Sometimes You’re an Esther, Sometimes You’re a Vashti

Don’t we all just love the story of Esther, the beautiful young Jewish woman God set up to save her people?  We love how she, above all the beautiful young women in the land, won the favor of the king and was selected to replace his previous wife, the disobedient Queen Vashti.  We love her bravery in entering the chamber unbidden, knowing she could be killed, in order to plead for her people.  We love that she was placed right there in that spot for such a time as that.

But what about the queen she replaced?  What about poor Vashti? 

We don’t really know exactly what happened to Vashti.  What we do know is this:  She was the queen and enjoyed the highest position available to a woman in the land.  While her husband the king entertained all his noble friends (and possibly some less-than-noble ones) for seven days and what were surely rowdy nights, she held her own banquet for their wives and concubines.  On that fateful seventh night, after all the men had partaken freely of the wine (which is possibly a euphemism for harder spirits – I’m just guessing but they could’ve been doing some shots, right?  A little salt, a little lime …), the king decides he wants to show off his gorgeous queen.  He has her summoned.

Now, we don’t know for sure what his intentions were, but knowing as we do the roles of men and women in that time, and knowing what wine (not to mention tequila) does to a man’s judgment, it’s not unreasonable to think good old King Ahauserus is going to have Vashti parade around in a few (if any) veils and possibly dance on the table for his buddies while he points and shouts, “That’s my WOMAN right there.”

Vashti politely refused.  Or it might not have been so polite.  In any event, she said, “I don’t think so, Fred (that’s probably what she called him because, you know, Ahauserus?).”  That is the equivalent of the modern day “Oh he!% no.”

Being the decisive, authoritative king he was, Ahauserus acted immediately.  He looked at his support staff, lip quivering, and said, “That wasn’t very nice.  What should I do?”

His wise men, being so very wise, knew right away that Queen Vashti’s disobedience would lead to open revolt among all the women in the land.

“What’s for dinner, honey?”  “Cook your own dang dinner.  I’m reading.”

“Hey babe, do I have any clean socks?”  “Hey babe, here’s a rock, there’s the creek, wash them yourself.”

“Oooh darlin’ you look gorgeous.  Wanna fool around?”  “Nope, you have kid duty. I’m going out.”

It would be chaos! Chaos, I tell you.

So of course they had to nip it in the bud.  Queen Vashti must be put aside and a new queen selected.  And we know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say (am I dating myself?).

To put it in today’s vernacular, Queen Vashti got cancelled.

So we all admire Queen Esther and her bravery in venturing into the king’s chamber to save the Jewish people, and rightly so.  We love that God put her in the palace “for such a time” as that.

But do we also admire Queen Vashti’s bravery?  She could have easily been put to death for her disobedience.  At the very least, she knew she would incur the king’s ire, and she knew she would be in serious trouble.  Do we ever stop to think that God also put her in the palace for such a time as that?

God needed Esther in the palace to save the Jews.  So He also needed the previous queen to be a woman who would not cave to societal pressures, someone who would take a stand and do what she knew to be right despite the knowledge that she would be in deep doo-doo when she did.  He chose Vashti.  He chose a woman with a backbone.  He chose a woman who was as brave in her own way as Esther.

Maybe braver. Because Vashti had it all – position, power, a life a luxury.  Everything she could ever want was at her fingertips.  To keep it, she just needed to put on her veils, go in, and maybe dance a little.  It was distasteful to her, sure, but hey, it was one evening out of a lifetime.  Those men probably wouldn’t even remember it in the morning, and most likely she’d never see any of them ever again, except Ahauserus, so what the heck.  Small price to pay to stay in her nice, comfortable life.

She said no, and she lost it all.

But we hardly ever talk about Vashti; we always talk about and admire Esther.  Vashti was just the one before Esther.

Sometimes God calls us to be the one who comes before the one.  Sometimes He calls us to be the one who has to be brave and take the hit so He can open up our spot for the one who is going to step in and do something awesome. 

When our culture, our society, tries to write the rules and tells us what we can and cannot say, what we can and cannot think, what we can and cannot believe, will I be a good little girl and either accept what they tell me is now true or at the very least just keep my thoughts, beliefs, and opinions to myself, keep my mouth shut, so that I don’t make waves or get cancelled?

