Archives for posts with tag: friends

Why stop now? People seem to like this format. Since my blog as of late has turned into a diary of sorts with which I confess the most selfish parts of me, let’s rip off another band-aid, shall we?

I’ve set out to really work on changing something about my character. It’s a fundamental flaw of mine – something so deeply embedded into my way of thinking that I only realize I’m doing it every once in a while. Maybe you struggle with this, as well, even if just in your subconsciousness. Here it is: I, for most of my life, only begrudgingly celebrate the successes of others. Sometimes I have a hard time even acknowledging when someone I know and/or love does something great. The center of this problem is my struggle with pride, which you can read about here.

Why do I do this? Honestly, I think the reason is that I misguidedly believe that if I acknowledge or celebrate the success or talent of someone else, it somehow diminishes my own talent or success. Which is ridiculous. But, for me, it really sometimes feels like admitting defeat if someone else’s garden is producing more fruit than mine. Or a friend’s photography or craft or baking business is really taking off and those things are really still just hobbies for me. Or – get this – someone I love and/or admire offers me insightful, intelligent, spiritual advice that I hadn’t come to on my own. Those are all real life examples of things I’ve not wanted to celebrate in other people because I have this problem where I think I need to be better. Man, that hurts me to say out loud.

The reason this is heartbreaking is because, often, what I’m really rejecting is a God-given gift, ability, or trait that someone is choosing to use for His glory! How could my response be anything but celebratory? Does it somehow make me MORE successful or talented to ignore the achievements of others? Of course not! And I really, really want my love for Christ and for others to be so great that a win for my friends really feels like a win for me, too. I want my people to know that I’m rooting for them and I really want to be a source of encouragement for people who are using their gifts!

I will say, there are some gifts people have that I have no problem giving a Standing O for. Singing is one of them. I am NOT a good singer. Not at all. I try and I dream and I pray for an angelic voice but, well, that request remains a prayer list staple… My sister is an incredibly talented singer. Since I know I’m not competitive in the singing race, it’s easy for me to give her praise and not feel a pang of jealousy. She’s better than me and that’s all there is to it. In fact, I cry happy tears when she sings because her talent is so wrapped up in the heart of God that I can hear him through her voice. Sometimes awesome graffiti makes me cry. Sometimes it’s a youtube video of a world class ballerina or a street drummer in New York. I can’t do any of those things well and they are using their gifts so beautifully that I am awestruck and grateful to the God who made them and gave them such talent.

But from now on, I want to be someone who applauds my “competition” instead of toeing the line with jealousy at their achievement. That said, I’m going to start calling out my friends and family for the things they do that are grand, be it a delishly prepared apple pie or the gentlest, most thoughtful encouragement, or a blow-my-mind expert parenting move. I want to celebrate you people because you are worth celebrating. You are inspiring and smart and beautiful and all kinds of talented. Thank you for embracing your gifts and sharing them with me!

Not my grandma.

Not my grandma.

Sorry to anyone who clicked on this to read an actual list, hoping you could maybe get a clue as to where exactly it started going south during your conversation with a former friend who happens to match that exact description. That’s a weird coincidence.

But have you seen these types of lists circulating? I’ve seen a ton. There is one for every group and sub-group of human being, from “pet owners” to “teachers” to “women who had a C-section.” I was seeing so many people post these that it started making me nervous to have a conversation with anyone who had any type of life experience for fear that I’d accidentally offend them.  I’d read through the lists and discover comments of two varieties: Genuine but mis-communicated concern OR evidence of plain ‘ole self-absorption (projecting personal or preconceived feelings or reflections onto the receiver of their comment). Even so, I kept thinking to myself, “Are people really getting all worked up over something like this?”. Not having ever been a teacher, C-section mom, and just barely a new pet owner (hey, Frankie!), I just took it on good faith that these were legitimately insensitive words. One day I saw someone post about 5 Things You Should Never Say To A New Mom. Finally! I have been a new mom, so I followed the link, prepared to be super angry at what calloused things some heartless goon would let pass their lips onto the delicate ears of a new mother like me. And then nothing happened.

Not my daughter.

Not my daughter.

