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Archive for May, 2014

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Standing on the precipice of summer reminds me why there’s no shame in buying a few band-aids here and there.  Truth be told, I’m not much of a band-aid believer.  When it comes to bumps and bruises, I’m more of a pretend I didn’t see, wait a few minutes, and hope my babies get over it on their own.  I visit doctors as rarely as humanly possible and I will err on the side of sorry nine out of every ten times other mommies err on the side of safe.  I have three little girls 9, 6, and 5, and we’ve been the ER exactly once since they’ve existed.  

Perhaps it’s because there’s not a nurturing bone in my body.  Or maybe my kids are just careful.  But I like to think it’s because I refuse to get worked up over the small stuff.  My goal is to raise strong, independent, drama-free children.  I usually don’t carry band-aids commando style on my person – or even in my purse.  As strange as it may seem to, well, every other mom other there, I scarcely bat an eye when my babies get a little banged up.  

Right now, if you’re contemplating adoption and how you might go about obtaining custody of these three poor little orphans, you can stop reading now.  You already get what I’m about to say.  For those of you who think like me, though, please read on.  

The sound of screaming outside caught me in mid-sweep inside the kitchen.  My Maylee, 5, screams more than a Steeler fan at the Superbowl.  Just ask the neighbors.  But this was not that.  I could hear her pain from inside the house.  I ran out to check on her and found her trying to get up from the concrete she’d just tripped on.  She had fallen and caught the corner of a stone on her knee.  Shake-it-off-and-drive-on-soldier mommy uncharacteristically picked up up and carried her inside.  I laid her on my bed and held her while she cried.

The very next day, just after I left for work, Maylee decided she would find the biggest knife in the kitchen and cut a whole watermelon by herself.  By the time her oldest sister got a hold of me and I made my way back, I found her crying and bleeding once again – only this time she was sure of certain impending death.  

“I don’t want to die!  I’m sorry mommy!  I’m not ready to go to heaven!” she repeated over and over.

I held her in my arms and tried not to chuckle.  She was calm in just a very few minutes.  No stitches needed.  A week later she’s all healed up.

After considering these two painful little episodes, I considered myself and my own pain for a moment.  Just like with my kids, I generally never even acknowledge pain unless it’s past a certain level of intensity.  I tend to think I have a pretty high pain threshold.  But, sometimes, I must cry for help.  Now, this is where it gets complicated…

In those times, a little girl needs a…comforter.  She doesn’t need a lecture on why she’s too young and inexperienced to cut a watermelon.  She has assuredly already figured out how foolish she was.  She’s already very sorry.  She does not need a few more rules designed to keep her from skipping rocks in flip flops.  Skipping rocks is what little girls were made to do.  She found out the hard way what kind of shoes she needs to wear.  She knows better than anyone else her age why she wants to be careful next time.  

She does not need a lecture.  She does not need more rules.  She does not need more advice.  She is not fit for being shamed or punished.  Hurting people need comfort.  Comfort.  

Church, please listen to me.  Hurting people need comfort.  Whether pain is extrinsic or self-inflicted, we have to start with comfort.  We cannot help a hurting world when we begin with lectures.  We cannot help a hurting world when we begin with rules.  We cannot help a hurting world when we begin with punishment.  We cannot help a hurting world when we begin with shame.  We cannot help a hurting world when we begin with unsolicited advice.  Hurting people need comfort.  

My hero – my husband – was worshiping with the kids yesterday and he put a silly song on for them to sing.  It’s called, “What if Cartoons Got Saved” by Chris Rice. It’s a cute kids song and it talks about all their favorite characters singing praise to God in their respective cartoon songs.  Scooby Doo, the Smurfs, Elmer Fudd, and the Flinstones just to name a few made the cut.  The singer got to Beavis and Butthead and stopped.  Their picture was X’ed out and he said, “Nah.”  

As silly as that song is, my heart sank when I saw that part.  Then, I got mad.  Stop excluding screw-ups, church!  News flash…you’re one of ’em!  Stop using band-aids on the babies you’re overprotecting and learn how to wrap your arms around the “really bad” wrongdoers.  Teach your children to do the same.  Your Savior is our only hope.   Hurting people need comfort.  Then, after the pain subsides, perhaps we could trust you enough to take your good advice.  

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. ~John 3:17

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There are precious few things that my six year old loves more than yard sales.  She waits for the neighbors’ annual yard sale all year asking periodically, “When is their store going to be open again?”  She is my baby doll motherin’, animal lovin’, bargain shoppin’ homebody.  When people ask her what she wants to be when she grows up she replies, “A mommy; a grocery shopper; a veterinarian.” Needless to say, I knew Pike Days would be a wonderland for my little homemaking gatherer.

