Monday, September 29, 2008

Phantom: Rethought

Last night I saw "Phantom" for the first time!

Well, saw it for the first time as a gal in my 40's, that is. Technically it was my third time to see it, but as is everything in life, there can be something new to see or learn or experience, based on where you are in life.

Reaction to Phantom in my 20's:
  • How cool to be the focus of someone's overwhelming desire, like Christine was to the Phantom.
  • My favorite suitor was Phantom over Raoul, based on the mercy rule, the passion rule, of course his prowess on the keyboard and his ability to compose melancholy love songs. Also dug his candle collection, his boat, his mask and his swirly cape....he cuts a very dashing figure!
  • Raoul seems a little dull. Doesn't really stoke a girls' fire, ifyaknowwhatimean.
  • There's something alluring about being called to the dark side.
Reaction to Phantom in my 30's:
  • It's a little creepy to be the focus of someone's overwhelming desire.
  • Favor starting to tip toward Raoul - what kind of father would the Phantom make? Would he have outbursts of anger in front of the kids - would he noose up the paperboy if he was late with the morning edition of Le Monde? Would he insist on staying in his candlelit lair - could he throw a baseball with PJ (Phantom Junior) or carpool the girls to the mall?
  • Christine is starting to look bipolar. (in my 30's I became increasingly paranoid that everyone was secretly bipolar - lol) And I'm pretty sure the Phantom qualifies as "emo."
  • I'm starting to appreciate Raoul's steadiness, catches of humor, love of the arts, and down to earth take on Little Miss Christine - he knew her as a childhood friend AND as a successful performer....there's a balance there to his love, which is rich.
  • There's something dangerous about being called to the dark side.
Reaction to Phantom in my 40's:
  • Meg is starting to look more interesting as a character. Why doesn't Rauol bag on Christine and go with Meg? She's a supportive friend, loving daughter....she has an inquisitive mind and a courageous spirit - not to mention dancer legs and a lovely voice. What's not to like?
  • The Phantom needs counseling. This guy has some serious issues from his childhood. He does not need a lover, he needs Jesus and he needs a mother's love and maybe a tiny bit of Prozac. This guy could use some homemade chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk after a rough day at the opera. I feel badly that Christine feels she is his rescuer. Girls - don't marry someone who needs rescuing! Bake him some cookies, pour him some milk, give him warm hugs....and then send him to a counselor. But do not think you have to MARRY him to save him!
  • Raoul is too good for Christine. Sure, he's "safe" but he's also studly, brave, and can hold his own in a duet. Hard to find better men than that! She is too "drama" to appreciate him.
  • which leads me to this: Christine is a DRAMA QUEEN! Her mom needed to curb that little girls' tantrums and whims, and needed to open up the Word of God as a way to help her make her choices. You don't go for the pathetic murderer who can sing hauntingly and who has a sexy Deuteronomy 30:19 as a way to decide who to pick. Also - she needs to know a little about spiritual warfare and fruit of the spirit. Let's see - one guy kidnaps, murders, explodes with anger...the other is protective, kind, gentle (studly!)......Christine is not only a drama queen, she's also a ditz. Dr. Laura would have a field day with her. I think this girl has attention needs, and needs a little 1 Peter 1:13 drilled into her (KJV, please).
  • There's something disturbing about being called to the dark side.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

(2 Cor. 14)

Friday, September 26, 2008

End of First Real Week '08/'09


We did it - got to the end of our first Real Week of the school year with everyone in their proper places - piano lessons, college classes, Legacy, basketball, BSF, youth group and the like. My eyes are hazy and crossed as they squint toward the weekend - Ben's worship team auditions, a football game, Katie's gig at the hospital, Mariners Game for the boys, and Phantom for the girls. Oh yes, and somewhere in there we find jeans for Katie! And do church.

I'm enjoying having the girls both gone in the morning. Ben and Dusty are quiet and non-interfering company to keep - I've been able to plunk around doing youth group data entry, and able to research college scholarships with nary an interruption. With the girls both gone it also eliminates more of the run around in the van - gotta love that! Granted, Ben's new piano teacher teaches out of Westlake Center in Seattle, so my Friday mornings just got a little urbanified - can you say WEEKLY SHOPPING EXCUSE? Yes ma'am!

