Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When A Moment Changes Everything

My sweeties
On Thursday of last week I substitute taught in Sydney's 1st grade class.  1st graders are charismatic, eager to learn, full of wonder, and love, love, love to hug.  Sydney got up from her seat in regular intervals to hug me.  This insured many of her classmates followed her lead.  It made my heart full.  Little did I know how much I would still be thinking about those hugs today.

Friday I subbed for a teacher who splits his time between 4th and 5th graders.  He assists with instruction and has a small group of students who come to his room for support.  I liked it because it meant that I got to work in small groups, something I enjoy.  One of my duties to cover for this teacher was being present in the drop off line for parents who drive their kids to school.  I stood outside in the cold morning air, winter sun was shining through leafless trees.  I held onto my warm coffee mug and offered my "good morning" and "happy Friday" to the students as they got out of the cars in and walked into school.  I watched parents hug their kids over car seats and bulky winter coats.  I watched younger students turn to wave or give one last smile before darting off through the school doors.  I saw a few parents roll down the passenger window of the car to holler "I love you" or "have a good day."  I felt filled by this experience.  

I hadn't really thought of the drop off to school as personal, but it is.  It's in those tender moments that we, as parents, live out that remarkable quote, which President Obama so eloquently reminded us of when he spoke at a prayer vigil in Newtown on Sunday evening.  It was Elizabeth Stone who said, "Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."  We watch our children walk into school or board their school bus and part of us goes with them.  Part of ourselves is always with them.  It's the best parts. The parts that love and are filled with curiosity.

Near the end of the school day on Friday I had about 5 minutes to quickly check my email.  I read a short message from John alerting me that there had been a school shooting and not to turn on the TV in from of Elliot and Sydney.  John isn't always so direct, so I pulled up a news website and read the horrible headline. My heart sank and I logged off.  There is a song called "When A Moment Changes Everything" by David Gray that immediately flooded my thoughts.  How very, sadly, heartbreakingly true.  

Friday night we ordered pizza, ate together around our island in the kitchen.  We got some of the Christmas cookies out of the freezer and ate them.  I looked deeper into my kids' eyes.  I slowed down--a lot.  We sat all together on one couch and watched a silly movie.  John and I needed that.  And, our kids needed it.

My kids have no understanding of the horrible things some people are capable of.  For that, I am grateful.  I want to freeze time; make it stand still so that they never have to learn about this or other sadness.

As parents we feel this tragedy.  Our hearts break when we see the pictures of those adorable 1st graders.  This is an unimaginable tragedy.  I find myself just staring at Sydney.  But what do we do?  I can share what has bubbled to the surface of our hearts.  

A few months ago John began talking to me about adopting a mission statement for our family.  This statement would be visible when we enter our house and when guests are in our home.  We've kept the conversation open and I have been praying about it.  We agree on the foundation of what we want this statement to encompass.  Last night as Sydney and I were finishing up a craft I heard John writing on the chalkboard-pantry door.  I knew it was John because I heard Elliot ask, "what does that mean?"  John read the statement to Elliot.  Sydney ran out into the kitchen and read it herself.  I stayed in the craft room.  I closed my eyes and whispered "thank you."  

You see for me this was a moment when John was leading our family.  It was a moment when he solidified what our little family stands for.  It was a moment that will change everything.  The statement reads: We don't take the easy way out.

What the statement means is, we don't give up.  It means, we do the right thing, even when the right thing isn't the easy thing.  It means we stay true to who we are. 

I'm certain we will have some battles over the years as we stay true to this mission statement.  We will be tested by the kids time and time again.  But, I will not give into the easy thing.  

As far as Elliot is concerned...it would be easier not to kiss his cheek when I drop them off in the morning, as he sometimes pulls away because it's "embarrassing."  It would be easier to give in on our "no playing Xbox games rated 'M' rule," but we won't.  As far as Sydney goes...well, time will present challenges with her.  She's only 6 and it's not too difficult yet.  

