The War That Never Ends

I am helping out at children’s church for a few Sundays. I was pretty excited about it because I get to be in my daughter’s class. But the curriculum and message has got me a bit perplexed.

The Bible is a hard book to read. In case you think it is all fluff and stuff…you have another thing coming. It is a complex book of war, torture, oppression, slavery, conquer, victory, surrender, love, lust, sex, relationships…I mean it’s like a bottle of Ragu – It’s in there!. It’s ALL in there.

Let me first of all say that I really like my church. It’s not perfect…but it is real. The pastor is sincere and humble and the staff actually does stuff for the people in the church, the community and abroad. They care. They say they Love God and Love People and so far – it has rung more true than anywhere else I have found. It has been a place of refuge for me these past few years in many ways. I also adore the children’s ministry leaders. They are simply amazing women. They didn’t write this curriculum…it is just a program.

Anyway – This really has nothing to do with with my church or anyone in particular. This is my blog…so forgive me I am a bit egocentric. I’m the only one I am allowed to pick on in this space. This is my therapy, my platform to work things out…so this is all about…me. My perceptions…my struggles and weaknesses. I get to say all the ridiculous things that you may think but never say out loud.

The only reason I bring my church into this post at all is because it was the whole starting place that got me thinking so deeply about the thoughts I have been wrestling with the past 24 hours.

I am teaching 8 and 9 year olds, and we are taking them through the old testament book of Judges that focuses on war, massive destruction, conquering and destroying, and grand scale murder – all in the name of the one true God.

Forgive me. This is hard. I am conflicted.

So here I am, in a suburb in somewhere Ohio…teaching our local children about the glory and blessings that awaited the Israelites when they actually obeyed God and completely and utterly devastated, destroyed, murdered and overtook the peoples that were there worshipping other gods. It was considered a cleansing of the region or something.

Somewhere in a small village in somewhere Pakistan…there is a small group of local children gathered together to hear about the glory of the reward of killing in the name of THEIR true God. It would be considered a cleansing of the region or something.

And to be honest here, we are not 1000’s of miles apart. The reality is that we are just down the street from each other…having these very drastic points of view. It is not just the far removed children in Pakistan…it is children in the same schools as my daughter…or maybe even in a large white house somewhere in DC. Honestly – no one knows what goes on deep inside the soul of a person behind closed doors.

Isn’t that the wonderful and frightful consequence of freedom?

It was about at this point in last’s nights torturous fitful sleep that I realized how sorely under qualified and totally incompetent I am of such a huge responsibility of teaching Sunday school.

We are talking about Holy wars here! This battle has been brewing for thousands of years. It is one of the most powerful, sacred, mysterious, forces of all times.

Yes…I am having a major tripping dilemma. I thought I was just going to do my duty and good thing by trying to give back of myself like so many wonderful and faithful volunteers have done for my children these past 2 years.

Why this curriculum now? Am I the only crack pot thinking this? I mean how is this appropriate 8 year old content? Maybe it is…and I am just an idealist or naive. Not to mention – just the sheer amount of huge 3 to 5 syllable names of tribes and villages alone – kids can’t read them – let alone get any major content out of it after they have read it. It’s like a whole different language.

I think everything has a place in time. These stories are important to tell and know. History is absolutely important. I just don’t feel right about telling it to this age bracket. It’s not something I want to go into detail with my own 8 year old. When do they even start teaching history in schools?

Let me also say that I don’t believe in being condescending, sappy sweet and presenting a Mr. Rogers like message about only goodness and fluff either. I know children are capable of mature content and we sometimes underestimate what they can and should grasp. And, unfortunately, I do believe that they have to know – at least in part that there is evil in this world.

It just gets really really out of focus when you take a few 1000 steps back and look at the whole situation…as if we were all just insects. How do you even know which side is “evil”? Well, for most of us…it is just whatever side we are NOT on. It is reality that we point our crooked unsteady fingers and assume different is wrong.

Looking at it from this confusing M.C.Escher-like perspective it gets REALLY hairy…because no matter which side you are on from this stand point…wouldn’t EVERYONE be created by ONE God? Because each religion would claim “Creation” rights. So, essentially – when instructed to invade and destroy – you are in fact killing the children of your own God in some fashion or form…right? Ugh…brain cramp!

