Thursday, October 31, 2013

Give Me Something Good To Eat

It's Halloween.  Time to dress up and go door to door, gathering candy and other treats from neighbors.

We didn't do Halloween when I was growing up.  I think I got to go trick or treating just a few times and it was junior high before that happened.  I always felt like I was missing out.  I didn't like it and I didn't agree with my mom's choice.  But I respected it - just like I respect other parents who don't do Halloween.

However, we do enjoy Halloween.  Especially since we make it an opportunity to do good in our community.

I first did this in college.  Friends and I wanted to go trick or treating - on a whim.  But grown college kids can't dress up and go trick or treating without getting dirty looks.  We were lamenting that we couldn't be grown up trick or treaters... when it hit us... let's go trick or treating but ask for donations for the local food pantry!!  We totally scored. We weighed down the trunk of one of our cars and we even got a few treats (candy) for ourselves along the way.

A few years ago, we did this in our own neighborhood.  A local church has a food pantry that we like to support and this was a great time to ask for just a can or two, just a box or two, of something extra from the pantry.

So when we ask for "something good to eat," we're really asking for something that will help out a family who has been hit with hard times.

And I think that makes it a holiday worth celebrating.  For us, it's not about pranks or costumes or candy.  We enjoy those things (well, we aren't pranksters).  But I know that I most look forward to Halloween because it's another opportunity to teach my kids some compassion and also demonstrate that they have the ability to make a difference in their world.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Breaking Down The Walls

There is a reason why history is important.

Each of us are on this journey of life.  But it's the people who came before us that helped pave our way - even if we aren't aware of what they did or the challenges they faced.  And we are part of history with each day that passes - we are paving the way for the generations to come.

I'm not much of a history buff.  But I do enjoy learning about people.  And I guess that's why I've come to enjoy biographies lately.

I was recently supplied with a copy of "Breaking Down The Walls" by Norma Yeager.  Norma's life story is pretty inspiring.  She came from an era where women stayed home and raised the kids.  She faced some pretty scary lows as she raised her kids - poverty and isolation.  And eventually she had to enter the workforce.

As she said in the book - she learned that she was a woman who would break the window.  (You'll have to read the book to get that story- it's a defining moment.)

A description of the book as found on Amazon:

Young women in the 21st century have choices. They can marry or not; the doors of educational institutions and industry are wide open to them. They can do and be whatever they choose. But to keep moving forward, it is important to understand from where we have come. And Norma Yaeger's story helps put it is perspective. Like most young women in the 1950's, Norma Yaeger married young, had children, and depended on her husband to support their families. Unlike most women of the times, when things went awry and her husband failed to provide, Norma took it upon herself to make a better life for her and her kids. The stock market enthralled her. Never mind that she knew of no other women in the industry. Norma set out to get her NY Stock Exchange license. When she acquired it in 1962, it was not to break a barrier, it was to support her family. Norma had already conquered her deepest fears, broke and alone with three children in an isolated house in the Catskills. And she knew what thrilled her- staring at stock prices through a big window of brokerages. Wall Street was not ready for her. Women were not allowed to step foot on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The phase ""glass ceiling"" wasn't even invented yet. And equal pay for equal work was a term yet to be uttered. But Norma was unstoppable. She acquired the license, walked the floor of the Exchange, and fought for and got equal pay. As one of the pioneering women on Wall Street, Norma had a fascinating career, accomplished much, and paved the way for other women. But the glass ceiling is still only cracked, not yet broken, and she hopes that her story can be an inspiration to the women still pushing against it in all walks of life.

It's a fairly quick read - mostly because her story flows and is so intriguing.  She's a real woman.  A mom, a wife, facing hard times, dealing with a bad marriage.  She struggles through the same stuff each of us have struggled with.

Forget glass ceilings - the thing I really took from the book is that I'm someone who would break the window, too.

Quick read, inspiring, and only $10.  So go grab a copy or load it to your reader.  Appreciate how you got to be a woman who has choices.  You won't regret it!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Other People's Kids

We're all familiar with the phrase...

I very much believe in this statement, this ideal.  And I think what we each need from our village is unique.  For some, the village is a daily and vital part of parenting.  A single mom, a mom with a special needs child, a mom with a terminally ill child.  For some, the village is a community of love that surrounds the family and the kids.  These people are a positive influence on our kids as they mature and grow.  For some, the village is called upon when a need arises.

