Parenting


The Zuks, a Wedding, and the Rose That Changed Everything

The sunrise paints beautiful streaks of color over the Zuks’ home. Streaks of gold, orange, pink, and crimson swathe the dawn sky with a feeling of tranquility. Zyklezo, the tribe’s leader sits up and stretches. His petals are a blood red hue, and his body is grass green. He has small, strait, and delicate arms and legs. His face is made of rose petals and his features are made up of dots and lines. In short, Zyklezo is a miniature rose. He rubs his black eyes with his knobby hands, and stands. Zyklezo looks almost identical to the other members of the Zuk tribe; one of the only differences is that he is about a centimeter taller, a big distinction by the standards of the rose people. The only other difference of the people of the rose tribe is that no Zuk has the same color of petals. As he did his morning yoga which involve bending, stretching, and over all unfolding, Zyklezo thought about the beautiful rose that his tribe called home. The stem was thick and healthy; the petals were a beautiful pink with white lines twisting through them and best of all, it was in the middle of a huge garden of roses. Roses of all shapes, sizes, and colors bloomed in the field. It was bliss for the peaceful Zuks. They felt truly at home.

Zyklezo straightened. The chief of the Zuk people started through the forest of petals that makes up the uppermost part of the rose inhabited by the Zuks. He made his way to the hollowed out stem and stuck his petals in to it.

“Hak lak mekr nssd sohfls” He called. It’s time to gather the dew. Making a noise that was his way of sighing contentedly, he made his way up the rose petal staircase to the top of the rose. The Zuks would come to his call. They always did, every morning when they were called for breakfast. The dew gave the rose people the vitamins that they needed to function through out the day. Each morning they would come, eat the dew, and start their daily activities.

The other Zuks that also lived in the rose slept in the cozy tunnels burrowed in the stem of the rose. The leader of the tribe would always sleep in the top, so that he or she could protect the tribe in case of trouble. As Zyklezo reached the top of the staircase, the dewdrops came into view. Zyklezo froze when he saw the rose crushers. They had the garden tools in their hands, and they were shouting at the top of their lungs. (They weren’t really shouting, but the Zuks have very sensitive ears, so regular speech seems extremely loud.”

“Why are we cutting the roses down this time?” the tall one asked.

“The clients are planning a wedding, a big one.” The fat one replied. “It should be huge; we need to cut down a lot of roses.” They grinned at each other. The tall one started to say,

“Did you hear the proposal? They say that the guy hired-” Zyklezo needed to hear no more. He needed to warn the others, fast! Then, Zyklezo did something that is only done when there is great peril. Emitting a faint popping sound, the chief of the Zuks drew in his knobby arms and stubby legs closed his petals so that his facial features were hidden, and rolled down the stairs faster than dew down a Zuk’s throat.

“Hak dak rak bak neert! Hak dak rak bak neert! Hak dak rak bak neert!” He called, meeting in the conference room now! Distressed, disheveled, confused, but ever loyal, the members of the Zuk tribe promptly drew in their equally knobby arms and equally stubby legs, closed their petals, and rolled after him.

Once in the conference room, Zyklezo told his tribe about the “invasion.”

“Mek mak hak rak tak dak gak bak wak tredgthy howds vowds quensd.”  He told them about the huge invasion coming up, how a lot of roses would be ruthlessly slaughtered, and how somebody had hired a gunman to take them down. When the chief of the army forces, a subdued person, Zekles, asked him to be surer of the translations, Zyklezo consulted the books.

“Joh hos wic bwei sic khdsil iosj lis fh” Wedding definitely translates into invasion. The plan was made; the peaceful Zuk people had no choice but to defend their nest. The parting word of the council was the chant that all Zuk people were obligated to do before going into battle:

“We fight for protection, not glory money or fame. For the least amount of harm possible is our aim. We will return soon to our home. For far from that we never shall rome.” The night before, they had been peaceful people, now; they readied their weapons for war.

The next morning, everything was prepared. The rose guns had been loaded, and the warriors were ready. The design of the guns was that they shot rose seeds, and when they landed, a rose sprouted. It didn’t matter where the seed landed. Every seed had been coated in a top-secret growth formula. If the seed landed on a person, that person would have a rose sprout, and would even have to water it daily. If it landed on a brick wall, a huge creeping vine of roses would soon envelop it. If it landed in the ocean, there would be a surfer rose riding the waves, and doing tricks. The small guns were only to get to the satellite controls however. Once the Zuks had overridden the system, they would transform satellites into huge guns and have them all shoot at once to transform the very planet itself into a huge, blooming, rose. The “rose crushers” would all be killed instantly, and the Zuks would have a whole new planet all to themselves. Everything was in place, except for one thing, or Zuk.

Zekles, the leader of the Zuk warriors, was taking one last ride through the field before it was destroyed. He personally didn’t see any need for violence because he could understand the language of the rose crushers perfectly, and he knew that it wasn’t really a “yegd” an invasion. But, orders were orders and he had no choice but to follow them. Also, what was better than one huge rose that they could be completely safe on? This is better. He thought to himself as he burrowed down into his flowerpot. Zekles had begun to sneak out of the rose five years ago. He simply hung back when the others were eating the dew, clambered up to the top of the rose, and, using a seed gun, shoot a flower into a flower pot so that it would get picked up by the plant trolley and, sitting on top of the rose, he could see the whole field. The workers had cut some roses for the wedding, but now they were planting new ones in their place. Not that he hadn’t seen this before, Zekles had snuck out before and he had made this trip thousands of times. The trolley carried the plants that needed a lot of care; so everyday it was wheeled around the field and back. But, this would be the last time.

