Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Perspective is Perception

It's always an honor to have Denisea Kampe visit and while it's only Tuesday, she can attest to what a week it's been.  Take a look at her take on perspective...

According to several hard copy and online versions of the dictionary, perspective is the way you regard something, your point of view, and or how things around you interact in relation to each other. Your perspective on something may vary greatly from another who may be standing in the same room you are yet see what you see through a completely different set of eyes. Many things can affect one’s perception. Faith, economic situation, environment one was raised, human interaction, social media, friendships, political affiliation, and more can all have some bearing on how someone perceives the world, the people in that world, and the events taking place in that world.
In other words, perspective actually is in and of itself a matter of perception.
Perspective is also fluid and ever changing. How you perceive something when you’re in the womb is different at age six is different at twelve, twenty, and forty. In the womb, science will attest to us hearing our mother’s heartbeat and taking comfort in that constant sound; reminder we are not alone. We hear the muffled voices of those around us and begin to recognize them before we’ve even met the faces which match those sounds. At six years old you know all the voices as they gather around your grandmother’s dining table which looks like something you’ve read about in Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s tall and broad and when you sit in your regular Sunday seat (a keg stool constructed by your grandfather and made comfortable with a handmade pillow stitched by your grandma); your feet dangle a few inches off the floor. Your chin barely clears the edge of it. The plates look more like platters and you have to grasp the tumbler holding your fruit punch with both hands, and even then you’re a bit shaky getting the sweet liquid to your lips.
At age twelve, your feet now touch the floor, you can see over the edge of the table and you begin to listen to the grown-up conversations around you. What you see and hear is of little interest to you. You’d rather be having pizza with your friends and who gives a rat’s butt who wins the Republican nomination when you think you’re probably a Democrat anyway.
Here you are twenty. You’ve given up the notion you’re a Democrat and try to defend your Republican views to your union dues paying family to no avail. You think they’re arrogant and condescending and they believe you’re a smarty-tail without a brain. You’re pregnant and no one even knows it yet, and Grandma’s chicken and dumplings have never tasted better. You remember thinking, I should be an adult. I’m old enough. I’m going to be a mom. But I’m not yet, am I? I’m still six years old at this table.
At age forty-five, you see that table for the last time. Only now, it’s not the dining room table. It was long ago replaced with a new solid wood one. The Formica table you grew up eating from has been transformed into a kitchen work surface with storage built beneath it.  The newer wood table is dusty, draped in one of the many felt-backed, plastic cloths Grandma has been gifted over the years as she loved those things and when folks had no idea what to gift her for any special occasion, a new one was produced. Sometimes there was more than one under the Christmas tree.
Notes scatter its surface; hand-jotted, sometimes not legible, definitely not the elegant scrawl you remember from forty years prior. There are a few “flyers” lying about, the weekly advertisements from the local markets. Sticky residue coats the few empty spaces of plastic table covering and an ancient set of salt and pepper shakers.
There are no plates, no tumblers, no pot of chicken and dumplings, no adult conversations being mostly ignored by six year old ears. Only quiet. And cleaning that needs done but reluctance of reality makes that slower than anyone would like, yet quicker than everyone is ready for.
From conception to birth to years of growth to death; perspective follows us. It grows with us, it changes with us, it challenges us, it transforms us, and it comes full circle. This past year my perspective has changed and grown, more than once.  It’s changed concerning my career, my life, and in what’s important. It’s been changed by life and death, my faith, and the people around me. And I have discovered, perspective’s fluidity knows no bounds.
It changed again today, when I awoke to discover my blog had been suspended and closed for reasons that have yet to be explained by the hosting platform. I expected some degree of blow back because anyone setting out on a journey that involves very publicly talking about their faith is bound to receive that, and talking about my faith was a big part of what the blog was supposed to support. What I didn’t expect was a complete shutdown and in less than ten days of opening. The realization of what this journey entails just got a little more real and my perspective changed from expecting blow back to expecting brick walls, and the determination to go over, under, or around grew alongside that perspective.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart, BethAnn, for deciding to step out on the shaky limb I’m clinging to in this endeavor and offering me a feature here in your space within hours of this little discovery. You are much appreciated and loved. And thanks to your readers for giving my post a little peek-see. Pray for me, folks, the fight has just begun…
We’re all in this boat called life, broken and striving for that perfection…grab a paddle!

Denisea Kampe

Friday, September 11, 2015

The best and worst met that day...

Fourteen years ago I was in my kindergarten classroom reading a story to my children when the Principal stepped in and caught my eye.  I excused myself and went to her, only to hear her say she expected parents to start arriving shortly to gather their children. In a quiet voice she then conveyed that the U.S. was under attack and that the Twin Towers had been hit.  News was still coming in about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania and officials in many major cities, including ours, were on high alert.  It was not impossible to think Chicago could be a target.  We’d been in class less than an hour. 

