Cooter, Clemson, and Middle C

Earlier this month we enjoyed the Georgia National Fair and all of its splendor.  Rides, exhibits, music, food, friends, fun–every bit of it.  During one of our visits (yep, we went more than once this year–ALL the fun, y’all),  we were wandering through the commercial exhibit hall.  Cooter stopped to look at the piano in one of the booths.

As he looked at the keys, searching for middle C, the owner came up and, noticing Cooter’s baseball cap, spoke to him.  “Hey, are you a Clemson fan?” Then he looked up at me, “Are you a Clemson fan?”

I shrugged and said, “I’m not, not really,” and smiled back.  The good-natured salesman laughed and said, “Then why on earth would you let him wear that hat?”

I laughed.  “That’s just how we roll.”

The truth is that Cooter found the hat at the GW Boutique, and he really liked it.  His friend is a Clemson fan, so he cheers the team along with his friend.  Am I a Clemson fan?  Is the Fella?  Is anyone else in our house?  Not really.  But it doesn’t keep us from loving Cooter in his Clemson fan-dom.  He’s becoming his own person.  He IS his own person.  He is learning and living out his story, and he’s forming his own opinions about sports teams and what books are his favorites to read (biographies and history and oh, Captain Underpants) and what matters most to him.  We’ve been studying the beginning of this country and how the government was formed, and so he’s even been venturing into forming his own political beliefs.

On all of these things–sports teams, books, what matters most, and even political beliefs–there are things we have in common, things we believe the exact same about (Captain Underpants not being one of them, you understand), and there are things we absolutely disagree on.

And yet, just this morning, that little imp told me I was his favorite Mama.  And while, I’m the only nominee in this category–it’s not an award he had to give.  So, despite our lack of commonality on several things (the need for him to do his science lesson being a major one), he loves me.

And I adore him right back.

Perhaps what I should have told the piano man back at the Fair is, that in this family, it’s okay to like and think and believe different things.  That’s why it’s okay that my oldest loves music I don’t really care for, that my middle child loves UGA (though I’m a Tech Fan), and that my baby boy is a huge fan of all things football and enjoys books I am not really interested in.

And it really is all okay.

Because at the end of the day, we are all right here together.  Living in our own little corner of this great big world.  Growing and learning and sometimes changing our thoughts and beliefs and preferences as life takes us on down the road.  And whatever it takes for us to live and love together, that’s what counts the most.  Being okay with our differences and not only allowing but encouraging each other to have them–even if it’s cheering for a team I could care less about–that’s what keeps us going.  That’s what matters most.  In our house, our neighborhood, our town, our country, our world.  For all of us.

I hope you get to wear the hat you want.  Because it’s your head, your journey, your story.  And I hope folks love you just the same.

Love to all.

clemson-hat

 

A Dime For My Thoughts

A few days ago the littles and I were watching some videos about the Presidents.  One had a song about who is on this kind or that kind of money.  It was maybe a little beneath my two agewise, but it was a catchy tune, so we watched.

And I sort of sang along in the hopes that they would too.

Who’s on the penny?  Who’s on the penny?

Lincoln.

Who’s on the nickel?  Who’s on the nickel?

Jefferson.

(Did I mention I was rocking it while my two sat staring back and forth in disbelief between me and the screen?)

Who’s on the dime?  Who’s on the dime?

Eise

Wait.  What?

What do you mean–Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

I don’t even think so, people.

I pulled out my trusty friend (my phone) and asked that very question.

Who is on the dime?

And I’m sorry–

NOT Eisenhower?

My whole life has been a lie, y’all.

A LIE.

How did I ever get that confused?

Who was the first one to tell me that?  Or did I just assume and no one ever talked to me about this VERY IMPORTANT FACT, so that on this very day, I totally embarrassed myself in front of my two very impressionable children and had my very world turned topsy turvy, up on its end?

I feel like I should be sarcastically thanking someone, but I can’t figure out who.

I love my children.  I love homeschooling them.  Most of the time.  I love it when I learn new things, like how snails grow their own shells or a quick way to calculate something or the amazing things we have been learning about the Bill of Rights.  I love the great things we read and watch and the awesome conversations we have at times.

But this–

This I did not enjoy.  AT. ALL.

And it’s such a little thing, isn’t it?  I mean, I’ve spent more dimes than I would ever care to count or admit, and ALL THIS TIME I thought I was handing over Dwight D. Eisenhower, only I wasn’t, and so my world is a bit off balance right now.

What else have I assumed I KNEW AND WAS TOTALLY CORRECT in my way of thinking about–only wasn’t?

