Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012

       With tears in my eyes from the inconceivable news report of an elementary school shooting and precious little children killed, I changed stations on the radio, trying in vain to change the situation. Soon the strains of “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” blared through my speakers, and I turned off the radio as quickly as if profanity were suddenly streaming from the station.

     Somehow it seems so wrong and inappropriate to sing of the holiday joy and merriment right now. Because right now, there are moms and dads whose little ones are not going to get a Christmas… a birthday… a graduation … a wedding.
      How can we think of Christmas now?
      When tragedy strikes, especially when it strikes the incredibly innocent among us, we look for answers and reasons. But when our collective hearts are breaking for such a real cause, there are no real answers and reasons. Maybe we will talk about laws that can change. Perhaps we will be a little nicer to each other. We promise we will pray for those taken and we vow we will take nothing and no one for granted again.
     But too soon we go back to our “normal”.
     We stumble.
     The whole world stumbles.
     And how can a stumbling, bumbling world even think about celebrating Christmas?
     But then I turn the radio back on and I hear the words of “Oh Holy Night”:

"O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
   For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn..."
     Perhaps a stumbling, bumbling, mixed-up world needs Christmas more than anything.
     We know Jesus wasn’t sent to us as a reward for the world being so good. He wasn’t born in a manger because we deserved it.
     But He was born in that manger.
     For us.
     And that’s the miracle of Christmas.
     “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”(John 3:16)
     Maybe tonight we can hold that Truth…. and our kids …a little bit tighter.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Remembering Columbine

It was a picture of a baby that made me cry.
I was at the downtown library chaperoning a field trip for my daughter’s sixth grade class, when I saw an innocent picture of a baby.  And it made me cry.
We had gone to the library to work on their research papers.  But there was something about this day that made everyone want to cry.
This was the day after the hideous Columbine school killings and everyone was walking around just a little numb.
I couldn’t help but look around me at the children busily working on the projects and realize that they were only a few years younger than those thirteen children who were murdered at school the day before.  But I also had to face the fact that they were only a few years younger than the two killers as well.
When this happened,  I wanted so badly to label the murderers as monsters.  But the fact remains, the most important label we must recognize is that they, too, were children.
How can ones so young be filled with hatred so strong that they are driven to do something so horrid in a place where we parents believed was a haven for learning?
Again, the picture of the baby haunts me.
Years ago, when I sent my oldest off to kindergarten for the first time I was scared.  I was scared about the real world finally touching the daughter I had been able to protect for five too-short years. 
But, truthfully, I was scared for the little hurts I feared my child would have to endure.  I was worried some child would not want to sit next to her on the bus.  I worried she would feel sad if chosen last for a team in gym class.  I worried she might get her feelings hurt by a classmate.
I never thought to worry that another child might one day bring a gun to school and start shooting.
Every day, we parents must trust that the bus drivers who daily transport our children are physically and mentally healthy.
We have to assume that the teachers educating our children are academically and morally good.
We believe that all the students who attend school with our children, are basically the same as ours.
But not all are.
And when children so dramatically fall through a societal crack as the ones did that frightening day, the whole world can hear the thud.
Or bang.
For this reason the picture of the baby made me cry.  To think that a child enters this world full of promise and purity and somehow makes such a wrong turn on the journey that is their life, is more than I can bear.
I stare at the picture for the last time.  I see the small pouting lips attempting a smile.  I notice the soft, full head of dark hair.  I smile at the full, rosy checks.  And then I shut the book, trying hard not to notice the caption underneath the picture:
  “ Austria , 1889.  Adolf Hitler.”


