Saturday, May 28, 2011

Who Says..?


I was out in our garden earlier this evening (which is looking fabulous, by the way). While I was watering and fussing with the tomato plants (training those branches through the tomato cages is tricky work sometimes), I started thinking about Selena Gomez. I know that's a big mental leap to take, but I'll help you make the arc over safely.

The reason I was thinking about Selena Gomez had nothing to do about her Disney show, Wizards of Waverly Place. Rather, I was thinking of her song, "Who Says" that I heard a few weeks ago and immediately downloaded for my running mix...ahem, I mean for the kids.

Anyway, this poppy and sugary song has a delightful hook that sucks you right in as she croons, "Who says...who says you're not perfect...who says you're not worth it...etc. You get the idea. Even her rapid-fire, "na na na na na's will suck you in....I kid you not. Even Rylie who rolled his eyebrows on his first listen eventually got taken in on one of his stints as Daddy DJ in our family van. It sticks in your brain.

So, anyway...fast-forward to an hour or so ago as I was working with our tomato plants. As I was marvelling at the transformation of two bare dirt plots into a thriving green lush garden and savoring the pungent tomato smell coming from the succulent plants, I started humming "Who Says." I realized that I had been thinking about how I defied my own preconceived notion that I had a black thumb and attempting a garden would be utter folly.

I'm so glad that I didn't let my past bad experiences with indoor plants keep me from trying to work with them outdoors. I would never have been able to step back after some therapeutic work in my garden and feel that amazing sense of accomplishment I so often feel when I realize...hey, I'm growing my own food!!

Our garden on 5/28 -- about 7 weeks after planting it

If I would have let my doubts about my own ability to effectively garden win out, I would never be able to run outside and cut some fresh cilantro for our salsa, or pick some basil leaves for pesto. I would also not be able to see the joy and the dawning realization of where food comes from on my chlildren's face. It's been so fun to have them run out there first thing and then come running in to report to me how big our tomatoes are getting. My second born is great in the garden. She will tell me if a plant is wilted (although she says floppy) so I can give it special TLC.

As I was thinking about Who Says, I arced over to last weekend and how amazing it was to run my fifth race -- especially since if you would have asked me ten years ago (or even 4 years ago) if I would ever consider myself a "runner," I would have cracked up laughing. Seriously. There was not a running bone in my body. I didn't enjoy it in high school and didn't think I could ever do it consistently.

Again...I'm so glad I didn't let my own notions of what I can and cannot do hold me back from trying something new. And, if I hadn't been inspired and challenged by my sister and got out there and tried it for myself, then I would have never met and gotten closer with some pretty amazing people. I also would have never pushed myself to both my mental and physical capacities and came out stronger for it. I wouldn't trade my running experience for anything.

Me and Gina -- I met her last year via running. I can't imagine not knowing her!

So many times we struggle with labels that people have put on us over the years. "You're the quiet one. You're the outgoing one. You're the one who did that thing that one time. You are really good at...., You probably shouldn't do ....., because it's too...." etc. etc. etc.

I think we've all been there to some extent. However, I often think that we struggle more against the bonds of our own "I can'ts," than the ones others place around us. How many times have you been inspired or challenged to do something, but decided against trying it or investigating it because you're sure you would fail or maybe what we feel is worse -- be mediocre. So rather than try and fail (and perhaps hear an "I told you so..."), we end up staying in our safe status quo.

My husband, Rylie, is the son of two very creative people. His dad is an amazing musician and is pretty amazing at engineering and fixing items. His mom also plays guitar and is an amazing artist. Rylie is also highly creative. He enjoys writing (although he doesn't have a lot of time for it), and he admires woodworking, but he hasn't been very confident in his handyman skills.

About six years ago, he got inspired to build an arbor in our backyard that would serve as a sort of covering/shade for our back sliding door. When we originally moved into the house, the back got intense afternoon sunlight making it miserable to be in the back of our house. So, he poured some concrete and put in some metal supports for beams to start the arbor.

Then life happened. It was a combination of things really. We had another child. Then another. Then another. Rylie wasn't sure what the next step should be. He just wanted to relax on the weekends. By the time summer break rolled around, it was too hot to be outside working on it. Over time, the trees along the fence line grew and provided some needed shade and heat relief. The kids became adept at dodging around the metal "knives" (as my terrified parents referred to them) sticking up in the lawn.

But then something happened. My husband got inspired. He believed he could do it...or at least attempt it. And so he bought the rest of the lumber he needed. He bought bolts and saw blades. He read through the Arbors & Trellises book that started it all. He consulted with friends. And he got started. Now a few weeks later, the "knives" are no more. Instead we have beautiful redwood stained posts in their place and a great start to what will be both beautiful and functional.

Learning as he goes along. He's proud that he was able to notch the boards in together.
So, what's holding you back from trying that thing that you've always wanted to do? Maybe it's not even something you've ever considered doing, but something that sounds like a challenge or just plain fun.

