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30 Things, 4 Years Later: Day 28

30 Things to Accomplish in my 30s:
#28. Visit at least one family member per month — unless the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Let’s say that the weather has been rather uncooperative.

Or, I could just tell the truth and say that since I work a lot of weekends, it’s hard to get out of town much these days.

That and the fact that I do live in South Dakota where it’s blustery, cold, rainy, snowy or icy about 8-9 months of the year and that doesn’t help matters much either.

When I wrote this goal, I thought it would be nice to have a family dinner once a month. They’re all in the same general area and I’d just have to drive 2 hours north, stop at that Pizza Ranch or one of my brothers’ houses, have dinner and chit-chat or play a game or something. Maybe I’d stay the weekend. Maybe I’d just stay the day.

It was a lovely idea, really.

Why did I not actually do this one?

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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in 30 Things

 

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30 Things, 4 Years Later: Day 20

After a long break because I was really busy….

30 Things to Accomplish in my 30s: Day 20

#20 Find something to be thankful for every day.

According to this article,

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the right thing to do; it also improves your mood by reducing the stress hormone cortisol (in some cases by 23 percent). Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people who work daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experience improved mood, energy, and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol play a major role in this.

It’s really simple to find the beauty in the small things.

A gentle rain on a warm day.

Flowers blooming.

Babies’ giggles.

Witnessing one person being kind to another.

I love seeing those things and they bring moments of joy and gratitude.

I love the little things.

The problem is the big things.

Loss is a big thing that obliterates all traces of the little things. Loss of a relationship. Loss of a job. Loss of a family member. Loss of health, home, and anything that’s dear — loss of any kind brings waves of sadness. Waves of cortisol, mentioned in the quoted article, which lead to waves of anxiety, waves of depression, waves of weariness and waves of illness. The little things easily get buried in the uncontrollable waves that come with loss.

I find the most rest and small ripples of gratitude at work. Sometimes, my little guy will reach over and touch my hand and in that moment, I feel like I’ve been touched by the hand of God. He is so gentle. So unassuming. It’s like he just wants me to know that I’m not alone. Sometimes he’ll look up at me and tell me something in his own little language — something I can’t linguistically understand, but my heart knows he’s telling me his most treasured secrets. It’s those moments when gratitude and joy bubble up and calm the waves of pain and heartache.

And so, today, I’m grateful that I get to work.

What are you grateful for today? Leave a comment and let me know!

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2016 in 30 Things

 

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30 Things, 4 Years Later: Day 17

I read this article this evening and it reminded me of my 17th goal.

30 Things to Accomplish in my 30s: Day 17
#17 (Original wording) Raise awareness for victims of domestic violence. This does not mean wearing a ribbon, posting underwear colors or even raising money. It means educating people as to what sorts of things are classified as abuse. It means developing relationships with victims and helping them see their value and purpose. It means teaching parents how to raise kids who are neither victims nor abusers. It means putting forth time and effort in order to eradicate domestic violence from our society. I’m really passionate about this because heathy families equal a healthy society. And every child deserves to live in a non-chaotic, non-violent, healthy and happy home.

I spent many years prior to moving to SD being deeply involved in ministry and leadership at the church I attended. Then things happened. Jesus did something in me. I had been really…. arrogant, I guess. I looked down on people who weren’t as “righteous” as me. I avoided people who were different.
 
And then I became the “different” one. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that I went from top of the heap to bottom of the pile in my social circle. I learned what it was like to be treated the way I had treated other people.
 
I spent a lot of time on my face, sobbing and crying out to God to fix it.
 
He didn’t fix it.
 
Some things happened. One person wanted to reconcile, but by the time she had gotten to that point, I had begun to realize that I had learned many of those habits from her and I didn’t want to be that way, so I said no.
 
For two and a half years, I spent most of my spare time on my face on the floor, sobbing and asking for things to change.
 
The thing that changed was me.
 
I finally began to have a small understanding of grace.
 
I looked at the people around me. Not the pastors. Not the deacons. Not the elders. Not the wealthy people who had it all together. Not the married people. Not the people who had good careers and natural abilities to do wonderful things.
 
I looked at the addicts. I looked at the broken people. The ones who had their first babies when they were 13 and the ones who were on their 4th marriages. I looked at the ones with mental illness and physical illness and the ones who had had abortions and the broken families. I looked at the moms whose hearts were breaking because their sons or daughters were dying from alcoholism or drug addiction. I looked at the children who had been abused, the mothers who had to choose between a “godly home” (staying with a spouse who was abusive) and a safe home.
 
