Sunday, January 11, 2015

Things On My Mind

Some things I've been thinking about:

1. Football.

I used to hate football with a perfect hatred.  An "I count them mine enemies" sort of hatred.  I actually played flag football myself back when P.E. was required and my sadistic oblivious P.E. teachers thought this was a good idea but somehow never thought to set this Amish girl down and explain how the game worked.

So I played it for six falls without understanding what a "down" was or what we were doing.

Did I mention my intense hatred for this game?  I also failed a written test on the subject, a black mark on an otherwise stellar high school career.

Then I married a guy who liked sports of every kind.  And later I had children who did also, and who loved the University of Oregon Ducks.

In the gentle simmering soup of a loving family, I learned about football.  I know about downs and extra points and touchdowns and fumbles.  There's a lot I don't know, but I can listen to a game with the kids and enjoy it and understand enough to follow the general plot.

Love and kindness make all the difference, people.

And now there's Marcus Mariota, the Ducks' quarterback.  In a world of college sports where there's way too much arrogance, entitlement, covering up of alleged crimes, and shady deals, Marcus stands out as humble, self-effacing, and consistently of upstanding character.  And of excellence.

So yes, that miserable little Amish girl, shuffling around on that high school football field hoping no one would expect anything out of her, she'll be following the national championship game on Monday.

I don't know enough about the other team to make any sort of prediction about the outcome.

But I do know I wish that, since they go to the same university, that Emily could, you know, kind of end up in a class or group with Marcus Mariota.

Just as a mom, I kind of wish that.  As do probably 5000 other moms out there.

2. Children coming and going.

There's no way I want all of my six to live at home until they're 45.  There comes a time when it isn't healthy.  And once they're all out of the house I'll finally get to putter around making quilts all day.

Except. . . I kind of want them to stay home forever.

Matt and Amy were at home, and then they left.  I think, weepily, "I know they're happy and fulfilled, but I just LIKE having them home."

To quote from Pride and Prejudice:
"'The loss of her daughter made Mrs. Bennet very dull for several days. '`I often think,' said she, `that there is nothing so bad as parting with one's friends. One seems so forlorn without them.'''

3.Danger.  I linked an article on Facebook about a guy from Idaho who was into extreme snowmobiling and accentuated the thrill by not taking any emergency precautions.  I wondered about the ethics of this.  Surely there's no justification for qualifying for the Darwin Awards.  And a love of risk might be inherent, but it ought to be channeled into something constructive.

The resulting conversation kind of divided itself into male/female lines, though not entirely.  I've been happy, since then, to talk to people who are into outdoor adventures and other risky activities but also believe in emergency plans, responsibility, and sanity.

Oh dear, I can't seem to link it.  So, here it is, if you want to peruse it:
I said:
Wondering: what are the ethics of pursuing danger for danger's sake? If you're into extreme sports, I'd like to know how you justify that level of danger-for-pleasure. Why not take a medical team in to Afghanistan where the Taliban might ambush you? Or work in an ebola clinic? Or trap pythons in the Everglades? Or, as I tell that one son of mine, "If you're that desperate for a thrill, I'd rather you smuggled Bibles into North Korea!"

