23 July 2016

What Love Looks Like

The other day my yoga instructor (who's also a friend from church who absolutely inspires me) was talking about a kid we both know--a kid whom I love dearly, but don't have much patience for.  My friend was leading a group of kids through yoga and this kid was in the group, doing his own thing.  Exactly the opposite of what the yoga instructor said to do--typical of this kid, I thought as she told the story.  So the next day, the kid comes up and tells the instructor, look, I'm not gonna do it today.  Not feeling it.

At this point in the story, I'm thinking, UGH.  THAT IS THE WORST.  MAN, I HOPE YOU GAVE IT TO HIM!

But this woman, y'all, she looks at the kid and really, really sees him.  This kid likes to be center stage, which is great when he's pointing other kids back at what the lesson is about, not so great when he's off in left field and takes the whole class with him.  Instead of lecturing the kid, or saying any of the things I would have said, she invites him on to the platform with her to help lead the class.  And that ding dang kid hopped up there and did every pose perfectly.

Not how I thought--okay, hoped--that story would go.  It really threw me for a loop.  And I told her, I am so impressed by you...I would have wanted him to obey.  Period.  I was struck by the love in that story, and humbled by how small it made me feel because I get so stuck on wanting things to go MY way.  That's really the problem with me and kids, sometimes, that they don't do what I want.  Then I get grumpy because they're disobedient...but that's just my warped view of it.

So that.

Then yesterday, Noble and I went to the library so he could check out a book (because that's what we need around here, right, more books?).  As usual, I took up my post at the New Releases section and flipped through books I won't read.  There were several on parenting, and I picked one up that looked like a whole bunch of New Age hooey.  My opinion didn't change after glancing through it, but I opened straight up to a page that almost--almost--made me check out the book.  It was a section about unconditional love, and the author talked about how the problem with love is how we make it about how the other person makes us feel.  Ouch.  I closed the book because Noble was ready to go, but that has been rolling around in my head.

This morning, I read for a few minutes.  And danged if I didn't read a section where Jess talks about love from the Father's point of view.  (Yes, universe, I'm listening.)

You know the story of Hosea and Gomer?  You gotta read Jess' thoughts on it in Wild and Free.

Here I'm going to backtrack:  I've been spending a lot of time in my head this past week and a half or so.  Thinking about how I feel, how and when I feel loved and unloved, how I want to feel, how I want more...and I'm not gonna lie, y'all, I was feeling pretty self-righteous about it all.  That's how the enemy works, isn't it? To come in when we're feeling low and whisper agreement to our deepest, darkest, most selfish thoughts...to use the language that we long to hear:  you deserve...you should have...he doesn't...they don't...he should...

Man, that's a dangerous place to be.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  1 Peter 5:8

So, back to love.

I get to this place every so often.  I don't like it there--I'm much better with big puffy hearts and hugs and unicorns and rainbows.

So there I was this morning, in my happy place, not feeling that happy at all, reading the truth I needed to hear.  It wasn't packaged the way I would have expected, but Jess' words about how Hosea pursued Gomer and that's how God loves us...wildly...well, for the first time in my adult life I didn't see myself as Gomer in the story.  What if I'm Hosea, and all He wants me to do is love my Boy and my people unconditionally, like He loves me?  Without worrying about how they "make" me feel.  Without worrying about what I'm doing/giving/putting in...just doing what I'm called to do.

Without expectation.
Without condemnation.

Here I am again, at the truth that chases me:  it's not about me.

What?  Social media just stopped for a second.  For real, it's not about me.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."  Mark 16:24

It's funny, I find myself wishing now that I had some time to sit and process what this looks like.  But that's not how it works--family calls.

Time to practice, y'all.

Practice loving--and listening--when I really just want some peace and quiet.

Time to really see my people--see what's important to them, what they need from me to grow.

Time to worry less about what I want to do and spend more time doing what they love to do, just because that's what love does.

Love doesn't look much like I expected, and it's much more about what I give and do than what I get or how I feel.

19 July 2016

A Place for Everything

I was joking the other day with a friend that I related more to the husband in "Sleeping With the Enemy" than the wife.  (Simmer down, domestic abuse is not a laughing matter nor is it my intent to imply that.)  It's just that I like things...a certain way.

