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March 18, 2011

I'm Not Lady Gaga

For some reason I feel fairly ridiculous when I type the name Gaga, or the word gaga, for that matter. Two or three years ago it made me think of nothing except drooling babies. My parents and grandparents use to call me Goo when I was that age.

By about the age of 3, I HATED being called Goo.

I paused and laughed to myself last week, overhearing Owen and Luke as they wrestled in the living room, each of them volleying, back and forth, "No, YOU'RE Lady Gaga." I dropped what I was doing and dove into the tangle of arms and legs tumbleweeding across the living room floor.

"YOU'RE BOTH Lady Gaga."

Yes. I called my kids Lady Gaga and proceeded to rough them up with flat punches and tickles. 

Minutes later, breathing heavy and lying on the floor, I asked them where they heard about Lady Gaga.

"From you and mommy."

Okay, well that's good. I guess.

Amy despises most teenybopper pop, as she calls it. I find some of it catchy and interesting and mostly not, uh...profitable. The boys probably heard Amy and I comment about something on the radio or TV. We have talked about being shocked by Lady-you-know-who's eccentricity, in disagreement with pretty much everything she stands for, and definitely stuck on the hooks in some of the songs we hear.

I'm definitely not Lady Gaga.

Baby, I was born this way. My version would look a little different.

[If you haven't heard the song Born This Way playing a million times a day on the radio, you can easily look up the lyrics.]

Often impatient
Easily distracted
Chronically late
(These being particular manifestations of selfishness.)
Adrenalin and caffeine addicted
Short on confidence
Overly analytical
Seeking truth
Stubborn towards repentance
Wildly hopeful
Blessed beyond belief
Wanting respect and acceptance
Desiring justice and mercy
Needing redemption name a few.

I'm definitely not always on the right track. I'm not often proud of the way I was "born." Yes, of course there are regrets. Just today I talked too much when I probably should have listened.

Lady Gaga can and will issue here decrees while shocking and entertaining millions if not billions. Like me, most of them will go on to reflect on her words and deeds. None of us are Lady Gaga. Well, except Lady Gaga of course. 

I'm RWG, thinking about keeping my own act together before I worry too much about anyone else. This is me, sharing my thoughts with maybe a handful of friends, denying neither how I was "born" nor my first nick-name.

There's much to be gained by accepting who we are, not so much in the braggart, "I have arrived" sense. Owning up to the whole truth about ourselves, including the fact that sometimes we all suck – it’s not a new idea. Spiritual poverty is a beginning, not an end. A beginning on the way toward the best things, like lasting joy and peace.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      Matthew 5

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March 04, 2011

aches and prayers

"Do you hear it?"

Ryan stands teetering on his left leg as I lower an ear toward his right knee. A group of children slow their way through the church lobby, watching me listen to Ryan bend and straighten, bend and straighten, bend and straighten his knee. 

"Seems like your kneecap is slipping over the edge of the femur."

I don't have ears to diagnose a creek from a pop. But I do know what problems are typically exposed when the knee is locked straight with the foot off the ground.

"So what should I do?"

I pause, thinking hard, not about functional anatomy. I'm usually glad, even honored to try and help. But in the past I've assumed too much, ready to talk biomechanics when friends and family are just looking for low pitched "hmmms" and common sense advice. 

I'm not sure what's behind the noisy knee. Kneecaps grind unevenly on femurs all the time for various reasons. If I had knowledge of a fool proof technique or set of instruction that would immediately relieve the misery of a dear friend, by all means, I'd eagerly share that.

But getting to the root of any matter takes time. We must prod, strain, and explore what precipitates the problem. We have to check strength and mobility at the foot, ankle, and hip. Then we scrutinize the details of basic activities like walking and squatting.
And that's just the evaluation. Correcting the issue usually takes time. It's an investment, never without effort, rarely a simple matter of "in" versus "out," crack, clunk, and you're all fixed. 

Oh, right. Ryan is still in front of me, waiting through my though pause with a look of expectation.

"Do you want to take a few minutes to look at the details?

"Or maybe, hmmm, you should rest and take it easy for a few days." 

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I don't blame anyone for not wanting to go there - with all the detailed investigation. I'm pretty sure that I've done this in my prayer life. I'd like simple clarity on an issue. Some specific instructions or divine intervention would be nice.

Or would it? It just seems so...improbable...that the full complexity of any life issue can be holistically addressed by a simple, pain free granting. How are we to be reformed by quick answers and miraculous fixes? I'm not saying God can't, or that we shouldn't bring our concerns before him. Who am I to tell anyone how to pray? But it does seem that a shift in emphasis is in order.

Ugh. Who has time for all the self examination, the seeking, the deliberate waiting and watching as things unfold? Who wants all the prodding of sensitive areas when a knee brace and some ibuprofin may do the trick?

Who brings themselves still and quiet before the Lord with no agenda? Who humbly listens and prays for patience and the ability to be at peace while actually engaging the uncertainties, challenges, and pains of real living? 

I say that anyone who pulls this off can move mountains.

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