“If you could tell people just ONE THING. What would it be?” (I invite you to read Kristen’s post, When Jesus Isn’t Enough.)
After a purely faith-based post, the next thought that came to mind was this: “If you can’t change your circumstance, change your expectations.”
Don’t get me wrong, when presented with a problem, I’ve been called “tenacious” in my efforts to find a solution. (I took it as a compliment.) But sometimes, I’ll admit, a circumstance is beyond my influence, much less my control. Sometimes, I can’t change my circumstances. Sometimes, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, reasonably or not, that I shouldn’t even attempt to change my circumstances. (and ya know I hate it when that happens.)
So often, our frustration results from unmet expectations. That frustration often leads to anger, sometimes to sadness and frequently, to a boatload of behaviors we regret, words we wish we could take back, and hurts we would inflict upon ourselves if only it meant we could spare those whom we caused pain.
One thing I consistently strive to do is to adapt my expectations to whatever circumstances I face. Rather than trying to force things to go the way I think they should, or to manipulate situations to be the way I want them to be, or (what I desperately, vehemently, REFUSE to do) to scream at people I love or have never met before, complain to anyone I can trap, or constantly mumble in discontent, making everyone around me uncomfortable, I try to figure out how God can be glorified by the fact that I’m smack in the middle of those circumstances.
Why did God allow me to be here? What does He want me to do?
One blessing God gave me is a daughter who is what my counselor has called “undamaged Julie.” Maybe so. But what that ultimately means to me is that my daughter is very much different from me. Her behaviors and emotions are SOOO different than mine. She lives out loud and wears her emotions all over every body part, not just her sleeves. I’m . . . reserved.
So how do I handle that?
I have a totally different set of expectations for PinkGirl than I would for “my daughter.” And there is a difference. I don’t define PinkGirl from my own frame of reference. I don’t see her as an extension of myself, but rather as her own person. I provide encouragement and tangible support and instruction for her dreams and goals and I CAN NOT wait to find out what she will do next. And no. I do not find this response intuitive. It’s a determined choice I make, not because I’m a great mother, but because I’m damaged. And no, I don’t want to talk about it. I’m reserved, remember?
(This was originally written when she was 7 years old, still so very relevant today.)
Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]
Colossians 3:21 The Amplified Bible
My daughter is a free spirit.
She sings. Loud. She sings Disney princess songs and hymns. Praise songs and jingles. She sings her own personal compositions. Sometimes they rhyme, sometimes not. Her own songs are l-o- n-g. She sings about everything. Love. Jesus. Her Heart. Disney. Sometimes she throws in a line about gross bodily functions before cracking herself up because it is SO hysterically funny. (She’s 7.) She sings in the car and doesn’t care who stares. She will climb to the top of a playground structure and sing her songs to an audience in the sky. She doesn’t care if people can hear her. She wants people to hear her.
Please don’t tell her to be quiet.
She dances. She twirls. She vogues. She bounces. She skips. She runs when and where there is open space. She swings. HIGH. She calls out “Watch me!” and wants me to take her picture. This is what happy looks like.
Please don’t tell her to sit still.
She loves to dress up. She can’t watch “Annie” without pausing the DVD player for multiple costume changes. She “invents” outfits and hairstyles. She wears prints with stripes, pink with orange and mismatched socks for “flair.” She loves lipstick and jewelry. She loves pink. Not pastel pink. PEPTO pink! BOLD pink.
Please don’t “correct” her wardrobe selections.
She loves to perform. The fireplace hearth is her stage. She wrote a play when she was in pre-kindergarten. She sat in a chair for hours on a Friday night, writing on one piece of paper after another. When it was all said and done, written on each piece of paper were the lines of each character in her play. When I typed it up for her later, she knew immediately which paper to read from next as she dictated the dialog for me. The spelling was creative, but the play was complete with a hero, a villain, a quest, and lots of songs to sing.
Please don’t tell her to “act like the other kids.”
She finds wonder in so many things. A lizard hiding in the grass. A crushed acorn. The shape of a cloud. She can’t go for a walk around the block without stopping every few feet to pick up a leaf, pet a neighbor’s cat or point out something interesting. She wants to see everything and go everywhere. And she wants to tell you all about it. Because it’s made such an imprint on her, she believes she should share it.
Please don’t make absentminded comments when she’s talking to you. She’s smart. She knows.
