Thursday, June 28, 2012

Because...

Andrea Scher, one of my favorite superhero friends, wrote this piece a couple of weeks ago. I've  been mulling over it and chewing on it for three weeks. And finally, I am imitiating her fine work and creating a list of my own.

So without any of the questions that led me to these answers, here they are -

Because she's 18. Because he's 15. Because we've always homeschooled. Because I still don't want to let him go. Because she is the bravest person I have ever known. Because he's generous to a fault. Because I can't say no to any of them with any consistency. Because these two teenagers are the joy of my life and the bane of my existence. Because they are among my best friends. Because they tell me everything, everything... Because this is what I was born to do. Because I have to give them more space to be independent, to live their own lives. Because it's time for a lot of things to change.

Because I want to earn an income. Because being a homemaker and homeschooler has been great, but I'm ready for something new to do with my days. Because I miss depositing a paycheck. Because a dear friend who started teaching the same year that I did is now the head of a school. Because I know I can do it, I just want the chance to prove it to myself and others. Because I'm tired of doing the same stuff over and over. Because I feel selfish when I say I want to go away. Because it's time for a lot of things to change.

Because there is so much more to learn and experience. Because this isn't the only way to be a parent or a spouse or a daughter or a sister. Because there are always more questions than answers. Because there is always more doubt than certainty. Because there will always be room to question my choices and decisions. Because I am not afraid to learn new lessons and change my mind. Because it's time for so many things to change.

Because he doesn't understand where I'm coming from. Because she doesn't either. Because no one can ever understand what anyone else is going thru or where they are coming from. Because I'm tired of trying to explain. Because I am tired of always asking the tough questions and trying to figure out what is going on with them. Because I am afraid to tell the whole truth. Because the truth will hurt a lot of people. Because the truth will set us all free. Because there aren't any easy answers or solutions. Because the story isn't over. Because it's time for a lot of things to change.


Because twenty-one years ago tomorrow, a silly, funny, brave, moody, baffling, kind, generous man stood at the altar, looked me in my weeping eyes, and said, "yes" to forever. Because I have my own long list of impossible characteristics - I am impatient, demanding, critical, serious, disloyal, unrelenting, oppositional, stubborn - that he has withstood all this time. Because these have been the most difficult, most confusing, most frustrating, most heart-breaking, most amazing, awe-inspiring, heart-opening, laughter-inducing, travel-encouraging twenty one years of my life. Because he gave me the two greatest gifts that I could ever have asked for - our two children. Because he has never, ever, ever said or done anything to lead me to believe that he doesn't want to be with me forever and ever. Because as much as we drive each other crazy, we still make each other laugh. Because as much as I complain - and I do complain - I love my husband and my children more than I can describe. 


Because I am afraid so often. Because I am brave even more often.
Because I said I would. Because I said I wouldn't.
Because there is only one way. Because there are so many ways.
Because I love to laugh. Because I love to love.
Because I am so doggone happy to be alive.
Because there is so much to be grateful for.
Because love actually is all around us.
Because life is so good.
Because God is even better.

(Thank you, Andrea, for prompting me to write this. You rock, girl. You ROCK!)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Noticing the details...

The words aren't flowing like they normally do. 
No deep, gripping tales to tell. 
No award-winning photos to post - not that I've ever posted any of those.
But the details of life, I'm noticing the details.  


passing a truck full of chickens on the highway... 
a journey that didn't end well for the chickens, I'm sure


the most colorful and inviting candy store I've seen in years


party time in Billsville


gotta love the cute little cups, made of recycled material, of course, soon to be recycled again


futuristic hotel breakfast area somewhere in Pennsylvania


my oatmeal against the ultra modern background


Rome in the morning light 
(Rome, Georgia, that is...)


atrium in the science building at Berry College


the curve of Maya's tongue, the brightness of her eyes


the lobby of one of my favorite museums here in CLT


sunset over the Andy Grammer and Gavin DeGraw concert.
Oh, what a night!