And yes – I do realize that I have traveled into the fringes of the extremists view here. All major world religions have the bell shaped curve with the bulk of believes being the stable, peace loving folks – with their right and left winged factions that warp love into hate. But when reviewing the history and foundation of the old testament…it sounds pretty extreme.

Even the current state of affairs – kids needs to know and respect our veterans and current military members. But do they need to know the gory details of what these amazing men and women have seen and are currently facing everyday?

Do you let your 8 year old watch the details on CNN and local news? Kids should understand the basics of 911, but do they need to see the horrific details? Maybe? Some of you think so. I remind myself of the luxurious far removed life we live, safe from front line war zones (again – Thank you military men and women) that some kids live in today and even some of our grand parents lived through themselves. Sometimes – yes – kids need to know the details.

Is it a case by case basis? I only have girls…and my oldest if a very dramatic, sensitive girl. Maybe my perspective is just all out of whack.

Hell…even the weather report can be a bit precarious around our household. The other day we had tornado warnings and I am here to tell you – I flat out lied to my 8 year old to avoid sheer pandemonium. If I knew we were actually in danger – THEN I would handle the situation…but again…why provoke fear and drama when they really only need to know so much at this age.

I really am at a loss here. A cross roads. Religion is a crazy dichotomy of redemption, saving grace and torture. Depending on which side of the world you live on…we all think we are right.

And no…I don’t subscribe to some Utopian or Orwellian antiseptic society of no religion at all or a sedated, unaware one united world religion. I can’t see how that would ever even be possible without major manipulation, brainwashing, coercion by force or, back to topic…extreme genocide.

It may be safe to say that the only thing that is certain in this world is…war.

Lordy…I need to get a happy post in here soon. I am bumming myself out lately.

May your God be with you…whatever side you are on in this war that never ends. And don’t think you atheists or godless ones are off the hook either, because even if you choose not to decide…you still have made a choice. (that’s for you Rush fans).

Welp…smile. Sleep well little ones. May you dream of sugar plums and hand grenades, blue skies and homeland invasions…all in the obedient loving name of God(s).

Land mines and Granite

I can hardly believe it has been 2 years since the man that I thought was my soul mate walked out. He said it had nothing to do with the woman he had been caught in an affair with. I wonder if that was supposed to make me feel better or worse? But he stuck to his guns and I am finally realizing he did me the biggest favor.

I grieved the loss of the marriage for over a year…I mean deep, snot nosed, pathetic grieving. That first year was shock and survival. This past year was at first a year of anger, but it has given way to acceptance, and more importantly – peace. I am thankful to be at peace…something that I can’t imagine he can honestly feel – but the great thing at this point is that I am done caring how he feels – it simply isn’t my issue anymore.

The hardest part for me was accepting the crashing and trashing of sacred vows. It was supposed to be a unity, under God. I thought it was something pristine, coveted. It was also the foundation of our baby girl. It was very, very hard to understand and accept the answer NO, from God – of all my honest, desperate prayers and pleas to restore the marriage.

But sometimes the answer is no. I never understood that back then. How could God not want to keep intact or restore a “Godly” instiution and covenant? The answer I am seeing now is that the answer was NO before I even forced the I DO out of my mouth. I chose to ignore blatant signs from the very beginning.

There were tell tale signs of his arrogant, selfish, egocentric, extravagant self spending, controlling and opinionated personality right from the beginning, but I chose to overlook it. WHY? I guess I thought that I was being too critical. Also, perhaps I was lonely, not even recovered from my last divorce. I never took the time to grieve that first loss before I did the taboo – and remarried right away. Hello? Stupid girl…what were you thinking?

I was thinking that I had to have a man to complete me, is what I was thinking. I was thinking I needed to be in some kind of relationship to be happy, or normal, or picture perfect…or God only knows what. The point is – I was probably thinking too much and not following my heart or gut instincts. I had never done that before, and I didn’t even know how to do that.

So when the marriage started falling to pieces I simply couldn’t understand why God was not doing the miracle that I knew only He could perform and save this ugly situation and make something glorious out of it. By the way – I still believe that could have happened…but that takes two…or in this case – three, if you want to include the Holy dude himself.

For the first time in my life – I really started understanding the gift of free will. We are all given this freedom to make choices in life. I had the free will to ignore all the red flags and force myself into a terrible and oppressive situation. My husband also had the free will to conquer, and move on. He got to check me off his “to do” list and add me to his trophy case. He got his homecoming queen/childhood dream girl that got away and locked me away in his high tower while he flew around the country and worked hours that only allowed us to even see each other a few days a month/hours a week.

