Do you put up walls?
If you could see the walls in my heart they might look a little like this:
Walls of excuses– We’re just so busy. We’d love to (insert social activity here) but we have something that night. I need to work.
Excuses. And yeah, I am busy. And yeah, I need to work. But mostly, mostly I’m just scared.
Because I don’t trust anymore.
And over time, that emotional wall- instead of crumbling and breaking down- got thicker, stronger, and more resilient.
I told God I just needed closure. And when I got closure, I’d start praying more. I’d be more social. I’d pursue friendships in the church again.
And closure hasn’t come. And the hurt nags. And I walk further from God because it is too painful to work through it all.
And then I get angry because I feel like I deserve closure.
But what if the closure never comes? Am I willing to waste the hope, the promise of what could be…
Am I willing to sacrifice the friendships I could have if I am willing to let it go… to let go of the past?
Maybe closure comes in opening a new door. Maybe closure isn’t something concrete, and by moving forward, I can step so far away from the past that it doesn’t haunt me anymore.
So I’m letting go of my need for closure. I still want it. But I have to make this conscious choice to let go. Because I have a feeling that the rewards will be worth it.
A couple weeks ago, I posted this on Facebook.
I commented how Kate scares me a bit with her flipping on the bars.
And less than 2 hours later, Kate came crashing down (onto a gymnastics mat, but still… crashing down) onto her left arm. The one she writes with, eats with, does everything with. Broken left radius at both the wrist and elbow ends.
It was kind of eerie watching that play out…
Thankfully we’re down to only 6 days left of the cast. She has a dance recital at the end of May for both tumbling and ballet. Hopefully she’ll be able to get her arm strength back in time. If not, well, she’s already been doing one-handed cartwheels on the other arm. She’s learned to write with her right hand.
So yeah, hindsight is 20/20, but we can make lemonade out of our lemons anyway. (Nice! Mixed cliché metaphor!)
I was reading something recently about making sure we allow our kids to learn how to deal with irritating people.
Snotty brats, stuck-up princesses, and egotistical annoyances are reality. It isn’t easy to learn how to deal with the people who get under your skin, like a gritty piece of sand in your shoes after a day at the beach or a popcorn kernel stuck in your teeth.
For me, as an adult, I have a tendency to just avoid those irritating people. I have a hard time really loving them. I have a hard time befriending them. I have a hard time not talking about them behind their back. I’m just telling Keith. It doesn’t count as gossip or slander. It’s just Emily (my sister). It doesn’t really count as talking behind their back if I tell Emily. I have to get it off my chest or I’ll explode.
I think it is part of my job as a mom to help my kids learn how to deal with the sandpaper of life. The person who is both easily offended and yet often offensive? The one who can twist every word you say into something completely inaccurate and then uses the twisted words against you? The person who just plain doesn’t listen? The one who insists they are right even when they are completely wrong?
But we can’t always just avoid people that irritate us. I’m thinking back to a situation where I was suddenly placed in the same working department with someone I could not stand- I’ll call her Amy. Every word out of her mouth was like nails on a chalkboard. Amy was blunt. Amy didn’t care if what she said hurt your feelings. She was offended by everything anyone else said. And sometimes, when I looked at her, I saw pieces of me. And I think that was what bothered me the most. Am I like that? Do I make people want to throw themselves out the window just to end the conversation? How can I avoid turning into Amy?
How can I, as a mom, teach my kids to deal with difficult people? I teach them to be nice to others. I teach them to say please and thank you. But this isn’t a manners thing.
This is an ingrained choice we all make- will I love someone who irritates me? Will I choose to be their friend and purposefully befriend them- not out of pity or guilt but because I choose to see what gifts they have and not what baggage they carry? There’s no easy answer to this.
As for Amy, I found that the more I prayed for her, my prayers slowly shifted from “God change her. Please make her less irritating!” to “God, help me find one nice thing I can say to Amy today” to “God, change my heart toward her. Help me like her as a person. Help me understand her and know her hurts and her pain.” It’s harder to hate someone when you know their hurts, their pain, their story.
I’m determined to discuss this more with my girls. I’ve had a tendency to talk to them after situations and point out how SnottyGirl was being rude and how my girls should avoid acting like SnottyGirl. But I don’t always focus on how they can love SnottyGirl right where she is, snotty behavior and all.
I have loads of goals. Homeschooling goals. Font design goals. Life goals. Parenting goals.
I was thinking about my homeschool goals this week.
I planned in my head how we were going to memorize great things this year in homeschool. We were going to learn Spanish and write poetry and master math facts. We were going to tackle subjects intensely and thoroughly.
We do manage to complete our textbook work each day. We take good field trips.
But all of those fancy dreams of awesomeness-we-will-pursue usually remain in my head.
Sure, I have flickering desires to be a tiger mom and make my kids do lots of stuff really well.
But I’m just too lazy for that.
My word of the year I’m focusing on in 2012 is REST. Quit comparing. Quit feeling inadequate. Quit striving for stuff we don’t need.
Just rest. Relax and rest in what God has given us. Rest in who God has made us to be. Rest and settle and be at peace.