I looked at those things and I think I saw what Jesus sees when He looks at us. I didn’t see sin. I saw broken people. Scared people. People who need love and support and a place they can call home filled with people they can call family.
 
I looked at those people and I saw myself.
 
A broken person, desperate for love.
 
I looked at those people and I said, “But for the grace of God, that would be me.”
 
When one has that kind of revelation, one of two things happens.
 
The person could get incredibly stuck up. “Oh, yeah. Look at me! I just happened to escape all these horrible things that other people struggle with every day.”
 
Or, they can be incredibly humbled.
 
The latter happened to me. I began to be more open and friendly. I had tasted the grace of God and I was eager to extend it to all who came. It was a beautiful time in my life — except for one thing.
 
The church hated this change in me.
 
The straw that broke the camel’s back was that I was a friend to a woman who had chosen to leave her abusive husband and I was as much of a protector to their sweet baby girl as I could be.
 
I could go into a bunch of detail about this, but I’ll spare you. I got really familiar, really fast, with the resources available to battered spouses and victims of domestic violence. I also got really familiar with how little law enforcement wants to be involved. I got really familiar with the retaliatory tactics of abusive spouses. I learned what abuse is and how to spot it and how to get away from it. I learned how it hurts children for generations to come.

I learned that domestic violence has got to end.

I haven’t been closely involved with shelters or anything like that because my life has been so busy with so many things.

When I converse with people and learn of people experiencing violence in their homes, I try to provide education and options. If I can, I take women and kids into my home so they can be safe. I do whatever I can, whenever I can to see people as Jesus sees them — broken people who need love.

Learn more about domestic violence by clicking here.

If you need help, click here.
A book for women in abusive relationships.
Understand why abusers do what they do.
Understand how childhood trauma affects people into adulthood.
 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in 30 Things

 

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Departure

When I was a little girl, every time I visited family for a weekend or a reunion or…. any other reason I might have been there, when it came time to pack myself up again and climb up into the van to go home, I’d freeze. I’d panic. I’d get sick in the tummy, I’d cry and sweat and sometimes I might have vomited.

I really don’t remember if I vomited or not.

I was anxious. I didn’t want to go home. Home wasn’t very…. homey.

I felt like no one loved me, no one wanted me. Nothing that mattered to me mattered to anybody else.

But when I was with the family, I was treated well. I was hugged and talked to and loved on and taken seriously. I craved the attention, the love and the support I got only from the people I didn’t see often.

Today it’s different. I have my own home. My home is a safe, warm, welcoming place. I’m surrounded by amazing young women who fill my life with joy. I love my home. I love…… love…. love it.

But….

There are people who come around who make me even happier. They make me laugh. They make me feel important, smart and talented. For a few hours, my heart is full. My mind is challenged. My soul is overflowing.

And then they leave.

And then I’m back to the old days when I used to get so sad and anxious when I left.

Back then, I was given a taste of what it was to be loved and accepted and then I had to walk away from what my soul desperately craved.

Today…. the thing my soul desperately craves walked out the door, leaving me back in the days of childhood. Wondering. Wishing. Will there ever be a day when I fall asleep content, cozy and soul-full and wake up feeling just as content, just as cozy and just as soul-full as I was when I went to sleep? Will there ever be a day when dreams become real?

Will there ever be a day when he decides that he just can’t bear to continue walking away?

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Acting Your Age

I spent Christmas at my Grandma’s.

I love going to Grandma’s, which I’ve probably said about five million times.

One of the first things Grandma said to me once I got there was, “I don’t want to be in your blog.”

Sorry Grandma.

She said this right after she told me about making homemade wine when she was young and foolish, and then she asked me if I wanted to take her wine-making equipment home with me, and I said, “Grandma! I could make wine and then write a blog post entitled, “Making Wine with Grandma’s Recipe.”

So, Grandma, I will respect your wishes. No blog posts about making wine. But, you won’t be excluded from my blog entirely. You are too much a part of my life to be overlooked. You inspire me too much to not share your wit and wisdom. I love you.

The next thing Grandma said to me was this: “I have two New Year’s resolutions. One of them is to respond to e-mails more promptly. The other one is to start acting my age.”