Yes…sometimes the answer is NO before you even start. But you have to listen. Then you have to follow through. Sometimes that requires the risk of being alone, or uncomfortable. But that NO means NO. If you ignore that NO – there are usually consequences. Some of you may be living that right now.

Now don’t ever mistake me of saying that divorce is OK or suggesting that divorce is a good solution. If you are in a rocky marriage – I still believe with all my heart that the best solution is to repair what is broken – as long as no abuse is going on. I would have still been married if I would have had any say in the matter. But again – it does honestly take two. I would have even stayed if it were just a miserable existence. The truth is – he left. He was done. He had already moved on. He had zero interest in fixing it…even the marriage counselor and pastors could see it. He had already checked out and moved on.

I was the only one that didn’t see that at the time. I was the only one that was confused. Many people really didn’t understand why I was even sad or in mourning. They were not emotionally invested. But at 2 years, I am finally able to see what they saw. And I see that the answer was NO before I even said yes.

I’m a very different woman than 2 years ago – or ever. My dad even commented on it. That is saying something. For the first time in my life I am no longer a victim. I have had a lot of really hard life experiences, but I am not longer defined by any of them.

For the first time I realize that I have free will too! I don’t have to make any decisions based on what I think anyone else thinks I should do, or how I might be perceived, or afraid or unsure of how things might turn out. If I follow my heart – my real passions and instincts, pray very hard BEFORE I move forward, and LISTEN to the real answer before I begin – I don’t have to be afraid anymore.

I am applying this to every area of my life now. I have more of a sense of peace than ever – even though my life is possibly more precarious looking than ever before. Now I have not only one, but two precious girls to be responsible for and raise. I know I probably have to be out of this house by summer. That is all I do know…that could look pretty scary and 5 years ago – this sitation would have made me want to seek the help and security of a man…you know – to complete me and take care of us or something bizarre like that.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I have been weaned off my addiction. I think I have been addicted to dysfunctional, abusive relationships. It started early on in life. Dysfunction was my comfort zone. It was all I really knew. I had no idea that I had the power within myself to break that chain at any given moment. I had no idea.

I have been living my life, being blown around in the wind, in any direction life blew me – as if I didn’t have a mind, heart, or passion of my own. And when I did pray – I prayed half hearted, selfish, fearful prayers. Prayers that were self serving or more like rap sheets – asking God to bless the path I was blazing without even asking if it was right. I would also modify myself to fit who I thought I should be based on who I was with. But I’m awake now. I’m aware.

The amazing part is that suddenly all the parts of me that I was afraid to let shine because it might have been viewed as silly or try to cover up because it might be hard to hear about – I am coming clean with. I don’t have to hide my love of music, writing, and all my silly dreams anymore. I can actually try to attain them…just because I can. I am free to do so. On the flip side, I don’t have to hide all the bad things I have gone through and instead use them as tools to possibly help others with. I have broken myself out of my own prison!

I could have done this while still married. Again – folks – I am an advocate of marriage. This is not about being “free” of a partner. I really wish I would have had a strong enough person to stand beside me as I awakened…maybe we could have done it together…how awesome would that have been? But I had to accept the fact that that was just not my story…as much as I hoped it would have been.

My story is a different story. It is so ironic that the one thing I have feared most in my life – I have finally made peace with. Being single. But being single, does not mean being alone, or isolated. I was more alone and isolated when I was married than I ever was now. In fact, I would argue that right now I am more “connected” to people than ever before. That is another intentional decision I had to make along the way. I had to decide to be real, vulnerable and honest about my feelings, fears, past experiences…about who I really am.

The risk was that no one would like who I really am, I guess. But, ironically, what I am finding is that people really dig vulnerability and honesty. At least the people that I dig the most do. I am accused of being too honest sometimes. Is that possible? I think if it is – I don’t want to associate with the people who think that way anymore.

So – here I am. A new born in some ways. Making my way through this crazy maze of land mines and granite. I want to stay on the granite…the rock. I want to be intentional about not stepping on the mines. I might miss now and then moving forward, but I feel like I have some armor on now. I am tougher than before. I want to hear that NO before I try to say yes based on fear or selfish desires. I want to stay on that rock.

