Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bob. "I'm just like that"

I didn't even know dust could accumulate on vertical glass. I mean I am well aware of the dust that lands for a week or so on the horizontal furniture and the tops of picture frames. I even know the permanent dust that lives on top of the entertainment center, visible only from the stairs. But who knew dust sticks to a sliding glass door? I noticed it just the other day, on the outside. What got my attention actually, were the places on the glass where the dust had been brushed away. Very specific patterns, kind of like someone had taken a feather and painted or unpainted the dust in whispy designs. I hadn't seen it before and par for my course, I was curious. I stood examining the glass like a crime scene investigator. What on earth would create such marks and when? Who on earth would care? Me.

A more balanced person would have gone back inside to continue with some profitable task, like laundry. But not me, I just needed to know. I'm just like that. No one in my family would have expected me to come inside until I had it figured out. They know me too well. So there I stood, one arm crossing my front and supporting the other elbow, which propped up the forearm to the hand that props the chin and the finger that taps the side of my mouth while I think. This is the preferable thinking position at my age. (After 40, its best to avoid the furrowed brow position, as that one tends to stick in a permanent forrow called wrinkles). The longer I stood there, searching the position and pattern of the dust designs the more curious I got. If they were in just one horizontal plane or another, that would help. I have family in the 5'6" , 6' and 6'4" planes, so that could have narrowed down the who anyway. But these marks were all over the full width and height of glass. Like something had purposely decorated every quadrant and corner of it, with a ........ feather.... Ah ha! That's it! Bob. It's got to be Bob, the bird.

We met Bob last spring. Well, I guess we came to know Bob. I don't think he ever actually got to know us, but we were very familiar with him. He came into our lives with a bang! Literally, a bang, as he hit the large sliding glass door that faces the backyard. The first time he did it we thought he accidently flew into the glass. Bang! It didn't sound like he slowed down at all and infact when he fell to the patio floor, I thought we might just have to do a little bird CPR. My paramedic husband would have cried "fowl" I'm sure. I felt embarrassed for him and wanted to act like I didn't notice his foolishness, so he could just get up and fly on. I figured he was just swooping and gliding and climbing and diving all over the back yard. Dodging tree limbs and the swing, rounding bushes and weaving in and out of each of the patio posts and probably just closed his eyes in the bliss of it...I mean I would have closed my eyes just to intensify the feel of all that swooping and gliding. So then, with his eyes closed... BANG! And I tried to let him get up and on without being humiliated. But then it started. The mystery of Bob. He just got up again and jumped against the glass. And jumped against the glass. And continued flying up and against the glass, to the left against the glass, to the right against the glass, down, up, up higher, down again, hitting his wings and head and the rest of him over and over again. I think he carried on until he was exhausted. There was a purposefulness to it. His whole heart was in it. We sat and watched. Ok, mostly I sat and watched. But I just needed to understand why he might be doing that, risking his bird body and the humiliation. I'm just like that. So began my finger tapping. Tap, tap, tap. Bang! Bang! Bang! This went on all spring and summer. Him banging and me tapping.
What was he trying to get at? What did he think he was seeing? I don't think it was his own reflection, or he would have just bumped into the glass right where he would stand. No, he was seeing something beyond the glass he thought was worth all the trouble and headache (literally). Directly inside the window was our oak table and chairs. Perhaps with all the wood legs he was seeing a forest or trees. Just beyond that on some shelves was a wood birdhouse I purchased at a craft fair. Was he shopping for a new place in the country? I moved the birdhouse out of view just in case. No change. I kind of wanted to open the door and let him in, just to see where he would go, what he was so set on. But inside the house is not the place for a bird. Flying and ceilings and walls just don't go together. It's the complete opposite of freedom for a bird. We know. We've had a few accidently fly inside. I just wanted to sweetly say, "Bob, just turn around and look at the whole beautiful "perfect-for-a-bird" world that is behind you. Unlimited sky, millions of trees to stop on and the rest of the bird choir to sing with. Your world is perfect for you, just turn around and see it!" So that's how the spring and summer went. Bob did lots of bumping and I did lots of thoughtful tapping. So it's spring again this year and just about the time we starting wondering about Bob, he showed up. But not alone. He brought a friend. A girl I'm sure. So at least we know who's been warming Bob's nest over the winter months. The two of them stood together in front of the glass door and Bob spent one day flying and bumping into the glass again. Interestingly, his friend didn't join in. I sat nearby watching and smiling at his efforts to impress her. He tried every angle again, high, low, left, right and then they were gone. Perhaps, he finally turned around. Maybe he just needed a friend to speak some truth to him. Maybe he spent the winter telling her about this great place he found last spring. Around the bird nest, over dinner, he would tell her about it, how he found it, what it looked like and his plans to return again and finally get inside. Maybe she encouraged him, or maybe she cautioned him. He probably promised to take her there when the time and weather was right. Maybe it sounded too good to be true or a little fishy, that something that appeared so wonderful, was impossible to get to. Maybe she knew what he didn't. Bird territory is free and open, without boundaries and with few predators. Maybe she knew God gives birds everything they need and want without banging their heads against a wall. Maybe she knew that he was the type that would more likely pursue the thing just out of reach, rather than turn around to see all that was wonderful in his world. Maybe I thought so much about Bob, because I related to his struggle. Maybe I have spent way too much time banging my head against a glass door, because I thougt I saw something on the otherside I wanted. Maybe I remember trying this angle and that, and until I was bloody with the battle in wanting something God has said no to. Maybe what Bob and I think would be preferable, God knows would be captivity. Maybe Bob and I both have needed to bring a loved one along to tell us what we are really looking at, rather than what we have been seeing. Maybe we both just need to turn around and look to the freedom in God's "No" and thank him for knowing what's best even when it's disappointing or painful. Maybe, God knows Bob would fly and bump and bang, and I'd watch and tap and think. I can't help it, I'm just like that.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Another good reason...

