Yee-Haw! Barn Dance!

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City Pres had a barn dance tonight at Express Clydesdales in Yukon, Oklahoma. Baby T is visiting some family members this weekend and Craig is out of town and with almost every single day this week being as crazy on the schedule as this day was, by the time 5pm rolled around I was just pretty done. I did not really want to go. I polled the girls to see how badly they wanted to go and got two “we don’t really cares” and two “we were really kind of hoping to go” but bless them, they said it in a way that still gave me the option. They did not act sad or disappointed that I was about to pull something they’d been looking forward to all week. I think it was that alone that tipped me over to going ahead and taking them. I thought they deserved the outing. And though we got there 30 minutes late and left 45 minutes before it ended, we were still there an hour and forty-five minutes and it was fun.

The boys LOVED it and it was great that the ranch had real live animals around. We saw horses, dogs, and a zebra. Yes. A zebra. Awesome! And the built-in dance partners were an added perk.

All in all, I *was* exhausted by the time we got home, but it was worth it. The ladies who organized and decorated did a FANTASTIC job and the barn itself was so great. It was a much higher end event than I ever expected it to be. Well done, City Pres, well done.

What are you risking for the gospel?

In 30 minutes I’m heading to Tulsa to tell our foster care stories at the Oklahoma Foster Care Forum.

The oft-quoted Jerry Seinfeld said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

I’m not sure how true this is, but I do know that later on this morning I will be in Tulsa standing up in front of a large-ish crowd at the Tulsa version of the Oklahoma Foster Care Forum. And I will sort of wish I was dead.

Speaking in front of crowds has never been something I’ve aspired to. I’m much more comfortable behind a computer screen or in a living room. So when I was asked last April to speak at the Oklahoma City version of the Oklahoma Foster Care Forum I suggested that Craig and I do it together instead, knowing that if Craig was there I would default and make him do the bulk of the speaking. That plan didn’t work out, though, and I found myself with 2,155 type written words tucked inside a purple folder with white flowers on it, willing myself to stand up in front of a bunch of people I’d never seen before (and a few I see all the time) and not die.

Fast forward to after that event – I did not die. I also didn’t turn into John “Golden Mouth” Chrysostom or anything. It wasn’t my favorite thing to do ever, but it really didn’t kill me either, so there’s that. I think my comfort level increased by the fact that the topic I was presenting on was one about which I am passionate. I’m generally quiet by nature, but if you start asking me about the foster care crisis in Oklahoma, I suddenly build a soapbox and jump up on it. Because we really do have a foster care crisis in Oklahoma and I think most of us are content to defer to our preference for convenience as a way to excuse our lack of involvement in the biblical mandate to care for widows and orphans.

Speaking on the topic of foster care is one thing, but sometimes it takes more than rhetoric to show you believe something to be true; sometimes it takes getting your hands dirty. Sometimes it means getting buried in what feels like a grave of bureaucracy in order to be available to do the necessary thing to which God calls His Church. Sometimes it means providing meals and meeting needs for other families who have given themselves to the task. And sometimes it means being willing to die to self in front of a large group of people and take a personal risk at the gain of stirring the heart of even one more family toward the cause of foster care.

Because some things require sacrifice, be it time, money, public speaking, or all of the above; for me, foster care has become that thing.

All of us are called to die to ourselves for the sake of the gospel. The oft-quoted Luke 9:23-25 reminds us, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” The question is, what does that cross look like? It should look a lot more like work gloves than Facebook status updates. It should feel more scary than safe. And it should come from conviction not condemnation.

Because that’s how the gospel works.

 

Some Thoughts on Marriage

Glasses
I was getting discouraged this morning because it seemed no matter how hard I tried to focus, I was seeing the entire world as through through a blurred smudge. I checked my attitude – nope, I think that’s okay right now (whew) and I checked the computer screen – nope, it’s been recently cleaned and just as I started to settle down into a light funk I realized that the grease splatter left over from searing the brisket I prepared this morning for the crock pot not only made it to the counter, the walls, the mixer, and all other random things I had left on the counter, but it has also left a residue on my glasses and I never noticed it the whole hour and a half I’ve been working in the kitchen. I had to step outside the kitchen to notice I wasn’t seeing things well and even that didn’t do the trick immediately. It took further investigation before I realized that no, my whole house isn’t, in fact, covered in grease, but the very thing I have placed in front of my eyes to help me see the world better had a problem. Fortunately for this morning, this was an easy fix. My glasses are now clean and I can see things clearly again. For now.

