Monday, March 31, 2008

I think we have a winner

Well, it looks like it's going to be Guilford College near Greensboro, NC. It's a small liberal-arts college (much smaller even than his high school, which is much smaller than his high school in Houston)--very liberal, very artsy. It seems like the kind of place that students go to class barefooted, call their professors by their first names, and have permission to be smart. They sit out under the spreading trees and sketch and talk philosophy and play guitar--all of which impressed Mowgli a great deal. The school strongly articulates its Quaker heritage and values--tolerance, respect, diversity, etc.--which was apparently a drawback for some in the tour group but is exactly what Mowgli was looking for. It feels crazy to think that this is where I will be dropping him off in the fall . . . it feels so far away. But I knew as soon as we started walking around the campus that this is a place he will fit in and that feels good.

My teachers in high school were always telling me, "Just wait til you get to college . . . then you'll really fit in" which might have been true if I had chosen another college. But I loved Baylor and still do. We saw little Guilford onesies in the bookstore, so obviously there are generations of Guilford students who feel the same way.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wish us luck!

Tomorrow, Mowgli and I are going to North Carolina to look at his top two college choices--Davidson College in Davidson just outside of Charlotte and Guilford College, just outside of Greensboro. Both are very small liberal arts colleges with very different reputations. I think he's prepared to like both of them and is afraid that he won't like them. If this trip eliminates these two, the next two are Vanderbilt in TN and William and Mary in VA. He hasn't heard back from either of them, yet--letters don't go out until early April.

I remember going through the process of choosing a school and being completely mystified by it. (In those days, you didn't get nearly as much help with the decision as kids get now.) My first choice was Wake Forest--I knew absolutely nothing about it and have no memory about why I wanted to go there. I think it was because it was a Baptist school outside of Texas. My dad steered me away from going so far away and also from my second choice, a fundamentalist/dispensationalist school in Dallas (thank you, Dad!!). In the late fall of my senior year, he took me to a football game at Baylor and I was completely thrilled. In fact, Baylor was the only school I applied to and I never regretted the decision in any way.

As you know, we love Baylor dearly and have been brainwashing our kids since they were old enough to wear green-and-gold onesies. Both share our interest in Baylor (especially Mowgli, who follows Baylor sports pretty closely, bless his heart) but neither kid wants to go there. Mowgli went for a college visit and came home saying, "It's a combination of CLHS and church," which isn't exactly true but I can see where he gets it.

On the one hand, Mowgli's decision about where to go to school feels incredibly momentous, as though it will determine the details of his future, which of course, it will. On the other hand, there is no perfect choice and anything he decides will have its own unique combination of advantages and disadvantages. That takes the edge off some of the anxiety for both of us.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

He is not here . . .

He is risen!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just a tiny request : )

If you love your pastor, please try really hard not to have a medical emergency or a funeral during Holy Week. Anytime beginning the Tuesday after Easter will be fine. Thank you for your cooperation.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

That thing you do so well

It is a wonderful thing when we get to see someone who is absolutely the very best at what they do doing what they do. Today it happened twice: Barack Obama gave his speech ("talked to America about race as if they were . . . adults") and Jon Stewart took it to the next level on The Daily Show. If only Tiger Woods had played in a golf tournament today, we would have had a trifecta of perfection.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Story of my life

by Marie Howe

Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important
calls for my attention--the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage

I need to buy for the trip.
Even now I can hardly sit here

among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside
already screeching and banging.

The mystics say you are as close as my own breath.
Why do I flee from you?

My days and nights pour through me like complaints
and become a story I forgot to tell.

Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning
to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Loved well

Since we're about to launch our firstborn into adulthood (he'll be 18 in 3 weeks), I've been thinking a lot about what defines successful parenting. You know, when they were very little, just surviving to the end of the day felt like a tremendous accomplishment, what with all the mortal dangers lurking everywhere--tiny things they could put in their mouths and choke on, electrical outlets beckoning little fingers, invisible germs on their hands, traffic in the street next to the park where we played. And then, a few years later, just surviving all of our schedules felt like success--getting everyone where they needed to be with at least one parent in the bleachers or the pews or the hard school cafeteria chairs to cheer them on. Now that Mowgli's about to leave us, though, and go out into the real world far, far away from home, I want a little more for him than just survival.

