Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mr Rogers and Me.

Mr Rogers vs Barney... and Dora, and Power Rangers..

in a Kid Celebrity Death Match?

Do you even wonder who would win?

Mr Rogers- in a heart-beat.

Not because of his physical prowess, or manly muscle, but because a couple of GENERATIONS of people, of all walks of life would be at his aid in a moment.

Why? Because Mr Rogers communicated what we so desperately needed to hear, in a culture that was changing, where divorce fears and experiences were affecting changes in most homes and neighborhoods.... A world where what you have, or don't , or how you look, or don't, defined your value....

Mr Rogers looked thru the camera, into our hearts, and said :

"It's YOU I like."

It's you I like,
It's not the things you wear,
It's not the way you do your hair--
But it's you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you--
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys-- They're just beside you.
But it's you I like--
Every part of you, Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you'll remember
Even when you're feeling blue
That it's you I like,
It's you yourself,
It's you, it's you I like.

Do I think Mr Rogers would "play" today?..Well- it's still running.

Do I think Mr Rogers' approach to children is the only one to utilize? Doubtful.

But, I'll tell you this- prior to his death- Mr Rogers, taped a short video clip for MOPS International, to be shown at a MOPS convention, where he TOLD us we were valued, we were important, that what we do as Moms MATTERED to him, and to God.

Mr Rogers sang us his song.

3,500 women wept. Because we believed him.

Did we believe him because he was so very cool....? Uhhhh no. He was NEVER cool.

Did we believe him because he was so well put together, or slick? Impressive? Nope.

We believed him because he MEANT it.

Fred Rogers was a minister, he knew the kids he was speaking too- (in a cultural sense) he knew the message he had to give, and used his unique voice to speak it, to a generation. More importantly, in my perspective, he was authentic. Believable. Cheesy, but believable.

He used methods that worked, for him. He became PART of the media, without changing his message. He was interesting to kids- though, maybe not so much adults.

Mr Rogers, is now gone. I remember the day his death was announced. Newscasters teared up, I wept. Others teared up and cried. I am sure that every MOPS Mom who was at convention the year his clip was shown... flashed back to that clip.

Mr Rogers was low-tech in a changing media culture of "The Electic Company" and "Sesame Street", There were just the people in his neighborhood, a few puppets, no big flashy animations, not blasting sound and lights......simple music, simple style.

Just a man, a sweater and a message.

Sometimes, moms feel like we are limited, how can we compete with the "media soaked culture" Our kids are in? How can we even keep up, or hold their attention? How can our simple message of love, and God's grace be heard over all the NOISE????

This struggle crosses over into women's ministry, and other relationships.

Maybe- we need to take a more Mr Roger's approach. Not be all "fancy" or "high-tech" "smooth" or "performance perfect"...(Mr Rogers wasn't exactly the most phenomenal person on camera) Maybe we just need to communicate, simply and with heart, the Gospel of God's love, His grace extended to us thru Christ. Then challenge each other to live in such a way as to honor the high-cost of that grace. Maybe we should love un-conditionally and with authenticity. Sharing the truth, in a way that points back to God--- instead of our "flash and dash show"

My Mission- at home- and in ministry, isn't to leave behind great "episodes" and "sound bites" for the media's approval. It's to leave behind a legacy of love- for my God, My Husband, my Kids and Friends.

I don't remember a single critic coming out after Mr Rogers death to criticize his lack of stage presence or his tennis shoe wearing, sweater donning image.....

Mr Rogers wasn't cool. Mr Roger's was himself.

Maybe as mom's, women, and, or wives, we should try the same.

I have read a bit about Mr Rogers, I believe he was a Christian, reaching out to a world that was quickly changing. I'm not sure why Mr Rogers shows taught truths, from scripture- without actually offering the Gospel as it's source.

Maybe it was a marketing thing, maybe it was because Mr Rogers felt differently about his unique calling, I don't know.

But I do know this, as a Mom, and a woman, I'm not bound by those things. I want to communicate the whole of the Gospel, to all those around me. In a way that is authentic and believable.

I want the "songs" of my life, to be sung after I'm gone, like the songs of Mr Rogers.
I want the message to be louder than the messenger. It's not about being cool women or Mom's ,it's about being real and being true to God's calling and truths.

