Impact

We bought a boat!!  The cutest little orange vintage boat you’ve ever seen.  Well, that I’ve ever seen, anyway.  Of course, since it is my favorite color, I took note of it and its for sale sign the first time I drove past it so I could tell my boys.  Surprisingly, the boys thought it was adorable, too!  Well, maybe the cuteness factor wasn’t the determiner.  Perhaps it was their newfound desire to fish and the need that accompanies that desire to actually stay afloat.  The little duck boat they had been using at the time wasn’t quite cutting it for two grown men.  Maybe it was the water collecting slowly in the bottom.  Or perhaps the fact that if one of them moved staying afloat was in question.  You know.  The little things.

So, they split the cost and went to put that baby in the water –on my birthday.  Yup, the best day of the year was to be spent sunbathing and picnicking in the sunshine on a gorgeous, nearby inland lake.

Until the new boat trailer’s wheel broke off and left us stranded alongside a dirt road.

These are the moments in which you realize how alone you are in the world when you have moved five hundred miles from everything you knew.  No friend with a trailer can come help you.  Even if he could, how would you then move an ancient, ridiculously heavy boat to a  working trailer?

My guys worked in 85 degree heat on a dusty road in a gazillion biting flies to try to salvage the situation, to no avail.  Left alongside a road for the night, our new little boat had no way to begin a journey.

The next day, my clever boys rigged a fix to limp the boat to a nearby lake, found a boat trailer for sale in our little village (that is some kind of miracle right there when you consider the next-to-nothing population), and got our new orange vehicle back home.

It would be several days until we had time to launch the Merriweather into the water, but when we did — what a moment!  We went huge when we chose our location to launch.  We chose a huge bay on one of the most intimidating bodies of water.  Why?  Because we could!  And off we went!  Perma-grin set in with wind-whipped hair and we sped off into clear blue water under a clear blue sky virtually alone.  And, for once, the Kirkseys had an adventure without drama!

As I reveled in the moment, I couldn’t help but stare behind us at the impact we had on this massive body of water.  Our little cutest orange boat was making its mark, blazing a trail.  Without even meaning to, we had impact.

impact

impact: strong effect;  the powerful or dramatic effect that something or somebody has

Recently, we have watched some folks we love be hurt beyond description by the actions of another.  One path, one course of actions has left folks in its wake tossed around like so many golf balls in a dryer.  This person is completely refusing to look behind at the damage their direction has and will continue to cause.

Other folks we talk to are crazy-concerned about their impact.  Running around trying to do all and be all and make others change.  These folks splash and flip and do somersaults determined to make a wake behind them that will last.

Whether we like it or not, we make some sort of wake.  Someone, somewhere can see where we’ve been and where we are headed.  There are folks behind getting smacked by our impact or maybe bobbing along in our ripples.  But, we cannot travel forward without some sort of effect.

Unless we sit completely still.   And, really.  What fun is that?

Our family comes from a background of faith.  Some folks would call it religion.  This religion has a tendency, in my little opinion, to focus on our impact in a way that sets folks up to fail.  There’s a checklist of sorts that is laid out and often determined by man.  It started as what God asked of us and morphed into a list determined by whom you ask.  These do’s and don’ts, front flips and cannonballs of action that qualify as impact are what seem to make a Good Christian in the eyes of some.  Sadly, it also leaves others who feel like they never will or never want to qualify, squarely on the outside.

There’s also a spin on being a Christian that is equally concerning — the Pick-and-Choose variety.  The one where certain parts of the Bible are worth applying and believing and then other parts are able to be tossed out as irrelevant and regarded as some sort of nice story similar to perhaps, Aesop and his fables.

I understand it  takes a certain amount of crazy faith to believe what’s in that book.  I admit, from the outside, some of the stories recorded in there sound beyond far-fetched.  But to understand them, you need to dig in a bit.  Some parts are historical.  Some parts of poetry.  Some are, believe it or not, scientific answers to our questions.  As a family, we discussed this the other night and we summed it up with two points.  The first being, if we believe any, we believe all.  We don’t get to pick and choose.  With the grace part comes the love part (the favorites, right?) and with both of those there is the truth part — the part that we’d rather not face.  Like it or not, if we want any, we get all.  My kids didn’t just get the fun side of their Momma —  though I am an awful lot of fun.  They also got Chore Momma, and Exhausted Momma, and Crabby Momma.  If they want any, they get all.

