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Halfway There

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The plans are made, or at least the plans were made. We are all going, we are inviting friends, everyone is excited, “let’s do this!” Then, one by way, attitudes change, things come up, schedules conflict, fatigue at the end of the week, the excitement wanes and instead of enthusiasm, you are met with obligation. We are all going, but only half of us want to. The “want-tos” have to tolerate the “have-tos” and the whole event has changed. This event is no longer something even the “want-tos” want to attend.

So, do we go or cut our losses? Completely discouraged, I try to decide.  I turn on my computer and see the video link of my son’s cross country bicycle trip.  I don’t bother playing it, I’ve seen it a million times and can visualize it completely.  It usually inspires me, but I’m not even sure I want to be inspired.  How would it make me continue on in making plans for this failing event? The video shows a lot of close-up footage of his feet on the pedals going round and round. Spinning sprocket, he just kept going. However, today, though not in the video, I think I’ll join him in the times he sat at the side of the road and cried.  (I’m sure he did.) I’m sure as he pedaled on and on, at times he stopped and sat. “Nope. Not going any further. Not doing another thing.”

What now? How long can I sit here? What do I do or think while I’m not moving forward and not going back? Can I just stay here? I wish I could, but decisions need to be made and plans need canceled or carried out. I’m halfway there and it’s not a good place to be. The start was fun, halfway there is hard, who knows what the finish will be? My son kept going…he kept pedaling….in the end, I believe he was blessed, but geez, halfway there must’ve been really hard.

Halfway there, Ugh. I guess I can’t sit here any longer. I will make the best of the plans.  Maybe change the goal a bit, lower the expectations and concede that the “have-tos” are probably not going to change their position, but, the intent was good in the beginning and if we just keep going, we may actually win a few over and have a good time.  Sometimes when you are halfway there, you are at the top of the hill.  Let’s hope so.

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Photo by suzukii xingfu on Pexels.com

 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.                                    –Acts 20:242 

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.      –2 Timothy 4:7

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GLUT!

img_7687I used this word in my last post.  Glut.  I used it without even thinking and then I thought, “Is glut a word?”  I was excited to see that it was:

glut  [ɡlət]    NOUN  –  an excessively abundant supply of something.
VERB  (be glutted)  – supply or fill to excess.

Not only is it a word, but I believe that I used it correctly! Wow!  OK, so it’s a real word and apparently, it is a real problem at my house.  I believe that I have a glut of pens in my junk drawer, a glut of jeans that don’t fit in my closet, a glut of ketchup in my pantry.  WHY? Where does it all come from and how do I get rid of it?

This weekend I am blessed to get to host Dr. Maudlin Mesedieu.  A physician I met in Haiti.  He will be spending a couple of nights in our guest room downstairs. The room is adequate and knowing that Haitians aren’t a pampered sort, I’m sure my home will be fine for him.  What concerns me is the fact that he will have to walk past the open shelving I refer to as my second pantry. On these shelves are the duplicate grocery items that I have that won’t fit in my overfilled upstairs pantry. An extra box of rice, multiple cans of green beans, and enough cake mixes to go into the cupcake business. I’m embarrassed or more accurately, ashamed that he will see the glut on these shelves. The food that is sitting unused on my shelves could feed his village for a week.  Not his family, his village. He comes from a place where the fortunate people have a meal once a day and sometimes have to wait and eat every other day and then there are the less fortunate who aren’t even able to have that.

When I mentioned my discomfort with this situation, my daughter suggested we hang curtains over the shelves….even a 12-year-old knows that we have too much and should maybe try to hide it.

There is not much I can do about the food situation in Haiti and I certainly can’t ask Dr. Maudelin to put a can of black beans in his suitcase, but I can donate some of my surpluses to the local food cupboard.

My husband has told me that we should be “uncomfortable with how comfortable we are.”  I think it’s official. I am. In case you haven’t heard, I have a newfound passion for the country of Haiti and one community in particular. I have friends in Mombin Crochu , Haiti who need me….who need us.  So, if you ever find that your glut is making you uncomfortable, give me a call, we will try to figure out a way to have you pitch in and make a difference in a country that speaks a language that probably doesn’t even have a word for “glut.”

