Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Black and White

My family is bazaar, and big. Mostly big. In fact when all of us are together we seat 16, and only two of my siblings are married (one more in engaged).
We're on vacation now, all of us (though only a mere 14 as the fiance and step-daughter are at home), in Gulf Shores Alabama.
Two of my siblings, my youngest ones, are from Africa, they came home three years ago last march.
Both of them have had different struggles in attaching and adjusting to our family, both are at different levels of trusting us.  It's hard for them to initiate affection, in fact I can probably count using only both hands the number of times either has said "I love you" without being prompted, since they've been home.
These two kids are what contribute to my family's bazaarness. We're mixed now, different, and we like it that way.
Freeman loves to hold hands, but rarely (if at all) does he reach for a hand to hold.  It is almost automatic now that when we're walking together I will reach for his hand and we stroll along, sometimes talking and sometimes not, holding hands.
Tonight we were walking back from the beach and without thinking I reached and plucked up his hand. He grinned and I gave it a gentle squeeze.
"Hey Em? I'm really glad you're my big sister." He said, smiling happily.
My words got caught in the lump in my throat.
"And I'm really glad you're my little brother." I blinked at the tears that moistened my eyes.

We are bazaar and different, but I like it that way.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Breathe deep

"Breathe deep, don't push it, you know you can't"""." I slow my pace to a more controlled jog instead of the sprint I would like it to be.

I sat today and while I tried to snatch sentences and paragraphs from my book I also carried on a conversation with the boy sitting next to me.
"I'm an animal expert. Have been all my life."
One of my eyebrows arched upward and a corner of my mouth lifted in quiet amusement.
"what a funny sounding voice"
"Oh really? What's your favorite animal?" I questioned, willing to satisfy his need for a conversation.
"Where are you from?" He asked without skipping a beat.
"Western Kentucky, and you?" I knew full well where he was from even as I asked and wasn't surprised when I got his answer.
"Western Kentucky? That country must be far away from the united states, I've never heard of it before!" His enthusiasm was contagious.
I smiled and gently corrected. "Kentucky is one of the states in america, it's only about 4 and 1/2 hours away from here." My voice was soft and warm as I quietly closed my book, realizing this conversation wasn't ending anytime soon.
"I'm goingtogotoAfrica." He was so excited his words ran together.
"Oh really? when?" I leaned comfortably on the arm rest and listened eagerly.
"But first I'm going to get married! Don't tell my parents, but I've already found the girl I'm going to get married to." His voice got quieter and quieter as he spoke and he leaned in close to me.
"Oh dear Lord, please don't let it be me. " I could handle a conversation with this boy and it's fast changing pace easily but I paled when I wasn't sure what I would say if he told me it was me.
"Her name is ----, she's down in the vendor hall, I just met her this morning." His eyes were bright and his smile wide as he proudly told me of his future bride who I'm sure had absolutely no clue there was already a man who had his heart set on her (and probably a ring in mind too).
A soft chuckle escaped from my throat and I smiled widely, "sounds like a plan!"
This young man is full of dreams, eager and desires great things. He's 15. And he is Autistic.

Later I again was working my way through my assigned reading for next fall (my last) semester when he butted into my world uninvited and not entirely unexpected.
"So, do you like to read?" He asked and actually paused to let me answer.
"Oh yes, I do, very much. Do you?" I decided to close the book early in the conversation this time.
"Yes I do..." He left the conversation open. I found this interesting and pursued it with earnestness.
"I am reading for school..." I met his eyes and held them, silently prompting him.
"I am going to school to be a Physical Therapist Assistant."
"Wwwwwooooooooowwwwwwwww....Are you married?"
Back to marriage, I wonder if he's proposed.
I sighed and shook my head. "Nope, not yet-"
He cut me off. "Being married is a good thing. And I think that if God can help me get married, then he can help you too."
His simple faith gave me pause. "You know, I think you're right." I smiled in agreement and he grinned.
"I watch PBS!!!" He smiled triumphantly with this announcement.
"Do you? I watched PBS." Moron! don't conjugate to past tense!!!!  I cringed inwardly knowing exactly where this was going to go.
"What do you watch?!?!?!?!" His excitement actually lifted him from his chair about an inch. Before I could come close to opening my mouth to answer he was already listing a couple shows he watches and unfortunately was so excited his words ran so close together I was hardly able to distinguish them.
"-Martha speaks. She's a vocabularist-Yes, "vocabularist,""' use your imagination-. A VOCABULARIST!!!"
"Yes she is!" I affirmed him.
"Her vocabulary is, yea!"
He paused and I knew it must be my turn to answer.
"I watched-" DANG IT!!!! "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and Sesame Street."
"Sesame Street?!?! What does that have in it?"
"Oh you know, puppets."
"Oh puppets. Like Big Bird, and Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, Baby Bear, Betty Lou, Cookie Monster, The Count, Curly Bear, Bert and Ernie, Frazzle, Grover, Honkers, Kermit-" He named every single character. Every one. I know this because I zoned out and came back in a couple minutes later and he was still naming them.
"Yep! That's the show alright!!" I said when he finished and sat with a beaming smile.
"Have you seen the show Sid the Science Kid?" He asked, as eager as ever.
"Why yes I have, I think my niece watches it too."
"Really?!?!" He sounded horrified and for a moment I thought I had devastated him.
"Yes, I think so." I wasn't going to lie to him....
"My parents don't let me watch Sid the Science Kid." He scrutinized me, obviously trying to read my mind and see what I thought of his parents choice.
"You know, I don't really care for Sid the Science Kid, I don't think he teaches you very much." I was vaguely aware that his dad came out of the room he and his wife were just lecturing in and was standing by watching, waiting to get a word in edgewise.
"Really?!" He was shocked by my outright opposition to the show, I could tell by the way his voice got so high it cracked on the "Y".
"My niece also watches Word World, do you watch that?" I rose as I spoke, needing to break away.
"Word World? Never head of it." He watched me go, silently pleading for me to sit back down. It was nearly enough to have me running back into that chair beside him to share my life dreams with him. His father interjected here to tell his son he was going downstairs to the vendor hall.
"Well Joe, it's been an absolute pleasure talking with you." I stuck out my hand and he took it, shaking it as firmly as his small, weak, grasp could manage.
"It's been a pleeeaaazzzzuuuurrr too!" He struggled with the word and I was silently surprised but covered it with a smile and said good bye. 