She told me this right after she told me that she was retiring from her volunteer position as the church janitor.

When you’re in your 80s, acting your age means to cut back on responsibilities. It means you don’t get to get up on a ladder and scrape and repaint the gable over your front door. It means that when your grandkids come to visit, you get to supervise (teach) all things garden/landscape related. It means you get to accept help when you need it.

I got to thinking about how this applies to me — because what applies to an octogenarian grandmother, in some minute way, also applies to a 30 year old girl who is pretty much alone in the sense that she has no one to go home to.

The first thing I realized is that if a 30 year old girl is going to act her age, she’s got to stop seeing herself as a girl and start seeing herself as a woman. People who are 30 aren’t kids anymore.

If I’m not a kid anymore, this means that I should:
get up and go to work — on time — every day.
pay my bills — on time — all the time.
set goals.
clean my house on a regular basis.
do what I say I’m going to do.
bring a salad or something to potluck meals. Even though I hate cooking with a burning passion from deep within my soul.
stop whining about how my life isn’t what I want it to be.

Kids don’t have a lot of control over their lives. Adults don’t either. But, adults have the option to take control of what they can. They don’t have to ask Mom and Dad for permission. Adults can make choices that can help or hinder their goals.

The second thing I realized is that if I’m going to act my age, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Several years ago, I was consistently told by several people in several different contexts, in several different ways, that I couldn’t have male friends. It started out with a couple of female friends getting jealous that I had a completely platonic friendship with a male. They must have told him that I “liked” him, because shortly after I met these girls, he unceremoniously (relationally) dumped me by the side of the road and never really spoke to me again after that. (Um…. ok?) I was also told by several people who were several years older than me that I was “wet behind the ears” and I “shouldn’t go looking for a man” (or expect to find one any time soon) because…. Well, I wasn’t really given a reason why this was the case. I was also told by church leadership that I wasn’t allowed to speak to single men. (Note: I have never been one to “chase” men. I was essentially being told that I couldn’t even respond when men spoke to me.)

My life was going nowhere in that context, so I left.

But, while in the midst of all the chaos of trying to convince myself that it was ok to defy my “authority figures,” I called my grandma one day and told her about all the crap people were telling me, and her response was, “You’re 27 years old. By the time I was your age, I had been married for 8 years and was done having babies. It’s about time you got involved in a relationship.”

She wasn’t pushing me. She was telling me that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable for a woman who is 27 to talk with men, and I shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so. She was also saying that no one — absolutely no one — has the right to tell me what I can and can’t do when I’ve demonstrated to everyone by the way I live my life that I am a responsible grownup and I’m not prone to getting myself into trouble.

Thanks Grandma. I needed that.

Actually, I need to hear those things like 50 times a day — because when you’ve been told not to do something every day for 30 years, it’s kind of hard to adjust.

Lately — like, for the past 3 years or so — I’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering what it might be like to, well, act my age. To go up to a single man and have a conversation. To perhaps go on a date. Or maybe to be in a relationship that might lead to marriage and family.

Because, at this point, the only option I really have is to wonder.

I have absolutely no skills when it comes to doing relationships. I don’t have any idea how to talk to men and I don’t know what to say. I could tell several stories like this one from last night-

It was New Year’s Eve, and my friends all got together. We were playing Apples to Apples. It was several women and two men. I think my green card said “eternal.” Or maybe it was something else. Someone played the “boyfriends” card. I said, “I would have picked ‘boyfriends’ except that boyfriends don’t exist.”

The game continued after some discussion of whether boyfriends exist or not. The guys were strangely silent.

I went home and realized that I could have made the interaction much more funny by saying “Boyfriends exist — they’re located between the unicorn and the leprechaun, and they’re driving reliable Ford trucks.” Because we ALL know that none of those things are real.

But, I’m not very funny in person, so I missed a grand opportunity to make everybody giggle.

And now, my question is, how do I begin to act my age? How do I stop being a lost, alone person and start being a person that people notice and like to hang around, talk to, and maybe even might want to…. I don’t know…. go out with? And maybe, if we stretch it, marry? What do you have to do and be to be good enough to enter the elite club called “family”? How do I act my age?

P.S. I’m not trying to have a pity party. I have a feeling I’m not the only person in the world who asks these questions, and I wish I had some answers so I could help others.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Current Events

 

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