Lately, I've had 2 experiences where I was clearly called upon to be part of a village.  And it got me thinking about how we know to handle these situations.

I was recently at an event with a bunch of bloggers and their families.  At one point, a little boy came to his mom (I was nearby) and was very upset about a toy that other kids were playing with.  Teagan was playing with one of the toys so I let him know that if he wanted that one, she would be happy to share.  The little boy first continued to express his frustration.  And his mom corrected him, telling him not to be rude to me.  Which surprised me because in my estimation, he wasn't being rude - he was just dealing with all these emotions of not getting what he wanted.  He did calm down and everything ended up fine.

A bit later, I was back at my table and the boy and his dad came over and he was asked to apologize to me.

Again - I didn't see that he had done anything wrong.

But he isn't my kid.  And his parents have their own rules and their own expectations for how their child is going to talk to someone else.  And to his parents - he was disrespectful to me when I tried to offer some help.

I think a lot of us would have listened to his apology.  It's the next part that is our role as the Village.  When a child apologizes to you, how do you normally react?  Do you say, "It's ok! No big deal!"  Do you say, "Thanks for apologizing. It's all fine."

I think I've often brushed those apologies away.  But something about this circumstance, about realizing that this was a big enough deal to his parents that he had to come apologize... made me think carefully about my response.

"Thank you for apologizing.  I know you're going to work hard to choose better next time."

Another incident happened when a child and her mom came to me and the child wanted to be excused from a commitment she's made to me and to an event.  She had been invited to go do something fun with friends.

I felt that strange situational thing again - I wasn't sure what mom was wanting from me, I wasn't sure what the right answer was.  The easy answer that would have led to immediate happiness on her part would have been "Sure! Go with your friends and have fun! We will barely miss you!"

But I know this girl and her parents.  I am part of their Village.

"Well, you can choose what you want.  But by choosing this fun event over our commitment - it means that the fun thing is more important to you than what you promised you would do with me."

And sure enough - the girl had to make a difficult choice and there was lecturing from mom and dad about keeping commitments.  And I hope that the answer I gave aided in the lesson for their daughter.

How do you respond when you are asked to be part of someone's Village in these ways?  Where you are pulled in to be part of the parenting, part of the teaching, part of the guidance?  Do you respond thoughtfully?  Or is it more off the cuff, standard answer?

And if we teach ourselves to take a child's apology and make it a teachable moment... how do we do that with ourselves and with other adults?  When someone apologizes to you... when you offer an apology... what are the expectations for the response?

When you make a commitment as an adult... do you hold yourself to it?  Do you look for ways to get out of it?  Do you let other people out of their commitments easily?  Was there someone in your life that taught you about the importance of keeping commitments?

It takes a Village to raise a child...  but I think we all need a Village to continue our own personal growth, too.  I'm going to continue being part of the Village for the kids in my life - from the kids at church to the kids in my neighborhood.  I'm aslo going to continue to seek ways to grow and improve on my own, within my Village, so that I can be the best example I can be, so that I am living the lessons that I have opportunities to teach.


Monday, October 28, 2013

It's All An Act. Or Is It?

Sometimes, I just have an itch to go out on an adventure, have some fun.  Sometimes, I plan something for the family so we can have fun and spend some time together.

And sometimes, it seems to be a failure.

Fall Break.  I made a plan a couple of months ago for a special weekend getaway staycation for the weekend.  It would be using up some hotel rooms I had to from a separate event, a chance to continue the celebration of Zach's 6th birthday, and a chance for some fun at places in Indy that we don't visit that often.

The plan was to go to The Children's Museum on Friday, hang out downtown for dinner and maybe walk around on the Circle.  Then head to the hotel, go swimming, off to bed.  Wake up for a fun trip to the Zoo before heading home.

Then Jeff had to work Friday.  So instead of being downtown and staying there, the kids and I spent the day at the Museum and then drove back home to pick up dad.  I called a couple of downtown restaurants to get a dinner reservation and every place was booked so we ate closer to home before heading down.  The hotel pool was fine but very chemically and I had a slightly negative reaction to it.  The day at the Zoo was supposed to be sunny and in the 50's but it was cloudy, windy, and in the low 40's (COLD).  The sun did come out and warm things up - after we left.

