Sunday, July 31, 2011

Letter to my granddaughter

Dear Eva,

Yesterday you were born. Since then I have not been able to stop thinking about you.

I couldn't imagine what you would be like, since you are the first Worley girl since your Aunt Kathy was born two generations ago. But when I saw you, when I held, you, it was as if I'd always known you. I thought, "Of course, that's our little girl."

Today in church, I prayed for you. I thanked God that you were born safely and that Mommy is alright too. I thanked God for a little girl, because I have wanted a little girl baby since I was a little girl!

Then I talked to God about you. Want to know what I said?

I pray that you will always know that you are loved. Mommy & Daddy & Elliott, Momish & Lala & Granddaddy, Aunt Katy, Uncle Matt & Uncle Ben love you. But you are also loved by a whole community of friends who have been waiting for you and are so happy to see you. We will all help you grow up, cheer you on, teach you things and watch over you. Sometimes you will push us away. But we will never stop loving you.

You have the most wonderful, funny, kind, talented mommy and daddy. You won't always think that, but trust me, you got the good ones. They have already done a really good job raising your brother. He will drive you crazy sometimes, but he's funny and kind too. And he loves you. I always wanted an older brother, so I think you're very lucky.

I pray that you will always know that you are very special. God made you to be just who you are. No one else can be you. Someday you will wish you were like everybody else, that you could just fit in. But God has a special place for you in his story, Eva. Don't be afraid to be yourself.

You have an unusual name; so do I. It will just serve to always remind you that you're not just anybody. Don't get frustrated when teachers don't always get it. Teachers often don't get the most important things about you. But teachers can also show you the world, if you you are fortunate to get the really special ones.

I pray that you will learn a lot of wonderful things about the world. I pray that you will hear about God and come to love him, as I have. I pray that you will grow up sure that he loves you, that he made you, and that he can be trusted. I pray that other people in this world will come to know about God because of you and your special part in God's story. You are here because you have a part to play in that story.

I will tell you a secret Eva: Your daddy was never supposed to be born. At least that's what the doctors said. He was a miracle, a son given to me by God, which is why I named him Seth. When I told your mommy that story, she said, "God must've had a really good reason to make sure he was in the world." I know that's true of your daddy. It's true of your mommy. And it's true of you.

Welcome to the world, Eva Worley. It's already different because you're here.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Days of Lore

Dennis and I were on vacation last week. I am now allowed to reveal to you the secret location of our get-away: home.

There were a lot of reasons we decided not to spend thousands of dollars on a beach vacation. But mostly, we just couldn't pass up the chance to be home alone. Since Ben was on a mission trip and Matt has moved to Mississippi, we had our first chance to be home alone in about 18 months!

We love our house, though it is not fancy, and it needs to be painted and updated. We love our neighborhood. We've lived here for 21 years. We moved in on the weekend of July 4. Matt was 6 months old.

We recently discovered that Jon Acuff has just moved to our neighborhood. (Stalkers, I know where he lives, but I won't tell you, 'cause I'm a good neighbor.) Not long after they moved in, he wrote about their decision to buy their house:

During this process, we made a pretty important decision about the way we’re going to make decisions. You see, we found a perfect little cottage that was near an elementary school. It’s so close to the school that the girls can walk every day instead of riding the bus or getting dropped off.

The house is absolutely adorable and we love it, but it’s just not as big as some of the other houses we looked at. Some of the other houses had bigger living rooms or more closet space or newer kitchens. But in picking the house to live in, we decided that when it comes to our life, we’re going to make “lore decisions.” We’re going to pick the option that someday will enable our kids to tell really great stories, the option that will add to the lore of their childhoods.

That probably seems a little silly, but for me it’s not. I know when my kids are grown up, they will not tell their friends, “You know what I loved about my childhood? The ample closet space we had.”

No, they will say, “When I was a kid, we could walk to school. On the weekends, we’d ride our bikes to the playground and play kickball. In the morning before work, my dad would walk me and my sister to school.”

