To “Take a Break” or Not to Take a Break?That is the Question. 

13 06 2016

Sometimes I think – “Ugh, I need to ‘take a break’ and ignore some certain social media Groups or posts and get away from the anxiety, stress, and angst I feel because of it.”
And then I remember that there are people for whom the “isms” behind these awful occurrences are a reality every day – walking into work, school, community spaces, even their own family – and they are normal everyday oriole just trying to live life like me these people don’t get to choose to take a break – ever.

So I choose to stay connected and pray and see what is the best way I can participate in being a voice or act in a way that can be supportive in breaking down the ‘isms’. Sometimes I mess up and it hurts because I thought I was doing the right thing. So I ask forgiveness, correction, and guidance and keep going. 

There are so many privileges I am granted as a middle class heterosexual white woman living in the Seattle area. I didn’t ask for them – just as others who do not fall in my categories did not ask for their categories. (A few like money and location may be negotiatiable, but that is not the case for those who are oppressed while living in those conditions). I don’t need to break myself out of my categories but I need to embrace those in different categories with love and with equity rather than pity, hate, and disgust. 

This is because I am a Christian but also Not because I am a Christian. Because I am human and they are too, because I am valuable and they are too. What will it take for us to understand that we all have value? What will it take to treat one another as valuable persons – and definitely not in the sense of valuable to bring me power, money, or pride like slavery, sex trafficking, concentration camps, and child marriage and more. I’m talking about value that says “I am here to work and live side by side with you and others so we all may have the dignity to live out our hopes, dreams, and full purpose and potential for life”. 

I can’t take a break until everyone is allowed a break. 





But I Don’t ‘Sound’ Like a Seminarian…

8 06 2016

It is that time in the quarter and the school year – when I have a lot of deadlines with my school, my kids school, our family life, our church year – the end of Spring quarter and the beginning of summer. It is also that time of the quarter where I become self-reflective and concerned about whether or not I should even be in seminary (never mind  I’ll have completed approx. 40 of the 120 credits needing for the Master in Divinity program in a few days).

Tonight was the last meetup for one of my classes that I am sad to see end – Global Christian Heritage. I can’t believe I have taken three quarters in this series following the history of Christianity around the world beginning with Jesus on up to today. It has been an eye opening series of classes. I have learned a lot more about the beliefs and interactions of the church – the one I grew up in, the ones in which I’ve served, the ones that family,friends, and others attend or now disassociate themselves with, and the church experiences yet to come. I don’t know it all, but I know a bit more than when I started my second year of class this past September.

Something else I’ve learned is I still haven’t acquired the ‘lingo’ of a seminarian – at least that of the ones I often hear speak up in class around me. This is something that really hit me tonight as we gathered for our final class at our professor’s home. I shared something connecting my work in children’s ministry with what we were talking about it class and what I had to say did not at all have any ‘seminary/theological’ lingo. I felt like the one with the most practical answer, with the most simple words, and I couldn’t even think of any words to try to match those of the brilliant colleagues in my class.  I kicked myself even as I spoke, realizing I was opening up my mouth yet again about children’s or youth ministry, wondering if what I wanted to say even made any sense to our discussion. It is really hard – very easy  to want to compare myself with others and yet understand that I am who God has made me to be and will give me the words I need for each situation. This is all on myself. No one has said anything to discourage me. I think it is my own expectations of what a seminary student is really supposed to be able to say, understand, and communicate.

Sometimes I wonder if because I have spent so many years translating theological concepts to children, teens, and other adults – trying to learn the big words and break down the lingo for others – that I don’t have the ability to speak as ‘eloquently’ as my seminary colleagues and professors. Perhaps this is one of my purposes for being called to pursue seminary studies: to learn the big concepts, grasp the greater issues of the church so that I can break it down to those whom I minister at church and at home. As I work through this frustration, I’m guessing this is how many of the people I’ve worked with who volunteer in children’s and youth ministry feel – and to those of you I say, it is OK if you aren’t able to teach or speak like your pastor or other minsters… just do your best to master the material set in front of you and translate God’s role and our role in it the best you can for the children and youth in your care – even if they are ‘just’ your own children.

