Thursday, March 29, 2012
There is a story out of Texas today that has me scratching my head.
And I'm curious as to what you think.
Outside of Houston, there is a little girl named LaKay who has triumphantly learned to use her walker to walk. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy early in life and has spent her childhood working hard to move from using a wheelchair to a walker.
And she did it.
But now the school district where she attends school in New Caney has told LaKay's mother that LaKay must now use a wheelchair again since she fell in the parking lot while using the walker. LaKay was with her mother at the time she tripped.
And I'm left, reading this story, to just say, "Huh?".
My 7 of 8 didn't walk until she was well closing in on her third birthday because of her neonatal stroke and resulting CP. We worked, worked, worked to get her on her feet, getting her pushing a walker, getting her taking hesitant steps. She fell. She got up. She tried again.
She worked. She worked hard.
And never once did it occur to any of us, from family to friends to therapists, to have her stop trying just because of a few spills and tears. Progress sometimes means you have skinned knees. Allegorically. And literally.
LaKay's mother is standing up to the school district that is demanding her child be strapped back into a wheelchair. She has gone to the media and is questioning how this could possibly be best for her child. The school is contending that it's not safe for LaKay to use the walker.
Um, okay. Because wheelchairs never tip over? And what is this saying in general to children working hard to meet mobility goals? That you can work incredibly hard, make incredible strides and then have a well-meaning but un-informed bureaucrat strip you of your right to make choices because of paranoia over the non-existent possibility of litigation?
And in the end, that's my line. This is HER child. Not the school district's. Not the state's. This child was adopted by this mother, a woman who has poured time and resources and heart into LaKay, getting her to therapy, working on exercises at home, encouraging, coaching, pushing, loving. While I'm assuming the school administration is well-meaning, they are not the ones who will ultimately answer to this child. The administrator of the broad canvas of possibility on which LaKay's life is written is her parent.
In the end, it's LaKay's mother who will answer to her daughter. LaKay will be equipped to soar and try harder and go further because of the influence of her mother. Or, if the school has its way, she'll learn to be tentative, hesitant, and more concerned about fear than progress.
I'm pulling for LaKay and her mom.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
My prayer closet is a pair of running shoes. On the road. With music blaring in my ears from my iPod.
Super spiritual, I know.
It's my prayer closet. It's when I hear things. It's when things are stirred in my heart. It's when whispers of the Spirit breathe peace and insight across my noisy brain.
I learned a little something this week while in my mobile prayer closet.
In Bible study on Tuesday, we were talking about the need for believers to be transparent, to not pretend like they've got it all together or all figured out but to be open with their struggles and challenges and failures. I do believe that. Strongly.
But one of the hiccups I find with what we call 'transparency' is its tendency to keep us wallowing in our fallen-ness, detouring us from true transformation. Sometimes, I can take this odd pride in how 'relevant and real' I am in chatting up my mess-ups. I can almost use it as an excuse, because, you know, if I change this issue, then maybe I won't be as 'relate-able' or 'real'.
But Jesus came to heal me of my mess. Tells me to get up. And to sin no more.
So how can I be transparent but transformed? How's that supposed to work?
I saw it. I was taught it. While in my prayer closet of running shoes.
I was finishing up a long run, rounding a long curve of road that leads back to my house. I had been turning over this question in my mind, this idea of transparency, looking at it from different angles, turning the box. Above me was a strong mid-day sun, skies so blue, wisps of clouds dotting the canvas of sky. Light. Transparent blue. Puffs of white. Glory. And then I heard it.
Transparency means that light can still shine strongly through.
I think what I've been calling transparency, what others in my world have been calling transparency is actually opacity. Opacity is a state of blocking light. Opacity has varying levels. In photography, it refers to the amount of light that is absorbed. It's not that light doesn't come through anything that is opaque; depending on the level of opacity, some glow can fight its way through. But opacity is not transparency.
It's just not.
And I think some of what I call transparency in my life is actually opaque. In my retelling of my failures and foibles, I don't know that I'm operating in transparency, in a state that allows the light of the Lord to shine cleanly through. I may be calling opacity transparency and in the doing may obscure glory. When the clutter and dialog of self, self, self is all that is apparent on the screen, I'm opaque. When the bulk of the conversation is about me, me, me with a dash of faith, I'm opaque.
But when the words that define my life and confess my failures and recount my growth are printed on a clear film, a membrane of soul that lets light shine, then I'm being transparent.
