Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cheap and Easy...

What is the source of your holy discontent? You know what I mean… That topic that makes your blood boil every time it gets mentioned.  That image that makes you cringe and look away when you see it.  Is it pornography? Is it child abuse?  Lack of prison reform? AIDS orphans?  Corporate greed? Poverty? Sexual slavery? Illiteracy? Religious persecution?  Addiction?  Lack of school funding? Mental illness? Incurable disease? Religious persecution?  Homeless veterans? Any form of slavery? So what is it? What makes your blood boil? Now tell me what you do about it.

Do you post graphics on Facebook? Do you quote alleged scholars? Do you share your opinion on every issue that comes along?  Do you judge others for their opinion?  Do you scoff when someone disagrees with you?  We live in a free country so you have the right to do any of those things - they're cheap and they’re easy so I can see the appeal. But that's just it. They're cheap and easy. "There we go," we say to ourselves after we hit post before closing down our Facebook app.  "Now they know how I feel about XYZ."  Great. Thank you. You're right. Now I know how you feel. Now tell me what you really did that might affect the issue.

Did you help free a ten year old girl from wondering not if she’s going to be violated in the wee hours of the night but how many times?  Did you save a five-year-old little boy from being thrown over the side of a boat and told to swim or die?  Did you help a child who has never hugged his/her father due to incarnation get to spend an afternoon visiting his dad?  Did you put a hot meal in the tummy of a child that’s gone without food for several days?  Did you go to the hospital and lay an abandoned baby across your chest so they could feel the joy of skin-to-skin contact before they took their last breath?  Did you drop off that bag of unwanted craft supplies and that bundle of box tops to your local elementary school because you don’t need them but you know kids in a nearby district can’t afford crayons?  Did you snag an extra package of underwear when you were doing your back to school shopping to donate to the homeless veterans drop box? I could go on and on but I think you get the point and you're not going to like the next thing I have to say so buckle up.

I've heard it said that if you look at a man's checkbook, it doesn’t take long to see what he values and while part of me wants to push back against that because there are bills to pay, another part of me knows it’s true.  Many of us are all in when it's cheap and easy. In fact, the human race has proven that we have an incredible propensity for destruction largely because it’s cheap and easy. 

Spray painting a sacred monument doesn’t cost much to the person holding the can. Tearing down a statue doesn’t cost much for the person that brought the rope. Spewing hate via pithy graphics on Facebook doesn’t cost much to the sender of the post. While these displays of holy discontent seem active in the moment, the truth is they’re largely passive because save for the participant who might snag fifteen minutes of fame or feel better for a second in time, they really don’t help anyone else.  I mean seriously, what do you say to the person who thinks they’re helping the cause by acting in such a cheap and easy way?  “Way to kick the crap out of a piece of bronze?”  Or maybe something like, “You really know how to use a spray can?”

When you’re talking about affecting real change, cheap and easy rarely gets the job done because the sad truth about the world we live in is that action and advocacy come at a cost.  Whether it’s your time or your money or your energy, fighting your holy discontent can stretch the limits of your resources.

We’re so quick to toss out an opinion and take a side regarding the things that bother us to the core, yet many of us are so slow in acting in a way that has any chance of making a real difference.  Sharing your opinion may make you feel like you’re doing something and it may gain you some attention, but who is it really helping?  The world won’t become a better place until the day arrives when we’re as quick to leverage our resources toward the cause of our holy discontent as we are to share our opinion about it.  

What really makes your blood boil?  I hope you have an answer because there’s something you can do about it…

Do you really want to help end slavery?  Check out International Justice Mission: 

Want to help Aids orphans?  Check out Horizon International (right here in Indy):

Want to help incarcerated men and women?  Check out God Behind Bars:

Want to help those in the chains of sexual slavery?  Check out Red Umbrella:

Want to stand against religious persecution?  Check out Samaritan’s Purse:

Want to help with addiction recovery?  Check out Lighthouse Recovery Center (right here in Indy):

Want to help the homeless?  Check out Circle City Relief (right here in Indy):

Want to help active duty men and women?  Check out Adopt A Soldier:

Want to honor Veterans?  Check out Indy Honor Flight:

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Tears Didn't Attack Until...

Everyone that knows me guessed I’d cry on Wednesday as I stood in the driveway waving furiously while the kiddo smiled and pulled away.  Driving himself to school for his first day of junior year.  Alone.  Without me.  Without our legendary morning commutes filled with jam sessions and debates and history lectures and mom lectures and planning and strategizing whatever needed to be worked over at the time.  Gone was the old routine and with it went the traditions we’d spent years honing.  And while I teared up a bit, I’ll have you know I didn’t cry.  Instead I waited patiently for him to text me that he was at school safely then I went to breakfast and spent an hour laughing with my bestie. 

And I didn’t cry yesterday as we repeatedly the process.  Safely to school.  Safely back home.  Everything flowing according to plan.

