Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

I hugged my sons a lot this weekend.  More than usual.


I told my sons I loved them a lot this weekend.  More than usual.


My sons are sleeping soundly in their beds and my heart aches for the families that are grieving for the children not sleeping soundly in their beds tonight.


Let there be a light for the families to guide them through the darkness.


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No, I’m not wicked (or at least I try not to be).  No one threw a bucket of water on me to make me melt.  I just feel like I’ve been melting the past few days.  I caught something from one of the students in my class.  That wiped me out for the weekend.  Homework for the boys is getting heavier (a good thing, just a time management thing).  Work is sort of settling into the new semester, but there are always new technological challenges to face.  And comparatively speaking, while there was great sadness for me today, I know there are others feeling this sadness even more strongly at this moment.  My heart and prayers go out to them tonight.

There are families in this world that have experienced divorce.  My husband’s family has had a few divorces.  The interesting thing is that the family never exiled the ex.  The ex-daughter-in-law, the ex-sister-in-law were still daughters and sisters.  There is divorce in my family’s history too.  I’m still the daughter, still the sister.  That’s as it should be.  Other relationships don’t have to end because two people can’t live together or remain married.

I’m glad that today I could be there, in whatever small capacity it was, to lend love and support when these special people from my life needed it.  So while I have been feeling like I’m melting, today’s events reminded me that I’m not.  I’m loved.  And blessed with family in so many ways and from so many unexpected places.

When my sons are older, I’ll explain the whole history behind this other part of the family.  For now they know the most important part-more people who love them.



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I was watching Little House on the Prairie on TBS when the footage of the Twin Towers cut into the broadcast.  I went downstairs and told Hubby that a plane had crashed into one of the towers.  He looked at me as if I was sleepwalking because I sometimes do.  He followed me upstairs and I flipped through different channels showing him.  I then wondered where my sister was since she worked at Central Park giving eco-tours at the time and commuted there from her apartment in Brooklyn.  I called my mom and she had heard from my sister who was unharmed and walking back to Brooklyn with the masses.
As the plane flew into the second tower I felt as if a character in a surrealist’s play.  When the towers came down I cried and flashed on memories of being in the observation deck, of thinking that any children I might ever have would only know of these through pictures, of the horror of it all.  Very egocentric thoughts, but I guess those were my way of shielding myself.  I tried to erase the images of the people who jumped, of the buildings crashing down.
Today it still haunts me.  A friend decided to buy a cd that morning so he is still alive today.  A friend from church had a meeting rescheduled at the last minute so he is still alive.  My sister’s life changed after that day.  It was such a beautiful day that say she left her windows open for the breeze.  Her apartment had a great view of the Twin Towers and the wind was blowing toward Brooklyn that day.  When she finally got home after walking with only her shirt over her mouth and nose, it was to an apartment filled with ash and dust.  She has been told she has 9/11 cough.  I am thankful she is alive, that she wasn’t on the subway at the wrong time on her way to work, but still her life will never be the same.

I think that day should always haunt us.  I think it should always remind us to stand strong together.  I wish the streets were still lined with US flags as they were immediately after that day.  I think we need to continue to work to understand all the people in our world to find peaceful resolutions to conflicts.  I think we need to remember we are strong, but can be vulnerable.

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I am fortunate to have actual Mr. Holland moments through my work and my pirates always make me proud.  I do enjoy watching their growth and discoveries.  If I have even the tiniest bit to do with their successes, it makes me smile, a smile that goes all the way through my soul.

Still I came to realize that my opus needed to be told that they are my opus.  I sat down with each of my sons and told them that they are my opus.  They are the greatest part of my life.  I explained to them, explicitly, that my priorities go as follows:

My relationship with God.

My relationship with my hubby.

My relationship with my sons.

…my family.

…my friends.

…my job.

…my hobbies.

Granted, my job may read this (not my immediate boss, but the concept of employer) and think, why her priorities are not in the right order.

But they are.  If my relationship is not right with God, if I don’t maintain that one, I’m of little to no use to anyone else.   Particularly, I’m of little to no use to my hubby or sons.  Hubby and I have a type of short hand that we can use with each other, but we also know how important it is to nurture our relationship.  And even if all we get is 15 minutes to hold a conversation, because we share a brain, we are able to cover a lot of ground.  This was a banner month-two date nights in one month!

