Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gift Ideas

"Greater love has no man than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

“Will you help me give life to my Son?”
“Of course,” Mary replied. “It will be my honor.”

“You will give life to all of your children forever?” asked the Son of His Father.
“Of course” was the reply. “That was my plan and hope from the beginning.

“You will give my son your kidney?” asked Nelson of Keith.
“Of course” Keith replied. “It will be my honor.”

86 years ago, an adorable man named Nelson came into this world.

64 years ago he welcomed his son, “Chip” along for the rest of his journey.

24 years ago Chip became friends with Keith.

On Tuesday, Keith gave Chip one of his kidneys.

It was a nice thing to do.

To us, it was a precious miracle orchestrated by gifted physicians.

To God, it was the plan and hope from the beginning.

Just because Keith replied “of course:”

Thousands of people, who had never met any of us in this story,
prayed for a wonderful transition,
47 people who had never met before this day,
held each other and cried at the selfless act of one man to offer another –

Keith was granted time-off from his work, gifts, grace and favor beyond comprehension.

Those that could help ease the transition of a purifying organ from one body to another
did everything within their power.

Just because one man was willing to open his body to save another.

One act of honor brings one hundred acts of kindness.

What will be your honor to give this Christmas?

Your one gift will inspire one hundred more.

And that was the plan and the hope from the beginning.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time On

I thought it would take less time to raise children as they grew into independent personages. It doesn't. It only becomes more intellectual. Intellectual pursuits are so time consuming.

While time in their younger years was spent bathing, feeding, teaching basic human decency, and just by being present, time together was the obvious display of love. This obvious display of love in the teen-age years is replaced by either: complete and total rejection on both sides, annoyance of everyone in a 3-mile radius, driving them to endless destinations, cooking some form of ignorable vegetable, trying to make fruit in its original package enticing (this does NOT change with time), reasoning with them about boys not providing the sole reason for existence, awkwardly presenting the truly, deeply, blessed part of their reasons to live - their God-their dreams-their families and friends-and the gift of school. (Each of these reasons to live are patiently waiting for their own time to be first rejected and then embraced.)

All of this only takes more time. I'm so glad I took the time to finish my college degree - which is in Communications (huh...). Otherwise, I would be even more ill-equipped for the level of intelligence and thoughtfulness required to raise two girls to be self-sufficient citizens of a male directed world.

I would like our Chandler, Arizona, Fox Crossing neighborhood to know that this is what I'm doing with my time instead of painting the house or mowing the lawn, or walking the dog....or moving on...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Break is Over

Modem and router were incompatible today. So no internet access. Having Qwest forcibly removed from Arizona, if not the planet. It was Qwest's idea in the first place to have a separate router, which today their "friendly" service rep told me was the problem...

Phone battery was dead – could not find the charger. Just found it. Underneath Talia’s bed. Why I didn’t think to look there…?

I could not communicate with the outside world.

Girls go back to school tomorrow after 2.5 weeks. More than a little guilty about the thoughts I’m having- I really don’t like year round school. I love my girls, but I want them in school, not: on the couch in front of “How I Met Your Mother” ignoring me and dust bunnies and stacks of wrinkled clothes, texting all known human life also on a 2.5 week fall break. Eating tortilla chips. With cheese.

Arizona has Qwest and 2.5 week breaks in fall, winter, spring and a 6 week summer break. Summer lasts for 6 months here...this is incongruous...or ironic...or a cosmic prank.

I love the outside world. Please God, don't take it away from me again.

Tomorrow, around midnight when I'm done: taking the girls to and from school, caring for a friends blind, deaf dog which requires 25 miles of driving; delivering meals for Meals on Wheels, working 8 hours (5 of which I'm paid for), saying hello appropriately (!) to my husband who has been in Catalina for a week with 60 eighth graders - I'm going to sit on the couch, watch Modern Family and eat tortilla chips. With Cheese. And ignore every complaint listed above.