And I didn’t cry this morning, either.  The kiddo and I had a terrific summer that included the start of new routines for he and I so yes, our mornings are forever changed, but we’ve got new things to share and look forward to.  When my bestie called today to check on me, I think she was proud that I was holding it together.

It wasn’t until this afternoon that the tears attacked and I didn’t even see it coming.  When the kiddo got home today, we talked and tackled chores and I made brownies while he started his homework.  All in all it was a normal afternoon right up until the kiddo asked if he could go out tonight.

“Sure!”  I said without missing a beat.  “Where are you going and what time do you need to be there?”

“The crew is getting together from seven until eleven,” he offered then he stopped and gave me an odd smile.

“That’s fine, babe.  Does anyone need a ride there or do we need to take anyone home?”  I went on, utterly clueless.

“Hey, mom?  I don’t want to hurt your feelings but I was planning to drive myself.  Is that okay?”

Right.  He’s driving himself.  Which means the downsizing is real and it’s not just back and forth to school he goes.  Of course it isn’t.  It’s everywhere he goes now.  And while it’s exactly as it should be, the adjustment is real. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

The New Baby...

My dad has played guitar since the "old man across the street" taught him You Are My Sunshine when daddy was five which means the kiddo has grown up watching and listening to daddy play. When the kiddo's first electric guitar showed up under Pops and Grandma's Christmas tree seven years ago, I knew we were on a path. While he's inherited one of his Pops favorite acoustics, Pops came over Monday and confirmed that the kiddo has finally outgrown his old Christmas gift. I loved the look on his face as he watched his Pops play today. And then again when we surprised him with a trip to the guitar store. Needless to say we brought home a new baby. #thesearethedays #priceless #LesPaul

Today lunch (translate that to a reason to eat carrot cake) was the only way I could get the kiddo to give it a rest and stop playing guitar long enough for me to re-up the Advil. Seriously, I’ve lost track of how many hours he’s played since Monday but spitballing it gets me close to forty. I love to listen to him, I really do. But I also work from home so that means my office floor is vibrating since the main area of his new studio in our basement is right beneath my space on the main level. On a positive note, there's only been one song he's learned that I really don't like (Paranoia by Black Sabbath, which he assures me he only likes because it's in one of the Ironman movies). Other tunes he’s learned this week include the theme song to Sons of Anarchy, the love song (my term) from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and Crossfire by Stevie Ray Vaughn as well as a few from the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Seeger. He’s tossed in some Brad Paisley and Taylor for good measure and last night I even heard him playing the main riff from Staying Alive. 

Then there’s his main focus, which is any and everything by John Mayer. Like. All. John. All. The. Time. We’ve watched every minute of John’s Any Given Thursday (Live from Oak Mountain, 2002) concert and his Where The Light Is (Live in LA, 2007) concert as well as his VH1 Storytellers session (2009), which leads me to this thought… I sincerely hope John's mom had to listen to as much Clapton (John’s idol) as I am Mayer (the kiddos idol). #InYourAtmosphere  #CakeForLunch

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Music Wars...

You may have heard me mention that every so often, the kiddo and I end up in a music battle.  We take our tunes very seriously in these parts and while we share similar tastes, there are days the mood hits and one of us just can’t help goading the other about a particular song choice.  Such was the case this morning.  I had the tunes cranked while making my bed; a chore I DETEST and would never do it if the hubster didn’t appreciate it.  Talk about Felix and Oscar!  As a result, on days I make the bed, I usually turn up the music to ease the pain. 

The kiddo couldn’t resist commenting on Natalie La Rose’s Dance with Somebody as he stepped in to my room and snagged the speaker, promptly redirecting the Bluetooth to play something called Lean On by Major Lazer.  “That song is so last summer,” he offered to my Natalie choice.

“And this song is so awful,” I countered a minute later as I looked over at him as if to say 'find some taste' and regained control of the speaker, only to hit him with DJ Snake and the Biebs crooning Let Me Love You.

“You don’t play fair,” he smiled as he started to bop before grabbing the other side of the comforter I was wrestling in an effort to help.  “You and I both know no one can resist the Biebs.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The World Gets to Me...

Some days I can take the things that happen around me in stride.  I can rationalize that I’m here and such and such is happening over there, or that a given hardship befalls someone else but me and mine are fine so life must go on...

But on other days…  On days like today…  I’ve just got to be honest--the world gets to me.

When I hear about a mother who throws her infant from the 10th story of a 26-story apartment fire, the world gets to me.

When I see a picture of grown men praying on a baseball field, the world gets to me.

Have you ever held a wholly innocent and helpless infant in your arms?  Now close your eyes and try to imagine being in a situation so desperate you’d throw that baby out a window because you knew to the core of your being your last breath could be counted on one hand and the window was the last hope for life before death prevailed. 

Have you ever reached across the aisle and come together to support the greater good?  Now imagine diving on top of people you spend an inordinate amount of time trying to best in the nine to five realm in an effort to shield them from the gunfire whizzing past.  Imagine praying for the people you were trying to discredit and crush in yesterday’s meeting.