What else am I wrong about–in my thoughts, my understanding, my beliefs?

It’s scary, this thing of assuming what we know or understand is RIGHT.

Which is why, maybe, just maybe we should every now and then take a step back and listen to what others know and understand.  We don’t have to take those things on or accept them as true, but who knows what we might learn if we are open to hearing it.

Just a thought.  That’s my FDR coin’s worth, anyway.

……still shaking my head…..

Love to all.

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And so now, looking at it up close, OF COURSE I CAN SEE THAT THIS IS FDR. How have I been getting this wrong all these many years?

 

Light + Love = One

Last night at Evening Prayer we were asked to move around, sit with people with whom we had never had a conversation.  After folks moved around, we were asked to come up with things we had in common with the folks at our table.  It was interesting because our table wound up coming up with the most on our list.  (I know it wasn’t a competition–I’m going somewhere with this.)  I don’t know what the other groups came up with, but here’s an example of a conversation:

My young friend, after being encouraged to share something about herself, “Well, this isn’t probably anything anyone else does, but I do Tae Kwon Do.”  Turns out one other young man had taken for a while.  No one else had.  So instead we asked, “Who in the group can respect Tae Kwon Do and all that it is?”  Everyone nodded.  We found similarities in appreciating what was different.  I think we might have been on to something.

Until.

Later in conversation, someone at the table mentioned something about “The New Testament.”  A young man, high school age, responded, “Oh yeah, see, I can’t do that.  I don’t like it.” (I almost spewed my water.  Wait.  What?)  He kept on talking without pause. “Yeah, see I only like the King James Version.  That’s the only true word.  I don’t like any of that new stuff.”

Oh.  My.

Reminds me of a Twitter feed from “Things Bible Students Say.”  If you have Twitter and enjoy reading things that make you shake your head, follow them.  If you don’t have Twitter, it’s okay, it’s a lot of what you just read above.  From Bible students.

To the credit of all who were sitting there, no one argued or got defensive.  His opinion was respected; he has a right to his opinion and to speak his mind.  That’s what is beautiful about our service.  What broke my heart is I really don’t think this young man came up with this opinion, this line drawn in the sand, on his own.  About the King James Version, I mean. We’re just going with a communication breakdown on the whole New Testament thing.  I could be wrong, have been and will be again, but I’m betting he heard this from someone–a parent or another adult he respects.  Friends, they are listening and they are taking it all in.  For the love of what is good and right and makes common sense, please be careful what you are putting out there. (Ya got that, Tara?  *hanging head* Yes.)

I read a poem by Thom Shuman yesterday and today that touched on this.  The whole poem can be found here, but here are the words that punched me in my stomach and my conscience:

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Heartbreaking and TRUE.

Even among those who claim to have so much in common, such as the people at our table, there are lines being drawn, things we will and will not accept, things that we lay out there that keep us from being ONE.  Unity.  Community.  Communion. Respect. That’s what we are called to do, isn’t it?  Be with each other.  Love each other.

It breaks my heart to hear how those of us who claim to follow someone who was Light and Love personified are so filled with darkness and doubt and, in that, we hurt rather than love.  Like a father who chooses things over his children, all the while assisting in leading worship.  Or a family who tells their daughter her classmate and friend is not welcome in their home because she has different beliefs. Or the young woman in my Sister Circle who said she was stared at and felt uncomfortable when she walked into a local church–said she guessed she wasn’t dressed right or made folks ill at ease.  Or a kind-hearted and funny young man who insists nothing other than the King James version is acceptable. (If only he had said it’s the version he preferred–this would have turned out so differently.) The lines being drawn are only hurtful and confuse those looking to us to help share the Light and Love we follow.

I just read something my daughter wrote tonight.  It made my heart leap with joy.  (Literally, I’m skilled like that.)  As she wrote about her friends at college, she gave everyone a charge at the end of her post:

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Yes!  This.

If we could do this instead of backstabbing folks with our judgments or slamming doors of intolerance in their faces or just plain ignoring folks–if only we could do this.  Be the defensive tackles or running backs or tight ends and tackle folks with Love and Light, then, oh boy, THEN the pieces of our broken world could start healing, and maybe just maybe we could, in the words of Thom Shuman, we could be one.

(Boy that would have been so much better if I knew football positions worth a flip, huh?  Grace abounds, people, grace abounds.  Go tackle somebody. Love to all.)

The One in Which I share that I’m Not Happy

pic of i'm not happy

Okay folks. I’m not happy. In fact, I’m pretty much mad. (Warning–It’s been another napless day.  I’m likely to offend someone.  You have been warned.)

