Month: October 2013

Belonging

Now that my family is scattered, and Tim is gone, I really treasure all those old family pictures. In the 70’s and 80’s, Tim and I did what most families did; we dressed ourselves up and gathered in front of a pull down backdrop at an Olan Mills Studio. The backdrop selection was so slim, it wasn’t uncommon to go in your neighbor’s house and see a large framed photo of their family, arranged just like yours, in front of the same backdrop.
As our kids got older and moved away, it got harder to get them all together at the same time. And that was especially true during the 5 ½ years Daniel was in prison.
Every prison has an assigned photographer who, for a small fee from the inmates commissary fund, will snap a quick Polaroid. But Kelly and Dan lived out of state. And inmates tend to wear funky clothes. So those pictures weren’t usually the hanging on the wall type.
 
But all during Daniel’s time in prison, Tim and I were determined to do whatever it took to make sure he still felt like a part of the family. So we attached those awkward prison photos to our Christmas card and we moved on.
 
But by the forth year of Daniel’s sentence, I really wanted a family photo where Daniel didn’t stick out. Where we could look as natural as possible, so I came up with a plan.

 

Kelly and Dan were home for Thanksgiving, and after a bit of convincing, I got everyone to agree to my scheme. Dan was the most apprehensive. Especially since my plan involved all of us dressing in “prison blues.” 

So, on a chilly November day, the four of us went through the usual pat down. Stunned, all Daniel could seem to say was, “This is so cool.” When we marched to the photo station we arranged the chairs as if we were in our own living room. Then we smiled from ear to ear. I went back to our seat with my Christmas card worthy picture tightly in 
my hand.

 
 
We all have a need to feel we belong. And families are the greatest place to have that need met. As we head into this holiday season, as parents, we have the opportunity to lead our loved ones in extending the grace necessary to build bridges.

 
Jesus did it for us on the cross, so the least we can do is pass that grace on to those we love.
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Betty White

I seem to be one of the few women my age who’s not the least bit impressed with Betty White. Maybe I’m an old soul, but I like the idea of older women and men acting their age. Kind of the way my grandparents did.
In this picture my grandfather is in his sixties. Thirty years younger than Betty White and around the same age Mick Jagger is now.
About four years ago, I sat with a group of friends watching The Who perform their 60’s hit, Pinball Wizard, at the Super Bowel half time show. All I could think of was what if my grandfather was up on that stage prancing around.
Having been an eyewitness to the sixties, even as a kid, I wondered what the rock stars would do when they got old. I wondered if Paul McCartney would join an orchestra. Or Mick Jagger a choir.  I never imagined they’d still be up on a stage strutting their stuff.


But watching Betty White spew out a stream of sexual innuendo unsettles me. Watching her hang all over men a forth her age really gets on my last nerve. She’s over 90 years old. Is that all she has to offer?

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think a lot of young men and women today are longing for the baby boomers to grow up. I even hesitate to type those words. But I think it’s true.


In the past few months several young women have asked me to write this. They told me how they long for good role models. They want to pick our brains for advice on staying married, raising teenagers, and getting old.

But they also said, the baby boomers are still too busy. Still in pursuit of “me” time. That we’re still trying to rock and roll.

We can’t stop it. We’re getting old. But it doesn’t mean our lives diminish. God still has big things for us to do. But He did tell us to put away the childish things.

Now don’t get me wrong, I want to stay young at heart. I want to continue to do many of the things I’ve always done. But I also want to mature. I want to act and dress my age. Must our pursuit of eternal youth so obsesses us that we leave young women and men behind?
Maybe it is time for the baby boomers to get off the stage. Maybe it’s time for us to take our seat in the audience, and just enjoy the show.

A Fact I Can Grow Old With

The day after I wrote this post, while out riding in North Carolina, I over shot a turn, ran off the road and fell off my motorcycle. Now, I didn’t crash the bike, I came to a stop across an uphill incline and couldn’t hold it up.
Rattled and frustrated, I wiggled myself out from underneath the massive machine. My fellow riders, scared out of their wits, pulled over. After they lifted up my bike and checked to see if I was okay, they stared at me. I felt I’d ruined everyone’s day.
But even with a sprained ankle and twisted knee, all I wanted to do was get back on and finish the ride. Despite a loss of confidence, I managed some of the toughest twists and turns of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
 
Confession: I did cry when I called Daniel during lunch
Over the last two weeks, in slow motion, I’ve relived every moment of my fall. I started to question my need to wrestle fear to the ground. I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t retreat to a rocking chair and take up some gentler hobbies.
For some reason, I’m wired to push the boundaries of my physical capacities. I hate to be left behind. I hate to miss out on what everyone else is doing. And I never want to come in last. 
Some of the roads we traveled
But maybe it’s time to reevaluate some things.
So after some serious introspection, I’ve come to the following conclusions:
1.  I need to better understand what I’m able to do. So maybe I ride motorcycles, but I put in more riding time before conquering roads like the Blue Ridge Parkway. And when I do attempt those roads again, I allow myself the permission to fall back from the crowd. I don’t always have to keep up.  
I made all 290 of those turns
2.  Fear is my biggest enemy. Knowing that tends to cause me to ignore fears I should pay attention to. I can allow myself to forego an adventure if I’m afraid. It’s not a testimony to a weakness if I just say, “I’m scared.” People will still like me even if I don’t go along.   
3.  I’m too focused on being a burden to others. I underestimate my family and friends devotion to me. Just because I stumble, or fall down, doesn’t mean I ruin everyone’s day. My loved ones adore me even when I come up short. And that’s a fact I can grow old with.