Lessons Learned from Sending the Boy to Camp. Stop the Chatter.

“Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business . . . even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought . . . unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy . . . What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort . . . than being able from time to time to stop that chatter . . . ”

Frederick Buechner

Last week the middle boy went to camp. The first time he has been away from us that long…five nights.

We immediately felt his absence when we drove away from the camp, leaving him in a cabin of rowdy boys and wondering what the week would hold.

I remember going to camp, I remember that uncertain feeling and also the excitement. The meals, the laughter, the games. The deep emotional talks.  What would his experience be?

The difference between when I went to camp and now is this: constant updates.

We watched the camp’s FaceBook page and Instagram religiously. They posted hundreds of pictures. Daily. 998 pictures by the end.

We saw our boy in 18 pictures. He is actually in 28 by the end…but that includes the cabin group photos and things from the last day.

18 pictures. 

He is smiling in exactly 4. 

Mostly he is standing with his arms folded and that look of concern. Instantly identifiable, and instantly bringing back all those moments I felt insecure in group situations. You know, like last month or last year or thirty years ago. We all know that feeling.

The husband and I were praying fervently. Speculating. Wondering if we should text and ask the youth leader if he was okay. Hoping for a picture of him with his arm around a buddy. Finally, the last night I had a headache and came downstairs at 1am. New pictures were loaded and there was one with him arms around his cabin mates at the worship time.

Thank you, Lord. He is not alone, he is not completely miserable.

I did text the youth leader who told me the boy had been quiet, but didn’t seem upset. Quiet is unusual for this one.

So, we continued to speculate. The brothers were pretty convinced along with us that the week had been a let down. We all wondered what we would hear when we went to pick him up.

Can you guess?

Yep, he had a great time. Not phenomenal, and there were moments of homesickness…but he wants to go back next year. I showed him the pictures and he laughed. He kept pointing out pictures of laughter and group activities where he was just out of the frame. We just couldn’t quite see the whole picture. Our vision was narrowed and limited and we ran with only what we could see.

We fervently wanted to protect and manage his life. We prayed, but we prayed with advice to God. We chattered continually about the situation, and our chatter went along the lines of all the things that could be wrong.

Did you read the quotation from Buechner above? Here, I’ll post it again:

“Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business . . . even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought . . . unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy . . . What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort . . . than being able from time to time to stop that chatter . . . ”

We have to remember that God sees the whole picture. He knows the whole story, and we can trust that. Our vision is limited, and it is not good to make continual judgments based on limited understanding.

Even of our own lives.

So, stop the chatter for awhile today. Stop running and questioning and determining the hundred outcomes you think will happen.

Be still and know that He is God.

It takes some time, it takes practice…discipline. Still ourselves and quiet our chatter. Realize the astonishing thought that our lives are God’s business. There is rest in that thought.

Yep. Momma is Reading.

This little blog has been silent for 2014.

Ten days of neglect.

It is not that I haven’t thought about coming over and writing some grand thoughts. It is not that I haven’t thought some thoughts.

I’ve been reading, though, and I’ve been aware that I need to listen. My hunch was right. I have a need to press in and read and to do so without the need to turn around and present my findings. I have wanted a year of more silence for awhile, but my soul has been been antsy and unsettled most years, and I just couldn’t get there…this year feels different.

Maybe I’m finally growing up a little.

Maybe I’m just more tired this year.

No…I’m just a little more ready to listen.  My stack of books is ready. Old friends I have wanted to revisit: Buechner and Chesterton and Lewis and L’Engle and Merton and Packer and Wangerin, Peterson and Berry. New finds…The Book Thief and  Elie Wiesel, Annie Dillard (because I really haven’t read her enough) and a whole stack of fiction.

I have my challenge set for 2014 on Goodreads.

My real goal, though? To feed my soul. To enliven my mind. To quiet and slowdown and remember what it is to sit long with a book and immerse myself in story. To remember what it is to fall in love with reading and story and authors…and to have my children see that again.

It happened for a moment the other day. My oldest and I were alone for a bit. I was reading G. K Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man and I became excited as I remembered how much I was moved by the section on man being marked by creativity. I read the section to him. Then I began telling him about Chesterton. Then I read him some more.

He turned off his iPod. He came over and engaged and laughed and listened.

He got it.

He listened.  And I told him he would be reading Chesterton in just a year or two. And many others…and soon he would have favorite authors as well, and he would be reading me sections of his favorites.

He smiled.

This year his Momma is going to remember that she is a reader. He is going to see her reading and is going to hear passages quoted. He is going to be aware that books are not just to adorn the bookshelves…we have hundreds of books around. He, and the other kids, are going to be aware that life is not driven by Instagram and FaceBook updates, by texts and emails. Life is going to slow down this year.

I am not sure what that will mean for The Small Rain…maybe more biographies and introductions to what I am reading. Maybe longer gaps between articles. We will see as we go. All I know right now is I am drawn back to books and that is a good thing.

The confirmation? Yesterday Maddie, 2 1/2, walked by and noted that I had a book in my hands. “You reading, Momma?”

“Yep, Maddie, Momma is reading”