Painting heart-cries, word by word

Safe Internet is Not an Option May 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 2:07 pm

Had a phone survey this morning ask me if I thought TV and movies for kids were getting too lax on things like swearing, violence, inappropriate content, etc. I said, “Yeah, definitely.”

They asked if I felt, as a parent, that I should be the one choosing what my children watch. I said, “YES. Does anybody actually say no to that question?!”

Then they asked me if I thought the internet should  be regulated in the way TV and movies are rated. I said, “No.” I declined the petition because it included a bit about rating the internet.
And here’s why I said what I did: The internet is probably the biggest practical look at “free speech” we have today, IMO. If we, as parents/grandparents/guardians, are going to take responsibility for what our kids are exposed to, then WE are the ones who should provide those ratings in our own homes. We can’t start controlling what people upload. I wish SO MUCH that we could, but we can’t. It’s that tricky thing about treating people as PEOPLE rather than as animals who need to be corralled. It’s absolutely true that many, many people abuse the privilege of being a human with free will living in a country that advocates free speech. It is also true that our kids will have to deal with such people on their own one day and I would rather train my children than control my children.

 I am the mother of four kids and I don’t think a “safe” Internet is a real option. It’s either a place of freedom for the average person or it’s another tool of the government to tell us what we should think, a tool of the marketplace to tell us what we want. Those things are online now, but I still have the option of ignoring them. I still have the choice to view what I consider worthwhile content and keep out the things I consider ill-advised. Setting precedent is an important step. We rate TV shows and movies because (to my understanding) they are produced by people who subject themselves to a business and therefore have some level of accountability. And that’s not even working! We do not rate the internet because it is largely produced by individuals who are a law unto themselves, so to speak. To rate the internet would be to rate individuals, not just content. And that sets a very significant precedent for our country.  Who would be the next “R-rated” person? If you think it would be producers of pornography or pro-abortionists, you are kidding yourself. An R-rated person, a person whose beliefs and opinions were considered by the general public as inappropriate for minors–I would almost guarantee you it would be the most intolerant group. And who is considered most intolerant? Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure it’s “fundamental” Christians. People who believe that God sets the standards and if you don’t play by His rules you get penalized. Our country does not appreciate that point of view. Bigotry, perceived or actual, would be made R-rated faster than you think and BAM. Regulating free speech suddenly doesn’t start to sound like such a good idea, does it?

What to do with the internet deserves some critical thinking. Do your families a favor and participate in the conversation.


Eight Years Old May 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 12:00 pm

I have always considered 8 years old to be the most comfortable age. You’re done being a little kid but you don’t really have a whole lot of responsibility yet. You can still make friends by sharing the teeter-totter and there isn’t any drama that can’t be solved by a shared ice-cream. You are able to explore more but can always count on someone else enforcing your boundaries if you go a little too far.

I don’t wish I was 8 years old–I wouldn’t want to do this all over again!–but I do think back to what it was like and sigh sometimes. For me it was all climbing trees, $10 crafts, and singing the Beatles with my parents. I had a few friends, even a couple best friends, and I had a serious love for gymnastics. Boys were just people. Fighting was too much trouble. Books were my haven. Trees were my chapel. I rocked my frizzed-out hair and elastic-band shorts, my round glasses and my purposely mismatched socks, my puff-paint T-shirt and my mom’s costume necklaces. I didn’t realize people thought about me at all, much less worrying about their opinions. I didn’t think about other people much. Only when I had to.

Being a kid is such an easy thing to put away in my memory sometimes. I forget, maybe on purpose, what it was like to trust adults implicitly and to believe my life would always be the same, like the wonderfully endless summer. Instead, I believe in the grasping rush of reality that is being an adult. There are no seasons, only speeding months and year being swallowed by year at ever increasing speed.

I don’t buy the whole “embrace your inner child” thing. We mature for a reason and I would rather embrace the process of being made useful in the world. I don’t need to cling to that guarded time of my life, hoping others will look out for me. At the same time, though, I do think it’s important to remember what that time was like, especially being a parent. When I forget I used to be a child, I end up bullying my kids and subconsciously pressuring them to be mini-adults for my own convenience. Not good. I want to give them the boundaries to enjoy being a kid, not rush them out of that time.

