Archive for January, 2013

Wanted?

Posted: January 30, 2013 in Wandering Thoughts

I’ve always looked for the perfect life to step into. I’ve taken all the paths to get where I wanted. But no matter where I go, I still come home me.
Layne Staley

Sometime ago i watched a movie called October Baby. Slow moving at the start… no actually the whole movie but that was okay. There was a part that fit perfectly with my ongoing “Fearless” moral inventory. i will do my best to make my point but not ruin the story should you decide to watch it. This will be the short short version. The young girl finds out that she was adopted. When i was around 12 iin the midst of one of my parents middle of the night rages, i found out that my father was not my biological father. i remember him saying to me that he wanted to adopt me. That didn’t mean much to me then and it never meant much later as it was never mentioned again right up to the day he died.

The girl in the movie went on a quest for the one thing she desired, to be wanted. i had never thought about being “wanted,” prior to this movie. How convenient that it comes while i am doing this “fearless” moral inventory. No piece of paper nor legal document would make this man any more my father than he was. i have always believed that he did his best in spite of what that looked like. In spite of alcohol, he was my father.

As for my biological father… well i guess he didn’t “want” me and i have chosen to not impose myself on him. He knows of me, yet has never made any attempt to contact. My parents probably helped define dysfunctional. But, that does not limit me in what i can do. It is not a ceiling on how high i have been able to go. i have forgiven both my parents and did so long before they died. This has enabled me to move on.

From the movie i discovered that i too want to be wanted. i have always felt needed but that is so different than wanted. It may be that my desire to make others dreams come true and to always be the giver is because i want to be wanted. Giving and being a giver does not relate to being wanted at all.

i have no doubt that God wants me as He speaks to me and directs me and sits in silence with me when i have nothing to offer. So the real question is am i satisfied being wanted by God alone?

i ‘m always saying that “out of a revelation of the Fathers love for me will come correct responses.” Meaning, i can only love myself as much as i understand and receive God’s love for me. i can not give what i do not have. Ann Marie is everything to me, friend, lover, wife, etc., etc., and i desire to make sure that she knows that i want her. i do not want there to be one ounce of doubt. So, my logical conclusion is to pursue God, as, out of the revelation of His love for me i will better love Ann Marie. Thus my conclusion is that Ann Marie will no doubt know that i want her. Self fulfilling? Yep, it is as i think on it.

Advertisements

Words “I love them as if they were children, discipline them as if they were students.” ~ Maggie Mae

Those words are from one of the new readers and i like it a lot. Do not try to find the information i am posting today within the movie. It’s not there, but that doesn’t disqualify me from having these thoughts.

Proverbs 18:21 says, and i quote, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].”

Nowhere have i seen this truth lived out and shown to me so clearly than in The Odd Life Of Timothy Green.

What if Jim and Cindy had put one more slip of paper in that box they buried that night? After all it is something that every parent wishes for their child but somehow escaped their thoughts. And perhaps it was because they could not see fully having the child they were envisioning. After all this was more of memorial service than a baby shower.

What if this one piece of paper had the words, “long healthy life” written on it. Our child will live a long and healthy life! What effect would have their been? Yes, i know it’s a movie but think of this. If Timothy had lived a long healthy life they could have made a series of movies that coincided with his growth. Just how many years would he have lived, if? An average life these days is somewhere around 74ish, but if jim and Cindy had asked for a long healthy life, just how many years would they have gotten?

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it, for death of life. It makes me wonder about just how unexpected my turns really are? Perhaps i have indulged in some words that have brought a fruit that i am not so fond of?

i know this is all speculation for Jim, Cindy and Timothy but what about for me? There are people who are consumed with their words and yet i do not see much difference in their lives. Anything taken to the extreme is not a healthy thing. And taking things to the extreme usually leads to distorting or even perverting what are sound principles. For me… i like the quote as an application for me to apply.