The discussion that followed:
  • Sandra Miller I agree!! Makes me wonder if this principle is not like the one where Jesus was tempted to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple..?
  • Gertrude Miller Slabach Really. I mean, really!
  • Jamie Pyles I love your suggestions for fruitful thrill seekers. Might even get a network to make a reality show about it.......Bibles into NK. people would definitely watch.................
  • Audrey Stone McAninch And, he only got a scolding. Humph!
  • Valerie Glenn Amen! That is the same advice we have given our sons. I thank God they listened.
  • Hope Anne D Try adopting a special needs kid . . . . in my experience, Satan will throw so many curve balls at you that there is no end of excitement. Too much, in fact! And you will long for peaceful, boring days . . . But you will have given a child a chance at LIFE that they did not have. 
  • Renita Rhodes I totally agree Dorcas! We see this need for thrill more and more in young people ... may God use it for His kingdom!
  • Julia Peachey Brubaker Amen, AMEN! I have been thinking this same thing for a long time! Why waste the energy of youth and risk life and limb on pointless pursuits that really don't benefit anyone else? I think our young people need more REAL challenges in life!
  • Edie Kauffman-Landis I'd never thought of that perspective before, but I LOVE it! I've never had children but I watch my nieces, nephews and cousins' kids easily get 'bored' throughout the seasons of their lives, so I've often said to them, 'If you are bored, it's your own fault. There are far too many things to learn, too many people to help, too many books to read, too many things to do and build, too many places where they need good volunteers and you CAN be filling those places w/ your hearts and lives.' Perhaps the 'extreme sports and reality shows are simply selfish ways to fill those empty spaces in our lives where we are uncertain what to do or are seeking self-recognition, glorifying ourselves. sigh There are so many ways to circumvent God's plans and desires for our hearts and lives.
  • Shawn Graber I'm noticing the estrogen-soaked comments on this post. Do you really think it would be best for men to forfeit their God-given wildness in order to be more sensible? Many women pine for a tame man but then complain when they get one. Agreed, some of the things we do are unnecessary, but I wouldn't take back any of the dangerous experiences I've had. As William Wallace once quoted, "Every man dies. Not every man really lives." (I recommend you pick up a copy of "Wild at Heart" by John Eldredge)
  • Hope Anne D Just to clarify--My husband was along for both "rides" with our adoption journey's, which took us to "deepest Siberia" and into corruption laden Ukraine. He got plenty of adventure both times, so this was not a estrogen laden only form of adventure. 
  • Dorcas Smucker Shawn--thanks for your comment. I had a feeling my perspective might be flavored by estrogen, which is why I asked the original question. So, yes, I've read Wild at Heart, and when I was done I said Ooooooooohh I get it now. And when the boys were jumping off the back porch roof I didn't go all harpy female on them, but said, "Oh yeah, that's right, they're boys." HOWEVER. Surely even you have limits on the level of risk you will take. The guy in this article purposely didn't take any wilderness survival stuff. AND surely you would grant that you, being single and childless, would pursue more danger for its own sake now than you would that future day when you have a wifelet at home and a dependent kidlet or three. ALSO not to speak for God or anything, but surely he made that love of risk in men to have some sort of constructive use, such as spearing mammoths so the village could eat, rather than snowmobiling purely for the adrenaline rush? Yes, any sensible woman will let her guys be guys. But she would rather see them smuggling Bibles, as I said, than parachuting off the barn roof.
  • Jamie Pyles I didn't get any of the crazy love for "wild at heart".......never have recommended it........... jus sayin.........
  • Rodney Troyer My thoughts on "extreme" sports is that most of them aren't actually all that dangerous. Thrilling? Yes. But life-threatening? No. Those guys doing back-flips on dirt bikes have done hours of practice into a foam pit. Also, risking an injured arm or leg is a lot different than risking your life. There are exceptions, of course (see free-soloing), but most of us who are adrenaline junkies aren't stupid.

    That said, you may be onto something with the "profitable" risk-taking.
  • Dorcas Smucker I should maybe add that I got the Afghanistan example from real life. My sister's friend lost her 23? year old son when he accompanied a medical team and optometrist in to an isolated village and they were ambushed and killed. I would hate to lose a son for any reason, but I'd a thousand times rather lose him giving sight to the blind than free-soloing El Capitan in Yosemite.
  • Cochinillo Dulce I am a woman and I take my adventures seriously. I have climbed and will keep rock-climbing, whitewater-kayaked Class III (and maybe 1 or 2 Class IV) waters, went on hot air balloon once and clipped a few of the top of the trees. I love the waters and have solo-SUP'ed waters a bunch of times. I have hiked and biked alone. Scouted camping in remote areas like the remotest section of Washington state called Makah Indian Reservation. There's a soon-to-happen plan to paraglide. 
    Although these adventures seemed risky to anyone reading this, I have planned them with utmost care with safety reasons on top of the list. How so? I make sure my family knows where/what my plans are. I may be solo-adventuring but I make sure there are people surrounding me and the areas I go to. Never totally isolated.
  • Cochinillo Dulce And oh, I'm not in my youth anymore either. Over the prime I would add.
    So this defies all notions of only men to take adventures to the highest risk. Or youth for that matter.
  • Shawn Graber I appreciate your perspective, Dorcas. And I agree, there are bold risks that one could attempt in Jesus' name. But one does not simply go from sitting on the couch collecting stamps to smuggling bibles. Brother Andrew spent his childhood sneaking around at night disabling German tanks by pouring sugar into their fuel. To hamper a man's risk-taking nature by saying "is that activity entirely necessary?", how would you expect him to grow up and risk anything at all? 

