Kinder Than You Feel

kind

Today began after a rough night. We finally were approved as foster parents and had our first respite care experience this weekend.  Though we had indicated we wanted 5-12 year olds, this was a four-year old little girl, and I felt my age on numerous occasions over the course of the days she was with us. Last night, a knock at the door woke me at 12am., and I spent the rest of the night being assailed by arms and legs and an occasional head. Not to mention the snoring, and yes a four year old with allergies can snore.

I took a peek at Instagram as I was waiting for my coffee and saw these words from another foster mom:

Always be kinder than you feel.

When I got in my car to head to work, I heard about the shooting in Las Vegas. Then later I heard about Tom Petty. After I got home I saw this charge from  fellow Tweeter Joe Pug: “If you’re a songwriter, the best way to honor Tom Petty’s beautiful life and work is to write a song tonight. Start to finish.” Well, I can’t write the music but I did attempt the words. Thinking about foster care, Las Vegas, and Tom Petty, here are my lyrics waiting for a tune.

 

Kinder Than You Feel

 

Woke up this pre-dawn morning glory

Tired from life, I heard the story

Tired from living

Tired from giving

Always be kinder than you feel

 

Woke up to gray sky before the sun

Tired from living but not undone

Time for forgiving

Time for thanksgiving

Always be kinder than you feel

 

Early morning, it doesn’t make sense

What’s past still feels like present sense

Working my way through

Working past that blue

Always be kinder than you feel

 

Chorus:

Always be kinder than you feel

Kindness is what it takes to heal

Kindness is that one true ideal

You can’t borrow, you can’t steal

 

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I’ve Been Set Down

 

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Birmingham, Alabama

 

This post was originally written three months ago. I was  ruminating on friendships past and future; looking for words of wisdom from scripture and finding nuggets in unexpected places. Surfing the net sometimes provides providential words of encouragement and exhortation.

There is no ideal place for us to serve God except the place He sets us down. We are not to run from it on a whim or sudden notion, but we should serve the Lord in it by being a blessing to those among whom we live.  -Alistair Begg

I have been set down in Alabama; deposited in this south deeper than Florida. Here the grass is softer and the roads hillier; the accent thicker and the seasons more varied. Tornadoes have replaced hurricanes and I have discovered white BBQ sauce. But, God is the same. No matter how much I vacillate, He is the same.

And to quote a fictional character:

 God will put you in the right place. Even if you don’t know it at the time. –  Alec Hardy (quoting his mother)  in Broadchurch

So, I believe I’m in the right place, no matter how I “feel” about it. Maybe I have not yet seen why. But, in our pursuit of becoming foster parents, I think perhaps this is our right place. In taking the steps to follow our desire to foster, it’s been like “going down the chute”.

You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute. – Tina Fey

Every Summer

The prompt for PAD Day 10 was “travel.”

Every Summer

Every summer we traveled past the cornfields of south Georgia
I marveled at the tall green stalks swaying as we passed by
My brothers played Punch Buggy and Beaver –
Hitting each other while I dreamed out the window

Every summer as we came into the rolling hills of north Georgia
I marveled at the highway cut right through the red clay and gray rock
My brothers argued over “v” in the alphabet game
While the flatlands of Florida melted from my mind

Every summer when we arrived at Mamaw’s house
I breathed in the sweet scent of the magnolia next to the gravel drive
My brothers inspected the old shed full of ancient tools and treasures
While I admired the claw foot tub and inhaled the soft fragrance of Dove soap

Those were the days of cousins and fireflies and Red Light-Green Light
Where we snuggled up on the creaky couch to laugh at old photos
The fuzzy black and white TV droned in the background
Every summer in Georgia felt like going home

bros 1964

Me and my brothers – before they were punching each other

Life and Death

 

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I wrote some thoughts on death a few weeks ago, and I wanted this to go hand-in-hand with that post.

We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as microscopic swarm, the lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks late, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us. -from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I love this description of the beginning of life. Job knew all about life and death. Oh to be like Job; to learn how to accept when the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”            Job 1:21

We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like “if.”

But we are always optimists when it comes to time: we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.

We fear it (death), yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

That last quote about fearing that death will take someone else is so true. I know I will die one day, and I don’t want it to be anytime soon. But, I also don’t like the thought of outliving all my loved ones. I have watched my mother lately as she has lost several longtime friends. I guess when you get to be 80 that is bound to happen. But, it still doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, it probably makes you think about death just a little too much.

 

John (the author’s husband) shrugs his shoulders… “Farmers, we think we control so much, do so much right to make a crop…You control so little. Really. It’s God who decides it all. Not us. It’s all good.” – from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Worldview

by Jonathan Pie

By Jonathan Pie

 

“It is our way of looking at life, our interpretation of the universe, our orientation to reality. “ – from Christian Worldview – A Student’s Guide by Philip Graham Ryken

Whenever we bump into the world, our worldview has a way of spilling out. It comes out in what we think and love, say and do, praise and choose. – from Christian Worldview – A Student’s Guide by Philip Graham Ryken

Read that again and let it sink in. … what we think and love….praise and choose… . Much of what I think no one will ever know. But I will, and I must live with it. What I love? I’m afraid what I really love shows in what I write about and talk about. My love for Christ often fades into the background, and that is truly telling. And shaming. My worldview shows in what I choose to do with my time.

I’m beginning to think my worldview needs a little adjustment.

Thoughts From A Man Called Ove

mocha

…nowadays people are all thirty-one and wear too tight trousers and no longer drink normal coffee. From A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Even though Ove was a curmudgeon, I have to say I fully get where he was coming from here. There are a few schools I go in to substitute where all the teachers look like they are 31 and, though they don’t wear too tight trousers, they do have faultless hair and snow white teeth and perfectly polished nails. I don’t know what they drink, but I’m guessing some kind of soy milk concoction. But, that’s okay.

Sometimes being around younger adults makes me feel young. Other days it makes me feel my age. Often I can’t relate when it comes to what many of them value. Like when a young couple expecting their second child feels like they need more than a three bedroom house. Or when the conversation turns to the latest iphone and when they are going to get theirs. Or The Walking Dead. I.Just. Don’t.Get.It.

As I sat writing this it dawned on me that perhaps it isn’t always age that really makes the difference. It’s often money and culture and upbringing that puts the wider gap between me and some younger people I encounter. So, instead of being jealous of their snow white teeth or judging them for their too tight trousers, I should accept these things for what they are. And try to know them for who they are on the inside.

After all, I don’t always drink normal coffee. When I don’t, it’s likely to be because a mocha was calling my name.

I’m a Little Like Tex

tex

“Mace, did you ever think that all those people in those cars have a whole separate story to them, that it’s just as important to them as our stuff is to us, and we don’t know anything about it. Maybe sometime we’ll run across somebody and two years ago they were driving past us on the highway and we never knew it.” – Tex to Mason from Tex by S.E. Hinton

I often find myself thinking along the same lines as Tex. I look at crowds of people and I wonder what all their stories are – where they are going and what they are doing and thinking. I think about what little specks we are. I even have these thoughts about old buildings. I wonder about the history of the building; what it was originally and what changes it’s been through. I think about all the people that have passed through its doors. I am curious if there is something hidden behind the walls.

I also think about how cool it would be to go back in time. Oh, the things I would do differently. But, sometimes I’d like to go back as a bystander – to see how what I remember really compares to what transpired. And I’d have a notebook to record all those wonderful stories that have slipped away forever from my mind.