Friday, April 25, 2008

Be Careful What you Wish For

After my entries last week on the Hazards of Cohabitation, I got on the thought train of crazy twilight moments. Guess I have quite a few of them. You may have already read Adventures in Ambien last fall. Here is another one I recently remembered, from that same time frame.

All I had wanted for my birthday was balloons or flowers, and Justin was kind enough to supply both. If you look carefully in this picture, you can see the tip of a mylar balloon to the back of the bunch, on the right side. See it?

After the helium balloons went their merry way to the floor the next day, the mylar remained afloat. I took it upstairs with me to keep next to my bed, because I really liked that balloon.

As we were dozing off to sleep that night, I began to be annoyed by the constant crinkle as the draft from the ceiling fan moved the balloon enough to keep bumping gently against the wall. Tick, tick, tick. So with my eyes closed (did I mention I was all but asleep?), I reached out for the balloon weight, grabbed it in the dark, and threw it with all my might toward the center of the room. Except...

As I released the weight, I just then remembered THE CEILING FAN was also in the center of the room. Oh, no. I saw a flash of what was about to happen. Adrenaline surging, I leapt from my bed shouting, "It's okay! I'm getting it!" Snugged deep into his own slumber by then, this was Justin's first clue that something was awry.

Unfortunately, all the adrenaline in the world couldn't get that balloon into my control fast enough. With a whish, the draft of the fan sucked the balloon right into harm's way.


In the silence of the night, the sound could have been gunfire. Justin shot straight up in bed, still in the dark, still unable to speak or comprehend what might be happening.

With a yell, I grabbed my precious balloon and repeated, "I got it! I got it!" Then I jumped off the bed in the direction of the fan switch, and clawed the wall to turn it off before the long string could get wound around the motor.

Justin finally managed a groggy, "Wh-what? What's going on?"

I cradled the balloon in my hands and sat back down in bed, turning on the light to assess the damage. I filled him in with the blow-by-blow of what had just happened. "My balloon died, though." I showed him the gash across the side.

"Oh," he returned, with relief. "I'm glad it was just the balloon. I thought I was the one dying."

All I wanted was a balloon, and I nearly ended up giving this dear indulgent man a heart attack. I was grieving my balloon, he was grateful to be alive. I am going to have to rethink my birthday list for next year, since apparently balloons and my twilight self are not a good match. Suddenly dinner out sounds like a safer idea.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jesse James, perpetual cowboy

Get a load of Jesse rocking out on the Wii guitar. This little dude is into everything, and verbalizes himself remarkably clearly.

Yesterday when I went to wake Maren for school, I must have roused Jesse from a dream. He stirred, stretched, and with eyes closed declared loudly and clearly, "I just saw the cow jumping over the moon! The black one and the white one, with spots! Asky (actually), not a black one. A white one. The spots are black." Whereupon he rolled over and went back to sleep for another ten minutes.

I love the ways this little boy is different from my little girl. Today we went to visit Aunt Whit and cousin Angus the kitten. At the same age, Maren would have been tying ribbons around the cat's neck, or trying to tie a hat on its head, or simply putting a leash on him. Not so with Jesse. He was following the cat around roaring at it, showing how scary he could be.

Jesse is independent to a fiercer degree than Maren was. She has her own strength of character, but he has been completely feeding himself since he was nine months old. He is also fearless, a trait he does share with his sister. Jesse hasn't gotten the hang of swimming yet, but he motors around the pool quite well with his arm floats. Last week, though, he got fed up with the arm floats and took them off. He proudly walked around on the moon shelf, grinning from ear to ear. I knew what was coming, but bided my time in order to make a point.

Soon enough, he walked off the edge of the shelf and sank like a rock. I saw the top of his little head, and arms splashing feebly in the water. Of course I leapt in the pool fully clothed to haul him out, then just held him for a moment. He hadn't been under more than three to five seconds, but I hoped it was long enough to make an impression.

That night, he was subdued at dinner. He kept telling us he didn't want to go back to the bottom of the pool, that was a scary place.