What I saw in the drop off line Friday was so many parents not taking the easy way out.  They were saying the "I love yous" and giving the hugs--probably to some kids that wanted to pull away.   My kids mean too much to me to take the easy way out.  As that quote said, when we have a child our heart goes walking around outside of our body.  My kids are the reason I put my own career on hold, as so many of us moms do.  They are the reason I swallow my pride and drive a minivan (gulp!).  They are the reason John works long hours.  Let's face it, being a parent is the toughest job we'll ever love.

Let's all bind together to do something good for our families as a result of this unspeakable event.  Hug our kids tighter and tell them what they mean to us.  Not because it's easy, but because it's the right thing to do.   

Thank you for reading.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful for Growth

 “Tree Woman” © Susan Flynn

I’m sitting down to write on the blog this morning.  I haven’t posted on the blog since September.  It’s not that I haven’t been writing because I have.  I have been writing more in my journal and in margins of books I am reading.  I’ve been collecting so much great information that it’s been difficult to hone in on one particular subject.  I have scattered thoughts; and it’s difficult to stitch together ideas, even though there are common themes. 

Some people call this writer's block.  For me, that isn’t exactly what this has been.  I’ve been going through a period of growth over the past few months.  I’m experiencing some growing pains.  I met a wise woman at a book club I went to yesterday.  She was sharing about personal growth and compared herself to a small shrub.  She said as a shrub she had been pruned so that new life would grow.  She’s slowly growing into something bigger and stronger.  She shared that at times the growth after the pruning is slow and delicate…buds form at an effortless rate.  Flowers open up in a timely manner, small green leaves form and slowly unroll.  It’s all very beautiful and feels good.  She also shared that at other times a new, large branch just shoots out from her.  She compared this growth as unexpected and painful.  This new branch takes some getting used to.

As I listened to her words, tears filled my eyes.  I could relate to her experience of growth…sometimes my own growth is slow and delicate and other times I have to work to find my balance again, to balance the new part of myself.  Lately I feel a bigger branch has grown, but not unexpectedly.  It’s the work of finding the balance again that is unexpected. 

I’ve been posting my 30 Days of Thankfulness to my Facebook page.  Even that has been difficult for me.  Not because I am not grateful.  I have SO much to be grateful for.  I just find myself in deeper thoughts and am having a difficult time putting into words what is on my mind and in my heart.  My internal processor has been working overtime. 

So, today I think I’ll try to keep it simple.  Simply stated, I am thankful for growth.  However delicate or painful it may be.  God has big plans for me!  I am a tree that has small flowers blooming and a new big branch sticking out that needs some foliage to balance it out.  I have exposed roots and even different seasons showing all at the same time.  This oddness represents where I have been, where I have grown from—the “seasons” I have been through.  If you see me trudge myself around in a different way than usual it’s just because I am trying to find my balance with this new, large branch.  But, I am so grateful for my funkiness. 

Thanks for reading.

*I found the amazing artwork by chance online.  It perfectly shows how I see myself! I need my artsy sister to make me a rendition.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Taking Care of Me

My shoe next to Elliot's shoe
I was involved in a really cool topical conversation yesterday about self-care.  The woman who brought up the topic shared that she is struggling to find a good balance of taking care of her own needs because she has recently assumed caring for her 14 month-old grandson.  She wanted the rest of us to share ways in which we care for ourselves.  There were lots of great suggestions such as reading, praying, journaling, yoga, calling a friend, and getting enough sleep.  I shared how I learned in my adult life a lesson about how I had not taken care of myself.  I had allowed my weight to reach it's height in 2006.  I had allowed my need to eat right and exercise to take a backseat to being a mom to young kids.  I took a journey in self-care through weight loss and personal growth.  If you are interested, you can read about that by clicking here.  In addition to that, I found the topic not just coincidental because I have recently come to realize how much I want to teach self-care to my children.  I shared a story about Elliot and decided to share it on the blog.