Words “I love them as if they were children, discipline them as if they were students.” ~ Maggie Mae

i shared early on in this series of posts the following thoughts. Timothy says, Please don’t ask me about my leaves.” “But you can look at them, if you want.” And then, as the adults slowly digest this strange, strange night, Timothy calls Cindy “Mom.” He calls Jim “Dad.”

It’s was and still is as though God is saying to me “Please don’t ask me about my plans,” You can look at them, if you want.” Then just as I am digesting these words, He shares something that is as enduring as Cindy being called Mom and Jim being called Dad.”

That enduring idea happened to me starting last Monday. i awoke and opened my emails only to find over two hundred comments on these blogs. Actually not these, but ones that i have posted in months and years gone by. It took my breath away in the same way that being called mom and dad for the first time does for a parent. That wasn’t the end. Since last Monday there have been over one thousand comments and i have no clue as to why or how.

Trust me this is not going to my head. When my children first called me dad it was wonderful and a moment to remember but it in no way enabled me to think that i had arrived or that i was something grand. By the same token these comments do not make me feel like a writer or that i have achieved some great status in the writing world. Don’t get me wrong the comments whether one or a hundred are received with gladness and humility. Most have not read the post about why i do this every day. This started out to be my accountability to have daily time with God. It is all to easy to lose track of time and have the day go by without having me and I Am time. So they are very personal and not necessarily written for teaching others.

Then i decided that i wanted my children and grand children to know who i am and why i lived and believed the way i do. Again these are very personal and again not done with the idea of teaching anyone or even them but to simply share my relationship with God, myself and with others. Often times exposing my faults, repeated faults and yes some successes. Example being when i announced that i was an addict. That i was and still am addicted to sin. But then i share about what that looks like and what it takes to be able to say, “Hi i’m ed and i am addicted to sin, BUT i am constantly renewed in the spirit of my mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And i put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:23,24

All that being said, it’s just like in the movie and it seems like God stepped in after telling me “Please don’t ask Me about My plans, but then, opens up a flood gate where He says, hello son, and sends hundreds of comments about my personal journey.

There’s nothing preachy about Timothy Green, but as you have been reading it has stirred me deeply. Is this kid a gift from God or just some strange, spiritual, fertilizer mishap. i am left to assume that some sort of power orchestrated his arrival, and Cindy admits that his appearance was “kind of miraculous.” i also am left to assume… that some sort of power orchestrated everything that has arrived in my life, and just as Cindy had to admit that Timothy’s appearance was “Kind of miraculous” i too must admit that “my life” is “kind of miraculous” as well. i know that does not sound like a 100% glowing endorsement but it’s as close as i can come today.

Still, in the midst of boys sprouting between the cabbages and carrots, there’s a marvelous message Christians can embrace: All children are miraculous; all are gifts as well as life.

Some observations. Timothy develops a crush on a girl named Joni, a year or two older and far more worldly. She wears a midriff-baring outfit to a birthday party, and she nearly kisses Timothy while both are in a pool. (Other girls are wearing two-piece bathing suits.)

Timothy’s parents see the attraction and decide to have “The Talk” with Timothy (though it gets sidetracked by a family emergency). Cindy believes that Joni may be a “bad influence” on Timothy, and, indeed, the two kids do run off into the woods together for long stretches of time. But despite Timothy’s attraction to the girl, their relationship remains platonic; when they say goodbye, they part with a hug, not a kiss.

Along with other kids, Timothy gets nailed with a dodgeball. He kicks someone in the face for getting too close to his socks. A kid gets injured during a soccer game.

While Timothy doesn’t seem to be subjected to violent bullying, schoolmates do smear food and ice cream on him, turning him into a walking sundae.

Someone tries to take credit for an invention of Jim and Cindy’s (but is caught doing so). Jim and Cindy can, at times, be a little obnoxious (but feel bad about it afterwards).

i have shared much about my unexpected turns and i know some will struggle with what i am about to share. In fact most will have no clue as to where this comes from, many will not find this from the movie but indirectly it was there for me.