Friday, May 18, 2012

My dad

Central Ohio has known Tom McNutt as their Gardening expert for the last 23 years. But, I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him by an even better title: dad. And today, as my dad hangs up his television microphone and his gardening tools, I want to share a very private detail of this very public man.
        Perhaps his viewers have noticed the fact that many of my dad’s latest televisions appearances have been done sitting down. If you see him in public, he is usually on his scooter, or walking with a cane or walker. The reason behind this is a muscle weakness. 
This muscle weakness had been slowly affecting my dad for years before he was finally told a name for his condition. The diagnosis was Inclusion Body Myositis, but the easier to remember name is the acronym, IBM. This diagnosis was a mixed blessing. After such a long process of seemingly endless doctor visits, there is definitely something good about getting answers. But there is admittedly something bad when the answer comes back as a chronic condition for which there is no cure. He was told by his doctor that his quad muscles would weaken with time, most likely landing him in a wheelchair within a few years. That was many years ago.
Over the years he has reluctantly given in to using a cane, a walker, or that scooter, to keep himself from falling as much.
Now, to say his falls are unpredictable may seem odd, since most falls, indeed, are not predicted; but it seems all the more true when talking about my dad. My dad always walked with a purpose. He walked with a destination in mind. Full speed ahead. His walk always said so much about him. He is strong, determined and heading somewhere.
I remember, as a little one, having to run two steps for every one step of his just to keep up. And somehow, I usually would manage. In more than one way, it has frequently been a goal of mine to keep up with my dad.
Today, my own kids beg me to slow down as I shop with them or even just walk around the neighborhood. I have to smile when they complain about my rapid pace, because I know where it came from: the man who taught me to walk with a purpose.
He vows he won't go willingly into a wheelchair. And with the determination that is my dad, I don't doubt for a minute that he will do all he can to avoid it. After all, he is the man who, after his first "retirement," took on the career that brought him into the gardens and lives of all of Central Ohio for the last 23 years.
But no matter what happens in the future, there's one important fact Tom McNutt, the beloved gardening expert, needs to understand, especially today. Whether he falls, walks unaided, with a cane, or even one day ends up in that wheelchair, to me, no man will ever walk as tall as my dad.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Journey

As the journey of my life travels down a new road, my mode of transportation is detouring to reflect this change. And reflecting on that transportation transformation makes me realize more has transformed than I might have realized when I walked into the car dealership for the first time.
Yes, I am driving away from the minivan stage of life.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise. My four children all have this one characteristic I cannot deny: they're growing up. Preschool days flew into elementary school,
which whirled into middle and high school.
College and careers soon would be calling. And with only one child at home fulltime now, the minivan seemed excessive. So when that minivan was given the ”do-not-resuscitate” order upon its last auto-shop visit, the decision loomed behind me like the shadow of my children’s childhoods.
Much is written about the monumental moment in life that dictates the need for a bigger car. That moment when the family purchases their first minivan symbolizes the exciting changing dynamic of a growing family. What then does the moment mean when the same family no longer needs room enough in a car for multiple children and car seats? My family hasn’t shrunk in size, but admittedly the number of times we all travel together has shrunk drastically. There’s no denying, the dynamic is different as I acknowledge a stab of sadness, realizing the days of
family road trips with toys and games and sing-a-long tapes are over. The exhausting yet sometimes exhilarating hours spent in my home-away-from home minivan are all behind me. Most poignantly, my moving on symbolizes the fact that my children also are moving on.
And so I walk into the car dealer with my heart a little heavy.
But as luck would have it, my heavy heart soon enough finds a cute little red number that calls to me, promising with its flashing dashboard lights to never grow up and go off to college. Its finger-print-free interior invites me to sit and stay and faster than you can say, “gear shift”, I find myself honking goodbye to that minivan along with the stage it represents. And cruising down this new road as my high tech CD player broadcasts music I can sign along to, I have to smile.
Part of me will always relate to being a minivan mom. Those moments, as messy and manic as they were, are planted in a precious part of the definition of who I am. But I’m starting to comprehend the idea that while driving my kids around is no longer a major focus of my day, my kids, as old as they might get, will always be a driving force of my life.
And as my new sporty tires quietly hum along the pavement, a feeling washes over me that this new road I’m traveling might also be pretty fun to navigate.