Monday, April 20, 2015

Have Courage and Be Kind

In the recent Disney remake of Cinderella, Cinderella's dying mother whispered that line "have courage and be kind" to Cinderella. I have to admit that once I heard that line I was a bit distracted through the rest of the movie as I pondered on those words.

I wondered how I was doing to reflect that line. I have often defined myself as courageous, but we saw the movie on the heels of the news breaking that over 100 Christian college students had been killed at their university in Kenya. I wondered if I had that kind of Christian courage. Sure it's easy to say that from the safety of my home in the United States of America but would I say the same if in the actual situation? Today I say "Yes".

But that isn't the only way to show Christian courage. And that led me to the next part of the phrase, "and be kind".

If you asked people who knew me in high school to describe me, I doubt that "kind" would be in the top 10 descriptor words. I would like to think that my friends I have now would use "kind" to describe me, but I honestly don't know. The problem is that I tend to still define myself by the old high-school terms.

I'm not sure why I continue to old on to this old characterization, even if it isn't accurate anymore. I guess it is kind of like continuing to run in running shoes well past their mileage. You do it because you know what to expect from them, even if it means achy knees and hips. Changing shoes might not work out, they might not feel right or fit right or they might feel just different enough you know it's going to take some time to get used to it and you are sure that you really want to take that time. The point is, the old shoes are familiar and known and the pain they cause is worth it because then you avoid all the unpleasantness of change.

And so I hold onto a familiar, known characterization even though it doesn't really work for me anymore. It gives me an excuse to fall back on if this "kind" thing doesn't work out. It provides a bit of protection and a retreat to fall back to when my awkward efforts at being kind appear to be rebuffed.

But where is the courage in retreat? And more importantly where is the Christian courage? For what I realized is that by not accepting a this new character trait, I in fact am rejecting Christ's sacrifice for me. I am rejecting the grace He is extending to me to make weak things strong.

Whew, can you see why I was so distracted during the movie? That's a lot of self-reflection. My mind and heart were still ripe for learning.

This phrase from General Conference:
God cares a lot more about who we are,
And about who we are becoming,
Than about who once were. - Dale Relund
and then this phrase that I heard at my friend's church on Easter Sunday:
Your story + God's story = A New Story
spoke right to my heart. And reinforced all that I had thought about during Cinderella.
Good-bye old familiar unkind self. You no longer serve any person. I am now moving forward with courage AND with kindness.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Good-bye Tall Shoes

There is only some much a 5' girl can do to make herself appear a bit taller. Wearing tall shoes is one of those things. Now, I don't go crazy with the height of the heels; most of my "tall shoes" only have a 2-3" heel. And for the better part of the last 13 years as a school nurse, I wasn't wearing tall shoes to work. But the last couple of years I decided to make tall shoes my "go to" footwear most days of the week (sometimes I cave to fashion). I thought that wearing brands such as Sofft, or Clarks would offer some cushion and more comfort than other shoes. Maybe they do for some people. But for me?Yeah, not so much.

A year or so ago, I began noticing a dull, aching, throbbing pain at the base of my big toe if I wore tall shoes on back to back days. So I cut back a little bit and tried alternating between flats and heels. That seemed to work OK and the pain went away for the most part unless I made of the mistake of wearing heels on back-to-back days.

Well last night that pain was back and back with a vengeance. Matter of fact, it kind of kept me up. The frustrating part was that I hadn't worn heels on back to back days. I wore flats on Sunday, had been barefoot most of the weekend, and Monday was the first time since probably Thursday that I had worn tall shoes. So as I was laying there in bed, with my foot aching, I resolved to give up tall shoes for good. I decided that looking a few inches taller was not worth the irritating, constant pain and the possibility of creating a neuroma that would prevent me from running or biking any more.

There is a silver lining in this however...I now have a reason to purchase several pairs of new shoes, flat shoes that is.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April is poetry month, or so I'm told. I was thinking about that the other night when I was trying to sleep. Because sleep was slow in coming, my mind began crafting a poem of sorts. It went like this

In and out, in and out
Shallow, shallow, deep
Those are the breath sounds I hear
As I try to fall asleep

Sometimes those sounds are calming
Tonight they are incredibly galling
For all I want tonight, dear
Is to fall asleep
Without hearing you breathe in my ear!