The Hebrew word cela, translated rock, refers to a crag or a cliff – a place under which i may find safety, shelter and security. This type of rock protects, it does not crush. This rock covers and shields.

What lesson is the Lord revealing here? i am to find my refuge in Christ, no matter how unexpected my turn!  Let my fiery ordeals drive me ever closer to Jesus as i suck the honey from His Rock – to sustain, nourish and refresh me in the unexpected places. The unexpected turns in my life can make me bitter, filled with doubt, fear and unbelief, or it can serve as fuel to drive me nearer to the Lord.

Sometimes i put my life in the very same boxes i place my jewels and mementos of trips to Saint Maarten.

It just makes sense. Of all my precious things, life is what i treasure most. i want to protect myself from all harm, to save myself from hurt or discomfort or even my own bad decisions. i am to love life passionately, even painfully. i want God’s fullness to fill my life.

“It’s not that we wanted him to be perfect,” Cindy says of Timothy. We wanted it to be perfect. His childhood.” And what parent can’t relate to that?

But life isn’t perfect, however much i wish it could be. Nor is it permanent. i can’t keep my kids forever—lock them away as eternal 10-year-olds. The pictures i keep in my computer is the most that i have. The memories i lock away in my mind. But my children themselves, like my life… moves on.

“It’s how it’s supposed to be,” Timothy says. “There’s only so much time.” How true that is and it becomes increasingly relevant as i grow older. My physical body reminds me daily that it is unable to do what my mind still wishes and thinks it can.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green is an odd but wonderful idea on what it means to be a parent and for me as how life is lived. As a constructed story, it has its shortcomings. As a hazy, rosy reflection of parenthood, and my life, it’s often quite emotional and encouraging. i tell people it’s OK to make mistakes: It’s how we learn, i say. But often, i don’t give myself the same license. Truth is, i am just as imperfect as kids, and as much as i try to teach my children the paths to walk and the pits to avoid, i’m not just teaching them. i am learning too—sometimes with them, sometimes from them.

In all of that the movie doesn’t undermine Godly authority. It merely acknowledges that being a mom or a dad, a man or a woman is still more art than science, something i get better at as i go.

It’s a double bonus that a film so much about family and life makes it easy for the whole family to watch together. Timothy Green is almost completely devoid of problematic content, and it’s a rare circumstance for a wide-release, live-action film to be this clean, this instructive and this enjoyable.

i am well aware that by the time my grandchildren are able to read these posts this movie will be long gone from the minds of most. Not me, not your papa! i have purchased this movie and plan on placing it in a vault, some safe and secure place (ironic right?) where one day it will be found and enjoyed along with other things that i think are valuable.

When life throws an unexpected turn… just punt… right? Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from.

When Cindy’s sister brags once too many times about her overachieving children, Cindy blurts out that Timothy’s a musical prodigy (which he isn’t). Jim desperately wants his son to succeed on the soccer field—not because it would be good for Timothy (who’s happy just getting water for the team), but for Jim and his difficult relationship with his own father. Jim and Cindy love their child, but they want him to be normal, to fit in, even if that’s not a high priority for Timothy himself.

Timothy is happy being a simple creation of God.  Whether he ever does any of the things his parents envisioned for him or not, Timothy is content and really doesn’t even seem to be aware of anything more. How I long to get to that place, where i don’t look at anyone or anything else and wish it were me.

“It’s a hard world to be different in,” Cindy tells him. “Lots of people hate anything different.”

Timothy is different. And he is bullied and mocked. The family deals with death and disappointment. And in trying to help Timothy get through it all, Jim and Cindy make loads of mistakes. They embrace those mistakes. And when asked what they’d do differently, they say they’d make new mistakes, maybe more of them. For it’s through those mistakes that learning and growth really take place.

