Where Oh Where Did My Little Blog Go?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Peanutbutter and Jelly Blessings...

My five year old son is a constant challenge... bull headed... stubborn... and sometimes a "little" defiant (laced in sarcasm). He consistently and frequently frustrates me. Everything seems like a debate... a constant entourage of discussion and persuasion. His little world MUST make perfect sense at ALL times. He's perpetually focused on issues of inequality and injustice. If I ask him to do something and it doesn't adequately "add up" in his five-year-old world, an exhausting challenge ensues.

Yesterday, while making sandwiches for lunch... Colton requested peanut-butter and jelly while the rest of the children were completely content with turkey. Not a problem... over the years I have learned to appreciate, and grown accustomed to, his frequent assertions of individuality and independence. I was busy making multiple sandwiches and trying to feed the "masses" (by "masses" I'm referring to my four children and the parade of playmates who frequently pass through our home during meal time). I began to cut the sandwich at an angle. I was startled by the aggravated shriek of my child, "NO!!! NOT THAT WAY!"

I stopped mid-cut. He continued in defiance..."I WANT IT CUT THE OTHER WAY!"

He wanted it cut in four equal squares... I had begun to cut it diagonally, in two equal triangles. This was the beginning of a tedious confrontation. In an effort to "choose my battles", I changed my approach to the cut... separating the sandwich into the four equal squares, as requested. Of course, one of the small squares was nearly severed into two miniature triangles because of my initial attempt at cutting the sandwich. I quickly placed it on a paper plate, then garnished it with chips and grapes... pretending not to notice the "defective" piece. I hoped that by overlooking the "flawed" square, he would accept the sandwich "as is", we could enjoy our lunch, and avoid the impending act of defiance that - over the years - I have come to expect.

I placed the sandwich in front of him. He looked at the sandwich and his eyes studied the piece that seemed to announce my irreparable "error in judgement". I continued to ignore his aggravation. He looked up at me with a bitter scowl, then pushed the plate to the center of the table as if he'd just found a hair in his food, then proclaimed... "I want another one."

Here we go...

"Colton, there's nothing wrong with that sandwich. It will taste the same, regardless of how it's cut... just eat it." I slid the plate back to him, hoping that he would surrender to my frustration and eat his lunch.

The other children were happily engaged in eating their meal. I busily went about the tasks at hand, making and serving juice. I put Cole's cup of juice down in front of him... I looked at the plate... sure enough, the "defective" piece had mysteriously vanished while the bitter scowl on his face stubbornly remained. I looked in the garbage... there it was... "the misfit".

Colton, noticing my displeasure, asserted himself with explanatory conviction... "I want a different sandwich."

Too tired for an out-and-out battle, I attempted to compromise with the stubborn little turd... "You don't have to eat the piece that's cut wrong. Eat the rest of the sandwich... When you're finished, if you're still hungry... I'll make you another one."

One by one, the other children finished their lunch and asked to be excused. Colton stubbornly remained... arms crossed... furrowed brow. I began to clean up. As I turned around, there he stood... beside the trash with the remaining pieces of the sandwich crumbled in his hands and a defiant look on his face. There we were, my will versus his... standing toe to toe... eyes locked... in what can only be described as a stand-off...


I took the twisted sandwich from his hands, reinforced my prior position, and sent him to his room without lunch. The mangled remains of a perfectly good sandwich went into the trash. The next hour and a half was engulfed by defiant howls of bitter injustice and verbal assertions of inequality. Ahhh, yes.... the joys of parenthood.

Last night, after the children went to bed, I thought about this experience and my relationship with my child. My thoughts drifted to the relationship that I have with my own father... my Eternal Father, and I could identify some striking parallels...

Matthew 7:7-11

7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

8. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

10. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Colton asked for bread... he was given bread, but the bread provided didn't meet his expectations. Because of those expectations... the bread became a "stone"... a blessing, discarded and not received.

I couldn't help but reflect on my own life and the relationship that I have with my Heavenly Father. I couldn't help but wonder how many times I have refused to accept the "bread" that I have been given? I wonder how many times I have failed to acknowledge the limitations on my mortal understanding, thereby demonstrating a stubborn lack of faith in the will of my Father? The Savior repeatedly taught the value of faith...

