I love being a grandma and this picture tells you why. These four. Each one different. Each one eternally precious. Lucy Rosa 4, Charles Chesley 3, Annie Pearl 2 and Oliver James 2 months. Thank you Hannah White for the preservation of this priceless moment in time.
Just think...thirty-eight years ago today we said yes to each other. "You are my beloved. You are my friend." Yes we said it and we've lived it. We haven't always felt it but we have KNOWN it, believed it and leaned on it when life felt worn through and weary.
The number sounds high but the years have gone by like a breath and here we are, once again, celebrating that which we can hardly take credit for...except that God enabled us to honor our promises, the ones we said to each other and to him. We said yes with promises to stay, no matter what. We said yes for our future children, for our faith, for our own integrity, for the God who ordained marriage and even likened it to his relationship with his church, and for not growing old alone.
Marriage has been for us a journey of maturing, finding safety, growing in trust, seeing deeper, accepting differences, loving anyway, waiting for, discovering things hidden, seeking to know and to be known, letting things go, accepting what is, focusing on the good, watching, speaking up, keeping silent, being quick to encourage, finding comfort in each other, letting things be what they are, watching, growing, thriving, challenging, letting self be known, offering a vulnerable self, marveling at the wonder of the years, stepping down, standing up, managing disappointment, letting go of what isn't, praying, trusting God and each other, offering forgiveness, asking for forgiveness, respecting differences, being satisfied with what is, keeping the spark, never giving up, hearing each other, inviting each other in, looking for the good, not taking offense, laughing as often as possible, building each other up, letting the other be who she/he is, maleness, femaleness, trust, kindness, patience, going to bed angry sometimes, waking up in love again, supporting interests, staying committed and never entertaining leaving.
Oh what a rich tangle of life together! I wish I could say we did it perfectly and that we always knew the way but isn't that the way of love? Navigating as through a jungle, fraught with danger, but together we have been able to see our way through, hand in hand, only to find each other still saying yes, still depending on God for the determination to keep on looking for and finding grace in each other's eyes.
I love you, Brian. You and I are a good team. I'm thankful, humbled, and amazed that God saw it fit to bring us together and to keep us going strong these many years.
Thanks for your email. I feel quite honored and excited to be asked by you to share a bit about my writing journey. It has been a long road and I'm a bit of a slow walker but word by word, piece by piece, I have come to where I am today. I'm delighted for the opportunity to look back at my writing life and to encourage you to move forward in yours as you head into your final year of college. As a young girl I loved to read and to write. I looked forward to essay test questions in high school because I could write around answers easily. It was a pleasure to put the words down and see what I could come up with. Recently I found a Five Year Diary that had been given to me on my thirteenth birthday. For five years I religiously wrote a sentence or two every day about whatever seemed important at the time. I discovered how boy crazy I was since there were a whole lot of entries about guys: how cute Chuck was, how James in my class didn't ask me out, how I would love Joel forever! But it also showed me that when I was a teenager I knew the power of words. I used this compelling tool to understand my feelings, to lament over my struggles, and to pray. I really didn't critique my writing much then because it was just for me. It didn't feel like pressure because it was more of a release, a tool to strengthen and to grow me.
My family had many tensions and being the youngest of four children I found that paper and pen were my greatest friends. I journaled to discover and untangle how I felt about everything in my world. It was all very complex to me. My favorite person in the whole world was my mom and the pressures she felt influenced my view of life. The search for peace in her marriage led her to church, which then led her to a deep life of faith and prayer. I found her to be my guide and ally in every way and as I grew, I also became a woman with a deep faith, full of hope and trust in God.
As life would have it, I graduated from high school and college, traveled for a year with a Christian singing team, went off to my first teaching job, met my husband and got married. Within a few years we gave birth to our first son. I found ways to write during these years by adding to my personal journals, writing articles for women's ministry newsletters and sometimes putting together devotionals for baby or bridal showers. Homeschooling our children in the elementary years, I offered them many opportunities to write and to grow in their understanding of the effect of words. I'll have to admit that all three can pack a powerful punch with their words today, these many years later. In those years I longed to develop my own writing skills but often decided that I didn't have the time. And maybe I didn't.
After working with a counselor friend and taking some classes at Keys to Living and House of Hope, I realized that this practice of not giving myself enough time to attend to the things I really loved was a pattern of not truly caring for myself. I also didn't really know myself because I was more tuned into other people's needs rather than my own. So I began a journey of self discovery. I hired a life coach to help me determine my life purpose. The Enneagram Personality Test told me that I am a Peacemaker. No surprise. Carefully going through the book, Strength Finder, I found more parts to this person I call me and was delighted to find bits of my true self tucked beneath the layers and years of unsureness and insecurity. I read many books, participated in many Bible studies and took classes to help me understand more.