I recently feel like I dodged a mine last month by not accepting a job offer. It was a job offer when I had nothing else on the table at the time. But it didn’t “feel” right. It was a low ball salary offer, and worse – the environment was oppressive, stifling and manipulative. At first it was hard to say no – when I didn’t have anything else on the horizon. I mean – here I am a single mom. 5 years ago I would have jumped on that offer just because. I would not have listened to the explosions going off all around telling me – trouble ahead!

But I said no. And a few days afterwards, I felt a clear peace about it. A few weeks after that I got the job offer that I had been waiting for. An offer that can actually pay the bills, AND put me in a thriving, growing environment where I can potentially make an impact by just being me. Those of you who don’t believe in God can call it fate, kharma or just plain wising up. But for me – I call it a God thing.

Whatever you call it – I hope this same awakening for you too. Whether you are married or single, working or stay at home parent, home schooling or public or private schooling…I have done it all – My hope for you is that you are making intentional decisions too – to be you. Because we mess up the whole cosmic intertwining web when you try to be something you are not. You and I are unique…our personalities fit a specific function and we have specific tasks that we were wired to do. Denying those inner wirings is disastrous.

I think it is hilarious that the person I was trying to hide for almost 40 years is so likable to other people. I am not bragging – I am stating my surprise. It genuinely is a crazy paradigm shift for me. I have the best friends I have ever had in my life right now…just because for the first time I am not hiding anything. All my ugly labels…my failures and successes…it’s all out in the open. I am not picking and choosing what I think people want to hear. I think there is a chance that even my family might like me again some day.

Until then – I have to just keep on keeping on. Not for them, or anyone else now. For me. For me and my girls. I am wired a certain way for a reason. I am so excited to see that turns out to be! And for the first time in my life I am not in a rush to get there. I want to keep taking my time, being intentional about seeking out that granite and praying BEFORE I step…after all…there are land mines to avoid out there!

I’m Amazing!

These are the words of my very confident and innocent 2 year old. She is just repeating what I say to her when she accomplishes something “amazing” to me. She readily accepts that she is amazing. It’s funny to hear, yet wonderful.

It’s funny because we automatically assume as adults that if someone says that they are amazing that they are being arrogant, but I am not talking about the kind of “amazing” that is arrogant. Not in the entitlement way. I am talking about the kind of amazing that says I actually have some self worth. I am loved. I am accepted. I am ok. This is a healthy kind of amazing…not a delusional one…right? Perhaps. Let’s investigate.

So…the question is…at what age do we stop believing that we are amazing?

Most likely it is as soon as we are aware of not just ourselves but others – how we add up, compare and contrast on a sliding scale of perceived good to bad. Sadly, my oldest daughter already doubts that she is amazing. I saw this happen somewhere between Kindergarten and 1st grade.

And then I think of myself and I know I stopped believing I was amazing at probably 3 or 4 when my mom was having severe mental break downs and calling me terrible names as she shouted out at voices that didn’t really exist and blaming me for things that were not even visible.

We are robbed of our innocence as soon as awareness is conceived that we are a burden, full of flaws, or are not as good as someone else.

It makes me think back to the garden of Eden. If you believe, great, if you don’t then entertain the thought anyway. The idea is this whole concept and awareness of good and evil. Adam and Eve only knew good. Innocence. They didn’t have the burden of even knowing right from wrong – if they were doing good or bad. They had one simple command. Don’t eat that freaking fruit!

Well…any parent knows – don’t tell a kid what they CAN’T do! Forgive me – I am not suggesting that God is not a good parent, but come on…He was a first timer here. Looking back I can just see God thinking…yes…I should have not even mentioned that fruit – then they probably never would have even thought about it!

But this is my limited perspective of God…my silly way of looking at things just for fun. But the truth is that God is all knowing. He knew what He was doing from day one. That is hard to understand in itself. But that is for a different conversation.

What I want to stick with for this post is this idea of awareness. It wasn’t until they finally gave in to that irresistible forbidden fruit – that they were even aware of right and wrong, good and evil. And how harsh was their payment. I mean I think I am being hard on my child for giving her a time out – but banishing them from the garden of Eden forever?! Wow…that is some hard core parenting right there.

Adam and Eve knew at that very moment…they were no longer amazing.

