Keeping it Short on Friday

If I were interested in keeping it real, I would post what I wrote up on Wednesday and would also have left today’s title, “Keeping it Shirt on Friday.” But you don’t need MY real. You have enough of your own. Also, true to my typical pattern, I probably won’t keep it short anyway.

I have a kid performing in his first ever concert tonight. He has resisted performing until this moment. Even in kindergarten, he would only hold the cloud. He wouldn’t sing. When the song blared “You raise me up,” he’d raise his cloud just enough to cover his face. It was any parent’s dream concert. Tonight he’s the drummer. They are doing We Come Running by Youngblood Somebody and Speed of Sound by Coldplay. They just learned these songs on Monday and most of the band members are 12. We made him go to this camp. Signed him up without his permission. He said it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Right after the 9 months he spent in my womb and my awesome parenting. He said that.

Speaking of awesome parenting…last night it wasn’t. It was not a smooth night. It was like a modern day Lord of the Flies. I would walk out of the room and things would be fine. When I walked back in, I was forced to reach for the tranquilizer guns we do not own. Some children were sent to bed an hour early with no personal screen time.

As Todd and I were wandering the upstairs hall solving problems, he walked past the girls’ door, where the following signs were displayed.

“Uh oh,” he said, pointing at the door. “Apostrophe catastrophe.”

Two things were wrong with this. One, the actual catastrophe. It’s pretty bad. And two, the signs had been up for a week and I hadn’t noticed. I’m going to chalk this one up to parental neglect.

Which could be the reason for the Lord of the Flies. Good thing it’s the weekend…

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The seedy underbelly of winking

Winking should not be done. Period. It’s awkward. The occasions that call for an appropriate wink are probably less than 50 per year, worldwide. Yeah. I’m standing behind those numbers.

If you have ever winked at someone or been winked at, I’m talking to you. Take a step back and think about it. Let’s think about when it works (besides never).

  • Person catching the eye of a friend to signal inside information or a private joke of some sort. Like, hey, WE GET THIS and no one else does. You look like a jerk to everyone else, but to that one person, you’re a hero. So go for it, I guess.
  • Person winks at younger person to acknowledge some sort of achievement, like on the sports field or at a performance. It’s a little patronizing, though, even in this case, don’t you think? You think you are saying “good job” to them, but it really translates to “good job, if you’re medicated and have a concussion” because of the wink.
  • Person winks at potential dating material. It can work, but it’s creepy. And outdated. You really want to date an old person?  No. Then don’t wink. Cuz that’s what you’re gonna end up with.
  • Little kid winking at anyone and everyone, but they have no control over their eye muscles, so it just comes out as a violent double blink. It’s cute if you are 3 or under.

I went through a winky phase, which lasted way too long. If the phase had lasted an hour, it would have been too long, but I think it actually lasted about 2 weeks. There are people all over Florida that are probably still creeped out by what I was doing with my face. Sorry about that.

But then something new happened. People decided that since winking was so successful in person, they would invent a way to do it online. People turned to emojis. Some Japanese guy invented it. The world embraced it.

I rejected it.

For a long, long time, I rejected this technology out of sheer stupidity. But the craze didn’t end. It got bigger, and fancier, and more colorful. Before it was over, there were smiling hershey kisses representing whatever you might suspect. And there were country flags and holidays and broken hearts and ghosts wearing eye patches. But there were also faces. Lots and lots of teeny, tiny faces. Where I had once rejected the practice out of principle, I was now forced to reject it due to my failing old person eyesight. Emojis are not for the ancient folk. Honestly, I have friends who are just a few years younger who send them to me and I have no idea what they are saying. I can’t see it. Not one bit. Can’t see the eyes, the mouth, anything.

If you want to offend me and get away with it, do it through Emojis. I won’t know. But if you try to say something nice through emojis, i still won’t know.

Sometimes I try to rise above the challenges and use them. That is the biggest mistake of all. What do they mean? What is the message behind them? This first guy…is he angry about a sinus problem? Allergy season? Why are his eyes closed? Are they swollen shut?

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And this guy. What is the HUGE drop of water coming from where his nose should be? I have NO IDEA what this means. I can’t even venture a guess as to the mood he’s in. Confused? Sleepy? Afraid of books?