Matthew 17:20

20. Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

I have come to realize that formulating expectations leads to lost opportunities and a failure to embrace many of the Lord's "good gifts". While perfect faith has the potential to move mountains, the lack thereof can turn "bread into stones", and "fish into serpents"... blessings disposed.

Through adversity, I am learning to resist less, expect less, and give more. I am learning to love completely, live authentically, and BELIEVE faithfully. I am learning to rejoice in adversity... and give thanks for the experiences in my life that have clarified my understanding of God, my relationship to others, and my purpose in this world. I am awake... I am blessed... I am forever His.

James 1:2-4

2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye encounter trials;

3. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

4. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

I am learning to trust God's will and graciously accept the "good gifts" in my life. I am learning to "want nothing", to let go of my expectations... expectations that frequently result in discarded...

"peanutbutter and jelly blessings"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Radical Acceptance

Radical Acceptance

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Adventures in Radical Acceptance

Adventures in Radical Acceptance (Round 2)

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"Some people just like the way I am..."

"Some people are the same...

Some people are different...

Some people are short...

Some people are tall...

Look, I'm not even quite the same as all the others... but...



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thoughts on compassion...

I recently received an e-mail from someone who had visited us here. I would like to extend my gratitude to this woman for taking the time to contact me directly, for her prayers, and for her concern. There may be others who share this perspective, so I felt compelled to take a moment to respond...

"I don't know what made me decide to read your blog the other day, but it literally made me sick. I have been thinking for days what I wanted to say to you, and realized there was so much I need to say, knowing you probably don't care. So I have been writing my thoughts, and praying for days.

First off, the pastor that wrote the mass email was not trying to rally his congregation in opposition of Cameron's gender. We, the congregation are already opposed, because of what the bible teaches us. Anyone who has read or studied the bible knows this. Even people that don't, know this is wrong.

I want you to know as well, most people are not against your child. We are upset with you. What you are doing to your child is wrong. To me it is child abuse. It might not be considered as child abuse by DHR, but I hope and pray that one day it will. Laws can always be made or changed. Cameron is not at an age he can make this decision on his own. He would have had to have been taught this by you, over a long period of time. I want you to know that we pray for Cameron everyday. I pray God Will heal him. My God is a healer! If you really read and study your bible, there is no doubt in my mind this would not be going on with Cameron. He would be a happy boy! God doesn't make mistakes. God made Cameron a boy, the devil tryed to make him a girl. You let the devil win. I feel so bad for Cameron.

It makes me sick how you use the bible in your blog. You know the devil will trick you. He knows the bible too. You twist Gods word to make it fit your own beliefs and your story's. Why do you write a public blog? Why do you use God in it? You do know that you will be held accountable one day for all the life's you confuse and turn away from God. It so hurts my spirit, all of this.

I will continue to pray for Cameron. I will continue to pray that God will open your eyes and ears, and you will see what he is really trying to tell you. I have told my child, who is in Cameron's grade, that Cameron is a boy. and to pray for him daily. I have told him to be nice, and not say anything bad, but I have told him that it is wrong in Gods eyes and that is why we need to pray for him daily.

The whole world wants Christians to be tolerant to what is convenient to them and what they believe, and when we stand up for what we believe, we are judgmental and full of hate. This world is so messed up and confused all because of the devil. He wants to destroy all of us. I will do everything in my power to protect my child from the devil. That is why I don't understand what you are doing. My Lord will return one day! If you ever need great guidance our church is always open for you!

I will continue to pray for you and Cameron!"

Sometimes it's difficult for me to convey what is in my head and heart. It's unfortunate that our personal journey has caused so much distress. It would be easy to react in anger to some of the assertions that have been made, but I have grown through this experience in ways that I never thought possible. This growth has become a tremendous blessing in my life... I am thankful for the opportunities for continued growth that are presented with each new day. The most precious spiritual "scar" that I have been given is a greater aptitude for understanding, compassion, and humility for all of God's children.

