Thursday, May 18, 2017

Begging Others For Scraps of Love

Jim and I were blessed to live in one place for 15 years.

And I know people say we aren't supposed to use the word "blessed" anymore...because they think it makes it sound like we are better than other people...or like God is blessing us more than other people who maybe DIDN'T get to live in one place for 15 years. I get it. But it was a blessing. Just like having to move away from that place...to a new place...where our two younger kids had to go to a new school, find new friends, etc. That was also a blessing. It was just a different kind of blessing.

I think the problem comes when we associate the word "blessing" with only what we perceive to be the "good" things in life.

After growing up as an Air Force brat, and moving 16 times before I graduated high school, I thought it was a blessing to live in one place for that long.

ANYWAY, that was a rabbit.

Four years after we married, we made our first move. We left our small college town, and moved to the big city of Little Rock, Arkansas. It was there that we started our family. Even tho we were only there for 5 years, God allowed us to make some precious, precious friendships...friends we still have to this day. Making friends back then was easy, because we had the common bonds of faith, family, and all things involved with having kids and trying to figure out how to raise them to love Jesus.

These days, we are most likely to see these friends at weddings...or funerals...and when we do, we pick up where we left off. We are concerned for one another, and interested in each others' lives. We pray for each other, and for our children...and we have each others' backs.

After 5 years, we moved again...and, not gonna lie...it was a long 2 years in that place. But even there...God provided friendships, and opportunities to connect with others.

And then we moved to the place we lived for 15 years. My older kids would call this their "home town."

But, after 15 years, we had to move again. My first priority, as a mom, was to make sure that my two younger children were okay. They started new schools, and we found a new church. Honestly, this new town really embraced us, and that was so nice. I made some really sweet friendships during our time there. Our 3rd child graduated from high school there...and he met the girl who would be his wife there...and that was a huge blessing for all of us.

Five years later, we had to move...again.

(sigh)

During the last two moves, the hardest part, for me, was finding my people...making new friends.

So here's some of what I've learned. I hope I can articulate it in the right way: you can't move on with new friendships, if you are comparing them to your friendships from the past.

Does that make sense?

The friends we made when we lived in our "home"town of 15 years? Those roots grew deep. So, when we moved, and when we moved again the time after that, I was looking for these types of friends.

And I never found them.

Why?

Well, one reason is because we are in a different stage of life.

We no longer have the bond of AWANA and Children's Choir and Mother's Day Out and sports programs and school.

Also, I am not out in the work-place. I am home with Joshua. I spend my days teaching life-skills and answering some of the same questions as the day before...talking a lot about the weather, and running him around to his various activities.

And I am happy to do it.

It just that my life kind of isolates me from people my own age, and I have to work harder to make and find those connections. Most of the people we know who are around our age, are free to hang out and go at a moment's notice. We cannot. Our situation is different and unique, because we have a FRED. Not complaining at all. It's just different.

When we first moved here, someone at church told us, "people say it takes about 7 years to feel a part of things here."

SEVEN YEARS?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

We might not even be living here in 7 years.

I might be dead in 7 years.

Actually, I have just a little over 2 years until I am the age my mom was when she died. Every birthday, Joshua tells me, "uhhh...only 5 more years until you're the age when Nammaw died..." The next year: "only 4 more years until you're the age when Nammaw died..."

Precious, amiright?

So, I was a little bit frustrated at the hoops I thought I had to jump through...in order to make friends here. And, on top of that, it was going to take SEVEN YEARS?

One of the main reasons for my frustration came when I tried to force or create friendships myself.

As the "new" person, it's hard to know what to do. I feel like the "established" people, the "home crowd," so to speak...should be the ones reaching out to the "new" people. They should be inviting them, connecting with them, connecting them to others, checking on them. The new people bear some responsibility...they have to want to engage, and they have to make an effort.

But they should not have to make ALL the effort.

So, instead of thinking God might have me in this season for a reason...I decided to take matters into my own hands. I tried to befriend the ones I felt I had the most in common with, like...if our kids were the same age, or if we had similar personalities, or if we were around the same age/stage in life, or if I thought they were "fun" people.

And, guess what?

It didn't work.

And I was left wondering, "is it me?"

God was bringing people into my life...don't get me wrong. But it wasn't the people I had been looking for. It was older people, younger people, very different-from-me people...people in need. Not really the meet-for-coffee, go-to-lunch, walk-the-neighborhood, share and laugh and cry and pray friends I was looking for.

What the heck, God?

It's tough to feel like you're not enough. Not good enough, pretty enough, confident enough, well-spoken enough, connected enough, popular enough...EVEN IN THE CHURCH COMMUNITY.

What are we, in high school?

But this is the game that satan plays with our minds...even as Christians: "They don't like you...you'll never fit in...they are probably talking about you."

And, even tho I knew better, and I know better, I still allowed those thoughts to creep in...and they affected the way I saw myself. And the way I saw others.

The Bible has PLENTY to say about our worth and our role IN CHRIST, and it is the first place we should always turn. But, when I read the book, "UNINVITED" by Lysa Terkhurst...these words of hers washed over my heart: "live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won't find yourself begging others for scraps of love."

