On Dreaming Big

There’s a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo standing there.  In her lovely, colorful dress she stands in the middle of some, by our standards, humble dwellings.  The photographer Brandon asks her, “What’s your biggest dream?”

The woman, almost smiling as the camera clicks, replies, “To be the mother of a doctor, the mother of a minister, the mother of an engineer.”

Wow.  So there’s this amazing thing (I am not sure what else to call it) called “Humans of New York.” The photographer usually posts several photos and quotes from people throughout the day.  Right now he is on a UN World Tour, and the journey has been so beautiful and broken, I have cried or laughed at each post–and sometimes I’ve done both.  People are people all over, you know?  We are all made of the same stuff, and our hearts all break and fall and love– sometimes over the same things, sometimes different.  I follow the page on Facebook, but I guess it is based on a “Tumblr” account–something I’ve not ventured into.  I first read the woman’s story above on Facebook, and her answer touched me.  You can see her picture here.   She is beautiful and graceful and regal as she stands there, isn’t she?

And in her answer too, in my opinion.

But not everyone agreed.

I remember someone commented, “Shouldn’t her children have a say in this?”  “Why is she setting such high goals for them?  She should be happy whatever they want to do.”  And so on.

Oh me.

As a Mama, I get it.  I dream big for my children.  My Daddy once told me that each generation wants their children to have it a little better than the one before them did.  Maybe that’s it.  I want them to dream big, and I want to be right there encouraging and empowering and cheering them through to the finish line, until they figure out what the next big thing is, and off we go again.  I want them to be satisfied with where they are but never quite comfortable enough to stay there.  (Not necessarily geographically speaking, y’all. Staying put is fine, not moving is not.  There is a difference.)

I think that DROC Mama wants something better for her children too.  I think maybe something might have been lost in the translation since some folks seemed to read it another way, but looking at that picture, my heart heard what I think she is saying.  Her biggest dream is that her children will choose a path that could take them far away from the worry and strife and poverty for their own families–a path that will not only allow them to take care of themselves, but also to care for others.

Sitting here now thinking about it, I think her biggest dream is symbolic of her hope–the careers she spoke of for her children take care of the body, the soul, and their future.  All of which can give her hope that things will be better for them and for those who follow.  She wants her children to make a difference in this world, and she thought of three paths that will do just that if done with caring and compassion.

Both of which I’m hedging my bets she’s teaching them.

I’m sad that she was judged so quickly and harshly by folks here in our society–one in which the education and paths to all three of those choices are a little easier, I expect, than in the community this woman is living.  She is choosing strength and a foundation of caring for her children.

And her biggest dream is about them carrying on and making a difference.

That.  Right.  There.

Beautiful.

Her biggest dream wasn’t winning the lottery, if they even have one.  It wasn’t about owning a mansion or driving a fancy car.  It wasn’t about writing the next great highly-acclaimed novel.  It wasn’t even about having enough food on the table or clean water to drink.

She is a dreamer.  And her dream is about those she was given to love and to raise.  And it was a gift from her to them–a gift of hope blooming and them making this world a better place.

I don’t even know.

I don’t know what my own answer would be if asked that question.  I have so much.  So.  Very.  Much.

Dream?  My biggest dream?

That the world be a little less broken and that me and mine can be a part of getting it there?

Maybe?

Tonight I’m thankful for folks like Brandon at HONY who are changing our world, bringing us all a little closer together one photograph and shared story at a time.  And I’m especially grateful to my sister half a world away who taught me a big something about what matters and what real dreams and caring look like in this world.  Bless her.

Love to all.

 

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As I sat here writing tonight, this song kept going through my head.  I was a huge fan of David Cook’s as he competed in American Idol, and I LOVED this song he sang in the finale.  I guess that’s why I keep hearing “If you don’t dream big, what’s the use of dreaming?” over and over.  That and “Go big or go home.” 

Here’s the lyrics to the song with vocals by David Cook.  (The other videos had the judges’ stuff after and who needs that–we already know he WON, he’s just that fabulous.  And he’s a dreamer too…..)  Hope y’all enjoy. 