Or will I be a tree planted by the water and stand firm for what I know to be true and right? Will I believe God’s word still says what it says it says, not what society is trying to say it says, even if it means getting cancelled, even if it’s not glorious, even if it just opens up my spot for someone else?

If I am called to be a Vashti, will I be brave enough to be a Vashti? I pray I will.  

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It’s so Quiet

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Motaung at Link-up – Five Minute Friday. Today’s prompt is “quiet.”

My home is a quiet place.

Now it is, anyway.  There was a time, when my boys were growing up and we were juggling school and all the extracurriculars – hockey, basketball, volleyball, scouting, and then church and all that entailed with youth group activities – when “QUIET!” was only part of my yelling vocabulary.  And very ineffective at that.  I’m fairly certain both my daugthers-in-law are in that place right now, although I’m also fairly certain neither of them yell as much as I did.  But that’s neither here nor there. I remember thinking, during those years I thought would never end, that I would give pretty much anything for just one day — maybe one hour (possibly one visit to the bathroom) — of peace and quiet. That my kids would ever be grown and gone was something I knew on an intellectual level but couldn’t really fathom on an emotional — or auditory — one.

But it’s quiet now.  It’s just hubs and me on our 14 acres on a quiet river in rural Missouri.  The loudest noises here are the tree frogs and cicadas (the normal kind, not the 17-year phenoms).  I have long, slow mornings with plenty of quiet time to read my Bible and pray every day.  (Lest you think I’m bragging, note I said I had plenty of time, not that I actually do it.  But I’m working on it.)  I get to set my own pace most of the time for chores, and if I decide to change it up on the spur of the moment, depending on my mood, I can.

That’s the beauty of being old-ish.  And retired.  And somewhat lazy. And I love it. Some people get to this point and say oh, I miss those frantic, frenetic days! Um, not me. I don’t really miss them. I loved them in many ways, and I wouldn’t change any of them for anything (okay I am not being 100% literal here), but I like my life now, too. I like the quiet. I like my gardening time — alone. I like to read more than half a page at a time.

But then there are the times when the kids come over with their families, my sweet, wonderful, noisy grandchildren – I have six now, ages 13, 8, 6, 5, 4, and almost 1.  Two boys, four girls, and let me just say, when they are all here, it’s loud.  It’s a little (a lot) crazy.  The house if vibrant (almost vibrating), alive, full of screeching and laughter, sometimes tears, lots of chaos.  I love it.  I love every single moment of it.  It is the very best part of my life, those times when we are all together.  The noise, the chaos, the laughter.  Even the tears. 

I love it.

And when it’s over and everyone goes home and it’s quiet again, I love that too, because I am, let’s face it, old-ish.  And I don’t mind the quiet, because I know my family will come again, or I’ll go see them, and we will laugh and cry and holler and it’ll be chaotic and I’ll love it.

So I take this quiet home I have as a gift, a place for me to be restored in mind, body and soul, to pray and read the Bible (yes yes I promise I’ll try harder). 

I relish the quiet as I anticipate with increasing joy the chaos to come. And I urge all you younger mamas out there – be strong and courageous.  It’ll be quiet(er) someday. 

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She’s Just a Child

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Motaung at Link-up – Five Minute Friday. Today’s prompt is “she.”

She’s just a child, this granddaughter of mine, all legs and arms, straight as a rail and railing against the genetics that causes it to be so.  She has a mouth full of braces and sneaks candy when she’s not supposed to; she tells fibs with the childlike naïveté that convinces her that Mom and Dad won’t find out.  Every.  Single.  Time.   She is tormented by, and torments in return, her pesky little brother.

She’s just a child.

But she asks questions about current events.  She sees what’s going on in this country.  She’s concerned about our world. 

And she’s learning compassion.  She sees the classmate who is being tormented and left out by the mean girls this week and tries to include her.  She does this because she has been there; she is still there from time to time.  From time to time, she comes home from school with red-rimmed eyes because of the mean girls who, sadly, learned their behavior from their moms. Moms who, even at 30 and 35 and 40 years old, cluster in groups and whisper and giggle and give other moms that side-eye that says, “Yeah, we’re talking about YOU.”