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This guy. This guy appears on my phone with the same smile and many different types of eyes. What do closed eyes convey over open ones? Guy who has made a serious error but is still smiling and is afraid of impending pepper spray. It has to be that. Otherwise his eyes would be open.

While I was typing this post, my daughter sat down across from me at a table in a skating rink and asked me a question. I answered her question and then winked at her. I didn’t do it to prove a point or make a statement. I did it out of misguided instinct. Old habit.

She didn’t recognize my gesture as a wink. So I grabbed my phone and texted her this guy as if to say…?

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Recognizing Summer

Well.
Good thing I never set up unnaturally high expectations for things. That way I’m never disappointed.
Oh wait. I do and I am.
But it’s all good because it’s summer. A summer without schedules. With swimming. With laughing and frolicking and playing.

That’s what I thought. But then I called about football tryouts for my oldest boy’s high school. I thought I was actually being proactive and calling a tad ridiculously early. That’s when I was informed they’d already been practicing for 3 days and I needed to get off my summer-lazy hiney, get the boy’s physical, get his medical pack notarized, and get him to conditioning by Monday at 4. Oh good. Today is Monday. And you know when 4 o’clock is.

So Summer ended before it began.

But that’s a glass half empty approach.

I’ll try for glass half full.

YAY. I get to take a kid to football practice from 4-6:30 and then somehow get him showered and fed before skating begins at 7! Still glass half empty, isn’t it?

My glass is half empty. Whatever.

So, the Informinator heard I had taken a day off blogging last Friday and said, “Oh, there we go…see you in 6 months.” Her glass is all the WAY empty. Sheesh. I took a day off because everyone was as sick of reading the blog as I was of writing it. Sometimes we all just need to walk away.

My youngest, snuggilest daughter came to me in the dead of night Saturday. It was 2:15 a.m. Sunday morning. I always hear my door open and see the stream of light attacking my eyeballs from the hall bathroom. The stories are always similar. I can’t sleep. I had a nightmare. There are 100 spiders in my room. Blah blah.

“I had a bad dream,” she said.

Wanting the wakefulness to end as quickly as possible, I invited her up to my bed for a quick snuggle. I didn’t ask questions because I didn’t want either one of us to become more awake than we already were. Then I sent her back to bed.

Two and a half frustrating hours later, I think I fell back asleep. It was a restless, exhausting night. I go to sleep fine. But if you wake me in the middle, I don’t resume sleep very easily. Having lost so much sleep over her bad dream, I needed to ask what it was about. Over breakfast on Sunday, I asked her. Was it a scary clown? A storm? A bogeyman? Serial kidnapper? 

“No, it was about Flash,” she answered. Flash is Brady’s neglected hamster. “I took him down to the deck by the river. It started to rain so I ran in the house and left him out there. I guess he fell in, because I never saw him again.” So you don’t even know that he fell in the river? It’s just a hamster wandering off? That was the bad dream?

It’s time to have a talk about what the mother can be awakened for. It isn’t for hamster dreams. I will schedule this talk today between the notarization and the football practice.

Bam.

Rewind

I read something tonight that infuriated me. I was livid. At the sentiment and at myself for taking the bait and clicking the link on the article. I know better. Of course, I know better.

I also shop infomercials.

But enough about my character flaws.

Just when I felt like I was about to say “forget it” and throw in the towel, I read a post by Miranda. Maybe you know her, maybe you don’t. If you know her, you’ll be nodding in agreement with me. If you don’t know her, I’m sorry. She’s a breath of fresh air. She’s been through an awful lot in the last few years and her growth and grace have been nothing short of inspiring. She’s not perfect by any stretch and she’d be the first to tell you that. But she is a rather lovely reflection. A reflection of her Savior.

Today she posted the following on Facebook. It helped me focus when I was too click happy on all the wrong things. I asked her if I could share it on my blog and she agreed. Nothing I could say tonight could hold a candle to this.

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So I attended a sort of lecture last night on parenting and one thing that stuck out in my mind was the idea of a “rewind:” rather than reminding kids constantly, give them the chance to rewind and try a behavior or response a second time.

And I’m pretty sure, as I’m watching the shock and awe and utter disbelief unfold across my news feed concerning everything that’s been going on in the news, I can’t help but feel that I need a quick rewind, too.

