Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gooooooal!!!

My kids have tried, at various times, soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, tae kwon do, running, and gymnastics.  There are many reasons I think learning about sports is important in life.

Sports provide the opportunity to learn new skills, to follow directions, to play by the rules, to work with teammates, and to develop confidence. 

As they grow older, the skills continue to develop into life skills.  The child has to learn to balance competitiveness with sportsmanship, the glory for self with the good of the team, the pain of losing with the willingness to try harder. 

I think that’s why so many people are drawn to sports teams and contests, whether they’ve ever thrown a ball or not.  Sports are a miniature representation of life itself, a concentrated, glorified version of the struggles ordinary people experience everyday.

In soccer and basketball, you work toward a goal.  There are specific rules you have to play by, or you may get stalled along the way.  If you can’t work with other people, you won’t get anywhere.  It always helps to have a coach, someone who has been there and can give you advice.  When you make a goal, you celebrate.

Running, martial arts, and gymnastics are more about self-discipline.  You still need someone with experience to teach you to participate correctly.  You cannot improve without regular practice and training.  Sometimes your success is measured by your own personal goals rather than comparing to other people.

Baseball is unique in the way that each team member depends on the others to reach their goals.  In the same way, we are all interconnected, and we do our best when others cheer us on.

It’s not surprising that people get passionate about their teams.  With each exciting play, with each score, with each come-from-behind win, we revel in the victory that is common to the human spirit.  Our hearts beat with the same intensity that the players themselves feel, because we know the same feelings, and live vicariously through their struggle. 

Go Big Blue!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Working My Way Back

I’m not sure what kind of bird struggled through the air over a house on my route home from work.  With winds gusting up to 45 miles an hour, the poor creature seemed to have difficulty getting to where it wanted to go.

I felt sympathetic.  Some days I feel like as hard as I try to fly straight, to get closer to my goals, it seems circumstances blow me off course. 

It seems like it would make more sense for the bird to hunker down and wait out the storm.  Maybe it could find a cave or a cistern or somewhere to hide out. 

That’s my temptation.  I get discouraged and want to hide, to bury myself beneath my bedsheets, to close out the world and lose myself in a world of cinematic drama or literary mystery and a chunk of chocolate. 

It’s not necessarily bad to make time for oneself, or to escape once in awhile.  I’m afraid that if I didn’t have a family and a job, I might live in my bed. 

I want to be a writer.  It’s the only thing that I feel I excel at.  On the other hand, I’m not sure I can convince anyone else who matters that I have anything worth writing about.  I’m not an expert; I have no letters after my name; I’ve lived a mere three decades.  How do I get from here to there?  How much do I give up?  How many dead ends do I chase?  When is a dream just a fantasy? 

Add on a funeral, an evaporated opportunity, and complete confusion about ministry, and I’m completely overwhelmed. 

That’s when a song reminded me of Sunday’s sermon, and I realized I had to let the Good Shepherd take care of me… to dress my wounds, to hold me, to lead me in a safe way.

The winds will die down, and I’ll find my way again.  In time.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

50 Things Before I Die

I saw a movie today on the Lifetime channel because I was in one of THOSE kind of moods.  It was called “7 Things to Do Before I’m 30.” 

I started thinking.  What does my “bucket list” look like?  What kinds of things would I like to experience in my lifetime.  I came up with 50:

