Summer break: my personal doom

We have reached the end of the season I like to call Death by a Thousand Sign-up Geniuses. Teacher appreciation week, the ice cream social, and zoo field trips are all behind us. For ten weeks, we will be free from all requests to bring, buy, chaperone, and chip in.

And now I must face my weightiest choice: whether to let my kids spend the summer in front of screens or to let them destroy my house and yard. Do I let them kill brain cells on Netflix or do I allow them to conscript every item we own into “creative” endeavors?

Long experience has shown me that for my children, these are the only two options. If there is no screen, they will not play in any easily picked up way. They will proceed immediately to enact outlandish, fantastical scenarios in my previously orderly home.

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Why we brought our kids to their grandmother’s deathbed

May began with a funeral and ended with a wedding. We let our kids do both.

Allowing them to participate in the wedding was a no-brainer. Of course they would take the opportunity to be flower girls and a junior bridesmaid for a close family friend. It was an honor and a joy.

Truthfully, we gave no greater thought to the question of whether they would visit their grandmother on her deathbed than we did to whether they would stand up in the wedding. Of course they would.

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My favorite thing about the Bible may surprise you

It’s the beauty.

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Images that burst into color in my mind’s eye. Phrases that stop me cold.

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Malachi 4:2

I feel myself already warming in the healing rays of that sun, playing like a frolicking calf.

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Becoming Mrs. Goetsch

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My husband’s parents were married in 1964. Over fifty two years, they built a family—three sons and eventually five grandchildren. And they built a life—a home on six acres, leadership in 4H and the literacy council, church involvement, neighborhood friendships, holiday traditions, ways of doing things.

One chapter of their book closed with my mother-in-law’s death on April 26th. Neighbors, friends, and relatives came to honor that long chapter at her funeral.

As they did so, I watched a new chapter open. My widowed father-in-law silently invited his sons and daughters-in-law to become leaders in the family. The change was palpable. We were now among the grown-ups; expectations were set accordingly.

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Death comes in springtime

As spring has erupted in color and light, we have watched my mother-in-law reach the winter of her earthly life. She suffered several strokes in March, and her decline has been steep and steady. Death is drawing very close now.

Rick has gone back and forth to Wisconsin, first to comfort his mother and recently to assist his father. On Easter Sunday, we all left our brimming-with-life church service to travel the six hours to say good-bye. We arrived on a gorgeous spring evening, the Wisconsin fields golden in the warm light. During the few days we were there, our children pressed in, bravely sitting with and talking to their much changed Geegee. Through tears, I did my best to model courage in the midst of tender good-byes.

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On reacting and writing slowly

Have you noticed that I’m always behind? I never offer “hot takes” on my blog, only stone cold ones. Sometimes I wait two weeks to discuss an event, sometimes a year.

Lagging behind is not what the experts recommend for bloggers and opinion writers. You’re supposed to respond to events within 24 hours, offering incisive analysis on call.

I have deliberately chosen not to do this. It takes me longer than 24 hours to understand an event—what happened and why. And then I need to mull it over—reading wise commentators, feeling my feelings, praying, and discussing it with people whose perspective I trust.  This is how I discern both truth and wisdom.  Neither one comes quickly. 

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It may not be obvious from this blog, but I am actually an impulsive person. I have strong and immediate reactions that I enjoy acting on. I am comfortable letting my gut lead me.

I have chosen, however, to never hit “publish” impulsively. When I put my thoughts online, I want them to be well-considered. I need to be confident I have thought an issue through from multiple angles, that I have treated the players graciously, that I can stand behind both my opinion and my tone.

And when I have failed in either regard, I welcome feedback from readers. Such failures are far less frequent if I take time to listen, think, and write slowly, however. I save myself a lot of trouble when I am “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

We all know the dangers of a quick tongue. How much greater the dangers of a quick keyboard?

 

©Laura Goetsch and Thinking about Such Things, 2017.