The words might change, but they’ll hopefully be able to tell great stories because we made great story decisions.

Lore. This house is full of it. Long before it was featured in The Time Closet and Plot Device, Seth was dressing up the neighbors' kids and bossing them around the back yard with a camera in his hand.

That back yard had no garden, no plants, just a cement slab of a patio when we moved in. It has hosted numerous camp-outs and birthday sleep-overs. (Like the birthday camp-out Seth had, when I heard giggling at 2 a.m. and flipped on the outside light to find a row of middle school boys peeing into the ditch.)

There are still dead spots in the grass that remind me how we marked the beginning of summer: Dennis would set up the tent the first day after school was out, and the boys would drag their sleeping bags, pillows, toys out there. Dennis would run an extension cord to it so they could watch videos and have lamps. The tent stayed up all summer, 'til the final camp-out before school started in the fall.

Dennis is a master at wiring the back yard with lighting, hanging box fans in the trees on still summer nights. He finally had to install plugs on a separate breaker to run his "party" extension cords without tripping circuits in the house. We've thrown some serious parties out there - all those 4th of July cook outs with the choir & orchestra and all their families, when Back Yard Burger pulled their trailer into the yard and filled the neighborhood with delicious smells. And our talented friends filled the neighborhood with beautiful music at the "open mic" set up on the driveway. We've lived here through 21 summers of fire crackers and sparklers. 21 years of Christmas trees and exterior illumination. Including the Christmas after Dennis had been in a car accident and was incapacitated. Kind church members brought over the biggest dang Christmas tree on earth. When they untied it, it took over the playroom. We had a Griswold family Christmas.

We've been through 3 trampolines. When the first one wore out, the cul de sac got together and offered to help pay for a new one! It has been full of kids over the years. When they were little, I kept a tub of assorted socks and shoes left there - a neighborhood Lost & Found. On many summer nights, I would hear them as teenagers laughing and talking as they lay on the trampoline looking at the stars. (I hope that's all they were doing!)

Matt Worley used to run buck naked through this house like a puppy after his bath every night. (He was only 3. It hasn't happened recently.) By the time he was in middle school, he & his friends were such big lugs that when they ran and jumped on the furniture, they broke the legs off my living room furniture! Then there was the December night when Seth, Matt and Ben decided to make a short film, "The Fight Before Christmas." Matt, as the most bizarre Santa since Dan Ackroyd, literally knocked things off the bookshelves in my bedroom when he crashed into the other side of the wall.

There are a lot of bangs, dings and smudges that are testimonies of lore. Like the bright blue & orange door at the top of the back stairs that Arley randomly decided to paint when she & Seth were dating.

The playroom with the floor I painted bright red has been stuffed with Legos, dinosaurs, bean bags, a pool table, video equipment, guitars and sound gear. The garage has never housed a car, but it has been a holding cell for bikes, trikes, stolen shopping carts, lawnmowers, tools, athletic gear, footballs, basketballs, baseballs, gym equipment, sound equipment, video equipment. It's been a shop where Dennis and his Dad built bookshelves, a work-out room, a staging spot for zombie make-up.

We've set up cribs, bunk beds, twin beds, king beds and now cribs again. We've brought home babies to this house and grandbabies. We've come home from surgeries to this house. We've recovered from having three sets of wisdom teeth removed and spent countless nights running vaporizers, battling croupy coughs.

Last week, it was a great vacation spot. We asked ourselves, what would we do if we went to the beach? We'd sleep late, pack up a cooler with shrimp salad and spend the day in the sun & water, come home and clean up and go out to eat. So that's what Dennis and I did. I made buckets of shrimp salad. We packed it up and went to the neighborhood pool every day, the pool where we taught our boys to swim. We went out to dinner, and we stayed in for dinner. We watched DVD's. We did no projects. We did not fix or paint anything, though it needs it. We did "pimp" the fort in the back yard, the fort where Elliott plays, the fort that we built for his daddy, the fort where his daddy invented a lot of stories, the fort that makes an appearance in The Time Closet.