As he gazed at the endless haven of roses, Zekles thought about how he could convince Zyklezo that the rose crushers really weren’t earth crushers and were really good things. After a good deal of contemplation, an irrational plan came to him. It had a 99.99% chance of failure, but he had no choice except to rely on that 00.01 chance. It was time to stand up for what was right. The plan relied on one secret, the fact that the Zuk people weren’t totally a secret from the humans. There was one person who knew, a girl whose name was Zuri.

Five years earlier: Zekles was riding his regular flowerpot through the field of roses. It was considerably smaller than it is now, but it was still huge to the curious Zuk. It was a normal day, they had recently eater their dew, and Zekles had hopped on the flowerpot for the daily ride across the field. Today a girl with extraordinary eyesight pushed the cart. She was half way through the field when she saw him. Being a smart girl, she kept her head and didn’t scream. She pretended that she hadn’t seen him, and wheeled the cart into the lab.

“I’ll just check some samples she said aloud, hoping that Zekles would be fooled luckily, he was. Zekles wasn’t unduly worried. He was slightly annoyed that he would miss origami class, but he didn’t realize that anything was wrong. He did realize this however, when Zuri plucked him up and set him under the microscope.

“Interesting” she said, peering at him. Zekles was so flustered that he forgot to pretend to be an inanimate object like he had been taught to do in the What-To-Do-If-Under-a-Microscope-Being-Looked-At-By-a-Human crash course that he took in school, instead, he stood up and, calling on him limited knowledge of the rose crusher’s language, he slowly said,

“I am nothing of the sort my dame, hem hem madam! Now led me go, let me go I demand it!” instead of being scared, Zuri was fascinated. She quickly explained that she wanted to do Zekles no harm and that she worked as a gardener in the field. As soon as that was cleared up, they began chatting amicably and by the next day, they were friends. Zuri taught Zekles more English and, in turn, Zekles told Zuri any thing she wanted to know about everything. Because they were so small, Zuks could see things that humans couldn’t, so he told her about the thing that he saw.

Present: Zekles needed to contact her, now! When the trolley stopped right next to the intercom, he knew how. Zekles climbed up onto the edge of the trolley and jumped! He was able to grab the cord and, as he fell, he said through the speaker,

“Zoe, person who works in the rose field, please take the trolley from other person who also hopefully works at the rose field.” Zoe came over.

“I wonder why.” She thought to herself. She immediately spotted Zekles, jumping up and down and waving his thin arms like a crazy person. She went down on the pretense of fixing her shoe. “What are you doing?” she whispered.

“You don’t have to shout.” He said back.

“What?” she asked? “Oh, just come here!” She him picked up and plopped him on the cart. When they got to the lab, He scuttled to the microscope and went underneath it. A few months earlier, they had installed a microphone/silencer in the microscope so that both could see and hear each other more comfortably.

“There,” he said. “Zuri, the most terrible thing has happened! Zyklezo, the chief has misenterprited some workers talking about a wedding! He thought that in our language, it translates to invasion! He called a council and weapons have been made. Tomorrow we will take over the world! I will have to lead the warriors in a desperate march across the country to the NASA space station! Then, our technology will take over their system, and we will take over the satellites and turn the whole planet into a giant rose!” By the end of his sentence, Zekles had become so distressed that his words blended together in to a long assertion.

“Calm down, calm down!” Zoe protested, “What do you suggest that we do? You have tried reason with Zyklezo, haven’t you?”

“Yes!” Zekles nearly shouted in his desperation. “During the council I asked him to check to be sure because I knew that he was wrong, but I can’t contradict the chief. So he looked at the books,” Here Zekles slumped down defeated. His voice shrank down to barely a whisper.  Zuri waited patiently as he let out a huge sigh and continued. “The books, the books. They are all wrong! They say that white means black and that solid means liquid and they are just all wrong!”

“Are you just going to let it happen?” Zuri asked. There was no accusation in her voice she just wanted her question to be answered.

“I was going to, but I can’t!” Zekles answered. “It wouldn’t be right,” he continued, “to destroy something that is so beautiful. I was thinking about it on my way around on the trolley. I could refuse to fight, but there are many other warriors, I could sabotage the weapons, but I would be thrown out of the Zuk tribe, and Zyklezo would just order new ones to be made. He won’t give up until the earth is destroyed unless-”

“Unless we change his mind.” Zekles and Zuri said at the same Zekles quickly explained his desperate plan; Zuri listened quietly, pointed out some minor flaws, and softly suggested some revisions. In five minutes, they had constructed a plan that could save the world.

Zekles raced breathlessly into Zyklezo’s room.

“Zyklezo, there’s something that you have to see!” He shouted, “it’s in the field, we already have a ride.” If the chief was suspicious he didn’t show it, he silently followed Zekles through the maze of tunnels that the Zuk people had drilled in the rose.

