Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are We Nothing More Than a Vagina or an Anus?

I'm already sick of the conversation about Phil Robertson's interview with GQ.  And yet I'm about to enter it. 

I know people are reacting.  Some are reacting against Phil and some for.  Some are reacting against A&E and some for.  Some are reacting because of his comments on homosexuality, some because of his comments about blacks in the pre-civil rights south, some for other reasons. 

Mostly what I'm reacting to is the fact that we, primarily Christians who are a mere six days from celebrating the coming of the one we understand to be Messiah, can't have civil conversation but instead have to take side and vilify the other.  And we are claiming our Christian roots as our reason for doing it.  Meanwhile, we're preparing to welcome the Prince of Peace, the one who built bridges and broke down barriers...but maybe really we're just preparing to eat more food and get more stuff all the while not being changed by the one we claim to worship.  And that's the "we" on both sides.

But there's something else here that I haven't heard commented on.  (I'm sure it has been commented on...after all, I really haven't read much.  Mostly I've just noticed how often the name Phil Robertson has been in my newsfeed on Facebook). 

In the GQ article, Phil is quoted as saying, “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes!..."  He then goes on to name homosexuality as sin.

Yes, because of my theology and faith understanding, I would take issue with his assumption that all homosexual activity is sinful.  But, I want to step back to something else that is startling and disturbing to me...the fact that relationships have been (in this quote and so often in the way we live them out) reduced to sex. 

Frankly, as a heterosexual woman I want to be understood as more than a vagina...more than the one who's got "more to offer."  As a human being I want to be understood as being a person, not a competition between vagina and anus (or vagina and vagina for that matter).

While people are being outraged about Phil's beliefs on homosexuality, I also want people to be outraged about how Phil expressed his feelings about heterosexuality. 

Today all I want for Christmas is for each of us, no matter where we find ourselves theologically or politically or any other way, to look at the other before we speak and remember the humanity that is there and the God that is living in and around each of us.  After all, isn't that what Christmas is really about?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

That Time of the Year

It is that time of the year again...

when some people gear up to take advantage of Black Friday sales and others complain about the sales including the fact that more and more stores open on Thanksgiving Day.

Should stores be open on Thanksgiving?  They are open on nearly every other holiday - no one but banks and the government are found closing for Martin Luther King Jr Day or Veteran's Day - so why not, some would say.  Others would argue that Thanksgiving Day is a "major" holiday and an important family time so they should be closed.

While I will happily critique our consumer culture (and not just on holidays)...while I will happily question whether we really need access to our favorite stories 24/7...while I will happily talk about what other things we could be doing with our money rather than buying ourselves and others more things we don't need...while all of this is true for me, I'm also not sure the worst thing to ever happen to humanity is stores being open on Thanksgiving Day.

Consider this:

  • Thinking that stores being open on Thanksgiving Day is an affront to family life assumes a Norman Rockwell picture that is simply not true for many people. 

  • There are those who can't afford to feed their families on Thanksgiving Day and are happy to work to earn extra money to support them.

  • There are those who are far away from their family who will have lonely Thanksgivings and are happy to have a diversion, perhaps even shopping for loved ones they are missing on Thanksgiving Day.

  • There are those who have experienced deep grief, health issues, financial difficulties or some other struggle or trauma that finds them struggling to be grateful and perhaps a bit of normalcy (even if just their local store being open) might get them through the day.
I do recognize that some people who have family festivities going on will have to leave early or miss the fun because their work is demanding it of them.  The same is true of nurses, doctors, and many other behind the scenes people who keep life as we know it going.  I suggest that we go out of our way to appreciate their commitment.

And if you don't think stores should be open today...don't shop today.  The reality is that business will do whatever the customers demand.  Don't criticize Target or Kohl's or any other store for doing what we the people have asked.  If it is important to you, have a conversation with your neighbors, friends, and family about - not demanding everyone do what you want, but talking about why it matters.  Or better yet, be a person whose kindness is so overwhelming that people would rather be with you than be getting a good deal at Target today!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What Do We Call Truth?

