adventure spirituality, my kitchen sink and an article that made so much sense.

 

A certain Christian song that was big when I was growing up started ( this is for you Erin) “Saddle Up your Horses…we’ve got a trail to blaze…” It’s very high energy, inspirational, live a big life – ish…a lot of what Christian radio still runs on.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Problem is, as I’ve gotten older, the high adventure spirituality talk hasn’t always connected.

Much like, how  marriage can be a wild adventure of love and relationship, but many days it resembles an uphill battle against being passive aggressive.

 

And the more I hear  Christian songs about not settling for the mundane life, I wonder where I went wrong. Because I’ve been at this faith thing for a long time, yet I still spend a whole lot of my day dealing with this:

Except its full of disgusting washed food particles. And  I find it impossible to spiritualize, no matter the soft light that shines in on it causing shadows to dance over old, now rinsed off mac n’ cheese. Back in college, I secretly refused to empty it myself and would leave it for someone else. Yes, I was that mature and that elitist. I swore I would always have a a garbage disposoal so I wouldn’t need to put my hands on that thing. 

What’s that they say about karma?

Anyways, as I’ve matured  (can I call it that?) the whisper and call has been to the ordinary, to love steadily, to live out patience for the here and now, hope for more.  I would love for my life in Jesus to be an picture of extreme adventurism, and my attitude to be so consistently inspirational that my friends take notes…in small moleskins they insist on carrying when I’m around.

But the truth is…I’m still learning to share and working on being nice. Or really just not being mean. Next year I’ll work on being nice. Plus, when I’m honest about the ugliest parts of me, what keeps me from loving my family well so often is not exhaustion, or impatience, though they factor in, but it’s that dark and subtle wondering “Shouldn’t I be doing something MORE? Something significant? Perhaps something that feels big and great and exciting. Anyone with me?

Mark Galli, Christinaity Today editor, wrote an article that brought all of this together for me. The ending gave me such a big spiritual Oprah AHA, that I wanted to share the excerpt.

Two thoughts first:

1: Yes, I’m typing this in because you have to subscribe to CT to access it online. (Your welcome and thank you Mr. Van Fleets 9th grade keyboarding course)

2: Galli writes in response to Rob Bell’s latest book. I simply had a response to his response. This blog does not have an official stance on Rob Bell, as this Blogger has never read any of his books or seen his videos. Controversy be gone. Thank you. 

Here’s the excerpt:

“…I believe there is yet another reason we’re fascinated with divine encounters: our boredom with the life God has given us.

Instead of a life of experience, Christ calls us to a life of love. And a life of love for the most part means attending to the tedious details of others’ lives, and serving them in sacrificial ways that most days feels, well, not exciting at all. Rather than sweeping the kitchen, cleaning the toilet, listening to the talkative and boring neighbor, slopping eggs onto a plate at the homeless shelter, or crunching numbers for another eight hours at the office – surely life is meant for more than this. We are tempted to wonder, Is that all there is to the “abundant” Christian life? Shouldn’t my life be more adventurous if God is in me and all around me? How am I going to be all I’m supposed to be if I have to empty bedpans in Peoria? I would just die if I had to do that.

Yes, you would. Jesus called it dying to self. Love is precisely denying the  self that wants to glory in experience. The cost of discipleship most of us are asked to pay is to live the life God has given us, serving in mundance ways the people he has put in our path. To be free from the self and to discover such love is the essence of abundant life. 

As Paul put it, in the final analysis love is not about speaking in tongues, having prophetic powers, understanding all mysteries or knowledge, having experiences of wonder, or being all we can be. Love instead ” bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (ICor 13:7 ESV). Yes, endures. It endures now because it hopes. And it hopes because it has not yet been given in full what is promised, but only glimpses here and there, mere appetizers to the great kingdom feast. ”

Mark Galli, Christianity Today, ” What We Talk About When We Talk About Rob Bell” May 2013

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Beverly Cleary is 97, but Ramona is still 8

 

We’ve started reading the “Ramona” books at bedtime.

Be still my heart.

