Reader Spotlight is one of my favorite series here on Lil Light O’ Mine. It’s a chance for me to spotlight the readers that come here so often – that write! My regular contributors are dear friends, but there are mounds of awesome moms out there – stories, insights, ideas and tales that need to be told. This tale IS SO EXCITING! When Carrie contacted me – I couldn’t wait to share it with you. This is a family dreaming big, praying and trusting God for so much. Please see the bottom for what has happened just this week!!! – Courtney
Welcome to my failure.
I’m on the couch with the laptop, and the girls are in the playroom moving doll furniture out of the Dream House into new hipster digs in the toy refrigerator. I’m jealous. I desperately want to join them because I totally share Barbie’s passion for rearranging furniture, but I maintain self-control and return to writing something profound. This stuff is serious.
When Courtney said I could guest write on her blog I was thrilled. I thought it would be fun and easy to write about our new company called RocketWagon and how we’re trying to use it to bring our family together. I thought I would whip something up in an afternoon.
So I got myself all amped up to do this thing and I sat down at the laptop AND . . .nothing. I’m staring at the screen. Hands on the keyboard. Nothing. For like three days.
This must be ‘Writers’ Block’. It’s much worse than that sounds. I decide mine is called ‘Writers’ Great Wall of China’. And then it gets worse.
Jon comes over. He’s my husband. And he’s all eager to see what I’ve written. It goes something like this:
Him: “Hey! How’s it going?”
Me: [Closing the laptop and glaring] “Fine.”
Him: “Can I see it?”
Me: “Not now. I need to concentrate.”
Him: “Do you need help?”
Me: “NO! Just go away!”
He slinks away.
Good. I can get back to my work. I have a whole lot of pretend typing to do.
Here’s the thing. Jon can write. I don’t know if it’s hard for him or what. But I know what he’s going to do. He’s going to tell me he likes what I’m doing, but he’s got some ideas. And they’re all going to mostly be good. They’ll be better than what I have. He’ll want to bring it back to the ‘soul’ of the piece – some splendid irony that illuminates a simple truth. And then I’m going to end up writing something that is pretty much what Jon said I should write. But I’m the one who is writing this thing!
So, I hunker back down to stare at the screen of creative emptiness that is completely ‘mine.’
A couple hours later, Jon is back. And he’s like, “How’s it going?” I close the laptop. He says, “Why won’t you let me help you?” And I can’t even begin to verbalize to him what I just told you, but I am FEELING it. So then he says, “Hey, I thought the whole point of this was that we were supposed to make stuff together.” Which is, of course, the main point of what I’m supposed to be writing! Do you see what he did there?! That’s what I’m talking about!
Two-and-a-half years ago, our family was at a crossroads.
Or perhaps it was more of a dead end. We had summited that mountain that is the early years of parenting. We had clawed our way up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs past the survival phase and into that luxurious place where we could evaluate our family on a deeper level. And we didn’t like what we had become.
Jon loves to talk about ‘priorities vs. lifestyle’. It’s like his thing. You can NOT begin to imagine how tired I am of hearing about this. However, it does explain our dilemma.
According to our priorities, we were people who deeply valued our time together, community, helping the poor and turning every area of our life into a form of worship. But when we looked at how we spent our time, our lives didn’t look much different than our agnostic friends’, with the slight exception that we went to church and tithed. It smelled like compromise.
The perceived necessities of our lifestyle had overrun our priorities. We were quickly drifting into the sticky morass of organized activities and general busyness that ensnares the average American family. Jon was increasingly isolated from us as he worked to provide for our lifestyle and I was feeling pressure to sign our kids up for stuff like Kindermusik and dance class. Jon was the ATM and I was the taxi and meal service, while our kids were off becoming “enriched”. Our life was fragmented. And it looked like it would only become more so.
About that time, we were invited into a study of the Bible that examined it from the standpoint of story. We were deeply struck by God’s use of the family as the primary Kingdom-building vehicle in His story. It helped us see our kids as our highest priority disciples.
It also helped us see how discipleship is more than just a once-a-week meeting. I mean, Jesus did EVERYTHING with his disciples. We realized that if we wanted to disciple our kids well, we needed to be together as much as we could.