Driving to church this morning I heard a story on the news about a minister who had been shopping at a Costco and noticed that the price tag on a Bible was labeled fiction.  He then took a picture, posted it to social media, and Costco is doing the clean up dance.

While some of you may have the same response he did, I am not disturbed by such a label.  Rather I have long asked questions like:

Why do we place lower value on that which we call fiction vs. that which we call non-fiction?
Do we sometimes forget to acknowledge that much of our written material transcends either category?
Why do we struggle to claim Truth if we can't prove facts?
In my own teaching I frequently talk to people about the difference between Truth and truth when we are reading scripture.  Truth I define as the big picture message about God.  Put a lower case "t" at the front of the word and it becomes about provable facts.  While the Bible has some facts that can be proven (and some that can be disproven) that does not increase or decrease the value of the Truth we find there.
I often look to the story of Noah when talking about this.  There are details in that story - how many of each animal, how big the boat was, how many days the rain fell and so forth - that could (given the right set of circumstances) be proven true or false.  But when that's where our focus is, we miss the point.  It seems to me that the Truth of the story of Noah is that even when God has every right and reason to give up on humanity and even wipe us out (and unfortunately we give God lots of reasons!), God chooses not to.  God is so committed to humanity, even when we break God's heart, that God will seek out a reason NOT to destroy us.  Yes, it is a difficult story.  And yes, many people do die.  But throughout the story what we see is a God whose love for humanity runs deep and who simply won't give up on us.  That's good news...that's Truth worth holding on to whether there was ever a man named Noah or a big boat full of animals. 
On one hand Costco is right...the Bible contains much that would technically be classified as fiction - some that we suspect to be so and some that comes right and tells us it is.  And that's okay.  Alongside fiction is some non-fiction, some poetry, some letters, and all sorts of other writing.  Even if we came to understand the whole document as fiction, that does not diminish the Truth. 
After all, no label we put on the Bible or any other book can diminish the Truth of God's love.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

An Open Letter to Parents

Dear Parents,

Please treat your children like you would treat mine. 

I watch you at ballgames putting up with my child's silliness but grabbing your child with (not so) hidden force you didn't think anyone would notice. 

I watch you in the grocery store smiling sweetly at my child while talking harshly to yours.

And I get it...I know your children push your buttons in ways mine don't have the chance to.  My children do the same to me. 

But, here's what I ask...look at your child and see mine for just a minute before you react a little too swiftly or harshly with yours.

And the flip side is true, too.

See, to your parents who are harder on everyone else while always favoring your own child, I see you, too.

I watch you assume my child must have started it because it couldn't have been your little angel. 

I watch you believe your child should get extra chances while mine should be required to follow all the rules.

Please extend the same grace to my child and give the same benefit of the doubt to him that you do to yours.

I know your kids are your kids.  My kids are mine, too...I get it.  There are no other people who I love more.  And there is not one who can hurt me more.

But just for a moment...before you decide how to respond...look at your child and think of mine and at least see how that changes things.

Another Parent

Friday, September 20, 2013

Undoing the Damage

I was raised in a mainline Protestant church.  I remain in a church of that same denomination.  I have no memories of anyone preaching about hell or damning anyone to hell personally or generically from the pulpit or anywhere else.  I remember nothing in my religious upbringing that was motivated by fear.  And as a pastor these are traditions I've chosen to continue in the churches I have served and in the life I lead. 

But this presents an interesting situation...time and time again.  I find that I am needing to learn how to have a ministry of undoing the damage that others have done.  And let me tell you, it's not easy to do. 

The number of people who have walked into my office, especially recently, struggling to see value in themselves is amazing.  And guess what they hold in common?  They were taught from the time they were young, usually by family and/or church, how little value they had apart from behaving in certain prescribed ways. 

The number of people who have walked into my office, talked about some choice they made, and followed it with the comment, "And after that I was going to hell anyway, so I figured why not?"  These aren't people who themselves thought they were going to hell for their actions but people who were told by others and who because this came from people they knew and trusted just gave up hope.  They resigned themselves to hell and in doing so did everything from abandoning their relationship with God to taking on destructive habits.