But I remembered that my sons are still young.  They won’t be for long, but at this moment I remembered, or realized, I needed to be EXPLICIT with them.  There are two lullabies I sing to them.  One I made up and the other is “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon.  Mr. Holland (played beautifully by Richard “I did Jaws, I don’t need this” Dreyfuss)  sang this song to his son in the movie.  So I related the idea of the the boys’ importance in my life to the movie.  I told them they are my opus, the most wonderful piece of my life, my efforts,  my dreams and hopes.

While I am not perfect and never will be, I told them that everything I do and say and show to them is to help them when I’m not with them.  To help them make good choices and to know they are loved.  I said if we were independently wealthy, I would be at home waiting for them when they got home from school.  I also pointed out how lucky they are to come to their father.  Not a lot of boys get to spend so much time with their dads.

I love the subtle shifts I’ve seen in my sons.  They are talking more, sharing more about their fears, worries, hopes, and dreams.  They are slowing down their pace and taking the moments to explore what they are feeling.  Then they are trying to express it with more clarity.  I know this change  isn’t simply due to me telling them they are my opus.  This is because they are my opus and hubby and I have been working on this opus since the day we found out we were having babies.  It is so neat to see it starting to click for our sons.  It is so cool to watch them as they grow and develop, gain new confidences, and try new adventures.

My opus will not bring me fame and fortune, just as Mr. Holland’s didn’t bring those things to him.  But it’s not the fame and fortune.  It’s the moments.  It’s hearing “I love you , Mom.”  It’s the hugs.  The kisses.  The cuddles.  The wee bits of embarrassments that are starting to rear their ugly heads.  My opus is filled with cacophonous sounds and they are a beautiful noise.                                                                                                          

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I’ve been lucky enough to hear a wonderful tale a couple of times in church about what peace is.  My apologies if I miss a few details…but this is what I took from it.  My pastor told the tale (you may have heard it before) of someone creating an image of a peaceful moment and a man trying to create a picture of a calm and serene place.  Yet the picture he created (maybe painted…can’t recall details) that showed peace was a storm.  The peaceful part was a bird just being a bird in the storm, calm and ready to go with the flow.  Here is a depiction of the image titled “Peace in the Midst of the Storm”  by Jack E. Dawson:

As I continue my journey with simplicity, I find new moments of serenity within my day.  I imagine these moments are similar to that bird sitting calmly in the storm.  As we love to say, these are some crazy days.  They really are no more crazy than what generations before me dealt with, perhaps just a different crazy.  We keep our own peace marching forward in our family, trying not to overwhelm ourselves.  It’s been a big time of transition, taking things off of our plates.  We’ve done an okay job of it, I think, yet we still have kept the things that matter to us the most.

My sons, with all the boyhood activities, bring me peace each day.  Today the moment of serenity came in the form of two very sincere hugs and some quiet moments of conversation when I got home from class.  We only had a few moments since it was a night class, but it didn’t matter.  The moments were full of grace, simplicity, serenity, love.  I’ve had a warm fuzzy feeling all evening basking in the afterglow of those hugs.

Yes, once they were tucked into bed at 10:00pm, I ran errands to a store, came home and exercised while somewhat de-wrinkling the new curtains (what, the curtains?), and then took care of some laundry.  But here I sit, freshly showered after getting stinky exercising, with warm hugs still wrapped around me.

Calm in the storm.  Peace in the storm.  Simplicity and serenity swirling around my home.

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I love my church. We focus on how we can help and also remember to examine our own lives before judging anyone else-for anything.  I agree completely that Christians who try to live their lives in a manner similarly to myself have to stand up, voice our thoughts, and be heard.  I know some feel like they won’t be heard or that they may have to deal with being judged. But for myself, Jesus stood up and was judged.  If He could do it, I better at least try.  I’ve gotten burned in the past in voicing an opinion contrary to that of the conversation.  I like when the opposing opinion or one of a different faith, political party, etc. can engage in an actual dialogue.  When one is cut off for having a different perspective, it moves us nowhere fast. At the moment, the issue in question and the hot debate is same-sex marriage.  I am a supporter of it.  I don’t think it should matter who one falls in love with as long as each is committed to the other.  I know same-sex couples are wonderful parents.  My prayer is that it stops being a political maneuver and just becomes reality.  But…I don’t think that will end the debate.  Abortion (which I don’t agree with except in cases of rape or incest-where the woman didn’t have a choice in the situation) is legal and yet that debate hasn’t ended.