I get how, “Are you breastfeeding?” could be too personal a thing to bring up, but one of the things on the list was, “Are you loving it?” Really? I’m sorry, but if someone asking if you are enjoying being a new parent makes you steam, then maybe you need to take a breather. Maybe the commentor can’t remember how hard this phase is or maybe the commentor has never actually been in this phase. And I’ll be the first to echo every mom out there trying to make the rest of the world understand exactly how insane parenting makes us (this blogger’s description of her “day” SO resonated with me!). However, after reading a list that I could identify with, my initial hunch was confirmed (at least in my own head) that maybe instead of presuming that all of our so-called friends are deep-down-mean, we’re sometimes just a little too easily offended.

Not being easily offended could be something you have to work on. Like the other attributes of love as described in 1 Corinthians 13, not being easily angered or irritated may not come naturally. I have to work like CRAZY on being patient and not being proud. Those are mine. But don’t let a well-intentioned comment mess with your head.

There is a flip-side. I’m definitely not advocating that there is no need to pay careful attention to your words; I’m not saying that being offended is always the fault of the person who got their feelings hurt. Two – no, make that three – instances are coming  to mind of times where I said something really insensitive and stupid. Cringe-worthy, in fact. Thankfully, the people on the receiving end of those thoughtless remarks were proficient at grace and forgiveness. Being on the goon-side of insensitive comments helped me overlook an instance when, in my third trimester, a relative told me that I “didn’t really look pregnant, just bigger all over”. Who knows why she said that! Ha, I mean, really. I think we could all probably agree you don’t say that to a pregnant woman. Be that as it may, the comment caught me off-guard, but it didn’t offend me because I know she loves me and her comment was certainly not meant to be an attack on my self-esteem. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I tend to assume that most people are generally well-meaning. Or maybe I should just say that I’m not looking for reasons to be mad or resentful toward the people I interact with. Because, for real, mad and resentful is no way to live.

I look pregnant to me...

I look pregnant to me…

Ok, here are some math jokes to win back your excitable, one-legged, former math teacher friend. Good luck.

New Year's baby Cortland and Aunt Shelly.

New Year’s baby Cortland and Aunt Shelly.

I am a mediocre resolution-maker, but hear this: Not because I’m a bum. One of the things I’m actually quite good at is setting a goal and achieving it. It’s an obsessive quality I have, so it’s not always helpful or healthy. Anyway, the point is that setting a New Year’s resolution doesn’t really make me any more or less inclined to reach a goal. I got 99 problems, but following through ain’t one.

Always appearing on my goals list are the following: Know God more, live more like Christ, read my Bible more, lose weight. So generic, I know. I got to thinking about the lose weight one because, for the first time in forever, it’s not appearing on my list. I started thinking about how I got here – at a place where I don’t want to weigh any less. It happened when I wasn’t obsessing about losing weight. I wasn’t counting calories or working out twice a day. I wasn’t adhering to any fad diet, but my eating habits over the last 3 months looks waaaay different than ever before in my life. Thanks to the wonky thyroid thing I’ve mentioned briefly on here, my definition of healthy eating has only a little to do with calories (to bring you up to speed, I’m trying to use diet changes to naturally stabilize my hypothyroidism and hopefully avoid medication). In short, after doing lots of reading and research, I surmised my best bets were to eliminate soy and wheat (and, thus, every snack, dessert, and good thing); and to add lots more fish and coconut oil.

I’m not here to talk about diet. I want to talk about the God goals. They’re always on my list and, until I’m in glory, they always will be. But I want to go about these goals unlike I have before – do things drastically different. Kind of like with my former “lose weight” goal; it wasn’t until I redefined healthy eating that I got to where I wanted to be. Of course I need to be in the Word. Of course I need to be in communion with Christ. Of course I need to be obedient to my Father. And what does that look like for me? Well, it involves more specificity and action than my generically stated goals allow for.

Know God more: How about, “Seek out people who are very unlike myself in upbringing, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, race, etc.. Develop real friendships with them. Talk about things that matter. Let our differences challenge me. Be firm, and still tender, and be patient.” Now that’s a goal that will inevitably show me more about God, His creativity, His pursuit of us, and lessons I will never have seen coming.

Live more like Christ: How about, “Resolve the tension you know you have in some of your relationships. Think outside of yourself more so that you can be a better friend. Ask for help when you need it and become a person that people seek out to ask for prayer.”