An even deeper question. I wonder if they even felt loved anymore? And is that really the bigger issue at hand? Is what my youngest, innocent daughter saying is that she is loved? Is what my oldest daughter and me and everyone else that doesn’t feel “amazing” is saying is that we don’t feel loved? Maybe…maybe not. Maybe sometimes…

I guess – it is just the natural order of things. I guess we can’t really think of ourselves as amazing. But wouldn’t it be good to think of ourselves as loved and wanted. Are these two concepts tied together?

I mean, isn’t it strange how when you love someone, you want so much for them to feel amazing? Don’t you want your kids or your friends to know how thankful you are they are in your life? Doesn’t it just break your heart to see a beautiful friend or daughter tearing herself apart and down because she knows without a shadow of a doubt that she is NOT amazing.

It’s such a strange phenomenon – how you could desire that for someone else so much, yet at the same time not be able to apply it or accept it for yourself.

Innocence and self worth is strange…It’s like what is acceptable and wonderful for kids is taboo for grown ups. Something as innocent as saying “I’m amazing” is really cute and wonderful to hear from a 2 year old…not so great to hear from a 32 year old. This age/time continuum applies to all kinds of things though, doesn’t it?

For instance…Seeing my two year old walk around the house in nothing but a diaper, cowgirl boots that are too big for her and a cowgirl hat is absolutley adorable and cute. It is picture worthy! It is innocent and sweet.

But me walking around the house in nothing but boots, undies and a hat…that would be down right strange and unacceptable. (well…this would depend on the circumstances perhaps – come on, spank me cowboy…but I am digressing now…) The point is that it is not so innocent and sweet anymore – it has become something very different – just because of age and awareness.

Alrighty then…I want you to go the mirror and say to yourself, “I’m smart enough, I’m good enough, and dogonit…people like me!” ~ Stuart Smalley/Al Franken (SNL). Or think about Ron Burgandy and how is “Kind of a big deal”.

See? It becomes funny. How can anyone be serious and say that stuff? Let alone believe it.

Getting back to the taboo thing and how age changes things…When I think of grown adults who actually believe they are amazing…I don’t really find them amazing at all. I find them dull, egocentric, selfish and not amazing. Take Paris Hilton for instance, the poor easy target that she is. Now that is a girl that has some self esteem to the extreme. But she is not doing anything positive with it! I wonder if Paris Hilton really knows “love”?

Mother Theresa on the other extreme was one of the most amazing women of our lifetime. And she definitely did not see herself as amazing. in fact, it wasn’t about her at all. She was motivated out of love for others. Her own desires and “self” was completely removed from the picture. I don’t think she really cared what anyone thought about her. But I do think that she knew and felt loved.

SO – maybe this idea of love and “being amazing” ARE tied togther, but not as I originally thought. Maybe we don’t feel loved from being told we are amazing, but maybe we feel amazing when we are actually loved.

Maybe we can do amazing things when we are not focusing on ourselves at all but instead – by focusing on loving others -we can actually do amazing things.

I’m amazed at how amazingly complicated yet simple this is all becoming.

Tell someone they are amazing today – but more importantly – tell them WHY they are amazing. Because I bet cha it has something to do with how they make you or others feel when they are around. The most amazing people in this world are simply the ones that make you feel loved. Even when you are not amazing.

Sigh…it is hard being so amazing.

E.ternal P.ositioning S.ystem

I tend to get lost a lot. It is a well known fact and downright humorous most of the time how ridiculously challenged I am when it comes to geographic details and intuition. I am getting better…with a lot of intention and handy things like modern technology so I can call someone who is not so handicapped in this area. I call a friend on a regular basis and it has become a joke that he is my unofficial GPS because I don’t have one. Oh…one day…one day I will have a real GPS.

My daughter has a better sense of direction than me (Thank you God) and she can sense when I am heading in some aimless direction and I get “Mom…are we lost…AGAIN?” I reply “Oh no honey…mommy is just checking the turning radius of the car…yep…I can still do a u-turn.” No…not illegally, but yes…in gas stations, or back streets or wherever I can find to get turned around and headed back the other direction.

Well, I recently realized another thing about me. I tend to get lost in life sometimes too. I have lived a good portion of my life, aimlessly going through the motions. I have let life take me down any road I happen to be on, and until recently I think I felt fairly helpless to take any kind of control over where I may end up.

But there is a tool for this too. Its EPS…Eternal positioning system. Just like a GPS or a compass uses magnetic North as a positioning point…EPS does the same thing. By looking straight up and thinking on an eternal perspective, everything else falls into place too.

