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Run Like Holly

Run Like Holly

I had just finished reminding my children to be careful with my cousin’s beagle Holly. She has some spinal issues that give her pain once in a while. We’re used to being rough and tumble with our ornery Shih Tzus, but around Holly, we aim for being more delicate.

Imagine my surprise when, outside, Holly suddenly took off in a beagle dash across the side yard, giving chase like there’s no tomorrow.

I got the distinct feeling she was giving us her best, showing us what she could do, impressing us.

How does a fragile dog suddenly pick herself up and run like a strong, youthful puppy?

Motivation. Who is she running for?

Where does she get the sudden strength when she’s otherwise a bit weak?

That’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

How about you? Who are you running for?

What motivates you to be your very best?

Like Holly, I’ve been a bit Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Removing Unwanted Layers

Removing Unwanted LayersIn light of the recent “National Dog Day,” I was reflecting on my newly shorn Shih Tzu Samson. Like his namesake in the Bible (Judges 13-16), he is strong and very hairy.

(If you’re not a dog fan, hang in there…I’m going somewhere with this—and as a sidenote, how can you not be a dog fan? Wink.)

My daughter and I spent an hour and a half one day out in a doggie-gated area of our backyard taking the clippers to our resident fuzzball. It was mother-daughter bonding time: many laughs over our mild-mannered but fed-up Samson. He was mostly patient as we practiced our haircutting skills, trimmed a little more beard here and there, gave him a manly tail shape, and assessed where we missed and he still looked a bit shaggy.

But under all that hair was a robust dog, strong and youthful, playful and now much cooler. Our home isn’t air-conditioned, so I could almost see Samson breathe a huge sigh of relief, pant a little less, and feel a bit more spry with the weight of his “wool” off. He looked like a lamb, fresh from the shearing.

Oh, Samson, Buddy! We forgot how unencumbered you are without the heavy weight of your hair! How free! How cool! How lovely!

I thought about myself and others carrying around burdens. Maybe you are too. I considered what we look like—even feel like—when we take a few layers off, when we start stripping off the layers of worry and care.

Granted, we cannot always do that. We all have responsibilities and commitments, right? We can’t simply “drop hair” like Samson and now run about footloose and fancy free in the yard.

Or can we? Read the rest of this entry »

 

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From Lighthouse to Lighthouse: Facing Fears and Trusting God

From Lighthouse to LighthouseSince our return to the Boston area in 2009, every other year my family vacations in a different Canadian province. We started off at a KOA cabin near Niagara Falls, then two years later spent a few days in Québec City, and this year we are in a tiny cottage on Covehead Bay, which is fed by the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the beautiful Maritime province of Prince Edward Island. Currently, we are looking for Anne of Green Gables.

Board games, bike rides, drives through potato farmland marveling at old countryside churches, grilling steak tips, and walking long trails with the dogs are how we unwind. Vacations don’t have to be frantic, expensive, or fast-food unhealthy. I’m so glad we made a deliberate choice to get our serenity on and breathe in the salty Atlantic water as we walk around the bay.

This week has been a time of getting reacquainted with the kids, reminding them we are more than just taxi drivers, moneylenders, and activity cheerleaders. The best of ourselves is reinvesting in the best of ourselves. It’s so good to replenish and fill up again. I hear that still, small voice whispering into my heart lessons to take away from breathing in deeply and not being busy.

And sometimes, it’s when we’re in vacation mode that we feel freer to Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Licking Laptops—and Other Things in Our Way

Licking Laptops—Nothing quite says “laptop” like the local coffeehouse. It’s one of my favorite places to flip that puppy open and work on social media marketing, read articles about the publishing industry, check out a new profile on LinkedIn, or pin that recipe. I’ll admit, when I’m “taxi parent,” I flip it open more frequently at the karate dojo, in the car outside the dance studio, or at the occupational therapist’s office waiting on my son.

But I was at home one day when I started settling into a good writing groove in my favorite-and-very-old IKEA chair, feet propped up on the ottoman. Suddenly, I heard some slurpy noises. As I peered around the screen of my laptop, it turns out that the Almighty Glowing Apple was getting a good lick on the other side of my creative mind flow.

I hadn’t even noticed my Shih Tzu Delilah by my feet showing her puppy affection for my MacBook Pro. She has a way of claiming space on the ottoman like a stealth fighter pilot. (Meanwhile, her brother Samson was on his bed, as usual, sending peaceful snores into the air to a rhythm that sounds so much like “Billy Jean” that I keep looking for the trademark white glove. Pretty sure I saw him slide backward with each snuffle, though.)

My dogs would lick every inch of our arms, faces, feet, etc., if we let them. There are several different reasons why dogs lick. I think my dogs primarily show affection that way.

But, why, oh why, did my 12-pound Shih Tzu lick my laptop?

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Frazzled and Faith-Tested? Let Me Introduce You to Grace

Frazzled and Faith-Tested-Let Me Introduce You to Grace

Do you see that?

Hear that?

Sense that?