“Zekles-” he started to say,

“No time!” Zekles shouted he was worried that if Zyklezo asked to many questions, his and Zuri’s plan would be discovered. They had made it through the maze of tunnels, up the rose petal staircase, and through the delicate walkways on top, and on to the trolley, Zuri had phase two of the plan set up, and the chief had grown impatient, he wanted an explanation, and he wanted it now!

“Zekles!” Zyklezo shouted with indignation, “What is the meaning of this? Taking us into enemy territory, not resting up for the attack! What on Zunis has gotten in to you?”

“I just thought that you should see the world the way I see it.” Zekles tried to explain. “No offense, but you look at the world through reftg eyes, you vision is cloudy.” Then, Zekles repeated an old Zuk prophecy: “Rewt huyt besd, hefd kelsd makexd, if you have dirt in your eyes, it is hard to see.” Being a reasonable Zuk, Zyklezo agreed with one condition:

“If I am not convinced, we will go on with the invasion.”

“I understand completely.” Zekles replied. I hope that this works! He thought to himself, the plan had started, and now it was time to let it unfold.

While Zekles had been working on Zyklezo, Zuri had been talking to the field inspector, Ayden. Using the power of persuasion that she was born with, Zuri convinced Ayden to inspect the field with her right now, even though the inspection was scheduled for the next month with the field supervisor. Zekles never figured out how one quick text on her part convinced the inspector to fly all the way back from Paris to California, but it had.

“I take it that this is the um… how do you Americans say it? Oh yes, yes, the special plant trolley.”  Although Ayden was strictly American, when he went on vacation in foreign places, he picked up there habits.

“Yes Mr. Ayden,” Zoe started on the tour making sure to keep her body angled towards the trolley so that Zyklezo could hear. “This is where we put the plants that need more air and sunlight then all of the others. Every day we wheel it around the field and talk to them, we believe that this helps them grow.” Zyklezo was amazed. What is this? He thought to himself. “These are the rose crushers! Why are they giving such special attention to the roses? He listened in amazement as Zuri continued:

“It is time to take the trolley around, and I really don’t want these poor plants to miss their walk. Do you think perhaps that the inspection could take place during the walk? We would go around the whole field.”

“That would be fine.” Ayden replied.

“Thank you very much Mr. Ayden.” Zoe responded “Now, to continue, this is the main rose garden. As you can see, we water our plants every day, and also fertilize with our specially made, all natural, completely safe to both plants and humans stimulant. We make this in our lab, to the left, and use it on all of our plants.” As the tour progressed, Zuri hinted all she could about loving the roses and taking care of them. By the end of the tour, Zyklezo was dumb struck.

“Meet me in my rooms after this is over.” He ordered Zekles. Then he sighed, hopped down from the trolley, and made his way carefully down the stairs. Zuri had seen him go, but had no idea what he had said, and she had Ayden looking at her expectedly.

“I’ll just straighten these blossoms.” She improvised, and then quickly bent down towards the rose that Zekles was still on. “Did it go well?” She inquired.

“I have no idea,” He replied helplessly. “But I’ve never seen him like this, the news is either good, or bad. This might be goodbye though.”

“Don’t talk like that!” Zuri admonished. “We are going to get out of this! You will convince Zyklezo that we really won’t cut down all the roses in the field! You have to help all the humans, you can’t let Zyklezo destroy the earth!”

“I know, but what will I say?”

“You know Zyklezo more than I do! I think that he was impressed with the tour, but he might need some more convincing. Just tell him the truth, that we really won’t destroy the rose!”

“I’ll try, but it might be tough.”

“You have to try, the world depends on it!”

As it turned out, Zyklezo needed no convincing.

“For the first time in my life, I, the amazing, the dependable, the faultless,” Zyklezo began, “the perfect, the humble chief of the Zuks am wrong. I have misjudged the rose crushers. The one called Zuri has taught us all a lesson.  When there is dirt in your eyes, you can’t see.” Zekles decided to not say that it had been Zyklezo that had been taught the lesson, not the other way around.

“I believe that we all have all learned many different things in many different ways oh chief.” Zekles proclaimed, “Do you think that this would be enough reason to call of the attack?”

“Of course it would!” Zyklezo shouted with indignation. “It would be wrong to attack something that would not hurt us! That would be barbaric!” With some difficulty, Zekles avoided stating that Zyklezo was about to do just that.

“Excellent decision Zyklezo,” he began “I am glad that you cancelled the takeover.”

“Yes, yes, now,” The chief began, “later we will have a council meeting to tell everyone that the invasion has been called off. Until then, go do something.”

It wouldn’t be fair or true to say that there was never another almost invasion from both the Zuks and the humans. There was one narrowly avoided mishap where the Zuks’ rose was almost clipped, but with Zuri’s help, that to was avoided. After a while, Zyklezo stepped down, and Zekles became the chief. He was truly humble, wise, kind, and the best chief that the Zuk people will ever know. As for Zuri, she worked happily in the rose field for many years, averting many an unfortunate disaster. When she retired, her son, Zachary took her place and his daughter after that. It went on like this for many years until the rose field was shut down for financial reasons. Zabrina, Zuri’s great great great great great granddaughter helped the Zuk people manufacture the rose guns into gardening tools and eventually made a very successful business out of it. As for the Zuks, their tribe lived happily for some time on their rose. Many chiefs came and went, although none quite as good as Zekles. They became more trusting of the “rose crushers” which they eventually promoted to humans, and not more than a few days went by when a young, adventurous Zuk was not sent out with a pack, and a compass to have an adventure, and come home stronger and happier than when they had left.