“Guess what we’re doing today, Addie?”

“What?”

“We’re going to a place where there are yard sales everywhere and…horses.”

“No.  You’re just joking.  Really??!!”

“Yep.  It’s true.”

With eyes wide she hurries to get dressed.

As we pillage through what she is certain is lying just above buried treasure, I find a childhood treasure of my own: the movie E.T.

Suddenly Addie and I are both six years old.  The charm of that little brown alien reminds me of when I was just like her – when I wore the same t-shirt every single day because he was on the front of it; when I threw three t-shirts over top of it hoping she wouldn’t  notice when mom asked me to change it; when I never let my yard sale bought stuffed E.T. out of my sight.

After watching the one dollar honey of a one-owner VHS version of the Extra Terrestrial last night, I remember why I loved him so much.  I reckon it’s why everyone loved him.  E.T. was different.  He wasn’t like Elliott’s mom or his brother or his sister.  He and Elliott understood each other.  So much so, they even felt each other’s pain.

I heard a man questioning the purpose of tattoos yesterday.  “Explain tattoos to me,” he quipped, “I really just don’t get it.”  The very first thought was that same draw which E.T. has on we 80’s kids who now commonly find ourselves covered with body art: we want to be understood.  Understanding often comes through pain.  We believe others will know our joy, our pain, our identity, our love, and our hate if we place some permanent clues in clear view.  There’s mystery in being discovered rather than revealed, but there’s freedom in having the confidence to reveal yourself.  I guess there’s just something comforting about wearing your favorite t-shirt (or ink spot) every single day that says, “This is who I am.  This is what I love.  This is what I’m about.”

 In my world, there’s not much worse than being misunderstood.  The truth is that it does take someone who is other-worldly to wholly understand we human beings.  Dare the theologian in me say that the relationship between E.T. and Elliott reminds me of being a Christian.  Christ is not like our mothers or our fathers or our sisters or our brothers.  Christ knows us through and through.  He felt all that we feel.  He thoroughly understands us all even though we rarely understand one another.

So if you still don’t get me, it’s ok.  I probably don’t get you either.  You probably don’t like yard sales, tattoos, or 80’s movies either.  As for me, I’m going to look for an E.T. t-shirt on eBay.

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I recently attended two sporting events back to back.  Saturday night I spectated my first live MMA fight and Sunday morning I ran the Pittsburgh (half) marathon.  

As a newbie to the one and a veteran to the other, knowing I have a whole summer full of triathlons, drag races, tumbling with tots, and (hopefully) a whole slew of other sports to spectate stretching in front of me, I couldn’t  help but consider the athlete’s heart for a moment.  

What I’ve found true of athletes of every sport and every caliber is that we all start with the very same thing: drive.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that everything we do in life starts with drive; motivation; desire.  Some are naturally driven and others become inspired by the efforts and accomplishments of others.  I guess it’s usually a little of both.  Sometimes losing drives us to train harder and other times winning drives us to stay in it.  

What happens if losing removes our drive, though?  What if winning gets old and the trophies begin to lose their luster?  What do we do when the ones who inspire us cease to play the game?  Where do we start when drive and motivation are somehow absent?  How do we obtain this central force if we’ve not got it? 

For me, my love of the sport(s) has always been more than enough to motivate me to do any number of ridiculous things at 5 a.m.  When you love the sport, winning and losing makes no difference.  Ok, well, it makes some difference.  But it’s really about playing.  When you love the sport, motivational leaders and people who inspire are just that and nothing more.  Their encouragement and ability can be helpful, but the lack thereof is not detrimental to failure or success.  

Nevertheless, even when you love the sport, there are times when drive disappears, motivation slows, and desire wanes.  Where’s the aisle at Walmart for that?  Right.  

Sometimes we just need a break.  Sometimes we need a change.  Sometimes we find something better.  But sometimes we simply need to recognize our condition and remind ourselves why we want to play.  We need to remember the field we grew up in and take a few deep breaths of the hot summer air.  We’ve got to close our eyes, pretend we’re six years old, and think about what it felt like to catch that first fly ball.  Or, if you’re me, close your eyes, pretend you’re seventeen, and remember when the God of all Creation chose me when he was picking up teams.  

Life is not about winning or losing.  Chances are we’re gonna do a whole lot of both.  It’s not about depending on the efforts of the elite to carry us.  And it’s definitely not about giving up when we fail to find our focus for a few fading moments.  No.  I see life like a passionate, amateur athlete sees her sport.  Win, lose, or draw, it is about the sheer benefit of getting to play – not because I always love the standings in my life, but because I love the Giver of it.   

Put me in coach.  I’m ready to play…today.  

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