When I dwell on the here and now and get so caught up in the details of ME…it can get quite exhausting. When I take a step back and realize that life and this world is really not all about me – it helps gain a different perspective and makes whatever I am getting so worked up about seem like not that big of a deal. Even the really big deals become not quite as bad and at the very least…bearable. I get turned around, so to speak…a big U-turn in my soul.

But I so easily forget this and in the heat of the moment I tend to lose sight of any of my directional tools and devices. How great it is when I actually do regroup in the middle of a moment…it is taking a lot of intention on my part, but I am making progress. I need lots of reminders. Here are some other tools or little reminders that I have come up with to help myself out.

Stop, drop and roll – or in my case STOP (whatever I am obsessing about), DROP (my worries on some bigger shoulders – in my case, God), and ROLL (let the stress roll right off of me).

Think Globally, act locally. This was the slogan for the huge environmental awareness campaign from the 80’s. That’s pretty good on its own, but I like to also think about this: Think Eternally and act daily. This perspective helps me to think how insignificant whatever I am dealing with at the moment – no matter how big it seems to be – is really just a small matter on an eternal aspect. It also makes me wonder – what have I done today for someone else? And that is always a good question to ask.

And just like when my daughter calls me on it when I am physically lost, it is nice to have someone in your life that you can be completely honest with and they can help ask that same question…”Are you a bit lost?” The important part here is to not make up some silly answer as I tend to do when I am geographically lost and mask a potentially important issue that may need addressed. If you are lucky enough to have a friend who knows you well enough to ask you that question…take advantage of it and use that as another tool. Accountability is a gift when done out of love.

Some people find that eternal perspective a bit depressing. Maybe in some ways it is (that whole dust in the wind theory and how insignificant we really are), but I actually find some peace in knowing that this too shall pass. The good will not last – so treasure it when it is there. The bad will not last – so hold on one more day because every day really is a whole new day.

A complete side note here – but when I was at the ripe age of about 4 I remember specifically being terribly freaked out about this idea of forever. Thinking eternally at the age of 4 scared the complete wits out of me. I used to ponder it and actually think, “Great! I was blissfully ignorant and unaware of wherever my soul was before this…but now…NOW I am going to have to be FOREVER AWARE of where I am!!”. That’s a deep thought. Ponder it for a moment…then realize I was 4 at the time. I guess I was always a thinker. Not to be confused with a smart person…but a thinker.

I am sure you can come up with your own set of little sayings to help get you back on track. I am honestly too tired to think anymore. The above ones are 3 of my favorite most used ones. I am excited to hear what you guys come up with though. You are all so freaking shy on this blog. Speak up you people. I guess I am the only self deprecating dummy out there.

But that’s ok. Because I have my EPS, I am thinking eternally and acting daily and I can stop, drop and roll. So, even this too shall pass.

The dress of many colors

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The inevitable has come.  School starts back tomorrow.  As much as my soon-to-be 8 year old sometimes drives me crazy…she is still MY girl and I love being around her.  I tried the home school thing for Kindergarten.  I figured that was the time to try it without causing too many repercussions in case it didn’t go well.  I’m glad I did so I wouldn’t have to “wonder” or have any regrets for not trying it.  But her first grade year in public school went so well we are doing it again.  

I am not going to get into the debate of right or wrong school choices because guess what folks…we are all different.  So are our kids.  Home, private or public – I think they can all be right or they can all be wrong.  There are so many variables.  It is the same for working verses stay at home parents.  Every situation has its pros and cons.  Deal with it.  It comes down to what is right for you and your child.  I can only say this because I have been on both sides of both equations.  And the bottom line is you make the decision and then make it right.  If you see red flags…tweak your plan and try something new.  We are in a great country with lots of choices.  Take advantage of that. 

The truth is she is only in public school because I made a deal with God.  I had never done that before…it was more like one of those “Give me a sign” fluke kind of deals.   I was looking for some kind of direction.  I was aimless and unsure and resolved that if she was chosen by the lottery for a particular magnet school then that was my answer.  l had no real expectations because I don’t ever win anything by chance…never…I mean never ever.  So when her name was the FIRST called – I had a little private moment and laugh just between me and God.  Umm, yea – that would be a loud, resounding YES to public school. 10-4 God…got it.  