"...begging others for scraps of love..."

Once I stopped trying to do things MY WAY, I was able to see that the people God was bringing into my life? They were there for a reason. Some were meant to be friends, and they are my friends. Others were meant to encourage me, or challenge me. Others need me to minister to them in one way or another.

If you are in a season like this, I would suggest that you do your part to stay involved and connected. Pray and seek God, and just see where He takes you.

You are loved. Jesus loves you. Your family loves you. You have friends who love you. Why isn't that enough?

It IS enough.

You don't have to beg others for scraps of love.

"But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." Romans 5:8

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Choir Practice and Dancing With the Stars

We've had a good week so far. I mean, as I'm writing this...it's just Wednesday.

I love Wednesdays. It's the half-way time during the week...so, if you have plans for the weekend that you're excited about, Wednesday gets you that much closer to them. If you're having a bad week, it's kind of like a re-set day. And, if you're having a good week, well, then Wednesday is WednesYAY.

Plus, I have choir practice tonight...WHICH I LOVE.

I don't have a great voice. I used to have an "okay" voice. My Mom was very musical and she was very involved in the music programs at all the churches we attended growing up. But I had some surgery about 7 years ago, and something happened...I don't know...but now my voice is on the struggle bus.

But I still love music and I love to sing.

God bless the people who stand near me. :)

I also love the feeling of community I get in choir practice. So, YAY for Wednesdays!

This is Joshua's last week of Therapeutic Recreation for this semester. The summer program starts at the beginning of June, so they will have a break for the next few weeks. This break is designed to let the STAFF refresh and reboot and re-energize for the summer program. It is also the time I will be asked 27 times each day, "how much longer until the summer program?"

Yesterday, Joshua's group stayed at the Center all day. They have a big art festival coming up this weekend, so they are busy preparing for that. Jim picked him up on his way home from work. Joshua said, "Well, Jenni wanted to go outside." They have a little patio area where they have their garden...and there's a covered patio area, and some picnic tables. It's nice. But, Jenni saying, "let's go outside," is CODE for: "let's find a quiet place to smooch."

So, they asked one of the leaders if they could go outside, and he said, "yes...but take someone with you."

They did...but apparently, the one they took was not a good chaperone, because Joshua said, "Jenni got romantic."

I said, "oh, she DID?" He said, "well, we BOTH did."

He said, "Jenni wanted to dance, so she put on some country music. We danced like Dancing With the Stars...except I did NOT pick her up!"


Friday, May 5, 2017

Self-Talking And Eye-Rolling

I was watching from a window inside our house: Joshua...walking around and around and around our pool, talking to himself. His head was nodding for emphasis, and his arms and hands were moving at different points...just trying to reinforce what he was trying to say. 

This is not a new thing with Joshua. He's done it as long as I can remember. Many times during the day, I can hear him upstairs...a low rumble or murmur, as he talks. To himself.

A couple of times, I've gone up there and peeked around the corner. I've been able to watch him without him knowing. It's like he's rehearsing a sermon or something.

Most of Joshua's FRIENDS, the ones who have Down Syndrome, do this self-talking thing, too.

On this day, I had asked Joshua take HIS DOG outside for a while, and play with her. It was sunny and warm. It wasn't like I sent him out there in the rain...but you would've thought I had. Oh, he didn't SAY anything to me...he knew better. But I saw him roll his eyes.

Yep. You read that right. My sweet and loving Downsy man ROLLED HIS LITTLE SASSY EYES AT ME.

From a NADS (National Association of Down Syndrome) article entitled, "If People With Down Syndrome Ruled The World: People engaged in self talk would be considered thoughtful and creative. Self talk rooms would be reserved in offices and libraries to encourage this practice. 

People with Down Syndrome have a reputation for 'talking to themselves.' 

When conducted in a private space, self talk serves many adaptive purposes.


It is a wonderful means to ponder ideas and to think out loud. It allows people to review events that occurred in the course of their day. It allows people to solve problems by talking themselves through tasks. It allows them to plan for future situations. It is also helpful in allowing people to express feelings and frustrations, particularly if they have difficulty expressing their feelings to others." 

It also helps when you are mad at your dog for disrupting your routine. 

"Do everything without complaining..." Philippians 2:14

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Bad Weather, Re-Runs, And Easter Undies

I feel like I've kind of gotten out of the beat of the rhythm of the night with my blog. I still love it so much, but I definitely use Instagram more. I think because it requires less thought, and I'm old.

The End.

Thank you for reading.

We've had a good week here. We had all 4 kids here...plus the two add-ons (what Joshua calls his brother-in-law and sister-in-law) and baby Rhodie...on Friday night, and it.was.wonderful.

(sigh)

Just didn't last long enough, but upside: I didn't bawl like a baby when they left.

Go figure.

We had terrible weather here on Saturday. My husband works for a large utility company in our state...so he was called in to work on Sunday. He stayed in town long enough to teach in our small group at church (thank goodness, because Momma had not even LOOKED at the lesson!)...and then he headed out.

