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Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Off to the park

We’ve recently moved across town and happen to live closer to nieces and nephews. You know what that means. We’ve been added to the speed-dial sitter list.

Last weekend was our maiden voyage.  A full day with the 3-year old twins. As you might imagine, we had no trouble sleeping that night. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the girls, but they certainly kept us going all day.  To any of you who have children or nieces/nephews, this will come as no surprise, but we came away from the day having been reminded of some important things. These are lessons I gained from a day with three-year olds:

1: SLOW DOWN. Normally, it takes Brent and I about four minutes to get to the park on our bikes. Not so with three-year-olds. No, it was a 45-minute walk each way. The trip to the park wasn’t my brightest idea on a 95-degree day. But they were troopers and never complained. Yet it was a slow, deliberate pace the entire way. There was no rush, no sense of needing to get to our destination quickly. No wonder it’s only adults who deal with things like high blood pressure. We’d all do well to slow down our pace a notch or two!

Stop & Smell the Flowers

2: STOP & SMELL THE FLOWERS: One of the highlights on the trail was to stop and smell the flowers. If we’d been in a hurry, the beauty of the landscape and wildflowers would have been missed. It was sweet to see one sister want to share her flower experience with the other. What a great lesson. Stop, take a look around. Be present in the moment, enjoy what God puts in your path and share it with those around you.

Quack Quack!

3. INJECT FUN INTO ORDINARY THINGS. The girls knew we’d be having a cold treat when we got home, but we kept the fact that it was smoothies a surprise. Unwilling to allow an unnamed treat, the twins decided to refer to the surprise as “Quack Quack.” Silly as it was, it brought us all lots of laughter for the rest of the night.

4: KINDLE THE JOY OF READING (no pun intended!). I’ve always loved books. Most of my life I’ve been a voracious reader. But, for some reason, recent years have drew my attention elsewhere. Watching the girls bring me book after book after book to read was contagious. I think we put away about 20 books before the night was over.

5. REMEMBER THE SNEETCHES. One of the many stories we read was Dr. Seuss’ “Sneetches.” It’s a book I’ve had since I was a child and it shows by its well-worn corners. It made an impact on me as a child and I often recall its lessons even as an adult. The basic message is not to get caught up in the latest trends or judge others just because they’re not caught up in them. I think about how our society is so influenced by the latest

Sneetches

hot gadget, fashion or topic. Too often we’re judged by what toys we have or what we wear or how informed we are about the current trending Twitter feed. Yet, being on top of those things has nothing to do with strong character, kindness and living a godly life.

Isn’t it amazing what God shows us through children? What lessons have you learned lately?

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Lisa and I are about half way through a 16 week course on discipleship at church. It’s been a really great class. There have been several instances of God speaking to us through the course homework.  Several times we have been challenged to think about when significant things occurred because someone else had the courage to follow through on challenging our behavior, thinking, words or beliefs.

The point was simply that someone cared about us or loved us enough to do what seems hard to do, but when they did it, it had eternal repercussions.

I know I haven’t always thought of the eternal consequences of my relationships with others as a motivation for what to say or how to say it when I’m with them. When it comes to discipleship and sharing the Gospel, the learning for me is that our relationships need to be intentional, our words, actions and behavior toward the other person should be motivated out of a brotherly love for the eternal well-being of the other.

As a result of knowing this, I’m beginning to understand the importance of my conversational intimacy with Yeshua. The sound of that intimacy is amplified when I shut my own mouth, quit talking and listen to Him and then, of course, do what He says.

That conversational intimacy allowed God to use me (a misfit from the island of misfit toys if there ever was one) as a blessing to my uncle and in-turn that became an encouragement that God is all over the details of our lives. He is. He really is. To God be the glory for that. For confirmation of this story: click here.

I leave you tonight to consider these words from Yeshua Messiah: “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor [Helper] to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.”

If you need prayer and encouragement because you desire to know the Gospel of Yeshua Messiah and want conversational intimacy with Him, leave us a comment on the blog. We’ll commit to praying specifically on your behalf. We also will direct you to on-line resources that provide more information about a relationship that promises conversational intimacy with your creator.

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Well, we did it! We’re moved. And what an exciting ride so far. We apologize for the lack of posts for the last month. There certainly was enough fodder for good laughs and learnings, but for the last 3 1/2 weeks we were in the “packing, moving and staging zone.”