Elliot is 8 1/2 (he reminds me of the half A LOT).  He is an old soul.  He knows stuff most 8 year-olds don't find very interesting.  He's overly concerned with what time events, big and small, occur.  When he puts his mind to it, he can read an entire book in one day.  But, he has a slight delay when it comes to fine motor skills.  He struggles to have readable handwriting, and tying his shoes is a real chore.  Elliot is left-handed.  We had chalked up some of the struggle with his fine motor skills to his southpaw.  However, his neurosurgeon said it could be related to his arachnoid cyst.  Not knowing for certain, we just try to remain patient and offer compassion when he struggles. 

I was being a real "mom."  You know the kind who rescues her child when he struggles?  Every time we would prepare to leave the house, I was on my knees tying his shoes.  For whatever reason two weeks ago I decided I shouldn't do this anymore.  I think it was after I read a few things about codependency and then this quote from Denis Waitley that says, "The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence."  A fear came over me.  Am I making my son codependent on me through shoe tying?  I realize this is a stretch, but I also wonder if that's how unhealthy habits begin...in the small things.

So, since Elliot is time and date oriented I chose a day on the calender and told him that when that day arrived he would need to tie his own shoes.  Thanks to his left-handed Grandma Anne he really can do it.  He just doesn't like to because he struggles and the time it takes him is more than his 6 year-old sister to tie her own shoes.  When the day arrived last week he came to my bedroom with the laces dragging the carpet.  I reminded him that today was the day that he would need to take care of this himself.  He sat on the floor of my bedroom fumbling and sighing.  He wrestled the neon yellow laces without success.  I soooo wanted to rescue him at that moment, but I knew the right thing was to let him figure this out.

I left the room and went to pack lunches.  He reappeared in the kitchen over 10 minutes later with the laces still untied.  Then he looked at me and with a lot of frustration said, "I just can't do this, I can't."  I hugged him and said, "Yes you can.  You can do anything you set your mind to.  I believe in you and I know you can do this.  I want you to learn how to take care of yourself."  His big brown eyes filled up with tears.  I think it was partly because of the frustration but also because it touched his heart to know that I believed in him.  He went to school that morning with the laces tucked into his shoes, untied.

That morning I had done something that pushed him toward independence.  I drove away from the drop off zone with a heavy heart.  This isn't easy.  Watching Elliot struggle made my heart ache.  But I know that I love him; and he knows I love him.  I love him enough to let him fail sometimes.

See, I believe that if I can get my kids to care for themselves in small ways when they are small I am setting them up for the bigger stuff when they are bigger.  I know I take better care of them when I take better care of myself.  I try to model what behaviors I want to see in them.  If my needs always come last, how can I expect them to model any differently?  It's just the beginning of their roots of responsibility.  Being responsible for themselves and caring for themselves is important.  I don't think their wings of independence will fly them very far if I am hovering over them.  One day I want them to soar.  One day I know they will.

Thank you for reading.


Monday, August 13, 2012

The Middle Sister

Home in Grandview for a football game
I am a  middle sister.  I'm not the oldest.  I'm not the youngest.  Four years younger than Amy and five years older than Emily.  I am the middle.  Growing up I learned from my older sisters mishaps; and, I was able to influence my younger sister.  Other middles I have met complain about being the forgotten child.  There are times I guess that this could be true, but I look at more like the bridge between two destinations.  To visit either destination it makes the trip easier to have that bridge.  There are times when my sisters don't see eye to eye.  My older sister is artistic, the social one.  She is outgoing and adventurous--she enjoys taking risks.  My younger sister is disciplined and quieter.  She likes familiar things and routines.  They are very different, but they are also the same.  They are both amazing cooks.  They are extremely sentimental (I am too by the way.  I'm wring this with a lump in my throat.).  They laugh until they cry.  They love their children fiercely.  I get to be that bridge that brings the two together.  I do a pretty good job at this.  Heck, writing about that family role landed us as guests on the Oprah Show in 2002 (that's a story for another blog entry though). 

