Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Palm Sunday

No. Today is not Palm Sunday--it's not even Sunday. But last Sunday was Palm Sunday and that morning has been on my mind. We arrived at church late and the congregants were huddled outside the main entrance, holding and waving palm leaves.
"I'll park the car, just go on," John said as we rushed the children out of the car, trying to get to the service on time. We almost didn't go to church that morning....well, all hell was breaking loose at the house. Our youngest refuses (and by refuses I mean he throws a full-blown hissy) to wear 'church clothes' and left the house with khaki shorts and a collared shirt. Much to his mother's chagrin, our son wouldn't consider the darling 2 piece pale blue micro-check w/smocked bunny....not to mention locating shoes appropriate for the girls to wear to church. I digress.

As we walked up to the crowd, an usher handed us programs and bear-hugged our children. "I'm so glad to see you Emma Reed," he said. And he was. What you should know about this usher is that he is a long-time Sunday School teacher, elementary school teacher/coach and that my oldest daughter is almost as tall as him-he is not a large man-but his love and warmth toward our children that morning struck me. His committment to being at church and heartily, sincerely, welcoming St. Peter's youngest members meant more to me than he will ever know. And he was just being himself.

As the crowd pushed into the church I scanned the full pews, looking for a place for our family. We filed into the pew and took our seats, and the children immediately begin playing with their palm leaves. "Palm Sunday" the words appeared at the front of the church.
What was I thinking, not come? Who cares that he is too casual, we're here. I'm thinking to myself, as the congregation prepares to read through The Passion.

Different Parishioners have roles in the reading of The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and if you don't know what that is you better get your ass to church....
As the Passion is read, our children are stripping their palm leaves which annoys me at first. They pipe up occassionally as different parts of the story are read, but remain focused on mutilating their palm leaf, which I decide is typical of children and I'm just happy they are in the pew with me. As we continue to read I find myself listening intently to the story, and I'm secretly wishing the ending would be different--just get down off that cross, I think. You can do it. I'm envisioning a new and different ending with fanfare and trumpets, and Jesus miraculously getting down off the cross. Something more akin to an episode of Bewitched, or a scene from the recent novel/movie, The Lightning Thief. Further, in my vision Jesus befriends the criminal who was in awe of him, and chides the criminal who chided him. And in my vision, Jesus is triumphant when he uses the miracles of strength and power to get himself down off the cross. I see Jesus standing holding a lighting bolt in his hand.
Well. Welcome to the "Church of Muffin." I have given you my preferred ending to the story we all know so well.
Rather, the Holy Scripture provides that our Lord and Saviour does not get down from the cross. God does not send a lighting bolt....or a band of angels to save Him. He dies a slow painful human death and the darkness comes. And Jesus wails and cries out to God....and there are those who chide Him in the final hour, and there are those who are in awe of Him in the final hour. The veil at the Temple is ripped from top to bottom and the centurion knows the prophesy has been fulfilled.

As I'm sitting in the pew contemplating my preferred vision versus the ending the Holy Scripture provides, my eyes fill with tears. I am overcome with emotion. Yes, I wonder if I need to get on something but I chalk it up to the Holy Spirit. Where is my emotion coming from? I ask myself. And as I quickly analyze I admit that my unexpected swell of emotion is not so much for Jesus (people he rises 3 days later) but for my appreciation to the friends who share the pews with me at St. Peter's, and other friends beyond the church walls. The bonds of friendship and the support of community that John and I value not only with our St. Peter's family but with other friends and family as well. And then, like a lightning bolt, I am struck by the fact that too often I am looking-waiting-searching for God's miracles to appear with majesty and fanfare and I miss the gentle, modest expessions of loving-kindness present in daily life. When the darkness comes, the miracles are not announced with trumpets and fanfare. The lightning bolts of reason and clarity are revealed at the most unexpected times and places. And the band of angels here to comfort and support do not have big gilded wings and sing "Gloria," but have loving arms that wrap around our children and quietly welcome them to church. The miracles of Faith come in mundane expressions of love, sympathy and understanding. Miracles come in the form of forgiveness and charity for others. Make no mistake, these miracles are Divine. Only, in the Church of God the Father, Jesus the Son & the Holy Spirit, the miracles are not accompanied with trumpets and fanfare but they come with the loving-kindness and warmth of a human heart.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