We need not compare – only encourage and pray for one another to continue the call God sets on each of our hearts, knowing somehow that through our simple and our eloquent words that God will be made known to others. And please don’t hesitate to remind me of this if you hear me worrying about whether or not I’m eloquent enough to be in seminary (although I’m sure to some I could probably make some improvements when I contribute to a classroom discussion).





Sandwiches & Privilege 

14 03 2016

Had an amazing conversation with my 8 yo in the car tonight. We were at a Subway restaurant where there were several frustrating dynamics occurring simultaneously. As we arrived at 8:15/8:20 we were told they only had two types of bread left, then 8:25ish as we sat down with our meal they asked a group of people at two tables next to us to please leave since they weren’t paying customers and only there for the wifi. They also asked those of us who were paying customers to eat quickly and wrap it because they were closing the restaurant due to bread shortage. At 8:35 some young men were still at the table studying and the employees again told them they needed to leave since they hadn’t purchased anything. One of the guys called the employee names using derogatory words and said he was staying until 9pm because that is what the sign says and their power was out and they needed to complete an assignment. The male employee threatened to call the cops and there was more interaction. Eventually the quiet guy offered to buy a drink and they refused to serve him because of the friend’s attitude. 

While that interaction was occurring there was a homeless woman also in the restaurant who spoke up loudly saying “Guys, Burger King is open for awhile so just go there” they argued about whether or not there was wifi and decided to stay and stand their ground until police showed up. 

There was a point the women got up and went over to the drink area and grabbed a bunch of sugars. The female employee started yelling from behind the counter “Lady, lady, you need to stop and get out of here”. Then some device she was carrying dropped and the batteries fell out near us, Katie helped pick up the pieces. Meanwhile I could hear the employee loudly commenting to other customers that she came in to buy a drink and then continues to sneak over for more and is just drinking and drinking the water. 

At 8:40, a customer who just got his food (and likely the last load of sandwich bread) sat down at the table next to us and as he was going to bite his sandwich the woman employee came over and said “Sir you need to leave now because we have no more bread and are closing the store.” The man looked up and asked “Seriously?” and she said “Yes, we are closing the store you need to leave” and she gave me a look as well. So he got up and left annoyed and I wrapped up our food and told Katie we needed to go. She asked “Why – didn’t they say the are open until 9p?”. She is loud in her questioning and kept asking Why mommy? And as we went out the door I said “You can ask them if they want, but they say we can’t stay because they are out of bread.” 

At 8:43 we were in our car and they had turned out their lights and the young study buddies were still there. Katie noticed and wondered if the police were going to come and she called the Subway employees evil meanies. 

From there on our drive home we talked about why the Subway employees were upset about the wifi non-paying customers and the homeless woman. She wondered why employees at restaurants haven’t asked her to stop when she took extra sugars for her lemonade and I said it was likely because they assumed your family had money to pay and a knowingly homeless person gets judged differently because there is assumption they don’t have the money to be paying customers. She asked why they couldn’t give wifi to someone whose power was knocked out by the weather. She asked why places can’t let homeless people stay in when it was cold – we talked about various perceptions in society and different reactions. We also talked about some models of businesses who do choose to help or offer assistance and how sometimes there are a few persons unfortunately abuse and take advantage of the offering that kind of ruins it for others.

Another part we talked about was how to be arm respectful customer if you are not being treated well. For instance I think the study buddies were rude, but the Subway employees didn’t exactly have the best behavior either. 

I love my daughter’s heart. I told her even though we don’t always have the extra money for things we do have a home, food, cars, jobs, school, and this makes us rich compared to others. This gives a privilege and it isn’t something we are always aware of. Of course there are privileges we don’t have but we have more privilege than others. I talked with my 8 yr old about the privilege she has and how we need to be aware how people see us compared to others and we need to be aware so that we can speak up for injustices or learn how to right wrongs and difficult privilege-based situations in society. She wants to be a change maker and I pray her heart won’t be jaded. 





Insecurities and Being Mom to Active Girls

8 03 2016

I keep thinking I’m getting better at not being  competitive or anxious mother, and then something happens with my daughters and I realize I have all the feelings of anxiety turned up on high and wonder how in the world did I allow myself to get there?