But do you think he learned any respect for the water? I think maybe a little, but he still keeps trying to take off those arm floats. Now that he has tasted danger and survived, I think he is fascinated to go back and flaunt his courage again.

As you can see, Jesse is growing every day. It's spooky how this two-year old already has such a knowing look in his eye. And the curls, wherever they came from, add a significant degree of impishness to even the most serious of expressions.

I have no idea how to style boyish curls, so I pretty much just leave them alone. Justin gets hair duty on Sunday mornings and other special occasions. He sprays on a little detangler, then smooths the hair across the top, leaving the glorious blond locks behind. Justin calls the style "business up front, party in the back."

The other day I was trimming my own bangs. Nothing too exotic, just trying to trim the mane so I can see out, and so I can actually feel a little breeze on my face! It suddenly dawned on me that Jesse was right there bearing witness to my self-cut, so I took the opportunity to verbalize that "Haircutting is a mommy job, not a Jesse job." I was immediately reassured by his bored response: "Oh, no, mommy, Jesse doesn't want to cut his hair. Jesse is growing his hair out."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Get Where You're Going

Wisteria Lane: Picture Perfect?

Take a look around. Do you want to be just like those you see around you? Do you want to have what they have? What are you willing to give, or spend, to look and be like them?

We have had a vacant house for sale in a different state, for nine months. Believe me, I have considered long and hard what I am willing to do to not be stuck with useless real estate in this faltering economy. I am really done with rummaging through boxes in a garage to find a few bits and pieces of my former life. I want what I see around me, a house of our own. But there is a big barrier in my way. I cannot do anything until that house sells. Can't get out of debt, can't decorate.

But there is something that must be considered as I live through this in-between time. There is a deep-seated philosophy at work, one promoted by the media-driven American culture around me. It comes down to this: I am not happy with where I am, and I want to get to the other side of whatever roadblock is barring me from being happy. If I can just HAVE what I want (the house sold), then I will have opportunities to DO what I want (buy what I want); and then I will really BE happy (set my own rules, clean when I want to, let the kids eat in front of the TV). Sound familiar? It does sound tempting.

What do you want to HAVE, so you can DO what you want, to BE happy?

Now, how much are you willing to give to get to the first step, the HAVE? I could have our family move into an apartment right now, or we could lower the price on our house further for a quick sale; then we could move out and I could seize that happiness I'm craving.

Trouble is, there's a lie in there somewhere, and it does not come to light until you've put your soul in debt to HAVE the dream. We tend to believe that the HAVE is the key to removing the barrier, and unlocking access to our dreams. We find first of all, that there is a price to pay. An apartment would bring our monthly expenses higher than our monthly income, putting us further into financial bondage. Lowering our bottom line by thousands would leave us with that much in continuing debt.

Second, assuming the thing we wanted is even worth the expense, we also find that there is another thing to want. If I were to rent an apartment, I would fret about not being able to paint, or unpack fully. If we willingly gave ourselves further debt to make the sale, I would feel the weight and disappointment of having been so close to debt free, only to have given it away.

The cycle continues, and soon we realize, we are no closer to BE-ing than when we began. Only now, we also have debt, whether financial or emotional. That is not God's way. His plan is for us to BE first, then we can DO something meaningful, which will result in HAVE-ing all he intended for us to have. So how does one just BE?

We find some answers in Joshua 1:5-9. God says to Joshua, “I will BE with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Many years later, Jesus himself echoes this promise in his final words before ascending into heaven: “Surely I AM with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

So first and foremost, God promises to BE, and that is a very powerful reminder of whose action is more important. But does God have more to say about our own course of action? Let's read more in Joshua 1. In verses 6-8, we read:

BE strong and courageous....BE strong and very courageous. BE careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may BE successful wherever you go. Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may BE careful to do everything written in it. Then you will BE prosperous and successful.

Maybe it's just me being desperate for some kind of action to move me forward through my limbo, but I see an obvious course of action for me here Do you see it? Here it is: Just BE. That's it, BE. BE strong and courageous. BE careful to obey God's laws. Then you will BE successful.

