Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Dressed up and Ready to Go::Michael::43/52::Halloween 2015

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2015

Scary Skeleton (Michael) - this is the first time Michael has ever wanted to wear a costume for Halloween. Usually, all I can manage to get him to wear is a Halloween T-shirt. (He did ditch the mask about a 1/2 hour into wearing it. Ah well, progress, not perfection. ;) )

He's my tortoise::Slow and steady wins the race.

Friday, October 30, 2015

All Dressed up and Ready to Go::Grandkiddos::Halloween 2015

She said, "Cheese!"

Cute little girly :)

They went to a Halloween/Birthday Party at their Gr-Grandma's house tonight. I love these kids! <3

♥ Melody

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Prayer of Humble Access::Sunday, October 25

At church, very often, after the prayer on the Eucharist bread and wine is said and I am waiting my turn to go to the rail, I read prayer #66 on page 834 of The Book of Common Prayer which reads,

"Be present, be present, O Jesus, our great High Priest, as you were present with your disciples, and be known to us in the breaking of bread; who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen."

Today, I saw that between the title ("Before Receiving Communion") and the prayer, there is a note saying, "See also the Prayer of Humble Access on page 337." This is that prayer:

"We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen."


♥ Melody

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Vulnerability by Brene Brown::Oct 22

I love this, and I love Brene Brown. Being your authentic self is very, very courageous.

♥ Melody

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Inspiring words about "Conflict" and "Tension"::October 18

"There are two words, at the beginning of the questions, which struck me, and they are words that one lives in everyday life, both in society and in the family. The words are “tension” and “conflict”. Magat Diop spoke of “tension” in family relationships, and Gregorius Hanzel talked about “conflicts”. Conflict. Let us think, what would a society, a family, a group of friends be like without tension and conflict? Do you know what it would be? A cemetery. Because only in dead things are there no tensions and no conflicts. When there is life, there is tension and there is conflict."

"To clarify this better: first, do not be afraid of tensions, because they make us grow; second, resolve tensions through dialogue, because dialogue unites, whether in the family or in a group of friends, and the path will be found to go on together, without losing one’s own identity..."
Pope Francis
("Pope Francis' Dialogue and Address With Eucharistic Youth Movement")

I love this passage! In my home, we talk about the hard things. We disagree, and occasionally raise our voices. We are trying, day by day, to keep the dialogue going. We are also trying, dialogue by dialogue, to learn how to be more empathetic and kind.

I have six children. One of my children has five children of his own. For now, four of my six children are living under my roof, including the son with five children and a wife. Sometimes, conflicts arise. At that time, dialogue is vital. Sweeping things under the rug only leads to lumpy rugs and rocky relationships.

I love the idea that dialogue can unite us while letting us keep our own identity.

My children are very diverse. Steve and I have taught them to think for themselves and to question everything.

Sometimes they questioned us. Sometimes they questioned their teachers. Sometimes they questioned the scriptures.

Sometimes I get defensive when they question me or the scriptures. Father Peter, my priest, has been such a great example of being unflappable about such things. He likes that people bring him their questioning thoughts; he says that he is glad that they are thinking. He, quoting another member of St. Mary's, says that the questions are more important than the answers.

I just finished a book by Rob Bell entitled, What We Talk About When We Talk About God. One quote that stuck with me is that “Take faith, for example. For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt. But faith and doubt aren't opposites. Doubt is often a sign that your faith has a pulse, that it's alive and well and exploring and searching. Faith and doubt aren't opposites, they are, it turns out, excellent dance partners.”

It's true. Doubt makes you take your truths out and re-examine them from time to time. It makes you think about them. Faith should be alive, evolving, changing - adding and keeping what works and has proven good and discarding what doesn't and hasn't.

And yes, often we will hold contradictory beliefs at exactly the same time, because we are "large; [we] contain multitudes."

It is interesting to read books where the good guy only does and says good things and is never "bad". The bad guy, likewise, is BAD, and never good. The problem with that is that it doesn't give a realistic view of people. People are a mixture of bad and good. No one is entirely good, just as no one is entirely bad. We will hold conflicting ideologies in our head - it is just a given.

And as family, friends, and society, we will disagree with choices that our loved ones and our less-than-loved ones make. If we care about the relationship, we will have the dialogue.

So let's keep on talking, debating, disagreeing, and respecting each other in spite of and because we are different, and varied, and unique, and thinking.

Thank God that we are not all the same, seeing the world the exact same way, thinking and believing the same exact way. Thank God for new ways to look at things. It is what makes the world a bright and shiny place to live.