She befriends the new kid in class; she sits with the girl who is sitting alone.  She is torn between wanting to be with the cool kids and understanding at a deep level that they aren’t all that cool.

She’s just a child.  She’s imperfect, as we all are, but when you look past the childish imperfections you can see the beautiful woman about to emerge.

She’s just a child.  A child on the brink of womanhood.  She’s 13.  The world is about to be gifted with an amazing woman.

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Gamma, it’s Broken!

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Motaung at Link-up – Five Minute Friday. Today’s prompt is “broken.”

This world is a mess.  This country is a mess.  Everything’s a mess.  A hot mess, as my kids would say.  It seems like every time anything even remotely positive happens, ten negative things happen.  It seems like everyone picks a side, and when the “other” side talks we stick our fingers in our ears and shout, “La la la la la la la I can’t HEAR you.”  We refuse to acknowledge that there might be some, any, even a tiny smidgen of veracity to the other opinion, because in doing so we forfeit ground, and nobody anywhere is willing to forfeit ground.

So we all dig in our heels, take our sides, entrench ourselves in our positions.  And we are bombarded by All. The. Bad. News.

This world is a hot mess.

It’s broken.

And it’s so easy to think we are a planet in the universe in some sort of free fall, just spiraling out of control, headed for a collision with the sun.  It’s easy to think God is shaking His head, wondering how his beautiful creation ever devolved into this quagmire of ugliness.  It’s easy to think He’s either given up on us or is just about to, that nothing He’s tried has worked and we’re just hopeless. 

But it’s not so.

I am reminded of the day a while back when I was watching some of my grandchildren, and little Emily, about two or so, was coloring.  I heard her calling to me – “Gamma!  Gamma, it’s broken!”

I went to the table to see what she meant, and she held up a crayon to me – a perfectly intact, whole crayon, and said, “It’s broken,” her little brow furrowed.

It was a white crayon, and she couldn’t see it on the white paper.

“No, baby, it’s not broken.  It works; you just can’t see it.”

Okay, so that concept was completely lost on a two-year-old, who insisted it was broken, so I eventually capitulated and exchanged it for a different color.  She was satisfied, and I figured she’d learn the white-on-white lesson another day.

But it was also a lesson for me. 

God isn’t broken.  God’s will for this world isn’t broken.  God hasn’t stopped working just because sometimes I can’t seeing his handiwork. 

Nothing that is happening in this world, or this country, or my life is taking God by surprise.  And He has not, and will not, give up.  Because He promised.  He said in this world we will have tribulation, but rejoice! He has overcome the world.  And He said He would never forsake us or abandon us.  He said would be with us, even to the end of the age.

So while our world looks mightily broken, our God is not.  May His kingdom come, and His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

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Everything in Moderation

I saw a blog headline on my Facebook page the other day that I haven’t been able to get out of my head.  “It’s Not My Turn,” it said, along with a picture of a young mom surrounded by several very cute, smiling children. 

I didn’t read the blog.  I have no idea what it said or what it actually about.  So if you did see it and read it and find that what I’m going to say has nothing to do with that actual blog post, don’t shoot me.  It was just the headline that acted as the catalyst for this.

I’ve read many “young mom” posts over the last few years.  Now you might be wondering why, since I am by no means a young mom.  But I have daughters-in-law who are, and so I’m interested in young mom life.  Because, let me tell you, young mom life today is waaaaaay different than it was when I was actually one of them.

This is what I find to be true about so many YM blog posts:  There’s not a lot of moderation in them.  They seem to be either all about the importance of self-care or all about kid care.  There seems to be a dearth of good posts about how to moderate the two. 

I see posts that instruct moms how to nurture themselves, give themselves grace, make space for their own lives in the midst of the chaos of family – don’t feel guilty, don’t neglect yourself, you’re important, you do all the things, you deserve all the things etc. etc.  And I’m not saying that’s not true. 

But then the other blogs tell these same moms you have to nurture those babies.  They grow up so fast!  They need you so much, you have to be here, you have to make their childhood a wonderful thing for them, you have teach them and read to them and play with them and care for them and snuggle with them and and and and.  And I’m not saying that’s not true, either.

