Friday, July 31, 2015

Reality: On Shots and Pee Cups

Today was Solomon's five year check-up at the doctor.  I failed to mention to him that it was going to result in some shots.  I know there is a debate out there about whether or not to do shots and whether or not you should prepare your kids for said shots should you choose to partake in them.

This post isn't anything about that.  This post is about the most hilarious story in the history of ever. So, prepare yourself...

Nearing the end of the regular appointment, no one had used the "S.H.O.T.S." word, and the doctor was headed out the door and said, "Great to see you today.  Just wait here and a nurse will bring in the...well, you know."

Solomon's eyes got huge and turned to me when the doctor left.  He said, "What?  Who is going to bring what?  What are they bringing in here, Mommy?  Mommy?  Mommy?"

Me: "Well, Solomon, a nurse is going to bring some medicine so that you can stay healthy."
Solomon: "Oh, OK, Great!"

Nailed it.

Except that in walked the nurse carrying an empty cup.  She said, "Actually, we are going to need a urine sample before going on."

I laughed, as this was going to be the S man's first pee-in-a-cup experience.  I hope anyway.  I know he hasn't done it for medical reasons, but he is a boy, so he may have peed in a cup before at some point that I thankfully do not know about...


I said, "Come on, Solomon," grabbed the cup, held his hand, and headed toward the bathroom.  When I closed the door he looked at me and said, "What are we going to do with that cup?"

I said, "Well, you have to pee in it."


Solomon: "What? I have to what?"
Me:  "You have to pee in it."

He turned white as a ghost and looked up at me with wide eyes and said, "Mama, is THAT going to be my medicine?"

When I tried to tell this story to the nurse, I couldn't make it through that line.  When I tried to tell this to my mom on the phone on the way home, I couldn't make it through that line.  When I got home and told my husband, I still couldn't make it through that line.  And now typing, I couldn't make it through that line.

"Mama, is THAT going to be my medicine?"

Poor guy.

I had told him the next lady was coming to bring him his medicine, and the next lady brought him that cup.  So, obviously, guys, whatever was going in that cup was clearly his medicine.

The lucky part about the whole thing is that after that, he barely made a peep about his ACTUAL shots.

I mean, things could have clearly been worse than THAT medicine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Reality: Dear Solomon

Dear Solomon,

Five years ago today marked the day when you were born.  We had lost a child in a complicated adoption world, experienced the death of our first child in utero, and were convinced God was telling us that kids were not a part of His plan for us anytime soon.

Then, there was you.

Many believe your name means "wisdom," and while King Solomon was gifted with wisdom, his name actually means "peace."  Before Solomon was born, King David committed a grievous sin with Bathsheba and bore a child together.  When Nathan confronted King David with the law and his sin, King David repented, but with this sin came the loss of that child.  He mourns this loss greatly and speaks the undeniable and joyous truth of, "I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."  Such great comfort has been given to my soul with those few words from King David's mouth.  For our first biological child will not return to us, but we shall meet again.  Following this tremendous loss in King David and Bathsheba's lives, God gifted them with Solomon.  He gifted them with peace.

This is how you got your name, our son.  And while we know that real peace is only found in Christ, we are thankful for the many and various ways God gives earthly peace to our hearts.  You are that, our son.

So, to you on your fifth birthday, peace, son.  May you always know what your life did in that moment for us and continues to do every day God blesses the world with you.  Being a person who was adopted, there will be trials you will face that others do not.  But never for one moment do I want you or anyone else to think that God didn't have a plan for what your life would do in this world.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made, knitted in your birthmother's womb, and given to us.  You were planned, as every single child is - not in the minds of mere humans but in the eternal knowledge of God.  All this was with purpose and meaning.

Every life, no matter the length, circumstances, or worldly success, has purpose and meaning.  Every life is one for whom Christ died on the cross, bringing real peace to the whole world.  You are one of those lives, son.

You, our son, are a gift from God.  Today we thank Him for the plan He had and has in your short-but-going-too-fast life.

Your Mom

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Reality: The Loss of our Pew Mom.

Three years ago this week, my husband had just been ordained and installed, and I found myself alone in the pew with two boys under the age of two.  As I walked in that first week after the ordination, the nerves were flowing.  I made my way up to the fourth pew, a close enough seat for the boys to see but still a buffer from their daddy pastor.  I was thinking to myself, "I hope I don't sit in someone's seat that has been here for 55 years...I hope my kids don't scream the whole time and try to run to daddy...I hope I can make it through this and possibly still hear the sermon. Heck, I hope I don't start crying at this very moment."

As I turned into the pew, a woman from across the aisle stood up and came towards me.  She said, "Would you mind if I sit with you?  I thought you might like someone in the pew with you with those little boys.  I wouldn't want you to be alone."