And as in the abortion debate, religion often comes up in the discussion.  It comes up with same-sex marriage.  I have read many people saying that if your church doesn’t agree with same-sex marriage to leave your church.  First, I do have freedom of religion and Christianity is a religion so I can still stay with a church.  Second, to people of a younger generation, don’t leave your church.  Stay and help to open their eyes.  I think a big factor in the views on Christian churches “as a whole” is that there are fewer and fewer young people staying in a church. Leaving a church is an option but how much stronger if one were to stay and work within their church to help make changes.

My church is conservative if one were to look at it from the outside and not come in and meet the family. It’s a small country church. But if one were to stay, they would probably be surprised. We collectively work to live as Jesus lived-and while it’s still the country church it started as over 150 years ago, we move with the times, baby.  I can’t say that every member at my church supports same-sex marriage, but I can say that no one at my church would stand in the way of someone who does.  There are so many things we can learn from each other if we listen to the other perspective.  We all need to strive to remember that while we may not persuade the other’s opinion, we would have a deeper understanding of the issue as a whole.

I’ve read some articles today stating, as I wrote above, to leave your church.  That’s asking someone to make a political statement through one’s religion and many of those same people are saying church needs to remember it’s separated from the state.  So again I say, don’t ask someone to abandon one’s faith to make a political statement-encourage someone to help open eyes.  The other reason why that suggestion of leaving one’s church bothers me so much is that Christianity is not a solitary religion.  Yes, my faith is personal.  My worship is with my church family.  My power to help others is multiplied when my church family works together toward a goal.  Jesus did not worship alone.  There were 12 dudes who did the work with Him and supported Him.  There were followers all over the place during His ministry.  Jesus didn’t turn away anyone and that infuriated the politicians and rulers.  My spiritual journey and development is my own and my responsibility, and I work at it to feel more at peace with my Savior, myself, and my family.  In this way, I can help contribute to my family, church, community, and world.

My prayer is for the younger generation to return to their churches and work within to help make positive changes that will benefit our society.

Open our eyes, Lord
We want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him
Open our ears, Lord
And help us to listen
Open our eyes, Lord
We want to see Jesus

1 John 4:20 But if a man will say, “I love God”, and he hates his brother, he is lying; for he who does not love his brother who is visible, how is it possible for him to love God who is invisible?

1 John 2:9 Whoever says, therefore, that he is in the light and hates his brother, is in darkness still.

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The schedule will become even tighter than usual over the next couple of weeks and will stay that way for about six weeks.  I’ll be working my regular job during the day and then teaching at night four nights a week.  With this upcoming restriction to my time with my family, the time with them this week has been all the sweeter.  It has forced simplicity to the foreground.  The five minutes alone with each son after work matters.  The ten minutes with my husband is sweet.  The quiet time once the boys are asleep is valuable.  I am multi-tasking quite wisely.  I’m not trying to over multi-task, but throwing in a load of laundry before dinner and then after dinner throwing it into the dryer.  I can fold it tomorrow.

Dinner was not rushed and the conversation with the family was fun and free-flowing.  The boys took their showers with minimal resistance because of the promise of Lego building once they were all squeaky clean.  They got to hear two pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (only two pages because they had to brush their teeth).  More pages tomorrow.

I watched Murder by Death this evening but also wrote three case studies for one of my classes.  I cleaned up the dining room table.

The odd thing is that even though the schedule is getting tighter, I’ve been accomplishing a lot in little bits and pieces.  Some folks say they work better under pressure.  I don’t always, but right now I am and that’s a lovely surprise.

And each day I’ve spent some time with God.  Praying about the boys and their days at school.  Praying for patience at work in each task I need to complete so I accomplish it as well as I can.  Praying for grace and patience with my sons before work in the brief time we share each morning.  And again at night in the hours we spend together before bedtime.  I want to let them stay up late each night but that’s not fair for them.  They truly need their rest since they are growing boys!  I need quiet time at night to take care of house work and my own thoughts.  I need to go to sleep by a reasonable hour as well.

Little changes in schedule and habits can release such energy.  I feel like I am accomplishing more in each day.  It’s powered by time with God and my family.  Try a little change in the schedule.  See what you can do when you shake things up a bit and add a dash of simplicity and grace.

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What a difference a day makes.  Also walking away from the problem offers such wonderful perspective.  That and a few friends commenting on fb that they know exactly how I feel.  And chocolate.  I can’t forget the chocolate.

