Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Good Year

A Good Year

This past weekend Steve and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

This has been a good year.

I think about that word good. Our English language tends to overuse and cause words to become benign. Adjectives so common and so banal (nice, pretty, cute) that we don’t even realize we use them. They become the catch-all words when we don’t know what else to say or use; they are safe.

A good year.

But this isn’t a safe or common description for us. Getting married at forty-something and fifty- something wasn’t a safe thing to do. We both took a risk—one that neither one of us ever thought about taking again. Our year together has been anything but common.

We have had one fight this past year and it was a hard one, but there was communication afterwards, and the resolve was beneficial to both of us—we learned about ourselves and each other. In this year we have laughed with and at each other. We have worried about each other, teased each other and pushed and challenged each other. We have cried together, we have prayed together, studied together and taught together.

We have loved each other.

Mutually.

Equally.

Together.

It has been a good year.

In the Gospels during Jesus’ last Passover week he is anointed by a woman. There are questions and comments concerning this woman’s reputation and possibly her motivation. She takes a risk. And Jesus declares it a good and beautiful thing.

Various versions translate the word differently. There are two words used for good in the Greek language. One is agathos and it means morally good. Righteous and upstanding. Jesus, however, uses a different word to describe what this woman has done for him. He uses kalos.

This word means good, but it has other layers. Other nuances. It means winsome and lovely and beautiful.

This is the word I would use to describe our good year.

It has been lovely. Winsomely good—achingly so.

Someone asked if we had a good anniversary day. The answer is yes we did, but what was so incredible about the day was that it was much like the other 364 days we had spent together. There wasn’t this sudden interest and heightened sense of romance or expectation. The car door was opened for me, but, you see, that happens for me every day. My hand was held wherever we walked that day, but that happens daily. We sat next to each other in our booth for our anniversary dinner, but that happens when we go out to the local Mexican restaurant here at home. We did exchange anniversary gifts, but we did that several weeks ago and we talked about and chose them together.

A delightfully, remarkably ordinary day together.

It is this beautiful, daily together life that made our first anniversary so good (kalos) for me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

21 Things I Love

She will be 21 tomorrow.

My second daughter.

She is my ray of sunshine.

Hard to believe—and yet, I remember the first time I held her in my arms as if it were yesterday. She came so quickly—this tiny little girl. White hair and pale, pale skin and enormous blue eyes. She was my smallest—weighing far less than the other three. But she has made up for it. She is still tiny, but she packs a powerful punch.

Happy birthday, dear girl!

21 Things I Love about Katherine

Her enormous green eyes
Her infectious laugh
The twinkle in her eye—usually means mischievousness is nearby
The way she looks at a child
Her in-your-face attitude
Her idealistic nature
Her fearlessness
Her funny little dance
Her compassion toward those who are hurting.
Her style
Her desire to NOT conform
Her longing to do the right thing—even when it is hard.
Her enthusiasm—it is usually contagious.
Her charisma—hard to resist
The way she holds a baby
Her guarded vulnerability
Her endless supply of lip gloss
She is easily moved to tears, but not by sentimentality
Her fingers on the guitar strings
Her love for her sisters
Her passion—intense and often furious—sometimes even random.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Goads

Our friends had an incredibly important event approaching. They are foster parents and a court hearing was set concerning the future welfare of a child they have fostered almost since birth. Their hope is to adopt—for this child to be a permanent, legal child in their family. And all of us who do life with them have the same hope.

On Sunday night before church the mom called me and asked me to pick up a photo book at Wal-mart for the court date. The photos needed to be picked up before 9:00 p.m. Let me tell you, I was in the car and there before I was out the door.

There were, however, several other things going on that night. Youth group. Bible study. And we were also going to another couple’s house for dinner. An easy dinner. We were eating with friends—the kind of friends that you don’t worry if something spills. You don’t care what is on the menu, really. You just want to sit around the table and talk, laugh, and do life together.