His Mountains Majesty

"You've come a long way baby," John told me as we boarded the plane in Salt Lake. Yes, honey I have.
Our first ski trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1996 (which was my first skiing trip ever) ended with my being curried down the mountain in a basket, faking a knee injury.
For John's sake, because he enjoys skiing and wants our children to be able to ski (or at least avoid being taken down in a basket!) I've persevered in learning to ski.
No. I do not do blacks. I know my limits. I have no time for injuries. I want only to be able to ski with my husband and children and not embarrass myself, or them.
"Avoid the crash," I thought as John's confidence in me grew and he contemplated my tackling a double blue. "NO way. Not trying a double blue. I'll take the other way down." Yes, I'm a sissy and I'm soooo not scared to admit it. But I didn't come down in a basket.
And, as we rode the ski lift up the mountain, with our two girls in-between us, I thought how much time had passed since our first ski trip to Sun Valley in 1996, the year before we were married. I thought how much our life has changed since that trip--I saw the movie reel of our lives fly-by--3 children, 12 1/2 years of marriage, a mortgage, joys, disappointments and life-decisions we've made together. As I looked over at my husband, and our two children sitting between us, I was struck by the fact that while milestones have come and gone, who we are as a couple is largely unchanged.
We have grown. We have evolved. And out of the blue while sitting on the ski lift I hear the song 'America' in my mind and I'm getting teary. Thank God for the sunglasses....and the tears are puddling up in my sunglasses...and I continue to hear the song and I'm thinking it's "His mountains majesty" but in fact the song is 'purple mountains majesty' no mind....I'm living a Blessed life, I think to myself. And as I follow my husband and children off the lift....
I'm very happy to be skiing down the mountain on my own, rather than riding down in a sled, faking a knee injury.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walking in Her Shoes

Can you wear your daughter's shoes?
I mean, is she old enough that you can conceivably slip on her shoes?
A few weeks ago I was racing out the door and unable to locate my own tennis shoes, I slipped on my daughter's shoes. At the precise moment I put on her shoes I was so happy to FIND a pair I didn't consider that she was old enough to have shoes big enough to fit her Mama. Since the day I borrowed my daughter's shoes I've thought a lot about the new season of motherhood I find myself in. I've gone from lamenting her march toward adolescence to confronting and embracing my new motherhood role. As much as I would like to resist and ignore the season of adolescence upon us I would be doing her (and me, and my husband) a huge disservice if I didn't confront and embrace the natural changes going on with our daughter. Once you slip on your daughter's shoes there is no denying her growth and maturity. She is on the precipice of puberty. Excuse me while I grab a tissue.

During carpool I look over at my daughter who now sits in the front seat and I see a healthy, active (usually happy) tween whose legs are as long as mine, with shoulders just as broad. Our time together these days is different....I try and talk less and listen more. I open my arms to her hoping she'll rush in and as often as she collapses in my arms, she is batting and pushing me away. She is beginning to change physically and mentally. I've known adolescence was on the horizon but until life flings you over the threshold, whether you want to be there or not, a parent can't predict how they will react. As I envision us being thrown over the next threshold of life my daughter is in front of me....her long golden-brown hair is blowing in the wind and her arms are outstretched--open wide, ready to accept the joys and challenges coming her way. In my mind, I see myself behind her and I look like a scared crazed cat. The hair all over my body is bristled. I am disshevelled and reaching desperately for her. I want her to look back at me but she only looks forward, and who can blame her...I'm a scary sight.