But, I look at these people and all I see are beloved children of God.  I look at them and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are loved and wanted by God, that they are of value - not because they follow the rules, but simply because they are created with value.  I look at them and I know that they are forgiven and that at the end of the day it is never hopeless. 

But, how do I mirror that back to them?  How do I give them my eyes or my heart through which to see themselves?  Even better, how do I give them God's? 

Each time I find myself in one of these conversations, I wish I had so much more to offer.  I wish that I could wave a magic wand and make it all better.  But, until I find that wand, I will just journey with them one step at a time and try with each moment to undo the damage that someone did to them.

And meanwhile, I will pray that each of us will pause before we belittle, before we condemn, before we say or do even the smallest thing that tells someone else that their value is conditional...I pray that we will pause and correct ourselves before we damage someone else. 

May it be so.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Because Yelling Isn't Necessary

Have you ever stopped and counted how many times over a day or a week you raise your voice at your children? 

I applaud those whose count is low or non-existent. 

Now for the rest of us...

I suspect most of us raise our voices far more often than we'd like to admit.  And many of us feel like it is the only way to get things done.  I can speak for myself in saying that one of my great frustrations is that my husband can tell my children to do something one time and they do, while it seems I can say it three times and finally they respond when my head is spinning and steam is coming out of my ears.  Now there may be all sorts of things to explore in that statement, but let's stick to the topic at hand.

The reality is that I work hard to parent without a lot of yelling, but I'm also self-aware enough to know that I would be lying if I told you that at some point (nearly) everyday my voice is raised in frustration.  And yet, each time I do so I realize that it's not how I want to parent.  (Nor, as I often must throw in here, is it how I experience God as our parent which to me is great motivation!)

So, tonight I decided that it's time to really work on this.  And in many ways it is simpler that we think.  Just look at what happened at my house tonight...

I told my children that they had five minutes until bed.  Then I set the kitchen timer for five minutes.  Voila!  Now it wasn't me they first heard when their five minutes were up but the "beep, beep, beep" of the timer.  And when I walked in to where they were watching a cartoon and turned off the television it wasn't a discussion nor a surprise.

When my five-year-old (who was waiting outside the bathroom for his turn) hit his brother with a stuffed tiger, there was no need to yell.  I simply confiscated the tiger and said, "Tigers aren't weapons, they are companions.  He will be with me." 

This is not rocket science.  Read "Parenting 101" and you'll read this stuff.  It's just that some days it feels like rocket science.  When the day has been overwhelming...when you're running late...when dinner is boiling over...when the dog is barking...when the kids are is difficult to remember that your own loud reaction doesn't make anything better.  But the reality is that it doesn't. 

At best what yelling at our children does is helps us gain control of the moment so we can go on; at worst it teaches our children to fear us or cow-tow to those who react the loudest rather than learning to make better choices and discover their own self-control. 

If your child is in danger, by all means raise your voice and keep them safe.  If they are just being a child - even an obnoxious one who is getting on your last nerve - why not take a deep breath and treat them as you would want to be treated...why not model for them how you hope they'll behave? 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Maybe I Had It Wrong

Tonight my five-year-old and I had the following conversation:

Five-year-old: You're the best mom I've ever had.
Me: I'm the only mom you've ever had.
Five-year-old: No, I had other moms in heaven.
Me: Really?  Did you have a lot of them?
Five-year-old: Only two.
Me: Were they good moms?
Five-year-old: Yes.
Me: Good.  I would only want you to have good moms.
Five-year-old: They were good, but not as good as you.

Okay, I admit first my heart melted because...well, you know why my heart melted!  He's sweet!  (or he knows how to play me, but it's still sweet!)

But my heart also melted because I hear him talk with ease about being in heaven before he was born (something no one to my knowledge explicitly taught him) and I am reminded that when I started this blog I named it Clearest Glimpse because I believe as parents we are the clearest glimpse of God our children get...but what the five-year-old reminds me of is that our children are the clearest glimpse we get.

