Thursday, March 17, 2011

It Doesn't Come to Me...

When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
~Author Unknown

For the past week, every time I sit down to write words about my thoughts, my mind goes to Japan.  I think of all of the devastation that the people of that vibrant country are facing every day.  I can't imagine the despair.  I pray for hope for all the men, women, and children throughout the land of Japan.  I'm not sure what else to write...the words just don't seem to come to me.  My heart is full of sadness. 

Therefore we do not lose heart.
Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.
-- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Struggling to do all of the Juggling

Last night, I read this latest blog from Clover Lane...Questions to Ask Ourselves.  The perspective focuses on looking for the simplicity in life and asking ourselves the hard questions of what really matters and sloughing off the things that don't matter.  This phrase struck me to my core...struggling with the juggling.

How many times as mothers, or people for that matter, in this crazy, hectic world do we struggle to be a master juggler?  So many times throughout a day, I switch roles in order to fulfill the needs of all of those around me.  It gets stressful, overwhelming, and hard.  But, there is no one that tells me that I have to do all of the things that I do.  I do it to myself.  I put the stress upon myself, and I have never been a happier person. 

After reading the blog post last night over at Clover Lane, I really sat and thought about my personal know, where I am and how I got here.  Let me share a bit with you. 

When we were living in Memphis, I was a worker bee.  I thought that I could do it all.  I imagined I could have a family and a career and get it all done and please everyone.  As our family grew, I quickly realized that I could not meet all the deadlines and definitely couldn't please all of the people all of the time.  So, I tried stepping back from parenting for a bit to focus on my job of teaching the students in my classroom.  Then, I would realize that the little people in my home were struggling, so I would try to step back from the job and focus upon my parenting.  It was so very hard to juggle the two.

So, after some time, I stepped out of teaching.  I decided to try my hand at solely parenting.  It was a very hard step to take.  I had some major identity issues for a while.  Then, The Committee took a job out of Memphis and we moved to a rural area outside of Nashville.  After analyzing where we were as a couple and family, we decided to lay down some parameters of our roles in our world.  The Committee would step out to work every day doing the best he could in that arena, and I would commit my all to running our home and raising our children. 

Live simply. Love generously.
Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest to God.
~ Ronald Reagan

I felt so 1950's-ish establishing these rules in my head and in my home.  I felt a little like Mrs. Cleaver, yet so not her because I am in no way organized.  I have given it my all, and I have truly never been happier in my life.  I know what my job is each day.  I only have to please my family and trust that I'm doing exactly what I am supposed to do. 

I am telling you this, because I want to emphasize that this was a very intentional decision by The Committee and me.  It didn't just occur one day.  We had "the talk" and decided that this is what was best for us.  We truly work together to share in the progress for our family.  It wasn't always an easy journey to get to this place.  We struggled along the way a great deal.  We have hit some bumpy patches along our way, for sure.  I was always torn about my role in our family and in this world.  But, now I am at great peace about my role. 

We are very blessed to have been able to make this choice.  We have been given blessings in all forms to allow us this peace.  Please don't get me wrong and think that we live a life of luxury at all times.  There are many times that we go without in our little world.  There are many trade-offs in our life.  We haven't taken a family trip in over 3 years, and my children have not ever seen the beach.  But, they are picked up everyday in carpool by their mama.  We don't have the latest and greatest toys.  But, they are able to run wild in a rural area each afternoon living in a world of make-believe.  We live paycheck to paycheck, being as frugal as possible, and we are all the better for it.  We don't paint the town red very often.  However, we fling open our doors, invite friends over every chance we get, and have an old-fashioned bonfire and cook-out.  These are all moments we won't forget and have been intentionally chosen by my husband and me as parents.   