I think I land in a space with other parents who are ramped up for their children and it rubs off on me. Plus, all my own insecurities and experiences from childhood pop up and I reflect them on my girls – despite all the times I tell myself I’m NOT going to do that. It just happens and takes me by surprise!

This month is intense for me as mom and Doug as dad. Some people might ask “why do you let yourself get SO busy” and it just works out that these middle two weeks of March are the moment at which every activity collides and all chaos ensues in our household – including my competitive parenting anxiety.

  • So softball started up last week for both girls – check!
  • It is girl scout cookie selling season – thankfully only for one girl this byear – check!
  • The school play in a week auditions (wondering if they’ll get in or not)/rehearsals/performance – check!
  • Getting close to martial arts testing for one girl – check!
  • School music concerts galore for both girls – check!
  • colds and ear infections keeping kiddos home from school – check!

Then let’s add mom and dad’s list:

  • Final papers, group projects, and take-home essay exams two weeks for my seminary program – check!
  • Structural engineering season in full swing meaning extra pay (yay!) and extra hours for Doug at work – check!
  • Easter is coming in a few weeks (ministry fun times for our family!)
  • Washing machine dead and finding time to bring in a repair person, order parts, bring in repair person again – check! (thank God for generous neighbors sharing their machines!)
  • Doug is semi-acting as interim interim church choir director for our church choir
  • Doug is coaching Katie’s softball team
  • We decided on no nanny this year to save some money, which means Doug is coming home early when I have my classes in the evenings twice a week

Um… there is more, there has to be because that is just how our life works in March! Can I apply the “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” weather metaphor to our family life?

I’m noticing the parent list is a little longer than the kids list – ha! What the heck am I worried about then when it comes to our girls? It is interesting because when I think about my childhood experiences growing up – I tried for several things and I was ‘OK’ but not ever really the best at anything. I was involved in a lot of activities but I was going to places where people encouraged me to try or empowered me in leadership. It wasn’t perfection but I’m glad I had opportunities to learn – sometimes very painfully – about myself. Most of the things I did on my own volition as result of being a child of a single parent family and my mom rarely was able to be a part of my activities either because she worked full time at the hospital or finances. My dad usually lived too far away to participate. Maybe I had to prove myself by just trying and seeing if I could actually do something.

I wonder if because I don’t expect perfection from my children – just want to see them do the best for themselves even if they aren’t the best at what they do? And when they are good at what they are doing, because I have a hard time having confidence in my own abilities, I have difficulty accepting and allowing myself to believe they truly are talented at what they do. I think I also get anxious and competitive when I see it in other parents because I’m a people-pleaser and I want others to accept and like my kids – even if they aren’t the best at whatever activity they are pursuing.

Maybe competitive isn’t even the right word to use, maybe concerned is a better word. I’m concerned that my children get to have a variety of experiences, I’m concerned that they have a positive experience or at least a parent or other trusted adult to fall back on who will still accept and encourage them even when they aren’t the best – I think this is what I missed sometimes in my own childhood activities, even with plenty of mentorship in faith and getting through school. I do remember my mother wanting us to do well and was sometimes sad if we weren’t the best and sometimes upset at the one who did better – usually because of their standing in society. I wonder if I reflect my standing in society  that I sometimes think people don’t know what to do with – mom, church childrens and youth minister, and now forever seminary graduate student – and worry how that affects my children’s abilities in their activities. So I play the comparison and anxiety game without realizing until it is too late.

Goodness, the things we deal with as parents, without even realizing it, when dealing with the rest of our family’s happenings!

Praying for peace for this annual season of chaos. Amen





Lent De-clutter Day 2

11 02 2016

I’m going to keep photo sharing and blogging through this as much as possible. Not to brag but to publicly hold myself accountable and have something to show myself in the end. 

Day 2 and I’m still here, I often will forget and then day 2 becomes day 3! I also have a large seminary assignment and some other family details (daughters class Valentines and one of them has a big school presentation due tomorrow). 

Embarrassing that our house gets so gross when we are busy. But this is the clutter I cleared while praying today. It is NOT the same side table from Day 1, but the twin. I find it ironic that I was first drawn to the clutter surrounding these two pieces of furniture. They belonged to my Grandma Bette. Bette is my mother’s mother who passed away just over 15 years ago. 