And then my experiences better reflect the light that is Him.
Being real. Being honest. Being relevant. Being transparent.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
I'm going to be speaking in a break-out session at the upcoming Brave conference. Did I mention Angela Thomas is the keynote? Yep.
I'm a little excited. As in, a lot.
Part of what I'm going to be speaking on is how to help guide our kids to walk in their spiritual giftings. Helping our kids find their bliss. Helping our kids find their purpose. It's a topic I'm passionate about, being the mom of eight kids that I want to launch out into the world prepared and ready. And with several of the kids, their interests and talents have helped me discover the underlying spiritual gifts present in each one of them.
And then there's this kid. My 4 of 8.
Her spiritual gifts are easily apparent. She is phenomenally compassionate. She has an amazing gift of mercy. She is wise in her counsel. She is patient.
And can she hear things on a spiritual level. Whew. Kid's got bat ears when it comes to spiritual matters, even though her physical earth ears are wonky.
But she's also been my child who has struggled finding her 'thing', the activity, the hobby, the pastime, the passion that is an outlet for her gifts. We've tried dance for several years, but her ankle surgery makes it tough. We've tried soccer. Ah, not so much. We've painted and sketched and baked. Meh, meh, and meh.
She's the kid, as I'm preparing for the Brave conference, who's making me feel a bit like a poser. 'Cuz what do I know about guiding purpose and destiny when I can't figure this amazing kid's simple need for an extracurricular activity?
But the beauty of the dilemma is that it's held me more accountable in prayer, seeking for how I can best mother her in this season. She and I have been through a lot together, years of Auditory Verbal Therapy, audiological visits, hearing aid fittings, homeschooling, learning phonics (you just haven't lived 'til you've taught phonics to a hearing impaired child...). And there are still beautiful mysteries to her, things I'm seeing anew.
She has started playing with photography. I put up some of her work last week.
And now she's starting to get in front of the camera too.
When did this young woman show up at my house? Last time I checked, she was a ten year old needing braces.
Guess we're long past that now.
So here we are. Spiritual gifts. Compassion. Seeing into people's hearts. And seeing well through a camera lens. And lighting up the other side of the camera as well....
Thursday, March 22, 2012
It has come to 6 of 8's attention that I haven't posted many pictures of her this dance season.
She stalks my blog. I kid you not. I think she may have some kind of tally sheet secreted upstairs where she keeps track of how many posts I do per kid. And she knows that my 6 of 8 post quotient has not included specific dance pictures of her.
You may have already noticed. But there are a lot of dance pictures on this blog. A lot.
6 of 8 is concerned that you need to see more.
In the top photo, she's on the bottom right and in this next one, she's to the left. You can tell which one she is because of that very interesting Church Lady smirk on her face.
It's her interpretation of the stage direction to look 'sassy'.
At a competition a few weeks ago, 6 of 8's party hat started sliding down her head. And stopped when it was covering one of her eyes.
She looked like a one-eyed unicorn. In electric blue ruffles.
You know, your typical mythological character look. Of the one-eyed unicorn blue ruffled look.
She didn't make a move to adjust the hat. Her dance instructors always drill into the kids that you just keep going, you just keep going, you just keep going.
So she just kept going, one-eyed look and all.
I got tickled. And I got the giggles. And then I started laughing. And then I couldn't stop.
It was one of those laugh attacks where you're starting to draw attention to yourself sitting in the audience. And your mascara starts to run down your face and pool under your chin like a ring of dirty water in the bathtub.
The dance finally finished and 2 of 8 and I made our way back the dressing room to help 6 of 8 change into her next costume. I just couldn't stop laughing until 2 of 8 said, "Okay, Mom, yes, it was hilarious, but 6 of 8 may feel really self-conscious about what happened...."
Oh. Yeah. Other's people feelings. Must.Trump.My.Giggles.
We got backstage, me feeling appropriately chastised and ready to see 6 of 8, hoping she wasn't upset, hoping she didn't think she had messed up the dance or anything. We had to wait a couple of minutes.
And then I heard her. Busting through the door with all the other chatty, squealy little dancers. She bounced into the dressing room, threw her arms in the air and declared, "Did you SEE me?!?! Did you!?!??! ONE-EYED UNICORN!!!"
Mother/Daughter Unicorn Poets. With no shame.
I'm still waiting for those pictures to come in. And when they do, I'll be sure to post them. Because, after all, have you seen the number of dance pictures on this blog?