1. Be an extra in a film.

2. Swim with a dolphin.

3. Learn how to take a compliment.

4. Get to know my neighbors.

5. Learn not to say yes when I really mean no.

6. Write a fan letter to my all-time favorite hero or heroine.

7. Write the novel I know I have inside me.

8. Shower in a waterfall.

9. Teach someone illiterate to read.

10. See a lunar eclipse.

11. Write my will.

12. Spend a whole day reading a great novel.

13. Learn to juggle with three balls.

14. Overcome my fear of failure.

15. Spend time making my house into exactly what I want.

16. Drive a convertible with the top down and music blaring.

17. Accept myself for who I am.

18. Go up in a hot-air balloon.

19. Create my own web site.

20. Visit the Holy Land.

21. Create my Family Tree.

22  Run a mini-marathon.

23. Become a cartoon voice

24. Earn a living by writing.

25. Go dancing in the pouring rain

26. Develop a talent for photography.

27. Visit all 50 states.

28. Go to Disney World.

29. Become debt free.

30. Take a cruise.

31. Go on a long hike in the mountains, without getting lost.

32. Learn to take criticism gracefully.

33. Make sure I tell my friends and family how much I love them.

34. Learn to surf.

35. Learn how to deal with my "funks".

36. Own a Volkswagen Beetle.

37. Become a foster parent.

38. Sleep overnight on a train.

39. Fly in a helicopter.

40. See the Mayan or Aztec ruins.

41. Visit London.

42. Learn to cross country ski.

43. Eat chocolate in Europe.

44. Travel the Appalachian Trail.

45. Overcome fear of rejection.

46. Join a handbell choir.

47. Paint something nice enough to hang on my wall.

48. Learn to play guitar.

49. Take a romantic vacation on a tropical island.

50. Visit Australia.

So, who knows when I’ll have time to learn all these new skills and travel all over the world, but maybe, someday… well, all things are possible!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ups and Downs

Sometimes, I hate being a mom.  I hate the early morning wake up call, the sinking feeling that something’s wrong, the helplessness at not being able to relieve the suffering, the indecision about what treatment to offer and whether or not to seek medical assistance, and the decisions about work, school, child care, and other planned activities.

Something about parental love empowers you to do things that you wouldn’t normally be able to do when a child is sick.  Sleep becomes secondary to your child’s needs.  Cleaning up a variety of disgusting things is done in a matter-of-fact way, assuring the child everything is going to be fine.  Schedules and furniture are re-arranged without apology to provide for comfort and care.

Sometimes I’m convinced that children are God’s character builders.  Nothing addresses selfishness, impatience, disorganization, laziness, dishonesty, pride, and lack of self-control better than becoming a parent.  For a mom, it starts as soon as you start sharing your body with another being.  After birth, you become responsible for the entire care and well-being of another person.  Life changes.

I wouldn’t trade my experience as a mom for anything.  For all the times it’s been hard, it’s been an extremely rewarding learning experience along the way.  I cannot believe the amazing people my children are becoming.  As much as I hate the turmoil that comes with the process, it’s worth every minute.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Value of Life

The summer after my freshman year in college, I worked for the university housekeeping department, assisting a full-time employee in cleaning dorms and apartments for special guests. 

Pat like to talk, and she told me all about her family.  One afternoon she told me about the moment her son woke up after a coma induced by a drug overdose. 

“I will never forgive you,” she told him.  She promised she would never forgive him for abusing his body that way, for the pain he caused her and the family when he nearly died.  According to her, he accepted her stance of unforgiveness, believing he deserved it.

At the tender age of 19, I didn’t understand how someone who called herself a Christian could refuse to forgive anyone for any reason, especially her own son. 

Although I still believe forgiveness is the best remedy for heart, soul, and relationships, I have a better understanding about how complicated relationships can be, especially when it comes to life and death.

Pat’s son wasn’t thinking about his mom when he took drugs.  He may have been joining in with his friends, trying to escape some kind of emotional pain, or really had a death wish.  Yet when he almost killed himself, she took it personally.

People engaged in destructive behavior tend not to think about the potential consequences.  It’s all about the quick fix.  For every person trying to escape his or her life in an unhealthy way, there are parents, significant others, children, friends and untold others who are affected by their choices.

As I watched the growing line of people waiting to pay their final respects to a friend of mine, I wish he could have known the number of people that were touched by his life.  Even though I know the shadow of depression clouded his view, I wish he could have known what a difference his gentle spirit and generosity made in the community. 

