Not a Stalker, Just a Fan

I jumped up and down in my living room yesterday.

I screamed at the TV.

I clapped and hollered and nearly chest bumped my husband in my exuberance.

I never get that excited about NFL football. I occasionally watch college football, but only because my man loves Ohio State and I love my man.

So what made me go wild during the Broncos game?

Tim Tebow.

I heard a woman talking on the radio today. She said that while she was happily married, she is so taken by Tim Tebow that when she saw him in a store the other day, she stalked him all through the aisles.

I wouldn’t go that far. I like Tim, but my husband is the only one I’ll ever stalk.

I think I like Tim Tebow for the same reason I liked that guy on X-Factor who was doing his best to stay clean for his little boy. Tim seems to be the real deal—at least, I want him to be the real deal—a guy who walks the walk as he talks the talk.

Maybe I’m just hungry for a hero, for a public figure who loves Jesus and lives it out in his every day life.

Maybe a lot of us are hungry for that.

I read an article today. Gary Shelton of the Gazette, said: “In the end, however, you had to admit this about Tebow. There is something to the kid that goes beyond pretty spirals and staggering statistics. There is an energy to him, a spark, a rare collection of intangibles.”

That spark, that energy, it’s totally Jesus—and I’d bet a gazillion dollars Tim would say the same thing.

Some people are quick to call any football star a hero. And while I think it’s awesome that someone can take a hit or catch a spiraling ball while being run down by massive muscle bound guys, I don’t think that necessarily qualifies for hero status.

But I think standing for faith is heroic.

I think being kind and generous and hard-working (in the midst of harsh scrutiny) is heroic.

I think being aware of his role-model status and humbly reaching out to others – is heroic.

So I find myself cheering for Tim. I cheer for him during the game, but I also cheer for his life off the field.

I long for him to make it, to be one to stand for the long haul. To be the guy who inspires teenagers to be unabashed in their love for Jesus too. To be the man who stays pure and marries the woman of his dreams and has little baby Tims who will love Jesus too.

But you know what God seemed to whisper to my heart as I watched Tim and cheered his football while cheering his faith?

I felt like He reminded me that while it’s great to pray for Tim Tebow and to cheer on his heart for God, I have the same opportunity as Tim. Oh, not to run down a field or throw a spiral or barrel over burly men to score a touchdown (as totally fun as that would be), but I certainly have an opportunity to live my faith every day. To be one to stand strong. To live it out. To walk the walk, talk the talk, dance the dance.

To be the real deal.

We all have the opportunity. People are watching, people are cheering, people long for a hero – to see someone authentic and true.

Why not me? Why not you?

Dare I say it?

Go team!

Held me a Raccoon

I got to hold a baby human yesterday.

Ten little fingers, ten little toes. I was the first grown-up (other than Mom, Dad and nurses) to hold him. He was only 2.5 hours old.

And he didn’t even cry.

His name is Dominic, but he was nicknamed “Raccoon” in the womb. I think it’s the best nickname ever! I hope it sticks.  I can almost picture him as a young teenager (cool as can be) being summoned by his friends, “Hey, Raccoon!”

“Yeah?”

“I love your nickname!”

“Yeah. It’s cool.”

Sigh.

I fell in love with Raccoon yesterday. Such a miracle! I stared at his baby face and wondered about all the potential inside of him. I imagined seeds of strength and wisdom, creativity and play, humor and passion.

Raccoon

God did such good work in creating baby humans! And what potential in each one…

I don’t know how old you are today, but once upon a time, you were a baby human. There’s a good chance that people held you in their arms and with tears in their eyes, wondered at the miracle of your birth. They kissed your little nose and found you absolutely perfect.

And then there was your God. Even if your birth circumstances were tough, He was right there. He marveled at your form and patted himself on the back for how good you came out.

I did a fine job with that one, He thought to himself, I get better at this every year.

And inside of you were those seeds—seeds He planted himself.

Created by design to live for a purpose.

It’s inspiring, really. All that baby human potential bursting to come out…

All that hope lies inside you, you know. Seeds of strength, beauty, talent, wisdom, courage, passion, humor, creativity.

I remind myself of the same thing. And I remember that I need to keep pulling weeds to get about the business of sprouting.

Care to join me, fellow human?

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

Oma (almost) got run over by a bull elk

(Attention all environmental sorts: no harm came to any elk in the writing of this blog or during any of the experiences described herein. Police officers were on site and kept us in line.)

The song began playing in my head almost immediately. Instead of “Grandma got run over by a reindeer, walking home from our house Christmas Eve…” it was “Oma got run over by a bull elk, hanging out with our fam Sunday Eve…”

Not good.

It all unfolded when we went to Estes Park to see some elk bugling. I’d never heard of it before, but apparently when the bulls try to woo their women, they bugle. I’m thinking the most impressive bugler gets the girls.

