The Reason I’ve Been Quiet

Besides the terror of Finals Week, a humiliating Mathematics placement test, a sick child, etc., the final straw on Thursday evening was when our happy dog, Chuck, was accidentally hit by a car in front of our house. He died later that night.  I would like to consider this post an apology to anyone who has loved and lost a pet because I probably used to make fun of you. Now I’ve joined your ranks. I can’t believe how much I have cried over the last couple of days.

chuck

I’m not ready to blog eloquently about him or neatly list all the reasons why I know I’ll be back to myself soon. Instead, I’m going to take a break. Probably just a week or so, but I wanted you all to know. Don’t worry about me, my heart has been broken before, I know it mends well! It just seems like a good time to indulge in a mini-sabatical.

Living Your Story

Did you read all the great Seven Word Wisdom comments for graduates below? Here’s a funny thing, so many of you wrote something about “dreams” or another form of destiny chasing. Do you actually do this or is that just something we say to other people? (This is the question I’m asking myself a lot lately.)

I recently earned a copy of Donald Miller’s short DVD “Let Story Guide You.” I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this teaching session. First of all, I kind of heart Donald Miller, but, its OK because so does my husband. : ) Secondly, the ideas contained in his message about the power of story are life-changing. You can see a short clip if you click on the link.

I’ve been hearing bits and pieces of this material for awhile. In fact, I’ve kind of been nervous to listen to the entire message because I knew one of the catch phrases: “What if your life was a movie – would anyone want to watch it?” I had to be honest – I’m not sure!

Don (Can I call you that? I mean “Miller” alone sounds so high-school sports team-ish and “Donald Miller” sounds so formal. You really don’t strike me as a formal guy.) distills the elements of story into these required elements: 1) a likable but not perfect lead character, 2) a worthy goal or objective, 3) some conflict, and 4) an acceptable resolution. The sticking place for me is the “worthy goal or objective” and being brave enough to chase it.

The most powerful part of Miller’s message (high five!) is the fact that an acceptable resolution doesn’t have to be a fiary tale ending – everything doesn’t have to work out perfectly. The power of story is in its telling. For us, in its living out. Don uses the fact that narrative is the most common literary form in the Bible as his illustration, but each story doesn’t end with a 3-point sermon. Instead, we learn about living a life with God by reading the stories of others who have already lived their story.

So I wonder what you think. In the DVD Miller mentions a friend who started Blood:Water Mission. When Miller himself was first gaining the revelation of this idea of story, he spent several days alone seeking God for what his “worthy mission or goal” should be and decided on The Mentoring Project, an organization addressing the fatherless crisis in America.

These are awesome goals, but I wonder if there are other ways to live your story effectively. Ways that don’t require founding a non-profit organization? What other kinds of worthy goals or missions (don’t forget – the ones that require a good amount of conflict are the best from a storyteller’s perspective) do you think would qualify? If someone produced the movie of your life, what goal or accomplishment would you be pursuing?

Tis the Season

It is Graduation Season around here. (Soon to be followed by Wedding Season – another favorite!)

I thought we could whip out a little SevenWord Wisdom awesomeness for the occassion!

graduationLook at that Graduation Baby! Now, two years later, Claire (the one of the far right) gets a turn at Kindergarten Graduation! We’ve heard about nothing else since January, so I hope it lives up to all the hype. And don’t worry, there will be sappy posts celebrating her commencement, no doubt. Next week we’re also off to Uncle Drew’s graduation from nursing school. Then we’ll hop right into ceremonies and baccalaureate services here also. Whew!

So, I want to know. What is your Seven Word Wisdom for a graduate?

Will you be like the speaker at my high school graduation and say something practical: “Life’s hard. But trust God. Short, too.” (Seriously.)

Or maybe you are more of an optimist like me: “Dream big. Live to serve. Journey well.”

Share!

Worth Waiting For

I read a lot. The great thing is that even when I’m reading sometimes-boring books such as Internal Relations: Perspectives and Controversies, sometimes God just lets something pop out to me and make perfect sense. Take, for example, this sentence from the end of my most recent chapter on global warming.

sunWait, before I give you the quote, I should mention where my brain has been lately: Heaven. Eternity. I’ve been reminded that living for an after-life is often the only thing that keeps me going, maintains my faith. I really don’t know how an atheist makes it through the really tough stuff in life. I would be a terrible, terrible athiest. So, I’m thinking a lot about how important the reality of Heaven is to me and how that reality should change how I walk through this life.

Now I’m reading this chapter on global warming, which is a trendy topic and all but one that leaves me with more questions than answers (and that just gets annoying). I am not nearly as “green” as I would like to be and yet I’m not all that motivated to change. I mean, I DID start using squirt bottle hair spray in junior high to help with that flouro-carbon thing. Also, I really think a compost bin is something I might do someday. But, why isn’t anyone talking about how much energy is wasted when we all blow dry and flat iron our hair everyday? (Have I mentioned how many hair stylists with whom I have shared a “you know, I don’t want to die with a flat iron in my hands” conversation only to have them give me a haircut that ONLY works when styled with a flat iron?)  Are we only environmentally responsible as long as it doesn’t cost us too much, especially in terms of vanity?

