Feelin’ Pretty Cool tyvm

Monday evening I spent two hours at a very emotional basketball playoff—my son’s last ditch effort to win and move on. Sadly, that win didn’t happen because they got their butts handed to them. Not one man on his team was on their game and when they realized that…they started to have fun! Glad basketball is over and we can move on to baseball which will be the thing that moves Liam out of my house and in to college…bring it on!!!

Sitting on the bleachers next to me was a very lovely teenage girl (whom I know well). She told me I was “cool.” Not the first time I’ve heard that from my son’s set (or my daughter’s either), but hearing her say that gave me a warm fuzzy.

YES! I’m cool! (pump fist).

What makes someone my age “cool” to the kids? Is it the way I dress? If jeans, sweats, UGGs or flip flops make me cool…that’s easy! Is it the big car with heated seats? Once, one of the girls in my son’s friend circle told me she liked how I smelled…hmm….ok. Thanks. Does my perfume make me cool?

Is it the wild and wacky dancing in the rain with kids in their skivvies? That was fun and very cool.

Is it because my head stays attached to my shoulders and I simply sigh heavily when I hear swear words and trash talk coming from the next room or the back seat? (I don’t condone it, but it’s not the mountain to die on either).

I must be cool because my kids still tell me everything (well, nearly) and so do their friends. That will change, I’m sure, but for now I probably have Too Much Information and I will protect that.

“It’s cause you’re the warm, fuzzy, squishy cool mom…that’s why our friends tell you everything.”

See…I’m cool, man!

I’ve been sucked in by some of the music my kids listen to….loving Owl City and Lady Gaga (um, yes). Now it’s my job to convince them that the Grateful Dead, Elton John and The Who are cool too. But can’t wait to take Erin to her first concert in a few weeks….TRAIN!!! We’re there babes! “Hey Soul, Sister!”

At the basketball game Monday night I was texting Liam’s best friend. (This is the boy I refer to as “Son #3”. Our house is his second home and vice versa for Liam. I treat him as I do my own.) He was sitting far away from me with the opposing team’s cheering section, so I decided to text him and tell him off for being on the wrong side of the gym. And, I just like messing with him.

Me: “I can c u. Sitting with the enemy.”
#3: “LOL Mrs. G, he’s my old football coach.”
Me: “Fine! LOL, I was just kidding.”
#3: “Ok. And it’s jk fyi.”

What? He’s correcting my text lingo? Really?

A few moments later, Son #3 sheepishly makes his way to my side on the bleachers. He wasn’t really coming to see me, but to check out the two pretty teenage girls next to me. He sat down behind me…

Me: “What the heck, Dude. You feel the need to correct my texts or something?”
#3: “Yeah, Mom. You old people need to get with it.”
Me: “Wow! You just earned yourself very loud country music on the way home.”
#3: “Oh yea? Well, I’ll just turn up the iPod super loud and play the Beastie Boys to fight back!”
He knows how much I hate the Beastie Boys so he often does that to me.

Son #3 slithers off the bleachers but I got a high five on the way out…that’s cool.

I will never know what makes teenagers and tweens think a grown up deserves the label “cool.” That’s okay, I’m happy to bask in it as long as I’m able..

I can live with that.

In the meant time….

I’ll just rotflmao at all their craziness…idk, seems like fun to be a kid these days.

And wth, it’s ok to be cool.

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Sing Like You Mean It!

I had to run an errand this evening. Pick up milk and tea. Luckily, the Turkey Hill is close to the Wine and Spirits Shoppe…so I stopped there too. I love Red Truck shiraz.  (And the chardonnay and Stolis I bought.)

Small little outings like these make me want to keep driving and see where I end up landing. It’s a rare occurance that I’m in my car alone.

Those people closest to me know that I like to blast music in my car.

The new Cadillac commercial asks, “When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?”

YES!

With the awesome sound and Bose speakers to match…I’m a wild and crazy cruisin’ Momma!  I picked the random CD option and cranked it.