Lisa created a plan to pack and label boxes by room with a color coded sticker. On the back end of moving, that has really helped us organize the unpacking effort. But in the end, there were so many boxes that keeping track of where stuff was became impossible. I don’t know if it’s even possible to ever keep track of everything. But all things are possible with God. The really important stuff was moved last. Meaning, the stuff we rely on and use everyday: computers, TV, modems, wi-fi, prescriptions, keys, etc. And of course the cat was the last to get captured and put in the kitty carrier. Those are an eclectic mix of items, so we had to specially mark those boxes so we could find them easily when we arrived at the new house. The cat has been “freaked out” since the first box of stuff was sealed with tape. I think she was afraid she would be left behind as she witnessed all the items disappear into the garage before the move.

But the one critical element to this process has been God. We’ve been praying for 3 years about where we should live. We’ve been separated from our church by 40 miles since getting married which made it difficult to be actively involved there. Our prayer was that we’d be closer to church and manage a shorter commute to work at the same time. He accomplished both!

One of the reasons we signed the purchase agreement on our anniversary was due to hearing from God through the neighbor. While we were walking through the house for the second time, the neighbor walked past the window a couple times as he was cleaning up some items from the deck in the back. We’d begun that day like all others, by praying in the car as we set off on the commute together. We knew we were going to go back and look at the house for the second time after work, but we asked for confirmation that the house was the right place to be. We asked God to be part of the decision making process and asked for a clear message from him that it was the right decision to put money down.

When I noticed the neighbor, I went outside and began talking to him. Within minutes he was asking where I and Lisa worked. When he found out that Lisa worked for our church he inquired which church. Then he smiled and asked if we knew specific people and the names he mentioned were people we know (there are over 2,500 in the congregation, so it isn’t a given that we know them all.) He mentioned that he and his wife had attended the Christmas service at our church in December!

Then he looked at me and said, “My wife and I have been praying that fellow believers would move in next door.” And he talked about how exciting it would be for them if we were to consider moving next door. I couldn’t believe that he said that. I’d only just met the man. I didn’t tell him about our prayers, he had no idea what we’d been praying for. I asked him to repeat what he said to make sure I heard him correctly. Then he invited us to come over so we could see how he and his wife had decorated their place and give us a tour. No kidding!

So we went over and got the tour and met his wife. I must’ve had a strange look on my face when I came back inside after first meeting him. Lisa and our realtor asked me what happened. I was just staring into space and said they wouldn’t believe me. I told them the story and Lisa looked at me knowingly and smiled. They sent us encouraging text messages over the last month, sharing their prayers with us and reminding us how excited they were that we were going to move in.

It was so cool how God is involved in the intimate details of our move. There are more stories about how He showed up. I’ll save them for another post!

 

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I’ll just be honest. I don’t like having a broken foot. I don’t like spending most of my day on our futon. The futon isn’t that cozy. And my “to-do” list is growing.

I don’t like watching my husband do a good share of the cooking, cleaning and laundry. I know that might sound silly, but I am definitely ready to jump back into having a mobile life again. I want my freedom back. For three weeks I’ve been unable to carry anything and unable to drive and there’s barely one position that works comfortably well for sleeping these days.

I know that sounds like a lot of complaining. The truth is there’s nothing to really complain about. I know this is temporary. It’s obviously not in the top 10 of medical issues that deserve extreme sympathy. Not even close. And I’ve got a great husband who is taking good care of me. As I write, he’s downstairs doing the dishes. How can I complain?

I’ve had my moments of frustration and even self-pity. My to-do list grows and the house is a little dusty, but I’ve also felt new compassion for people who have truly long-term health challenges. That is one of the gifts in this season of inconvenience. Sure the scooter was sort of fun, until I experienced the awkwardness of it running out of juice in the middle of a busy aisle at Costco. And then came the looks of pity from passers-by. I have been humbled to ask for help when there was no other way. 

There have been other unexpected discoveries. I’ve seen how just hobbling around in a boot with crutches seems to break barriers. Perhaps it comes from being in an obvious place of vulnerability. All sorts of people have opened up conversations with me that I’m quite sure never would have otherwise.

People have gone out of their way to open doors, offered to help, given advice from personal experience with broken bones and extended encouragement. Total strangers have smiled and wished me well.

