Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Peace and Order in the Court

I don't think conserving your child (or 18 year old, as it were) is a milestone anyone spends time anticipating.  Little girls playing house don't set up mock courthouses with pretend swinging bars to pass through.  Or rehearse stating their name as petitioner for their babydolls.  New brides don't fantasize about raising towhead kids and then limiting their rights when they reach the age of majority.

Nonetheless, love protects.  And that is what we did today--by both definitions: 1. Protect from harm or destruction 2. Prevent wasteful or harmful overuse of in our case, a person, our precious red head.  I took comfort in knowing that even if I never expected it, God had so ordered this day before Reid or I were even conceived in our mother's wombs. If the Lord willed it then I could submit to it as His good and loving plan.  

Not unlike organizing everyone for a family photo shoot, there were nerves, a few hasty words in the last minute rush, scrambling for quarters to plug the meter, and a quick text to a friend for prayer coverage. Reid's court appointed attorney had prepped me for an expensive downtown parking lot, airport security, stern bailiffs, and all the drudgery of the DMV.  I think we were her first case of this kind.  Turns out it was quite pleasant. 

the scripture bangle took on new meaning
We found curbside parking right in front of the building. I did set off the metal detector but, one glance at my silver bangles and the friendly guard waved us through.  

"Do we take this elevator sir?" Reid was en pointe reaching his personal pinnacle of politeness. A helpful woman who seemed to know her way around surmised our objective and likely heard my pep talk on the street.  Sharing the elevator, she clarified any confusion, "you want the 5th floor, Judge Koleti's court is the one on the left."  Perfect.  

The doors opened and there was a familiar face, Leanne our Regional Center case worker. "Hi Reid.  Are you ready?"  This woman is a crackerjack. She gives comfort to many families at many points in time. She knows the ropes. I instructed Reid, "Follow Leanne...she's done this before." I was close on his heels, and hers.

We entered a hushed courtroom that looked like a stage set for a television show.  Pristine carpet, new furnishings, everyone in position.  Reid scurried into the back row and read aloud a sign posted in several places, "No talking when court is in session.' Those are the rules, Mom."  Right.  Shhhh.  "Take pictures," I quipped to Jim.

Our fortuitous timing meant as soon as we caught our collective breath, the bailiff was announcing the entrance of the judge. "Everyone be seated, please." It was quite dramatic. "Mom, what do I say...I want mom and dad to...what is it again?" Reid whispered to me. The pressure was on to remember his lines.  "Don't worry bud, just answer her questions," I was relaxed now.  "Watch how they do it," I suggested as a Hispanic couple stepped forward pushing their daughter in a wheelchair.  

Pretty straightforward. The kind judge, silent stenographer and hidden clerk were certainly human.  Reid stood up wanting to switch seats with me and be next to Leanne.  No biggie, but the bailiff noticed the movement.  And smiled;)  Ought oh. He came through the gate approaching us.  "What number are you?" Leanne must've held up 3 fingers. "We'll take you next," he said cooly. Score! Now we're #2!!

Into the swinging bar we slipped.  Reid and I took the two cushy swivel chairs. He sat criss cross applesauce in his but didn't spin it. Jim squatted behind us. Reid positioned his mouth right near the state of the art, desktop microphone poised to answer appropriately...then waited.

Eventually the judge who must surely be a mom, addressed him. "Reid, we are proposing that mom and dad continue to take care of you and be the ones to handle your money and talk to the school and the doctor."  His head nodded along.  "Is that okay with you?" 

He delivered his line clearly, on cue and right into the mic. "Yes, that is okay with me." Everyone grinned. I don't think he tries to be cute.  He can't help it.  We beamed with pride. And the blessing of more time to learn from his childlikeness.

We processed out through the bar that Reid held open for us just as the bailiff had on the way in. At ease once in the hallway, amidst the accolades of good job and attaboy out popped, "Reid, I thought you were gonna sing her 'Shine!" Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

...for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  James 4:14-15

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:6-8

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Up on the Roof

Monday September 24th was a picture of answered prayer.  Our second annual Rooftop Soiree fundraiser for San Diego Capernaum was actually a first. Remember the blackout?