But I wonder how many other things in my life I’ve allowed to slide behind an oil-smeared existence without noticing there’s even a problem…without realizing things could be better. My work room is a prime example – little by little things get stacked in here and before I know it I have a whole mountain of stuff to deal with. If the table had been clear one day and stacked up 3-feet high the next, I would probably notice that in a hurry, but as it is, one little thing gets put on top of another little by little over time so that I can walk by the whole stack now and not even notice. Messes made over time are harder to see, more difficult to deal with.

Marriage is much like this. Who starts off thinking they are okay with a mediocre marriage? Who gets married hoping that 16.5 years from now you will have a great roommate who tolerates you because they are used to you? Oh, and because they said they would?

Craig and I joke that “our song” is U2’s With Or Without You which is both beautiful and devastating at the same time. Maybe that’s exactly what marriage is.

More recently I’ve wondered if Sara Grove’s It’s Me is more indicative of things.

In the end, though, I still think Charlie Peacock‘s William & Maggie does the best job for us:

William to whom the world was given / Dared not disturb the sleep of friends
But one time in the night / He turned to his wife and he whispered
Remember when I was young / And you were Maggie?

Cause I been thinkin’ about / You and me and everybody in between
It seems we’ve suffered one too many dreams / Of things that weren’t so bad
It’s just they were never things that we could trust / Are we still pretending they’re enough?

Maggie by whom all hearts were measured / Kissed William softly on the cheek and said
Oh, it always amazed me / How someone could come to the edge of the world
Drop a stone down the side / And turn and return to the very same life
I remember when I was young and you were William

‘Cause I been thinkin’ about / You and me and everybody in between
It seems we’ve suffered one too many dreams / Of things that weren’t so bad
It’s just they were never things that we could trust / We must stop pretending they’re enough

But what of the interval moment / When you feel nothing
And I feel nothing / Maggie, I’m trembling in this interval moment
When you feel nothing / And I feel nothing

Maggie by whom all hearts were measured / Kissed William softly on the cheek and said
Sometimes William / William sometimes
You’ve got to open up the window / And let the wind blow through

You’ve got to let it blow through / You and me and everybody in between
It seems we’ve suffered one too many dreams / Of things that weren’t so bad
It’s just they were never things that we could trust / We will release them as they turn to dust

I been thinkin’ about / You and me and everybody in between
It seems we’ve suffered one too many dreams / Of things that weren’t so bad
It’s just they were never things that we could trust / Are we still pretending they’re enough
Still pretending they’re enough / Still pretending they’re enough for us?

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Every once in a while our marriages need us to step outside the kitchen in order to notice the smudge we’ve been functioning behind. Sometimes we need to take our glasses off and give them a good cleaning so we see things clearly again. Sometimes we need a relational reset.

Maybe your reset happens with a quiet dinner out. Maybe you need a whole weekend away. Maybe you need a to make a therapeutic playlist (ahem), or perhaps the upcoming City Pres Marriage Conference is what you and your spouse need to stop for a moment and be intentional about where you are and where you’re going. Regardless of which method you use to get there, get there. Start cleaning off the grime right now and move forward.

So I didn’t want to go to church today.

City Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma CityEver have one of those days in which you just want to tape a roll of bubble wrap all around you so you neither feel anything nor break in transit? Yep. I had one of those days today. I’m back to the whole thing of thinking I don’t really show stress that often, but when I do it’s always with tears and always in public. That was pretty much me all day today. Just feeling a combination of exhausted, alone, misunderstood, and all around yucky. I did not want to go to church today. I made myself go, but only because Chloe was scheduled to play the prelude. And as much as I’d love to tell you this is one of those stories of pushing through and going anyway and being so glad you did, that really didn’t happen yesterday. I sat in the furthest back corner all by myself on purpose. I walked out when the “meet and greet” time happened. I cried through most of the service and have no idea what Doug preached on. I took communion, but I’m wondering now if maybe I shouldn’t have. I then left a note for my girls telling them I would be in the van and I bolted 5 minutes before dismissal because I didn’t want to have to talk to anybody.

And I don’t have any lovely way to wrap this up other than to say that some days are just like this. And I wonder if it’s possible to feel the foster care equivalent of postpartum depression and if that’s maybe where I’m going with this.

I have no idea. So I hope tomorrow will be better and I’ll try again next week.