Posts Tagged ‘grace’

I got home a little after midnight from a long but happy day at work. I was fortunate enough to end my day with a Mr Holland’s moment from two of my tutors. I did not realize until after they gave me those wonderful moments how much I needed those moments.

I said hello to my sons, to my husband, and to my dog. The cats ignored me as they typically do. It was a good day at work and I had fun. It felt like a day at work from a couple of years ago, full of fun, but also productive.

And my older son said he was happy that I had fun at work today. He said he knew I had been sad at work lately and was happy that today was fun. He told me I should enjoy work. He then gave me very wise advice. He said choose a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life. And now I have to Google if it really was Confucius who said that, since that’s what the eleven year old claimed.

Okay, it is typically attributed to Confucius, but there are some raging debates that it couldn’t have been him. We’ll let it lie. Because it’s already out there.

I haven’t quite been sad at work, but it’s hard to explain to my sons without making them worry. There has been a lot going on within the boys’ lives and so it’s been very tricky to balance it all. My heart has wanted to be at home when they are home, but that’s not how the job description reads. I’m fortunate-I can take time off as I need to in order to handle much of what is going on. But I still worry while I’m at work.

I know, I know, worrying gets you nowhere. But I’m a mom. And tonight I’m a grace-filled mom and wife who had a fun day at work.

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Grace Revisited

Grace…that elusive quality and energy and way of being that I continue to work toward.  Today grace filled me easily and I felt good throughout the day.  I lapsed a wee bit when I got home…pop tart on the comforter on the bed, really?  I stayed in my graceful mood and swept, dusted, and avoided bugging my sons.  Even as I tucked older son into bed and he jumped into a deep conversation about growing up, I stayed filled with grace.  I realized, thanks to the moments of grace, that he may have spent his entire day summoning up the strength and courage to talk to me about tonight’s topic.  Then again, he may have wanted to soften the blow and not get in too much trouble because yet again my two sons fought while brushing their teeth.  Perhaps I should have two sinks installed when we finally get around to redoing the bathroom.  But grace prevailed and older son and I had an awesome talk.

Younger son still thinks he can’t write.  We’re working on it.  Last night he was writing a thank you note and he became so frustrated and angry.  Grace stepped in and I didn’t lose my cool.  I kept finding the words to encourage him to try to write just one more word.  He wrote them all and I mailed the thank you note this morning.  He is embracing his comedic abilities this summer, but I hope he reigns them in when school begins again (in a mere six weeks! Ack!).  We worked on a puzzle tonight.  We’re going to write a story together tomorrow night.

Grace.  Always walking toward it.  Stepping in it more and more each day.

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I am thankful for Hubby.

I am thankful for oldest son and youngest son.

I am thankful for my family.

I am thankful for my church.

I am thankful for friends.

I am thankful for our pets.

I am thankful for my job.

I am thankful for game night.

I am thankful for making even the smallest difference for someone.

I am thankful for exhaustion.

I am thankful for sleep.

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Quests.  I’ve written of them before and I am sure I will write of them in the future again.  Tonight, gentle reader, I write again of achieving simple quests as a part of simplicity and grace.  Challenges come in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes you face really large ones and other times the quest is comprised of many little ones, gathering force from the quantity of them.

Work can provide plenty of challenges.  At this time of year, for me, it’s the sheer quantity of tasks that need to be completed yesterday that create quests.  Quests to finish even one task in one sitting!  Doesn’t ever happen but one can aspire to have that happen.  These quests are seasonal and will return again next fall.

The quests at home are more fun at the moment.  We are still working on the K’Nex.  It’s gigantic.  We have about 95 steps left till it’s complete.  It’s a quest with an end in sight and it’s fun.  The boys and I do a few steps every few days or so and we’re enjoying the journey…just as they’ll enjoy playing with it once it is finished.

A quest that seems to have connected with my sons is keeping up with their rooms.  It’s exciting!  They also have been helping with the other parts of the house.  Granted, younger son created a little village of fear in the living room today.  As I pulled into the driveway he was heading into the shed.  I asked what he was doing and he said he needed more Halloween decorations.  We compromised on using some decorations from the attic.  He even asked if he could keep it set up for a couple of days till he was done constructing it.  Then we’d take pictures and he would take it down.

As we closed the shed he asked if he could me with anything from the car.  I beamed.  I hugged him.  I misted up just a bit that he asked.  He carried in one my bags and reminded me that he is really strong so he could carry an even heavier one.

