Friday, May 4, 2012

Baccalaureate Blessing

For the times of indecision:   UW or WSU?   Communication or Broadcast Journalism or Spanish or Marketing or all of the above?  To drink from the mason jar or not?  Church choice?  Dorm or ….not?  Summer School?  Freshman 15 or not?  Single room or double?  To sorority or not to sorority. The age-old question of work/life balance.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths 
straight.  Prov 3:5-7
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the times of trepidation:  Swine Flu epidemic your freshman year in the dorms.  Your first stalker.  Learning new technology for your major…. sometimes fighting technology in the 11th hour before a deadline.  The challenge to keep your scholarships with a high cum GPA all throughout your undergrad years…A hemp fest.  Walking Greek Row at night.  Returning from Murrow laaaate and calling a safety buddy to chat with. Spiders in B10.

The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1

Lord, hear our prayer.

For times of Providence:  supportive community of friends throughout the journey…the prayers of a lifelong HFG to support and cheer you on.  Siblings, parents and grandparents who love you for who and how God made you to be.  Pastors, small group leaders, and mentors who invested in your heart and spirit and growth. Professors who connected you and offered you opportunities.  Employers who sought you and awarded you. A God-given waiver for the freshman housing rule that allowed you to live at NuHouse during the only two years it was in existence! Roommates and friends who laughed with, listened to, and loved on you in the daily.  Grandparents who donated savings to provide a study abroad adventure. Unlimited texting! Healing from Lactose Issues! Scholarship upon scholarship upon scholarship!  Rides home, rides to church, to the grocery store, to Spokane & Seattle for interviews!  The Inn.  Ministry & minimentoring.  A new church home full of prayer warriors and families and worship. 

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; 
    you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 16:5-7

Lord, hear our prayer.

In times of “growth opportunites”:  Counsel .  Comfort.  Skype. WISDOM.  OJ.  Starbucks. Sleep. Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.  The Word. Phil Wickham.  Phoning and texting and FB and emails. Those tan little slippers that you wore in Nuhouse until they disintegrated.  Pretty latte art on campus, or hipster lattes in Moscow. Oatmeal. Snow boots. Prayer.  Cougar calves.  Riley. 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 Cor 1:3-4

Lord, hear our prayer.

And in times of joy:  Moms Weekends! (no beer pong for us!)  Dad’s Weekends!  Falling in love. Climbing the observatory….cliff jumping….wheatfield running/crutching….trail running/biking/skating.  Hipster co-opping.  SO.MANY.TRIPS.HOME.PTL.  Trying out recipes!  The Rec.  Dancing again – swing & ballet &…was that hip-hop?  Collecting people.  Fruit abundant.   CONFIRMATION OF GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU HERE AT WSU.

I trust in your unfailing love; 
    my heart rejoices in your salvation. 
 I will sing to the Lord,
for He has been good to me.
Psalm 13:5-6

Lord, hear our prayer!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Good or Cool... Or Both?

"Would you rather marry someone who is cool, or someone who is good?"

Around here, these types of questions are common. Sometimes they come in the form of the "would you rather," but more often they come in the form of "perfect in every other way." (eg, "say he was perfect in every other way but had a birthmark that looked like a Hitler mustache...would you still marry him?" "say she was perfect in every other way but tasted like metal...would you still marry her?")

Today's question wasn't as simple because of its definition and cultural challenges. Let's take a look at those, then, before we answer the question.

Webster has many entries for the definition of good, but I think a little Bible dictionary from 1897 may say it best: the deliberate preference of right over wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, the choosing and following of all moral good. (Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary)

Strangely, 1897 didn't have much to say about the definition of "cool." The Bible doesn't list it in any of the "definition passages," such as 1 Cor 13 defining 'love,' Galatians 5:22 describing character traits that the Holy Spirit grows in a believer, nor is it in Proverbs as a goal (such as wisdom, or a godly wife). Rather, each culture and microculture has it's own definition of "cool." What may be supercool in one culture may be seen as ridiculous in another.

So, for the purpose of our argument today, let's say that "cool" can be defined as doing what it takes to be popular in one's own microculture.

You may know people who are able to do both. I can also think of a small handful. What a challenge this is, though, to go after the culture's approval and not fall prey to what it deems as desirable. What does your culture tell you to do to obtain popularity? Is it how you dress, how you spend your Saturday night, or is it in the words you use? How many of those things do a sandpaper rub against goodness? For those who balance both integrity and cool, are there compromises made - and if so, do they tip towards compromising their spirit or their flesh?