I think I’ve been waiting for this moment since I put down Cleary’s Magnum Opus, Ramona Quimby Age 8, twenty four years ago.

And you know what? They are so much more BRILLIANT to read as an adult. I knew that Cleary’s vocabulary gave me big words at a young age. (Who else was saying indignant?) But now I’m rereading these and hearing how deftly she captures the thought world of a little girl and I’m astounded.

Favorites of Ramona the Pest?

When Ramona, so excited to wear her scary witch mask, becomes terrified when she realizes no one knows who she is:

The feeling was the scariest one Ramona had ever experienced. She felt lost inside her costume. She wondered if her mother would know which witch was which, and the the thought that her own mother might not know her frightened Ramona even more. What if her own mother forgot her? What if everyone in the whole world forgot her? With that terrifying thought Ramona snatched off her mask, and although its ugliness was no longer the most frightening thing about it, she rolled it up so she would not have to look at it.” P. 143-144

I mean…little body, adult angst? Yes.

And then when Ramona is asked if she can manage just a little self control in kindergarten:

“Do you think you can stop pulling Susan’s hair? ” asked Miss Binney.

Ramona thought. Could she really stop pulling Susan’s curls? She thought about those think, springy locks that were so tempting. She thought about Susan, who always acted big. In kindergarten there was no worse crime than acting big. In the eyes of the children acting big was worse than being a pest. Ramona finally looked up at Miss Binney and gave her an honest answer. “No,” she said. “I can’t” P. 164-165

Who can, Ramona? Who can?

Beverly Cleary began the series in 1955, thus instances of Ramona being left at home, at age six, to walk to school by herself. Can you imagine? I would be arrested. But even more interestingly, Cleary wrote the last Ramona book in 1999. She wrote the series over 45 years, only aging Ramona about six! (Ironic, since Ramona’s desire to grow up faster provides a consistent theme.)

These are still a bit over my girls’ heads, but in a good way. Again, the strong vocabulary, and relevant social-emotional themes:  my girls seem to totally understand how hard it is to not pull Susan’s curls and revel in that tension.

And I love the characters,the nostalgia, and the opportunity to explain the difference between third person omniscient and third person limited. Obviously.

Bedtimes have been sweeter than usual lately, as we huddle together to find out what Ramona does next and laugh over her irrational thoughts.  Yes, friends, I’m holding tight to these moments. This is the good stuff.

Six-Month Smiler

 Leila Luisa is six months old today.

What?

Sweet Baby of my Babies sloooowwww down.

In honor or this milestone, I will share her developmental stats.

Except I have no idea what they are. (Time to make her doctors appointment…) So I will share a few personal stats of my own, the stuff that matters.

Teeth: Three. All on the bottom. I have a fear that she has no top teeth underneath. Could she chew with just bottom teeth?

Rolls: Many. The girl’s all squoosh. Such a goal for babies, let’s bring it back for adults.

Literary progress: Slow. She prefers TV. (Oh third child, sometimes we just have to put you down somewhere.)

Propensity towards chewing on shoes: High. It’s gross, but somehow they all survive it.

Times found stuck under furniture: Seven. See image below.

(Don’t worry, eventually someone always comes along and drags her out.)

Leila means “Dark Beauty”. How exotic! But my word for our Leila turns out to be “joy.” She brought joy with her the moment she arrived. I have enJOYed her more than I thought possible- as a newborn nugget, as a cuddly infant, and now as a squooshy, drooling, rolling, almost – crawler. Leila smiles constantly, a big open mouth grin and she laughs this magical gurgle that melts our hearts. Birth order is in this girl’s favor – she’s already showing great flexibility, both physically and emotionally. 

She kind of has to…there’s a lot going on.

Though, she sometimes seems a bit stunned at the scene of her life, she’s rarely overwhelmed. 

So, at six months, I find myself astounded at how fast time has gone and a bit sad that the first wave of babyhood over, but mostly I’m thankful for this little person and how she’s captured our hearts with joy and love.

Can we talk about the lambs for a moment?