I asked if she could finish the story with my children to which she said yes.  My infant son, then just 5 months old, was in the school nursery a building away.  I ran to his room and found him sleeping in a swing overlooking a window with a view of a bright Chicago day.  I cradled and kissed him and told him that I loved him while he slept, and I prayed over him before I left.

And then I went on with my day.  I had twenty-four children waiting on me, oblivious that anything in their otherwise sunny world was wrong.  We had snack while parents trickled in.  We played with Legos, practicing our counting to twenty and naming our colors.  We wrote our names and practiced our spelling.  Time passed, every second feeling more like an hour, until the school day finally ended.  It was somewhere along the drive home I realized the skies above the Windy City were silent.

When I arrived home, I ran to the television only to be bombarded with images of devastation.  Pain.  Anguish.  Loss.  Desperation.  It was too much to watch yet I couldn’t turn away.  Disbelief.  Doubt.  Anger—they swamped me.  I was safe.  My husband was safe.  My son was safe.  But our homeland, this country I adore, was anything but safe.

While it felt like time stood still on September 11, 2001, life was taking place all around us.  I love you’s were spoken for the last time.  Promises of I’ll call you later would be broken.  Harsh words were left hanging between loved ones that could never be resolved.  Goodbye kisses were shared without hint of being final. And scores of selfless men and women laid down their lives for others.  I believe the best and worst of humanity met that day and that the battle still rages.  It’s not a battle of race or religion or color or privilege or geography.  Rather it’s the classic good versus evil.  Darkness versus light. 

There are times I feel that same fear and anger I felt coursing through me fourteen years ago.  As the events taking place in our world unfold, I often find myself shaking my head, disappointed we haven’t come further.  Then I’m reminded that darkness can’t drive out darkness.  Only light can do that.

We have a purpose far greater than staying trapped under the weight of our fears.  We’re called to be the light of the world and now more than ever we really need to shine.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

We see what you can't...

It was a conversation last night about studying for tests that led to the silent treatment that turned into the quest for homemade waffles at 630am this morning.  Confused?  So was I until I heard the words we see what you can’t fall from my mouth.

My son, the same little boy who memorized the names and facts of over 100 dinosaurs and corrected anyone who got them wrong…  The same little boy who memorized the names of over 400 Pokémon including each of their types, their powers, their attacks…  This is the kiddo who got a C-on a periodic table of the elements quiz and blew apart when his father, a chemical engineer, questioned him about it.  Catch the irony there?  The hubster lives the PTOE everyday.  In fact, I’m sure he’s able to recite it in ways you’ve never heard far quicker than he can recall my birthday.

After engaging in a lively conversation about study habits and grades and futures and why the hubster and I feel qualified to offer the advice we share, the teen stormed off to his room and honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see bedtime roll around.

Fast forward to today.  While I thought it odd the kiddo was a bit quieter than usual this morning, I didn’t realize our conversation wasn’t over until I walked into the kitchen.  Apparently advice about studying isn’t the only thing I stink at.

“We’re out of food,” the kiddo snarled my direction.

“We’re out of the waffles you like so I’m making blueberry muffins,” I offered in my best you aren’t getting to me one bit voice although every mom within a fifty mile radius knows that’s a lie.  “Do you remember I mentioned that during dinner?”

“Don’t bother,” he huffed.  “I’m making waffles.”  And then I saw it, numerous ingredients strewn about the island.  Ingredients for waffles.  From scratch.  On a school morning.  Oh my.

It took every ounce of control I could muster to make my coffee and vacate the kitchen without saying anything and I almost made it.  I really did.

“We see what you can’t,” I whispered from the bottom stair before I began to climb, worried my son had missed the point of our family conversation the evening before.  The hubster and I didn't just fall off the back of a truck.  We adore this kiddo and we’re desperate for him to understand that we have his best interest at heart.  We know if he puts his head down and does the work, great things can happen.  That if he just takes a few extra minutes, he can memorize the periodic table of elements (or whatever else it is he needs to know) just as he did the dinosaurs and all those Pokémon.  I want him to believe that we really do know what we’re talking about.  Truth is, after nearly a decade and a half of having this child’s back, I want him to trust me.

It wasn’t until I was halfway up the stairs that it hit me.  God has had my back for four and half decades yet there are still days I doubt the things I know to be true of him.  Days I’m paralyzed with fear.  Days I’m fraught with indecision.  Days I lack grace.  Days I don’t have the right words for my little boy.  Days I feel like a failure as a mom. God sees it all and He knows what I can't about the plans He has for me.

I have no idea if the message the hubster and I tried to convey to the kiddo last evening was received but in the quiet between then and now, it dawns on me that it’s unrealistic to expect my son to master at fourteen the very things I still struggle with at forty-five.  We’re allowed our doubts.  We’re allowed our fears.  We’re even allowed our silent rebellions.  God’s grace is enough to cover it all.