i am worth it

Today has been a great day.

 Does it have anything to do with a lunch date I have planned with a friend that I haven’t had a real chat with in a little over a year?  Well, yes, it will be fun.  But that’s not why I’m happy.

 Could it be because I got a good night’s sleep?  Um…no.  I didn’t get a good nights sleep.

 Could it be because today is Wednesday which means that I’m just a little bit closer to Thursday and the ice rink?  Perhaps.  I do seem to be living my life these days pointed like a hunting dog at the rink schedule.  But, no, that’s not why I’m almost euphoric today.

 Maybe it’s because someone complimented my writing yesterday?  I love knowing that someone likes what I write.  It is very affirming, but no, that is not what is making me grin from ear to ear.

 Is it because I’m enjoying a strengthening relationship with our neighbors?  As our girls get older together and enjoy each other’s company more and more I’m finding that Ginny is not the only one with a girlfriend next door.  Liza is creative and energetic and quirky.  She loves the Lord and is a real joy to be around.  But, that is not why I bounced in the door at work today.

 Beth Moore.  Could it be that getting back to studying God’s word in a format that I really enjoy is what is making me so giddy?  No.  I enjoy Beth’s style of teaching, but that’s not it.

 Free tickets?  A dear friend just offered us free tickets to a show Ginny really wants to see.  But that’s not why I’m thrilled to be alive today.

No, the reason I bounced out of bed this morning, even short on sleep, just happy to be alive and ready to smile at the world…is Jesus.

 You see a thought occurred to me.  For too long I have let the price Jesus paid for my soul be a burden to me.  I’ve felt a crushing weight of obligation, remorse for every lash of that whip and prick of thorn that my sins have personally added to His pain on the cross.  But for some reason, that image has fallen away for me recently and more and more I am seeing the price Jesus paid for me as a testament to how much I am worth to Him. 

 The infinite creator of the universe knew that I was worth saving. Me.  Deirdre.  He looked at me, and then checked his agenda and said, “yup…I need her to do ______fill in the blank___________ for me.  She has just the right weaknesses to show the world My divine strength.  How much is it going to cost to ransom her?  …….alright.  That price is right.  We. Will. Pay. It.”

 Why am I happy?  Because I am finally absorbing the idea that God declared me worth it. 

 He looked at you and had the exact same conversation with the rest of the Trinity.  God felt that you were worth it. 

The price was right. 

Now what are you gonna do about it?

 

 

be still my thankful heart

Okay.  Time for an update on our adorable three year old girl.  Virginia Altie Aspen Gerard Russell……

This was the summer of new things for Ginny.  She rode a horse for the first time, flew on a plane and was aware of it (she has flown 15 times already, but she was under two at the time so she wasn’t aware of flying as such), went from diapers to potty trained in under two months, and swam away from her papa’s arms  (okay, she was using floating thingies on her arms, but she swam away from him instead of clinging.)   She sleeps in a big bed now and she is taking ice skating lessons. She can climb into a swing all by herself and does NOT want a starting push.

the horse's name was Pancho

Ginny used the speakerphone to call her birth-mommy Mel on Mel’s birthday and is showing more awareness of the idea of having two mommies and two daddies.  She knows these two people are important, but doesn’t really grasp why yet.

She loves her school and enjoys her teachers and she sings all the time.  If you ask her to play high notes on the piano she goes to the right end of the instrument, low notes, she goes to the left.   If left alone for more than two seconds she can pick a video, open it, put it in the VCR and play it.  She has lost her fear of cameras and turns into a total ham during family photo shoots.

Russells, Weltons and one Merrell in Boulder

But the accomplishment we are proudest of doesn’t show physically.  It can’t be measured on a growth chart.  Something has clicked within just the last week for Ginny.  She is showing a greater awareness of others. Their hurts, their needs and their impact on her world.   In short she is grasping the edges of the concept of compassion (a topic fairly dear to my heart)

One example of this can be seen in her prayers.  We pray with Ginny every night. Most nights Martin and I go through a list of her closest people and some far away relatives and just pray for God to bless each one and keep them safe.  Three weeks ago when her skating coach, Deena, was going in for elbow surgery we added her to the list and Ginny made an interesting connection.  She interrupted the prayer to say “pray for my elbow too”  “what?”  I asked.  Ginny repeated it “Pray for my elbow too.  It hurts like Deena’s does”  I found out later that Ginny had fallen in nursery that morning and bruised her right elbow.  To me it is interesting that Ginny had enough empathy to connect the two unrelated items.