If only we will pay attention.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Loving My Body

I read an article this week aimed at mothers of daughters talking about what to do and not to do in order to pass on a healthy view of the female body to your daughter.  It was a good article. 

And again it got me thinking about my view of my own body.

And here are the conclusions I came to:

1) I am a product of my culture and therefore I think I weigh too much, I think I have too many round places, I think my legs and my arms (and other parts) should be thinner.

2) Being 40 has given me a peace (even if it is peaceful resignation) about my body.  Here's the matter what I weigh, my hips and thighs will always be the biggest part of my body and I will never have slim upper arms (that's the genetic gift from my grandmother that just keeps giving!).  And I've decided it's okay not to hate these realities.

3) I am comfortable in my body.  Yes, even as I write this I am glad my laptop is sitting on my lap so I don't have to look down and see how far my thighs spread and yes, I am aware of the many times I'm sucking in my stomach (or at least trying) so that the rolls aren't so noticeable.  But, this is the body in which I live and move and have my being and it's a pretty comfortable place to live.  And, after all, this summer I have actually appeared in public in a swimsuit more than once - if that doesn't scream, "I'm comfortable here", what does?

4) There is much to celebrate about my body.  I am rarely sick (not just major things, but rarely even have a cold).  I have low blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar, etc. - just ask my doctor who recently ran blood work.  I am able to get out of bed each morning with ease, to walk up and down the stairs in our house to do load after load of laundry, to chase my children when they beg me to be the Kissing Monster, to carry my five-year-old who still likes to be in his momma's arms, to hug my children, my friends, my congregants, my husband.

I wasn't built to be a model, but I was built to be a mom and a wife and a friend and a pastor. 

And although the scales reflect a larger number than they previously have except when I was pregnant, maybe it's not about the number. 

Maybe the freedom that 40 years has given me is the freedom to find joy and health and comfort in this body. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Another Book You Should Read

While I'm talking about children's books, let me mention one more. 

Do you know who Todd Parr is?  If not, find out.  Or read on, because I'm going to tell you...

He is a children's book author and illustrator.  And he does an amazing job of putting big concepts into simple language and fun pictures.  You can find out more about him at

Anyway, he has written another of my favorite books.  It's titled It's Okay to Be Different.  In the book, Todd writes page of page of ways that we might be different (big ears, different sizes, having wheels - as in a wheelchair, eating macaroni and cheese in the bathtub) and each statement starts, "It's okay to..."

In a world where all of us - children and adults alike - are sent many messages each day about the way we are "supposed to be" Todd's words are refreshing and deeply needed.

In fact, today after we were done, one of our teenaged helpers came to me and said how much he appreciated that book.  He's not a kid who is obviously that much different than any of his peers, but those's okay to be different...for some reason mattered to him.

Whoever you are...whatever you are whatever ways you are different...know that it's okay.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What Is God Like?

Today I spent the day with children.  This year instead of doing a week of Vacation Bible School in which we meet every day, we chose to do "Terrific Tuesdays" where we spend one day of each week together.  We've learned skills and practiced our care for others and the world while addressing important needs around us.  Today's emphasis was on literacy. 

During the course of this day we read one of my favorite children's books.  The book by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is titled In God's Name.  If you haven't read it, I'd suggest you find it.  It's really a lovely book. 

The storyline basically says this...once people who knew each other's names and names for every other living thing were searching for God's name.  So, they started finding names for God, each finding a name they could connect with (the farmer - Source of Life, the tired warrior - Peacemaker, and so on).  However, as they all discovered names they fought over whose name was the best.  Finally, in a moment of clarity they came to realize that it was when they lifted all the names together that they discovered who God was.

By the way: You still need to read the's much more well written than my brief synopsis and the illustrations are lovely. 

Whenever I read this book I am reminded of the fullness of who God is.  We can't help but relate more closely to one name or picture of God.  And it's okay to have our favorite way of understanding God...okay, unless that gets in the way of acknowledging that our favorite way isn't the only way.

