Monday, August 26, 2013

We can rebuild her! We have the technology!

I've been thinking and praying a lot lately, trying to find the right balance, trying to discern the right path. Nothing specific is afoot - no huge upheavals or changes. I've been feeling a bit unsettled, and have been wanting to grow spiritually, to do more and to be more - to be better. Better...stronger...faster... a little like the Bionic Man, I guess.

Introduction to The Bionic Man

I came across this list a few days ago, and it spoke to me. I've been studying it, praying about it. Its given me the focus I've been hoping and praying for. I think I've been wanting the wrong things. Growth is surely good, but I've been looking in the wrong direction.

Mother Teresa’s Humility List

01. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
02. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
03. Avoid curiosity.
04. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
05. Accept small irritations with good humor.
06. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
07. Accept censures even if unmerited.
08. Give in to the will of others.
09. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
15. Choose always the more difficult task.

Mother Teresa
I don't understand everything on this list. Avoid curiosity? About... everything? About inconsequential things? I'm still not sure. 

Give in, in discussions, even when you are right. I can see not wanting to be right for the sake of being right about most things, but isn't it right to gently correct someone who is clearly in the wrong about things that matter? But maybe that's where faith comes in. Trusting that things will turn out, not getting upset, not adopting an "I'm right" attitude.

Most of the list made sense immediately, though. Most of it is difficult. It's hard to walk away and detach oneself sometimes. It is hard to be humble, to be quiet, to be thoughtful. Good is rarely easy. Simple faith can be really hard.

 balance, used with permission, here

A couple of weeks ago, our youngest asked me about birds in the Bible. I could think of only a couple of verses offhand. I recited them, and she said her favorite was Luke 12:24Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds.

 raven, used with permission, here

I explained that there are probably billions of birds, and that God knows each of them. And if God knows each individual bird, just think of how He knows us and cares for us. She really liked that and said it was good. I agreed. It is good.

Right now, instead of trying to do more or be more, perhaps I should work on being humbly happy with what is, and recognizing all that is good. There is so much good. 

good, used with permission, here

Sounds like a plan.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mr. Blue Sky Vs. The Monsters Under the Bed

Minion: So what's the plan, sir?

Megamind: I have no idea!

After the little one went to bed at just before 8:30, Dan and I started watching Megamind. I don't always like computer animated movies, but this is one of my favorites. Funny and sweet, the bad guy decides to do the right thing and changes for the right reasons.

Megamind movie poster, from Wikipedia, here.

ELO's Mr Blue Sky is featured in Megamind. ELO made a new video for it last year, in 2012 for some reason - the original came out in 1977. I've always liked it and have always thought I heard a dog panting in the song. Having seen the new video, either I'm right about the dog, or the animator mis-hears the same thing, because a doggie is animated in at just the right spot. Sweet, right? 

2012 ELO Mr. Blue Sky

The previous video of Mr Blue Sky was a more straightforward performance piece by ELO. From the marvellous and much-missed era of huge 'fros and rockin' mullets, it's neat, but in a different way.

Original video, ELO, Mr. Blue Sky

About an hour after we started watching the film, the little one came down crying. Fast forward another 40 minutes, and we sent her back to bed, still a little upset, but mostly calm. Now I'm upset, too.

Mr. Blue you did it right
But soon comes Mr. Night
Creepin' over, now his hand is on your shoulder
Never mind, I'll remember you this, I'll remember you this way

Lyrics from Mr. Blue Sky by ELO

She couldn't sleep because today at school, when she had a moment to read, she picked up a book called More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (link goes to the Amazon page for the book). Tonight, in bed, she had plenty of time to think about the stories, and when she came down, she was terrified. I have the feeling that she may have picked this particular book up because it has a horse on the cover. She loves horses.

I'm actually not upset about the book. In spite of the title, it seems to be age-appropriate, from what I can see. It simply was not "our child" age-appropriate, but the teacher would have had no way of knowing. Additionally, I'm not one for censorship. Still, I know my child, and could have foreseen this. But I wasn't there. And she wasn't here.

