Psalm 126 (Rewritten In My Own Words)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Occasionally at our church, we have what's called a "Jubilee Sunday". It's an intergenerational service, so all the kids get to join in worship, reflection and celebration with the adults. These usually end up being some of my favorite services, partially for that reason - the whole body, made up of all its many parts, gathered together to worship Jesus.

Today, we were led through a series of four reflective exercises. At one table, we were asked to re-write the words of Psalm 126 (NRSV) in our own words. This isn't a new practice for me - I've been invited to re-write scripture in a way it comes alive for me before, but I haven't done it in quite a while. In fact, this past year, it's been very difficult for me to find much joy in reading scripture at all.

Much of Psalm 126 is a picture of tears being turned into joy, of nightmares becoming dreams come true. I didn't know it before heading to church this morning, but a reminder that I serve the Turner-of-Tears-Into-Laughter is exactly what I needed. Interestingly, so many of my interpretations of joy came from my children, too. They are some of the best teachers of joy and laughter I have ever known and so, naturally, when I picture joy, I see their faces.

This is what came to me this morning as I re-wrote this Psalm:

When God returned what was lost
we were all smiles - we could hardly believe it!

We couldn't stop laughing and screaming
like you do when you're in a bounce house.
Everybody said "God really helped them!"

And God really did help us!
And we were suuuuuper glad!

Give us back what was lost, God
like a flood (but a good one - the kind where dry deserts become huge lakes!)

Let everyone who can't stop crying
start to have uncontrollable laughter instead. 

Let us see people who left sad, who wet the ground with their tears
come back laughing like they just had the best tickle fight,
hands full of all that they thought they had lost.

When You Come Back Down

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I'll be on the other end
to hear you when you call,
angel you were born to fly
and if you get too high
I'll catch you when you fall 
I'll catch you when you fall
~Nickel Creek

I had the opportunity to help chaperone Zoe's class field trip to the local fire station the other day.

Confession: I might have been more excited than she was about this opportunity. She wasn't embarrassed that I was coming or anything, as I imagine she will be in another five years. It's just that in the last month or so I'd been trying to find my way into her classroom without edging into helicopter parent land, and this opportunity finally struck. As soon as that note came home with a call for chaperones, I had it filled out and returned to her backpack within seconds.

It's a strange adjustment to go from having tabs on exactly what one's child is doing 24/7 to suddenly having thirty hours per week that are something of a black hole. I mean, I know generally what she is up to: learning to write ABCs, twice per day recesses, lunch at 11 a.m., the occasional birthday party for a classmate. I soak up everything my daughter is willing to tell me about how those thirty hours are filled, and then I ask even more about it. Which friends did you play with? What letters did you learn today? Which books did your teacher read today? Were there any students missing today? What was something particularly kind that you saw happen? Was anyone doing anything unkind?

It Doesn't Have to Be This

Sunday, October 1, 2017

It's 7:39 am, which is not that early in the grand scheme of things. In some interesting twist of the clock, my older children chose to sleep in just a little later than usual.

The baby was up at 4 o'clock for her morning feed, but she is the easiest kid on my radar these days. Eat, poop, coo, snuggle, sleep and start the cycle over. This third iteration of motherhood means that I have babies down to something of a loose science, an expected rhythm.

It's her four-and- a-half year old sister, struggling with jealousy and growing pains, and her two-and- a-half year old brother, learning to use the potty on his own, who leave me and my husband spent. The unpredictable extra bit of sleep they need in the morning is generally welcome; one less minute in which our minds are engaged in anticipating the next fire that may need to be put out.

But of course today, as Murphy's Law would have it, we actually have some plans which will require our eyes to fixate on the clock a little more than usual. Early rising may actually have been helpful so as to avoid the ticking time bomb known as rushing your kids out the door.

Fly On the Wall

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

This morning, in the hallway, Joel bursts into tears after accidentally biting his finger (being two is rough in terms of unintentional self injury). Phoebe, laying on the carpeted floor is startled by the sudden loud noise of his crying and begins to slowly push her bottom lip into a pout - it's so sad to watch but it's also one of those cute baby things that makes you smile. Joel, being comforted by Mark notices that Phoebe is beginning to cry and mumbles some muffled words through his own tears, and runs to the living room. He grabs Phoebe's little cat doll (he always seems to keep track of exactly where it is), and as he runs back I finally understand what he was saying - "Phoebe's doll! Phoebe's doll!" he shouts repeatedly until he lays it down next to her and then collapses again into Mark to continue his cry. Mark and I "awwwwww!" to each other and cheer him on for his empathy. The cherry on top to this moment was Zoƫ, who heard the commotion and also came running with a small stuffed McDonald's happy meal toy that Joel has recently grown attached to in order to help comfort him.

When A Baby Shower Feels Like An Act of Defiance

Monday, February 20, 2017

It's a bright sunny day, a respite from the rain that our region has experienced recently. Years of drought followed by this much rain, though, would leave anyone longing for the warmth of sun-kissed skin. We in Southern California are welcoming this sunny day with a similar energy that those in the Midwest welcome the smell of spring thaw. 

I am running late on this Thursday morning, as usual. Every week, I try again to make it the week that we will pick up the Afghan women and their children on time. That we will install the extra car seat on time. That we will get them all to English class on time. Fact: this is pressure I put on myself, never pressure that these women put on me. I am an American of distant German descent; my life has often been run by the clock, but I am lousy at being on time.

Still, this Thursday morning is different. Today, class is canceled. Instead, there is a celebration to welcome two babies: one, a girl, growing large in my belly, and the other, a boy, growing large in the belly of his mother who came here from Afghanistan and has welcomed three other children before him. Together, the teachers and students in this class who represent Afghanistan, Syria, Canada, Turkey and the United States will throw a joint baby shower in honor of these babies who will both be U.S. citizens and share in the privileges thereby bestowed upon them. 

Thoughts on Dr. King and Violence/Nonviolence

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

"He was one of the great people in our country. He got his message across without burning the flag, without violence, without disrepect for others."
I saw the comment admittedly on a Facebook thread. I don't think of or recommend Facebook as a place for understanding the entirety of a person's experience, not by a long shot, but I have found it to be something of a place that can reveal more about people's intentions and thoughts than they may have intended to reveal, and I include myself in this.
This comment about Dr. King teetered on the edge of truth. And yet, something was off. Instead of centering the conversation on him, his legacy, his words, his sacrifice, his call for disruptive action...instead of all that, the words seemed to use him as a tool to cast thinly veiled judgment on something else. I fear that a point had been gravely missed, and this one comment is representative of more like it that conveniently ignore the fact that Dr King. wrote these words, too:

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