Check it out: Hearts4Haiti.org

Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor.

Note: This blog was written in October and published in January.  We had a lovely visit with Dr. Maudelin and unfortunately, we have even more ‘glut’ to start the new year.

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Remind Me

may-the-glow-of-christmas-fill-the-hearts-of-you-and-your-loved-ones-all-year-longChristmas is coming….just a few days away.  I have tons to do and the recent days have been full of obligations and to-do lists.  Things I have to do and those things that I feel I have to do and moments of not being able to figure out which is which.  I’ve struggled this year with a minor lack of holiday cheer and I even admitted to someone that I find that I am a better Christian and more charitable and giving other months of the year and I’m not even sure that is a bad thing.  This time of year is full of expectations and the fact that I am so busy doing Christmas prep, I don’t have as much time to be as giving as I am at other times.  My door is always open and my kitchen table is always welcoming anyone who will sit for a cup of tea, but right now, you’d be hard pressed to find me at home to enjoy it. I like to surprise people with unexpected note cards and letters, but this year, I don’t have time to prepare cards. I’ve been known to bake treats and deliver them to friends and neighbors, but gift shopping has taken up my time for that.  So, you see, this year, I’m just not “feeling it.” I long for more leisurely days and quieter times.

That said, this year is a bit different than other years. My kids are growing and/or grown and traditions we once held dear don’t really matter as they once did. Three of my kids live out of state so the shopping and shipping make gift giving a challenge. My oldest has recently graduated from college and is moving to Seattle on Christmas Day. Throw in a few general concerns and situations on the home front and I’m fighting the urge to say “Bah Humbug!”  I won’t though, because I know the true reason for the season AND, I just have to remember what I’ve celebrated so far this season. I’m writing this publicly so when I get sad that my Christmas Holiday gets cut short by my oldest moving to Seattle on December 25th (Yes, I said that again. I think if I keep saying it, I might get used to the idea?)…remind me.

Remind me that:

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family, a full house of laughs & good food and too much stuffing.

I went on an annual Christmas Shopping outing with a friend on the day that our town didn’t have any electricity.  The mall decorations and lights were a real treat when I didn’t have any at home.

I attended Chicora Light -Up Night where Kaylee was able to perform her solo even though she was fighting a major sore throat and cold.

I made 8 batches of hard tack with my Mom and all of my daughters. We even went out of the box and made a Cotton Candy flavor.

I kicked off the Salvation Army Kettle Drive in our community.

I visited my Aunt Garnet with my mom and sister.

I went to Volant and donated books to the Amish for them to use as Christmas gifts.

I painted a Christmas Canvas with a friend.  I just love my Red Truck with a tree in the bed!

Rehearsals were held and I was able to spend some time with some of the cutest Shepherds, Angels, and Mice I know!

A morning was filled with laughs and discussion at book club as we discussed a Christmas Fiction.

I had lunch with a friend.

Kaylee wowed me with her solo at the Jr. High Christmas Concert & the music those kids performed was amazing….and really fun!

I decorated and enjoyed a Christmas dinner with 30 of the women from church.

I hosted a dinner party. I figured I wanted to invite others over to see and enjoy my Christmas decorations. We had a fun time!

I enjoyed a tureen luncheon and Children’s Christmas Pageant at church.  I couldn’t have been more proud of that gang!  They did a wonderful job!

George & I have had fun shopping. (Always a great excuse for a meal out!)

I taught a 4 week Sunday School Class on A Christmas Carol.

I went out for dinner and to see the Christmas lights with George, Paul, and Kaylee.

I had a Christmas lunch out with my Mom, my Aunt Jean, my sister, my daughter, and 7 cousins.

I’ve baked cookies, made snacks and made hard tack with George, Kevin, and Nicole.

I invited my Brother and Sister in Law over for an evening of Hallmark Movie Bingo. We watched until someone got bingo and then we started a new movie. (We didn’t need to watch the end to know what happened.)

I had a nice lunch out while Christmas shopping with my brother.

