Friday, October 22, 2010

A Study In Contrasts

I was thinking today. No, seriously. I was. I actually rose before the sun this morning. I'd like to tell you that I did so because I decided that it was a wonderfully righteous thing to do and I decided to be righteous. Alas, it is not so. I needed to be at the hospital a good part of this Friday to visit with two friends from my church having surgery. I needed to be there early and so I found myself backing out of my driveway, glancing to the east, and actually seeing a rising sun peeking through the clouds. Now, I've seen sun rises before. I'm just wired to enjoy sunsets more. They look the same. Just backward.

But obviously that's not my point. My point is "rest." Rest vs. rush. I'm going to be talking about that a little bit this coming Sunday morning when I speak at our church. Rest is a rare commodity in 2010. Not because it's not avaiable so much as because, well, nobody really wants it. But rest is important. Very important Without it ... you'll eventually run into "The Wall" and maybe even die. Don't argue with me on this. I'm an adrenaline junkie. I know what I'm talking about when I mention that Wall. It's real. And it hurts to hit it. So don't do it, okay? We were designed by our maker to need "down time."

As a matter-of-fact, God actually initiated the idea of rest. You didn’t know that? It’s called “Sabbath.” It’s about slowing down the pace of life, relaxing, and allowing your system to replenish and refresh. So do some of that! Maybe it’s time to turn on some quiet music, dim the lights, put your feet up, and simply exist for an hour or so. The truth is, many of us don’t find that restful anymore. We’ve rewired our systems and instead of “rest” we search for “rush.” You know the rush I mean. The adrenaline rush! I admit that there’s nothing like that experience of feeling totally alive when that little chemical goes sprinting through my bloodstream. I just wrapped up a two week vacation and, honestly, I tried to avoid adrenaline. As I've mentioned Debbie and I slipped up to northern Michigan for a few days and soaked in the fall colors as the leaves peaked along the shores of a cobalt blue Lake Superior. We walked around Mackinac Island, admiring the Victorian architecture, horse drawn carriages, and a healthy (or maybe NOT so healthy) ice cream cone. (Yum.) And then we did something I had never done before. We drove down to Chicago and watched our son, Scott, compete in the Chicago Marathon. I cannot imagine running 26.2 miles on purpose! I have a hard time focusing long enough to drive 26.2 miles. We were very proud of our son as he ran for “Team World Vision” to raise money to feed hungry people world wide. But I couldn’t help contrasting the two ends of that trip. What a stark difference between gentle waves lapping up on a Great Lakes beach while leaves fell silently around us and one million screaming people gathered in downtown Chicago to watch forty-three thousand runners focusing on the finish line.

As I drove away from Chicago the next day I let Debbie do most of the driving. That's a major milestone for me. I always subscribed to the theory that "real men drive." But I pushed the passenger seat back, grabbed a book, smiled at her as she enjoyed holding the wheel for a while, and simply ... rested. And then I took the second week of my vacation and did nothing. I mean a serous amount of nothing. I had planned on power-washing and re-staining my deck. I decided not to. My body was saying that there is this long stretch looming down the road called "The Holidays." This was the last rest stop before the tree goes up. So I jumped on the chance.

I'm not sorry that I did. The two weeks turned out to be a study in contrasts. Falling leaves and deep breaths. Gentle waves and long, luxurious stretches, I like it. It gets addictive. And then all of the cheering people. Fast paced runners. Deep dish pizza and Chicago hot dogs. There is room for both. But right now ... I'm learning to re-appreciate simple, God ordained ... rest. I truly hope maybe you'll consider doing the same.

Gosh. That sounded like a sermon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today's Guest Blogger ... Mrs. Laura Woods

Call me a sucker for my new grandson, Judah. Call me in love with my son, his wife, and the family they are creating. You'd be correct on both counts. I plead guilty. Laura is a prolific writer. I am her biggest fan. She posted the following blog last night on her on corner of the web. I asked for, and received, permission to repost. If you are a mom, a dad, or a grandparent ... you'll "get it."