On the way home from the doctor, we got into long discussions with couples who sat next to us when we stopped for lunch. I think it ended up being a timely encouragement for all of us. Last week two women stopped me at Target, asking if they could pray for me. What a sweet gift. At the Ordway, two women shared a bunch of their life story with me while Brent went to get the car. When he picked me up, he was amazed at all I had learned in a mere 15 minutes. I love to hear people’s stories and am reminded to pray for them as they come to mind.

We know that God has purpose in this latest adventure he has us on, so we’re doing our best to sit up and take notice. We’re praying that the inconvenience, the extra sense of weariness we feel at the end of the night, and the momentary frustrations don’t get in the way of all he wants to show us. We don’t want to miss a thing. 

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I don’t imagine we’ve been married long enough to suppose we can offer too much in the way of marital advice. But one thing we’ve experienced in our short time together as man and wife is that while challenges and trials can put great pressure on a relationship, they can also deepen and cement it. Right from the start this was evident for us.

While we were dating, I ended up needing a biopsy. I was scared, but not having dated all that long I had no idea how Brent would react. I was amazed at his response. He assured me that he’d be there no matter what the outcome was. He even sought out the advice of a female friend, wanting to understand what I might be going through from a woman’s point of view. Thankfully, the outcome was good, but we knew a bit more about what each other was made of.

Not long after we were married, we found ourselves facing considerable home expenses that were completely out of our control. The economy, the timing our our wedding, having to sell one of our homes and unexpected home repairs all came together at the same time. Quickly, we learned even more about one another. Yes, it was stressful for both of us. At one time or another, each of us struggled with it. But I was grateful that more often than not, Brent’s response was something like, “Well, God’s in control. He owns it all anyway. He must have a purpose. He’ll see us through.”

Through every challenge you learn more. You learn when and how to communicate. On a lighter note, just this week I realized I had adjusted my method of communicating impending traffic dangers during our busy morning commute. In the beginning, I typically let out a loud gasp while pressing that pseudo passenger-side brake. Unfortunately, that only alarmed Brent and was not helpful. I see now that I’ve adjusted my communication to a gentle side-to-side wave. (It’s sometimes still accompanied by braking.) This is much less alarming, seems to work fairly well and gets a chuckle or two from Brent.

My prince in shining armor

This week we’ve entered a whole new lesson platform. After a major miscommunication with the stairway, I ended up with a fairly severe fractured foot. This will mean six or more weeks of being dramatically to roughly incapacitated. And that means Brent is making dinners, cleaning, doing laundry, driving and more. That might sound like a dream for some, but being someone like me who always has a long list and has a hard time even sitting through one TV show without getting up to clean something, this will be an immense challenge. I’m in pain, impatient with the healing process already and poor Brent is fetching me everything from Tylenol to meals to ice packs. Tell me we won’t learn a thing or two in the coming weeks! We could use your prayers.

We’ve been reading a lot about the sovereignty of God lately. That’s probably not a coincidence in itself. We’re trusting that this current little “blurp” in our plans has his fingerprints all over it. It’s a pain. I’ve complained already and it’s annoying. But we’ve also begun to see him unfold some opportunities we’d never have had outside of these current circumstances. And so we hobble along and pray for his grace to see and embrace these unexpected opportunities.

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When I grew up, the old rule of polite social engagement was to avoid  two topics: politics and religion, especially when traveling abroad. It’s hard enough overcoming the ugly American syndrome, especially if you don’t know what’s sensitive locally. Your motive may be to learn something, but there may be social and political barriers that make it uncomfortable for people to share that information. For example, it may not be wise to ask a Syrian to describe the struggles of living under the Asad government while getting in a taxi in Damascus. And in some places in America, it’s still not polite to talk about Sherman or the civil war while south of the Mason-Dixon line.

But after a short while, it’s easy to exhaust topics of weather, sports, home improvement,  fashion, TV or whatever else is dominating pop culture. So whether you’re traveling or at home, people desire to catch the flavor of something more substantive. And let’s face it, politics and religion affect us all and each of us expends some time thinking about it sooner or later. And social media seems to have relegated the old rule to the dark ages of what I call B.I. (Before Internet).

FB and Twitter have become people’s favorite platform to share someone else’s content or their own views. I think it’s okay to do that and I’ve liked or shared information that I thought was well written and supported my own emotions and thoughts on these former taboo topics. And I’ve commented on others’ posts as well. And it’s in the commenting that I think I’ve noticed a distinct trend.