I need to stop being shocked by sin. We all sin. The world is sin. I can be sad, dismayed, hurt, angry…but not shocked. The world is fallen. We’ve lost the world.

And I don’t need to wring my hands and shout “What can I do!?” I can’t redeem the world. But I can redeem individuals.

“But how do I do it!? The problems are too large! It’s just too much!” Take a breath…stop…rewind…look at the Scriptures. Thank God that, in His providence, He has provided us with exactly the right answers, just as He provided answers to other Christians throughout history who felt like strangers in a strange land.

Lead a quiet life…mind your own affairs…work with your hands…live peaceably with all men…show hospitality to strangers…get wisdom…pray without ceasing.

The world is not our business. It’s the Devil’s business.

People are our business.

And people can be redeemed, just as we’ve been redeemed. Through our peaceful lives that look so different. Through the sharing of the Gospel of peace. By overwhelming displays of love and grace and mercy to every single person we meet every single day.

This seems doable. And if we each do what we can, our piece of the world will be better.
– Miranda Nerland

Amen, sistah. I’m going to stop reading everything in every feed and stop believing everything I read. I’m going to try to stop worrying about what I can’t change and start changing what I can. And when I don’t get it quite right the first time, like to today, I’m going to do my best to just take a moment and rewind.

The mid-stream horse switch

Yeah.

I just read my posts from early January. Not because I was bored, but because I was pretty sure I had switched horses in the middle of the stream.

I talked a big game about intentions, roads to Hell, surviving until Valentine’s Day. I did mean it. I always mean it. But as usual, there were things. In March there was that whole spring break thing. In April there were allergies and doctors. In May, I began the awkward process of screwing everything up at the end of the school year and spent the rest of my time trying to drum up acceptable excuses for it.

My goals were to parent better, get healthy, save money, and be more efficient. Oh, me. Silly me. I guess I could be considered healthier in some lesser-known countries. Places where the water supply is tainted and the women are fluffy. And I guess you could say I saved money, until the field trip money was due and I raided the jar. And I guess you could possibly say I got more efficient, because I now keep my extra garbage can liners under the current bag of garbage in the can. I mean, that saves all KINDS of time and effort.

But around 1 Kings 4, my bible reading dropped off…no offense to the Kings. And I haven’t yet met any viable fitness goals. In that sense, I am tempted to call it a failed experiment, blow off the rest of the year, and start over on January 1, 2017. That would be the path of least resistance.

I really don’t think I want to do that. I think it can be saved. A thing is only dead when you allow it to die. A dream is only dead if you walk away from it. A goal, a hope, a mapped-out plan for the future…only dead if I turn my back. And I haven’t done that yet. It’s summer. It’s the half birthday of my resolutions. And by George, I don’t have to quit yet.

Most of my goals are the same as they were on January 1. They are just as important to me now as they were then. But I added a big one, which is the mid-stream horse switcheroo. I started my novel. The one that’s been in my head for 2 years. I’m 5 chapters in and loving the process 115% more than I expected I would. Some people would say that it’s dumb to add a HUGE goal into a mix of failing goals. If you are already struggling to run the 5K, don’t sign up for a half marathon the same weekend. People who say such things are smart people.

I’m not those people.

So the novel is on the list. And the other stuff stays on the list. Making new lists is on the list.

Squirrel.

 

Sticks and Stones

“Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”  – Roald Dahl, The BFG

Words. Large, small, beautiful, nonsensical. Intelligent Magical. Whimsical. Inspiring. Irrational. Thoughtless. Angry. Destructive. Words.

Is there a greater force? Our words have the power to cripple a person in our path. Our words have the power to heal and build bridges. And our words are the products of the fires we kindle in our souls, whether bright and beautiful or uncontained and catastrophic. And really, that’s the true issue. It’s our hearts. Every person on the planet makes daily choices about what to fill up and pack down and revisit in their hearts. And from those choices, spring other choices. What we fill up with spills out. Our input determines our outflow.

