June 30, 2008

too much for my little brain

So just how involved is God in all of this? Is His hand in everything? Nothing? Just the "big stuff"? Just the things "for kingdom purposes"? Regardless of where you are on the deism scale, there is no denying that God allows suffering in this world. (No, that wasn't His original intent . . . ) Does He have the ability to eliminate suffering. Absolutely. Does He choose not to? Well . . . here's where it gets sticky, huh? Does He choose to heal you and not heal me? (And if so, why?) Does He keep His hands out of it and allow "nature" to take its course? (And if so, what's the point in prayer?) Does He work only in the big things and not in the small things? (If "yes", then where is the dividing line between big and small?) Or bigger yet, does He choose to "bless me" in small ways while 18,000 children die of hunger every day?

And what about all those "God things"? You know, the job you got because you were in the right place at the right time and knew the right people. Or the $400 you gave a friend who really needed it, only to get an unexpected check in the mail that very week for the same amount. Are they really "God things" or just big coincidences? (For you Seinfeld fans: "There are no big coincidences and small coincidences, only coincidences!")

If Deism is a "1" on the scale, what I believe about God falls nothing short of a "10". I believe He saturates everything. I don't believe anything is too trivial for His attention. Yes, I think sometimes He chooses not intervene because: a) we need to learn something (like patience or frugality); or b) the result doesn't matter (which job, which house, which school - it's not about the choices so much as it is about WHO you are in those choices).

No doubt, He allows suffering - sickness, starvation, poverty, depression, death. He could prevent suffering (if not, then how can He be God?), but chooses not to because . . . ??? And if he can prevent it, but chooses not to, is that the same thing as causing suffering? (Ex: Your hand is on the doorframe. I walk up and slam the door on your hand. OR Your hand is on the doorframe. Someone else bumps the door and it begins to close on your hand. I see this happening. I can stop it, but choose to let the door slam on your hand anyway. The first one is "caused", the second one is "allowed". But if I have the ability to prevent it and don't, isn't it pretty much the same thing?)

All of this causes me to ask lots of questions in my little brain. Questions I can't answer. Questions that either build faith or nullify it. Pretty deep for a Tuesday morning when I should be working on wedding plans. . .

June 20, 2008

when imaginary friends won't play with you . . .

When I was posting a couple of weeks ago about Kacey's first camp experience, I mentioned her imaginary friends. Before I get too far removed from that post to remember, let me tell the story . . .

Until Kacey was almost 7, she was an only child. Now, it's pretty "normal" for only children to create imaginary friends, and Kacey was no exception. Her "playmates" joined our family when she was around 4: Sam, Julie, and another girl or two I don't remember. I heard their names often as I listened to her play "make believe".

One day, after Sam & Julie had been part of our family for a couple of years, I walked by Kacey's bedroom and listened to her playing. She was talking to completely different "friends"! Sam & Julie were not mentioned. So I stuck my head in and asked, "Where are Sam & Julie?" Kacey replied, "They wouldn't do what I wanted, so I had to get new friends."

In retrospect, maybe therapy would have been a good idea. I mean, what does it say about you when your IMAGINARY friends won't play with you???

June 03, 2008

delusions of (summer camp) grandeur

I am going to camp on Saturday! Nine hours in a van filled with noisy kids. Seven days as a cabin co-counselor for 8 and 9 year old girls. Heat. Mosquitos. Uncomfortable beds. The smell of sweaty teenage boys permeating everything. Can I just say . . . I CAN’T WAIT! Kacey has wanted me to go to camp every year since she was 12 and this year apparently Jupiter has aligned with Mars and I am South Carolina-bound! Kevin, I might add, is not as excited as his sister. There is something innately uncool to a 15-year-old “guy” (‘cause he’s not a “boy” anymore) about his mom going to camp with him. I will try not to embarrass him more than a couple of times every day.