There was a time in my life when I - too - stood where this woman stands today... There was a time in my life when I thought I had all of the answers. There was a time when I felt convinced that I knew God... knew his plan... knew his views and opinions. At that time in my life, if I were standing outside of where I stand today, I might have pointed the same finger of scorn at another for making the choices that we have felt impressed to make. At that time in my life, these decisions would not have fit into my understanding, or met my expectations, for what I understood to be right... and the testimony that I had of "truth".

The one thing that I have gained a testimony of through this experience is simple, but profound... I have been humbled by the realization that there are many things that I don't, truly, understand. I can no longer take the experiences in my life, or the lives of others, for granted. I have come to understand that I don't have all of the answers. I have learned to pray daily - with diligence and faith - for the strength to accept these challenges in my life, and the patience to move forward with grace and dignity. This has been an uphill battle... one that I know some people will not relate to, or understand - one that most will be fortunate to never experience. It has, and may continue to invite opposition. There is no "alternate route"... the only way to survive adversity when life throws "a curve ball" is through absolute faith. I have become acquainted with my Father through adversity. I thank Him each day for His love in my life.

I cannot judge those who express concern over our direction, some of whom exist within the confines of my own family. Through this experience I have learned the importance of acceptance, compassion, and understanding in the lives of all people without regard to "difference". It would be hypocrisy to pray to receive these blessings if I am unwilling to exercise these principles in my own life.

I have often wondered if God gets tired of the contention? I wonder if he ever grows weary of people arguing over His word... who's right, who's wrong, and who has the answers? I wonder what He feels when He looks at the world and sees anger, hate, and judgement... perpetrated in His name? I wonder... then I think about my responsibility in this experience.

There is no question that this is a profound trial for our family. Words cannot express what we have been through. We acknowledge the spiritual responsibility in the decisions that we have made. There is, however, a fundamental truth that many fail to acknowledge. I believe that there is another trial that has been overlooked... it's the trial introduced to those on the outside of this experience.

Christ taught through parables, through love, through understanding and compassion. He exemplified these principles throughout His life. I believe that He expects us to emulate His example, both in word and deed. He taught love and compassion for others. He taught acceptance and understanding. Most importantly... He taught us that it is not our place to judge or condemn one another. I believe that the day will come when each of us are called to stand before our Eternal Father and account for the "substance" of our life. God knows each of us better than we know ourselves... He knows our pain, the intentions of our heart, and He is the one who will determine the "rights" and "wrongs" of our mortal experience. Cammie's gender variance is our trial... how people respond to it, is theirs.

I do have a testimony of my Heavenly Father. I have a testimony of my child. I have turned to the Lord for guidance throughout my life, in adversity and in peace... I continue to turn to Him today. I am thankful for the many blessings in my life. I know that God loves his children... all of them. He has blessed me with His companionship. He is always there... His love is eternal and unconditional.

I am a good enough mother to recognize that I have many faults and shortcomings. I'm sure my imperfection will manifest itself in the future through the relationships that I work to maintain and cultivate with my precious children each day. I love them with every fiber of my being. Although they may not be clearly understood by some, the actions that I take are inspired by that love.

I don't expect others to understand the complexity of these trials in our life. I do, however, pray daily that those on the outside of this challenge will be able to identify the extreme difficulty of this experience. I pray that, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we will each identify the opportunities and exercise the strength to step outside of ourselves, follow His example, and respond to one another with compassion...

Luke 10:25-29

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou?

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

And he said unto him, Thou has answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

Jesus replied with a story:

“A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here."

Luke 10:36 - 37

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Saturday, September 19th at 6 PM... set your Tivo! Well done, informative piece by National Geographic on gender and gender variance. Provides a "snapshot" of life on the inside of this emotionally and socially challenging medical condition - very well done..."
Explorer opens your eyes to riveting, untold adventures with host Lisa Ling.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Power of Prayer...

I spent the whole weekend emotionally in knots over Cammie's apparent bad day. I worried and stressed, trying my best to be optimistic. My emotions were compounded by a series of recent events.

I've never felt more vulnerable. It's impossible to keep something as apparent as a physical transition private, so the most intimate details of our family's life are on display. Our personal experience is being discussed by people who have never met us. I have prayed for compassion and understanding. Friday... I felt bogged down by unanswered prayers.