    As for the snowmobile driver, no safety equipment could have prevented an avalanche. Hindsight is especially clear. Do you have emergency survival equipment in your minivan? 

    Something that encouraged me is that even with broken bones and a bleak outlook, his thoughts were not on himself but on his family; an uncharacteristic trait of many men in this generation.
  • Dorcas Smucker Well, Shawn, obviously this is not a cut and dried moral issue so each of us has to figure out the level of risk we're willing to take, and for what reasons. I just sent the amazing daughter Amy back to Thailand where she will again zip around the big city on her motorbike, a risky business by any gauge. I asked her what she did as a child that prepared her for this. She didn't know. In general, she wasn't afraid of anything but didn't seek out thrills for their own sake.
  • Dorcas Smucker As for emergency survival equipment, no, I don't carry it, but I used to when we lived in the Wild North of Canada, where help might be a hundred miles and half a day away. Maybe that's where Amy learned to be ok with danger for Jesus.
  • Dorcas Smucker And one more thing...I think I have something of an Amish perspective on this, in which risk for the good of the group is a good thing and risk for your own enjoyment isn't. Again, not a precise moral line but it certainly flavors my perspective, in addition to all the estrogen.
  • Dorcas Smucker Jamie Pyles--I found Wild at Heart to be kind of a bizarre book, but I kept one nugget from it, and that was to relax about [at least some of] the wildness in the guys in my life. And Paul's urge to jostle the jiggler on the pressure cooker.
  • Avis Blowers I totally agree with your perspective of this issue!
  • Zonya Gingrich Good thoughts here. 
  • Dorcas Smucker And Cochinillo, you're right that it's not a clear male-female difference. In this family, the boys took the most risks in general but the girls were never afraid of much, and Jenny was always climbing up on the highest roof she could find.
  • Rebecca Barbo Dorcas, I am very intrigued by your question, the article and the thread. Some very good thoughts. It seems to me that the capacity and enjoyment of risk is a God given gift. Many are very content without risk in their lives. So maybe the trick, as parents, is to encourage that risk taking child to pursue a career that uses that gift and brings God glory, as you suggested. Having raised my children in a risk-taking environment, they are more comfortable with risk than most, hence one child going off on his own to Turkey for 2 years. But one of my children (Keith Allister Barbo, you will find this thread interesting!) has an inborn capacity and hunger for risk that was obvious within months of birth. He will be the one at 54 snowmobiling off of cliff edges if he has not found more constructive ways of using his gift by then. I sure hope Mr. Crazy Snowmobiler has a career as a prison guard, or search and rescue, or catching pythons as you said. So a question, Is risk taking a muscle that we try to build up in our children or a fault we try to suppress??
  • Paulette Riches McNeal Enjoyed all the perspectives... I have a hard time with people who do really foolish things that cause rescue people to have to risk their lives to rescue the careless one. There are some seriously risky things out there.... Parcourt and slack wire walking... May be a return to rougher living would help with the "wild" streak. Or come live in the Bush of Kenya.... Just living day to day is an adventure! Especially Garrisa.. Frequent terror activity there...
  • BrianandDonna Hosler I agree,that it's not always boys taking the risks! My oldest daughter was always taking chances and risks. She led her brothers into the thick of things more than once! God would whisper,"I have her. It's ok" Now I see how God was/is preparing her for much bigger things that I could have ever imagined! So glad I allowed myself to "get used" to it during her childhood because I see more of it coming in her adulthood! ~Donna
  • Christine Weaver The issue I have w/ extreme sports is that they expect to be rescued by a (usually volunteer) squad who leave their family and endanger THEIR lives to save said thrill seeker.
  • Rodney Troyer I always said that unless you're living on the edge, you're taking up too much space! 
  • Miriam Iwashige If a "child" is under 25 years of age, I think the adults in their lives need to weigh in with appropriate cautions, given the fact that the brain is not fully developed till after the age of 25. I personally have a lot of openness to risk-taking in the interest of accomplishing a great "good," but very low tolerance for what seems to me to be selfish thrill-seeking. The two-year-old child of mine who climbed up very high on the windmill ladder grew up to go to the "ends of the earth" in order to accomplish a great good in a needy and hazardous place. Maybe it's helpful to think of adults as needing to restrain their children at times to prevent risky behavior, but usually it's not necessary to dole out punishment for risky behavior.