Nick Duellman Photography
Seventy or so (not to over spiritualize but that was the number of disciples sent out two by two in Luke 10) gathered on a gritty rooftop of the 10th Avenue Theater and Arts building to celebrate two years of this relational ministry to teens with special needs.  Many were friends of friends learning about it for the first time.  I felt like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins having a moment on the rooftops of London astounded to see, "It's all me pals!"

My bit part in the program was to make sure no one missed the symbolism of being on the roof. Here we stood overlooking our coastal city with seagulls eyeing the buffet.  It was as easy as popping into a chalk pavement picture to close your eyes and be transported back to the first century town of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. Easier yet to glance over at the painting Joel Anderson did for us.

"Capernaum" by Joel Anderson"
Jesus passed through Capernaum often drawing a crowd every time.  On one occasion he healed a man with a disability.  What's more, he forgave his sins.  Why this man?  He says it was because of the faith of his friends--not his own.  Those four friends did whatever it took to get him to Jesus.  The went to great lengths lifting his stretcher to a rooftop, peeling back tiles and lowering him right in front of Jesus' makeshift podium.

Our Capernaum leaders are those stretcher bearers. They believe.  They make a way. They want their friends to meet Jesus. They take them to Him.  Their faith makes a difference.
Nick Duellman Photography
I read from Mark 2 though its also in Luke 5. The morning after, various amplifications and ways to personalize it kept occurring to me.   Today's paralytic is the autistic. With more than 1 in 90 boys being diagnosed, we all know its the single largest disability represented in special ed classes.  True, most of our Club attenders are on the spectrum with a few Down syndrome sprinkled in and nary a wheelchair in sight. Makes me wonder if those faithful friends from Scripture might have taken their autistic friend in another entrance to avoid the noise of the crowd and the sensory bombardment of wall to wall people in a tight mid-eastern mud home?  There out of the fray, they could sit with him, peel back a few rooftiles to relieve the frustration and then, only then, absorb everything about Jesus.

Joel is an accomplished artist and autism advocate.  He doesn't always make it to Club because it can be loud.  Nonetheless, Joel is more than comfortable behind the video camera.  He expertly filmed our first Talent Show. Tobias Haglund, our San Diego Area Director, makes has invested in a friendship with Joel.  Dressed as pirates they attended a medieval dinner because Joel loves that. Like the faithful friends on the roof, Tobias steps outside the box to say "yes" to relate to Joel. Together they sit at Jesus' feet.

Tobias Haglund sums it up
Tobias spoke my favorite thing of the night. This young man after God's heart shared, "what I love most about Young Life is that it's incarnational ministry." Meaning...Jesus (fully God) became a man and moved into the neighborhood of earth to walk among us.  "In the same way Young Life leaders move into the lives of teens to meet not special needs but basic needs." 

The Rooftop Soiree felt like a block party to me, on a street that just had a cul de sac added. A lot of folks who remind me of Jesus moved in and real estate values went up!  Now everyone wants to live there...'cuz its the best street in town;)

Is there a Capernaum Club near you?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

In His presence

Being in the presence of the is that possible this side of heaven? What happens when we are in His presence?  Who can survive it?  How do we enter?

Not all of us get to visit heaven and return like little 4 year old Colton Burpo did. Moses radiated after being the presence of the Lord.  Another time he had to be protected in the cleft of a rock as the glory passed in front of Him lest He die.  I've got it on good authority that the God who saves us also wants to be our friend and share secrets with us. This means more than liking His status.  It requires a face to face.

Entering the presence of the Lord only happens intentionally.  "No one who lives in this world is a friend of God accidentally," writes Beth Moore.  Beyond talking about it as something does one get there?

Once again, Reid ends up being my teacher.  We went to a worship service Monday night that was outside our usual paradigm of church.  It was in a church, but there was no program, no end time, and no song lyrics.  There was worship--very expressive worship--including dancing, banners, and almost all eyes closed.  As soon as the band began, Reid knew what to do.  Innately, he was behaving appropriately doing things we haven't really modeled or taught him.

