Legos, All the People, and Being Friends with God

This afternoon I was heading to our next adventure with the littles in the backseat.  They were having some kind of conversation between the two of them, as I had the jazz music playing and they were not interested in listening at all.

Cooter got really frustrated, and I can’t remember why, but his frustrated, vehement comment said it all.  “I just wish there were only one person on this earth!”

“Really?  Who?”

He harrumphed.  I’ve often wondered what that was, but believe me, you’ll know it when you hear it.  And then he said, “Me!”

Okay, that was enough of that hormonal angst.  (I mean, good gravy, he’s just barely eight. Let’s wait a while to start all that fun, shall we?)

“Well, okay buddy,” I started as I made the necessary turns to keep us on track for our destination. “Let’s see.  If you’re the only person on earth, then there’s no Legos, because there’s no one to design and build the Legos, and there’s no one to play Legos with…..”

“Okay, okay.  Me and the Lego designers, and that’s it.”

“And there will be no one to work at the power company, so you won’t have light to see by to build with the Legos, and no food because no one’s growing it or selling it or transporting it or cooking it, so you’ll be real hungry…..”

“Okay, never mind.” He sighed.  “I want to live here with all the people.”

Yeah, I had hoped you might come to that conclusion.

About a minute and a half later he piped up again.  “Well, I almost said just me and God.  I mean God can do anything, and it’s kind of like magic so God could make the Legos, and we could be friends and play together…..”

His sister, our Princess, interrupted.  “But what if you and God have a fight?”

Wow.  Bam.  Go straight for the jugular.

Because in their world, that is very real.  We get into arguments and disagreements with those we love and care about.  It doesn’t mean we don’t still care about each other and it’s never forever, it’s just the differences of opinions happen and then the arguments follow.  I thought it was an interesting question.

I suppose it might sound sacrilegious to some, but I think there have been many, many people who have walked this earth who have “had a fight” with God.  And what comes after that fight is the really good stuff.

Grace. Love. Peace. Life-changing decisions.  Changes of the heart.

Tonight I’m thankful for Cooter’s change of heart when he realized that we do need people.  All the people.  That there are so many people he will never, ever meet who affect his life, make his life better, what it is.  I think it’s good for all of us to do that from time to time.  Stop and think about all the folks who touch our lives–and all the lives we touch–who will be forever faceless and nameless. Doesn’t change the fact that we need to keep remembering them though.  In the choices we make, in our actions, in our hearts and minds.  Remembering “it ain’t just about us.”

May we have a moment of remembering and sending light into the world for those whose hands touch our lives–the power company, the truck drivers, the news reporter, the person sewing the clothes, the person packaging the cereal–there are so many people without whom we would not be who and what and where we are this very second.  And most likely we will never meet them to thank them.

Mind.  Blown.

Wishing you all a day of making lives better.  Yours included.

Love to all.

It’s Not Okay

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I was talking with some folks a *bit* younger than me about the blog, and one of them said, “You should write about how it’s not okay for guys to push females around or be forceful with them.”

Ummmm.  Okay?

I listened to the stories, and I know that she knows it is not okay.  I know she can take care of herself.  And for that I am thankful.

But I’m sad that this is something she thinks needs to be written about.  Very sad.

I’m no expert on the subject of dating violence.  However, I think we might be doing the whole world a disservice by calling it dating violence, because I highly suspect it doesn’t start off as violence.  I think it can start off as disrespect.

And that’s not okay either.

Let me say that again.

Disrespecting another person, whether you are dating or not, is not okay.

But disrespect is where it begins.  An unkind word, a put down, a demand on your time or resources that is just that–a demand.  Getting frustrated when you want to spend time with other people.  Getting frustrated when your world revolves around anything but them.

But no, the violence hasn’t started, so it’s hard to feel like it’s not right.  Because the demands and frustration and disrespect are usually followed by a reminder of why you started dating the person to begin with.

They’re funny, charming, kind, handsome, gorgeous, silly, goofy, smart, dark and brooding–whatever.  You second guess yourself.  You start thinking that maybe they’re right–you should want to spend more time with them.  You shouldn’t be so serious about your education or your career or YOUR dreams and goals.  After all, it’s sweet they want more of your time–that means they love you, right?

Wrong.

Anyone who loves you LOVES you.  Supports you.

Not only is disrespect not intended, it doesn’t happen.

Unfortunately, because the violence often does not happen at the beginning of the relationship, it is easy for young people (and older ones too) to rationalize about the disrespect and continue with the relationship.