Teagan had a freak out over her hair, had to have an attitude adjustment time out at the Zoo.  Zach was tired and on the verge of tears a few times.  I cried watching a film about Anne Frank at the Children's Museum and thought Teagan might be impacted by her story as well... but she didn't care at all.

If you look at our pictures, it looks like we had a great time.  And that seems to happen a lot, doesn't it?  What we see on Facebook or what's shared on a blog makes it look like this family has it all, does it all, enjoys it all, loves it all.  And we often compare our own lives to what we are perceiving in other people's posts and pictures and stories.  I have great pics to share - but the experience of our weekend getaway staycation wasn't all sunshine and rainbows.

I came home feeling... let down.  Things just didn't work out the way I'd planned.  My hopes for a great time, a family fun time, a happy and content time... just didn't really happen.

Or did it?

At the Children's Museum:

- Zach faced his fear and went through the Light On Haunted House like a champ.
- Teagan climbed a rock wall for the first time and almost made it to the top!
- The kids played together everywhere they went.  I hung back and let them do their thing and they had a blast.

At dinner:

- We ended up at Sapporo's and loved it (our first time there).
- We shared a hibachi with a married couple - he's an Army Sargeant and was in uniform. He and his wife had an adorable "fight" about him having a drink - her telling him he's allowed and him arguing that he's in uniform so he "shouldn't."  I then insisted on buying him a drink - he couldn't turn down a gesture from a civilian, right?  From there, they enjoyed our company and we enjoyed theirs!
- Zach was especially entertaining during dinner and kept all the adults laughing.
- The koi pond was impressive and Teagan really enjoyed it.
- I got to witness a wife brought to tears when another table bought their dinners.

The hotel:

- Jeff and I took turns soaking in a whirlpool in the pool area.
- Zach wasn't scared of the water.
- Teagan got to swim.
- We made friends with a boy Teagan's age and got to play with him for a little bit.
- We had adjoining rooms and the kids loved having their own room, each having their own bed, and having their own TV in their room.

The zoo:

- We had the Ocean exhibit to ourselves first thing.  We especially enjoyed the dog sharks.  They seem to be extra curious and friendly early in the morning before they've been overwhelmed by crowds.
- The walrus was hilarious.  He and Jeff had an entire "conversation" with each other.
- I had Lorikeets take a liking to me and while it was a little freaky, I totally loved it!
- We had a great time at the dog show!
- The kids would have happily spent the entire day on the carousel.  I think they rode it half a dozen times!
- The gibbons were in rare form - very vocal and active.
- It was very chilly on our 2 rides on the train but that meant I got some big time cuddles with my little boy.

So I guess the important thing is that while it wasn't a staycation filled with warm fuzzies and Hallmark movie moments... it was a weekend full of memorable moments.  And that's really what I want from these adventures - I want my kids to remember the first time they conquered their fear of a haunted house, the first time they rock climbed, the time the birds landed on mom, the time the hibachi chef set his hat on fire (part of his act).

That's the real reason we go out and experience things, right?  To create memories.  To hold on to moments that we look back on fondly.  It's the memories that are priceless.  It's the memories that form who we are, who we become.  I came home feeling disappointed.  Until I stopped to reflect on the making of memories.  Now I feel like it was truly a success.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just Stop It Already

I recently met a mom who was in desperate need of a day of rest.  She needed to take a day off of work, send the kids to daycare and the husband to work and she needed a day to sit in her pj's, soak in a hot bath tub, watch dumb daytime TV, and eat cold pizza.

But she couldn't do it.  Because she felt guilty.

She works full time.  She travels for her job.  To take a day off of work and not dedicate it to her family...

She would be judged by her peers, her church, her co-workers.  She would be judged by other moms.

I roll my eyes every time someone starts up a conversation about the "mommy wars."  I find the whole thing somewhat ridiculous.  Why do we need to compete with each other or fight each other?  There is a large segment of the Mommy population that is trying their best to do what's right for their family.  Just because my right is different than your right doesn't mean my right should be your wrong.

And because we engage in these competitions and comparisons... many moms are left feeling guilty.  And other moms are quick to jump on that vulnerable state and make that mom feel worse.  And sometimes it's done for the sake of feeling superior, to feel like the "better mom."

