Should You Stay Or Should You Go?

My son had a little friend over the other day and during their long ambling conversation about dinosaurs, peanut butter and jelly and who’s-dad-is-stronger, their bathroom habits came up.

I was in another room when I heard Judah exclaim, “You mean, you can wipe yourself?!?”

My son was thoroughly impressed. In Judah’s eyes, this ability sets apart the men from the boys.

Honestly, it really doesn’t take much to amaze my kid – his favorite food is corndogs, so he’s not exactly qualified to deem anything noteworthy.

His taste might not be very discerning but he makes no apologies for being tacky. My son’s world is raw and unfiltered and he hides nothing. Every thought, feeling and impulse he has is on display.

And here is the shark “attack”. Pure poetry.

Me.… well not so much. For instance, not a ton of people know this, but I have a very goofy side. I like to send my sisters ludicrous messages and text pictures like bespectacled dinosaurs and shark attacks that I’ve made out of punctuation and symbols. I love being silly when its least expected.

I don’t always show that ridiculous side right away (or at all with some people) because my deadpan expression and my naturally intimidating eyebrows tend to confuse people if they don’t know me very well. They can’t tell if I’m kidding, mocking them or slightly unhinged.

This is the dinosaur I sent to my sister.

It’s important to know your audience and sometimes the group in question just won’t appreciate the sarcasm, i.e. my grandma and small children. I find no joy in leaving the people I love flummoxed and offended, so some things are better off left unsaid.

Then there are the things that go unsaid because you’re afraid. Will you be shunned, judged or will someone’s opinion of you be so altered that you can’t go back to the way things were?

With little kids there are few “no-go” zones. Right now, my son sees no problem with stripping down to his birthday suit in public during the summer if he’s too hot. He has no qualms about jogging to the bathroom and announcing, “I’ll be back in a minute, I have to poop!” as he huffs by. He doesn’t know that singing and dancing down the cereal aisle of Safeway is not a social norm.

But as we all know, things change dramatically as we get older. I have experienced and known others with plenty of “no-go” zones. Try to get to the bottom of an offense and instead of working it out, it’s glossed over and deliberately forgotten because it’s too uncomfortable to share those feelings. Ask about something difficult from the past and you get crossed arms and pursed lips. Attempt a deep conversation and you’re met with sarcasm and joking to deflect any emotions that creep in.

I’m not talking about rudely prying into peoples’ business, I’m talking about really understanding each other, what experiences have shaped us and knowing how to survive difficult seasons together.

When we mark those zones as impassable, I believe we are missing an opportunity to grow and experience lasting authentic relationships.

I think that’s why Jesus told us to come to him like a little child. He wants us to approach him without fear, with a sense of wonder and fully expecting to be adored. We are cheating ourselves of a full relationship with him otherwise.

What about regular people? Yes, people are flawed and won’t receive you with the same perfect love that Jesus does. We are unpredictable and hurt even the ones we love. While I would never advise a person to bare all their secrets to someone untrustworthy, it’s also important to remember that there is a certain amount of pain that goes with human relationships and if you’ve found people that love you enough to work through it, go there with them.

It’s not always easy to find friends that will go the distance with you. But you can get through a painful situation strengthened and secure when you decide that love and trust are the goals and Jesus is your guide and mediator.

Angie Derrick 9/27/2012 ©

Advertisements

What Do You Do When You’re Put On the Spot?

I was recently asked an interview question that was intended to test my prioritizing and organizing prowess, but when I first heard the question it felt needlessly random and diabolically complex. It was like: “You’ve got a pizza in the oven, a one-eyed bandit is at the door and three bears are on the roof. So which raccoon gets a cookie?”

Well, that’s not really what they asked, but for a second, it felt like it. I sort of froze for a moment. I’m sure I looked calm, but inside I was like, “Whaaa?!?”

I did manage to pull myself together pretty quickly and answered the question.

The questions in this interview were actually really good ones. And they didn’t ask odd questions just to watch me squirm, I just felt put on the spot.

It reminded me of how I’ve felt so many times when my faith is being tested. Someone asks me a difficult question about God, or I have to make a decision for my family where the outcome is uncertain, or maybe I just am not sure what my response to something should be because there isn’t a commandment or clear scripture to tell me what to do.

Faith has this now-or-never kind of feel. It’s like when you were a kid getting ready to jump on the merry-go-round at the park. You’re giddy and nervous hoping that you’ve timed the moment and the trajectory perfectly to hurl your body onto the whirling platform.

When you do, it’s exhilarating. I remember loving the feeling of spinning until the lines between nausea and delirious laughter were as blurry as my view.