I remember as a college student learning about the use of inclusive language for God - in other words, using non-gendered or multi-gendered language (particularly broadening our scope from the limitation of Father and male gendered-only language).  One of the most common defenses I heard in those early days was that there were many people who had been harmed or disappointed by their earthly fathers and that using such language for God was problematic for some of them.  While wanting to sensitive to the realities some people had lived through (although perhaps not as sensitive as I thought I was being), my first reaction to this was that perhaps, rather than taking away certain language, the church needed to be addressing parenting skills, family systems, and helping people find healing.  In other words, I wasn't first convinced about the use of inclusive language. 

And the reality is that I became convinced of the importance of inclusive language for God the day it was put in a different context...the context of fidelity to God. 

The reality is that scripture gives us many images of God - from father to mother, rock to shepherd, creator to spirit.  And what that means is that although we can each have our most comfortable image, our "go-to" name for order to be faithful to God, we must understand that God is always more, always fuller than we can see.

I wonder how this process would have been different for me had I read Sandy Eisenberg Sasso's book at five years old or ten years old. 

I wonder how my children's understanding of God will be different because they will grow up knowing that God is many things, many names, many ways. 

I wonder how many people would be more deeply connected to God if other "good people of faith" weren't so worried about having to prove that their name or understanding of God is the best. 

And I wonder - if we were able to see the fullness of God - how that would also translate into our ability to affirm the many different facets of ourselves and other people we meet.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What's Not in the News

               The last couple of weeks have been filled with news around questions of sexuality.  Exodus International made an announcement with Alan Chambers issuing an apology.  The Supreme Court overturned DOMA and with that act opened doors to extend rights to same sex partners.  For those advocating for gay rights, these have been welcome pieces of news.  And I am one of those who has been paying attention to what is going on out there.
               But there is also something going on right here.
               This past Sunday in my little congregation worshipping at the buckle of the Bible belt, I had the joy of sharing our congregation's new welcome statement.  And this is what it says:
We are a church that believes in welcoming all people
into a journey of faith where we share questions, discoveries and conversation.
This means you are welcome regardless of…
your gender
your age
your economic status
           your political association
your sexual orientation
your skin color
your faith background
your health
your ability
your mood
your cultural heritage
your relationship status.
 Whether you think you have all of the answers
or none of the answers…
whether you are certain that God calls us
into a diverse and
inclusive faith community or are still wondering…
if you are willing to come to the table and welcome others as they welcome you,
if you are willing to continue to seek and grow in faith and understanding,
if you are willing to celebrate the common bond we have in Christ
regardless of our differences…
then you are welcome.
The news items are real and they are important.  But what is also important is that there are real people facing and talking about their real questions and discoveries.  What is important is that there are communities that are embracing people, sometimes (as is true for some of our members) even in the midst of their questions and uncertainties...but embracing people and engaging the conversation.  What is important is that in a small congregation, in a primarily conservative Christian town, two women and their daughter walked forward at the invitation on Sunday and joined the church as a family. 
This wasn't in your news, but it's a headline in my life.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Smiling Over My Breakfast

I am a creature of habit.  In the mornings this means that I scoop out a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, pour milk over it, and enjoy.  I haven't spent much time thinking about my Cheerios...I just like their flavor.

However today I am smiling at my Cheerios.  I am smiling because I am proud of this company for taking what was apparently a risky stand in their commercial casting. 

Funny thing is that I saw the commercial and didn't realize it was a risk-taking venture.  Instead, I simply saw a cute child with loving parents.  But apparently there has been negative reaction to the fact that it reflects a mixed race family.  (Humorously enough, I had to hear the negativity second hand and read about it through the media, which apparently reflects something about the people I spend time with).

This is another reminder to me about how far we have to go.  This is about racism and racial perceptions.  This is also about our learning to give permission for people to love who they love.

As I watch my children grow up, one of the dreams I have for them is that they will share their life in good relationships.  I hope for them healthy and life-giving friendships.  If they seek a partner, I hope for them loving and respectful relationships. 