The next time you are confronted with an opportunity to try and that little voice in your head tries to discourage you and trots out all your past failed attempts, just take a line from Selena Gomez and tell that little voice,

Who says...?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

No Man Knows


I'm just plain dumbfounded today. Admittedly, I'm not as dialed into current events as I probably should be as a contributing part of society and our culture. I don't wake up and turn on the morning news. We don't subscribe to the local newspaper. I'm lucky if I can read my email some days -- responding to it is another matter entirely.

So, it's not really a surprise, I guess, that I have not been really following the predicted Apocalypse for today, May 21st. I heard a murmur or two about it earlier in the week from a friend. But, it seems like there is always someone hailing the end of the world and claiming to know exactly when it it will occur. So, I didn't give it much thought.

However, it's become more and more pervasive in postings on Facebook (okay...it's sad that I get my "news" from Facebook, I know) and "on the street," so I thought I would just take a gander at Yahoo News and see what all the fuss is about.

I am completely astounded, stupified and yes, horrified too. As I have read the news stories of the people who have given up jobs and sold their earthly goods to "get ready to be raptured," I am in stunned disbelief. Now that the appointed time has come and gone, these poor folks are having to pick up the pieces of their broken down livelihoods and try to figure out how to start over. It's criminal. It's crazy. And, in my opinion, it's completely irresponsible!

I never had a moment of doubt that the Rapture would not happen today. In fact, I knew it wouldn't -- it would be impossible actually for it to occur. How did I know that? The answer is simple: I know my Bible.

Found in the "gospel" books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), you can read scripture that deals with the end of this world.

I'm going to quote from Matthew 24: 36-44:
“However, no man knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.

“Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left.  Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.

“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected."
I'm no Bible scholar. I didn't major in Theology. But, this seems pretty clear to me. "No man knows." And since Mr. Camping predicted today to be the day, logic and reason would dictate that it could not be.

What's even more distressing is that many Christ-followers were caught up in this circus and experienced fear and anxiety and distress about the idea of "losing everything" today. It breaks my heart that people who are supposed to know better, seemingly don't. The Bible is everywhere. You can find it in every hospital, most hotels, bookstores and even online. And if you have an iPhone, there's an app for that...probably hundreds of Bible apps actually. There is no excuse to be ignorant of what Jesus himself had to say on the subject. There is only a lack of discipline and laziness.

In this day of easy to access information, pre-packaged meals and "sound-bites," we've forgotten how to actually do the hard work and research for vital information. Sometimes we get so used to relying on our pastor, women's leader or spiritual mentor to tell us what we need to know. However, that only leads us to what happened today. A group of well-intentioned God-loving people relied on a human being to get their doctrine on the End Times. It didn't work out so well.

I fervently believe we all need to muster up the needed discipline to read our Bibles and know what it says. If we don't, and we do not teach our children to do the same, I fear what will happen to us and what we will allow ourselves to believe and to become and where we would be willing to be led.

It doesn't cut it to say, "well, __________ told me. And so it's his/her fault." We have all been given minds to use and the exercise of having to turn to God's word for what He has to say about something is good for us. It sharpens our sometimes culture-numbed brain.

But beyond the discipline arguement, more importantly, I think we need to know our Bible out of Love. When you love someone, you want to know everything there is to know about him or her. You will go to great lengths to know their story. To know what he/she believes and why.

It's no different from loving Jesus. If you truly love Him and follow Him, then you should want to know what He and His father have to say about things that are vital to our very existent. It's not just duty. It's devotion.

And if you don't know where to look, it's okay to ask someone or several people, or do a Google search and read some commentaries. But, you always need to go to the source and see if it adds up to scripture.

This is not a dress rehearsal. This is real life. I would hate for anyone to miss out on truly living because they were afraid of dying.

The Bible also says, "Perfect love casts out all fear." (1 John 4:18)

Not only was I not alarmed about the rapture happening today, I did not fear its coming. I love God and I know he loves me. Although I adore my family, I know this earthly home is not my ultimate home. The thought of seeing him face to face today or any day actually fills me with joy and not dread. For me, "to be absent from this body, is to be present with the Lord." (2 Corinthians 5:8)

I do know that some of Mr. Camping's followers yearned for today to be the day for that precise reason. Tired of the sorrows and stresses of this life, they long to be away from it all and in God's presence. I think it's okay to be weary and yearn for Heaven. But, I also believe that while we're here, we have work to do on God's behalf. I would hate to leave it undone because I spent all my days wanting to be somewhere else.

I guess for me, it all boils down to trust (as do most things, I am finding). Do I trust in God's love for me, his perfect timing, and his omniscience?

I do. All the above. And so for me, May 21st was the day after my third child's 4th birthday. It was a day that I took my nephews to Pump It Up and watched them bounce around like crazy, and one where I watched my eldest daughter play softball. It was another day that God gave me on this crazy, beautiful earth. I lived it.

I didn't see Jesus face to face today. But I spoke to him...and told him that I'm ready for that day whenever He is.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Best Mom Ever

My mom on the Disneyland carousel. 2009.