Today, Kevin left to finish packing up his house, Nicole has gone to a friend’s house, Paul is playing video games and George and Kaylee are at lessons.  It’s the first time I’ve had a minute to think in days.  And, as I ponder how I am going to “get through” this Christmas, I’ve finally had a chance to think about what I’ve already done. I’ve already celebrated Christmas many times and I have been filled with joy at each of these things.

I hope you have a chance to take a minute to remember all the things that you have already done that lead up to the actual big day.  Christmas is definitely more than just a single day.  It is even more than just a season. We truly should try to celebrate it all year long.

 

 

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A Good Commercial

51088684-blank-billboard-with-urban-background-advertising-commercial-frame-advertisement-blank-outdoor-boardYears ago George and I were invited to travel with 2 other couples.  These childless couples traveled a lot for business, so they were flying first class while George and I were flying coach. This was back in the day when First Class was really something special.  At the airport, the one man asked if there was any way that George and I could be bumped up to first class using his frequent flyer miles.  There was only one seat left in first class, so George allowed me the treat of sitting up front.

I was seated by a businessman and I started to read my Christian Parenting magazine.  He smiled at me and said, “Are you a Christian?”  I said, “Yes, I am.”  He said, “Well, what does that mean?”  I hem-hawed around and stumbled with my words.  I’m not even exactly sure what I said, but I know that I stuttered a lot.  He very kindly said, “Well, sounds to me, like you need to work on a better commercial for Christianity in case you get the opportunity to answer that question again.”  I’m not sure what I replied, but then he smiled, stood up and said something like, “Let me show you a good answer.”

He went back to coach and found George.  He told George that he wanted to him to go to first class and sit with his wife and he took the center seat in the back of the plane.

We still aren’t sure we have a good commercial, but we never forget his.

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But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,…           1 Peter 3:15

 

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Another 12 Step Program?

IMG_2303OK, at wit’s end again.  How am I supposed to deal with a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder?  And, of course, how am I supposed to deal with an adult child with Reactive Attachment Disorder?  Just as we transition from grade to grade during the school years, we now transition from program to program to help him in the adult years and I’m beginning to believe that we need to transition from therapy model to therapy model to continue.

I knew how to parent…or at least had things to try when he was a child.  There were simply things that a parent could not allow a child to do, but now he is an adult and the line has gotten fuzzy.  Today, I’ve hit a new low and have sought out help from a pamphlet titled, “So You Love An Alcoholic.”  Since nothing else had worked, I thought I’d give this a try.  I ‘ve decided to customize it for Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Again, these ideas are not my own, so credit goes to Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc.

Reactive Attachment Disorder is an illness. The first thing for you to acknowledge, believe, accept is that children who have reactive attachment disorder suffer from a real sickness – a sickness which affects all those close to them.  The AMA and many authorities the world over declare the Reactive attachment sufferer has an illness over which he or she has no control. It is not caused by weakness of will, immorality or a desire to hurt others. Once you have accepted the idea that Reactive Attachment Disorder is a sickness form which compulsive children and those who care about them can find release, you will have no reason to be ashamed of it – no reason to fear it.

Learn the Facts. Wipe your mental slate clean of everything you think you know about it. Then apply yourself to a learning program. You can get valuable first-hand knowledge about RAD by attending an open support meeting. Don’t hesitate because you feel you are a stranger; anyone is welcome who is interested in the problem of RAD. Talk to members after the meeting; you can discuss your difficulties with the people you meet there.

Help Yourself Now. Don’t wait to seek help  Anyone whose family has suffered from the effects of RAD knows the constant emotional strains and pressures and needs help in relieving these.  Nothing will give you greater relief than the understanding and warm-hearted help you will find in a Support Group meeting. There you will, as one member put it, “learn to live again.” The members are compassionate, well-informed and have first-hand knowledge of problems just like yours because they have them too! Conversations with people who share your problems will convince you emotionally – as your investigations may have convinced you intellectually – that RAD is a disease, not a sin. Sharing this knowledge can help you begin your own recovery.