I have spent the majority of my morning pondering the complexities of prayer and my responsibility in the process. I have come to realize that prayer is, quite literally, a "process". I had an experience with my oldest child a couple of years ago that illustrates this concept...

I had come home from work and was tired from the events of the day. I had some things to finish up so I made my way to the office and diligently went about the process of completing the tasks at hand. An hour or two had passed when Caleb, my oldest child, burst through the door. He was clearly upset. The filth on his angry flushed face was muddied in streaks on his cheeks, a clear indicator that he had been crying. Like most moms do in a situation like this, I utilized my maternal investigation skills to work on the case…

"What Happened?”

He did his best to explain the incident through hysterical broken sentences as he attempted to catch his breath…

Kaden and I aren’t friends any more!”

“Why not?”

“We got in a fight!”

“About what?”

“He took my gun and threw it over the fence!”

“Is that why you’re crying?”

“No... he pushed me down!”

“Why did he do that?”

“I don’t know!”

“You don’t know?”

“I wouldn’t let him play with it!”

“So, let me get this straight… he threw your gun over the fence, then he pushed you down?”


“Did you do anything to him?”

“Well, I hit him… but that was because he threw my gun over the fence! Now we’re not friends anymore!”

Caleb had reached the age of camouflage and ammo that seems to possess the soul of every ten year old boy. His pseudo GI garb was practically sacred. I tried to be the voice of reason, “You know, Caleb, you and Kaden have been good friends for a long time. You’ll work it out.”

Dissatisfied with the lack of alarm in my voice, he turned around and stormed toward the door. On his way out he quipped, “And I prayed I’d have a good day!” There it was… the infamous “It’s God’s fault” line. I decided to embrace the moment to teach a valuable principle, “Hold up! Get back in here for a minute.”

He reluctantly wandered back in the room. I began to explain, “Caleb, prayer is a beautiful thing but if you’re going to tap into its power then you need to understand how it works. It’s a lot like a contractual agreement. The Lord has promised that he will always answer your prayers but there are a couple of conditions. First, we agree to believe in his will for our lives. This means that we agree to accept the answers regardless of whether or not they meet our expectations. The other part, and the part that is the MOST important, is the fact that answers to prayer come in large part because of the decisions WE make. You might have prayed that you would have a good day, but before you blame the Lord for the outcome, you need to ask yourself if you’ve made the choices that will ensure that blessing.”

Caleb stood there, listening intently to every word. It was evident that he was giving the situation considerable thought. I asked, “Did you do your part?” He thought for a moment but didn’t say a word. I continued, “Is there anything that you could have done differently that would have ensured an answer to your prayer?”

He contemplated for a moment then said, “I could have let Kaden play with my gun.” I had primed the thought process and made the determination to let him figure it out. After a minute or two of silence, when I could see he was feeling somewhat disappointed in himself, I said, “You know what?”


“The beautiful thing is that it’s never too late to have a good day… but that all depends on you.” He looked at me for a moment, and then an excited smile lightened his expression. He threw his arms around my neck, “Thanks mom… I’ll be right back!”

He darted out of the room. A little while later he returned with a satisfied grin on his face. He said, “I took care of it mom. I wrote Kaden a note to say I’m sorry and I gave him my gun.”

It was perfect… one of those rare heartwarming moments when you feel like a successful parent. I could almost hear the "Hallmark" music in the background...

“I’m so proud of you Caleb… what did he say?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean? Didn’t he say anything?”

“No, because I put it down in front of his door, then I knocked, and ran.”

I tried to conceal my laughter. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but at least the principle was understood. I asked, “How do you feel?”


“How was your day?”


“Do you see how prayer works?”

Like my son, there have been many times in my life when I have blamed the Lord for a disappointing outcome, never realizing my responsibility in the process. Over the weekend, I e-mailed the mother of Cammie's little friend and addressed my concerns. This morning, I received the following response...

