family

When Nothing Changes and Nothing Stays the Same

There are some people in my family who have been wearing certain clothing items for a long, L-O-N-G, time.  These clothes are allegedly, ahem, “broken in” and so comfy that they just a can’t seem to get rid of them or not wear them.

Are you like this?

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I’m not.

I can’t fill the Goodwill bag fast enough.  My motto is if you haven’t worn it in a year, you’re not ever going to wear it again.  Get rid of it.  But that’s me. I like to make room for change.  I like to see what else I can find.

But this isn’t the case for everyone in my world.  Some loved ones don’t like to let go; they don’t see any reason for new when old still seems to work. So what if it’s dated or discolored.

New can be a threat for some and same a choke-hold for others.

It’s tricky.  Bumping around life together.  One likes things the way they are and the other runs from ritual.  We inevitable annoy the heck out of each other.

If you are a same-r you may find yourselves clutching for control, easily upset if something gets changed without notice.  Maybe you avoid trendsetting types altogether because people who move around a lot make you uncomfortable?

Or if you’re a new-r , you may find that you have no patience for traditionalists or home-bodies.  Maybe you become critical and judgmental towards others who do not like to keep evolving and forging?

We become separate and not our best self in our own families and homes. A tense undercurrent tugs over things like rearranging furniture, meal planning for Thanksgiving or how to spend free time together.

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Today is laundry day.

Piles of clothes old and new, twirling in the washer then bouncing around in a hot dryer.  Old mixing with new. Water and soap scrubbing away the dirt, heat making the fabric warm and crisp. Both surviving the wash together and coming out the other side.

Maybe there’s something here for us to learn?

I thought about the same-r’s in my life.  I thought about how they hold on to the familiar, repeat treasured recipes and reminisce over fond memories of holidays and vacations. They linger over warm experiences. They pause and reflect the good that has crossed lifes’ threshold. Gratitude expands. We need same-r’s to help us remember the things worthy of remembrance. We exhale appreciation.

And what about the new-r’s? They like the practice of searching and enjoy solving mysteries. Trying new things and finding new roads is like Christmas morning.  They tend to paint walls, try different recipes or watch unknown movies just because it’s different.  They get you to color outside the lines, try things you’ve never tried and consider others different from you. Confidence flourishes. We need new-r’s to help us realize we are capable of learning, capable of experiencing life no matter what stage we are in. We inhale courage.

We need each other.

Tumbling around. Mixing it up. Old and new.

Nothing changes and nothing stays the same.

Wash warm together on gentle cycle, tumble dry low.

 

 

When someone you love hurts…

What do you do when someone you love is hurting?

What do you say?

When a loved one is hurting emotionally, physically, financially, professionally or relationally how do you respond?

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At first I imagine most of us react the same way.  We are quick to call, text or email.  We show up with visits to the hospital and bring meals to the home.  We listen, empathize and pray.  We offer to babysit, make a phone call, do some networking or meet for lunch. We send encouraging notes that are tucked with verses of victory and strength.  We cheerlead, motivate and preach.  We repair stuff, help interpret diagnosis’s and research helpful articles. We do anything to help take away the pain so hope can thrive.

But what about when things don’t get better after a week, or two or seven? When weeks turn into months and months into years? How do you handle it then?

People I love have experienced significant hurt, long term hurt, no easy answers kind of hurt. Dear souls tangled in painful scenarios that just won’t go away.  It’s impossible to not be affected.  It hurts to journey with someone whose hurt goes on. Once you’ve emptied yourself of every encouraging deed and word you can think of you eventually collide with their pain. Now you both hurt.

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So what do you do when you begin to feel their pain because things just aren’t getting better?

Do you run out of things to say?  Do you stop asking because you don’t want to make it harder?  Do your emails and calls slow or stop all together?  Do you still come over for visits like in the beginning?  Do you avoid them because it’s too hard? Do you think about them?

We had a long season of hurt in our home. For the first time ever we experienced long term unemployment during the recession.  For a while it seemed as if the entire state was unemployed.  People were wonderful to us.  So much care, encouragement and support. But as weeks turned into months, which turned into years, things got quiet. Really quiet. I don’t think for minute that people didn’t care.  I think people just didn’t know how to care anymore.

When relief and answers don’t come for our loved ones what exactly are we supposed to do?

