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A Family Shaped by Grace

morlandOur youngest child will be leaving for college in about eight weeks, going to a school more than 1000 miles away and we are so excited for her! We helped our girl choose where to go, but it was ultimately her decision, and the school she chose is more expensive than most of the others she considered. This detail didn’t concern us much, because we have given our children a set amount of money for college and they are responsible for the rest, by way of scholarship or sweat. No loans.
Over the last few weeks our daughter has talked a great deal about money and wondering aloud how much is enough for her to make over the summer as a full-time CNA at a retirement community. It finally occurred to me to listen to what she was really saying, and realize that she wasn’t sure of the details of her part in paying for college. We had gone over it more than once in the past, but now that it’s getting close, she needed more information and lots of encouragement.
My guy and I sat down and went through all the numbers last night and you could see the relief wash over Georgia’s face. It wasn’t as bad as she had thought, she was going to be just fine. Uncomfortable, but fine. This little experience reminded me of something I’ve been reading.
I just read a newly released book called A Family Shaped by Grace by Gary Morland. The writer is a sober alcoholic whose addiction and family history affected the quality of their family for years. Over time, with the help of a Christian mentor, Morland learns the importance of leaning on Christ for what he needs, and pouring out grace to those he loves most. This is shown in many practical ways; reacting with love and acceptance over anger and bitterness, choosing not to be offended, and being actively present in conversations, asking questions with real interest and to gain understanding, not information.
The book didn’t necessarily contain new concepts for me; it is Bible based and built on ancient themes, but it was a good reminder to me that I need to be the safest place possible for my people to be themselves, and I need to listen carefully to what is being said, and what is not. It also confirmed a suspicion I have had for years that in order to love well, we must fight against making gods out of our loved ones, trust God to be who He promises and allow our family members to be imperfect, messy humans.
I wish I had realized sooner what our daughter needed from us, simple information and reassurance. There was no need to be evasive or to reprimand her for not getting it before, our job is to love on her and give her what she needs, not necessarily what she wants. I think this book came to me at a good time, I am thankful for the opportunity to gain more tools in equipping this family to be as strong as possible.
To order: https://www.amazon.com/Family-Shaped-Grace-People-Matter/dp/0800727959/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496953619&sr=8-1&keywords=a+family+shaped+by+grace

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Rubiks Cube

 

rubiks

There are times going through life that something occurs and you know that you will not be able to return to what was ever again; you move cross country or leave an important relationship and can feel the glacial shift deep within your self. It’s like a Rubik’s cube and a new row of matching colors has just been lined up; a feeling of satisfaction comes over you because you are a big step closer to the goal.

In our family, a whole side of the cube turned over and got matched this past weekend: our youngest child graduated from high school. I distinctly remember the morning of the first day of kindergarten for our oldest, I wrote a letter to the three little people in our house, explaining the fact that life would be changing from here on out, we would be on the schedule of the school system, with an influx of papers and projects and tests. Our focus moved to the daily muddling through with a very distant goal.

Somehow those three little kids stretched out and became taller and smarter, they started to think for themselves and visualizing their own goals and our house is becoming bigger and quieter by the day. The chaos has changed to small bursts and been replaced with long stints of near silence. In the most practical sense, I have worked myself right out of a job.

When our first two children graduated and started moving towards their next steps I had a deep sadness and already started to dread how it would feel to have the last one move on, but so far I feel nothing but excitement for the future. Their future. Because this isn’t about me. For years they were an extension of me, hanging off of me and looking to me to see how to react to life, but now they have stronger legs than mine and they know how to respond, even if an occasional call to Mom or Dad needs to be made.

 The part that is about me? The Rubiks Cube that keeps getting closer to being completed?  It is a life filled with memories and experiences that have helped to make me who I am, and I can’t wait to see what color of the cube we work on next.

 

I’m a Fan

soccer

Our son was playing in his last soccer game of the season, which meant the last sports tournament of his high school career. We have watched this kid run, catch, throw and kick from the sidelines for at least ten solid years, and this was the final time. It occurred to me that when our kids are performing in the school years, we have permission to cheer and gloat, to whistle and yell and support them in any way possible. Then, this dies down dramatically as they age.

There are those few who continue playing a sport in college and beyond, but the vast majority settle in to quieter pursuits and the onlookers stop cheering. Think about how rarely you genuinely cheer someone on from the sidelines after they leave high school. For me, this needs to change. I want to keep encouraging and clapping loudly, standing in awe when they do something crazy great and high five the others who witnessed it with me. I want to continue to be my kid’s biggest fan, even as he hangs up his cleats and turns in his gear.

Here’s to the Moms and Dads who sit on the sidelines and watch their child’s every move for a season. May that season be a lifetime.

 

Nutella Crunch Ice Cream

Nutella Crunch Ice Cream

I’m not a big Nutella fan, but there are a couple of them in my house, so I decided to give this a try after seeing it at yourhomebasedmom.com. Keep in mind that this should be eaten in small amounts because it is rich, and it tastes better than Nutella ever did.

Nutella Crunch Ice Cream

1 1/2 c whole milk

2 c heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 c half & half

1 1/2 c sugar

1 1/2 T vanilla

1/4 t salt

2 c Rice Krispies cereal

1 cup Nutella

Mix all the ingredients except the last two in a stainless steel bowl and place in the refrigerator. Heat the Nutella over low heat and add the Rice Krispies, stir till incorporated. Please the mixture on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and freeze for 15 minutes.