Snarkiness, a Mama Fit, and What Came Next

Mama Confession #939.

Y’all, I showed out today.

Pitched one more fit.

Even slammed a door.

And I’m so sorry.

But I’m not sorry for what followed.

Today my littles were out playing with their friends, and is wont to happen with the under 10 crowd, as well as the over 9, under 25, 24-99 and all others, drama ensued.  By with this group, it’s the kind that after all go in and have lunch and come back out, all is forgotten.  It’s a different kind of grace, but grace nonetheless.

So emotions had been tight at one point and another.  My oldest has been under the weather.  My to do list, when I look at it in its entirety, overwhelms me and makes me want to crawl in a hole and hide.  (Metaphorically speaking, of course.  I don’t even have time to actually write down all I need to do, my time is so full of trying to do things.)

To say we were all primed and in a mood would be appropriate and quite spot on actually.

And then it happened.

The snarky words, the unkind look that broke this Mama Camel’s back.

I was done.

So much so I couldn’t even “use my words” as I encourage and sometimes even beg my crew to do.

I stormed out of the room.  The kind of overdramatic huffing and stomping out of the room that was reminiscent of my teenage years.  The only thing missing was the exaggerated “eye roll” and my raising my voice to announce, “You don’t even understand me AT ALL.”

I’m not sure I even understood myself this afternoon.

I went to my room and I slammed the door.

Loud.

I sat for a moment, trying to figure out what had just happened.

My heart hurt.  I felt like crying.

My children were turning on each other.  Those who should love and support each other were pointing out differences with an accusing finger.  They were calling names and poking fun and pushing buttons of vulnerability and frustration.  It wasn’t pretty.  And all I could do is sit back and watch.

Or was it?

I decided to take action.  Time for a meeting.  You know the ones I mean.  Where I sit and talk and have moments of silence for emphasis.

*raised eyebrow* EMPHASIS.

So many times when the “fussin'” has ensued, I’ve sent one or another or all three of them to their rooms.  I came close today.  Real close.

And then I had a thought.

I thought about how I’ve been writing about how we need each other, we need folks.  We need community and togetherness.  If I believe those things, and I think they can help in times of strife in our community, our church, our world, then why not in my own home, with my own people?

So instead of sending everyone to his or her own room, I sat them down on Cap’s couch.  I told them I love them, and that this home, our family, is supposed to be a safe place for them to be.  A comfort.  And that with the way we’ve all been using words and looks and unkind comments, it hasn’t been that.  I talked about all of the brokenness and hurt in the world and how we didn’t need to bring that into our home.  There’s enough sadness in the world already.

And then I dropped the bomb.

I told them to spend at least thirty minutes together, all three of them.  They could do whatever, but all three had to agree to whatever it was and they had to be kind in words, thoughts, and deeds.

And guess what?

They spent more than 30 minutes together. Way more.  They watched a show together, one they all liked.  They paused it and had a snack together.  One they chose–together.

And you know what else?

I felt peace.

In my heart.  In my home.

Oh well, there was still a moment or two that I had to remind them and *ahem* myself to choose our words and actions a little more carefully, but for the most of the rest of our day, we had peace.

Kindness.

Laughter.

Compassion.

Encouragement.

Sympathy.

While I was trying to climb and conquer Mt. Washmore this afternoon, I turned on the TV.  It was a Harry Potter marathon.  I think it was the fifth or sixth movie that was on.  When the headmaster Dumbledore calls and gathers all of the students into the main hall, he tells them why they were all searched upon arrival to Hogwart’s.  He explains that evil will always try to get in, and it is up to each one of them–they each have the ability–to keep it out.

And so it is.

I felt like something was worming its way into our home today, has been for a little while actually.  And it’s up to each one of us to be intentional with our thoughts, words, and actions–to keep it kind and a safe place for us to be.  Safe to share our stories, our worries, our joys, and our fears.  Safe.  Comforting.  A place where we can be ourselves and not looked down upon for it.