Once I rest and BE, then I begin to DO. Back to Joshua 1, verse 9: “Have I not commanded you? BE strong and courageous. DO not be terrified; DO not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Fear and discouragement are two of my biggest enemies. But here I see it is a command from God on high, to intentionally disallow those feelings to dominate me, because I have no need for them.

It doesn't make worldly sense to let go of the need to HAVE. But here it is, I can go straight to the BE. BE strong, BE careful to obey God's written word, and BE successful. I can BE those things regardless of the sale status of my house.

Another really wonderful thing Jesus said while on this earth: “Seek first [God's] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). DO not be afraid, DO not be discouraged. I can let go of those feelings because of one final great truth: There is no need to focus on what I do not HAVE, because what I do HAVE is the greatest thing of all: I HAVE God. And as I pursue him above all, I can have what is really important.

So, the world's way of success reads HAVE-DO-BE. God's intended way reads BE-DO-HAVE, and is a much more healthy way to live my life. God's way, it doesn't really matter if my house has sold or not. It's God's problem, because worrying about it is not on the short list of tasks he has given me.

In your own search for meaning in life, may you find rest and renewal in this truth. BE strong and courageous. DO not allow fear or discouragement to overcome you. The Lord your God will BE with you wherever you go. The rest will fall into place at the appointed time, and you will always HAVE just what you need.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wouldn't Trade it?

How many times have you heard the expression, "I love being a mom, I wouldn't trade it for the world"? For me, sometimes that takes it too far.

But how about a different perspective: "You think being a mom is stressful, you should try working with the childish people I have to work with all day long! I'd gladly trade you." Sound familiar? Well I challenge both of those statements.

Today I took extra care with my appearance. I am, after all, trying to set a standard of professionalism in my writing, and dressing the part helps me act the part. I did get food on myself at lunch in the cafeteria at Maren's school when Jesse decided to hold his drippy apple crisp over me, but I managed to brush it off fairly successfully.

We came home and I sat outside with my computer to get a little work done on this Friday afternoon. After a solid hour of writing and managing my blog on the patio, I came inside to get ready to get Maren from school.

Did I mention Jesse is in the midst of potty training? This afternoon he has been running around wearing a pair of frog-print undies. This seemed like a good time, since he had already had two messy diapers today. I had to change the undies just before we left, because he didn't yet get the message about only pee-peeing in the potty.

Change the kid, grab a snack, get him out the door, pull it shut behind me... I reached down to brush my shoe clean of whatever I had stepped on during the last few moments. Uh, it was a squished ball of poo. What? Wherever did that come from?? I don't know when I first noticed something stuck to my shoe, but I had covered a lot of ground in a short time.

I ran back inside (sans shoe) to check my tracks. Sure enough, little brown splotches from the bathroom, in the bedroom, through the living room, in the kitchen, right outside the pantry, and leading through the laundry room to the door. On tile, concrete, carpet, and rugs. But still no indication of source.

By this time I was running so late I could not stop any longer. I left the shoes, and Jesse and I left for school--me barefoot, he in a tee shirt, fresh undies, and sandals. We were quite the pair. So much for professionalism.

What most disturbed me, after getting home and cleaning up the spots, was that I still didn't know exactly where this mess had originated. I had been on the patio, but didn't see anything likely out there. I had just been helping Jesse get dry pants on, but that had only been the wet kind of mess.

Still wishing you could trade jobs with a mommy? Hang on, there's more.

We got home, I cleaned up the spots, made sure the kids were okay outside, and sat down to write this little post. Jesse came inside and I suggested he go pee-pee to prevent a repeat of the wet pants episode...

While I generally can handle the mom duties, I have my limits. I have a rule that someone else gets to change the third dirty diaper of the day. And just take a guess what I found when I started to get JJ on the pot. Yep. This day has officially taken me into overtime. Wonder what that's paying these days...

