What’s So “Good” About It?

From a conversation with Anna earlier this week:

“Dad, why do we call it ‘Good Friday?’ What the people did to Jesus wasn’t good at all.”

“No it wasn’t.”

“Well then why do we call it ‘Good?'”

“Well it’s a very old name, and it originally meant ‘great’ as in ‘very important.’ The Orthodox still call it ‘Great and Holy Friday.'”

“Oh, okay.”

She paused for a moment, deep in thought.

“Well it was good that Jesus died for us,” she added.

“Yes it was Anna.”

“And the he loves us.”

“That too.”

Not quite a Five Minute Friday, but sometimes you don’t even need five minutes to say what’s important. All you need is a few moments with a thoughtful nine year old.

Five Minute Friday

And another two-for-one for Holy Week …

Cheerleaders of Faith

Break

Keep calm and wait … what?

If you hadn’t noticed, things have been quiet around here lately. I didn’t plan to take a break from blogging, but it happened anyway.

And that’s okay.

We need breaks from time to time. We need to relax, to take some deep breaths, and to recharge. We need to try new things, and experience new experiences.

Above all, we need to live.

It’s so easy to get lock into writing. To focus on word counts and deadlines. It’a even easier to get caught up in the business of writing. To spend more time on social media trying to be heard above the din of voices.

We spend so much time on output, we forget about input. Reading a book, taking a walk, singing, or  playing a musical instrument. Talking to our friends, engaging with our partners, or playing with our kids. And then we wonder why the output stops.

No input, no output.

No living, no life.

That’s why we have to take breaks, and that’s why the blog has slowed down and why it will pick up again once I am filled.

Five Minute Friday

And this week, a two-for one (to catch up with both online communities):

Cheerleaders of Faith

Reaching Her Goal

Anna in our van with all the cookies

Photo: Julia Ozab

Anna’s first cookie season with Girl Scouts is drawing to a close. We had no idea how well she would do or how tiring it would be for all of us, but it is almost over.

At the start of pre-orders in January, she set a goal of 400 boxes. We weren’t sure if she would make it, but we were determined to help her in any way we could. Anna made cookie pre-order posters for Julia to take into her office, and I reached out to friends, family, and colleagues online. She sold more than 100 boxes before the end of the first pre-order period, and then hit 200 the day booth sales were set to begin.

She was already half-way there. Then came the first weekend. This is the hot time for Girl Scout cookies. People are seeing booths outside stores for the first time in a year, and the sales are huge.

By Sunday afternoon, she broke the 300 mark. But it was wearing on her, and us, and the rest of the troop.

Still we were so close, and we had four booths the following weekend. We knew her goal was within reach.

She sold her 400th box at her second booth on Saturday afternoon and after Sunday she’s closing on on 450. We have two more booth scheduled–one tonight and the other on Saturday. She has a great shot of hitting 500 and being the top seller in her troop.

For her first sale, it’s a great accomplishment. And a reminder to me and to all of us. You never know what you can do until you try, but if you don’t try you’ll never find out.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord,” and through him “all things are possible.

Cheerleaders of Faith

Dare to Fly

Anna strikes a pose.

Photo: Julia Ozab

Anna had two birthday parties this weekend. That’s right—two!

The first one—on Saturday—was for her Girl Scout Troop and we had it at a local pizza parlor with a large indoor play area. It was a budget party, with cake, drinks, and snacks, and it was a lot of fun.

The second one—on Sunday—was for her classmates. We had it at a local gymnastics place. It was not a budget party, but it was worth it to get Anna and her friends the run of the place for an hour and a half.

As one of her friends said: “This is the awesomest party ever!”

The highlight of the party was Anna’s first zip-line ride. All of her friends were as excited to see her fly across the room. I overheard one girl shout “this is going to be epic!” as one of the employees hooked Anna to the harness. Everyone stopped playing to watch.

Anna was fine until she climbed on to the railing. The she got “nervous.”

That was her word. She didn’t want to admit she was scared.

I could see how scared she was. She couldn’t bring herself to let go. The other kids shouted out encouragements. They even chanted her name. It wasn’t enough.

So I went upstairs and reassured her.

I help Anna over the railing.

Photo: Julia Ozab

I helped her ease over the railing. She still couldn’t let go. I showed her the harness and the rope and how secure they were, and I told her there was no way her mom and I would ever put her in danger.

I told her she could do it.

She said she was ready.

She let go … and then she flew.

Cheerleaders of Faith

Nine

9

Another year, another birthday.

Not mine, hers. Our daughter Anna turned nine yesterday. How is that possible? How could she be nine already?

