Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Before and After

Oh my goodness how I have missed you.  Yes, you.  And you, and you, and you.  But I've taken on the role of PTA President and I've learned that in politics, even at the high school level, people lie.  Now I think and do all things PTA while I sleep and when I wake -  much like being in love, but not. 

I was clearly dehydrated when approached about taking on the job, and as history has proven, I can make some questionable decisions in that particular state of mind.  That and I believed the people who told me it would be an easy job.  Once again, dehydrated, and in a weakened state of trust.  Anyway, you can call me Madame President from now on.  Or you can just keep calling me Kristi which is good too. 

We also took a little road trip and had a long discussion with the boys about the power of social media and how it can totally mess up your entire existence if used carelessly. ( For instance, this photo of the boys could follow them their entire lives.)   Right now they're mad at us for taking them far from the safety of home and making them talk about life topics.  Next I think we should drop them off in the woods and see if they can find their way home.  Another good life skill.  My dad did that to me when I learned to drive except that it wasn't in the woods, it was in a sketchy part of Dallas and on a busy freeway.  And I did find my way home -  and along the way met some nice men outside a dark and near deserted gas station in the middle of  nowhere who were happy to give me directions.  Oh the craziness. 

So... I couldn't decide what to title this post.  Here were my ideas.  

1.     That time I got fed up with summer and took it back from the video games.    Actually that lasted about a week, but we only have one week left till school starts and I'm praying we'll all still love each other then. 

2.   That road trip where we ate at places with burgers called The Fatty.  Kid 2 completely recommends the Fatty Burger if you ever have trouble deciding.

3.  That time I almost went into a tee-pee but changed my mind when I found out a hobo lives there.   

 4.  That time we went to a fried chicken place and Fireman Dave demanded I give him all my cash like a mugger in a dark alley.  So I did and then didn't have any money left to buy a piece of candy at the Russell Stover store.   

5.  That time we learned that there was a Russell Stover candy store mere steps from our hotel and who knew?  They serve ice cream sundaes. 

6.  That time Kid 1 practiced his driving on Historic Route 66 in Okahoma and we all prepared to die.

7.  Or that time we traveled Historic Route 66 and took pictures of a giant Indian. 

But ultimately I decided to go with this as title and subject.  The Before and After.  

Because we were in Oklahoma City and went to the OKC Bombing Memorial.  We went when it was all lit up at night and if you've never had the chance to see it, please try to.  And find one of the 168 chairs on the lawn representing those killed, and pray for that person's family.

The front and back walls of the memorial list two times.  The far wall says 9:01, the time before the blast.  The other wall says 9:03, the time immediately following, with a large empty space between the two to represent the time that everything changed. 

I can think of so many examples of before and after.  Before love, after love.  Before kids, after kids.  Before sickness, and after death.  And in the between times is a giant space of time for this thing called life.  (um, yes... those are indeed the words to a Prince song.)

For me it's easy to look back and see the gaps of the before and after - of the times that I'm now past, and times that have healed.  But I'm in an in-between now.  And I can't say when or how the after will be.  I wish I could. 

I got kinda upset with the boys while we were at the memorial.  Because it didn't mean to them what I wanted it to mean to them.  And before I got a chance to get all mom mad at them that night, Fireman Dave pointed out how the kids' lives are so different than ours were at that age.  How they think lock down drills at school are the same as fire drills - basically just a chance to have a mid day break.  I actually used to silently thank the crazy phone call person who called the high school every semester around exam time to threaten a bomb because I got to go outside.  And talk to people.  Because y'all, there was NEVER REALLY A BOMB.  And we all knew it.   It was just another kid who didn't study for his algebra exam and needed to have an excuse not to take it;   so he went into the pay phone booth at the school and called the office. Yes, I said pay phone booth. 

But for my boys, threats like that are so possible.  And so real.  And sadly, bad and scary news becomes the normal when it happens too much.  And nothing seems to be a surprise.  And I guess what bothers me the most is that bad things don't seem all that bad to them. 

Maybe it's just what they've grown up knowing.  Because,.... they too are in an in between time.  They're in between times when we could feel safe and not think about scary things when we went to school -  and a time when maybe one day we can again.  I don't know how long that particular gap may last.  

The bombing memorial was beautiful and such a lovely tribute to the lives lost.  But what I think I will remember most about it is this.... right outside the walls of the memorial, directly across the street, is a large statue of Jesus with his back turned to the memorial.  Which I thought was a bit odd until I walked over to it.  But he wasn't turned away from the pain, he was turned away because of the pain, with the title of the sculpture, Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

And y'all, I know he does.  He weeps with joy along with us at every new happy beginning and he's still there weeping when it comes to an end.  I get asked that on a fairly frequent basis... questions about how God allows bad things to happen.  First, I'm not a believer that God allows the bad.  And I'm also not a believer that he can stop it.  And I have to say each and every time that I don't understand it either. 

And I happen to be very, very afraid of my next bad thing.  I really am, because I remember how much I didn't enjoy the other ones.  But I like to think that God cries along with us in our sadness and lonely and scared.  And he misses the time before things changed.  And no matter how long the in- between is, he has his heart set on the after.  And I think that's where he wants our hearts to be as well.  

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