Dear Lord- Help me to serve you well- help me to love my kids and my husband and friends in away that makes them BELIEVE that they are loved- by you first- then by me--- I love you Lord- amen.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Missional Mom- and my Man...My Sub "Mission" or, You were right honey.

Sub "Mission"---- just part of my Missional Mom experience.

Honestly- it can be a struggle. See- I pretty much think I know everything.

I am open to convincing... but- it takes work to do that. Debate.

There is an area of "debate" in my marriage- that has been on-going for YEARS......

It's called "The Extended Warranty". (Insert dramatic dum.dum .dum... music) My husband is a firm believer in buying the "replace and or repair warranties" I, being the "oh... nothing will go wrong- it's all good" queen, think they are a waste of money.

For years, every major purchase, renewed the debate. I finally decided- this is a stupid thing to argue about. I started buying the warranties. Usually - gritting my teeth, and thinking---"this is a waste of money."

Last December- we had a special trip planned- Mr Big Boys first trip to Disney World. We decided a faster speed Digital, would be important to catch the moments in pics. Since we already had a digital... I had a hard time spending any extra on the new one....I wanted speed- to catch that fast moving boy.... but I also wanted minimal cost.

I stood at the counter-- while the guy said----"blah blah warranty... blah blah.... "

I debated with myself. "this is such a waste- I don't want to spend an extra $'s a good quality camera.. blah blah.....then I felt like the "S" word was brought to my mind. "SUBMIT." Since-- my NATURE hears SUBMIT as a challenge for a fight... I knew this must be coming from God- and not me.

I felt like I should just buy the warranty. Even though my husband wasn't physically there--- I knew it was an issue- and his preference. So, without arguing- I bought it. (ok- so ocasionally I DO Do the right thing... who'd a thunk?)

Can you guess why my blogs have been shy of pics lately??? Because- that great camera--- the one with the Leica lens at the Panasonic price??? The one- with almost no lag time between pics... and great focus?

It broke. (see the awful washed out pic??? yeah, thats what I get now.)

I made a call- the insurance company that covers the warranties--- sent out a box. I sent in the camera... It is being either- repaired or replaced. FOR FREE. (well- for that $50 bucks actually) Here's what I learned..... sometimes- I am WRONG.

SHOCKING. I know. By experience, I am learning to trust his opinions more and more often. I also trust his character. He loves me--- and isn't just about "Makin me do stuff" just to be a jerk. Granted- it's taken us 18 years to learn this stuff by experience.

There are 2 parts to a marriage...... the Bible says to women to submit..... But, it also says to men--- to be willing to lay down your LIFE. That means- we should each be seeking to serve each other. If we're working together- to lay down our agendas- and our love of control.... to do whats BEST for the other person..... that makes submission, not just possible- but healthy.

Both parts are necessary. If there is submission on a woman's part- but a man- is not willing to lay down his life for her.... then, there is potential for abuse.

If a man is willing to lay down his life.. and a woman walks all over it.... that is abuse. Hurting others- being selfish--- doesn't bring glory to God.

In the context of a loving marriage- where each part is willing to submit to God, to put the others needs above their own, TRUST develops. On both ends.

A trust, that is way bigger than the debate of "Extended Warranties"......

When I TRUST someone- I can submit to their decisions.

The longer I am married- the more I love my husband, the more I respect him, and the more I trust him... The more I trust him.... the more I can submit.

Truthfully- my husband and I are similar in most of our opinions. There aren't a lot of things where we come down to "well... we have to decide..... what are we gonna do?" we usually are in agreement.

But- ocassionally-- there are those "things"... like warranties. Where- well- I just think he's wrong. We're not talking about sin issues here--- we're talking about opinions.

The bottom line?

I'm learning to submit. (still... it's a life long process for most of us)

Then, dang!, if he wasn't RIGHT! Honestly--- I gotta wonder--- how many times have I pushed my agenda---and been wrong? How many things would be different? I don't know.

However- this I do know---- on the whole "warranty" thing?

Yeah- honey- you were right.
And so was I. Cause I chose to submit! ;)
(thats a WIN... for us both! NOT a LOSS!)