Simple events, each one.  And each filled my heart with grace.  Remember–life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.  Lennon was right.  Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around every once in a while you could miss it.  Bueller was right too.

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“We do not follow maps to buried treasure, and X never, ever marks the spot.”  Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Indy is speaking about enjoying the journey because if you only follow the map and only pay attention to the stuff that is right in front of you, you’ll miss something.  He likes getting another perspective and this is often when pieces of the adventure fall into place.

This continues to be a struggle for me.  Enjoying the journey and not worrying so much about the destination is not my strong suit.  Perhaps because I have ended up in some strange places in my life.  Pretty normal places, really, but places I never expected myself to end up because it wasn’t “in the plan”.  I watch others sometimes and they seem so very content and do not demonstrate an obvious map to their lives.  The cliche of the grass is always greener comes to mind, and I fear, gentle reader, this post will may more cliches to follow.

I have a very nice life.  Why do I clutter it by worrying about silly stuff?  By seeking more than what I have already?  When will I come to realize that I am there…that very nice spot to sit and tarry a while?

Perhaps because I still feel a drive to do more within this world.  Hubby gave me two books for our anniversary (yep…I’m a nerd…books are a really good gift on all occasions and smart hubby picked up on this early in our 12 years together!).  One of them was about the butterfly effect and how every action you do has an impact somewhere, even if you don’t see it.  Makes sense he would give me a book about the butterfly effect.  First, he knows I’m grappling eternally with purpose in life and, as part of the chaos theory, the butterfly effect fits into our way of life.

I then wonder what butterfly effects could I be having?  Are they positive for the world, or I am sending out dismal influences that will haunt folks for generations to come?  By nature I am a worst case scenario-ist.  I have to go through all the worst possible end results to feel comfortable with a situation.  If I explore this idea of sending out the dismal stuff, I’ll work my way back to a more centered reality.

During this lunch, in which I hope there are no truly exotic foods, like in Temple of Doom, Indy and I would  talk about the digs, rights of the modern countries to archeological finds, and his uncanny ability to enjoy the journey.  Not only does he enjoy the journey, he does it with great style and in his own way.  One never really realizes how much you can learn about life from Indiana.  Ah, Dr. Jones, you chose wisely.

      Each day I hope I don’t choose poorly.

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Well, well, well, gentle readers.  I had a wonderful weekend.  We did so many things together yet nothing with a stringent schedule.  We just were together and doing things that made us happy.  Friday night Hubby and I went to a wedding and had good times, good times with family and friends.  The boys had their yard sale on Saturday morning.  Most of the money they made was because people thought it was sweet that young boys were having their own yard sale.  We put up the screen-gazebo and bought some new chairs for enjoying the outside with-happily they were even made in America.

We played air hockey, we went to church, we went to the baseball picnic.  We cuddled, we talked, we shared dreams.  The peace of the weekend was lovely.

Topic of the sermon on Sunday was about the idea of peace and being still.  As I wrote a few posts ago, peace comes in chaos.  Focus has been given to finding those moments of peace and it makes each day happier.  Humor also helps each day and this evening we were having fun with grammar.  My kind of fun!

I did throw my back out.  In my 41 and a half years I have never thrown my back out.  I attribute that to going to the chiropractor since I was 12.  Irony is oozing over this situation for me since I just celebrated ten years of marriage to my chiropractor.  Hubby was rubbing my feet last night and I fell asleep on the couch.  When I woke up at 5am to the joyful strains of the Brady Bunch, I got up to go to bed.  I grabbed the hand towels, the last bit of laundry in one of the baskets, and headed toward the bathroom.  I opened the door to the linen closet and bent slightly to place the towels on the shelf and out went my back.  The towels were the straw that threw out the camel’s back.

We had put up the gazebo, rearranged the family room, did multiple loads of laundry, and made several trips up and down the attic stairs.  My back said enough.  It hurt on the way to work, all day at work, and then on the ride home from work too.  Hubby worked on it and I’ll be taking some Advil PM.  I’ll stick some ice packs on it as I drift away to slumber land.

The moment of peace in this?  My sons making a date with me for tomorrow night to watch the newest Adventure Time on demand.  Youngest son asked me for the date and he acquiesced to letting oldest son join us.  Slumber land will be filled with sweet dreams of peaceful summer evenings.


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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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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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The amount of grace I used today was unbelievable.  It was oozing out of me from all directions.  On the telephone explaining a department policy over and over for 21 minutes–yep, grace was a-flowing.  At the large corporate home improvement store with commercials narrated by Ed Harris and an orange logo, grace came flowing out when the manager didn’t want to hear me as I told her the employee found me as I headed to the parking lot to tell me he had found the perennials I was asking about and I was in fact making a purchase.