Accompanied by Alison Krauss I drove and drove. Her duets with Robert Plant are just fantastic. My husband has a secret (NOT) crush on her. 

But, it was the ride home with James Blunt UNCENSORED that made me feel better.  Former British soldier turned magical musician. He ain’t too bad to look at either, ladies. But, I will warn those of you with sensitive ears to pick his censored songs so as not to offend any of your sensibilities. The man can sing and what a poet he is! He ain’t shy and he ain’t dumb…he’s pretty real.  He sings about things people pretend not to know about. There is raw emotion and real life stuff going on in his lyrics.  We all sit around each day hoping that no one actually hears the conversations that take place in our heads and James Blunt sings about them. He does like to use “vulgar language” as some would call it.

(Personally, I think a well placed curse word now and then is cathartic. No, maybe just really really great at making you feel better. I have a favorite one that I use now and then when the time is right. You’ll have to ask my hubby what that is cause I’m never tellin’)

James Blunt, cranked to the top end of the scale, curse words and all makes me feel pretty damn good.

I sang and sang and sang and sang and sang. I’m pretty sure the lady next to me at the red light in Bridgeport thinks I’m a loon. I had the sunroof open and my window down while I belted off key. What’s the point if no one can hear you?!

The reality is that I can sing and I can dance and in my former life before this reincarnation I think I was a rock star. (Just kidding). But…I felt so great driving and singing and blasting those Bose from my big huge truck…therapy.

While I sang, I thought a lot about life, childhood, marriage, motherhood and my world. Only one thing was easily decided:  My kids are amazing.

One is absent and my heart breaks for her.

One is a ball star and amazingly sweet. I want to be like him when I grow up.

One is troubled and beautiful and fragile.

The last one is four going on 10. He’s also ready to take control of Microsoft Corp.

I thought about love.
I thought about how we take all the things we have in this life for granted and then someday someone does something to mess with it…and we’re at a loss to know what to do.
I thought about prayer and that without the privilege of talking with my God, I’d be the loneliest woman on the face of the earth!
I thought about my church and how I really probably know only a handful of people, yet they’re all there with me on Sundays and other days.
I thought about the struggles my parents are going through and how that’s only going to get worse soon.
I thought about me and how I want to be young for a long long time.
I thought, “Crap! I’m going to be forty in a few years!!!”

And I decided that Erin’s okay. She’ll struggle and so will I. We’ve cried a lot this last week together. We talked and laughed. She hugged me a lot. I hugged her back.  We also had a lot of fun. Play therapy is a great thing, ladies and gentlemen.

There is so much I want her to know.  So much I want to shield her from and keep her from doing. I want to make all her choices for her so she won’t screw up.  I want nothing but peace and joy for her and that’s not even remotely possible.
I want her to relax, breathe deep, exhale slowly and enjoy being a kid.

But, I’m going to teach her to let her hair down, crank up the tunes, open the sunroof and slide down the windows. Grab her favorite tunes, turn the key and go!!

Take it to 70 on a country road.

Drive and laugh and Sing Like You Mean It!!

RePost on Mary, Mother of Christ

The following post was originally written in April. I am reposting it here again as a result of our Sunday School class discussion regarding the birth of Christ and how people were told he was coming. This morning we talked about Simeon with Mary and Joseph at the temple during Mary’s purification sacrifice.

When I originally posted these thoughts I got a few comments. I’d like to hear more of what people have to say. I think Mary is an understudied and underappreciated woman in the scriptures in my own church experience. Traditionally, our children are taught very little about her. It’s fun to delve a little further into what must have been an amazing life.

 Mary, Mother of Christ Resurrected.

