There’s No Such Thing As Too Annoying

 

 

I’m at that point in life where I  need to be mindful of building strong bones and remaining flexible. My Mom shrank three inches because of osteoporosis.

I do some weight training, but I also do yoga.

Some folks have issues with the practice of yoga. The mindfulness–or emptying of your mind–often confuses people about what the practice represents.

I’m typically watching TV while doing it, often the morning news. The only thing I’m mindful of is the truly sad state of affairs of our world.

That and balancing so I don’t fall over.

We’re sharing an apartment right now with my one daughter, her husband, and two children. Her two little ones are truly engaging and quite interactive. Often to my detriment.

I rolled out my mat the other morning, having switched on “Good Morning, America.” I did some stretching, felt really good, and began to go with the flow. And the news.

Melody and Ward came down; she needed coffee, and he needed people interaction.

Coffee in hand, she sat on the couch and gave him free rein to wander.

Which he did. In front of my face.

I tried to plank. He plopped in front of me, bottom first, under my chin.

I couldn’t hold the pose.

I tried a deep lunge Warrior 1. He crawled under my legs.

I couldn’t stop laughing.

I tried downward facing dog. He sat on my head before sliding onto my outstretched hands.

I totally lost it.

My best intentions to exercise at the beginning of the day were thwarted by an engaging and entertaining one-year-old.

I didn’t care. The laughter felt more energizing than a child’s pose, my favorite stretch.

After I gave up, he threw himself into my arms, a broad grin on his face, his pacifier hanging from his mouth.

It felt wonderful to just sit with him.

It’s easy for me to make plans and not take into account the little ones currently surrounding me. With responsibilities to complete, people to see, meetings to attend, I can become rather focused on what needs to happen rather than who is in my line of vision.

I can become annoyed with them.

There are times when I feel I’m that annoying child to God. Where my small issues–which are massive to me–are just too much minutia for Him to bother with. In light of all the problems in the world, the losses, tragedies, disasters, and fears, what I worry about is nothing. Not worth His time.

But God is our Abba Father. The One who is intimately acquainted with us in all our mess and still chooses to love us.The One who sees all we do and knows what we are capable of, the good and the bad. Once we are His, we can’t be separated from His love by anything we do or think.

Abba is an Aramaic word translated as “father”. There is no good translation for this. It reflects an intimacy in the relationship, the reality of belonging to God Almighty.

I can’t annoy Him. I belong to Him.

Being loved and belonging–could it ever get better than that?

 

 

Papa Corn Holds Court

 

 

The adults were sitting at one table. Young parents with a plethora of children, all enjoying conversatio–apart from their kids.

John had all those kids at his table.

My husband is the ultimate Papa. Children gravitate to him like bees to flowers. His kindness, gentleness and good humor draw them into conversations which bring out the best in all of them.

He does default to kid songs and videos on his phone when time drags on. Limits are a reality, even for him in his interactions with littles.

Papa Corn is the camp name given to him by the counselors of our Kid’s Camp here in Colorado. A practice begun by the Pine Cove Camp in Texas, it’s a chance for those working with a person to designate them by a characteristic or quality they experience in that person.

My husband is passionate about popcorn. And being the consummate Papa, this just fit.

Case in point. We have a mini fridge in our apartment filled with kid attractive drinks–Gatorade, CapriSun, Bubly for the more mature palette. And water. On top of that, he buys huge bags of gummy worms, chips and Ring Pops.

I can’t imagine this being our norm back home. Having kids pop in all day every day would be a challenge. I don’t know all who come. For the summer, it’s a wonderful chance to reach out to the kids and make them feel they are valued enough to be considered worthy of treats.

There’s something about having an adult make a fuss over children that makes them feel special. An older person who has a job and does important things yet makes time for those whose value isn’t in what they do is an act of graciousness that kids can identify. When we acknowledge children with kindness, especially if they aren’t ours, and treat them with respect, it elevates their self-esteem.

Imagine what it feels like to be treated with grace and mercy, even when you know you don’t deserve it. To be valued by someone who is much higher in rank and importance than you. To be regarded as significant no matter your station of life, the kind of work you do, or what your life has looked like to this point.