Ginny's skating coach Deena

Then about two weeks ago, Ginny added “pray for Granddaddy.  He hurts.  He hurts all the time.  Pray for him.”  Which makes perfect sense when you know what my dad is facing these days.  But the thing is that none of us had discussed it with Ginny yet.  Clearly she is picking up on the conversations around her and we are going to have to discuss the particulars with her soon.  Again the level of concern for another human being surprised me.  She is only three after all.

Taking turns.  This is a tough concept to grasp….even for some adults.  We have started really making it plain that other people have rights too.  So in the car we each get one song at a time.  Ginny’s turn to pick will usually result in ‘Bob the Tomato’ singing “This is the Day that the Lord has made”  or something from SEEDS family worship, mama’s turn normally involves Travis Cottrell, Josh Groban or the Indigo Girls, and Papa’s turn defaults to Amy Grant alot.  Sunday morning we got in the car and I asked Ginny what song she wanted for her turn…she said “Mama’s song first.  Let’s do mama’s turn first.”  to say I was stunned would be grossly understating the case.  (however it took me scant seconds to recover from shock and cue up Travis Cottrells’ new CD, song #2 )

Another way Ginny is relating better to those around her is in what most people consider to be “polite behavior.”  The normal “Please and Thank You” routine.

What Martin and I are aiming for here is more than just parroting of please and thank you though.  We have tried everything we know to instill the idea of real gratitude into Ginny.  She’s had the outward trappings for quite a while now.  Mostly when prompted, she will say “thank you”    But recently she stepped it up a notch…..she gives a full description of what she is saying “thanks” for.   And she uses (mostly) full, grammatically correct sentences.

  • After breakfast Sunday morning – “Thank you for breakfast Grammy!  For the waffles, and fruit and milk!”
  • After her ice skating lesson- “Thank you Miss Deena for skate with me!”
  • When her friend Annabelle helped Ginny up after Ginny fell down – “Thank you Annabelle.  Look Mama, Annabelle helped me up!”  And she helps her friend Annabelle up when Annabelle falls.  They fell alot that day because they were running races across the grass and jumping into leaf piles.
  • When any guest leaves our house Ginny knows to go to the porch and wait for the person to drive away so she can wave and say “thank you for coming!”
  • After a ride on the carousel – “Thank you for the ride horse!”
  • And to the operator of the carousel – “Thank you!  Bye bye!”
  • She stunned a waitress the other day, Ginny was out of rice and she asked “May I have some more rice please?”  and when the rice arrived at our table she said “Thank you for the rice!”…oh and Ginny eats with chopsticks too, but that really should be saved for another brag session on some other day.

Now all this may be because Martin and I have drilled it into her to say “thank you”  and we try to model what we ask of her by thanking Ginny for things and actions.  But we never specified that she had to give detailed descriptions of what exactly she was thanking the person for.  She added that all on her own.

All of which may give the impression that we are raising either an angel in disguise or some kind of repressed child with rigid controls set all around her.  Thank goodness Ginny is NOT an angel.  She can still be selfish and rude and demanding and throw fits like any self respecting toddler.  She even was rude Saturday to one of her favorite people on the planet – her coach.  Yes, we know we can’t control her.  She is one long lesson in self control to both mama and papa actually.

But clearly, at least in this one area, something has just clicked into place with the whole ‘thankful heart’ concept.