If no other message were taken from this film, this would be worth the millions spent making it. This takes me back to the Wasteland in the Dream Giver series. Ordinary thinks that his time in Wasteland has been a waste until he is on the other side of it and realizes what he has learned.

Growth, is a big metaphor here. Just as the Greens’ garden grew a little boy, Timothy helps his parents grow into … parents. And they all cultivate and care for one another.

Now pay attention because the second message from this film is coming and again it reminds me of The Dream Giver when Ordinary is serving the Anybodies.

Timothy helps those outside his family grow too. He encourages a young girl to not be afraid to be different, eventually revealing a disfiguring birthmark. He helps his uncle laugh. He’s like a pint-size Giving Tree, freely offering whatever he has to those around them—even though it sometimes costs him dearly.

The movie gives me many things as i have watched it at least 4 times now, messages about parenthood, childhood, about unconditional love, the beauty of adoption, and living life to it’s fullness regardless of what you have or don’t have.

It will take many more viewings before i suck every drop of wisdom, understanding and life applications from it. That’s the way i am, i have to stick with it for some period of time to let it go from head knowledge to heart knowledge where it then can change my life.

In closing, Deuteronomy 32:13 He made Israel ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the increase of the field; and He made him suck honey out of the rock and oil out of the flinty rock,

Reread this last line: “He made him suck honey out of the rock…” The word suck, the Hebrew yanaq, refers to the sucking of a baby when it is nursing. When God “made him suck honey out of the rock,” Scripture is describing the action of making a baby nurse. As a child of God i am to be drinking in the honey of His Presence! There is no more vital sustenance than the Presence of our God. There is no more glorious experience than this intimate exchange. And there is no more urgent need than for me to learn how to drink in the glory of God!

He is teaching me how to continue to drink, moment by moment. In so doing, i will learn how to abide in God’s holy Presence, through expected or unexpected turns, in the midst of blessings and when difficult unexpected news arrives at my doorstep.

ed, to the extent that you learn to drink the honey of the Lord, you will experience His manifest Presence – and in His Presence, fullness of joy abides (Psalm 16:11)!

Much like my life, The Odd Life of Timothy Green falls somewhere between fable and dream, and people who insist that films make some sort of sense might walk out with too many questions: How did Timothy learn English? Why does everyone just accept this new but already half-grown Green so readily? But for those who are comfortable in answering those questions with he just did and they just do, there is truth, beauty and simplicity and all three in abundance. i could bury all that by adding chapter and verse to these posts. What a shame that would be, so i won’t.

Jim and Cindy, naturally, love their garden’s little gift to them. Cynics might say that Timothy would be an easy kid to love, what with his parents essentially crafting their ideal child and planting it like a seed. But that misses the point, because Jim and Cindy didn’t ask for, or get, a perfect kid. He’s too trusting, for one thing, and (as they asked for) honest to a fault. He’s the sort of boy who gets bullied in school, a boy destined to always be picked last in kickball and called to the principal’s office for daydreaming. Timothy’s different, and even as Jim and Cindy embrace his uniqueness, they struggle to come to terms with it.

I relate to this story on so many levels. i try so often to craft my ideal life and plant it like a seed. But, i, like Jim and Cindy didn’t ask for, or get, a perfect child/life. Sometimes life requires so much trusting that i don’t trust it. i have been made fun of for my beliefs. i have experienced the feelings of always being picked last. Yes, i get that my life has been and is different and i too struggle in coming to terms with that. That’s not always by my intention. Some of it must have come from a stray seed. Learning how to embrace God’s uniqueness being expressed through my words and actions is… a struggle.

Well i’m back and hopefully on track to be consistent. You may have to go back to the first post i did regarding Moving On. It’s where the series begins and explains about the source for these posts. Hopefully my lapse in posting has encouraged some to watch the movie The Odd Life Of Timothy Green.