Some Important “Don’ts”

Don’t treat the sufferer like a child; you wouldn’t if he or she were suffering from some other disease. Don’t check up on them to see how much they are offending; Don’t search for offenses; Don’t put temptations away, they can always find ways to get more; Don’t nag them about their issues; Don’t preach, reproach, scold or enter into quarrels.

If you can bring yourself to avoid these things, you’ll be well on the way to a more comfortable frame of mind. All these Don’ts have good sound reasons that grew out of many people’s experience. RADs suffer from feelings of guilt beyond anything the non-RAD can imagine. Reminding them of failures, neglect of family and friends and social errors is all wasted effort. It only makes the situation worse.

The “if you loved me” approach is likewise futile. Remember the RAD is compulsive in nature and cannot be controlled by willpower. Equally useless are promises, coaxing, arguments and threats. Sometimes a crisis can convince the RAD of the need for help- the loss of a job, an accident or an arrest.  Steel yourself against coddling and overprotectiveness at such a time. The crisis may be necessary for recovery. Do nothing to prevent such a crisis from happening. The suffering you are trying to ease by such actions may be the very thing needed to bring the RAD to a realization of the seriousness of the situation – literally a blessing in disguise.

Remember, the whole family may have slips and set-backs Don’t take them seriously. Believe that a firm foundation for recovery has been laid. If you feel that either of you has made mistakes, learn from them and forget them. Let go of the disappointments and setbacks and push forward!

The way ahead is not always easy, but it can be full of rich rewards in a satisfying life for you and those you love.

Oh if I could only heed this advice.  Today, it’s a challenge! In a final attempt to find peace in my day, I turned to today’s date in the One Day At A Time In Al-Anon book. “Does the voice of God have a chance to be heard over my angry shouting? What is the purpose of letting myself fly apart in reckless tantrums? To relieve my pent-up feelings? Today’s Reminder: I cannot punish anyone without punishing myself.  The release of my tensions, even if it seems justified, leaves dregs of bitterness behind. Unless I have deliberately decided that my relationship has no further value in my life, I would do well to consider the long-range benefits of quiet acceptance in times of stress.”

Ouch.  Just Ouch.

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“How shall you punish those whose remorse is already greater than their misdeeds?”

–Kahlil Gibran: The Prophet

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Shaking My Head Again

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Shaking my head again…there are just things that happen that can’t be explained.  The care God and others have over my son is one of them. Yesterday, we were at our river house. The river was high and muddy from some recent rain so my husband and I decided to do some inside maintenance. He assembled bunk beds while I read a good book, but I was only an arm’s length away if he required assistance. (Which he did only once or twice for a couple of minutes.) But anyway, we were inside “working” while Paul was fishing on the dock. That boy loves to fish! He has spent hours this summer with a pole in his hand and a smile on his face.

Right as my husband was assembling Step 7A bolt into step 7A nut as listed on the IKEA instructions, Paul came in and stands at the bedroom door soaking wet.  After my initial, “Move! You’re making a puddle and I’ll slip and fall!” it dawned on me that my kid had been in the swift river.

“What?!”

Paul calmly says, “Let’s start with the good news. I’m safe and I got my chair but the bad news is that I lost my travel mug and ball cap.”

“What?!”

While he was standing on the dock, his chair blew into the water, he jumped in sans life jacket to retrieve it. He was quickly swept away with his chair in his hands (hard to swim when you are grasping your favorite fishing chair.) He realized he wasn’t going to be able to swim back to our dock so he floated downstream and got out at a neighbor’s dock. Aaaaah. Safe. Another disaster thwarted.

“Thank God you are safe. You have angels looking over you all the time buddy, do you realize that?”

“Yeah, but that was my favorite hat. Uncle Gary gave it to me last year from his work and he won’t be able to get another one since the plant closed.”

“Let’s focus on the good stuff. You are safe.”

“And my mug. It’s the only one I’m allowed to use on the bus and I was going to take it to camp this week. Can I borrow yours?”

“Sure.” (I love loaning my stuff to the kid who as you can see takes incredibly good care of all of his belongings. Insert sarcasm here.) Remember, you are very lucky! You are safe!”