A few months later my husband took me to PF Chang’s for what I thought was a much needed dinner date a few months after the birth of our child.  But surprise!  It was actually where he decided to tell me that our marriage was over.  Yes…right there in public.  As you can imagine I wasn’t very hungry after that and as tears started streaming down my face he was frustrated so he commanded that I “look normal and try to eat something”.  Wow.  Really?

It took my slow processing brain a few days to fully comprehend the shock.  But the following days, weeks and months I slowly fell apart at the seams and became a sobbing, bumbling, idiot as more details came to light and I found out that a good portion of my marriage was all just a lie.  A marriage ending is bad enough.  Being replaced during a pregnancy and delivery is a whole new level of degradation and rejection that you cannot comprehend unless you have been there. 

So, to say the least homeschooling was the last thing in the world that I could have attempted in that state. It seemed that the magnet school lottery WAS a sign (IF you believe in that kind of thing…if you don’t you are thinking to yourself that it was just a random act of good fortune where numbers, math, and maybe even the string theory could have come into play).  I have thanked God over and over for that answer he gave me so loudly before I had any idea of what was to come. 

The REAL point here is that my big girl is off to school tomorrow.  She is more ready and excited than I am, of course.  We have waited until the last possible minute to get all our supplies, clothes and stuff.  Maybe we were both trying to squeeze the last possible days and hours out of summer.  But tomorrow reality begins.  Well…today.  We met the teacher, dropped off school supplies, stocked her desk and checked the room out.  It was fun and, yes…even exciting.

It was nice to feel at peace.  Though I still struggle with the public school decision it’s not because I’ve had a bad experience…it’s just plain selfishness.  Maybe some fear mixed in there too.  What she sees, hears, learns,  does, who she talks too…it is all beyond my control for 7 hours a day.  The bad part of that is obvious…we have all heard the horror stories.  But how about the good part? 

My child is exposed to so many different personality types – teachers, students, administration, janitors, etc.  She is learning so many skills beyond just reading, writing and math.  And when problem situations arise they are opportunities to work through it with her – and yes, I honestly believe that.  And I am also thankful for the many opportunities to help out and be involved in so many school and PTA activities.  It doesn’t feel so mysterious or scary to me that way.

When we finally got around to school shopping just yesterday we went to our favorite store – Once Upon A Child.  She found a dress that at first sight looked like something a vagabond would wear – or maybe something Cyndi Lauper would possibly wear on stage.  The dress is composed of a million 1 inch layers of different colors of cloth and they are all…let’s say, bright.  Very bright.  It is also long so the effect is amplified.  I held back my initial reaction when I saw that she was serious about trying it on. 

And when she put it on it couldn’t have been more her.   A bit zany, quirky and really silly…but also profound.  I said, “You know…this dress reminds me of Joseph’s coat of many colors”.  She immediately got the reference and lit up.  She knew that meant it was “special”.  More importantly she understood that I was specifically saying SHE was special.

After that pivotal dinner at PF Changs over a year ago, I had to let go of control on SOOOO many levels, by letting go of my “plans”,  naivety, personal agendas or ideas about “how life should be”, and yes, even my child’s sense of fashion to a certain degree.  And here is the really big one – the realization that I simply can’t be all things to my child all the time.  I was dumb for even thinking or feeling like I had to be.  Though it was a terribly painful process, I am enlightened…open…ready.  The serotinous seed awakes through the fire.      

ALL THAT to say this…Life is like this huge tapestry…we all have different threads and colors to weave into each other’s lives.  If you limit yourself your tapestry is going to be a bit boring.  Maybe you like it like that.  But if you step back and let go of some (not ALL) of the control and stop being so afraid of letting other people weave their colors into yours and your children’s lives…you just might get an interesting, bright, colorful tapestry…just like her funky new favorite dress. 

So, brace yourselves any of you mommies out there that might see my daughter this year.  And when you see her coming your way in her dress of many colors, just smile and think how very beautiful she looks in it.

99 White balloons

It’s hard to even know where to begin this post.  I am overwhelmed tonight with confusion, sadness, irony and so many questions that I know may have no real answers.  Yea…look out…tonight is a deep thoughts kind of post. 

My moral compass has been so shattered this past year through the divorce that I admit I am a little confused by the once black and white standards I used to hold that have now turned to several shades of gray.  Somehow I still believe in God.  Probably more in some ways than ever before.  But what sucks is that there is a tiny part of me that actually wonders…is He real?  I am surprised and disappointed with myself for even entertaining the thought, let alone blogging it outloud.  