Because “at least he/she doesn’t hit me.”

NO.  Just no.

We have to raise our daughters and sons to know what disrespect looks like and that this is not acceptable or okay in any kind of healthy relationship, friendships included.  And we have to empower them to have healthy relationships.  We need to hear whatever story they bring to us, and let them know it’s okay–we love them no matter what.  And then we have to help them define disrespect and set boundaries.  And to let go of the bad stuff and the bad relationships, no matter how long they’ve been with someone or how long they’ve been friends, no matter how nice it was in the beginning, no matter how many promises the other person has made.

No means no.

Disrespect is the gateway to violence.

I really believe that.

I’m not sure what my young friend wanted me to say.  Sweet girl, I hope this does what you asked me to do.  I see you there, being so strong, and letting the guy know what is not okay.  And I am thankful you are able to do that.  But know this, any guy–any person–who isn’t in awe of you and all about celebrating all that is you–just keep on walking.  Because you are better than that.  You deserve someone you can respect to the end of your days and who will spend every breath supporting you and your dreams.

It’s a bumpy ride, and there will be disagreements.  Misunderstandings.  Hurt feelings.  Many times.

But there should never, ever be disrespect.

Be particular, as my Granny used to say.  And be cautious.  If they can’t respect you, they don’t get to be with you.  Dating, friendship, whatever.

And that’s pretty much it.

May you find the one you are meant to be with, but in the meantime, may you grow to be your own biggest advocate and dream big.  The one who will appreciate walking that path with you will come.

Love and respect to all.

the last one home

there is little better feeling than being the last one home

the last one to return to the roost where we all grew our wings

the lights on, hearts and stories waiting until all are there

and the smiles grow brighter

hugs are given and given again

and last just a moment longer than they used to

laughter accompanies the threats of telling that one story

that everyone already knows anyway

 

all await me behind the blinds with the light peeping through the cracks

beckoning me to their warmth

their affection the perfect protection from the cold chill

and darkness of the journey

 

all those I love and hold dear

tucked away inside,

piled up on every chair and cushion

and even curled up on the floor

 

plates are full

and so are the hearts

of those I love

and cannot wait to see

a sight for sore eyes

it’s been far too long

 

there is little better feeling than to be the last one home

unless it’s being the first one there, waiting,

anticipating

all the joy that is to come

 

On Being Off-Balance

I have had the great pleasure and joy of having not one but two Wesleyannes in the house this weekend.

Aub came home, and her sisterfriend joined her.  The whole crew, including Miss Sophie, have carried on as if it were one big party.

And it has been really, because I can’t think of anything better to celebrate than being together and napping and laughing and playing and napping–oh yeah, and napping.  Because, you know, college is hard.

As these young women will tell you, the struggle is real.  One week back from Spring Break and I know they had at least three mid-terms to take this past week.  Underwater basket weaving was not one of them.

So sleep has definitely been on the agenda.

But so has fun.

This afternoon and evening the girls and I cleared a spot in the Nest and painted.  I am giggling to myself a bit, with delight, because when I sat down with my own paintbrush and invited them, Aub’s friend claimed she wasn’t much of an artist.

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Well, I beg to differ.  She did a beautiful job.  Hello, freehanded it.  Nailed it.

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As Aub was lettering, she got frustrated, saying she thought her words were off-balance.  I looked, and I thought she was doing a fabulous job.  In the meantime, I was getting ready to Mod Podge my words on my work, and I slipped up and placed it at a bad angle.  As I fussed to myself and was quickly peeling it off so I could move it, both girls looked over and said it looked great.

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They both suggested I write about being off-balance tonight.

So here are my thoughts.

We can feel off-balance, frustrated that everything isn’t a-okay-perfect in our lives.  The truth is nothing is ever going to be 100% perfect.  It’s hard to plan ahead on where to start so we end up with everything in exactly the right place at the end of the day.

However, isn’t it interesting that, while each of us thought her own piece was a train wreck and all off-kilter, the others thought it was lovely?

That’s all I have tonight.  What you think is a tore up mess and very obvious to the world probably ISN’T.  So just keep on keeping on, trying your best, because everyone has something go wonky at some point.  Grace abounds.

And sometimes when things are wonky is when they are most beautiful.

May you all find yourselves with just enough off-balance to keep things interesting.