I've thought a lot about my visual.....okay, I've been dwelling on my visual in fact. How can I be the person I want to be for her. How can I respond better when she has an emotional outburst. How can I react better to the mantra of "I want" "I want" "I want?" John and I know the power of "No" and use it liberally. Sometimes, however, setting boundaries for your children can leave a parent feeling lonely and isolated. Setting boundaries is a personal family matter. John and I respect other families boundaries. Not all parents do.
I had the opportunity to discuss raising girls and setting boundaries with two friends (both of whom have daughters older than my oldest) during a recent road-trip to Jackson. I respect and admire both of them for varying reasons, most of all because they are resolute and unapologetic in who they are as individuals and as mothers. After our 3-hour discussion I concluded that I was not a scared crazed cat after all. I know exactly what I want for my daughter. I'm not off-base in my boundary setting. I know what I think is age-appropriate. And I'm mindful to respect other families boundaries and parenting decisions. I may not know the correct path through adolescence but I have a duty to my daughter to act like the adult, think like the adult and reason like the adult....at least that's my goal.
And the scared crazed cat? My husband and a few close friends can handle her....they love cats.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A constant battle...

As I sit here tonight surfing the internet, I am so impressed with the amount of information available at our fingertips! Our household has been going non-stop with soccer practice, soccer games, baseball practice, swimming lessons, church and just the normal day-to-day activities...so, when I finally sit down to research a simple topic, I become easily overwhelmed with the amount of information available to read. Makes me want to take a vacation day from work just to sit in front of the laptop and get reacquainted with technology!! I think that is one thing that frustrates the hell out of me...once upon a time I fancied myself with being tech-savvy, only to now realize technology is blazing a trail I cannot keep up with!! I want so badly to be customizing the blog and creating this awesome space for all the MommyDivas to congregate and have fabulous discussions around topics of kids, self, hubbies, careers, and everything in between. BUT, every time I sit down to figure out how to add "We Are Family" as a theme song to the blog, I become so damn overwhelmed with "how tos" and "do it yourself" and all the techi jargon that goes along with the it! So, frustrated I am...I have all of these fabulous creative juices flowing through my head...but, the technology train has left me sitting at the station...and, that completely sucks!! I feel stuck!!

I'm beginning to realize the frustration I am carrying around is...first, I do have a creative side to me and I would LOVE to be able to express it through this blog. I would LOVE to sit and spend hours on the blog adding all of the fun links, lists, videos, tunes, playlists, etc....but, then I get frustrated because of the lack of time I have to devote to those creative ideas. That's when I start the battle in my mind about corporate life vs. non-corporate life...if I wasn't going downtown to the tall office building, sitting in the board room, working on loans, investment management, and all that stuff...I could be tapping into the creative side and doing something else. Then, that naturally leads me to contemplate the lifestyle I love...and then my mind comes full circle..."it's not an option...I can't give up a guaranteed salary for uncertainty. Could I ever have the income stream I have now actually doing soemthing outside of the corporate world"...that uncertainty scares the absolute shit out of me, and makes me break into cold sweats!! So, I stop contemplating leaving the corporate world...although, having a job in this county would be nice...that would be one step closer...maybe?!? Fear steps in...I look away...why?? Corporate is "safe" to me...it's what I've done for 15 years...although, in today's economy, is anything really "safe"??

So, here I sit complaining and not really finding a solution...although, I am trying to create a solution...I'm trying to do both. I'm trying to maintain my career, grow up the corporate ladder...which has recently requested that I become more "involved" in the community...really?? And, with what time would they like me to do that with?? Anyway, while the corporate life is my day job...and, for the record...I do get a thrill out of "getting the deal done". I do enjoy many aspects of the corporate world...and, I do feel I am damn good at it, which in itself is a definite plus. The corporate world has been good to me, and I owe it a few more good years! BUT, being Mom and the creative side is a passion!

I guess this is a constant individual battle we all struggle with at times...are we passionate about what we are doing? Are we doing what we are passionate about? In a time of such uncertainty...I am so thankful to know there is one thing I am passionate about, and I am blessed to be able to be doing it every single day of my life...and that is being my children's mother! So...yes, I may continue to be in the corporate world for an unknown amount of time, and yes, I will probably still try to find a way to tap into my creativity, and yes, I will continue to fight this battle in my mind of corporate vs. non-corporate for who knows how long.

But, one thing I will never complain about and always be passionate about is my kiddos! And...there ain't anything sweeter than my 5 year old brining me a plate of supper then leaning over to kiss his sleeping baby sister that is laying beside me on the couch...God bless these babies...on that note, I believe it is time to "sign off"!

Until later...cheers, my friends!