Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Doing Fashion"

     My daughter has these plastic fashion stencils, a kit from one of the chain stores. It consists of one body divided into 3 parts, each part having some 3-5 or so section/dress patterns, allowing for a slight amount of variation. You put the stencils in a holder, laying then a piece of paper, use a pencil to shade over the figure, somehow producing a picture with spaces in which to color. She calls it fashion designing.

     My daughter asked if I wanted to do some with her, and of course I agreed readily. Even if I did not already enjoy the idea of coloring and design I would have readily agreed, knowing it was something which was important if only because she specifically asked it of me to do with her.

     Art in our family is a big thing. Our walls are covered with (predominantly) art pieces of her mothers, along with some cherished friends pieces. It is something which I encourage in her, my daughter. Anyone that knows us knows this fact (that we are an art-inclined family) is not hugely revelatory about our family, nor about my interaction with my daughter. I encourage her knowing it is part of who my daughter is, and that she should have it fostered in her as part of her. I am not entirely certain she realizes it yet about herself.

     Udo Middlemann, in his book, "Pro Existenz," discusses the value of work as being that creative manifestation of who we are (more or less). This stands to reason especially given that we are created in the image of a Creator (read "artistically creative" Creator) God.

     It needn't go without saying  that God meets with me when I write because He knows it is important to me, and wants to build me up, encouraging me in my identity as a writer. I suppose the rub here is that, just as I am sharing a delight with my daughter, it is good to say He is sharing a delight with me, especially given we share this "familial," created-in-the-image-of trait. It is not too strong a thing to say , I further suppose, writing is how I am made to be, and made to be like Him.

     The important thing for me to realize I guess is that He likely is enjoying being with me as I write, and this is ultimately a conference of value on artistic endeavor. Just as I enjoy "doing fashion" with my daughter (in part because I enjoy it, and enjoy it as a result of it being who I am made to be), And it is not merely right to say I suppose, but to say that I KNOW He enjoys "writing with me," and enjoys me as I am writing; God even enjoys writing itself.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

3rd Grade Musical

     This past Thursday my daughter had her third grade musical recital, the actual theme of which involved "rocking through art," applying old rock rhythms to the art lessons/artists they had studied in art class. My kid's adoptive God-Grandmother/ God-Mother attended with us, and then kindly provided a meal afterwards from our favorite restaurant. I have to say, a third grader in a bow tie or bow in the hair, bopping along to a cute song riff is pretty much adorable. It was a full evening of family togetherness, and rich in connection and relationship.

     It really shouldn't be a question of whether one should attend their child's school performance. You should. And I went because I knew I should, despite doubting whether it had been all that important a performance for my daughter. In retrospect I guess I do even now, still recall my own elementary school performances in the grade level adaptations of Disney's "Jungle Book," despite only being an alternate for the fun part of King Louie.

     It is important to show her support in her activities, delighting even in her performing those activities. Such communicates and confers value and worth to her. Likewise in our own "activities" (those to which God has called us) I feel God is conferring our value to us.

     And as oblique as this verse from the New Testament Book of Luke, on the surface, may seem,

     "31"But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. 33"Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. "

I can not help but feel its direct relevance to my life now, and to my daughter, all of us.I want for my daughter to be as built up and as blessed and as fully completed as she can be. I delight in seeing her grow, in her growing in completeness, and in her becoming. And I want her free to be able to so grow. Where she is at, proverbially and emotionally/intellectually speaking, I want for her to be fully there, fully engaged, as she is delighting to be and to do so. And make no mistake, she was happy and thrilled to be performing and to be delighted in, as we all should be. There was no cost for her, only opportunity and reward (in terms of our delight in her, and in the delight of a well done performance).

     So it has to be with God and us: He delights in us, desires to see us as free to grow (thus as willing to provide for the freedom in which to so grow) as He has created us to be, and then He delights in seeing that completion as it manifests in the context of its stage. Surely as I delight in the third grade musical performance, and in some possible post-college professional endeavor, I will delight no less merely because it is not some other context for her.

     For myself God has provided (and promises to provide) a way forward that I would enjoy and engage in the activities to which He is calling me in the current context(which for me is writing). And while I have known that promise in some ways, this realization I type out is like hearing His promise of that. Faith cometh through hearing, and hearing the through the Word of God. Maybe it is just that in my heart I am hearing Him say it, much as I may know my wife loves me but oft need to hear the words thus to "feel" them.