Why blogging? Why not a paper journal? Why not write somewhere other than the internet? Like a publishing program or something of the sort? Why blog? The answer came to me yesterday. We were sitting in the stands at the varsity baseball field. Our team hasn't won a lot of games and my son is a pitcher, so he doesn't even play in very many games. At the end of the season, the fans are a faithful few. Since my pitcher was sitting the bench this game, I naturally use my time in the stands to socialize with his friends more than usual. I love to listen to them talk amongst themselves and delight when I actually understand some of what they are talking about. Teenage life isn't really that different from my day, but the language is. I don't know if they really appreciate this or not, but I am genuinely interested in what they are talking about. I have gone to great lengths to learn about their stuff. I know about MySpace and Ipods. I have Von Zipper sunglasses (hand me downs from my daughter) and can sing the clean parts of not just a few rap songs. I have Usher on my ipod, I don't own any, but I know that 7's jeans are the most comfortable and most expensive. I know that the best part of prom is planning, primping and pictures. I know which parents are very strict and which ones I would like send to parenting classes. Yesterday in the stands...... it was all girls. I just love them. I love it that they will talk their girl talk even though I am near by. They are "girlfriends", you can tell by the way they talk. I love to watch them taking silly pictures of themselves with their camera phones, and when they let me take the picture so they can all be in it. I love it when they let me in on the conversation and I remember not to talk about when I was their age. I love them almost like they are my own, but grateful I can love them and avoid the worry part, (ok, try to avoid the worry part). ------ Yesterday I heard someone say "Blog". Ok, I know about blogging, so if they will allow me, I can join in to their world for just a minute. "Do you have a blog?" Me, too! "What is your address? blah, blah, blah" (blah, blah, blah is teenager for we had more to say, but I don't feel like repeating it word for word) ------ I didn't know the best reason to have a blog, until yesterday while we were sitting at the high school baseball game, and it came to me...Someone asked if I was Ryan's mom, (clarifying my age I think) and I said "yes". Then she said it...words that are coveted at my age. "You are really HIP!" Ahhhh! It took my breath away. Let the word sink in..Hip. Hip. "You're really Hip" In a few more years my conversation about "hip" will probably be in with a doctor as we discuss how long it will take the break to heal. But for now, "hip" means "hip". At least I was hoping so.... In one instant, I received the comment like a blessing spoken over me. Then a slight fear settled in. This adorable young girl was only about 16, so perhaps her "hip" wasn't really my "hip". Shoot, do I really want to know? I mean I could live on this for a VERY long time. Ultimately, my desire for truth won out. I'm sure I kind of winced when I asked "Why do you think so?" , then braced myself. "You have cool VonZipper sunglasses (thanks daughter) have a MySpace, and you BLOG!" Well, I don't have a MySpace; misunderstanding...but I do know what it is! "Hip!" That's me! At least for that moment. Another great reason to have a blog! Thanks to those girlfriends. See you next season.