And that is my contribution to Poetry Month. I think I better stick to my day job since trying to compose poetry in the stillness of the night leads to questionable results.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

An Apology

Apparently I offended Carson in my last blog post. I know this because he called me right after he read it to let me know. He said I need to quit referring to him as a "man of few words" because he isn't that at all. He then went on to tell me why, in his perception of himself, he does not fit the description of being a man of few words. Unfortunately, he called me when I was at work and I had to attend to some students before I could apologize.

As I continued to think on the conversation I thought that perhaps since I had inadvertently offended him through the public forum of my blog, I should offer an apology the same way. I asked him if that would be OK and he said, "Yes. Thank you." I realize that for it to be a real apology I should only say "I'm sorry" and not include any examples or justifications of why I think he is a man of few words. (Does it negate today's apology if I share those examples in later blog posts? Probably. So I'll leave them unsaid and try to remember that Carson has asked me to quit using that description for him.)

So for you, Carson:

I am sorry that I described you as a man of few words. You were right to point out to me how you have grown and changed. If you were still a man of few words, you probably wouldn't have made as many friends as you have this year and you certainly wouldn't be hanging out with them as often. I'm sorry that I failed to adequately acknowledge this growth. I did not mean to offend you. I love you lots my boy.


PS And I'm sorry that this apology is a day later than I told you I would post it. Things got busy yesterday. See there I go, trying to justify why I didn't get the apology done sooner, only in the process I negate the apology. Bother.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

College Life

I can't believe that when Carson returns to school next week (this week is his spring break), he will only have 6 weeks of school left. It doesn't seem like it was all that long ago when we were having serious arguments discussions about living in the dorms at NIC. I wanted him to have some "away from home" experience, to feel connected to his college classmates, and learn how to live with other people. He wanted to commute daily (the college is only 20 miles from our house) so he could continue in his little cocoon of home comfort. Despite Carson's protests, his dad and I signed him up to live in the dorms and haven't regretted that decision.

The first month was pretty rough as Carson was settling into college, dorm living and trying to make the wrestling team. But once the pressure of making the team was gone, things got much rosier. He started making friends with kids on the wrestling team, the girls across the hall in his dorm, etc. His friends quickly discovered that Carson doesn't drink or smoke pot, so he became the designated driver at many parties. Do I wish that wasn't part of his college experience? Yeah, I kinda do. Not because I'm worried about him drinking or smoking pot (he is pretty strong in his convictions about not participating in those vices), but he goes to college in North Idaho for crap's sake. I worry about those parties getting out of control and inebriated people who might have weapons. He, of course, thinks I'm overreacting and he's totally safe. Whatever, he's an 18-year old kid who doesn't have a whole lot of life experience behind him.

Other things I worry about? Oh, the minor fact that he doesn't seem to have any clear direction on a future career path. He is taking mostly general studies classes which I guess is fine for the first year of school. My biggest gripe is that he plans on spending 3 years at a two-year junior college. If it weren't on our dime, I wouldn't care quite as much. On a positive note, his grades are much better than they were in high school and a better reflection of what he is capable of doing.

Now, the real reason I started this blog post was to say that along with the friends on the wrestling team and the girls across the hall, he has made a special friend. She actually doesn't attend NIC yet, but she will be there next year. She is friends with the girls across the hall from Carson and they introduced them when Avery was up for a soccer recruiting trip. Carson insists that they are just friends, and yes they are friends, but he has invested quite a bit of time in developing the friendship. I mean a lot of talk time. That's impressive for a boy who is, in general, a man of few words and is pretty picky with whom he will use up his word quotient.

He was even brave enough to bring her home to meet Dave and me. Of course, he planned it so that the visit wouldn't be long and he had a perfect exit strategy....he had to grab a few things from the house so he brought her along. Once the items were collected and we chatted for maybe 5 minutes, he said they had to get going because he had borrowed the car from a friend and needed to get it back to her. Since this was the first girl that he had ever brought home, I, of course, wanted a picture. I told Katelyn about Avery and should couldn't believe Carson was bringing her home so the picture was going to be proof. Carson didn't want the picture, but Avery was all for it. So I got the best picture I could with a non-cooperative Carson (who later complained about the goofiness of the picture when I sent it to him).
Like I said the visit was brief, but from what we could see in that 10-15 minute visit, she seemed like a nice girl...laid back personality, able to joke around, and she is shorter than me :). I viewed that last point as a bonus.

