It Goes With Being Bros

I was raised with two sisters and a brother, and we got along fairly well as we maneuvered growing up in a culture that was pushing to change everything, correct the wrongs done to the greater population, and address what they felt was good and right.

That was the 60’s.

Our relationships matured with our years, and we get along quite well today.

I could be a lot more engaged than I am.

My family of origin is spread from Wisconsin to Arizona to California. We have seen each other more on zoom these last few months than we have face-to-face in several years. We’re all quite different, which adds to the richness of our relationships.

Sometimes it’s just hard being siblings. Remembering to connect consistently, recognizing that they don’t know all of my life any more than I know the totality of theirs can be challenging.

I see that in the relationships among the grands. They all have a deep appreciation for one another, but day-to-day interactions can be spicy.

Two of my older grands recently competed alongside one another in the district finals of high school soccer. Ethan was the center back, a defender who is quick to see what needs to be done and does it. Teagan played in goal, holding back scoring opportunities so their team won the district championship. Both played stellar games and had a hand in the win.

I’ve seen these two in their natural habitat–home. They get on each other’s nerves and can annoy one another with an artistry that is sublime. 

When it counted in this game, they had each other’s backs. They supported each other well, each making the other look good in their position. Each contributing skillsets that benefited the whole team.

It was amazing to watch the camaraderie on the field as all the players came together cohesively to make a stronger whole than the strength of individual players.

They needed each other to do their best. 

It’s easy to allow the annoyances in life to destroy our great motivations and intentions. We have perceptions of what others may be saying about us or may think about us because we’ve filtered our responses through our own story, one they may know nothing about. 

God calls us to do what’s right by one another. To think of each other as more important than ourselves and be willing to do what is good and honorable for each other, no matter how much we don’t get along or don’t like each other. We’ve been created to connect with one another and do that we need to see past untrue presumptions, ill-advised suppositions, and misunderstandings.

Unless we live authentically with one another, revealing our thoughts and feelings honestly, there’s no way others can understand where we’re coming from. Too often we throw out a comment, a thought, with no context, no explanation, expecting others to know what and how we’re thinking. 

Unwholesome words of accusation, anger, and disrespect don’t benefit anyone. They poke holes in the hearts and souls of others.

Wouldn’t it be better to be loving and forgiving? To let go of grudges and hate?

If intentional cooperation can work on a soccer field, can you imagine how much more we’d win in life if we worked together?

 

 

Nobody Wants To Be Cut Down

I love trees.

My husband says I relate to trees like I do people–each one has a personality and quirks.

All of them have value.

We have a live oak in our front yard that is slowly doing damage to our driveway, water pipes, and lawn. The root system sits high so there are these knobby appendages that rise up out of the grass to suck the life out of the lawn or wrap themselves around and grow through the pipes, causing huge cracks in the concrete of our driveway.

I love that tree.

It’s over 25 years old and looks somewhat like a bearded wizard. Spanish moss hangs from its branches, a nasty moss that leeches life from the tree. I’ve climbed into its branches to rid it of that nuisance. I never wanted to prune it because the random cutting of branches seemed so unkind, so its growth pattern is rather unattractive. 

It’s an ugly tree, but it’s my tree.

I’ve argued to keep it. 

It’s coming down this week.

Our next-door neighbor has already had to pay for extensive damages to his pipes caused by a similar tree in his front yard. John is concerned we’re going to have to repave our driveway because the cracks are being problematic. The pipe issue is always there; roots are persistent in their growth pattern, not caring what’s in their way. They’ll just grow through it.

This tree has been part of our home for 25 years. Our kids and grands have climbed it. The birds and squirrels that populate that tree are friends who chatter up a storm anytime someone comes into the house. 

It’s part of the family.

The time has come, however, to evaluate the value of keeping the tree. It will cost considerably to cut it down. But repiping from the street to the house could be quite a bit more. And then there’s the driveway.