Don’t get me wrong. She’s not wild and undisciplined. She understands that she should whisper in a library, sit quietly attentive and respectfully listen to her teachers in class, and wear her uniform to school. She understands that sometimes she needs to follow directions instead of direct her own elaborate scripts. She knows to share and to take something she finds to lost and found. She knows that if we forget to pay for the case of soda under the grocery cart, that we are going back inside the store to make it right. She knows proper manners for the using the phone, how to handle a laptop computer and how to carry scissors. She understands that she can’t break out of line at school to chase a lizard or twirl. She knows not to run in a parking lot and to look both ways before she crosses the street. She knows to wear shorts under her skirts so no one can see “London” and that she can’t wear makeup to school and church. She even knows the only time her belly button should show in public is when she is wearing a bathing suit.
What she doesn’t know yet is that someday she may be too embarrassed to express herself “out loud” like she does now. She hasn’t spent time with “that” person. You know, the person who will try to convince her that her free and confident self-expression is inappropriate or wrong. The person who will introduce doubt and self-consciousness.
I pray that when faced with that person – that criticism – she is confident enough to stand strong and be herself. I refuse to silence her just because of what other people might think. I refuse to force her to wear what I think she should or tell her that she should only wear two braids, instead of six. I refuse to make her sit down when there’s no reason she can’t run. I refuse to squelch her spirit – just because it’s different than mine.
Sometimes it looks like she is dancing without music. She’s not. The music is in her heart. We can hear it if we just listen.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Grace Based Parenting
This devotional, entitled “freedom to be different.” was originally posted on Pragmatic Communion on February 19, 2008. It was inspired by the book, Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel and this little girl.
I wrote a few days ago that I was pondering my “Word” for 2011. The last few years, instead of creating a list of things I will fail to accomplish in the upcoming year, I’ve been selecting a WORD of the year and applying it (or attempting to apply it) to multiple aspects of my life. (click here to see my previous selections)
This year, the thought that continued to roll around in my mind was that I need to “step outside my comfort zone.”
that’s not a word. that is a phrase.
So I began the process of finding a word that best embodies the concept of stepping outside my comfort zone. The first word that came to mind was “push.” The idea was that I would push myself out of my comfort zone.
But for me, the word “push” implies that I’m resisting some force. For some reason, two photos came to my mind. They were taken on my wedding day. The groomsmen were having a little fun with my LastFiance. Check it out:
In the first photo, the groomsmen were trying to push him into the chapel and he’s resisting. That’s “push” to me. Forced against my will. The free online dictionary reads: “To apply pressure against for the purpose of moving and To move (an object) by exerting force against it; thrust or shove.”
Not what I’m going for.
Looking at the second photo, the word “reach” comes to mind. LastFiance is trying to get in the chapel while the groomsmen are trying to keep him out. He’s reaching for the door, but he’s got a firm hold. Not a lot of effort there.
Again, not what I’m going for. I can reach my coffee cup from my loveseat easily. But my loveseat is still pretty comfortable.
And then I thought about yoga. Somebody recently asked me if yoga was hard. Well. It depends. It’s possible to go to a yoga class and not experience any muscle soreness the next day. It’s possible to participate in a yoga class and not need to change clothes after.
Me? Most of the time, I need to change clothes after yoga. and shower. And I almost ALWAYS feel muscle soreness the next day. The difference is directly related to how much effort I put into it. My thought has always been that if I’m taking the time to exercise, I’m going to give it 110%. I’m THERE. I’m going to make the most of the time.
When I began yoga, I wondered if it would be enough for me. After three years of strength training two to three hours a week, I wondered if yoga would challenge me enough.
That’s a big YES.
So have you figured out my 2011 Word of the Year?
push. reach. STRETCH.
Still thinking and drafting my next blog post about how I want to STRETCH in different aspects of my life, so check back.
And you are officially invited to join me in adopting your own 2011 Word of the Year. Link up in a comment to your own post or just share your word and some thoughts in the comment itself.
I wonder if John Ortberg has a permanent indentation on the side of his head from where his wife smacks him.
I’m reading his book, “When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box” and as usual, he wrote something that produced an eye roll and a sigh:
“A small girl, probably two years old, was sitting behind me kicking her legs rhythmically into my seat. I started to get irritated. She was one of three small children traveling with their parents. Her six-month old brother was screaming. I wanted to ask the flight attendant if they could play outside.
