22 November 2013

Thy Kingdom Come

it was recently brought to my attention that my two youngest are a little dodgy in reciting the Lord's Prayer. and when i say dodgy what i mean to say is, they don't know it. at. all. go ahead, judge. 

we attended the most beautiful wedding recently of one of our most favorite people in this world, amy. she and her darling guy were married in a catholic ceremony. in between trying to explain why we don't play in the holy water bowl and why Mother Mary plays more than a cameo in the Birth of Jesus story, there was so much richness in the symbolism and ceremony of their wedding. a great deal of recitation and kneeling. the oldest finally confessed, "i just wish they told me what to do" as he pointed to the lovely formal program he was given when we were escorted to our seats{at the very front of this majestic cathedral}

when it came time to recite the Lord's Prayer i listened to the voices of my older two sons as they stumbled with the different translation than the one they learned. the two youngers just stared blankly. and i realized as i've realized a thousand times this school year, they haven't been taught this important tenant to our faith. i calmed myself by saying, "okay, we'll spend the next few weeks writing, studying and processing the significance of the Lord's Prayer. it's not too late."

when the two younger boys began their lessons that following monday they found the first part of the Lord's Prayer written out for them to copy, read and discuss. and that's where we've been for the last 3 weeks. adding to the prayer every week. talking about the meaning of the words. slowly moving through the different translations. one may read "debts/debtors" another may say, "trespasses/ trespassers". which brings up grammar and synonyms. it's been a rich few weeks of taking it slowly and moving methodically through a small, but significant portion of scripture.

you know how you read and recite something a million times and then, THEN you have the light bulb moment? well, that happened this week to me when we read yet again the portion "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

earth and heaven. the connection. sometimes i am so wistful for the afterlife that i forget the here and the now. i forget that hope and change are for the here and now.

i see it in the faithfulness of a mother who drives across town at 7 at night so that her son can serve the homeless despite the fact she's exhausted from working all day. i see change when the director of the homeless facility{that receives 0 government assistance} shares that many of the men who work on their sobriety manage to find freedom from addiction in 180 days. i see god's kingdom come when boys from troubled homes are happy to wipe down tables and don hairnets as they serve hot food to strangers. i see god's kingdom come when a man decides to turn the idea of success on its head by leaving corporate america to hang out in a building full of homeless people. 

thy kingdom come. thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. those words mean so much to me as i see how earth and heaven come alive in my own life. it's not the brokenness of the world that i see as much as my own brokenness. and the Creator in His gracious manner allows me to move out of my own head and space and into the world around me to see His Kingdom Come and His Will be done on earth, this earth where my feet are today. maybe not tomorrow, but for this moment they are on the floor in my kitchen where i await the breakfast bustle. the faithfulness of seeing God's kingdom come for me begins in stewardship of time. of teaching my boys a few words that they will hopefully carry with them for the rest of their lives on this earth and hopefully as they wrestle with what "on earth as it is in heaven" looks like in their own lives.

may your weekend be wrought with much goodness, and may you see the profound glory that surrounds us. 


p.s. in case you're unfamiliar with what the Lord's Prayer is. more here or even here

18 November 2013

public school ruined me

i took an 18 year hiatus from public school. it's not like i planned it that way. i mean i attended public school k-12 growing up. i did my student teaching in public school. and then just like that. i left. 

this past year i returned, but this time to enroll my 14 year old son and his younger brother. it felt timely. it felt exciting. it felt. daunting. not for the reasons you may imagine. 

you see for the passed 10 years i've homeschooled my boys. when they decided it was time to not be homeschooled, the first and only option that i seriously considered was public school. and i took that decision to heart with as much vim and vigor as i did when we decided to school our boys at home. 