     I suspect there is more depth, more dynamic understanding to be had here, as is true of most life lessons. Perhaps one turn of this can be seen in another story, one which illustrates a goal of growth in my parenting.

     The weekend after the performance my daughter had her volleyball game cancelled due to rain... an indoor sport, volleyball, called on account of rain. Just let that sink in for a second. Okay. I think the reasoning was that, after so long a dry spell, the massive quantities of rain presented the dangers of flash flooding on roadways, some of which may have to be traveled by the team members to get to the game. The point is that it left me with a rainy, sodden Saturday morning, two amped children, and not much of a plan.

     I took the opportunity to wrangle them into my efforts at following through on my intention to donate to group / ministry which seeks to provide for the needs of liberated / homeless / poverty-level high school students at a local high school. I had wanted to purchase gift cards to the local food market, as well as bus passes for them to travel to work/other places. I thought I could do both at the market, but was talked into going to the bus / train station by the customer service employee at the market. All this to say the morning turned into some minor errand-running type activity.

     My daughter is a giving sort, and (surprisingly to me) seems naturally inclined to want to give generously. I had thought it important for her especially to see me doing this thing, and to understand I desired also to give to "these needy people." I did so explaining (as I did earlier this year about the social contract issue in her class) that it was because they were people created in the image of God and it is important to show love (simply because they are valuable, worthily created). Likewise, giving, in this instance, I thought would be a point of connection between the two of us.

     At one point after going to both places I found myself expressing gratitude to both my children for coming with me. It seemed important to recognize their sacrificial (albeit somewhat necessarily conscripted) participation. It had been an important task for me to do, so their willingness to be a part was a gift to me, and should be recognized as valuable. We then drove around and looked at swollen creeks and lakes and ponds, and came home for some snacks.

     I want to grow in the humility which recognizes other's (especially and notably my childrens') costs in participating in relationship with me.I don't think this translate to God's attitude when He asks us to do things, as God owes us nothing, ever. I do think, for me, the humility which recognizes such things models the righteousness of God to my children, as well as models the humility which dethrones ourselves as the center of our relationships. If nothing else such humility aides in the consistently remembering / conferring of their value upon my children. And that sort of consistent intentionality is like God, is as God acts in our own lives as He non-stop loves us.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Crying at Cinderella

     My relationship with my son seems to be growing, and I attribute this to the change in my efforts towards him -- a change which seeks to recognize his particular emotional nature, context ... emotional landscape, call it what you will. In other words, we are just connecting more.

    I feel I could go deeper in recognizing the same contexts in my daughter, as they are unique unto her, and likely with different impact. As a newish father of a younger toddler I would walk with her (in her clumping, staggering, steps) one city block to a local neighborhood park, and this meant a slow, stopping-to-pick-up-every-rock-and-leaf type pace. Our route took us by the local elementary school, and a janitor one morning, as he was emptying something into the trash bin, said I must be one of the most patient men he had ever seen, having watched me day after day in this walk. That was a moment of human connection which today blesses my soul.

     Tuesday my son came home sick from school with what turned out to be an ear infection. To save you the details of why I arrived at the doctor's office without an appointment only to schedule an appointment for an hour later (thus giving me an hour to kill with a sick son) I'll just say we whiled the time away at a local healthy, "granola / crunchy" type chain grocery store (one which caters to the affluent). I got us both an overpriced gelato, his having candy-corn zombie teeth, and an additional Pez candy for him. We ate upon a patio in peril of dive-bombing grackles with all too-loaded craws and us easy targets for, well, "dive bombing". I mean, that is what makes moments between father and son, right?

     After the appointment, while at the "regular" grocery store to pick up the prescription, he found a party-animal-making-balloon kit thing he really wanted. Regretting having spent so much already, and regretting more catering to too many whims, I nonetheless caved -- he had dug in his heels. What I was thinking was that I had misidentified his wants by pushing the gelato, and it was better to connect in the area of the want, In retrospect, I think just having purchased the Pez candy was enough, and I could have told him that he had made his choice, but to remember the balloon-candy decision next time we were at the store. That may be slightly beyond developmental level, maybe not. At any rate, what could have been his momentary disappointment at not getting a want, had I said no, is not ultimately the worst mistake I could ever make.