Today’s post is where the story takes an unexpected turn just as my life does so often, unexpected turns. Jim and Cindy are about to experience a very unexpected turn and so am i as well. Their turn comes before the sun rises, the Greens find a strange visitor lurking in their unused nursery: a 10-year-old boy in dire need of a bath. Jim and Cindy give him one and uncover a million questions: Where did this kid come from? Is he lost? Abandoned? He couldn’t have grown from their garden, could he? From their box full of wishes?

These questions are not unlike ones that i have about what is or isn’t going on right now. Where did these circumstances come from? Am I lost? Abandoned? I surely didn’t ask for this… did i? Where am I going?

Back to the movie… And if he didn’t, why in the world does he have leaves sprouting from his ankles? LEAVES? From his ankles? Unexpected turn for sure.

“Please don’t ask me about my leaves,” he somberly says. “But you can look at them, if you want.” And then, as the adults slowly digest this strange, strange night, the little boy calls Cindy “Mom.” He calls Jim “Dad.”

It’s as though God is saying to me “Please don’t ask me about my plans,” You can look at them,  if you want.” Then just as I am digesting these words, He shares something that is as enduring as Cindy being called Mom and Jim being called Dad.”

In the movie, at that moment the two realize they’re three now—a growing family. And when you’re raising a family, it’s important to think outside the box.

And that’s how it happens! In the midst of strange leaves sprouting from a 10-year old boys legs comes an enduring moment. That moment is so touching and compelling that it changes perspective and causes Jim, Cindy and myself to think outside the box. Meaning, i cannot look at things in a way that would be considered… normal.

Part of my circumstances right now is that i can’t tell whether my circumstances are real or imagined. Is that because of my lapse in time with the Father? Usually i am able to discern the difference, but that’s because i am sure of my effort, my desire, my devotion to spend time toward this growing relationship. Without that element i have no bearing to go by.

me and i am, a growing family, wonderful yet filled with periods of adjustments. Example, i posted about it not being good for me to not post for 24 days and then i don’t post for 5 more days. Go figure! It did not work for me then, it did not work for me this past week either.

In the past, in spite of not knowing all the plans God had for me, it has not been a concern because i knew my WHY. There was also a sense of certainty although false in reality as it was from the world. Signed leases, commitments, developing relationships, a place to be each day, a purpose for being there, and a knowing although sometimes fleeting, that i was where God intended for me to be. Right now all that is in question, not so much for this day, week or month, but soon. How long is soon? It seems as though soon is taking it’s time. Soon things are not going to be the same and that fills me with uncertainty. i don’t know anyone who really loves uncertainty. i’m not saying there aren’t those that do, i just don’t know them. David, the man whom God said was a man after His own heart, I believe was filled with uncertainty and it seems to have worked out for him.

Uncertainty will freeze me in place if i let it. Uncertainty is simply fear and doubt trying to take over my faith and trust in God. In closing, when faced with uncertainty: just like Jim and Cindy, I too must turn my fear and doubt into fuel for brilliance.

Moving On…!

Posted: January 14, 2013 in Moving On...!

WARNING! If you have not seen and or intend to see the movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green do not read any further or I will ruin it for you in the days to come.

I have boxes of things that I would say are beautiful, valuable, a treasure chest of sorts. I have tubs of pictures from our extended families tucked away in a closet. I have a few letters sent to Ann Marie when we first met that to us are important and thus stashed away in a box. We have one side of our garage that houses the most valuable of our Christmas decorations… that have not been used for three years, yet stored in boxes. The things I save are saved mostly because they mean something to me. They are things that I want to stay safe and hopefully pass on to my children and grandchildren, all the while knowing, many may be passed on to the Goodwill. When what I deem as valuable becomes valuable enough i put it in a safe place and then proceed to place/bury it in a storage unit, an attic or closet.

Not everything valuable to me can be put into a box in a closet. Ann Marie is the most valuable gift I have ever received but I can’t put her in a box or a closet. Then there are my children and my grandchildren which try as hard as I might to put them in a box, it wouldn’t last more than a second. Ages 2, 4 and 11 explain that. Further the box nor the closet guarantees that anything is safe. A fire would use my boxes for fuel and all the valuables would all vanish in a few moments.