Life is a precious, precious gift.  Sometimes it’s hard to deal with; sometimes it’s painful.  It can also be filled with love and joy and boundless opportunities to bring these things to the lives of others.  When life seems unbearable, the best remedy may be to help someone else, and know you make a difference in their world.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Interesting or Frustrating?

“That’s what makes life interesting,” he said.

“I’m sick of interesting,” she said.

I’m watching the new House episode, and I have to sympathize with a woman who continues to visit her catatonic best friend at the mental institute after a decade with no response.

Anyone who would view my life from a distance would see the American dream.  I don’t deny I’ve been blessed beyond measure.  I just long for something to come easy.

The second law of thermodynamics suggests that the quality of matter and energy deteriorates gradually over time. So, everything is always falling apart.  It’s completely frustrating to me, as a perfectionist, to know that everything we own, from vehicles, to homes, to clothes, is disintegrating into a lesser state of being.  Our bodies, as any middle-aged woman will tell you, are falling apart. 

Even relationships require maintenance to remain at the same level, and greater effort to grow closer together.  Work skills become dull or even obsolete if not sharpened by continued learning.

Sometimes it seems that life is a constant to do list, complicated by a limited amount of knowledge, resources, and time. 

I don’t know who first said, “Life is what you make it,” but it’s absolutely true.  I can live as if everyday is just a never-ending list of expectations and responsibilities. 

On the other hand, I can open my eyes to the wonder and surprises of God’s world.  I can look for opportunities, to play, to sing, to dance…  I can make time to just be, to do things I really enjoy, to just breathe. 

Even when I feel confined by everything I feel I should do, I have the freedom of choice to choose what I really value and make it a priority in my life.  If I value the concept of life as a celebration, then I have to accept that nothing is going to stay the same, and seek out small victories to celebrate. 

Here’s to the survival of another Monday!  And to the discovery of chocolate to aid in said survival!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

From Crybaby to Pirate

We’ve all had megalomaniacal dreams of becoming a professional sports star, a movie actor, a rock star, or someone else rich and famous.  Is it the draw of international attention, a practically bottomless bank account, or the ability to do almost anything (legal) without consequences?

Yet, we’ve seen the negative consequences fame and fortune can have on young people who are ill-prepared for it.  The media has documented every gory detail of celebrities’ drug addictions, failed romances, and legal difficulties. 

I recently watched a documentary that gave me new respect for one of Hollywood’s own, because he stands out from the crowd. 

I’ve always admired the work of Johnny Depp.  Outside of the fact that he is exquisitely good looking, he brings a depth to his characters that is incredible, considering the wide variety of characters he has played.

What I learned about him that was really amazing to me was that he’s always followed his own brand of artistic integrity.  He fell into acting in a desperate need to make a living, and since then has put his heart into everything he does. 

He has chosen characters and projects not based on how much money they might make at the box office, or how they might further his career, but because they fascinated him and presented an opportunity to use his creativity and develop his craft.

When he became a father, he embraced the opportunity to do a family friendly movie for Disney.  At the time of his first “Pirates” film, his daughter didn’t understand he was an actor, but really believed he was a pirate.  In fact, he says what he really wants is for his movies to be a legacy, something his children can be proud of.  

Although I believe there is more to life than pursuing creative challenges, I give kudos to a man who isn’t afraid to be himself in an industry that is marked by an over-concern with image and prosperity. 

Johnny Depp, your life and your work have truly inspired me.  I hope that I can find the courage to follow my heart and use my metaphorical pen to encourage and inspire others in the same way.  Thank you for being you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Define Love

What is love?  How do you fall into or out of it?

Where does love begin?  In the heart, or in the head?  Is it emotional, chemical, or spiritual?

Does love come unbidden or unwanted?  Can it exist if it is not felt?  Can blind people fall in love at first “sight”?

