Thursday, May 31, 2012

The question he shouldn't have asked on the hospital tour

We went on the tour of the hospital where we will be delivering our baby when it's "go time" in a few months on Tuesday night. There were about 40 other people in our tour group, moms in various stages of expectancy with their partners tagging along to get the lay of the land. As we waddled through the hallways, our tour guide/nurse was showing us where to park, where to check in, where to do the paperwork to pre-register, what to bring with us...all the things we would need to know on the big day.

Standing in one of the birthing suites definitely made it hit home that this is really happening. One way or another, this baby is going to come out of me, and this was the spot where it was going to happen. I looked up in panic at S, looking for comfort, and he smiled at me, and grabbed my hand to squeeze it reassuringly. He even kissed my forehead when he noticed a few minutes later that I was still pretty tense, which was very sweet of him.

The nurse took questions from the assembled crowd to cover anything she might not have covered. Other members of the group asked "How many people are allowed to be in here with us?" (Answer - as many or as few as we are comfortable with...) and "Do we need to bring anything special with us?" (Answer - only if we think we need it for comfort, but they have everything we need there...).

Everyone seemed satisfied with the information, and prepared to go. It was at that moment that I noticed a devilish grin forming on my dear husband's face. He glanced at me, then at the TV in the room, back at me, and then, to the TV in the room, and before I could stop him, he asked the nurse, "Do these TV's get the sports channels? She's due on opening weekend of football season and I don't want to miss the game!"

All of the guys in the room chuckled and smiled, but the ladies...well, let's just say, I got pitying looks. I can only imagine what they were thinking, "She's married to one of those guys." The nurse tried to laugh it off, and said she would look into that for us.

Truth be told, it's my fault. I had conversations with S about what we were going to bring to the hospital with us, and told him that we would pack his iPad and my Kindle so we had things to occupy us, but that he was NOT going to bring his X-Box. In the week leading up to the tour, S kept teasing me that he was going to ask if the hospital had their own X-Box's for dads to use "in case they get bored". I made him SWEAR that he wouldn't ask that question and embarrass me in front of the other soon-to-be parents, and reluctantly, he agreed.

So, technically, he didn't ask the forbidden question, but I guess I should have been more clear....

(Let's face it...I love him for breaking up the tension with humor! One of the many reasons I love him is that he always finds a way to make me laugh!)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thoughts on Memorial Day

Admittedly, I live in a bubble. I like life in my bubble. It's happy here. There's no conflict here...or at least none that can't be solved with a heartfelt apology and a hug. Everyone treats each other well and no one is out to cause any real harm.

I know that "real life" is nothing like my bubble. I purposely limit my time watching the news because it breaks my heart to see how badly humans treat each other. It scares me to know of the evil that is possible, and lurking...sometimes, much closer than I care to recognize.

My husband, on the other hand, lives on the outside of my bubble. He's is fully aware, and on high alert. He is in constant protection mode. It's actually one of the things I love about him. He worries enough for the both of us.

One of his favorite things to do is watch war movies, and usually, I either beg him to change the channel or go to the other room to read while he's doing it. However, this weekend, he encouraged me to watch a few with him, in honor of Memorial Day. We watched Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, and Heartbreak Ridge. Watching those movies made me feel very blessed and caused me to reflect a lot more than I usually do about the character and sacrifices made by the military.

I truly can't imagine the courage that it took to be one of those men (or women!) that fought. I can't imagine stepping out into a battlefield, with very little hope of coming back home in one piece. I can't imagine witnessing the violence and destruction and hatred and chaos that took place in each and every one of the wars that has been fought and our being fought for this country. I can't imagine watching your friends fall, and having the bravery to get up and continue marching on towards the shots being fired at you. I can't imagine having to return to "regular life" after being a part of that, and ever being able to act normally again.

Today, I am grateful for the men and women who have that character, courage, bravery and honor. Today, I am grateful that they have risen up time and time again to protect me, my bubble, and the millions of other people that live blissfully free and unaware of what that type of conflict is truly like. Today, I am grateful that I can sit safely, in my home, and write words without fear of repercussions. Today, I am grateful that I can enjoy the company of my friends without fear of impending violence. Today, I am grateful for the fact that I can go to bed at night knowing that my family, despite being out of my arm's reach, are all safe and sound.