     I could use this to make the point that, really, God in His goodness knows what He is doing when we don't get all the things we want: He knows what small or large thing ultimately we need in that moment in order to form that whatever sense of being loved and valued which we so desperately need. He came to bring life, and life more abundant, and I find that life in His gifts. Not so much in getting my wants met. The important thing, the comforting thing for a bumbling father, is that the little moments and gifts are more lasting, more "real" building stones, outlasting even the momentary disappointments. Maybe more importantly, the things God is giving us now, the passions He is allowing us to pursue, are thusly that much more important to dive into and explore -- they are where He is at. If He is giving them (gifts) to you, then those gifts have to be good and timely, fore they are from Him and perfect.

     The turn, the twist, sometimes, is that the God-given gifts/desire/wants lead me to giving, and there is more life in that than in the getting, the amassing of merely my interests and wants. For instance, as in the pouring out of myself into fathering my children, despite the lessened time for writing it allowed me. I have seen that very inborn delight in giving in my daughter, who loves to give. She is not overly concerned if we will have enough to both give and have/get what we need. And that is a trait in which she models to me. However, while entirely true I am not sure this is the particular lesson I am learning and needing to "write-out" this morning.

     We let the kids watch the newest Disney version of "Cinderella," the live-action version while my son convalesced on the couch. In this particular show I was weeping, babe-like, at various points. I have done that for years recently, at certain portrayals of the classic virtues (courage, honor, sacrifice, kindness, even fathering). And it doesn't matter: live action movie or cartoon or animation, serious story or fantastical. So, my crying was nothing new. However, during this version I found myself near constantly teary-eyed. Something about the kindness and goodness Cinderella showed. And several times I noticed my daughter noticing me, and my emotional responses.

     I could start to suggest why it is I cry, how I am looking for some hint of the Kingdom of God (which is comprised of those things like kindness and goodness and fathering), or I could speculate on how the tears have a component of rejoicing in the experience of those things and in seeing them triumph (even when in fiction) against this cold dark bent world in which I am so lonely and crave so much for just the slightest human connection with a janitor. I could.

     What's important is that my daughter saw me this way, unabashedly emotional, at something few men I think ever would show emotion. She herself was emotionally invested in the story, as children are so wonderfully beautifully able to be. And I think in that moment maybe she felt some connection. I suppose that is how God is with us: rejoicing with those that rejoice, mourning with those that mourn, only to dry every tear, replacing coats of ashes with the oil of gladness. And I suppose He wants to be with us in these moments, is definitely with us, wanting to reveal Himself in all His emotional transparency, concerned most with what is Good (which is Himself, the only defining standard of Good, of Love).  And I suppose it why I need to pursue the passions which He has given me, that I may find more of Him there, in them, with me.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Open House, and gaining

     I am going to try to hit this one out of the gate. Last week was the open house for my kids' school. Odd, given that the Parent-Teacher conference was a month earlier, and is normally done the same time as the conferences. Suffice it to say it was important to my daughter that we go: she wanted to show us what each part of her day was like. Truth be told, that is the very thing I most wanted to see. I've often wanted to ghost or shadow her and my son, the proverbial fly-on-the-wall. You might recall I learned a lesson about being an attentive listener during the Parent-Teacher conference.

       It was important, like I said, that we go, and I failed to go. I failed because I did not make intentional efforts to alter a planned visit from an out of town friend, who no doubt would have changed his plans to come earlier. I decided to just take the hit, own up to the wrong and just ask forgiveness, expressing it had been important to me, and that what my wife got to see (because she went while I visited) I too really wanted to see.

     I don't think the apology made up for anything, and the expression of my interest, while something she needed to hear, because it was not acted upon it was slightly effete. Well, now I know how to do better, at least, and that it is as important to act upon one's expression of desire as it is to express things.

     I suppose the spiritual lesson -- and I recognize not every blog post has to have such a lesson, but honestly it helps me to be merciful to myself and not self-damning over failure to consider God's heart -- is a lesson that God is more than merely interested but ever present, and involved. Perhaps I am not off base to recognize He has more interest in the building up of me by being present and involved than in needing to drive the conversations at Open House, metaphorically speaking. God is a patient and humble listener, intimate and desiring intimate acquaintanceship.

     So, I hot this one right out the gate, because I knew I wanted to make a hard left turn soon after, and this is that turn: I am struck this morning with a verse. Well, one specifically :Mark 8:36.

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. 36"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?."

