Wednesday, June 29, 2011

One Man Who Made a Big Difference

We were sitting in the front living room late one night, talking about how difficult it is to do hard things - to stand apart from the crowd.
"What can one kid do, Mom? I'm just one kid."
I named a couple of other boys in my son's grade that would stand with him, despite the "crowd" moving in another direction.
"And just one man can make a difference," I added. "Look at Jackie Robinson. He and Branch Rickey - together they changed the face of baseball. Team up with a buddy or two, and you can change the direction of the majority."
I was reminded again this week of the power of one man as we observed Scott Walker's too-few earthly years. That by teaming up with his wife, with his family, and with others in his community, the powerful affect that just one man can make is astounding.

Scott Walker lived his life ministering to people around him, so I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that his memorial service this morning was more of the same. A stage simply lit with white candles, with an exquisite cross of white roses displayed front and center, very Janina-esque, pointing to who this service was really about.

As the first pastor stepped up to say a few words, Janina, Scott's wife of 38 years, stopped him by making her way from the front row to the podium, bowing her head, and singing a capella "Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place."

The large sanctuary brimmed with people touched by Scott's extravagant life. Corbin and I were honored to be there, to worship alongside Scott's family and close friends, and to soak in the way he loved people so well.The testimonies from co-workers, pastors, ministry leaders, and even college friends all pointed to the one thing that made Scott effective - his determination for following Jesus Christ. The stories, funny and serious, described a big man with a big heart who poured his energy, laughter, time and money into sharing Christ's love with people.

What touched Corbin and me the most, perhaps, were the emotional words from Scott's son-in-law. Several years ago, when JR married Scott's only (adorable!) daughter, Scott took him in, loved him well, taught him how to be a husband and father, how to be a man. We had dinner in the Walkers home one evening with Nina and JR as newlyweds, and the transformation that's taken place over the past few years in this young man is remarkable.  Last Saturday morning, through choked sobs, JR attempted to share how much Scott means to him. Scott took a risk in loving him well, a risk that will now multiply a spiritual legacy through generations. JR and Nina are expecting their first son, Arthur Scott, in just a couple of months. 

Corbin and I have long admired the Walkers, admired their hospitality, their laughter, their grandiose personalities, their passion for serving Christ. The Walkers are one of several couples here in Fort Worth that we've learned much from, couples who are a step or two ahead of us, whose marriages have weathered a few decades, and who know what's important and what's not important. Couples we want to emulate.

I kept thinking throughout Scott's service of all the men I wished were there. Men, our friends, who are still seeking their father's approval, putting off "spiritual things" because that stuff just gets lost behind work and family and socializing, men who haven't yet learned how to get outside of themselves and focus on the world at large through an eternal perspective. Those couple of hours celebrating Scott's life was more effective than a self-help book, a sermon, or a men's retreat.

One friend put it well, "Remember Scott, and remember why you remember him."

Lord, thank you for Scott's life, for his legacy, and for letting Corbin and me in on a tiny piece of his heart. We are touched by the greatness of his life, his love for you. 

Read more about Scott on these sites - Katherine  and Krista.
And thank you, Lana, for the stunning photo!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Practicing Gratitude... 6.27.11

251. Deep love of cousins for each other... even when they both want to be the alpha
252. All that my children learn during their time at Papa's Mountains

253. Scott Walker's life

254. Young Marrieds class at Trinity Chapel

255. Celebrating this dad on Father's day

256. And celebrating this one

257. And even across the miles, celebrating this one too
258. These men in my living room

259. Our friend's tears in the driveway with my husband

260. Sitting next to Diane while Pres preached

261. Creative play on a hot summer evening

262. Elvia!!!!!!
263. Daddy daughter dances
264. Fighting hard to make it to the championship bracket - and even harder for a victory

265. A grin of relief after a HOT 3.5 hour game to end the season
266. These darling, smiley twins in Montana

267. Camp Calico (and that she's getting to go somewhere other than the ballpark)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In the Image of the Maker

"Mom, I had a moment."
"Tonight. A moment. You should have seen it. I was called on stage to do the rap, and it was AWESOME..."
Bran continued another five or so minutes, recounting in detail the thrill of performing in front of several hundred 6th-9th graders at a church function. Once called up on stage, he explained to the crowd his grandfather's challenge to memorize a several-minute-long rap about giving your life to God, and then launched into a dramatic version of the song.
Did I mention HUNDREDS of kids?
And - he was simply visiting with a friend. It's not even our home church.

