best life now

Some of my biggest regrets involve ruining moments that didn’t need to be ruined.  After Brandon died, we had a house-warming party for my sister here at camp.  We held it on the day they were supposed to get married.  My mom, my sisters, and a handful of Liz’s close friends were there.  It was a time to acknowledge the day and be together.

A gentle rain fell throughout the entire afternoon and we all thought heaven had tipped its hat to our sadness. By the end of the weekend, I remember being completely annoyed with my mom.  I don’t remember now what she had done, said, or didn’t do or say.  The land of my insides made its way to boiling temperatures, and at the end of the weekend, when my mom was pumping gas at the nearby gas station, I completely blew up.

My anger is tied to the hurt of unmet needs.  I ruin relational moments with that hurt.  After that incident we eventually parted on settled down terms, but I was left with a flood of regret wondering why this hurt had insisted on being heard, and most of all, UNDERSTOOD.  As if me blowing up and being angry about every unmet need in my life had the power to change it and make it all better. I let my grudges dampen the days.

Something did change though after that weekend.  I didn’t want to ruin any moments anymore.  I had gotten a chance to spend time with my mom.  Why hadn’t I enjoyed or been thankful for that?  I love my mom and all the ways of her strangeness.  I want to bring her joy, not sorrow, in her life. I didn’t ever want to be angry or mad at her again.

 

 

 

 

letter doors

It’s been a regular thing to acknowledge Brandon’s death every time June 26th comes around.  This year I’m trying not to dwell in the past, to forge a different path through the matter that wants so bad to remember.

I can’t be afraid of this moment anymore.

That moment is in the past, years past.  My sister had a moment of her own this morning, where she showed us the pictures of the memories and smiles, where we tasted the joy and the fellowship of heaven.

How long do the pains of the past live inside us?

I’m taking my oldest to baseball practice.  My sister said it’s gone by so fast but it hasn’t.  This frequently spoken-of life-speed seems hard to imagine when you’ve felt every bump, bruise, and turn in the road.

~~~

We’re back from the lesson now.

He’s never been on a team before, and is hoping to play on the high school team next spring. My father-in-law offered to pay for private lessons.  He’s got a neighbor who coaches and does private coaching on the side.

He got hit within the first five minutes.

I saw the pain on his face and the way he folded over. I, momentarily, wanted to be done. Two different times I almost got up to go to him, to say “Are you alright?”, with temporary thoughts of “Was this a mistake?”

The coach stayed calm and I stayed where I was.

~~~

I’m kind of excited to be a baseball mom.

We’ve put off sports and activities for so long, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the way we have done it. My son loves baseball and I want him to have a chance to play, to make the kind of memories high school makes.

I liked the coach. He was super encouraging.

I don’t think you can properly coach without the onslaught and appreciation of encouragement.  Every single “Attaboy.” and “Good.” and “Great job, man.” sends a message to the soul.  It says, “You’re never alone and we can do this together.”

Onslaught: a fierce and destructive attack.

Encouragement is a fierce and destructive attack–against every high and lofty thought, every false narrative you’ve heard or told, every lie you’ve believed about yourself and your life.  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for every moment You give us.

Hang in there, friends.

I love you, Brandon.

 

 

 

 

 

the moving truck

It’s been a weird week the past seven or eight days or so.  My grandparents moved, we’ve got family in town, and the summer kitchen learning curve has been steep.  Rather than hanging with my kids at the lake, I’ve spent most of the days thinking about the next meal we need to make, pushing the carts through Sam’s Club and Aldi, wondering if we have enough syrup, buns, bread for grilled cheese, and hairnets.

We just want to make everyone happy out there.  I find myself hiding from the people in line.  If I don’t look up, then I don’t have to face my own shameful fear of failure.  I don’t have to interact with the expressionless child, the overtired counselor, the random kid who can’t have the lactose or gluten. “Hi, kids! I’m so happy to see you all!” are the first words that want to come out of my mouth.  But when they don’t smile back…

I miss my days at the lake with the kids.  We still have piano and library days.  The schoolroom and the house are an ever work in progress. A little bit here, some decluttering there.  Since the move, I’ve talked to Grandma briefly once.  A moving truck came yesterday with their stuff.  Two men from G and G’s  church drove a moving truck over 2,500 miles from New York down to Florida, then here, then to my mom’s.