Love to all.

radiance of tomorrow

there is brokenness in the world

and each morning seems to bring more stories,

more news

of violence, crime, heartbreak, racism, hatred, bullying, judging, loss

 

stories that have the ones who hear them

with their hearts and souls

weeping

and wondering if the world will ever be set to right again

 

and yet each night as I burrow under my blanket

seeking rest despite the rips in the fabric of our being

I find myself looking toward what I hope will come when I awaken

and embrace a new day

 

the healing, the kindness, the good in all of us

 

and I dream of the radiance of tomorrow

and all that could be

if we only

could

be

menders

of the rips

and pEAce it all back together again

that part was true

of all the things I’ve promised and felt in my heart I needed to do

when I said I would love you always

and do everything in my power to keep you safe and

fill your world with laughter and joy

 

no matter what I couldn’t stop from happening

no matter the darkness I couldn’t keep out of our world

no matter the stories I couldn’t keep from touching yours

 

when I said I would love you forever

no matter what story you brought home

that part was true

 

 

Listening to Hear

So speaking of listening, I wanted to tell you about a young man who has made a great impression on me and mine.

Yesterday in the midst of our out and abouts, the littles and I found ourselves next door to the GW Boutique on the other side of town.  Lest you think I was shirking my duty in hunting down bargains, the spot next door (where they had the GW BOOtique last September and October) is now the Last Chance GW.  Only open on Tuesday-Thursday and filled with racks of well-organized clothes, every piece of clothing is 99 cents on Tuesdays and the price goes down from there.

Awesome.

I mean name brand jeans for 99 cents?  Shirts, shorts for littles who are going to wear them out anyway?

That’s something I can get excited about.

After we perused the racks (not as long as I would have liked–the littles were saddened that it was only clothes), we popped in next door at the Boutique.  We poked around for a few minutes and I found a couple of things for next winter.  (Yes, I know, this one isn’t over yet, but I’m trying to think positively.)  I said no to things we already have too much of, and we headed to the checkout.

A young man who has waited on me there at least once before was at the register.  I don’t know his name–no name tag, and I regret not asking.  He is so friendly, and you can tell he really loves his job.  Because of that, I love my experience there.  He listens and he comments and he’s just one of those people who lifts your spirits with his general outlook on the world.

As we talked about my purchases, he commented on my necklace–the one I wear every day.  How much he liked it.  I thanked him and smiled.  I’m about 95% sure he told me he liked it last time I was there and we talked.  He’s a noticer.

He might notice things a little more than most because he has a hearing impairment.  Or maybe that’s not why.  Still he pays close attention.  I’ve noticed that I need to make sure he can see my mouth when I’m speaking, and we carry on great conversations.  It’s because he pays close attention to more than just necklaces and purchase items; he pays attention to people.  He looks at you when he is speaking, and that is so HUGE in this day and age of carrying on conversations with heads bowed over keyboards and phones.  And he doesn’t just listen to reply–he listens to hear.

I really enjoy being around his kind spirit.  Yesterday as we were talking, he pointed to the flowerpot at the end of the checkout counter.  “Yeah.  Someone hurt my plant.”

All I could see were little twig like bits sticking up no more than an inch and a half above the soil.

“It was growing so good, but someone just broke it off.” Our eyes met.  “I don’t know who or why.”

Oh my heart.  “I am so sorry that someone would do that to you–to your plant.  I’m sorry.”

A shadow seemed to lift, and he smiled.  “Oh it will be okay.  I always kill plants–can’t make them grow.  But that one…..anyway, I will make a trip over to Wal-Mart and I’ll try it again.”  He paused and then gestured toward the end of the counter behind him.  “That one down there is doing really well.  It was donated.  So now it’s the Goodwill plant.”

The Goodwill plant was lovely and a vibrant green.  “Wow.  That is awesome.”

“Yeah, when they first brought  it in, it wasn’t doing so good, but look at it.  They took it outside for a bit today too.  I think it liked it.”

I nodded.  “I’m sure it did.  Obviously Goodwill has been good for that plant.”

And it hit me as I was walking out, explaining to my girl why we had to make sure our friend could see our lips moving when we spoke to him, that a little (or a lot) of goodwill is pretty much good for all living things, isn’t it?

Tonight I’m thankful for the kind folks whose paths cross with mine and for how they lift my spirits.  I’m thankful for this young man who is kind and a noticer, for those are the folks who make each person they meet feel important and special.  And I’m thankful for his love of the things that grow, and the lesson he taught me in those few moments about listening, really listening.

May we all learn to listen to hear and to notice the little things.  And the big ones.  And all those in between.

Love to all.