Archive for the ‘Different Books’ Category

A Wrinkle in Parenting (spoiler alert)

We’ve just returned from the theater, only to verify once more – the book is always better than the movie.  It sounds like such a great homeschool policy – “We’ll only go see the movie if we read the book together!”  Yet every time – the movie ends up falling flat.  It just doesn’t stand a chance.wrinkle.jpeg

Pushing that aside for a moment, I do love the book and so much of the imagery and themes througout: Light fighting back the darkness. Strength discovered in weakness.  You cannot serve two masters.  Hope even in places where we’ve made mistakes.  There are even direct quotes from scripture used imaginatively throughout.

L’Engle presents a Universe much larger than we usually envision, and the invitation for each of us to become warriors on behalf of light.  This doesn’t mean strapping on our weapons, and polishing our armor – it means offering ourselves in places and situations where we aren’t assured of the outcome.  It means loving the other, even when there’s no visible sign that such sacrificial love will be received well.

One of my favorite scenes is toward the end, as the lead character realizes she has been self-centered in her relationship with her Father:

          “I’m – I’m sorry, Father…(tears came to her eyes, their hands together)..I wanted you to do it all for me.  I wanted everything to be all easy and simple…So I tried to pretend that it was all your fault…because I was scared, and I didn’t want to have to do anything myself–“
        “But I wanted to do it for you,” Mr.Murry said.  “That’s what every parent wants.”  He looked into her dark, frightened eyes….
         “No.” Mrs Whatsit’s voice was sterner than Meg had ever heard it. “You are going to allow Meg the privilege of accepting this danger.  You are a wise man, Mr.Murry.  You are going to let her go.”

So many layers to this.

We love our children, and want great things for them.  But we must remember, for them to grow and develop they must be allowed to experience the mystery of holding Gods’ hand into the unknown.  As John Ortberg has written, “Persons of excellent will, judgment and character are formed by having to make their own decisions.” (Focus on the Family, April/May 2018)

We see this same love as God invites humanity with free will to respond to a crucified Messiah, an image of self-sacrificing Love that doesn’t force, demand, or overthrow.  An infinitely compelling revelation of a path we’re invited to follow, not with the promise that all will go well – but with the promise that this is the path of New Creation Love.  This is the way of proclaming Jesus as Lord.  This is the way of light breaking forth into darkness.

So what is the wrinkle? If we want to invite our children to step forward into a faith-filled unknown – we must be prepared to respond to their obvious questions.  “Really mom/dad?  You’re doing this?”  Where are we following Jesus into areas of unknown?  Where are we trusting Him to do something, without which we would sink into the waves of a stormy sea?  Where are we experiencing this as a home/family?

This isn’t meant to be intimidating, but encouraging/inviting.  This isn’t saying every family should sell all things, move into a tiny home in the bad part of town, or other side of the world.  This is simply saying – great distances can be traveled by small and simple acts of sacrificial love.  Great rifts can be overcome by a humble dependence on a Love that reflects the brightest light that has ever shown.

This is how Christ began the ultimate victory.  This is how we continue to proclaim & establish it, empowered by His Spirit even now.   Not by our own power to Love, but as we are transformed by His…

the makers.

I remember learning about the concept of “pax” back in college.  The fact that “peace” was not believed to simply be the cessation of violence, but active sharing/pursuit of right relationship.  That has come up again in both my reading and my parenting.

IMGP8574I’m naturally a “lover, not a fighter” (aka – a wuss).  I remember attending one wrestling practice with my big brother back in high school, jus to check things out.  The amount of grunting, sweating, and sizing each other up to see who could best who…for some reason wasn’t appealing to me.  To brag about how much you can lift, curl, crunch, or how many times you can pull yourself up on a bar….yah, I never understood that.  But someday when the zombies attack and I’m eaten first, all the jocks will be able to say “I told you so.”