 

Baby Girl:  (Huge smile, sweet, open and eager squeal) MAMMA! I! WROTE! MY! FIRST! PRAISE! SONG! DOYOUWANTMETO SINGITTOYOU!!???????!!!!!

The Mamma: (Morning grimace, mutters, while making breakfast and slurping coffee like its O2 dropped from the over head compartment of a distressed plane) Sure, Baby.

Baby Girl: (Innocent and wide open) The title is, NoBudes Prfikt and I am NoBude.

NoBoDes prfikt and I am noBode.
Cume now is The time to rest
Cume now is the time to Bring
your heat. Come just as God
said thank you for
Bing such good frenas
all of you Thak you Thak
you Thak you But
remebr NoButes
Prikt evin you.

The Mamma: (Moist words, softly cries and hugs Baby Girl tightly) Amen, Baby Girl.

Hallelujah!

 

 

Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
And remember when I moved in you?
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah 
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

 

 

 

 

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content, (Philippians 4:11).

As previously posted, the promise that I can learn what Paul grasped through Christ’s strength
 and be glad in every condition stokes my GO! fire.

If interested, you may check out the entire post about my recent infatuation with Paul here.

My thoughts continue to dwell upon Paul and the masterpiece of transformation God crafted with his willing soul.

Paul proffered the young church a godly Where-Our-Thoughts-Should-Dwell-Punch-List in his thank you note to the Philippians for their ready aid when he was in the clink in Rome:

Finally, brothers,
whatever is

  • ______ true
  • ______ noble,
  • ______ right,
  • ______ pure,
  • ______ lovely,
  • ______ admirable
  • ______ if anything is excellent
  • ______ praiseworthy

think about such things, (Philippians, 4:8).

<Aside: That’s exactly how I see this verse in my head.
For me,
it uploads as a check-list,
not a sentence
or benediction.>

I would benefit from this being tattooed on the front of my right forearm where I could not fail to see it before taking action into my own hands.

Through the inspiration of the Holy Dove, Paul equips believers with the spiritual equivalent of a pilot’s preflight check-list.

Just as pilots must file a flight plan to ground control before take off, Paul challenges us to record a metacognitive, quality plan prior to thought habitation.

In other words, Paul directly warns us to responsibly plant what thoughts we allow residence in our minds as they not only germinate expectations, but self-fulfilling outcomes that directly enhance or impede our Joy.

Paul’s assurance to the Philippians that through Christ that strengthens him (representative model) he has learned how to be happy despite his circumstance (and therefore we can too) resonates with his admonishment to manage the soundtracks in our own heads.

Don’t you want that lesson plan?
Don’t you wonder
how that fleshy guy,
formerly known as Saul,
accessed such a feat of Grace?

I do!
I want Paul’s Playbook!
I wear His colors.
Put me in Coach,
I’m ready to play!
I’m ready to burn it up for You.

I imagine one of Paul’s signature plays is the Thought Sack.

I expect Paul clipped thoughts he did not want to live in his mind at the knees like a hot quarterback that needed to be shut down.

A more aggressive maneuver could be called the Thought Interception.

Such a call would be important were an unwelcome thought already in play, and one needed to catch it and run it down the other side of the field.

Here’s a sample of what such Thought Interceptions might look like:

Thought: Grr! I have to drive my son to soccer practice again!
Thought Interception: My son made the team!

Thought: Hmmph! I have to figure out what to make for dinner.
Thought Interception: We have more than enough to eat. Let’s double-batch tonight. Who can we carry a meal to tomorrow?

Thought: Snarg! I am drowning in a vile sea of filthy laundry and, if my kids throw any more clean clothes in the hamper, they can go to school naked.
Thought Interception: My washer and dryer is right here in the house, not a laundromat across town.

Thought: Spit! This bathroom sink is full of toothpaste and cereal slobber.
Thought Interception: My kid brushed his own teeth before school without a reminder.

Thought: Snarl! My kids have too much homework! Don’t those teachers respect our family time?
Thought Interception: My children love their school and want to be successful.

Thought: Huff! All they do is eat! We are out of milk and Cheerios AGAIN!
Thought Interception: My child is home, not in a PICU ward on intravenous fluids.

Thought: Ack! My husband brings his work home! He’s constantly checking his flipping iphone.
Thought Interception: In this economy, where 1 in 10 are out of work, my husband has a job he loves.

Thought: $$$! The family budget kicked us in arrears again.
Thought Interception: The only eternal currency is Relationship.

Thought: Yawn! Not tonight. I’m tired.
Thought Interception: Meow! (Kegel, Kegel, Kegel.) May you never weary of doing good nor want another.

I don’t see a way we can be like Paul and learn how to be content in all situations unless we pray for the Direction, Self-Control and Faith to reset our internal monologues. Paul’s challege to critcally manage and map our cognitive process streams is in it’s own way, like fishing:

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. (John 21:6)

As for me, I’m going to toss back every discontent idea I net.
I’m only gonna fry the fish fit to feast with Thanksgiving.
Grace & Chips.

