How to not be an Expert

Yesterday, I had to solve a problem without the internet. My panel of experts, so easy to find at the push of a button, disappeared with the Wifi. Not that everyone who hangs up a virtual shingle is truly an expert, but like a sailor to a siren, we easily get drawn to voices of authority.
I watched Footloose instead. I didn’t want to, but I got pulled in with the first bit of conflict. Who knew Kevin Bacon could dance like that? And it was more than his exquisite pivots that pulled me in—it was a forgotten art that kept me sitting on the couch.
It was how good storytelling can impact a culture.
Here is the plot summary from IMDb:
When teenager Ren McCormack and his family move from big-city Chicago to a small Midwestern town, he’s in for a real case of culture shock. Though he tries hard to fit in, the streetwise Ren can’t quite believe he’s living in a place where rock music and dancing are illegal. However, there is one small pleasure: Ariel Moore, a troubled but lovely blonde with a jealous boyfriend. And a Bible-thumping minister, who is responsible for keeping the town dance-free. Ren and his classmates want to do away with this ordinance, especially since the senior prom is around the corner, but only Ren has the courage to initiate a battle to abolish the outmoded ban and revitalize the spirit of the repressed townspeople.
Reverend Moore is so focused on his Reverend title, he’s forgotten why he does what he does—he’s become a Pharisee. Armed with answers for everything, he solves nothing.
Ren opens up the Bible at a town meeting, and points to where dance is referenced as a celebration. The holy word of God, the instruction book for all reverends reminds them dancing is good. “That’s all we’re doing. We’re celebrating.” he
I thought about this as I paused the movie to cut a sunroof in my kid’s cardboard box castle outside. I thought about it as I stopped the movie as my kids walked through so they wouldn’t see Areil’s boyfriend hit her, and hear the swear words flow free.

How much protection is good for them after all? Will they learn enough by me telling them what’s right and wrong, or do I show them more reality? After all, Ren learned how to dance through his problems.
My favorite things about the movie? The Reverend and Ren gained a mutual respect for each other, and the kids got their prom. The minister’s wife stayed with him through all of his not-so-nice years….and her support is what allowed him to humbly admit he was wrong.
Today, you’re either the good guy or the bad guy. You’re either a Democrat or a Republican. Today, it’s okay to publicly humiliate your enemy and forever remain an enemy, and it’s okay to spin all the answers off the end of your tongue even if you don’t stop to think about what you’re really saying.
But in one movie in 1984, the good guys and bad guys could solve problems together.
Maybe it’s time my kids should see and hear a little bit more so we can discuss virtual matters before they become reality–so they don’t get too accustomed to being told what to think without forming their own opinions.
I hope they never forget that to have the credentials of God’s children, they must experience fun on a regular basis.

The Summer Files: I Made It.

I’m not going to repeat any cliches about sending my kids back to school. If you’re a parent, you’re familiar with that place between the happy dance and the realization that somewhere, in the midst of handling temper tantrums and reading the latest book on parenting a strong-willed child, your kids have grown a few inches closer to your eye level.

What will I see when I can look straight into their blues? Will they have absorbed the stress I feel much of the time? Will they reflect all those mistakes I made?20160808_074738

What will they see reflected in mine? I know what I want them to see: love, acceptance–no matter what. Strength. Wisdom.

Motherhood is, of course, plagued with those days where guilt, impatience and not knowing how to answer some of those freaking hard questions make us feel anything but wise and strong. Scars form in the silver streaks of hair and stress fractures lining the skin around our eyes and the motions of our mouths.

I guess that’s one reason why I love working with the elderly. They’ve accumulated enough battle scars to have lived fully, yet I see something in most of them that makes it all pretty dang awesome. Like sculptures of divine wisdom, they glow with that word at the top of our lists: Love. Of course. But not just Love; it’s out love. Those who out loved what other people thought, out loved anything their kids did or didn’t do, out loved the hard-to-answer questions that scarred a thick layer of life over their youth.

I don’t know, maybe this is one giant cliche after all. But, I guess if it takes that much repetition to drill Love’s power into our hearts than that makes it okay.

Me, Garfield, maybe you– we’re going to learn to out love Mondays and all impossible seasons. Here we go…

The X

I love a good speaker—one who has been crushed, beaten round and round until they’ve earned their spot on the stage. This is not to say I’m glad for the pain they’ve felt, or hardship that got them to this point, but I recognize the value in their journey. It’s the stuff that shapes a grain of sand into a pearl.

About seventy of us mothers sit forward at our round tables and listen to this speaker who grew up in a Christian home, but answered the call of the piper instead. She gave us her story—the one so many know—of chasing the bits of pleasure the world had to offer. The nice clothes, the “free” living, all the stuff that looks so good on the outside, but eventually leaves a person empty.

“How do we prevent this from happening to our kids?” someone asks. “What could your parents have done differently?”

She pauses and takes a deep breath. “Well, I can’t say for sure. We went to church, but we never prayed together, we never really talked about God. We were Sunday Christians.” She pauses and thinks treasure photoa bit. “But I don’t know if that would have made the difference or not. Some of us just have to go through the journey.”

Heads nod, eyes fall to laps and we all let that settle within us.

Maybe we all have prodigal seasons—the family, the job, fear of the words we’ll be called when we become more than Sunday Christians. And knowing our kids may have to go through hardship to find their answers weighs heavy.

As a child, an apple tree in the shop yard served as a treasure-hunting ship. I would balance on the leave-frilled branches with a friend, searching the distant skies for treasure. Would it come in with the waves? Would we need to land and tread across the wilderness in search of it?

Little do children know what real treasure is, or the battering they may have to go through to find the genuine stuff.

But finding it is worth everything—it’s worth the pearls we become—it’s worth putting our concerns in the hands of the Treasure Maker Himself.

This woman is a warrior—she had to go through the journey to find the true treasure—she’s one of those that bear the most judgement from others, but becomes the trailblazer who finds that giant X on the map, only to find that it’s been a Cross all along.

Are you a journey-maker? Tell us your story in the comments.