Monthly Archives: October 2011

Serene Saturdays #27

This morning’s Saturday post is a little later than usual because my husband and son hosted a neighborhood event that dominated our Saturday morning routine (which includes me getting away to write).

Almost a year ago, my younger son was moved to initiate a grassroots effort to transform neighborhoods by rallying people around one challenge a week. The challenges can be anything from writing a letter to thank the firemen in your area, to spending one afternoon during the week to pick up trash on your block.  The challenges are varied, and have been issued from him since December of last year.  He has members in three countries other than the US, and several states represented within the US.

The neighborhood event that we hosted this morning was to promote his website, http://www.act1initiatives.com, and to provide our neighbors another chance to gather together to build community.

A week or so ago, our son placed flyers on all of the doors on our street for 3 blocks inviting the residents to gather in front of our home where we would serve them breakfast.  We borrowed a huge griddle for pancakes, whipped up some scrambled eggs, had coffee, orange juice and donuts, and greeted our neighbors as they arrived.

Our son sharing his vision for Act 1 happened very relationally without a huge announcement, just shared person to person.  It was neat to steward his dream by gathering people together to hear his story.


If we look cold, we were!  When the date was set weeks ago, who knew that today would be the earliest snowstorm I’ve seen since living in the northeast.  Just minutes after we packed up, cleaned up, and said goodbye to everyone, it started to snow.

This week I am thankful for:

* My amazing neighbors

* My family working together to champion each others’ dreams

* Discovering new web pages that are inspiring

* The distraction of snow

* The house smelling like Apple Bread

I pray that you find a comforting, warm place to replenish this week!

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The Disconnected Child

One of the hardest aspects of parenting is watching your kids suffer.  Some have had to bear watching their kids physically suffer, while others have to watch their kids emotionally suffer.

I have had four healthy kids who, other than the occasional broken bones and/or stitches, have stayed clear of hospitals.  I am so thankful for that.

But I have walked with one of my children who felt like an outsider, who didn’t really connect with other kids, and who didn’t understand why life felt so harsh to him.  He tried really hard, felt very deeply, and suffered immensely when all of his best attempts at connecting failed.

I prayed and prayed for that little guy.  One time in prayer, God gave me the phrase “circle of 3”, which represented what he was feeling with his siblings. With the exception of him, his siblings had a tight circle of friendship.  They got along well and played creatively and spontaneously.  Their relationship seemed so close and so effortless.  But to this son, it felt like their circle excluded him.

It wasn’t that they were intentionally sidelining him.  In fact, they tried endlessly to include him; but his behavior while playing – taking over, changing the rules, intensely competing – had them walking away frustrated every time.

My response was to train.  It was to show him the socially acceptable responses to interaction.  It was to give him tools with which to cope.  It was to have endless conversations about whether or not he wanted to compete and win, or simply play to have fun and have buddies.  I had him analyzing his goals with people.  I had him realizing how his actions made people respond.

My goal was to steer.  I kind of visualized my role as if I was his tour guide and I was steering him away from all of the potholes in his path.  I felt like it was my job to make his way easier, often times anticipating what his natural response would be and then redirecting him to act otherwise.  After all, I had been there.  I knew what would be received and what would be shunned.  I felt that I could help him by steering him to change his motivations and actions.

Until.  I had a conversation with an older woman about my son.  Her wise wisdom stopped me in my tracks and brought me to tears.  She said that his story was his unique story, and my job wasn’t to stand in front of him and tell him where to go.  She said that his story might include suffering, and that I wasn’t to step in to change that or him.  She counseled that if I took that posture, I would communicate to him that he wasn’t good enough as he was, and he would never learn to navigate life himself.  However, if I stood beside him, even through the hurt and pain and simply loved him with compassion and companionship, he would learn to conquer his issues himself, and he would learn to lean heavily on his God.

