I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Posts tagged ‘relationships’

26 Years Ago

On this day – August 15 – 26 years ago, my life was irrevocably altered.  Forever.

On that day I became a mother.  My body was cut open, a completely independent, unique individual was delivered through that most welcome scar, and my husband said, “It’s a girl.”

And EVERYTHING changed.

I discovered that I possessed a larger capacity for love than I had ever imagined.  I could stare at her sleeping face for hours and not get bored.

I discovered that I was willing to do anything to protect her.  The first time another child pushed her down to take a toy away, I was willing, just for a second, to cause that child severe pain in defense of my duckling.

I discovered that I could hear the change in her breathing when sound asleep and once it woke me, I wouldn’t sleep for hours out of fear that something was wrong.

Her laughter could make my breath catch in my throat and her sticky-faced kisses were the best part of my day.  And the first time she smiled at me?!  Tears were shed.

She got older and the teen years proved to be a challenge.  She was trying to find her own way, spread her wings a bit, explore a bigger portion of the world.  And I was still trying to keep her safe.  Maybe trying a little too hard.

Adulthood.  This is where parenting gets hard.  Elizabeth Stone said it best –

Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Moving away from home, having her own daughter . . . that little bundle of joy-beyond-understanding has done both of those things.  She’s well-respected at her work, has regular clients that prefer to work with her over others, knows what she believes and lives by it and has recently become a mother.  Watching her love on that precious little girl who made me a grandma?!  There are no words.

Most days I breathe a huge sigh of relief and say a quick prayer of thanksgiving that I didn’t screw up too terribly.  And I will forever be humbly grateful that I was the one lucky enough to get to be “mom” to such a stellar human being.

 

The Power of a Compliment

compliment-quotes-511

I love this quote.  Mostly because I’ve seen time and time again that it’s true.

I did something on a whim recently.  There are a number of people using an app that allows people to anonymously tell you what they think of you.  I haven’t been brave enough to try it myself.  In the midst of all the friends that were posting their links for this app, I saw another post that intrigued me.  It was a picture that simply said, “Comment your name & I’ll tell you one thing I like about you.”  Now, I didn’t limit it to one thing in some cases.  And I intentionally avoided things like “you’re pretty” or “you have a good fashion sense”.  I tried to focus on character qualities I admired.

I posted it and the names slowly but surely started showing up.  It was actually quite fun to respond to each person!  Some of them I’ve known for years, some were family, some were students from my Michigan years, some were current FDSH students, . . . you get the idea.

What really struck me was some of the responses I got in return.  Some told me that they needed the boost, others said they had been having a bad day and my comment made it better.

But let’s be clear – there is nothing unique about what I did.  The compliments I gave were honest assessments of the best in those who I was speaking to. If others had given them, their power would not have been diminished a bit.  Anyone can see the best in another and call it out.

I didn’t expect the impact it’s had on me.  As I said before, some of those I was complimenting, I’ve known for years.  Others?  Not long at all.  In some cases, just over a year.  For those, it took a bit more careful thinking.  All in all, I responded to 57 people.  I had to spend time looking for the best in 57 individuals.  Not a huge number, I’ll grant you, but it took time.  And during that time, it kept my mind focused on finding the best in others.

So I cannot help but wonder – what would happen if we started giving just one sincere compliment to one person every day? What would it do for those around us?  What would it do for our own attitudes and perspective?  I would certainly love to find out!

My Baby and Her Baby

“I looked at the pictures from the hospital.  She’s changed so much!”

That was my 25-year-old daughter talking about her two-month-old baby girl.  Let that soak in for a moment.  I smiled and told her, “I can imagine.  I was looking through your baby photos recently and you’ve changed a bit as well.”  She will be 26 this August.  What?!  Wasn’t she just a toddler yesterday?!

It still feels weird to talk about my “granddaughter”.  I started the motherhood gig in August of 1991.  After an unexpected c-section, the doctor handed my husband a beautiful baby girl.  On May 5, 2017, that “baby girl” handed me another beautiful baby girl – named Henry Onalee – and I gained the title of Grandmother.  Nana?  Oma?  Grandma?  Who knows what the little one will call me.  For now, I’ve adopted the nickname “peachie pie” for her.  Not sure why but it seems to be my “go-to”.