Aunt Jeanette, Gram & Aunt Betty:  Spaulding Family Reunion, Colorado 1995

A super cool thing about our family is that my dear, sweet grandmother is also from a family of three girls.  My Gram is also a middle sister.  She, like me, is sandwiched between her older, Jeanette and her younger, Betty Lou.  I've spent my life admiring the bond they share.  They can finish each other’s sentences and make each other laugh.  They each have deep faith in God and a love for family that transcends everything.  They are masters at making sense of God's plans for their lives.  They are each so very remarkable. 

This past week was the first time our family truly came face to face with the possibility of losing one of these treasures.  My Great Aunt Jeanette is recovering from a stroke.  Right now she is unable to speak.  I feel sad when I think of the conversations that may go unspoken.  But, I am focusing on the fact that my Gram and my Great Aunt Betty remain positive.  
Colorado 1995

I've been thinking over the past week about being an old lady with my sisters.  Will we walk arm and arm like I have seen my Gram do with her sisters?  Will we fill in those missing details of the family stories like they do?  We, like my Gram and her sisters, are spread apart across the country.  We FaceTime and text to ease the distance but we miss each other deeply.  There is something extraordinary about aging with someone who has known you your entire life.  My little sister is starting to get laugh lines around her mouth.  She may not be happy about this, but for me it signifies that we’ve seen each other through decades of life.  

There aren't enough words on a blog to express what my sisters mean to me.  How could I ever put into words what it means to be crying and angry with someone one minute and best friends the next?  It's like the ultimate example of true forgiveness.  No matter how much I could mess up my life they would pick me up and tell me everything is going to be OK.  It's just what we do.  

Christmas 1981
I spent years of my life attempting to create my identity separate from my sisters.  As a freshman in high school I spent that year breaking away from being “Amy’s little sister.”  I’ve probably pushed my little sister, harder than sometimes needed, to create her own identity too.   But, over this past week I have found myself profoundly grateful for both of them.  You see, I am still the middle sister; the center sister--that bridge.  But, I see it differently now.  There has to be a middle. Without it, nothing can ever truly be whole. Because it is not just the space between, but also what holds everything together.

I love you Amy and Emily.

Thank you for reading.

Hiking in the Hocking Hills

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Own Brave Girl

Watching "Brave" with my Brave Girl
John and Elliot drove to Columbus yesterday afternoon—just the two of them.  Sydney and I are here at the house—just the two of us (well, together with a dog, a cat, and a lizard).  This is the first time that my boys have taken a road trip—just the two of them.  I’m doing my best to swallow my emotions because I have to admit,  it’s not easy to have my two favorite boys go to one of my favorite places without me. 

John needs to help his sisters clean out some more things from his parents’ home.  It’s conveniently located just 2 blocks from my parents’ home.  Elliot gets to spend some much needed time with family there.  The loss of John’s mom has been difficult for Elliot. I know he has a lot of questions swirling around in his mind and sadness in his heart.  I’m hopeful that having a few days to drink in familiar faces and places will heal his heart a bit. 

Sydney and I went to the movies last night and saw Brave, our own Girls Night Out.  We ate candy for dinner (hush John, it's ok sometimes), we talked during the movie, and we sat in the "tippy top row."  It was fitting movie, given that the heroine realized how much she loves and needs her mom.  Sydney is happy to be with me 24/7 at this stage in her life.  Frankly I am not looking forward to that changing anytime soon.  Sydney’s 5 year-old body sat on my lap; and in the darkness, wearing our poor-fitting 3-D glasses, I was said a prayer of thankfulness for this special time with her. 

