On Sunday, two of our daughters were blessed to attend the Birthday Party of some dear friends here at Grace. While they were in the midst of their fun, I drove the side roads of the surrounding area, took in the sights and sounds of the beautiful hillsides, and stopped by Elliot Bay Brewing to read a book. The next two hours rushed by as I viewed one TV with three different games playing on the screen, two TV’s with the Seahawks game, and two additional TV’s with the Sounders soccer game. All while, music from the 70’s and 80’s played over the loud speakers. I was able to get through about 100 pages and jot down some journal thoughts on life as well but by the end of two hours I was tapped out with the noise and activity around me. On the drive home thoughts of the last week flooded my brain as our daughter’s shared their love and laughter with me.I love when the spirit moves and the right words seem to just flow out from the mouths of babes. There is innocence – wonder – and surprise! Our daughter Norah, while sitting at the dinner table, with her inquisitive mind whirring, stated boldly, “we all need each other!” Yes, yes we do!
She went on to articulate how the grocery store depends on the ice cream maker to make the ice cream and that the ice cream maker relies upon the farmer and the cows and that they all depend upon the truck drivers and that we all need jobs in order to have the money to buy the ice cream that makes it possible for everyone to experience life. Whew! We went on to add several more links in the chain, which brought even more laughter to the table.
We need to remember, “We need each other.” Life is not meant to be lived alone or in isolation. Life is not a pull yourself up by the bootstraps and hope for the best exercise. Life is not about a declaration of independence but rather a humble and vulnerable experience of grace. We are interdependent. We need each other. We need God. We need grace.I saw this quote this week and it grabbed me by the gut. "There is no culture that can fully keep out the descent of God. And when God comes, stuff happens." -Dr. Esther Meek, in conversation with Chelle Stearns and Dan Allender at the Stanley Grenz Lecture Series.
In the midst of our human madness, God comes here and stuff happens. It is the experience of grace that keeps us going. It is the shared experience of grace that draws us together. It is the never throw in the towel spirit of God that changes us. How often we forget that. How often we rebel and desire to go it alone. How often O Lord have we missed the grace amongst us.
In our family’s recent journeys of endings and beginnings, several who have gotten to know us have stated how it seems that we live quite the charmed life. Each time that the words were stated I busted out in a fit of laughter. Yes, we are surrounded with much joy and grace AND we are no picnic of perfection. In the midst of the madness called US, we try as much as we can to choose joy. Not always easy and we often miss the mark.
Try riding in a mini-van of madness with our five and you will soon discover that it is close to an experience like the movie A Night at the Museum. All hell breaks loose early and often. When we arrive at our destination, it takes a good five minutes for mom and dad to compose ourselves.
The pace of life for a family of seven is intense. We spin the plates called homework, housecleaning, laundry, dishes, arts and crafts, a home based business, a pastor, lawn and garden, fish and a favored dog, bedroom messes galore, after school activities, and the making of family memories – and sometimes the plates come crashing down. We stopped buying glass dishes and are into cheap but durable. The crashing of the plates seems a bit more bearable that way. In the midst of the hive of busyness, there is grace.
Our oldest really struggles in school. Academically yes. Relationally even more so. The daily rodeo of bull riding for her is going to be a challenge. Our prayers a bit longer and yes a bit more intense. Recommendations are helpful and the list of decisions to make is long. Which pathway do we take O Lord? Sometimes those school fights come home to our doorstep and they spill into the evening of relating to one another. Where did I put my zebra striped shirt and whistle? Wait, I can’t whistle because our dog barks and freaks out to that blowing sound. The last thing we need is more barking. Sometimes one of our littles will climb up on one of our laps and offer up suggestions on how we failed as parents and how we can do better tomorrow. Ahhh, to be understood and corrected at the same time. Keep spinning, and transforming, and moving forward.
Leaving friends and family behind in our moves, it bites. Having two mortgages the past seven months is dizzying. I tip my hat to those who can manage two homes with grace. For us it is stressful. Feeling angry comes easy. The first week of every month I find myself a bit grumpy and a little less willing to laugh. As the month progresses I sing “Let It Go” on repeat and de-ice a bit with each passing day. Just as I begin to emotionally regulate that all is well the first of another month rolls around. My joke of owning a vacation farm home in a county without a natural lake doesn’t tickle my fancy as much. This financial stuff has long-term consequences on our kid’s future education choices and on our ability to be a blessing to others in the here and now. The good news is we can cover the bases and that certainly means we are spoiled. We live in an area of increasing homelessness. Folks sleep on our church floor each night because they have no place else to lay their heads. That reality smacks us in the face every day. The old adage of focus on what you can control and let go of that which you cannot crosses my brain daily just like the old Good Year blimp crossing the field with an advertising banner during the holidays. Okay, I will remember – I will remember – I will remember – and I keep telling myself that.
Family and friends dealing with physical and medical challenges, Parkinson’s disease, a heart attack, home health care, pregnancy struggles, cancers, retirements, college funding, relationship hurts and hopes, and the list is endless. The world continues to spin. New Life. Life Struggles. Transformed Life. End of life. Parts of our life are charmed. All parts of our life are graced. Can we see and hold on to that?
We all need each other! We all need God. In the silent, momentary, laughter-filled, stress-induced, pauses of each day I want to remember that. Will you remember that with me? Will we each remind others all along life’s way that God’s grace is here – in the place we find ourselves – wherever that place may be?
Little by little the bird builds the nest. One little offering at a time.