Makes sense to me. If Brian had asked me out with a little ditty on a trumpet, I would have answered even faster than the whopping three seconds it took me to say yes.

So we showed up in Estes Park to find that the elk were literally right there in town, gathered around one of the parks. We quickly pulled over with the zillion other tourists and grabbed our cameras.

The big guy

 

His admirers

People were getting pretty close to one of the bulls, so we did too, snapping some great shots.

My mom wandered over to where a mighty bull stood…

Then there was some commotion.

Then some running.

Then a sheriff sprang to action: “Ma’am, ma’am, run over here please!”

Here’s a slice of the action Sam caught on film. You won’t see mom in the shot because she ran out of the way… She’s smart AND fast.

Luckily, Mom was safe and sound and NOT run over.

But here are a few of the deep profound lessons I got from the day:

  • Just because elk bugle, doesn’t mean they’re the happy sort.
  • Never get between a guy and his dame.
  • If you’re trying to convince your mother to move to Colorado, don’t let her get run down by a large grumpy animal—with horns.

And a final thought: Today is my birthday. I turn 43 years old. My mom is 75. The very fact that she tangled with a bull and survived, that she climbs around the mountains with us – well, it’s inspiring. And you know what else? She recently bought a Mac after being a PC girl her whole adult life. She’s learning a new operating system and just made her first DVD of pics and music.

While I’m going backwards and prefer Velcro to tying my own shoes, she is forging ahead into new territories.

So here on my 43rd birthday, I’m committing to live like my mama and become a bull-elk tackler, budding computer guru, and live-life-to-the-fullest-continental-divide-conqueror.

But first I have to remember how to tie my shoes.

Less naked jiggling, more good stories please

So we watched X Factor last night.

Aside from the half naked man that totally creeped us out, we liked it. In fact at the end of the show, they had a great story about a young guy who has been sober for 70 days. He sang his own rap song and when they interviewed him at the end, he talked about the three best days of his life:

  1. The day his son was born
  2. The day he got sober
  3. The day they put him through on X Factor

I always pretend not to cry when I watch TV, but as I looked from underneath my bangs at Mom and Sam, I could see tears in their eyes too.

Whew! I wasn’t alone.

I let a few spill over onto my cheeks.

There’s nothing like a good story.

In the midst of my tears I found myself fiercely hopeful for the guy: that he’d stay clean, that he’d be the dad he wants to be, that he’d succeed in his dreams.

Good from bad, life from death, hope from addiction.

This morning in my quiet time, I was reading about the Israelites. God was forever reminding them to remember. Remember what I’ve done. Remember where you’ve been. Remember what I saved you out of…

He commanded them to have festivals and parties and all out celebrations so they wouldn’t forget his goodness.

So I sat on the porch and I remembered.

I remembered when lies flowed as easy as the truth.

I remembered when addictions were more appealing than life.

I remembered when I hurt people I loved and didn’t care very much.

I also remember the way God loved me in the middle of that, how He sent people to be nice to me, to reach out to me, to provide for me when I didn’t deserve a single thing they did.

I remembered my own Egypt and how He, like a fiercely devoted lover, rescued me out of it.

When I think of how I’m different now, I know it’s not my own doing. I’ve tried to be better “tomorrow,” only to put that off one more day: “For sure, tomorrow I’ll be a totally good girl. Seriously!”

But tomorrow never came.

What changed me from the inside out, what continues to mold and shape me, is a love I can’t explain and don’t deserve. It’s a love that fashions and forms me as I sit in its presence. It’s a love that rescued me from Egypt and tells me to “Party on” as I remember that incredible work.

So blow up some balloons, hang some streamers, toot a horn, bake a cake, eat cookies and laugh until your belly hurts.

You’ve been rescued.

Or maybe you’re being rescued.

Whatever it looks like for you, take a moment to remember. After all, there’s nothing like a good story worth celebrating: Life from death, hope from despair, freedom from addiction.

Way better than naked jiggling – any day.

Thank you, Lord.

Some secrets are meant to be kept (Flashback Friday)

From January 21st, 2005

Sami and me about the time I wrote this story

Sami and I have a secret, sacred mother-daughter code. Anytime that we share
something with each other that we don’t want anyone else to know, we put up
our pinky fingers, lock them, do a little circular handshake and intone
“Mother-daughter sphere—promise?” This is to keep Sami from spilling out my
most embarrassing moments (which I spill out perfectly well on my own), and
it keeps Sami’s adventures from winding up in a magazine, book or blog (at least without her permission).

Sometimes, on rare occasions, I forget to use the code, thinking that some
things will just be assumed as private, personal information.

Not very smart.

So we went to Austin this last weekend. Brian, the man I’ve fallen in love
with, came along to sit under the spotlight and be interrogated by some more
family members. He did well. He played basketball with the boys, talked with
my niece and pulled out all the paperwork on his financial, medical and criminal history for my brother and his wife to peruse.