I realized this week that to understand the blessing of successful parenting, I need to go back into my own childhood, where I was cared for and cherished and encouraged by parents who really loved me and even liked me. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I was mired in an ugly funk, feeling down and icky and saying mean things to myself about myself, mean things I would never say to anyone else, and that's when I realized: they don't stick. I can say the really mean things in my head, thinking I really mean them, but they don't take root in my heart because my parents' love--unconditional and unwavering--created a barrier of truth around it. "Love covers a multitude of sins."

This is what I hope we've done for our children: poured enough love into and around and through their lives that the ugliness of the world and the condemnation of others and the uncertainty of their own minds will never overpower it or crowd it out. That and a few thousand dollars in college tuition are about all we have left to give. I know from experience that it's enough.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Just kidding

Today's topic is irony or sarcasm or whatever variation of having your tongue firmly planted in your cheek appeals to you. It's amazing to me how many people are incapable of it.

Last weekend, at the Ministry Wives retreat, I led a workshop on "Ministry Transitions" and to make things a little more interesting, I delivered my main points under the heading, "How to make change harder than it has to be" with suggestions like "Isolate yourself" and "Complain constantly" and "Refuse to accept the changes for as long as possible." In the first two sessions, the participants just howled--they laughed and interacted with a lot of energy. In the third--remember, same presentation--they sat completely silent with wide, horrified eyes, shaking their heads in disbelief that I was giving such obviously wrong advice. Even after I veered into "It's a joke!" there were no smiles, no signs of recognition that I was being facetious. I changed my approach quickly, but needless to say, it felt like an eternity before the workshop was over.

Last night we watched a wonderfully wickedly ironic movie Thank You for Smoking, directed by the same guy that did Juno. I wonder how many people went to see it and thought it was "awful--just awful!" how they were making light of smoking deaths, not taking a very serious subject seriously. I can imagine moviegoers with their shocked expressions, unable to do anything but take it very literally.

And of course, these same people with their deficient or nonexistent "irony receptors" read Scripture and apply it to their lives (and unfortunately to mine, too) and then we've got fundamentalism on our hands and can't get it off.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Political buzz

I am loving this political season--not just because it's been so suspenseful and unpredictable but because everyone is talking about it. By everyone, I mean everyone! I voted in a primary for only the second time in my life last week and while waiting in line (30 minutes--for early voting!), the buzz around me was so energetic and engaging. Every day, Mowgli wants to talk about the latest developments and we all sit around the table or the TV talking about issues and values and strategies with Boo listening and occasionally joining in. Today, my mom and I talked about different aspects of the various campaigns for more than an hour. In our family, we have supported up to three different candidates at a time (we're now down to two) but the dialogues have been unifying, not divisive. I love it!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Another update

The trip to the BGCT Ministry Wives' retreat turned out fine although I desperately missed my friend FrostyRogers, who was sick. Tomorrow I leave for the LeadersEdge reunion at Trinity Pines. Have you noticed that I've made the rounds of Baptist encampments--three in 13 days!

Another quick note: If you'd like to read a recent interview, check out Scroll down to Feb 8 and Feb 15 for a brief interview with Brett and Kellie. I've hesitated to give you the link because I want to make a disclaimer about what I said about marriage and the community. I was responding to some new and exciting research but I didn't go far enough to make the obvious caveat that many, many single people contribute mightily to families and to the community. So sorry for the Beaver Cleaver assumptions that show up in that paragraph. Otherwise, though, it was a fun interview to do and got me thinking about lots of stuff. And I love Brett and Kellie's ministry and would love for you to be aware of it.

Last night, when I wasn't wide awake, I was dreaming . . . the frequent "calendar chaos" dreams that I have, where I've forgotten something on my calendar or I've double-booked or I'm not where I'm supposed to be at a given time. I also had another dream that is becoming recurrent. In the dream, I find a room or even a whole wing in my house that I never knew was there, even though I'm aware that I've lived in the house for a long time.

For women, houses are supposed to represent the totality of our lives--identity, really. So the dream is interesting . . . wonder what is about to open up that I'm not aware of? (In the real dream, it was a large utility room with a commercial stove/oven and a smoker! Not sure that has any significance!)

Anyway, opportunities continue to open up--more about that soon!