Understanding that one cannot leave a dirty diaper (or undies full of poo) for two hours until the relief diaper-changer comes home, I put the pants directly in the toilet water to swish (go ahead, cringe), and the baby directly in the shower to hose off.

And just like clockwork, the phone rang to tell me that our hosts were on their way home. Of course.

Are your childish coworkers sounding any better? How about your tiring 5-day work weeks? I'd take tomorrow (Saturday) off, but there is no way there is any more poop left in that cannon for the moment. So I'll still be on the job.

I don't actually mind; to tell the truth, even if you wanted my job, you can't have it. I wouldn't trade this job for the world. Really.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

MOPS Memories

After years of hearing about this organization, I finally joined MOPS this year. It's a mommy support group for those with small children. I never really had a good reason for not joining, but the opportunity came up this time in November, as I was just starting to feel the pang of leaving so many friends in Utah. There was room for my 2 year old in the childcare area, something that had always been a limiting factor for me in the past. On top of that, the church sponsoring this chapter pays for the childcare out of its own budget, not mine. How cool is that! So I had no more reasons to sit on the outside looking in.

It took about 5 meetings to start feeling like I belonged there, but even during that time it was nice to just have a place to go, that offered a hot breakfast and door prizes. I totally underestimated the effect such simple pleasures could have on me. From the first time I showed up, there was a sweet lady who offered me coffee. You remember the quote about men, that the way to their heart is through their stomach? Well anyone who offers me coffee as if she understands just how much effort it took to pull myself together and walk into a strange building, has a special place in my heart for life.

After a couple of months, I had the opportunity to meet some of the girls from my small group for dinner. After an hour we were all done and ready to go home, with our take home boxes at the ready. But there kept being one more comment, and one more conversation, and by the end of another two hours I realized these women are just as starved for meaningful girl time as I have been.

Then I learned about mentors. Our table had not had one the first several times I attended, but in February we got one. She showed us a notebook with several tabs; one of our names on each tab. She told us to write in our tabbed area, whatever we wanted to tell her. Prayers, or whatever was on our hearts. I immediately grabbed it and poured my heart out. Later in the week I received a call from her, and I had another chance to just talk to a safe person who knows nothing of the rest of my life. The simple act of listening holds so much power, doesn't it? I feel so blessed by her sensitivity, and hope to continue my relationship with her past this spring.

One week, the entire session (after breakfast, of course) consisted of gifts. Every woman in attendance went home with a bagful of prizes. Justin especially loved that, because I was soooo happy afterward for days.

MOPS is over for this year, but next year is not so far away. And I am moving into leadership for the next go-around, so I will get to be in contact with these wonderful women various times throughout the summer, as well. I cannot express enough how this organization was there for me at the time when I most needed it.

Thank you, MOPS, from the bottom of my heart. May you endure successfully as an organization, and inspire mommies of young ones for many years to come.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fairness Disclosure

Lest you think Justin is the worst offender of nighttime sleep disturbances in our bedroom (based on the last post), I feel compelled to tell on myself.

I'm a sleep talker. I did not know this about myself until I started college, when for the first time I had a roommate. If I were disturbed during early sleep, I would talk about any and every thing I was dreaming about, and have no recollection of it the next morning. On occasion I would have a sudden sense of danger, and would leap from my bed in an attempt to shield my roommate from harm. On those occasions I would wake up from the effort of trying to explain my actions. It all made so much sense until I tried to put it into words...

On one such occasion, I burst out laughing at the joke my roommate had pulled on me by putting smiley face stickers all over every square centimeter of my bunk bed. As I opened my eyes to thank her profusely (she was still studying at her desk), imagine my surprise to see not a single sticker. More, imagine her surprise at being so shockingly and randomly thanked for... nothing.

Another time, I jumped out of bed yelling at her to get out of her bed because... someone was about to dump a bucket full... of... snakes? all over her? What? I have no idea where that dream came from.