Friday, May 05, 2006

One sensitive daughter

in reference to yesterdays blog...So today was the first day without the oldest coming down the stairs. But my daughter, whose heart which is quickly becoming a mother's heart, started down those stairs this morning, stopped half way, ran back up and then proceeded to mimic the gallop of the oldest. Just to comfort me...she said "just wanted to start your day out right!" ahhhh the love of a child. Can't beat the tenderness.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

G...o...d...He's doing it again!

I want to whine like a four year old. I just do. That's how I feel. I have a sing song in my head. "G...o....d (two syllables) , he's doing it again" . I feel the need to tattle on my oldest son. You see he is moving out again, probably for the last time and taking a piece of my heart with him. Today it feels like the most tender piece. Last week he bought three suits, a new car and rented a house. Uh oh, I see it coming.... again! Now, when he left for college I thought I wouldn't survive the separation. The difference this time is, that I know I will. I will survive to endure every inch of the 3 miles that will separate us. I adjusted last time. I got used to seeing him on occasional weekends and holidays and summer breaks. I tricked my heart into thinking he was just gone between the times he was home. Like summer camp, I told myself. He was gone, and then would be back. That got me through for a while. We believed he would never live under our roof again, that the family home was forever changed. We adjusted. Then he graduated from college and moved back home. That brought frowns to some outsiders of course. A young man with a college education should be out on his own, supporting himself. "He needs his own space and so do you" they would say. I agreed with them on the outside. On the inside I thought, "but just a little more time." Publicly I would complain about his room and laundry. Privately I thrilled at the familiar cadence of his steps upstairs and the very specific gallop he uses when he descends the stairs in the morning leaving for work. When he used to descend the stairs in the morning. This morning was the last morning. He moves his bed to the new place tonight. Which means when I rise early tomorrow morning, my quiet time will not be intruded upon by his gallop. I mean, I will be uninterrupted by the rhythmic steps of my first born because his steps will have moved on. I should have recorded that, darn it. I missed the last chance for that this morning. He punctuates his dissension with "hey mama". I think I need that to start my day out right. There is a list you know, of things that should happen each morning to get things started just right. The taste of the first cup of hot coffee, the weight of my bible on my lap, the turning of pages of the newspaper by my husband near by, and the gallop of my first born. I know the sound of the steps of the other two as well. They each have their own distinguishing cadence, but today the gallop is what I will miss. The new place doesn't have stairs, I hope he doesn't forget how to do it. I told him last night I was happy for him. Mother's are just by necessity, split personalities. We have to be. We have to speak blessing over them as they grow and encourage them, while all the time wanting to halt them from moving on. We want both. We wouldn't deny them the satisfaction of independence, but....Ouch. It takes me back to how enthusiastically we encouraged them to take their first steps. If I had looked far enough ahead to this day, I think I would have let him crawl a bit longer. So, go son, with our blessing. I mean it, no I don't, yes I do, no I don't...just don't forget the gallop.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Letters from a father...