And so my relationship with Miss Betty White began.  She flew in that Sunday morning like an angel sent to sooth the fears of a pastor's wife with littles in the pew.  For the next three years, with barely a failure, she sat there in that pew with us.  She didn't judge me when they threw fits.  She didn't get discouraged when they inevitably were rude to her about something.  She brought them a little snack bag each week.  She held them on her lap.  She acted as a bookend on the pew when all they wanted to do was escape.  She sang the songs of the faith boldly into their ears.  She held them while they slept.  She held their hands while taking Communion.  She welcomed our new daughter and greatly anticipated our upcoming blessing to join us in that crazy pew.

A woman who had spent her whole life in the church chose to leave her pew, even her beloved SIDE of the church, to venture into a territory unknown with small children.  A unmarried woman with no children of her own found value in aiding me, a woman with an abundance of children.  The family of the church is so beautiful.

Last Sunday, the churches threw a surprise ordination anniversary dinner for my husband.  She walked up to me and said, "I know this is for your husband, but I want you to know it is for you, too.  I love you and the kids so much.  We are so happy you are here with us.  You and your husband are two of my favorite people in the world.  And I mean that."  I was so humbled and honored by her words.  The woman who went out of her way for three years to make me feel included and loved would say this to me?  I needed to say it to her.

I couldn't have known and neither could she what those words would mean to me just a few short days later.  Miss Betty, our "pew mom," as the children refer to her, died unexpectedly this week.  The ache in my soul is great.  The empty space in our pew will be vast tomorrow and every Sunday to come.

During our breakfast devotions this morning, we told the kids.  They have never lost a grandparent, and this is the closest they could come to that type of loss.  Since they are all very young, death is still a relatively unclear subject.  Our oldest said, "Miss Betty died?"  We said, "Yes, Honey.  Miss Betty died and is in heaven with Jesus now."  He just stared for a few moments, and we decided to go on with our prayers.  Today's prayers were focused on our extended family.  When I finished listing the prayers, he quietly said, "And we pray that we get to see Miss Betty at Mt. Calvary again."

My heart broke.

But we will see Miss Betty again, my dear son.
And we get that joy because of what happened on the original Mt. Calvary.
Until then, our dearest beloved Miss Betty, we will be missing you, while rejoicing in knowing that with all the company of heaven, including you, Saint Betty, we are joined at Holy Communion.

And I will smile thinking of you holding the hands of our children during so many Sundays of Communion.  You will hold their hands again, my friend.  I love you.  I miss you.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reality: When the black church burns...

Back in the height of the Civil Rights Movement, our small black church called a pastor into their midst.  This man was white, like many of their pastors over 115 years have been.  Within a few weeks, a cross was burning in the parsonage yard.  The details of what followed are not important and unnecessary for me to share.  

The point is fire and the church means something real to black Christians in the United States.  

It would be ignorant for us to ignore such an historical and violent truth - black churches were burned all over our country because of the color of the skin of those who attended, white people who loved and supported the people in black churches found crosses burning in their front yards simply because they would not comply with the notion that black people were worth less.

In the past couple weeks, there have been eight fires at southern black churches.  None of these fires have been ruled "hate crimes" (whatever that means, as any fire started intentionally by a person is clearly due to some sort of hate...), but all of them are still being investigated.  Many out there in the social media world have a tendency to act as though it makes a difference whether or not the powers that be designate these as acts of racism. 

The fact is that whether or not they are organized acts of racism does not change the impact on the black community and black churches.  

It is impossible to take away the memories of what has transpired over our tumultuous history.  You can't erase it and think it won't impact people later.  This is not some post to talk about the pros and cons of reparations or affirmative action or any other form of trying to make a level playing field or paying back for past hurts.  

The truth is there is no paying it back.  

The point here is to encourage people to see that even if a lightning bolt started the fire, a black congregation cannot watch their church burn without the memories of what that meant to them and their parents and their grandparents.

Can we stop the lightning bolt?  Of course not.  But we can honor the memory and support those who are hurting as they watch their place of worship be destroyed.  And most importantly, we can stop coming up for reasons why this isn't racism.  

"Could be a black person just trying to get people riled up about racism again."  
(Yes, I may have read the comments section under a news story...forgive me.)  

And what if it was a black person?  Perceived racism is just as hurtful to a community as actual racism.  It still creates fear, hatred, animosity, uncertainty, and a need for revenge.  It still divides.

And yet again, for the people watching their house of worship go up in flames, the cause just doesn't matter very much.  Our society is at a perfect storm moment between heightened acts of racism and a general hatred for the church and what it stands for.  Our black brothers and sisters in Christ are hurting.  

Our pastor, who I happened to be married to, has a line he uses in many of his sermons (I am not nearly as eloquent as him, but this is my best shot) - "Sin divides while Christ unifies; where Satan and sin would have us be separated on all levels - from God and from each other, Christ brings us back to the Father and to each other."  

There is no repaying for burned churches.  There is no repaying for past sins.  There is only Christ.  In Him, we are unified.  And because we are unified in Him, we fall to our knees with them as we watch our churches crumble and pray, "Lord, have mercy."