The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye, it is hello, goodbye…until we meet again.

—Jimi Hendrix

 

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One of the advantages of advancing years are all the memories that are stowed away in the heart. Like treasures that have been carefully tucked away up in the attic, we brush the cobwebs aside, lift the trunk lid and memories come spilling out.

We recently returned from a trip out East. Since many of my favorite memories from childhood have their roots firmly planted in my hometown in Pennsylvania, the few days we spent there were a pure gift.

Staying with my uncle and aunt, I dragged them down to the banks of the Allegheny River where my grandparents had lived. Past the home where my little family had lived. Up to Jakes Rocks to hike. Downtown to eat Greek at The Plaza. And we even made a pitstop at Bon Ton to stock up on Pittsburgh Steeler gear.

Each memory tied to my past. Yet, they were brand new memories-in-the-making, as well.

As we pulled away to head back home, tears streamed down my cheeks. Standing in their driveways, my uncle, aunt and their neighbour, who just happens to be my second mom, Mary Blick, whom I had just spent a lovely morning with, waved goodbye… I was undone.

Soon after, it was time to say goodbye to our son in Cleveland. Wasn’t it only moments early that we had hugged hello?

We made a stop to see friends in Michigan. There were warm embraces with every family member upon arrival. Our time together—a blessing—as if no time had passed between visits. Then before we knew it, we were hugging once again. Goodbye.

Hello, goodbye.

Isn’t that life in a nutshell? A series of hello’s and goodbyes?

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Are you a good listener? This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talked about communication with relationship experts Mark and Susan Merrill. According to their research, one of the top mistakes that husbands and wives make is that they don’t always listen well to each other. This often leads to communication barriers and hurt feelings. 

 

You can listen to the podcast of Jo's show by clicking here, or catch Jo live every Friday at 12:00 p.m. CST on KTIS' Faith Radio Network AM 900 / 90.7 FM 

 

 

 

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:35

 

Kids can be mean.

 

I brought my toddler to his first arts-and-crafts camp of his entire lifetime, and everyone was pumped. It was just for an hour at a local park down our road, but still. I packed up baby too, and on the drive over, we were giggling over the idea of using scissors and the odds of handling a glue stick. What if we used popsicle sticks? Oh wait, can you imagine PAINT?! It was magical.

 

We pulled in, walked through the threshold of a newly-renovated cabin, and found a spot among the other toddlers and preschoolers chomping at the bit to throw glitter around like confetti. The director coughs, directing our attention her way, saying, “Welcome! Let’s get started with a game outside. Everyone grab hands with each other, and we’ll walk out in a chain.”

 

Cue the heartbreak.

 

Oscar, giddy and excited to run around in the open forest outside, runs to the first kid he sees, but instead of an equally welcoming reception from this child, the delinquent had the nerve to pull her hand away, hiding it behind her back so she didn’t have to hold his hand. What was her problem?

 

Oscar was somehow unphased. I guess he has a sister, so he knows girls can be girls. So he moves on, looks to his left, sees a boy his height, and runs over, bending over to try to grab his hand, and I see quickly we’ve got another hoodlum on our hands. This boy retreats and grabs the hand of someone else, shooting Oscar a death glare. What’s the deal, kid?

 

Oscar? Again, unphased. He must intrinsically believe the saying “third time’s the charm,” because he raced to what appeared to be a sweet girl at the end of the line. Sheep in wolf’s clothing is what I say. She puckers out her lip, and hides her hand under her armpit. Give me a BREAK, child.

 

I’m stressed at this point. Palms a little bit sweaty. I mean, how dare these kids. Oscar is the sweetest, funnest, coolest kid on the block. Every single one of them would be lucky to be his friend. Also, re: Who are their mothers, what kinds of things are they teaching them, and where are they anyways?

 

As I’m scanning the room for a face that looks remotely nice, Oscar must have decided it wasn’t worth wasting another second looking for a hand to hold, because I then saw him sprint past the curtains, run into the open space of the field, and while waiting for the other kids to catch him, he threw his head back and giggled. So happy to be there, just so joyful, and ready to play the game.

 

Although the rest of the hour raced by fantastically with no other altercations, I came home a little hung up by that slight exchange in the cabin. Not in an over-reacting kind of way, but more of a realization that this was just a taste of what he (and I) are sure to experience in the years ahead.

 

Kids can be mean. They won’t all want to be his friend. And as much as I wish it weren’t true, not everyone will offer a hand to Oscar even when he’s looking and asking for it. And no matter how often I chaperone field trips, volunteer in the classrooms, or invite his friends over to our house, I most certainly won’t always be there watching, cheering him on, rebuffing a hard situation, exchanging a smile over the heads of other kids, and reassuring him that they’re not worth it anyways. He will be alone in that sometimes. And that really makes me sad.

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Sometimes the trials of life steal our energy to the point of total exhaustion. But in the midst of carrying heavy burdens, we can still cling to the promises of God.

This week on Connecting Faith, Jo Bender talked about pain and suffering with authors Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton, who each suffer with chronic pain and disease. Their shared experience with pain also has a shared hope in the goodness of God. 

You can listen to the podcast of Jo's show by clicking here,or catch Jo live every Friday at Noon on KTIS' Faith Radio Network AM 900 / 90.7 FM 

Today Jo is interviewing Hans Finzel about the Top Ten Ways to be a Great Leader. Listen in at 12 Noon CST.

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As my kids have been counting down the days to summer vacation, I have been counting them down too. As a teacher, I too look forward to the end of the year—a break from lesson plans, grading, and lectures. I look forward to three months of rest, rejuvenation, and refueling. Everyone has their favorite time of the year. Summer is definitely mine.

 

But wait… I have kids of my own…and they require my attention. Perhaps rest and relaxation will need to be redefined.

 

When my kids were young, I remember wondering how in the world I was going to keep the little cherubs busy for 15 hours a day, 12 weeks in a row. I set up an elaborate calendar of playdates, swim lessons, and activities to keep their minds and bodies active. I tried to make every day a fun adventure. I compiled a list each summer of places we’d visit on sunny days, and places we’d go on rainy days. I took trips to my parents’ cabin, trips to McDonalds, and trips to Daddy’s office—just to let him know how much fun we were having. My kids loved summer, and wanted it to last forever. And part of me loved it too. But by the beginning of August, I was praying for deliverance from my scheduled craziness and together time. The start of the school year felt like a vacation from my summer vacation. 

 

My kids are older now, a teen and a pre-teen. Summer feels different now, and I feel different too. As I look forward to the end of the school year and the start to the greatest 12 weeks of the year, I’ve been doing some planning. But this year’s planning does not involve a lot of the things it used to. This time I’ve made a list of what I’m not going to do. I tried to keep it to a top 5, but I somehow made it to a top 6. Feel free to add your own to the list.

 

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