Daniel Tiger for President

PBS offers a line-up of genius children’s shows. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is one of them. There’s one particular episode we recorded and have saved on our Tivo. Babysitters: please don’t delete. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s called, “Daniel’s New Friend: Same and Different.” Chrissy uses walkers and braces, as her “legs don’t walk on their own.” The interaction between she and the other children is brilliant. They touch on any issue that may come up with a disabled child. The show helps any kid deal with feeling different from their peers. Daniel even becomes insecure when he realizes he’s the only one of his friends with a tail. Joey and I were so impressed. The chorus of the show is, “In some ways we are different, but in so many ways we are the same.”

Last Thursday, Finn wasn’t quite so different.

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We attended the GODSA (Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association)’s fundraiser basketball game at OCU. Every handicapped parking spot was taken and there were about ten kids in wheelchairs.

Not a fan of the clown that kept following him around...

Not a fan of the clown that kept following him around…

Several of OU Children’s physicians volunteer time and pride to play their patients in wheelchair basketball. No standing allowed.

Two of our OBU friends were physicians who played!

Two of our OBU friends were physicians who played against the kids!

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Finn came alive! He wanted so badly to go out on the court, but he obeyed and spun around on the sidelines instead. We felt like “real” toddler parents having to literally chase our child around the gym and lobby.

Sugar high soon to follow...

Sugar high soon to follow…

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It was obvious that Finn felt confident in this environment. He performed donuts for the crowd and danced in his chair while the music boomed. I wonder if he felt more “same” than “different” here? Is it possible for a two year old to sense when they don’t quite fit in?

Sesame Street was playing in the background today while Finn chased a ball around the house in his chair. He stopped to watch the kids on screen jump and dance to some silly song, then wheeled over to me and pointed to his stander and said, “Stand!” He wanted to be upright. To stand like the kids on TV. I strapped on his AFO’s and fastened five velcro straps around his ankles, knees and chest to provide support. Once up, he said decisively, “Walk!”

This entire scenario has happened once before. The first time I cried when he asked me if he could walk. I wish, baby boy. I wish with all my heart that you could walk. It’s not fair. But this time I was less surprised and more proud of his bravery and initiative to try something difficult. I scooted with him across the wood floor while he swung his hips to propel himself forward.

Dinner at Big Truck Tacos afterward.

Dinner at Big Truck Tacos afterward.

I adore this child and am thankful for all those things that make him different and the same.

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Alive on Monday

Resurrection is one of those weird Christian topics that has left scholars and religious sects arguing for centuries. Can one really transcend from death to life? And did the man called Jesus actually accomplish this once for all? Or is this concept archaic, naive and foolish?

“For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15: 16, 17).

Finn's first egg hunt at daycare...apparently he pooped in his pants and got put into this little outfit. Hurts my eyes.

Finn’s first egg hunt at daycare…apparently he pooped in his pants and got put into this little outfit. Hurts my eyes.

If we really believe–really believe–that Jesus did not linger in the tomb, and that his body was not stolen, then we believe he is alive. And not just on Easter Sunday, but Monday. And Tuesday…He’s alive today.

Nana and Papa Armstrong spent the weekend with us. Such fun!

Nana and Papa Armstrong spent the weekend with us. Such fun!

In the elevator headed to church

In the elevator headed to church

Being alive means breathing, changing, growing; being renewed. I believe the Holy Spirit breathes new life into the stale, dusty places of our lives if we allow him there.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

He gives energy to our old doctrines. He renovates our churches from the inside out–not beginning with a shiny new lobby or starched choir robes, but by resurrecting church members’ hearts and minds. He will transfuse lifeblood into a dead marriage. Bring hope to the grieving. Invigorate our tired careers. Call back from the dead a rotting soul.

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handsome

handsome

 

He is life. He is alive.

“I came that they may have life, and have it to the fullest” (John 10:10).

So it seems those areas of our lives that are withering away, eking out their last breath, are those places that need the power of Christ’s resurrection. Maybe we haven’t invited Him there, or maybe we’ve shut the door in His thorn-crown-scarred face.