Having kids changed my perspective on . . . well, . . . EVERYTHING.  Love meant something different.  I was surprised at how fiercely protective I could be.  And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would lay down my life to protect my children.  I thought nothing would ever be as intense.

Then Henry was born.

I have adored that little girl from the moment I held her.  She was just minutes old.  Once again, my perspective on the world shifted.  I fell in love with her instantly.  And I added one more name to the list of children I would give my life to keep safe.

But cuddling her, feeding her, singing to her . . . those aren’t the only moments that make my heart feel so full it might burst.

My baby is now a mama.  As strange as that reality is, watching her love on her little girl takes my breath away.

I have come to admire my daughter as a woman.  Yes, I will always love her as “my baby”.  But she has built a great reputation at work, manages her finances really well, takes care of her home, and lets her creative side out to play on a regular basis.  She knows what she believes and what she values and she lives her life accordingly.  Truthfully, there are times I breathe a prayer of gratitude that she is “adulting” much better than I did when I was her age.

And I love watching how she loves her little girl.  I’m not gonna lie – I am humbled and grateful that she texts and calls for advice.  I love “selfies” of the two of them that she sends me if I haven’t seen them in a couple of days.  Mostly, I love watching her love her daughter.  “I love her so much” is said often in my presence so I imagine she says it when I’m not around as well.

My baby has a baby of her own to love.  And I am more grateful than I can say that she has invited me into their world so I can watch the journey up close.

By This, All Men Will Know

I have this horrible habit – I try diligently to mind my own business and seem to attract those who wish to discuss things loudly within my hearing.  It’s not that I try to eavesdrop – I just seem to be surrounded by those having what should be a private conversation at a very public volume.

One such conversation occurred recently – a woman was griping to her male companion (husband? friend? co-worker? Not sure) about a woman who she has significant difficulty getting along with.  In the speaker’s opinion, the woman in question has absolutely no redeeming qualities.  At least that’s what it sounded like.  She listed several flaws this woman has.  In the end, it sounded like the woman speaking and the woman she was bad-mouthing just have different ways of approaching tasks to be completed.

Then my heart broke when the woman finished with, “I just cringe every time I see that woman walking toward me in church.”  Wait.  You were verbally shredding a fellow believer?!  Pretty sure that’s not an okay thing to do.

John 13:34-35 “Let me give you a new command:  Love one another.  In the same way I loved you, you love one another.  This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.”

It’s simple – disciples of Jesus are recognized by the love they have for one another.  Not how ornate their church buildings are, not what style of music they use in worship, not what translation of the scripture their pastor uses . . . their love for the family of faith.  There is no escape clause in that command – we are to love one another in the same way God loved us.  Period.

My heart often breaks when I see the rage and animosity that has become a part of the internet culture.  We all want others to accept/support the causes that are nearest and dearest to our own hearts but we can often be heartless and unloving when interacting with others of different views.  But my encounter today tells me that maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.  If followers of Jesus cannot love one another, how on earth can I expect those who don’t agree on “big” issues to treat each other lovingly?!  I’m not going to lie – what I overheard was also very convicting.  I’ve been guilty of the behavior I observed more often than I want to think about.  I screw up this command far too many times.

Let’s face it – followers of Jesus are humans.  We fail, fall down, sin, hurt others, get hurt, deal with disappointment or cause it . . . we all screw up.  But none of that is an excuse to treat each other harshly.  The command above is pretty clear.  It is our love for our brothers and sisters that will distinguish us as follower of Jesus.  It doesn’t mean we pretend not to have differences or that we act like we never disagree.  In fact, I personally think it would have MORE impact if those outside of the faith could see us deal with differences of opinion/disagreements with gentleness, empathy, compassion, and love.

As I said earlier, it was a convicting experience.  The challenge to myself sounds simple but is going to be a challenge – all those who claim to be followers of Christ are my family and I will seek to treat them with love first and foremost.  I have no delusions – it won’t be easy!  But it’s a behavior that needs to become so deeply ingrained in me that doing anything else would be impossible.

Being a Grownup

For most kids, there are those “exciting” birthdays – the 16th, the 18th, the 21st – and we often find ourselves counting down the days.  As parents, we also get focused on 5 (ready for school), 10 (double digits), 13 (a teenager in my house, what?!) . . . you get the idea.  And many a child or teenager has said, “I can’t wait till I’m a grown up and I can ________________”.  You can fill in the blank for yourself.

