Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ramblin' Woman

It looks pretty certain that we are leaving for China in about FIVE WEEKS!! Don't even ask me how much we have to get done. I am really praying it all gets finished in time for us to enjoy our last few weeks here.

Today I said the first in what promises to be a long string of good-byes. I've known Max for fifteen years, longer than I've known my husband or any of my friends here in North Carolina. We have so many memories together, driving curvy mountain roads, windows down, music blaring, stopping to pick daisies on the roadside in the summer and inhaling the cool air of autumn. We drove all around East Tennessee during high school, staying out too late and goofing off in the innocent way you can only do in a small mountain town. He went with me when I decided to take a roadtrip one summer in college "just because." We wound our way through Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York visiting friends along the way and getting lost in New Jersey. He went along when my friend Matt and I made our epic trip to Mardi Gras one February. He was there for late night talks with boyfriends and midnight runs to the Waffle House in college. He ran away with me every time I needed to get away during my restless years, driving off to Jones Gap to hike or just driving, with no destination in mind, until my mind cleared and I found peace enough to go home.

Max, Maxwell, short for Maxwell's Silver Hammer is my silver, 1995 Acura Integra. (Yes, I named all of our family's cars after Beatles' songs, but I just can't come up with a name for our black minivan.) I suppose I should say he "was" my Integra. I didn't think I would be so sad to sell him. We need the money to get us by until we leave for the field, and we don't need the extra car. It didn't make sense to keep him sitting idle somewhere for four years.

But as I drove to meet the new owner this evening, I cried. This was my first car, bought for me by my Daddy. It's a huge memory of him, not to mention all the memories I have associated with that car after fifteen years of driving it. I was such a restless, lost soul for so many years, and that car was the one thing that stayed constant and went with me wherever I ran to...that car and the Holy Spirit, I suppose.

Selling Maxwell today reminded me of the person I was, the restless, rambling, music and fresh air loving girl that used to drive around with the windows down and the Allman Brothers playing. I never was happy in one place for very long, and I used to be able to pack up everything I needed in that car and just take off at a moment's notice. Somewhere in the midst of a marriage and three kids and five years in one place, I lost that ability to pick up and go. In some ways that was good, growing up and no longer running away, but I am starting to remember that some of that restlessness is good, a reminder that things are not as they should be and that I am not as I want to be, that there is work to be done for peace and justice and love and truth.

For too long now I have been living a stable, stationary life. It wasn't all bad, but I am waking up and realizing that God is calling me to more, that He made me restless and rambling for a reason. It's funny that the first step toward rediscovering that is selling Maxwell. Good old Maxwell, who saw me through the tumultuous years and doesn't get to see the newly restless (in a good way) me. I will miss you, my faithful traveling companion.

Friday, September 10, 2010

7 Quick Takes-Almost Too Late


The busyness continues, and I'm just not finding time to organize my thoughts and write them. If all goes as planned, we will be in Asia the beginning of November. Never mind that we have a house two sell, eight years of marriage and three kids worth of stuff to go through, visas to obtain, and any number of other things to accomplish by then. Oh, and we need to find good time to spend with family and process this whole moving thing.


That leads to take number two, in which I tell you that I am not sleeping all. For some of you this may be normal, but not for me. Even when I have a newborn waking me up multiple times at night, I sleep exceptionally well. In fact, sometimes my husband has to wake me up to tell me a baby is crying. All three of my kids sleep through the night now, and I have always been one to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and not wake up until the alarm (or a child) wakes me. This lack of sleep due to stress is new for me, and I am not handling it well at all. Any suggestions other than just drinking lots of caffeinated drinks? Help, anyone?


On a brighter note, we spent Labor Day weekend in the mountains and took Monday totally off from moving/support raising/totally uprooting our lives work. It was lovely and cool and clear on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and we stopped at my favorite apple orchard (definitely the most scenic in the world) for some apples. We've already made applesauce and will be doing apple butter and pie tomorrow. Yum!


I have been thinking a lot of deep thoughts lately, but I just haven't had time to process them in writing. I have been thinking about how we spend so much time living our lives for an audience and documenting them that we don't actually live them. With blogs and digital photography and Facebook and Twitter, even those of us who try to avoid it often end up spending more time thinking about how to present our lives to others than actually living them. Because I have spent so much of the summer having to live in the here and now and not even having a moment to consider blogging or taking pictures or updating Facebook, I am realizing how much better life is without all of that. I think the generation becoming adults right now is growing up more narcissistic than any before because none of us have thought through how to use this new technology well. I heard about this book on NPR the other day, and would love other good resources that discuss how to live well without becoming a luddite and rejecting all technology.


I've also been thinking about Muslims in America. I want to hate that crazy preacher in Florida who wants to burn copies of the Qu'ran. I want to hate him, but that would make me just as bad as he is. So instead I want to be like Catherine, who is finding ways to reach out to her Muslim neighbors. But can I still be mad at 24-hour news media? If it weren't for their need to have something to report on, the Qu'ran burners would not have national coverage, and the hatred that they are showing would not be the fuel for more hatred, toward Muslims or toward Christians. I'm pretty sure the Jesus I follow said something about loving my neighbor. In fact, He even said something about loving my enemy...I guess that includes the guy in Florida as much as it does the 9/11 hijackers and even the news media.


On the parenting front, I have loved this article from Leila of Like Mother, Like Daughter (whose blog you really must subscribe to). Her parenting articles (and others as well) are so sensible and down to earth. This one was even better. I especially liked the alternate version of Ma Ingalls telling Laura to go in the house when there was a bear:

Today's child, in the false comfortable world of prosperity where parents think they have the luxury of listening to "experts" (who have no obedient children themselves), would cause this scenario:

"Laura, get inside!"
"Sweetie, get inside, please. Mommy needs you to get inside. Mommy doesn't want to scare you, but there's a big bear and she needs you to make a good choice now and do what she says."

"Will you buy me a treat?"

"Yes, sweetie, please, go inside."

"Where's Daddy?"

"Mommy knows you have questions, and that's very smart of you. I'm so proud of you. Please go inside now."

"He's never here! Why isn't he here? You TOLD me he'd be here!"
"Sweetie, when you argue with me, you are making a bad choice. What did we say about bad choices? Now, you'll have a time-out if you don't do what I say..."

Meanwhile, the bear eats them.

Why? Because Mommy is so patient that she allowed every interaction with her child to be an exchange between equals rather than a strong wall that a child can't breach. For her own sake.

My husband and I took her advice on having obedience practice, and it has worked wonders. We randomly ask the boys to run to the middle of the room and stand on one foot or hide behind the curtains. They do it the first time we ask because it is so funny, but the great thing is that they really caught on and started obeying the first time we asked them to pick up their toys or do something helpful for us. It was...well...wonderful.


On a purely frivolous note, my team plays Oregon tomorrow. We are totally outmatched. But we are playing at home, which is an intimidating place for even number 7. It could be an upset. I can always hope...