    Thus, this verse's' relevance, at first and if at all, is likely to be seen as an oblique relevance.

    Truth be told, I had not wanted to go to Open House, and in this Autumn season in particular I am just wanting to be comfortable, to relax existentially. It is pretty selfish, at its heart, and ultimately aimed at the most vapid of comforts.

    In missing the Open House I definitely feel a loss. Being honest, I think I used my friend's visit as an excuse to bow out. Had I gone I know seeing the blessing on my daughter's face, experiencing that sense of her being poured into and self-actuated (from the interaction) would have been fulfilling. Much more so than the current vapidness of ease and unfulfilling inactivity. I had wanted (and do want) to build my children up, and to enjoy that sense of "having tasted life more abundant" from doing good for them and with them. And that is easy to forget, the fact that I do want to. Odd as it sounds to utter, I do forget that desire.

    I know on one unspoken level I had doubted the fulfilling nature of the experience (of going to Open House for the sake of pouring into my daughter). And I doubted it because, in the moment, just as I feel now, I am existentially tired, existentially sad. I feel disheartened, somewhat. The source of this likely is in / was in the realization that my chance for getting to be poured into, getting to rest, getting to recreate and retreat (as my wife had just gotten to do the previous weekend) was not yet to come.

    In other words, my attitude was off. As I type these words I am realizing it is still off and I am missing enjoying these few days my wife has taken off to "give [me] a break".

    So here is where the seemingly oblique makes another sharp turn back to point.

    So, in the verse I am sensing gentleness, not even a gentle rebuff (though I could focus on it as such). I am feeling a gentle reminder, reminding or exhortation, a heavenly cheerleading and a promising that what I am wanting is found in the trusting doing of what I know (but forget) I want. I thought I didn't want to write this morning, mainly because I wasn't "feeling it," but I  do want to write (at heart, in general, as who I am) and I did write, and now feel that sense of having found life. By found life I mean that sense of having uncovered some bit of God's plan, seen His heart and understood His fathering of me, thus getting to "father" readers through that mystical way such happens in these narratives. (Though I seldom if ever know who is being fathered by my writing, if any one is.)

Everything I am wanting to do likely stands to offer such fulfillment. I have but to do, to do those God-birthed things which are for His sake -- the sake of loving others unto greater wholeness in Him. Fathering... even fathering in writing. Arguably fathering in the big ways I am too scared in which to consider I  want to "father". So it is I find life.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Not quite a lie

"Son, why are you sad?"

"Because you yelled at me."

That was how the conversation started. I proceeded, in the exchange, to explain to him that I have a big voice, and was not meaning to yell at him but was trying to keep him on task, and that I wanted for him to get to experience whatever we were leaving to go do and wanted for him to know I was pleased with him (not unpleased), and more about how much my heart was for him, but also asked him to forgive me for sounding like I was yelling, I would try harder not to sound that way. He forgave me.

Let's be honest, though, I have a really big voice -- a past-thespian, a barrel-chested burly guy. Yeah.

As an aside, I suspect, and have experienced it enough to know, that this is the way God is attempting to deal with each of us when we sin. As it states in the New Testament book of Hebrews: Christ, who was made perfect (i.e. complete, whole) through what he suffered, learning obedience through that suffering, is a great and high priest able to deal gently with those who are wandering astray and ignorant. Simple, God is more gentle in His keeping us on task, with a heart that is continually all about being for us, while keeping us on task.

With little interaction since (due to the rush of moving from one event to another, through the routine of bedtime to waking to school), my son still purposefully, intentionally sought to display love to me, from out of an earnest heart place -- attempting essentially to be loving back to me as he so obviously was feeling loved.

Not batting so highly with my daughter. I awoke from a nap, grumpy because of the circumstance -- we were late for Wednesday night church. A particular cabinet had been re-arranged, and while I didn't care much I did want to know who had done the re-arranging. It could have ended with that information. My daughter replied she didn't know, and a little later my wife mentioned my daughter had done some work in the cabinet, and likely had been the person re-arranging.

I don't like lies. They anger me. It's part of who I am, lover of truth, philosopher. So, in a controlled but obviously displeased manner I revisited the question to my daughter who admitted to doing so, and I sent her to her room for lying to me.