If anyone deserves a 2.5 week break - it's my husband.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Still Relevant After All These Years

Everything I need to know I learned from Simon and Garfunkel. My 15-year-old daughter loves Simon and Garfunkel. If ever someone taught me right from wrong, flighty from deep, it's Paul and Art. Mostly, I am a much better person and mother for their words and harmonies...maybe 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover I didn't need to take so much to heart...

If only all of my parenting could have come with perfect harmony and infinite wisdom. Oh well. I firmly believe Paul and Art have helped to raise Hannah into the gentle, loving human being she is becoming. Is this why she loves their music? Does she recognize the soulful genius that pierced her mother’s soul also at the age of 15? It’s possible, isn’t it? These two men have theoretically raised thousands of people.

And, here's to you, Hannah:

“And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the mornin' last.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
"Fools", said I, "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you

I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep.
Ba da da da da da da, feelin' groovy.

Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan
…and get yourself free

I wish I was,
Homeward bound,
Home where my thought's escaping,
Home where my music's playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.

All lies and jest
Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest.

But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony I need someone to comfort me.

Ba da da da da da da, feelin' groovy.

Jesus loves you more than you will know.

Time it was and what a time it was it was
A time of innocence a time of confidences.
Long ago it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you.”

Their words came back to them in shades of mediocrity? How could this be?

If Hannah disturbs the silence even once or listens for more than she wants to hear and on occasion sings
“Ba da da da da da da, feelin' groovy.” That will be all good.

Well, then there's Cat Steven's:

"Ooh Baby, baby it's a wild world. I'll always remember you like a child girl.

Exactly, Hannah. You and me both.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

God's Rubber Duckie

I died about 10 years ago. Not for long, but dead enough.

One night, about 3 days after sinus surgery, I began to hemorrhage. About midnight I let go of my efforts to control the bleeding and left my immediate location. As I lay my head down on the floor of my beautiful-brand-new-white-carpeted-bathroom (if this was a movie, angels would sing about the bathroom here) I was relieved to close my eyes and arrive in the presence of God. It's so quiet there. There's no pressure. He merely said: Come with me. Or stay. You can choose.

Clearly, I choose to stay and here's why: My daughters. They were sleeping in the next room and seemed, almost unbearingly, like they might still need me. They were toddlers. This was a clear and easy choice.

Except that it wasn't. (It's peaceful with God. It's not peaceful with toddlers.)

At this point, my husband sensing something wasn't right, angrily yelled "Karen! Don't close your eyes!" Eye closing scared him for some reason. Perhaps, because he'd just opened his eyes from passing out. In his defense, it was now a blood bath.

When I opened my eyes, a tiny yellow rubber duck virtually floated by on the "life" that was gushing out of me. Okay, so, that was clear. God can use a rubber duck to help a girl get some perspective.

I. Am. Staying.

The thing is, the whole year prior to this moment - I hadn't been all that interested in living. I didn't want to die exactly - I was just done with living. But seeing that duck made everything clear. My children play with that duck and with me. My husband needs his wife. This is my glimpse into what I would miss. "Please let me stay." To which my husband replied "You're not going to die." As I wasn't able to speak out loud then, this seemed absolutely divine. I was here for awhile.

In the time that follows such tumultuous events, life is profound. Every single moment of it. Every breath you take, every smile from a stranger, every dust bunny in your home, reveals God by your side. The certainty that you are alive for a definite purpose is clear every single second. Unfortunately, this does not last. The profound life fades to a distant memory no matter how hard to try to hang on.

To keep my faith in present tense is a flippin' struggle. I know I'm alive for a reason - I just think maybe I did the reason already and now...what? My girls are teen-agers and if there is a demographic that does not need mothers - it's teen-age girls. I know, I know. I'm being sarcastic. I know they need me. They just don't know it. There's probably something important looming on the horizon - a stranger to be smiled at, a child to be taught and dust bunnies don't just go away on their own.

I'm glad I stayed though. It was the right choice. Very grateful for the glimpse.

God, I hope I get another rubber duck, - maybe a less dramatic one though. Life is simpler with a clear sign in front of you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Once a Rockette

To dance is to live.” Snoopy

I love to dance more than any other person on earth. I danced from the moment I could walk-all the way to Radio City Music Hall. For a moment, I was a Rockette, for all my life, I’ve been a dancer. But, after dancing long enough to wear out most body parts, I got married, had children and moved to the desert.