I’ve told the truth,
I didn’t come to fool you

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song

With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

I remember as clearly as I fixated over the color of the skirt I wore my first day teaching how amused I was by the tilda eyebrows of one of my most beloved students of all times.

Her glorious brown brows wagged up and down simultaneously,
a glorious earthworm of indignation,
or perhaps incredulity
at my assignment
and too hasty Nothern vernacular.

I was so delighted by her radiant sincerity that I stopped talking midsentence,
and pointed my finger at her,
surprised,
horrified,
perplexed
and noisy eyebrows.
“Tilda!” I exclaimed amazed,
“You’re eyebrows are tildas!
Go write that down!
_one of the advantages of the bastion of my own classroom_
Happy to escape me if only for a moment,
she did and recorded
tilda (eyebrow description)
on the pad I keep by my computer.

When she returned to me more animated than she had left, a praise song of well-groomed, question-mark, eyebrows inquired without words, “Now what?”

I had always thought this student exceptionally beautiful and brilliant, but never loved her more than that day as there is something elastic and time-stamped about a 13 year-old’s ability to express herself exclusively through the subtle, arced mustaches above innocent yet wordly eyeballs.

I knew I wanted to write about the vignette and how it connected me to my own adolescence.

Alas, it was poetry never penned as our lives somersaulted from There to Here. Also at that time, my oldest was 12, not 13, and I ignorantly considered myself immune to the domestic challenges furrowed once noisy eyebrows take root in a peaceful and unsuspecting home.

The Boy can simply look at The Oldest Girl and she’s ready for combat like a grunt on juice.

As for The Mamma?
I might need to be fitted
for a bite plate,
what with all the tooth-grinding
his eyebrows inspire.

Perhaps it was the shock of the move,
or the humidity here,
the hormone poisoning,
or the salt water swims,
but somewhere between the land of There
and our arrival Here,
The Boy got him some noisy eyebrows:

 

These brows say,

“You did NOT just say that to me;

we are not amused.”

 

 

These brows ask,

“You did NOT just say that to me;

you’re a waste of good oxygen.”

 

These brows gasp in social horror,

“You did NOT just say that in front of me (and/or my friends):

You embarrass me and humiliate yourself with that mouth of yours.”

 

These brows chuckle,

<genuine laugh, giggle, hiccup),

He had these same beloved brows _then blonde_ when he was five.

 

These brows challenge,

“You did NOT just say that to me,

You want me to do/say/wear what?”

For those of you who enjoy backstory, when I was around his age, I admit that I spent precious time in furious practice to perfect the questioning-one-eye-brow lift.

If you haven’t ever seen me do it, it’s only because The Husband made me give it up cold turkey  because it so irritated him. He found the look to be condescending. Given the context of when he saw it on my face, I had to submit and repent. Ironically, it took me longer to extinguish the lift than to perfect it.

As such, it’s not that I don’t respect how much can be conveyed in a good brow lift  or its relational implications.

Like when we were kids, my brother could stand across the room and just give me the look and I was furious. Of course, he had practiced and perfected the look that was all eyebrow, by the way, and knew it made my skin crawl.

My reaction was his Payday and better than the candy bar.

Naturally, all my parents observed upon me catapulting myself across the room like a ravenous vampire toward his jugular was him innocently standing there with crossed arms and a perplexed brow.

Let’s just say, the gene did NOT skip a generation.

Now it’s The Boy,
and The Oldest Girl
just might draw first blood.

The Boy versus The Mamma,
The Boy dares a stare down against his old man
(like he could win).

And it’s all so raw,
and real,
and naked,
and intense,
without pretense
or life experience.
Painful,
funny
and oh,
furry
bittersweet.

May it ever be my boy’s elastic brows express his heart as transparently as the cross pours Grace.

May he ever feel free to test limits and find safe boundaries in our Faith and home.

May he never, ever bait his sister unto the point of death.

And however bushy, may his own tilda brows ever raise Hallelujah to the One who made Him ours.

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

750,362,957 work stops from the children
(I’m suddenly as popular with them as I was when they were two-years old)

17 boxes

7 loads of laundry

5 more damage claims
(including vintage clutch purse my mother carried at her prom)

5 more times to exercise Grace
(less than 7×70…)

4 meal cycles
(another day when it seems all the kids do is eat)

3 crying spells
(Middle Girl, The Baby and The Mamma)

2 family meetings

2 broken outlets

1 sibling mediation
(Don’t even get me started…)

1 broken garage door

1 workout

It’s a challenge not to brew overwhelm like sun tea.

I think the boxes might actually be asexually reproducing.
For all I know sexually reproducing
given the perversity of the prospect.

The discovery of damage continues to rise and each box takes 2-5 times longer than it should to process as most are so poorly packed that it looks like a boxed Goodwill donation bin.

I worked most of the day and did not accomplish half of what I had hoped.

I am seriously contemplating tossing boxes unopened into the pool as a new water sport like polo. We could host a tournament. What a great way to meet the neighbors.

Speaking of the neighbors, we haven’t seen any. We learned yesterday that we arrived not only in the “hottest season,” but also the “like Winter season, this is the time of year that people stay in and don’t come out much because it is too hot.”

This news thrilled the children who are so sick enough of each other as to consider me good entertainment. We spend lots of time together. It’s like the old days and I once again can’t go to the bathroom without interruption. It’s not a good hiding spot; they keep finding me.