There were a few people who were constant. We treasured their presence. One friend called weekly, without fail. She listened for countless hours to my dialog that never seemed to change. Her prayers, unwavering and undying. Another friend invited my husband to lunch.  Every week.  Without fail. There they talked about everything or nothing. He simply showed up. A beautiful couple never gave up hope that God would help us. At the most unexpected and poignant times they were His messengers of aid to us. It was uncanny.  All of their gentle kindnesses pierced our darkness.  None of them had answers or remedies, only their presence.

They hurt with us. They felt the pain of silence and loss along side us.  They wrestled with their own expectations for God and people as they watched us slide deeper into hurt. They let themselves be hurt by our pain.

Sometimes you cannot do anything for others.

Sometimes you can only be with others.

A friend who enters the hurt of another.

Friends who risk being clumsy.

When we are willing to hurt with those who hurt we offer friendship in the lowest of places.  The place where hurt persists and relief is out of sight.

These low places are the most desperate places of our soul, the place where fear rumbles and frightens. No one can ignore vulnerability here.  Going into these low places, even for the sake of a loved one, means dealing with our own frailties, uncertainties, doubts and vulnerabilities. Everything that doesn’t get answered the way we want becomes front and center. I think this is why people don’t know what to do when the hurting goes on and on. They aren’t prepared to go that low. But love reaches deep.  It gets muddy. It enters doubt.

Something unusual also happens when you go to the low places with a hurting loved one. Light begins to shine. It’s not like a brilliant full moon that illuminates the darkness.  It’s more like a sky full of stars. Tiny dots of lights. Every hurting moment shared a new light pokes through the darkness. The starry night, a thing of beauty. The weathered soul in a weary place accompanied by the presence of loving friendship, a thing of beauty. I wonder if this is one of the greatest gifts we can give the world? To go into the lowest places with our loved ones, acknowledge their pain, let it rub against us? What if we don’t leave them alone? I wonder what good would come if we learned how to care for others when our encouraging ideas end and the hurt goes on? I wonder what would change if we learned how to get better at being “with” others?   What if we were more like stars than the moon?

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The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship.  Day and night they keep on telling about God. Without a sound or word, silent in the skies, their message reaches out to all the world. ~Psalm 19:1-4

home plate parenting

Parenting and baseball have a lot in common.

Once that little one is in your life you find yourself pitching.  You pitch comfort to that baby 24  hours a day.  You keep throwing at them whatever it is they need. Food, clean diapers, warmth, attention, you’d do anything for that baby.  You have become a pitcher.

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As time goes by you slowly become the batting coach.  It’s your job to get them to make contact with the ball and feel the connection of their own power.  Potty training, not hitting their baby sister, saying thank you, learning to pick up toys, things that help them to feel a sense of responsibility and consequence.

Before long you are the short stop.  Stopping the infield balls they hit.  You keep them contained, running only to 1st base.  They begin to create their own sense of identity and direction.  They join the hockey team, drama club or 4-H.  They have oodles of ideas or things they want to try but it’s your job to provide boundaries and allow them experiences at a reasonable rate.

Next thing you know, you are standing at third base coaching them on.  Your perspective and vantage point help guide them when it’s time to stay put or run the bases.  The stakes are higher, first jobs, driving and college prep tests require preparation, responsibility and discipline.  Your voice leads them. Their legs do the running.

Then when you least expect it, you have become home plate. You are the place they run to.  The place of safety and completion. The place they land on. The place they connect with to secure a run.  Home plate.

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You are no longer pitching them anything, helping them choke up on the bat, scooping up the infield ground balls or coaching them to stay put or run home.  You are home.  You are the constant in life for your newly grown babies.

My kids fit in the “newly grown” category.  Finishing college, first steps in building a career and moving out.  All good things.  But it leaves me wondering what it is that I am to be for them.  I haven’t got it all worked out. Honestly, I’ve never completely worked out any stage of parenting.  But this is the stage that our family will spend the most time.

My son and I were hanging out the other day.  We talked about his school work load.  He has a lot going.  As he shared with me I was overwhelmed. He wanted to share with me, for whatever reason. We are way past the stage where I help him organize his tasks but it touched me that he wanted to tell me anyway. I accept any and all reasons to engage with my children.

It seems that even as independence grows, the need for connection deepens.

And that’s what being a home plate is about I guess.  Connection.  Providing a source of belonging and acceptance.  Reassuring that their tasks, hopes, struggles and accomplishments matter. Affirming they will make it through.  Providing a moment to rest, refuel and inspire. Connection.

I like being home plate.  I’ll admit, I’m new at it.  There haven’t been to many times where my kids have touched base.  But before long I’m sure I will have dirty cleat marks all over me.  I’m good with that.