If in the next week, you come to visit me, we will not stay in my house for very long. This is partly because we have a slight ant problem and  I’m ashamed, but mainly because, it is baby lamb time, people. I realize the term baby lamb appears redundant. But if you get tripped up there, stop reading this post now.

Because this is what’s going to happen when you visit:

Sophia will get her two dolls, one a baby, one the older sister. She will strap the older sister to her back in her doll-carrying ERGO and  tie the baby carseat to the back of her bike. She will strap on her helmet, grab her wallet and keys and board her bike. She comprises a sight both inspiring and terrifying.

Olivia will be wearing a short dress and a thin sweater. You will feel cold looking at her but your heart will warm as she straps on her Dora helmet, confidently boards her mini bike with training wheels and heads out.

I will put Leila in some form of baby wearing harness, as  I need free hands for this trip.

The whole way there Sophia will either be too far ahead or circling around us impatiently. Olivia does great on her bike but needs help on the curbs, of which there are many. This involves my body, wearing 17 lbs of baby, leaning at a 55 degree angle, dragging a training wheeled bike over bumps.  At about this point, I will share with you  my recent enthusiasm over chiropractic care.

Along the way, our entourage will dodge large school groups, retired tourists, and  Colonial Williamsburg sponsored bloggers. We will press on, and somewhere past the Cheese Shop but before the Magazine, we will pass through a gate that is so Frances Hodgson Burnett, you will feel chills down your spine. We will walk through gardens, another gate, another garden. And then we will see them.

I will be very quiet. You will think I’m meditating on the 23rd Psalm or Thoreau. I want you to think this.

Really, I’m pretending I’m Fern in Charlottes Web. Sure, it was mostly about a Pig, but there were sheep and that book went deep with me.

The girls will squeal. Sophia will BAAAA to them. Olivia will scream for her to stop. About now, I realize Leila dropped the pacifier way back by Aromas and won’t sleep. We’ll need to leave. It’s never a long stay.  I’ll offer you a snack. (It will be smashed) And we will journey hone.

Thank You, Colonial Williamsburg for still breeding sheep.

Every year I hope  it will continue to be worth the work, the pain, the risk, the careening bike riders baa-ing into the serenity. I pray that new baby lambs remain a non-negotiable, if only for the reason that they give us so much joy.

 

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Is. 43:19

 

 

Not here, but not done.

I haven’t been making it here much lately. Sorry Dad. (Though you’re such an Instagram Champ now, do you even miss me?)

We’re heading towards graduations and the end of school and though it’s only May, I will forever count time by the academic clock. Meaning this year is hurling towards a close. Travis and I will celebrate ten years, Sophia will be finishing kindergarten, Olivia her first year of preschool, and Leila…will learn to sit up. It’s been an emotional one – some ways expected, some not. My emotions tend to go underground. They then show up uninvited, like in front of a friend’s class, while she is teaching.   I have learned to turn off all access to internet posting when feeling emotional, a rule you are free to adopt, and another reason my presence here has been sparse.

I’m in my second semester at Union Seminary, so most of my skill with syntax is currently going towards Human Development case studies, analyzing parts of the New Testament, and limiting my use of the verb “to be” in writing (Suz Berman School of Grammar.)

Sometimes I am really tired. At times that means I need to do something creative to recharge myself. Other times I need to lay on my couch and watch Les Miz, the movie, and Les Mis, the 25th Anniversary Concert, in rotation, while eating Greek yogurt, with added chocolate chips and listening with delight to my new dishwasher wash dishes. .

But all that to say, I’m not done here. I’m not afraid to reshape it again and again. I was organizing the girls’s closet yesterday, found my pile of barely begun baby books and remembered one of the reasons I still blog is to tell them their story.  I need to do some catching up on Leila…I’m learning to discern what’s private for our family and what’s a free for all, and how that changes with the ages of my kids.

I enjoy all social media…who’s not looking for brevity and laughter? But I still love blogging, still believe we can read in paragraph form, still think there’s value in the narrative, still welcome the challenge of strong content plus strong voice.

If you’re still around, so am I. Thanks for hanging on.

One of this year’s all time faves…this heart’s full of love…