Take it away, Laura....

Dear Judah,

Two months little man. Two months you’ve been breathing oxygen with your lungs and stealing my heart with your eyes. And what an eventful two months it has been. I know you won’t remember a second of it, but I’ll never forget one. I’ve filled up my camera a hundred times over with pictures of you smiling and drooling and eating and crying and sneezing. I post them on Facebook and Twitter daily, much to the annoyance, I’m sure, of everyone who has bothered to friend or follow me (I love how by the time you read this, NONE of that will make sense…try to reference Google if it still exists….if it doesn’t, God help us all).

Last week, in order to celebrate our anniversary appropriately (without a squirmy baby at the dinner table), your dad made me get an overnight babysitter so we could go out and be normal people again for an evening. It’s amazing how in such a short amount of time you have totally changed the face of who we are as humans. For example, we have been attempting to go grocery shopping for well over a week now. There is just no easy way to accomplish this effectively now that you live with us. In part because your car seat takes up 99% of the shopping cart, leaving little room for more than a day’s worth of groceries. And also because who wants to go shopping when they can stay in their pajamas and stare at a brilliant and beautiful baby from the comforts of their living room? I’d rather starve in most instances than leave you for more than one second longer than I have to.

That being said, I should tell you that I had to go back to work this month. Doing this has easily been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I knew when I got pregnant that there was no conceivable way that we could manage for me to be a stay at home mom. Despite my desire to be at home with you 29 hours a day, our current situation dictates that I must daily put on tall shoes and head out into the gritty world of office politics and potlucks. It’s not ideal, but it’s a blessing. One that God has provided for us so that we can pay the bills and still afford to let your dad stay home with you most days. It’s unconventional for sure, but you so far seem to still be functioning as a normal infant, so I try not to beat myself up about it too much. Although, I have let the convictions of other moms in more conventional situations get the best of me from time to time, your dad is an amazing encourager and never lets a day go by without reminding me that not only are you happy and healthy, but that it in large part has to do with the fact that I am actually a good mom. So…if today as you read this, you are harboring some deep rooted resentment at me for not being around for you when you got home from school all those years, please know that I would rather be with you in our home more than any other place on the face of the planet. And I would sacrifice anything to ensure you always find joy in this life, despite our non conventional situation. So I didn’t write it, but please remember this always….

i carry your heart with me
i carry it in my heart
i am never without it
anywhere i go you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me
is your doing, my darling….

-e. e. cummings

On a less serious note, your diapers are generally very disgusting. There are times when I’m nervous to lay you on the couch or to pick you up with bare hands. You just never know what colorful goop is going to be seeping out of your clothing at any given moment. I have a feeling that this is representative of your future love of fart jokes and immature behavior. Which to be honest, I couldn’t be more thrilled about. I’ve dreamt for years that I could live with someone who understood my sense of humor. Your father has NEVER appreciated my ability to burp on command with great zeal. In fact, he finds it offensive at times. Mostly when we are in public places, like church for example. I say, God created these escape hatches for digestive gasses, you might as well embrace the beautify of His genius. Please remind me of this when you are older and I scold you for the very thing I enjoy so much. You deserve the same freedoms as me (mostly).

I have very little to add from here. I am sure that by the next time I write, you will have accomplished some small feat of wonder that your dad and I brag about for weeks on end, despite its mundane, every day, run of the mill, infant-like behavior. We just still can’t believe you are real. It’s hard to believe how much you’ve grown and developed just over the last 8 weeks. And to think about the man I am writing to now, almost puts a crack in my brain. Do me a favor and take your time getting there.

I hope as you read this you are doing well. Saved by grace and deeply rooted in the love of your family and Creator. I also hope you still like fart jokes.

So much love that there aren’t sufficient words,
Your Sassy Momma