"What??? That is so not what was said and not what is in my heart or (my child's). (The teacher) and I had to talk strategy this past week about getting (my child) to focus in class. She’s a social butterfly and is enjoying talking with Cammie more than paying attention in math, and it’s reflecting in her math grade. We decided it would be best to move her to keep her from talking, but this has nothing to do with Cammie. You have to know that both my husband and I are very open minded and open hearted to people, and passing judgement on you or your family is not in our hearts or minds to do. We welcome you and Cammie with open arms and hope that you will find that we will always do what is in our power to protect Cammie’s integrity as well as yours.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding. I truly apologize for any distress this may have caused Cammie or your family. It truly is the farthest from my heart to do. I hope you will return my call and we can have an opportunity to introduce ourselves."

I've had to ask myself, "who was judging whom?" Because of the challenges that we have faced, and the negativity that we have encountered from a few people; we jumped to some Hasty conclusions. I have come to realize that we have to do more than just pray for understanding... we have to give others the opportunity to understand. We have a responsibility to do our part.

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God.

It's always easy to give thanks in retrospect... after blessings are realized. I am thankful for what I learned through our experience this weekend. I have been humbled by my own lack of faith. I have come to realize that communicating with the Lord is the easiest and most frequently practiced part of prayer, but the answers we seek come - in large part - from the actions we take. One of these days... I'll get it right. Until then, I'll keep trying...

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Parable of the Roller Skates...

I arrived home from work a few nights ago and went about my evening routine, asking the children about their day. Cammie said that her day had gone well. She was lacking her typical enthusiasm, but I didn't think much of it at first. Before long, I noticed that she had gone to her room. I walked down the hall to check on her. I could see her in bed, covers pulled up to her neck, with the bedroom light off. It was only six in the evening - I knew something was wrong, the scenario was familiar... I knew she had "dropped the box". I made my way into her bedroom, told her to scoot over, climbed under the covers, and snuggled up beside her...

"What's wrong?"

That was all it took. The tears began to stream down her face, followed by sobs. She did her best to escape into the comforter, burrowing deep into the bedding as if she were trying to disappear... disolve into anything... the air, the room, the darkness. She spoke in tearful, muffled tones through the coccoon of blankets that enshrouded her, "I feel like a germ." The words cut straight to my heart. I felt my spirits sink as I "collapsed on the box" beside her... "What happened?"

Doing her best to settle down, through broken sobs she tried to explain, "My best friend told me that she can't sit by me anymore at school. Her mom called the teacher and had her moved to another table because..." Her voice trailed off, once again enveloped by sadness. She didn't need to finish the sentence... I knew.

I can't find the words to express what's in my heart. I can't even begin to convey the pain that I feel when she faces these bitter challenges. Why can't people just see her? Why can't they just see? Why?

The other night I read the following scripture...

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God.



Give thanks in ALL things? He must've been kidding, right? Maybe he simply wasn't talking to me. There are days when I sit and ponder the expectations. There are days when I sit and wonder... "How in the hell am I supposed to give thanks in this?" Why me? Why my child? Why???

years ago, I had an experience that I affectionately refer to as “the parable of the roller skates”. When I was six years old, I got my first pair of roller skates for Christmas. My family was living in Utah at the time and there was about three feet of snow on the ground so I resigned myself to “trying them out” inside. They were fairly rudimentary in comparison to the high tech roller blades that kids dash around on today; nothing more than a royal blue pair of Converse sneakers bolted to a metal base with bright red rubber wheels. I can remember lacing them up, and enthusiastically scrambling around the linoleum floor in the kitchen as I struggled to “get the hang of it”. Weeks passed, the snow melted to welcome spring, and the kitchen floor became increasingly small as my ambition for bigger and better territory advanced with my skill level. It was decided, I had graduated to the street out front with the conviction to explore my capabilities on the open road.

The day had come; I woke that morning to the high pitched shrill of the wind as it whistled through the cracks of the windowsill. Mom and dad were getting ready for work and I could hear my father on his way out the door, giving Shaun and Corey specific instructions not to go outside. From the sound of his voice, I could tell he meant business. He reported wind gusts of up to one hundred miles per hour and said that severe weather warnings had been issued. Disappointed at first, I tossed my skates to the side and resigned myself to another day of kitchen confinement. I peered out the window, and a bush caught my eye as it effortlessly bounded down the street (roots in tact).

