Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wolf Ears

We were the last family to get a microwave, the last family to get a colored TV, the last family to get a VCR, and the last family to get a cordless phone and answering machine. Notice the trend? I’m repeating the cycle of being technologically deprived with my own children. They do not own any gaming systems, portable or otherwise, and neither of their parents owns an iPhone.

At church, the other day, I sat behind a mom roughly my age with young children. Our families have many parallels, but then she stood to sing and out of her coat pocket fell her iPhone. I smiled to myself wondering when I would get one, someday, I guess. It’s a little inevitable.

But for now, I am appearing very archaic and old-fashioned. I got made fun of at a school board meeting when I pulled out my paper calendar to write down an important date. My husband pointed out that my lack of electronics is equal to having a parent with a fanny pack. I think he might be right.

One major reason we aren’t keeping us is money. We live on a pretty strict budget. However, I know other people who live on tight budgets who do have these gadgets. So, that is not entirely it. I’m sure if it was more of a priority we’d have them.

My parents did an excellent job of modeling want and need, maybe to the extreme. My sister and I often laugh at these childhood memories. When we took vacations, we skipped meals. Visiting the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock is still as vivid to me now as it was in 1988. Why? Because I was hungry, starving. We had breakfast and had been hitting the significant East Coast historical sites at a vicious pace. It was about 2 o’clock and we were all hungry, although not complaining. Then I saw it, the ice cream cart. I knew my father’s weakness for ice cream and knew this was our big chance. He caved and later admitted that his stomach was growling too.

When my sister and I ran track, my mother would give us five dollars to split after our meets for food. Even in the early 90’s five dollars didn’t go very far. But we were clever girls and were able to get what we needed by using a little savvy and strategy.

Hans and I recently took the boys to Great Wolf Lodge. (Our children are hardly deprived and neither were my sister and I.) I often tell the boys, “Well, we could spend our money on that, but then we would not be able to do….” And when we do chose to do something extra I say, “We are doing this because we planned and saved for it.

It was a good mini-vacation. We enjoyed the water park. We did not enjoy the consumerism that surrounded us. This place was designed to get you to spend money. Just the way the halls and stores within the lodge were designed tempted children to say, “Please, mom, please. Can I have those wolf ears?” At the evening story time I noticed that my boys were the only children not wearing the signature wolf-ear-headbands. They seemed just as happy. They also seemed to be the only children not being photographed during the story hour. The mom beside me spent the whole story time editing one shot she took of her wolf clad child with her phone, zooming in and out, cropping, and then posting the shot to FB as soon as her picture was perfect for social viewing.

My oldest is playing basketball and loving it. Last night were his team pictures. I was the only parent who had not purchased a photo package. I did feel a bit embarrassed as I asked, after the professional was through with the team, if I could get a team shot with the camera I had brought from home. Everyone cooperated. I even got a solo shot of Bren holding his treasured basketball. He beamed and smiled.

On our drive home I started to regret my choice, “Honey, was that embarrassing for you? Were you OK that I brought my own camera and took a picture of you?”
He nodded and smiled, “No that was just fine. You know, sometimes if you buy certain things then you can’t buy other things like toilet paper.”

I’m sure there will come a time when I can’t get away with all this frugality, but I think the lesson is being learned and a healthy foundation is being laid within my boys. And when the time is right, one of these Christmases, they’ll be an Xbox under the Christmas tree and iPhone in my hands to document the much anticipated moment.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Prayer: Part 2

I am doing life. I am continuing my routine, showing up at scheduled events, being a mom, attending grade school feast parties, taking my kids to their basketball games, and yet there is a constant prayer and concern running through my thoughts at all times. And I'm not even a "direct" casualty of this tragic event. A dear childhood and current friend was in a accident six days ago and is in ICU, critical condition...so many unknowns. She's in a coma, this is the first time I've known someone intimately who has ever been there, here, but not accessible. It is a strange feeling.

The other day I found a note with her handwriting on it. Handwriting is strangely intimate and I loved it. I find myself wanting to text and call her. Wednesday was a strange day for me because we'd made plans to spend the morning together. It didn't happen.