If you are just tuning in, let me give you the CliffNotes version of this post...we have chosen to be intentional in living our life.  We wanted to simplify everything to make a better world for our family.  We want to live simply, and our little group has never been happier in our life.  We give many thanks for our blessings and pray that we will continue to do what is right for our family and all of those that have been graciously placed in our world. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Believe in Love

Caution...Proceed at your own risk.  These are random thoughts today that don't follow any sort of pattern from my life.  Just thinking today...maybe I should find a new project around the house before I do the random thoughts thing again. :)

There are several songs all about believing in love.  I've heard them.  I like them all.  Because, I do, I believe in love.  I believe in the idea of cupid, beautiful flowers behind a handsome man's back, rich chocolates in a heart-shaped box, and the sweet words you can only find written by hand in a mushy card.  I believe in it all.

But, at some point, life moves on from there.  Our worlds can't always be a contemporary romance novels.  Or, could they?  No.  Eventually, we get to a place where love is real and sometimes hard.  This love I'm writing about isn't only between a man and a woman.  It is everywhere.  It is between family members.  It is found amongst friends.  It grows in and out of life several times over.  If it is true, it is sometimes strong, sometimes weak, usually emotional, and always dear.

In this love, there is a give and take.  A point when each of the players has to learn to act upon the love without expecting to be left hanging out to dry all alone.  The recipe calls for a bit of trust, with a dash of abandon, and sprinkle of a caring heart.  When two healthy individuals partake in this recipe, the comfort of love can be so rewarding.  However, there are times when the love grows among those that are not all about the giving.

Our world is like a boomerang.
If we throw anger, anger comes back;
if we throw love, love comes back.
If we throw negativity, negativity comes back;
if we throw positivity, positivity comes back.

I read an article recently that spent a great deal of time discussing the narcissistic personality.  It seems as though pop-culture has been over-exposed to one such persona with a wee bit of tiger blood on his brain.   I hate to spend more time on him, but at some point we have to realize that Charlie Sheen is a narcissist.  He's concerned only of himself.  He has total disregard for his children, family members, or anyone else in his personal sphere.  He only cares about his plight, no one else's.  That's about all I can say about that.  But, these types of narcissistic personalities are not found only within the confines of pop-culture.  They are all around us.

So, let me say that I'm pretty sure that love involved with a narcissist has the potential to be overly disappointing.  Putting the love out there without having it returned might just be off-putting and eventually  heartbreaking.   Going through the motions of the natural give and take of a relationship without ever being given the chance of having it given back naturally can certainly be numbing after a while.  After a singularly centered personality spends all of your time focused on the one they love (which is not you), what are your options?  How are we to move on to a healthier partnership with this other person?  I'm not really sure.  I'm not really certain that you can ever move on to that healthier place.

I believe in love, but I don't always believe in forcing yourself to re-live pain, disappointment, or being let down time and again.  I think at some point, if we can't get to a place of a natural give and take, back and forth, maybe it's time to cut the strings.  Move on.  Game over in that arena.

The narcissistic personality has to be able to overcome the self-centeredness to sacrifice for others.  He or she will need to day-in, day-out give to another without going back to the old ways of thinking only of him or herself.  Without the sacrifice, there really isn't love.  Without passing the ball, you don't have a good basketball game.  So, how can we exist in this unhelathy relationship?  And to be totally honest, that's not the love that I believe in.  I'm not totally sure that that is really love at all.  It's more of just an arrangement. 

So, there you have it.  That's where my thoughts went, when I heard the Dixie Chicks song, "I Believe in Love."  I really do believe in it if it is true and real.  Otherwise, I'm not a believer.  Hope you have some love in your world today!

Monday, March 7, 2011

All the Words I Need

Okay, I am sharing with you all the words of direction that I need (as of today) to live my life in a way that is pleasing.  I am not trying to be self-righteous in offering these words.  I am sharing them more to hold me accountable to what is good.  I sometimes read back over my posts as I would an entry into a personal journal.  When I have moved astray on my path, perhaps these words will direct me back to my core. 

The first set are several verses that clearly state to me my pre-established goal for each and every day.  These words are very similar to my interpretation of living above the line.

Romans 12: 9-21 ~ 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not think you are superior.Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
17 “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 
If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:

Then there are these words that speak to my more playful and adventurous nature.
“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”

 If I could combine all of these directives, how could I go wrong each day?  Can I stay accountable to these words all of the time?  I know me, and I know I certainly cannot.  But, I can try.  I can give it my all each day hoping to lay my head upon my pillow each night with a happy heart and clear mind. 