Suddenly, a brilliant idea came to mind. What was I thinking? This was the perfect day to skate. All the components were present for an ideal skating experience; wind, open road, and wheels! I could just lace up, kick back, and (much like the bush before me) effortlessly make my way down the street.

Bound and determined by this “once in a lifetime” opportunity, I snatched up my skates and made my way to the living room. I was diligently threading the loops when I noticed another set of feet toe to toe with mine. My eyes reluctantly climbed their way to the look of disapproval on my mother’s face. After questioning my sanity, she informed me in no uncertain terms that I would not be allowed to skate outside and attempted to explain the potential repercussions. Dad had already gone and when mom had finished her “lecture”, she left for work. Shortly thereafter, the phone rang and Shaun answered it. Apparently the neighbor’s shed had blown over and was making its way down the street. A friend had called to share the exciting news and like most obedient boys do, they set out to estimate the damages.

Well, I’m no fool... when the wind of opportunity blows, I’m going skating, which is exactly what I did. I quickly laced up, made my way to the front door, turned the handle, and gave it a little push. The wind caught the door and it flew open, nearly coming off the hinges as it slammed against the frame of the house. I struggled to force it closed (which was no easy task on roller skates) and somehow wound up in a disheveled little pile of pigtails on the ground in front of the house. It was apparent that I would not be able to skate to the middle of the road. Oh no, the wind was much too powerful for that... I was going to have to crawl my way there. I struggled against the wind on my hands and knees, dragging my heavy skate-laden feet behind me. Finally, I had reached the center of the street, and with the runway before me, I fought to my feet.

With arms outstretched and legs spread, I created as much body surface area as possible for the wind to “work with”. In the beginning everything went perfectly according to plan. I felt the force of the wind against my back and began to roll without any effort on my part. A satisfactory little smile attacked my face and I giggled as I picked up speed. “I am brilliant”, I thought. Faster and faster, I rolled, until my smile dissipated with horror and panic when I realized that I was still gaining momentum and moving much too fast to attempt a “crash landing”. I was flying by houses, left and right, and could hardly make out the faces of my neighbors as they clung to their windows in wide-eyed disbelief.

What was I going to do? I knew that if I didn’t “take the fall”, I’d continue to pick up speed and eventually crash anyway. I quickly made the determination that if you’re going to be stupid; you’ve got to be tough so with some assistance from a pesky pebble or two, I dove into the pavement. I skidded a few feet on my knees, then my stomach, and the velocity of the landing seemed to carry my feet up over my head in a terrific Olympic-style somersault. Evil Kinevil had nothing on this kid! The wind continued to blow and with it, I continued to roll down the street. I struggled to turn around and with my face to the wind, once again, fought to my feet and attempted to skate back to the house. The blinding force of the storm made it difficult to see but I managed to force my eyes open long enough to notice something quite peculiar. The houses that lined the street were passing the wrong way in front of me... NOT good... Despite my valiant effort, I was rolling backward and gaining speed. Suddenly, my butt made explosive contact with the pavement in a tumble that would have won the gold in the Olympics for idiots.

What was I going to do now? I kicked off my skates and, clawing at the ground ahead of me, attempted to crawl home. The storm was much too powerful and I felt like a rag-doll in a clothes dryer as I repeatedly tumbled backward in the wind. I had never been so homesick in such a short period of time. I could see the house, it was so close but it felt absolutely unattainable. I was in pain. My heart sank. I sobbed as I struggled to fight my way home. I was alone, hurting, and the storm raging against me was merciless. My knees were shredded. I was about to abandon all hope when an elderly neighbor lady in a house close by invited me in to wait out the storm and called my mother, who rushed home to nurse my wounds.

As I look at my knees today, multiple scars remind me of a time in my life when a valuable lesson was learned. I can’t help but draw an analogy between that physical experience and the spiritual experiences in my life. There are times when all of us encounter overwhelming storms as we struggle to move through mortality. It isn’t long before we collapse and discover that our individual capabilities aren’t enough to take us home. There are times when the desire to find refuge in the love of our Father seems absolutely unattainable as the influence of adversity mercilessly rages against us. It is at these times of great turmoil and distress that we become acquanted with God. These are the moments that demand faith. These are the experiences that humble us before Him. During our weakest moments... he lends his strength. He calms the storm, heals our pain, and "carries us home".