My prayer for today: Dear God, please keep the men and women that are serving this country safe and protected. Please provide them comfort and peace in times of fear and loneliness. Please provide them courage and bravery, when most necessary. Please let them know that they are loved, appreciated and respected, more than words could ever say. Amen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Are the seeds worth planting?

We never know the impact we have in someone's life - and sometimes, despite our best efforts to stay in touch or to help someone, we lose touch or they fade away.

In the past six weeks, I have had several people contact me via Facebook or text that I hadn't heard from in AGES - and it did my heart a lot of good. It encouraged me to continue to matter how it appears to be received at the time. Sometimes, the seeds we plant will take years before they bear fruit, but that doesn't mean that they weren't worth planting.


Jon Acuff wrote in his blog yesterday about an experience he had recently where he had been on the receiving end of this kind of effort.

Loving the unlovable.

Sometimes the hardest part of loving people is that you don’t always get to hear the whole song.

You reach out. In a time of need or hurt or maybe even hope.

And you get pushed away.

You get chased away.

You get shoved away.

And you wait and you help and you stand in the storms of life with someone, and you feel like you are throwing a ball against a wall. You can’t tell if any of it matters. If your words or your actions matter at all. You think about giving up. You feel called to be salt and light, we know that’s printed in red, but sometimes in the space between hours and arguments, it’s hard to feel that way.

You keep loving. You keep hoping to see a change, not because it’s all about change, but because that would at least be a crack of light under the door.

But the light never comes. The door is never opened, even a little, and then they disappear. Not dramatically, maybe. They don’t float away on a hot air balloon or in a fast car. The ebb and flow of life just drifts them away. You feel you’ve wasted your time or maybe their time or everybody’s time.

They were so eager to blow things up. So eager to sink their own ship with bad, easy-to-spot decisions. The bridge was out ahead. You saw that a mile away, but they ignored you and kept driving. So unwilling to stop the car until it had hurtled deep into the valley of regret.

You forget about them. Or, mostly, you forget. A year gets stacked on another year and stacked on another year, until that person becomes one more person you reached out to who didn’t reach back. One more person you helped who ignored your help.

That’s the hard part about loving someone. Sometimes we don’t get to hear the whole song. We get to be a verse or a single lyric in someone’s journey, but the song doesn’t resolve. We watch relationships fade into the horizon, not really knowing if we’ve made a difference.

But sometimes, in moments that are so comical you can’t help but laugh, God plays the last note right in front of you.

That’s what happened to me three weeks ago.

I was a mess in college. There’s no need to dress it up with stories or adjectives. I was a mess. And in the midst of that, a guy named Dave Waller reached out to me. With no agenda, and at no benefit to him, he was kind to me. Time and time again as a student minister, he reached out to me at Samford University. And then I disappeared back to Boston and never saw him again.

That was 14 years ago.

Three weeks ago, I spoke at the Orange Conference. When I walked off stage, someone said, “There’s a guy at the edge of the crowd that wants to say ‘hi’ to you.” I walked into the dark of the room, passed the soundboard, and against the security barrier…

…there stood Dave Waller.

He laughed. We hugged. (I did a much better job with that hug than I did with my on-stage Reggie hug.) We caught up for a few minutes and exchanged phone numbers.

That night, Dave texted me. Here is what he said:

“Hey Jon. It’s Dave Waller. I’m so proud of you. All I think about was the last time we went to lunch, and you were so hurt. And frustrated with life. To see you now is awesome.”

I don’t know who the Jon Acuffs are in your life right now.

I don’t know who you are reaching out to that is just a jerk right now.

I don’t know who seems oblivious to your kindness right now.

I don’t know how you are helping someone who seems blind to your help right now.

But I do know what I’d say to you right now:

Don’t stop.

Don’t give up on people who have given up on themselves.

Don’t quit just because it seems hopeless.

Fourteen years ago, Dave Waller didn’t. In the last lunch we ever had, I walked in a mess and left a mess. Dave had better things to do. Things that would have shown more immediate results or progress or improvement. He could have given up, because it’s not easy. Sometimes we don’t get to hear the whole song.

