yet.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

pondering mystery with sara groves

One of my favorite artists has her new album out. And one of my favorite people gifted me with it (mwah, Tracy!)  I've been listening as I sort through 6 peoples' laundry, and I can say, she's done it again.  If you typically like stuff I like I bet you'll like it. :)

One of my favorites so far... at least this is the first to rise to the surface. New albums have a way of speaking to me one song at a time.

(unofficial lyrics, from my ear only)

I see my faith before me, it's always there before me
and I can no more own it than I can own the road that I am on
I don't know where it leads me, I don't know where it leads me
peace and resurrection, suffering and dejection - I don't know
and my body's tired from tryin to bring you here
and my brow is furled tryin to see things clear
so I'll turn my back to the black and fall....
and wait for the mystery to rise up and meet me.

there are so many takers as there are hearts to take it
there are so many fakers, I myself have faked it - I should know
sometimes this has left me groping in the darkness,
hoping in the darkness I will run into you again

my body's tired from tryin to bring you here
and my brow is furled tryin to see things clear
so I'll turn my back to the black and fall...
and wait for the mystery to rise up and meet me, oh...

and my body's tired from tryin to bring you here
and my brow is furled tryin to see this clear
so I'll turn my back to the black and fall...
pray for the Mystery to rise up and meet me
oh I'll wait for Your Mystery to rise up and lead me home

pondering with The Screaming Kettle: Suspicion of Your Lack of Suspicion

There is much on my heart today but I don't feel it's wise or helpful to share my current ponderings on the blog.  In the meantime, I want to point you to a post that I think is fantastic - needful, humble, just plain GOOD.  As you're reading, don't assume you know where she's going - don't stop till you've seen her "To Rebels" and "To Churches" recommendations.  They are not to be missed.  Now, enjoy.

O Rebel, Where Art Thou? Trait #7: Suspicion of your lack of suspicion

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

pondering parenting: so far, so good

My daughter is in the fourth grade, and she is what we like to call "passionate".  A professional once described her as Maria from The Sound of Music.  I liked that - he'd pegged her well.

One night last week I was away for the evening.  When I got home she (and the others) were already sound asleep.  But I found a note on my pillow - just a little love note from her to me.

I cherish that note because she's at that age everyone has been telling me to "watch out" for.  I reject all those "just wait and see!" warnings from parents who aren't especially enjoying parenting anymore.  My kids are more fun now than they've ever been, and I refuse to succumb to the idea that it necessarily has to be any other way.

Yesterday she'd done something she knew she shouldn't, and I knew it.  I knew right away, but I didn't say anything.  I wanted her to tell me.  It wasn't a big thing, but it was going to affect her for the rest of the day.  Sure enough, at bedtime she pulled me close and confessed all.  I was so glad I hadn't said anything.  I'm convinced that moments like that one are forging a bond between us that will stand whatever tests lie ahead.

Sometimes we have to give each other space. Those are the times I'm tempted to pout and stew (while she does the same).  Then I recall the obvious:  I'm the grown up and she's the 4th grader.  So I bring her hot chocolate and a snack, pat her on the arm, and walk out the room - silently.  It's not manipulation, it's love.  And it softens her heart.

For some reason I don't find it hard to imagine that the boys will hold my hand forever.  They're in middle school, each weigh 100 lbs, and still like to sit in my lap telling me anything and everything.  But this girl?  I started worrying about our relationship when she was old enough to start fighting about what clothes she'd wear (before she turned 2, in case you're wondering).  Look up "precocious" in the dictionary, remove whatever words you find there and just insert her picture.  I couldn't imagine how we'd make it to her adulthood without one of us killing the other!

Somewhere along the way I made a conscious decision to focus on one thing above all:  making sure she knew that nothing was more important than our connection to one another.  Nothing.  I credit some of this to the book Loving Your Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk - not a perfect book, but a great read.  Challenging. 

But for her to know that, it had to first of all be true - really, REALLY true.  Was it?  That's the heart check, honestly.  Not only do I have to elevate her above other concerns (others' opinions, my expectations, etc) but connection is a two way street.  I'd have to be willing to share my authentic self with her as well.   And on top of all that, I had to not just love her ... but like her.  I desperately wanted to, but sometimes it took effort. Parenting her with this focus in mind was a conscious decision at first, a literal act of confession/ repentance, and for a long time it required a focused moment-by-moment reliance on the Holy Spirit.  Now it comes more naturally most of the time, but I still have those deep-breath-Jesus-help-me moments.

She's still "passionate".  She's more Maria than ever.  And she loves her Mommy.  I'm so glad.  I'd hate to be missing out on all this.  She's going to grow up one way or the other, but I sure want to be part of it.  And so far?  So good.  SO very good.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

pondering uncontrolled chaos

Yesterday was nuts.  We'd had a busy afternoon running to and fro followed by dinner at Jason's Deli and an hour or so enjoying a local park (who can resist a beautiful October evening?)  By the time we got home it was 7 and all 4 kids had homework.  Homework is a dreaded word in any family, but two of ours need extra help and the other two can't be ignored either.

What to do?  We did the only thing to do.  We got busy.  And it was a sweet time.




Sure the kids were doing homework they'd rather not be doing.  Sure we'd all have been happier down on the couch laughing at Looney Toons together or, better yet, sitting round the fire pit roasting marshmallows.  Sure Eric and I were being asked multiple questions by multiple children all at the same time. Sure we were running from desk to desk and they each had to be patient till their turn came.

But in the midst of that hour and a half or so something occurred to me, something I ponder often but have not (yet) been able to express in words. There was chaos, but no tension.  The situation was busy, but not stressful. That describes our reality more often than not (you did not hear me say "always"!)

The question is...

Why?  How?

The answers are more of a book than a blog post (wink) but have everything to do with love, with grace, with HOPE... These truths are not peripheral, they are life-changing-family-changing-world-changing realities.  Peace within becomes peace without and peace all around.  That becomes the norm.  And when the chaos does become tense and the busy-ness does become stressful, it's the exception - it's unsettling (as it should be).  So we shed Light on that, we lift that up to Our Good God and to one another, we inspect it, examine it, and quickly get about the business of righting it.  Which usually involves someone (read me) giving up the idea that the chaos is supposed to be controlled.  Funny how those open hands apply to every aspect of life, right down to homework. 

I'll close by sharing an email I recently received from a mother we met for the first time at a wedding a few weeks ago.  I had no idea at the time that our quirky, complicated family had left this impact, but it swelled my heart to hear it...

Your patience with your children was a real testament to me .  God has blessed yall with an amazing bunch of kids, and a heart of compassion and patience.  Often times in the day to day I want everything to go as planned.  Spending time with yall reminded me to just relax, give (her child) some trust, be patient and to roll with the situation.  Thanks for this reminder and encouragement that you didn't even realize you were sharing. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

pondering derek webb's new law

Eric and I were talking about this over coffee and pancakes, thought I'd share in case anyone hasn't seen it.

As for the blog, I'm doing more writing and less blogging... which is a good thing in the long run, if there's to indeed be a book at all.