Father’s Day Lessons

I have written often about my Dad in the pages of this blog. There is no question I think he stands out among men; the way he cares for my mother is unique even though he would believe it to be ordinary. The fact he thinks it ordinary is part of what makes it wonderful. The thing is…it is ordinary for him. To care for her completely is in character with who he is, and that is what I admire. He is a man of integrity and a man of compassion, and a man of strength. He is also a man of great humor and sharp intellect, and all these things wrapped together make him quite the amazing Dad.

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He is of the generation that could do anything, and I still can’t imagine him facing a problem he couldn’t figure out. I think he inherited much of that from his Father, along with a deep love of the outdoors and of doing a job well.

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He expanded on who his father was, though, and tempered it with great compassion and tenderness. He eased the perfection with expectations that pushed us as children but did not become impossible and taught us about faith.  He taught us to love animals and photography, and I always think of him when I meet a new dog (I inherited his ability to connect with animals) or when I take a decent photograph.

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He has always been able to calm a baby, and now as my boys grow they love being around Grandpa.

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He gave me my place in history and taught me about his own history. Taught me that history matters.

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He taught us that you can stand in the same spot as your great-uncles and learn something. Even just in recreating pictures.

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He has taught me more than I can put into words, and I am thankful every day that he is my Dad. I admire him, I love him and always look forward to being around him.

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The biggest compliment I could pay him? I married a man just like him.

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A man who loves well, who acts with integrity and teaches the children that there are expectations that are difficult but not out of reach.

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A man who can plan a party better than anybody, and who can enjoy Disneyland with the best of them.

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A man who loves the outdoors and animals and sports, and yet who is tender toward babies and doesn’t mind carrying pink blankies.

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Thankful this Father’s Day for a Dad who taught me what a Father should look like so I knew what to look for in a man. Thankful for a husband who walks it out daily and is displaying before three young men what a man of integrity, compassion, humor and faith looks like. Happy Father’s Day, Dad and Steve!

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YESALLWOMEN and Maddie. And The Boys.

I have to tell you right away that this post is very different from my usual.  This one is a little more intense, the subject matter is more adult, and the article I am linking contains some pretty strong language and some views most of my friends might different.

 

So, why this article.

 

A friend linked this article this morning and it caught my attention. This friend comes from a very different point of view than mine, and yet she is compassionate and brilliant and although there is much we disagree about…I agree with her wholeheartedly about this article. I have found myself more and more aware of language and attitude toward women that needs to be caught, and I find myself incredibly thankful for a strong husband who displays to our three boys an attitude of respect and honor toward women.

 

Where am I heading?

 

This article:

 

Why I Give A Damn About YesAllWomen  Be warned…there is some adult content there. Read the article anyway. There are some things I might disagree with in some of the rallies for this movement. So what. The main point?

 

A woman should not walk through life afraid of the men around her in society. Afraid that she might be attacked. Concerned with being groped in public. Wondering about what college life will be like and what the “men” will expect from the women. A woman should expect that there will be men in society who will respond when idiots think her body is open to their perusal and even their grasp.

 

This Girl.

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I think that is why this billboard caught so much attention, and is such a wonderful concept. Kudos to She’s Somebody’s Daughter.

 

(In case you can’t tell, that billboard is above an adult bookstore)

 

Here’s the thing. Yes, the issue is about raising my boys to understand how they treat women matters…and how they see other men treating women matters. That is vitally important. The issue is about awareness when we are out and about as women. There is a whole issue about how we carry ourselves and, I know as Christians we like to argue that women have over sexed our appearance and therefore we have some responsibility. There is no excuse for a man to grope a woman on a public street (read the article), and there is no reason for a woman to walk in any kind of fear of men in general culture. There just is no excuse. We have so many issues to deal with with sex, and this is part of the whole…teaching respect.

 

I so deeply within the core of who I am believe we are created by a Creator who marked us with His Image. Believing that gives no room for abuse. None.

 

The grotesque final development of the catcalls and the whistles of the men on the street, of the groping of the person on the subway, of the “innocent” advances of college hormone-driven college students is the continually growing sex trafficking and prostitution and pornography.

 

Yes, it is heavy and not wonder-filled. Yes, it is part of the story of our broken world that we would rather not sit and think through over our morning coffee. Yes, it is not what I usually write about…but it is not far from my mind when I am overwhelmed by the innocence of my Maddie.

 

There are amazing people around us doing truly amazing things to battle for some of these who have been caught up in the worst of this. I am thankful to say that some of these people are part of our church. If you are curious how to help  make an impact on the sex trafficking issue here in TN, check out the amazing folks at End Slavery TN.