I've been a mom for almost 9 years.  I don't have as much experience as some moms and I have worlds more experience than some.

I'm no expert.

But of all the moms in all the situations in the entire world... no one knows me, know one knows my marriage, no one knows my family, no one knows my husband, and no one knows my kids better than I do.

I'm an expert on My Family.

And if I know that I am a better mom and a better wife and a better employee and a better volunteer by taking a day of rest from time to time... the rest of the mom world needs to suck it up and keep their opinions to themselves.

You don't like it when moms celebrate back to school time?

You don't like it when a mom tries "crying it out?"

You don't like it when a mom nurses her 4 year old?

You don't like it when a mom works full time?

You don't like it when a mom picks up take out 4 out of 5 nights of the week?

You don't like it when a family buys grocery store veggies instead of growing their own?

You don't like it when a mom shops at Wal Mart?

Well, then I guess you're going to be unhappy.  Because moms choose things every single day - big decisions and small decisions - that work best for their family, not for yours.

So the next time you are checking Facebook and you hear the disapproving voice in your head that can't believe so-and-so isn't going to her kid's music program because she has a meeting at church... when you hear that inner voice being superior and critical of a mom's choice to give her baby formula... you have to tell yourself to just stop it already.  Stop and think before you reply.  Verify that any response is one of support - it doesn't matter if you agree or not.  It doesn't matter if you would never do what that mom is doing.

As long as we are all making choices that protect our children from harm... as long as we aren't making abusive and neglectful choices... as long as we are talking about the every day choices that every mom frets over, stresses over, worries about...

Stop it, already.  Just stop with the negative comments or posts.

And if you're a mom who is feeling guilt because of the judgements of others - you'd better stop that, already, too.  The way I see my own motherhood is that it's between me, my kids, my husband, my God.  It doesn't concern you.  If I want a day off, I'll take it.  If I want to commit to extended breastfeeding, I'll do it.  If I want or need to work outside the home, I'm gonna do it.  I know what I need, what my kids need.

We are our own worst enemy - in 2 different ways.  We fight each other, competing to see who will be someday named "Best Mom Ever" by the entire population (here's a hint - that is never going to happen to any of us).  And then we fight ourselves - criticizing ourselves, putting ourselves down, weighing ourselves down with guilt.

So really.

Just stop it, already!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Happy 6th Birthday!

Something about turning SIX makes it feel like he's just suddenly a lot less little.  There is something that just feels smaller about those first 5 years.

Last night, I shared some of his birth story with him.  And Teagan came to listen, too.  One of my favorite things about Zach turning 6 is that Teagan is very excited about Zach having a birthday.

Zach is smart.  He's creative.  He comes up with fantastic ideas.  He is very artistic.  He's learning to be proud of all of these qualities.  He's a good friend.  He's charming.  And best of all - he still wants Mommy to snuggle him.

My sweet little boy... who slept 10 hours his first night in the hospital.  Who didn't cry until he was 10 weeks old.  Who just wanted to sleep and eat and didn't much care for being snuggled and held a lot as a baby.  His little fat baby feet that I used to kiss and hold.  And those cheeks!!

Now I fall head over heels for his big brown eyes.  I am still in awe of his little (big) feet.  And I can't stop kissing his cheeks.

Happy birthday, buddy!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Working the Walk

I've just had one of the most exhausting, rewarding, fun, tedious, busy, well rested weekends of my life.

I worked on a team for the Women's Walk to Emmaus.  You might recall that I went on the Walk myself a while back.  And I brought from that weekend many faith lessons that still apply to my life today or things that I've changed because of the Walk that have continued to bless my life.

You can only go on the Walk once - but after you've gone, you can work the Walk.  And it takes a lot of work to make everything happen that needs to happen in this weekend.  This was my first time working on team.

The details of the work aren't all that important.  It was hard work, physical work, and it was non-stop 18 hour days.  Take every word of that very literally.

I was also part of a team.  And I have to say that we were a darn fine team.  Everyone worked to the best of their ability.  No one tried to be better than anyone else, no one complained or nagged or bossed, no one didn't pull their own weight.  Each member of the team worked hard - to their own personal limits.

I can't say that I am eager to jump right back into working another Walk.  I think I need time before I would do all of that to myself again.  Because I really did reach some serious lows.  But it's always what comes out of this sort of thing that is most important.