I’m saying there has to be some balance. 

So when I saw that headline – It’s Not My Turn – something inside me rebelled.  I imagined another blog about the importance of you moms setting aside your ambitions, your dreams, your needs at this crucial time in your children’s lives to care and nurture them.  It’s their turn.  They’re only little for a short time; don’t squander that on your selfish pursuits.  Children need your focus; children need your support, your attention, your everything.

I rebelled.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I do not advocate child neglect.  I do not advocate having children at all if you want a lifestyle of footloose and fancy free.  Children need focus.  Children need support.  Children need attention.  And they are little for such a short time.

But there’s a balance.  There has to be a balance.  Because in almost every case, the years that your children are growing up will be the same years that you are in the very prime of your life – your 20’s through your 40’s.  Or maybe these days it’s 30’s through 50’s, but still – prime years! 

When I was young, the majority of my friends, and the majority of women in my church who had children, were stay-at-home moms. So when I had my babies, I quit my job and stayed home. 

But I loved my job. I missed my job.  And I felt really guilty about that because wasn’t I supposed to want to stay home with my kids?  Well, I DID want to stay home with my kids. But still…I missed my job.

When my younger son started school, I went back to work.  That meant after-school daycare for both the boys, and some frantic dashes trying to get them picked up on time when I had to work late.  And I felt guilty a lot because all the women’s events and ministries at church were held on weekdays under the assumption that women were available to attend because, duh, stay-at-home moms. 

It was a lose/lose.  When I stayed at home and missed working, I felt guilty.  When I went to work and wasn’t what I thought Christian moms were supposed to be, I felt guilty. 

Until I decided not to feel guilty.  Until I looked at my boys and saw that they were doing fine.  They were happy.  We managed to get them into whatever sports or scouts or whatever they wanted to get into.  We managed to find a way to be all the things without my having to be only half the thing I needed to be. 

Okay, maybe not all the things.  Maybe we said no to some things.  Maybe they didn’t get to do Every. Single. Thing. 

But was that bad?  No.  I don’t believe it was.  Because starting at five, six, seven years old, the boys learned that the entire universe did not revolve around them.  That they were two pieces in a four-part puzzle, and the puzzle was only complete if all four parts were complete.  That every part of the puzzle had to make some sacrifices at some point in order for everything to fit together.

These boys are adults now.  They each have their own families, and while they aren’t perfect (yes I said that; I acknowledge I did not raise perfect children), I can see them raising their children well.  I can see them teaching their children the same lessons, even if they don’t know it:  That the family is a puzzle, and the pieces all need to fit together, work together, sacrifice together to make the puzzle whole.

So all you young women out there, when you read those blogs, try to remember – moderation is the key to everything.  Sacrifice for your kids, yes, absolutely, because they are your sunshine.  In moderation.  And have them sacrifice for you, too, in moderation, so that they learn what astronomy has taught us – no matter how bright and beautiful it is, the sun is not the center of the universe.

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It’s Okay to Not be Okay

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Motaung at Link-up – Five Minute Friday. Today’s prompt is “permission.”

Permission.  That’s a big word.  And not just because it has ten letters and three syllables.  It’s a big word because it carries big weight and sometimes big consequences.

I thought about this word throughout the morning, about what I might write and how I might write it.  At first I thought about my daughters-in-law and the pressures of young motherhood, and I thought I should write that these young mamas today need to give themselves permission to not always be perfect, to not always do All. The. Things.  To not always know how to handle everything life throws at them and to sometimes throw up their hands and hide in their happy place – in a good book or a hot bath.

But then I thought about friends and family I know who are tip-toeing around one another because they have different political or spiritual beliefs, and in today’s highly charged atmosphere that’s hard to negotiate.  Every conversation seems to hold some hot-button issue; every issue seems to polarize people who once enjoyed nothing more than one another’s company over a good meal.  So I thought, I should write that we need to give each other permission to believe different things, to have different ideas and ideologies and approaches to life.  To make decisions we might not agree with, to support causes we don’t support.  And still get together for good company and a good meal.