Home plate is the landing spot.  Meant to be crossed over again and again.  You can’t stay there for long. You have to touch it and get back in the rotation. That’s how the game is played. You play your position to the best of your ability.  You strive to round all the bases and touch home plate. You’ve then scored.  Connecting with home plate counts as a run.

I think I’ll like being home plate.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~Ephesians 2:10

Grasping for Christmastime

 

It’s close to that time.  You know, “that” time.

They call it Christmastime.  Yes, it’s a real word.

It’s the time we work so hard to make space for, to create, to celebrate, to forge new memories as we honor family and faith traditions, to conjure up a little more magic for the kids again this year.

I was looking at this old star.

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It belonged to my grandma. She had a flare for the colorful when it came to Christmas decorations. Her style would definitely not be found on Pinterest. But it was colorful and full of imagination.  It was grandma.

I remember as she got older it became more of a chore for her to set up her Christmas village.  What once was an exercise in celebration and fancy became a duty of deliberation.  She did it because of the kids.  Something compelled her. She did it because it was Christmastime.

But isn’t that like Christmastime?  It urges something inside.  It says, “Wake up, something special is about to begin.”  The senses are lured with smells, sounds and lights.  We are drawn to the brightness of Christmastime.  We are convicted that light doesn’t live very long in our soul.

We grasp for Christmastime.

Isn’t that a good thing?  Christmastime brings us to a place in our year where we accept that we are longing.  Longing for that which fills us, brings us peace, holds us near or sends us on a wild adventure.  Christmastime reminds us that we are human and long for something Divine.  We can almost taste it we are so hungry.

Awake my soul to see all that Christmastime brings.  Awake my soul to know the riches that Christmastime told. In the brightness of your light, you beckon me to find, the wealth of Christmas cheer that comes from Love drawn near.

With each bite of your Christmastime treats, may you hunger for richer delicacies.

Every party you attend, may you know loves embrace.

Each time you see Christmas lights, may you realize you were made for brightness.

When the sounds of Christmas fill the air, may a melody deep inside you resonate.

May we together grasp for Christmastime.

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“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son,” ~ Galatians 4:4

Love People Friday

Love People Clothing

Love People Clothing

I decided that today is Love People Friday.

Every day is a good day for working on love but Friday is even more important than most.  It’s the official start to the weekend. The weekend goes better when Friday is good!

My sister, Jodi, has a small business where she crafts unique pieces of clothing and sells them in local boutiques. It’s been a nice little business for some time but recently she has been inspired to move beyond creating something women like to own into creating something women will want to wear.  Her business, Love People Clothing has always promoted an inspired look but now she wants to promote an inspired life.  So she created a t-shirt line that goes by the name Love People.

Her goal is to inspire others to really examine the heart of what loving others is about and living that out in day to day life. The t-shirts are just a small reminder to wear love like you would wear a piece of clothing. To her love is not about the grand gestures but the small, loving words or actions that impact one.  Impressing thousands is easy and temporary, loving just one isn’t necessarily easy but it creates the most lasting effect.

So back to Love People Friday.

Friday is the day when most of us experience a shift in the work/school week.  Schedules are not as structured and we spend more time with our family and friends.  All the more reason why Friday matters the most when it comes to all things LOVE.

If I’m being honest, weekends around my house haven’t always been full of love.  Where I can coast most of the week on my own terms, I now have to collaborate with others on activities, needs or meals.  And then there is the issue of who gets in the shower first or who has the remote control?  I’ve been known to loose all good graces before on a Sunday afternoon. I need to be reminded to wear love.

That’s why I’ve dubbed Friday, Love People Friday.  It’s a reminder that I have to put on love before we all get together.  I have to decide ahead of time that I’m choosing love instead self-centeredness.  I choose to see my husband as he is and not as I expect him to be. I choose to flesh out patience, in whatever means necessary, when tempers rise and energy is low.  Letting naps happen. I choose to wait my turn and give grace when we are struggling; to speak truth or stop unhealthy habits as best I can for the sake of love. Eating a meal together instead of all at different times. Giving extra hugs and kisses and whisper soft words of love. Saying “thank you” and “please”. Playing a game. Reminding one another why you love “us”. Choosing to walk around the mall with your child, just because they need some time.

I know I won’t always do it well but I commit to giving it a try.

So here’s to Love People Friday.  Decide now to love those in your life this weekend.  You’ll be spending a little more time with them after all.  Wearing love on Friday could determine how well the rest of the weekend goes.

Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic all-purpose garment. Never be without it.  ~Colossians 3:14

#wearlove