I have some new friends.  Some of them will just be people I see somewhere and we smile and chat and catch up.  We might connect on Facebook from time to time or text to say hello.  But I also connected to some women and I know that a more serious connection was made.  One of them called it a "heart connection."  And I have to agree.  There is something special in these women and I am eager to see where things go with us.

I have learned that doing a load of dishes in my sink at home is really not a big deal.  Doing 20 dishes compared to 100 dishes... massive perspective shift.

My husband demonstrated his love for me in some big ways- not only did he handle everything at home while I was gone but he made sure to take care of me when I got home.  I was exhausted.  And he easily could have needed a break from fatherhood and dumped the kids on me and gone out for the evening on Sunday.  Instead, he made arrangements to cancel all his plans and take care of the kids and take care of me.  I got a nap, a hot bath, an early bedtime.  I didn't have to get up and get the kids ready for school - I got up to help get them ready and then I went back to bed.  And he never complained.

I learned something about perseverance and limits.  On the first night, I twisted my knee.  And it caused issues and pain the rest of the weekend.  And sometimes I had to push through, find ways around, or flat out take a break.  I reached some serious low emotional points due to that physical pain coupled with exhaustion.  But it's often in those lows that we discover the real highs and can really be vulnerable enough to receive what is about to be given.

I have zero regrets coming out of the weekend.  It was hard.  It was exhausting.  Sometimes things didn't feel exactly fair or right.  But in each of those hard moments - I learned something.  I learned about myself, I learned about someone else, I learned about love or service or compassion.  I learned from the example of others and I learned from the work being done inside myself.

Here is what I know most of all... whenever I can set aside this block of time to focus only on working for God, serving for Christ, loving through that service... I may come away hurt and exhausted and overwhelmed but I also come away better.  And most important - thos who have received love and service come away better.  For the Pilgrims (those attending for the first time), there is a new fire, a new sense of purpose, a new understanding of love and grace and mercy.  For those who were on Team and served in a variety of capacities... we learned about each other, about ourselves, about service and compassion and giving and sacrifice.  We all leave the weekend better than when we came in.  This is the type of experience that truly builds His kingdom here.

In the Indianapolis area, the next Walks are in March at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  March 6-9 for the Men's and March 13-16 for the Women's Walk.  There is no actual walking involved.  There is learning and experiencing God's love and grace in a variety of ways.  If you want to know more - I am happy to talk to you about it.  There is a form over in the right sidebar where you can email me if I don't know you personally.  If I do know you personally and you are interested in going on this amazing experience, I would love to talk to you about becoming a Pilgrim, about being your sponsor or helping you find a sponsor.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Conversation on Bullying

Can we talk about bullying?

It's running rampant, yes?  A serious problem in our schools and communities.

But what exactly is bullying?

Because I really feel like we are over-using the word.
A bully is "a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people."

Bullying is "to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer."

Intimidate.  Domineer. Overbearing.  Blustering. Quarrelsome. Badgering.

Doesn't it seem like we are changing the definition?  Sometimes I feel like the accusations of bullying fly around when all that's really happening is a learning curve of social skills.

My daughter has an ability to be mean.  She can be bossy.  She can be controlling.  And a lot of times, when she gets bossy or tries to stick to the rules or tries to take charge in a situation, she is accused of bullying.

I see a distinct difference between being bossy and being a bully.

And I think it's dangerous to label every negative behavior between kids as bullying.

For Teagan, she often feels like she's trying to be helpful.  She'll be a great project manager or teacher someday.  Not only does she want to do things right on her own, she wants to make sure other people do things right, too.  So her intention is good.  And she doesn't recognize how her words and actions can be interpreted as overbearing.

And yes, there are times that she choose to be mean with her words.  I know that to be true.

But I also know that sometimes there is "drama" between 8 and 9 year olds as they start to experience first crushes and the embarassment of people finding out those crushes.

I consider bullying to be a person using their words or physical presence to intimidate, hurt, be cruel, cause damage.

But it seems that we want to label any disagreement between kids, any incident of gossip, any issue as bullying.

