Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thoughts on regrets, life, death, and a dose of reality

I had in mind to write about things that kept me up last night, like the fact that I had a moment of utter joy when I saw the face of my daughter when I picked her up at carpool.  I've been sick, so her daddy has been doing the afternoon carpool. (He's the man! No, he's The Gilly!) I was in his car, but when she realized it was me, you would've thought that she had just seen Justin Bieber!  O, quit being judgmental...who did we have?  Shaun CassidyAndy GibbRalph MacchioScott BaioJustin Timberlake!

Laurian's room
Anyway...I had many thoughts on how we parents both celebrate and mourn the fact that our kids grow up.  Is it because we know the harsh reality of life that they'll experience with age?  That the more they know, bits of innocence are lost?  Or is it that there's an underlying sense of regret that maybe we didn't do all we should've done - not FOR them, but WITH them?  I have tears now...lack of sleep...I'll try to get to that one later.

Because I couldn't sleep, I read an article from the Wall Street Journal online about Steve Jobs, soon after he died.  I encourage you to read the entire article.  It's really good.  This, in particular:
Yes, I let my kids decorate their own rooms. 
At a Stanford commencement address, Jobs states, "No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away."

Well, somebody pass the Bordeaux!  I'm all warm and tingly and wish to celebrate!  Yeah, not really.  Where is hope is that?  Where is life with meaning and purpose?  But it's the comment, "No one wants to die," that sent my heart and mind into a tailspin.  I won't expound on it here, but I want you to think about this, too.  There is truth in what he says here, if we are honest.  Could it be because we've been given a life, right here, right now, that does have purpose?  Is our time here in this world meaningful in the historical narrative of life?  Is there a design and order to the fact that we're here, right where we should be because our Creator  and Author of Life has promised us life and life  That this temporal life is part of His master plan of redemption?  The fact that we have the possibility to even experience pleasures such as the smell of a baby's head, the touch of our lover, the beauty of a sunset, good wine, and good conversation are pretty solid reasons enough that what happens here in this world matters, and that we actually celebrate being in His Presence in this world!  He delights in our pleasures!

Micah 7:18  "Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?  He does not retain his anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love."

Those pleasures are but a foretaste of what being united to Him for eternity brings.  It is possible to experience heaven on earth, to a limited degree, and depending on if you view heaven as a place in the clouds or if you view it as an eternal reality, as described in God's Word.  (I encourage us all to go to His Word and examine it's's a good, good word.)  Could it be that those of us who do, in fact, long for the new heavens and new earth don't want to die, because dying is not natural?  Humanity wasn't intended to experience it.  We were created to live in perfect relationship forever.  Wanting to avoid pain and suffering is not for a lack of faith, it just is what it's painful and we'd rather avoid it.  Sure, there is fear in the unknown of the "how" death may take place and how it would affect those left behind.  And there's certainly unbearable pain when we experience the absence of those we share our life with.  But there is no fear in the "destination" (Jobs' word) in the life of the redeemed.  Our Creator brings us to Himself, we're made whole, and we pleasure His Presence and the presence of loved ones gone before us, for eternity.  Just think about comments or questions...I'm no expert, and I certainly don't know all the answers.  I'm just thinking. dead bolt was stuck:(
Getting back to a day in the life at the Gilly Pad!!!  Reality of now! I was going to write more on both of these topics, but for now I only have broad brush strokes.  I'll have to contemplate the details for a while.  Life...REALITY!  That active, meaningful, purposeful life of mine gets a shot of chaos every once in a while, and I just wanted to let you in!  I put out a small kitchen fire and learned all my little ol' self how to pick a dead bolt lock by 10 a.m. this morning!  I feel like a dirty little criminal, AND I LIKE IT!  I feel empowered and I have impressed even myself!  It's "Yea for me!" Day around here, folks!  Check it out!
After finding the right tool, it sort of all fell off.
It's a bad, bad back door, folks.  It has been for years.  But there are more important expenses to take care of right now.  I color my hair often because I get bored, I want a Vitamix (or whatever) for Christmas (so I can throw a bunch of junk in there and drink my meals...moms don't have time to sit and eat during the day!), and we likes the red vino around here.  Priorities.