♥ Melody

Friday, October 9, 2015

"If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with."::Originally written on September 15

So, I've been thinking and pondering and wondering. Why is it important to me to put stories of our lives out in front of everyone rather than putting those things that cause discomfort on the back burner?

Years ago, I had a wart. It was BIG. It was also on my middle finger where everyone could see it. Well, they could have if I wasn't constantly putting my other hand in front of it to keep it out of sight.

One day, a little boy in church said, "Mom, what is on her finger?!" His mom, who was covered in tattoos, was so embarrassed and apologized for her son. I laughed on the inside because I had worried that my kids would do the same thing about her tattoos, but it was my wart that was loudly asked about instead.

She wore clothing that allowed her tattoos to show. I covered up my wart. In Utah, both things get a lot of attention by small children. ;)

When I was so self-conscious of my wart, I often paid more attention to covering it up than being present in the moment. I missed out on things.

Michael is a child that won't be covered up. Thank God for his robust personality that has shown me that people, for the most part, are loving and accepting. We haven't been able to take him for a quick trip to Walmart since he was 3 or 4 years old. Even though he couldn't talk, he would grab people's shirts and pull them toward himself so that he could hug them. Now, he "gets their nose". People are always telling me how loved Michael makes them feel, usually with tears in their eyes. He has been offered all sorts of gifts through the years, including a special ring a woman had gotten in Hawaii when her grandmother died. The latest present was a man's ballcap - Michael said that he liked the man's hat, so he gave it to Michael.

I have learned that things that are covered up and not talked about become huge sources of discomfort. It encourages gossip as people try to figure things out on their own. Just tell the truth! Just be yourself! Just live authentically! Just assume that even though people might be shocked at first, they just may be your biggest supporters! Just live.

A few days ago, I dropped the bombshell that Jared is transgender. That HE feels like a SHE. My blog has been receiving dozens of visitors, but no one is saying anything. It is disconcerting. It feels very much like when people at Walmart simply walk by Michael and stare and whisper. It feels so much better when people gently ask what happened. Or when they don't ask and simply start talking and playing with Michael. It was uncomfortable when a customer service worker asked Michael, as he sat in his wheelchair, if he was "playing a cripple" that day. It was uncomfortable for her when I told her his story and she realized that he has CP. But at least there was a discussion.

There are times that people that have assume that they know best for Michael though, and have told me point blank that I should be doing "x" instead of "y". That hasn't been helpful, though, since they don't have all of the information and inspiration, trial and error, successes and failures with him that I have.

Similarly with Jessica, she has been told (by churchs' doctrine and well meaning people) how deviating from the traditional sexual norm is bad, evil, a test, a trial, etc. etc. etc. and that she should put off those feelings and live as a man so that she can live with God someday - because if she acts on her feelings, she will never get to go back to God's presence because "no unclean thing" can be in the presence of God.

I call BS. She calls BS. That simply isn't the God that I believe in.

The God that I believe in is radically inclusive and allows everyone that wants to, to come into His presence. His grace is sufficient for EVERYONE. Even the harlots. Even the demon-possessed. Even the adulterers. And even the tax collectors. Jesus said that if you'd seen him, you'd seen the Father - people saw him and wrote about it. They were shocked at the company he kept! Especially the Pharisees were shocked! If you remember, though, the group of people that Jesus rebuked so heavily was the Pharisees - the ones who followed the law to a T and thought that they had everything in this life and the next figured out and often judged others harshly when they didn't/hadn't.

EVERYONE is a sinner! And EVERYONE is loved and valued and wanted by God.

I choose to believe in THAT God. So does Jessica.

I refuse to cover things up. Even if they appear to be a really BIG wart. Even if they are hard to explain. Even if it is not, as of yet, socially acceptable. God has put me in this place at this time with these people for a reason. I will bloom. I will thrive. I will celebrate.

My son did not kill himself because he felt "sinful". My son did not feel so ashamed that he buried his feelings and then tormented others with the same issues (yes, that happens). My son lived with his feelings & took those feelings out and examined them and re-examined them. He trusted Steve and me to love him and talked to us when he was 14. He trusted his siblings to love him and talked to them when he was 18. He trusted Ruth enough to love him that he talked to her. He talked to professionals about his feelings and asked them for help and direction. Now, he is living his authentic life as Jessica. Jessica went to church on Sunday. She doesn't believe that God is upset with her. She doesn't feel the need to be ashamed. For that, I am so thankful! For that, I rejoice! For that, I will celebrate!

On the wall above the staircase going to the basement of my house, we have a poster (the same picture at the top of this post) hanging up on the wall. “If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with.” Amen.

♥ Melody