This little corner of the internet has been quiet for a few months. I realize that’s no great loss, as the internet is not lacking for ideas or voices. But after a few months of not posting here, I start to get this funny feeling that some ideas are quietly building up, stacking up like boxes in a closet. Until one day I realize I have so much in there that it won’t close any more, and the post starts to write itself when I stare out the window.
So here’s a few things I’ve read, thoughts I’ve chased, and some kid quotes to warm your winter days.
“I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness” by Austin Channing Brown
Please read this.
This book is honest and insightful, offering a glimpse into the Black experience of growing up in America. I was particularly moved by the description of all the nuance and heightened levels of complicated interactions that the author described in an average day at work. That chapter exhausted me in the reading; I cannot fathom what it’s like to wake up to that reality every day. I’m not doing it justice at all in my summary, so please seek it out and know for yourself.
(Side note: If you’re like, “Becky, why are we making race a big deal? Why can’t we set race aside?” That’s a big question to answer in a quick blurb, but let me say this. If you don’t feel that your race impacts your life every day, that is a sign of a privilege that you enjoy and so many others don’t. Educate yourself. Be open to what you don’t know or understand. This book is a great place to start.)
“Where the Watermelons Grow” by Cindy Baldwin
This middle grade novel is the story of a twelve-year old girl whose family is facing a variety of challenges: a bad year for the farm, wrangling an extra feisty toddler, and her mom’s journey with paranoid schizophrenia. The beauty of this story is that it deals with mental health in a gentle, honest, and age appropriate way. But the hidden gem of it is the way that the dad is loving the mom through the ups and downs. His words are full of compassion, and he is striving to treat her with so much dignity and respect. (It was #relationshipgoals, as the kids say.) I probably recommend it for 9 and up. I actually checked it out for myself, but look forward to sharing it with my kids.
Thoughts on Kids
Over the past few months, several of our kids have ventured into new hobbies or activities. It’s fun to watch them try new things, but it’s also hard to watch them falter at times. In the midst of that, I’ve been thinking on the part I play in their growth. Sometimes as parents, we want to smooth the road out for our kids. You weren’t invited to a party? I’ll talk to the mom. You aren’t playing as much as others? I’ll call the coach. You’re having a hard time with this? Well, let me step in and handle it for you.
But…what if we didn’t do that? I’m not saying that there isn’t a time to advocate for our kids- of course there is! I’m simply offering the idea that we should do so with discernment. We can’t run in front of them and knock all the obstacles off the road. We can’t get rid of speed bumps. We can’t go ahead, demanding that everyone treat them fairly. It’s not a practical, long-term plan. And it isn’t love.
Instead, we can help our kids handle disappointment. We can affirm their value and worth in the midst of poor treatment. We can encourage hard work, communication, and self-advocacy in helping them handle their own problems. In short- we don’t pour our energy into smoothing the road; we pour our hearts into preparing and supporting the traveler.
Thoughts on Fear
Awhile back I was reading the gospel story of Jesus walking on water to meet his disciples amidst heavy waves. I was struck by His words to them when He heard them crying out in fear. Jesus said, “Don’t fear. Take courage. I’m here!”
Don’t fear. He’s here.
As a mom, homeschooler, aspiring writer, and someone who has woken up to my own low-grade anxiety that hums under the surface, fear is my constant companion. In a culture saturated with empty pep talks, (You got this! You’re a rockstar! Wake up and be awesome! Slay all day! I can and I will! ) I’ve slipped into carrying the idea that something in me should be able to fight fear on its own. But that’s not true.
God doesn’t tell us not to be afraid because we’re awesome or because we got this or because we have it under control. He tells us not to fear because He’s with us. It is the presence of God that makes it possible to not be afraid.
Don’t fear. Take courage. I’m here.
In other news…
The Bible Project- are you watching these? These free videos combine story telling, teaching, and visuals to explain the Bible in beautiful ways. We’ve watched many of the book studies, but our family particularly loves the Wisdom Series and the Shema series. And the video on shalom is something I still think about every day. (You can find them on YouTube as well. So good!)
I finished a rewrite! (do you hear the hallelujah chorus, or is that just me?) The brief version of the story- I wrote a book. I got some feedback. I had to decide if it was more important for the book to be done or for the book to be great. I went with the latter. I cut 3/4 of it, made a new plan, and typed “The End” on February 15. It was hard fought, well worth it, and I’m proud of it. Now pretty soon I’ll get to start collecting rejection letters, I mean, querying. (Same difference. Publishing is nuts, folks.)
I’ve got my eye on this Lent guide and will probably take the plunge.
Have you seen this clip of Pharrell listening to Maggie Rogers back in her early songwriting days? Can we just acknowledge that the look on his face is a young artist’s dream? Gets me every time.
We watched The Masked Singer and loved it. (Full disclosure: 6/8 of us love it. The dissenters will not be called out, but they start with G and D).
Sara Groves wrote a new song in honor of those who are displaced by war and violence (a population that is higher right now than any other time in history). It’s so lovely.
My nine-year old is dipping her toe in the great waters of musicals, and recently asked me what West Side Story is all about. I replied that it is a story of romance between rival gangs. She replied, “Oh. So it’s basically Little Rascals?”
The three-year old articulated why he loves onion rings so much. “It’s like a noodle in a chicken nugget!”
One last kid story before I sign off. Our household has grown by one with the transition of my husband’s grandpa moving in. I could say all kinds of things about that change but will just say that it has confirmed to us the goodness of our Father, the importance of our community, and the resilience of our kids. Our seven-year old, the Lifelong President of the Eternal Optimists Society, cheerfully observed, “The great thing about dementia is you never run out of things to watch!”
May you find a silver lining in your cloudy March, and may you walk in courage knowing that Christ walks beside you at each step.