Is compatibility something that can be determined by a computer or something required for love?  Do opposites attract?

Love hurts, but is it supposed to?  Can love die?  Can you live without love?  Can love go on after the object of affection lives no more? 

How does one communicate love?  Are words necessary?  Can you buy love? 

Is love mystical?  Is it magical?  Is it forever?  Is it fantasy?  Is it a psychological condition?

Where do you find love?  Does everyone have a soulmate?  How do you know if it’s true love?

Is love necessary?  What would the world be like without love?

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Two Roads Diverged

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both…

Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Less Traveled,” is a beautifully poetic description of the decision-making process in life.  Every moment presents options, and every choice comes with a forfeiture of the options not taken. 

Some decisions have minimal consequences (do I iron my shirt or show up for work on time?) and others are more important (do I marry my high school sweetheart?).  Some decisions or predicaments can be avoided with proper planning or foresight (if I get up earlier, I can iron my clothes and get to work on time). 

Although I don’t agree with doing something different for the sake of change or uniqueness, it’s more rewarding to do what’s right for you, despite what anyone else says or does. 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

When it comes down to it, we live with our decisions, and we have to move forward from where we are at to the next point of decision.  Living in the past will only keep us going in circles.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Problem Free?

Sometimes I think it would be so nice to be free of pain and struggle.  What would it be like to have just enough time to get ready in the morning, to enjoy time with the family, for everyone to be in a good mood?  What would it like to enjoy the morning workout, to see results immediately?  What would a problem-free commute be like, with no red lights and no crazy drivers?

What would it be like to be able to communicate effectively with family and co-workers, with no misunderstandings or misinterpretations?  What would it be like to start a project and finish it without being interrupted?  What would it be like to have healthy, tasty food prepared on-site whenever you were hungry? 

What would it be like to not worry about disease or death or divorce?  What would it be like to be unconcerned about finances or home maintenance or mounds of dirty dishes or laundry? 

No one lives a life like that.  Everyone has struggles, from the mundane task of trying to find clothing unwrinkled enough to wear to work, to the horrific ordeal of facing the sudden death of a close friend or family member. 

In fact, the multitude and magnitude of difficulties that other people face are largely hidden from the eyes of the public.  I never know if the person I am chatting with in the hallway at work is currently struggling with relationship problems, emotional disorders, financial issues, or a past that won’t stay in the past.

As trite and old-fashioned as it may sound, the pains and problems that are a part of life make up who we are.  The way we respond to these challenges will determine our destiny. 

I am constantly inspired by people who have dealt with the worst life could provide- abuse, neglect, rejection, failure, betrayal- and have not only overcome those obstacles but used the experience to grow and to encourage others in similar circumstances. 

Oprah Winfrey is one example of someone who spent most of her young life bouncing between the homes of different family members, knowing poverty, and experiencing abuse.  She has acknowledged her past, and used it to come alongside others through her TV show and other media, and give them hope for their present and future. 

Not only that, but she’s used her tremendous fame and fortune to continue to do good, reaching out to everyone from young Americans who need scholarships to girls in South Africa who need life skills and a purpose. 

So, next time I’m tempted to daydream about a problem-free life, I’m going to remember how people like Oprah have overcome the seemingly impossible, and with their eyes on the prize, have moved forward with purpose to make this a better planet.

Maybe, with the right amount of luck, determination, and drive, I’ll obtain my ideal job, writing from home in my pajamas with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, sharing stories that encourage and inspire with the world.  I don’t have to be rich or famous, but it’d be an accomplishment in itself to earn a living doing something I love.       

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Waiting and Moving

There’s a song on the Fireproof soundtrack called While I’m Waiting by John Waller:

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait
I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

In the movie, this song plays while Caleb continues to show love to his wife, even though she has a hard time accepting his efforts due to past hurts. 