And still, I thought, he loves me.

The dating days 🙂

So back to the sphere. One evening we went bowling with the family. I took my turn, bowled the perfect strike and turned to see Sami talking to Brian. He was grinning. I was suddenly nervous.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Sami took her turn and Brian was still smiling.

“Talk to me, Brian.”

“Sami just informed me that I need to marry you in two months.”

I gulped. “She did?”

“She just wanted me to know that you would say yes if I asked you.”

I remembered the conversation. “Mom, would you say yes if Brian asked you to
marry him?”

“Yes.”

That was it. No pinkies in circular motion. No mother-daughter secret,
sacred code. What was I thinking? I tried to redeem the moment by putting on
my most mysterious and alluring look. I tried to bat my lashes. I went for the
I-will-say-yes-but-I-want-to-maintain-the-element-of-surprise attitude that
I once had going for me. I fluttered my lashes again.

Brian peered at me closely and asked if there was something in my eye.

I shook my head and smiled in my full-on embarrassed dimpled goofiness.

And still, I thought to myself, he loves me.

One Mom’s Fight Against Tuckuses and Ticks (Flashback Friday)

From March, 2006 (Sam was 14 – at 19, she now makes much better musical decisions!) :

Sam loves music. If she could, her headphones would be surgically implanted for her constant listening pleasure.

Unfortunately some of the music Sam enjoys falls way short of my this-is-so-not-good-for-you parental antennae. We’ll be in the car, flipping through stations and a popular song will come on. Sam will sing away as someone discusses someone else’s tuckus and his or her appreciation thereof. I’ll quickly turn the station to something I used to consider harmless, like country, only to discover lyrics about a naughty country boy checking his country girl for ticks. And it seems no matter where I turn, Sam knows the words.

She’s hearing it somewhere.

So I worry. And I find myself wanting to protect Sam from all the stuff that’s out there. When I really think about it (TV, music, movies, Internet), I’m tempted to lock her in her room, tutor her myself and only let her listen to K-Love and the Sound of Music soundtrack over and over and over (Although that Julie Andrews was a bit of a wild woman herself).

But then Sam went on a mission trip over Spring Break. She went to Gulfport, Mississippi and helped out some folks who didn’t have anything. She actually tore down a home . . . and loved every minute of it. She came back in tears, saying she hadn’t wanted to leave. Her heart was tender towards those she served and her heart was tender towards God. She lay in her bed that evening and asked God to help her stand firm spiritually. She wanted to be a light for him.

It brought tears to my eyes when she told me about it.

The next day, she didn’t even ask to flip through other stations when Brian drove her to school. She wanted to do life differently.

Of course, by the end of the week, I caught her singing about those darn ticks again . . . but those few days taught me something.

We can have rules and guidelines and boundaries in our home (and we do), but the thing that changes Sam’s heart, the thing that changes mine . . . is encountering God in real life situations. It’s all about falling in love with him and wanting to do life differently because of the love we’ve experienced. If life is all about the things we can’t do, it’s overwhelming. Because there’s SO MUCH we should avoid. But if life is about our time with
God – and the adventure, joy, life and hope we find as we love him and reach out to others… well, then, those silly songs, lousy movies and tempting distractions will lose their appeal.

Because He is so much more beautiful.

She paved the way

Here I sit, in Okinawa, Japan, and the truth is I should hate being here. Years ago my mom was imprisoned by the Japanese. From 6 to 10 years old, she was held captive on the island of Indonesia. She suffered deeply through those horrific years and then into adulthood as she relived the trauma through flashbacks and nightmares.

PTSD. Depression. Pain.

My mom could have gone bitter. I could have easily grown up in a home where the Japanese were demeaned and dishonored. I could have been hardened as my mom fought through difficult days and sleepless nights. So much so that the mere thought of going to Japan would only bring harsh feelings and deep resentment.

But it didn’t happen like that.

As a young mom, my mother fought for her healing. She pursued her God. She sought out counsel. She did the hard work of forgiving… and she didn’t give up when she faced a setback or two.

As a result I am here in Okinawa with great joy in my heart. I’ve had the chance to serve at the military base, but also to go out into the community and visit shops and restaurants. The Japanese are polite, gracious and honoring. I ache for their deep losses in the recent tragedies and this weekend joined others to petition God for their needs. I am drawn to these lovely people and only wish I could do more in this painful season.

I wouldn’t feel any of these things if my mom hadn’t paved the way to the cross – refusing to give in to her past wounds and the potential bitterness that lived there.

I’m so proud of her.

Me and Mom. She’s lovely, isn’t she?

Way to go, Mom. In your darkest moments, you probably didn’t realize the long-range impact of your choice to heal through forgiveness and grace – thanks for holding tight to our God and never, ever giving up.

I love you.