The growing fam

The growing fam

Jesus, renew me. Roll away my tomb today.

Soul Food

Last weekend was great. We went to the All Sons and Daughters concert Friday night.

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Joey was helping sponsor their stay in Norman, so he got to eat meals with them, hang out at a local recording studio, and get a preview of their next album. The band members are quality people. Kind, humble, seeking the Lord, and fantastically talented musicians. Joey and I haven’t worshiped beside each other in a very long time (he’s usually on stage at church).

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It was good for our souls and our marriage.

The lyrics that affected me most:

I could hold on. I could hold on to who I am and never let You change me from the inside.

And I could be safe. I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home;

Never let these walls down.

But you have called me higher. You have called me deeper;

And I will go where you will lead me Lord.

It’s so much easier to be safe and unchanged by the Lord’s refinement…but He’s called me higher.

This year, All Sons and Daughters are supporting a global food ministry called Feed One. It’s based on Mother Teresa’s wisdom: “If you can’t feed one hundred, then just feed one.” The ministry ships and delivers food to hungry children all over the world. Only $10/child per month. I said in my previous post that I was looking for more ways to give. Well, here’s one. Joey and I are thankful to be able to provide food for two kids/month. Hope you’ll join us!

Saturday night, Joey played a set at a local coffee shop.

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He did this often in grad school, but hasn’t performed for friends or coffee-sippers in several years. It was so good for me to watch him have fun playing music.

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He is such a humble, gifted musician. There was a great showing (thanks to all who came to support!), he played mostly originals, Jay played the banjo with him for a couple songs,

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and there were well-deserved “encores” at the end. I’m so proud.

I fell asleep Saturday night feeling dehydrated. I gulped down the water on my nightstand around midnight and dreamt of clear mountain streams and buckets of cool water all night long. Pregnancy calf cramps reminded me of my need for more liquid, but I couldn’t bring myself to heave out of bed, so I remained parched; lips cracking. Upon waking, I plodded down the hallway to the kitchen to fill a glass of water from the fridge. Ahhh. It’s that easy for me. I’m thirsty, so I go down the hall. I thought of those children around the world who go to bed thirsty or hungry…and feel the pangs of discomfort for days; weeks. So unjust.

Paisley and I had our first shower this weekend.

Bump

Bump

It was hosted by a few of my clients and co-workers.

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Baby carriage deviled eggs!

Baby carriage deviled eggs!

I am so blessed to have such smart, strong, beautiful women in my life. Cassie made one of her fabulous cakes–strawberry and cream cheese. Unreal.

Divinity by Cassie Cakes

Divinity by Cassie Cakes

I’m grateful today for raw, worshipful music. Joey.

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Baby showers. A duallie BOB stroller, and the women who made it possible. Clean water. And food in our bellies. Amen.

 

 

Camels and Needles

I have one remaining chapter in Seven, by Jen Hatmaker. Finn’s down for a nap, Joey’s at work, Seinfeld’s playing in the background and Jersey is snoring like a fat old man. So now’s a good time to blog about it.

If you haven’t read Seven, well, you should. Here’s the basic premise: Jen and her husband (and sometimes even her children) took seven months for an “experimental mutiny against excess.” Each month they focused on an area of their lives they want to allow more space for God and less space for consumerism, overabundance and selfishness.

Glucose testing reading material.

Glucose testing reading material. Third trimester thrills.

The months were:

1) Food (They only ate seven foods the entire month.)

2) Clothes (Only wore seven pieces of clothing.)

3) Possessions (Gave away seven items a day for the month.)

4) Media (They shut off seven sources of media/technology.)

5) Waste (Committed to seven habits for a greener lifestyle.)

6) Spending (They only spent money in seven places all month.)

7) Stress (Practiced seven “sacred pauses”–stopped to pray seven times a day.)

This book is so convicting. God will speak through Jen’s words–if you’re listening.

Her experiences challenged my cushy, white American middle-class Protestant lifestyle. Sometimes I have the audacity to think Joey and I are poor; the gall to feel sorry for myself that we are on a tight budget. It’s safe to say we make the least money of all our friends, and I work for wealthy (albeit generous and fantastic) clients, so sometimes our simple lifestyle feels meager comparatively.