Fortunately my wife was there to mollify me, since I was gearing up and loading for bear. I then told my wife to deal with it in response (to her petitioning for mercy), secretly knowing that was the better course of action given my lack of empathy in the moment. As it turns out my daughter hadn't intended to lie, but, from her rather deeply intelligent grasp of conceptual things, was attempting to be expeditious with the truth. She was attempting to answer in a way which skirted muddying minutia, at least in her mind. She had been self-starting, putting up the clean dishes from the washer, not realizing I had previously re-arranged the dishes, which caused some double work and the pushing around of the cabinet's contents. Those contents she later went back to re-organize.

So, I sit here writing with a growing respect and admiration, even awe of my daughter's intelligence and conceptual depth. I am also sitting here heavy with the thoughts of how I have not accorded her that recognition or admiration. All I did do was accept her apology without belaboring any point, and that was small respect indeed.

More than just some public recognition of what I failed to see (which she deserves), I need to incorporate into my thinking about her this awareness. I need to start changing even how I view her, how I have conceived of her -- she is acting far more deeply than I realize. That deep acting should cause me to feel as though I don't know much, definitely not as much as I think I know, about her. It will be that deference, that unspokenly conveyed respect of her alterity / free-acting-ness which can and should build her up (as I want to build her). Treating her as more equal, more equally a unique person unto herself.

As I type this I wonder if, maybe in part, this explains how and why God made Mankind "a little lower than the angels," even making Mankind at all: an all-good, all-loving God, for whom it is categorically right to recognize His goodness, must necessarily create that which is lower than Himself but upon which He so graciously accords respect-conveying alterity -- an alterity, consequently, which is then in the place to recognize the infinitely surpassing greatness of the Good Creator. But these are my digressing, philosophizing thoughts. And, really, as I a writer (read artist, creator) I understand the impetus to create, to express, to reveal, to delight, and thus my philosophizing actually is narrow-sighted and not as full an understanding or knowing of God as it should be.

Back to the point, though round-aboutly. I know children need parents, not friends. And I know the beloved verse about "training the child up in the way they should go and they will not easily depart from it." But I think in this matter I am not suggesting anything other than considering my daughter to be, at her core, beyond what I know or wrongly reduce her to being.

Perhaps even that is what God allows us to do, to discover our own depths beyond what even we reduce ourselves as being, letting us come to learn who we are beyond what we know and closer to who He knows us as. I think seeing that might make me grow up a little.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mystery Reader

Last Friday was an interesting day. My wife had left the day before for a contemplative retreat at our beloved retreat location, leaving me home alone with the children. That in itself is nothing really new -- I am effectively a single parent roughly 90% of the time, mostly as a result of her night shift schedule, and the exigencies of a our high stress lifestyle. This is not to say she doesn't try to help when she can, nor that I am without a gracious community filling in the gaps at times. If I have not, it is more than likely simply that I have not asked.

Suffice it to say, my wife being gone was going to necessitate I make certain decisions about how the weekend was to go, one of which included asking my daughter to miss her first volleyball game on Saturday (so that I could honor a commitment to be a guest reader at a conflicting event). Well, knowing practice was coming up the Friday after my wife had departed, I decided to tell my daughter the news, with the expected moroseness and lugubrious demonstration of displeasure.

So, the discontent (at missing the game) is the emotional context in which the actual story occurs. Earlier in the year I had signed up to be the classroom "Mystery Reader" on Fridays. The Friday of my wife's absence, the Friday before the missed game, happened to be the first Friday appearance as the Mystery Reader. I had considered reading some various books I had from childhood sitting upon my daughters bookshelf. "Randomly" an illustrated copy of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Hiawatha" was strewn on the floor and I grabbed that one as well. The Longfellow seemed a more fitting thing to read, given its length, and my general love of poetry and of American Indian culture.

I got to school early enough to have part of lunch with my daughter, me bedecked in my tightest tee-shirt and hipster skinny jeans. I fist bumped all the little friends I knew, and was the general all around winning public father-personae I can be, much for her sake as anything. I followed the class from the cafeteria to the room, and once there, sat next to my daughter in the designated place for reader and readers-child.

What makes this so interesting a story to me was that, at the end, the teacher remarked how fitting it was I had chosen to read "Hiawatha," since they were beginning their poetry series the upcoming week. I had decided on the piece because I had thought that, since I liked poetry, it was fitting for me share something like that, hoping to open their minds to the beauty and mystery of poetry.