But you have to stick the landing. Because if you don’t, then you are in for a collision that will most certainly result in an ungraceful splat.

In my experience, faith in God often feels the same way. You see what looks like a hurricane of questions, obstacles and emotions spinning before you. And even though your mind and body are telling you to wait for something safe, your heart is telling you to run towards it.

It’s that on-the-spot moment. Do you freeze or do you jump? Faith in God makes that leap trusting that in the middle of the chaos He has provided a place to land. It trusts that he has the right words, a good answer, and a perfect plan for you. Yes, it’s frightening. No, you don’t know how banged up your knees might get.

But in the end it’ll be worth it and you’ll be that friend on the twirling merry-go-round that is happily shouting, reaching out your hand for others to make the leap and join you.

Angie Derrick 9/21/12 ©

How to Love Wild and Crazy

My son was screaming at the top of the stairs this morning, his shock of straight black hair in horn-like tufts, dark eyes pinched in a scowl. He was crouched down and naked, shouting at me to help get his jammies back on. Only six thirty in the morning and already “Mowgli” had his undies in a bunch….figuratively speaking, of course.

This boy is something else. He wrestles with his dinosaurs while singing Disney songs. He gives his animals names like “Dangerous” and “Jesus”. He is temperamental and intense. He loves horses and loathes green peppers. There is nothing middle-of-the-road or easy-going about my four-year-old son.

We’re still working on thinking before screaming and “using his words”. For instance, some children simply tell their mommies that they don’t like their dinner. My son, however, will throw his head back and yell, “I HATE THIS MEATBALL! I’m never EVER going to eat it!!”

To him, unpleasant dinners are a personal affront.

Things have improved and there have been fewer “Give me liberty or give me death” type rants at the dinner table, but change has crawled along at a glacial pace.

He is nothing like my daughter. His older sister was a compliant and sweet little girl. She made me look like Mom of the Year.

My son does not. In fact, I’m pretty sure that when people see him in the grocery store shouting at larger ladies that they have big butts or pitching a fit about donuts, I’m guessing people assume I left him to be raised by wolves.

This child has bruised my pride, makes me laugh, loves me fiercely and overwhelms my soul. He forces me to rethink everything: parenting, relationships, myself. I’ve had to ask myself a lot of tough questions. I have been challenged by this little boy whose grenade-like personality keeps me wondering what will be left of me when I pull the pin.

But I want to know him and understand him. With my daughter, I knew I could take her anywhere, she would eat anything and she always did what she was told. With my son, I’m constantly considering a myriad of factors that could make or break his day.

I have had to put myself in his little shoes quite often and try my best to imagine how truly odd, frustrating, exciting and new his life must be. How surreal it must be to live in a place where nearly everyone is twice your size, new experiences and change happen daily and your tiny body is always too small for your oversized zest for life. I don’t want to simply chalk up his bad behavior to being a brat because as untamed as his temper seems at times, he also loves just as wildly. Yes, kids are sometimes just naughty and often they just want what they want. But I want to understand what makes my boy tick so I can empathize and delight in his little world with him.

I’m glad to report that he is more often than not, a fun, well-behaved kid. But his stubbornness and reckless emotions have most definitely pushed me to my limits. I have to admit, there have been days that I’ve relished evil daydreams about leaving him at home with the Disney channel on, a giant bowl of goldfish crackers, a case of juice boxes and then madly peeling out of the driveway in my sensible gray sedan leaving stress in a cloud of smoke far behind me. Honestly, the only thing that has kept me from strangling or completely ignoring him during chaotic seasons is being prepared.

I prepare myself with prayer and bible time. I read articles and books about parenting little boys. I ask questions, share my frustrations with people I trust, I lean on my husband and don’t try to figure everything out on my own. I don’t just hope that my son will be loved and turn out well, I plan for it. And even though  I’ve done all my homework, and listened to every guru, I place it all in God’s capable hands and trust that He will inspire me, lead me and fill in every gap I’ve unwittingly left open.

My son isn’t the first and he isn’t going to be the last person that will challenge me. There will always be a relationship that requires more energy and preparation than others. Some people are hard to understand, many fail us habitually and some are just difficult to love.

Choosing to pursue and fully love my crazy boy has opened a new door for me. I find myself more sympathetic, more patient and generally more ready to delve into the work that loving people can be. If we just ignore or punish people for being more complicated or needy than we’re used to then we’re writing a lot of people off, including ourselves.

It’s not easy and I have a lot to learn, but I trust that God will bless my efforts and give me exactly enough joy, strength and energy to get through. When my son places his soft dimpled hand into mine and he tells me with warm brown eyes that he loves me, it reminds me that these moments are the reason I press on.