That’s how God sees us.

We are the epitome of His creation. Made in His image like nothing else in the whole universe. Created to know Him.

He is perfect in all He does. Greater than any care, difficulty, or disappointment we face. He holds the universe in His hands.

We are merely a speck in the whole realm of creation. A flash in the pan that is here today and gone more quickly than we realize.

God considers us worthy of His love. So much so that He sent His only Son to die in our place so we could be with Him for eternity in heaven. To Him we’re neither small nor insignificant.

We matter.

Papa Corn knows how to make kids feel special.

God sees each of us with all our hurts and warts and makes us feel special.

Isn’t it worth the time to check Him out and see if this is all true?

What have you got to lose?

 

 

 

‘Cuz We’re Cousins

 

You couldn’t find two more different little boys.

That’s not totally true. We’ve all quite unique. But seeing distinctions in the lives of two one-year-olds is more fun than two adults sitting together attempting to connect and get along.

Cal and Ward are four months apart. Cal, the older, is quite a bit bigger than his cousin. He’s the gentle giant to Ward’s feisty little guy. Both are quick to grin, love to cuddle, and are a little hesitant with strangers. Both are constant-motion machines following very different compasses.

Their mothers are sisters, similar and yet different.

Aside from that genetic connection, these two are polarities apart in temperament, which mitigates how they interact with one another.

Cal was laying on the floor the other night, chilling. He can be quiet when he chooses not to sound like a pterodactyl. That sound makes my ears hurt.

Ward ambled over to him, squatted beside him, and began smacking him in the face. Not hard, but others would have had a reaction.

Not Cal.

Then Ward straddled him, his rump in Cal’s face, and lay spread-eagle on his cousin.

That’s when Cal had enough. It could have been the diapered bum by his nose, or he might have reached his limit.

The pterodactyl scream hit the airwaves, and someone finally grabbed Ward and removed him from Cal’s stomach.

Cal chatters all the time. He has intonation and a few words, and he wants to get his point across.

Ward is an observer. He watches everyone and everything, waiting for his move. Which he will make.

I love these two, but even in my interactions with them, I can’t treat them the same. They need different things; they respond to different attitudes.

Even in food, they’re different. Ward is a total carnivore, loving meat of most kinds. Cal, on the other hand, may be the youngest vegetarian I know. He turns his nose up to most meat and eggs. He’s happiest with a bowl of fruit or peas.

This is the beauty of relationships. What makes them exciting and stretching is that we’re all different. No matter how similar we appear to be, how consistent our backgrounds are, our stories and their depth add a whole new dimension to who we really are.

All of our stories matter. To God.

Every life is filled with challenges, pain, loss, sorrow, and disappointment. The best stories written are filled with those things in life that cause our character to grow and develop.

There’s no adventure in “Once upon a time…and they lived happily ever after.”

Because everyone lacks perfection, we’re prone to hurt one another and ourselves with our words and actions.

But God, in His love for us, gives us the grace to learn from our mistakes, to seek forgiveness, to restore what’s been destroyed. He alone is the strength we need to do what we can’t do on our own–love others well and consistently.

Cal and Ward are at the front end of their relationship. They will continue to play together–and hurt each other. But as they’re taught to apologize and own their mistakes, the relationship will thrive.

Good relationships are all about dealing with each other’s messes.

 

 

 

 

 

What Does It Mean To Be A Dad?

With Father’s Day just passed, I was reminded of how the definition of “Dad” differs from person to person.

I was fortunate. I had a very engaging dad who worked hard at knowing who I was, along with my two sisters and brother. He never lumped us together as “the kids”. He saw our individuality and celebrated it.

I’ve watched my husband as a dad. A kind, gracious man who is generous-hearted and deeply compassionate, his kids have always known they’ve been significant to him. A quiet man, he doesn’t fill their world with words; he chooses to show love through his actions and attitudes.

I have one son and five sons-in-law who’ve proven what it means to be men of character, respect, and love. Their families thrive under their compassion.

A dear friend asked how one should celebrate a crappy dad. One low on relationship, high on demand.