I love you. ;)

Dear Lord--- Submission...I know it is controversial.. I know it has been abused....... but heres the thing---- it's still part of what you've called me to as a wife... a "Sub" part of my Mission..... please continue to help me to understand- and to learn- how to submit..... I also ask- that you'd continue to teach my man--- how to be willing to "lay down his life" for me.... we both have our parts---- Lord- they hold their own struggles. I love you Lord- and am glad to not have to try to figure this all out on my own! I love you Lord- amen!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

My Sumps' in the dumps.

My sump don't suck.... well, I guess in a way it sucks.

I say it all the time, I love water. I should clarify- I love water- when I'm outdoors, in the sun, on a beach.

NOT in my basement. Let's just say- today didn't quite go as smoothly as I had planned. I was scheduled to teach the Large Group- kids this morning. I have been studying and praying in prep for this morning.

I was up early, the house was quiet. ( I should have known something was amiss... quiet is almsot NEVER good here.) Everything was laid out last night. I was ready to go- EXCEPT, for a tree I wanted to use for part of the object lesson. After knocking my way thru the mess by the back door, (hmmm somebody should start putting their things away) I made my way into the basement. Good thing I did. Because, along with the pine tree (christmas decoration) I was looking for, I found a lake to complete the (kids church) outdoor theme.

But- this one wouldn't fit into my car for the teaching..... Our sump -pump failed. It's funny, how, when you're getting ready to teach something, God will give you VERY clear experiences, that will illuminate the concepts for you..... this weeks was more like and spot light illumination... than a flash light.

The Fruit of the Spirit is : Love, Joy, Peace , Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control. (Gal 5:22-23)

This morning was another exercise in growing the Fruit of the Spirit in me. I am so glad, that I had been taking time to pray and be connected to God. Because, this morning- when I totally could have gone thru the roof, I felt peace. (I dont THINk it was denial;)

The basement will be cleaned up. "Things" don't matter, people do. I could be joyful- to be with the kids I had the privilege to teach- even though my basement was flooded. I was faithful, to fulfill the responsibilities that God had given- and to the commitment I have made- to teach on my scheduled days. I could love others- even though My morning had, had a rough start. I had patience- even though I felt frustrated by my situation.

I even had self control, and didn't freak- when I found the mess. I was able to be good and show kindness to others- and help with set-up- tear down pick-up etc....

THIS was God.... Not, Tracey.

Let's face it- I have plenty of days when I'm a jerk. Today, I was prepared, and, because I had been spending time focused on God. I saw it as a way to be grown, not just a problem.

For the lesson this morning- started with talking about fruit. I peeled an orange, let the kids smell it. I let the juice run off my fingers and described the fruit, we talked about their favorite fruits, then I asked them if they were hungry... almost everyone said "yes." For fruit.

Part of why God wants us to have the Fruit of the Spirit- in our lives- is to make others hungry for Him. For them to see something different- and appealing.

God calls it a FRUIT. NOT a SHOW.

Here's the thing: I can read the list- then take it as a "task list" a way "to do" list. (I have tried it) And, well, I can do ok- for a little while. But then, things start to fall apart. I get annoyed with someone. I get impatient, then pretty much blow the list out the window.

On my own, I can't maintain the fruit. It rots.I took an orange- and duct taped it to the tree. I asked the kids if it was growing. "Duh. No." Was pretty much the answer. I asked what would happen, if I left it there? "It would rot. "

I've been there. trying to force fuit to grow. It does not work, not in orchards- or people. We talked about what it takes for fruit to grow- one great girl said "roots". She was right. The Fruit of the Spirit, can only grow in us, when we're connected to God. (The Bible calls it abiding in the vine) Spending time with Him, learning His word, beign with others who encourage us to grow. Then, God give us plenty of preparation, ways to practice, opportunities to both fail, and thrive. Like rain, sun and soil- that helps fruit to grow.

Usually, I have the opportunity, to share with the kids- many of the ways that I mess up. (or did when I was their age) Today- because of God's preparing... I could enjoy sharing with them, how the Fruit of the Spirit was working in ME today.....

Which- to me- is pretty incredible. Not ME. But God in ME. Changing me, making me grow, making me more like Him. Sometimes, I think we miss the wonder of that.

Don't get me wrong- I'll surely mess up, (oh- I probably already have) again. But then--- it's all a part of the process.