And to wrap up my pathetic post from last week regarding the WSU visit - it went well....ish. Jon convinced Abby to not contact me all day - deliberately - so that went over NOT WELL. NOT WELL AT ALL! Can you say "bouquet of red roses last night" to help smooth my ruffled fur? Can you say Mama Bear moment? It's amazing how after so many years of togetherness (let's see - coming up on 27) we can still miss the mark so badly on showing love, offering forgiveness, effectively communicating, making peace, etc! One would think by now we'd learn by our mistakes and be fairly sliding into home...but....I 'spose until our flesh dies we'll still be looking out for number one now and again, and then have to suffer the consequences. Fortunately, we are getting more infrequent with our flub-ups. I'd like to think a year from now we'll have even less. And I'd like to see in myself more humility, clearer and sweeter communication, and that winsomeness I long for from the Lord. More of Him, less of me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Simply Pathetic!

I am a wimp!

Today was a practice day for me to be here and for Abby to be there. Did not like it one bit.

I was supposed to be the parent taking her to WSU for Cougar Day - campus tour, chat with the Communications Dept, BBQ and football game....but instead I had to be home to teach Home Fellowship Group tonight. So, off went Abby and Jon at 4:30 am, and I've been anxiously awaiting a phone call or text ALL DAY LONG!


They have either forgotten their phones (not likely for a teen) or their chargers or Pullman is some podunk town with no T-Mobile coverage. Sometime during their trip home their phone will get into a live area and my texts and messages will grab their attention hopefully.

A friend told me to get used to this. AAAAGHHH - this is very very very difficult to imagine! But there is Abby having all these new impressions and experiences, ones that I feel are more important than the average-time-away-from-home ones, since we're still in such deliberation over where she should go to college....anyhow, if I were there with her I'd be able to debrief and infer and deduce and intuitate....and I can't. Grrr. This is what it looks like to not be in control, nor in touch, nor "simpatico" with the first born.

Next year she'll be somewhere, and I will be here. I won't know her friends. I won't get to debrief after parties or classes. I won't be able to read her face or see her eyes sparkle or shine with tears. I won't be able to see her little toes every day. No goodnight or goodmorning kisses.

I think I already have a chunk of my heart in Pullman and she doesn't even go there yet. I'm home and I'm homesick.

Psalm 139:8-10

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Embarrassment of Riches

So I finished "Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. Thought I'd throw in a little book report since it's such a hot topic book...

Basically it boils down to this man's gathering of stories of how to live as Jesus would live in this world. Claiborne is an "ordinary radical" much as Jesus was.

When the book was recommended to me by two people twice in one week, I was intrigued. The first person verbally "threw the book at me" as a challenge to my lifestyle and beliefs; the second inspired me to read it with his own personal excitement for what the book provoked in him. Anyhow, because the first recommendation came with that challenge, I had some defenses to break down before I could hear Claiborne's heart. Pride was my chief stumbling block.

I appreciated Claiborne's take on the Church (we need to do more) and community (we need to connect way more than we're already doing). I value his call to Voluntary Poverty and believe he's doing that successfully! Because of reading this book, I look at things like my pantry (which is stuffed to the point of needing micro-organizing to fit it all in) and my checkbook (which sadly, if a stranger looked through it, they wouldn't infer that I care much about the poor). Because I am an application-type-learner, I'd like to move forward and be a better steward of my resources, and be more hands (and cash) on with my concern for the poor.

Writing that makes me sound quite mechanical, and most readers of "Irresistible Revolution" would cringe at such a response. I'm sure their hearts break over Claiborne's stories, and to a degree mine did as well....yet....experiences and common sense meld with emotions in me.

Experiences like visiting North Philadelphia and seeing Campolo's work over a long weekend...seeing both the joys of reward (we got to go on a 4th of July outing with his inner city kids, which was such fun! also witnessing the bonds and relationships within the community) and the realities of the situation (families working the welfare system pretty strategically, Christian or nonChristian). Deduction: Campolo's ministry is imperfect - it has a terrific heart (helping the needy, choosing poverty, etc) and yet it didn't have all the answers for these people. Granted, little is better than nothing...more importantly - these workers are being obedient to God's call on their life, so I trust the fruit is rich and abundant.

