Wednesday, October 26, 2011

LaLa Land

I was hopelessly frustrated with the sweetest, most oblivious thing on Earth this morning.  My five-year-old daughter, Miss J.

Miss J lives life on her own little planet that's located somewhere inside of her pretty, blond-haired little head.  If I had to guess, I'd say that her planet is probably pink and sparkly, and is perpetually overcast with fluffy pink and purple clouds.  It's likely that there are unicorns galloping across its hills and valleys, and tiny winged fairies dancing in the mist, gathering moonbeams in heart-shaped baskets to share with all their tiny, glittering winged friends.  Everyone is smiling, everyone is happy, everyone is singing, and everyone is eating lots and lots of candy.

Okay, so I don't actually know what goes on inside Miss J's head, but one thing I know for sure is that she spends an awful lot of time in a faraway place.  LaLa Land, I've heard it called.  And the problem with living in LaLa Land is that while you're there, you can't be fully present in this world.  At all.  You kind of float through life half-dazed, being distracted by every little noise...and movement...and bug...and falling leaf...and shiny object.  And you never ever stay concentrated on one task for long.  You have no sense of urgency, for there is no such thing as time in LaLa Land.  You forget what you're doing.  You stare off into space.  You remain completely oblivious to the promptings of those around you, even those who are desperate to prod you on, speed you up, and kick your adorable little heiney out the door and into a waiting vehicle.

All this to say, Miss J is SLOW.

P a i n f u l l y   s l o w .

And while I'm not a trained professional qualified to make such diagnoses, I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that my little girl has ADHD.  Her frequent visits to a faraway place, her happy-but-somewhat-vacant expressions as she stares at absolutely nothing, her inability to remember what exactly it is that she's supposed to be doing at any given moment, her obvious lack of understanding of the concept of time, and the pace by which she accomplishes (or half-accomplishes) everything and anything that she sets out to do, are all eerily similar to someone else I know...someone I know very intimately.


Yes, ADHD is hereditary, and little Miss J comes by it honestly.  Although undiagnosed, my maternal grandfather was almost assuredly a kindred spirit, who passed it on to a couple of his children, including my mother, who passed it on to my brother and myself.  So basically, we are a family of people who are either scatterbrained ourselves, or have learned to live with someone who is scatterbrained.  To my knowledge, not one of the ADHD people in my family have married a fellow ADHD person. 

There is a reason for this. 

You see, a house can only handle so much ADHD before it explodes.  When I'm running around like a mad woman, trying to compensate in the final ten minutes for everything that I failed to plan for in the previous hour while I was vacationing in LaLa Land, I need attentive, capable children to quickly follow every frantic order that I holler in their direction.

I need efficiency. 
I need initiative. 
I need an army of little people that are on-task and ready to shine where I can't.

I do not need a child dancing around the room in her underwear.  

This is why we are late for almost everything:  my scatterbrained five-year-old refuses to compensate for her mother's ADHD.  Totally inconsiderate, I know.  Day after day, I bust my buttons for ten solid minutes trying to get a whole passel of kids out the door, and she insists on trying to cram everything I've told her to do into the last possible seconds before we're supposed to leave.

She should probably work on that.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Living Dead

These days, I have a lot less free time than I used to, not that I ever had more than I knew what to do with.  The very nature of having five children, with most of them home with me all day, is physically and emotionally draining and entirely free-time sapping.  But I do have those moments.  Those few and far between moments when there is no one coming and no one in need of going and there are no questions to be asked or answered or directed. 

And then I have free time. 

Can it be called free time if I'm nursing the baby at the same time?  Perhaps not, but it's the best I can do.  We'll call it semi-free time, except for those rare occasions when the baby happens to be cooperatively napping during our daily quiet time (as he is now), and I'm actually totally alone.  Regardless, these are the moments that I get to sit and do (almost) nothing.  Or, from a different perspective, I get to sit and do (almost) anything.

The problem I'm having is that more and more often these days, I'm choosing to do "nothing" with my free time.  Nothing productive.  Nothing life-altering.  Nothing God-honoring.  Nothing...except numb my brain with useless computer games, while I could be reading a good book, writing about something worthwhile, sending encouraging notes to others, reading the Word of God or praying for those I love.  I could even be paying the bills or making lesson plans or scrapbooking or sorting family photos on my computer. 

And yet I continue to play the same computer games over and over again.  And what's really silly is at this point, there is absolutely no hope of getting any better at them.  I'm incredible.  I'm probably the best zombie killer on the planet, and yet I continue to shoot at them with a variety of dancing vegetables whenever I think I have five minutes to spare....or a half hour....or an hour and a half.  Where does the time go?!

And that's the other thing.  Slowly, I've been "finding" more and more time to dedicate to my obsession, when I really don't have any extra time.  So what's happening?  I'm neglecting the things that are my responsibility, like laundry and housecleaning and lesson planning, and I'm passively refusing to do the things that God has called me to do, like learning how to study the Bible, reading the book I've committed to reading for a church group, and writing about what God is doing in my life.  All as I stare blankly at a computer screen and devise the best plan to prevent the consumption of my brains.  Ironic, isn't it?  The more I protect my imaginary brains from the onslaught of animated zombies, the more I can feel my actual brains becoming more and more zombie-ish.