Sydney is absolutely adorable.  I realize I am completely biased, but I cannot help it.  She says and does the sweetest things.  Last week I was having a weepy moment while on the phone with my mom.  She walked into the kitchen and hugged me.  She slept on John’s side of the bed last night.  She looked very small against that king-sized pillow.  She sleeps on her back with her arms down at her sides.  Who does that??  She talks in her sleep too.  She doesn’t just mumble either…she speaks complete, full sentences with emotion.  Sometime around 2 a.m. she announced something about a blue sour gummy worm and not wanting to play a game.  After getting my initial heart rate down from the unexpected wake up, I found myself laughing out loud. 

When the boys aren’t home we listen to “girl music” as she calls it.  We turn up the Indigo Girls and dance around the kitchen.  We chew bubble gum and take ridiculous pictures of each other on the Photo booth app.  She makes me laugh.

John is in the basement at his parents’ house.  That basement is like a time capsule.  Each creaky step down takes you deeper into yesteryear.  Basements in Grandview Heights aren’t the sun-filled walk out kind of the east coast.  Basements in Grandview are musty and dark, but at least cool in the summertime.  I don’t even know if what he’s uncovering has much memory to him.  I think much of it is stuff that accumulates when a family lives in the same house for over 40 years.  I’m certain he will uncover a few memories though.  Old houses tend to be keepers of items that you may think you have forgotten, that is until you find them.  The memory bank is funny like that. 

So, for the next couple days while John is busy with his sisters sifting through their family’s home, Sydney and I will be here making new memories of our own.  I’m reminded yet again at how precious my children are to me and how deeply I love the bond I get to share with them.

Thank you for reading.
Syd's fancy fingernails :)


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Best Intentions

I have this strange sort of hobby of collecting quotes.  Pinterest has become a place to go when I want to be fed with quotes.  Most people I know, know what Pinterest is at this point.  If you don't, then find out.  However, I suggest setting a timer before you do or else an hour will go by and you will look much like a child who just wasted time playing video games...sort of glazed over and overwhelmed.  After too much Pinterest time you could probably drive yourself to Ikea with your eyes closed, ready to purchase bookcases and pillows, and any other organizational items that have poured into your brain.  Many people go to Pinterest to find decorating ideas or recipes, which it's amazing for, but I find that my most-filled "pinboard" is all the quotes I collect.  

I was reading my collection of quotes today.  I signed off Pinterest feeling inspired and also trying to figure out how I could turn my collection into wallpaper so that I could wake up to see all those amazing words around me at any given moment. If I figure that out, or get the green light from John, I will post it here.

There seems to be a buzz word making its way into my thought process as of late--and I find it in my quote collection.  It's intention.  I'm hearing it in sermons, songs, and on other blogs too.  I keep underlining it when I see it.  This word is floating around my world.  If I were to do a dot-to-dot each time it appears, what picture would emerge?  It's an interesting thought, but like the quotable wallpaper, I don't have an answer.  

This is making me think more about this word though.  I thought a lot today about what it means to live with intention.  Some people probably think intention means to create your own fate.  Others will ask a question like "do you have good intentions?"  Intention is actually defined as "a purpose or goal."  Medically, intention is defined as "an aim that guides action."  As I am relating to this word, for this season of my life, I like the medical definition.  I want to live my life with intention...meaning purpose behind my actions.

If you could make a difference in your life would you?  Yes, you read that right.  I heard someone say today that sometimes we are the someone we have been waiting for.  We spend all this time waiting for someone else to come along to inspire us or challenge us.  But, perhaps we are what we've been waiting for.  As I rethink that idea of intention I realize that if I live in an intentional way I can make a big difference in my own life.  

Intention is what makes me succeed in so much of what I accomplish in a day.  I intentionally finish the laundry and put it away.  When I don't intentionally do that, small mountains form on our living room chair and then John makes it his intention to clear it. Intention is what helped me change my diet and lose 50 pounds.  Intention is what has kept that weight off.  I intentionally seek new information; and I intentionally challenge myself to learn. 

