This last three days Jim and I, okay, truthfully mostly Jim because of my asthma, has been clearing out the large storage room over our garage. It's the first hopeful optimistic bit of preparing for an overseas move in the January-February-March time frame.
Jim has his Oxford English teaching certification, has signed up with a headhunting agency that specializes in lining you up with teaching English as a second language overseas and done everything else required. Now it's just a waiting game for interviews and offered contracts.
Every five years or so Jim takes it upon himself to clean out the storage room, dragging all the boxes through our bedroom to unpack and debate getting rid of the contents. It's always stressful on me because a) there's a tremendous amount of dust usually stirred up by this that makes my asthma go nuts and b) I have to rescue things from him that he grumbles that he wants to throw away, like a big box of what he thought was white chiffon and lace. Dude, that's my wedding dress!
This sorting was way more intense because of the upcoming move. Jim sorted through many boxes, like bank statements from the business we ran from the years 1992 to 1996, and oodles of assorted silly stuff that I'm not sure why we saved, a broken cash register, enough decorations for every known holiday and clothes too tight for either of us. The clothes were an unexpected bonus for me because I can now wear all the ones I once packed up as having gotten too fat to wear. I'm keeping some of those, including a couple of gawd-awful ugly as home made sin cotton jumpers from my first years in our old church.
One big box had a ton of things from our children, report cards, school papers, home made Mothers and Fathers Day cards and some crazy things, like a written prayer request from Children's Church at our old fundigelical church by my son when he was I think perhaps seven or eight. Here it is...
In it our son is begging God to cough up the roughly 300 bucks he needs to buy a Nintendo 64 video gaming system and saying that he'd already asked his dad and dad said he didn't need it.
I remember Andy handing me this in the hallway of our church and it being one of those moments when I struggled not to laugh at something my child was doing/had done. I was tickled just a little bit by his requests for a new video game system. He already had an old school Super Nintendo and a Sega Genesis system.
The other thing I remember about that Sunday is that I got called onto the threadbare carpeting of our pastor's office. He and his wife, leader of the Children's Church, demanded to know what type of theology and Bible study I was teaching my children at home. They were concerned about the prayer Andy wrote out, that it was selfish and not something you should be praying for. They were upset he wasn't praying for something like the other kids, like praying to develop a closer walk with Jesus, or for world peace, or the end to abortion, something they considered important.
Even as I was a submitting wife and stay at home mother attempting to do my best with my two young children at home I knew by then that nothing I did was going to be good enough for these two. I had already had a few rounds with the pastor's new wife because I wasn't forcing my five year old daughter to memorize scripture. I pointed out that she was a child, a child that could not read yet, and I felt it was more important to let her be a child, that there was time for Bible memorization later.
To this day I'm still not so sure what's wrong with my son praying for the earnest desire of his heart. He did get a new video game system eventually, once he saved up from chores and birthday money from relatives. No harm in wanting things badly. He was a child, with a child's wishes and dreams.
I'm far from a perfect mother, I did the best I could. I am proud of the fact that despite the rigid rules of the old church that I managed to let my kids actually be kids during their childhoods. I think it's part of the reason why the two of them are such well rounded adults now.
To steal Cindy Kunsman's line - run away from the dream squashers. Anyone that tries to tell you how you should pray falls into the dream squasher territory.