For years I have wondered about my father. Though I was 11 when he suddenly died, I can remember very, very little about him. I have no personal internal testimony, nothing written on my heart that would convince me of his feelings for me or mine for him. I have searched so deeply in my memory files trying to recover a sense of him, or a sense of our relationship. It's just simply been a vacant spot. So instead of reminiscence and because of the void, I have searched long and hard to understand what my heavenly father thinks of me, just how does a father feel about his child? What a treasure I have found in discovering how a perfect father loves. As only God would do, he waited until that issue was settled (the one between Him and me) before allowing me to happen upon a box of letters written by my own Dad. Many letters. Kept for many years after his death in a simple cardboard box. Letters he wrote to his own parents during the early years of his marriage and through the last year of his life. About 15 years worth of letters, detailed unlike a man would normally write. But this was back before computers, free long distance and cheap travel. Writing was the way of communicating between his parents in Iowa and his new home after a bold move to California. My grandmother, probably never got over his moving west. She probably treasured each letter from him, held each to her nose hoping to catch a scent of him and after reading it over several times, held it close to her chest until the tears slowed. Then apparently carefully saved each along with all the others. My uncle, the keeper of the box, hesitated sending them to me. Since they weren't addressed to him and had been removed from the farm house once my grandparents passed away, he hadn't a clue what they contained. If he'd read them all, he wouldn't have a clue what they contained. Only a child looking for answers could decipher the depth of them. Once they arrived at my home, there were so many I laid them on the dining room table, sorting them by post mark, then began reading the year my parents married and one year later when I was born. What man describes in such tender words, his descriptions about the child he is expecting and then includes the simple details of a tiny daughter? Trying to paint a picture for his own mother, I guess. Though 40+ years apart, she and I both benefitted from his effort. Then one Sunday morning sitting in church, listening, but distracted, God got my attention. I have never heard anything like this before in my head, but it was as if someone slapped the top of a book. A sharp, loud noise that got my attention. And God said "Listen now, this is big. See the letters on the dining room table?" Yes, Lord, I whispered inside as I pictured them. " What are they?" he asked. They are letters from a father to his child, I answered him. I couldn't help it, the tears just starting spilling over. Searching the letters I had just wanted to know. I needed to know how my dad felt about me. What he thought about me and what I meant to him. Was I a joy, a delight to him? Was I in the way- an annoyance or an ornament in his home? At our earliest we know how to be nothing more or different than who we really are. We are raw us. Unable to be anything other than the genuine us without the ability or inclination to change for others. Our personality and temperament are in their purest form. We act more than react to others. Rejection at that age can be rejection of the deepest and most powerful kind because it cannot be tied to anything other the "who I am" not "what I am doing." I searched the letters to see if my father was accepting or rejecting me at that age. Was I loved by him? Was I acceptable, even lovable and could I find any evidence of how deep that love was? Was I worthy of capturing his heart and his delight? Did he adore me? Did he want to make plans for me and my future? Did he have dreams for me? Did he want to protect me? Did he have important things to teach me? Was he proud I was his? Did I have him wrapped around my tiny baby sized finger? Did he look forward to the "Father-Daughter dance" with the same heart ache/joy my own husband does when he looks at our daughter? Oh yes, I dad loved me. The timing of receiving the letters is amazing. My heavenly father has allowed me so many experiences, painful and confusing, then support, and time to cause me to search for the whys of it all-then to pursue Him for hope and healing. The painful memories sent me straight to my knees, broken and longing. I was desperate to have that need filled and my heart healed. I would, though, have been so lacking to find it all in the letters. My dad was human after all. Tender, loving and adoring yes, but my earthly father could never have met my every need even if he was still alive to love me. We were created differently- to yearn for the Father. The Savior. The one who is everything. The life in living. Had he given me the letters any earlier, I may have missed the whole thing. The letters on the table-stacks of them from a father to his child...My savior wanted me to read HIS letter and search for and understand who He is and how He feels about me. How He has always felt about me, back when I was a tiny baby in my innocence, but even as I was pursuing one sinful day after another. He knew then, I was looking for Him. I didn't know that was what I wanted, but he did. And so on Sunday morning he has said to me: "Pay attention, this is big! The letters from your dad tell you how he felt about you-these are my gift to you and I have kept them safe for years and no one even knew the value of them-Can you see me child? Can you understand my love for you?" "My letter to you is eternally more valuable and it tells you how I, God, the master of the universe, the Holy one, feels about you. Father-daughter letters are important, oh yes. My word is my letter to you. This is where I want you to be. Search my letter and see." And I thought I missed out on the father-daughter dance! Hardly. This is the Father-daughter dance of a lifetime! Praise you God, praise you................