I have difficult memories with my grandmothers, not abusive just not many happy or great memories with them. If there is anything positive that came from them it is that my parents despite divorce, distance, and other difficulties make up for the lack of relationship by keeping in touch and connecting with my daughters, nieces, and nephews to the best of their abilities. My daughters know they are loved by their grandparents – something I felt my grandparents felt they were forced to try to do. I am grateful for my parents and their love for my children. 

Wow. All that from a set of old brown side tables that used to smell like cigarette smoke!

#Lent2016 #declutter #sabbath #worship #hospitality #formyfamily #focus 

 
In memory …  





“Living the Sabbath” in Lent 2016 

10 02 2016

  

  
Today is Ash Wednesday. My church will observe the tradition of the Imposition of Ashes I’m worship on Sunday to begin the season of Lent. I often try to come up with a discipline. It used to be a habit I wanted to get rid of, then a habit I wanted to acquire and now some seasons I have something and some in don’t. I just decided on something for this year. 

I am  going to attempt de-cluttering one small area of my home & life each day as my Lenten practice. I remember reading that a life of sabbath includes allowing your home to be a place to practice a life of worshiping God. Family is not able to worship in a cluttered space of life because we are distracted by too many things – either acquiring or cleaning and finding space for stuff. This discipline is inspired by Norman Wirzba’s “Living the Sabbath”. While I clean I am hoping to incorporate a time of prayer. 

By the way, I’m not hoping for rest and relaxation as the cover page of the book suggests (see below) unless it is to bring peace, justice, hope, rest, and relaxation to all the rest of the world as well. 

#Lent2016 #declutter #sabbath #worship #family #wirzba  

    

 





Depression is…

25 01 2016

I wrote the follow “Depression is…” list almost two months ago, one day after my birthday, and kept it private. That was also the day I decided to re-fill a prescription after a few years to continue a medication to help me manage my depression. My depression is mild, but it hits me hard come stress and the dark days of winter.

Also this past summer, in July I decided to return to a counselor/therapist who helped me a lot and diagnosed my PMDD a few years ago. I returned because within one year’s time I had transitioned from being asked to go from full-time ministry to part-time ministry (40 hr/wk to 15 hrs/wk with children and youth and decided that also starting graduate school part-time would be a good thing. It was a good thing but it was A LOT of overwhelming transitions for myself and my family financially and schedule-wise. I’m glad I returned to see my therapist because she has been helping me get back to the core of who I am (who God made me to be) and helping me to develop skills for organizing my life as a wife, mother, minister, student, friend, daughter, and more.

So, I’m writing this now and making in public in case it might be helpful to someone in the doldrums of depression who may not realize it, and perhaps for myself in another year when I might need to read it. I hope to bring hope and peace.

Depression is… Ordering a sandwich you’ve been craving a long time via a smartphone app and holding back tears others would probably find silly when you show up and they say they are out of the ingredients.

Depression is … When you have a lot on your plate and you’re too overwhelmed by your perfectionism and paralyzed in even doing what is expected and needed because  you want to know you’ll do it right before you even begin.

Depression is … Listening to your child or a loved one through their concerns and sadness or getting up tin the middle of the night or early morning to selflessly help them even though you just want to sleep and sleep and sleep.

Depression is … Wishing you had the energy to want to do things with others and either declining because you don’t think you’re wanted (when you are) or pushing yourself extra hard to attend something.

Depression is … Not believing in your personal self worth when others have strong confidence in you.

Depression is … Thankfulness for those who wish you happy birthday and while maybe a party would be nice it is too much energy to organize. And with every person who wishes you happy birthday you smile and say thanks all the while wanting to cry and you don’t really know why – maybe because someone cares more about you than you do right now. Or you’re just tired and feel like crying, but still are thankful.

Depression is … Recognizing you are glad the form is sadness because in past years it has been In the form of anger displayed inwardly and outwardly. I would much rather have my children experience me as sad than as angry.

Depression is … turning things in late – yet again – and wondering why you can’t get out of this cycle of being a failure.

Depression is … re-reading this list a month and a half later and seeing how you’ve made it through those rough patches. Knowing that God works through therapists, medications, and a new year to show you can persevere through things even when life has you down, again.








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