Monday, May 30, 2011

Letting Go

I put her on a plane yesterday.

About six weeks ago, we were jumping up and down because we had found out Alex had been selected to intern with the staff at a Worldview Academy Leadership Camp. Woot! We had been hoping and praying for this. A few days later, we were jumping up and down because WVA had phoned to say they had bumped Alex to a staff position and had added another camp. So now she could also attend the national staff training week. Double woot!!

Everyone was excited...
...until yesterday. She and I stood in line at the airport and waited for check-in. We went over last-minute itinerary, double-checked her stuff, talked about contact information.

"We didn't pray for you!" I wondered out loud.

So, we took advantage of the few minutes we had left before she would have to cross security and we would have to say goodbye. We found a couple chairs in a quiet spot, and there we prayed.

I prayed for Alex to learn. As the staff studies John Piper's Think, may she learn to think to the glory of God. May she learn to serve. May she learn to give of herself.

In the movie, The Village, a father pulls his daughter aside and asserts, "Some are born to lead where others only follow. You are one of those people." I could say exactly the same thing about Alex. So I prayed for Alex to lead. As a small group leader, may she lead younger Christians to process the 26 hours of lectures they will attend during their camp week. May she lead by example, as well as by her words.

But the opportunities that await Alex did not lessen the impact of the reality facing me.
She is ready to learn.
She is ready to lead.

And she is ready to leave.

As I watched her walk through security, I thought of my friend Suzanne, who once said that having a child is allowing part of your heart to walk around outside your body. At that moment, I fully understood that.
Then, Alex picked up her things, donned her backpack, waved goodbye...
...and was gone.
And part of my heart was gone with her.

I blinked.

I blinked again.

And as I made my way down the escalator, the reality of it all hit me. My baby was grown up. She was leaving to put into practice what we had spent 18 years pouring into her.
She was leaving to try her hand at using her gifts and being used by God.
This was the whole point of the past 18 years.
But, boy, did it hurt.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, Suzy Bogguss started singing.
"Oh, letting go.
There's nothing in her way now.
Letting go.
There's room enough to fly.
Even though she's spent her whole life waiting,
It's never easy...
Letting go."

Great. The tears were getting hard to just blink back now. My face was crinkling; I could feel it. And I kept my head down, so people couldn't see. I found another seat and waited until the phone rang. "Okay, Mom. I'm at the gate. Love you."

Love you, too.
That's why this is such a big deal.
We are raising our kids to fly.
But now that they are beginning to taxi out to the runway, I'm getting sad.
Our first two are launching; it's a wonder to behold. And the others are lining up behind them.
I can't stop them. I don't want to stop them.

This is a hard season, but it's a good hard.
And it's just a transition that will bring the next season.
And that will be good, too.

By the time I was driving away, another song was playing in my mind.
And before I knew it, it was just me and my song, no music or radio, and no witnesses. Just God to hear me.

"If I know You, You will turn this day into a perfect surprise.
If I know You like I think I do, the worst of times will work out right.
Lord, I know there's hope in sight.
You will get me through if I know You."

And I smiled.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Parents Do the Darndest Things

Ew, no.
Gag, no.
Scotty, Lauren, Scotty, Lauren...SCOTTY!!!

I admit it. This season I got sucked into the vortex of American Idol for my very first time. I don't even watch television. (Per capita, our household has one television for every six people; the fat kind, not the flat kind.) Even the shows we really DO like, like 24 and, like 24, we watch in four-hour recorded batches. And we haven't done that in about three years.

Television is a time waster.
And a brain-cell killer.

So, imagine my surprise walking into my family room and finding my children watching and discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of the AI contestants. "How do you know who Pia is?" I wanted to ask my eight-year-old. "And WHO turned on this nonsense anyway?" My 18-year-old gave me a sheepish grin. Oh, sister.

My older children are adults now, and I am not inclined to order them around. But I did lurk from the kitchen, where I could both get something done and hear what was going on. I gaped at the immaturity of Stefano, who was about as advanced as my two year old. And I marveled at the chick who looked like she wanted to be a floral Carmen Miranda when she grew up. But even my "parental" oversight did not keep me from getting sucked in. "Lauren is going to win," I announced somewhere around week three. Big heads, medium heads, little heads all turned and gaped at me.

Did I just say that?
I had an opinion???
I had an opinion!

It was curtains for me. From that point on, I hung on just to prove myself correct.
"That song just didn't do it for me."
"She doesn't have enough star appeal."
"He KISSED J-Lo???!!!"
"Lauren's gonna win..." over and over and over...

Last night, I was downright misty-eyed when Scotty and Lauren, the two nicest kids on the show, stood on stage as the winner was announced.
"Oh...that was so sweet," I crooned.

What happened to me?
I'll tell you what happened. My kids happened. Kids push us into territory no one else can.
When we brought Zach home twenty years ago, I got a huge education on what I was willing to endure for my children--starting with childbirth., I insisted shortly after the birth.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah...

Then my milk came in.
(That is a story unto itself, the details of which I shall spare you.)
The endless spit up.
Zach had a projectile--not vomit--but poop. Right on the wall. I haven't seen anything like it before or since.
I was getting highly educated in fluids pouring from bodily orifices, both his and mine, I had never even thought about.
My motto became, "Eh, it'll dry."

Then they grew a bit, and the hormones arrived.
My young men checked out, and Brett assured me they would return someday.
Me: Did you do your Algebra II?
Them: huh?
Okay, see you on the other side...
My young women suddenly burst into tears for no logical reason or predicted, with Harold Camping accuracy, that their world was going to end because their hair was turning wavy.
And if you want some real fun, time the spacing of your children so all these hormones can collide like asteroids around the dinner table.