Seven years ago this coming January, my husband and I stopped watching all television.  It was hard.  Really hard.  We made the choice for a variety of reasons, but do you know what we discovered after it was gone? 

We had both been addicted to TV.

After the addiction was broken and we were free, we grew closer to each other and closer to God.  We wasted far less time.  We did things that were worthwhile.  And once the "withdrawal" from television was over, we emerged on the other side with a much purer and Godlier perspective on television.  It's mostly worthless.  It glorifies sin and materialism and violence and immodesty and human wisdom and greed.  Obsession with TV turns us into zombies.  Obsession with anything turns us into zombies.

I thought I was free from it.  I thought I had escaped.  But now I'm a zombie once more.

I'm through. 
Today I'm taking back my brain and I'm giving it back to God.

In the words of my pastor, I'm coming back from "the living dead". 

Anyone care to join me?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Like a Child

My mom's childhood friend, Joyce, went to be with Jesus this past weekend.  She wasn't old enough to die, not by the standards of our medically advanced society.  Just one day short of sixty-three.  Not old enough at all, especially when many of the most precious people in my life fall in the same age category.  Not young, not middle-aged, exactly...but definitely not "old".

And since I'm not in the center of the emotional fireball of loss (she was, after all, my mom's friend, not mine), I have a unique perspective on what is most definitely a tragedy for all those that loved Joyce.  I'm filled with, shall I say....a "reflective sorrow".  Not agony.  Not pain.  Just sadness for my mom, who lost a life-long friend, for Joyce's husband Tom, who lost a wife of forty years, and for Joyce's sons, their families, and her brothers and sisters and friends.

And because my emotions aren't overriding my every thought and action, I can see beneath the very real pain of the situation and find an overwhelming sense of joy and awe.

Because Joyce loved Jesus.  She believed in His death and resurrection, His atonement for her sins.  She professed Him as her Savior.  And since this past Saturday, she's been "reJOYCEing" in His presence in Heaven.  There is no place on Earth that could compare with the splendor that Joyce is living in at this moment.  She is wrapped in beauty and love and light and laughter and harmony and inexplicable joy.  And that leaves me in awe.


Last night, on the way out to my parents' house, three-year-old Mr.C and I had a talk about Heaven:

"Someday, I'm gonna go to Heaven and live with Jesus, too.  But not yet.  Not till I'm really, really old.  Then we can go together, right, Mama?"

"Yep.  Mama loves Jesus.  Do you love Jesus, too?"

"Yep!  I love Jesus!"

"And you know that sometimes you do bad things and Jesus died for the bad things you you can live with Him in Heaven someday.  Do you believe that Jesus died for you, buddy?"

"Yep!  I believe that!  And there are no bad guys in Heaven."

"Well...what if the bad guys changed their minds and decided to love Jesus?  Then they could go to Heaven, too."

"But they're BAD GUYS!!!"

"But sometimes we do bad things....and we still love Jesus.  Jesus died for everybody!  We want everybody...even bad learn about Jesus and to change their minds so they can come to Heaven, too.  Right?"

"Oh...okay.  They can come.  And they can still keep their swords, too."


We spent the evening with my parents, hopefully providing a bit of a distraction for a while.  On the way home, little Mr. C said that it was sad that Joyce had passed away, and he thought we should pray for her.  I reminded him that Miss Joyce is in Heaven, and she doesn't need us to ask Jesus to help her because she's with Jesus!  But, I said, it was important to remember to pray for Mr. Tom.  Mr. Tom is very sad, and we should pray that he lets Jesus love him and help him feel better.  I told Mr. C that we should remember to pray for Mr. Tom at bedtime.

And do you know what he said?

"We should do it right now." 

Wow.  Humbled, I realized that he was exactly right.  What was I waiting for?  Right there in the car, at the urging of a three-year-old child, we prayed for Mr. Tom.

And I realized something else.  There's a lot of wisdom in a three-year-old.

He loves.

He believes.

He forgives. 

All without questioning. 

He asks for what he wants, and he has faith that he will receive it.

He doesn't put off until later things that are important enough to do now. 

More than many adults I know, Mr. C really gets it. the wake of an unexpected death, the home going of someone who was too young but who knew where her true home was, I feel compelled to ask you...where is your true home?

Like my little son, have you heard the Good News?  Have you accepted it at face value, not trying to use your own wisdom to figure things out by yourself?  Have you placed your faith in Christ Jesus?  Do you love Him? 

And if not, if you're waiting for some perfect opportunity or for everything to suddenly make sense to you, then why don't you just ask God to reveal the truth to you?  Earnestly ask (even if you're not sure that He exists) that He would make Himself known to you.  That He would prove Himself.  Humble yourself to the possibility that what that ancient book of fables says is true.  What could it hurt? 

You should do it right now.

Because whether you're sixty-three or thirty-three or even just three, you never know which day could be your last.

P.S. If you're a bad guy, don't worry.  I am, too.  And I'm bringing my sword with me. 


And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 18:3

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

And for Joyce:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4 
See you in Heaven.