There wasn’t a whole lot of stuff to drop off, but the things they had were important to me.  Grandma’s old guestroom bed with matching headboard, dresser and breakable touch lamp.  The chimes that played in the back-porch wind, Grandma’s red, gingham, Betty Crocker cookbook, a few boxes full of old tablecloths, sheets, and spare trinkets.

It occurred to me that all of this was Grandmother’s stuff.  It made me wonder for a moment–what kind of legacies do Grandpas’ leave behind?  The things of Grandpa’s I wanted, the scrapbooks, the journals, the Clermont church history, these things he still wanted to keep for the time being.  They had to leave behind so much, but much of it was able to follow them there, then spread out to various parts of the country.

Lord, I don’t need to be the greatest camp cook ever.

I just want to be a sunny spot in Your day.

 

 

 

the Biblical vision of gender

“So, a church that is heavy on truth, low on compassion, should also evaluate what errors exist in their ‘truth’. Because if you get truth right, you will get love right.”
~Abigail Dodds, From Empathy to Chaos:
Considerations for the Church in a Postmodern Age~

On his blog, Letter & Liturgy, Samuel D. James wrote an article called A Complementarian Crisis with the subtitle, “The Biblical vision of gender offers real joy and flourishing. The question is, do we?”

Last summer I wrote a few blog posts for the purpose of verbally processing my way through my own growing uneasiness regarding the topic of biblical gender roles, and more specifically, the doctrine of complementarianism.. You can find those thoughts here, here, and especially here.  At that time I was still wanting to hold on to the title “complementarian”. I wanted to make sure the complementarians knew that just because I was questioning some things, it didn’t mean I was distancing myself from them.  I believed complementarianism was the truest truth based on the Word of God.

James writes, “As someone who is solidly convinced that the Bible teaches complementary gender theology over and against both secular feminism and Christian egalitarianism, the complementarian spectacle has not been pleasant of late.”

First and foremost, this statement tells me something about Samuel D. James.  He takes the Bible seriously, and God’s Word is his ultimate standard of truth.  Here is where we agree, as I, too, share this conviction.  It is also in this statement, however, where I believe James reveals an error in his thinking.  He says that he is “solidly convinced that the Bible teaches complementary gender theology OVER and AGAINST both secular feminism and Christian egalitarianism…(emphasis mine)”.  Here is where he and I differ.

In 1 Corinthians 2:2-3, Paul writes,

“When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.”

As Christians, the new nature of our posture is not one of being over and against any person, people, or ideology.  Anytime we place ourselves over and against any person, people, or belief system, we have erred.

My sister recently had the chance to talk with a missionary wife who serves with her husband in dangerous parts of the middle east.  My sister asked the wife what her thoughts were and what churches taught over there regarding gender roles in the home and church.  The wife responded very simply saying, “It must be nice to have the luxury to debate these issues.”  The Christian men in their communities were warring with ISIS.  While the men were either being killed or called away from home, it was the women who were left to run the households and keep the work of the churches going.

Perhaps that seems like a dramatic example, but these examples are helpful in shining a light on the narrow perspective of complementarianism  or any of the “isms” we find ourselves attached to. The complementarian crisis is a first world problem.  I don’t mean that to sound heartless, or to deny that the first world also needs help, but middle eastern Christians are not losing sleep over whether or not Beth Moore is sinning.

Paul resolved to know nothing but Christ and him crucified.  In our first world problems, over these past forty or fifty years or so, more than a sane and thorough understanding of manhood and womanhood, the Gospel has been the biggest casualty in all this.

Complementarianism has serious problems.  We could talk about ESS, sexual abuse issues, or faulty interpretations of Genesis 3:16.  What I see as its biggest problem, however, is the inability to move or budge.  Samuel James says he is solidly convinced that the Bible teaches complementary gender theology over and against both secular feminism and Christian egalitarianism…”.  My return question for Mr. James is “Does it?”