Ginny achieved new heights in politeness this past Saturday.  We had been shopping at Fry’s Electronics store and stopped for lunch at their cafe.  They didn’t really carry any children’s sandwiches, so I got a ham and cheese on rye for us to split  (yes, my child eats real adult sandwiches.  She’s a foodie).  FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER we were done with lunch, paid out, and had gotten almost to the car when, unprompted,  this clear little voice pipes up from the stroller

“Thank you for coming and for sharing your lunch with me mama”

Be still my thankful heart!

i’m not proud, of me

This is not a rant.  But it does have to start with a confession that is going to make a fair number of people angry with me.  But read through to the end and I think you will forgive me for my candor.

I’m not particularly proud of my daddy.  Sure, for a few fleeting moments, after a solo, or when he has carved a really cool pumpkin.  But not in a lasting, over-arching kind of way.

Candidly, he is not really good at being proud of me either.  Drawing, singing, academics…. nothing I did was ever good enough.  I always got the feeling that “well, yes, that drawing is good enough, for an 8 year old” but the unspoken text came through loud and clear – “and I can’t wait for you to get older so it gets better and I can actually give you accolades without perjuring myself.”  You don’t even want to get me started on discussing our disconnect over music.  It is very nearly a tragedy in our family, that two people who both love music so much can both be so disappointed in each other and unable to resolve it.

Richard Nelson Welton, my daddy, is awkward.  He says the wrong things, he is volatile, and dogmatic and judgmental.  As parent and child we did not understand each other and as adults, we just don’t get along.  Our politics do not match up at all, and half the time I feel as if he questions my very salvation.

To be honest, we are BOTH volatile, and awkward and judgmental.  It’s not just him.

*sigh*

Thoughts of my daddy do not stir up good feelings in me.  Every scene in my head, every memory I have is mixed at best and some are downright painful.  It is hard to point to a single moment and say “there, see that?  I’m am proud of him for that accomplishment”

He is good with Ginny now, and I recall that he was very good at doing the occasional weird, fun things when I was a kid.

Like the time he made tiny balsa wood model airplanes for me and my brother.  They were beautiful, pure forms carved and sanded carefully……and the game Stephen and I wanted to play with them was hiding behind the couches on each end of the living room and flying bombing missions across the room.  Which of course damaged the planes…..and made my dad angry.

That led to him teaching us to make origami paper airplanes.  Less trouble for him, and less heartache when he saw his well crafted little planes crash up against a wall.

When Stephen and I were kids and playing at the pool was an all day affair in the summer, Daddy gave great horsey rides in the pool.  He gave our friends rides too.  He would “buck” us kids off his back endlessly.    How he survived those summers without drowning I don’t know.  Because I don’t recall him coming up for air much…..

There was one summer where I remember him letting the grass get really high in the back yard.  Before he cut it all down, he cut a maze into it and let us kids run around playing tag in the maze.  But he wasn’t carefree or playful in the sense that I seemed to see other fathers being.  Probably because every time he tried, things went wrong.  Like that hike in the mountains when I was a kid

What my daddy IS good at is what I call “the long-haul” stuff.

The nitty gritty things that leave other folks staring at the long road in front of them and giving up.  Daddy is stubborn.  He worked as a full time day janitor, part-time night janitor and had an early morning newspaper route *all at the same time*  (my mom also worked two jobs at that time as well)

My parents did all that because they wanted my brother and I to go to a Christian school and I had fallen in love with ice skating (an expensive hobby to say the least).  My daddy is certainly a long standing example of doing the mundane things in life.  My mom is good at inspiration and blue sky thinking, and I’ve gotten some of that from her.  Richard Nelson Welton is good at the long haul.  The daily grind is his specialty.  He knows how to find joy in accomplishing the most menial of tasks.  I like to think I’ve learned something from him in that regard.

My daddy is a really good example of someone who knows how to be happy with a job well done, no matter how “low” the job may seem.  Even “waving” for a tax company that forces their employees to dress like Lady Liberty and stand on street corners waving at bored, jaded motorists.  A job that would have humiliated me to my core….he thinks it is fun.  He does his job so well in fact that people KNOW him. My daddy is locally famous.  People call the tax service just to ask if they can hire Richard to wave for their own company!

He takes pride in doing his job well, even if the job itself isn’t inspiring.