Overall, I would say that so far this has been a pretty successful first year at college. He has 6 more weeks before it officially ends, but he is staying on track with completing coursework and doing well on his tests. It's been fun to watch him grow up some this year (notwithstanding some of the "dumb college kid" antics he has pulled).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Still Adjusting

For the most part I am settling into empty-nesting quite nicely. I mean who can complain about getting a long, hot shower every morning? Or not having to worry about getting children out the door to all their various activities? And what 's not to like about being able to have spontaneous date nights with no worries about who might be available for babysitting? Oh, and there is hardly ever any disagreements over what TV show to watch. And for sure no complaining or back talk is heard in our house these days.

But truth be told, sometimes during the hours of 3-7 p.m. I am totally lonely. I know when the kids were home I complained about the frenzied pace of those hours. Some days I wondered how I was going to get everything done; how was I going to clone myself so I could be in 3 places at once. Those were the hours when I was just looking for a little peace and quiet; when I couldn't wait for David to get home so I could tag out.

I don't know if I wished those times away, but if I did, shame on me because now I miss them. I miss having a million places to be and watching my children be involved in several different activities. I miss the noise and chaos that often occurred during those late afternoon, early evening hours. Now I find that I have those hours completely to myself. The peace and quiet that I longed for? Well, now I have it.

Somebody asked me what I do during that time. I honestly replied "A whole lot of nothing." I just can't find it within myself to be self-motivated enough to do something. Well, I guess that is not entirely true. Some days after school I volunteer to time at whatever sport is currently going on at the middle school. And I still attend city council meetings regularly. I also have planning commission meetings on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month. So I guess I'm not a total lump. But on the days/nights when I don't have something to do? Well, then I'm lonely. Dave is working until 6 or 6:30 most nights these days. And then he usually works out after so some nights he isn't home until 7:30.

Dave's late nights brings up another area of empty-nesting to which I am having trouble adjusting. That is the area of cooking. You would think that since I have so much quiet, uninterrupted time in the late afternoon/early evening, I should be preparing some fabulous meals. But I'm not. Honestly, I just don't have the desire to cook if I'm going to be eating by myself. Well, actually, even if Dave were home to eat I'm not sure that I would cook. It just seems like such a bother. It's hard to guess how much to cook for 2 and Dave hates leftovers so if there is extra it just goes to waste. And throwing away food really bugs me, too so again, I just don't cook. The funny thing is I always have grand plans to make some fabulous meals, I even purchase ingredients for the meals, but when the time comes to make the meal. Meh, who cares?

So this empty-nest thing is going pretty OK. There were some things that I eagerly accepted, like only having to worry about me in the mornings. But there are still some things I'm struggling with, like all of this alone time and what to do. Looking forward to next week. It's Carson's spring break. I'm sure he'll complain that we aren't doing anything and that there is no food in the house. This time I'll accept the complaining because it means that I'm not alone.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Happy Monday

For me, Monday's have a 50/50 chance of being awesome or awful. Today had a greater than 50% chance of being awful, mostly because I am still suffering the effects of some wicked, nasty stomach virus that has been plaguing me since Thursday. The nausea finally started to subside about noon and other ailments waned in the late afternoon hours. I'm glad that the worst seems to be behind me.

Even when I'm feeling horrid (and today I was just shy of feeling horrid), I do look forward to Monday's because I know that we'll receive an e-mail from Katelyn. Like always, I tried to time being logged into our e-mail when she typically e-mails. This allows us a chance to "chat" back and forth. Today was no exception and we spent some time exchanging e-mails. She was finally transferred back to an English-speaking area and her countenance in the picture she sent with her new companion shows the relief she must be feeling. She didn't admit it very often, but it was hard for her to be serving in a Spanish-speaking area when she did not know Spanish. She was grateful for the time she served there and the wonderful people she met, but not being able to participate in the conversations and teaching was draining on her.

Here are some happy pictures from her time in Ajo and Gila Bend:
Katelyn said that Carolyn was a "feisty lady" and it took several attempts to the font, but she made it right before Katelyn was transferred.

Katelyn and her companion killing time before the baptism

Brothers Hunter and Jacob

The only snake she has seen so far while serving in Arizona. She is slightly disappointed that she hasn't seen more snakes.
As if chatting with Katelyn wasn't enough of a morale booster, I received a letter in the mail from her today. An actual, handwritten, delivered via snail mail, letter. It was one of those letters that makes a momma's heart happy.

So it was indeed a happy Monday.