Still, that’ll be the last time I go there for a while.  When I was in retail (picture me sitting on the porch in a rocking chair as I say that), I would have not said to the customer that the employee who kept working to solve the problem created the problem by not knowing his department.  Well, he reached out to her and didn’t get much managerial support.  When I went to her to ask if she knew about the sale, she quickly flipped through the circular and said it must not start till tomorrow.  Feeling a bit like the butler in Clue (the others say to him “you did it!” to which he replies “If I was the murderer, why would I tell you how I did it?”), I dared to ask her why the company would run a commercial on Monday night for a sale that wasn’t going to start till Wednesday?  She answered, “I don’t know, but we don’t have that sale now.”  That’s when I left and the employee shouted across the parking lot to let me know he had found the perennials.  So in the end, I got my on-sale perennials, as well as some mulch for my shade garden in the back yard, and a great lesson about yester-year.

On the way home I told my sons about how I would have handled this type of situation when I was a manager in retail.  There was shock, awe, and a bit of amazement from the back of the rocket-sled as they discovered I had worked in retail.  They asked me what store and I told them how I had worked in different video stores over the years, but I was a manager for a company called Planet Video which then changed the name to Moovies which is now defunct, as most video chains are.  I told them how it was a small store that then grew to be a small chain until it was bought out by a larger corporation.  I told them about all the small stores I shopped at as a kid.  I decided that I’m not going to wait for Small Business Saturday.  The next time I need garden supplies, I’ll go to a local nursery.  When I finally pick the new paint color for the hallway, I’ll go to a paint store (if I can find one…I must admit I haven’t seen one in years…a paint and wall-covering store).

And then I told my sons about Woolworth’s and what a wonderful store that was.  I loved going there when I was a kid.  They then asked if I went to Dunkin’ Donuts as a kids and I told them nope.  We went to the local bakery.  We didn’t go to a chain pizza place but went to the local pizzeria.  Local restaurants, local shoe stores, and on and on.  I miss those days when you went to a show store for shoes and a toy store for toys and you get the idea.  It is harder to do that today because the chains have gobbled the locals up, but I want my sons to have that experience, so I will shop as much as possible at the local stores.

Back to grace…I pulled even more grace out as younger son said he wasn’t riding in the car tomorrow but would walk to school.  As the minutes ticked further into the 9 o’clock hour, we cuddled on the couch and I tried to dig deeper into understanding his dislike for school.

Turns out he thinks I throw all of his work away.  He thinks I keep all of older son’s work.  I pulled from the pile that has yet to be added to his “school work bin” the recent batch that had been selected for posterity.  I explained that I don’t keep every worksheet because they each bring home three or four every day and we’d run out of room.  We walked down the hall and he counted the three pieces of schoolwork hanging on the walls that were created by him.  He acknowledged with a small smile that only one of his brother’s was hanging on the wall.  I told him the copper cat he made out of a paper plate in preschool still hangs in my office.

We agreed on a challenge.  He would finish all of his work at school, but his way.  He thinks coloring a ditto for Earth Day (don’t get me started on how much paper that project wasted to commemorate Earth Day) was stupid and boring.  I agree.  But I asked him if it would have been more fun if he had colored the animals in less traditional colors.  I asked why the squirrel had to brown…couldn’t he color it orange or rainbow or blue?  He quickly got into the swing of things and together we remembered when he enjoyed doing school work (preschool) and how he could make first-grade work more fun.  I told him he had to follow the directions and finish the work, but when possible, he could make it more “him”, a little bit funky, a little bit creepy (in an Addams Family kind of way…he sees things from a different perspective than other six-year-old kids).

A little bit of cuddling, a little bit of talking, and a little bit of grace helped younger son remember and embrace how smart he is.  And how much fun he could make school work, if he didn’t worry so much about coloring inside the lines and remembering the crayon box has a lot of colors.

Finally, grace reminds me to slow down and realize how much better I am feeling, physically speaking.  I don’t start to hurt until around 8pm.  The past few days have really hurt by that point-think I may be over-doing it during the day in my new lesser-pain filled body-but it’ll get there.  Still, after I post this, I will be hobbling in the most unattractive way to bed.

Department policy enforcement, commute traffic, unhappy managers at large corporate stores, over-tired younger son thinking his school work doesn’t matter, cat meowing to go out this late at night and driving me a little batty…for each instance there is grace.  Grace…always flowing, always never-ending.

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