Stake it out – This is a ‘Quiet Zone’

“Honey, I realized today that it has been 12 days in a row we have had to get in the car and go somewhere. I’m so glad today we don’t have to go anywhere.”

“Sarah, we leave for Biblestudy in an hour.”

“Crap.”

Okay. I love Biblestudy, love our home group, and was very happy to be there last night. I was actually in the midst of cooking enchiladas and cupcakes to take to the home group with us, I just had not connected the concept that I had to leave the house.

Not so happy that the string of days is continuing. I looked at the calendar…the string will go to 18 days before we have a day without the requirement of loading up and heading out the door. I know for most of you that seems rather obvious; everyone goes somewhere pretty much every day, right?  Well, with home school my goal is to stay put as much as we can, and this year it just seems that we cannot achieve that simple goal.

Dentist appointments, car registration renewal with the mandatory emissions test, tutorials, practices, church, doctors appointments, etc, etc….ugh.

Simple things add up to what feels like a fractured and distracted life. Mostly because I have never been the best at organization. I have always been the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type, always been the procrastinator, and now that I am mom and homeschool teacher I am realizing more and more how much I need to change. I have matured and become better at not trying to become Suzy Homemaker (which I will never be), but at trying to create an environment where family and faith can happen…or at least where there is the opportunity.  A place where there is the space to understand each other and to be heard; a place where life can happen in all its messiness, but where there is a sense of calm and sanctuary.

That’s why the last 12 days, and the next 6, frustrate me. I don’t like feeling scattered and I want to have days at home to linger over the school work and to get the house in order. To cook good meals and to enjoy the process of being together and learning. Rather than rushing and marking off the to-do-list.

I do not respond well to the scattered feeling. I become agitated and frustrated and the spiral goes downward. The kids respond in kind. 

Then I read this simple line in an article (the whole article is good, but this line caught me)

Staking Out & Creating Quiet Zones

Yes.  It was one of those moments where everything just eased and I was able to focus. I have said before how there is this ache for silence and for quiet, especially in the midst of a household that is increasingly attracted to technology. We gave in whole hog to Twitter and Instagram and FaceBook leading up to Nate’s birthday in the hopes of catching Taylor Swift’s attention…and really just for the fun of the experience. It was fun, for a very short season.

Now, I want to stake out and create a quiet zone.

More than that, I want to teach my kids to do the same. I am continually convinced that this next generation is not going to understand how to handle distractions and noise. They are not going to know how to turn it off. That is one of my goals, and I think this may become one of my mantras.

“With the people I love most I can sit in silence indefinitely. We need both for our full development; the joy of the sense of sound; and the equally great joy of its absence.”

-Madeleine L’Engle

Stake it out. Protect that quiet zone and that space of silence. The author of the above article was addressing professional writing, but when we think of this in view of our walk in faith, it takes on even richer application.

Stake it out and protect that quiet zone and that space of silence that allows us the opportunity and the framework where we turn our attention toward God.

Wholly. 

I’m hanging on for another six days and cannot wait for those three days in a row when we will not have to leave the house!!! Woohoo!! Today, however, I am eyeing the zones. I think this is one of the most difficult things about home school for me…finding the space to handle the usual household duties, the space to deal with personal things, and the space for educating, the space for parenting. Those things can be juggled and they happen somewhat organically…but the space and the zone for quiet is something different. We have to stake it out and protect it, or it simply gets run over.

Off to set some stakes…

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I See You!

Nope, we didn’t get the birthday shout-out we were hoping for. It is not because we didn’t try. I tweeted pictures of Nate to Taylor Swift and I harassed my friends to re-tweet the pictures. We knew it was a long-shot, but it never hurts to ask.

What impressed me the most was how Nate took it in stride. We were sitting in the nose-bleed section. I mean wayyyy up high. We still could see, but we no where near the stage. Nate smiled and said he liked the seats. I told him not to get his hopes up about a Birthday shout out and he said there were no worries. When we walked out at the end of the concert into a deluge of rain with no chance at the “Club Red” to meet Taylor, Nate simply said, “You know, I thought I would really want to meet her…but I don’t. I just really liked the concert and now I’m happy and ready to go home.”

Before that he had had a headache. The music had been loud and he had a moment of being overwhelmed just as she came out. We were surrounded by screaming young teen girls. Truly, literally screaming girls. The lights went down, the stage lit up and the music began pounding. Nate’s head went down and the tears welled up. The screaming began all around us and the tears rolled down his cheeks.

He handed me his iPod and asked if I would film as he plugged his ears. I was heart broken for my boy. His buddy sitting next to him looked concerned. I looked around at all these screaming girls and I wondered who would be the woman in years to come who would love this boy. As I listened to these girls scream as Taylor sang about love, I wondered about this boy who feels so deeply and is so impacted by sights and sounds…by hopes and expectations.

I whispered a prayer that his first concert wouldn’t end with tears, and God was gracious. The screaming abated and the boy came out of his shell. He even danced a little and sang a few songs. My prayers deepen as I think of who will care for this very deep soul as he grows.

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I know tonight was “just” a concert…simply part of a birthday weekend…and yet it is part of a childhood, and as such, part of a forming.

Sometimes we say no.  Sometimes we say wait, or sometimes we say that whatever the latest craze or the latest want or the latest drama is…is something that is unnecessary or is simply wrong.

Sometimes though…sometimes we look them dead in the eye and we say yes. We say absolutely. I will paint your hair red and I will drive you around town and jump out of the car and take goofy pictures. I will tweet them and harass my friends and make them tweet them. I will post them and I will repost them and I will do my best to help you win that certain something that means something to you.