And I eventually came around to something more personal.  I thought about myself, and about the week (year?) I’ve had, and about how at Bible Study on Tuesday morning, a study on grace, a simple question about forgiveness opened the floodgates and I fell apart, weeping, laying before my sweet sisters all my fears and failures.  And then apologizing again and again for being so weak, for lacking faith, for losing control. 

And I realized I needed to write this for me, and for anyone else who might be like me, who might be at that place in life where we are supposed to be these strong Christian women, full of faith and fortitude, dependent on God and God alone, a tree planted by the water.  And I needed to say, we have permission, you and I.  We have God’s permission to weep when life is too much.   Mary wept.  Martha wept. Peter wept.  

Jesus wept.

God gave us tears.  We have permission to be weak sometimes.  Because His power is made perfect in my – our – weakness.  If we could do it all without Him … then I guess we wouldn’t need Him, right?  But oh! how we need Him.

So yes, I want to be strong and courageous.  Yes, I want to be anxious for nothing.  Yes, I want to depend wholly upon God, knowing that in this world I will have tribulations, but rejoicing because He has overcome the world.

But sometimes I have to give myself permission to weep, knowing that God is collecting all my tears and putting them in His bottle, because my tears are precious to Him.  That thought helps me hope in the Lord, and that renews my strength.

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Savoring the Unsavory

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Motaung at Link-up – Five Minute Friday. Today’s prompt is “savor.”

Savor. Doesn’t that immediately make you think of something that gives you great pleasure, but that you know is going to be fleeting, so you have to eke every second of enjoyment out of it while you can?  A good steak.  A fine wine.  Moments with your grandchildren. A book you can’t put down. A rare date night with hubs. Early morning quiet before anyone else wakes up.

So, so many moments in life that we savor, cling to, relish, want to never forget.

I wonder, shouldn’t we also maybe savor some of the bad times?  Savor some of the hardest, worst, ugliest, most horrific moments of our lives? Yeah, I know, I’m a little weird.  But hear me out.

Isn’t it going through those awful, hard, ugly times exactly what makes the good, wonderful times that much better?  How could we really relish the taste of a good steak if all we’d ever had to eat was good steak?  How could we appreciate a really good book if every single book we read was excellent? (Okay, I would actually like to give that one a shot.)

Life is hard, beautiful, painful, joyous, ugly, wonderful.  Without the depths of the bad, how can we truly experience the heights of the good?

So maybe we can remind ourselves, when our hearts are hurting, when we hear that diagnosis, when our children are suffering, when our finances look hopeless, when we’re living a life that isn’t what we expected it to be … maybe we can remind ourselves to savor it a little bit, because without darkness we wouldn’t know the joy of the light.

Here’s a poem I wrote years ago.  I read it every now and then to remind myself that the lows of life have a purpose.

There is some comfort in a temperate clime
A steadiness of soul found only there
The days all pass in rhythm and in rhyme
No raging storms nor sunshine more than fair.

Safety dwells in landscapes flat and low
Where eye can see all that lies ahead
Surprise can’t hide nor trouble bid its woe
Time marches straight and steady without dread.

Yet absent wind, how can the calm be known?
And absent gloom, how can the sun seem bright?
Does rain not cleanse, and senses sharply hone
And storm-filled darkness birth the day’s warm light?

If no deep valley, menacing and bleak
Where danger lurks and pain leads to despair
Then no ecstasy of reaching the high peak
For ’tis the peak which cast the shadow there.

So through the trough of hardship let us go
And all our heart and will and strength employ
The path indeed is difficult and slow
But worth the agony to find the joy.

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Who would Janet be without Mary?

I was weeding my garden bed the other day in preparation for spring planting, and it made me think of my sister.  Now, you’d think that was because my sister is an awesome gardener, an actual horticulturist by profession, the one person in our family who can grow anything anywhere. 

But no.

That’s not how my brain works.  My brain went on one of those journeys – I was going to say train rides but really, that’s not right because trains are on tracks, aren’t they?  So they don’t have much choice but to end up where they’re supposed to end up.  Unless someone along the way pulls the wrong switch, I guess …

But anyway, my brain tends to go more on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang kind of rides.  Or maybe Mr. Toad’s Wild Rides.  Oh that was always one of my favorites at Disneyland.  Even as an adult, I was caught off guard and laughed and screamed right along with all the kiddos …

Okay wait.  I’m writing about my sister.