Today I have attempted to avoid social media when I could, because of the venom spilling out of all types of people. It spewed from some sources that did not surprise me. But it also spewed from some places and some people I didn’t expect. And it made me sad. I found myself trying to wipe their words off my body like an unforeseen, sticky cobweb.  That stupid cobweb becomes permanent body art. Our words are the same. Once said, they can never be unsaid. Once heard, they are often never forgotten. We should all take that extra 30 seconds to consider our motive before we put it out there. I say that as I’m typing a dumb blog. The irony is not wasted on me, I assure you.

I’ve been thinking a lot about words, and not just because of social media and current events. I’ve been thinking about words because I love them and I understand their raw power. And because I write and I know I need to be discerning.

but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  – James 3:8-10

Every person on the planet makes daily choices about what to fill up and pack down and revisit in their hearts. I make these choices too. I’ve got to think about that more. I’ve got to do better about that.

If I get that part right, the rest will follow.

 

 

 

 

 

The World My Children Know

On September 11, 2001, I was preparing my entire family to attend a birthday party. My infant son was dressed and strapped into his carseat. My in-laws were visiting and coming a tad later in a separate car. And Ben was waiting 10 minutes away to celebrate being 2. I gathered the gift, my baby, and my loose ends and awkwardly bumbled out to the car. And then I drove my CRV across town to the party. I tried to listen to the radio. To music. But reporters kept breaking in. Because by then, the first tower had been hit by a plane. I had absolutely no idea what I was hearing reported. I couldn’t  understand. If they were making themselves clear, I was too foggy to get it. I didn’t know what it was, but I did know something big had happened. One reporter said that in 30 years of reporting the news, this was the worst thing he’d ever seen. What had he seen? I immediately called Todd from my cell phone. He was still at home.

“Turn on the TV,” I said. “Something terrible has happened. Tell me what it is.”

He turned on our TV and watched the 2nd plane hit, the second tower fall, followed by the first one. He watched New York burn. He watched people run screaming. He reported it all to me as I looked in my rearview mirror at the infant legs of my son kicking in his converse sneakers.

When I pulled into the parking lot of the rec room where the party was, I was rattled. My friends were all inside, putting gummy worms into cups of ice cream and oreos. They hadn’t heard the news. Soon it was all we were talking about. Inside that room, it was Oreos and 2 year olds. But when I walked out into the lobby for supplies or the restroom, the news as it unfolded was echoing from a station. Bouncing off the tile walls and floor. Inside was one world. Outside was the other.

Were we at war? Who had done it? What did it mean? I didn’t know. I couldn’t grasp it. I didn’t have time to cry. After all, we were celebrating.

I distinctly remember sitting down next to baby Andrew during that party and looking intently at him. He was still strapped in his carrier, still wearing his converse sneakers. But now I had added a cardboard party hat to his ensemble. He was playing with his own fingers. He smiled at me. He could see himself in the large wall of mirrors next to us. I looked at him and ached. What kind of world would he grow up in? I remember asking myself that question. I didn’t know the answer that day.

I know it now. I know the world he’s growing up in. It’s not the same world I knew when I was his age. He’s only known this world. This new world. A world steeped in a level of brokenness I can’t fathom–can’t really put words to. A world we look at out of focus because we are looking through a veil of tears. A world of Sandy Hooks. San Bernardinos. Orlando night clubs.

A world of hatred and insanity.

I don’t know what to say to my children. I don’t know how to equip them to see what they’re seeing and cope with what may come because I didn’t have to walk through what they have to.

My brain feels soft and tired tonight as I reflect. As I try to come up with an answer. Not to the problem. But to them. To their questions. To their wide-eyed looks of confusion when the news breaks.

To my children. My innocents. The future of America. This is what I want you to know. It’s the best I can do.

Dear sweet ones,

Don’t let the hatred of people cause you to question the love of God. Don’t let the terrible wrongs committed by some blind you to the rights done by so many others. Don’t confuse this world with the world to come. Don’t let the darkness of the world around you hide your view of Jesus. He’s there. Keep looking. Don’t let what you see–what is and what may be— keep you from shining.
You must shine.

Be a beacon. A helper. A light. A weeper. A lover. A comfort. A joy. A friend.

Be fearless.
Even in the face of fear, be fearless.

Be an overcomer. Because Jesus overcame.

Be.

As long as one light still shines, it will never be truly dark.

God help you–God help us all–to be that one light.

Together.

#PrayersforOrlando