Getting back to the question of "would you rather...." Say those two words can't easily co-exist. Say you have to choose someone (or BE someone) who stands in front of the mirror and says, "Yeah, this is sorta pushing the edge on modesty. It's probably going to get a lot of attention, but 'everyone is wearing it' and if people have a problem with it, that's THEIR problem, not mine." And then do they finish that inner monologue and go out anyway, as is? Or do they modify the outfit till their conscience is clear?

Or take a language example. Do they use words that push the gossip/slander edge, or that are flavored with unkindness? Are the words offensive to those outside the microculture who may overhear them? (or even to those inside the microculture?)

In closing, let me also say that this week's analysis of cool & good has brought with it a sad realization. The word good has become culturally negative. It brings with it a picture of a nerd, a teacher's pet, a picking 'good' over 'cool' seems outrageously lame. However, God has also brought to my mind the use of the word "good" - how it is used to describe HIM, His love, His character, His creation, His spiritual work in our lives, His benevolence, His purity and holiness and faithfulness and kindness and heart.

How cool is that?!

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness & truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (eph 5:8-10)

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulnes, gentleness, and self-control. Against these there is no law. (gal 5:22)

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! (ps 34:8)

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His faithful love endures forever. (nine million times in psalms)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Real Challenge of Raising a Young Man: part 1

The chicks are gone for the school year; the mancub remains.

Attention now diverts to things of the boy: no longer are purses and hairbands and teabags left about....we now have enormous shoes, muscle milk cartons, chunky CS Lewis volumes, sheet music and sweatshirts strewn about. He takes up more landscape physically than the girls. The sound that surrounds him is less chatter and debrief, and more grooveshark and youtube.

It's easier now to see him as an adult than a child. I recall this turning point with the girls - we upped the tempo of Woman Training towards the end of high school - realizing our time to influence them and impart skills was limited. I remember feeling challenged as a woman to also train a woman, as if some judgemental spotlight would shine down on my laundry pile or burned casserole and shout "INSUFFICIENT! Who are you to role model as a wife?"

It feels different with my young man. Who I am as a woman, role-modeled for him, seems more about character than accomplishment. Is this because the Man Stuff is taught by his dad, and I couldn't begin to teach checking oil, changing tires, and fixing a leaky faucet? Perhaps. Or maybe it's because I think all of those things take lower priority than setting his appetite for the good stuff of the heart that cannot be learned on Food Network or TLC.

Should he desire a wife who is pleasant and charming? Somone who is not lazy and selfish? Shall he value gentleness and rich humor? Will he feel at home with a woman who serves her family with joy? Is it foreign or familiar to be met with kindness instead of sarcasm? Is the dinner table conversation noble, good, pure and edifying, or is it an exchange for gossip and slander? Does the heart of the home - the mother - bless or stress others? Is our homelife something he'll want to emulate... or flee?

The real challenge of raising a young man is not combatting his clutter or taming his volume. It'd be far easier to settle for a "101 Things to Teach Your Son" checklist than it would be to examine my own example! Teaching him how to aerate a lawn or demoss a roof would be much simpler than turning the spotlight on my behavior.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,

whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it
into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (
Phil 4:8-9)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mother Math

Firstborns get a lot of attention.

As a second-born child myself, I often wondered if my parents' heart priority rested on my older if the "wow factor" of his firsts equaled love.

It wasn't until I had a second-born child that I learned the truth. God made hearts to add and multiply, not subtract and divide.

When I was pregnant with Katie, I wondered how I could love another baby as much as Abigail. I worried that I wouldn't have enough love to cover two babies - as if the total quotient of my mother love would divide and divide each time I had another child. So, if my mother-love value was a hundred, and I had 2 children, then each would receive 50 mother-love 'points'....three children would reduce that to 33.3....etc. It took me a nanosecond after Katie's birth to realize the converse was actually true - my heart MULTIPLIED to twice its normal size...and then TRIPLED when I had Benjamin.

The reason for my musing this week on my "mother math" is because we're flying out with Katie tomorrow to get her freshman year started at University of Oklahoma. It reminds me of last year doing (relatively) the same with Abby - up and over the mountains to Pullman... but now we go up and over a few mountain ranges, then over the plains - and somewhere in a corn field we leave our second-born.