People are watching us. They want to see how we do this whole life thing with faith in Christ.

Will we slip up? Will we yell at God? Will we forget what the cross was for?

I can’t really say. Some of us might.

Life is hard, and the fluffy moments are not really what faith is for, are they? Sure, faith is present in those moments, but faith is not tested when life is cuddly, warm, prosperous, and carefree.

Yesterday, I felt like several balls were in the air at once. I had just gotten over being bed-bound for two days, and I had just survived the Let’s-See-All-Specialists-for-Myself-and-My-Children-All-in-the-First-Two-Weeks-of-January stress that I put on myself. Yup, eye doctor, dental torture, mammography, child psychiatrist, child therapist, pediatrician, and a long line-up of other such Happy Copay Collectors. I was apparently fulfilling some kind of unrealistic New Year’s resolution to maintain the family health. It felt like penance more than anything else—although for what, I wasn’t quite sure.

I thought, finally waking well, that it could be that often-just-out-of-reach day of rest. I wrongly assumed, after a four-day weekend off from school, that my kids would be in their respective learning institutions, and me? I’d catch up on some things—although I’m not putting the Christmas decorations away yet. I’m not that ambitious, and after all, my daughter tells all her friends (and their moms) that I keep them up until Valentine’s Day, so why ruin that little rumor? That’s too hyperbolic to pass up! 🙂

But then, after completing some tasks and starting to bury myself under some nice flannel sheets for a half-hour snooze, 

the phone rang.

It was the middle school nurse. The Day of Peace and Catch-Up came crashing down. I had to pick up my sickie Little Chickie. (I knew she was really sick because she’s my best patient and one tough cookie.)

After settling down Chickie, I headed to the elementary school to help with math in my son’s class, but when I arrived, I saw that The Look That Rips My Heart in Two was on his face.

The one where he’s given up.

The one where he’s overwhelmed and tear-filled but hiding it because he has looked over his math sheet a gazillion times and doesn’t know how to start.

Dear ADHD: Some days I admire your amazingness, and I want your incredibly swift-moving mind. But today, you put that look of failure and disappointment on Little Man’s face, and I just want to bash your face in. Love, Not-Feelin-the-Love-for-You-Today-ADHD, Mom

I choked back that sick feeling and shushed that haunting voice…the one that whispered to me we were doing last year’s depressive spiraling all over again. I got a grip, pulled my big girl trousers (such an awesome, antiquated word!) on, and backed off. I helped other students in the room. I kept a distant eye on him, but I didn’t hover, and I didn’t display Mama Panic.

Awesome Teacher and I exchanged a knowing glance. She would catch me up later. It was okay. She’s got this.

Faith-tested? 

Yes, it’s very hard to understand the “whys” of the struggle and if it will ever end. I cried on the way home and had this conversation with My Very Best Friend:

“Jesus, You know how much I love him. How I want to help him.” And then I said: “You love him so much more! So much more. I know You do.”

And with that statement of faith came a peace that I cannot explain.

But I find that in these testing moments, declarations of faith in God release His work in our lives. 

He certainly doesn’t need our permission, but it’s like a big nod or “go-ahead” that we trust what He is already doing and about to do.

James 1:3, ESV, James, brother of Jesus, speaking

…for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

The day didn’t end before a dog ate something she shouldn’t have and my oldest fell sick on the way home from karate. Some days just stink like a sewer. And this was my post on some social media platform (can’t even remember which one now) by the end of the day:

Daughter is sick, is vomiting, and son needs . Don’t we all some days ?

Okay, what happens when we’re frazzled?

When I’m frazzled, it usually means scrapping everything I had planned and begrudgingly accepting a rework when illness/crisis/advocacy can’t be put down. To me, not being able to do it all used to equate to feelings of failure. Ridiculous, right?

Dinner might not be made.
Deadlines may suffer.
I might not meet the needs of Children #1 and #2 as well as I would like to, since #3 needs my help right now.
The dogs may chew the couch or leave a little mess because they aren’t getting the usual dose of attention.
Dust might pitch more than a few tents on my furniture.
Permission slips might not be signed on time.
Tests might not be assisted in being studied for.
My spouse and I might be quick to quarrel.
I might rage at times about the feeling of lack of control a disorder or disease may bring.
Kids might go to bed after a cereal dinner in the clothes they wore to school.

These sound like silly standards, right? And yet, how many of us get derailed by not meeting them?

But I can’t do everything. And neither can you.

So, I ask God to help me do my best, but I try to keep in mind that:

The only one interested in me beating myself up is the liar to my soul.

It certainly isn’t God, even on the days I’m wondering why I fail to trust, why I slip into measuring myself by ridiculous standards, why I forget I’m only human and need His amazing grace to cover where I fall short.

Maybe you’re going through something significantly tougher than what I describe here in my own personal anguish about my son. Jesus’s hand is warm whenever we remember to grab it. I’m squeezing it tightly. You can too.

He never leaves us. And He holds up what we cannot carry when we ask Him.

Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV, Moses writing

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

More anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).
 

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