Prior to the new year Ann Marie and I watched a movie that I have watched 3 times since then and recommended it to everyone. In the movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green Jim and Cindy Green want a child. They’ve tried everything to have one of their own, but to no avail. And when they definitively hear from their doctor that conceiving one will be impossible, they grieve the loss. It fit so well with The Dream Giver which I was sharing with our Onething Life gathering.

They decide to honor their “child”—or, at least, their idea of one—filling a small wooden box with notes detailing all they’d hoped their kid would be: optimistic, determined, artistic, musical. He’d be “honest to a fault,” they imagined. And even though both Jim and Cindy were horrible athletes, they dreamed that their child would—just once—score the winning goal.

Now I am not insinuating that the movie was about spiritual principles but… well, I tend to find spiritual principles in everything. Jim and Cindy unknowingly apply a portion of the spiritual principle found in Habakkuk 2: And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

Jim and Cindy fill a small wooden box with notes detailing all they’d hoped their kid would be: optimistic, determined, artistic, musical. He’d be “honest to a fault. And even though both Jim and Cindy were horrible athletes, they dreamed that their child would—just once—score the winning goal. Mistake number one happens here… let’s call it an oversight and not a mistake. i’ll let the movie play it out as i share in the days to come.

Then they close the lid, dig a hole in their vegetable garden and lovingly yet unknowingly plant their hope. They go inside and up to bed, vowing to move on … tomorrow.

Did i mention that besides not posting i also did not think or look at my “12 steps” either? It’s like an alcoholic who has fallen off the wagon by drinking again. For me sin became a non issue, not once during that time did i give it a thought. i didn’t purpose to sin, but i also didn’t purpose to not sin. What i noticed is that the excitement and the anticipation i felt back in December toward 2013 has faded. It’s as i said yesterday, i lose my way because i lose my Why.

Early on in the book of Genesis 4:6-7 God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”

i am not having a full-blown tantrum but… it is a tantrum non the less. i am not sulking all day but… sulking is a part of my day. The part that captured my attention today are the words, “And if ed does not do well, sin is lying in wait for him, ready to pounce; it’s out to get him, ed has got to master it.”

Sin is like a parasite:

  • sin feeds off my desires, it cannot exist in a vacuum

  • sin hides itself in what is good and then distorts it

  • sin vandalizes the knowledge and hope of heaven

  • sin becomes a foreground and pushes God and His promises into the background.

The first chapter of Genesis gives me the origins of the world i live in and that it was created by and belongs to God. It tells me that God has made me and that life is not an accident but part of a specific plan. Genesis 2 describes the uniqueness of me, being made in the image of God which sets me apart from the rest of the universe. Genesis 3 explains what went wrong and why the world i live in is so different than my wishes and dreams. Genesis 3 also analyzes the root of evil and my rebellion and desire to be my own god. Genesis 4 pictures the fruits of that rebellion.. In chapter 4 i learn that disobeying God has a continuing chain of consequences . Not all of them are immediate.

It’s best described in the old story about a bacon and egg breakfast the chicken makes an offering, the pig makes a sacrifice. This is probably the only scenario where i don’t mind being called a pig.

King David said when the Jebusite offered to give him everything he needed to make an offering to God? “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Sam 24:24). This to me says that i cannot give God a few crumbs of my day. Posting daily costs me in many ways. Staying on track with my “12 Steps” costs me as well. “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” i can not pull from past experience, and present it as fresh offering.

If i do well, i will be accepted? And if i don’t do well, i will still be accepted BUT… sin is lying in wait for me, ready to pounce; it’s out to get me, i’ve got to master it.”

Hello my name is ed and i am a sinner… “God’s child, born again of the incorruptible word of God, which lives and abides forever.