A little sore and cranky, I nonetheless look forward to many things:

Like the first day I find a box without something in it broken,
the first morning no one cries,
when obligatory food no longer tastes like sandpaper,
the first room empty of boxes,
art hung on yellow walls,
familiar photos on wiped,
well lit shelves,
empty laundry hampers,
a full larder,
being able to do the splits for the first time in my life,
(I’m getting closer every day)
the first new friend,
the first visit Here from somebody from There,
a church that fits like Dansko clogs
and ready to walk this with us,
the first day of school,
being able to bench 120 pounds,
my first visit There from Here,
the first waffle as it melts pools of
butter puddles
in square pockets of yum,
sleeping through the night,
(even the Mamma regresses behaviorally here…)
and puffs of breath
that polish hope
like silver Hallelujahs.

And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Hallelujah,
Hallelujah
Hallelujah,
Hallelujah!

Pappaw, The Husband’s paternal grandfather, never threw anything away.

As a mechanic and farmer, it was impossible to convince him that what most people would consider to be garbage, let’s say the ancient, dust-covered, treadmill that wore a spider web shall and had a squirrel’s nest under the buckled belt and lived on his crowded porch.

Something of a Hoarder show candidate before that reality ever hit television, he was convinced he could use castoffs for something handy.  As he was brilliant with tools and could fix anything with a motor, this was too often true to lend credibility to any foolish soul outlandish enough to suggest he declutter things.

As an in-law and a wiper, I am certain you can appreciate the tension each time I visited the farm.  It was a front of Windex that collided with a Force of Smudge, in  other words, a complete festival of futility.

Happily, we delighted in each other and it was a constant source of banter between us. He’d complain that I don’t know how to sit still and begged me would I please stop wiping stuff and I’d chide back I’d comply as soon as he’d stop making messes.

Mutually loving and genuinely warm, it was nonetheless a stand-off.

It should have come as no surprise to me then that one of the things that journeyed home with us after his funeral was a barren stump in a dry pot of thirsty dirt.

Auntie  J insisted that we take it back with us and that Pappaw would have wanted it in our new home.

A barren stump in a dry pot of thirsty dirt.

I was touched?

The gesture so charged irony with hilarity that I was all in.

So I watered it.
Often.
and faithfully.

A barren stump in a dry pot of thirsty dirt.

And as I’m convinced only Pappaw surly believed that it would,

It grew
and grew,
and grew,
Just like The Giving Tree.

In the end, that hunk of stump propagated four planters of towering tall, vibrant trees, the same number we bore children.

As some of you know, it is illegal to transport plants into Grapefruit. I was obedient and gifted my most precious plants to dear friends as keepsakes of how our families and homes have forever intersected through living, vital, transplantable relationships of the heart.

98% faithful.

I snuck one planter across the border.

A barren stump in a dry pot of thirsty dirt.

Look!

We named him Sprout.
I claim him as fruit.
The fulfillment of a promise
there’s a place here for us.

I look at his tender shoots as fragile as a newborn next to a stump as crooked and stooped over as an centurion’s spine and see bookends.

Sprout’s our sabbatical here all new and floppy. We have to support his little head and touch him like novice parents afraid they’re going to break the baby.

Stump’s a reminder of our community and home there. His roots sink deep. He’s anchored and stable. Nothing can blow him apart or knock him down. He’s strong, established and seasoned.

He’s got a Legacy.

I was a dead bulb when you met me.

A barren stump in a dry pot of thirsty dirt.

You sent me forth more like Stump with roots I can sink deep wherever He is.

You helped me change our family tree.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

Dearest The Boy,

One score less thirteen years, three months ago, Our Heavenly Father brought forth on this family, a new born son, conceived in Love, and dedicated to the proposition that, “They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength,” (Isaiah, 40:31).

Now we are engaged in a great hormonal transition as you puberty season rises, testing whether this family, or any family so challenged and similarly tested, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that transition. We have come to dedicate our resources to insure our family creates a balance between your guidance and your correction. It is all together fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate—those resources alone we seek God to fill our stores. You The Boy, brave boy, who must struggle in the world at school and among your friends to find your space and grow your self, you, The Boy, who must negotiate your own relationships with God, integrity, quality work, your family, alcohol, drugs, sex and the turbulent myriad of feelings and hormones that compete for your attention you, The Boy, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but your parents can never forget your courage to rise. It is for us, your parents, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work, which your fight has thus so nobly advanced. It is rather for us nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be dedicated to the great task to remaining before us – to assure you of our abject LOVE, to hold the limits placed before you and to constantly, ardently and unceasingly ENCOURAGE you to wait upon the lord and heed His Call upon your life – that from these honored, adolescent struggles, we take increased devotion to that cause for which He gave the full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that their struggles shall not have been in vain—that this family, under God, shall have a New Birth of Freedom—and that our only son, of our hearts, by his own hand, for his Call shall long bless our family and this earth.

The battle, The Boy, is less important than the cause. You’ve begun to make yourself, as much a Maker as Alvin. The work will challenge you as it excites you to test limit and face logical consequences. We’re not afraid to fight beside you, our boy. We are also ready to fight you, if necessary, to hold the line.