What are some of the words that you are living by these days??

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Season of Joy

There are many seasons of our lives.  I find a joyful season one of the most enjoyable.  That's a no-brainer.  Who doesn't love a delicious summer wedding?  Or a new baby born to a family full of love?  When I think of joy, I think of moments like these.

But, there are also times in our lives when everything is just okay.  Nothing seems askew.  It is easy to see the joy in the big moments.  The hard part, is taking the time to see the joy in the everday events all around us.  I guess we have to realize that the big moments are not the only moments filled with joy.  As I look around at the people I love here in my house and those out of my house yet near and dear to my heart, I realize that the peace and tranquility I feel is definitely a moment of joy.  We are all happy, healthy, and peaceful.  Isn't that a season for joy?

The happiest heart that ever beat
Was in some quiet breast
That found the common daylight sweet,
And left to Heaven the rest.
~John V. Cheney

With peaks and valleys all around us, we are keeping our eyes trained for the peaks of momentous occasions.  Contentment begins with finding the joy in the simplicity of day to day life..feeling the moments of calm and loving what you have right now.  I can always hope for peace or prosperity in my life, but if I'm longing for something else entirely, I'm missing out on the blessings I have been given right now.  There is a bit of sorrow in that.  There is a bit of remorse for not seeing that the little moments are most definitely the most joyful ones... a kind word from a neighbor, a loving hug from a friend, a look of longing from a spouse, or a moment of quiet with a child. 

This moment we have right now is truly all that matters.  So many have been denied this moment through death, when we have been given this gift.  It isn't as if I relish these moments all of the time.  I am not boastful in saying that I see the joy in the simplicity of life.  I might be the biggest peak-seeker of all.  I love a big moment.  I love to live for what is to come.  However, I am missing what is right here, right now.  Look is all around us in the simple, easy things. 

Simplicity, clarity, singleness:
these are the attributes that give our lives
power, vividness, and joy.
~Richard Halloway

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

He is Changing

One-of-a-Kind is eight years old.  He's changing a little bit each day.  He is playing peek-a-boo with growing older.  I still think of him as my baby.  But, he isn't, really.  He's my oldest and there are three right behind him.  As I walked with him today, I noticed his legs are so much longer than they looked in the fall.  His teeth are straighter thanks to an upper set of braces that have been put on and are about to be taken off.  He is winning the game of peek-a-boo, and I haven't even noticed. 

It seems overwhelming to me to realize this.  It seems sad to me that some of the moments that we had when he was younger, will never be had by us again.  Sure, I can have them with my other sons.  But, this exclusivity with my first born has expired.  Do you hear that?  Silence... my heart and my breath just stood still!

Summers going fast
Nights growing colder
Children growing up
Old friends growing older

Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
- - - Rush "Time Stand Still"

Today, he came home sick.  So, we had the rare experience of having an afternoon together.  I needed some things from the grocery.  We went together.  As we were pulling into our parking space, he decided to ask me about growing up in a home of divorced parents.  We've never really talked about this.  Of course he knows my parents are not married anymore, but he's never let me know he had questions.  He asked, "Was it scary, Mom?"  "Who did you get to live with?"  I was frozen.  I didn't know that he thought about these things.  I knew he had it in him.  I just wasn't ready for the grown-up-ness

When I lump all the boys together, I don't notice the changing and the grown-up-ness in One-of-a-Kind.  But, when he stands alone, I can tell the seasons are melding from one to another.  I am able to realize that time is not standing still, but sprinting past me.  My childhood and growing older was not scary at all, "But yes.  You know what, son?  This part is the scary stuff." 

Letting him be and grow older is what scares me.  I pray that all will be taken care of, and I trust that he will grow from a boy full of love to a man filled with character.  If only I could know for sure.  I guess that takes all of the mystery out of this thing called life, though.  So, trust and prayer are the only things I can hold on to in these uncertain times.  Freeze this moment a little bit longer...Make each sensation a little bit stronger...