My mom turns 60 tomorrow. That's a pretty big number. Yes, it's a lot of years. She'd be the first to admit to that....hence her reluctance to "celebrate" this year on her birthday. But, it's also weighty. Full of signifance. Heavy with memories. Pungent with dreams realized and hopes placed to the side.

Today my mom attended the funeral of an older woman from our church. When we spoke on the phone afterwards, she told me that she learned so much about this lady at her funeral. And how much she wished she had known these things when she was alive -- what amazing things they had in common.

I've always thought it was a terrible shame that so much of what people truly think and feel about a person isn't shared until a funeral. Wouldn't it be preferable to hear those funny anecdotes and heart-warming tales people have to share about you when you're living, rather than watching it from a box seat from the heavens?

With that thought in mind, I thought that I would try to convey all that I feel about my mom at this historic milestone of her life while I have breath to say it, and while she has ears to hear it. After all, none of us know what tomorrow may bring. May we never have the regret, "I just wish I would have only told her/him...."

This is going to sound so trite, cliche and preposterous. It will, but it's no exaggeration. It's the plain, simple and honest truth.

I have the best mom...ever!

Sidenote: I know all of you with moms out there are perhaps questioning my claim -- having a wonderful mother yourself. I will concede that there are many such amazing moms out there. However, since this is my blog and it's MY mom that's turning 60, you'll have to go with me on this one.

Do you know that mother that Hallmark cards praise so glowingly, that inspire soldiers and sailors to tattoo "I ♥ Mom" on their arms, the one portrayed on the Campbell's soup commercials with the steaming bowl of warm soup waiting for you on a cold winter's day?

Well, that's my mom.

Notice, I did not compare her to Donna Reed or Mrs. Cleaver. She does not walk around in full-skirted dresses and kitten heels around the house as she scrubs toilets and makes gourmet meals for dinner.

Actually my mom is as comfortable in jeans as she is in a skirt. She'd choose flats over heels most any day. While we were always fed well as children, she would be quick to admit that she doesn't enjoy cooking very much. Although she kept the house tidy and clean, she's not overly fond of housework.

So, you see, she's not a stereotypical "perfect mom" -- if even any of those exist.

But, she still the BEST mom.

Why, you ask?

She may not know how to cook a souffle (or have the inclination to do so), but she knows how to whip up the perfect batch of brownies with her grandkids. She has a pantry full of mixes and goodies that are on-hand for when they frequently spend the night. She and my father have been known to take as many as 7 of them on at one time -- just the two of them.

She may not enjoy scrubbing toilets, but she is quick to jump in and help when one of the kids needs a diaper change (yes, even the poopy ones) or has a potty accident.

She may not enjoy wearing high heels, but she's quick to get her flats on and out the door should any of her family members be in distress. (In fact, she just might run out the door without shoes at all!)

My mom does not have a selfish bone in her body. She will constantly give, and give, and give to people and then turn around and ask her daughters how it is that they got to be so thoughtful -- never realizing that it has been her example that has led the way.

She will apologize for saying something that might have been hurtful, and you'll have no idea what she's talking about. She would never want to grieve or hurt anyone. Most times, her perceived slights don't even register on the "Offense-o-Meter."

She says yes to so many things -- maybe things she should say no to. We, her daughters, have to police ourselves not to ask her to help/do/come over so much because she so rarely says no -- it's probably not healthy. ;)  So, we have to say no for her.

When she does say no, she feels terrible. She never wants to let anyone down.  Ask all the "sales/charity call" people who have my mom down on their call lists.

If you've ever wondered if there is a mom out there who is always loving and complimentary to you, never yells or raises her voice in anger, offers food whenever you stop by, calls you "just because she misses you" even though you live in the same town and you saw her yesterday, takes your colicky baby or difficult child for the night so you can have a break, praises your success and consoles and encourages you in your failures, prays for you aloud and in her heart, listens to your dreams and thoughts without derision or giving too much advice, always wants people to feel missed when they're gone, takes you out to lunch on her (even though you are now in your 30s), comes over to babysit and leaves your house cleaner than it was when she arrived, makes your friends feel like welcomed members of the family, and loves and gives to people so much you almost wish she wouldn't so much for fear of her heart being broken.

If you've wondered if that kind of mom exists, I can tell you most certainly that she does.

Her name is Katie Bruton.

No, she's not perfect. She's so much more.
  • She's traveled all over, but hates stepping on an elevator.
  • She has two daughters, but considers herself also the mother of two sons (and often takes their side ;)
  • She has eight grandchildren, but is a "grammie" to so many more.
  • She is a second-grade Sunday School teacher, but has taught many, many others.
  • She's a doting wife, but also an equal partner in her marriage.
  • She loves The Arts, but doesn't feel like she is very good at any of them.
  • She'll drop anything for a friend, but wouldn't want to inconvenience anyone to do the same.
She never forgets a birthday, but wishes that people would forget to remember hers.

So, now you know why I cannot let this wonderfully amazing, somewhat awe-inspiring succession of years come and go without pausing to say what I will say someday (God please let it be a far, far away someday) at her funeral.

It's because I have the best mom....ever.

Me and My Mom. Carousel 1974.