But sometimes being a grownup stinks.  Let’s be real.  Paying bills, going to work, car repairs, insurance costs, home maintenance . . . you get the idea.  Despite the belief of children, adults don’t get to do whatever they want.

The toughest part of being a grown up?  Controlling your mouth.  Using tact and diplomacy.  There are times that we simply want to call another person out and let them know EXACTLY what we think of them.  We may even have really juicy weapons/evidence to use against them to advance our own cause and foul up their agenda.  But a grown up doesn’t do that.  A grown up controls his or her tongue and even sometimes has to choose to be the bigger person.  James 3:2 says “We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths.  If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.” (MSG)

It’s not fun.  It isn’t easy.  But it is part of growing up.  Yes, there are times when we need to speak up.  And it’s best if we are diplomatic, tactful, and constructive when we speak.  But there are other times – and in my experience it’s the majority of times – when we must simply keep our mouths shut and let the other person “win”.  And it’s SOOOO hard.  Believe me.  It would be so much easier – quicker, immediately more satisfying, etc. – to simply lower ourselves to the level of the other person and venting everything we know or feel.  Easier, yes.  But wrong.  And immature.

So here’s the lesson learned – love on those who need it, keep a civil tongue in your head even when other’s don’t deserve it, and in the end every piece of truth that is necessary will come to light and those who REALLY matter will figure it all out.  In the process, you will keep your integrity intact and be able to continue loving on those around you.

Just One

I haven’t posted in QUITE a long time . . . I feel bad about that.  Not just the lack of posts.  Also the fact that the reason I haven’t posted is because the lessons I’m learning . . . the things my brain is focusing on . . . the positive changes I’m trying to make (there are so many ways to describe this “place” in my life!) are not changing or varying all that much so I fear that multiple blog posts would just sound the same!

But there are thoughts spinning in my head that won’t stop until I get them out in some organized fashion.  So a new blog post it is.

I’m a people pleaser from “way back in the day”.  I’m pretty sure I know why but don’t want to belabor things from my past that I have, to be brutally honest, gotten over completely.  Unfortunately, as a people pleaser, I take it hard when someone disapproves of me or something I’ve done.  There could be a dozen people that are THRILLED with my work or who approve of me in general.  But I will focus all my time and energy on that one who doesn’t.

Kind of a silly way to approach life, don’t you think?!  I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of this year to actively look for the good in people and situations.  Some days it’s been REALLY easy.  Other days, not so much.  With most people, it doesn’t take much effort.  Others?!  Well . . . yeah.  It’s tough to “un-learn” being a people pleaser!

There are actually two people right now that are . . . how would my husband put it? . . . providing a chance to grow in this area.  Thankfully, my connection with them is NOT in the same part of my life so they are not able to double team me!  One of them is trying (and appears to be succeeding) to put up walls between me and a volunteer position I’ve had the last couple of years.  The other has asked for my help in a specific way and denigrates or just completely refuses to acknowledge my work and the progress that has been made.  I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me at all.  It stings.  But only a little. Less than it would have in the past, thankfully.

Here’s the thing – in both of those arenas in my life, they are just one person with an opinion that others do not appear to share.  In both cases, there are more than a few others – maybe even MANY others – that make me feel like a valued contributor.  These contrary individuals are frustrating to deal with when I absolutely have to.  But their attitude toward me and their opinion of me has – by their choice – kept those encounters at a minimum.  Instead, the majority of my time has been spent around those who validate my work, encourage and build me up, allow me to feel like a valued contributor and make it a joy to be involved.

What’s the take away?  I will NOT focus on “the one” who isn’t satisfied with what I’m doing.  I will not give “the one” any power to affect my attitude toward the others I work with, the situation I’m in, or my level of enthusiasm.  That one person can be as negative and cranky as they wish.  I am surrounded by positive people who strive for excellence and welcome whatever contribution I am able to make as they work toward their goals.  The secret is simple – focus on the others, not the one.  If I don’t give that one person my focus or allow them to take up space in my thoughts, I will feel much more positively about the work I am doing, the part I am playing in creating something wonderful, and the relationships I am having a chance to build.