When we were first married, Justin began to get a taste of the adventure he had signed on for. One night I pulled the danger routine on him. I sat up suddenly and began tugging on his arm to get him out of bed. Alarmed, he asked what the problem was. I pointed at the ... lamp... or where it had been a moment ago... and waited in terror for the... cat... to jump? off it to attack Justin's head?? Wow, we laughed about that one for a long time. Still laughing ten years later, in fact.

Throughout the years, I have several times woken myself while trying to explain some urgent remark made to Justin, as he works on his computer before turning out the light. I am such a genius when I am asleep, I just can't get it to come out when I am awake! Other times he will ask if I remember telling him about something, in hopes that I will be able to share my dream; but to no avail.

The occasions have decreased in number over time, so one day I finally asked him if I was speaking to him less. He laughed and responded, "no, I just stopped asking what you are talking about, and you just go right back to sleep."

Which explains why, when I consciously roll over and ask him a question at that time of night, he completely ignores me.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Hazards of Cohabitation

Upon the occasion of the birth of our first child, we brought another consciousness into our bedroom: the ever-wakeful television. This presence has mixed reviews: Justin's intent was to bring entertainment to distract his mind from the day, while I have more of a sense of invasion. I have gotten used to it, but it has always remained an uneasy truce.

Right now as we live in the home of others, our bedroom is really a multipurpose room: sleeping location, office, and entertainment center. So I tolerate the tube. But I have come to a conviction that when we spread out into a traditional home once again, the TV will not be joining us in our sleeping quarters.

My reasoning for this is illustrated by an experience earlier this week. Justin was channel surfing; I was ready to call it a day and go to sleep. I closed my eyes and began the drift into slumberland. Almost immediately dream fragments began to float through my head like bits of torn tissue. First I was driving a car and saw the flashing lights of a police car behind me. I realized I was being pulled over for speeding; only I suddenly knew the officer approaching my car had some more malignant purpose in mind...

Disturbed, I rolled over into another dream bit. The images shifted, but the sense of danger still lurked. Suddenly I jolted upright in bed. This dream had ended abruptly as I hit a brick wall with fatal force. I've been told that this kind of scene indicates a dream of one's own death, from which one has to wake since we are not able to imagine what happens afterward.

Once I had fully shaken the remaining cobwebs off of myself, I realized Justin was still awake and watching a history channel re-enactment of a dogfight. At full volume, planes were swooping, missiles dropping, explosions rocking the ground... In a flash, I realized my dreams had been inspired by the military sequence. At my request the volume was lowered immediately and I resumed my journey toward sleep without further incident.

Suffice it to say, we can not get into a new place soon enough for me. I am trying to get us both weaned off the late night CRT emissions, to ease the transition. Because once the day of our freedom comes, we will also be free from the invader in our bedroom.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Sports Lake

As our transition from Utah to Texas lengthens from weeks to months to the better part of a year, it seems I have been through every stage of adjustment multiple times. Optimism, Anger, Defeat, Apathy. The pending sale of our home is the tantalizing detail that remains a roadblock to our financial freedom, while firmly anchoring us to our situation of living with family. As long as I don't think about it too much, I get by. But when the tension of abiding by the terms of another gets too high, I start flailing around for equilibrium.

I go around and around about whether I am meant to examine and change something within myself before God releases us from our home, or whether the roadblock is just a situation I cannot control that must be endured until it ends. I certainly am experiencing the same kind of frustration I get when attempting a level of a video game that I just absolutely cannot get past. What should one do in this situation?

I desperately want to survive this transition with grace and dignity. It will end sooner or later, and when it does I deeply desire to still have a good relationship with the family members we are now invading. Above all I don't want to be the person who wins the game after pouting about bad cards. Oh, how I hate to play with that person!

A picture came to me the other day. I saw myself in a canoe, rowing down the stream of my life. Along the banks were scenes from my life: the day I fell off the swing and broke my arm; high school commencement; my first visit to the Golden Gate. Then I came to a boulder in the stream, looming high and blocking any hope of passage. I knew my path lay beyond that rock, yet nothing I tried could get me around it.