Laying it down for a friend.

John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friend" NIV But I love the way the New Living Translation puts it even more... "And here is how to measure it--the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends." I know this verse refers to Christ and his true ultimate sacrifice of his living, breathing body for us. That to be seperated from his father even for a short time as he literally took on our sin was excrutiating for him. But that was obediance...doing his father's will, he lay down his life for his friends. I have witnessed this same sacrifice lately in my friends. That true obediance looks like conforming to the very pattern of Christ, laying something down for a friend. So many have come to us over these past 6 months to share their own past, painful experiences and choices to offer hope as we suffer the same pain. There is encouragement, hope and healing for us in the hearing of it. What is being layed down? Reputation, privacy, secret pain, vulnerability. Encouragement without experience is loving. Encouragement through experience is powerful. Doesn't it just seem right to lay it down for someone else? Doesn't the price we paid then, seem finally worth something now when we can use it to comfort someone else? Isn't there some redemption in the whole thing that was before just a painful past? Is it really true that allowing our God to use it, makes it worth the suffering? God often looks past the things we would easily offer him to use, and asks us to offer him the hidden things we think he could never use. It makes me want to dig deep to every corner, every hidden spot, every dark closet within and lay it out, display it before him, ugly as some of it is. Use it Lord. Find some meaning in it. Redeem it. Make it worth something. The gifts of sacrifice that have been laid before us, have not been lost on us. The great love and sacrifice that has been laid down has accomplished hope in the midst of suffering and light in the darkness. That is His way... it has been from the bring light into the darkness, and you have helped carry it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Women just have lots of words! Its a fact. Lots of thoughts that must turn into words. For me, words that must come out. Thank goodness we also have good friends with ears to listen. In my case I believe I have worn out a friend or two at times just trying to get the words out and free up some space for more thoughts that must turn into words. Its not enough for us to just think or feel, we must express it. Using lots of words. Words that get stuck inside, sad ones or touching ones, turn into tears, where they are stored up in a spongy thing. Once the sponge is saturated, it takes but one word or thought unexpressed to start the leaking. You know what I mean. Men surely don't have as many words, but you would think God might have helped us out but giving them large capacity ears! When Kristen was 5 and frustrated with her older brother, she came to me needing to tell me what had happened, in words of course. Thank goodness the "use your words" training was working and she didn't hit him, but the words needed to come out. That particular morning I was tired of hearing it and decided to use the "work it out yourselves" tactic. Just as she entered the room with her two-toned, two- syllable "Mo-m" and started in to tell me what happened, I stopped her short..."I don't want to hear it, you need to work it out yourselves". I felt so proud of myself for directing her properly. Expecting her to turn and leave to address her brother, I carried on with my hair dryer. After a few short minutes I glanced over to where she was still standing. Legs locked, face red, lip quivering, and tears just about to spill over the edge of her huge blue eyes. "If I can't tell you, how will I get my yuckies out?" um hm...words. We just need to get 'em out.