Dear Lord, I pray that you'd continue to grow the Fruit of your Spirit in me. I ask you to make yourself real to the Metro-kids, to grow them as well. I love you Lord- and thank you for every opportunity to grow--- even the messy stinky wet ones. Amen.Oh- and Lord- bless that Plumber who fixed our sump---- let the extra 100 bucks because it was Sunday... bless his family, & thnx for friends who help me with my attitude- I love you Lord!

Vicki- thnx for the reminder about the extra being a blessing- to him- it really helped my attitude;)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Missional Mom- Loving their Dad.

I'm a married Mom. After loving God, my next greatest gift to my kids... is loving their Dad.

Funny thing about that. I KNOW what makes me feel loved, but that Man? Hmmmm... the same things don't work for him.

I learned that the hard way. (What else is new?)

One of our first "marital issues" involved Chicken and Dumplings. See, everything in my Italian guts, tells me, food is a great way to show love. So, I spent an afternoon, simmering a whole fresh chicken. Then hours letting it cool. Then, probably close to an hour de-boning that bird.

The next day, I simmered the seasoned and soooo tender meat with fresh herbs, added fresh veggies- and made the sauce. Then- as a crowning touch.... perfect homemade dumplings were steamed on top. (Are ya hungry yet?) Pretty flecks of parsley through-out the light and fluffy dumplings. Everything was perfect.

I set the table. Candles. Our "Good china"... (Newlyweds.. we were so cute;) He arrived home, loved the scent. Then, he sat down, and ate like 5 bites. (THAT is not normal... My man's an eater) A few hours later, he asked of I was hungry... cause he was going to pick-up some burgers.

BURGERS??? after a dinner that took me 2 days to cook?

I was furious.

I stormed, I pouted. I let him have it.

But here's the thing. My ASSUMPTION was, that he liked chicken and dumplings. (Of course he must, I DO doesn't EVERYONE????)

He didn't. He still doesn't. I was trying to LOVE him, in a way he didn't even care about. (actually, in a way he didn't even like.)

When I look at my mission as a Mom and a wife, I know I only have so much time. I am No Wonder Woman. I can only do so much. It's important not to waste time and effort- (both emotional and physical) on making Chicken and dumplings for a husband who likes steak and potatoes. Or, roast. He loves roast. ;)

Besides, how loving is it really, to do for someone, what I would want, not what they would want?

I don't make chicken n dumplings much anymore. Once in a GREAT while I will, but if anyonw wants burgers after I have- it's really no big deal. Because, if I make it now, it's for those in our family who like it. Well- either that or I order it at Cracker Barrel. (though- their dumplings aren't as good as mine- toooo heavy)

I've also been known- to try to keep a perfectly clean house--- as an act of love- for a guy who really couldn't care less. Trust me, that's a waste.

Truth is, My husband is a lover of verbal affirmations. Especially public ones. So I try to IM him, email him, post sweet things in my blog, that speaks love to him. THOSE are things that matter to him. He's also a touchy- love person. I need to communicate love to him in that way.

Why bother with stuff that doesn't WORK?????

How about you? Are there ways that you're trying to communicate love, in a way that doesn't work?

To your spouse?

To your kids?

To your friends?

Here's a suggestion..... if you want to express love, before you start a 2 day project, and make yourself NUTS. How about asking... "hey.. babe---- do you like Chicken and Dumplings?" Or- better yet--- "hey- is there something I can do that really makes you feel loved?????

At MOPS ( we've used a book as a resource- to help open dialogue, both in marriages, and with our kids...(and our friends- too) in order to be more effective at showing our love- for each other.......

It might be something to check out.... unless you really LIKE eating an entire pot of Chicken and Dumplings, ALONE. With an audience of Burger eaters. ;)

Dear Lord- Time is short, I am busy, and I LOVE my family and friends, please help me to be creative and effective in the ways that I show Love- for them, but also to honor you, I love you Lord amen.

PS the pic??? my guys in the middle. ;)

Hmmm before you ask... the recipe?

Don't bother--- I totally cook by heart and taste.;)

though- I did cheat and use the recipe for dumplings on the Bisquick box. (tweaked)

Now- I start with boneless chicken, simmered in canned broth, (seasonings added- of course salt n pepper) with onion, celery and carrots, then thicken sauce, and then at the end- top with dumplings- tight lid over top and steam --- till finished.