Life is full of big things and little things. Details and massive explosions. Often we are focused on either the big things (no matter how beautiful or horrible) or the details (no matter how beautiful or horrible). 
Breathe deep and savor every bit of the breath that fills your lungs.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Plagued with Guilt

Plagued with Guilt.

We live in a day in which the modern day Christian suffers from either “too little guilt” or too much. If it is the former we are caught and wrapped up in ignoring the plight of humanity. If it is the latter we are caught and wrapped up in a self complex. It is the plague of our day and age.

I do not believe as Christians that we are called to live in guilt. I believe this fact so strongly that I take it to extremes at times (so I have been told). I believe that one of the purposes of Christ suffering on the cross is so that we can live without suffering in our guilt. It is perhaps one of the hardest choices we as Christians must make: daily, hourly, choosing to live freely and without guilt. Now, I want to address my statement about living with too little guilt. I think that we often confuse sympathy and concern with guilt. So when I say we suffer from too little guilt I do not mean guilt as it is commonly understood. I mean it in that we have lost and misplaced what it means to truly care for humanity and those lost and those found.

Christians wrap themselves up willingly or unknowingly in themselves. Christ died for our guilt, therefore it must be important, therefore it must be important to dwell on it. Christ died for us, yes. We are the apple of our Father’s eye. He loved us enough to die for us. And we tend to take it to extremes. We wrap ourselves up in ourselves, because Christ died for US. Instead of accepting His gift with humility we have turned it around and placed our guilt and ourselves in the way and our view of the cross. If you look at the bible what do you see? I love the way Francis Chan describes it:

“Many Christians live like the movie of life is all about us.

Now consider the movie of life…

GOD creates the world (Were you alive then? Was God talking to you when he proclaimed “it is good” about all he had just made?)

Then people rebel against GOD (who, if you haven’t realized it yet, is the main character in this movie), and GOD floods the earth to rid it of the mess people have made of it.

Several generations later, GOD singles out a 99 year old man called Abram and makes him the father of a nation (did you have anything to do with this?).

Later, along come Joseph and Moses and many other ordinary and inadequate people that the movie is also not about. GOD is the one who picks them and directs them and works miracles through them.

In the next scene, GOD sends judges and prophets to His nation because the people can’t seem to give Him the one thing he asks of them (obedience).

And then the climax: The Son of GOD is born among the people whom GOD still somehow loves. While in this world, the Son teaches His followers what true love looks like. Then the Son of GOD dies and is resurrected and goes back up to be with GOD.

And even though the movie isn’t quite finished yet, we know what the last scene holds…the throne room of GOD. Here every being worships GOD who sits on the throne, for He alone is worth to be praised.

From start to finish, this movie is obviously about God. He is the main character.”

God is the main character. It’s not about us, it’s all about Him.

But but but…no. it’s ALL about Him and not about us. And that’s where we get caught up. See, we can’t handle it not being about us. We want to be the center of attention so badly, and in His selfless act it gives ourSELVES enough of a little boost to say “Look at US, look at OUR guilt, look at how horrible WE are.” Not that this is wrong (acknowledging our sin and need for a savior is essential to our salvation) but dwelling too long and satisfying ourselves with our guilt is (wrong). And it distances us from the point: Christ, the dude, the main guy, GOD, died for us so we don’t have to live in our guilt. Watch this video Take 3 minutes and 42 seconds and watch it. Please don’t just listen to it, but WATCH it.

Now, because Christ created us with the ability to choose, choose Him, it’s worth it.