Friday, May 23, 2008

Memories

Memorable moments from the last few weeks with the twins:

Story 1:
Twin B loves to sniff things. So, she sat in my lap the other day & started sniffing me. I said, "What do I smell like?" bracing myself for her response. (You KNOW how kids can be.)

Twin B said, "Like a WOMAN! A WISE WOMAN!!"

Thank you. You just made my day!! ;)

Story 2:
Again, Twin B said today, "Mane, you were our very first friend since you were at the hospital when we were born."


To which Mane replied, "And I miss you when you're not here." Aaaaaawwwwwwwww!


Story 3:
All three girls were in the car the other day discussing what they would play when they got together after not seeing each other every day, as they have been lately. (Yes, they are really planning ahead.) They decided they'd play baby bears. Twin A, always the realist, said, "Well, what if we're teenagers?"

Mane said, "It doesn't matter. We'll still play bears."

Twin A said, "What if we're 50. We'll be grandmas!!"

Mane very confidently replied, "STILL! It doesn't matter. We'll still play bears."

Twin B wholeheartedly agreed.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mane's Dream

Mane told me she had a bad dream last night...because she was overtired - her words, not mine. LOL!

She told me she dreamed that she had to go away from me & live with someone else until she was 19. But, when she turned 7, she sneaked out on her birthday and found me crying under a tree. Then I took her home in a wagon on the Greenway, and we went to sleep on the couch together when we got home. Then, we woke up in the middle of the night, and, thinking it was ridiculous to be sleeping on the couch, we went to sleep in the bed, and when we got cold we woke up & put a blanket over ourselves.

What do you think about that one?!

Knowing that dreams come from what's going on in her head & not what's going on in mine, I have a harder time with this dream. It has, potentially, a lot of meaning for me...not sure what it means for her. I *think* it may be her brain processing Vespera's adoption. Vespera visits her birth family, and Mane knows some of the struggles associated with Vespera going back & forth between families. I think she's overheard us talking about it a lot lately, and I've been stressed about it. Hmmmm...

All too often Mane will start imaginative play about things I haven't talked with her about and that I know she hasn't overheard but that are strongly associated with things I've been thinking or reading. She sometimes also has deeply profound & spiritual things to say. I don't read a lot into it most of the time. I was caught off guard by this dream, though.

Soulmate

This is my response to a discussion on GCM when someone mentioned that they don't like the word "Soulmate:"

I use the word "Soulmate" for Mango sometimes. More often I call him, "Friend of my Soul" or "Soul Friend." He says the same about me, and he had an oil lamp engraved for me with the words, "Beloved, Friend of my Soul." If you think of soul as the part of a person that is immaterial, their emotions, thoughts, memories, etc, then I think that, really, marriage is all about being the friend, or mate, of someone's soul. You aren't a mate only to their body but also to who they are inside that body - their essence, their person.

I think "Soulmate" in the popular media refers to someone special who is the matching piece/the other half of one's soul. While I don't think anyone's soul is split (barring extreme trauma or mental illness) or that people have incomplete souls by themselves, I *do* think that when we marry we seek someone who complements the immaterial part of us...who, sort of, "matches." We long for deep emotional connection with people because that's the way God created us. It isn't surprising then, that when people find a deep emotional connection, they call that person their Soulmate.

In the popular media this is never tough, and it doesn't involve a lot of personal sacrifice. I think that's maybe where your distaste for the expression "Soulmate" is coming from. It's too cutesy, too perfect, in Hollywood. I actually think it's a whole lot of work to be the Friend of someone's Soul. To love and protect and soothe and sharpen the person inside of one's mate...not just the outer world that everyone sees, but the inside immaterial person. And people are constantly changing. So, the way we fit together like puzzle pieces with someone one day turns into roughing up each other's jagged edges the next. We aren't static. We don't just fit into the puzzle & then never move again.

Friday, May 09, 2008

It's all about People

You know, the Bible never talks about Jesus having a job. Many assume that he was a carpenter by trade, since Joseph was a carpenter. It's probably true that he was trained, at least, in carpentry. But the Bible doesn't talk about him doing any trade work. Jesus was in the business of people. I wonder what would have happened if Jesus was sent today, rather than a few thousand years ago. What would he do? How would he handle the fast-paced, technological, career-oriented culture of 2008? Of course we know that he would still be in the business of people, of loving people, healing people, setting people free. But how? Would he live on the street with the homeless people? Would people support him financially as a missionary or something? Would he have gone through high school & college and become a teacher, a theologian, a writer, a journalist, a therapist? What *does* Jesus think about the break-neck pace of our society? What about kids getting sick over their ACT scores? What about applying to colleges and the intense competition between those seeking professional careers? Maybe you see where this is going now.