What I know is that my daughter felt special, getting to have her father in class with her, being a center-point of engagement, and knows I will and do want to be there with her, fully, where she is at. And certainly the Lord is no different, wanting to be with us in our passions, our excitements, our joys, our moments. What was my being center stage and also a moment of her basking in the specialness, well, through that she came to find me wanting to making her feel special, being committed to being there that she may find specialness.

It was, in retrospect, a fathering moment by me and for me -- a moment wherein the interests and loves I have and in which the Lord seems to be conferring and opening up for me He also allowed me to foster in others. Poetry is a good thing, a beautiful and life affirming thing, and God, through this experience, so it seems to me, in the very least and at least, is validating and confirming in me my love of poetry, my recognition of poetry's value and beauty and significance.

Maybe more poignantly it seems God is fathering me, and showing me how fathering is done in sharing art. Just as I wanted to share that beauty with them, so is He sharing and wanting to encourage me in it (that passion) as well.

Said more simply, God is confirming that it is possible to father through writing, and that I am not wrong to love a beautiful thing; God wants me to write. That I should be loving a beautiful thing, well, such is good, and consistent with His heart. Dare I even say (He is confirming that, of that passion) that it is beautiful about me? Is He confirming that there is place for it, that passion of writing?

As an aside: On Saturday, at my conflicting commitment, I was yet again reading poetry selections (this time from Wendell Berry), for a speaker speaking on the place of Christians and the Environment. I had been drawn to select poems of Wendell Berry which revolved around the theme of "husbanding the land". 

Well, Friday evening we took my daughter to volleyball practice, and at one point she made a play which garnered her the accolades of high five's and being lifted up in the arms of exuberant teammates. Earlier that day she informed me she was okay with missing the game coming up, and so, for me as a dad feeling a little heavy about the whole affair, felt it was a redeeming moment: a moment to be happy with her and for her success, and for her recognition in teammates eyes.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Robin Costumes & Faith More Precious Than Gold

     I don't normally know I have done something right with my children until there is some outpouring towards me of their gratified love, the sort of love which comes from a deep, selfless place of delight. However, that is more a statement at my lack of understanding than of anything else. Last night my son poured out such gratified loving and I found myself mentally scrambling to recount all the events of the day to recall what it was I had done (and for which I was receiving this boon). I still can't remember what it was, well, not with certainty.
     I do know he is wanting me to buy him a Robin (of Batman and Robin) costume, mostly because we saw some meme online about a father-son costume duo of same said superheroes. Mom jumped on the bandwagon with the dare-I-say taunting (and, might I add,  "comixologically" irreverent (read "non-serious")) suggestion of her getting a Catwoman costume; my daughter, precious one she is, pipped up she could be Batgirl.
     At any rate, it seems the idea is really rather important to my son, at least his getting a Robin costume. He really enjoys Halloween dress-up and trick-or-treating. Truth be told, it seems as important as Christmas was to me, growing in the materialistic family that I did. On the car ride home my son presses me for when I will buy the costume. I don't like the pressing, especially since I am so frequently on the fence about these matters, and spending money and using time both are something which need to be done in a responsible way.
     My reply was shot from the hip: "Son, I want to get you the costume. It is enough to know that I want to, and that I will because I want to, but I don't know and won't say when that will be. It is enough to know it is important to me to get it for you."
     I am now suspecting it was that recognition of his wants, and the promise, which elicited the outpouring of love and affection. Well, maybe that and my efforts to sit and hear about his day, engaging him about how he felt about things (on the same car ride home with mom and sister). My son is social and likes to talk about his day far more freely than his sister does. And such a hearing, coupled with the social event from which we had come and from which he receives some good deal of personal investment into him, and being the extrovert he is, all likely lead into the feeling of need and want being met.
     There is a lot which can be said of love pouring out from a place of deeply satisfied delight, both to God from us and from God to us. There is also a lot to be said about knowing He, God, wants to bless us and will, in His perfect timing, and that His promise is the same as His doing so.
     As relates to me and the narrative of my life which He is writing, I suppose, it amounts to the same: He is bringing me to a place of deep delight in Him, even a place of selfless delight. I can say I know that when I get whatever "it" is ("it" being simply expressed as the life and vocation of writing, being a writer, having a family and marriage), knowing His heart to want to give it to me is just as valuable as the thing in itself.
     I will be honest, I've not considered how the things given in the past (and the continued experience of them in the present) are statements and reminders of the moment(s) of knowing His heart and its desire to give -- thus moments of intimacy with the Father in Heaven.Perhaps that is what is meant by the verse that all His promises are yes and amen in Christ Jesus. I can do better "remembering the good, exercising my belief". The old chestnut "living in the present and not yet Kingdom," comes to mind.
     God is for me, and not against me; for you, and not against you; for us and not against us. He is good. In these moments between His promise and it's fulfillment is the knowing of His heart without the obscuring corollary experience of knowing the fulfillment of the promise. These "in-between moments" are the intimacy times.
     I suppose this all amounts to the verse from I Peter 1:7 (NIV):