Then the thought occurred to me: I’m reading a book on Christian heroism, about missionaries and martyrs, and I’m bitter because of a two-year-old. I turned to the mom, “You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that my wife and I had three children your kids’ ages. I remember how hard that was. If there’s anything my wife can do for you on this flight…” It will take some time for me to live on mission.” (emphasis added)
For the last few years, I’ve been selecting a “Word of the Year” – kind of a “theme of the year” instead of compiling a typical list of resolutions.
With just a few more days until January 1st, I’ve been pondering. I might have it, but I want to think about it a few more days.
Meanwhile, I invite you to join me. What word would sum up your focus – your goals – for the coming year and in what aspects of your life will you apply that focus?
In the next few days, I’ll be posting a final decision on my 2011 Word of the Year and maybe even an honest self-examination on how I did with my word this year (not so good, in my opinion).
(I originally posted this back in December of 2008, but I’ve made a revision since then. I used to float cloves in a coffee filter, sealed with a twist tie. Not very Martha of me, I know. But I’m reformed. Check out the photo below.)
When I was in high school and college, I sang at a few madrigal dinners. If you’re unfamiliar with madrigal dinners, here’s a sampling. (and no, I’m not in this video).
One thing was a constant in every madrigal dinner – Wassail. It’s a kind of warm cider drink my choral director would make every year. I’ve made it on Christmas Eve for years. It’s a family favorite and a longstanding tradition. It only takes about 5 minutes to prepare, but allow it to simmer for a couple of hours in the pot if you really want the flavors to blend together.
1/2 gallon apple juice
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups orange juice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 orange (optional)
Pour all juices in a pot or crockpot.
Float Cinnamon sticks in the pot.
Here’s the update:
Take an awl and poke holes in an orange in any pattern that strikes you. Then insert the stems of whole cloves in the holes. Float the cloved orange in the pot while simmering.
When it the smell starts to waft, you know it’s gonna be GOOD.
For a print friendly version CLICK HERE.
LOVE the new praise song this week! Glory in the Highest by Shane and Shane. That’s some freakishly high singing for a guy. Really love the harmony on the second verse, but it’s definitely a commitment. I either need to go for it or stay quiet – no middle ground.
(the song begins at the 1:40 mark)
(Thanks to Tina at MultipleMom for sharing this with me today.)
If you’ve got time to hang out for a few minutes, check out what else makes me laugh: Pragmatic Compendium’s “laugh!” category.
So, the festive Christmas lights FirstHusband zip tied to the entire length of the luggage rack of my van work GREAT.
The low beams on the headlights, however, do not work at all. If I can’t get them fixed tomorrow, I either don’t drive at night or annoy everyone by driving with the high beams on.
Or I could duck tape Maglites to the front of the van and just go Christmas shopping.
PinkGirl: “It’s not FAIR!”
Me: “I know honey, I’m sorry.”
FavoriteSon: “She wants you to turn off your seat warmer because she doesn’t have one.”
Me: “oh, honey, I’m sorry. That’s really not gonna happen.”
PinkGirl: “MO – OM!”
I got hit by 15 spam followers today, so after reporting each and every one of them, I’ve protected my tweets for a few days in an effort to fall off the “spam radar.” When I make my tweets public again, I’ll blog it.
UPDATE: After 3 days of protected tweets, I opened my twitter page back up!
PinkGirl’s 4th grade class went on a field trip to St. Augustine today and I had to drive because she was in a charity performance for Toys for Tots tonight and she had to be at the theater earlier than the bus was returning.
I think I’m all set and then, last night around 6pm, one of the teachers sent out an email:
“If chaperones want to drive we can’t stop you; however it is a big problem in that the trolley tour that leaves from the Old Jail does not return there. It drops us off at the fort, and you will not be able to get back to your car.”
So I Googled St. Augustine and found a map From the fort to the Old Jail . . . it didn’t seem that far to me, but I didn’t know, so I emailed the teacher back:
“What are my options if I need to get PinkGirl back early? From your email, it sounds like driving my own vehicle would leave me stranded. I’ve never been to St. Augustine and it sounds like you know the ropes. Any suggestions?”
His reply, at 6:16 this MORNING:
“I am sure there are a few parents driving. Maybe you can catch a ride back to the jail or miss the trolley tour and just drive from the jail to the fort. Parking for the fort is at the welcome center across the street. Sorry, but there is no easy way that I know of.”