It’s the tension in parenthood that saps my strength at the end of the day. Be firm, but kind. Keep them safe, but let them explore. Enforce responsibility, but let them be silly. Hold them tight, but let them go… Yeah, I have gained a whole new respect for my parents in the last six years! They gave me a great environment to enjoy being a kid. I hope I’m doing the same for my kids.


D-Day May 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 11:38 am

Three years ago, May 17th landed on a Sunday. Daddy was doing so much better in physical therapy that I had stopped visiting so often. It was a thirty minute drive and I had two young kids at the time; it’s not easy to make regular trips anywhere with little ones in tow. Besides, I didn’t want to take them into the therapy place. There were too many things for my kids to break on accident and it was too bizarre for them to see Grandpa connected to all kinds of tubes, a bald scar on the side of his head, unable to speak.
But Daddy was doing much better. You could tell he worked his brain to the limit; it was the part of himself with which he was most familiar and so he pushed his mind until he broke out in a sweat. It hurt to see how hard it was for him to put blue pegs in a board. But he could do it now. He liked going for “walks” outside–meaning he was wheeled around in a wheelchair by my mom. One of the things he wrote down was “Oh, to walk, to run again!”
He asked for his guitar a number of times. Mom didn’t bring it because she didn’t think it would be good for him to have yet another point of frustration. Maybe she should have anyway. I think I was the one who told her not to.

That Sunday morning I finally felt like I could relax. We had a normal morning rush out the door, which usually leaves me frazzled, and a nice time singing worship songs with everybody. My phone rang in the middle of service, which was not usual, but I missed the call by the time I got outside. I tried to call back, but it was a third-party line and they couldn’t tell me who had called.

We had just gotten home from church. The kids were still running around in their nice church clothes. I was massively pregnant with our third and the adventure of going out was taking its toll on me. I was exhausted. When the house phone rang, I almost missed that call as well.

It was the physical therapy place. They were calling to tell me I had to rush over to the hospital to be with my mom. They called to tell me my dad, who was being prepped for a wheelchair walk, said “Thank you” to the nurse, and then stopped breathing.
“So is he–still alive?” My voice trembled.
There was a black pause.
I sank to the floor, willing myself to stay on the phone, figure out what happened, find my mom, get out of the house and to the hospital as fast as possible. Finally, the call ended. Eric was standing on the stairs, staring at me. The phone in one hand, one of my kids in my lap, I told myself to cry. “He’s gone…” I told my husband. And then I couldn’t stop saying it, because I couldn’t believe it, and I had to convince myself somehow that this was real or I would never get through it. “He’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone–!”

Eric came to me, put his arms around me, tried to shield me from the pain that was inside of me. It didn’t work. I felt abandoned. I don’t remember what he said, but I think he tried to say something. My head snapped up to stare at him, my eyes wide and wild–“We have to go.” He understood, took the phone, and I got into the car to wait for him. My sister-in-law came to wait with the kids. I cringed when I saw her talk to Eric, hoping she wouldn’t come over to me to say “I’m sorry”. I didn’t want to hear “I’m sorry”.

The drive to the hospital was about thirty minutes. I was rigid for the first few minutes. I could feel a scream building up inside me. I warned Eric; he nodded and said, “Okay.” He looked a little scared. And then the sensation of loss spilled over in me and a scream, ragged and raw, rushed from my throat. I threw my voice at God. I challenged His character. I blamed Him for my pain. I threatened Him–Creator of the universe–that I would not forgive Him unless He had a bleeping good reason for taking my daddy away.
I was throwing a tantrum because I was scared and felt how small I was. I didn’t want the comfort God had for me. I wanted to soak up the pain and wallow in the vast rent in my heart.


I can’t write about the entire day in one sitting. I’ve tried so many times. I can either write about the first half or the second half, but never both. It’s too much and I’m already light-headed with the effort of getting this down.
I spent nearly two years giving God, GOD, the cold-shoulder. I’m a little frightened by the arrogance I had at that time. As I said, I was scared.