Oh, what a life!
I am enormously grateful for every detail of it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Soul Sunday

It's Sunday. A day of rest, of reflection, of rejoicing.
I suppose everyday should have a little of all of that.
But Sunday is special in that way, at least it is for me.

What are you going to do to feed your soul today?


To reflect on all the blessings and the challenges, the lessons and the joys of your life?


To nourish your spirit?


To express your gratitude?


To whom is your gratitude directed?


As for me, I say - Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gratefulness...

Tonight, sitting in a hotel room with my son in Rome, Georgia, my heart overflows with gratefulness.


When I think about the hours we have driven,
the places we have visited,
the meals we have eaten,
the gas we always encounter gas stations,
(and paying $2.96 for a gallon of gas today)


the beaches, the mountains, the sunsets, the rainstorms, the schools, the tennis centers,
the homes of friends, the museums, the amusement parks, the movie theaters,


the friends, the family members, the critics, the supporters,
the teachers, the students, the companions on the journey,
the tennis players, the coaches, the referees, the tournament planners, 
the parents, the grandparents, the siblings, 


the meals prepared, the cookies baked, the potatoes chipped,
the drinks mixed, the coffee, the tea, the ice water,
the food at Trader Joe's, Harris Teeter, roadside fruit and vegetable stands,
the bottles of water, Gatorade, chocolate almond milk, orange juice,


when I think about the people who work at hotels,
the people who made all the things I use,
the clothing I wear,
the bags I carry,
the journals I fill,
the pens I write with,
the car I drive,


the people who make sure that phone lines,
wireless networks,
electricity,
and water
don't stop flowing and running and operating,


when I think about all the stories that have had to intersect in order for me to be sitting here in this hotel, typing on this computer, talking to my son, watching someone walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope (!!!) on this very warm Georgia night,


I am overwhelmed.
I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude.
And I'm pretty happy too.

Thanks be to God!


FYI - The photos are from Sunset Beach, North Carolina,
Williamstown, Massachusetts, and a Spanish restaurant in Charlotte.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

1697.7 Miles Later

That's right; another road trip has been completed in the best, most exotic, most reliable minivan on the East Coast. From Charlotte, North Carolina to Williamstown, Massachusetts and back.


The campus of Williams College is one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived. 
I know I'm biased, but that doesn't make that statement any less true.








The twenty-five year reunion of the Distinguished Class of 1987 was a deep purple success.


There were stories, tears, laughter, hugs, kisses, more stories, balloons, dancing, food, and many, many drinks.


There was walking, shopping, listening, taking photographs, oohing, aahing, and remembering.
A lot of remembering.




Steve and I offered ourselves as Reunion Speakers; rather, I should say that I offered us as Reunion speakers. I felt like it was time for alumni to tell stories other than the typical ones: My life as disease-curing doctor. My life as world-traveler and award-winning author. My life as important person making important decisions that affect milliions of people. Those are good stories, and important ones to tell and hear, but there are many other stories being lived out by Williams alumni and their families.

So we told the story of how our four years at Williams prepared us to be the parents of a child with a mental illness, to seek the help we need to deal with our situation, and to not be ashamed or afraid to tell the stories of the lives we live, even though they may not be worthy of a Lifetime movie or a best-selling book. We strongly encouraged those in attendance to never attempt to walk through the dark valleys of their lives alone. 

Our talk was generously received and warmly appreciated. It was also filmed and when I receive the link, I will post it here in case anyone wants to see it. 

Needless to say, I laughed and cried and poured my heart out behind that small podium. 



One thousand six hundred ninety seven and seven tenths of a mile later, we turned onto our driveway, unloaded the minivan, and walked back into our lives here in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

I am glad we went.
I am glad we are back at home. 

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Needless Fear

The other day, Kristiana went out for a walk with Maya. They came across a turtle crossing the cul-de-sac at the end of our street.





 Kristiana called me from her cell phone and I ran out to see it.


 
Everybody in our house loves turtles. Well, everybody except for Maya.

video

Maya was going nuts. Truly Nuts! If you don't believe me, watch this video.