I don’t need perfect kids. I don’t need kids who are rockstars in every area. I just want my kids to be who God made them to be.
I love them just the way they are.
I’ll give them opportunities to grow and encourage them when they pursue interests. But they also need to play, to stretch, to curl up with a good book (just for fun!), to laugh, and to snuggle together.
As for Spanish? One of my kids just isn’t ready for it. She needs to just master the English language before we add in another language. And I’m okay with that.
So if my kids (or my family! or just me!) don’t measure up, I don’t care. We’re happy. We have fun together. And the kids are learning. And isn’t that what really matters?
We just returned from a few days at the beach. It was a little chilly (65 one day- which feels a little cold at the beach with the wind), but we had a fantastic time with Keith’s parents.
Just a few photos. Eliza loved riding the waves on her boogie board.
And I love this shot of Kate’s tumbling on the beach.
My mom finishes her chemo today! So proud of her amazing attitude through all of this! Good job, mom!
Happy Chinese New Year! We celebrated by spending the day at Blue Spring State Park (not to be confused with Blue Springs, Missouri- where I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City).
It was ridiculously sunny and warm (82 degrees). We hiked a couple of miles with the kids, looked at manatees, turtles, and alligators, and had a picnic lunch.
Selfishly, I much prefer this to the frigid temps of Tianjin at Chinese New Year- it is 9 degrees and foggy there now. And of course the post-fireworks-pollution is awful.
I’m happy to breathe this air instead…
Terrible pics, but here’s a few of our faves from the day- turtles:
(Check the bottom left corner of the photo above for something special peeking up!)
Saw quite a few gators…
And we saw a mama manatee with her babies (and a fish on top!):
We had a hard time getting pics of the manatees as they were enjoying the warmer weather and were mostly out in the deeper water in the river and not up in the shallow springs. We’ll have to go back on a cooler winter day and try again.
We ran into a Chinese family from Ningbo and talked to them for a bit. I must have Chinese radar on lately, because I seem to run into Chinese families everywhere lately!
It was a great day, a beautiful day and a welcome start to our year of the Dragon!
I’m still here! I can’t believe it has been almost a month!
I spent a week visiting my mom up in Kansas City (she’s doing great with chemo!) and had my dad and his wife in for Christmas and had former (Korean) students (from our school in China) visit and whew!!
I am so thankful!
Merry Christmas from our family! Have a great season of hope, love, peace, and all that good stuff!
God doesn’t care if you bake your own bread. He isn’t all hung up on on whether you handknit or, gasp! storebought, that hat for your daughter’s head this winter, either.
I went to a very conservative Christian college for 2 years. Well, 1 1/2, I suppose, as I spent one semester in Hong Kong meeting Keith and falling in love. I liked the college, but it was my first real exposure to what I sometimes refer to as “creepy” Christianity. It’s Christianity with a whole slew of rules- fake, man-made, extra-special rules that qualify you to be a Super Christian.
I quickly realized that I didn’t care about any of it. I don’t care if you have a tattoo (or tattoos!). I don’t care if you kissed before your wedding day. I don’t care what kind of music you listen to. I don’t care if you celebrate Halloween. These issues were such Issues-with-a-capital-I, and I never quite got it.
Do Santa. Don’t do Santa. Buy a million gifts for your kids for Christmas. Buy no gifts for your kids and have them pick things out from the World Vision catalog. Adopt 100 kids with special needs. Don’t adopt. Can your own vegetables. Buy Libby’s in a can. Homeschool. Don’t homeschool. Drink a beer. Never touch a drop of alcohol.
But don’t make any of those things spiritual benchmarks for other people. Those things don’t have anything to do with God and His love for people.
God doesn’t love people because they fit in a little box. He doesn’t even love people more because they fit in a little box. God just plain loves people.
I care a whole lot more about you- your story, your hopes, your dreams, your fears- you as a person than about how you fit in this little (invented, fake) box of what a Christian should look like.
What other boxes do you see in Christian circles? Does any of it matter to you? Does any of it matter to God?
It was exactly 1 year ago when we made the decision to move back to the US.
1 year ago, we were scared, worried, unsettled, angry, frustrated, and anxious. We didn’t know what the future held (and I’m kinda thankful we couldn’t see 3 moves and Keith losing his job in the spring, because I think that would have freaked me out even more!).
Today, we are settled, happy, calm, peaceful, and thankful.
I am so thankful we are here. I love where we live.
I never want to falsely represent our lives as perfect. None of us live perfect lives.
But this is about as good as it gets. And I am so thankful. My oldest girl is turning 9 next week.
My husband loves me, respects me, and has a job that he likes.
After struggling with respiratory stuff and constant antibiotics in China, I’ve been on exactly ONE antibiotic since moving back.
My kids are happy. They’re involved in stuff they love and they love Florida.
So maybe it is a little saccharine-sweet and gush-gushy, but I feel like this photo below:
Thank you God for bringing us home.
I’m looking forward to this American Christmas so much.
May God bless you and yours this Christmas- and may He give you the time you need to sit and reflect on the past year of your life. And if you’re in the valley, I pray you reach the mountaintop soon.