But sometimes we do and, in dark arenas in unexpected moments spanning a decade, God reminds us why you and I have got to keep singing.


So, my $.02? It's worth it to plant the seeds, start the song, begin the dance, make the effort... Who knows how things will turn out? The only thing we know for sure is that if you DON'T do it, nothing will happen. If you DO, there's a chance...and that makes it worth it, every time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Books I Love

Lately, I have been drawn to reading memoirs - and have found some that I absolutely love. They all seem to have a similar theme: humor...mostly, the self deprecating kind. They come from all walks of life - and have very different experiences, but I have enjoyed each of them, immensely.

I've loved to read for as long as I can remember. I can lose myself in a book - and only remember to look up hours later. I love the power books have to transport and transform. I love the perspective I can get into the lives of others, and on my own, after learning a little bit about what it's like to "walk in another man's shoes".

If the only book you've heard anything about these days is Fifty Shades of Grey, and that's not exactly up your alley, try one of these! I'd love to hear your thoughts on them, too!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Good reminder from Joel Osteen

We went to see Joel Osteen on Friday night at the BJCC - it was a "Night of Hope", and it was exactly what the doctor ordered. He had a lot of things to say, but one of the biggest things that I took away from the night was to be grateful in ALL things. When it looks the darkest, when it gets the toughest, when we are the most sad, when the hill looks the biggest, when no one seems to be on our side - THAT is exactly when to dig deep and find a way to be grateful.

Sometimes, it seems like there is nothing to possibly be grateful for, but it's really just a matter of changing perspective. There have been days where the only thing I could be grateful for is that the day only has 24 hours in it, so that I didn't have to endure the heartache I was feeling one more minute.

These days, life is pretty darn good. As my therapist keeps reminding me, I literally have everything I have ever wanted. It's easy for me to be grateful (when I remember to!): I have a husband that loves me, a baby on the way, a house to keep me safe, clothes on my back, friends that lift me up and entertain me...and so much more.

When life is this good, it's JUST as important for me to take the time to take stock of my life and NOTICE that things are so darn good. I don't want to miss it...and I might need to draw on these good times when I am struggling again. The only thing I am sure of is that life brings changes - always, and that there will always be something to be grateful for, if I remember to look. When I am in the inevitable tough spots, I can be grateful for the experience and that the circumstances are temporary, and for the relief that I know is on the way if I can hold on long enough.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's all...or it's nothing...

My attitude towards pretty much everything in life falls into one of two categories: all or nothing.

I either exercise to the hilt, logging many miles on the treadmill...or I sit on the couch and watch 4 hours of NCIS.

I either put away every single penny I earn above paying bills in savings...or I spend every spare penny on it on splurge purchases.

I either answer every email in my in box...or let them pile up by the dozen.

I either stick my diet, to the letter...or go face down in a vat of cookie dough and/or ice cream, until it is all gone.

I either launder every item of laundry in my hamper...or let them take over the entire closet for weeks to the point where the closet stinks too much to enter without a gas mask.

I either return a phone call right away...or let it go for weeks, until it's too embarrassing to actually call without having some sort of hospital stay to blame the lapse on.

I either write every day, diligently...or let days and days lapse with ideas churning in my head, without getting them down anywhere.

Moderation is something I have heard about, read about, seen in movies...but I lack any real experience with it. I heard said at a meeting recently: "Balance is something I rush past as I run from extreme to extreme." I related to that more than I care to admit.

My greatest wish for the next year or two is to experience satisfaction in imperfection. On Tuesday, I didn't have the usual 45 minutes that I usually like to devote to the times that I do get on the treadmill - I had 24 minutes. I was very proud of myself for not throwing in the towel, and deciding not to do anything - instead I got on the treadmill, and walked slowly for 24 minutes. For the rest of the day, I felt like a champ - I didn't do it "all", but it was better than "nothing".

I am going to try to look for more opportunities to do that. Would it be better to put $100 in savings than to blow all of it because I can't put in the $500 I was hoping to? Duh. Could I feel better about my closet if I did one load of laundry today? Yup...something is better than "nothing". Is every blog post I write going to be the modern day equivalent of Aristotle? Probably not. Is writing something better than "nothing"? Absolutely.

What could you do today in moderation that would make life better than "nothing"?