Take Down!

Jake came home a couple of weeks ago with a flyer from school about wrestling camp.  Wrestling.  For 2nd graders.  Actually, it is for 2nd-5th graders.  I couldn’t believe that he wanted to do it.  I was even more dumbfounded when I agreed to to.

They’ve had 3 practices so far and tonight, I laughed harder than I have in a long time.  Belly laughs that made my stomach hurt.  My 43 pound son, the smallest in the room, was having a fantastic time.  He even managed to take down his opponent in one round.

Jake thinks that wrestling will help him be a better tetherball player. And, today he informed me that he prevailed in all three tetherball games he played.  I’m not sure it has much to do with wrestling, but if he thinks so, I’m not going to burst his bubble.

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Funny things kids say

Kids say the funniest things, don’t they?  Several of my friends have 2-3 year olds who are just starting to talk and express themselves.  They crack me up!  I have been meaning to write down some of the things Jake has said to me lately and decided to just put it here.

 Cuddling on the couch one day:

Me:  Jake, what I am I going to do when you don’t want to cuddle with me anymore?

J:  Mom, I will always want to cuddle with you…..

10 second pause

J:  Except when my wife is looking. 

Apparently, we’ve taught him well.

This past weekend, we were unloading a bunch of stuff at Goodwill.

J:  We used to go to Goodwill a lot, Mom.

Me:  I know.  We didn’t have very much money so we shopped at Goodwill more than we do now.

J:  And now, we just have a lot of stuff.

Profound.

Promises

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Rainbows stop me in my tracks.  Once I have spotted one, I cannot take my eyes off of it until it has disappeared.  I love the visual reminder that God always keeps His promises.  God made a covenant with Noah that he would never again destroy all life with a flood.  And in his loving providence, he gave us a beautiful reminder of that promise.  But, to me – it’s so much more than a promise to never again destroy the earth by a flood.  To me, it’s a reminder that God is in complete control, paying attention to every detail and taking care of his Creation.  It’s as if God is saying “I’m here.  I’m always here – even when you forget, or worse yet – you think I’ve abandoned you.  I care about what is worrying you right now and I want you to know that I’m here to comfort you”.

 Yesterday, I was fretting over all that I wanted to accomplish this weekend.  I’m struggling to get organized as we prepare to put our house on the market.  We have felt God’s call for us to make this move…although we have no idea where we will end up.  I am excited to see what he has in store for us, but I find myself worrying about things that I know I have no control over (as if I have control over anything).  I begin to question whether or not we are really doing what God wants us to do – “God are you really there?  Is this really what you want?  Are we in your will or trying to be in control?”  And, then I walked outside to get something from my car (which I have decided is really more like my purse – everthing is in it and I can never find anything) and God stopped me in my tracks.  A double rainbow was painted across the sky.  It was so beautiful that I ran in the house to get my camera and decided to see what it looked like from the back yard.  To my delight, I could see the entire arc, unobstructed by trees or clouds.  And from where I stood, it appeared as if my house was at the end of the rainbow.  Yes, God is here.  He is taking care of all the details and he knew that I needed a visual reminder of it at that moment. 

Valentine’s Day – Bah Humbug!

Today somebody asked me what I’m doing for Valentine’s Day.  She was sincere and serious and genuinely interested in knowing how we were going to mark the occasion.  What occasion????  I know, I know.  This is the day that we are supposed to express our love by sending Valentine’s cards, offering candy or presenting flowers to our significant other.  I just can’t help but wonder why on earth we put ourselves through this exercise. 

 I know I’m not the only one who detests Valentine’s Day.   It’s not necessarily because I think it’s a sappy, nauseating holiday (although I do think that).  I am not one of those “love sucks” kind of people and I’m not anti-romance.  But, I don’t think you can manufacture romance.  Romance (to me) is my husband bringing home flowers just because he knows I had a hard day — or better yet, for no reason at all, except that he loves me.   This year, my husband brought home flowers one day which I thought was incredibly sweet – and I realized later (like…days later) that he was actually remembering the date that he asked me to marry him (which incidentally is December 7th – and if you think that’s ironically humorous, you get me a little bit).  Spontaneous expressions of adoration…that’s what I’m looking for – not a date on a calendar that says we are supposed to get a babysitter, go out to dinner and have a perfect date.  Because when does that actually happen?  In my experience, it’s usually when we least expect it – because when we expect it, it can’t possibly measure up.  

And, another thing….don’t those of us who are in a relationship already have dates in which we commemorate their love for one another?  We all have varying anniversary dates – first date, first kiss, wedding, etc.  Why add another non-sensical date to the list (unless of course any of those things actually took place on Valentine’s Day)? 

In the end, I think that a day like Valentine’s Day sets those of us who are in relationships up for disappointment.  And, for those not in relationships, it acts as a reminder of that fact. 

So, this Valentine’s Day, we’ll probably be doing what we always do on Thursday nights….watching Lost.

Braveheart

It’s a little ironic that our family hails from Scotland – direct descendents of William Wallace.  My own son shares the name that has passed down for years in the Wallace family.  Despite the historical innacruacies, the movie rightly portrays William Wallace as a patriot, a hero and a brave warrior who fought for his country’s feedom.  He was inspirational as he led his men to battle, ill-eqipped as they were.  And, in the end, he never gave up hope – never stopped fighting.

I like to think that my son inherited more than his name, but also some of the characteristics that have left such an impact on history.  True, the stubborn streak is one that gives a mother fits….but without it, he may not be alive today.  He was born fighting – I was sick with pre-eclampsia which made the womb a hostile place for him and he was born pre-maturely weighing a mere 3 pounds.  Three days later, he was diagnosed with a heart defect.  As I look back, I realize the prognosis was very grim.  But, despite his tiny size and sick heart, I never saw him as weak.  Even the nurses’ in the NICU called him a wild man.  He was a true Wallace.  A true Braveheart.