I think the second time rivals the first. The heart space where Katie resides is sensitive to the touch - I can be in the aisle at Fred Meyer buying her favorite tea when all of a sudden a pain strikes - "WAIT! She is actually NOT going to be drinking this at home!" And the tears spring into my eyes. Or, I can glance over at her working on her laptop and I catch a twinkle in her chocolate eyes...and I think "AAAAHHH - that chair will be empty next week." More tears.

Katie's presence in our home is uniquely her own - missing her will be unique as well. Whereas Abigail brings lively and loud percussion to the music that defines our family, Katie adds in more of a string section - sometimes mellow cello, sometimes melodious violin, sometimes playful fiddle...but always able to harmonize (even purposefully discordant when she is being a Bug), as is characteristic of a middle child. Like a chord, the middle note adds depth and richness and roundness to the sound - taking it out makes the sound structure seem empty. Katie is our perfectly pitched middle note, and her absence will make our home feel spare.

Katie, we don't love you because of the things you DO, but because of who you ARE. However - the things you do add to our homelife in such valuable ways!!! Thank you for keeping our cookie jar full so that we can be hospitable and that your daddy can have a few extra calories. Thank you for being the housekeeper on my busy days so that our family comes home to a peaceful environment with clean surfaces and a happy cat. Thank you for being my listener and for being so in tune with my moods that you know the quiet questions to ask in just the right timing...and thank you for not being afraid of my tears or my anger. On the contrary, thank you for your compassion and continually pointing me to the cross for my value and priorities. Thank you for underscoring our lives with a soundtrack of Truth and Beauty. Thank you for being our free marriage counselor. :) Thank you for your friendship and your unconditional love, despite our ENFP-J/ISTJ differences. Thank you for joining me in my music obsessions or tolerating me when I hit "repeat" on certain phrases....and for being my confidante about so many issues this year. I love that you are a safe sounding board for your friends, a vault of confidentiality and trust...and I love that you are that for me, too.

Katie, thank you for showing me that love is to be multiplied. God has shown His love for me by letting me be your mother - what an awesome, sweet, glorious, breathtakingly amazing privilege!!! While I will miss your dear presence in our daily life, I REJOICE that I carry you in my heart - the one you doubled in size.

I will sing to the LORD,
for He has been good to me.
Proverbs 13:6

Friday, April 16, 2010

You've been told to not grocery shop when you're hungry, right? This helps avoid the abundance of impulse purchases heaping up over the cart, draining your bank account and padding your thighs.

Blogging with a full heart is similar. This past week has been full of plans for Katie's college decision, culminating last night in
fairly firm vision for where she'll be going in the fall. This draws to a close her YEARS of college hunting/researching/scrutinizing, and closes the more recent season of debate, prayer, deliberation, paperwork and prep. While we sat at the dinner table and spoke words of finality, reality set in.

Katie is moving out in the fall and going far away.

It is going to take me more than just this one blog to unpack all of my thoughts and emotions regarding this reality - even with me being the
owner of said thoughts and emotions I don't completely yet grasp the fullness of them!

But I do know one thing this morning. OK, maybe I know two things. One: when I came downstairs to the kitchen this morning, I could see the footprints of Jon and Kate from the night before. The cookie jar was half full, meaning Katie had baked a batch and Jon had consumed almost all of them....classic. Two little teabags were left on the counter, tea kettle and honey....evidence that the night-owl buddies had lingered once again together, computing and companionshipping while the rest of the house slept.
I will miss this, and miss the significance of what two little teabags on a counter represents.

But I do know a second thing: God is guiding Katie to the next chapter of her life, and even though that is far away from home, it seems to be where He wants her. Therefore, I rejoice. I cry for myself and for Jon (and Dusty and Ben too), but I rejoice. There's nowhere else I'd rather her be than smack dab inside His Will, even if that results in just one teabag on the counter every morning.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise. (Psalm 111:10)

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Because You ARE the Mom"

“She doesn’t talk to you because you ARE the mom,” she said.

It was a surgeon’s scalpel phrase, applied itself to the wellspring of my heart – the source of my deepest value – relationship. Next to my husband, there is no one on earth I’d rather have that faithful, intimate connection with than my own children. And to think my position of “mom” was a wall rather than a bridge to that connection…arrggh.