But Tamera slipped into a zone. Now, those who are reading this and know me might, perhaps, understand this. I had a mission. I wanted so much to “do” something for our friends who had this court date. I wanted to get that photo book, because suddenly that became crucial in my mind.

After bible study I rushed to see if youth group was over. I looked in the room and a whole group of teenagers was sitting in a circle, lights dimmed, heads bowed.

In my focus on my mission I almost barged in and interrupted their worship. I almost became a squall in the midst of their peace.

Frantically I made plans for someone to drop my daughters off at the house where we were having dinner. Then Steve and I got in the car and flew to Wal-Mart.

We jumped out and walked quickly into the store. We got through the front doors and were just a short way into the entrance when I felt Steve gently pull me back. I looked up confused. I tried to continue walking, but he kept trying to slow my pace.

He looked at me. “Slow down.” He said. I was even more confused and by this time starting to be a little irritated.

I continued walking at my break-neck speed. And he slowed down even more. Now, you need to understand, my husband is 6’3” and I am 5’5”. His strides are a lot longer than mine. We came to a complete stand-still in Wal-Mart.

“Tamera, slow down. We have until 9:00; it’s only 7:20. We’ll be okay. You are running way ahead of yourself. Just slow down. Be still.”

Interestingly, my husband was not just talking about my pace. He knew my mind was racing.

Galloping.

He wrapped his arm around my waist and held on to me. If I wanted to walk with him, I had to slow down.

I stiffened. The rebellious Tamera who lies latent started to rise. Inside my irritation and defensiveness grew, but I reluctantly slowed my pace. The outside of me had slowed down, but the inside was still running. I bristled because I had very gently been chastised. Steve was simply the tool the Spirit used that night. I didn’t want to be chastised. I didn’t want to be reined in.

We got to the photo counter only to discover the order that was supposed to be done and confirmed at 3:00 was not right. We had to wait while they corrected and completed the order.

And wait.

And wait.

Ten minutes felt like an hour.

Now, as I write this I am laughing.

A little while later we dropped the photos at our friends’ house. We visited for a few minutes, and we got a short time of connection.

Then we went to dinner.

We weren’t late.

I was exhausted.

I was exhausted from trying to run ahead.

I was exhausted because I attempted to turn a simple task, given to me to bless and aid a friend, into a crucial element in their whole court case.

We get exhausted when we try to save the world by ourselves.

We get exhausted when we move at a break-neck speed to accomplish some seemingly important task.

We get exhausted when we attempt to bear the full weight of everyone’s problems.

Oh my, how important and indispensable we make ourselves feel sometimes.

In his wisdom, my husband tried to slow me down. He was attempting to help me. I resisted. Now isn’t that something? Sound familiar?

My defensive rebellion reared its ugly neck. Steve’s voice was calm and even. There was no chastisement. No judgment. He just wanted me to slow down. And he knew that more than anything my mind needed to slow down.

You see, I am a “fixer”. When someone has a problem, dilemma or in pain I want to make it better.

We can’t hear God speak when we are in that state. We miss his direction and his guidance when we are “kicking against the goads”. I used to wonder what in the world Jesus was saying to Paul. What in the world is a goad? I still am not quite sure, but I know this: that night I was kicking against the goads. I was stiffening against Steve’s sage advice. And against the Spirit's underlying whisper.

You see I mistakenly believed this task I had been asked to do was so important and so crucial—I was thinking far too highly of my role in the whole situation.

How often have I been moving forward at break-neck speed and the Spirit has gently checked me? Sadly, I have reacted to Him just like I reacted to Steve.

I have argued, “But I am doing something good here.”

“I understand, Tamera, but wait on me.”

“But it has to be done immediately. I have to do this now.”

“Tamera, my timing is never wrong or off.”

“But if I don’t do it, who will?”

“That’s my concern.”

“But…”

“Tamera, stop with the buts.”

“But…”

“Tamera..."