I pray we consistently bring enough balance to our duty that you will NEVER doubt, even for an instant, how much we love you, Son. May you also NEVER even for an instant, doubt how perfectly and gloriously you were made… how fine a heart and brain you have been gifted… how witty and guided you are with words and ideas… how valued you are as a friend… how helpful on a soccer field… I could go on & on & on & on…

Most humbly yours, xo

Mamma

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

This week I was transported back in time.

Short of actual time travel, I cannot conceive of a more thorough free fall down memory lane than my preparations for our Moving Sale, Everything Must Go! impulsively blocked with the self-conscious whimsy of the opening night of a new director’s very off Broadway play.

As I tore through dressers, closets, hidden caches, and deep corners, I excavated the landscape of our family history of like an archeologist on a dig.

I found pictures
and artwork,
letters
and lovies,
treasures
and stains.

As captains, my closest circle of cherished friends surrounded me with tangible help as well as practical and emotional support.

One dear friend who walked it with me was almost constantly at my side.

Each morning,
she showed up 
with Starbucks
and proceeded
not just to the day’s chores,
but kicked my ass,
encouraged me,
cried,
laughed,
cajoled,
hugged,
teased,
threatened,
made me eat peanut butter apples,
scolded
and bid me rest
as was needed 
in turns
like stations.

The entire process underscores a gift of Words given me on wings of the Holy Dove:

The events of our lives are not randomly thrown together coincidences
cooked up by a whimsical universe,


The Stations of our lives are supernaturally architected God-incidents
crafted by a loving Father.

I don’t have a notebook thick enough to catalogue all the God-incidents of this one especially dense week of challenge and discovery.

God-incidents happen 24/7 @1623 and evermore.

Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
And remember when I moved in you?
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!

Today @ wikiHOW, the how to manual that you can edit you can find a manual about how to respect yourself during a breakup that you can edit.

wikiHow posts clean process pieces that most often employ bullet or numerical points. Additionally, their invite to edit brings out the red pen in all of us.

As I considered the advice offered to safeguard personal integrity during a breakup, I realized that with very little edits, the same bullet points could readily counsel Mammas on how to maintain self respect while rasing a teenager.

By their own invitation I offer my edits to this wikiHow post:

How to Respect Yourself While Raising a Teen

After their childhood ends, how can parents behave in a way that communicates to their teens that they are worthy of their adolescents’ respect? It’s hard because parenting a teenager is like slamming an icepick into your own ear and can make you feel you’ve failed somehow. Still, it’s important that parents respect themselves as a people and maintain their relevance in their childrens’ lives. Let’s assume you are a Mamma whose teenage son has just told you, “You always put words in my mouth. I hate you.”

  • Don’t beg.

He disrespected you. He’s already made up his mind. No matter how shocked, panicked, and in pain you are, don’t beg him for an apology, or worse yet, assurances. It’s very hard to do, but to let this end leaving you with some shred of dignity try hard not to cry too much – of course, it may be impossible not to cry. But crying a little, then saying, “I’m so sad about this, but if that’s your opinion, I have no choice but to accept it,” is much more dignified than screaming, “I am your MOTHER, you can’t talk to me like that!”

Ground him to his room sans technology and then pitch your hysterical fit.

  • Gather your supporters.

Now is the time you need your friends and family, more than ever. Call them and tell them that a large, hairy, smelly monster has eaten your precious, baby boy. They will hopefully come flying to your side to comfort and keep you company while you nurse your broken heart back to health. Don’t try to go it alone.

  • Recognize when it’s no use trying to talk to him any more.

He’s trying to not be seen as a bad guy, but the reality is, he’s betrayed you by growing up and moving on, getting hormones and texting girls who actually look good in bathing suits, and he deserves to be punished.

  • Don’t let him string you along after the fact.

He’s told you he that he hates you, but he still wants you to stop at Starbucks to buy him an iced mocha. Even though you still love him, this is a losing proposition for you. Your son wants to have his cake and eat it too – he wants to keep you in his pocket as wallet and taxi service. He’s relegated you to the position of a service provider. What an adolescent! No matter how much you love him, tell him this will not work for you, and let him know that he still has to kiss you in public, eat his peas, and say his prayers. Period.

  • Never let him see you sweat.

Once the big grounding is over with, don’t keep on letting him get to you. Even if you don’t feel like it, go get dressed up and go out with your friends. You don’t have to get drunk, or try to pick anybody up (like your son may be doing), but just to go and hang with pals is a good thing. Try to avoid going to places where you will be likely to run into him. If you do see him while you’re out, just smile and nod. If you feel like you might cry, excuse yourself and walk to the restroom. Do your crying in there, and don’t come out till you look strong again (even if you feel shaky inside, you must try your best to look like you’re okay).

  • Review the relationship.

There’s a good chance that now that your son is a teenager, you can look back and realize there may have been warning signs. Reviewing the relationship and recognizing that he gave up his sippy-cup and big, yellow Tonka trucks years ago can be valuable in later relationships for example, they can clue you in to dangerous signs of independence in your younger children, or let you have a chance to adjust your own behaviors, if you really believe you had some fault.

  • Listen to coming of age songs and stories.

It helps fill you with a positive feeling of power to hear songs like “Don’t Ever Grow Up,” and “Her Father’s Eyes.” It can help to hear other moms tell their coming of age stories, too. Just knowing that others Mammas have gone through similar heartaches can help you feel less alone. Crank up your stereo and rock out – it’ll help, too, knowing that someone wrote a song you can relate to now. You go, Mamma!