I noticed the majority of people sharing someone else’s or their own original content aren’t really interested in eliciting opinion other than the one offered. In other words, the comments are usually in the form of a lot of other people agreeing with the person posting the opinion.  Or the comments pile on additional statistics taken from TV, radio and blog talking points that support the post. If anyone posts an opposite view, that person is usually heckled, called names and generally told to “get lost”. Often the friend who posted the original topic doesn’t even edit out sharp criticisms from themselves or other commenters. Why is that? Isn’t social media about being “social”? Apparently not. And what about being “tolerant”? Forget that too.

So why is that? If you post an opinion, do you want to elicit opposite views and generate a civil discussion? What’s your motive?

I believe most people who post on politics and religion want assurance that others think the same thing they do. They are not interested in changing their minds about these topics. Nor are they interested in or appreciate others’ opinions, especially if they contradict their own. Offering an opposite opinion doesn’t provide the positive strokes that the poster is looking for.

When sharing content, I’ve decided my motive will be to include why someone’s content was interesting to me or how I feel about it. Your friend list should be a safe enough place to do that. And if someone wants to respectfully  disagree while providing their feelings or personal experience on the topic, I’d like to hear that and to seek to understand them. I may never agree with their conclusions, but I can attempt to respectfully hear them and listen to how they feel. And hopefully, even though I and my friend may not share the same view, we can both respect each other enough to care about each other as people and seek first to understand rather than be understood.

Recently I read a blog about how to improve your Twitter RT’s (re-Tweets) and FB Shares. The advice was to avoid simply re-Tweeting or Sharing without adding your own knowledge to the post. The direction was to enrich it with your own thoughts and feelings. So like Wiki, the original post becomes richer with each add. And that can work whether or not the poster or the commenter agrees with the shared content. And in my opinion like other polite conversation, folks should police themselves with some basic etiquette and avoid sharp criticism and personal attacks.

What’s interesting is that derogatory comments seem to be more prevalent when people have some sense of anonymity behind a keyboard. Sharp words would likely not be spoken out loud if the conversations were face to face at a dinner table, cocktail lounge or party. Someone might make a snide retort, but generally if the conversation soured, someone would quickly turn to something more innocuous. For men, that’s usually something along the lines of landscape timber or what they bought at Sears. It’s amazing how the latest handyman project can be used to manage almost any conversation whether at work, at happy hour or online.

Now, about those _____ [Vikings, Packers]….

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Ever since the jet stream turned course and started sending Canadian high pressure over the border into Minnesota, the relentless tornado sirens have seemingly been more quiet, the humidity has lifted for a couple weeks and Lisa and I have found ourselves coasting into late summer gear.

And that is to say, we have ignored blog updates for almost 2 weeks as we’ve reveled in some glorious Minnesota summer days that are priceless. Priceless because we seem to get so few of them and because the pain of last year’s long winter can still be felt. The local cadre of weathermen/women in the Twin Cities were happy to announce these last couple of weeks as they’ve born the brunt of bad news for months, either too cold or too humid or too stormy or too rainy. Some friends and co-workers just say things like, “I’m not going to complain after last winter, I’ll take anything as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with snow or freezing temperatures.”

I have the sense that they believe somewhere in their heart that if they say anything negative, the spell that is holding our momentary relief will be broken and Mother Nature will hurl us into an early fall and winter as punishment for a display of ingratitude.

Reality is sometimes best left unspoken, if not to hold onto our current spell of perfect days then at least to cherish these moments that will get us beyond the Holidays and through the three months that follow into another spring.

Gary's Cessna 180 sea plane

I will cut this post short so you can get outside and enjoy these moments as much as you can. We’ve kept some notes to build on the last couple of weeks. Here’s what’s been keeping us from spending time at our keyboard:

  • We flew with a pilot friend in his Cessna 180 on floats to a wonderful small town cabin festival.
  • We took time off from work to spend precious time with my sister and her family visiting from Billings Montana – last Friday I went to the Science Museum to see the King Tut exhibit. (You’ll like it if you enjoy history).
  • We’re volunteering at the church picnic today – stop by for free BBQ, kids games and a terrific jazz band.
  • We’re planning a trip up north to a cabin in the woods.
  • We fixed our first blown bike tires – all by ourselves! (Reveling in the small victories)
  • We’ve got tickets for Twins games in the hopes of seeing Thome hit #600!

Now get out there and enjoy the day – because the reality is that we’re losing 2-3 minutes of daylight every day. Ignore the last half of that sentence if you must !!

My sister and me!

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