Jim ended up coming home early on Monday afternoon, and it was great! He and Joshua went to the gym, and they brought home Subway for dinner.

Joshua loves left-overs (he calls them re-runs). If I cook at home, he is excited to have "re-runs" for his lunch the next day. I call him "Grandma Ellen," because my grandmother would start talking about her next meal...while she was eating her current meal. Ha.

If we eat "out," or bring home carry-out, Joshua will eat exactly half of what is on his plate...and save the rest for his lunch the next day.

So, on Monday night, we had Subway. Joshua and Jim split a foot-long sandwich. Joshua carefully cut his 6" piece IN HALF, and set it aside. Then, he ate the other 3" piece. He was so excited to take that sandwich to Therapeutic Recreation on Tuesday!

When I picked him up from TR, I walked in like I always do...and walked down the hall. I heard one of the FRIENDS call out, "MOM ALERT!" I didn't think it was a warning, but when I got to the big room, the director said, "You can't be in here!" Turns out, they were making Mother's Day crafts!

Oopsie!

I did get a cute picture of Joshua and Jenni-the-girlfriend, tho. They were having a good day.

After we got back to town, we hung out with Holly and the baby for a while...and then Joshua and I went to have an early dinner. After dinner, we ran to our local Wal-Marks to pick up a few things.

While we were in the check-out line, Joshua whispered something to me, and grinned. I said, "excuse me?" because I didn't hear what he said.

He smile, and whispered louder, "I'M WEARING MY EASTER UNDIES...and they are very comfy!"

"He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from His storehouses." Psalm 137:7

Sunday, April 23, 2017

When Your Plans Don't Turn Out

[My parents, as we were growing up] "When y'all get married and have kids of your own, don't expect us to drop everything, and babysit them all the time. We are going to travel...we are going to see the world." 

Plans. 

Good to have in many cases. Maybe even in most cases. 

But I think it's best to hold our plans loosely...very loosely. 

Because things in my life, have rarely gone according to plan. "My" plan, that is. 

After all, I planned on going to Italy...but ended up in Holland. 

My Dad was raised by parents who thought kids were to be seen and not heard. They thought kids should be clean, neat, and proper, and never act unruly. And their feelings of pride at being grandparents seemed to be based on our behavior and accomplishments. 

I'm not knocking them...it was all they knew. And so it was what my Dad knew, and what he lived. And, as a result, he learned to be...better.

Even tho he was way more invested in our family than the example that was set for him...it was still very different from the way Jim and I have raised our children (please bring me all the grandchildren...STAT). 

That may be part of it, tho...ya think? That we take and learn from the generations before...and then we decide what we want to keep for ourselves, and what we want to let go. 

However we were raised, my Dad and I, we both came to see our need for Jesus...and that's really everything, amiright? 

So, as each of my siblings and I came of age, and left home for college...my parents saw the world opening up to them more and more. They had plans...big plans. They were gonna work a little longer, and then they were going to spend the rest of their days having fun and enjoying life. Oh, they would come see all of us, but we wouldn't be their main destination. They loved us, but they made sure we knew that they were about to have THEIR time. 

But, ya know, God's ways are not our ways...and one day, suddenly and unexpectedly, my Mom just...died. 

And all of those big plans she and my Dad had...they died, too. 

I'm just saying. It's good to work and plan for your (earthly) future...but if you don't embrace the days, each day, and the good things God provides along the way, and the people He gives you to share your life...if you are only living for the "some days..." like, when you graduate, or when you move, or when you get that job, or when you get married, or when you have a child, or when they finally start school, or when they leave home...if you aren't willing to trust God NO MATTER WHAT...what happens if your dreamy future doesn't pan out? How are you going to react? 

This is what I mean by holding our plans loosely. 

Because my Dad? Just when he thought he might have a second chance at that life, with the new love God had provided for him, he had a heart attack, and that seemed to be the beginning of his health issues. 

My Dad's plans for a healthy and active life? Well, he has Parkinson's. 

Like the rest of us, his days were laid out before the foundation of the world. He may outlive us all! But I think he knows that he's not going to get any better...and he accepts it, which is good. Then again, he's always been the most content, most faithful person I've ever known. 

Just last year, he told me, "It's unrealistic to think that I will live the rest of my days with good health..." And, "this is really the only adversity I've had in my life." And, "God has blessed me my whole life. I have no reason to think He will stop now." 

I am thankful for a God who brings us new mercies each morning. I find comfort in knowing that, while my Dad hoped for a different path, he really has embraced all of his days. Ministry takes many forms, and because we are all different...it may look different, even in a marriage. But it has the same goal: care and connection and leading others to Christ. 

My Dad has ministered and served others his whole life...in the places God put him, and with the family God gave him. He, in his quiet, behind-the-scenes way...and my Mom in her large, in charge, and out-in-front way. 

I have peace knowing that my Dad's eternal future is secure...because on a day long ago, he placed his life and his hope in Jesus Christ, and HE is the one who has walked with him through all of the ups and downs of life...and He carries him even now. 

"...Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity..." (Job 2:10)