Pour the ice cream mixture into an ice cream maker as per manufacturers instructions. Toward the end of the cycle, add some of the Nutella Krispie pieces while it churns. When the ice cream is the right consistency, move into containers, layering the Nutella pieces into the ice cream. Freeze till firm.

*This recipe uses most of a small jar of Nutella, the rest of which can be poured into the layers of ice cream, forming a ribbon of yum throughout.

Makes 5 pints

nutellaicecream

 

 

Dinner Plans

 

supper

Recently I read an article about a way to improve communication that seems so simple but is really profound. The next time you are sharing a table with several people, agree to not break off into smaller sub-groups. You don’t need to make a proclamation about it, just see if you can steer the talk so that everyone is involved and no one is splintering off. What comes from it is fascinating; you instantly have a group of people who may not know each other well, and each has something important to say.

When three or more couples get together, invariably the women will pull together and talk about the kids and relationships, while the men will discuss…..I have no idea what. Later that night, you walk away with your spouse, feeling like you have enjoyed your time, but you may not feel any more connected than before dinner. Now, imagine if a woman who spends most of her days at home with children were to discuss a public relations situation with a Corporate Manager, or a high school teacher shares his heart with a female restaurant owner. Now you’ve got some rousing conversation! The best way to do this is to allow everyone into the same shared conversation.

Obviously this isn’t something you will want to do all the time, occasionally it’s nice to spend time with your tribe, but I can look back to a few times when I really felt heard by people outside of my family, and it was when we were all investing in the same topic. Think about how rare that is in everyday life.

It seems that so often we sit with our friends and spend time with those who are most like us, but if we were to change it up some and give everyone the respect they deserve for simply being at the table, I think we could all learn some things, and walk away feeling a little more connected. I want to challenge you to simply give it a try, whether you are in mixed company or a large group of like individuals; decide to stay on one topic at a time and see where it takes you.

 

Perspective

perspective

Recently I was on the phone with our daughter Jessica, who lives in Maine and is attending Midwifery school, a three-year program that will allow her to be a certified professional Midwife. There has been no doubt in our minds over the last couple of years that our girl (no matter how old she will always be our girl) is meant to be a Midwife, and we love to hear her stories of struggle and triumph to be on her own so far from home.

We were talking about a Nutrition class Jess has been taking, and my assumption was that this would be one of her favorites because she has been passionate about using foods and herbs to heal and prevent sickness. After her first class I was surprised to learn that she was overwhelmed and not excited about the subsequent classes on the subject. After the second class, she was even more negative about the subject, saying they were expecting way too many details and going more in-depth than needed for pre-natal care. I encouraged Jess to give honest feedback when the class was over, suggesting that this was too much information and perhaps less time should be spent on the subject matter.

And then an interesting thing happened. Jessica attended her last Nutrition class and took the final exam. She said she knew she had done well on it, but was the last person to turn in the test. As she did so, her instructor opened up the conversation and invited my girl to ask questions. After discussing the test and talking more about nutrition, Jess had a change of heart; she decided that what was needed wasn’t less information, but more. She concluded that this subject is vital to the health of the pregnant woman and the baby, and that more emphasis should be place on this component, more time allotted in the classroom, not less.

I appreciate the fact that Jessica was able to see from another perspective and adapt to it, she has shown herself to be teachable in so many ways and not afraid to ask questions and learn more, so much more that she might conclude that she has been wrong on something. I want to be like my girl when I grow up; strong in opinions but flexible enough to change. There are so many times in life when we may think we have it all figured out, and it can be tempting to shut out all other possibilities, but doesn’t that really mean that we don’t want our way to be challenged because we might not have all the answers? I want to come to the table with my portion and be willing to share what I believe to be true, but open to another way to see the same thing. This act doesn’t take away from what I believe in the least, but can strengthen it or test it or change it.

I think my girl is right where she needs to be.

Book Review: Dare to Respect

IMG_2918I was sent the book, Dare to Respect by Tammy Oberg de la Garza and was asked to give a candid critique on it. Honestly, I didn’t expect to enjoy it because I have not read The Respect Dare, the original book this one is based on, and because I do not read Christian fiction as a rule. Many years ago, I realized that reading about young couples who spend every waking moment together and falling in love is not healthy for a reader with a husband who travels extensively. It created all kinds of discontent for me and I learned that what is beneficial for one can be detrimental for another. Because I had agreed to, I dove in and was pleasantly surprised to find that this Christian book was different.
The reader is introduced to six women who have a common reason to come together weekly and complain about their husbands. One of the wives suggests the group engages in a 40 day challenge to improve their marriages. This is the story of six very diverse women who embark on a journey they cannot predict and hit upon issues such as infidelity, pornography, alcoholism and co-dependency.
I was on a Spring Break trip with my two daughters and brought this book along on the beach, expecting it to be a quick read. I enjoyed the story line so much, and even sacrificed some quality time with my girls to finish it. The book is hopeful in that it points back to our true source of fulfillment, Christ, and it removes pressure from expecting our husbands to provide where they cannot. I appreciated the fact that the characters were not perfect, that they allowed each other into their lives and were open to change, and I loved that the characters were wildly different from one another, so the reader should be able to connect with at least one character.
I would recommend this book to any woman who has been married for more than five years, it is a refreshing read with an important message. You can read more of Tammy Oberhausen de la Garza’s work on her blog: www.daretorespect.com

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