I hate to sound like this is all about me, because it really is not. It is about her. It is about her children. It is about her family. It is about her parents. And it is about God. I keep thinking back on my post I wrote about prayer, about submitting and surrendering. I find myself doing that a lot with my friend. But there is a new element to my prayers: hope and power.

I find my mind thinking of Jesus and how if he was with us right now, he'd march into that hospital and heal her on the spot. I just know he would. But, he's not here. Then I think, but he left us with someone, we are not alone...or at least that is what I was taught and this is what I know as I look back over my 34 years of life. The Holy Spirit. When I find myself grieving and upset, saddened...that isn't just me, that is Jesus in me. I feel like I'm being prompted to take a risk and pray for the miraculous, to tap into that image of God within me...for my friend.

That is just a small piece of the greater picture that is currently going on in this situation. This is just one small layer that is surrounding this dear friend who is also created in the image of God.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

God-Sighting 15,089-Prayer

Prayer is one of those strange things God wants us to do. Strange because we aren't sure it is really doing anything. Or at least that is how I feel sometimes. Recently I have found myself in relationships with several people who are making choices that aren't giving them life's best. (Note: I am the same way. It is just easier to see it in others, oops.)

I found myself wondering if I was saying enough, encouraging enough, loving enough. Surely there was more I could do to get them to see why God gives us certain instructions. He doesn't just come up with a list of guidelines because he rolled the dice one day up in heaven and poof: The Ten Commandments! He created this earth perfect for us. It is our perfect place for us, his creation. We fit it well. There is a reason we love it. A reason we swell with pure contentment when we see that perfect sunset or climb that high mountain. (Sorry if this is too cliche'.) We are supposed to feel this way. He made it with us in mind. And he created us to be in his image. If we are in his image, when we act outside of his image, it doesn't work out so well for us. There are certain consequences that follow as a natural result.

Anyway, I found myself frustrated that my dear friends weren't living fully into this image of God. Recently I have been given a few close friends who speak boldly into my life and speak truth to me, and one of these friends pointed out that I had in fact done all I needed to do...except one thing: pray. And then it hit me, prayer was my act of being in God's image. It was my tangible way of saying that I did believe that God works, that I was submitting myself to God and handing my worries to him. This was, in fact, an act of worship.

So I did it and am doing it. I'm seeing the Holy Spirit work, I'm seeing God-sightings in these situations and it makes my heart praise! It is good to be open to the workings of God. It is a major faith boost, which is really what I needed right now in my life. God is truly good and knows where we are all at intimately. It was good to be reminded of this. It was good to be reminded that God is all-powerful and all-loving.

I've been feeling guilty for not being in a structure Bible Study, guilt I carry with me from my evangelical upbringing, but this recent God-sighting helped me realize that this life-lesson was probably taught to me in some study somewhere along the way, but I didn't really learn it, know it. The best Bible study God could give me is just being in loving relationship with others. For this I am humbled.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Author Bug

I'm not sure when I decided that I wanted to be a writer. I do remember lugging out the heavy typewriter in the third grade and attempting to start and complete my first novel right then and there on the circular, 70's, rag rug in our living room.

I think it had to do with audience. I've always loved the power of captivating an audience either with humor or with good thought. Story is a celebrated power in my family, starting with my Grandpa....another reason I wanted to write?

My son, who is in the 1st grade, found one of my writings from when I was in the 1st grade. He found this very amusing.

Here is what he read: (I am typing it just as I wrote it, so there will be mistakes for you to discover.)

My family, written by Rebekah.

My job at home is to get the eggs. (There was a drawing of a large red chicken shed and the attic was full of eggs.)
Something my family likes to do is work and play. My mom work inside and washe the dishe. My sister plays my dad and me work too.
My house is white and green. My house is nice and warm. My family has a dog and cats too.

My son had some criticism, "Mom, you should have drawn your pictures on the same pages as the words so I didn't have to flip over to see them." Good point B, thanks for that editing advise 30 plus years later.

Things I noticed: I liked my family and my house. My sister, in all the drawings had really long, red hair. My dad worked. He still does. This is an accurate observation. While some men have hobbies that take them away from their homes, my dad's hobby has been working around the house and property. My favorite part is that I thought my house was warm. Must have been warm with love because our house was freezing back then. We heated with only wood and if my dad was not home to get he fire started my mom never even tried and so we just froze until he came home.