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Do You See Me?

seemeIn tenth grade our daughter decided to become a rugby player. Our sweet, creative, incredibly dramatic daughter who is not terribly athletic wanted to play a violent game that we knew little about. We had some reservations, but went to the team meeting and entertained the idea. Somehow she convinced us that rugby was her sport, and she began practicing, learning how to be tough and strategic within a team.

Several weeks went by and our girl was an actual rugby player, on the field in a real game! As her parents, we stood on the sidelines at each game and cheered and cringed while watching young women work very hard to move an odd-shaped ball down the field. Once, we witnessed our sweet whimsical daughter make a tackle that would make any football player proud, leaving the opponent down on the ground for a few minutes.

When the game was over, our warrior ran towards us and literally jumped into her Dad’s arms while screaming, “Did you see me?” I can still hear the crack in her voice as she asked the question, it was so important to her at that moment. We both told her about it from our perspectives, proving that we had seen every second of her gamesmanship.

We all want to be seen. Over the years our children have asked this same question, but often in different ways; sometimes they act out, are hilarious, are sullen, are too big and loud for the room to contain them, or move around the edges of that same room, daring us to notice.

As parents, it’s our job to see our children when they excel and when they fail, but also in the everyday muddling of life. As believers, it’s our responsibility to see those that God has placed in our lives at work, while running errands and within our spheres of influence. While talking with these people, let the question rise up, Do you see me? Then do everything you can to prove that you do.

Know Your People

communication

I am meeting with my boss in a little while. He doesn’t really seem like a boss, it’s a part-time job that I get to do from home, exactly the kind of work I need to do to keep me busy and fulfilled and I’m working for my best friend’s company. My ‘supervisor’ is the President of the company, who is also a close family friend, but he is still my boss and should be regarded as such on a workday.

Anyway, we haven’t talked in weeks and I have several ideas I want to pitch to him. But I’m not sure how to go about it. I know this guy really well, but I don’t know how he receives ideas and information best. I’m still getting to know him in this arena.

Think about your people, the ones you interact with most and need to communicate well with; what do they need from you in order to understand best? One of our children must read information in order to process it, hearing it does little to no good, while another child must hear it, the written word seems useless. Also, one child needs time to sit with a new idea before making a decision while the others can roll with new information as it comes in. My guy needs facts and figures and if possible, a recommendation from an expert to help him make a decision, while I bank on my feelings and intuition.

I had a professor in grad school who recommended when getting to know a new professor or boss, to ask their preferred mode of communication; some prefer email while others like phone calls or text messages. Communicating with someone in their favorite way can make a big difference in how the information is received. Last week my guy and I were walking in a cold, fierce wind and he started to say, “Hey, I have an idea…” I cut him off immediately and said no idea would seem like a good one right now, could he wait until we were warm?

We need to know how best to get a point across to those we interact with most, and maybe even let others know the best way to communicate with us. If you leave me a voicemail you can be very sure I will probably never hear it, unless you are one of about six people on this earth. But if you text me, there’s a good chance I will respond very quickly. We’re all different, know what your people need from you.

As for my boss, I emailed him my ideas and we are talking in the next hour. We’ll see which way works for him!

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New You

resolution

It is that time again, the season to be thinking of all the ways to improve in life with New Year’s resolutions, when in reality maybe we need New Life resolutions. I don’t need lofty goals at the beginning of the year that will just make me feel bad about myself when I don’t reach them; I need attainable goals that I can set for a lifetime and keep. It reminds me of the difference between going on a fad diet and simply changing my eating for a lifetime. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Here goes:

I will strive to have daily time with God through prayer, reading, and believing that He is right along beside me throughout my day (LOVE GOD)

I will strive to take care of myself by being intentional with food, exercise and relationships (LOVE SELF)

I will strive to cultivate intimacy with my guy, respect and trust with my teens, deeper relationships with a few and wider relationships with many (LOVE OTHERS)

Who’s with me?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbors as you love yourself. Matthew 12:30

2016 Reading List

 

books

I grew up with a passion for reading, I can remember going to the library and dropping off a huge stack of books, only to be replaced with a similar pile, and going to the mall as a child and being old enough to ‘shop’ alone for an hour. My time would be spent sitting in the floor of a B. Dalton bookstore, poring over books, trying to decide which one was worthy enough to deserve my allowance money. When I went to college and had to read what I was told, my love for books waned significantly; then I got married and was inundated with short people vying for my attention all day and reading for enjoyment fell off my list of things to do for myself. Taking the time to sit down and read seemed selfish for a decade or so.

This year I have discovered that I still love dipping into another world, like strapping on a diving mask and thrusting my face under the water to see the life happening below and sputtering for air when I’ve been under too long. These days I justify taking the time to read by multi-tasking, combining it with exercise. I spend my time on the elliptical reading, and when I have no desire to go to the gym, the book that is waiting for me is often what gets me there. This year I have read some fascinating books, and some duds. I’m sure there are more than listed here, but these are the ones that quickly came to mind:

Life Changing

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore – this book was written several years ago and recommended to me many times. I don’t know what took me so long to start it, but it helped me view homelessness, and wealth, with more empathy and fueled a desire to help.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – it felt like my responsibility as a human being to read this book and I am changed because of it.

Coming Clean by Seth Haines – an intimate, transparent look into addiction and belief in God. Haines does a wonderful job of turning the lens back onto the reader over and over.