So, get ready, because all of this came smashing together when Keith L. Shimko (the author of the global politics book) wrote this concerning global warming:

[. . . ] the most critical challenge might be to people’s ability to take an apparently distant and seemingly speculative future into account in shaping their present behavior.

True for the environment. True for our souls. Thanks, POS 270!

We Almost Missed it!

Today – Thursday, April 20th – is Poem in Your Pocket Day! We almost missed it! If you go to this Poets.org page you can download pocket-sized poems to print. Apparently cities and libraries all over the country are hosting special events, but the main idea is to keep a poem in your pocket and share it with people you meet all day long. Tell me your day would not be seriously better if the person in line in front of you at the grocery story pulled a poem out of his pocket and said, “Would like to hear some poetry?”

I have some favorite poetry, from the Bible and from other sources, but I will admit that my not-quite-literary favorite right now is in Macy’s bedtime book, This is the Sunflower by Lola M. Shaefer. It begins like this:

This is the sunflower

tall and bright

that stands in my garden

day and night.

Our favorite part is this:

these are the birds

full of song

that crack the seeds

black and brown

found in the blossom

yellow and round

that crowns the sunflower

tall and bright

that stands in my garden

day and night

The poem in this book rocks back and forth like the chair we sit in every night. By the time we get to the end, I’m ready for bed too. (I was also inspired to create a sunflower fort in our backyard garden this summer . . . more on that later!)

Share some poetry today if you get a chance!

I Only Screamed a Little Bit

We did it! I know you want to know how Monday’s visit to the doctor’s office went and that is the summary: we did it!

Claire went into the morning very brave, telling us she planned to not even cry today. And she stuck to it for a long time, but when the set-up started taking longer than expected I saw the look on her face the moment her courage began to fail.

Before the actual shots, the doctor puts numbing cream around the injection sites in her calf and hamstring. While that medicine gets to work, Claire positions herself on the exam table with her arms draped over a pillow. We watch a YouTube instructional video for the line dance in the Hannah Montana Movie and wait. We make a false-alarm trip to the potty and then wait some more.

The doctor brings in the small electronic machine made to guide his placement of the injections, the biggest part of the waiting is over. She is doing so well, we all take our time. Too much time, apparently, because slightly before the alcohol wipes are smeared across her tiny legs, the tears began to flow.

“I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to!” Now my courage fails, but I smile anyway.

Put a rush on that, Dr. – we’re about to lose contact with all sense of perspective!

Now she actually has something to yell about as the doctor inserts the needle, injects Botox (lovingly termed nerve poison), repositions the needle under the skin, and injects more Botox.

“Owie! That hurts! Ohhhh! That hurts! . . . . ”

We take a short break while a second vial is loaded. Breaks aren’t good. She starts to cry, announcing again that she has changed her mind and does not want to go through with it after all.

“We know, Baby, it will be over soon.”

And it is, but not soon enough. Claire is wiping tears while we pull back on her jeans and notice the tiny broken blood vessels around her eyes and cheeks. “It’s all over, Baby.”

She sits up tall on the exam table, looking a little ashamed but still confident, “Yeah, I only screamed a little bit.”

We smile, knowing what a trouper she is.

“And I didn’t even spit at him.”

Botox and Provision

claire

It is another day of Botox fun for us. Claire’s hemiplegic CP is keeping the muscles of her leg really tight right now and her doctor has prescribed an aggressive treatment of Botox shots every 12 weeks as well as two new braces, one for night and one for day. Since we were still paying off the last round of Botox, our financial hopes were looking rather dim about this time last week.

But. God. You’ve heard that one, right? The one about blah, blah, blah, all my problems, blah, blah, blah . . . but God. And it isn’t like I’m one of those full of faith people. I usually manage to say I believe God will provide even though on the inside I’m thinking, of course, this time He might provide by forcing me to sell a kidney or something because He certainly isn’t in any hurry, is He!? Or something along that line.

Anyway, yes, we were financially in a jam and yet knowing that our window to make a difference in Claire’s less than 40 pound body was shrinking. Not getting these muscles under control now means a future of surgeries to cut tendons and muscles so that bones can grow straight. It means listening to the tears of a teenager who can’t walk without drawing extra attention (you’ve been there – being a teenager is rough enough!). All these thoughts and many much more dramatic versions were weighing on me like a sopping wet quilt.

Provision didn’t come in one swift movement. It came in many little steps of obedience and blessing. I signed up for a secondary insurance that wounded my pride a little but came through beautifully. I recieved an actual, downright miraculous gift – that I can’t tell you about because the giver wants all the attention to be given to God. Grandparents everywhere were offering support and moo-lah. These and a bunch of other little things started adding up to provision, to comfort, and to a reminder that God is able.

Pray for us today. Pray for our courage to hold up and our pain to pass quickly. Pray also for the doctors and scientists of this world looking for a better long term solution to Claire’s problem. For now, thank God for Botox and provision. Amen.