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Forgetful

forgetfulFixing breakfast, making sandwiches, writing checks for school while swilling coffee this morning. Like every morning, thinking about when I would accomplish the things that need to be done today. My guy tells me about a dream he had last night, and then about what he was reading this morning and what he was praying for.  We connect for just a second, it’s going to be a very long day for him. As he is leaving the house he says,”Man, I wish I started everyday like this. Why do I forget so easily how good it is to get up early and read and truly pray?”

How about lying there after sex and exclaiming,”We should do this waaayyy more often!” The connection made is so much more than just sexual, it’s a way that you commune with that one most special person in your life….and yet sometimes it’s easier to just watch TV, read a book or fall asleep on the couch.

Have you ever dreaded a workout, put it off as long as possible….choosing to do anything but actually sweat? When you finally put forth the effort you feel strong and invigorated afterwards? All of the time for me.

Why do we forget? It can be so east to allow other things to creep in and steal that time. These are the three areas of life that get pushed back during times of stress or just busyness for me, and I don’t think I’m the only one. The irony is that these are the same areas that scripture makes very clear we are to be intentional about. It’s part of the greatest commandment.

 

Love God.

Love Your Neighbor.

Love Yourself.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this, love your neighbor as you love yourself. There is no great er commandment than these.

Mark 12:30-31

 

Surprise!

SurpriseWhat motivates us to be who we are? Often it is our parents; we may choose to be very organized and on time when our parents were always running late and out of sorts, or maybe we choose good health as a priority when our parents are not healthy at all. But sometimes instead of being motivated in the opposite direction, we choose a similar path as our parents, but usually in a bigger way.

Our kids have grown up living in several different states, and have visited about 45 of our 50 states so far. We have friends from all over because of our moves, so when we start talking about college and future plans, our kids see the whole country, and the world, as a possibility. I fully expect our nuclear family to live on separate continents someday. We have created this so we shouldn’t be surprised.

My guy and I have been on a journey of eating healthier for a while now, making nutrition an important part of our life. One of our children became a vegetarian last year and another is exploring veganism now, both in pursuit of better health. Although we aren’t going to this extreme, we are supporting it with our kids and trying to help them make good choices. We have created this so we shouldn’t be surprised.

We certainly can’t get upset that our children are exploring some different ways of eating, or resent the fact that they will probably live far from us in the future, because we have taught them to expect many options. In our parenting we shape who they are and how they value most things, we set the precedent so we shouldn’t be surprised when we see it amplified through our children. Conversely, we need to expect that some of the decisions they make will oppose our own course of action, because we have taught them to consider the possibilities and to think for themselves.

As a parent the best that I can do at this point is to get out of the way, encourage them to explore the possibilities and celebrate who they are becoming.

 

Problem

problemYears ago I worked at a Women’s Center writing protection orders for victims of domestic violence. My primary job was to interview women who claimed to have been abused, detailing the violent acts they had witnessed and advocate on their behalf to the judge, asking for a restraining order to be issued against their perpetrators. Some mornings I would have as many as four women waiting for me, because we were the only place for three counties that could do this work for free. It was a dark time for me, constantly hearing stories of torture, rape and manipulation by loved ones, and trying to calm scared, panicked women and offer them resources.

After working in this environment, I can understand why nurses are known for having a wicked sense of humor and police can get very cynical over time when dealing with the public; you can’t help but become calloused to the pain and misery people are in. I can remember leaving my office at lunchtime with two more protection orders to write and saying out loud to a co-worker, “If it wasn’t for all these women I could get my job done!” Ouch. I was overwhelmed and under supported, but those women didn’t deserve to have someone with my attitude advocating for them that day.

How many times do you find yourself in a similar position?

As a stay at home mom a few years later, I sometimes felt this same way:

If it wasn’t for all these kids….

When my marriage doesn’t feel like the fairy tale I had envisioned:

If it wasn’t for this man….

The irony is that those women I was working to protect? They were my main priority at the time. And those sweet treasures I got to hang out with? They defined me for years. And that wonderful man God gave just to me? Way better than anything I could have ever imagined for myself. I have found that often the thing I am most passionate about can also be the thing I am most burdened by. I guess it makes sense on the human level, but I want to someday reach the point of just being grateful.

If it wasn’t for these women, I wouldn’t have a job.

If it wasn’t for these kids, I wouldn’t be a Mom.