I generally find myself agreeing with the kinds of things that pacifist Mennonite and Anabaptist writers might say in regard to conflict/war/etc.  But I was reminded recently by Jurgen Moltmann is his book “Ethics of Hope“, there must be something more.  That it’s not simply about allowing swords to do their thing, and retreating into ploughshares; but rather reforging swords into ploughshares.  Moltmann says:

“Nonviolence, like the forgiveness of sins, is only a negation of the negative, out of which nothing positive as yet proceeds.”

Or the more obvious quote:  “We are not told: ‘Blessed are the peaceful’ but ‘blessed are the peacemakers'”

It makes sense.  I don’t want my girls to simply shy away from an inflammatory situation.  Especially in our drama-rich culture that celebrates the ability to reduce your opponent by well-placed physical or emotional blows.  It can be easy for someone who’s been taught humility and gentleness to simply bow out, quietly walk away, and keep to themselves.  Certainly I hope they know when it’s wise to walk away.  But that’s not always the best response.

I want to raise my daughters to be filled with the wisdom, hope, and Love it will take to diffuse a tense moment.  To help bring healing and reconciliation when two of their friends are conflicted.  To mediate arguments, and offer solutions.  To speak up for the voiceless, and reveal the underlying and uniting Truth beneath the facade of drama.  To enter the places where swords are drawn, and bring redemption for the sake of all involved.

Oh snap.   It sounds like I want my daughters to be like Jesus…

 

love does a book review.

Recently I read an article in “Relevent Magazine” that pointed me to an author.  My thought was “Wow, even if I don’t end up liking his book, I really like some things about this guy.”  As it turns out, his book is pretty great too.  He’s written “Love Does – Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World.”  I took the book with me as “light reading” on a trip to Atlanta last month.  It ended up being the perfect companion to traveling the midwest on a “Megabus” (that’s another post all in itself – imagine the smell of urine, awesome people from Africa, a home-land security drug-bust, and the smell of pot at 1am).  It was filled with great reminders of this mysterious element he calls “whimsy” throughout his book.

I’ll admit, many of his stories left me thinking, “Yeah, but what would that kind of love look like without that kind of money?”  But the foundations behind many of those stories are infinitely transferrable.  Too often, life gets into a routine of the expected.  Even in the lives of we who actually talk with G-D on a regular basis. (hold on a sec….read that again….we TALK.  with G-D. whimsey enough for you?)  We lose sight of the beautiful, the magical, the whimsical.  We don’t look much beyond what is expected.

But Love does.

His book is full of example after example of how Love looks beyond what has been done already.  Love is compelling.  Love is looking for new ways to be communicated and felt.  Love lives open-palmed, sacrificing itself for others.  Reading this book will make you want to write a love poem for your wife.  It will make you want to do a fancy tea party with your daughters.   It will make you want to talk to the lady that barks (thought it was a sneeze at first….nope…totally a bark….like a small dog.) across the aisle from you on the Megabus as if she’s an infinitely-loved child of God.  Because….she is.

One story in particular came at a great time.  We’ve applied for grants for this adoption.  We’ve gotten denied.  There are a lot of people applying for these grants…and not everyone can get approved.  We’re doing a fundraiser this month, and it seems a difficult season to find people who are able to join us.  It’s a discouraging season.  But we still believe this is the direction we’re called and moving.

In Christian-speak, we say of moments like these, “Perhaps God is closing a door….”  It helps us walk away from potential with dignity.  But Goff talks about moments like these if a different way.  He experienced something similar when applying for law school, and because he believed God had led him that direction – he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.  You should read the book to get the whole story, but in the end Goff points out that sometimes God allows a door to close, just so he can see us kick it down.

Another cool thing about God using that story to encourage us?  I called Bob Goff to thank him.  I left a message. (His number is probably pretty busy, since it’s published in his book.)  He called me back, and we talked about God moving in my family’s life.  He said, “When I hear about the DRC, I’ll think of Wick.”  I believe he just might, and with all of his work in Uganda – he may hear of the DRC often.

I look forward to calling him back when the door is kicked down completely…:)  (if you wanna help kick it, click here)

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