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, welcome to my pleasure-filled life at my home!  You see the little lock at the top of the door is what we have to use to keep the door closed.  It's great as long as you don't need to get in.  I couldn't this morning and I thought Chad may have locked it with the deadbolt.  I don't know why though, because he doesn't even know that our house key actually fits in there.  I only found out about a month ago!  (We've been here 7 or 8 years.)  I turned the dang thing and it that's what got me into a pickle this morning!  No fear, I dare not ask for help when there are tools to be used!!!

So this is how I've patched it up for now.  It's a little racey, huh?  It works.  However, from the look of the exterior "door knob" (picture below, now that's some home-cookin') and the window I taped up a few years ago, I think we're sinking to a new level of red. 

I came up with this little contraption after I paid two different people to install a proper door knob.  I really like it, especially my arrows telling the kids which way to turn the, uh, knob!

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's Your Story?

 "What's your story?" is one of my best friend's favorite conversation starters.  It's quite genius, I think.  We all love a good story.  It's pretty amazing to think that we share a few of the same stories in our memory bank with strangers who live all around the world.  From Noah to Cinderella to Superman, there are stories that create powerful images and universally resonate with humanity.  These stories become emblazoned in our mind, and they've been sustained throughout generations from Egypt to Iceland to wherever-you-are-land.  The same is true with family stories that extend from one generation to the next.  Although they can be quite embarrassing, they are nevertheless part of our family heritage, and the stories keep us connected to one another.  Our history gives us our foundation that grounds us.  

What is our story?  Experts in the field of expertise tell us only 20% of what we do with our day really matters, so why get all hot and bothered?  Heaven forbid, we stop and think about consequences and the meaning of life.  (By the way, is it just us folks in the south that say, "Heaven forbid!" ?  I know we're the only ones who say, "Lawsy mercy!")  Digressing...focus, Leigh.  We want our story to be good, so we want to be the best at what we do, right?  How can we attain our story of ultimate awesomeness?  Surely we read a how-to book, pre-pay and actually go to a self-help seminar, or sign up for an on-line daily accountability program.  We must learn the new and improved method! We learn tactics!  We learn solutions given to us in illustrated diagrams, some of which are color-coded if you upgrade.

"This is a wretched pot-scrubber!"  Wait, wait, wait.  Reverse.  beepbeepbeep

Where in the world did that come from?  It came from a story, silly!  You mean you're confused?  Welcome to Gilly Land!  No really, it's from a story, but it could be from a number of stories.  We get what the sentence is about, but not the purpose, because we don't know the context of this fragment of the story, and most importantly we don't know the story at all.  We don't know where this piece fits.  We're clueless, but highly intelligent beings who won't give in to confusion because we're all about our awesomeness and to admit uncertainty is weak and shallow and we'll lose all credibility of the keepers of awesomeness.

Hint:  Our story is not formed or improved upon through methods or self-help programs, nor is the context of our story framed by the use of a diagram.

I taught a lesson to the Redeemer Jr. High kids in Christian Ed a few Sundays ago.  As they walked in, I began brushing my hair with a toothbrush.  One of the gals said, "UUuummmmm, that's not working so well."  I put the toothbrush down, and then my 12-year old son became both mortified and stupefied when I delivered a story in my best (which was awful) British theologian's accent.  I had recently listened to a podcast of Bishop Lesslie Newbigin telling this story of attending a festival in Liverpool as a schoolboy.  A new substance had just been invented and its surplus was given out to the people in the streets.  One woman received her portion, and after a brief time came back to loudly exclaim, "This is a wretched pot scrubber!"  Well, what was handed out was not a pot scrubber at all.  It was shredded wheat!  The purpose of what was given to her was not to be used as a pot scrubber.  Its intended purpose was to provide nourishment!  They didn't understand its fundamental purpose, so it wasn't used properly!  Just as the shredded wheat was meaningless as a pot scrubber, so my toothbrush hardly functioned well as a hair brush.  Misunderstood, they didn't have a meaningful existence because they were used out of context. 