Read my Bible more: How about, “Day and night, the Word should always be on your lips. Teach it to your children. May Scripture be woven through the thoughts that circle in my mind and may my tongue speak it often in conversation.”

So, new game plan. Know God, live Christ, and read your Bible are all great goals – don’t think your list is lame if you have those. I just need a little more narrative to get me going. I hope you reach your goals for 2014 and, if you need prayer, I’m your girl!

Reb's here!

Reb’s here!

Reb came all the way from Denver to brighten our day. And help me get ready to leave town. She went right to work wrapping presents and playing with my kids. I have wonderful friends.

And, guess what, Mom? Surprise! We’re coming a day early! Note to burglars: We live in Delaware and have nothing of value. We also have a vicious guard dog named Bully. One of those things is a lie, but I’d hate for you to lose an appendage finding out which one.

Baby Wrestling

Harper announcing the contenders.

Harper announcing the contenders.

Ms. Kristee explaining the rules of the match.

Ms. Kristee explaining the rules of the match.

Someone is enjoying this more than the other.

Someone is enjoying this more than the other.

The knockout

The knockout.

Don’t worry, they’re still friends. He totally let her win. Everett is a gentleman like that. We are one lucky bunch to have friends like Jody, Kristee and Rett within walking distance of our home! Life as a stay-at-home mom sure got more fun when they moved into the neighborhood and started meeting us for park/walks/play dates during the day!

One other picture. The activity for our Advent theme tonight was a voice-guided, blindfolded obstacle course.

Cheating? I think so...

Cheating? I think so…

Whew. Losing steam apparently with photo-a-day! The entries are getting progressively more lazy or late!

Telling secrets?

Telling secrets?

At any rate, you should know that the subject matter of today’s entry is no representation of my waning adherence to the photo project. This afternoon, Cortland and I were able to join Harper at The Hayes School of Wonder, which is the preschool she attends twice a week. It was their Christmas party and it was a blast. Harper ADORES preschool (understatement of the year). Of course she’s learning a lot, but I am always excited to hear her love stories about her school friends. There’s Reagan, who Harper told me was her best friend on Day 1. As the story goes, according to Harper, Reagan is the one who first informed her of this arrangement. For the first two months of school, Harper called her friend Hudson “Husband” – the words just got mixed up in her head and it was hilarious. I’m actually a little sad she figured it out and stopped. Riley must be the class sweetheart because Harper talks a lot about how everyone is always giving him hugs. Harper says “Little Lizzie” is very quiet (she calls her “Little Lizzie” in every reference of the poor girl – in H’s defense, she is rather petite).  Kailee Grace likes a lot of the same foods and Harper apparently tries trading items with her (read: Harper tries to pawn off her ants-on-a-log for more cheese).

Can you guess who is who (Riley not pictured)?

Can you guess who is who? (Riley not pictured)

Mrs. Marissa. Harper’s teacher. Who, as far as Harper is concerned, hung the moon. We are really thankful for Mrs. Marissa who has shown SO much love, patience, and insight for not only teaching Harper, but all the other small fries in her class. HSW is the best!

Harper and her favorite

Harper and her favorite

Happy Birthday Harper

Nanny, Harper, and Grandad

Happy Birthday, Mom! Every day that goes by, I understand more and more how fortunate I am to have you as my mother. It wasn’t easy or typical how we came to be – not like most stories – but through intentional living, you and I have built a relationship that’s solid, deep and always growing. Thank you for being an example of generosity, creativity, and genuine concern for others. Thank you for making a big deal out of things – holidays, birthdays, people. You help make things special and memorable; you mark otherwise ordinary things, places, or days throughout the years using enthusiasm and extravagance. How boring our family gatherings would be if we didn’t have your knack for festivities! It’s no small thing, Mom, and I appreciate the effort (and sometimes hard work) you put into making a big deal out of us.

You open up your house for any and every one. You give gifts to friends and neighbors just because. You pray for people you know well or not at all. You and Dad led your kids to know God in a real and healthy way; there’s no greater thing you could have done for us than that. You are a good woman, a good mom, and now look how good you are at being a Nanny! Harper is one lucky girl to be the recipient of such love; you should know she’s as obsessed with you as you are with her!

So Happy Birthday, Mom! You are surrounded by friends and family who think you’re the best! We love you!