Thursday, November 21, 2019
Apparently, even after all these years, I am still surprising myself. One would think that at 44, I would have figured out who I am and how I operate. One would be wrong. I am a faulty, messy, distracted, fair weathered individual. I can be on it one day and completely scattered the next.
Actions speak louder than words. And those actions sometimes have severe consequences. Severe enough consequences that can ruin relationships, change the course of a life and even cause a complete breakdown of person's ideology.
I find it disconcerting that I am always able to detect, point out and even call out poor behavior and decisions in someone else's life before I am willing to admit, confess and conquer those same behaviors and decisions in my own life. I call out someone else's sin before I am willing to come face to face with my own. Plank and speck. I even justify my judgement and need to convict others of their sin, forgetting that I can not be nor ever will be the ultimate con victor, the Holy Spirit. Taking on that job isn't one that I ever wish to have, especially when dealing with my hot mess self each and every day.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:3-5
Those planks tend to be messy, huge, and life stalling. The existence and presence of so many planks can often blind and deter me from even attempting to take a step forward. Usually because I have been focusing on fixing everyone else. And when I pause, on days like today, and acknowledge that some serious personal housekeeping needs to be tended to, a knee is bent, a request for forgiveness is made, thanksgiving and praise is given to a loving Savior and an acknowledgement occurs of the grace and love that is bestowed to me each and every day.
When I pick up the pieces that have been mended not by own hand, a step forward is then possible. Not only possible but commanded. That first step is to love others, to serve others, to pour into the lives of other people.
Each time this happens, I remember what I was taught as a child. Be the one that addresses the planks, not the puller of specks.
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Too Many Battles
By: Kelli J Gavin
Life. It is hard, isn't it? Daily, sometimes, more of the hard stuff happens and it seems to pile up. Pile up so much that it can be debilitating. The heft, the burden of life can weigh so much, that it is immobilizing.
When I was in high school, I was struggling during my junior year. School, a couple of challenging classes with excessive amounts of homework, play practice, church youth group, babysitting. There seemed to be never enough hours in the day to accomplish what needed to be done. I was tired and I needed a break and there wasn't any break in sight. My mom saw how much I was struggling. She saw me wipe tears away as I entered the kitchen. She saw me studying until 9 or 10 p.m. every evening. She saw me become more and more quiet.
"Kelli, I know you have been under a lot of pressure with so much going on. I don't know that we can make school ever go away, but you can take a step back from a few other things. Knowing that you have made a commitment to be in the play, I would like to propose that maybe you take a break from babysitting and youth group for a month, maybe longer. I know that you like the money you make from babysitting, and that you like spending time with your friends at youth group, but what if you just didn't attend for a bit? You can focus on school, homework and play practice. You can make sure that you get to bed at a decent hour each night. What do you think? Should we try it and see how it goes?"
I started to cry. I was so thankful because I felt like my mom was giving me permission to take a break. She was giving me permission to pick my battles and letting me know that she knew I had probably picked too many. She was enabling me to put battles back that I shouldn't have picked in the first place. Over commitment had become the biggest battle in my life.
Now, as an adult, as a married mom of two teenagers, I feel I have learned a wise lesson from my mom. I have learned picking my daily battles is essential. I find myself whispering, "Too many," to remind myself that most of the battles that I face were never intended for me to fight.
Today, I had the day off of work, but a to do list a mile long. Deadlines looming, work contracts, errands, and groceries. It took me 3 hours to finish everything on my computer alone. But then I looked at my battle list for the day. Too many. Fewer. Put some back.
Tomorrow is a new day without as many battles that need to be fought. And when something happens that may change my course, something unexpected that may weigh heavy on my heart, I will remember my wise mother. I will give myself permission to take a break. I will pick my battles, and when I realize that I have picked too many, I will put a few back. I will focus on the new day that I have been given. I will be thankful for those family and friends that surround me. Because those are people that bring me joy daily.
Sunday, November 10, 2019
Saturday, November 2, 2019
My daughter is a little drama queen. She loves music and singing and acting in plays. She also loves swimming. She lacks any sort of talent when it comes to sports, but can ride a scooter like it was her God given gift. My son loves drawing, golf, swimming and going for walks. Everything he enjoys is a very solitude act.
My husband and I have always enabled our kids to choose their activities. We never forced them to participate in tee ball, little league or even any team sports. I never encouraged my daughter to try gymnastics, dance or baton like I had when I was young. But I also never encouraged it. We never signed them up for anything and then made the go against their will. However, there was a week long summer dance clinic that made me feel like that week was actually going to kill me in the end. My kids swim in the backyard in the summer when they want. The go for walks and scooter rides. They tell us when they want to go to the golf course, the driving range or Top Golf. We are a content family without surrounding ourselves with the busyness of organized team sports.