 

Day to day, though? How about not laughing at the crude joke. Calling out the friend who makes the sexual comment about the woman walking by. Not just letting those things slide. When we see someone glaring offensively at a woman…commenting. Or glaring back. (I’ve done this a few times lately, especially when the man has a wedding ring on. Did it several times during my last airplane trip.) Making a point to raise our boys to treat women with honor, and raising our girls to know that they are to be treated with honor and respect.

 

There are some things in our broken world that we have to simply weep over and pray and walk through. There are other things where we stand up and we change things. Sometimes with small statements and awareness, and sometimes jumping in and volunteering at places like End Slavery. Sometimes, just reading an article from a different point of view that reminds us we can learn from each other.

 

 

Joy and Suffering on a Birthday.

We have had a week mixed with extremes.

 

Last Saturday, May 31st, was Maddie’s birthday. Her actual “day”, although we knew we were going to celebrate a week later because life has been hectic. Still. This was the day of her birth, so it already shone a little brighter. I mean, Madeleine Jane was 3. Great joy around our house.

 

 

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This little one who has brought so much joy into our lives; this one who is teaching her brothers to love in a way that we as parents never could. She has taught them tenderness and kindness and laughter they never knew, right alongside fierce protectiveness.

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This one, Maddie, is three.

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The same day, Zach and Steve were headed out to the ice rink to get in some practice time before tryouts for ice hockey.  Then this happened:

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A car driving on a separate freeway missed an overpass and came airborne over an embankment and struck Steve and Zach in their Jeep. How they walked away with minor scratches and aches is truly beyond us. The police officers who arrived on the scene expected fatalities. There should have been.

 

A day of joy and celebration marked by an instant of stark reality. Our lives are a mix of suffering and joy.

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” – Frederick Buechner

 

 

There have been a few times when the mixing of this suffering and joy have occurred:

Walking through the experience with my family, even from a distance, of my mother’s dementia, has been wrought with suffering and yet also surprisingly with joy. We have connected as a family, even though we were already close, more deeply and more honestly than we might have otherwise. Suffering brings out an honesty that makes room for joy. Although I would much rather have my mother whole and with her mind bright and her laughter full and her wit intact…there have been moments of laughter and of joy in the midst of this journey and I am thankful for them.

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When we were in the midst of the clean up of the flood here in Nashville; our hearts were overwhelmed by the loss around us, including the immediate loss my husband’s parents were experiencing. We were literally throwing away priceless items by the wheelbarrow-full, and yet in the midst of that there was joy that they had survived and there was joy in the fellowship. There was joy in the community of suffering, because we were bonded by something inexplicable and yet immediate and intimate. I still remember the Pizza Hut truck driving through in the afternoon offering free personal pan pizzas to everyone who was working on cleaning up, and our cooler filled with waters and Gatorades and ice which never seemed to go empty in the blazing Tennessee heat.

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Lastly, childbirth. This has been the ultimate mixture of suffering and joy for me. Clearly there was suffering and pain, more so with my oldest two where we had natural childbirth. The pain was different than any other I have experienced, however, not simply because it was quite painful…but because it was so completely filled with anticipation and with joy. Even as I write this, I know that there are those who have experienced childbirth filled with fear and with trauma, and with no joy. I understand that, and my heart goes deeply out to them.

 

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Our experience, though, has been suffering ending with this amazing transformation into parenthood…filled with its own fears and sufferings and trials, but filled with such a deep joy.

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Which brings me full circle.  One week ago was Maddie’s birthday, and one week ago Steve and Zach had a brush with death. Suffering and joy side by side.  I do not know why sometimes we are spared suffering, or why suffer only a little at a moment rather than more deeply…any more than I know why we sometimes are blessed with such deep joys and such inexplicable wonders.

 

“Joy is a mystery because it can happen anywhere, anytime, even under the most unpromising circumstances, even in the midst of suffering, with tears in its eyes….”- Frederick Buechner

 

We will never be able to explain away every question or every pain; we will never be able to explain every joy. The brokenness of our world is right under our fingertips, and yet, the wonder is right there as well. The mark of redemption and the hand of the Creator. The knowledge that all things will be made whole, that ache that we have that things are not right…it will be fulfilled. Then there will be rejoicing complete. I wonder, though…if that rejoicing will still be informed by our suffering.

“Our dream life will end as dreams do end, abruptly and completely, when the sun rises, when the light comes. And we will think, All that fear and all that grief were about nothing. But that cannot be true. I can’t believe we will forget our sorrows altogether. That would mean forgetting that we had lived, humanly speaking. Sorrow seems to me to be a great part of the substance of human life. “ -Marilynne Robinson,  Gilead: A Novel

The fact that Jesus, after His resurrection, still had his scars of the Crucifixion seems to say that we may have reminders of the suffering…but transformed and with knowledge that makes it complete. Until then, we walk in mystery, thankful for joy and trusting in suffering.