But God, in His infinite love, only wrapped me up tighter in His Father-embrace and refused to let me run away. I couldn’t deny Him, even in the moments when I wanted to. I think part of me wanted Him to get mad at me, fool that I was, because–well, I’m not even sure what the logic was behind that one. There probably isn’t any.

God broke me and showed me the path to letting the hurt go without ignoring the grief of loss. It is a difficult balance, especially today, but He has cemented His faithfulness in me forever. I trust Him. I’ve been throwing a fit today and it’s been getting ugly. But I’m done now. I’ve written it out of me, acknowledged the loss without giving bitterness a foothold. I know this dance. I won’t be led away.

I love my daddy. But he was a man, a fallen human being just like me, and the only thing my daddy really wanted me to know was how much Father God loves me. And oh! how He does.


My Voice May 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 12:03 pm

I have a pleasant singing voice. American Idol wouldn’t look twice, but it’s what I call a “church” voice. I like my voice, although it is a little awkward. I got a pretty even meld between my dad’s melodious folk tones and my mom’s powerhouse stage presence. When I’m just goofing off, singing silly songs or songs I hear on the radio, my voice is okay. Generally on pitch, a semblance of control, that kind of thing.

But when I start singing for God? Something changes in my voice. When I declare my God’s greatness, when I cry out for His mercy, when I thank Him for His love, the Holy Spirit rises up in me where I can never go on my own. I don’t know what it’s going to sound like half the time.

I find it amazing that God rejoices in the sounds we make to Him, whether in tune or wordless shouts. It’s like I can feel His great heart swell with pride in what He has made and what He has done in us. And I can hear Him saying things like, “You have no idea how much more I have for you.” His presence is like the rumble of thunder in my spirit and I open my mouth to let what praise I can make come tumbling out of all I am.
Glory to God for my voice!


Freewrite [3] May 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — verbosevictoria @ 1:34 am

The problem with not journaling regularly is when I sit down to finally log some thoughts, I have too many to choose from. Then the task of recording everything worth writing seems too gargantuan and I give up, not writing anything for the 79th day in a row. I’ve tried to NaNoWriMo twice now and never made it to a single word count. Not.One.Word. But then, that’s the trouble with me. I’m afraid of mountains. In a paradoxical turn of events, I’ve always wanted to clamber up a literal mountain. I want to see that breathtaking view and take in the grandeur of the peaks and the sun and clouds. Yet if I consider anything in my life to represent a figurative mountain, I cringe and shrink into the shadows.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter because here I am, writing. I’m writing.

I am exhausted emotionally. I had some moments of fierce joy and quiet peace, some gratitude and silliness. But I also encountered some long-standing nagging doubts and the uneasy conviction that I’m avoiding grief again. Which usually ends up with me crashing explosively in some way and realizing, as I pick up the rubble, that I was hiding some molten grief beneath the surface of my life.

Three years, May 17th, 2009.

I haven’t visited the gravesite of my dad since we buried him. Not once. And I’m not even sure why. I don’t feel scared to go or intimidated. I can sense I’m avoiding it but I’m not sure what the reason is. Maybe I’m just sick of crying, of getting emotional. Maybe I don’t like the idea of inviting that mess into myself. Or would it be exposure?

I miss writing. The three days without any of my kids I was amazed how inspiring EVERYTHING was. I had the ability to observe on a level that rarely happens these days. I saw shapes in the clouds for the first time in a long while. I imagined silly things like cloud sprites and absurd plots about the people in the cars around me. And I was a little frightened at the difference to my mind, having the time to think and to observe without constant checklists going on. Is there any way to discipline my mind to capture that inspiration again? Is there any way for me to turn off the checklists for shorter periods of time? I hope so… I doubt I’ll have three days in a row without children again anytime soon. That was sort of a one-hit wonder.

I just deleted that last paragraph. It was complaining, nothing but whiny pouting. Alright. Done.