In retrospect, I guess a little singing contest wasn't such a horrible thing. I could do without Lady Gaga; we all could. And, while I love Steven Tyler in the context of Aerosmith, I think it is a categorically bad idea to ever give that man a mic when he's not singing. (It was kinda fun to watch him do Dream On...)

But it was still probably one of the dumbest things we've done together.

Ah well. American Idol is hardly the final frontier of parenting.
But I'm so thankful for the spice, in terms of both laughter and tears, my children have added to my life.
And if your kids aren't spicing up your life, you're probably not paying attention.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Man Netanyahu

I know what it's like to live surrounded by the enemy. As a Redskins fan, it's one thing to root for them from the safety of the Old Dominion. It's another thing entirely to hail them from the Lone Star State. This here is Cowboy country.

Last Friday, I was once again sitting in the home seats but pulling for the away team. Our own president showed both his cards and his ignorance when he condescendingly told Benjamin Netanyahu that, to help advance the Palestinian peace process, Israel should go back to pre-1967 borders.

Does President Obama even know what happened in 1967?
Does he know that every Arab state surrounding that speck of dust called Israel was so threatened by her--cough--geographical domination, that they were gathering for war?
That Egypt was building up military might on the Egyptian/Israeli border?
That then Egyptian President Abdul Nasser said, and I quote, "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight"?

(Like a wild donkey, I can only assume.)

Does President Obama know that Israel is the only democratic government in the region?
Does President Obama know that the Arab countries, with their official state religion of Islam, promote gender oppression, sexual mutilation, and burquas?
Or does he, perhaps, think of misogyny and Shariah law as hip? sexy? 21st century?

So Bebe schooled Barack.
Which is good.
'Cause Columbia didn't, apparently.

Mr. Netanyahu said:
"Remember that, before 1967, Israel was all of nine miles wide. It was half the width of the Washington Beltway, and these were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive...So we can't go back to those lines, and we're going to have to have a long-term military presence along the Jordan."
Mr. Netanyahu is absolutely correct. In 1967, when tiny Israel saw that they were about to be wiped off the map by a bunch of racist, maniacal, anti-Semites, Israel struck decisively, brilliantly, efficiently--and settled the entire matter in six days.

It was a wonder to behold.
Actually, it was a miracle.

And it was not unlike the miracle of our own American Revolution. A threatened people stood up to the bully and said, "Enough." But perhaps Mr. Obama thinks we should cede back the thirteen original colonies, too...

The peace talks be damned.
There is no peace without the King of Kings.
And there is no negotiating with barbarians and cavemen.
Peace at all costs is never commanded by God and always commanded by people who read the Bible badly.
The most either side can do in this mess is to live at peace with all men as far as it is possible.

I wonder, if when Netanyahu is done with his stint in Israel, he might consider running for U.S. President. Shoot, if a Kenyan can be president, why not an Israeli?

Monday, May 16, 2011


Well, that bastion of Americana, Chicago, was the sight of a minor victory this past week for us anti-union types. They passed a bill that would link teacher tenure to....wait for it...


Can you hear the collective, scandalized, liberal gasp as they watch their padded job security go up in the smoke of poor test scores and graduating seniors who can't read?

Wait. Only half of all students in Chicago actually graduate...Never mind.

However, as I read to the end of the Wall Street Journal article, I began to get suspicious. Rahm Emanuel applauded the bill? Hold on a card-checkin' minute. Oh. There it was near the bottom. Teachers unions are already planning a trailer bill. Can anything good come out of Chicago?

But Chicago is not alone. The union thuggery continued on a national scale as the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Boeing because the company wants to move part of its business--and 1,000 jobs--from Washington to South Carolina.

First, Boeing's side: As South Carolina is a right-to-work state, and Washington is not, the guys over at Boeing thought maybe the best way to grow their business and their profits was to get the union out of the way. Silly CEO's. You didn't think the point of business was profitability, did you?

Make me laugh.

Now, NLRB's side: As South Carolina is a right-to-work state, and Washington is not, the labor flunkies determined that it would be villainous of Boeing and hard on the workers in South Carolina because the workers in South Carolina could not be pressed into a union.


How about the fact that this is a Constitutional Republic which is supposed to guarantee its citizens the freedom of association? And freedom of association also implies freedom from association. To be pressed into a union association, therefore, is unconstitutional. How about the fact that our economic prosperity has been built upon the capitalist approach to free markets? And a free market demands the freedom of private businesses to move about the country? How about common sense, and the fact that no business can resist an employee of integrity, good work ethic, and profitable output?

And that is what keeps the NLRB awake at night...that some laborer somewhere out there is advancing by the merit of his work, getting promoted, and earning raises without the help of Big Labor.

Is anyone but NLRB crying in their beer over this?

'Cause I know I'm not.

But this little NLRB temper tantrum begs the question...If unions are so desirable to the American worker, why must the American worker be compelled--in 28 states--to join?

Because the American labor force is not stupid, that's why. They know intuitively what the studies are now showing to be fact: that, according to the Wall Street Journal, right-to-work states generate $2,760 larger per-person increases. And wages rise faster in states that don't require union membership. The American worker also knows concretely--when he sees garnished union dues on his pay stub--that union membership is not a good deal. And he asks himself just what it is he is getting for this fee. And he can't think of one blessed answer.

Would it be overly astute to respond here...DUH! ... ?
Stupid unions.
Where is Elaine Chao when you need her?