For half an hour or so, we talked to her, and I held her & her pony and gave her tight hugs. Dan told her about a scary movie he'd seen when he was little (he'd seen Jaws) and how he'd had a hard time sleeping when he saw it, but how now he knows that movies and books can't hurt us. When she was calm, but still a little worried, we sent her to bed.

Jaws movie poster, from Wikipedia, here.

Normally, when she's scared, we'd sit up and talk and maybe find another book to read or do something to replace the scary ideas she has swirling around in her mind. We'd take the time until the issue was resolved, even if it took a while.

But we can't sit up for another hour or so.

Sending her to her room is a rude reminder of what "going to school" means.

Hey, you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
Lyrics from Mr. Blue Sky by ELO

She has to get up early in the morning for school, and I had to tell her that she had to go back and try to sleep.

Now I'm sitting here, sad and frustrated that I couldn't do everything I felt called to do because of time constraints. We did what we needed to do to calm her and get her back in bed and hopefully  to sleep. With school looming,  though, there is no time to find stories to give her new things to think about, or to have a talk about why we sometimes like scary things and how they aren't always bad.

She asked to stay home tomorrow, right before she went back to her room, and I had to say "no". School is something to fully commit to and attendance is important.

I desperately wanted to say yes.

Taking the time to talk and spend time with her and to fix things is how we've always done things. We both miss that right now.

I feel like crying, and I didn't even read a scary book.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Make A Little Birdhouse in Your Soul

I haven't posted in a long time, and haven't posted with any regularity for even longer.

So many things have happened in the last few years, only some of it immediately positive. I have been content to let events and time pass unmentioned, allowing the bad to wash over with the good.

In the last year or so, in no particular order, my mother died after a stroke. My uncle died. My husband's grandmother died. Our neighbor died. Another neighbor died. Fathers and mothers and grandparents and brothers and sisters of friends died. Dear friends became very ill and came far too close to not being here any more. It was terrible, scary, too sad to put into words.

Friends and acquaintances died, including two who were just starting out in life. We did our best to explain things to our little one that we ourselves don't always understand. How do you explain "faith"? How do you explain "why"?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen ~ Hebrews 11:1

In one 12-month period, ten people we knew or were related to died. We did our best to do what family and friends do. We did our best to grieve and comfort and pray. We mourned. It didn't always make sense, but we muddled through. Not easy, we're never promised easy, even when we come to expect it. 

It seemed that as soon as things started to feel normal, as soon as our sea was calm, a new storm would gather and we'd find ourselves in the middle of another maelstrom. Bad things came so fast and so hard. Most of it made no sense.

We lost our elderly cat because she was old, lost our parrot to an infection brought on by nearby forest fires, lost our not-elderly cat to illness.

Smoke from nearby forest fires

Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots ~ Victor Hugo


Small things kept us going.
Our dog got sick (cancer), then got better after surgery. Thank goodness. We still have our beloved dog.

We started home schooling our kindergartner, who became our first grader; who went from not reading to reading years ahead of her age/grade levels. We did everything we could to shelter her, to protect her, to explain to her, to reason with her, to teach her, to help her. She's fine. Our older daughters are fine.

We all have each other.

We're grateful and thankful and humble.

Thank God for friends, for family, and most of all, for my husband. He always does his level best to be there. I am so thankful for him.

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort ~ Jane Austen

The storm seems to have receded for now. Calm replaces chaos, and life seems to be returning to a more normal rhythm. It seems right to write again and it seems like a good time to extend myself beyond my little world, to give back and to see what it out there.

Flansy drowsing on freshly killed tissue paper

We got a new kitten, named Flansy. She's named after John Flansburgh (half of They Might Be Giants). We love her, and while she doesn't replace the two we've lost, she makes us laugh and she loves to cuddle. We adore her. Speaking of TMBG, we went to see them recently, out first concert in years. So much fun, and a much needed alone/together night away.

Life goes on, sometimes in different directions than before. 

I've recently volunteered to help with my daughter's youth group. The application asked what I'd been doing for the last several years - 5 or 7 years - something like that. I couldn't think of anything to write. I was sad, and a bit ashamed. I haven't been idle, but I haven't looked elsewhere for things to occupy my time in a very long time. I gave up being out there for being right here. Now its time to be out there again, at least some of the time.

And so, I'm here again, too.