Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

I’m No Fool

Foolishness

Art by Jennifer Clark Tinker

“Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

–1 Corinthians 1:20

When I was in 8th grade my health teacher told me, “You should be a defense attorney because you’re the most argumentative person I know.” This was after a particularly lively class discussion in which I was defending an unpopular viewpoint, and doing quite well for myself.

In 9th grade, my team and I (we were Ben, Ken, & Jen) won our big debate in history class that year.

In 10th grade, my English teacher predicted, “I see you as a zealous ACLU lawyer” because I had been outspoken about certain issues in papers I wrote for her class.

I tell ya, when I get on a topic I can really go at it.

I’m passionate about what I believe in and I don’t mind speaking up. Okay, let me be perfectly frank, I enjoy speaking up. I like a good hot-topic discussion.

In recent years I have had some great opportunities to have some of these kinds of discussions online. There is a particular Facebook group of ministry colleagues with whom I especially enjoying bantering.

However, online discussions lack a lot of the check points you have in in-person dialogues. You don’t get to see the other people’s faces or hear their tone of voice. It’s possible to ram right through a discussion and not realize that you’re coming across all wrong.

I try to watch myself online. I work at being civil–talking about issues rather than making personal attacks on my conversation partners. I admit when I’m wrong and I apologize when I realize I have made a conversational misstep.

But…I do love a good debate. I can hold my own quite well. I’m pretty stubborn persistent too. And with my goal not to make the discussion “personal,” sometimes I err too far the other way and get so caught up in the impersonal ideas behind it all that I can forget about the people.

One of the texts for my sermon on Sunday was 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 and it’s all about the foolishness of the cross and comparing human wisdom with God’s “foolishness” (see art of verse 25).

It’s a great passage to preach on.

But verse 20 (quoted above in bold type) about “the debater of this age,” preached to me this weekend as I reflected on my zeal for a good debate.

It was a bit of a warning shot. Sometimes when I get on a roll, the sheer energy of the discussion fuels my passion all the more. I needed this warning to remind me to continue to watch myself that I don’t get too carried away in cool, rational, debating.

I cherish my people and I never want to be so “argumentative” as to harm a relationship. I’m not giving up on the friendly banter–I just want to be sure to keep the “friendly” in there.

I’m glad that God have me this reminder not to behave like a fool.

On Letting My Son Fly

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My son was on this plane earlier today for his first flight as an “unaccompanied minor.”

 

In the nest that is parenting, it’s not easy to know when to tuck my kid under my wing and when to let him fly. The older he gets, of course, the more freedom I give him because by letting him try his wings, he gets to become who he was created to be.

But, see, the more he becomes that guy–the more I want to have him around!

This week has been a text book case of exactly what I’m talking about…

 

Mother Nature

We had a bit of a trauma at our house on Monday. Before you get too worried, I will tell you we are all safe and no one was physically harmed. But lightening struck our phone line causing an explosion inside the house within 20 feet of where I was sitting.

Fortunately my husband and son did not witness what I did because the pop and flash made me jump and scream. I went into a panic and ran to the front room where my guys were and hopped onto my husband’s lap.

When my husband went to investigate the extent of the damage, I huddled up with my son on the sofa. It was already clear to me at that point that, since I had been closest to the explosion, I was more upset by the whole thing than my son was. Our cozying up on the sofa, then, was clearly more for me than for him.

My husband came back and reported that the jolt fried our phone and its cord and it blew up our wireless internet router–the router literally popping open when it exploded.

 

Creature Comforts

Even as the storm raged on, my curiosity drove me to examine the fried equipment and the charred spots on the wall. Then the reality sank in about what I had witnessed.

And I panicked some more.

You know how if there’s a tornado, you’re supposed to find an inside wall or a closet to take shelter? Well, that was what I did. I found an inside wall right by my bedroom closet and I sat myself down there, hugged my knees, and rocked back and forth.

By this time even my son was wise to the fact that mommy was way more scared than he was. As I sat there all curled up in myself, my son brought me one stuffed animal and then another and another.

“Lamby wants to give you love-comfort,” he would offer.

And then, “Here’s Danielle-Bear to comfort you.”

Before I knew it, I wasn’t just hugging myself, I was clutching a dozen plush friends to my chest.

 

Story Time

“Mommy, maybe it would help if I told you a story?”

“Oh, I don’t know if mommy can handle listening to a story right now.”

I pondered the import of what my son had offered. I know my son is a great storyteller, but any time I ask him to tell me a story he seems annoyed by my request, and if he does tell me a story it is usually just a sentence or two. When I ask for it, he gives me something far beneath his ability as a storyteller.

But this time, he offered to create a story just for me!

I took a few deep breaths and said finally, “You know sweetie, I think I’m ready for that story now.”

It was a sweet story of a boy named Bob who was an only child. Bob and his parents went on a picnic and Bob made friends with some ants. Because, apparently, a story where the ants ruin the picnic is just way too predictable. No, these ants were friends with whom Bob willingly shared some crumbs from the picnic.

By the end of the story, I was feeling a bit better. I held tight to the stuffed animals and brought them to my bed to sit and try to calm down some more.