I looked around, and noticed the water was damming up into a lake. It was quite peaceful, really. As I looked closer I saw there were boaters and water skiers, even paddle boats on the lake. Between the pines along the bank I saw a lodge, a spa, a restaurant, even a hiking trail. Some of those options would even require me to park my canoe and get out in order to enjoy them. My Michigan friends, and perhaps others, will recognize this as a description of a recreational sports lake.

I realized this lake was meant to represent my waiting time until that rock, my vacant house, gets moved out of the way. There is a lot to be done while I wait. First, I can embrace that this time is a vacation of sorts. In place of being absorbed by keeping up my own house, I can help our hosts with maintaining their large yard. There are also lots of times our hosts offer to supervise the children right here in the house while we go out on dates and strengthen our relationship. It will not be quite so simple once we live across town.

Beyond just an extended vacation, this time is for taking a breath before entering the next phase. We have had ample opportunity to look at property around town and come to conclusions about where we want to settle once the opportunity arrives. We are using this time to reassess and refine our future budget, allowing prolonged discussion of how we want to structure it so we are the most free to bless others.

And if that weren't enough, there are things I can do that have absolutely no bearing on whether or not I still own a ball-and-chain in Utah. I can be involved at church, and reach out in ministry. In fact, perhaps my state of unrest can add both sensitivity and credibility as I attempt to share the depth of God's love and grace with others.

Perhaps of the greatest significance, the ongoing tension between where I am and where I wish to be has provoked in me a drive to express myself, which is ultimately leading to me reaching for a legitimate occupation as a writer. Perhaps without this season I might have settled right into my happy place and never known what I could have done.

"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

I comfort myself with the thought that this transition time serves a greater purpose than merely waiting. I strive to be patient, to look for the inherent benefits provided by this season. Do not misunderstand: Even if I parked my canoe on the shore overnight, I check that boulder every day to see if there has been any movement. I really, REALLY want to be on the other side of it. But there is a wonderful recreational opportunity, if you will, right in front of me.

Are you stuck in a waiting place right now? Maybe there is a sports lake of opportunity around you, waiting to be discovered. I encourage you to take a breath, look around, and count the positives of your situation right now. It's okay if the tension doesn't change, but maybe your perspective will, and that will make all the difference.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What's your Swim Number?

One result of having the pool cleaned and open all year is that one is able to take a polar bear dip on any random day. My last dip of the year was on my birthday in mid-October, just to say I did it. I think the temp had lowered to around 80.

During the "winter" months, the pool temperature (or "pinchipur" as Maren first called it) has been in the upper 50's and lower 60's. We just laugh when the kids ask to swim, because it has been uncomfortably cold just to sit out on the pool deck while they exercise their youthful insanity.

Then one day in February the kids decided they would like to swim, and we decided it was a pleasant day to sit out. The temperature was a balmy 67. Since then we have been spending gradually more and more time out by the pool, watching them spend more and more time actually in the pool. Justin took the plunge at 70 degrees, but I haven't been able to make myself get in yet. I'm still waiting for my swim number to arrive.

This weekend the pool hit 75. I've been able to walk around on the moon shelf, and Sunday actually put on a bathing suit (albeit under my clothes). But I know that my number is coming. Competitive swimmers keep their water at 78 degrees, so I decided that is my breaking in point. On the day the pool reaches 78, I will feel we have officially reached pool season, and I will go all the way in the water.

Today is good enough, though. I'm just sitting out by the pool, watching the kids play and working on my trusty laptop. The duck thermometer reads 76, while the ambient temp is somewhere in the 80's, without the notorious Texas humidity. This is the life!

What's your swim number? 80? 82? Those days are coming soon, and it's time to buy your plane tickets. Can we schedule you in for a relaxing weekend by the pool in June?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Stepping Out

Change is in the air. After six months of blogging (not all that long, but long enough) and a three month hiatus, I am attempting to turn my writing habit into profit. I believe there are several avenues I can try, with the most important detail being that I spend consistent time with it.