Although I understand the song in context of the movie, I’ve tried to apply it to my life with less success.  How do you wait and move ahead?  What if there’s a major decision to make?  What if you’re not confident of which direction to go?  What happens if you make the wrong one?  How does that affect God’s will for your life?

I’m not one that believes God expects you to walk a balance beam through life, so that one misstep lands you off His books forever.  I believe He works more like a GPS, rerouting your path when you don’t follow His directions.  It just takes more time and energy when you don’t go the best way. 

I believe God has a plan for my life.  I believe my life fits into the interwoven tapestry of the work of His people.  The problem is that I want desperately to see the whole pattern of His handiwork, and all I see is a few knots of thread. 

I’m no spring chicken though.  How long do I wait for my “calling” to be realized?  How do I move forward when I’m not sure which is the best vehicle for the journey?  Of course, no pain, no gain… but sometimes pain is unnecessary. 

I suppose I can only do as the song says:

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Here's Your Sign

You've seen them. Usually they're minivans or SUVs, with some child's name and interest scrawled in white or neon colors: "GO KYLE #43 EMHS FOOTBALLl #1" for example. They increase in number when the stakes are higher and you have to travel farther, maybe to a regional or state contest.

I love that people love their kids, even if it's not something I would do (yet). Even so, there is always too much of a good thing.

While walking to my vehicle in a hospital parking lot, I read these words painted in yellow across the rear window of someone's car: "SUMMERTIME'S FINALLY HERE!"

I can understand being hyper-excited about your own flesh and blood and their accomplishments. I'm not so sure that the seasons need the accolades and encouragement, even though summer didn't show up for long this year.

Actually, summer is merely a date on the calendar. It's not going to get a touchdown or hit a homerun or play a solo in the marching band. As long as the earth turns and the polar ice caps keep melting, summer is going to come and go in northern Indiana whether we paint signs on our cars or not.

I suppose it could be like a "Go God!" although I think He'd rather hear it in person.

Maybe window paint is the new bumper sticker. Maybe I'll go out and buy some and paint the back of my minivan. This is what I'll write: FORGET ABOUT WORLD PEACE. VISUALIZE USING YOUR TURN SIGNAL!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Where are You?

What can you find only when you’re not looking for it?

So many people are searching for significance, for a place, for a purpose, for some sense of meaning in this world. 

They seek for something to prove they are worthy; they are special; they are important.  Some look for love, for another person to approve them and meet their needs.  Others look to work, for a sense of success, accomplishment or power. 

Others seek escape from the feeling of loneliness in addiction, whether it is food, alcohol, shopping, video games, or some other vice. 

Ironically, the harder someone tries to find love and fulfillment by meeting their own needs, the more elusive those things seem to be.

Instead, the people who have found “happiness” as defined by an undercurrent of joy and an inner peace, are those who didn’t ask how other people could make their lives better.  Instead of looking to their own well-being, they ask, “how can I meet the needs of other people?” or “who needs me today?”

By focusing on other people, a person’s real passions and talents shine, without a forced effort.  The tedious worries of daily life fade away as the heart feels compassion and the mouth speaks words of comfort and encouragement. 

What can you find only when you’re not looking for it?  Yourself. 

Monday, September 7, 2009

Company’s Coming!

It was one of those clean-the-because-someone’s-coming-over days that my kids detest.  There were toys to be picked up, laundry to be done, the dishwasher to be loaded, trash to be taken out, floors to be vacuumed… it was going to be an all-day venture. 

No kid wants to be torn from Saturday morning cartoons to clean house.  Only the promise of a night at the movies (and the promise that they didn’t have to clean their own rooms that day) was enough to convince them to contribute cheerfully.

It’s always been hard to figure out methods that work for kids to clean up without World War III.  My son is very task oriented.  Usually, he’ll participate if he has a number of items to pick up or everything of a certain color.  He’s also very good at sorting laundry, dusting, and vacuuming.