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
We kicked off a new women's ministry component last night.
A very fun one.
We're calling it SisterHood...you know, to meet the sisters in faith in your 'hood', your area of town. We have a large church family spread across our sprawling metro area. We love to host big events for our girlfriends, special luncheons, weekly studies and periodic large group evening functions. It's always great to get together, learn, study and worship.
But it'a also such an important thing to know who lives around you, who is a few blocks away. Hence SisterHood.
We pulled out the map and divided up our metro area into eight zones and then asked a woman from each zone to host a SisterHood event in her home. Denise and I had grand plans to drive from location to location last night, determined to make at least six of the eight.
We were valiant. We really tried. But there was lots of good food at each home. And we got a little lost. And then a lot. And then we needed to get gas. And then we chatted a little long.
So we made four of the houses.
We'll try to get to the rest next time.
It was such a delight to see who all lives close and didn't know it, who made a new friend, who found a mentor. The sisters in the same hood.
You'll find below the devotional all the locations used along with discussion questions.
Sisterhood Devotional March
Monday, March 19, 2012
I really haven't fallen off the place of the planet.
I've just been driving all over the planet, or at least this state, wrapping up 2 of 8's out-of-town dance convention and competition season. We'll be local for the next couple of events. It's so odd to think that 2 of 8 and I are done traipsing across the region for her performances with her present dance company.
How did that go so fast?
But I ramble.
I'm scrambling to stay on top of schooling and work and house and kids. One thing that definitely happens when we're this busy is that things like rulers and certain school books and resources begin to disappear.
How that happens.
Right now, both of my EZ Graders are missing. You know, the little cardboard thing-a-ma-giggies that give you the ability to instantly figure out what grade your kid got (or didn't get....) on their math assignment.
Scoured the house, dumped the school bags and tubs. No EZ Grader. And yes, I do know I could figure out the kids' grade percentages with a calculator.
But that would entail finding a calculator....
So I found this great online resource called Gradebook Buddy. It's the cyber version of EZ Grader. Except it doesn't get lost. You can use it too by going to this link....
Thursday, March 15, 2012
It's funny, the things that make you feel like you've put down roots.
We lived in this house for over four years, leasing it, until we bought it last fall.
That first coat of paint I rolled on in the guest bathroom? That was a big moment for me. A moment that marked I had a mortgage associated with this home.
And now today.
It's feels like we've moved in a little bit more.
In several of our other homes, we had playsets in the backyards, little miniature worlds of playing and sliding and swinging and theatrical production. My older kids have such great memories of those times, particularly of one backyard with a ginormous playset back in Oklahoma.
When we moved to the island, our backyard was the canal. Which was awesome. And the dock provided many hours of play and discovery. But it wasn't a fort. It wasn't a playground kind of a thing.
Once we moved into 'town' off the island, we were blessed with a huge backyard. Filled with space. All kinds of space. And no playset.
And then we moved to this wonderful, weird city. And leased this house. And had a nice backyard. Filled with space. All kinds of space. And no playset.
Mike has been researching and googling and chatting up playsets across town. My running partner, JT, sent me pictures of one from Sam's. I stalked another set at Costco. We made phone calls to my handy brother in Oklahoma.
We finally made our decision. And today was installation day.
The youngest kids have never really known a yard with them in mind. A place to play, a place to burn off some energy, a place to pretend. They sat staring out the window most of the morning, watching the crew begin building and leveling and assembling...
And when the deed was done, the offspring rejoiced...
It's a sweet thing, seeing these younger kids have a sense of place and home.
...and a place to burn off some of their legendary energy...
We're also excited to see what kind of strength and flexibility this play extravaganza will bring to 7 of 8's progress on her arm (7 of 8 experienced a stroke at birth and has left-side hemiplegia)...
But mostly, I'm excited for the memories that will be made. My older kids were talking today about how they would endlessly play 'Little House on the Prairie' on their old playscape, hours spent reanimating stories of travels and blizzards and animals and covered wagons and family.
Feels like we're finally moving in.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
4 of 8 has been trying to figure out what her 'thing' is, the pursuit that makes her heart sing.
She does sing. Beautifully. All the more mysterious and magical, given her hearing loss. And she knows that she would love to have voice lessons and maybe some piano.
But there's something else I've been noticing about 4 of 8. She's always been visual. Very visual.
And with an iTouch, with its little camera, in her hands, she's starting to show me some gorgeous ways in which she sees the world.