  • Let done be done.

A lot of sons grow up and realize their mothers aren’t perfect. Think of all the words that have flown out of your mouth like rabid locust, and forgive him. It will end up costing both of you fewer therapy sessions in the long run if you just accept you still belong to each other; he’s just becoming the man you raised him to become.

Pray unceasingly that he becomes a good one and try to remember this is his season.

  • Recognize that few people will respect you unless you insist.

If you don’t respect yourself, you’re giving your son the go-ahead to treat you like dirt. Don’t you dare do that to yourself! Stand up and insist that you be treated with dignity, the way all human beings should be treated. Allowing your son to walk all over you is the worst disrespect in the world.

  • Realize that you have addressed his behavior, not his character.

That puts you one step closer to negotiating how you and son will treat each other. Together you will create a compact about what behaviors are acceptable in your family. And whatever you do, never settle for brokeness.

and even though it all went wrong,
i’ll stand before the lord of song
with nothing on my tongue
but Hallelujah!

to anticipate transitional speed bumps.

My son is a rising 8th grader.  If you do the math, this means that we have transitioned from a school schedule to a summer rhythm eight years in a row.

Each year, however, I seem to forget the inevitable transition period as we shift from the full warp of school pace to the impulse speed of summer vacation.

This year our youngest also being in school and two different school calendars augmented our adjustment phase.

We collided like combustible atoms all morning, and by 10:00 a.m. I had lost my zen, my patience, my perspective and I realized that I was more frustrated than I have been in months. I teetered on the edge of spraying anger around the room like rancid silly string. Before too much maternal anghts could ooze from the can like aresol hairspray and rip a crater in the ozone of our summer launch, however, I remembered something I said to a friend on the phone last night.

Last night I was all calm and philosophical like a woman who is not outnumbered by children 8:1.  Could it only have been last night, and not three weeks ago, that mediation seemed plausible and thoughts of summer smelled like warm coco butter?

Yes, it was just last night that I had donned my educator’s cap and opined to my friend that if children come to consensus on what their needs are and commit in community to meet each other’s needs, relationships flourish and behaviors shift to support positive group mores.

Last night that didn’t register as more redolent of crap than any diaper I changed today.

I grabbed the fleeing vestiges of calm like a bolemic mines the last traces onion dip out of the bottom of the tub when there are still Ruffles in the bag and shifted gears.

I absolutely admit that the intial phase of our family exercise was a bit tense. Picture children marched to a table as pencils and notebook paper slam into their work space in churlish percussion.

All was still when I told them that we were all going to write down ten things that we needed to feel safe and supported in community.

The Middle Girl asked a question that liberated the exercise from route to heart. She inquired, “Do you mean what do I need to be able to be myself with people? To feel safe.?”

Her question reframed the moment like an engraved invitation assures the reception of the wedding will have white lines, silver flatware and crystal champange flutes instead of a pig roast.

The attention of each person shifted as we discussed her idea. Soon the only noise in the room was the sound of pencils as they fox trotted across the ballroom of each page.

The results:

I need…

1.   to have my voice heard

2.   to be able to trust the other person

3.   to not be made fun of

4.   to share jokes

5.   to resolve arguments

6.   to love and be love

7.   to be respected

8.   to know the other person likes me for me

9.   to know that they care

10.                 to have good times

I need…

1.   people to be honest with me

2.   people to not put words in my mouth

3.   people to be nice to me

4.   them to be a good friend

5.   them to understand me

6.   them to be listen to me and think about what I said

7.   them to be fun be around

8.   them to be not mean

9.   them to be careful with people

10.                 them to like me

I need…

1.   to know that I am can trust them

2.   to know that they will treat me with respect

3.   to feel safe and safe and happy with the person, them being nice

4.   to know that they will always be there for me

5.   to feel safe with the person and knowing will always follow through when I ask them so I can count on them

6.   to feel free to be myself around them

7.   to know they will always be my friend and be loyal

8.   people to be kind

9.   know they will not tease or be mean to me

10.                 to trust they will never be mean just because it’s popular

I need…

1.   to feel included

2.   food

3.   God

4.   Freedom

5.   Courage

6.   Love

7.   You

8.   Justice

9.   Kindness

10.        People to be careful with me

I need…

1.   to feel considered, that my feelings are important to others

2.   to feel heard, that what I say matters

3.   I need to feel appreciated, that I bring value

4.   to be able to have fun

5.   to be able to contribute

6.   to know what to expect

7.   to know it’s not all about me

8.   to feel loved

9.   to laugh

10.                 to be able to take breaks

The ages of the speakers of these needs range from 5 (The Baby) to 187 (The Mamma, calcuated by the MyTrueAge formula like used on The Biggest Loser.)

Who knew we had so much in common… like we were related even!

There was genuine accord and group consenses that we all operate with the same basic sense of needs. The kids made their own novel and insightful connections that fractured the axiom that the majority of unhappiness in life is relational as a new truth for the next generation.

We committed to respect and meet each other’s needs.

Our communication extended relational hospitality and a vocubulary common to each other’s process.

It was not the beginning I expected for the first day of our summer vacation together, but it was the one we clearly needed.

I know this by its fruit.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!


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