Saturday, he insisted on making a list of everyone’s tasks and crossing them off when finished.  When I gave him the task of clearing off and cleaning the dining room table, he balked at the clearing but excelled at cleaning… scraping off every bit of sticky stuff off the table and chairs.

My daughter just hates being told what to do, especially if it’s emptying the dishwasher.  She’ll clean, as long as she gets to be in charge.  Lately, she’s taken over the bathroom, including scrubbing the sink, toilet, and bathtub and organizing the medicine cabinet. 

Saturday I gave her the job of organizing our pantry, a closet with shelves used to store rarely used kitchen appliances as well as boxed and canned goods.  She really got into it, taking a mental inventory, and was able to tell us what we didn’t need at the grocery store. 

Mom’s lesson for the day was if you want help around the house, find out what they really like to do or are good at, and it will make life a lot easier. 

It’s true about life, too.  No one wants to slave a way at a chore or a job that they don’t enjoy or can’t succeed at.  Too many people do for years and years, thinking they don’t have a choice.  In my opinion, everyone has a choice.

Except my kids.  “Because I said so” is still part of the parental vernacular at my house. 

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Use It or Lose It

The human brain is an amazing thing.  It can keep your heart beating, your lungs expanding, your body moving, and allow you to store vast amounts of information.

It’s been said that most people only use about 10 percent of their brain capacity.  Some people must use even less.

How else do you explain talking on one cell phone while texting on another while driving a tow truck over the speed limit with an eight-year-old relative in the passenger seat?  It was only a matter of time before there was an accident.  Unfortunately for the driver of the car that was rear-ended and the owner of the pool where the tow truck landed, it was a decision with disastrous consequences.  See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32584570/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/ for the full story.

I would think someone who visited wrecks on a regular basis would have more respect for the task of driving than this young man.  Apparently the desire to stay connected, whether it was with work or a friend, was stronger than the desire to be safe.  Perhaps he is like many young people who think they are immune to the dangers of multi-tasking on the road. 

So often we just don’t think.  We do what feels right in the moment, go down the path of least resistance, letting life carry us along.

When I was younger our family vacationed by the ocean in North Carolina.  One of my favorite activities was going out past the breaking waves and lying on an inflatable mat, letting the gentle waves rock my body to a near sleep state. 

The problem was, the waves would slowly push that little mat not only farther from shore, but farther down the shoreline.  Had I actually fallen asleep, I would have literally been in deep water.

Sometimes I live my life like that, not taking the time to think critically and make wise decisions but letting life just push me along.  When I finally “wake up” I’ve drifted away from where I really wanted to be.  I have to purposefully slog back to a better path. 

To quote an old anti-drug commercial, the brain is a terrible thing to waste. 

Oh, and don’t text and drive. 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

No Pain No Gain

Years ago, I was an athlete.  I was one of the top performers on the girls cross country team.  I could run 2.5 miles over rugged terrain in just over 16 minutes. 

I don’t know where my coach got her knowledge and insight, but she was very effective if you followed her plan.  30 miles a week, alternating between shorter distances and longer distances, hard days and easy days.  She tried to keep it fun, too, like when the person who estimated their time the closest got first pick of the Saturday morning donuts. 

Without my coach’s workouts, I could not have been an effective runner.  Her regimen built up my muscles and endurance to where I was at my peak.  Of course, I had to follow the prescribed workout to be successful. 

As a people pleaser with a competitive streak, I gave my all at every workout.  Some of my teammates were not as dedicated.  During what was supposed to be a long run, some people ran to McDonald’s and ordered french fries and waited to come back at the right time.  Did cheating on a run from time to time hinder their ability to reach their potential?  Probably.  I definitely don’t envy the sensation of running with a belly full of greasy fries!

Another thing that gave me an edge over competitors was that I didn’t quit (some girls actually walked during the race) and I pushed through the times when I was tired, sore, in pain, and out of breath.  I knew the pain was temporary and that the reward would be worth the momentary discomfort.