A friend of mine's son had a bully threaten to bring a gun and shoot him.  I see that as VERY different than my daughter getting caught up in drama with kids her age and each of them saying things and doing things in the midst of their emotions that end up causing hurt feelings.  A friend of mine's daughter has dealt with a kid on the playground who punches her every day.  I see that as VERY different than my daughter telling someone that the sky is supposed to be blue instead of purple in their drawing.

My long time readers know that we take bullying very seriously in our home.  And with recent events, we are going to reiginite the focus on being kind and filling buckets.

But I think there is a big misunderstanding (thanks in part to the media) about what bullying really is.

So let's talk about it.  Do you think bullying has become a buzz word applied to any negative child behavior?  Do you think bullying does cover any and every instance of someone feeling badly?  What is the gray area?  What is the clearly black/white area?


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

An Invitation to My Pity Party

Bullying behaviors are happening again.  It's just come to light so chances are good it's been happening for a while now.

I literally just told Jeff the other night... Have you noticed that Teagan's behavior has gotten better?  Less meltdowns, less attitude?

And I'm now sitting in a pool of self pity.

Because this isn't what motherhood was supposed to be.

Because this isn't the child I imagined I'd ever have.

I know what to do about it.  She just needs that consistent, firm response to get back on track.

But I am tired of having to be firm and strict all the time.  I want to just be nice and fun and laid back.

I'm tired of having to make up routines and rules and systems.

I'm tired of having to come up with consequences.

I'm tired of feeling jealous of my perceptions of other families.

I'm taking the morning to mull it over and feel sorry for myself.  And then I'll recognize that other families certainly have struggles, too.  That lots of moms face a definition of motherhood that includes things that no one ever asks for or dreams of.

My child is smart and funny.  She's pretty.  People are attracted to her, want to be accepted by her.  She's a spark!

But right now, it's hard to see those good things in her when I'm just tired of being beat down by all the meltdowns and the bad attitude and the bullying.

I want our family to be warm and loving and joyful.  I want us to talk and laugh and play games and take walks together.  I want to be able to shrug my shoulders and say , "sure, why not?"

Instead... it's rules and consequences and expectations and routines.

And one tired, worn, disappointed, frustrated, sad Mommy.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Let Your Kingdom Come

Do you pray The Lord's Prayer?  Do you just say the words because everyone else is saying them?  Or do you stop and really think about the words you are saying?

There is part of this prayer that has been sticking with me a lot lately.

We find this prayer in Scripture- words given by Jesus.  Matthew 6:9-13

“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Another translation says - "So above, so below."

I think we're way too passive about this part of this prayer.

We praise (hallowed be your name).
We ask for our needs to be met (daily bread).
We ask for forgiveness and ask that we be able to forgive others.
We ask that we be led away from temptation and kept safe from satan.

But in that first part... "On earth as it is in heaven."  Your kingdom, Your will.  It's happening in heaven, we pray that it happens here.

And if all we do is say the words... the prayer will never come to life.

Lately, when I say this pray, I have been trying to change my focus as I pray those words.  I think I've always thought of them as a kind of beseeching - please bring your kingdom to us on earth.  I've prayed it that way - this earth is terrible and bad things happen everywhere, everyday so please bring heaven to us.

Instead, I've been praying - please help me do Your will on earth.  Please use me to bring Your kingdom to earth.  Not asking for a gift of bringing heaven to earth but asking to be chosen to do the work of representing heaven here on earth.

Which then leads me to think about what heaven might actually be like.  No sickness, no pain, no hate.  I imagine a lot of singing - music like nothing we've ever heard on earth.  I imagine lots of light and bright and freedom.  I imagine this overwhelming, overflowing love that not only fills each of us but is also just present throughout heaven, in all things, in all creatures, in all spaces.  Love that can't be defined or described - the love that simply is God.

So when I pray - "Your kingdom come," I'm really asking God to help me bring that love here, now.  Help me to love everyone - especially those that are harder to love.  Especially those that desperately need to know that overwhelming joy and excitement that comes from knowing and being filled by God's love.

I visited my friend's church in Ohio this past weekend.  And he preached about God's love.  About being so filled with joy and love that we can't help but dance and praise.  About letting that joy overflow from within so that others want to experience this fullness, this love, this joy, this grace.  About sharing Jesus with celebration in our testimonies but also in how we live each day so people witness God's love at work in our lives.  That we love and sacrifice for God because of the sacrifice He made for us.  And that when we finally accept that love from God, when we finally, really, truly "get it," that's when we find a new sense of rhythm.  And that's when we can dance.

