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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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