As fierce a competitor I was on the cross country course, I’ve come to realize I am a total wimp on the emotional side of things.  I avoid pain at all costs.  I don’t like confrontation, I don’t like misunderstandings, and would rather write someone off than tell them I disagree with them. 

As I’m reading a book about marriage, I’m convicted that a little pain is a part of life and is an opportunity to grow closer to God and closer to other people.  I can’t believe that I can so easily endure physical pain and am so afraid of a little emotional hurt or frustration. 

Fortunately, I have a really good coach in this aspect too, and He’s promised to walk beside me every step of the way. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Terror in the Night

It has to be one of the most frightening experiences a parent has to undergo with a child.  If you’ve never had a child with night terrors, you’re fortunate.

My son started having these episodes at about three years old.  At first, we thought he was just afraid of the dark.  Then he started screaming.  I’d go in to find out what was wrong, and he would be sitting up in bed, screaming and crying, his eyes wide open.  I would talk to him, and he would act as if he didn’t know I was there.  It was very scary.

Fortunately for us, we had a close family friend whose son went through the same thing, and we were at their house when he had the night terrors.  So when our son started this bizarre behavior, we had an idea what it was.

It doesn’t happen very often, but usually when he’s had a long day or is particularly over tired.  First grade has been tough for him.  He’s fallen asleep on the bus twice in the past two weeks. 

Tonight, I heard a demanding “Mommy!” followed by “that’s why I…”  I knew what it was, and I stayed back, hoping he would fall back asleep on his own.  Instead, the cry got louder:  “Mommy!  Mommy!  Mommy!” followed by sobbing.  I went into him.  It’s like walking in on someone’s bad dream. 

He was sitting up, looking around the room wildly, wiping the tears from his eyes.  I went to hold him, but he didn’t respond to my touch.  His entire body quivered.  I held him tight, hoping it would reassure him.  He still yelled for me.  “I’m right here.  It’s alright.”  I kissed him on his head and cheek. 

After a few minutes, I asked him if he wanted to lay down.  Even then he shifted under his blanket, adjusting his covers, his eyes still open and moving back and forth like they do when someone’s dreaming.  I laid beside him for a few minutes, then when he had settled somewhat I quietly left his room and turned out the light.

Sometimes it’s not so easy.  I’ve had him scream when my face is inches from his.  He’s tried to fight me off before. 

I don’t know why his dreams become so real to him at times.  I just hope I can love him through his real life bad times as well.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dodging Acorns

A huge oak tree dominates the back walk way into my workplace.  It is so large and broad it makes for a relatively dry walk from the parking lot to the doorway. 

This time of the year, the oak tree sheds it’s seeds, acorns almost as big as golf balls.  It’s like walking through an upside down minefield, dodging missiles raining from the sky at random intervals. 

I used to think there were vengeful squirrels hiding up in the tree, taking aim at us invaders into their playground.  They were really good at hiding, too.

After the preponderance of the evidence suggested that no animals were responsible and the acorns fell on their own, I somehow felt safer.  If I were to get hit on the head with a falling acorn, it would be a random chance, not the result of the evil plot of a herd of tuft-tailed rodents.

Sometimes acorns are going to fall on your head.  Acorns fall all the time, and if you walk under the tree, chances are you’ll get hit.  You can blame the squirrels if you want to, but stuff happens.

Sometimes I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself when bad stuff happens.  It’s easy to ask “why me?”  When I’m overwhelmed, it’s easy to ask, “What did I do to deserve this?” 

Then I hear about someone undergoing a trial far more devastating than anything I could even imagine, and I my measly troubles seem like nothing.  The truth is, bad stuff happens to even the best people.  What is amazing is that good people come out better and stronger as a result of their trials, rather than letting the bad stuff define them or blaming others for their problems.

I’m still going to dodge falling acorns, but if I do get hit, I’m not going to take it personally.  Unless I actually see his beady black eyes…