We are also content with the idea of our kids not being involved in a ton of other activities. We make it a priority for our kids to attend church youth group on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. We also make sure that if our daughter wants to be in a play or volunteer through school or church, that she is able to do so. We encourage our kids to have fun through doing the things that they like to do and we don't force them to do the things they may not enjoy just because other kids participate in those activities. I never want to be a parent that passes on a Keeping Up With the Jones mentality to the next generation. And that attitude can be formed when it comes to the acquisition of things or the participation in events or activities.
I have been asked if Josh and I have any plans for Lily to become involved in any additional activities. Um. No. What? Why? My daughter is in 7th grade, has asthma, lacks any coordination whatsoever to excel in any sport, but loves to act in two plays each school year, sing in choir, volunteer after school each fall and at church every other Sunday. I have full confidence that she enjoys every activity she participates in and doesn't begrudge Josh or I for forced participation. Parents are already talking about college and scholarships and resumes. My mind can't even wrap itself around the fact that we have two teenagers. I can't even yet imagine the idea of Lily going to college.
Parents are a funny thing. Of course we all want whats best for our kids. But sometimes, parents fall into the comparison game. They even take more pride in the personal accomplishments of their children than they do in anything they have done. And that pride can morph into a raging machine when they want to make sure that every other parent knows how well their kids are doing in comparison to other children.
Nope. I just don't have time for it. A humble brag, yes. My kid is having fun in a play at school. The performance is this weekend. So proud of her. Not- My daughter is the most amazing actress ever. - And then try to recruit the entire family and friend sphere to attend a performance of a junior high play. Or- My kid loves to draw and he has really improved over the last two years.- Then post updated drawings. Not- print out a million copies and and distribute them to everyone including the lady stocking fruit at the grocery store.
My goal each day is to love my kids, encourage my kids and point them to Jesus. My goal isn't to fill their day and frankly my day with more activities and more stress that make them feel like they just want to make it through each day rather than enjoy and savor every moment.
Do I care that my daughter won't have the most padded resume or activity involvement when it comes to college applications? No. I do not. But I do care that she has a kind heart. I do care that she enjoys helping others. And I care that she has time to play with friends, time to read, time to play games with her family and time to be a kid. Because in a few short years, this world is going to ask an awful lot of her. This school will ask her to be an adult in a world where adults aren't very nice to each other. This world will ask her to compete for positions in school and for jobs. This world will ask her to focus on everything that doesn't matter rather than focus on the condition of her heart and mind.
So, for now, I will not push. I will not sign her up. I will not pester. I will not beg. I will not make her do anything she isn't interested in or be involved in anything she doesn't enjoy. Because today, we are focusing on her being a kid. On having fun. On smiling and laughing. On enjoying this day that we have been gifted.
Friday, November 1, 2019
Wondering what brought on a rush of emotions the other night, my husband wiped a few of my tears and gently asked me what was wrong. My feelings were deeply hurt when I reviewed a text history with a friend. I realized that I was the one texting. I was the one asking questions. I was the one initiating every interaction we had. I continued to put in the effort and hadn't caught on that the effort wasn't appreciated. That the effort hadn't been appreciated in quite some time.
I wish I could say that this is the first time it has happened to me. That it was the only time I shed a tear over a friendship when I realized it had played its course. After drying my own tears, I fondly remembered what my mom had said more than once when I was growing up. "Never chase anyone. I don't care if it is a friend or a boy. Some relationships are meant to last. Some, for only a short while. When you learn who will stay, hold on to them."
I think my mom knew a little about relationships playing their course. She had watched friends come and go. She had also grieved as she experienced her marriage to my dad crumble. A personality larger than life, she was driven, focused and sometimes too much to take in. People felt overwhelmed by her. But I realize now as an adult, that the relationships my mom lost, said more about the person who walked away than it ever did about her.
When someone loves another person fiercely, it can be scary and often disarming. What if a person was hurt, even expected to be hurt, and built up a few walls of protection in the mean time? When all that love is directed at someone, it can be overwhelming. And usually when people are overwhelmed, they either shut down or flee. And flee was what I saw people do when it came to my mom. No longer answering phone calls, not available to hang out or meet for a quick meal. And eventually, that friend, that person who was once so close, was a fond memory.
Never chase anyone. I always listened to my mom. Well, I usually listened to my mom. I won't chase. But I also won't fall apart. I will miss my friend. I will miss texting, our late night laughs, our giggles and catching up over coffee. Our meals that turn into 2 then 3 and 4 hours long. But I will never disturb them again.
And what if another text is received? What if an attempt is made to contact me? I will love them like I always have, I will remember fondly a friendship that was important to me. But I will remember the feeling of being avoided and move on. I will move on to the relationships that encourage me, to the relationships that restore me. The relationships that I plan on continuing to treasure.
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