Um, my way.

Yesterday I handed Noble a clean towel and asked him to hang it on the oven door.  I handed it to him smooth and folded, polka dot side up JUST THE WAY I WANTED HIM TO HANG IT.  And he DID hang it, only wonky is the best descriptor.  And those polka dots?  The heathen hung them facing the stove.  Don't worry, I didn't beat him...but I sure did fix that towel when the kids left the kitchen.

It's a sickness, I know.

I also straighten the hand towel every time I'm near the bathroom.
If you've ever been to one of my organization talks or worked with me on a project, you know I'm fond of saying "a place for everything and everything in its place."  That's pretty much a pillar of my life, whether talking about physical items or time.  I like everything in its place, whether physically or on the calendar/agenda.

After lunch yesterday, Kayci went off to Theater Camp and it was just going to be Noble and me for a couple of hours.  I suggested he get out his big Lego set and build.  And naturally, then came the question of where to build.  I suggested the dining room table, because selfishly, I can live with creative mess at one end of the table.  (But heaven help you if you leave mail on the eating end of the table).  Bubby wasn't wild about the table, because he needs room to spread out.  So we debated the living room floor.  My sweet Boy was home for lunch and he listened to our conversation for a bit before offering a compromise:  the floor at the end of the dining room we don't use.  Perfect!  So Noble got out his Legos and spent a good 2 and a half hours building.  In fact, he woke up this morning and got right back to it.

We bought Daddyboy a corn hole game last year for Father's Day.  We bust it out when we have friends over, and people often borrow it for their own parties, etc.  James set it up for Kayci's Sunday School party on Saturday night, and they played for over an hour.  Sunday afternoon, our family was back out there.  And yesterday when I left to take Kayci to camp, the boys headed outside and played for the second half of Daddy's lunch break.

Because it's available.  Accessible.  Inviting.

That's something I need to really think through, is how to make a place for play.  And creativity.

My boys taught me a valuable lesson yesterday:  neatness and play can coexist, side by side.

Now to apply that to my own goals, and quit letting discomfort over crazy stuff keep me from creating.  (What's stopping me from scrapbooking?  It's not time anymore--it's getting all that stuff OUT of my closet and dealing with it...seeing the clutter every day until it's done.  I've almost, almost gotten myself psyched up to put a table at the foot of our bed temporarily, just to work on scrapbooks.  Almost.)

I'll post a pic of the mess when I make it.  ;)

02 July 2016

Window Day

Man, I couldn't take a more unflattering picture of myself if I tried.  Ignore the stump of an arm/hand there, and focus on the window.  'Kay?  You never know when inspiration will strike...sometimes, it's when you're outside, precariously balanced on a stool in yesterday's clothes, pre-shower, washing windows.  If you look reeeeeeeal hard, you can see a sleeping kid's feet on the couch.  And Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots.  

Yesterday was designated "spring-ish" cleaning day around here.  My main goal was to wash slipcovers, and to have the kids do some of the bigger jobs they haven't done lately (I'm looking at you, gallery wall and baseboards and doors).  Buuuuuuuuuuuut...I'm me.  After quiet time, I did the photo a day challenge, which was "out my window."  After I did that, and totally enjoyed the view for a minute, I noticed how dirty the curtains behind my desk were (dang cats!).  So, I took those down and put them in the washer.  And that started a whole chain of events...kitchen curtains and back door curtains were washed--and ironed--and every white curtain in the house came down and went back up clean.  While the curtains were in the wash, I cleaned the windows and window sills.  By the time I got to the dining room, I noticed something that I couldn't ignore anymore.  The inside of the windows was great--but when I looked out the windows, there was dirt on the outside.  It felt wrong somehow, to do all that work and still have a view of dirt.  So, I packed up my supplies and went outside.

Cleaning outside windows is a whole different endeavor, and I was grateful my Boy wasn't home to see how I balanced on a kitchen stool to wash the high parts instead of fussing with the ladder.  I know.  But, I'm glad I did it.

Washing windows wasn't on my to-do list yesterday, but it's obviously what I needed to do.  I thought a lot about myself and my habits as I cleaned...and a lot of what I thought about isn't the way I want to see myself.