Mostly, we just enjoyed being home alone. A home that has very little closet space, but is full of stories.

Dorothy said it best: There's no place like home.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time machine

My son Seth and friends have had quite an exciting ride. If you aren't aware of it already, they were hired by Red Giant Software to create a short film demonstrating the features of Red Giant's Magic Bullet Suite. Red Giant released the project, Plot Device, several weeks ago, and it has created quite a social media stir.

So today, Seth leaves for a two day visit to LA to meet with representatives (managers) and producers who are interested in him.

My advice: Try to enjoy your big adventure.

My prayer: Whether you turn to the right or left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way, walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21)

As I was trying to express thoughts and prayers to Seth this morning, I came across these words:

"There's consequences to everything. Everything. But your gut will tell you whether it's incredible enough to take the risk."

This is the character Matt speaking to the character Gill, at the very end of Seth's short film The Time Closet.

But it's really Seth Worley 2009 speaking to Seth Worley 2011. Talk about building a time machine!

So, Seth: God has already been speaking to you about this moment. You've been taking notes. Keep listening.

We are all praying for you.

Guest House

Does anybody else need this affirmation? I know I do. Lately I'm just a bunch of feelings on parade.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of it's furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

- Rumi

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The man with no hat

Here's what's going on in my life all at the same time:

Ben graduated from high school
Seth's short film has become an internet success, opening BIG possibilities
Arley is having a baby in a few weeks
Matt moved to Mississippi yesterday

I've been dealing with lots of feelings. It's been an emotional roller coaster. So yesterday when Matt drove away, I stood in the driveway until I couldn't see his truck and then at least ten minutes longer just to be sure. And then I ran inside, got the comforter off his bed, the one that I made for him out of his high school t-shirts, and I cried. I sobbed. I wailed. I whimpered. All afternoon. Until my head hurt so bad and my whole face was puffy.

I am feeling very vulnerable these days. Fragile. I feel the fragility of life, that every moment of joy and wonder and pain is poignantly thin, like eggshell thin. Like bubble thin. And so intense. Life is swallowing me whole.

I have on-again/off-again battled depression over the course of my life. For a long time I was medicated for it. I remember when I stopped taking medication and I wasn't being "regulated," every little thing felt startlingly intense. I remember describing this to my doctor.

"It's like this", I said. "It's like you were a man wearing a hat for ten years. And one day you went out for a walk without the hat. And the feel of the wind on your bare head freaked you out because you hadn't felt wind for ten years."

He looked at me like, "You'll be back."

My friend Ashley blogged about feelings today:

here's a quote for you from my reading from "how al-anon works" yesterday, page 90. it is also important to be reminded that feelings aren't fact. no matter how intense the feelings may be, they are only feelings. they are reactions to, rather than reflections of, reality. therefore, they are not necessarily the best basis for decision-making. other people can help us to value the experience of our emotions without acting on them in ways that we might regret once the feelings have passed.

This is why I hid under Matt's covers and did not make any decisions yesterday. I was nothing but a bundle of feelings. I was not to be trusted out in the world. I was a raw nerve ending, and everything was too hard.

But at the same time, this is how I feel:

The harder life gets, the more God reminds me of his love. It's a strange thing but I'm so grateful.
- Donald Miller

When I was a little girl, I imagined the wind was God running his fingers through my hair, like my mother did at night. God telling me he loved me.

Have you ever felt loved and vulnerable at the same time? Grateful and fragile?

That's how I felt yesterday when Dennis came home from work with flowers because he knew I'd been home alone crying, even though I didn't tell him.

That's how I feel when I look at Arley's beautiful baby belly and try to imagine what a Worley girl will be like.

That's how I feel when I watch Seth and Ben's wonder and happiness over their great success.

That's how I felt when Matt scooped me up in his big arms before he climbed into his truck and drove off.

Like a man with no hat, in a stiff breeze.