A good friend's son who had also attended the event evidently went home and, shaking his head, asked his dad, "How on earth did they ever convince Branson to get up there and do that?"
Convince him?! I think my son would have paid money to get to perform.
To have his moment.
And even though I didn't get to see it,  I've enjoyed the scene my imagination conjured up, and it thrills me to think of my son in his element.

Branson's experience was all the more intriguing to me after spending last weekend in North Carolina at a retreat geared toward creativity, about using your God-given gifts. Christa Wells, Nicole Witt and Ann Voskamp, came up with the idea a couple of years ago to set aside a weekend for encouraging women to "make."
A quote from the In the Image of the Maker retreat site:
Women who make with paint and cameras and music and words, with books and babies and textiles and food and all things of everyday, uncommon beauty...
How do we watch for beauty in ordinary?  How do we make music from emptiness? How do we carve space for creativity when we barely have time to brush our hair?
The premise of the retreat was that God is a creative God, and He created us in His image to create, to make.  
The retreat worship was meaningful, rich. The teaching encouraging and motivating. Small group discussions invigorating. And - very fun to navigate five mapquest routes, a blackout on cell service, and getting on the wrong airplane with my dear friend Krista. I'm quite sure we irritated more than a few fellow travelers, but we had a ball.
Christa & Nicole not just leading worship, but in the midst of worship
Ann - spoken words as eloquent as her written ones
Traveling buddies
And in the midst of it all, I just happened to read Max Lucado's Cure for the Common Life going and coming from this retreat. Talk about overkill - or at least feeling pounded on the head about living our life to the fullest. And I'm learning - it's a message we can't hear enough. That we're created uniquely, for a purpose, and to get moving on that purpose.

Often when I'm stumped, particularly in writing, it's because I know I'm not the world's most renown expert on a topic. That others have said it before me, will say it after, and probably better, so why even say it?
But the idea that no one will say it quite like me - not better or worse, just different - takes away that excuse. No one else will create it, or design it, or make it quite like I will. Or you will.

A couple of Lucado's quotes:

"You cannot be anything you want to be, but you can be everything God wants you to be." (pg 18)

"Make a careful exploration of who you are the work you've been given, and sink yourself into that." Gal 6:4 MSG

"You can do something no one else can do, in a fashion no one else can do it." (pg 19)

Ann's speaking, Lucado's words and fabulous stories, and watching my son's exuberant joy from getting to be on stage all cause me to reflect a bit and ask, what have I done well and loved doing? What have you done well and loved doing?
May each of us carefully explore, sink ourselves into it, and ENJOY the

...For another impression of the retreat, check out Krista's musings.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Taz, be gone!

Someone snapped this photo of me last month.

TJ, aka "Taz," wrapped up the school year with a short temper and little patience. My kids will tell you that my speech consisted mostly of grunts, growls and rasps, and my ability to spin and bite through just about anything kept me constantly whirling about in a dust devil.

Someone told me, when my children were very young, to never volunteer for anything extra in May. It was a new concept to me, that May might be a busy month, because in those years with toddlers and newborns, May simply looked like every other month.

But for families with school age children, it's busier than Christmas. Honest. It's the culmination of the year - whether with school projects or dance recitals or baseball tournaments - it's where the year ties up (with sometimes not-so-pretty a bow) and we moms ride the current, hanging on for dear life.

Somehow, this May did me in. I'm now in recovery, scarred and bleeding from the torrents. Looking back on last month's calendar, recalling the to-do lists, the mental gymnastics of arranging details and mazes of transportation and school involvements and sports commitments, oh my gosh. I was out of control.