Truth?  I'm not a window washer.  I've washed windows 2 or 3 times since we've lived in this house (about 19 months)...but in the little green house, I only washed outside windows ONCE in the entire 9 years we lived there.  For real.

The thing with windows is, we get so used to looking out of them we stop looking at the window and focus on what's beyond.  I'm like that with myself.  When something's not working in my heart or my personal life, a lot of times, instead of doing the work, I'll just start looking beyond it.  And it stays, and the dirt or whatever piles up.  And then when I realize what's going on, I've got a LOT of work to do.  On the other hand, if I'd just stay on top of it and do a little at a time, it wouldn't be a big deal at all.  So many things in life--and housework--are like that, right?

The kids were inside sleeping when I was outside washing windows, and I could see them as I worked.  They probably would have found it creepy to wake up and see me outside the window staring in, but I did a lot of thinking while I watched them sleep.  The thing with kids is, they don't know the windows are dirty unless we tell them.  Kids are so accepting--whatever you present to them as "normal," they believe is normal.  Pretty scary thought, right?

Feeding them junk has become normal.
Eating on the run and in front of the TV?  Normal.
Minimal exercise?  Or NONE if you're Mommygirl?  Normal.
Spending too little time at home and too much time out and about?  Normal.

I could go on, but you get the picture.  Sometime in the past two years, I just let go and let our lives run on autopilot while I worked and commuted and stressed and decompressed and then did it all over again.  Lots of great things have happened in that time, and I don't discount that at all, but I'm talking about habits.  How we live, really and truly.  And I'd say that for some reason I don't understand, we haven't been living as much as surviving...and living now and again.  I want more, for all of us.

Now, I have a choice.  I can continue on autopilot or I can do the hard work of cleaning things up and living intentionally.  I'd say again, but you know, that implies I've done it well at some point and that's debatable.

Another good lesson?  Our windows are clean...but there are still streaks and specks here and there.  They won't ever be perfectly clean on my watch, and I'm okay with that.  Good enough is good enough sometimes--I can appreciate how clean they are without focusing on the almost-impossible to improve areas.  Do you see the fine line there?  I do, and it's one I have to walk well with my tendencies.  It can't ALL be about clean windows, or living well.  Sometimes it's just about enjoying the windows (cat nose spots and all) and living fully in the moment.

I think you and I can both see where my mind and heart are right now...at home, with my family, trying to enjoy and improve at the same time.  Looking for that elusive balance of the good enough and better.

01 July 2016

The First Time

They say you never forget your first time...and they're totally right.  The other day at the pool, I was swimming laps (okay, A lap) with Noble and suddenly, I was a kindergartener again at the pool in Round Rock.  

I remember, vividly, viscerally, the first time I quit.  

It was the final day of swim lessons, and all I had to do was swim across the pool (the width, not the length).  To this day, I remember what I felt like, moving through the water...I remember looking at the side, maybe 10 feet away, and KNOWING that I could make it...but for some reason, choosing to put my feet down and quit swimming.  To this day, I don't know why I quit.  But I do know this:  quitting, like any other skill, gets easier with practice.  

7th grade basketball tryouts:  the lay-up was difficult for this uncoordinated girl.  Rather than ask for help or try harder, I quit.

Soccer.  Same thing.  Quit--before tryouts that time, I was a pretty accomplished quitter by then.

Dance team, cheerleader?  Didn't even try.

How many times have I been running and just decided to quit moving when it got hard?  Can't even count, but I remember some of those times like it was yesterday.  

Speaking of yesterday...the reason I remembered to write this post is that yesterday was yoga.  I went on Tuesday, for the first time in forever.  And I know I didn't really push myself, because I didn't feel it on Wednesday.  Yesterday, I was tired.  As we went into the first hard-ish pose, a few seconds in I thought, this is hard.  I could just put my leg down and rest for a few seconds before we switch sides.  And in that moment, I was back in the pool, putting my feet down.  Quitting.  

So I kept my leg up in the air, and did every pose with everything I had (which, frankly, wasn't much but it's enough).  And today?  Today I hurt.  A LOT.  

But I didn't quit.  And you know what?  I'm thinking not quitting is a skill that will get easier if I practice, too.  Maybe 40 years from now, I'll look back at that yoga pose and remember it vividly as the day I quit...quitting.