Yes, I know, there are parents reading this saying “Nine? What wouldn’t I give for my child to be only nine again.” And I know I’ll feel that way again in ten years when she turns nineteen and halfway through her first year of college.

Yikes! That’s depressing. Back to enjoying nine while it lasts.

It’s the last single-digit year. The last year where she just a kid and not a “tween”—oh how I hate that word. It used to be that you were a kid, then a teenager, and finally an adult. That’s how it was for me and for Julia. But now, kids only a year or two older than our Anna are called tweens, and childhood dwindles that much earlier.

I say this every year. “IT’S TOO SOON!”

I miss all the stuff she doesn’t do anymore, and I want to hold on to the little bits of her childhood that are left. But like anything else, I can’t hold on. We all are traveling into the future at the rate of sixty seconds a minute, and sixty minutes an hour. One day follows another and none of them ever come back.

That’s depressing, and since I’m rambling anyway, time to get back to the good stuff. She had a fun birthday yesterday and she has two parties this weekend—one for her Girl Scout Troop and the other for her third grade class. Both will be lots of fun. Julia is making vanilla cupcakes with aqua blue “Funfetti” frosting—the first batch tasted great—and we’re having a book exchange at both parties in lieu of presents.

Which is okay with Anna. She loves books, and she got a lot of great presents yesterday. Including a robot dog named Zoomie …

Zoomie loves to play. She also responds to voice commands and can do tricks. But like any new puppy she has to learn first, and Anna had to struggle to be patient with her.

Yesterday afternoon, we heard this exchange from the living room.

“Sit Zoomie. Sit!”

Woof!

“No, not pee, sit!”

We had to struggle not to laugh too loud.

Cheerleaders of Faith

The Two Kinds of Pride

Cheetah and two cubs

Photo: Julia Ozab

I’m struggling with pride. Not the sin itself—though I’ve certainly fallen into that trap many times—but with the word.

Why? Because there are two kinds of pride. And neither of them is a group of big cats.

We all know the sin of pride. It’s one of the seven deadly sins, which doesn’t mean its worse than other sins, but that it’s foundational. Pride is a root human condition, like lust, greed, envy, anger, laziness, and gluttony, that leads us astray. We all experience these temptations and when we act on them we sin.

But there’s another kind of pride. The pride a parent feels for a child, or the pride a child feels when doing something good, noble, or generous. Plus there’s the behavior code of Anna’s school, a code called Cheetah Pride.

  • Perseverance.
  • Respect.
  • Integrity.
  • Diversity.
  • Excellence.

All noble ideals, summed up in the acronym PRIDE.

So what’s the problem? Well Anna is having trouble understanding the difference between the two kinds of pride. I don’t want to discourage her outgoing spirit, which has flourished at her new school over the last year-and-a-half, and I want her to take pride in her accomplishments. Above all, between her apraxia and her new braces, I don’t want her to retreat into a shell.

But I don’t want her boasting either, and sometimes she does it without realizing. The first time I caught her boasting I tried to talk to her about pridefulness.

“What’s wrong with pride?” she asked. It was a tough question to answer. I had to find a different word that conveyed the bad pride.

And I did. Hubris.

Arrogant, pompous, conceited, and self-important. That’s the bad kind of pride. So from now on I will say “pride” for the good kind of pride and “hubris” for the bad kind.

And I’ve expanded her already large vocabulary. Which is a good reason for us both to be proud.

Cheerleaders of Faith

The Light is Coming …

Dawn at Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake, Oregon. Photo: William Woodward (CC BY-NC 3.0), 2014.

Anna is back in school this week, which means no more sleeping in for anyone. We are up at 6:20 a.m., and because it’s winter and we live in Oregon it’s still dark.

It’s dark when she says goodbye to Julia, who leaves for work at 6:30 each morning.

It’s dark when she gets her mini-breakfast (the small snack she has when she gets up to hold her until her “real breakfast” at school).

It’s dark when she brushes her teeth and gets dressed.

It’s dark when she feeds our two guinea pigs and checks their hay and water.

It’s dark when she packs her lunch (on the days she packs lunch instead of getting it at the cafeteria).

And it’s dark when we walk to the bus stop together, and she gives me a hug and kiss goodbye.

Every morning now, and for the next month or so, we will start our day in the dark.

But the light is coming and that’s what today is about. The light that came into the world at Christmas is the same light that the Magi sought out when they journeyed to Bethlehem. They were only the first of many who would come to that light. Soon, nations would stream to it and a humble birth in a stable that was probably a cave used for quartering animals at night would become the most celebrated holiday in the world.

The light is coming, as sure as the sunrise. And as at the sunrise, the darkness will flee before it.

Before him.

Something to remember when the darkness gets you down. The light is coming.

Cheerleaders of Faith