Too often I hang onto what isn’t good for me; lies that have taken root in my soul that I’ve made part of how I see myself, attitudes I’ve developed that aren’t encouraging to me or others, perspectives that are shared widely by individuals but really don’t help me at all. They’re familiar, and they might have begun as great intentions, but they don’t actually cause growth and wholeness in any positive way.

Filling my heart and mind with God’s truth keeps me centered on what’s good, right, and helpful. Focusing on Him and His strength and willingness to love and protect me keeps me from getting mired in untruths that can easily destroy who I am.

That tree didn’t start out as a problem; it’s not a bad tree. It was left untended and became a problem. 

When we’re not careful with our lives, with what we allow our minds and hearts to invest in with time and intent, we can become just like that tree–hurting ourselves and those around us with unrestrained entitlement and self-centeredness. 

We aren’t just messy, hurting problems. We’re people in need of the love and forgiveness of a merciful God.

He alone knows how to tend the soil of our souls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When It’s Not About Me

 

photo courtesy of Matthew Henry on Unsplash

I disappointed a friend recently.

It wasn’t something I wanted to do. I wasn’t trying to hurt, annoy, or upset anyone.

It happened.

I tend to move through life with a “go-with-the-flow” attitude. I’m not mired in what is; I’m open to change. In this time of necessary pivoting, I maneuver fairly well.

Not everyone has the same perspective.

My friend depended on me to be part of leading a group, and we’d agreed to do it at my home. I’d done the preparation–food, drinks, all the necessary things to have when people gather. I was looking forward to being with everyone.

A glitch happened. Unanticipated. I was reminded that my oldest grand was possibly playing his final soccer game of his high school career. He’s become an incredible player, a calming and solid force on the field, and I wanted to be present for this rite of passage.

It meant leaving the meeting and the house to those who were coming.

I thought it would work out. 

The game was amazing. Our team won, and my grandson was a stellar part of that win. His younger brother played an outstanding game as a goalkeeper. I was grateful to be part of it, to be able to hug them both and affirm them in how well they played.

When I returned home, our group was still there, and we had the chance to spend some time interacting.

I felt I’d gotten the best of both worlds.

After everyone left, my co-leader and I had a chance to talk.

I’m not good with confrontational conversations, but he was kind and gracious. He let me know it was hard for him to change mid-course without a lot of awareness of what I had decided. What had been easy for me to flex with hadn’t been the same for him.

Communication is a big deal in life. We all get overwhelmed with managing our images, wanting people to see or believe the best about us. It’s easy to overlook being honest and authentic with those we interact with. We move forward with what we think is right and best without considering the situations and feelings of others. 

In today’s world, we’re encouraged to strive for what we want, reach for what we believe we need, do whatever it takes to make things go our way.

That’s not what we were made for.

God created us for the wonder of community. To care about each other, help one another, be there when others have needs, and provide what we’ve been given. All we have is from God, our Gracious Giver. And our challenge is to give to others generously and selflessly to help them in need.

God will provide all our needs according to His riches in glory in Jesus. He is our Enough.

If I had paused to consider how my choices and actions could affect others, I might have followed a different path. Not just making it about what I wanted to do but consider who else would be affected by my decision.

Can you imagine a world where we actually think about others before we choose to do what we want?

Compassion and caring never felt so good.

 

The Stories We Tell

Having raised six children, one boy, and five girls, I became adept at deep emotions and excessive drama.

It’s a whole new world with eleven of the fifteen grands being boys. Trains, earth moving equipment, anything that can be thrown, dinosaurs–I’ve learned much about the passions of the younger male gender. Their energy level surpasses mine at any given moment. Motion is preferred to sitting. Speaking loudly is chosen over whispers.

My son, surrounded by non-stop talkers, was a tender-hearted guy who loved his sisters well. It didn’t keep him from kicking balls at them or experimenting with pulling heads off dolls–he always tried to put them back.

I’m enjoying the spontaneity of young boys and their bravery and bravado. I’m not saying girls aren’t also like that, but my experience right now is the energy and uniqueness of boys. 

They are all different.