Hah. Consistent? Me? This is going to be interesting. The self professed queen of living in the moment, needs to learn a little self discipline. High time, really, since I need to teach it to my kids anyway.

Wish me luck. I've just hired myself to work 10-15 hours a week, pursuing writing opportunities right here on the internet. I don't know how it will turn out, only that if I don't try then I am guaranteeing a 100% failure rate. Other than that, the stars are the limit.

I hope that will inspire me to keep up with journaling here. Feels like you all are my original audience, whose feedback has encouraged me to take this step. Thank you for believing in me.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Play Ball!

We had the opportunity to attend an Aggie ballgame last weekend. One of Justin's coworkers has season tickets, and allows anyone in the company to use the tickets he doesn't.

We were excited to go, and blown away to discover the seats were in the front row over the visiting team dugout! The kids loved it, especially Justin. He had so much fun pointing out the ball, the pitcher, the batter, and the pop flies to Jesse. The stadium, scoreboard and announcing were obviously better funded than some professional teams we have been to see play.

Maren had an interesting milestone of her own: that afternoon she picked up the copy of Peter Pan we have been reading together, and started reading it to herself. She was so into this new realization that she could read it herself, that we allowed her to bring the book into the stadium and she proceeded to read through most of the game. The experience was strangely like spending time with myself, thirty years ago.

There were about 13 hits in the first six innings and the first half of the seventh, leading to 3 runs for the Aggies and 7 for their opponent. We had to leave at the seventh inning stretch to get the kids to bed, and listened to the game all the way home. Boy did we leave at the wrong time! In the bottom of the 7th inning alone, the Aggies scored 6 runs, and by the end of the game they won 13 to 9! We now have to go back so we can watch a game with a little more action.

Of all the interesting things about that game, to me the most interesting was our reception in the season ticket section. We were obviously out of place there, since we had no idea where our seats were. But everyone was friendly, and soon we were introducing ourselves and enjoying the shared experience with new friends.

The most humorous moment came when the man next to us identified us by the name of Justin's company, and said he was a friend of the fan whose seats we were in. He wondered if we actually had met his friend, Justin's coworker, or were just using the tickets. Justin responded positively with, "Oh yes, he's a great guy!" Upon which the dozen fans within earshot broke into raucous laughter, shouting, "Then you don't really know him at all!" Justin explained later that the while he does enjoy this coworker, he knew what idiosyncrasies they were referring to. We then learned that he goes to every game, but prefers to tailgate in the parking lot while listening to the game on the radio, so he can party more according to his personal style than he would be able to in the stands.

I was struck by the oddity of this situation, in which the season ticket holders all know the owner of our tickets, and they see each of Justin's coworkers as they use the tickets. All the people from Justin's company who use the tickets know each other, but each comes individually to the ticket section. What must it be like to be a regular season ticket holder, and watch each of us come in procession?

I imagine this is similar to the way some people view Christians, who represent an entity larger than themselves. The observers may know, if only casually, the holder of the regular tickets. Maybe they seldom or never actually see him; and perhaps all they know of him is the company he keeps. I am challenged to ask myself, what do people think when they see me? How do I represent the company? And am I going to find out later that those around me who seem so anonymous are actually watching me and waiting to see what I will do? It's something to think about...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

News About Maren

It's so funny, this seems like such a big deal, and I try to take it so seriously but I don't think it's that big of a deal after all.

Maren has had a lot of trouble with her ears again since January 2. So a few weeks ago, we took her in early for a second set of tubes. We got up early, went in, left her with the doctor for about 25 minutes, they brought her back, and we were all home by 9 am. The hardest part was the effort of putting drops in her ears, but bribery works wonders for attitudes sometimes.

The only ongoing consequence, other than not having to worry about another visit to the doctor for every time she gets congested, is that she has to wear earplugs to go in the pool. I can live with that, and so can she, once she gets the hang of not pushing her hair into the putty as she adjusts it while swimming.

So there it is, now you know. As you can see, she's feeling much better.