She took Miss LP and 6 of 8 on a walk today, snapping shots the whole way.
There's just something about the way 4 of 8 already thinks to frame the image, the way she tilts the perspective.
She's got an eye.
Maybe she's finding her 'thing'. Maybe it's what's been there all along. She uses her eyes to make up some for her ears. She notices. She sees.
It may be time to get a 'real' camera in her hands.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
This is what the LORD says,
he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar—
the LORD Almighty is his name~
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Friday, March 9, 2012
I'm tired. Real tired. I think.
I started to really notice a couple of weeks ago when I fell asleep in the middle of a dance competition in Houston. Sitting up. With blaring music and lights. Asleep. Just like your grandpa would.
They say you should keep a sleep journal, determining what your sleep patterns and cycles look like, to better help you determine your best REM dream time and when you sleep the deepest.
So here's my sleep journal from last night....
10 pm~~have grand plans to get to bed early. Mike is out of town. Finally have the twins and 5 and 6 of 8 upstairs and tucked in. 2 of 8 comes in from dance. The house seems to be winding down. Okay.
11:30 pm~~the teenage population in the house is still up and laughing. Which I hate to interrupt. Because I love hearing 2, 3 and 4 of 8 chatting and cracking up. But still. It's 11:30 pm. And I had these big plans to go to sleep early. So I
11:32 pm~~1 of 8 calls to tell me that she is done with music practice and is heading back downtown to campus for a mixer she was invited to. What? She hadn't told me about that earlier? Oh, well now she is. And she may be coming in late. Like, late late, says she.
3:00 am~~1 of 8 arrives home. I like having someone in their twenties living in the house. I do. But they tend to be gerbils, nocturnal, what have you. Particularly this twenty-something year old. I startle awake when I bionically hear her key in the front door. She sets the alarm when she comes in. I work to settle back in to some kind of slumber.
4:00 am~~8 of 8 clambers his way down to my bed. Climbs up the footboard. Bounces three times like Tigger toward the headboard. Snuggles in under the covers, his cold feet making tracks down my warm back. He chats a little. Wonders why it isn't daylight yet. Flips over. Flips over again. Proceeds to flip, turn, chat, spin, shimmy and shake for what seems like a long, long time.
5:00 am~~time to get up for a long training run. The upside is, I should be delirious for a good part of the run, which does seem to make the time go faster. I throw back some coffee and try to remember where I've left my running shoes. And I check the temperature. And it's cold. And then it starts to thunder.
5:47 am~~I text my running partner. Are we really going to run in this freezing mess? Really? She is the voice of reason. And she says no. And I am delighted.
6:13 am~~I'm still putzing around on the computer because now I'm somewhat jacked up on caffeine and run-deterred energy.
6:45 am~~My workaholic self looses the battle with my extremely sleepy self. I tuck myself back into bed next to the apparently slumbering 8 of 8.
6:46 am~~8 of 8 is now aware that I have tucked myself back in and picks up on his line of conversation and thrashing.
7:00 am~~morning has broken. Might as well throw in the towel.
So here's what I'm seeing from my sleep journal....
We ain't the Waltons.
Remember the Waltons? A multi-generational family all happily living in one house? And what was always the final scene? The exterior of their iconic farmhouse, with everyone's voices gently wishing each other a good night. Good night, John Boy.
We ain't the Waltons. That much I have figured out.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Okay, yes, she's my kid. And I'm crazy about her.
But what is it about ballet that grabs your heart?
I put up a picture of 2 of 8 competing her pointe solo this past weekend. I posted it on Facebook so fam&friends could take a peek.
And my Facebook blew up.
Ballet Blew Up.
Precious comments, likes, lots of love for 2 of 8. So, so sweet.
There's just something magical about ballet, even though other dance forms get more of the raz-ma-taz and glory.
Maybe it's because I know the kind of blood, sweat and tears that goes into this art form.
Not that I've ever tried any of these moves. But that I've seen 2 of 8 work, work hard, work crazy for 15 and a 1/2 years for this kind of expertise.
Maybe it's the dichotomy of the blistered toes and the gorgeous pointe. The sore muscles and the poetic extension. The hurt and the majesty of the dance, always mixed, always one pushing the other.
Or maybe it's just the mystery of watching my kid go from toddler to preschooler to ballerina in a blink of the eye.
Ah, ballet. You get me every time. Particularly when it's 2 of 8 exploring your mysteries.....