So my brain went on one of its wild rides.  I was pulling weeds, one of my least favorite things to do in a world where I have a lot of least favorites.  Pulling weeds made me think of my granddaughter Calie.  Last year I hired Calie to pull weeds for me, and it was money well spent, let me tell you.  I was thinking, sitting there in the mud and trying to get to the roots of those little suckers, that I wished Calie were there to do this job for me again. 

That got me thinking about Calie, and how much I loved that girl.  And about her siblings.  I thought about her little sister, Emily, and how good Calie was with her.  It was too bad, I thought, that they were so far apart in age – Calie is 13 and Em is 4.  Because it’s nice to have a sister to play with when you’re growing up. 

And that is what made me think of my sister. 

Kids didn’t stay as busy with extracurricular activities back when we were growing up.  I’m not saying that’s good or bad; it’s just what was.  We had Campfire Girls and Girl Scouts; my brother had Boy Scouts.  But we weren’t involved in a church, and we weren’t involved in sports, so our time was spent to a great degree playing outside with each other and with the neighborhood kids. 

My sister, Robin, and I played together a lot.  I mean, we were built-in best friends, right?  And one of our favorite things to play was house.  But we didn’t call it playing house; we called it playing Janet and Mary.  I was Janet, and she was Mary.  Whenever we didn’t have anything else going on, one or the other of us would say, “Wanna play Janet and Mary?”  Never Mary and Janet.  Always Janet and Mary.

And we would don our grown-up personas and become Janet and Mary for hours and hours on end.  Early on we were mommies to our baby dolls, doing all the things we imagined mommies loved to do.  Like cooking and cleaning and taking care of our imaginary husbands (oh the naivete of youth).  Later, as we got a wee bit older and our play became a wee bit more sophisticated (which means we didn’t let anyone else know we were still pretending to be Janet and Mary), we became the girlfriends of the likes of Davy Jones and Mickey Dolenz.  Or Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith, depending on who we thought was cutest that week.  Okay, well, every week one of us claimed Davy Jones.  That was a given.  The other three rotated turns.

Janet and Mary had so many awesome adventures.  They went to all the places and did all the things.  They were the best mommies, the best wives, the best girlfriends.

And they were best friends.

I sat in the mud in the garden, pulling weeds and thinking about Janet and Mary.  Thinking about playing house with my sister.  Thinking about that summer she had rheumatic fever and had to stay very quiet and not run around and play – she and I spent hours and hours playing with our Barbies, sitting under the dining room table, which we pretended was Barbie’s mansion.  The chairs were the upstairs rooms, the floor was downstairs, the tabletop was the third floor.  Hours and hours and hours with Barbie, Ken, and Skipper.  And when that got old – Janet and Mary.

My sister and I live miles and miles apart now, and we have our whole adult lives.  But she’s still my best friend.  She’s still the one I turn to when something is on my heart.  She’s still the one I want to share my good – and bad – news with first. 

She’s still one of the greatest blessings of my life.

She’s still Mary to my Janet.

Happy birthday, Mary.

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“Enable” isn’t a four-letter word

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Motaung at Link-up – Five Minute Friday. Today’s prompt is “enable.”

Last week’s Five Minute Friday word was “enable.”  I haven’t written for a couple of weeks because life has interfered, but I couldn’t get that word out of my head, so I thought I’d just write it up anyway, even if it’s not Friday and I’m a little late joining in with the FMF community on this one.  Because “enable” is a really, really loaded word.

It’s gotten a pretty bad rap, really.  I mean, nobody wants to be an enabler, right?  That connotes drinking and drugs and abuse and All. The. Bad. Things. We think of it as a bad word. A six-letter four-letter word.

Sometimes I hear people tut-tutting (which is just as less ugly way of saying gossiping) about this family or that, facing this crisis or that, and how the mom and dad, or the wife, or the husband has enabled that bad behavior.  Mom and dad need to use a little tough love and make that kid grow up.  Hubby needs to cut up those credit cards and quit enabling that shopaholic.  That woman needs to stop putting up with that physical/emotional/whatever abuse and get out of there. 