I’m thinking, they all sound like easy ways to me, unless you can’t WALK. I’m thinking all my treadmill time has prepared me for this. Little did I know.
So PinkGirl rides the cool bus with TVs to St. Augustine and I drive my van and park at the Old Jail with all the other parents who drove. We tour the Museum (GREAT tour guide) and the Old Jail. Here’s my facebook posts during the tour of the Old Jail:
“Trying to stand where the authoritarian tour guide tells us to stand. Got in trouble 3 times already.”
“Got in trouble with the cranky tourguide again. Now I’m standing as far back as I can to listen to the tour guide behind me. He’s funnier.”
oh. she was bossy. FirstHusband says I have a problem with authority. I say I just tend to ignore bossy people.
But here’s where it all started to go downhill fast. While we were in the Old Jail, it started raining. Did I mention it was COLD? I was wearing three layers and leather gloves. PinkGirl is wearing two layers and gloves, but she’s running around more. And then it started raining.
We had lunch on a small porch. All three 4th grade classes and a bunch of parents.
Then on to the trolley ride. So NOW we’re all in an open trolley, in the cold, in the rain and traveling at least 30 miles per hour.
By the time the tour was finished 45 minutes later, we were soaked and very, Very, VERY cold. And we had 45 minutes of “free time” until the tour of the fort. The mom I was hanging with was on a quest for coffee and I was right there with her. I hate shopping as it is and there was NO way I was going to shop while I was soaking wet.
After a latte for me and a hot chocolate for PinkGirl ($9.00), we walked to the fort and stood around waiting for that tour to begin. In the rain. I asked our tour guide about options to get back to our vehicles at the Old Jail and he quickly pointed out the trolley stop right in front of the fort. Supposedly, the trolley schedule was every 15 minutes.
So PinkGirl goes on the fort tour with her class in the care of my fellow coffee lovin mom and I walk over to the trolley stop with two other moms to wait. and wait. and wait.
Forget it. It’s RAINING and I’m freezing and if I’m going to be in the rain, I’m NOT going to stand still while I’m getting soaked. I’m at LEAST going to be moving toward my destination. We were decked out in some seriously attractive complementary rain ponchos from the trolley company, so my thought was that if we saw a trolley coming our way, we would look pitiful and step out into the middle of the street and flag… okay, maybe not. But the “look pitiful” part worked after we walked about a half a mile. Since the rain ponchos were covered in the trolley company logo, a BUS driver (NOT a trolley, but a WARM, ENCLOSED BUS) pulled to a stop right in the middle of the road and opened the door.
My favorite person of the day, and I don’t even know his name.
I get the van, drive it back to the fort and go looking for our group. They are on TOP of the fort, overlooking the water. And now it’s cold and raining and WINDY.
This is not my happy day.
PinkGirl, however is having a GREAT time. weirdo.
But the SECOND the tour is over, she says, “Mom, can we go now?
Oh, honey, you do NOT have to ask me twice. I have a vehicle and I’m not afraid to use it. We were outta there so fast! A quick pit stop at McDonalds and we were on the road. PinkGirl fell asleep within 20 minutes and stayed asleep till we got off the highway in our little hometown, about an hour and a half later.
My next facebook update:
“I dont know how PinkGirl is even still standing, much less performing in a show tonight. We had to be at school at 6:30 am, we spent most of the day freezing and soaking wet and she fell asleep in the van on the way home from St. Augustine. Her dad had to carry her into the house so she could change clothes for the show. She’s sleeping in tomorrow, I can feel it.”
“PinkGirl just got home from the show – she is TOTALLY wired. But when she crashes, it’s going to look like this. (at the 2:43 mark)”
If you’ve got time to hang out for a few minutes, check out what else makes me laugh: Pragmatic Compendium’s “laugh!” category.
“Is it possible you have been fleecing your divine moments rather than seizing them? That you’ve said to God, “I’m not doing anything, risking anything, or going anywhere until You give me a sign? Have you chosen to live in safety, comfort and convenience, justifying this lifestyle because God hasn’t called you to a different life? Is your justification for living a low-risk life the absence of a sign to live differently?”
Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment
by Erwin Raphael McManus
Lord, please help me to remember that striving to step out into a new ministry doesn’t mean I have to abandon my current work. I can use the time you’ve given me more efficiently, I can change what I do with my discretionary time, deciding against the pointless idleness that masquerades as rest and pursuing my passion instead.