 I am amazingly drawn to the life of Mary, mother of Christ. Popular culture paints her as a young woman to whom nothing extraordinary happened. She was young, naive and simple…until the day the angel Gabriel appeared to her.  Until then, we imagine, she had lived a quiet life in Nazareth, doing the things all other girls did. No mention of her immediate family, parents or siblings. But, when this angel showed up, she doesn’t seem afraid of him. Luke describes her as “troubled” and although Gabriel asked her not to “be afraid”, Luke seems to imply that she simply wondered what was up with this?! Luke 1:29 “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”

According to the Nativity Gospel of Mary, extraordinary circumstances surrounded this young woman’s life long before this angelic visit and long before she herself was conceived.  Her father, Joachim, was greatly troubled at his barrenness. The high priest at that time belittled him saying he was unworthy of presenting his gifts before God because God had not seen fit to bless him with offspring. Joachim wandered into the pastures of the shepherds to hide himself in his sorrow. While he was there, an angel of the Lord appeared to him and assured him that he would indeed have a child. God had seen fit to “open the womb” of his wife, not to just give them children, but to bring glory to Himself. Sound familiar? This angel then appeared to Anna, his wife, and told her that she would bear a child, name her Mary and that this child would find favor with God. She would be a special child in the temple of the Lord.

According to this writing, Joseph was also called divinely to be the “root of Jesse” through which our Lord Jesus Christ would be born.  It seems that both Mary and Joseph were somewhat accustomed to divine intervention.

When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he filled her “chamber” with “great light.”  [Chap 9, vs. 3] “And the virgin, who was already well acquainted with angelic faces, and was not unused to the light from heaven, was neither terrified by the vision of the angel, nor astonished at the greatness of the light, but only perplexed by his words; and she began to consider of what nature a salutation so unusual could be, or what it could portend, or what end it could have. “

It seems to me that God would be mighty picky about the vessel in which his son would be nurtured. If God was to take the form of man and be born of a woman, a virgin, He would likely have groomed her from the moment she was conceived. I imagine Mary must have become quite used to angels checking in on her now and then, and, dare I say…she may have conversed on a more intimate level with YHWH who would ultimately become her son? It seems so fantastic and supernatural…yet she accepts it with such grace as though she always knew it would happen this way.

Christ loved his mother like no other person on earth…as I hope my children love me. As he hung crucified, he beseeched John to love her and asked her to take John as her son. Watching out for both of them as he left them behind. Unbearable heartache enjoined with unending love as the skies opened and God himself took on the pain and sin of the world in complete and utter surrender to love…while this woman who loved Him in all imaginable ways looked on. Her heart must have been bursting and breaking and flying high to be entwined with the unimaginable healing power of grace.

The Nativity Gospel of Mary as a historical account of events was likely handed down orally from generation to generation…much like our own family histories today. It does nothing to diminish the deity of Christ, rather delves into the history of his mother and I read it as a love note on her behalf.  Frederica Matthewes-Green has this wonderful essay on Mary that discusses writings pertaining to the Virgin Mary.  Many of us are afraid of her…we don’t want to fall too deeply into what some fear would be a worship of Mary on par with a worship of Christ…but I think it’s worth looking at this woman as a integral part of the life of Jesus Christ on a deeper level than just that of the birth mother.  Did she live her life waiting for her son to give of his? How much did she know or understand? I wonder, too, how much time Jesus spent with his mother after his resurrection…how could he stay away; how could she?

An amazing woman, to be sure…and one that I am desperately anxious to meet some day.

Discrimination Comes in All Sizes

During a conversation with a friend two days ago, I was struck again by the injustice and unfairness in the world. The word “discrimination” came to mind.  Largely associated with minority groups, the poor and handicapped, discrimination reared its ugly head during our talk. She was near tears when she spoke. Only, she isn’t poor or handicapped. She is a white, upper class mother of three. She happens to be married to a man whose family name brings to mind great wealth in this community. Consequently, people assume they have a stash of cash in the basement and can afford anything and everything they want. She doesn’t like to tell people her whole name when she meets them; she kept it from her hairdresser for months!  Her family lives in a large home and owns a lot of “stuff”.  Her address embarrasses her because everyone knows THAT house! Her kids are teased because of who they are and finding real friendships is, I am sure, difficult for all of them.  Does someone want to be their friend because of their toys or because of their amazingly sweet personalities?

