Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Honesty of a Child

This morning I was saying goodbye to the boys. When I hugged Reed, he said, "Whew, Mom. You need a shower." Okay, I've learned I just have to laugh and marvel in the incredible honesty of children.

Last night we were at dinner, and I said to the boys, "Tell me something you like about your mom." (Yes, I know I'm setting myself up in that moment for a fall.) First on Reed's list: "You're not funny..." I cracked up. I'm not sure why he likes that I'm "not funny." Maybe my mere (and apparently failing) attempts at humor somehow entertain him. Who knows?

A couple of years ago, I asked Reed for a kiss. He came toward me to bestow it and stopped short. "Mom, your breath stinks!" he declared. I looked into his angelic face and considered the zing that had just escaped from his little lips. I even asked him to repeat it ... I couldn't believe he was refusing me. But he was -- even a four-year-old has standards! Brush your teeth first, please Mom!

I tell you, engaging with your children can be risky. You're likely to get an honest reaction or a truthful opinion, so you need to be prepared to take it. I know that in times like these, I get delightful practice in accepting criticism with a smile, seeing humor in my flaws, and learning to laugh at myself.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Reality Rambling

I wouldn't say that I'm a "reality junkie." Sure, I've been a fan of Survivor, The Bachelor & The Bachelorette (I hate to confess that!), The Apprentice, The Biggest Loser, What Not to Wear, and Project Runway, but not at the same time. Well ... not all at the same time! Really! (Who'd have time to watch all of those programs in a week?)

Right now, however, I watch the latter three fairly faithfully (we just got Tivo -- love it!). I was wondering why I'm drawn to these three shows specifically, when there are so many reality fixes available. Here's what I came up with:

I enjoy watching people step into their own. To see the blinders come off as they really see themselves. To watch as they surprise themselves with their talent or beauty or promise. I like watching as they deal with challenging situations with creativity, tenacity, and vulnerability. And I love watching them succeed.

It's harder to see this in real life. Perhaps it's because our challenges aren't concentrated and edited neatly for an hour-long viewing. Maybe it's because we're not often challenged or we fail to share our successes. Or it could be that all-too-familiar enemy, fear, that keeps us from giving it a shot.

But when I do see it, it's glorious. I think of Charlie and Debbie after they finished hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in 2003. And the women who brave the journey to Colorado to attend Captivating. And Seth as he hits a baseball. And Reed as he reads through an entire book on his own.

I think of my first 5K with Jennifer. As I crossed the finish line, I felt like a mask had been removed, my excuses broken into pieces, and my true and brave and capable self evident to all -- even myself. It was overwhelming and glorious.

I cried then (boy, did I!), and I cry often as I watch these shows. I know, it may seem nuts. But it's really a beautiful thing to watch these people, whether they are reaching a goal, winning a challenge, or seeing themselves in a new light.

To get there requires risk, courage, and vulnerability. The reward? Much more than a title, cash prize, or runway show. It's a moment of glory, when your true self and abundant strength shine through.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Year, New School

We're now a month into the new school year, so I wanted to post a word about how the boys are doing. Many of you know we moved Seth and Reed from public school to the Christian Academy of Knoxville. Reed is in first grade; Seth is in fourth.

As we discussed this move with the boys earlier this year, they questioned us (as many others did) about what led to our decision. We tried to explain how there were many factors, but largely we felt like this was where God wanted the boys. Tim and I pray about their education and felt His urging to make the move now. Reed made us smile when he asked, "Will He tell you to move us again?"

The boys have been blessed with two amazing teachers this year. Seth's teacher has been in the classroom for 33 years, and understandably, Seth instantly remarked how much she reminds him of Tim's mom, who has been a teacher just as long. Fourth grade is challenging Seth with a work load he wasn't used to in prior grades. We're having to develop an afternoon routine so he can get all of his homework done with playtime to spare.

Reed's teacher is a veteran of the classroom too, with a vivacious personality. We were happy to see him connect with several boys in his class quickly (he tends to form friendships with the girls -- already a ladies' man!). He keeps a weekly journal, and it's a delight to read through them (and see the accompanying illustrations). One hilarious 1st grade moment came last week, when he told his teacher that she was "getting more gray hair." Thankfully she has a great sense of humor!

We've been so pleased with their experience thus far at the new school! They've adjusted quickly, made friends easily, and seem happy and settled. It's a delight to watch them encounter the difference in the environment there ... from memorizing scripture each week to sharing prayer requests with their peers to humming worship songs that their teachers play in class. We are so happy and so grateful that they can have this experience.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A New Name

I've been studying Eve. It's stunning, really, to consider the swell of God's handiwork culminating with Woman--the crown of creation and image bearer of God. She lived in perfect union with Adam and walked intimately with God ... until.

The love story turns into a tragedy, as Woman falls prey to the serpent and is deceived by the enemy. Perfect union is destroyed as Adam goes passive and fails to rescue Woman. And intimacy with God is shattered as sin and shame are introduced into the garden. As a result, a series of curses are bestowed upon the serpent, Adam, and Woman.

Genesis 3:16 tells us, "To the woman He said, 'I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth; In pain you will bring forth your children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.' " Agony, loneliness, and striving are introduced into Woman's world. She's fallen from glory, separated from God, and living under a curse.

But this is not where her story ends. The hope of redemption is introduced into her story, with the giving of a new name: "Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living." (Genesis 3:20)

Eve. Adam could have chosen any name to bestow – temptress, weakling, failure, destroyer, sinner – but he doesn’t choose one that reflects Woman’s fallen state. He selects a name that is stunning in its revelation of staggering grace – the grace of the one whose image he also bears, the grace of God. What is significant about the name change?

Eve means “life,” “life giving,” and “mother of all living,” which describes her function and her destiny in spiritual history. Can you imagine the impact of this moment? How Woman felt when she heard her new name? How this new identity removed the mantle of guilt and shame she was carrying? Can you feel the seed of hope it planted in her heart – hope for restoration to her former glory and for reunion with God?

In Genesis 3:15, Eve is among the first to receive the prophecy of the cross: " 'And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.' "

Yes, Eve would experience the turmoil and tragedy of life in a fallen world. Yet, she knew God, she believed He was still present, and she raised her children in this faith. And through the line of her son, Seth, the savior Jesus would be born. Eve knew of God’s promise, and she expected the redemption and the restoration of mankind – herself included.