"These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. "

     My son's outpouring was a demonstration of his faith in me, and that is indeed, for me, of greater worth and more lasting preciousness than gold. So must my faith be for God. And knowing that there could that value of me, from me, for God, somehow, is honoring and humbling, and further still, serves to bring back around the understanding that He loves and delights in me.
     And there is sweet, life-securing purpose in this.

A slight, ancillary aside:

     What I am realizing is that there is praise, honor, and glory for both of us at the actualization of my promise, just as there will be for me (just as it there is rightly and firstly for Christ Jesus) when Christ is revealed. But it is the crux of the point about my faith and how faith is part of my identity, my value, which I had heretofore been missing. I see it about my son, but now I am realizing it for myself.
     I know this may sound selfish, but I am a person needing identity and value (senses of), and glory, honor, praise for some of me, even though I know and want it firstly for God. But I think that is part of His gift and His goodness to me, and I know faith is not of myself, that I should boast, but is the work of God (so it is by grace through faith not of myself by which I am saved).


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Allowing the Goofball

     Friday of last week turned out to be my daughter's first volleyball practice. She had been excited all week but Friday afternoon she was running from the school building to the car chanting, "let's go let's go let's go." Practice wasn't for a few hours after school so the exuberance was a bit much. When we finally get to practice, and find the court we are supposed to be on, she is acting the goofball.

     Being more somber about the situation -- knowing she is put into a context where others (wrongly in my opinion) will have expectations of her and won't always be nice about it -- I call her over. I was cognizant of not wanting to crush her precious heart and I tried my best to tell her she was not doing anything wrong, but that she needed to be a tad more serious. Sure enough she seemed down-trodden as she trotted back on the court. I comforted myself with the thought that she was just hyper-sensitive. It wasn't until my wife got to practice late and I relayed the exchange that she pointed out that "goofball" was my daughter's natural reaction in her excitement that I knew I indeed had messed up just as I feared I would.

     The rest of practice seemed to go well, and she was really putting forth a lot of effort, occasionally even being the goof when she ran after a wild ball or when all the girls were called to line up. The car ride home found us excitedly discussing names and colors for the team -- part of the "homework" assigned.

     I think what I am coming to learn through this is the role I have of "building up" my children is that much more important and that much more primary -- the coach was good at getting the girls to stay on point. I even observed her, the coach, cracking down on an obviously known, previous player, but did so kindly, so I needn't worry too much.

     The more my child is built up by me, especially in those contexts (like this one) where she is excited, the better equipped she will be to handle the moments when correction comes from someone else's expectations. And this is exactly what I have found God doing with me, beyond even the correction (which frequently is made gently enough with a sense of my being asked why I did such-and-such an action).

     Along with this, a parent is to be encouraging the child and building them up through their activities. I wonder if in part the reason why God is slowly revealing what He has for me (vocationally, beyond parenting) is because He not only knows my goofball exuberance, and is speaking to a deep seated fear I have.

     I frequently find, when I am agonizing over the question (of whom I am and what I shall do) that the Lord kindly reminds me He is able to keep me from falling away, As I write this now I realize that this is a response to the fear my exuberance will take me too far afield. Maybe I am learning the freedom to be goofball-exuberant. It was not something allowed me growing up, and was sometimes something I was literally "dis-abused" of.

     The activity (writing, philosophizing) itself is fun, and arguably a "form" of who I am. What God is building is that sense of who He is and who I am (am allowed to be) -- I couldn't fully be that "form" without such being built into it, that "form". Being a good writer (philosopher, artist) means first having the confidence and security to be this goofball exuberant about writing (philosophizing, "arting").

    And, of course, seeing this work by God compels me to want to be better doing the same for my daughter. Fortunately my failures will point her to God rather than to me.