And I hope that a decade from now as they are verging on adulthood that I don't have to worry about reactions from those around them if they happen to love someone of a different race, of the same gender, or who in other ways breaks past stereotypes for partnering.

I remain confused when people spend so much time and energy evaluating relationships on these criteria.  There are so many couples of the same race whose relationships are damaging.  There are so many heterosexual couples who show anything but love and respect to each other.  And yet,  there still is an available assumption that same race, heterosexual partnerships are always best, are always okay.

My dream is that my children and all people will soon live in a world where they are encouraged to find partners with whom they can make the world a better place, to whom they can show love, with whom they can grow more fully into the people God created them to be. 

This is long overdue.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What Is Left When YOU Leave?

This weekend I had the privilege of traveling with our youth group to St. Louis for a Mission Weekend.  This morning as we were cleaning up our weekend living quarters I remembered a lesson my mother had taught me when I first started babysitting:

Leave a place better than how you found it.
Of course, when she taught me that nearly three decades ago she was meaning such things as - if you feed the children, wash their dishes (and if there are other dirty dishes do those, too) and make sure toys are put away and tidy things up before the parents come home.
This morning as I was vacuuming (a floor that had needed some attention when we arrived) I was glad to leave the place in better shape than we found it and I was thinking ahead, wondering who would stay there next.
Then it occured to me that my mom's babysitting lesson is about far more than dishes, toys, or tidy floors. 
What if, wherever we went, we chose to leave it better than it was when we arrived?
What if we took that attitude with us to our workplace, the grocery store, the neighborhood park, our children's schools, our churches?  What would that mean?
Might we smile at a grumpy fellow shopper?
Might we pick up trash rather than curse the neighbors who left it?
Might we help a co-worker with a project even if weren't going to get credit?
What would our homes and families look like if this was our intention?
What would the world look like if we all decided to leave it better than it was when we arrived?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Red Headed, Red Bellied...What's the Difference?

My seven-year-old has become a bird watcher of sorts.  He has bird books, researches birds, and spends as much time as we'll let him outside watching the birds.  Bird watcher, right?  And he's at the point now where he rarely sees a bird he doesn't know. 

His momma on the other hand, not so much!  Consider the conversation below Exhibit A:

(Momma looks out back and sees a woodpecker)
Cameron, look, there's a Red-headed Woodpecker back here.
(Child excitedly comes to the window) Where?
 (pause)  Oh, that's a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Mom.  The Red-headed ones have a totally red head. 
(walks away)  I already saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker today.
(Has a moment of sensitivity)  But it was nice to see a second one.  Thanks, Mom.

This momma now knows more than she did before! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ash Wednesday and Shame

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and we had worship at church last night.  During one part of the worship service each of us had a small piece of paper.  We were to write a sin that we are wanting to address on one side and on the other side we were to write a commitment we are willing to make regarding how we will address it. 

After giving the instructions for this activity, while people were reflecting and writing, I moved down to a pew near my children.  The four-year-old came over to me and asked what he was supposed to do.  I explained that he was to write or draw a bad choice that he had recently been making and then on the other side to write or draw what the better choice would be (I figured this was the best way to quickly explain it).

Before I tell you what happened next, let me fill you in on something that's been happening at our house.  The four-year-old has been making bad choices at school.  This child, who is the apple of his teacher's eye, is stressing her out.  Where he used to correct other children who made bad choices, this week he was caught encouraging other children to make bad choices.  While his teacher used to just be able to look at him or call his name and have him correct his own behavior, lately he has just looked her in the eye and continued on with the wrong behavior.  So, we've been having some conversations in our house about the importance of making good choices.

After I explained the task, the four-year-old did not want to participate.  So, I told him I would write for him.  When he didn't say what he wanted me to write, I said, "How about we put 'Not listening to my teacher' on the bad choice side and 'Listen to my teacher' on the other side."  As I suggested this, I also wrote those words.  When I was done, I went to hand the paper back to him but he wanted nothing to do with it.  In fact, as we moved to the next thing in the service, which entailed people bringing their papers forward and nailing them to a cross, he lay quietly but passionately on the front pew kicking and pushing everything away. 