“I know, but I think I’ll pout a while about the hat and mug.”

Oh, brother. I return to assisting George when I hear Paul talking to someone in the yard. I go out to see a man handing Paul his missing hat and mug. It seems this man was fishing on his dock about 1/2 mile downstream when the hat and mug floated by. He “wasn’t going to risk his life to go after it, but it went right by his dock” so he grabbed it. Paul’s fishing license was still attached and he said, “Well, I know where this kid lives.” Of course he does! Everyone knows Paul.

Our river house sits on a 1 mile stretch of the river with houses, camps, and campsites 3 deep in some places. We know very few of our neighbors, but the whole stretch knows Paul. Probably from a previous rescue mission.

After the bunk beds were completed, George and I took a bike ride. We left Paul to fish (with a life vest on!) and we took a little ride. On the way back a neighbor about 5 houses away called out to us for a visit. We stopped by and shared our most recent Paul story. John and his wife Chris have many of their own Paul stories. John started sharing some of his experiences with another couple that was there. We laughed. It’s always easy to laugh at these tales after time. (Not so easy to laugh while they are occurring.) John said, “Paul is going to be all right. He’s a survivor.” I commented that he will survive, but will his parents? We shouted out our appreciation to John for friending Paul and that it “takes a village.”

George admitted that a good sense of humor helps. As we were leaving, the new guy said, “I never met him, but I know I’d love him.” Shaking my head and smiling, I was assured of two things. He will get to meet him and he will love him. Everyone does.

As Paul ages, his special needs do too. I think he will always require some aid from others. (Don’t we all?) As he nears 20 years of age, I’ve been struggling with letting go, but meeting the angels who look out for Paul helps. There are so many stories like today’s story. Not just the part of him being kept safe in the water, but the bonus gift of the returned hat.

Paul isn’t’ just surviving as the Maker of Earth watches over him, he is thriving. I think it’s time for this Mom to back up a bit, resign as the Mayor and just become part of the village. I can attest to how God has used the village in the past and I look forward to being a part of it.

This Villager, however, will be enforcing a Life Vest Ordinance more often!

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Last Day!

IMG_4384Tomorrow is my daughter’s last day of elementary school.  Today was mine.  I volunteered at the end of the school year Luau and helped some kids make bookmarks out of paper clips and yarn. I treated myself to a SnoCone in the parking lot and I left at noon. I was talking with some moms early in the day about this being my last event there and wondered when it would hit me that I really wouldn’t be going back to the school. It hit me when I was leaving the building.  I had my hand on the door to leave and I saw the principal unloading boxes in the hall.  I thought about saying “good-bye” but thought I might tear up.  I didn’t want to cry.  What in the world would I cry about? I’m leaving this school building after volunteering there for 24 years! Yes, I have had kids in this building for 24 years. I wonder if it would’ve been so hard if I had only had one or two kids and had only been a part of that place for 7-10 years like most families.  Is this such a big deal because I have walked these halls for so long?

Or is it really a big deal at all?  Not really. It’s been kind of fun having seniority there.  I’ve had many opportunities to watch the 5th-grade band students perform their Christmas concert after only 3 months on their new instruments. It’s been fun attending Open House, Science Fairs, Literacy Nights and elementary basketball games. And, even though we joke about having to hear Hot Cross Buns played on the Recorder annually, today it feels like it will be something I miss. I left the building today and there is a good chance I won’t be going back. At this point, I don’t have hopes for grandchildren attending this school and I honestly don’t know if I’m a good enough aunt to really attend those concerts on their behalf. I have officially signed out of that building for the last time.

Maybe this post is a little premature.  My daughter still has one more day at that school.  There’s still a chance that I will have to go and pick up a forgotten clarinet or her extra tennis shoes. I may even find a library book under the couch that will need to be returned. There is just no way to know for sure.

 

When my daughter comes home from school tomorrow, I feel certain that she will have the confidence she needs to move on to the high school in the fall.  The question is, will I? Lord willing, we both will!

I’ll leave you with an oldie but a goodie:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.     Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

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