Getting Back Behind the Wheel

I have only had two accidents with cars in my life.  The first one completely totaled my beautiful 1965 Mustang; it was not driveable after that, and got sold for scrap.  The second one was actually a minor car versus deer situation: a deer came up out of a field, side-swiped my Dodge Neon, and then sprung back into the corn.  The car was driveable, and in fact only had minor damage – a hoof print in the back door and a battered rear-view mirror.  But after that accident, the car didn’t feel right to me for a long time.  I felt like it drove different, but not in a way that I could identify or get checked out.  It went for several more years (until I sold it to a young friend who, if I understand correctly, did significantly more damage to it – Hi, Ben Jordan!), so it was clearly fine.  But it felt tainted.

I’m having that same feeling at this very moment.  Sitting at my laptop keyboard.  My system froze up in a mysterious and unresolvable way last weekend, and eventually the Geeks told me that there was nothing left to do but collect my data in Safe Mode and do a complete restore – wipe the drive and start fresh.  Which is all well and good…the system started up again, which was an improvement, and everything seems to be re-loading without incident.  But what is with the check-boxes next to all the file folders and files when I go looking for something?  That wasn’t part of my Windows 7 experience before, and I don’t want it to be now, but there it is. Everything’s fine, I guess; it just feels…different.

Make Your Own Tradition

Fireworks on the 4th of July haven’t quite worked out right for us in recent years. Zach loves fireworks, and isn’t bothered in the least by the sound. Josh loves the visuals, but the booming audio is unbearable for him.
For several years, we would sit out on our front sidewalk, where we could see the shows from several neighboring towns, and barely hear the crashes. Still, it was too much for Josh, so he would sit in the house, watching through the front windows and yelling out to us that he could still feel the booms.
Well, and entire summer at Disney World seems to have slightly loosened Josh up; in fact, when we were there again in April, Josh even endured being out in the park during a fireworks show one night.
So how did we watch fireworks this time?
Everyone curled up on our king-sized bed, watching out the bedroom windows. And as we did, Josh hummed “The Star-Spangled Banner”. He was determined to make his musical addition end with the show, so he kept looping back into the song as he neared the end. At one point, he switched to “Yankee Doodle Dandy” for a while, and I coaxed him into a little bit of “1812 Overture”. Still, we ended up back at “Star Spangled Banner”, and as the finale filled our window view, Josh broke out into full-throated joy: “O’er the land of the free/and the home of the brave!”
It was magic.

Update on a Great Dog

We needed to take Zach to the new school for the first three days, because the car service wasn’t going to be ready until Thursday.  So, today, Mom caved and let Gemini ride along to take Zach to school.

Gemini was, of course, ecstatic to ride in the car.

When they got to school, Gemini seems to have been a little confused that she wasn’t going in to school with Zach.  However, she also wowed the staff and other students just by being who she is, and apparently they were interested in Christy taking Gemini to the school some day to introduce her to the rest of the students. Which is, of course, when Gem will really turn on the charm, and probably convince them that they just have to have her at school!

Smart dog…

In Praise of a Great Dog

My dog is a little sad this week.

Our youngest son Zach has started attending a new school, one which specializes in children with autism.  For the past 4 years, his service dog Gemini has accompanied him to school each day, because she helps him to transition from one part of the building to another (it’s one of the skills she was trained for), and because, when we first got her, Zach seemed to focus more when she was around (Now, she’s such an ingrained part of his life that I’m not sure that’s still true).

The new school doesn’t have anything against Gemini, but they want to see if the systems they have in place can provide what Zach needs without Gemini having to help him transition.  It makes sense.  But it means (if the change sticks) that Gemini will be giving up what had become the biggest part of her work.  There is still plenty for her to do, but the look on her face Monday when Josh got on his school bus, and the Zach got in the car to go to school – well, the look said “what about me?”  It really did.

So, I just want to say that we have a marvelous dog, who has made our sons’ lives so much better during these 4 years, and will continue to do so.  But, like so many people these days, she’s a little underemployed at the moment.

How Great is Our God?

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God 

from “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin

As I listened to a grade-school aged girl with special needs sing those words tonight, I realized that they are perfectly true.

God is great.  His greatness is not seen in our greatness, or goodness, or adequacy.  His greatness is seen in that he loves us and makes us part of his family even though we are not great, or even particularly good, or adequate for much of what would seem to be the stuff of being in God’s family.  This is true of even the most impressive and important of human specimens.  Which means God’s expansive love is also the best possible hope for those of us who are clearly not the archetype; and, the farther away from the “perfect person” that God is still willing to reach to invite people into his family, then the more amazing is his grace.

So, as I was listening to this girl who is just a little bit off in the eyes of the world, I realized that her singing, and my singing, and our singing together (and understand that this gathering of disabled persons got a little bit chaotic, perhaps especially in our praise) in fact shows the world how great our God is: he’s so great, he accepts us.

And may the world look at me, and at my sons, and at countless others who aren’t easy to see, and may they see that God loves us, and that we love him, because he has shown us who he is, and promised never to leave us or forsake us, and we are living lives of endurance and victory even in our brokenness.  Because our God is great.

And if your God doesn’t quite have enough extra energy for the physically, mentally and emotionally broken, how great is he, anyway?  And how can you be sure that he’ll still be willing to be “your God” if everything falls apart?

The reality is that the greatness of God, in the human realm, is most evident and undeniable when the least of these are part of the party – whether they are the homeless, the poor, the smelly, the noisy, the unable to control their bladders and bowels, the crazy, or any other unpleasant label you might be able to slap on them.  And if your worship party, your congregational life, doesn’t have enough room for the lowest and the losers, how do you know your invitation to the party is permanent?