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott – a fascinating look into the life of a writer, rarely does an expert share the secrets of her craft with an audience. I keep learning from this book.

The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn – a hopeful, data-filled book that explains the fact that marriages are not doomed to failure and divorce, and the reasons we have come to believe that they are.

 

Life Giving

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist – a beautiful reminder to slow down and be present, a book to linger over and enjoy.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – a compelling memoir by a neurosurgeon who insisted on viewing his patients as whole beings, after he was diagnosed with cancer himself.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – this is the only fictional book I placed in a favorable category all year. I loved it. But couldn’t even finish the next book by the same author.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – brilliantly explains the difficulty of creating.

Hope Heals by Katherine Wolf – the incredible story of a young mom who lived through a stroke, and her family has thrived as a result of it.

The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner – contemplative book on identity, the author suggests reading it several times, each time less like a consumer, and this is probably a good idea. Refreshing to read such deep thoughts from a Christian perspective.

Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans – powerful book that paints a picture of what the American church often is, and what it could be.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton – I don’t agree with everything she says, but some points in this book broke open parts of me I didn’t remember existed.

 

Life Zapping

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende – normally I love Allende’s books, but this was a not satisfying.

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew – set in the South, I was hopeful but disappointed.

The Nest by Cynthia Sweeney – hardly remember what this was about, don’t bother.

Jingle Bells

jinglebells

Early this morning I was nudged to wake up. Like when you’re at the beach and your body tries to will you awake while it’s still dark so you can watch the sun rise over the ocean. I remembered it was Christmas Eve morning, but no plan to get up early. And then I knew. There was no ringing in my ears. I have had consistent tinnitus for the last five or six years, a constant ringing in my left ear that has left me only twice. Today makes three times. My first response was to relax and enjoy the silence, and then to cry with relief.

The ringing that I hear day and night is like jingle bells but without the lower register, it also reminds me of a yard full of cicadas in summer in the South, that cadence of pulsing sound that is layered over all other noises. I have tried to label the sound with positive experiences, because it can be truly maddening at times.

I quietly woke up my guy and whispered that the ringing had stopped. I didn’t want to waste the time with sleep. I wanted to enjoy the silence with him, but knew it wouldn’t last long, I don’t know what causes it to recede or to return. He knew immediately what a big deal this was for me, and even though it was 5:30 in the morning, he opened up our house for the day so we could enjoy it together.

I can hear the distant sounds of ringing, I know it’s coming back as I write this. I know I have a decision to make; I can feel hopeless because the ringing will return soon with a vengeance, or I can feel grateful for a short reprieve. As much as I hate having tinnitus, it is a great reminder that we’ve all got something that we get to choose how we’re going to respond to. Today I’m choosing gratefulness and a Christmas miracle in my little world. Merry Christmas!

Home for the Holidays

roadtripping

We live far away from our biological families, and have for our entire marriage. At first we felt it was our obligation to ‘go home’ for the holidays, but the problem was that our families live about a thousand miles away from each other, and we were roughly the same distance from each. So we started the pattern of traveling to one state for Thanksgiving and the other for Christmas, then switching it the next year. This worked for a while; we would drive through the night with babies sleeping, arrive exhausted and worry about how our children would act away from home. Presents were schlepped from our house to Grandma’s house back to our house again, with us driving back home through the night, only to arrive exhausted once again. And most years it felt like we still hadn’t done enough; someone was usually unhappy with how our time was spent, no matter how hard we tried. As the kids got older, Santa somehow found us, no matter where we were on Christmas morning, but it became harder and harder to convince them that this was the way Christmas worked for our family. It also became hard for us to convince ourselves.

When our children were school aged and we were getting more pressed for time off, we made a decision to have Christmas at our home. No more traveling. We told both our families that they were welcome to join us for Christmas, or any other time near the day to celebrate, but we would no longer spend the holidays on the road. Our announcement wasn’t received with cheers, but with eventual understanding and maybe a sprinkling of guilt each year, but the relief it brought to us made it worth it. Our children woke up on Christmas morning in their own house and played with the toys they received with no need to pack up and drive home. Another by-product of this decision was that we started our own Christmas traditions, small rituals that were important just to us, and we still perform years later.

When you think about it, we are told to do this very thing in scripture. We are to leave and cleave. Leaving our parents home and their traditions doesn’t have to mean turning our backs to them, but starting our own and inviting our extended family into it is a beautiful thing. I would like to encourage you to really think about how your family celebrates the season, is it what you want for your family? It is my hope that you are spending the holidays in the way that you choose, not in the way that you feel expected.

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:23-24

Homemade Croutons

croutons

Hamburger buns – two packs of them –  have been languishing in our pantry for quite a while now, with no plan to grill burgers anytime soon, and my family complains when I freeze them because they just can’t come back. So I threw them away. And then I rescued them. And made homemade croutons. This isn’t something I normally bother with, but it seemed such a shame to waste perfectly good bread, and homemade croutons change the salad game completely.

Homemade Croutons

1 pack of hamburger buns/ Italian bread/ whatever you have, chopped into medium sized chunks

1/4 c butter

1 t garlic powder

1/2 t salt

1 t parsley

Chop your bread to the size you want, melt the butter and add seasonings and pour the mixture over the bread. Bake for ten minutes, turn the croutons over and bake another 3-5 minutes. Store in a tight container.

 

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