I will help you in any way I can, and if it makes me look silly or ridiculous or altogether undignified, so what.

Sometimes, we look them dead in the eye and we let them know that we see them and we hear them and we understand and we are right there with them. That doesn’t always mean we win. That doesn’t mean we get the prize, or the shout-out or the meet-and-greet.

It does, however, mean we get the experience, and it does mean that we paid attention. It does mean that they know we saw them. It does mean that those times when we have to say no, the times when we have to teach them that we don’t always get to do what we want to, it is not because we didn’t hear them or see them…it is because we do. We see them well and we know what they can become. We see the beyond the moment we are in, and we know what they can become, and sometimes we have to say no. It is easier to hear that when they know we aren’t just ignoring them, though.

Tonight was a good night. We didn’t get a shout-out. We sat in the nose-bleeds. We had headaches and were in the midst of screaming girls. But it was still a great night, filled with friendship and laughter. Those of you who helped tweet and retweet in the hopes of a shout-out…you can help with a true birthday shout out over on FaceBook if you know Nate. Come by and wish him a Happy  Day over on my page!!

The Power of the Creatives…

I have the clearest memory of being about ten years old, puttering around the darkroom with my Dad developing pictures and chattering away as a ten year old girl would. My Dad had a darkroom in our house and he was quite the photographer; I inherited his love for photography and would spend time with him developing the film and enlarging the pictures.

One of these sessions, I remember, telling him all about the radio station I had found and all the music and artists and the dj’s at the station.

I am sure I wore him out.

Just as I wore out those poor djs as I called every three hours as they changed their shifts and requested “Anything from Randy Matthews.” The station was one of the very first contemporary Christian stations in the country. All the djs were volunteers. A few years later when I finally joined the ranks of volunteers I was inundated with return phone calls for my favorite artist.

I actually had the chance to meet Randy Matthews a few years later. I was working at the station and he came to town for a concert. The station manager allowed me to be the runner for the day and I drove him around town and had the chance to spend the day with him. I was on cloud nine.  He was extraordinarily kind to me, because even though it was several years beyond my juvenile infatuation…he was that first artist that had caught my attention.

I had a fantastic childhood, however, there were bumps and bruises and in the midst of it, I thought it was horrendous at times. I was dramatic and emotional and there was enough pain to drive me to the point of thinking of suicide. I was lonely, that was much of the problem. Music was my outlet. I didn’t fit in at school beyond being average, and the radio station was my haven. I escaped in music and it literally saved me. How many times have we heard that story? I know myself well enough now to know that I would have been a mess had I played with alcohol or drugs…I simply have no restraint.

Music was safe, and more than that…it was the means God used to stir my emotions and imagination and to speak to me. 

Our musicians, our artists, our Creatives…they have such amazing roles in our lives. They speak life and they provide an outlet to those who are on the outskirts. They give a voice to our emotions when we are lost or when we are in pain, or when we are filled with joy and want to worship and shout and rejoice.

Sometimes our Creatives, they mark our brokenness in ways that bring us to our knees…and we need that as well.

My middle boy is much like I was as a child. He turns ten tomorrow, and this past week we have tried to catch the attention of a radio station in the hope of winning a “Meet and Greet” with Taylor Swift.

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A local radio station had set up a scavenger hunt and we scurried around town, Nate with his hair dyed red and buddy in tow, snapping pictures.

Then we tweeted and instagrammed and talked to friends and tried our best to get the attention of those who held the power.

See, Nate is my middle boy. I’ve written about him before. He is my Creative and some day he will be giving words to those who can’t find a way to express their emotions. Right now…he is looking to others, and Taylor Swift has captured his imagination and his attention. Yes, it’s infatuation and glamor and stardom at the moment…just like it is for so many, but there is this hint of something more…this hint of an awareness of music and of the mark of the Creator.

So, I’ve been “that” mom this past week.BUN2xjwIYAAKm_y

I’ve tweeted.  I’ve Instagrammed. I’ve emailed my friends and asked them to retweet my tweets.

I’ve ignored the fact that I wasn’t going to be on FaceBook.

I’m hoping maybe the noise I’m making might garner him a “Happy Birthday” shout out from Taylor Swift at the concert.

I’m hoping he doesn’t pee himself if she shouts out. 

Natebday

So, Taylor, I apologize if I utterly harass you on Twitter today.

Randy Matthews is probably breathing a sigh of relief that there was no Twitter thirty years ago.

It is amazing how a nod or a word…an acknowledgment…could hold so much power. Reading through the Twitter feed of some of the kids who are following Taylor reveals kids who are eager and hungry for some affirmation…and there is so much there for discussion.

We’re sitting in the back row of the arena. We’ll be surrounded by other kids who look at her and who scream and who are just as awestruck and who are just as captured by her music and the glamour…and there are some there who were like me who feel lonely and who feel a little lost and some who feel utterly lost.

And there is a weight on Taylor and on our other Creatives…they are bringing us music and light and an escape.
Sometimes they are just bringing noise. Sometimes the Creatives are just as lonely and lost as the rest of us, and they don’t even know they have they are walking billboards, Image Bearers of the Creator. Lord have mercy on the Miley’s and others.

Sometimes, though…they carry a screaming arena away from their worries and brokenness of the world for an evening and let them be caught up in music and delight.

Sometimes…they go beyond even that and help us to encounter the One who Created all. The One who made the color green….