Archives

Well Check Your Heart

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “well.”

All parents know the drill. Every few months of a new baby’s life, they go to the pediatrician for a “well check.” This would be as opposed to a “sick visit.” At our pediatrician’s office, and I’m guessing at most similar offices, there are two separate waiting rooms for the well and the sick.

6-19-03_1

As a parent, I was always grateful for that. I wish there was such a thing at an adult doctor’s office!

But I digress.

At these well checks, height and weight would be recorded, lungs and heart listened to, eyes, ears, nose and throat checked. The doctor just wanted to make sure that everything was progressing as it should in our babies.

102_0206

When our second was 4 months old, the doctor noted at his well check that he wasn’t gaining enough weight. That led to the dreaded “failure to thrive” diagnosis. He was thriving as far as we could see, doing all that he was supposed to be doing, but we had to do all this testing to rule out anything bad. Turns out—and his doctor figured this the whole time—my milk just didn’t have enough calories.

So we supplemented with formula and he was fine. So when the same thing happened at our youngest’s 4-month appointment, we didn’t have to go through the tests. We just started giving her rice cereal.

I was thankful for their doctor, and I was thankful for those well checks. It was always good to know that, for the most part, everything was going just fine.

Have you well-checked your heart lately? Listened to it? Checked its pulse? Determined that it’s staying soft?

20120722-083057.jpgPsalm 139:23 & 24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

That’s a very good place to start.

 

FMF button

Advertisements

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “practice.”

Everyone has heard the saying, “practice makes perfect.” Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s a lie.

IMG_3734

Let’s say you are learning to play the piano. You have a piece of sheet music in front of you, but you have never actually heard the piece before. So you do your best, practicing and practicing to memorize the music.

Then a music teacher comes along and asks you to play the piece you’ve been working on. So you pull out that music you’ve been practicing and, lo and behold, you find out you’ve been playing parts of it incorrectly the whole time!

So did all your practice make that piece perfect? No. So, I am thinking the saying needs to be “perfect practice makes perfect.” You really need to know that what you’re practicing is the right thing.

My sister in law and her husband just divorced after more than 30 years of marriage. One of their main problems was that neither of them knew how to communicate. She would point out things that he was doing wrong; he would acknowledge that and work to change his ways. After awhile, he would think, Huh, I must be doing OK because she hasn’t said anything. Meanwhile, she’s seeing him slide back into old habits and think, He’s just doing things the way he always did them, so he must not care! Why even bother saying anything?

IMG_6215

The problem was that he had been practicing imperfectly. And he didn’t have anyone around to show him where he was going wrong. If you take two broken people who spent too many years playing the piece the wrong way, and only one of them wants to put the work into learning the music correctly, well, giving up is inevitable.

Coaching—in music, in sports, in life, in marriage—is essential.

FMF button

Get Moving

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I write for just 10 minutes, without heavy editing, on a prompt that a friend has provided. Today’s prompt is “moving.”

I haven’t moved very often in my 57 years of life. When I was a tiny baby, my family moved from Sunnyvale, Calif., to Cupertino, Calif. Then we moved when I was 7 to Oakland, Calif. I moved away to college for 2 years, then I moved back home, then I moved to an apartment in San Bernardino, Calif. when I started my first job with Campus Crusade for Christ.

front

The house in Oakland, Calif., that I consider the home I grew up in. We lived in that house from 1968 until my mom passed away in 2007. The house was sold later that year.

In San Bernardino, after the apartment, I lived in a house with 3 other women, then a house with 2 other women while I was engaged, and then my husband and I moved into our first little apartment.

Then came the big move across the country to Orlando, Fla. We lived in an apartment first, then built a house, then moved into the house we currently live in. We’ve been here for 19 years almost exactly.

So 57 years, 11 residences, including my college apartment.

IMG_3923

Friends helped load the moving truck for my husband’s sister and her family as they relocated from Texas to Orlando.

To me, moving means going somewhere. It means not staying in the same place. When we say a movie or a photograph or a speech “moved us,” it should mean not just that it made us feel something, but that it changed something deep inside us. It took us from one place of being to another.

If we were moved, we should not be in the same place we formerly were.

If the picture of a starving child, orphaned by the ravages of war, moves us, we should not stay where we are. We should do something about it.

7-09-03.4_1

This sweet hummingbird enjoys a treat outside my younger sister’s home in Crested Butte, Colo.