"Yes Jesus!" came out of his mouth between songs. "Hallelujah!" after another.  Our roles reversed as he put his finger over my lips to shush me between songs.  "They don't clap between songs here, mom," he instructed. Always nice to have social norms explained in a matter of fact tone. I just can't remember when I was the one needing that.  Seated between Jim and me, (our customary containment strategy) Reid must've flashed Jim the LOVE handsign half a dozen times.  As if to say, "Thank you for bringing me here and being here with me." Everything about his body language said, "I am in my element." He stood up whenever he was inclined and it wasn't out of place.  He reached for the heavens and no one wondered what he was doing. He pogo jumped up and down in utter joy and I wanted to join him.

As we concluded a soaking chorus of "Holy Spirit you are welcome here" he blurted out, "That was a good song mom." Those around us grinned ear to ear in agreement. Later, he whispered enthusiastically, "MOM, it's like when Tobias comes." I took this to mean they worship in spirit and in truth during their hour together on Tuesdays.  It must feel the same to him; not a performance but humbly entering the presence of the Lord and experiencing peace. At another sweet spot, he leaned into me putting his head not so much on my shoulder as near my heart in lil' boy love. I couldda melted right there.  It's all been worth it. This boy-man is charismatic in every sense of the word.  In the spirit, there is nothing autistic about him. Jim and I were the ones appearing a tad out of sync.

After Dr. Joe Ozawa shared a stirring and straightforward testimony, people were invited forward for prayers of healing.  One might have mistaken this as the crux of the evening.  Results-oriented me, always looking for a sign or wonder, will admit to being disappointed that my hungry husband wanted to go home and eat. It was 9:00 after all. Reid was the first one to the car walking taller and more confidently than ever.  "Don't you want to go up for prayer Reid?  Come on..." I urged.  "No, Mom. You and Dad go. I'll wait in the car."  He'd already put his arms wide around both of us giving our outside shoulders a little push when the last call was given for anyone else to come forward.

By then, Reid had gotten what he needed.  The meat of the program for him was entering the presence of the Lord.  At once dramatic and subtle, that mysterious reality was undeniable.

Revisiting one of the songs this morning (below) I am compassionate with myself.  It's not easy to "let go of your heart...let go of your head" as the lyrics prompt, after years of hypervigilant monitoring and constant commentary, which is how Reid and I have navigated this natural world for 18 years.  Almost everything requires a directive, explanation, or advance notice. I have my guard up for street crossing, video displays, and any number of other enticing traps both literal and figurative.  Ready all the time...for anything.  Like I'm in the presence of an enemy. And we are. I need to watch my back. I am the designated driver and responsible adult for myself and another who is vulnerable and less aware.  Or is he?

So I find myself face down, eyes closed, putting concerted effort into intimacy with God. For me, it's easier when I'm alone. No one needs a meal, homework help or a prescription filled. No one's watching. I don't have anywhere I need to be in an hour. Music takes me there. I carve out the time and take the first step. You know what appears?

An image floats into my mind's's me sitting on a loveseat contained with Jesus. This time I'm in Reid's head leaning in...not so much on His shoulder as close to His heart...silently with words unspoken...I sense love and trust and gratitude all rolled into one physical gesture of knowing and being known.

And something, if not everything, changes.

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’  Jeremiah 33:3

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. Exodus 34:28-30 

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is ... the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.  1 Corinthians 2 :11-13

Friday, October 5, 2012

Testing 1...2...3

Got this new app allowing me to post remotely. What does this mean to you? More frequent posts, likely shorter in length with more typos. Lets give it a whirl.

The Kingsmen have a gig in the morning so maybe I can swing a photo of their soundcheck.

My grandmother turns 100 tomorrow too. Nana! In her lifetime she has seen the invention of the car, television, cell phone, and computer. I'll never forget the Christmas we gave her a microwave to which she replied with a characteristic guttural grunt,"UH what am I going to do with that?!" She got used to it and now uses it exclusively.

I still don't have a microwave Nana. Ugh ghastly things.

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