But you know what the best thing I reflected on today was?  I ate supper with my family yet again this week.  We’ve been rocking the dinner time lately.  Doesn’t matter what the dinner is, it’s the time together.  My sons have finally gotten the swing of sharing something fun about their days.  And I’m going to admit it…write on virtual paper…we use the convenience stuff to make dinner.  Yes, there are fresh veggies (asparagus at the moment since it’s in season-though I don’t eat it).  But the main entrée was one of those skillet dinners.  If I didn’t have to work, I’d be cooking home-made stuff.  Ah, well…do the best you can with what you have where you are.  Teddy Roosevelt, not me.  I wish I could write something as pithy as that.

Perspective comes in many ways.  You just have to be open to it coming in and opening your eyes.  Be open to the other side of things and examining the issue with other eyes.  Turn it over and over.  Challenge it, question it.  Pray on it.  Focus on simplicity and grace to rise above the feeling of mediocrity.

So what am I going to be when I grow up?  I have no idea and realized today that part of the reason I feel like I’m floating and looking for my thing is that I refuse to grow up.  I still love learning and have a thirst for new experiences.  If a particular experience, idea, or goal doesn’t materialize, no biggie.  There will be another.

And until another shows itself, I have buckled down and examined what is on my plate and what I can do with it.  How I can do each project.  Why I am doing each project.  I asked myself if I still feel each one is fun.  Theater had become not fun, but when I gave it a whirl this past fall, it was a blast.  Why?  Because I was just an actor.  So I now know I’ll never be on a theater board again.  Takes the fun right out of it.

A very fun project coming up in the summer are the dino digs we’ll be going on for fossil hunting.  I think I may be more excited than the boys.  Older son still wants to find more substantial fossils than what we should find on these digs, but we’ve been talking about the fact that you need to start where you’re at and grow from each experience.  We talked about how he needs to learn how to dig and these three trips will help him do that.

I’m sewing again.  Other than Halloween costumes, I haven’t done that for a while.  It’s a costume for a friend who is going to a film-fan convention.  So far it seems to be going well.  I enjoyed making the patterns and they are working nicely.  We’re having a fitting this Saturday.

Of course, I’m in VBS prep mode.  We’re going to Babylon this year.  Oh yes, there will be a hanging garden.  I’ve been working on that for the past month.

Prayer, meditation, studying my Shakespeare and Grimm, reading some Uncle Stevie, it’s all good.  Just need to get off my arse and work out the issues in my legs.  This week’s been a less than stellar week, but it is still so much better than it had been for the past few years.

And it’s almost summer.  Now I do not do the beach thing.  There is sand at a beach and I don’t do sand.  We will go to the lake, and yes, there is sand there, but it’s not overly crowded.  There are pools we’ll go to and the boys will do a lot of swimming.  Maybe they’ll teach their mom.

I do attempt the garden thing, but have been horrible with it the past few years.  However, sons and I have already weeded and cleaned out two of them and are working on a third.  But I really need to trim the bloody holly trees.  They are a mess again.

What most of these have in common are my family.  Which reminded me that I’m not doing that bad if we’re doing all these somethings and even some days of nothings together.

Salieri, if only you had known to step away.  To reflect and take inventory.  To count your blessings.  And to not take it all so seriously.

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This Is Spinal Tap has some awesome quotes.  One of my favorites is “this one goes to 11.”  But another one of my favorites is “I’m just as God made me, sir.”  True.  And that ain’t bad.

This evening, several good and thought-provoking questions were presented to me.  Wonderfully philosophical questions that brought me back to my college days.  No matter if you went to college or not…it’s more about that time of life when the quest is about understanding where you fit in the world (go ahead, sing a bit of “Corner of the Sky”).  Do you remember spending hours pondering questions?  It is a great time of life.  I see people having the conversations about life every day and I wish I had more time for it, but where I am in my life, based on the choices I’ve made, I don’t have as much time for the daily ponder.

So I love when I get challenged with some great questions.  The ponder of the evening is where I am walking?  Or more importantly, how am I walking in my life?  How am I representing and demonstrating my faith in my daily walk?  How do I challenge the negative stereotypes often associated with being a Christian?

In my life, my priorities are my relationships with God and Jesus, my husband, my sons, family, friends.  I spend time walking with Jesus each day and I try to walk through each of my days as He teaches me.  Through spending time with Him, I am the best I can be for the other special people in my life.  Part of being the best me for them is acknowledging that I will never do it all correctly.  I have struggled and continue to struggle with this part of my existence.  I will never get it all right.  Though each day I try anew, like Phil Connors.