I had been shouldering the future of my son on myself alone.  Whether he succeeded or failed had been on me.  With this new piece of advice, I realized that the future of my son was between my son and God.  There was no child that I could force to be his friend.  There was no circumstance that I could arrange that would keep him from hurting.  There was nothing I could do to alleviate his loneliness. EXCEPT to be there with him.

I committed to quit trying to change him.  I still shared with him tools that I thought would help, and I still shared with him answers to his questions when he asked.  But more often than not, I simply stood beside him as he worked through the pain and frustration, encouraging him, praying with him, hugging him and cheering him on.  It was the hardest thing to see him fail and fall down, to see him be rejected and misunderstood – but it was his story, and I wanted my role in his story to be that of unconditional support.

I can tell you that, through his journey, he has discovered so many keys to relying on God and to connecting with others.  If you know my kids, or met them in the future, you would never guess which one this story was about. The transformation is entire and complete, with him being a magnet to young kids that look up to him, and him having a vital role in inner-city outreach. There is no longer a “circle of 3”.

In no way am I taking credit for that.  The reason that I end with that note is to give peace to those struggling with these issues as well, and to testify that sometimes the best solution is training and steering, but sometimes, the best solution is walking alongside in quiet, unconditional support.

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Serene Saturdays #26

As anticipated, this has been a fantastic and full week!  It began with the visit from a long-time friend from Dallas who now resides in Seattle.  Such a great time of reconnecting.

And then on Wednesday, a dear family that moved away recently came for a visit and brought our college daughter with them for a long weekend.  I have been in a continuous state of smiling, whether from silly moments and fun adventures, or just from the full feeling of knowing that we’re all together again.

As a family, we went off on our own to create a dream day for our daughter.  She wanted a day composed of all things fall.  That included apple picking, pumpkin picking, going through a corn maze, and carving pumpkins.

I’ve already decided that at the end of this week, when everyone heads back to their places, I’m going to need my own sticker that says, “I survived watching everyone leave.”

This week I am thankful for:

* Friendships that feel like family

* Fall activities

* Carved pumpkins

* A family that really enjoys each other

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Yale Golf – AGAIN!

I know…I’ve already written about my boys attending the First Tee program at Yale Golf.  I’m sure you’re already sick of seeing the picturesque surroundings of the golf course.  However, I’m not done using this as a platform for sharing the amazing, peaceful scenes that this setting is creating!

I’m not sure when I became such a nature person.  I was talking about this to my husband, because I wanted to see if he had noticed the shift in me.  At some point, being in nature became a have to instead of a want to.

I guess I’ve always enjoyed nature.  As a kid, I was as avid jogger as much for the surrounds and quiet as I was for the exercise.  I always found comfort and peace running through the aisles that the tall corn stalks created.  I loved the rustic, simple life that I saw around me as people earned their living off the land.

But I think that the necessity of getting outside and into a natural setting became all the more important when we moved to an urban setting.  The scarcity of nature made finding it all the more essential to my peace.  It is like coming up for air after holding your breath under water for way too long.  The towering trees, the exquisite variety of sounds created by birds/streams/bugs/wind relaxes and replenishes me.  I am a better, more patient and calm version of myself when I am immersed in things so very alive.

As the leaves change, the scenery just gets more and more spectacular.  However, it also is a signal to me that the boys’ time in the program is nearing its completion.  Their last lesson for this season is October 31st.

I am already coming up with reasons why  I just must take a trip across town to visit the course!

The following video is a little shaky because I was trying to stealthily walk towards these two deer.  It worked for a little while!


This might be the last post about Yale golf.  It might not.  We’ll just see what next week’s adventures hold!  Until then, find a place or an activity that replenishes you – and thoroughly breath.

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Our Family Ways (6)

“We serve one another, humbly thinking of the needs of others first.”