Mama and Papa were here in Fort Worth for the month. They've come previous years for the month of May, so they know how FULL it is. But something about them being here (they stay at a condo downtown, give us plenty of space, and do nothing but offer help and involvement... and they cheer LOUDLY at baseball games) offers me an outside-looking-in view of my home during this hectic season.
And let me tell you, the view's not good.

The kids are fine, the activities fine, but in the process my spirit has been stomped on, my joy drained right along with the dishwater. 
Except that there is no dishwater, because we've been eating nachos at the ballpark for weeks now. 

And here's the deal. Our schedule was overflowing, no question. But honestly, I do know how to say no, and I don't know how I'd do the month any differently. Not in a way that would make a major dent in our calendar, anyway. Next year we will likely still spend our evenings at the ballpark, still run to gymnastics and swim lessons, still finish school projects and attend parties and host lots of people in our home.

I don't know HOW to do this yet, but somehow I've got to relax in the midst of it all. Quit the swirling tornado, relieve my face of the contorted expressions of angst, and throw off the thousand-pound burdens resting on my shoulders. And enjoy my family and friends in the process.

So here's my navigation tools, now that I've reached dry land, kind of getting my breath but feeling a bit like a beached whale (those nachos will do it...)

Be my rock, O Soverign Lord, to which I can always go... Ps 71:3

In the day of trouble, He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock... Ps 27:5

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads my beside quiet waters... Ps 23:2

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zeph 3:4

Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup (none of my life surprises you - the demands of family, of keeping my home, of finances, of running late for every event because the events are simply packed in too tightly today...); You have made my lot secure (not a thrashing, crashing current that drowns me). The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places (boundary lines? You have boundary lines set for me?!); surely I have a delightful inheritance (delightful - even the word makes my heart rest).  Ps 16:5

Somehow the head-knowledge of finding rest in the Lord is going to have to move to my heart. It's constant paddling upstream to navigate the "good" activities from the "best," and to stand firm as the gatekeeper for our family calendar. I also, however, want to remain interruptible and open to divine appointments, and there's a quiet little stream merging the two that I haven't yet discovered, or at least haven't figured out how to float down. I also know that it's not just May that will give me the opportunities to find quiet rest in the midst of torrential downpours - really, nearly every day of my life offer this challenge. Am I going to choose TJ or Taz?
Father God, help me choose REST.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Graduation Day (5th grade, that is)

The house is still, at least for a few moments. The three big kids tumbled into the car this morning, headed to their last full day of school, with lighter backpacks and gift-wrapped packages for their teachers. Esther still sleeps upstairs, subconsciously thankful for a quiet house and no early morning routine. The rest of the day welcomes a whirlwind of sorts, with end of year parties and baseball practices and a friend staying for the weekend, the biggest event being Branson's fifth grade promotion in a couple of hours. Standing tall in his dress clothes in our kitchen this morning, wolfing down several pieces of cinnamon toast, he looked like a young man.  A handsome one at that (Cm'on, I'm his mom). Corbin just said this morning, "Can you believe he's through with elementary school?"
But it's a good transition.
And easier for me to see him leave Tanglewood, because he simply doesn't fit in the desks anymore.
Branson and his good friend yesterday - is this backdrop adorable or what?!
Yesterday at an awards reception, each fifth grader presented their parents with a book of stories they'd penned. Here's Bran's essay on how he views Corbin and me. It's humorous now, and sweet. And I imagine a few years from now it'll be even more so.
My Parents
The people I love most in the world are my parents. I love my parents because they provide for me and keep me safe (and the other half of it is that they give me candy.)
My dad is an even-tempered, intelligent person. He always likes to have fun with my three siblings and me. He likes to jump on the trampoline with me and bounce me where my body is in the trampoline but over the net.
My mom is always pushing me to my goals and to do better in school. She is always on her laptop doing... I really don't know! Maybe when she tells me and my little sister Esther (known as the loudest living creature on earth) to go to a different room, she may be watching YouTube, eating Starburst, and drinking Starbucks, instead of doing her Bible study! That's a good way to burn 30 minutes. All I know is she is very gracious and patient with us.
Both of my parents are very awesome and I am very grateful. Well, it's always like that, for both of my parents.

Happy 5th graduation, Branson. We love you with our whole hearts.