Sometimes it's difficult to have faith... to "give thanks in all things". I have often wondered if it will ever get easier? I have come to realize that it probably will not... but by faith, we can be strengthened through God's grace. Each one of us has been blessed with a spiritual scar or two. I pray that Cammie will learn to love her "scars". I pray that each “scar” will refine her relationship with Christ and cultivate her spirit for His eternal purpose. I pray that she will learn to love the storm... and "In everything give thanks".

I pray when the storms of life rage against her and the situation seems hopeless, she will know that the Lord is there to kneel beside her, wipe the tears from her eyes, and bandage her wounds...

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, either sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

“He healeth the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds”
(Psalms 147:3).

I pray that Cammie will be able to face these challenges in her life with gratitude... that she may grow in a way that she can wear her scars with honor.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Realities and expectations...

My father drove an old beat-up truck that he affectionately referred to as Ol’ Red Eye. I never quite understood his attachment to, what appeared to be nothing more than a rickety heap of nuts and bolts; faded red with chipped paint, cracked glass, and an old torn up seat. However, some of the best childhood memories I have are of the tender moments I spent anxiously waiting by the window for that old battered truck to announce dad’s arrival as it bounced its way down the weathered driveway.

I can recall the countless hours dad spent over the years, meticulously washing that old truck. I scarcely saw the point, considering it never looked any better when he had finished than when he began. In fact, the dirt helped cover up some of the “ugly”. Dad, however, with all of his wisdom saw something I did not...

Every year it was that old truck that escorted our family into the Rocky Mountains of Montana to find a Christmas tree and, ironically, it was Christmas when dad finally revealed the mystery behind his adoration for the old truck. He shared the story of the night Ol’ Red Eye went “Truckin’ With Santa”. As I recall, the story went something like this…

Once upon a time, many years ago…

Old Red Eye sat for sale on a used car lot. His paint, once a brilliant red, had been bleached and faded in the sun. His smooth sleek frame had been chipped and dented from years of hard work and his windshield, once crystal clear, was now enveloped by random cracks.

Day in and day out, Red Eye sat on the lot with an advertisement scribbled across his windshield that read, $1,000. The old truck watched through cracked headlights as newer, more modern cars and trucks were bought and sold from the lot. Months past, winter turned into spring and the lot owner, sick of seeing the old truck, erased a zero from the price on the glass… $100.

Summer welcomed quite a crowd of customers but none of them were interested in Red Eye. In fact, few of them even noticed the little truck. The days rolled by, summer turned into fall, and Red Eye remained. Anxious to make a sale, the lot owner erased another zero from the advertised price on the windshield. Surely, someone would buy the old truck for a mere $10… but nobody did.

The leaves fell to the ground, the days grew colder, and the arrival of winter was welcomed by snowfall. Red Eye began to feel very bad. There he sat, unnoticed and unwanted for a scrappy $10 while other, nicer looking cars and trucks found new homes for Christmas. Disgusted, the lot owner wiped the $10 price from the glass and wrote in bold letters…


Embarrassed and humiliated, Red Eye remained on the lot for free while other cars and trucks sold for thousands of dollars. He reminisced about a time in his life when he, too, was valued by others. Heartbroken and disappointed, Red Eye longed for those days. Time passed and before long he was moved to a new spot near the back of the lot next to an old dumpster. Things seemed hopeless to Red Eye until one day in December…

A group of carolers strolled by on the street and the little truck grew excited. He realized it was Christmas Eve! He couldn’t help but remember all the times he had brought home Christmas trees and hauled carolers around town, spreading the Christmas spirit in celebration of the season. Red Eye gazed at the warm glow of the Christmas lights across the street and sweet memories of past holidays filled his cab as he drifted off to sleep.

Suddenly, there was a screech and a clatter! Red Eye, startled awake by the commotion, lit his headlights to the most unbelievable sight! There, heaped in the dumpster, were twelve reindeer and buried in the side was a severely damaged sleigh. Several wrapped presents, balls, dolls, and other toys were scattered about in the snow.