Even being raised in the same family doesn’t make them little cookie-cutter replicas of one another. Up in Pennsylvania, Huck wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up. He’s a talker and will have a conversation with anyone about anything. Landry is quieter and longs to be a farmer. He’s quick to help out with all the work at their small vineyard. Mack, the littlest, isn’t like either of them–he wants to be a police car. Sirens, lights, and all. He is a compassionate little soul with deep feelings. Little Beck in Colorado wants to be a dad–he’s two, and he loves everybody, waving to strangers with a huge grin every time they take a walk.

Living similar stories doesn’t make us the same. Being raised with the same set of values and perspectives doesn’t create automatic carbon copies. 

I’ve always been fascinated with stories. With who we are and how we’ve come to be that way. The beauty of each life is that even in the same families, stories are as different as our personalities.

I have a fraternal twin sister, whom I love. We shared a tight space for nine months and a room for eighteen years. We have a younger sister who joined us three and a half years later. When our brother came along two years later, the complexity increased.

Same upbringing, same values, same basic opportunities. And we differ in almost every way possible.

Our conversations together are a riot. We run the gamut of attitudes and thoughts, disagreeing with humor and pushing each other’s buttons in love and compassion.

Nobody is superfluous. Everyone adds to the beauty of the big picture. 

The wonder of it all is that we are each created by the same God. Out of love and compassion. To be people of purpose and hope.

What we miss is the ability to see the value in each other. To honor the story. Our narratives are diverse, often rough, frequently full of pain. 

Each one is worth our attention.

Is it a wonder that Jesus taught people using stories? Parables took everyday occurrences and helped people understand deeper meanings of life and God.

What if we took the time to truly listen to each other’s stories? To ask questions that clarified what we can’t see or understand?

We may find appreciation for someone without judging their cover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream A Little Dream

Growing up, I had dreams of becoming wonderful things–but I never landed on just one thing.

The first career I chose was to be a horse trainer, then it morphed into owning a ranch and raising horses. I was a typical young gal horse fanatic. 

As I got older, I determined I wanted to be a writer. To hide away in some shabby attic and write the great American novel.

My kids and grands have and are going through phases of what they’d like to be. Neither John nor I nor our kids have pursued what we studied in college. Life experiences lead us to discover more about what we want to do and who we are.

What I love is the dream phase the grands are in now. Ward wants to be a doctor; Sloane desires to pursue scuba diving and being a nurse; Mason longs to be Mickey Mouse; Brooklyn wishes to teach. Each has been influenced by their current reality.

Why didn’t I ever dream of being Mickey Mouse?

Our dreams are spurred on by our experiences. They’re piqued by curiosity and hope.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered a skill set and talent for doing certain things. I love working with people–I’m an extrovert and have more words than most people want to hear. But I also have the heart to see people grow in who they are and what they can do. I’ve become a coach, which fits my personality and what I enjoy doing.

I’ve also grown in the scope of how I want to see people grow. Not just in better understanding themselves and how they choose to show up in life.

I want to see people coming to true faith in Jesus so they can know and experience His grace and mercy for them. That His real hope for each of us, His powerful love offered to us, His promise of eternity for us is something we can each experience.

To believe this life is all there is feels like a mockery. So many struggle and have difficult lives because of our broken world, living with people who will always disappoint–which is all of us. But God offers us forgiveness and wholeness in Jesus in ways we can’t begin to imagine. Not a change in our life circumstances, but wholeness in our souls that leads to contentment and joy in spite of what’s happening in our lives. 

With Jesus, we’re not alone. Ever.

This isn’t a simple panacea, a cure-all for what ails us. It’s an eternal perspective that allows us the freedom to think beyond what we see and understand to hope for what is promised by the One who made us.

Living life as it was intended is far superior to becoming a doctor or scuba diver or Mickey Mouse. Those are all good and have their places. They’re skills needed in this world.

Thinking beyond what we see and experience is the heart of faith in God. True faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see.

Dream a little dream of experiencing life beyond what you know. True peace in your heart.

Mickey can’t even offer that.