Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hallelujah!

My friend Pam sent this video my way yesterday, and I can’t quit thinking about it.
The four minute clip ended up being about twelve minutes for me, as one viewing wasn’t enough. It’s not every day that I get to watch spontaneous corporate worship in a shopping mall food court.
The expressions and responses of the unsuspecting crowd is striking. This food court, full of families and couples and friends simply grabbing a bite to eat in the midst of shopping, is a miniscule example to me of what it will be like when Christ returns. Scripture tells us that He will appear at a day or hour that no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not even the Son, but only the Father.  Unexpected, to an unsuspecting world who is distracted by the immediacy of that day.
Some of us will be prepared at His coming, some of us will not. Similar to the responses in the video, I imagine some will respond in joyous worship by joining right in with hands raised in praise. Some will remain hesitant and then gradually engage, and then some will look around, mesmerized, but not know what’s going on.
But one thing for certain, none will remain cynical.
Caught off-guard in the spontaneous, glorious cantillation of the Hallelujah chorus filling this food court, every single person participated. The swelling voices were inescapable, and even then, no one wanted to escape. The bystanders' expressions changed from surprise to awe to involuntary worship. Their faces reveal surprise, joy, relief, and even tears of worship.  But in the end, none showed cynicism.
Because genuine worship cannot be denied.
In the case of Christ’s return, His glory and worthiness of being worshipped will not, cannot, be denied.
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
   “Hallelujah!
   For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Rev 19:6

Welcome, Advent. Welcome, Jesus.
This Christmas season, we welcome you and invite your presence into our homes, our hearts. As we celebrate your coming to this world as a babe, more than twenty centuries past, help us slow down to not be surprised at your coming. You are welcome - and wanted - here!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Letting the Light Shine


They strolled right past us, unaware, canvas and paints in hands, headed further down the park's winding trail.  I wondered if they were painting for fun, or for a school project... if the teen boy and girl were just friends, or dating, or brother and sister... hard to tell. But my passing thoughts about the artistic couple were interrupted with catching Bran's frisbee. 
So about an hour later, walking back past us toward the parking lot, their canvases no longer fresh and white but now saturated with wet paint, we asked if they would show us their work. Six kids (mine and a couple of neighbors) crowded with me around the young pair. The teens offered hesitant smiles in revealing their art, timid humility mixed with the natural desire of any artist to share their work.
The dark-haired girl, who stood a couple of inches taller than the boy, revealed her painting of a large dark sphere with muted colors surrounding it and a fairly bright yellow center. She explained that it was a picture of the world, and that the darkness showed how we get choked out by things of the world. But even so, the light is trying to overcome the darkness.
The boy's canvas held a similar theme, but with a more impressionistic smearing of colors. He briefly described the strokes of dim color peeking out from beneath broad dark strokes as the loss of that childhood "light." He said his painting depicted how young children are filled with a bright light and enthusiasm and confidence that eventually becomes snuffed out by the world's darkness.
The young pair seemed to appreciate our interest, and we thanked them for taking the time to stop and talk with us (though one of my kids chided me, saying I was totally weird for interrupting the teens and asking about their artwork - whatever). But as we trekked up the hill and through our back gate, my thoughts pleaded against the threats of that darkness.
"Please, Lord, not these children! How do I protect them? How do You protect them? I don't want these little lights snuffed out!"
Even thinking about it a few days later, those canvases bothered me.
Bothered me because I think the artists were on to something.
I don't like the darkness, the world's choking measures. 
I want my children's creativity, enthusiasm, and confidence to grow with each passing year. I want them to thrive and bloom and discover purpose. It's my deepest desire, really, that intertwined in their relationships with the Lord and with bringing glory to Him in their time on this earth, that they would reflect His light. 

My friend Jennifer posted this quote last week, and I love it.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates other."
-Nelson Mandela, in his 1994 inaugural speech

Chew on that one for awhile. 
So this is what I want to build into my children - manifesting the glory of God that is within them, in a big way.  Mixed into the discipline, training, teaching, and correcting roles of motherhood, I want to be the one pushing them to the light, exposing their incredible strengths and giftings. My proudest moments as a parent have been watching my children do the things they love to do - performing on a stage, making a crazy catch at shortstop, singing into a toy microphone atop our marble coffee table, completing a tedious lego model, or even wrapping an arm around a sibling to offer comfort.
But really, it starts with me. It starts with Corbin and me living our lives in such a surrender to our creator, that He splashes vivid paints against our already color-splattered canvases, which in turn draws these little ones to want their Creator to splash color onto their not-yet-finished paintings. For the sake of our children, it begins in my heart, in both mine and Corbin's hearts. 

Lord, give me a bold spirit, a willingness to take risks. As I let my own light shine, I pray that my children will feel permission to do the same. Only you can make that happen!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tweenagers?!

“I’ve never seen a kid so excited about going through puberty.” - Hudson (about Branson, to my friend and fellow carpool-mom driving home a few days ago)
Branson has been assuring us since the day he turned eight that he’s a “tween,” and yet insists that Hudson is not a tween, even at nine. He’s talked about puberty enough that Hud and Basden roll their eyes.  I'm sensing another round of the all-too-familiar tug of war where Bran's spreading his adolescent wings in an effort to hurry and grow up, and we're checking out the impending scenery to preserve his innocence as much as possible.

Our school gave the “human growth and development” talk last week. Ugh. We’ve talked with Bran enough (Corbin especially) that we felt comfortable for him to take part, but it’s still unsettling. At the parents’ meeting a couple of days before the actual event, Corbin came away more than a little surprised with what they would discuss with these ten-year-olds, and in such detail. Even while we maintain pretty open communication with our son, who feels like he’s ten going on thirteen, there were a couple of topics that Corbin knew they had to talk through before Bran heard them from his P.E. Coach.

However, Bran has evidently been talking it up in carpool this week, because both carpool moms (who don’t have fifth graders at our school) knew “the talk” was coming. Bran told us last night that even though Coach prefaced his talk with “absolutely no laughing, this is serious business,” there was no way of keeping it in. I think my son covered his face with his coat and still shook with laughter - I just don’t know at what. Only Daddy was privy to that. Which is fine with me.

One thing I’ve been thinking about this week is the Pritchard’s opinion on their school’s sex talk in Going Public. They actually did not allow their children take part in those classes, and they say it was because they wanted the subject matter to be taught in accordance with morality. I like that. Our situation is a bit different, as every parents' will be, and we live in a different part of the country, so the talk might differ considerably, but I appreciate the Pritchard's effort towards OPEN communication combined with a deep conviction for teaching their children the biblical model of marriage and sex.

So in light of this and more, I feel like things are changing a bit in our family. We’re looking at possibly adding on to our house, because it’s appealing with these bigger bodies to have bigger spaces. Boxes of cereal and gallons of milk disappear from our kitchen at an astonishing rate. Kids meals are for our girls only, as our boys have moved onto adult entrees. Child-size plastic hangars are scant in the boys’ closet, as their shirts simply slide right off. And the one jack-and-jill bathroom that all four of our children share is more than a little cramped.

Change is on the horizon, I can feel it. In all of this, I’m enjoying these four little (!) ones, and Corbin and I are working to parent with the big picture in mind. On our knees, focusing on the big picture, with two official tweens in the house. Here we go...