“If your family income is $10,000 a year, you are wealthier than 84 percent of the world. If it’s $50,000 or more a year, you make more than 99 percent of the world.” (Hovde, 2012)

I’m rich. Filthy stinkin’ rich. Until reading this book, I read the scripture that says:

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

…as a warning for someone else. Someone wealthy–certainly not for me.

But I am that “rich person.”

I have a master’s degree, a 3 bedroom home, a well-fed dog, a child and one on the way, a job, a lawn, a walk-in closet full of branded clothing, two cars, four bikes, camping/rock climbing equipment worth thousands of dollars, a shameful Lululemon addiction…

It’s difficult for wealthy people like me to find time and capacity for God in our comfortable, air-conditioned lives. The pangs of intense hunger don’t keep me up at night. I don’t wash my child’s clothes in the stream of sewer water outside my hut. I do more feasting than fasting.

Doesn't miss a meal.

Doesn’t miss a meal.

As I said, the Lord has been convicting me of personal excess and selfishness as I turn the pages of Seven. Mostly my heart has been aching to give; to purge my home and heart of what I don’t need and give it to people who do. (See post: Fasting and Filling)

I need to know more needy people. This was easy when Joey was a community minister. Needs were everywhere–it was overwhelming sometimes. I’ve struggled this month to find people who need what I want to give. This should not be. I’ve been praying for the Lord to reveal more specific needs around me. I’m really good at blessing the blessed. Serving the saved. They smile and say “thank you.” They often smell better and they return the favor.

Joey and a few saintly college boys finished de-popcorning our ceilings last Friday. (I would like to punch in the nose whomever invented popcorn ceilings.) photo 2Finn and I went to physical therapy and picked up donuts for the boys on our way home. A man and what appeared to be his daughter walked in behind us. Her hair was terribly disheveled and ratty. She had to have worn that violet shirt all week long. Little girl pressed her smudged face to the glass of pastries with fervent hunger. My heart knew–the Holy Spirit’s unmistakable prompting. I should buy their meal.

But then I got practical, as most of us sensible American Christians do.

What if I embarrass the dad in front of all these people in line? The lady at the counter can barely speak English anyway, so how will she understand that I’d like to put his order on my bill? Donuts are cheap; he can surely afford them. See, he has cash.

Ugh. I failed the test. I asked the Lord to show me people in need. I believe he did just that in Gourmet Donuts. But I explained away their need and I did not pay.

This morning, however, the Lord gave me another chance to give and I’m happy to say I did not ignore Him. I did not find excuses. He prompted me to bless and I did. It was thrilling.

Thanks, Jen, for attempting something so brave: to challenge Christians to live out the gospel instead of merely learning about it. It’s uncomfortable and messy, but isn’t that what Jesus was all about? This camel wants to find the Kingdom.

A Dork’s Confession

I’m a dork; an idiot sometimes.

I go through seasons where I feel like I’m apologizing daily to someone about something stupid I said or did. Usually it’s something I said.

I’m there now; making a mess of things. It’s so humbling, isn’t it–to be reminded you’re not at all as together as you thought you were? Far from looking like Christ in all his selfless, holy splendor.

Once I’ve cleaned up the debris with an array of sincerely apologetic paper towels, I’m left humbled. I think this is where God likes me best.

I open my Bible and pretend not to notice Finn is definitely NOT napping

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to find some encouragement. Something to make me feel better.

Here’s where He directed me:

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12: 9,10).

Ugh. Brutal.

I’m reminded that I don’t like to fail. I hate to let people down, and I would prefer to have it all together. In all honesty, I’d just rather be perfect. But, alas, I am not. I’m only strong when I am weak. Only honored when I honor others.

Paul says the only thing worth boasting about are my struggles. It’s not any fun at all and there’s no personal accolade draped around my neck, but I’m being obedient.

So here I am telling you what a loser I am. Because I am; and because it seems it’s part of the process of refinement. I’ll see you again in six months. ๐Ÿ˜‰