I think he got that from his daddy, Dr. Felix Burell Welton, a surgeon who spent his retirement years doing volunteer work at a clinic in the local prison.  Long after his surgical career and extensive missionary work should have entitled him to just sit down and put his feet up, Felix kept going.  When life and illness finally forced Felix to stop volunteering….he just stopped living.  Dr. Welton wanted, needed to be useful.  His son, my daddy is the same way.

It’s easy to look back now and make my daddy’s work ethic sound noble and glorious, but it was hard in the day-to-day living of it to feel proud.

What 15 year old girl on the planet is going to be proud of her daddy as he picks up the milk cartons that her classmates insist on spilling on the school’s carpeted halls?  What 9 year old is going to be proud of her daddy when he can’t come see her skate?  No 9 year old on this earth is going to be un-selfish enough or even aware enough to realize that the reason he couldn’t be there was because he was working double to clean the offices so mother could take me to the competition.  What 30 year old is going to be proud of her father who is in his 70’s, standing on street corners, making a spectacle of himself as he “waves” for various merchants around her small town?

But I’m not 15, or 9 anymore or even 30.

I’m almost 42, and I am proud of my daddy now.  And in this case it is for one shining moment where he got everything right.  It is time for me to share that moment with you.

My father has cancer.  Prostate cancer.  His prostate is 90% engulfed in cancer.

When the doctor told my dad he had cancer my dad’s response was “well, we all die”

The doctor said, “yes sir, that we do”

My dad followed up with “yes, but I know I’m going to see Jesus when I die.  Do you know who you are going to see?”

The doctor paused and said “yes sir, I do. I’m going to see Jesus too.”

And that was about the extent of my dad’s participation in the conversation.  The rest of the appointment was taken up with my mom asking various medical questions.

My dad stayed focused on what really matters.

The same mind-set that allows him to take pride in a job that would bring me utter humiliation (but has instead earned him local fame, respect and honor) is allowing my daddy to place his utter confidence in the goodness of our creator as he gets up each day and just keeps being useful.

And even though we have gotten the news that the cancer is NOT contained and that he may have a very uncomfortable future ahead of him, he still knows what is really important.  He has settled in for yet another (hopefully) long haul.

Good luck daddy.  I’m proud of you.

whats in a name?

 Okay.  Admit it, every single one of us, at some point or other has read a trashy romance novel.

Whether it was hiding from your parents under the covers at night, or out by the pool because you needed something to read and someone just handed you a random book.  We are all familiar enough with the basics.  The themes are fairly well known.  We can all practically outline them in our sleep. 

Step One – Heroine has rough life of some sort.

Step Two – Meets mystery guy

Step Three – Either falls hard or despises him on sight

But no matter what

No matter when in the book she eventually hears him speak her name

it is always meaningful.

“and when he said my name it had layers of meaning and depth.  He knew the person I could really be”

Or

“and when he said her name it woke feelings in her that she never knew existed”

And, of course,  the classic

“when he spoke my name there was instant connection.  I knew that he knew the real me.”

 Names mean something.

Names have depth. (even in literature that has no real depth….ahem.) 

Take the oposite example.   Have you ever run up against someone who says your name and it clearly means nothing to them?  Like when that kid at Fuddruckers announces that your hamburger is ready

“kateeeeeeeeeeeeeyurburgerisupcomengetitnow”

 Or a telemarketer calls

 “ma’amIwishtospeaktodeeeedrieeeeerooosooolplease”

 No feeling.  No depth. No understanding of what makes that name fit that particular person.  Even if you don’t subscribe to the romance novel concept of names having meaning, you can’t get way from a simple fact

A stranger will speak your name
very diferently
from someone who knows you.

And it is not surprising at all.  They don’t know us.  They have no connection.  Why on earth would their speaking of our name have meaning?

 Now turn this around.  How many time do we carelessly throw around other people’s names without thinking about it?

Or worse

 When was the last time you mentally or out loud just skimmed over the beginning portion of a Bible verse like this 

“thulorjurgahd has …”

 Without thinking about WHOSE NAME you are mangling. 

This week, try giving up our tendency to rush through the names of God.  Commit that every time you encounter a name of God you will pause, think it through and really savor the names of our Savior.