He asked the question - How do we lead others to experience the fullness of God's love?

Let Your Kingdome Come.
On Earth As it Is In Heaven.
Build Your Kingdom Here.

Use my hands and feet, use my life, let me be your funnel, let me be the light, let me overflow with the love so that others will want to come to You, to know You, to be filled with You.

If we all take part in this radical, uncomfortable, over the top, crazy way of loving each other - earth and heaven truly become more as one.  His will, His kingdom - on earth.

So let it come.  Let it come through me and through you and through our churches and our homes and our families.  Let Your kingdom come and become in us.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

20 Years: Lessons Learned

My 20 year high school reunion was this past weekend.  There were a few events at the school and then an "after party" at a local bar.

Most of these classmates are people that I haven't spoken with in 20 years.

You might recall that I did have some anxiety about my reunion - fears that I was remembered as the "crazy one" in our class.

Something really interesting happened.

No one remembered.  Or if they did, it wasn't brought up.  The subject of my particular experience with our senior year came up twice.  And both times the repsonse was - "Oh my gosh! That's right! You weren't there, were you?"

I guess I could have been offended.

But a conversation I had with another alumni before the events really kicked off (he had graduated 10 years before me) helped me to see this important lesson.

As teens, even though we gossip and say things about each other, even though we may have had disagreements in the hallway or not invited people to our parties...

We were all in the midst of our own angst, we each had our own trauma, we were each dealing with life.

And we didn't necessarily share that with everyone else.  And if we did share - some of us were so locked up in our own angst that we didn't even hear other people.

I know of a small handful of classmates who didn't come to the reunion specifically because of their feelings about high school.  I have to admit that I considered not going because of my own fears.  But like most things in life, when I face it head on, those fears usually prove to be stuff that is just made up in my head.  Because fear and anxiety and worry have a way of creating an alternate universe in our minds, don't they?

The other thing that I found fascinating was that there were classmates there that I didn't particuarly hang out with when we were in school... but I think if I lived near them now, we could be friends.  And that kinda blows my mind, too.

I went to a school were most of the families were wealthy.  Not all.  Many of us were there under different circumstances.Some who were there on scholarship, some there at the sacrifice and scraping of their parents, and some for whom the tuition was barely a blip in the check book.

I often felt like I didn't belong with the people I saw as wealthy.  It's been this issue I've always had.  I'm not comfortable in situations where things are very posh and lots of money is at play.  I grew up a poor kid in Kentucky- that is the only thing I can lean on to understand.

And now here I was... feeling totally comfortable with every single person in that room.  It was great to swap a few old stories and memories but we all mostly spent time catching up and talking about our families and our work and where we live.

Are people acting differently than they did then?  Probably.  Has my perspective on people changed? Absolutely.  I was a judgement filled teen - judging others and myself very harshly.  It was a defense tactic, I suppose.  To keep people at arm's length, not let them get too close.

And in the last 20 years, I've been a constant improvement project.  Now a group of people aren't a group for me to judge.  Now I see children of God, beloved creations.  I see people who are just like me.

So the most basic things I can tell you in the immediate aftermath of my 20 year high school reunion...

1. Everyone was caught up in their own drama and may not even remember yours.
2. We all change and grow. So give people a chance to show you who they are.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Curing Hiccups

There are lots of cures out there that are supposed to alleviate the ridiculous burden of having hiccups.

Swallow a spoonful of sugar or honey.

Stand on your head and drink water.

Control your breathing- swallow air or breath in a figure 8.

One friend insists that telling someone to "Hiccup right NOW!" is a cure.

None of those have ever worked for me.

Then there is that whole "have someone scare you" thing.

Many have tried but it's never worked.

Apparently the scare just wasn't big enough.

Sunday morning, I was getting dressed and a huge case of hiccups hit.  Jeff was being lazy in bed, not wanting to really start the day yet.  My hiccups were interrupting the flow of conversation and creating quite the bit of entertainment as I got myself ready for the day.

I sat on the bed.

Suddenly, Jeff sat up, grabbed me, and yelled.

I almost wet the bed.

But my hiccups were, in fact, gone.

But I think next time... I'd prefer to just deal with the hiccups.