Today starts Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week.  It began in 1999 by an every day mom to a child born with a heart defect in an effort to educate the public and raise additional funding for support and educational services, scientific research, and improved quality of care for our children and adults.  Today it is an international coalition of families, individuals, non-profit organizations, support groups, and health professionals participating in a campaign to increase public awareness of Congenital Heart Defects and Childhood Heart Disease.

 A disturbing, and little-known statistic is that one in every 100 infants is born with a malformed heart.  More babies are born with CHD than with spina bifida, Down’s syndrome and hearing loss. Yet, heart defects are sometimes overlooked and not routinely diagnosed in newborns.   Until my son was born, I didn’t know anyone with a CHD.  Now, I know so many.  It isn’t that it’s rare…I think it’s that we don’t pay attention to a cause until it impacts our life in some way.  I want people to be impacted NOW – before they experience this.  Yes, it’s time we start screening babies for heart defects.  But, until that happens, those of us who have weathered the storm can provide hope for those who are just beginning the journey.   You can read my son’s whole story by clicking on Our Little Braveheart in the blogroll on the right.

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De-captivating

A couple of years ago, my husband gave me a copy of the book “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge.  He had read “Wild at Heart” and felt like it really encapsulated how he felt as a man.  The book has been on my shelf since then.  I did try to read it, but the first couple of pages did not grab me, so that was the end of that (I was probably distracted by something shiny).  Since then, I keep getting encouraged by various women in my life to read it.  Last week, a good friend mentioned that she had the book on CD and lent it to me.  I spend a lot of time in the car and listening to books on CD is ideal for me.

I hate it.  There, I said it.  I don’t get it – I find myself looking at my CD player and saying “Whaaaaaat?” – and because of this, I feel like there must be something wrong with me.  I don’t relate to the authors and I think their message is completely skewed by their own experience.  I kept wondering how a Christian woman outside of the United States would feel about this book – with all of the references to movies, novels, songs and celebrities, I felt it was very ethnocentric….which Jesus is not.  I’ve not taken the time to look up all of the scripture references, but even they don’t sit well with me.  I believe the authors hearts are in the right place but nothing they say resonates with me.

As a child, I never wanted to be a princess or dreamed of my knight in shining armor rescuing me from…whatever it was that I needed rescuing.  I don’t read romance novels, don’t listen to sappy love songs and I can’t stand “chick flicks”.  Listening to this book, I began to wonder if I really am even a woman!  At the same time, I am really uncomfortable with the idea of men as rescuers.  How unfair is it to say that my husband can rescue me?  Worse yet, how unfair is it to expect him to rescue me?  He can’t rescue me — only Jesus can rescue me.  The pages of scripture make this abundantly clear.  So, if I expect a man to rescue me, I am only setting myself up for disappointment — and my husband for failure.  Isn’t that man-centered, not God-centered theology?

And speaking of pride, these statements set me back:  “Eve was given to the world as the incarnation of a beautiful, captivating God…” “Eve incarnates the Beauty of God and she gives life to the world.”  Maybe I’m being nit-picky, but I don’t think that women give life to the world.  I think they bring life into the world, but only God gives life to the world.

The romantic view of God that is presented makes me uncomfortable as well.   The authors refer to God as a “Lover”.  I do not disagree that God loves us with an everlasting love — the Bible tells us so! –, but I think we must also look at how the Bible defines love.   In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV), the Apostle Paul tells us that love is patient, kind, not envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, selfish, irritable, or resentful.  It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.”  Now, let’s look at how the Bible defines “Romance”.  Wait, there is no definition of romance in Scripture.  A search of the word at Miiriam-Webster Online offers many definitions of the word including “something (as an extravagant story or account) that lacks basis in fact”.  One definition in Dictionary.com is “a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention”.  To be fair, I even checked Easton’s Bible Dictionary and the word is “not contained in the index”.  So, while in our popular culture, we use the words “love” and “romance” interchangeably, I don’t think it’s biblical to to have a romantic view of God.  I think a romantic view is a low view.  So, imagine my shock when I heard them say that “the root of holiness is Romance”.  I nearly drove off the road.  I had to scan back and listen again, just to make sure I heard correctly.  Then, when I got home, I got out the book and sure enough, there it is on page 113.  “The root of all holiness is Romance”.  Wow.  I am not even sure what to say to that.  But, God has something to say about it.   1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  God is holy.  We are only holy because He is.  It has nothing to do with romance.

Finally, the box that the authors put men and women in is insulting!  I think men and women each have masculine and feminine characteristics – just as God does.  It’s unfair to suggest that only women can extol the gentle attributes of God — mercy, grace, love, tenderness, and “fierce devotion”….and that men hold the masculine attributes — God’s justice, strength, wrath.  Certainly, men and women are separate and distinct and were created for different purposes.  But, again…this book left me feeling worse about myself as a woman than I did before!

To be clear…I realize I am probably over-analyzing the book.  And, I don’t mean to insult anyone who loved the book — I know there are MANY!  I guess I found myself disappointed after all of the hype.  But, as I reflect somewhat, I realize that had I read this book when it was first given to me, I probably would have just been confused.  I suspect I would have had the same uneasy feeling about what it was saying, but I wouldn’t have known why.  God has taught me so much in the past couple of years — I understand scripture better and I have learned to listen to the Holy Spirit more.  So, in God’s providence, I didn’t explore this book until now.  Now, I really understand that my identity is in Christ alone…and not how any book, other than the Bible, tells me I am or should be.