She described to me how people will charge her more for things than they would otherwise because they assume she has the extra cash.  A landscape estimate that would cost Joe Average $2000 comes to $4000 for this family.  They have worked hard for what they have, yet live on one salary that is no more or less than anyone associated with the degree and job her husband holds. He just happens to have a name tied to the company he works with and the assumption is that he earns boatloads more than anyone else. It’s just not true. They have made smart purchases and worked their way to where they are. Just like me, discount groceries and dented cans are part of the process and she has scraped by on nothing in the bank during her marriage like most of the rest of us. No silver spoon here; hard work alone. She drives an 8 year old car and loves it. Smart lady!

Her hurt was obvious. She wants to be known for who she is not the name she carries. She wants others to look past the material and see that they are really a simple family with the same struggles we all have. Mothering three children, running a household, cooking, cleaning, cleaning up dog poop all come with her territory. Sound familiar? The unfair advantage they are assumed to have just doesn’t exist. Why must we stereotype the people with seem to have it all and treat them differently? Why should they pay more for something? Who says they have more?

Assumptions are astoundingly stupid thoughts and get us in trouble every time. My dear friend trusts no one easily; why should she?

I, for one, am proud to know her. Not because she lives in a big house or has a plasma screen.  She could live in a ditch for all I care and I’d still like her.  She is an honest, loving, kind and beautiful woman who wants to do the best she can with what she has for those she loves.

Would we were all a little more like that.

The Love of the Father

In early October, 2006, a man walked into an Amish school armed with rifles, pistols and deep pain. No one will ever understand why he chose to execute a group of young Amish girls; we don’t need to. It is the aftermath of that day that will live forever in the lives of so many people all over the world and the consequences of his deeds are far reaching in ways that no one expected.

Three nights ago, Andy and I witnessed God’s healing and grace in action. We were invited to visit with a little 8 year old girl who bears the scars of that day in October. I will call her Miss S. Andy was one of the people who treated her that day. I remember the evening after the shooting, he was telling me how feisty she was. With the extent of her injuries, he tried to intubate her to help her to breathe and she kept pushing him away. He desperately hoped that meant she would make it through. She did. And when we walked into her kitchen she ran up to him and laughingly said, “I look better than I did the last time you saw me!”

As we sat in their living room, we heard her father’s stories of how brave she was, how miraculous her healing and what an impact she had on the staff at the hospital who worked with her. He told of daily visits to the hospital, relying on others to drive them. Only on Sundays were they unable to be with her. Aunts, grandfather and parents; someone was always with her. As he spoke, tears threatened to fall, but he had a never ending smile on his face as he watched his daughter. Their family also lost a daughter to a bullet, but they do not dwell on her pain or death. They focus on the miracle walking around their house.

While we were there, two other families stopped by to visit. They didn’t know we would be there, it was just their normal visiting night. God planned it though, I am sure. One couple lost their daughter that day. Another man was a first responder and a member of their church and knew the girls. He had been the first to aid the little one Andy took care of.

The living room was crowded with chairs for the 8 adults and we counted nearly 12 children from age 12 to 4 weeks running in and out of the room. Listening to the Amish men speak of their experiences that day and reliving their roles was so healing for us. They asked questions of each other. “Where were you?”  “What happened next?” and “When did you find out who passed away?”.  They discussed helicopters, the speed of the police cars responding and the dynamics of the whole event in very factual terms. I felt as though I was sitting in a group therapy session. Nearly six months later, and these parents still pour out their memories and questions to eachother in order to unload their grief.