About a month ago I did a "values clarification" exercise with Vespera. We talked about what she values and where she wants her life to be in 10 years. And we talked about what will still matter when she's 85. Her class rank won't matter when she's 85. Her ACT scores or how many times she took the ACT won't matter. On the other hand, those things will make a difference in the trajectory of her life. She'll have all the skills and experiences of a college-educated person if she goes to school, studies civil engineering, and becomes and architect, as she is currently planning. Yet, to what degree do these things take precedent over just plain living life? You know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about reading and playing music, painting and traveling, soccer, and, of course, PEOPLE. Because Jesus was in the business of people. What about falling in love? What about surprise birthday parties and late night phone calls and long conversations at the coffee shop?

Ok, so having a college education enables you to, ultimately, have more time for the people in your life because a professional career allows you to make more money in less time. And we all need money to live. SO, how do I communicate that extreme test anxiety related to going to college is unnecessary because how well you do in school isn't the end-all, be-all in life. Because it seems like it is. And how does this relate to Jesus?

Perhaps that's the answer. Jesus, I mean. Where we end, Jesus begins. Where we can do no more, Jesus can. When our plans don't work out, Jesus has a plan.

OH, but this reminds me of something. I believe in free will, which means that I believe that people have the ability to mess with God's plan. Sort of. Mango & I both believe that he was supposed to be at his current teaching position for at least one more year. We have been saying since Vespera came to us that he would stay until she graduated for sure, and then he'd reassess his career plans. He knew that he wasn't going to be in the same position forever, that there was some possibility that the school would be closing...or shrinking. Well, the school shrunk a year too soon, and he was "excessed," meaning that he still has a job in the district but not at his school, Vespera's school. The smaller size of the school has a lot to do with mismanagement, ridiculous policies...in short, fallen people living imperfect lives. Since I don't believe that God wills the bad things in the world to happen, I have to believe that people choose these things of their own free will. If people choose things of their own free will, they do things outside of God's ideal for them.

Ok, having said all that, I think we're in front row seats this year seeing how the plan we really felt we were following has been messed with by people outside the plan. And now we're waiting to see what GOOD God will bring of this. Because we also believe that God works all things together for the good of those who love God and have been called according to God's purposes.

It's anxiety-provoking, to say the very least. This shift in plans seems very off. It has tilted our world. Everything seems convex or concave or in some other way distorted. Yet faith isn't found in being certain. Faith is in the doubt, in the shifting and the distortion. Faith is believing anyway. I don't even know what I'm believing, either...just that God will be there beside us, whispering the next step quietly when it's time for us to know.

For Vespera, though, my heart breaks. She feels a huge sense of responsibility toward her family of origin. She feels obligated to follow the career path and to do a good job, and she has been fed the belief for many years that relationships with people can only interfere with her goals...specifically dating relationships. And, furthermore, she derives her sense of worth from grades and test reports, from her proximity to the career goals she's been planning since elementary school. Those career goals matter, but things do not always work out the way we plan...because of our own fallen-ness and the broken-ness of those around us. So, our worth is not in the carrying out of those plans. Our worth is in Jesus, and Jesus is about people.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Little Potato

Just thought I'd share lyrics to one of the cutest children's songs I've found about being born/welcomed into the world:

LITTLE POTATO
Written by Malcolm Dalglish
Oolitic Music, BMI
Recorded on Metamora, Sugar Hill Records, SH-CD 1131

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,
You're my little potato, they dug you up,
You come from underground!

The world is big, so big, so very big!
To you, it's new, it's new to you!

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,
You're my little potato, they dug you up,
You come from underground!

Let's talk about root crops (they dug you up),
And lamb chops (they chew on you),
And things to eat...like apples
and cheese and 'nanas and cream,
Jellies and butter,
it's late at night, I hope this little bottle helps you go to sleep!

They must have grown you wild,
you make a grown man a child,
I’ll go and play in the mud
to be with you my spud (potato).
When you came out looking red as a beet,
You had wrinkles on the bottoms of your feet!

Oh, you are so sweet potato!
You're my sweet potato,
you're my sweet potato, dug you up!
You come from underground!

You smile, a smile, a little smile!
The world is small, so small, it's very small!

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,
you're my little potato, they dug you up,
You come from underground!

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,
you're my little potato!