Moving is not always easy. It’s not always comfortable. Often, things get lost in transit. Or broken. When we first moved into our apartment in Orlando, we found that it wasn’t what was promised to us. All our earthly possessions were on a truck headed our way, but we had to have the apartment complex move us to a different unit because the one we were given was not right. New checks had to be ordered with our new apartment number; the moving company needed to be contacted to bring our stuff to the right door. We spent a  few sleepless nights on the floor of the wrong place until things could be made right. Our cat was not a fan of all this upheaval.

But where we ended up was better than where we started. Moving across the country from my entire family made me sad. In the ensuing years that distance would be made more difficult by my mom’s bouts with cancer and eventual death and my dad’s sudden death 16 months previous to mom’s. But we weren’t supposed to stay where we were.

Even when we live in the same house, we’re not supposed to stay where we are.

Strong Willed Or Resolute?

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I take a one-word prompt that a friend has supplied and write for 10 minutes without any heavy editing and see what comes out of my head. Today’s word is “strong-willed.”

IMG_3124

When people hear the term “strong willed,” they probably jump to the idea of a strong-willed child. Oh, you know how hard they can be! They are stubborn, obstinate, tantrum throwers when they don’t get their way. There has to be special books written about how to parent them.

Nobody has ever seen a book called Parenting the Compliant Child. We think that would be easy.

But what if we started looking at being strong willed in its positive form? What if instead of being obstinate, these people were considered resolute?

I think about Jesus who resolutely set His face toward the cross. I would say His will was very strong.

Trouble is, I know with kids who are considered strong willed, their will is usually against whatever it is their parents want them to do. I didn’t have a strong-willed child, so I don’t have any parenting advice, but I wonder if a mindset change could make a difference.

Can a 3-year-old be reasoned with?

“You sure seem to have your mind made up about what you want to have for lunch. It’s too bad we’re not having that today. I wonder what we can do about that?”

IMG_4458

Makes me chuckle to imagine it.

I know the struggle is real, you parents of strong-willed children out there. So I would just like to offer hope. It won’t come immediately, in fact, it may take them into their 20s to figure it out, but your resolute child could be one who has great perseverance. Once they’ve made up their mind, they go after that thing with gusto.

Think about Jesus. When he was 12 he was left behind in Jerusalem because he was sitting in the temple teaching the men there. Teaching! At 12 years old. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

He knew what He needed to do, and He did it. Now, granted, He was the perfect Son of God, but what lessons can be learned from His life about being resolute?

Huge differences with our kids, I know that. But I think it’s not just a sin nature that is at play. Guiding a child to submitting their will to that of their parents is an arduous process. Parents have no easy task figuring out how to mold their child without crushing them.

IMG_8537

I don’t envy them the task.

But a compliant child also needs to be molded. They need to know that they have a mind of their own and that God has a plan for them. Every whim of someone else doesn’t need to be followed. It’s not a bad thing to question directives in the right manner and at the right time.

Does that make sense? We don’t want our compliant children to become doormats that others use to get what they want. And I think as parents we need to be careful to make sure our kids have a voice. Can compliance become apathy? Can these children become people pleasers?

I’m not a psychologist, so these are just rambling thoughts. But I do wonder.

I’d love to hear what you think.

I See You

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up where we write for 5 minutes on a one-word without heavy editing and see what happens. Read all of today’s post here.

Like any typical American parents, we were armed with our video camera (this was in the days before cell phones with cameras) and waiting expectantly for our sweet tow-headed 4-year-old boy to appear on the stage for his end-of-year performance for Mom’s Day Out.

When he came out with his classmates, dressed in his green collared shirt and cute khaki pants, I looked through the viewfinder of the camera to make sure I could get him in focus before things began.

 

What I noticed as I watched him through that lens was that he was looking all around the crowded church sanctuary, searching for us. I could read his little lips saying, “Where ARE they?” as his gaze grew concerned. David and I waved our arms and halfway stood trying to get his attention, but the lights were too bright on the stage, and there were too many bodies in the auditorium.

MDO program

He couldn’t see us.

Once the music started, he was happy singing along and doing the hand motions as he’d been taught, and I recorded him and clapped when it was done. But my heart was a little sad. I so wanted him to know that we were watching him. That we were there. That we cared.