The most incredible moment for me was a conversation between the first responder and a mother whose daughter had died. He said he had been struggling with the fact that he could have identified each of the girls and let their parents know which hospital their child was sent to or what their physical condition was. But he didn’t, and it wasn’t until much later that night that parents knew the fate of their children.  The mother of the slain girl looked at him and said, “If I had known what had happend to (her), that she had passed away, I would have left the school and gone home. Instead, I stayed with my friends and waited. I am glad you didn’t tell me or I would have been alone all day.”

In our Sunday School class we are studying what Mennonites believe. Woven into all that discussion is the idea of community as a place to study scripture, learn and work together. These Amish families that night embodied that perfectly. They relied on each other to hold them up each day and listening to them talk together for hours about thier experiences was healing for them and for Andy and I.

Miss S never stopped smiling or kissing me after she opened the gift we brought her. Her father noted that the hospital wasn’t able to take the “silly” out of her when they removed part of her brain! His obvious love for her was palpable.

Both of her parents repeatedly stated that without God carrying them through they would have cracked up. They have received hundreds of letters and cards from around the world from people who want to live their lives differently and with less anger now that they have witnessed forgiveness and grace from the Amish parents. To them, that makes it all worthwhile. They even received word of a country closed to the Bible that was allowed to view footage of the event and send their condolences through their government controlled mail system. The idea that the murder of little Amish girls in rural Lancaster county touched the lives of people behind a communist curtain was amazing to their parents and made God so much more evident in the aftermath.

Miss S’s father asked me if I thought the effect of this would continue or if it was just a short lived “one day” ripple of grace. I told him that I think that his children and the children in his community will be testament to Christ for the rest of their lives. I believe that.

The love of a father for his children so close to the love of The Father for us. Amazing grace and peace where there could be so much anger and fear.

The new school building is nearly ready and the kids are excited to use it. That building itself is a testament to faith and trust.

We healed that night a little, I know Andy did. So did the parents we met with and the children playing around us. Miss S has a brand new baby sister to love and 6 brothers to take care of her. She is a little bit of a celebrity and a very happy little girl. Her scars are hidden with a new head of hair and her vision is returning to normal. She bears little outward scars of the fearful events of that day in October and inwardly, I think she’s just fine.

Mother and Child

I climbed in bed with my son last night. I had to navigate the nylon mesh rail that keeps him from falling out. He’s in a “big boy bed” now. I’m not sure why we took him out of his crib already; he’d certainly still fit. Maybe we were in a hurry for him to grow or maybe we were sick of bending over to pick him up. Whatever the reason, he’s now officially out of babyhood. So, I climbed from the bottom of the bed up to the top. He’s sleeping on his big brother’s Spiderman pillowcase. It was a little damp, but that’s okay. Since surgery a few weeks ago I haven’t been able to pick him up and hold him and I just wanted to put my arms around him for a little bit. I am terrified that by the time I’m allowed to lift him again, he’ll be ready for college and won’t be able to wrap his little skinny legs around my waist anymore.

He is absolutely the most spectacular person I have met in a long time. Perfect little eyelashes and this huge forehead housing magnificently large thoughts for a two-and-a-half-year-old. He’s not even quiet when he sleeps; he whooshes a little. I just laid there and watched him. Touching him might have woken him and God knows we wouldn’t want to do that! But, to watch him sleep made me feel so small. So finite. So human.

I am constantly amazed that my Father God thought me worthy enough to be in charge of these little people living in my house. I look at them and wonder how I ever grew old enough to have children, let alone intelligent ones with attitudes, opinions and language! It’s a little overwhelming, scary and humbling to think that for the rest of my life (and theirs) we’ll be together one way or another. I prayfully ask that I not screw this up.

I watch you from the corner of my eye

I see all that you do

Yet your secrets lie deep inside you

You are your own person

Not mine

Only on loan to me for a

Lifetime.

I’m sorry now for what will come

You asked not

You chose not

You begged to be left alone

To be yourself

Yet I interfered and mothered you.

I will one day need you

To care for me

To still love me

To consider me your elder

Your friend

Your

Life.

Please.