 

Nesting Instinct

Oh, to have been so needy to have caused this role-reversal between my son and me…I am the one who is supposed to build the nest, to shelter my baby bird and there he was flitting about to provide my comfort.

And in the way that I get to fretting sometimes about whether I’m a good enough mom, I began to feel guilty. It wasn’t  just for having a melt down that night, it was also for all the times that I have not listened well enough to my son, all the times I have gotten irritable with him, and all the times I have not done (or not done well enough) something for him that I felt like I should’ve done (or done better).

But then, all birds must leave the nest at some point. And I found comfort not only in what my son had done for me, but also in the knowledge that he was growing into the kind of young man that could be so kind, gentle, and caring.

And I thought ahead to later in the week when my son was scheduled to board a jet plane and fly as an “unaccompanied minor” for the first time in his life to visit my mother in Ohio. And I thought how much I did not want to let him go–not because I didn’t think he was ready, but because I just love that kid to bits and I love spending time with him!

All these feelings mixed and interplayed in my brain when I went to sleep for the night with many of the stuffed animals still nestled with me in my bed.

 

Mending

The next morning–mornings are always my slowest times of day–my son had gotten himself breakfast and came back into my room where I was sitting up in bed. The stuff animals who had stayed the night with me were still about me as I sat there.

My son picked up the big purple bear. Sometimes we call him Lotso, like the bear in Toy Story III, but sometimes not because that Lotso was kind-of a meanie. But since saying “the big purple bear” is a bit wordy, I will just call him Lotso. As my son turned Lotso over in his hands he rediscovered a seam that had burst on Lotso’s belly.

“Mom, when are you going to fix him?” My son asked in that irritating way kids do when they themselves are rather irritated.

I took a big, deep breath. It was time for me to get to do something motherly, responsible–even if this particular task was long overdue. “Bring me my sewing box. And where’s Lamby? I still need to mend Lamby too.”

In all, I mended three friends that day. It was the least I could do after they–and my son–had given me so much comfort the night before.

 

Another Fine Nest

Today was the day my son flew to Ohio. And it was stressful and exciting and sad and wonderful and I’m so proud and I miss him so much already. But I know he is going to have a blast with my mom and step-dad. At their nest in Ohio they will take good care of him and he will care right back and they will all be such a blessing to each other.

The three of them always have such a great time together. They go on wonderful adventures and they play hard and they eat ice cream every day. And my son and my mother are well-matched in their energy levels–I can never quite keep up with either of them!

So, this is good, very good that they get to have this time. As hard as it feels to me to let go, I celebrate my son’s chance to perch for a while at another fine nest.

 

Taking Flight

Right before my son left I gave him something of mine. You see, there is this one stuffed bear–Arty the Arctic Bear–that I got a few years ago in a gift basket with some bath & body products. Even though my son begged for me to let him have that bear, I kept it for myself–after all the gift basket was given to me! I love that bear and my son respects that it is mine.

As we were about to leave for the airport, I thought of Arty and I thought if there was one way I could show my love to my son it would be to send Arty along with him–for love-comfort on his trip. And I don’t really know if it is helping him, but somehow it brought me comfort to let go of Arty as my son took flight.

So Far: My First Blogiversary

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I can’t believe that it has already been a year since I started blogging here at Living Faith! What’s even more astounding is how many folks have come along for the adventure!

I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started my blog. I never could have guessed where it would bring me in one short year, but I’m sure glad I’m here!

At first when I seriously considered starting a blog it was for the sake of staying connected with people after they hear me speak. As a “freelance” speaker & preacher I meet people in various locations and I wanted a way to maintain a presence in people’s lives after the speaking events or worship services.

But once I started the blog, then it began to take on a life of its own and I’ve done relatively little speaking & preaching compared to what I had hoped. So the blog itself became an entry-point for connections.

And then there were more and more connections through the blog!

Even people from my small town, people from my own church began getting to know me more deeply on the blog before hearing much from me live and in person or up front from a pulpit.

And then the other opportunities started coming along, some highlights of which were joining the staff at Life & Liberty, and getting my first real writing contract! Then a bunch of preaching and speaking opportunities came all at once in December which was cool.

My depression–which kept me from writing for so long–has tried to hold me back even since I started this blog. It has been particularly bad since December. I am getting help though, so that’s a good thing. And I am not letting it stop me from writing!

The biggest way I am combatting the depression is by trying to get more and more clarity about what I want to do with the blog and with my writing in general. I figure if this blogging & writing stuff is taking off for me, I want to be crystal clear about my purpose in it all.

I am particularly excited about the new series about “Receiving Others as Gifts” that I announced last Friday. It is exactly the kind of thing I need to be about with my writing and fits beautifully with my life message. I hope you will follow that series each week and let me know how it resonates with you.

This is for keeps now people. I am really, really, really doing this writing thing, and I look forward to many more blogiversaries! Thanks for being with me in this!

What Does it Really Mean to be Brave?

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The big brave things—all rescue workers and such—those are what we often think of when we talk about being brave. And these folks deserve all the airtime they get on the 5 o’clock news!

But the unsung brave things deserve to at least be named…

I’m at Life & Liberty today expanding on what I think it means to be brave. The post is titled, The Home of the Brave. Click the title to read the post.