Her husband said it best: you lament.

Fathers have an incredible opportunity to build character into their children in a way the nurturing mom doesn’t. They tend to be the figure of authority that their kids learn respect from, the voice of reason in differences between siblings, the example of how others–especially women–should be treated. Fathers often don’t have the quantity of time with their children, but the brevity of interaction makes what they do significant.

I’ve been around all kinds of fathers. Those who seek to engage well and those who choose to let Mom do the parenting while they provide the paycheck. Those who are present in body but absent emotionally. Those who take their authority too far and are hurtful to both wife and children, emotionally, verbally or physically. Those who had no father figure themselves to seek as an example and do their best to love well.

There are dads in biology only. Those sperm donors who offer women an opportunity to be a mom without ever having to take responsibility for raising a child. Marriages exist with reality.

The term “deadbeat dad” reflects those who walk away from responsibility, who choose to abandon rather than work out challenging relationships or situations. Not a qualifier often given to mothers.

The image of a good dad today changes with culture, economics, and ethnicity.

We need our dads to love us well, to teach us how to work through hard circumstances and relationships. How to persevere.

For all that haven’t had that experience, the one Father who is always present, always aware of our needs, always has our backs, is God.

He’s the Father who yearns for us to let Him love us. Who pursues us in compassion, forgives us with grace, who doesn’t put conditions on our relationship with Him.

He is the Father to the fatherless.

Dads will let us down, no matter how hard they work at doing their best. They’re limited in understanding, patience and the skill sets needed to handle our difficult situations.

God, in His perfection and greatness, stays with us, no matter what. Loves us through and in our mistakes, and chooses us no matter how far we wander from Him.

Perfect love.

That’s a Dad I can cling to.

 

These Feet Were Made For Walking

photo courtesy of Alejandro Luengo on unsplash

Changing my schedule and location has impacted me more than just what I’m doing at the moment.

Relocating to Colorado for two months has been refreshing. Being outdoors more and sweating less has been invigorating. Walking all over the place has been pleasant.

Well, not for my feet.

There are daily opportunities to walk, especially since I’m with the grands this week. To the park or the local bagel shop, to get coffee or pick up a few odds and ends at the nearby grocery store. I’ve been careful to wear supportive shoes–or flops–each day.

It’s not the footwear. It’s the dryness here that has my feet complaining. My toes and heels are developing deep cracks that are genuinely painful. Like tiny chasms in my skin, they multiply with each passing day, and those little dickens make walking agonizing.

Maybe a little dramatic, but my feet hurt.

The pain isn’t great enough to keep me from walking. It does, however, cause me to be quite crabby. Complaining helps nothing; it’s only a release for my bad attitude.

What I need to do is find some cream that will heal those cracks–and be diligent about using it.

I’ve not been good about remembering to buy that cream.

I can continue to complain and do nothing about my sad feet and allow them to become really messed up with deeper cracks and crevices that could take months to heal.

Or I can be diligent to do something about it.

I need to be aware of what I need so I may walk mindfully into my circumstances.

It’s easy for me to complain about what isn’t going well in my life without actually addressing the issue and being intentional about seeing it through. I can be lazy, indifferent or apathetic and ignore what needs to be done.

Life is a journey we move through, mostly walking, sometimes running, occasionally limping to accomplish our dreams and hopes.

We’re made to move through life. Not quit or abstain because we don’t like how we’re treated or what’s happening around us. There is a need for each of us to be intentional about moving forward.

With my relationship with God, I must be intentional as well. He’s with me, but I can’t take for granted that bond that links us together. A growing relationship is based on both parties intentionally spending time together, getting to know one another, growing in trust and safety.

It’s easy to get stalled in any relationship. Becoming too busy or being preoccupied with the unnecessary, letting everything and everybody else become a priority apart from the one you want to get to know. Because we can’t see God, it’s often easy to forget He’s there.

Unless I’m walking with Him every day. Talking to Him, hearing Him through what He tells me in the Bible.

We were made to walk with God. Every day becomes a chance to grow in that relationship.

That’s a walk nobody’s feet will complain about.