It couldn’t be! Red Eye attempted to focus through the frost on his headlights. It was! Santa had missed the roof of a nearby house and crashed, right into the dumpster at his side! The little truck watched in amazement as four elves and Santa Claus, himself, climbed from the wreckage. Red Eye observed Santa and his crew as they stared in awe, shocked by the demolished remains of the sleigh.

“Well, thank goodness for airbags!” said one of the elves.

“Seatbelts too!” said another.

“At least it’s already in the trash!” said a third in jest… but nobody laughed.

Santa stood nearby, stroking his beard in thought. It was apparent that the sleigh would not be operational. Realizing the severity of the situation, everyone stood somberly, searching for a solution. Suddenly, one of the elves noticed Red Eye and read aloud the words carelessly scribbled across his windshield, “IF YOU WANT THIS TRUCK… TAKE IT!!!”

All the attention shifted to Red Eye and the solution seemed obvious. “We want him! Right Santa?” queried one of the elves.

“Indeed we do!” replied Santa.

Red Eye straightened himself up the best he could and shook the snow from his cab. The elves hurried about, gathering the scattered presents, and the little truck smiled with pride as they were loaded in his bed. The elves hooked up the reindeer and, at last, they were ready for take-off. Finally, Santa and his crew piled into the cab and away they went!

The little truck, once again, experienced the joy of the holidays as he worked through the night, making deliveries to boys and girls around the world. Tears of joy drained from his headlights and turned to icicles in the cold. At last, Red Eye was happy.

So, legend has it… he saved Christmas for thousands of children and Santa saved Red Eye by giving him to dad, a man with a passion for old trucks. And together… they lived happily ever after.

As I reflect on my childhood and the story my father told about that old truck, the “moral” is evident. I thank God for blessing my life with a father who thought to utilize a unique opportunity to teach such a profound Christ-like principle. All parents teach their children how to walk, talk, and tie their shoes. Words cannot express how grateful I am that I was blessed with a father who taught me how to see... Red Eye was a Dodge classic. When dad looked at the old battered truck, he saw the possibilities.

Looking back now, I realize that there have been many times throughout my life when my father viewed me, much as he did Ol’ Red Eye. He valued me, not for what I was at the moment, but for what he knew I had the potential to become. He never focused on my “chips, cracks, or dents”. He willingly overlooked all of the faults, shortcomings, mistakes, and weaknesses that seemed so evident, and encouraged me to cultivate the passion, strength, God-given talents and unique abilities within. He taught me to embrace my divine nature.

I have often wondered how I could fail to "see" Cammie for ten years. Why - when I looked at her - did I only see the cracks in the glass, random dents, faded and chipped paint? Why did I focus on her "flaws" for so long? For ten years, what I saw was based exclusively on what I expected to see... There was something terribly wrong with her. She wasn't like the rest of my boys. She was weird, she didn't behave according to my expectations, she wasn't a "normal" boy... she wasn't a boy at all. How could I have failed to see it? How could I have possibly missed the "moonwalking bear"? How could I have failed to see something that was so obvious from the very beginning?

I am finally starting to understand the answer that I received as I humbled myself in prayer during the "awakening" of our journey. The answer was simple but profound; the impression was clear... "Love this child, even as I have loved you."

The Lord recognizes the potential in each of us. Since we all have imperfections... and each of us will require perfect redemption, he has agreed to assist in our "restoration"... he has promised to make us whole through his unconditional love, grace, and the gift of the atonement. As we come to know and accept Him as our redeemer, our complete restoration will begin to take place.

Psalm 18: 1 – 3

1. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.
2. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
3. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

I have come to realize, what we see is often limited by what we are looking for. This is exemplified in my personal life by failing to recognize the beauty of Ol' Red Eye, and demonstrated through an inability to notice the moonwalking bear...

Sometimes our expectations can distract us from the truth. Cammie has always been there... the same child that she is today. However, one fundamental thing HAS changed, I am finally aware that she exists. I have finally learned to appreciate her for WHO she is... and this has made all the difference. "Love this child, even as I have loved you". Quite simply...

"Look with your eyes... SEE with your HEART."

A little older, and a little more beautiful... Dad and Red Eye, August 2009