Currently I am placing a LARGE amount of intention on taming my tongue.  We had an amazing message at church in this area.  I felt like I was smacked across the face with this information.  Not to mention that when I opened up my study for my Ladies Group and it was the SAME message using the SAME scripture verse.  No pain, no gain right?  

I could make this post about speaking kind words (which I will do at a later post), but this post is more about intention.  I have to intentionally learn to control my tongue, to not gossip, to use my words to speak life into those around me, to not criticize, etc.  

This is not going to be easy.  I am intentionally posting this on the blog for my own accountability.  I want to make a difference in my own life.  I'm not going to wait for someone else to inspire me to use my words in a better way. I need to live with intention in this area.  

My mom and my grandma both always repeated that old adage, "if you can't say anything nice than don't say anything at all."  That doesn't mean it's a pass to become fake, it's just means intentionally choosing words that offer truth, help, inspiration, necessary information, and kindness.  In other words, to THINK before speaking.  I don't expect to become an overnight success at this.  I just expect to wake up each day better than the day before.  

This was a quote I read last week:  

                     "Wisdom is having a lot to say, but choosing not to say it."  

Guess, what?  It's unknown who said that.  Doesn't it just figure?  Here's the verse I mentioned too (and I posted a bit more than what I initially studied).

James 3:8-16 (The Message)
 7-10This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue—it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
 10-12My friends, this can't go on. A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don't bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don't bear apples, do they? You're not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you? 
13-16Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. 

Thank you, thank you for reading.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Remembering Mary

My mother-in-law passed away very unexpectedly on Saturday morning.  She was 76 years old.  Our family is deeply saddened by this loss.  We returned last night from being in Ohio to be with family, friends and to honor her life in a memorial service.  Seeing old friends was comforting; and being with extended family always leaves me feeling very loved. 

My in-laws were so very special to me.  I loved them as much as my own parents.  I'm finding some comfort now in knowing that they are together.  They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on June 2nd among the stars in the sky.

I spoke at the memorial service Saturday.  I am posting what I wrote and read at the service here on the blog. 

Thank you to each of you who has prayed for our family.

Think for a minute of your mother-in-law.  What thoughts or feelings come to mind?  Unfortunately, for many of us it might not be pleasant.  Society even stereotypes mother-in-laws in a negative light.  I even remember a movie that was released a few years ago called Monster-in-Law.  Lucky for me, I never had to relate to such characteristics.  My mother-in-law, Mary, was very kind.  Mary was so supportive to me and was someone I could really lean on. 
As I have reflected on my feelings the past few days I have come to the conclusion that there are two parts of Mary’s character that really stand out to me.  Mary was very sentimental and very consistent.  When I think of what I want Elliot and Sydney to remember about Mary, it’s these two characteristics.  That may sound like a dry way to describe someone but I have reasons for both and I promise there is nothing dry about it. 
Our memories of Mary will include things like:
  • She and Gary’s trips to visit us in Virginia
  • The kids’ excitement to get their Target gift cards in the mail for Christmas
  • Homemade meals including the best pot roast and noodles you could ever eat
  • Berk’s County Filling at Thanksgiving
  • Fancy bakery cakes for the kids’ birthdays
  • Bacon sandwiches on cinnamon bread for breakfast
  • Chinese takeout lunches
  •  Rotolo’s pizza dinners (I think we have a record set for the number of pizza's ordered from their phone number)
  • Watching Dancing with the Stars together with an occasional glass of wine; Mary's with an ice cube
  •  Reading cooking magazines and collecting recipes
Mary absolutely loved to cook.  She would plan out the meals for our visits and have all the grocery shopping done a week before we arrived.  Every time we talked on the phone she was excited to share each meal she had and what she planned to cook next. 
One verse keeps making its way into my head and my heart.  It’s Luke 12:34 and it says “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Mary loved cooking for sure, but what she really treasured was her family.  This was so evident as we went through some things in her room this past week.  She saved everything with family significance.  She even treasured things that may not have been deserving of being treasured.  Mary’s heart was her family, her treasure.
That’s why on our birthdays we received the most beautiful cards, and she sent them a week early—she treasured us.  That’s why she stayed with me for a week after Sydney and Elliot were born; cooking potato rivil soup, doing laundry, and cleaning my house—she treasured being a grandma.  That’s why on the day John left Ohio to move to Virginia she was so open with her emotions (which was not something she often did)—she treasured being a mom to her son.  That’s why she checked Laura’s Facebook almost hourly and loved having her all to herself on Laura’s days off—she treasured being connected to her daughter.  That’s why she anticipated Sue’s early morning phone calls—she treasured that time visiting on the phone; chatting about cooking and hearing Sue tell her about the animals at the shelter.  Sue, she treasured having you in her life.
This treasuring was a consistent nature that Mary had.  Her consistency comforts me.  I always knew that when I walked into the house I would find Mary sitting in her chair in the dining room, watching one of her favorite shows, ready to cook the next meal.  She had such a routine about her days and her life.  But it wasn’t routine out of habit—it was part of her consistent nature.  I think it was because she knew where her treasure was…it wasn’t on outside things or things that would fade away like fads or material things.  She treasured us, we had her heart and in that she was able to live life so consistently. 
Mary loved the blog I write.  I found a folder in the house of the blog posts that she had printed out.  I reread an entry that I wrote about Gary’s passing.  In that entry I quoted something from Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors.  I will close with that quote because it is so fitting for today.
"You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dream a Little Dream

God has a funny way of bringing things back into our line of sight over and over when they are really meant to be.  This can be a good thing, and in some instances not such a good thing.  For me, this particular post is about something that was brought back after spending years being seen by my mom-eyes--you know the ones that you grow in the back of your head once you become a parent.  I see things back there but it's not always the thing I am focused on.  Unless of course it's Elliot about to combine all the materials in his chemistry science kit into one test tube, then it becomes my main focus, but that's another story.

Back in September Lifepoint was fortunate enough to have Pastor Daniel deliver a sermon series called "Living the Dream."  Along with the messages was a group study.  We spent six weeks learning about dreams and what God "dreams" for our lives.  To say it was great would be an understatement.  I was just living my "ordinary life" and God came along and reignited this dream I had.  By about week 3 I knew a dream I had placed on the back burner was beginning to boil over.  I took a leap of faith and pursued it. 

I majored in Spanish Education and psychology in college (perhaps only one reason it took me more than 4 years to graduate--writing that with sarcasm).  It was my dream to teach high school students and eventually become a school psychologist.  The Living the Dream series and study could have reignited my desire to pursue my Masters Degree so that I could get into teaching and counseling; however, I knew that season had not yet arrived.  But, I realized I was at the perfect place in my season in life to start living the root of my dream--working with high school students.  What a light bulb moment!

I have this passion inside me for high school students. I love young people and want to make an eternal impact.  I shared with my Ladies Lifegroup my desire to live this dream.  Their support indicated that I was headed in the right direction. Since December I have been leading a Student Lifegroup of upper level high school girls.  

These girls are nothing short of amazing.  They have big hearts and many wear their emotions on their sleeves.  I remember being that age...feeling scared, insecure, and trying to figure out "who am I?"  These girls inspire me though.  They are rooted by their faith.  They take risks and live life in bold ways.  I am honored to know them and even more honored to lead them.  Surely they will leave a lasting imprint on my heart after they graduate.

It's amazing to me that out of courage (because believe me I was somewhat scared to follow this dream) has become something great and has the potential to make a big difference.  My hope is that I can reach the heart of one of these girls that really needs reaching.  I want my home to be a place where they can share and grow.  I want this group to be a place where they realize a dream that God has for their life.

In one of the messages Pastor Daniel said, "courage to execute the dream is the difference between a man that makes a difference and a man that doesn't."  Here's to hoping I'm making a difference.  And, here's to hoping being part of a small group grows the courage they need to execute their dreams.

When was the last time you explored what dream there is for you?  Are you living a dream?

Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I'm a Waffle, nice to meet you

I read a devotional not too long ago that must have been inspired by a book called Men Are Waffles, Women Are Spaghetti.  And, it really got me thinking.

I am interested in how people are wired…a sort of, why do we do what we do?  I’m also highly visual.  This short devotional provided me with both a descriptive and visual look at the differences between men and women.  Basically Bill and Pam Farrel (authors of the book) describe that men have compartments.  “Men process life in boxes.”  Each box is separate and holds a particular thought, interest, or part of who they are.  Men seemingly have one thing on their “plate” at a time.  Women on the other hand are like spaghetti.  Each noodle in the bowl runs alongside or is intertwined with another.  It seems that women are able to multitask easier than men; and many parts of what women think, feel, and process intersects with another.  If something emotional happens to a man he is able to compartmentalize it and then deal with it at a later time—it may not affect his mood or daily routine.  Women on the other hand run through various thought processes at the same time.  Women may find themselves affected by a rough morning for the rest of their day.  

Now, the devotional I read was not written by the book authors.  The devotional author has a different thought to this subject and one that I find myself understanding.  The point of the devotional is that she had this “ah-ha!” moment because she doesn’t consider herself spaghetti.  She spent a lot of her adult life wondering why she didn’t fit in and didn’t relate as well to other women.  She was made more like a waffle.  As I read her words, I could feel my eyes growing narrower as I processed her words.  My conclusion is that I too am more like a waffle.  Well, sort of.

Multitasking is something I do well.  I am one of those women that can fold laundry, watch TV and break up an argument between my kids all at the same time.  The other morning I was cleaning up breakfast while the kids were playing in the backyard.  I overheard Elliot tell Sydney how he was going to jump off the top of the wooden playhouse while holding a large stick.  I was outside on the deck reminding him of the dangerous choice he was about to make before he had even gotten to the top of the playhouse.  His response? “I thought you were cleaning up the kitchen!”  Maybe he sees the waffle in me too, but that was a spaghetti moment.

I find myself engaged more when I get to focus on one thing at a time.  I don’t choose to multitask, but sometimes it’s what life calls for.  I certainly can switch subjects in conversation like the spaghetti woman, but I feel more fulfilled when I get to be in one compartment at a time.  Oddly enough is that I am married to a man that is more like spaghetti.  Many of John’s thoughts are connected to each other.  The happenings of life can affect him at a deep level.  He doesn’t compartmentalize as well as some men (I see this as a positive).  Taking this spaghettiness into consideration helps me to understand a bit of why he does what he does.  John is so good at linking together the logical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of issues (something that the book authors claim spaghetti does well).  I am not as good at connections.  For me, things are more separate, more boxy.   

What happens to waffles is that those little boxes can fill up with syrup.  The syrup of life sometimes gets poured on us even when we say we’ve had enough.  My compartments become full and then the syrup runs over into the next box.  This can create a bit of a mess, which I think is why some days I may feel overwhelmed.  I need a little extra time to soak up some of the syrup.  This is when I lean on my husband (and especially on God).  John helps me process the extra and quickly I feel less sticky.  God must really like syrup because when I go to Him in prayer, the syrup practically evaporates like water.  

Most importantly is not to try to be something we aren’t.  What food are you?  Do you tend to fall more in the category that the authors place you in?  Women are spaghetti, men are waffles.  Do you find yourself, like John and me, in the other category?  Or, are you like a waffle topped with spaghetti?  No matter, I just want to be true to who God created me to be.  

Thanks for reading and I hope you aren’t too hungry.