And secondly, let’s be honest.  It would take a certain amount of crazy faith to choose to disbelieve that book!  To believe that this life is really significant enough to be all there is.  To believe that we, this unbelievably complex system of life, came from a bunch of random accidents in the universe.  Frankly, I’d rather not believe that my great-great-great-great (and so on) grandaddy was a dolphin who thought legs would be nice and became a cow!  I much prefer Psalm 139 as my story!

But, I don’t believe I necessarily need to go out and force my belief on anyone to either make myself more right or to have an impact.

What I’m about to say is one crazy concept.  Are you ready?

What if, I do me and you do you.  What if I listen to my God and trust that He will tell me, Alison, each day, how to have impact in my world — this area of the world he has placed me in…

And as I’m faithful with what I’ve been given, He will make it effective.

If you aren’t quite sure what I mean, read Hebrews 11.  By faith, by faith, by faith, folks obeyed what God told just them to do, each story unique, and He turned it into something noteworthy.  They didn’t all do the same thing, yet they all did something by faith.

Isn’t that interesting?  We all just listen and follow the path set before us in obedience as a response to the mighty love of our Creator and He allows us to have impact.  So beautiful.  So simple.  So very good.

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Full Circle

My baby is about to have a baby.

Adelyn Baby pic20 years ago, on THIS VERY DAY I went into labor for a little dark-haired beauty to dress in pink.  I was twenty years old.  It was my second child.  My first girl.  And I was terrified and awed.  Terrified because I didn’t have a clue what a good mother-daughter relationship should look like and felt incapable of dreaming it up let alone facilitating one.

Yet, here I am with two girls now (and of course my amazing son as well) who like to spend time with me and we laugh and play and sing together.

This is further proof of my God Who loves me–this beauty from ashes.

Any day now, my precious dark-haired beauty will be thrown headlong into the joyous pain that is motherhood.  And isn’t it though, mothers?  It is indeed a joyous pain.

Motherhood is a tightrope walk of sorts between ultimate fulfillment and devastating helplessness.  And though it feels sometimes like it is about you, it is most definitely not.  It can’t be if you’re to be any kind of good mother.

SelfLESS.  It is one powerful, complicated word.

You want for them to be happy.  You want for them to do better than you did. You want for them to know joy and love.

You want, you want…but really it can’t be about that.

Regardless of what we want, we are simply vessels through which our children travel.  These precious lives are not a redo of ours, and they are not ours to claim.  To treat them as such is so unfair and robs them of their potential to be even better, even more than we are able to be.  It holds them back from writing their own story.

I feel this deep in my gut right now.  As I try to imagine what it will feel like to watch my daughter labor.  I imagine a tiny piece will tear from my heart, and then be mended as I watch her joy.  As I try to be available to her without crossing any lines and being too close.  As I let her be the mother and take a step back into Grandmother-land and let her define how she would like that to look.

This is HER baby, after all.  Her chance to make a mother-mark on the world.  I had my chance three times, and now is where the rubber meets the road.  Watching to see if the lessons I taught, and by the grace of God tried to live out, will bloom in ways that I recognize–but can’t lay claim to.

Thankfully, my three know upon Whom they rely.  Though the path may be stony, they will have a hand to hold.  And it’s not mine.  I’m just support staff at this point–loving, on-call support staff.

There is a primal satisfaction that only a mother can know.

Perhaps only the mother of a daughter–someday I will test this theory.

Perhaps it is a woman who comes from what is broken and then experiences what is good with her own daughter.

I don’t know.  But from whatever aspect it comes, I know how I feel at this moment in my life.   I have a deep sense of completion as I’ve never known before.  My baby is having a baby and wants me near.  It has come full circle.  It contains several miracles, this circle.

I am marking this moment.