One of the things I learned was that I needed to pay attention to the me God created and not spend so much energy wishing I was someone else with other strengths and talents. He, in his glorious plan, gave me the love of writing (among many other things) and I could respond with a yes that would lead me farther into knowing myself better and allow me to go deeper in my faith. I decided to offer myself time to honor him by developing this gift of writing.
So five years ago (or so) our daughter set me up with my first blog site. Finally, a place to write with a way for others to read my writing! I wrote with much joy. But a new difficulty arrived with this space... there was always an opportunity for readers to leave comments....
To be continued...
Written for House of Hope blog
Picture this. Big girl is in the kitchen. Mom is sitting at the table. Little sister is standing next to big girl.
Big girl goes to the refrigerator and opens the door. As she pulls out the milk, a pint of blueberries falls out onto the floor and breaks open, spreading blueberries all over the floor.
Freeze the action!
What does the big girl say to herself?
What does the mom say to the big girl?
What does the little girl say to the big girl?
If you were that big girl, what words might be coming out of your mouth or thoughts flying into your head?
If you were the mom and your child just spilled all those blueberries, what would you find coming out of your mouth?
Let me venture a guess.
Big girl might say, “I am so stupid!.”
Mom might say, “Ahh! Why didn’t you watch what you were doing? What a mess!”
Little girl says, “You’re always so clumsy. What a loser.”
Does any of this sound familiar?
We have a habit of talking to ourselves in ways that we would never talk to others, unless….those others are our children or ourselves.
How often I have said mean things to myself or heard parents snap at their children: “You are so bad! Quit that right now! Stop being so wild! You’re always so loud. Stop that! How many times do I have to tell you to stop that!!! You are so self centered! Settle down! Don’t make me come back there!!! You are so mean. You are just too much. Why do you ALWAYS spill your milk? Grow up! We don’t throw sand! What’s wrong with you? You know better than that!”
Need I go on?
No. I think we all get the point.
But I believe there is another way to react to the spilling of the blueberries:
Big girl spills the blueberries and says, “Oh no!”
Mom says,” It’s Ok, I’ll help you clean them up.”
Little sister says,” It’s ok to make mistakes. I’ll help you too.”
This second scenario offers a gentler view that does not shame or embarrass and keeps mom and the girl on the same side, allies, not enemies. Mom has her girl’s back. She teaches that if you make a mistake, its OK, but, if possible, you must make it right. You clean it up and you move on. Little sister makes the true statement that its ok to make mistakes; it is not the end of the world. We all make them so lets get busy and clean up. the. darn. blueberries. already!
When I did something wrong my mother used to say, “Just a little pointer. Next time, Dee Dee, be sure to look at what else is around the milk before pulling it out of the fridge so you don’t spill things.” It was so sweet and kind. She did not embarrass or shame me for not being careful. But next time I could do it right or do it better.
How we talk to our children matters. How we talk to ourselves matters. Let’s stop and listen to ourselves and be determined to build bridges rather than walls. Walls require us to build up a protection against rather than trust, a closing off rather than an opening up. And we don’t want mistrust and self protection to keep us from each other. We want to be safe people who will enable our children to learn and to feel safe with us.
Some might be thinking that this is too hard. Your parents talked to you harshly. You talk to yourself that way. And now you find yourself talking to your children in a similar fashion. How can you change this thing that has been in your family for years?”
The short answer is: You can’t.
But Jesus came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. We could not save ourselves so Jesus came to rescue us from sin and death. We cannot change ourselves either. So Jesus provided a way. He encouraged his disciples just before he was to be crucified. We can find his words in John 14:
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate
to help you and be with you forever. — the Spirit of truth…
he lives with you and will be in you.”
Jesus was sending the Holy Spirit to be with and in us, to be our advocate, our ally, on our side, to be our helper, the one who is with us: he is our treasure. He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
So the Holy Spirit in us enables change: Change the way we talk to ourselves and change in the way we talk to our children, so that we can hear how lovingly Jesus speaks (again from John 14):
“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.
I do not give to as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Ahh, such gentle and kind reminders that Jesus has taken care of it all. He’s got our backs. He has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He doesn’t have to shame us or tell us how bad we are. Instead he reminds us that He is with us and will help us to do whatever he asks us to do. We can trust him.
And just a little pointer: next time the blueberries hit the kitchen floor, thank Jesus for how gently he has dealt with you and how the Holy Spirit is with you and loves you so much. Then pick them up with a thankful heart and a gentle grace-filled smile.