I still believe there’s a time and a place for being sent to one’s room for some down time, quiet time for contemplation.  It certainly helped me to regroup and think through to a plan of sorts today…..well with the exception of that whole pitching a fit part.  But I also believe there is a time to come together–not just a time, a need for it.  Unfortunately in our days and nights of places to be, things that need doing, numerous forms of entertainment, and assignments to complete–we can lose track of our togetherness, so focused on each individual’s coming and goings.  And sometimes what we need most is to be connected, to be with those who will always love and accept and listen, no matter what.  Those whom we belong to.  Sometimes we just need a little reminder of who that is and what that feels like.

Tonight I’m thankful for folded clothes and the wise words of a fictional wizard.  I give thanks for each one of my gifts, my children–each so different and unique and yet so much alike.  I have my fingers crossed that they grow up to be best friends, and that they always, always have each other’s backs.  And most of all, I give thanks for togetherness and love and the laughter I heard as the afternoon wore on and they spent good time together.  Sometimes it’s easiest to push away the very ones we need the most.  Today I give thanks that we took a different route.

Sending them to a room to be together…..who knew.  Sometimes that’s just what we need–after all, there’s strength in numbers.  And a lot of fun too.

Love to all.

 

Christmas Movies You Really Must See

Last night at the Christmas Eve candlelight service at Bare Bulb Coffee, which is also our church, my sweet pastorfriend shared two videos.  Both were powerful and made us think and laugh…..and cry.

‘Tis the season, no?

In the words of Patricia Polacco’s Uncle Vova in her children’s (and all ages) book Uncle Vova’s Tree: “We remember.”

We remember the story, the story that we honor and celebrate this day each year.  We remember those who have gone before, those who have taught us traditions and right and wrong and who have loved us.  And loved us well.

Last night the first video was from children at St. Paul’s Anglican Church of Auckland, New Zealand and it was their way of remembering.  The story they tell is old and yet very new.  I hope you have time to watch this delightful and wonderful video of the story before the story.  (And if you have a little more time, look for their other Christmas story videos they’ve done over the years.)

“Brilliant.  They won’t be expecting that.”

That’s the theme of my life these days, I think. Things I’m not expecting.  And you know what?  It is kinda sorta brilliant.

The second video is of a beautiful young actress sharing Mary’s story from Mary’s own perspective.  This actress is so gifted that I feel as though I really am listening to Mary.  And I cry.

http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/hope-of-the-world

“If this is what God wants, then this is what I choose.”

Oh my stars.  I wish I could say that with her conviction.  But sometimes what we are asked, what I am asked, is so heavy and hard, I don’t know that I can even comprehend what it will take.  I can come up with all kinds of excuses not to do it, though I know it is what God wants.  Oh to have Mary’s faith and conviction…..

And yet she is human.  She feels as all mothers likely do.  I know I have these struggles.  Daily.  And I love her for sharing them.

“I wonder who he is…..I wonder if I’ve failed him as a mother.  I wonder if he knows who he is.”

And she has her doubts.  Have you ever had something happen in your life when “God comes close” and you think you will never be the same again…..and then time and distance and the trials of life move you away from it, and you have a hard time remembering?  And feeling that it all was real?  I have.  And Mary has too.

“I want so much to believe, but sometimes it feels beyond me.”

Oh my aching heart.  I know.  I get it.  Mary, my sister, I understand.  And I shed my tears in tandem with your own.  This living this life–it’s not for the faint of heart, is it?

Tonight I am thankful for our pastorfriend sharing these wonderful videos that have touched my heart and fed my soul this Christmas.  I am thankful we shared these as a family, laughing over the precious angels together.  And I am thankful that I found hope and encouragement in this version of Mary’s story, the honest story of a young mother who is trying to remember the magic of being close, feeling close to God.  The wonder of being chosen and serving as God chooses.

And I am thankful that God loves me through it all, the good times and sad, the faithful seasons and the seasons of doubts.

Y’all know I believe in Christmas for a season, not just one day, so don’t let tomorrow send you back away from this time of being close, of magic and wonder, of a star shining bright in the darkness.  Go out, love on somebody you meet.  In the words of an angel, I recently met: “Those blokes could use some cheering up.”  And really, couldn’t we all?  Pass it on, share some cheer–my guess is it will find its way back to you.

Merry Christmas!