  • Carolyn Schrock Miller Loving the thoughtful responses to this. Having two sons who love risk has pushed me into some new territory and many discussions with my husband who is very much on Shawn Grabers page.
  • Jamie Pyles Dorcas Smucker, 2 things bothered me about the book. 1) that he seemed to state strongly that every person has a problem with their dad, and this needs dealt with. I simply could not relate to this. My dad, while certainly not perfect, has not left me with one thing I can point to as a problem caused by him. 2) It seemed to empower men, who were already inclined to leave their families for bizarre endeavors to now have an excuse to go even farther away from following the humble life that I see in Jesus......... I'm sure others will want to argue with my take............... 
  • Luci Martin My calm, strong husband says a hearty amen to your initial statement, Dorcas.
  • Dorcas Smucker Rebecca--thanks for weighing in. I'd like to hear more about your muscle to exercise vs. fault to suppress question, especially regarding that one son. I think those of us with sons who love risk even more than most learn to be a little more chill than other moms. When Steven applied for firefighter training, a woman asked me, "Aren't you afraid for his safety?" It actually hadn't crossed my mind. I was just so happy to see him doing something constructive with his natural "gift."
  • Valerie Glenn Raising six sons I have had many opportunities to exercise the balance between mom's comfort level and a male's desire for adventure!! It is a God given drive, I believe . But one ,like any other, that must be utilized for good not simply for self.and thrills. There are times when we have stood back and let them do something risky they felt strongly they needed to do too push themselves to their limits or whatever but overall we have encouraged them to find an outlet for that that is for a bigger purpose than themselves. Did they need to experiment in taking risks in order to be able to do the extreme risk taking work they have done now? No, I don' think so. Rather it was.acknowledging that, within them, is right and good and therefore encouraged when channeled constructively. Most any healthy young male does not need to experiment with crazy in order to do very well living out a life on the edge for God.
  • Dorcas Smucker Thanks for sharing, Valerie. With how many boys you have, their personalities, and what they're up to now, you have the credibility and we should listen.
  • Carolyn Schrock Miller And I'd love to sit and listen to more of this discussion face to face with those of you who have raised sons. Mine are eleven and seven and are still in the jumping off roofs onto trampolines (to the neighbors great dismay) stage and feel like I have so much to learn. We pray for sons who will impact the kingdom...
  • Marj Weaver I think there is room in the world for all of us. Males or females who are willing to take risks for the sake of the Gospel don't have to go to Afghanistan or North Korea. I don't know exactly what Priscilla and Aquila did for Paul when they laid down ...See More
  • Paulette Riches McNeal I have a really wise daughter in law who said that after her son broke his arm falling off a step that the best thing she could do was learn the fastest route to emergency. She has six kids now and a well used trampoline..... They love being on it when it's full of snow! Risky? Oh yeah...
  • Hope Anne D I am fine with adventure and excitement in proper perspective. But it's wayyy too easy for most of us to spend tons of time and energy and finances on things that are not really building the kingdom if we are not careful. I'm a Mom to both sons and dau...See More
  • Alta Peachey I thought of your post when I read about this doctor in the newspaper this morning.
    Paul Dhillon is fighting a historic battle. The Regina doctor is currently working at the Ebola Treatment Centre in...

What do you think?

4. Why is it that, when someone comes up with a new idea, Smuckers in general tend to loudly and immediately say all the reasons it won't work?  "No breakthrough ideas will ever come out of this family," said a family member with a sigh.  I'm told, to my chagrin, that I do this too, contrary to my holier-than-thou insistence that I am always supportive and encouraging.

How do we change this, I wonder.  Because we need to.

As Ben says:
Quote of the Day:
"I finally figured out what ideas are like in our family.  They're like clay pigeons."


1 comment:

  1. OMW I thought I was re-reading your niece Shelley's post about football!!! Were you guys just talking about this or are you that much alike? lol Either way, I relate.