I never planned to be a wife. Never planned to be a mother. Was absolutely dead set against ever living in a suburb. I was under the misguided impression that I was special. I mean, dancers are…at least…pretty.

I thought I would make a gigantic difference in this world. Or at least be famous. I thought I would always have somewhere exciting to go.

Chandler, Arizona was not the place that first came to mind, but here I am. A wife. A mother. Living in a Chandler, Arizona suburb.

In church today the pastor asked “What are you doing in your life that you could not do without the help of the Lord?” I thought, “Getting up.”

When does who we thought we were coincide with who we are, who we’ve become? When do we let go of the dreams of youth and fully embrace our present? How old will I be when I finally see the dreams God had for me are being fulfilled, and then be at peace with that knowledge? 82? Ever?

My husband wooed me by doing a pirouette in a parking lot on the night I met him. On the inside of my wedding ring is engraved “Always woo.” Although, he doesn’t pirouette or woo anymore, he does work endless hours in a job he loves and comes home to his family every night. He does love me-almost as much as he loves being married to someone who was once a Rockette.

I made an important decision to leave the comfort of my home town and become a dancer in New York City, to marry my husband, to become a mother. If I hadn’t first made the decision to follow the intense tugging in my soul to dance – I would be a terrible wife and mother and possibly more discontent in the life I now lead. If I had never taken a chance I would never have known…anything. I know very little, but I know I’m lucky or blessed to have heard the music and danced. To have lived a dream. To have searched beyond the dream with someone who loves me no matter who I am or who I will become.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Time to Say Something Else

I'm a mother of two teenage girls. Life continually proves to be harder than I expected. Body/Image dysmorphia seems to be an inherited condition - in an attempt to break the chain - the first written words to undo misconceived perceptions.

Dear Hannah and Talia,

Lately it has become apparent that neither one of you know the extent to which you have been blessed. While I have dedicated our years together to assuring that you feel cherished and perfect, it seems that somehow - you have missed this. For the moment I have you here – please pay attention.

You are remarkably good people. Compassionate to all living creatures, even snakes.



Despite your perception - neither of you are untalented…or fat (!)…or less than wonderful in any way.

So stop thinking otherwise.

Ideally, you get to live a different life than I have lived. But you still have to live your life in the body you inherited mostly, from me. For that, you’re welcome.

You have only been around my body after it gave birth to you (and danced a little too joyfully, for a little too long). You don’t see what a great vehicle I had to begin with.

Please take better care of your vehicle. Repair dents before the fenders rust and fall off. Occasionally check your oil. Try to love the miraculous beauty of its creative design. (Something I was never able to do with the original one.)

You must (and this is a rule) “Dance in the body you have.”

There seems to be a fine line between raising strong, confident women and self-absorbed narcissists. Even though you must appreciate what you’ve been given, here is why I will not constantly point out what you’ve been given:

1 – You must grow to become all God created you to be. Part of growing involves self-doubt and searching – hearing only praise could make you sit back and become complacent. You are absolutely gold through and through, but gold is only beautiful once it has been refined in fire. I fervently pray that your fire is just a match, not the bonfire I got.

B – It is vitally important that you don’t think you are better than anyone else. All of us look around and see people who we think are prettier, smarter, thinner, stronger, happier, funnier, better. And there are many who are. And many who aren’t. However, God did not make us them. He made us - us– with good reason (although I’ve found that He keeps this a secret for a really long time).

Just try not to compare yourself with anyone else. Just…try.

Spending any time thinking that you are less than enough is a waste of time and energy. You are more than enough. Spend your energy on important things. Maybe…learning a way to make the world a place where comparison is never a viable use of energy and everyone dances happily in the body they have.

I love you dearly and hope you feel cherished and nearly perfect.

(the one usually standing at the sink or driving you back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth, and annoying you within most moments)

P.S. Regarding perfection: it’s a mirage.