I will never be able to please every single person I encounter.  Well, I could probably get close but I would lose myself in the process and I’m not okay with that.  So I choose to focus on those who are happy to work along side me and welcome my presence in their lives.  As for those who feel more negatively inclined toward me?  I have just one thing to say – I wish you well.

To a Young Bride

Big events make me “wax nostalgic” as they say.  And the 25th Anniversary of my wedding day is no exception!  I spent a few moments today looking at my wedding photos.  I was only 20 and hubby was just 4 days past his 21st birthday – we look like kids!  And we had NO CLUE what we were signing on for when we said “I do”.   If there are any “regrets” from the past 25 years they all revolve around lessons I wish I had learned sooner, things I wish I gotten better at more quickly.  And I can’t help but think about what I wish I knew back then.  So I started thinking – if I could write a letter to who I was back then based on what I know now, what would I say?  What things do I wish I had learned faster? So here goes . . .

To a bride on her wedding day –

After a 23 month engagement, I KNOW you are excited that this day is finally here! In your dress handmade by your grandpa’s cousin with an overdress lovingly hand crocheted by your grandmother, the flowers and veil made by family friends as well as the satin muffs your bridesmaids carry. . . . this day you are SURROUNDED by the love of your biological family, your “church family” from back home and the “church family” you have become a part of while at college.  You are one blessed chica, do you know that?!

Today begins the biggest adventure of your life!  In just over seven years from this moment, you will have lived at three different addresses – two of them married campus housing – and you will have four children!  Over the course of your first quarter century of marriage you will live in three different states, hubby will go full-time with UPS then leave without another job in place and eventually head back into ministry (that’s a story for another time!).  His ministry-related jobs will move you all to Pennsylvania and then to Iowa but you will ALWAYS feel like Michigan is “home”.

A few tips to make things a little easier on your adventure –

1.  Your hubby is a good man with a loving heart.  He LOVES to be your hero!  He will, later in your relationship, find a love of wood-working that will fill your home with handmade pieces that he painstakingly designs and makes – or re-makes if he isn’t happy with his first design! Don’t begrudge him the time he spends on Youtube watching “how to” videos.  He is doing ALL of it for you.  You are the first person to whom he wants to show off his new creations and he will even agree to paint his pieces at your request even though he would rather stain them.  But be careful – your “I wish I had . . . “is a powerful statement that will send him into his shop quicker than anything.  In that area, your wish truly is his command!  Make sure you use your power for good!

2.  He loves you more than anyone in the world but he is human.  Just like you are. He will occasionally be thoughtless – just like you – and sometimes that thoughtlessness will hurt.  Alot. Before you judge him too harshly, remember that you have been thoughtless and hurt him. Maybe even alot. Never expect him to read your mind. He prefers direct, blunt communication – state a direct request and then zip it! Let him meet your need in his way. It might even be better than your way!

3. He is not a girl so expecting him to behave like your best girlfriend is just crazy. You are a stereotypical girl with all the sub texted conversation that goes with the territory – your girlfriends know how to pick up that unvoiced subtext but I promise, your man does not! Don’t set him up to fail. It isn’t fair to either of you.

4. He is not the enemy. You are stubborn and will stand your ground on really stupid things from time to time. If you can learn to knock that off and stop fighting battles that should never happen you will be much more at peace.

5. Be VERY aware of what is in your eyes when you approach him. He won’t tell you until you are a couple decades in to your relationship but when you approach him to start a conversation, he looks at your eyes to know whether or not his guard should be up. When your look is “seasoned with grace” (his words) you avoid conflict and he feels respected.

5. That respect thing? It’s a VERY BIG DEAL to your love. He cannot feel loved if he doesn’t feel that you respect him. Like many women who are mothers AND wives, you will get busy and find yourself talking to him like he’s one of the kids. Don’t do that!!! He is an intelligent, capable, clever man and he desperately needs to know that he has your respect. Your opinion matters more to him than what anyone else thinks. Make it your job to laugh with him and protect his dignity. No one can touch his heart like you.

Relationships are hard and you haven’t always had the best examples to learn from. Neither has he. But that doesn’t give either one of you an excuse. God has given you the lifelong job of loving and respecting that man. You aren’t called to find flaws and fix them. Love him. Respect him. Choose to see in him all the amazing traits that drew you to love him in the first place. He truly is the greatest gift you have EVER been given. See him as that – and nothing else – and you will know more joy than you thought possible!

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