Holiday Week Mondays

It’s Monday in the office and despite the fact that two of my coworkers were here around 730am, you can tell that none of us want to be here. My eyes won’t stop watering, Lisa practically limps to and from the printer as if her feet are deadened to the world with sleepy Monday blues and Jessica came in half an hour later than normal. We have a lot to do. I’ve a project to finish before the end of the month, the advent devotional should be coming out, there’s an appeal to be written and mailed and a lunch to plan, and a thousand envelopes to stuff. But the boss is on a flight back from Chicago and no one wants to be here.

One of my high school girls is working on Thursday–all day. I told her I’d come visit between my first Turkey Trot and dinner with friends. She’s at a retail store that is open all day Thursday and all night into Black Friday. I was in shock when she told me about it and then I almost cried. What’s wrong, America? Why are we working on holidays to allow people to get more in debt with stuff they don’t need? My girl should be with her family, eating too much food and reminiscing about holidays past or running a turkey trot with the youth group; not at work selling clothes and shoes.

In something I recently edited a writer noted that we should be working for “kingdom change” in our every day lives as parents, employees, leaders, couples and students. It’s a rough Monday. It’s 10am and the most monumental thing I’ve done is update a single website and turn in my time sheet. It’s a holiday week and no one wants to be here–I’d rather be buying sweet potatoes, baking biscotti and enjoying a run or some OT work. What would it be like to work on the most momentous of family holidays?

I’ve been wondering, if I was the manager at that store, would I buy everyone lunch? Invite them over for a late night Turkey Dinner? Would I tell them all to call in sick, so I could lock the doors and apologize to the corporation for apparent widespread illness? Would that be the kingdom, breaking in, standing against the status quo and authority? Would I refuse to schedule anyone at all and take the hit for believing that family and rest are more important than profit? Would that be counter-cultural and civilly disobedient in a way that Jesus might have appreciated: to value people more than money?

I don’t know that I have such courage but….it’s something worth pondering.

In the meantime, I’ll be picking up my high schooler for her half hour lunch and buying her something to eat to make the day a bit tolerable.

Big Brother

I love telling people what you do for a living, I get this surge of pride when I see their eyes widen and their mouths open a little in surprise. F-16, they always repeat the phrase, as if hearing it in their own voice will make it more real. If E is with me, he laughs and says, “yeah, he’s a real badass.” People chuckle, church folks and friends outside the faith, they smile and nod and say it’s true, you must be pretty awesome to do something like that.

We’ve been praying for you at church, each week after the homily we call out prayer requests and then our pastor prays through each one, by name and situation. People ask after you, after A and the boys, and they pray for you throughout the week.

I talk to your wife. I’m trying to be a better sister-in-law. It might be simply because she’s fabulous and I love talking to her (despite disliking phone conversations). But it’s also that I miss you and because I want to make sure she’s alright with you gone until April (which of course she is, she’s a tough one, that wife of yours).

I think that most of all, you should know that I love you. That I’m praying for you. That I’m confident you’ll come home safe and sound. I want you to know that I think about you–every day, and more than once. Whenever a jet flies overhead, I remember what your wife once told your son when I was visiting, and to the pilot I’ll never meet, I whisper outloud: be safe. come home. Every time I see a jet: weekend warriors, cadets at the academy, and all the rest.

Be safe.

Come home.

Thank you.

WHY: Married Couples

Before I started dating E, I hung out with a lot of married couples. Some might call this masochism, others might consider it purely inevitable since I attend a seminary where 60 or 70 percent of the population is married. Maybe I simply missed married folks and family life since I had left G&J’s last summer. Or perhaps it’s because I was desperate for good cooking and free meals.

The truth is, I did it on purpose, so option (b) definitely doesn’t hold up. There were plenty of singles at my church and in my social circles at school. But if I could choose who I would spend the majority of my time with, it’d definitely be married couples. New or experienced, I love hanging out with married folks.