The sad truth is that we live in a world where it’s becoming all too common to only expect the best of humanity to emerge when tragedy knocks down a given door.  This isn’t the world I grew up in and it’s not the world I want the kiddo to inherit.  The same kiddo who wants to make it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. one day and might very well get to play in that baseball game along the way. 

The world gets to me on days like today because it shouldn’t take headlines to remind us of how we ought to love, and hope, and protect, and pray for one another.  We greatly cheapen ourselves when we only allow our best to show up in the face of the horrific.  By only reacting to tragedy, we rob ourselves the opportunity to make a difference in the everyday.

I want the people in my life to love me like the mom in the window; enough to help me see a way when I lose hope. 

I want the people in my life to love me like the congressional baseball players; enough to hit their knees and call out to God for me even though we disagree and they’d rather write me off.

If you’ve got friends and family you aren’t encouraging today but you’re weeping over the headlines, I don’t want to make you mad but I am calling you out because you’re missing it.

Somebody needs someone to be bold for them today.  Somebody needs someone to call out on their behalf today.  And whether there's a headline for it or not, somebody in your circle needs something only you can provide for them today.  Don’t miss it.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't...

In the middle of our walk between art galleries today at a local museum, the kiddo stopped and turned and stood in awe for several moments.  “Do you know these two?” he finally asked quietly.

Maybe I did.  Maybe I didn’t.  What I knew didn’t matter at the moment.  “Why don’t you tell me about them,” I replied instead of answering.

“This is King George III and his wife, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg,” he began, and our discussion didn’t end until sometime after I’d learned more about European history and art than I thought I’d ever know and our lunch had moved into dessert and coffee nearly two hours later. 

These are the days he gets to be the tour guide and I get to hang back and soak in all he’s learning.  These are the days I get to listen and stand in awe of all he’s becoming.  These are the days I want to remember.  

Friday, May 26, 2017

What I really meant to say...

I'm a bit of a weepy mess this afternoon but before you feel bad for me, I'm giving you permission to laugh at me.  I know it sounds ridiculous.  I've said the words out loud about a dozen times now, wondering if they’d somehow mean more or less if I heard them in my tone of voice rather than in my head.  I only have two more days to drive carpool and while this should make me jump for joy, I know my life will never be the same.

So let me back up and bring you in on where all of this began.  I've been wondering how to break it to my son that I want to drive him to school on the first day in August.  Do I have a good reason? Not really.  He’ll have his license.  He has a car.  He’ll have driven nine thousand miles over the summer in various lighting and weather conditions because we’re going to live in his car until I feel confident he knows enough to pull out of the driveway on his own.  But I have a few bits of mom logic bouncing around my brain that I’m prepared to toss about when I plead my case. The first day is always frenetic and I’ve been in the high school parking lot on enough day ones to know the student parking area looks like a toddler took a warehouse full of matchbox cars and threw them everywhere.
The view from the from of the line.

So I got brave yesterday and floated this notion by the kiddo.  There I stood, fully anchored in reality yet hopeful, as he grinned at me from ear to ear.  “Mom. No way. I'm looking forward to driving myself.”

I know this.  The kiddo and I are close and we talk about things like this.  I know he's excited.  So I joked and laughed and played it cool and said typical mom things that came to mind like who will hold your coffee while you're getting all of your stuff out of the car and you can’t eat and drive so you’re going to have to add ten minutes to your morning routine.  I have jobs in the morning.  I'm the breakfast maker and the coffee holder so I thought these were valid talking points. But what I really meant to say were heart things like who will tell you to do great and have a great day and that they love you before you head into the fray?  Who will be waiting with a smile to pick you up and listen as you download your day?  I ended up going with the simple truth.  “I’ll miss running through our checklist.”

You see, my kiddo is an Aspie.  And while his Aspie is extremely mild, like a dash of pepper on a beautifully frosted slice of cake, routine runs the game.  I never knew when he was diagnosed at the tender of age of five, when we learned that his routines were a God-wired part of him and not just learned behavior, that these same routines I often loathed would become so ingrained in me that I would have a harder time breaking some of them than he would.

It was then my son said the sweetest, most heartbreaking thing I've ever heard leave his lips.  “I know, mom.  Haven't you noticed I've been giving you less and less information during our afternoon run down? I didn't want to hurt your feelings but I know I have to start doing the rundown for myself so I've been trying to keep my conversations with you fairly brief.

Oh sweetheart, I wanted to shout.  I’ve noticed.  Of course I have.  The logical part of me has known what he was doing since he changed up our routine shortly after spring break but my heart didn't want to admit it.

“So what if I just ride with you?” I asked.  No, I’m not above a backdoor approach to getting my way.

“Sure,” he offers quickly.  He’s been driving me around town for months so this isn’t anything new.  But then he catches me.  “Wait a minute,” he smiles.  “If you ride with me that means you either take my car and come back after school or you sit in the parking lot for seven hours.  Nice try, but no deal, mom.”

So the kiddo is on to me.  Okay.  That’s fine.  I get it.  I’ve seriously got to up my game.