And I don’t disagree.  Those circumstances all exist, and that kind of enabling really is self-harming, self-defeating, self-crushing.

But that is just one little side of enabling.  There’s so much more to that word.

If you’re a parent, you get it.  You know.  Because from the time that little one was put into your arms, you started enabling.  It was your job to enable.  The first months it was all about enabling that baby to just live.  Eat, sleep, stay clean.  Repeat.  But then it started progressing, right?  Enabling, encouraging, teaching baby to hold up his head, sit up, crawl, walk (oh heaven help us now). 

And from that point on, your whole life as a parent was enabling that child, those children, to grow, to learn, to become the people they would (or will) eventually become.  You enable them to choose friends wisely; you enable them to understand how to deal with pain – physical but more importantly emotional. 

You enable them to learn compassion and empathy.  You enable them to learn kindness and decency.  Sometimes that is an ugly process, because sometimes they have to learn how to treat others by being treated so horribly by others that they never want to make someone else feel the way they felt.  But when they come crying into your arms with all that pain, you enable them to turn it into compassion by telling them it is a gift from God, that God is using that hurt and that pain and that ugliness to refine them into the kind of people He will use for grace and mercy in the world.

And then they are grown.  They marry; they have families.  So you’re done, right? Yay! Woohoo!

Wrong.

You’re still an enabler.  Because you’re still a parent.  And they’re still your kids, and now you have their husbands and wives as your kids too.  And their kids as your grandkids.  Your job as enabler has just multiplied exponentially.

You enable them to have some time together by taking care of their babies while they go out.  You enable them to get by in a world where it is very, very hard to do by helping out financially if you can.  When they face their own crises, and they will, you are there – always – to support them with your time, your love, your money if necessary … whatever they need.  Because family supports family.

And when you yourself get old, and infirm, and lose your marbles a bit, and need their support, they will be there.  They will take care of you, and support you, and enable you to live your final days in dignity.  Because family supports family.

And because you taught them how to be an enabler.  The right kind of enabler. 

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It doesn’t make any sense

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Motaung at Link-up – Five Minute Friday. Today’s prompt is “once.”

My five-year-old granddaughter, a teeny little firecracker of a girl overflowing with personality and sass, asked her mama how to spell “once.”

“O-N-C-E,” mama answered.

“No,” said Firecracker, “no, it starts with “W.”  Wah-wah-wah-wahnce.”

“Well,” replied mama, “That’s how it sounds, but it starts with “O.”

Firecracker would have none of it.  To her, a word that started with “wah” had to also start with “W.”  Anything else was just, well, dumb.  (Welcome to the English language, sweet child.)

She’s not wrong.  It is illogical.  Language would be so much easier if things were spelled as we expect them to be spelled.

Life would be so much easier if things went as we expect them to go.  If families were all like Ozzie and Harriet (I am possibly dating myself here) and any mild conflict that arose was settled sweetly at the end of every half hour episode when we all sat down to a nice dinner together.  If “I do” always meant you really did, forever and always.  And if “till death do us part” never came sooner than it should – whether that’s five years or fifty years.  If our children were never anything but semi-perfect (perfect is tedious) and the worst thing we had to deal with during their growing-up years was that time one of them scratched an unmentionable word into the desk at school.  If, when they grew up and became “adults,” their lives flowed into perfect worlds of college-jobs-marriage-children-happiness without any heartache. 

If people we loved never disappointed us.

If we never disappointed people who loved us.

If we never heard those words, “It’s cancer.”

If we never had to sit in the waiting room … waiting.

If we never had to bury someone we never thought we would have to live without, and then try to figure out how to live without them.

But life is like the word “once.”  It isn’t anything like you expect it to be.  And that’s really okay, because you know what “once” has going for it?

Once upon a time…

Once I was blind, but now I see…

Once there was a man called Jesus…

Once is unexpected and still full of promise.  So is life.

Just wait till Firecracker finds out xylophone doesn’t have a “Z” in it.

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