If it wasn’t for this man, I wouldn’t be complete.

 

 

 

More, Please

moreI wrote this one year ago, and it seems appropriate this time of year, whether your baby is entering college, the mission field, high school, the military, kindergarten or independence described another way.

Our daughter left for college last week. We drove her to her dorm, unloaded a years’ supply of snacks and dorm supplies and then it was time to actually leave without her. To get into the vehicle and drive home without my little ray of sunshine. She had chatted the whole way there, talking excitedly about everything that entered her mind. The drive home was completely quiet. I’m pretty sure I scared my guy; for the first time in our marriage he tried to get me to talk.

I had no words to express the emptiness I felt. A friend had warned that I would feel like I had lost something for a few days and walk around in a fog. Yes, the fog was there, but it also felt like a gaping wound that everyone should be noticing and trying to cover for me. During that drive home I tried to think of what I could have done differently. Did we teach her everything she needed to know? How in the world is 18 years enough time to cover it all? What could I tell my friends to do to protect themselves from this terrible ache? The only thing I came up with was less:

Less hugging.

Less praying.

Less hurting.

Less talking.

Less singing.

Less worrying.

Less cooking.

Less listening.

Less looking.

Less teaching.

Less dancing.

Less playing.

Less laughing.

Less loving.

If we had cut out all these things over the years, perhaps the hurt wouldn’t have been so great. Maybe it would have even been a relief to see her off, on her own for the first time. With this perspective I was suddenly okay with my open wound and puffy eyes. I’ve earned my right to feel this way because I have loved this girl with everything I’ve got.

I’ve hardly worn make-up all week because it gets washed away with tears too often right now, and that’s okay too. More than okay.

No Pressure

messageDuring vacation, we caught up with a lot of friends and family, and heard stories about people from our past and also about our ancestors, some of whom we have met, others who had died long before we were here. There were tales of affairs, addictions, heroism, secrets and misunderstandings. Most of the time, the person was summed up in a sentence or two, showing their true motivation and the resulting behavior.

It struck me that each of us will be spoken about in a similar fashion someday; our entire lives boiled down to a couple of dozen words. What do I want those words to be? What am I doing about it today?

It could be argued that what we do in the day-to-day doesn’t really matter because we will be remembered for the whole. But the day-to-day determines the overall life lived. It is those small, seemingly inconsequential daily choices that determine the direction we travel. I want to live with intention, to keep myself from making poor choices and sacrificing the opportunity to leave a legacy. It reminds me of the heroes of our faith who were spoken of in Hebrews:

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.  By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise….(Hebrews 11:7-9) and on and on.

I hope to be remembered for my faith, and any resulting actions that could stem from it.

Lowcountry Shrimp Boil

boilGreeting from the South Carolina coast! It’s known as the Lowcountry, and the Shrimp Boil is an easy meal to prepare in one pot for a large group of people. The way it is served here is without plates and utensils, you put newspaper down on the table and pour the contents of the pot down the middle and everyone partakes with their hands. My guy struggles with this one because he can’t stand to have his hands dirty, I love this recipe because my hands are rarely clean.

Lowcountry Shrimp Boil

5 lbs. new potatoes

3 lbs cooke kielbasa or smoked sausage

8 ears of fresh corn on the cob (halved)

5 lbs whole crab, broken into pieces

4 lbs fresh shrimp, uncooked, peeled

2 c Old Bay Seasoning

3 lemons, sliced

3 onions, coarsely chopped

Heat the biggest pot of water you can, add Old Bay seasoning and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, lemons and onions and cook for 10 minutes.

Add sausage, corn and crab and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes.

Drain the water and pour over the nearest table.

Serves 16

Keep Moving

flawsWe are on vacation this week, returning to an area of the country that we have not lived in for twenty years. We have visited dear friends from the past, and it has been wonderful to reconnect and remember.

Mostly.

Along with the great memories come some real reminders of who I once was, and I found myself dodging some details and cringing with the telling of stories, especially those from my college years. Who was this person? Usually I can fool myself into forgetting the poor choices I used to make, but in recent days it would be easy to return to those old feelings of guilt and shame. Or I can rest in the knowledge that I am forgiven, and it is as far as the east is from the west, even farther than the distance we have traveled.

I think it is important to remember where we have been and who we once were, but it is vital to accept the gift of forgiveness and keep moving forward.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from. Psalm 103:12

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