In the past few weeks, I have had conversations with friends and family that have broken my heart. It seems that people who have all read the same book are using quotes from it to make the people I love feel vulnerable, uncertain, afraid, upset, judged, and hurt. ENOUGH.

It is especially ironic and very sad that this book is supposed to be the epitome of GOOD. In fact, it is often called The Good Book.

It seems that some people who are well-versed, and some who maybe aren’t, are using verses from the Good Book to let others know the path they are on is doomed. Or that the questions they are asking will lead to a fate worse than death. Or what they believe or think is WRONG WRONG WRONG.

What are we doing? Why are we using the words from this Book to hurt others? That’s not going to make them want to read it more. Or to follow the One who wrote it at all. It’s just my opinion, but it seems that some folks are quoting chapter and verse to prove whatever point they want to make and forgetting about two important ones.

First there’s the one that tells how to love others.  Pretty much He said to love others as He loved us.  And since His love is referred to as perfect love, I’m thinking we (myself included) are falling short.  (John 13:34)

Then there’s the Parable of the Lost Sheep. The Shepherd has 100 sheep, but when he counts to be sure, he comes up with 99. He doesn’t say, “Oh well, it’s okay, no one else will count them, so we’ll be short a little yarn this year, it’s all good.” No. He loads up and goes after that ONE. One is enough for Him to love and to go after. There is no story we cannot bring Home with us.  And when He finds the sheep, the Shepherd brings it home and parties. Abundant joy, people, that’s good stuff. (Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:3-7)

Here’s the thing.  I’m not trying to evangelize here.  Probably just the opposite.  I love this quote from Saint Francis of Assissi:

pic saint francis quote

Or there’s the old saying I used to hear the old folks around saying: “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

I’m not trying to make light of people and what they believe.   I respect your right to believe what you believe.  But I am begging you, please do NOT, no matter how well intended, share what you believe in such a manner that you are negating all others and what they might think.  Let’s face it, life and all that is in it, is pretty much a mystery.  I  joke about looking forward to an Everything You Always Wanted To Know 101 class when I leave this earth.  But for now, I just have to accept that some things are not going to make sense.  Not easy, but I can’t honestly say I have all the answers.  Or that I get everything I read.

I have a friend who was going through a really hard time.  He happened to be homeless at the time.  I met up with him one day, and it was obvious he was intoxicated.  I think he expected a lecture, but whatever, this isn’t my first rodeo with an alcoholic and I figured out a long time ago, a lecture was not going to make it better.  So we visited about other things.  After a quiet moment he asked, “So are you one of them…..Christians?”  I was actually speechless, because I could hear the defensiveness and anger in his voice.  He was ready to disregard how much I cared about him because if I were a Christian, I would HAVE to care about him and it wouldn’t be about his worth as a person.  Maybe he thought then it would be about trying to save him.  I sat for a minute and then I replied, “Well I really like Jesus…..and I try to do what He said…..”  All of the hot air went out of my friend, and we have built from that moment a precious relationship.  I don’t walk in his shoes, so I can’t judge his disease.  But I can love him through it.  That’s about all I can do, but he says it’s enough.

I am tired of hearing about people being hurt by people who are supposed to know better.  We don’t know what others are going through.  When someone talks about how wrong divorce is, and about the tragedy of broken families, he or she should consider that there might have been abuse, and maybe that child is really, truly, and finally WHOLE.  Using verses from the Good Book to condemn the way someone is living is risky business, and if the Parable of the Lost Sheep (told twice) is to be believed, and IF that person is in trouble, from what I’m reading, the Shepherd’s going after that one.  All is not lost. And ultimately I’m not the judge of their right or wrong anyway. When someone hears a friend talking about how fragile their faith is in that moment, he or she is not helping the friend by saying it’s wrong to question, and that the only thing you need to know is Jesus died for our sins.  We have no idea what life events brought that person to the point of asking questions.  I can share from personal experience that when life’s turmoils have taken over, and I’ve asked questions and gnashed teeth, I came out on the other side with a faith that is stronger–even though I still don’t have all the answers.

Tonight I am thankful for the folks who have walked alongside me on my spiritual journey, no matter if we believed the same or not.  I give thanks for my Mama and Daddy who loved people from all walks of life and empowered us to do the same.  For my daughter who is strong in her beliefs and challenges me to figure out where I stand, I give special thanks.  I’m thankful for phone calls from friends asking great questions and the sharing that follows.  And I’m especially grateful for a question from someone who was drunk, the question that made me think about who I am and why I do what I do.  Yeah, I’m still trying to figure all that out.