The younger married couples in my life, such as N&L are sweet and fun. They are also working out a lot of their ish as they’ve only just passed their first year anniversary. They argue, they cry, they fail to meet each other needs, they fail to even know what those needs are! But they pick themselves up and they keep on moving forward. I love N&L as they are so honest about their struggles in adjusting to married life. It reminded me that I didn’t have to be perfect and I should expect some amount of struggle and adjustment whenever I started dating someone. Now that I’m with E, I love hearing their stories even more because I am encouraged that our arguments are not unhealthy or abnormal. In fact, we probably fight less then most of our married friends–though, that’s because we don’t live together and I don’t have to clean up after him every single day.*

I also love my  more intermediate friends. These are people like J&K who have been married for a couple of years and are past that first stage of adjustment. They recognize that some things are disappointing but that those things are just “life” especially given the stage we are in–things like having opposite class and work schedules and not always being on the same page about life’s little details. There are also couples like A&J who have a few kids and are on the next stage: parenting. They have made it past the hurdles of one another’s sin and have ventured into bringing more depravity into their home: children!! They are full of wisdom about loving each other and learning what it means to hand that love over to easily shaped minds and hearts. I love watching them work with each other–or try to–and I enjoy learning how they serve one another in the midst of family life. It’s a real encouragement to me and a huge challenge as I’m dating E. I am so selfish, I realize, and it is hard to put myself aside for one man whom I dearly appreciate. Watching men and women do that with their spouses and their children is even more powerful. It’s a witness to the Gospel, that we can love one another like that.

The last group are the more experienced folk. People like G&J who exude wisdom with everything they do. Even simple FB updates and texts contain those nuggets. And I don’t mean just cheesy simplistic stuff. I mean, these people are so full of wisdom and experience, love and hope that it just pours out no matter what they say or do. You can almost feel it when you walk into their house. It’s like Narnia when Aslan was on the move: you can feel the difference in the air. This group also includes older couples whose kids are grown and they’ve made it past the last long jump–living with each other (again). They still love and care for one another, more deeply perhaps, after all they’ve walked through together. I think that’s amazing. Love and longevity have never seemed to go together for me…doesn’t it end eventually? Being with these people while I was single was an encouragement that it could happen someday. Now that E and I are dating, it’s more a question of how does one make it happen? We know it’s possible, so how do we do it?

You don’t learn that kind of stuff from single folks. There are good things to learn from them. We remember how to have fun, that marriage isn’t the end game, that God can use anyone, that there is a healthy element to singleness. But there’s this weighty joy when I’m with married couples–even if I’m with them all by myself.

So it isn’t just coincidence or accident that I skimped on a paper due today in order to talk with a friend about him and his wife. It’s not because I’m nostalgic for when that happens to me or that I couldn’t have other friends. It’s because married folks are great. And I think every single person should have four or five couples in their life that they respect and look up to. Maybe if we loved married couples who are healthy and learned to emulate them even while we’re single…maybe we’d have fewer divorces. But that’s a big maybe. Which is for a much longer (and not forthcoming) post.

For now, thanks to N&L, J&K, M&R, K&I, S&D, J&G, A&J, P&J and many many more.

________
*I suppose this could go both ways. But I’m a neat freak, so it’s probably more like… he doesn’t have to untidy anything to make it feel like he’s not living in a hospital every single day.

WHY: My family is awesome

My brother and his family are visiting from out of town this weekend. I have two nephews ages 3 and 5 months. This morning, after I spent the night at my folks’ the “little man” came down and woke me up on the couch with three kisses and a mischievous grin.

I’ve spent most of the week thus far at my folks’ place. Thankfully I’ve had time off of work to spend with everyone.

The easiest way to tell you how my family is awesome might be to just point out that we’re all very good looking. But that seems…pretentious. So the next best example of our quirky intellectual awesomeness comes from Monday afternoon.

My mum was at work (sadly) while the rest of us lounged in the backyard. My brother read a military book on his Kindle and my dad held the infant on his lap, bouncing to the sound of Beethoven’s 5th. I was reading philosophy and my sister in law soon chased the little man out to join us while she and my dad played backgammon. How many families read philosophy, military history and play backgammon while forcing their children to appreciate classical music?

not many.

but mine does.

family differences

the day after Christmas….

S: I’m going to have a cup of tea and read some more medieval church history! so great!
M: There’s something wrong with that.

so yes. I’m splitting more morning between a run (with new headphones for the iPod!) and reading an optional textbook from a class last semester. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas.