Monthly Archives: June 2011

Friends Moving

The question of the day is:  how much can one heart take?

For three years, a small, loving community met weekly in our home.  It consisted of two singles ladies and 3 families, plus my family of 6.  It was a safe place to be vulnerable, introspective, to celebrate, and to explore spirituality.  It was a place where we knew, loved and supported each other’s kids and each other, and a place to pray for our neighborhood and city, doing acts of service for its benefit.

Over the last year, one of the single ladies moved away, and one of the families moved away.  Those were hard hits.  The schedule and rhythm of our community was shaken, and we quit meeting on a regular basis; however, we didn’t quit being friends and relying on each other to help meet physical and spiritual needs.

Then this last week, we found out that the 2 other families are moving out of state.  One got a job in Texas, the other is moving back home to where their family is in New Jersey.

One of my friends asked how I’m doing.  It is a legitimate question; however, it is a question that I haven’t let myself answer.  It is one of those things that, if I stop to really think about it, would have the possibility of undoing my world.  I’m not talking about my faith being shattered, but the sense of belonging to a particular area.  The sense of community, of being understood, of having support.

I can tell you how grateful I am to have had time with these people.  They were all such quality friends and true gifts from God.  I will continue to follow their journey as they move on to where God is designing them to flourish.

I can also tell you that there are still beautiful people in my city with whom I am friends.  The relationships haven’t occurred quite as naturally due to proximity within the city, or like-faith issues, but still loving, supportive relationships.  I desperately need these people in my life, and I will be pursuing them with more consistency.

We also all know how long it takes to feel known, understood and safe.  Those commodities are rare and traditionally a long time in coming.  My home is that kind of place for me, for which I am extremely grateful; however, I long for friends with whom I can equally be at home.  Without people with whom I can be fully known, I feel uncovered and/or vulnerable.

As we process out these dear people to their next destination, I ask that you pray for my family.  We will be seeking God to ask Him to help direct our steps, comfort our hearts, and create depth and trust with friends on a supernaturally fast pace.

Thanks for your encouragement and support!

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Garden Update

If you called it obsession, you’d probably be right.  If you called it compulsion, you’d also probably be right.  It actually is a little embarrassing because of its excessiveness.

I think it is a little like buying a puppy because its so cute and has such potential, but then being overwhelmed when it starts growing.  Or for me, personally, it is like registering for classes in college – each class looks so exciting that you end up with a class load of 21 hours because you registered for all of them.

It is the product of being really excited about seeing little plants growing into veggie-producing factories.

There are 18 tomato plants (several are cherry tomatoes), 10 pepper plants (3 different varieties), 10 leek plants, 5 cucumber plants (one pictured above), 4 zucchini plants (already producing!), lots of herbs (cilantro, sage, basil, parsley, chives), a couple of strawberry plants (not producing anything yet, although they should be…), Bush beans, radishes, and carrots (pictured below).

If everything thing produces, we would have a bumper crop with plenty to make into salsa or spaghetti sauce, or to can for the future.

So here comes the obsession:  even having said that, I still have the expectation/fear that we won’t have enough.   For those of you who are psychotherapists, what is that phobia?

Regardless, it is nice to be surrounded with a healthy, green landscape.  A quiet retreat from the noise of the neighborhood.

If you have any recipes for garden meals, pass them on!

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Tension

I have a lot of tension in my life these days.  And while we are definitely struggling to keep up with bills and a mortgage (sometimes not too successfully…), I really am speaking about the tension in relationships and capturing each moment.

There is the tension of not looking backwards.  It seems these days that all I want to do is look at the memories in my scrapbooks of yesteryear.  This started when I pulled several baby/toddler/little girl/big girl pictures of my senior daughter for her graduation party a couple of weeks ago.  That’s all it took to create the conditions for a lot of thinking, memories, and tears over where we’ve been together.  Since my mind doesn’t hold a lot of active memories, I have to rely on the scrapbooks to put pieces of my past back together for me.  I am longing for moments to sit and remember, to grieve, and rejoice.

There is the tension of enjoying each of my kids exactly where they are right now. I want what I enjoy NOW to help me let go of the sweetness of THEN.

What I am enjoying NOW:
My son’s head on my shoulder.
Their ability to entertain themselves by reading.
Their desire to hold my hand, still.
Their acts of service in backrubs.
Their notes of love left on my pillow.
Their concern for me when I’m down or not feeling well.
Their initiative and support for each other.
Their loudly singing together to a radio/iTunes song.
The fact that my littlest absolutely cannot go to bed with a long hug and a kiss.
Their wanting to talk to me.

I wonder if Jesus feels this tension, too.  The tension between our free wills and willingly wanting to be with Him.

I hope that you can shake loose of some of your tension by trying to be really present in each moment.  Breathe deeply and embrace where you’re at right now – not thinking about where you’ve been, nor where tomorrow will take you.  See what God is trying to tell you right now.  See what He’s hoping you’ll appreciate and enjoy in this moment.

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Family Way #5

“We love one another, treating others with kindness, gentleness and respect.”

This is such a hard one!  Or maybe it is just for my family…

We seem to be so polite, gentle, patient and respectful to others outside our family.  My kids make me look like a brilliant mom among others.  They are so kind and creative with little kids, and they are polite and mature with adults.

Don’t get me wrong:  this is not an act.

My kids are genuinely giving and selflessly interact with little children, even when they’d rather be doing something else.  They understand the struggle of parents with little ones (maybe after watching me crash and burn so many times!) and will go out of their way to give parents a chance to have time away with their spouses, time talking with other adults, or just a few hours of quiet time by themselves.

Just last night we got a call for a babysitting job.  The couple wanted to go to a movie and needed a little time together.  At first, all of the kids said, “no,” because they each were doing something.  However, my youngest quickly called the couple back to let them know that she’d do it.  When I asked why, she said that they probably  needed time together and that she could do what she was doing some other time.

And as for adults, I never fear when my kids interact with someone older than them.  For the record, this wasn’t always the case, but as they’ve matured, they’ve become great communicators and comfortably sit in their place of honoring authority (some more comfortably than others).

However, catch us on a bad (or even normal) day in our home, and it seems that we reserve the impatient, cranky, sarcastic, and short-tempered actions for each other.

There is rarely a day that I am not saying to one of my kids, “Did you treat your brother/sister with gentleness, kindness and respect?”

We ask the questions:
What are some ways to say “I love you” without speaking any words?
If love was glue, who/what would be stuck to you?
What are the most loving things you’ve ever done?
If acts of love were money, would you be rich or poor?
How has God expressed His love for us?
What does God’s love for us motivate us to do?
How can you lay down your life for your friends/family?
What grievances/offenses in your family must be forgiven?

How we treat others reveals whether or not we truly love them.  You don’t love because you “feel” loving, but because you choose to act in a loving way.  Think about loving on those around you today!

 

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Rules versus Relationship

I think I would’ve been a good judge.  Maybe even a Supreme Court justice.  I am one of those who believes in rules and truly attempts to follow even the slightest suggestion.

And as you would expect, I know all about creating and maintaining rules for my family.
No, you can’t eat that right now.
No, you can’t play on the computer right now.
No, your friends can’t come over this evening.
No, you can’t buy that toy.

I hate to admit this, and please don’t judge, but when my eldest was younger, I had a lot of rules for her that I drilled with her as you would math facts.  One of them was that I believed that it was important for her to answer me if I called for her, even if she was in another room.  I would call to her and expect her to answer, “Coming!”  If she didn’t answer – even if she obeyed and came to me when I called – I’d send her back down the hallway and try it again.  We repeated that drill, along with way too many others, during her young years.  She was the best rehearsed 2 year old on the block!

However, being a rules keeper often means missing the relational aspect of things.  At the stage of being a new mommy, I was very concerned with doing it right, and sometimes lost focus on creating the right conditions conducive for a great relationship.

I had a change of philosophy after being able to watch a friend of mine manage her 6 children.  I watched her lovingly shift between enforcing a rule and embracing the relationship.  I watched her let things slide (gasp!) for the good of connecting deeply with her kids.  She was committed to obedience, but was more committed to establishing a connection with her little ones.

So what have I done to create relationship?  The question really should be more specific:  What have I done to create relationship today?  This hour?  This minute?  Because relationship is built through the little things that happen on a daily basis.  It is the moments of full-attention listening.  It is the stories read over and over again.  It is the one-on-one time dedicated to connecting.  It is the thoroughly studying of your kids’ personality styles and learning styles.  It is investing in their interests and dreams.

Opportunity is an excellent launching pad for relationship.  ‎Kids always want to try something, and we are often tempted to tell them “no.”  But relationship is fostered when we find an acceptable way for them to try it.

In a series I published earlier on romance, I give several suggestions on how to create better relationship with your family.  I linked to the first post, but there are 5 posts in all.  If you are interested and have time, you can look them up to get more ideas.

Rules are fine.  They bring order and structure.  They are easy to understand, and typically easy to attain.  Relationship, however, is what makes someone want to obey your rules.  Strive for relationship.

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Broken Things

Yes, I haven’t posted in a while.  No, I didn’t drop off the earth.  I just dropped off the side of the curb.  Over the past week, I’ve dedicated a great many hours painting the walls of my husband’s business.  I was up and down a ladder more times than I can count.  I was carrying huge carpet and linoleum rolls.  I was bending and stretching, painting and lifting, hour after hour.  All without incident.

And then, as I was returning to my van at the end of a long day, I rolled my foot stepping off the curb.  Instantly, I was washed with nausea, hyperventilating, and sweating as I dealt with intense pain.  My family was on their way to the van, so they got me a bag of ice and took me directly home to elevate and ice.

My dancer daughter, who has suffered through sprained ankles, taught me the treatment.  R.I.C.E.  Rest.  Ice.  Compress. Elevate.

I did so religiously for several days, finally giving in to the reality that it wasn’t getting any better.  My husband lovingly said that I had a club for a foot…not much more you can say after that.

So today, after several hours at the doctor and an x-ray clinic, it was confirmed that I broke a bone on the top and side of my foot.  Prognosis:  the typical 6 weeks of immobilization.

I am a tough girl, but I have to admit that there have been moments of being quite overwhelmed, and a few tears have been shed as I process continuing through my life with 4 kids, childcare for 2 little ones, the coming of outdoor summer activities, and my husband leaving for 2+ weeks on Friday.

At this point, the gift of perspective really kicks in.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I have to step back and become incredibly grateful for the things that I do have.  I am incredibly grateful that it was just one foot.  I am incredibly grateful that my kids are at an age when they are so very helpful.  And, I am incredibly grateful that they choose to be so very helpful.  I have been completely taken care of by them – even to the extent that they went into the grocery store with my lists, shopped and paid for all of our groceries, while I sat in the car.

Perspective.  It is priceless.

As is having deposited so much into the bank accounts of my family that I can take a few withdrawals every now and again…

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