I mostly take issue with Claiborne's judgement on Christians. He's a little heavy with his criticism of Christians in suburbia - with their self-centered lifestyles and their samplings of behavior that "makes them feel better" - like donating money to a cause, or going on short-term missions. He gave me a feel that he snubs even third party charities like World Vision - where a donor can write a check but not interact personally with the receiver - that donating to such is ineffective or wrong. My thought is that God has called Claiborne to a certain lifestyle - playing in fire hydrants with inner city children, sleeping in the streets with the homeless, packing up and going to India or Iraq to hug the ill or wounded.....and he is being obedient to that call, which is awesome. However, to cast judgement on Christians who are not following that exact pattern is spiritually presumptuous.

I believe God has called Christians into all walks of life, and we are to be obedient to Him wherever we are - we are to serve those around us, be examples and sources of love and grace, and to use our gifts and talents for His Kingdom. For one, that might be Iraq. For another, it could be Wall Street. There are certain challenges of being Salt and Light in either location - one could slip into self-righteousness ('oh, look how i suffer so! i must be a great Christian') or into self-dependence ('oh, look at my paycheck - i am so talented and successful!')...but the point is that it is the Lord who will direct a man's steps and inspire/strengthen/equip him for every good work which was determined before the earth's foundation was laid. I'm not sure all of us are called to play in fire hydrants 24/7. In fact, I think God has sprinkled His people throughout the world for a purpose - some are working Wall Street to underwrite someone else's ministry in the fire hydrant....knowwhatimean?

I see now where many readers of "Irresistible Revolution" have gotten their reverse discrimination worldview. What Claiborne might've intended was to inspire the Church to action - to sacrifice and to Christlikeness....but what has resulted instead is a skewed perspective on other Christians, I believe. The focus has changed from Grace and the contents of a man's heart - to one of works and self-righteousness. (IF you have slept on the streets with the homeless, THEN you are a real Christian. IF you live in poverty, THEN you are wise and I'll listen to you. IF you live in a ghetto, THEN you are Christlike. And the converse? IF you afford braces for your child's teeth, THEN you have an ungodly take on finances. IF you have only done short-term missions, THEN you shouldn't voice opinions on global matters, etc....retch)

To me it seems like such a slippery slope. We desire to have Christ's heart and mind, yet how quickly do we take works to analyze/judge ourselves and others? And once we've categorized other Christians, we reversely discriminate - only choosing to care for, love, listen to, involve with - those who are disenfranchised or who have the same level of (self) righteousness that we perceive ourselves to have. I think the bigger challenge than hugging children in Iraq or playing in fire hydrants is to daily/hourly/minutely humble ourselves, to love others, and to listen for God's promptings on how we spend our money, time, energy, gifts, etc....and then to obey those promptings. If the Body of Christ operated like that, not only would we be a "well-oiled machine" but also a phenomenal witness. The more time we spend nitpicking each other and trying to find modern day Pharisees, the more we are enslaved by the enemy who would like to see nothing more than for us to be ineffective!

Grace = need more.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pullman or PLNU?

This is the time of year we plan for next year.

Next September all of our questions will have answers with them - well, at least regarding colleges. This month Abby studies for the SATs, visits campuses, and strives for excellence at BCC. She works on her deadlines and essays and we ask questions of "those who have gone before" in hopes of narrowing her career focus. We pray and we pray about things like housing, environment, readiness and worldviews.

At this juncture it appears her colleges have been whittled down to two choices - WSU and PLNU. Both with outstanding broadcast journalism/communications departments, but one dressed in frugality and beer, and one in cost and Christianity. (I know full well that reputations aren't always 100% correct, these are just broad generalizations)

So, we are at a crossroads of decision. It is an exciting place to be!

If I were to choose today, I might go with WSU because of it's relative proximity. (5 hours by car versus 3 hours by plane....or 24 hours by car! yikes) I look at Abby and think of her being so SO far away in Southern California and it just about breaks my heart. I know our visits would be confined to major holidays only - aaaaghhh that seems pretty unthinkable from where I'm sitting now!

I'm wondering if other moms feel like I do. Had I sent her away to school all these years, would I be more comfortable with her absence? Had she been a difficult teenager, would that absence be welcomed? Will this senior year be such a time of maturing that by next September we'll both be ready for the separation? Did my parents ever feel this way? (I think not!)

Anyhow, I do not regret our homeschooling. If I were hit by a truck today, I would have been thankful for our extra hours together, and I would've been grateful for the bond we share - I would have confidence that she would have both quantity and quality of memories after I was gone. In fact, our homechooling has given me a scooch more confidence that she is rooted and grounded in the most important things, and wherever she ends up she'll be just fine! It's actually just me that might not be.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

(Psalm 139: 7-10)