community is what led us to homeschool. community is what led us to public school. and i have to tell you, this has been one community-filled first year. brother-keeping-brother kind of year. it has been my undoing and my making. i have wept and wailed and wondered more these past 3 months than i have perhaps their entire lives. maybe it's because they are in such challenging life stages {teething has nothing on teenager-hood, i am so sorry to say, sweet mamas}. or maybe it's because, damn, we are in a really ridiculously good/hard/lean-not-on-your-own-understanding kind of place. regardless, we are here. in public school. i have seen hard places in my boys' hearts soften and soft places in their burgeoning manhood harden. and it's been good.

we are availing ourselves to hearing stories that are so full of hope and promise that i want to shine my shoes and dance a jig. and we are walking into places so wrought with brokenness that it makes me wonder how some people can even put one foot in front of another. 

this morning as i was hanging up my clothes, looking through my closet for some coats that would fit the dress code for donating to a local school, i said aloud, "i am ruined. i will never be the same." 

and it's true. i am ruined. but not in the way you may think. i am ruined into thinking that i can just bebop my way through life and forget that there is a mother who just buried her son after he hung himself. 

i am ruined by the testimony given at the local school board meeting last week. a sincere mother commending the merits of her local elementary school that she adores, but that does not come highly recommended by any of my friends and even some of the teachers who work there. 

i am ruined by all the falling short i feel when i cannot wave my magic wand to convince the neighbors that these neighborhood schools are worth it. worth staying in the neighborhood for. worth fighting for. worth sending their children to. 

i am ruined when i see how fiercely devoted the principals and teachers are to their students. going to bat for them over and over. working way, WAY beyond their pay grade because they sincerely care more about their students' character than they do their own paycheck. 

i am ruined when i hear my 14 year old say, "it was so great seeing my friends today at school." my reluctantly outgoing boy who is a newly minted ambassador for his high school. a school that i was warned about. a school that was ONCE {but no longer} one of the 10 most dangerous schools in america. a school we almost missed the chance to get to know. a school that our elected school board member has yet to visit. a school where the principals know the students by name.

public school ruined me. it opened me up to a world wrought with so much. challenges. victories. hopefulness. hells. as well as havens. i am not the same. and you know what? i am better. 


13 November 2013

setting the table

from my earliest memories i remember living in a home that was always welcoming. we had a pool. we had a circle driveway. and we had two parents who knew how to cook and entertain. effortlessly. or so i recall.  

my father, still an avid fishermen, would host fish fries. and let me tell you. they were pretty amazing. he would set up his jury rigged apparatus out in the garage that i seem to recall entailed ladies panty hose in order to deep fry fish as well as hush puppies. friends would gather around sipping their miller lite or white wine whilst watching my father sling those little fins in and out of the hot oil. it was far from a fussy event. 
lively conversation is a requirement
my mother never really fretted over a tidy house. she did not serve with fancy dishes. or cloth napkins. she made lists, but only to make sure there was enough food. and there always was. plenty.

this was looooong before pinterest told us how to table scape. before martha stewart stole hospitality as her bastard child and perverted it in a way that is downright unnatural. long before cooking shows had to try hard to come across as being down home.

my father's penchant for spontaneous dinner gatherings left everyone happy, full and hopeful that they would be invited to the next markham cookout/swim party/homemade ice cream/fish fry. i have to wonder if it was because the hospitality was unfettered.

i've been thinking a great deal about hospitality. it's kind of my favorite thing. in this world. having people over. making them something good to eat. seeing my children interacting with them. observing my children as they learn to serve.

hospitality is not about a tidy house, well mannered children {though i must confess it's helpful}. it's not about having a large home. it's not about having the most exquisite table settings or lighting or music or even the food. it's about the people who feel loved and cherished and invited. it's about stewardship and sharing and hearing and loving and welcoming. and this can include those with whom you dwell on a regular basis as well as your neighbors. 
and when the table is full, the sofa serves as a good overflow option

if you are accomplishing all those things by just being happy someone has set aside time to sit with you a bit. if you are appreciative that in this crazy life, another soul would value you over television or even a good read, then you have a heart that is hospitable. then you have properly set a table that will be enjoyed and savored long after the guests have left.

just my 2 sense,
xo gf