Angie Derrick 9/20/2012 ©

Strong Like Samson

Dinnertime at my house growing up was always the best time of day. Mom would make some sinfully delicious meal oozing comfort and butter, but my dad’s stories were always the showcase of the evening. I remember my dad telling my siblings and me stories about his childhood and somehow he could share the most disturbing incidents from his life with humor and without a trace of anger or resentment.

He told us about how he ran through his neighborhood as a little kid and tripped and fell on jagged shards of glass and slashed his soft belly. He had a smooth, raised scar like melted plastic right beside his navel to prove it. It was about six inches long and as wide as one inch at the thickest point. His parents were dirt poor and rather than take him to a clinic, they poured gasoline on the wound to cleanse it.

I remember hearing this as a child absolutely horrified that anyone would do such a thing. It was barbaric and nonsensical – didn’t everyone know you’re supposed to go to the doctor for things like that? Didn’t they know they were hurting him?

But my dad’s parents did all kinds of things with little regard for his life. With no thought to the kind of person they were developing. They beat him, they emotionally tormented him. Things like locking him up on Christmas day for some insignificant offense and turning a deaf ear to his screams to be let out, his desperate promises to be a good little boy and his day-long sobbing.

Yet somehow, my dad always had us laughing. His retelling of his life was animated and full of hilarious impersonations and audacious details, but his suffering was merely a footnote. The way he recounted these tales, you almost forgot that a tender young child was being broken as the story unfolded.

I understand that now that I’m older. I also realize more and more that my dad’s resilience was extraordinary. Many who survive a childhood as painful as my father’s end up drug addicts, victims of chronic depression or turn into abusers themselves. My father was nowhere near perfect, but you would have never guessed that he lived through so much hurt.

He was so strong, so confident despite all the things that threatened to finish him. He was born that way, just naturally solid, even before he knew Jesus. But rather than rely on the inherent strength that sustained him for so long, he readily gave that all up for the love, power and effectiveness that he gained through Jesus.

I struggle with that….a lot. I’ve never suffered quite like my dad, though I’ve had my share of ugliness and misery. But I don’t give up my power as easily as he did. Instead I find myself being a lot like Samson in the bible, living off of God-given strength, using it as I please and congratulating myself on my cleverness.

I know that it will not bode well for me if I leave this pride unchecked. Samson reminds me of this.

One of the saddest verses in the bible comes from Samson’s story. He had long taken his strength for granted and began to believe it was all his. Then in his most foolish move, he allowed himself to be manipulated into sharing his most sacred secret and was shaved, betrayed and overpowered.  Samson, however, didn’t know this and woke up to attackers thinking he would shake free and come out strong as he always did.

Not so. The bible says in Judges 16:20, “But he did not know that the Lord had left him.”

What a tragedy. To be so deluded and calloused by your own power that you no longer seek or sense God’s presence.

How many times have I done something by my own might and just assumed God was going to come along and help me fulfill my agenda? How many times will I trade in his presence for my plans?

There is much to learn from Samson’s story. But what has sprung from the pages is that there is hope for even the most out of control pride, person and circumstances. God is not stumped by our recklessness.

Just as it started to look like Samson was useless and ruined, God used him in a final dramatic blow to the Philistines. Humbled and blind, Samson with one faith-filled heave pushed down the columns that supported the temple of a pagan god. Surrounded by drunken revelry, his last words were, “Let me die with the Philistines,” (Judges 16:30).

Like Samson, I have some pillars in my own life that need a good shove. I need my old self to die and those ugly qualities to be crushed along with it. I need to be humbled and blind to everything but God’s will and grace to let it all go.

I thank God that his mercy and goodness never run out. I thank God that I have my dad’s example and my Heavenly Father’s grace to help me turn my failings into a story where God’s life-giving joy is the highlight and my negativity is an afterthought.

Angie D 6/1/12 ©

Learning From My Deeply Flawed Mother

My mom would be the first to tell you that she’s made a lot of mistakes as a mother.

There have been many times in my life I wondered why she didn’t protect me, encourage me, comfort me or know me. I think we all ask our moms those pointed questions, whether it’s whispered in the back of our minds or voiced aloud in strained tones.

I fully expect that my kids will have lots of hard questions for me and try as I may to be the perfect mom, I will fail them many times.

But while imperfection is the lot of all humans, letting God’s light shine through the cracks in our character is an opportunity we all share.

When my dad was sick with cancer, I watched my mother transform. Normally indecisive, light-hearted and a most bubbly extrovert, my mother became our rock.

Strength doesn’t come naturally to my mom. That was my dad’s job; he was the firm one, he was the decision-maker, the unwavering one. His confidence made my siblings and I believe that no villain, disease or calamity would ever dare to darken our doorstep.

