Valentine’s Day 2010

It’s different this year. I’m married.

We have some history, and our Valentine’s Day celebration allowed us to revisit some things.
A great meal at a favorite restaurant. Homemade cards. Great conversation.
And then he went to bed. The man is TIRED, I tell you! He works hard, seven days a week.
So I’m up, winding down the day, hanging with the kids. And thinking about love and Valentine’s Day. Interesting how the joy of a love that is grounded and secure widens a heart to love even more. I’m thinking about that.
And thinking about the male species. Valentine’s Day seems extraordinarily unfair to them, in some ways. Lots of expectations. My friend Scott wrote a great essay on that topic that you ought to read.
Anyway, thinking about guys. Watching my eldest son grow older and taller, listening to his voice deepen and marveling at what happens to boys as they turn into men. Watching him interact with a special girl who seems to have captured his attention. Thinking about how weird that is.
And thinking about my dad.
He was always my hero. He could fix anything (though my mom might argue about who actually did most of the home repairs). He rebuilt the engine of my first car, a ’67 Mustang (which I think, in retrospect, might have been more for him than me – but what a SWEET car!) He taught me how to do an oil change. He rolled his eyes when I called him from college – six hours away – because I had a flat tire and needed him to come help me. He talked to me about budgeting and relationships and music and sales and half the time I fought everything he told me.
Of course, now that I’m all grown up, I realize how incredibly wise he was.
He’s been a shoulder to cry on throughout the worst times of my life. He’s been a champion for my kids when they needed it most.
I love my dad. I get so caught up in the busyness of my life that I don’t take the time to tell him enough. But here’s what I know:
  • He loves me. I’ve never doubted my daddy’s love.
  • He loves my mom. They’re working on fifty years of marriage. Isn’t that amazing?
  • He loves God, and he loves his church.
  • He loves his family – all seven grandkids and everybody else.
By all rights, it’s a miracle that my dad is alive in 2010. Just a few years ago a rogue blood vessel burst in his brain. We lost him for a while, to the tubes and machines of the ICU.
But we got him back. He’s here, alive and kicking, rocking in his Papa chair, watching Antique Roadshow and keeping me updated on all the things that I need to know.
He still loves me.
And I love him.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dad.

Love Like That

I woke up this morning after the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks.

All three of my girls have been gone all week long. Sarah is still making her way around her new (albeit temporary) life in Germany, with new friends and strong new bonds with family. Shannon and Sydni have been in Knoxville all week with the World Changers group.
David was with a friend Thursday night and Daniel went up to see his dad in Mechanicsville. Last night, both boys stayed with their dad.
So I had the house to myself.
It is striking to note the difference in my life, my mind, my way of thinking – pretty much EVERYTHING – when there are no children in the house. I miss them – sort of – but I also have this sense of reclaiming my self. Longer, coherent thought processes. A complete night’s sleep. No energy extended towards managing their lives, spurring them on to good deeds, referreeing disputes. A little less clutter, only my own trail of life left in the various rooms of the house.
Oh, and the laundry’s done!
I love them deeply, profoundly. And when I get a moment to breathe, it seems that I can love them from afar in a way that allows me to find myself outside of that love, rather than immersed and overwhelmed by the actions it requires. That’s a fresh perspective for me. It’s easier, sometimes.
Peterson’s take on a bit from Ephesians in the Bible is interesting:

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Ephesians 5.1-2 The Message

“Mostly what God does is love you.”
Love can be exhausting, in the ‘giving everything’ and the extravagance. It can be costly. If I’m to take this seriously, it seems that framing the intensity and distraction of my day-to-day life as a parent within the context of extravagant love alters the context somewhat. Rather than claim the current quiet of my house and my mind as ‘normal’and the object of aspiration, perhaps I should consider it nothing more than refueling, refreshing and rest for the next round of love.
Like that.

"It Is Written"

Today I took Shannon on a mommy/daughter date and saw “Slumdog Millionaire”.

Took me by surprise; I had heard that it was a ‘love story’, and that therein was the appeal.  So I expected the girl + boy story to be the focal point.  But that aspect seemed almost secondary; the love story was as much about brothers and friends as the romance you might expect to find in a popular two hour film.  The relationship between the brothers was powerful.  And powerful may be a rather anemic word.  I was completely captivated.
Sarah went to see it later today with friends and Twittered afterward, “I am paralyzed.”  I think that’s a good word for it.  
It’s not unusual for me to enjoy a movie and encourage other people to go see it.  But there was something so visceral about this film…so deeply moving…it compels me to want to insist  that everyone in the universe go to see it.  
Reflecting on it a bit, I’m really not quite sure what the appeal is.  Perhaps, more than anything, my western, American, comfortable heart was shattered by the vivid depictions of life in the slums of India.  And because the poverty, the filth, the unbelievably desperate conditions were barely nodded at – simply a part of a very real, authentic story – the impact of how two brothers grew up in Mumbai is driven home with a fierce and desperate power.  It is inescapable.
I was so moved, on so many levels.  It was way beyond what I expected.  It is a movie I want to watch again and again and again.
I suggest you catch it in a theatre, where you can be transported to Mumbai and experience the intensity of this film in the dark.  Because, in spite of the setting of the story, it’s a tale of the triumph of human spirit, and love, and right.  In the midst of the mess, it truly is a happy story.  And I think maybe that’s what resonates most of all, what my occupied spirit completely understands.  
In the midst of great brokeness, there is true joy.