What could she possibly have been thinking as she barked so frantically?
As she foamed at the mouth?
As she ran in circles around that turtle?
What could she possibly have been afraid of?
That turtle was incapable of doing her any harm, but she never got close enough to find that out for herself. Maya barked loudly and energetically, but she kept her distance from the enemy.


As I watched her panic and roar, I began to think of myself and my own needless fears.
What things and people and situations do I run circles around, barking and worrying and panicking about?
What makes me foam at the mouth?
What needless fears do I face in my own life?

Perhaps the old anecdote is true: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
Even more powerful and more true is this: "Fear not for I am with you; I have called you by name and you are mine. Do not be afraid, for I am with you."


Maya made us laugh the other day.
And she made me think.
That dog is still one of my most effective teachers.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Classic Gospel

It may just be a Southern thing, on second thought, I'm sure it's just a Southern thing...


Often when I float through the channels on television on Saturday afternoons, I come across what are called "Classic Gospel" shows. An hour of people with big hair, mullets, small afros, oversized jewelry, and expanded waistlines singing those old hymns of the church. Black men and women sprinkled between the white folks singing every verse of Rock of Ages, God Will Take Care of You, Through It All, The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, and even the Doxology. Who knew that there were verses to The Doxology?



I wonder how many late-night meetings there were and how much blood had to be shed before black and white singers were permitted to sing together here in the South. Based on the perceived age of the singers, I know that there were many years when these people sang and praised in separate and unequal churches, when they sang in separate and unequal choirs, and when they and their children attended separate and unequal schools. But there they are, singing classic gospel late into the evening.


I watch. I sing along, surprised by how many verses I remember all these years after learning those songs at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY. 

And I think about my dearly beloved, dearly departed Dad.



I think that the only person I know who loved hymns more than I do was my father. Back in the days of eight-track tapes, my father created tapes of hymns that he listened to over and over. There was one song, a contemporary hymn/worship song back in the 1970s sung by Dallas Holm called, "Rise Again" that my father absolutely adored. He loved it so much that he copied it onto one tape at least five times in a row. He listened to that one song hundreds of times in his life - which was quite a feat back before anyone had even heard of a Walkman, an iPod or a playlist. (FYI: the visual part of the video is taken from a movie of the life of Christ, but the accompanying music is the Dallas Holm song. We played the song at my father's funeral.)

I feel the same way about To God Be the Glory, especially Tommy Walker's version of it. I am grateful for my two exceedingly patient children who will tell you that they have allowed me to that song over and over in the minivan. I am thrilled to say that my children, even though they fill their playlists with Adele and John Mayer and usually bring their earphones into the minivan with them, will sing along with me far more than I deserve when I play my favorite hymns and they know all the verses by heart. My father's love for the old songs of the church lives on in them as well.


I used to stand next to my father at church and simply listen to him sing. Sometimes I would stop singing so I could listen closely to the joy and strength in his voice and in his faith as he sang those words he knew so well and believed so deeply. Songs like, "Great is thy faithfulness," "It is Well with My Soul," "How Great Thou Art," and "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" still make me cry when I sing them because they remind me so much of my father and his rock-solid faith in the God we both love and worship.

I wish my Dad could ride in the van and sing with me. I think we would make good harmony together, his tenor voice with my alto voice. I wish he could hear my children sing. I wish he could have heard the series I taught recently on the history of some of our favorite hymns. But now that I think about it, I think he's with me all the time, singing, listening, holding me close.

And someday we will stand and sing together again, his voice and mine blending together.
His wide open arms pulling me close as we sing. His bright smile lighting up the sanctuary.
Oh, that will be glory for me.


Until I get the chance to sing with him again, When The Roll is Called Up Yonder,
I will sing along with the Classic Gospel productions on local access television.



Yea, when I look at this show, when I listen to Bill Gaither narrate each episode, when I look at their hair, I know that I'm right about one thing - it's definitely a Southern thing.


I do miss my Daddy.