That's about as much recipe as I have for that one;)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Missional Mom

Missional? Yes. A mom? Yeah.

Missional Mom? Most definitely.

From the picture you can probably surmise why. I am a Mom to 3 sons. 2 of which are teenagers (16 and 14) and one of which is a preschooler (4... so, not a preschooler for long!)

I'm also the wife of an exec. (whoopee. doesn't that sound important? it is... but, maybe not for the reasons why you may be thinking is because it's part of who my husband is, and so- is something that I care about) This is my primary mission field. The guys in my home.

As a woman.... and a SAHM.. I sometimes think they go beyond indeginous to aboriginal...let's just say men are differently "wired" than women, as are boys different from girls. (I ocassionally feel like a visiting missionary, as the belching (and worse) contests begin)

Umm... that's probably a lie. I've been "entrenched" in this culture for years, I can belch with the best of my tribe. ;)

Because these are the "Men in my life" it's my privilege to learn about them, to know them and to love them. It's also my privilege to learn from them.

I've been keeping a blog- at it is SUPPOSE to be a knitting/mothering /leadership blog. However, I've decided to add this as a purposeful place to share my adventures in Mothering, from a missional perspective.

I have been married for 18 years, a Christian for 20. A mom for almost 17. I have been involved with MOPS International for just short of the time I've been a mom. ( I serve as a Council Coordinator, helping local leaders and their groups reach the moms in their area effectively. I have worked with kids for almost 20 years, in varying capacities.

I am intentional and passionate about being a wife, and mothering. I am passionate about helping others fulfill their calling to do the same.

And dang if I don't MISS it. way too often.

I've been challenged recently, to take a look at my mothering, from a fresh perspective. The Missional perspective. I'm reading "Breaking The Missional Code" by Ed Setzer and David Putman.

In mothering- the same principles apply.

I am SENT- (called to go to my family- regardless of their movement towards me... bu not in the "stalker sense")

In order to effectively reach my mission field, I must :

1) Know (their styles and unique make-up, culturally, socially, emotionally and spiritually) to whom I am called- my family- and women and children in particular.

2) Speak , teach and relate to those I am called to reach, in a way that they can understand, authentically and with great love.

Being a "Missional Mom" is a journey. It won't end, but, it will always be changing. This blog is a scrapbook of that journey. My goal is to challenge others to engage in the mission that they are called to, and to share the hope and joy I'm finding in mine. To figure out together, how to break the Missional Code in Mothering.

Although, honestly, sometimes I suck at the whole thing.

Sometimes, I am so entrenched in my own "Mom world" that I miss what's happening in theirs. That makes me disconnected. Disconnection asphixiates relationships, like losing compression in an aircraft.. ya just can't BREATHE. Sometimes the disconnects are comical... sometimes, not so much.

Recently, while zipping along- my highschooler was talking about a group he knows "Cold Play" My Christian mom land culture entrenchment got the best of me....I pretty much listened to him without hearing a thing he said.


Because.. somewhere in my clueless brain, "Cold Play" sounded like a "rap" group. I don't LIKE rap. I probably have an attitude about it actually. (OK, so I know I do and don't like to admit it.)

Later I felt bad- because of my tune out, that was sooooo based on unfounded assumption, that I went to I Tunes and downloaded some Cold Play, just to see what was up. Ummmmmmm it's NOT rap. Actually, I liked it, kind of in a U2 type of way.

As a mom, I gotta know my guys "culture" that doesn't mean I have to be the coolest mom on the block... duh, thats NOT gonna happen. But it does mean, I need to be intentional. Open. Listening and authentically caring about and involved in the world they live in.

So here we go, embarking on a Missional Mom's Journey, together.

How are you doing as a Mom? A wife? A woman?

Do you know the culture you've been called to?

Do you know what they care about? Do you know their loves and hates?

Do you speak their language?

Your "mission field" may differ from mine, maybe you have girls, maybe you're single, maybe you're kids are in college. This isn't about us BEING the same, it's about us SEEKING the same end, to go to our families and minister to them, where they are at, and to help each other along the way.

Sounds like church to me.

"Dear Lord, I pray that you'd help me to better love my family. I pray for your wisdom and guidance in helping others to do the same, I love you Lord amen."