Now, 18 years later, that little 4-year-old is 22 and searching for who he is. During a crisis time just a few months ago, I wrote him a letter reminding him of that night all those years ago and asking him, “Do you see us now? Do you know that we see you, that we’re here for you, that we love you?”

fullsizeoutput_1e0

Hagar gave God the name El Roi in Genesis 16:13, “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”

 

 

FMF button

 

Chapter 4—Why

Welcome to Chapter 4! Remember this is a very rough draft, so feel free to comment on things you like or what doesn’t make sense.

Enjoy!

Chapter 4

Why

 

Things got busy in the shop after that, and Erin went to lend a hand at the counter. By the time the mid-morning coffee-break crowd had cleared out, it was nearing noon and Erin still hadn’t seen any sign of Hazel.

Granted, Erin remembered days when Hazel hadn’t shown up. They were few, but it just seemed a little creepy that she hadn’t show up today, after her cryptic voicemail. Why had she left that message when she knew no one would be there? Why hadn’t she called Erin’s cell phone? She had the number. Why was she afraid? And why wasn’t she answering her phone? Erin had never known her to go many places. She mostly stayed in her big empty falling down house.

Just then, the bell over the front door jingled, and Erin looked up to see her best friend, Pepper Robbins, breeze into the shop.

“Pepper!” greeted Adrian with enthusiasm. “Looking good today, girl!”

Pepper was well known in the shop as she stopped there often, and her flamboyant dress style usually caught people’s attention. Today’s ensemble included a bright pink pencil skirt paired with a multi-colored, striped peasant blouse and pink sequined sneakers.

Erin grinned at her bestie and leaned in to give her a hug. “Here for lunch?” Erin asked.

Although they were a bagel shop, they catered to the lunch bunch a bit by having some sandwiches—on bagels of course—ready made in the cold case.

“Nah, I’m good for today,” Pepper answered. “Just wanted to pop in and see your pretty face. Needed a pick-me-up from the slow times at the store.”

Pepper worked as the sales manager for the Variety store two blocks down, near the Safeway grocery store. She helped diversify their offerings from the as-seen-on-tv trinkets to a comic book fanatics dream of issues and paraphernalia from the Marvel Universe—Pepper’s personal fave—and its rival universe, DC. Their busy time was when the kids got out of school in the late afternoon.

Having been friends since grade school, Pepper and Erin often were called “Salt and Pepper” for their opposite coloring and the fact that you could always find them together. They had spent a lot of time at each other’s houses and even gone to Berkeley together. Pepper had excelled and graduated near the top of her class and even earned her MBA in record time. Of course, with her father, the Rev. Michael Robbins breathing down her neck, she could do no less.

Erin had a healthy fear of Rev. Robbins. He was a large man with a booming voice that garnered respect from his congregation at the big AME church downtown. But he really was a softy when it came to his only daughter. She was the youngest of five and having four older brothers was no easy task. But Pepper seemed able to keep them on their toes.

Erin loved her like a sister.

“I need to talk to you,” Erin told Pepper.

“Sure,” Pepper responded with a curious look. “I can’t stay anyway, so why don’t you walk me back to the store.”

Erin told Adrian she’d be back in a few minutes, and they headed out into the October sunshine.

Take Me Out With The Crowd

IMG_8034I’m headed out of town with David today. We’re going to St. Petersburg, Fla., for the weekend to watch my beloved Oakland Athletics play the Tampa Bay Rays. Last year we went to a doubleheader. The year before that we took the kids to a single game. It’s become a tradition for us to attend at least one game of the series when the A’s are in Florida.

I love being out with the crowd. The noise, the pristine field mowed perfectly. (OK, so the Trop is a dome and therefore an artificial surface, but a girl can dream, can’t she?) I’ve never caught a foul ball. I hope one comes near us this time.

There’s nothing like the roar of the crowd when a batter hits a home run. Do you know how far those little white balls have to travel? A football field is 100 yards, that’s 300 feet.IMG_8029 Most home runs have to clear a fence that is nearly 400 feet away from home plate.

That’s pretty far.

There’s strategy and mystery (ever try to figure out the signs the managers and coaches are flashing?) and joy and sorrow (ever had your slugger strike out when the bases are loaded?).

The lyrics to the iconic 7th-inning-stretch song fit me well.

 

Katie Casey was baseball mad,
Had the fever and had it bad.
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev’ry sou
Katie blew.
On a Saturday her young beau
Called to see if she’d like to go
To see a show, but Miss Kate said “No,
I’ll tell you what you can do:”

Chorus

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names.
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along,
Good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

(Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, 1908)

IMG_8041

 

Today’s post is part of the Five Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

FMF button