They say it is part of the Independence Phase, like when she was a toddler and insisted on “I can do it myseff, aww by myseff.” I’m trying to remember the bittersweetness of that phase as we journey through the teen years – specifically the push and pull of tender toddler affection, tempestuous and mercurial. How my arms stayed open for the chance to hold her after playtime adventures, knowing eventually her battery would run low and she’d need a soft landing…or that a scraped knee would hasten her towards me for some TLC. Or, because I held the magic of reading, my lap was a welcome place for the effervescent bookworm. Cuddles and read-alouds were just manifestations of what she didn’t recognize at the time – unconditional love.

Her journey through toddler independence was applauded with such encouragement! Perhaps it was because we knew this was a natural step for her to take, and it would result in such wonderful opportunities – education, adventure, purpose…and relationships other than my own. Of course, we also knew that there were still years to bond with her – so many family vacations left to take, so many daily moments together….it was preposterous to think the push-pull would be permanently “PUSH.”

Perhaps the difference is that with teenagers is that the push-pull could possibly not resolve. We actually do not have years of bonding and daily connection guaranteed to counterbalance the push. Some things are similar – the hope that with this independence they have education, adventure, purpose, and other relationships as blessings. They may financially return to the nest, or practically need to return for lodging and food…but relationally they can take their hearts somewhere else. I think that is what is eating at the issue….a mother of teens realizes she could face the ultimate rejection. Not to mention the fear of being displaced – of having your child tell you “I do not prefer you. I do not trust you with who I am and what I feel/think/say/do. I can do it myself, all by myself.”

Parents can hold financial or practical carrots in front of their child to buy their time and attention. But I don’t know of any parent who is content to offer only those things – because those are just manifestations of what lies beneath….the unconditional LOVE…the yearning for relationship.

Today I am going to focus on that unconditional love as we step further down the path of the teen years. If I truly, unconditionally, love my child, that will not change if the flavor is push versus pull. I will want her best… and DO my best to mother her the way God designed me to. Regardless. And I will keep my arms open, just in case.

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…
Malachi 4:6

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A New Song for Thanksgiving

Surprisingly, this was a year of new blessings to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. I think I got into a groove of regular blessings for many years - family, health, provision, ministry, a home…..those all relatively stayed static. And then this year. THIS YEAR!!!

Lord – thank you for showing yourself to be so mighty and yet so intimate with me this year. You provided a job for me that helped beyond “feathering the nest” …this job from you was provided in such a low economy, yet at such timing that You knew I’d need the ministry to direct my energies toward since the chicks are leaving said nest. The team I work for is a daily encouragement and an iron-sharpening-iron tool for me….I am amazed You would be so loving to me to provide a job in my area of passion, grace me with the flexible hours that this mommy needs, and use this seemingly low job to bless others! I am surprised and grateful that “my job” is a heading the top of a Thanksgiving list!

Lord – thank you for caring for my heart this year by giving me new people to love. The whole Robertson clan has nestled into the “family” portion of my heart, and has been a consistent and deep channel of Your love and encouragement. Thank You that You’ve chosen to do a lot of that via Starbucks. J Thank you for Linda, a mentor and kindred spirit – my New Old Friend. (How did you know I needed that?) Also, Baby Avery and Baby Paisley have delighted me, and have reminded me of the sweetness of the circle of life – while my own babies are growing and leaving, You are giving me new babies to cherish in what must be an interim stage…..someday the babies I cuddle will be my grandchildren. Thank you for their soft skin and trusting eyes – thank you for reminding me of innocence and the value of life.

Lord – thank you for caring so well for those I care about. Abigail is happily ensconced at NuHouse, surrounded by faithful friends, and in a godly community. Ben is thriving at Sammamish High, and Katie is connected to the majority of Bellevue College in some manner or form. Our parents have supportive and active friendships….thank you Lord that loneliness isn’t a burden for us in 2009.

Lastly, I’m grateful for the traditional things that have mercifully been added to my list again. Jon. Health. Music. Provision. Our Home Fellowship Group. Laughter. Coffee. Books. Chocolate. Education. Safety. Katie’s cookies. Humor. OCC Student Ministries. Grace. My flannel nightie. Mostly – Your Word, which is a balm to my spirit, a light to my path, a tool to sanctify and sharpen me, to comfort and bless me, and which connects me to the heart of You.

Lord, thank you for the new song you put in my mouth this year. Not only are Your mercies new every morning , they are recognizable year to year. You are a God who surprises us and blesses us far beyond all we could ask or imagine!

I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

(Psalm 40: 1-3)