"What's your story?"  It's a brilliant question, and one I'll try to build upon here from the Gilly Pad. The story of the life that we live now functions as a fragment within the historical context of a beautiful, comprehensive, unfolding, ongoing story.  When we misunderstand the purpose of that story, our lives function out of context, and people are unable to flourish in the way they were intended.

Newsflash!  I've recently learned to read my Bible.  "Scuuuz me?" say ye.  Yep, really.  I've read bits and pieces of my Bible for years, taking fragments, pretty pieces and parts and have twisted and cranked those pieces to fit me and my interests.  I took parts of a whole and mistakenly manipulated them for methods instead of understanding them for what they really are.  Principles given as truth, freedom, and living real life, right now.  I'm slowly beginning to understand the Author's intention, and my life in the proper context of the grand narrative.

Hint:  My story is not all about me.

*I only included the link to this Bible because it's the one I really like...the commentary is great.  It includes charts:)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Do you like everything about yourself?

Ben Crane, a notoriously slow PGA Tour player, speaking words of wisdom.

I've done some thinking about myself lately.  Don't we all, all the time?  I'm convinced I'm on 'Candid Camera.' The public gets to witness me trying to steer through the chaos of life!  I am here for your entertainment, world!  While other very diligent and well layered moms are busy getting their kids to places they're supposed to be in order for them to grow up to be the people that other people think they're supposed to be, I'm just sort of chasing my tail.  I just don't do so well at logistical things like meetings, reading or deleting emails, and remembering the last location I dropped off each kid.  One year I submitted a disclaimer to my kids' teachers:  "Hey!  I'm (CharlieBenLaurian's) mom.   I'm not very organized, and I appreciate reminder emails because chances are, I never read the first its entirety."  Set their expectations low, there's less disappointment.

"Do you think I want to be this way? 

In a word: "NO."  I don't like all the stuff of me, but I know who made me (and you), so I live with a sense of confidence that He has a pretty good handle on things.  He created us all in His image.  Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight!  God loves His creation and all of His creatures.  Everything went wonky in the garden when Eve thought she knew better and all Adam could do was blame-shift.  Since then, we've all had quite a time, haven't we?  And I emphasize ALL.  We ALL inherited the stain.  We're all more prone to do the selfish thing before we do the right thing.  Thankfully in the garden, God made a promise to never leave us, and a promise that He would make right what man had wronged.  And therein lies my confident hope!  By faith, I have confidence in a hope that will be realized.  I know with absolute certainty that I'm going to mess up royally and often...and so are you!  Why are we ever shocked at the ways of others?

"Do you like everything about yourself?"

When a golfer's pace is slow, it throws the rhythm of the other players out of whack...that's what my husband tells me, and I believe everything he says.  (heehee)  Maybe it throws others off because while pausing, they're forced to actually use their noggin to think about things like their swing, their last shot,  the next shot, the ball's lie, the direction of the wind, the sun in the sky. I know for me, when I pause long enough to examine the stuff of me, I'm much more willing to have mercy when it comes to the stuff of others.  No, I don't like everything about myself, and you probably feel the same about yourself.  So surely humility and mercy is the only response to this attitude.

Maybe Crane's rhythm of slowness is to his benefit.  The stillness of quiet solitude is the only place to honestly think and understand who we are and what things are really important.  We tend to busy ourselves with our kids, jobs, shopping, doing or watching sports, even religious activities in order to avoid the reality of who we are and what drives us.  Philosopher Dallas Willard emphasizes how essential solitude is by saying, "You learn how God works when you don't work." God gives us mercy and expects us to be merciful to others.  That transforming work enables us to try to see others the way He sees them.  And then what changes?  Our attitude!