The act of serving has a huge value in God’s kingdom.  So much so that Jesus said, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
– Mark 10:44 -45 (NIV)

There is a subtle different between being a servant and choosing to serve.  Choosing to serving implies that you are in control in the decision as to whether or not you serve.  You serve on your own terms in your own way.  While being a servant means that you approach every situation looking for opportunities to serve.

Jesus calls us to BE a servant.

Two of my kids are natural servers – two are really not.
Two have an easy time giving and being generous – two really do not.

While there is lots of grace in our home for each kids’ personality, there isn’t a free pass from the responsibility of being a servant.  We try to do for others without expecting them to do anything for us in return.

For example, one of my sons has an easier time of serving than the other one does.  However, it is the one that doesn’t naturally enjoy serving that has connected with a few neighbors and readily serves them.  He has intentionally stretched himself in this area to where it feels quite normal for him to jump up and take care of their needs as he sees them.

To encourage the kids in this value when they were younger, I had a reward system.  When someone in the family was especially generous or served them, they were to tell me so that I could place a button in their cup.  When they had a certain amount of buttons (25), they were rewarded with a trip to a dollar store, or the dollar section of Target.

While I don’t believing in bribing your kids – at all – I do think there is a place to provide motivation for the development of a new habit, and having a reward system in place really helps.

Ask yourself (and your family) these questions:
If you had your own personal servant, how would you expect to be treated?
If you were a personal servant, how would you expect to be treated?
What is each emily member’s most outstanding skills, talents and qualities?
What part of a physical body does each family member best represent?

For more suggestions along your journey to raise delightful servants, or to increase your capacity to serve, refer to the book “Our 24 Family Ways” by Clay Clarkson.

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Serene Saturdays #25

As I think about this last week and all that we accomplished, what my mind is drawn to is the busyness and excitement of this coming week.  Tuesday and Wednesday will be filled with the joy of seeing a dear friend from Seattle.  When we all lived in the south, she blessed us by watching our little kids one day a week to give us a chance to be a couple without the pressure of being parents.  What a gift!

And then on Wednesday evening, our college daughter comes home for a long weekend visit!  Woohoo!  She is being driven home by two beautiful friends who recently moved to a Philadelphia suburb, and who are coming to Connecticut to view the fall leaves.  They, and their two small, lovely daughters, will be staying with us.

About the time that they return on Sunday evening, we will receive a good friend, and a few of his traveling buddies, from Kansas City who will stay with us until Tuesday.  They are coming to dream about how helping people and loving on people could look different if we collaborated together.  They’re doing some really progressive things in KC at the same time that we’re experimenting with some unique missional activities in our city.

This is when I wish that I had a personal chef, so that I could excitedly anticipate everyone’s arrivals, activities, and energy, without having to fret over what to feed them.  Even after 22 years of marriage, after growing exponentially in my culinary abilities and expanding my recipe options, I didn’t realize how much I still revert back to my insecurities when it comes to cooking.  Guess I’d better work on defeating those insecurities….maybe this is the week to practice!

This week I am thankful for:

* Leaves, leaves, leaves.

* Moments of quiet.

* Moments of chaos.

* The scent of candles

* Fresh grace every day

I hope that in this busy week of yours, you can find time to slow down and remember those things for which you are grateful!

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A Little More Yale Golf

On Tuesday I published a post about my boys’ involvement in The First Tee program run on the Yale Golf Course.  I thought I’d continue to share my experience on the course by posting a few videos that I’ve taken while there.  The first 2 are just nature clips (in keeping with my Sunday Morning Moments With Nature series), but the last one is a spectacular deer movie.

I am not the best videographer yet (it is a new Flip Video that I was given as a gift), but I hope that you can still get the mood/atmosphere of the serenity of nature.

This one took my breath away as I watched it unfold.  First of all, the little deer runs like a pony.  And second of all, to have the deer stop, look back over his shoulder, and then me being able to capture his 3 buddies coming was thrilling.

I hope that these moments gave you a few moments to relax, unwind, and smile.

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