Also about that time, Jon took a job at a startup downtown. Further fragmentation. He had been working from home. But this job was a great opportunity to work with talented friends for a guy he respected. So we all agreed that it was for the best. Everybody except Kalley, our four-year-old.
Kalley was sad that Jon had taken the job. And when he explained that he needed to go to work because we need money to buy things like food, she was not about to let that excuse slide. She drew a picture that, in her mind, solved the problem. It was a machine. She told Jon that if he built it, the machine would make food and then we wouldn’t need money and he wouldn’t have to go away to work any more. She wanted him to stay home, so he could be with us.
We talked her down like parents do. Jon is worse than useless with tools, so we were kind of surprised she even thought this had a shot. But we loved our daughter’s heart. And it hurt to play the pragmatist. After all, she was doing her best to find a way for us to all be together. Why couldn’t we do that?
As we thought about it more, we stumbled upon an answer.
Maybe Kalley’s drawing could do what she wanted it to do – not as a real-life machine, but as an interactive story. We love to draw together. Her ‘machine’ had a lot of crazy parts that could be really fun for kids to play with. Jon had the skills to make the drawing into an app which we could sell on tablets and phones. Maybe Kalley’s preposterous (got that word from the thesaurus!) idea could actually work.
So we decided to go for it. We made an interactive story called Kalley’s Machine Plus Cats. Our whole family worked together to draw the machines. Jon took those gears, buttons, exhaust valves and conveyor belts and made them come to life. The girls and I learned to draw on the computer. We did our own sound effects, made up our own music and filmed the promotional video in the backyard.
And more important than building the app itself and regardless of its financial success, we did this thing together. Jon. Me. Corbett. Kalley. Together. “Being Together” has been like our theme song for the past couple of years. I wish that sounded cooler. I promise we do not have this stenciled over the doorway or anything.
So when Jon comes in and points out the irony of me refusing to let him help with my story about us making things together, I am speechless – somewhere in that catatonic space between rage and crying. I could seriously go either way.
There’s another thing he loves to talk about. It’s ‘sacrament’. I think he may be throwing this word around kind of loosely. In my head sometimes I’m that Inigo Montoya guy from The Princess Bride. I stare at Jon and silently say, “You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” He says marriage is a sacrament. Children are a sacrament. Work is a sacrament. All these things, he says, are ways God speaks to us – ways he reveals things about Himself to us. I’m not sure that’s what a sacrament is, but I do find God speaking in those places – if I look.
So when I sit at the laptop and can’t think of anything to write, I have a choice. I can be crushed by my own failure and allow myself to be funneled into that black hole of despair. Or, I can consider the possibility that God wants to show me something about Himself. That He is actually ALIVE and interested in every mundane detail of my life. I can ponder the thought that He loves me. And that He is using this experience to remind me that He doesn’t want me to do anything alone.
I chose to let Jon help me. We climbed the ‘Writers’ Great Wall of China’ together.
We are created to be with God. We are invited to join Him in His work. It’s the stunning, unchangeable reality of our existence.
I would say that at it’s simplest explanation, our family is trying to let that sink in. We are trying to allow that to change everything. We hope that as we spend time with our family, learning how to work together, we will grow in our ability to grasp the fact that God wants us to always be working together with Him. We want to put flesh on what is often an obscure, mysterious concept.
Maybe then producing a killer piece of writing doesn’t matter so much. Maybe it’s more about letting the experience of attempting to write be a place where I encounter God and become closer to my husband. And if that’s the case, then, just like RocketWagon, it doesn’t matter if it succeeds or not. Even if it fails, it’s still a glorious windfall.
And we would absolutely love to connect with you at www.rocketwagon.com
Courtney here – I just LOVE this story to pieces. Let’s back this family and their quest to make life work – with priorities in line. You can get the app RIGHT HERE! You can follow them on Facebook here. Or share that inspiring video above. I absolutely love how they listened to their daughter’s idea and went for it. What a risk. What trust. Kudos!
It launched earlier this week and was already #1 on iTunes in the Kid’s section!!!