But then dad got sick and it became mom’s turn to make us feel safe, and honestly, she didn’t have it in her. Ask her and she will tell you that the strength she had to care for five kids and a sick husband for three and a half years took supernatural power from God.

It took supernatural energy to bathe and dress my father, to administer his round-the-clock doses of medication and still be a mother to four kids and a newborn.

It took incredible strength to watch my dad suffer excruciating pain and keep praying.

It took profound reliance on God to be her source of love and security. Cancer didn’t just destroy my father’s body, it stole his spirit. I can’t imagine how especially difficult that must have been for my mom.

You see, my dad absolutely adored my mother. He showered her with gifts every occasion that called for it and was extravagant with his compliments, always telling us that we had the most beautiful mother in the world. I can’t fathom how heart-wrenching it must have been to care for a man that could no longer give that kind of love to her and often forgot who she was.

Despite her painful and lonely circumstances, I remember my mother’s joy. She wasn’t falling apart or filling the gaping holes in her life with quick fixes. She let God be her everything: father, husband, friend and savior – and in Him she lacked nothing.

I’ve known people in similar situations that felt so tired and alone that they had affairs or turned to drugs and destructive behavior to find relief from their misery. But mom never did that, even though she could have done all those things and my dad would have never known because his mind and body were so helpless and deteriorated.

While I could easily make a list of my mom’s faults, nothing compares to her example of whole-hearted faith and explicit trust in God. When I think of my mother, I think of how God took a deeply flawed woman, riddled with holes and cracks from the blows life has dealt, and shined his light through her. She didn’t patch those holes or seal any visible cracks, she gave it all to God and he made her a beacon.

I am so thankful for my mother’s example. My prayer is that I too would have that kind of faith in my savior so that when my kids see brokenness in my life, they will just watch for God’s light to burst through.

 

Angie D 5/21/12 ©

Why Do Some Seasons Drag On?

Winter here in Washington has been disappointing; a gray slurry of soggy grass, deep puddles and overcast skies. Even the few days of fluffy white snow quickly hardened into dense layers of ice encasing every square inch of our landscape.

It has been bleak and tiring, even oppressive at times. The abysmal weather just drags on and on.

Tomorrow is the first day of spring but you’d never know it around here with the alternating bouts of frost, snow and rain throughout the last few weeks. While there have been sunny days here and there just long enough for our pale residents to kick off their rain boots, it doesn’t last long and a cold downpour always seems to ruin the weekend.

It feels sometimes like spring will never come and we will always be looking over our shoulder for signs of rain.

It reminds me so much of difficult times I’ve lived through. You let yourself hope and settle into “spring” and then the clouds come rolling in.

You feel like a fool for believing things were going to change. You promise yourself to never be so stupid again.

When you’re going through a difficult season, unpleasant surprises aren’t just annoying, they tax your sanity. You just want to breathe easy and settle into a life where everything is new and warm.

Before I met my husband, I was in a relationship that was riddled with ugly surprises. He betrayed me, but I forgave him and it seemed like he wanted to change. But then my blue skies would darken over and over again as he would often disappear, sometimes selling my things to fund his escapades, other times draining our account.

We were always broke. Everything I couldn’t pay for reminded me of every dollar he stuffed and every woman that lived off those dirty bills.

Having been betrayed so many times, I was weary and I was done. I just wanted a normal life where what I nurtured would grow.  I was done with always waiting for when my bright day would freeze over and life would become cold and slick.

I finally moved on and stop putting my hope in my efforts and God, but in just God.

It was very hard and sometimes I felt very small and alone. But I had a verse that I know God showed me to give me hope and I would read it over and over:

“For your Maker is your husband – the Lord Almighty is his name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit – a wife who married young, only to be rejected….Though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:4-6, 10)

Here was my story and God had already prepared for it, just as he did for Israel! He promised long before I was born that he would be my husband and redeemer and even though my world would break to pieces around me, his love would never fail and his promise of peace would never be taken away.

He has and continues to remain true to his word – his love hasn’t failed me and his peace is real.

My life didn’t heal overnight, just like spring doesn’t appear in an instant. There are stages – parts that must melt away, roots that need to strengthen, and even rain to wash away the old grit and nourish the new life that will eventually flourish in the new season.

Things can look hopeless, but I am certain of this: Spring always comes; it just feels like forever sometimes before it does. We just need to trust that while we’re waiting, God has something beautiful in store for our future.

 

Angie D 3/19/12 ©


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogs By Category

  • Archives

  • My Pages

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • My Twitter Updates

    Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

%d bloggers like this: