Sunday, June 19, 2016

Steps With My Father

According to my baby book, this is a brief and unusual rest while hiking through a tea garden in Sri Lanka.
Always, for as long as I can remember, I've been running to keep up with my dad.

He has two speeds, and one of them is "Asleep". The other can only be described as "Borderline Manic".  There is so much of the world to see, and his long legs always seem to be going.  He did track and cross country only in high school and college, but he never really stopped running.  

"Dad... Slow down!"  I said this while we were exploring Beijing at age three, hiking in Pakistan at age six, searching for elusive snow when I was nine, walking through under the scorching Jordanian sun at age twelve, and now I still say it.  And the funny thing is, I've taken on the same habit.  People say I walk quickly.  They have no idea.

My hand in his, jogging, looking up at him all out of breath.  This was the view of my childhood.  There just was no path he didn't want to explore, no door down an alley he didn't want a peek behind, no landmark -- regardless of how random -- he didn't want to see.  And the rest of us... Well, we just had to keep up. 

Sometimes it drove me crazy.  But now, when I think about all the places I've been and things I've seen, I feel so grateful.  Not everyone can say "My dad gave me the world" and mean it so literally.

My dad is no saint, and I don't think he would appreciate me painting a portrait of him to that affect.  But here is what I can say for sure.  

He taught me to love good stories and telling them well.  In high school and college and in my first attempts to publish, I always had him read my writing first, because he had the best critiques.  I don't do it any more, but it's only because I think he has ingrained in me what he would say.

He always assumes the best about people, even when I wish for the love of all that is good in the world that he wouldn't.  I think sometimes it causes problems for him, but it never seems to change his perspective.  It kind of amazes me.

He demonstrates hospitality in the way I think it is meant to be -- not necessarily stylish place settings and the most beautiful furnishings, but always the attitude of "the more the merrier"".  No one is a stranger to my dad.

He knows the Grace that covers his life.  The other day my phone rang in the wee hours of the morning aft a really rough night of kids waking me up.  I have "Do Not Disturb" on, but I know that he always keeps track of time differences. I trust that if he's calling during sleeping times, it's important, and I allow calls from him.  This time it wasn't -- just a "butt dial".  Dad apologized profusely, and I laughed and said, "It's okay.  I'm sure you owe me a lot of middle-of-the-night wake-ups."

Dad answered by saying, "Not keeping accounts!  I'm always reminded on a constant basis how gracious God is to me!"

But speaking of middle-of-the-night wake-ups... When we found out we had to leave Bangladesh, it was like an earthquake that shook my whole world.  I knew it wasn't the easiest place to grow up, but it was what I knew best.  I couldn't imagine anything else.  For several nights, I found myself awake in the early morning, when it was still dark.  I'd go to my parents' bed, and Dad would get dressed, take my hand, and walk with me as I talked out my fears.  Finally, when I was exhausted enough, we would go back and sleep for an hour or so before getting up to face the day.  

In recent months, with so much changing in my life once more, I've been waking up in those frightfully-early morning hours.  And I wished so badly I could go and talk to him, walking through the darkness till it becomes light again, till I'm finally tired enough to rest.  But I know he's out there praying for me, and even if our steps in the dark aren't quite so literal, he is still "there". 

And the biggest lesson my dad taught me is loving big... huge.  He's crossed oceans with me and for me.  He's given me what he couldn't afford.  Like he said, he doesn't keep accounts.

I remember when we lived in Bangladesh, and there was the terrible flood of 1988, he and my mom went through the countryside distributing food.  There was such devastation, and I was glad he and my mom could go and help in such a tangible way.  But when he came home, I saw his sad expression.

"Didn't it feel good, Dad?  Helping all those people?" I asked.

"Oh, Joy..."  His voice broke.  After a pause, he continued,"There were just so many.  We had food for 500 in each place we went to.  Well, what happens when the 501st family comes and you're out of food, and they say to you, 'We've been out of food for two weeks, they've only been out for two days.'  What do you say then?  How do you explain yourself?"

I had no words.  I still don't.  Sometimes I lose sleep thinking about it.

But I know this.  I will always be running to keep up with Dad.

Monday, June 13, 2016

In the Midst of the Craziness...

Life feels a little crazy right now, doesn't it?

Last week, we had several appointments and lots of move prep, and then I made a trip to the ER with Wyatt on Thursday night.  Thankfully he's okay.  This morning the move prep continues, while Annalee is on day 3 of a fever.

But then there's the news.  The terrible news.  Every day it's something.  There's so much hatred in the world.  Sunday morning's tragedy leaves us reeling again.

I can't put into words everything I feel right now, so I'm leaving it up to people who are much better at writing than myself.  Here are some good links worth reading.

-- With the regards to the massacre:

This really spoke to me, because I get so frustrated by how everything turns into a political debate or social media rage.  Something happens and everyone feels the need to start weighing in with opinions.  On Sunday morning, a horrible tragedy happened.  Can't we just stop and mourn?  Can We Still Weep Together After Orlando?

This from We Are That Family: It's a Sad Day in America.  "I don't know what we're going to wake up to any more."

-- I shared this on my personal FB last week, but I think it's a good reminder of what we need to be teaching our boys.  Ann Voskamp is such a strong writer.  About Those "20 Minutes of Action": 20 Things We'd Better Tell Our Sons Right Now About Being Real Men.

-- This post Excuse Me While I Lather My Child With This Toxic Death Cream was written by someone I went to boarding school with.  It's something that really speaks to how scary it can be to try to mother these days, and how most of us are honestly doing our best.  Unfortunately, Sarah received some negative backlash (along with lots of positive affirmation!).  So she wrote this follow-up which is also good.  People think they can say whatever they want from behind a screen...

-- And finally, I really liked this post from The Shine Project's Ashley LeMieux, #Unfollow Evil.  I mentioned The Shine Project in my post on Small Business Saturday, and Ashley's blog is also great.  As we grieve, let's not let hatred win and grow more anger and violence.

I hope to check in with a post later this week, but in the meantime, have a good, peaceful day.