And I knew he was ashamed. 

This is my child who does not like to talk about his bad choices.  He doesn't even make eye contact in those conversations.  He just doesn't even want to acknowledge what he did and certainly doesn't want someone else to either.

My heart broke as I watched him.  As a mother I want to create a safe place for my children - no matter what is going on, no matter what they have done, no matter what we need to talk about.  Although I know some use it as a parenting tactic, my goal is never to shame my children into submission or correct behavior.  As a parent who is a person of faith I understand that I do what I do because it is what I experience from God.  I understand God to be one who offers us safe space, one to whom we can come with our ugliest stuff and be received in love. 

This season of Lent that we have entered is not an easy season because it asks us to be honest about our stuff...especially that stuff we don't want to talk about.  I know it's not easy, but I also believe this is so important. 

Watching the four-year-old on the front pew made me aware again of how important it is that we create safe spaces in families, in churches, in all sorts of communities...and that we keep offering safe space even through the many occasions when it can't be accepted. 

In the end, after everyone else was done, the four-year-old decided he wanted me to go with him and we did nail his paper to the cross.  Maybe that's a step in finding his way to the space that is here for him.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Jesus: As Played by Green Blankie

This picture may just look like a little boy cuddling with his carefully placed blankies, but it's so much more than that.

Tonight my husband and I had a date night (so thankful for our babysitter!).  We came home shortly after bedtime and imagine this...the four-year-old was still awake.  He came out to greet us and then led me back to his room to see his bed which he had made.  After great excitement on my part, I tucked him in and returned to the living room.

A few minutes later he reappeared.  I was ready to scold him and send him quickly back to his room when he said, "Mommy, you have to come see.  I rolled my green blankie... (dramatic pause)... and it's just like baby Jesus."

Guess who headed down the hall with the four-year-old because yes, I had to see.

"See, Mommy, the green blankie is Jesus and the blue one over him is his blankie."

After tucking him back in, I walked out of his room wondering if he was a child of deep faith or just a really good salesman who knows his audience! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

On High Scores and Blowing Bubbles

Aren't children wonderful? 

Isn't it great how they remind us of the little things that matter?

Don't you delight when they share their joy?

At our house the delight came in two places this weekend...

The seven-year-old learned how to blow bubbles with his bubble gum and the four-year-old got the high score on "Temple Run" (please lecture me later about how much time my children should spend with electronics and just rejoice with him at his 600,000+ score).

High scores and blowing bubbles.  Are these the things lives are built on?  Are these the most important skills my children will have?  Are these even really all that important?  You can answer "no" to all of those questions and I won't challenge your answer.

But, what I am reminded of (thanks to high scores and bubbles) is the importance of finding joy. 

What has brought you so much joy lately that you had to share it with someone else? 

What has sent you off to your spouse, friend, parent, co-worker, or child to say with pride, "Look!  Look what I did!"?

What little joy in your life makes you smile and feel good and feel accomplished? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Beginning 2013: A Big Small Thing

Sometime in the past...perhaps last year, perhaps longer ago...I remember reading on another blog (forgive me for not remembering whose) a comment about realizing that it was important to not be too busy to go to the bathroom when you need to.

Sounds a little basic, huh?  A little like something we learned when we were three or four.  A little like something we try to teach the three and four years olds around us.

But I find myself frequently realizing that nature is calling and then deciding to just finish this one last thing...wash the little one's hair, write the last couple sentences of the sermon, make one more phone call.  And every time I do this, even as I forge ahead into that one last thing, I remember the advise of some brilliant blogger.

So, as 2013 begins, I'm not making big resolutions (certainly not ones I know I'll abandon by next week).  But I am going to try to do this one small...but big...thing.  I'm going to try to go when I need to go.

And maybe, just maybe, this is about more than bladder relief.  Perhaps when I pay attention to that one small (or not so small) thing, perhaps I'll find myself slowing down to pay attention to other small (or not so small) things as well.