Joy, or “Just Wait?”

As I wait at Target, a young couple pushes a stroller in the line behind me. The stroller, brand new, appears to be on its maiden voyage. I  peer at the tiny sleeping newborn, his fingers curled up near his ruddy face.

“You guys do good work!” I comment. The parents beam with pride, but the weariness in their eyes lets me know that they are all still in the process of getting to know each other. The lady behind the couple glances at the stroller as well, and asks. “Is this your first?” They nod proudly.  “Just wait…” she snorts, and then follows with a comment about unruly teenagers.

Inwardly, I wince. We seem to live in a country overrun by a great lot of negative naysayers when it comes to parenting. I remember hearing comments like that when I was a new (and overwhelmed!) mom.  It seemed that many parents were suffering from a chronic case of disappointment and dissatisfaction called “Just-Wait-itis,” characterized by the inflammation of impending doom in parenthood….I felt trapped in a swirl of know-it-alls who were warning me that the worst was yet to come.

Of course, now that my kids are teenagers, I know the truth. Parenting is complicated; it’s wonderful and challenging. Exhausting and gut wrenching. Heart warming and heart breaking.

And, at the outset, parenting can be utterly daunting. It just doesn’t help when others douse young parents with stories leading to doubt and despair.

Instead, we seasoned moms could infuse joy into our “just waits…” As I regard this weary pair, I think of so many things I could say…

Just wait until your preschool son sees you in the hallway at pick up time and covertly grins and waves to you. (It’s the best flirting in the world.)

Just wait until you watch your kindergartener jump off the bus after that first day, triumphant and tired, melting into your arms.

Just wait until your son is up to bat, and strikes out, holding it together despite disappointment. And just wait until the crack of the bat meeting the ball surprises him and he races to first base…safe.

Just wait until your daughter stands up for a classmate who is struggling, and her peers, humbled, apologize.

Just wait until your child, painfully tethered to tubes and machines in the hospital, whispers, “I just want my mommy.” (and you are suddenly aware that your presence is more powerful than any prescription.)

Just wait until your son gets his very first summer job and he is, unmistakably, walking taller and more confidently as a result.

Just wait until your child’s quick sense of humor makes you double over with laughter.

Just wait until you hear your son invite a friend to church.

Just wait until your daughter receives her first college acceptance and you find yourself overcome with tears…not because she’s leaving, but because she’s ready.

The baby in the stroller whimpers, breaking my reverie.

I smile at the couple and look them straight in the eye.

“You have so much joy ahead of you…” I remark…

“Just wait.”

Wishing you joy today~

Weekly Wrap and 5 Facts

Hope everyone has had a great week! Here are some highlights from our home and ministry…

  • Our Key Team is planning some fun JAM Sessions in 2012…stay tuned for scheduling to see if we’ll be in your area (or contact us if you’re interested in having us come and work in your city!)
  • Tomorrow, Rebecca Hamilton and I, along with Rebecca’s daughter, Abby and my daughter, Annie, will be teaching at JANUARY THAW (Cleveland Catholic Diocese.) The topic: Out of the Box Outreach.
  • The kids have begun a new semester…I think everyone likes a fresh start!
  • Listened to Margot Starbuck on Midday Connection this week…our family is reading Margot’s book, Small Things With Great Love: Adventures in Loving your Neighbor. HIGHLY recommend this!! (Margot and I went to the same camp when we were kids, and I was so happy to learn about what she is doing!)

And now…

5 Facts for Friday:

1. I did not win a Golden Globe this year. So disappointing.
2. Regarding regulations for network television, the Supreme Court commented, “One cannot tell what is indecent and what isn’t.” Really? Maybe we should get some kindergartners on the high court…I’m pretty sure they know the difference.
3. Pot roast on a snowy evening = pure comfort.
4. Congrats to my fabulous in-laws, Winslow and Barbara Wetherbee, who celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this week!
5. Sometimes parenting requires heroic acts of trust and courage.

Have a warm weekend~

Pearls of Wisdom from The Blaze

What a blessing to hear Tony Campolo preach while I was at Montreat last week! His energy, enthusiasm and passion for social justice was contagious. He had us laughing, celebrating, and pondering as he told stories and answered questions. Here are a few pearls of wisdom from his messages…

  • When asked about his opinions on controversial issues, he told us that it’s important to disagree respectfully. “I always preface my opinions with, ‘I could be wrong,'” he said, and he told us this bodes well for tough conversations in ministry (and with his wife!)
  • Regarding how he would guide middle and high school students, he quoted Freud: “Youth was made for heroism, not for pleasure.” He then added, “I would organize youth around doing what is heroic for God.”
  • Tony also addressed evangelism. From a sociological standpoint, he said that people are either “socialized into the church or they have a conversion experience.” In both models, he said, “There is no new technique for evangelism; it’s just people caring about people and bringing them into the House of the Lord.”
  • Finally, when identifying what he believes true Christianity looks like, Tony challenged youth leaders to develop their students’ awareness of the suffering in this world. “Kids aren’t Christians because they ‘pray the prayer’ or recite the Westminster Confession,” he said, “You become a Christian when your heart breaks for what breaks the heart of Jesus.”

While I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him preach, the most important takeaway wasn’t from a sermon. I overheard, when we were at the airport, a ticket agent saying, “What is your name again?” He answered, “Tony Campolo.”

“And how do you spell that?” asked the agent.

Inwardly, I cringed. Why wouldn’t everyone know this distinguised professor and author? I thought.

But Tony just patiently spelled, “C-A-M-P-O-L-O.” No pretense. No air of superiority. Just kindness. What a gentleman.

And I thought to myself, “What if Jesus were at the airport? What if the gate agent didn’t know Him? How would He react?”

Would He say, “Don’t you KNOW who I AM? I am only the MOST important speaker you’ll EVER hear…”

No…I don’t think so. I think He’d just smile and politely say, “I’m Jesus. That’s J-E-S-U-S.”

“It’s nice to meet you.”

Sometimes the “pearls of wisdom” that are most loudly spoken are our actions.

Thanks, Tony.