Please help me to choose activities during rest that are truly restorative, not mind-numbing and time-sucking.
Please help me say no to the lesser things to make room for the greater things, even when those lesser things seem “good.” Please help me to be a better steward of my time and resources.
Please help me to make wise financial decisions so I can use the revenue from my current work to support my ministry. Lord please illuminate my next step as I navigate the unknown future. Please prompt me to TAKE a step instead of letting my feet grow roots from indecision and fear.
Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the LORD has given them into our hands.”
1 Samuel 14:8-10(NIV)
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
What can stand against?
by Chris Tomlin
This was dual published on my Pragmatic Communion blog.
One of FavoriteSon’s most enjoyable pastimes is making jokes about my age.
One of my most enjoyable pastimes is making fun of the bare patches in his wannabe beard.
Me, talking about a new prescription cream for my face: “Supposedly, it will make me look more youthful.”
FavoriteSon: “Good luck with that.”
Me: “Handlebar or Groucho?”
Me: “What kind of Sharpie mustache do you want to see when you look in the mirror tomorrow morning, handlebar or Groucho?”
FavoriteSon: “Just fill it in right here” (motioning the middle of his upper lip)
Me: “No hitlers.”
FavoriteSon: “It’s not a hitler! It’s just filling in between what’s already there.”
Me: “You don’t have anything already there.”
Somebody Googled this today and landed on my blog:
“meaning of winston churchill it’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.”
Really? “MEANING OF?”
It means “wishin don’t make it so, sometimes you have to get it DONE.”
Anybody else have an interpretation?
This is one thing that came to mind:
We’re long time Disney freaks and I adopted this idea YEARS ago after seeing it at Walt Disney World.
I LOVE me a Disney Christmas and I’m REALLY missing Candlelight this year! But it wouldn’t be frugal. Best time EVER? Front row, smack in line with the sign language interpreter. My FAVORITE narrator is Marlee Matlin.
AFTER getting all my Christmas mugs DOWN from the attic. I do NOT stop drinking coffee in December!
We just don’t have room in the cabinet for all of them at the same time, so I switch them out. (I know I have two Cupids in the picture, Vixen was already in use.)
For over a week, we left the key in the ignition in our van. Intentionally.
It had been touchy to insert it for a few weeks, but FavoriteSon and I had finessed the process. Then, on our trip to Georgia last week, FirstHusband, having no idea about the problem (oops), was a little more forceful with it and the next time we tried to get the key in the ignition, it took a few minutes. Since we were in Georgia and didn’t want to get STUCK in Georgia, we left a key in the ignition, covered it with a jacket and locked the van with another key. We wrapped a ponytail holder around it to remind us not to remove it.
Since I had to work on client site Tuesday and did NOT want to try and park FirstHusband’s Ford F250 in Downtown Orlando, I scheduled the repair for Wednesday morning. For the most part, I would say I’m really pleased with Courtesy Honda in Sanford, but when I went to pick up the van, I was . . . a little insubordinate.
Service Rep: “I want you to take a look at that leaking pressure hose.”
Me: “I’d really rather not.”
Service Rep: “You really need to see it.”
Me: “Not really. I’m not a mechanic, that’s why I outsource my car repair.”
(See, this is why I’m in business for myself. If I worked for someone else, I would be fired for insubordination within about a minute and a half. FirstHusband says I have a problem with authority. I say I tend to ignore bossy people.)
He just wanted me to look at a wet hose, which he said he could fix for $570. Half hour later, our favorite mechanics at Oviedo’s Automech quoted $359. (Automech told me to have the dealer do the ignition repair because of its integration with the alarm sytem)
I’m not any good at repairing a leaking power steering pressure hose. I’m better at finding someone competent who can do it at the best price.
PinkGirl: “Mom, I don’t think I’m going to want any more gum.”
Me: “Why not?”
ewwwwww. a roach. Was it death by bubble gum? Or did he just get trapped in the container and starve to death?
And does PinkGirl throw it out? of course not.
Once again the lyrics of “I’m a Mom” come into play: “I’m a mediator, exterminator . . . “
Is it a coincident that my pest control guy called TODAY to set up an appointment for our annual service?
(I looked, but there just wasn’t an applicable post tag for this one.)
We hang jinglebells along the stairwell for easy whacking as we go up and down. Not surprisingly, PinkGirl does the most whacking. Sounds of the season.
We had some for the front door knob, but they broke. This post may have prompted their replacement this year.