I show this to my sons.  I hope through my many examples of not getting it right my sons will learn that it’s okay to not always get it right sooner than me.  I know they won’t-they’re only human.  They get so angry about little things.  I’m trying to thwart that response.  It’s okay to make mistakes, hopefully with some learning happening after.  Demonstrating my faith for my sons to witness is truly important for me each day.

I walk with Him at work, on my commute, in my daily interactions with people.  This is all good…but it’s small.  It’s not global.  We all know the saying, think globally, act locally.  Still, how can I help shape the global perception of Christians?

I don’t know any clear answers but I know how not to shape it.  Not with a bullhorn (tip of the hat to Rob Bell), not with anger, not with defensiveness.  Not with ignorance, stubbornness, or impatience.  Not by refusing to listen to the other perspective.

The first step to shaping the perception everyday is love.

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In tonight’s episode of Grimm, Nick came closer to some closure about his parents and aunt.  Only a bit closer to closure since we can’t cover everything in one season.  What would they do in season two if they covered it all this year?  I myself have been thinking a lot about life events.  I crave closure to certain events in my life.  I don’t like things left with loose ends.  Forgive the morbidity of the next statement, but I need to see a dead body to believe they are really gone.  It gives me closure that I need as part of my grieving process.  When that doesn’t happen, it takes longer for me to work through the whole situation.  That’s just what I need to do.

So I’ve been digging my Grimm and have been reading the Grimm stories to my boys.  They didn’t want to hear the “girly” stories.  I explained to them that the stories were originally more grim.  I went to the library at work today and got a wonderful edition of the Grimm stories.  I have to admit I did not know how many stories the Brothers Grimm had penned.  In this edition (claiming to be the complete works, but I’m too early in my research to be able to verify that claim), there are 210 stories.  Little Red Riding Hood is called Little Red Cap.  Cinderella’s step-sisters get their eyes pecked out by the birds…vicious pigeons that had not helped clean and make dresses.  Snow White is Little Snow White and the story ends with the queen wearing burning iron “shoes” and dancing till she dies.  Good times.  Good times.

As Nick has quests for closure on Grimm, I have my own quests.  One quest is to develop my sons love of fiction, hence our focus on Grimm.  I also let them read Creepshow by Uncle Stevie.  It’s a comic book, yes a creepy comic book, and they loved it. My quest for a less cluttered home, my quest for grace and simplicity.  My quest for closure on past troublesome events.  I’m a regular Don Quixote.

My sons are still so carefree.  We were discussing something one day-can’t remember what and the details don’t matter-and the next morning on the way to school, I told them that it wasn’t a topic to discuss at school.  I asked my youngest if he heard what I had said and his reply was pure and honest.  “Mom, I don’t remember what we talked about last night so I know I won’t talk about it at school.”  They don’t hold onto things, grudges, hurt feelings, and all the gobbily-gook we learn to hang onto.  I am fascinated watching them as they grow up to learn when it happens.  When do we start to hold on to emotional responses and events?  My sons already hold on to physical stuff…sadly, they are pack-rats in training.  I do try to teach them that is okay to let go of stuff sooner rather than later because you don’t really need it.

I now gauge whether or not to keep things by wondering if my sons would look at it and ask why I saved it for so many years before tossing it in a trash bag without much fanfare when cleaning out my stuff. Again, forgive the morbidity.  Lord willing, I’ve got many more years to clean out my stuff, but I want to make each day as full as possible and you can’t do that when you’re worried about saving crap.  I had a period of time when I so was obsessed with capturing the memory that I missed making memories.  I’ve gotten better at being in the moment.  But I still have years of old crap to purge.

Some of the crap is mental crap.  And you, dear gentle reader, get to read as I purge some stuff from my brains.  Let things go out into the void of the internet to finally be released from my heart, soul, or brain, whichever it’s been stored in for too many years.  This has been a week of purging things from long ago.  I didn’t plan it that way, but it worked out that way.  And I am thankful to move forward in several of my quests.  It makes the load lighter and the lighter the load, the quicker I can move.  Though it’s not really about how quickly I get through this stuff.  The stuff is the little bits and pieces that make up life.  To quote the lullaby I sing to my sons, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.  Take some time for life in between your plans.

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