May 21, 2012

Letting go...

Helmets on they climb their scooters and take off. Wind beating their cheeks, giggles of excitement erupting from their throats, they race.

"Don't get too far ahead of me!" I shout as I walk behind them. All I can see is their backs but I know they are smiling as one foot makes contact with the pavement, propelling them forward faster than I can catch them and faster than my mother's heart can bear. And I feel the separation almost physically. 

I want to reach out and grab her by the arm pulling her back to me, to the protection of my embrace, away from the road, away from any danger. But she is already too far ahead. He can't even hear me any more when I shout his name. 

And I love watching them. Their growing muscles extending, finding the balance to master the small scooter, the thrill of speed all over their screams and laughter. 

They are headed for the street and my heart skips a beat. But I have given them instructions as to how fast they need to go and exactly where they need to stop and I have to trust that they will. I have to trust that the work I've put before this moment, the practice rounds, the conversations about danger will do their job. 

I have to trust them.

They are old enough to do this. I know that in my head but my heart cries out "not yet! it's too soon!" Time flies and does not stop for me. I'm not ready. But they are. 

And this will be the dance of our lives. The constant struggle towards independence as I let them go a little at the time, asking the Lord for wisdom to know how far, how fast, and when. Feeling the pain of separation breaking my heart but keeping a smile of my face as I cheer them on. Because this is what they were meant to do: to grow and leave, to spread their wings and fly. 

And I am left to trust.

To trust that the years we had with them were rich enough in wisdom and knowledge to make their own decisions when I'm no longer there to shout their names or remind them of my instructions. I have to let go and have faith that the God who brought them to my life in the first place will continue to walk with them as they are forging theirs. 

And to pray.

To pray that they will never cease to seek, as they make their own choices, the wisdom of the same God whose help I sought in raising them. Because they know, now in their own adult hearts, that He is the only one who can be trusted to tell them exactly how fast to go and exactly where to stop. 

May 7, 2012

You Said What???

We were sitting with our small group at church discussing the way the world tells us to respond to different situations. You know, like if someone says something nasty to you, you should say something nasty back. Or how you are the most important person in your world, etc. 

“Society tells us that marriage is disposable, that if your spouse does something seemingly unforgivable like cheat, or simply no longer makes you happy and fulfilled, you should just leave him.” 

Is what I wanted to say. 

What came out, however, was this: “you should just dump his sorry butt.” 

Except I did not say *butt*. I used the real word that completes the quote. All three letters of it. 

Immediately my face was some shade of ripe tomato, my hand flew to my mouth and the whole class burst out laughing. It was a few weeks before they let me live that one down. 

It may not be a big deal to most people. You may use far worse expletives in your daily life without problems, and know lots worse words to pepper your speech. Personally, I think a word is only made into a “bad” word by the way we use it. I can call you a fluffy bunny with such venom in my voice that would make calling you something far uglier a much less demeaning name. 

But there are two reasons why this was such an embarrassing moment for me. 

First, I am the pastor’s wife. My husband, the pastor, was sitting next to me in that class and you just don’t expect the pastor’s wife to use an expletive…in small group…in front of the pastor. But that’s actually not that big of a deal to me. Our people are very forgiving and gracious and have a healthy sense of humor. They know “pastor’s wife” is just a fancy name for that girl who sits in the front row. 

The big reason is that I simply don’t cuss. I never really have. I tried it in high school because it was the cool thing to do but it just did not fit who I was or who I was trying to become. By the time I got to college I decided I don’t use that kind of language. Period. It’s a personal conviction of mine and people who know me know this about me. It is my own interpretation of Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

I know it offends some people. And while some of my beliefs offend people and I have no intention of changing them, I find no reason why I should use such language if it will make someone else uncomfortable. You know Paul’s idea: I have a right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial and all that jazz. So why do it? 

But that’s just my take. And the one I’ll pass on to my kiddies. With them, since they don’t yet know any cuss words that we know of, we talk in terms of being kind. We tell them God made their mouth to say things that are good and uplifting and encouraging and beautiful, and not things to tear down, hurt, or destroy others. We teach them what James taught: “Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! (3:11-13). 

Bitter water from a mouth is much more than a cuss word, I know. Bitter water can be complaints, criticism, name-calling, spiteful and angry words and so much more. And I also know that what comes out of the mouth is what the heart is full of so the teaching begins much deeper than “watch what you say.” And we are. We are instructing them beyond just controlling their tongue to guarding their hearts. 

In the meantime, I have to watch how I respond to frustration. Not because I’m the pastor’s wife. Not because of what others may think (gasp!). Not even because using a cuss word is “bad.” But simply because I am called to be different in ways the world may not understand. To show there is a better way, another way to handle life than what we may see around us every day. To reflect in my actions and speech the gentle, humble ways of my Lord. 

That’s why the slip-up embarrassed me so. It was out of character. It was unexpected. And it was a reminder that the work in me is not yet completed

But my friends’ reaction to it was encouraging

When an ugly word out of my mouth shocks them, then I know I’m allowing the Holy Spirit to do its job in my every day relationships. When hurtful and offensive speech coming out of this girl’s lips ceases to surprise those around me, then I’ll know I’ve strayed too far from what I know to be true. 

Or maybe I can just say the devil made me do it, y’all!

May 3, 2012

Thank you!

Dear friends,

I wanted to say THANK YOU. I am overwhelmed by your responses and the kindness you showed in taking a few minutes to help me see this space from your side of the screen. I really appreciate your encouraging words. What I gleamed from this all, and my husband will tell you he said it all along, is to simply keep doing what I’m doing.

I have to be honest with you. I wanted to know if I should change directions. Find a specific area to focus on. Should I write exclusively about adoption? Should I focus on parenting? Should this be a spiritually-centered blog? I was not sure what direction God wanted me to take and why, or if any change was needed at all.

So I reached out to you and you responded. And here is what I think I hear you saying: 

Keep writing stories of all that you are: a pastor’s wife, a mother, an adoptive mother, a Christian, a foreigner living in a borrowed country.

Keep writing with honesty about your struggles and the lessons you are learning because we may identify.

Keep writing from your heart and in your own style.

And I’m so glad because I don’t think I know how to do anything else. And because my husband said if I tried to do something I don’t know how to do I would wither and die (not literally, but maybe?).

I am so thankful for you. I don’t often ask questions of you or write with the “you” much, but I want you to know that your comments, your e-mails, and your responses mean the world to me. I don’t write to be heard, I write to know I am not alone. 

And you help me to know that no matter what crazy thing is happening in my world, it has happened in yours. Or you know it will happen in yours. Or you may totally see how it could happen in yours. Or you simply just get it. And the burdens are a little easier when shared in community, right?

So, thank you, gracias, merci, and danke. With renewed understanding and deeper commitment, Life in a Glass House will remain what it is.