I guess once I became a Christian some 20 years ago, I just accepted everything blindly.  I HAD to believe.  I needed to.  Now I CHOOSE to believe.  I have moved to a different place in life where I am not threatened to at least ask the “are you real” question.  And the God I believe in can handle it.  I think he appreciates honesty.  Especially when I have news like I have had this past week.

A man died this past week.  Well, lots of people died this past week, but this man in particular was a man that overcame unbelievable obstacles.  He survived an accident that left him severely disfigured, blind and dependent on others to function in daily life.  He was the kind of person that little kids stared at in awe and wonder.  My daugther was one of them.  She was fascinated and drawn to him…luckily in a sweet, innocent, and kind manner.  She wanted to be close to this man.  Underneath his mask she could sense the sweetness of his soul.  He beat unimaginable odds by surviving the accident, endured countless surgeries and was just at a place where it seemed he was getting a bit of independence back in his life and was on the up.  Then…suddenly he died.  He left behind 5 beautiful children.  That sucks. 

Also last night a little boy was enduring his first round of chemotherapy.  As I was home in the comfort of my own cluttered surroundings with my healthy girls tucked safely in their own beds, this little guy started the fight of his life.  While I heard thunder softly rolling through and the rain on the windows, he and his parents were surrounded by nurses, beeping electronic medical devices, needles, monitors, nurses, doctors, and a host of other unfamiliar sights and sounds.  I could tip toe over and kiss each girl as they slept peacefully, smell their freshly washed hair and touch their soft cheeks.  This other family was in a room smelling of antiseptics and were probably experiencing unimaginable cries and wishing for it all to be some kind of terrible nightmare to wake up from.   Our worlds couldn’t be more different.  And just a few weeks ago…they were having the same kind of normal moments I am right now and probably taking it for granted like I have done more than I care to admit.  But not tonight.   

Tonight my heart is broken for a little boy that should be getting ready to meet new class mates and teachers this fall but instead is meeting the doctors, nurses and other patients in a pediatric cancer wing of a hospital.  God…are you there?  Why kids?  Why?  I also see 5 little faces weeping as they said goodbye to their dad for the last time today.  And again I struggle with where God might be.

Near the end of the funeral the pastor and family handed out white balloons to everyone.  He said, “When Jesus comes back he is going to give one command”.  And in the pastor’s interpretation he said he thought that one command would be, “Come”.  And when he said that he asked for all of us to let go of the balloons.  The result was a profound and beautiful image…soul-like balloons rising to the heavens…obeying the simple command…come.  Whether you believe or not – that was an awesome image, thought or wish.  To be released from any chains of inhibition, doubt, cynicism, sickness or bitterness…or even death. 

Some people think that believing in God means you are weak, stupid or juvenile because it shows that you “have to believe in something” that – in all honestly could be fiction.  Some people think it is just a list of rules and have been turned off by hypocritical Christians out there that may have meant well, but came across as narrow minded, judgemental, opinionated, brainwashed, nut cases.  I am guilty of “not helping” the Christian cause at plenty moments of my ungraceful life.  Because I very, very human.

I can’t tell you or convince you what you should believe.  I am not that girl.  Because it has occured to me lately that I just might be wrong.  I can only say what I believe, or what I want to believe, or yes perhaps – what I need to believe.  That there is something out there…something, someone bigger than me.  When I am alone, which I am a lot, I have to believe there is someone out there watching over me and my girls (no…not a stalker).  I have to believe that one day my soul/balloon will rise to the heavens…or somewhere and be released from this world riddled with pain, anguish, tears, and death. 

You can call me a fool.  You can disown me.  You can belittle me and determine that I must be a pea brain to stoop to such a level of stupidity.  You could limit your interactions with me or walk on eggshells around me and really mess up a great friendship.  But I am still the same person today as I was 8 blogs ago.  I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me.  I’m just trying to figure it out too.

Maybe it IS juvenile.  But for me it beats the heck out of the alternative.  Nothing.  Just science and life cycles.  If I am wrong…so what?  I lived a life believing in a beautiful idea.  Non believers, you get the last laugh.  But if I am right?  Then…wow.  The image of those balloons today will probably stay with me for a long time.  And I almost missed it.  My daughter was the big reason we were there.  She wanted to be there to say good bye.  I am so glad.