So, a few weeks ago, Kacey bought me, what she referred to as “the coolest Mother’s Day Gift of all time!” - a camp survival kit: Red sweatshirt, red mini-hairdryer, red water bottle, red electric fan, red rain poncho . . . you get the idea. Now, the gift itself could definitely not be considered the coolest of all time, it is the sentiment behind it that makes it cool. Maybe I should tell the whole story. It all started the summer before we left Jackson . . .

Kacey was a wee little thing. Seven to be exact, and she was going to camp for the first time. (Not PBC, but one a bit closer to home.) She was uber-excited. Talked about it every day. See, Kacey has never known a stranger. Every time we walked out the front door she would make a new friend. (Not counting her imaginary friends, but that is a VERY different story suitable for another blog day.) So camp was right up her alley. New friends, swimming, activities, singing. So, being the “cool mom” that I am, I got her all matching stuff for camp. I bought pink and yellow towels to match her pink sheets and the yellow blanket with pink buttons sewn on the top side that I made for her. We bought a pink rubbermaid container to use in place of a suitcase.

And then there were the practical things. I taught her how to do her own hair, ponytail style. We worked on it for days and days so she could get it just right and be the cutest little angel at camp. I also rolled her clothes so they wouldn’t wrinkle, and marked them according to each day. Shorts and tops rolled together with clean undies on the outside (so they could be easily gotten the night before because she would be showering each night before bed, per my instructions, thus keeping her sheets and her pj’s clean all week). Anyway, her clothes were rolled into 6 little rolls, one for each day of the camp week and secured with matching socks and scrunchies to complete her ensembles. It was going to be a perfect week.

Sunday afternoon came, and we drove to camp and got her registered. At 112 degrees fahrenheit with 99% humidity, I opted not to stay the afternoon, but to let her go on and do her own thing. As I told her we were leaving, a look of panic swept over her face. “You’re not going to stay???” No, honey, mommy is going home, but I will be back to pick you up on Friday evening. (Minor detail. What we have here is a failure to communicate. I ASSUMED she knew I wasn’t staying the week. She assumed I would be playing Tonto to her Lone Ranger in the bunk below her.) As I got in the car and backed up, I caught my baby’s face in the rear view mirror . . . crying. CRYING??? My baby doesn’t cry. Oh, what kind of mother am I???? But in my heart I KNEW she was going to love camp. I blew her a kiss and I was off. I sent her goofy letters all week. Some written backwards that she would have to read in the mirror. Some in multiple envelopes with only one word per page. I even sent her ice in a baggie so she could “stay cool”.

Friday evening did not arrive any too soon. I drove up the gravel road, envisioning my daughter running to meet me (wearing the cute little navy and green polka-dot fish outfit that was labeled for Friday with her hair neatly ponytailed). Instead, she was nowhere to be found. I checked the pavilion, the dining hall, the tennis court . . . but no. So I went to her cabin to begin loading her things into the car. And they were just as I suspected. Neat. Clean. Pink rubbermaid box tightly closed . . . with all her clothes still inside neatly folded and scrunchy-wrapped! I stuck my head out of the cabin door just in time to catch a glimpse of somebody’s nasty little child wearing . . . wearing the same clothes that Kacey was wearing when I dropped her off on Sunday!!! Only this child had matted hair and a grubby face and she was wearing a cap that she had made in the craft shack. She could have served as the poster child for "Save the Children". Her first words to me were not, "I missed you, Mommy!" nor were they "Boy am I glad to see you!" . . . they were simply, “Can I stay another week?!”

Needless to say, she loved camp. I knew she would. She continued to love it 12 or 13 more times. I think by the second year she even showered and changed clothes a time or two. Now it’s my turn. I haven’t been to camp since my counselor years during college, and Kacey has made it come full circle for me. Instead of the pink towels and sheets and rolled up scrunchies, I have an “all red camp survival kit” - the coolest Mother's Day gift of all time. And the coolest daughter a mom could hope for. (Oh, and Kacey, I bought myself a red suitcase to complete the ensemble. I knew you'd be proud.)